Full bodied praise

I love them that love me………and those that seek me early shall find me. Proverbs 8:17
This is when the rubber meets the road…..summer is digging in it’s heels and we are no longer greeted with cool mornings. We have to dig in too. And it’s not all bad. The desert makes you tough. It’s already hot and sticky in my prayer closet this morning.
As I finish my prayer time, I am ready. I live the words as I put on my shoes to make my trek around the park. “No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.” 1 Corinthians 9:27
As I walk, feel my body move, I am so thankful I can do this. I think of dear Briley and Kathryn whom I sit with when I volunteer in the Extrordinary Life kids group, bound to wheelchairs. I think they are the real heroes, they, and their dear parents.
I pick up my pace and think of an old Glen Frey song I played a lot when I worked out……..for those of you under 40, he was one of the Eagles……the words come back and the years fall away:
I’m outside runnin’ in the mornin’ sun
No matter what it takes, I know I’m gonna get it done
I’m pushin’ up the hill, fightin’ through the pain
Everything to lose, everything to gain
I know I’m on my way, I’m on my way to number one

Feelin’ good, gettin’ tight
‘Cause I’m livin’ right, livin’ right
Up in the mornin’, asleep at night
I’m livin’ right, livin’ right

Out of the darkness, into the light and I’m
livin right, livin right.
I thought of the worship leader yesterday and what he said, why he wears no shoes when he is up there leading the music. He says it reminds him that it’s Holy ground he stands on, and it is a way of keeping his focus on the Lord and not on all the people. He said he sees the ones sleeping, and the ones playing games on their Iphones, the halfhearted worshippers.
“For where two or three gather together as my followers, I am there among them.” Matthew 18:20
He is right, the ground is Holy.
The sweat is pouring down now, and I hear the words of Mercy Me singing…….
Separated until the veil was torn.
The moment that hope was born
and guilt was pardoned once and for all.
Captivated but no longer bound by chains
left at an empty grave
the sinner and the sacred resolved

And this is it, this is full bodied praise, right here and now. How right he is, the ground here is Holy. I think, this is what keeps me going. He keeps us, day after day. We have the strength to get up and do it again somehow, carried along by His Spirit.

This is the promise I cling to, and its true: “The Lord preserves all who love Him…..” Psalm 145:20

Counting the gifts and the promises today, with these fine folks…….

I love you God, but…….

“Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian, and he led the flock to the far side of the desert and came to Horeb, the mountain of God…….Exodus 3:1

“I love you, God…..” But after I said it, I could hear how it sounded to my own ears. What must it have sounded like to God’s? I was weary of myself so I could understand how He could be weary of me. Of my same prayers…….my same requests. I was feeling like a bad actor before a Holy God. And the act of sitting out there felt like a charade this morning.

Here I am Lord, again. Don’t you get tired of me Lord? I would if I were you. It was a prayer, but there was a “but” behind my “I love you” that didn’t belong.

If I knew how Holy the ground was beneath my feet, these Teva sandals would be off my feet in a New York minute. The truth is, sometimes it is just hard to feel the Holy when we are down here on what feels right now like a grubby little planet. The dirt and debris has piled up near the door from yesterday’s dust storm and I stepped through it to make my way to Him, to the place of our morning meeting.

I’m still the same old me. I have not lost the ten pounds I wanted to lose by the trip to California in July and the month is half over. I will shock everyone with the blinding white of my skin when I put on my bathing suit. I also need to dye my roots.

And today my prayers sounded more like exasperated sighs than reverence for you.

I wasn’t feeling it today. But I know better now. I have learned you can’t always trust feelings. I am, however haltingly, learning to trust Him.

I turned where He directed, to the story of Moses. I wanted to read about the bush that God lit with Holy fire and it didn’t burn up. And then God taught this slow learner another lesson. He showed me that Moses was a big bundle of inadequacy and nerves and fear just like me…..

The words were truth…..leaping out through the pages. Moses was just like me. Over and over again, he tried to convince God of all that he wasn’t.

But Moses protested to God, “Who am I to appear before Pharaoh? Who am I to lead the people of Israel out of Egypt?” 

God answered, “I will be with you.”

And later on……after God explained all the wondrous signs and miracles He would do, Moses protests once again……“What if they won’t believe me or listen to me? What if they say, ‘The Lord never appeared to you’?”

Lesson number two came when God told Moses to grab his staff which has now turned into a snake.

