New Photo Packs and Valentine’s Day Sale

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I’ve just added two brand new photo packs for sale! One is themed flowers and the other plants. Each contains a curated collection of eight high quality photos measuring 4000 by 3000 pixels in jpeg format. These photos are great as standalone images or a starting point for backgrounds, wallpapers, websites, flyers, texture overlays, and other kinds of digital and printable media.

To get the discount, use the discount code “ysckc5q” during checkout.

Check them out now at my store on Gumroad!

At the Cross (Joy Made Full)

An original worship song inspired by the hymn At the Cross by Isaac Watts and Ralph Erskine Hudson.

At the Cross (Joy Made Full)
Words and music by Isaac Watts, Ralph E. Hudson, Tim Northup

Who was that man upon the cross
Was He the King, the Saving One
Promised to come, to pay the cross
The sinner’s debt, with His own blood

Was it for crimes that were my own
He hung upon that cross alone
The greatest love, a grace unknown
That He should die the death I owed

At the cross I saw Heaven’s Light
Roll away the burden on my soul
There by faith I received my sight
Looking to the Son, my joy made full
Oh God

His spirit groaned and darkness came
Death carried Him to sin’s domain
But death could not the Son contain
He rose again up from the grave

At the cross I saw Heaven’s Light
Roll away the burden on my soul
There by faith I received my sight
Looking to the Son, my joy made full

At the cross I saw Heaven’s Light
Roll away the burden on my soul
There by faith I received my sight
Looking to the Son, my joy made full

At the cross I saw Heaven’s Light
Roll away the burden on my soul
There by faith I received my sight
Looking to the Son, my joy made full
Oh God

Looking to the Son, my joy made full
Oh God

 

New Digital Media Storefront on Gumroad

I have a special announcement to make: I’ve just launched a digital media storefront on Gumroad!

Some of the ways God lets me serve my local church include music, media, and web. Graphics is a natural intersection of these outlets—song lyric backgrounds, website images, handouts, flyers, and so many other things. Recently, God graciously allowed our church to move to projected song lyrics. We’re also moving forward with a fairly in-depth website overhaul. As I was looking around to source graphics, I discovered two things: there are a lot of great resources out there… but most of them are really expensive. There’s not a lot for small churches on a tight budget. We’re not in a position to invest a lot of money in this kind of thing right now, so it’s an opportunity to learn to do the work ourselves. And after a bit of prayer and soul-searching, God has open some doors for me to get my feet wet with digital media.

Unfortunately, I can’t offer these resources for free. It takes time, work, and investment to take, edit, and share these resources. I can do a little bit for the church as a labor of love, but a small bit of compensation will allow me to produce a greater quantity of resources with higher quality and make them available to the public. At the same time, I’m certainly no pro, and the goal is budget-friendly resources for clients of all sizes. Hopefully, the pricing reflects those values.

To check out the store, head over to: https://gumroad.com/timnorthup!

Made In God’s Image

Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. (Gen 1:26-27, NKJV)

Every human has within their heart a deep, subconscious longing for eternity. The Scriptures declare that God made each and every human being in His own image—the image of the eternal God. Just a few verses later we read that God intended for the man and woman to live in the Garden, watching over and caring for the animals (Gen 1:28) and cultivating the ground (Gen 2:15), without any contract or conditions for that work to end. And in Genesis 3 we read that when the man and woman sinned against God, only then did God cast them out of that Garden, and one reason is so they could not eat from the tree of life and live forever (Gen 3:22-23).

Science says that humans are animals. They say this based on a combination of observable physical traits, biological drives, social norms, and genetic information. I don’t challenge those observations. But who developed the classifications? Humans. Which means those classifications are only as valid as the finite empirical evidence and soundness of logic from which those classifications are deduced.

Consider the following questions: where in the animal kingdom do we see groups of animals forming councils, writing constitutions, debating laws, and arguing about money? Where in the animal kingdom do we see groups of animals building hospitals, forming rescue services, and pursuing justice and equality? Where in the animal kingdom do we see groups of animals erecting exclusive boundaries, hoarding natural resources, exploiting the labor of others, and killing for any reason other than basic sustenance or debilitating sickness?

All of those things, good or bad, are uniquely human things. None of those things are animal things. Clearly, there is something unique about humanity, something not shared by any other living creature on the planet. What is it that makes humans uniquely human? It is that image of the eternal God written on our hearts, breathed into us by the eternal God Himself (Gen 2:7).

The Gospel of John explains the image of God in terms of light. Concerning Jesus, John wrote,

In Him was life, and the life was the light of men… That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world (John 1:4, 9).

