Category Archives: Praising God
10 years ago I was evacuated from my home due to flooding. I sat on the bed at a friend’s home and opened my Bible needing to hear from God that He cared about the desperate situation in my area. My Bible opened to Psalm 29.
Here’s a little background: For those not from Eastern Iowa, Cedar Rapids, Palo in 2008, we had the worst flooding ever seen on record.
On Wednesday, June 11, the city completely evacuated all of its 980 citizens. All road access was later cut off, and the city went completely underwater. Around 90% of the structures in the community had damage from water. People were supposed to return to their homes on June 15, but were delayed by hazards such as contamination due to the flood and floating propane tanks. By Tuesday, June 17, it was reported that residents had for the most part returned home to deal with damage. Some buildings were more damaged than others; some had only a flooded basement to deal with, but for others, the water reached up to the first floor level.
On June 13, 2008, the Cedar River crested to its highest level in Cedar Rapids history, 31.12 feet. The previous record reached only 20 feet. The flood waters penetrated 10 square miles or 14 percent of the city. This monumental flood impacted 7,198 parcels, including 5,390 houses, dislocated more than 18,000 residents and damaged 310 City facilities. Just two weeks prior a small town an hour north of where I live was ripped apart by an EF5 tornado. ~ Cedar Rapids Gazette articles
Well those verses from Psalm 29 have not left me. They talk about “the voice of the Lord splitting cedars” – that was evident in the destruction in Parkersburg. As I read further, I was surrounded by incredible peace when I read, “the Lord is enthroned above the floods.” Ps 29:10a NIV
Things definitely were uncertain and recovery looked impossible. Especially to some of the Palo residents whom I got to know after the flood. They lost their homes, homes of their parents and siblings and children, they lost their income when their businesses were destroyed and they lost their church due to the record flooding. Yet through all the “impossibility” of what was surrounding our small town, God made impossible things happen. Neighbors who didn’t know each other, worked together first to sandbag and then to clean up. Strangers from literally around the world came month after month to help with the rebuilding. Cities and staff worked tirelessly to make reentry into our homes for the clean-up to begin as soon as possible. Friendships were made. The church rebuilt and added on. Businesses were supported by people from around Iowa who knew they would need additional help to recover. Palo has grown and, despite many losses, has made many improvements as well.
I hope you know and believe in the God of impossibilities, the God who rules over the floods and difficulties in your life. ~ Faye
I wonder how it felt …
… Mary, a young teen, in her room and suddenly the angel Gabriel appears to her and says, “Greetings, favored woman! The Lord is with you!” What would your response be? Aside from the fear and shock of seeing the angel, disbelief at his message? The Bible says Mary was confused, disturbed and wondered what the angel meant. Gabriel repeats, “Don’t be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God!
I like how one author says, “She’s so ‘greatly troubled here that the angel asks her to sit down and catch her breath. ‘Fear not,’ he says in an attempt to comfort her. ‘You really are favored by God!'”
Favored (preferred/chosen) – Would you think you were preferred, precious, or chosen? Your whole life would change in a minute. You would be a social outcast as an unwed mother. All of your hopes, plans and dreams would be looking doubtful.
Each and every one of us is a precious and chosen child of God. Psalm 139:13-18 says,
13 For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.
17 How precious (amazing are your thoughts concerning me) to me are your thoughts, God!
How vast is the sum of them!
18 Were I to count them,
they would outnumber the grains of sand—
when I awake, I am still with you.
What does Mary do after Christ is born? After the reality of all the upside-down life-changing events? She sings, praises and worships her LORD. She realizes Immanuel, God is With Us, has come to earth to be our Savior, Messiah. He actually was WITH her, inside her, a sinner. Mary wasn’t perfect. She wasn’t holy. She was a virgin and she was chosen by God to be the mother of Jesus. Once everything starts to sink in and she holds her baby, Jesus, in her arms, her heart sings. She can only sit in wonder, praising her Lord from the depth of her soul.God talks to you through His word, other people and His creation. Do you hear Him? In this busy season before Christmas, will you be still enough to listen to God? Will your soul and spirit MAGNIFY (praise, glorify) God for all the incredible wonders He has done in your life?