Sometimes you have to grab hold of that snake before God produces the miracle.

Moses then proceeds to work on God’s last nerve, and boy don’t I do that every single day?

Yet God is so full of love for Moses that he produces some help in the form of Aaron. Then the tears came and once again my love for God was as real as the flame in that bush. And there was my prayer, and this time it was real…..

And no buts about it.

In the wee small hours

Lying in bed, I think, ‘When will it be morning?’ But the night drags on, and I toss till dawn. Job 7:4 NLT

It always amazes me that I can find a Bible verse that applies to each and every situation. I was up once again at 2:00 AM. I was also up yesterday morning at around the same time. I scared Elaine to death because she thought she was being really quiet when she snuck into my bathroom at 2:30 and I said, “What you doing?” She almost jumped out of her skin. She was trying not to wake me but no worries there. She was really trying not to wake her Mom on the other side of the house. You learn with an Alzheimer’s patient, you do anything in the world not to wake them at night.

Elaine has spent many hours awake since her Mom took over her bedroom. She now sleeps in the Arizona room which has walls and a ceiling but not much in the way of insulation. It is like sleeping by the Indianapolis Speedway. People drag up and down the street all hours of the night. She has a radio on at all times to mask the noise and her tinnitus.

I couldn’t believe I was up once again this morning,  tossing and turning. My thoughts were like fireworks going off in my head. The more I thought about getting up at 4, the wider-awake I remained. I prayed…..I recited the 23rd Psalm which usually works like a tonic. Not this time.

I dreamt of that blessed blessed sleep that comes. The Bible calls it “sweet sleep.”

I finally got it at around 3:30. Right before the alarm went off. I got up and started the coffee and layed back down for a few minutes. As I sat blinking, fuzzy-headed, sipping my first cup, the chorus of an old hymn was playing through my mind and it comforted me…….

Jesus is tenderly calling me home
Calling today, calling today
Why from the sunshine of love will thou roam
Farther and farther away?
Calling today, calling today
Jesus is calling, is tenderly calling today.
Jesus is calling the weary to rest
Calling today, calling today
Bring Him thy burden and thou shalt be blessed
He will not turn thee away.
I looked it up just now…….Turns out it is an old Jim Reeves song, lyrics written by Fanny Crosby.

I was thankful once again, that I was raised singing those old hymns…..I love the modern praise songs, but somehow when one of these slips quietly into my mind, I feel a peace like no other.

I think of my heritage, my Grandparents, all my Grandmother’s sisters, and I really feel they are cheering me on from Heaven.

I can do this thing.

Chasing God’s Reflection

And the happy life is this: To rejoice in You. To rejoice for you. To rejoice because of you. I say it again: Life is joy in You, who are the truth, O my God, the light of my soul, health of my body!

Those who think there is a different way to find a happy life are pursuing something quite different from happiness–how sad that they do not even realize it. It is true they will find some reflection of joy. But they will not find the true thing, and in the end they will be sadly disappointed, as I once was. Augustine, Confessions 10
I was thinking of the truth and beauty of Augustine’s words yesterday as I sat in the quiet. I was remembering Saturday night and how Elaine and I raced all over the golf course across the street looking for that perfect shot of the Big Moon……She was my human tripod. She calls herself my camera caddy. And she doesn’t mind a bit……As darkness closed in she said, “Let’s go and find the water so we can get a shot of the reflection.”
A bit further, and we found it. I balanced the camera on her shoulder and she clicked away on her IPhone……it was magnificent, and yet, it wasn’t the reflection itself that held us captive, it was what it was reflecting that continued to turn our eyes upward.
We can get so caught up in the reflection of God through all the wonderful things He has made that we can actually miss God Himself. Augustine was right. And yet, as Elaine pointed out, the fact that someone created all this times doesn’t factor in to many folks pattern of thought. Their minds don’t go there.
Why did I? Why did she? Why do any of us?
Therein lies the whole miracle of the conversion experience…….And how could I not be bursting with Gratitude each and every day. It humbles me to the point of silence…..
And He did it all for us, “See, what I made you……” Everything we see around us is a reflection of His love for us. His hope is that we will look just a bit further. To lift our eyes to Him so that we may not only know Him, but be One with Him through Jesus…..
My list continues……..Big beautiful moons that take the breath away……a garden springing to life……still cool mornings for which I am oh so grateful……a great follow-up conversation with our girl Heather…..another week to worship with the fellowship of believers…….another great lunch after church…..watching Mama feed her baby bird while taking a break at work……answered prayers as I looked back on my journal of two years ago……another day off! #877-887

We are smart, but God’s smarter

We do things in this building, and all others on our campus….fantastical things. Things never thought possible even 60 years ago. We create all sorts of wild imaginings and then put them into form. We think, “what if…..” And then we do it. That is, at least the creative brains do that. I am just a small cog in the wheel of technology….but I do my part.

