The Mustard Seed

I am reminded today of a conversation I had a few years ago.  A young woman and I were talking at the local coffeehouse, and I recall that she made a reference to her favorite necklace— a mustard seed incased in the pendant.  I remember feeling intrigued by the piece of jewelry, for I was quickly reminded of the symbolism behind the mustard seed.

This past week, I sang at a local church, and I shared one of my newest compositions called “I Believe.”  The song talks about the doubts that might assail a Christian even though simple belief is present.  But even though we might face the questions of life, we can still be assured that He is real and that He will carry us through.  There is a line in the song that references the text from Matthew 17:20: “…If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, `Move from here to there’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you. “

The mustard seed is commonly known as one of the smallest seeds we could ever imagine.  In Matthew 13, Jesus tells the parable of the mustard seed, which a man planted in his field.  When given the chance to grow, it becomes one of the largest garden plants and matures into a tree.  The birds of the field can then come and nest in its branches. 

After sharing “I Believe” at the service that morning, I was engaged in conversation with a gentleman from the congregation.  He thanked me for sharing the story behind the song, and we got to talking about the idea of the mustard seed.  For those of you who read my blog regularly, you may recall an entry I posted a few weeks ago entitled “Deeper Vision.”  In that post, I recount a story about the very encounter that inspired the writing of “I Believe.”  I battled faith and unbelief with the person I reference in “Deeper Vision,” and even though I walked away from that experience feeling beaten down and weak to the core, I knew in some small way, I had planted a seed.  The gentleman at the church agreed with me when I shared that part of the story and encouraged me not to be discouraged about what I had earlier deemed as a lost opportunity. “Think of that little mustard seed you planted that day,” he told me.  “Some day in the future, you might see the rewards of your labor.  One day that person’s faith will flourish like a tree, spread its branches, and welcome others into the Kingdom.”

So today, I see the mustard seed in a whole new light.  First, if I have the faith— even the size of a mustard seed— I can accomplish great things with the Lord on my side.  As I work to plant seeds of faith in others, my life (like the tree) can flourish and be a witness to those around me, drawing each person closer to Christ.  So you see, the mustard seed, though small, is a powerful symbol with great worth and deeper purpose. 

I would like to close with the chorus from my song “I Believe.”  The lyrics provide a glimpse into the faith that I hold so dear. 

But it’s a hope; it’s a peace.

It’s a joy that overwhelms me

And love that will not cease.

He sustains all I need.

It’s a faith that moves mountains

With the smallest mustard seed.

So I believe.  I believe.

Ketch-up Drippings

A title is important— probably the most important part of a book or music project.  The title sums up everything and makes it whole.  Readers look at the title and often make a snap judgment: do I or do I not want to read this?  They say not to judge a book by its cover, but the truth is, we do it every day.

I love my job, but I have to admit that my least favorite part of writing, whether it be a book or song, is coming up with a title that brings everything into perspective.  My best writing experiences have actually came about when someone gave me a title or topic and said, “Use this.”  Then there is no indecisiveness because my mind is already made up.

For instance, I remember coming home one day when I was a junior in high school and my mom informed me that I would be writing a song for a local Relay for Life team.  She told me about a co-worker who was battling cancer and mentioned that her last name was Beam.  Immediately, the creative wheels started turning in my mind.  I thought about the element of hope that exists in fundraising events like Relay for Life and the lighting of the luminaries at such ceremonies.  I knew with certainty that the song should be called “Beam of Hope,” and so the concept and first lyrics were born.

But as I said earlier, not every titling experience is so simple.  I managed to find the title for my first book, Beyond the Fury, within the text of one of the central chapters.  It was a simple phrase, but it sparked my interest, and I somehow knew that I had found the title for the entire book.  Something similar happened with St. Croix Chronicles.  There were two books in the one volume, and I struggled to find two separate titles that gave each story its own perspective.  It took a little effort, but like Beyond the Fury, I found both titles in the text.

In recently releasing The Promise, my thoughts turn to its title.  Unlike my other works, this title did not jump out at me.  In fact, the idea had to grow on me.  There is no reference to a specific promise in the text, but I went with this idea because of its many connotations.  There is Christ’s promise of salvation, which is the most central theme here, but there is also the promise of friendship and the element of hope that exists throughout the pages of the book.  There are so many promises in the storyline that The Promise was the most logical choice for a title. 

Sometimes the most simple and straightforward titles and captions make the most sense.  I can recall attending one of my sister’s art shows in which she featured a glazed bowl identified as “Ketch-up Drippings.”  The project had been given this obvious title because of the dripping pattern the glaze had made down the side of the bowl.  The title was cute and beyond effective, and I couldn’t help but steal it for this post.    

So the next time you pick up a book or a CD, think of the process of titling and its importance.  Try not to judge the book by its cover and certainly not by its title.  You might be surprised at what you will find inside.  Perhaps the title will grow on you as it often does for me when I am working on a project.      