Praying you will find the favor of God in your heart so your soul sings with Joy to your Savior ~ Faye
How do you give thanks in all things? Look at all the disasters the past couple of months, how do we give thanks in them? We can only do this through Jesus Christ changing our perspective – allowing us to see things through His eyes.
There is an old song from Back at the Creekbank – Humbly Grateful. It reminds us what our perspective of life should be. The chorus goes:
Are you humbly grateful or grumbly hateful – what’s your attitude? Do you humbly groan or let it be known you’re grateful for all God’s done for you?
It’s a catchy tune, and when my children’s attitude needed some correction, I found myself singing it to them as a reminder to change their perspective. How often do I need that perspective change?
- When I think it’s too cold outside, I remember I have coats, gloves, hats, and boots I can wear.
- When the sink is overflowing with dishes, I need to change my perspective and remember I have plenty of food to eat, a working stove/oven and refrigerator, running water that is pure enough to drink.
- When I am struggling with joint pain, I remind myself I have excellent medical care available to me.
- If I have to vacuum and dust feeling overwhelmed, I remind myself I have the blessing of a warm house.
I pray that this Thanksgiving season you take the time to give thanks in ALL circumstances. When we were flooded in 2008 with 4 feet of water in our basement, nothing seemed like a blessing. But through God we were able to look back on all He provided for us during that time:
- Safety and shelter while our town was evacuated
- Insurance, monetary funds and things to help us rebuild
- Friends and family who worked tirelessly to help with the clean-up and reconstruction
- New friendships made, the ability to help others as they recovered and rebuilt the town.
With God’s perspective working in our hearts, we can GIVE THANKS in EVERYTHING!
Giving thanks for you ~ Faye
Maybe this is why we are drawn to brilliant sunrises – the reminder that God brings newness every morning. When life is heavy with troubles and trials, pain and grief, we are filled with Joy in the morning.
I love to worship God. I love to see His glory in His creation.
I saw this beautiful clematis. But it wasn’t until I stopped, moved the camera lens in closer, that I saw the incredible detail. Why does God take the time to create such beauty, that we too often miss? God made us to worship and glorify Him. I think God creates incredible beauty for us to find when we slow down and and enjoy the world around us.
I love how some of the other Bible versions tell how to Ascribe Glory to God – Honor, Worship, Give, Praise.
Honor the Lord for the glory of His name. Worship the Lord in the splendor of His holiness. New Living Translation
Give to the Eternal the glory due His name; worship Him with lavish displays of sacred splendor. The Voice
Praise the Lord for the glory of His name; worship the Lord because He is holy. New Century Version
Take some time to spend before the face of God. It is a great time to walk through the park or the woods. Enjoy the flower gardens. Walk down by the creek or lake and look at the rocks and critters. Our 7-year-old gets this. Whenever she is over, she spends a long time looking at all the rocks under the deck, looking for fossils. She’s found some incredibly tiny ones. She was just at a lake and loved finding tiny shells and snails.
One of the best days to do this is on Sunday. God made the Sabbath for rest, recovery and time to spend enjoying Him. Take some time this coming Sunday to enjoy God’s beautifully unique creation up close and personal.
Praying you can find some time to slow down and enjoy God’s creation ~ Faye
Did you know that you are a beautiful, unique work of art?
Did you know that you are God’s masterpiece?
Just think of it, before we were born, God prepared the path we would walk. He knew whether I would be in Grand Rapids, Michigan or Cedar Rapids, Iowa. He knew I would be a wife to Rich, a mom of two children and Ama to two grandchildren. He knew I would love to sing and praise God. He knew I would love to lead others in worship and take pictures of His creation. He knew there would be bumps and trials, health scares, job changes and so much more.
Praying you let God use you and the gifts He has blessed you with to bless others and glorify Him. ~ Faye
Today Christians observe Palm Sunday, the day when Christ road into Jerusalem and the people “Hailed Him as King!”. The Jews were looking for an earthly king. We know that Jesus Christ is the KING of Kings.