And it all changes and grows so fast, that by the time a new process comes out, it is already outdated….
Considered obsolete.

People are creators because God made us that way….

All of us have that God spark that seeks to create because He put it in us.

But, with all this human achievement and rushing around, what we call progress; we still can’t even come close to making a moon or setting the stars in place.

Or calming the sea with a word.

We aren’t so smart…….
And as long as we have been alive, there is a danger, a temptation in worshiping that “created thing” instead of the One who put it all in motion to begin with. “And they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator–who is forever praised. Amen.” Romans 1:25
Don’t get me wrong, I love technology! It has been my bread and butter for 16 years now and the industry has treated me well. I don’t feel as my Mom does, that computers are the Antichrist. But ever since the golden calf and before that, we have been tempted to put things in place of God.
The idols may change over the centuries, but the temptation is the same.
This whole train of thought started with the radio this morning. There was a discussion about our gadgets. The female commentator had left her IPhone home and was feeling a bit lost. I can relate to that. I never felt that way about a phone before I got mine. She further stated a quote attributed to Steve Jobs that said something like:
“When people can put their wedding pictures on their phone, they will be emotionally attached.” Or something like that.
She was saying that it troubled her a bit that she felt an emotion, an attachment, like something was missing because she didn’t have her phone. I can relate. I am ashamed to say I feel the same way.
She said all her friends were having a great time playing “Words with Friends.” She didn’t start it. She didn’t want to feel like she had to respond every time the phone dinged.
Well, I succumbed.
I started……I am addicted. And now I have to go.
It’s my move.
Maybe it’s time for a gadget fast.
Just after I play this word.

God Whispers Things

And the LORD will continually guide you, And satisfy your desire in scorched places, And give strength to your bones; And you will be like a watered garden, And like a spring of water whose waters do not fail. Isaiah 58:11

Sometimes God whispers things in the dark and silent moments between breaths…..and prayers. I was feeling so dry this morning. As dry as toast. Hollowed out. Like someone took my dreams and hopes for the future and blew them away with a puff of air.
I know I have Heaven…….I know what awaits me is better than anything I can imagine. I have nothing but hope there. But I need hope now, and for the rest of my life. Hope that it will all work out. Hope to fill in the holes.
He whispered……..”Those holes and empty places you feel? That fear of the future? Those holes are all the better for Me to fill.”
Sometimes He does empty us out so He can fill us with Him.
The reason I know it was Him?

It was still
It was small
It was immediate
And it put my fears to rest……………..as only He can.

A repost from 2009……

Jeremiah 31:1-6

1 “At that time,” declares the LORD,
“I will be the God of all the clans of Israel, and they will be my people.”
2 This is what the LORD says:
“The people who survive the sword
will find favor in the desert;
I will come to give rest to Israel.”
3 The LORD appeared to us in the past, saying:
“I have loved you with an everlasting love;
I have drawn you with loving-kindness.
4 I will build you up again
and you will be rebuilt, O Virgin Israel.
Again you will take up your tambourines
and go out to dance with the joyful.
5 Again you will plant vineyards
on the hills of Samaria;
the farmers will plant them
and enjoy their fruit.
6 There will be a day when watchmen cry out
on the hills of Ephraim,
‘Come, let us go up to Zion,
to the LORD our God.’ “

When I read Jeremiah 30-33 the compassion of God seemed to leap from the page this morning as I was reading in my “prayer closet” I selected just a portion above….when I think of how many times Israel turned their backs on God and yet, He reached out to them with hope and healing, longing for their restoration.
What are you exiled from today? A child, a church, God, a marriage, a friendship? It seems in life there are many forms of exile we face, but God seeks to restore us; always there is hope. Cling to His word, there is promise there.
I close with this verse, again from Jeremiah, 33:3….”Call to Me, and I will answer you, and I will tell you great and mighty things,which you do not know.”