Why did Jesus come? To bring the light into existence? No—the light already existed in Him. Jesus came to bring light to humankind. You see, every human has a darkness residing deep within their heart called sin. Sin is anything we do or don’t do that doesn’t line up with the standard of goodness defined by the attributes and actions of God. Humankind’s sinful rebellion against God began in the Garden when Adam and Eve thought they knew better than God and they rejected the instructions He gave them about what not to eat. And we see the outworking of that sin throughout human history in every evil action ever committed by humans. Humanism says people are basically good. However, history begs to differ, demonstrating time and time again how utter depraved the human race is when left to its own governance.

So, what are we to do with this desperate, unfulfilled longing for eternity? Go to Jesus. God loves us so much that, though we are sinners, Christ died for us (Rom 5:8). And his death on the cross paid the price of atonement for our sins with His blood. Not just once and having to be repeated annually, as the Old Testament rituals required, but once-for-all, as the Old Testament rituals looked forward to, finding their fulfillment in Christ.

For believers, our longing for eternity is satisfied in Jesus Christ. Because, as the Scriptures promise, when we believe in Him, we find life in His name (John 20:31).

Make God Your Resolution

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Then the LORD said to Moses, “Go in to Pharaoh and tell him, ‘Thus says the LORD God of the Hebrews: “Let My people go, that they may serve Me. For if you refuse to let them go, and still hold them, behold, the hand of the LORD will be on your cattle in the field, on the horses, on the donkeys, on the camels, on the oxen, and on the sheep—a very severe pestilence. And the LORD will make a difference between the livestock of Israel and the livestock of Egypt. So nothing shall die of all that belongs to the children of Israel.” ’ ” Then the LORD appointed a set time, saying, “Tomorrow the LORD will do this thing in the land.”

So the LORD did this thing on the next day, and all the livestock of Egypt died; but of the livestock of the children of Israel, not one died. Then Pharaoh sent, and indeed, not even one of the livestock of the Israelites was dead. But the heart of Pharaoh became hard, and he did not let the people go. (Exodus 9:1-7, NKJV)

Many of us know the Exodus narrative. How God called Moses from birth to deliver the Hebrew people from their slavery in Egypt. How Pharaoh ordered all the male Hebrew babies killed, but Moses’ mother hid Moses in a basket in the river. How Pharaoh’s daughter found Moses and rescued him. So, Moses grew up in the Pharaoh’s palace, saw the bondage of his people, killed an Egyptian who was beating a Hebrew, fled to the wilderness of Midian, and lived as a shepherd. Then, at Moses’ lowest, God spoke to him through the burning bush, and despite all Moses’ protests, God was adamant that He would deliver the Hebrew people through the leadership of Moses. And here, in this passage, we read how Moses, with Aaron’s help, is waging God’s war against Egypt through the plagues until Pharaoh finally lets the Hebrew people leave.

Tomorrow begins a new year. Many of us are thinking about resolutions. Maybe you want to lose weight, manage your money better, be a better mother, father, sister, brother, friend. Find a job. Get a promotion. Whatever it is, there’s probably something on your heart you’d like to see happen in the New Year. I’d like to suggest one additional resolution for each of us to make.

When God started the plagues in Egypt, they were a sign to Pharaoh about God’s power, an attack against Egypt’s God’s that would ultimately provoke Pharaoh to let the Hebrew people leave Egypt. But with some of the plagues, like the flies and the livestock, God adds another element: a difference between His people and Egypt.

Spiritually, we can look at Egypt as a picture of the world and the Hebrew people as a picture of the church. As believers, we live in this world, working alongside believers and unbelievers, providing for our households and improving our communities. But even though we live in and work among the world, God has called us to come out from the world, to be different—to come and worship Him.

Our worship offends the world because our world doesn’t understand God. But God doesn’t call us to change this world by Christianizing governments, arguing with skeptics, or slaughtering unbelievers. God instructs us to go and make disciples. He commands us to love Him and others with our whole being and to show that love by our actions toward others. And He describes those acts of love as being light in a dark place, salt to preserve the world (Matt 5:13-16).

As we begin this new year, I want to encourage you to let God’s invitation to His people—to come and worship—be your invitation as well. God wants to make a difference between you and the world, bringing His light into this dark world through you. But He makes that difference by changing your heart and renewing your mind (Rom 12:2). How does He do that? By His Spirit, through prayer, through the Word, through fellowship with believers, and through circumstances, day-by-day, moment-by-moment, as you yield your heart to His presence in your life.

Let God change your life. Let Him make a difference between you and the world. Let God bring His light into this world through you. Let God be your resolution this new year.

Love Has Come

An original Christmas worship song based on John 1:1-18.