Praying you see the blessings of God all around you and that you are inspired to shouts of joy and praise to God! ~ Faye
Lately I’ve been thinking often of the old song Count Your Many Blessings.
I think some of this comes from looking at the beauty in the Autumn colors. What incredible blessings abound everywhere you look.
Some of you know that I have been dealing with a lung infection since mid-August. Yesterday I heard the good news that it is improving with medication. YEAH!
So I thought I’d share some of my abundant blessings lately:
|Lung Infection||Meds to help it improve it|
|Rheumatoid Arthritis IV drug has to stop||No major R.A. symptoms without IV|
|Wearing a mask in public||Most people very friendly and most are understanding|
|Can’t work at garden center||Most of my work can be done from home|
|Fatigue from lung infection||Family & friends who have given prayers, food, support & encouragement|
|Rich is retiring||God has provided in incredible ways after 38 years at Rockwell|
|Rich is retiring||He will be busy in his shop catching up on blacksmith projects|
|Rich is retiring||He will work on my “honey-do” list|
|Rich is retiring||Road trips, vacations, time at the lake, Bumpa & Ama time|
|Rich is retiring||He will be around to process all the butternut squash, spaghetti squash, Delicata and acorn squash from the garden|
When upon life’s billows you are tempest tossed,
When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,
Count your many blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.
Count your blessings, name them one by one;
Count your blessings, see what God hath done;
Count your blessings, name them one by one;
Count your many blessings, see what God hath done.
Are you ever burdened with a load of care?
Does the cross seem heavy you are called to bear?
Count your many blessings, ev’ry doubt will fly,
And you will be singing as the days go by. [Refrain]
When you look at others with their lands and gold,
Think that Christ has promised you His wealth untold;
Count your many blessings, money cannot buy
Your reward in heaven, nor your home on high. [Refrain]
So, amid the conflict, whether great or small,
Do not be discouraged, God is over all;
Count your many blessings, angels will attend,
Help and comfort give you to your journey’s end. [Refrain] ~ Johnson Oatman, Public Domain
May you enjoy God’s abundant blessings in your life as well ~ Faye
These are words many of us need as we go through every day life.
God’s timing is always perfect, and sometimes it is very difficult to wait for Him to show that He is fully in control of a situation. However, as I was reading my devotions this morning, and came across the quote above by Sarah Young, I was reminded how many times God has blessed me to see glimpses of His Glory to give me encouragement and hope.
I have recently been facing another health issue and so have had lots of time to reflect and spend time with God. During that time He has blessed me with His presence often. It may have been “just the right song” at “just the right time”, or a perfectly timed email, card, text or telephone call. It may have been His hands working through someone to bring a meal or a smile as I walk the halls to another doctors appointment wearing my mask. Whatever it was I am so grateful that God shines His abundant glory on us at the perfect time to fill my heart with His hope and love.
Praying God abundantly blesses you ~ Faye
The holidays are over. Times with family and friends celebrating the birth of Christ and the New Year are done for another year. There are so many good memories and many of us are filled with the incredible blessings we have received. However, the holidays can bring unspoken pain too.
In my family the holidays come with mixed blessings. We had a wonderful two weeks with our two granddaughters. We spent time with extended family many of those days. We were abundantly blessed during this time. We played games, had sleepovers, did all types of crafts, baking and had lots of meals together. If you were looking at our family gathering it would appear to be the perfect family.
However, you’d be wrong. This is not easy to share because it is so close to home. It exposes my disappointment, loss, frustration, anger, embarrassment, and lots of questions. We have not heard from one of our family members for two years. Some days the loss is incredibly painful. Crying out to God seems to bring no answers.
This is not news to many who face heartbreak on a daily basis, but it is always harder during the holidays and special celebrations. Whether it is death, divorce, separation across the miles, broken relationships, or health issues, the loss people face in life can be especially difficult during these events. Trying to remain upbeat, filled with joy, hopeful especially during the holidays can be overwhelming.