In releasing my new book, The Promise, my thoughts turn to the idea of attraction.  There is no better example of natural attraction than the scientific phenomenon of the magnet and its relationship to metal.  Now before you start to think that I’m going to get all scientific on you, think again.  Science is not my strong suit, so please bear with me as I attempt to use science to back my reasoning.

Have you ever witnessed true love— the way in which two people are brought together and eventually make the decision to be united in marriage?  What draws them together?  Is it their mutual friends or common interests?  Maybe it’s the fact that they’re equally yoked and bound together in Christ.  Maybe it’s a physical attraction.  Whatever it is, we as people are drawn to those we love because we feel some sort of attraction toward them. 

Now, think about it this way; what is it that draws others to approach us and strike up a conversation?  What is it that springs up interest in a potential significant other?  What makes us unique and worth pursuing?  Well, for me, I would hope others would be drawn in by my love for Christ.  I know I am not the most vocal witness to nonbelievers, but I have been told that I am a good leader by example.  But is my example and the way I live my life strong enough to draw others to seek a relationship with Christ?  What can I do to be a more passionate witness to those around me?

In The Promise, J.C. is caught between two groups of friends, both with a strong appeal.  Jamie and the popular crowd have parties nearly every weekend, and J.C. feels she must attend or risk losing Jamie’s friendship.  Jamie’s friends present a link to her past in New York, and she can’t seem to bring herself to let go of the only lifestyle she has ever known.  At the same time, she meets Rachel, Sarah, and the others from Bible Study.  Through those friendships, she finds herself drawn toward Brent Hollister.  She can’t explain the connection she has with him— only that it is something special that can’t be defined.  She respects the presence of faith in his life but can’t seem to make his faith her own.  Even so, she considers his example and continues to feel a pull toward him and his relationship with God. 

Every day is an opportunity for us as Christians to be a light in this world.  We can be the magnets that pull others toward us and then in turn, we can draw them to Christ.  There is no greater calling in this life than to go into the world and make disciples as the Great Commission commands us to do.  Whether we verbally witness or simply live our lives out for Him, the method doesn’t matter.  What does matter is that we display God’s love to those around us, therefore drawing others to see the hope and joy that we possess.  This act alone should be contagious, and the magnetic pull should be undeniable. 

So here’s my mini sermon for today: live your life as if it were on display for all to see— perhaps like a picture hung on the refrigerator by the force of a magnet.  Take the opportunities God brings into your life and use them to draw others to Christ. 


Deeper Vision

A few weeks ago, I talked about lukewarm faith, and I pressed forward some heartfelt honesty.  Well, in today’s post, I once again want to be honest with you, my readers.  I recently shared special music at my church, and the experience encouraged me to be bold in sharing my heart on a deeper level.

Recently, I had an opportunity to share my faith with an unbeliever.  I had prayed for open doors prior to this encounter, but I didn’t anticipate battling with this individual for over an hour as we discussed the existence of God and one’s purpose here on this earth.  I felt like this individual was trying to poke holes in my armor, so to speak, and at any moment, I felt I would crack under the pressure.  Since I came to Christ at the age of nine, I have simply believed with a childlike faith.  Although I have studied doctrine and theology, my faith has always come back to exactly what faith should be— simple belief.  This encounter broadened my horizons and pushed me to explain to this individual exactly what I believe.  It was 1:00 a.m., I was tired, and my mind was spinning.  To top it off, conversations with this individual often left me frustrated, and this debate/ discussion was no exception.

I left our conversation feeling beaten down.  I was exhausted, and it felt like I had just battled life and death with no eternal reward.  This person had come no closer to accepting the gift of Christ’s salvation, and I felt like I had failed this person on so many levels.  Even more so, I felt I had failed in my mission to share the Gospel.

I was blessed to be able to come home to a Christian roommate that night.  She was there for me as I cried out all of my sorrows regarding this lost soul.  Brokenly, I recall asking my roommate why I was crying over someone who could be so frustrating on so many levels.  And that’s when she looked at me with utter seriousness and expressed the idea that perhaps I had more of a heart for evangelism than I had earlier recognized.  Without the love of Christ inside of me, this individual would be unlovable on so many levels, but in the eyes of God, I was viewing a soul separated from Christ. 

“It’s so sad,” I recall saying to my roommate.  “How can this person live life with no purpose, without salvation?”  For the first time, I truly saw this person with deeper vision, and it nearly broke my heart when I considered Christ’s abounding love and this person’s rejection of a free and priceless gift.

Ever since this encounter, I have turned my eyes to deeper truths, and I have prayed that God would open my mind and heart to those who need to hear his message.  The lyrics to Brandon Heath’s song “Give me your Eyes” comes to mind, and I would like to share part of the chorus with you today as I sign off.


Give me your eyes for just one second
Give me your eyes so I can see
Everything that I keep missing
Give me your love for humanity
Give me your arms for the broken hearted
The ones that are far beyond my reach
Give me you heart for the ones forgotten
Give me your eyes so I can see