Love Has Come
Words and music by Tim Northup

Lying in a manger the Promised Child was born
His parents stared in wonder could this be the Lord?
Surrounded by the shepherds, come to testify
As heaven’s host was praising him
Glory to God on high

Love has come, love has come
The Son of God is born to save the world
Love has come, love has come
Heaven’s Light has come to dwell with us
Heaven’s Light has come to dwell in us

Forsaking every privilege, He laid aside his crown
Born to dwell among us, coming to His own
Despised and rejected the Son of Man was scorned
But faithful unto death He brought
Salvation to the world

Love has come, love has come
The Son of God is born to save the world
Love has come, love has come
Heaven’s Light has come to dwell with us
Heaven’s Light has come to dwell in us

Love has come, love has come
The Son of God is born to save the world
Love has come, love has come
Heaven’s Light has come to dwell with us
Heaven’s Light has come to dwell in us

Whose Hope Is the LORD

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Thus says the LORD: “Cursed is the man who trusts in man
And makes flesh his strength,
Whose heart departs from the LORD.
For he shall be like a shrub in the desert,
And shall not see when good comes,
But shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness,
In a salt land which is not inhabited.“Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD,
And whose hope is the LORD.
For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters,
Which spreads out its roots by the river,
And will not fear when heat comes;
But its leaf will be green,
And will not be anxious in the year of drought,
Nor will cease from yielding fruit. (Jer 17:5-8, NKJV)

Jeremiah was a prophet in Judah before the Babylonian exile. His ministry began when he was a young man, from around 626 BC during the reign of king Josiah, to around 587 BC when Judah fell to Babylon. Jeremiah 17 is part of God’s prophecy about the destruction of Judah. The people of Judah were living in sin, worshipping the gods of other nations, a direct violation of the commandments God gave Israel. So, God prophesied against Judah, that they would be invaded and taken into exile, for their refusal to repent and turn back to God.

In Jeremiah 17:5, God describes one of the major issues that has plagued humanity since Adam and Eve: willful rejection of God’s ways and our selfish ambition to live by our own rules. God says, “cursed is the man who trusts in man.” When God says the person is cursed, God is not revealing some kind of new wrath against humanity. God is repeating the same message He has been warning us about since Adam and Eve: whoever chooses to go their own way and live apart from God lives under the condition of a spiritual curse.

What does this cursed lifestyle look like? God explains, “he makes flesh his strength, whose heart departs from the LORD.” Very clear, very simple. If you trust in human strength, wisdom, or power—your own, other people, the government, academia, or whatever—instead of God, you are choosing to live under the spiritual curse.What does the curse look like? In verse 6, God explains, “he shall be like a shrub in the desert.” I lived in Yuma, Arizona for three years. Desert shrubs are dry, brittle, and prickly. They have almost no fruit, they give almost no shade, they’re constantly struggling to survive and their growth is stunted. If you turn your back on God, that’s what your spiritual life looks like. Everything may look and feel great on the outside, but your soul is spiritually parched, barely surviving in our dry, cruel world.

In Jeremiah 17:7, God describes how He created us to live in relationship with Him. God says, “blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD.” When God made Adam and Eve, He gave them one rule: do not eat from a specific tree. Why did he give them that rule? To test them, yes. But in that test, they had to trust God and not rely on their own understanding. That’s where the serpent got them to doubt God. That’s where the Enemy attacks us. And that’s how humanity broke the world through sin.

What does trusting God look like? God explains, “whose hope is the LORD.” Now, biblical hope is not like our modern idea of hope. When we say we hope for something, it’s a wish, “oh, I hope I get that new job or that new car.” There’s no confidence, no security. The biblical idea of hope is different. The person whose hope is God is actively trusting in God, relying on God daily, confident that God will stay true to His promises and secure in God as a refuge from life’s troubles. Biblical hope is confident expectation based on the character of our always loving, never failing, all-powerful God.

In verse 8, God explains what the blessing looks like, “he shall be like a tree planted by the waters.” In the desert, trees grow by the water. If you see trees, you know there’s some kind of water source nearby. A fork of the Colorado River runs through one side of Yuma. And by the river there’s a beautiful park with all kinds of beautiful wooded areas. When the summer heat comes, these trees survive because they have the water source. The trees are fruitful, providing shade, and thriving. When you trust in God, that’s what your spiritual life looks like. Even though the whole world is falling apart around you, The river of life—the Holy Spirit—is flowing through you, nourishing and growing you in the midst of our dry, cruel world.

In John 7, Jesus was in Jerusalem for Passover. Verse 37 begins,

On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, ‘If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’ But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.

Jesus is not the Living Water. He is the Rock, stricken for our sins. But when Jesus ascended to heaven, he sent the Living Water, the Holy Spirit, to live in us in a special way according to the New Covenant, comforting us, nourishing us, and making us more like Jesus. Let’s remember and embrace these truths, looking to our Lord Jesus, that we might actively receive the spiritual blessings that the Spirit works in our lives.