This year I was very grateful for the blessings of distractions with the remainder of my family, but always in the background is the thought, “Will we finally hear, or better yet, see?”
Pain can be crippling both physically and emotionally, but it can also be paralyzing spiritually. Through experience I have learned that there have been times when I have been so frustrated with this broken relationship that I have pulled away from and ignored God. Last year God filled me with a verse from Psalm 62:5 that I have had on my bathroom mirror for over a year …
When I see that verse I am reminded that my hope is not in the broken relationship, but in the Healer of the broken.
This season when I was struggling to stay focused a devotional caught my attention when it reminded me “God inhabits the praises of His people.” It got me thinking that when I am not living fully in the presence of God and under His authority I miss the ability to glorify God. Instead of looking UP to God, I end up looking in at myself.
Roger Bennett wrote, during 11 years of increasingly difficult health issues, “I am convinced that our enemy [the Devil] stalks us exactly in the way the Bible describes him, a roaring lion. He hides in the bushes waiting for any sign of weakness and then he strikes.” Bennett describes how he felt the Devil had struck even lower than his health issues; he attacked Bennett’s joy, confidence and hope. Bennett was filled with doubt. Then he focused on stories from the Bible – Paul and Silas were in jail – “they didn’t despair; they sang … it became their weapon.” Bennett began singing “one song after another came to my memory, and I sang them to my empty room … It may have been the most powerful blessing I’ve received in my life.” He realized just how true God is to His Word.
God really does inhabit the praises of His people. So when I am struggling with the losses and difficulties in my life, the last thing I feel like is singing. But I have been turning on that praise music, personally I am blessed with the depth of the words from the old hymns, but there are some newer songs that fill me with encouragement and hope. Blessings, 10,000 Reasons, In Christ Alone, Wonderful, Merciful Savior…
Reading a devotional from In Touch magazine, the author encourages us to be careful with our motive for praise.
Praise both magnifies and pleases the Lord, but we actually benefit from the practice as well. First, adoration of God modifies our estimation of “self”—it’s impossible to truly elevate God while clinging to pride. Instead, we come to recognize our sin, weakness, and dependence upon Him. As Scripture tells us, the Lord’s power is manifest when we show genuine humility (2 Cor. 12:10).
Next, praise appropriately humbles us, as it is a reminder of God’s greatness and our dependence upon Him. But at the same time, exalting Him strengthens our sense of assurance, thereby increasing our faith. Then we are able to look beyond ourselves and our circumstances to see life from God’s perspective. And consider one additional benefit of praise that involves our physical bodies: when we focus on Jesus’ goodness, tension leaves and we find new strength. All these supernatural effects of exaltation are possible because as we lift His name, God is present—Psalm 22:3 tells us that He inhabits the praise of His people (KJV).
I made a resolution for 2015 to see more of the blessings in my life and not dwell on the losses and difficulties. When I focus on the difficulties, I give the devil a foothold to fill me with doubt and fear. However, when I focus on the blessings in my life and around me, I am filled with joy and hope. I will be challenged to see more of the blessings by lifting my voice in praise to God and exalting Him. This doesn’t mean I won’t be afraid to pour out my heart to God with my concerns, for His word reminds us He wants to know our hearts, he knows everything about our lives. But I am convicted this year to remember – “God inhabits the praises of His people.” Psalm 22:3. (Now to go write that on my mirror …)
May God fill you with His abundant blessings ~ Faye
I thoroughly enjoyed walking through the prairie yesterday and seeing God’s creation all around me from flowers, grasshoppers, bees, butterflies, moths and even the deer I scared up and ran off just as afraid of me. It made me think of how much God takes care of and that He is always watching over each one of us as well as all of His creation.
This morning my devotions from The 30-Day Praise Challenge focused on Our Provider. Philippians 4:19-20 says,
And my God will meet all your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus. To our God and Father be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
The author reminded me not to worry about the state the world is in or health or relationships or … the list goes on and on. You can enter whatever trials you are facing right now. What? Not worry? But then I think I am helping in the situation. No, instead of worry – praise God for being the God Who Provides! If God can provide for the needs of these little creatures – how much more will He provide for our needs whom He created with His breath of life.
When relationships go through difficulties – spouses hurt us, children don’t obey or worse lie to us, friends betray us – praise God for He is in control. He takes care of all the details – big and small. That is so counter to our culture today. We want to micromanage our lives, but we have so much more peace and are filled with greater blessings when we give our lives over to God and lift our hearts in praise to Him.
God is blessed when we praise Him! For this shows Him we are being obedient and trusting Him with our lives. I wonder what life would have been like if Joseph had moped around or paced with fear and dread about what his future would have been like? He had no clue that the bitterness and hatred of his brothers would end up being used as an incredible blessing from God for himself, his brothers and their family as well as the Israelite nation at the time. Joseph would face a real pit, hatred and betrayal from his brothers, the realization of the pain his father must have gone through not knowing about him, prominent positions and then prison, favored and rejected … Yet he was able to say – you meant it for harm but God used it for good.
Gratitude to God opens the door for Him to shower us with His blessings usually in ways we can’t ask for or imagine. May God fill you with His incredible blessings as He provides for your daily needs ~ Faye
Sometimes it is the simple things in life that bring about incredible blessings.
I enjoyed watching God at work the other day after a light shower. To see the intricacy of water droplets on the flowers was a study of God’s creation and attention to minute details. If God can so beautifully decorate these flowers with drops of rain, how much more can He pay attention to our needs and desires?
I have recently been enjoying a simple book, The 30-Day Praise Challenge by Becky Harling. The author was diagnosed with cancer and begged God for healing. A friend challenged her to spend 20 minutes a day in praise. Becky wasn’t feeling all that thankful, but as she intentionally praised God, she began to experience new joy – and her relationship with God has never been the same.
Recently I have found myself struggling with seeing the negative more than the positive. That’s not usually me, so when I found myself falling deeper into the “poor me” thinking, I decided it was time to put Becky’s 30-Day Praise Challenge to a test. The first ten days were okay, good thoughts to consider, but nothing earth-shattering, or majorly life changing. I found I was struggling even more with negative self-talk. But by days 11 through 15 I realized God was meeting me and speaking to me right where I was wallowing in the pit of my own despair. And I knew I didn’t want to stay there.
So I began to earnestly dig deeper into myself. When thoughts of being excluded, rejected, abandoned, burdened crept in, instead of dwelling on them – I thanked and praised God for the fact that He loved me for who I am. I focused on God’s qualities and characteristics. God loved me enough to send His only Son to die so that I might have eternal life. Even though I didn’t always feel like it, I sang songs of joy and praise to God. I look forward to my time of praise to start off the day with God. I usually take away one or two words that help me refocus throughout the day. These words have been: Chosen, Beloved, Cherished, Valued, Prized, Saved, Forgiven, Provider, Precious and the one I go to most – simply “Jesus”.
Once I say, think, and/or dwell on the word “Jesus”, or any of these other words, they intentionally redirect me back to all that I have been blessed with through God the Father/Creator, God the Son/Jesus/Savior, and God the Holy Spirit/Counselor/Comforter/Guide.
God desires and encourages us to praise Him because He knows that our word declarations can be powerful in the spiritual realm. Declaring God’s praise is more than positive thinking. As we choose to rejoice in who God is and thankfully place our circumstances in His care, something happens.
- His amazing peace comes in and shields our hearts and minds (Philippians 4:4-7).
• Comfort comes as we recall His promise to never leave us or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5b).
• He strengthens and helps us right where we are (Isaiah 41:10).
God’s Word has the power to change broken hearts and lives when we take the time to listen to what God is telling us and to spend time praising Him. In the past week I have seen God blow away black clouds of negative thinking and fill me with praise and joy in Him.
I pray you will be filled with hearts full of praise today ~ Faye
Some days we just need to constantly remind ourselves that God is FAITHFUL – all the time! It is easy on the good days when things are going along smoothly. But what about the days when the kids are more moody than you can handle, the car breaks down, or a friend or family member causes incredible pain?
Speaking from many experiences, I KNOW God is faithful, but I don’t always FEEL it. However, resting and meditating on God’s Word can FILL ME ABUNDANTLY with the assurance of His LOVE and FAITHFULNESS. I may not FEEL it, but deep down I KNOW it.
Having a prodigal child can bring heavy emotions some times. I REST fully in the promise of God’s Covenantal LOVE and GRACE to get me through these difficult times.
Praising God through both the good and difficult times for His LAVISH LOVE and FAITHFULNESS and hope you can as well ~ Faye
I recently spent a few minutes with a precious friend who was nearing the end of her earthly journey and preparing for her heavenly life. It was my pleasure to see her smile when we talked about her running through God’s incredible forests in heaven as she was an avid runner here on earth. Then, as I leaned in closer to her, I said, “God is so good!” She struggled to talk through the pain and medications, but she took every ounce of her energy and repeated back to me, “God — Is — So — Good!” How precious those last words from Sher were to me.
This morning while reading my devotions I was reading from Psalm 104 and came to verse 33 – I was so blessed to know that some of Sher’s last breaths included her praising God. I pray that I will have the same relationship with my Lord and Savior to have praise to Him be on my lips ALL of my days!
Praying you enjoy God’s incredible blessings here on earth as you prepare for eternity with Him ~ Faye
What incredible beauty there is in God’s creation! In the past month, I’ve gone from enjoying His glory in a sunrise at the lake to walking through the plants at work and seeing the incredible detail on a crisp, frosty morning.
This summer due to a lot of circumstances, I have felt myself drawing away from God. After talking about it with a few precious friends, they each asked if I was getting out with my camera lately. I had to admit I haven’t. Not like I had in the past. I can come up with a list of reasons/excuses why, but really it comes down to enjoying the adrenalin of being busy helping others. When I reflect on that, I realize that I am missing so much of what I was created to do — The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. (Westminster Catechism) I have allowed myself to be so busy at work, in projects, in planning worship services, etc., that I have not had my primary focus be on giving God glory and enjoying/celebrating Him for ALL He has done.
Yesterday our minister preached from Isaiah 52 & 53 on how much our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, did for us. How He endured incredible suffering-mocked, whipped, beaten. Jesus, our Lord, bled and died for our sins. When He paid such an incredibly selfless price for each one of us, why don’t we take time to glorify God in all things? As we all heard the message we realized the depth of God’s love. From the beginning of the worship service to the end there was an incredible transformation in the people’s worship from enjoying singing about God to hearts being lifted up glorifying God in praise for the Power of the Cross.
We have so much to glorify God for from the beauty of creation to His unconditional love and abundant grace.
I grabbed my camera the day after a hard frost. Oh the joy of being blown away, being still in God’s presence and enjoying His glorious creation. When I look at pictures of God’s creation such as these, I often sing the following words, especially the second verse:Be still, for the presence of the LORD, the Holy One, is here. Come bow before Him now with reverence and fear. In Him no sin is found; we stand on holy ground. Be still, for the presence of the LORD, the Holy One, is here. Be still, for the glory of the LORD is shining all around. He burns with holy fire; with splendor He is crowned. How awesome is the sight, our radiant King of light! Be still, for the glory of the LORD
is shining all around. Be still, for the power of the LORD is moving in this place. He comes to cleanse and heal, to minister His grace. No work too hard for Him; in faith receive from Him. Be still, for the power of the LORD is moving in this place. ~David Evans © 1986, Kingsway’s Thankyou Music
The morning I took the photo of the sunrise, I was visiting friends. I was blessed to wake up before the sunrise and just wait in the peacefulness of the lake and wait for the sun to appear. There is such an incredible calm that comes during that time of waiting as the sky turns from navy blue/black to light hues of gold and the fog rolls in on the lake. It is incredible just to silently breathe in God’s presence and peace and even without words being said just glorify God for ALL He has done for us. God has blessed us abundantly with His creation, love, mercy and grace. We need to take the time to Be Still and Know that He is God!
I had the wonderful time last night to watch some of God’s beautiful handiwork. It started with a wonderful sunset followed a few hours later by an incredible light show just north of us. My husband and I sat on the deck for at least half an hour watching flashes of lightning bounce from cloud to cloud and the cooling summer breezes blew over us following a hot, humid day. As I sat there I wondered what God was thinking, doing during the flashes of lightning. Was He wiggling His fingers in the clouds just to create some enjoyment for us to watch? Was He having fun stirring up the electrical charges that were bubbling out of the clouds? Or were the angels singing His praise and tonight they decided to show it with light? I know those thoughts are trying to reduce God to human terms and there is no way that can ever be done. But as I watched the beauty of the sunset, the majesty of the cloud billowing higher and higher, the sun’s rays streaming toward heaven and then the incredible lightening show, I could only think of the glory of God.
I am reading John Piper’s book Desiring God and this morning he was sharing from Psalm 115:3 – “Our God is in heaven; He does whatever pleases Him.” All I could do was think back to the sunset and lightening last night and again ponder God’s greatness, majesty and glory.
This Sunday our pastor will be preaching on the stoning of Stephen from Acts 7-8. We are focusing the opening of worship on Acts 7:55
“Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed steadily into heaven and saw the glory of God, and he saw Jesus standing in the place of honor at God’s right hand.”
These instances made me ponder whether my life is a reflection of God’s glory. For surely I may not see as clearly as Stephen as he gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, but last night I there was no denying that the Creator of the universe was clearly showing off a glimpse of His glory.
Praying God allows us to open our eyes to see more of those glimpses daily. May God abundantly bless you ~ Faye
I recently spent several hours walking through a Gems and Mineral show. Every aisle I walked I couldn’t help but think of the passage in Luke 19:38-40 where the people were shouting Hosannas to their king as Jesus road a donkey into Jerusalem during Passover:
“Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples!” “I tell you,” He replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.”
Several years ago I read this passage and was challenged to look at it from the perspective of standing up for Jesus – being boldly willing to praise Him publicly and “be willing and ready to share the hope that is within me.” As I looked at the variety of gems and minerals, I found myself thinking these stones, in all their splendor, are buried deep in the ground where man has to work to dig them out, clean them up and polish them to see their beauty. Yet even if they were never seen by man, God created them to cry out His praises. Can you imagine the fun God had creating a wide variety of shades of sapphires, emeralds, rubies, fluorite, quartz and the list goes on? They were created from His glory.
How much more does He desire MY worship and adoration? He created us to worship and glorify Him. The Westminster Catechism reminds us the chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. We can enjoy Him through His ever-changing, beautiful creation.
As my friend and I continued walking, she said, “I can’t help but think of the description of heaven in Revelation 21. How incredible will heaven be compared to the stones we have seen?”
Sitting here amazed at the wonder and beauty yet to be discovered in God’s amazing creation, just on this earth let alone the universe. We are so abundantly blessed ~ Faye
Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy!
I look to you for protection.
I will hide beneath the shadow of your wings
until the danger passes by.
2 I cry out to God Most High,
to God who will fulfill his purpose for me.
3 He will send help from heaven to rescue me,
disgracing those who hound me. Selah/Interlude
My God will send forth his unfailing love and faithfulness.
4 I am surrounded by fierce lions
who greedily devour human prey—
whose teeth pierce like spears and arrows,
and whose tongues cut like swords.
5 Be exalted, O God, above the highest heavens!
May your glory shine over all the earth.
6 My enemies have set a trap for me.
I am weary from distress.
They have dug a deep pit in my path,
but they themselves have fallen into it. Selah/Interlude
7 My heart is confident in you, O God;
my heart is confident.
No wonder I can sing your praises!
8 Wake up, my heart!
Wake up, O lyre and harp!
I will wake the dawn with my song.
9 I will thank you, Lord, among all the people.
I will sing your praises among the nations.
10 For your unfailing love is as high as the heavens.
Your faithfulness reaches to the clouds.
11 Be exalted, O God, above the highest heavens.
May your glory shine over all the earth.
Funny – I read this first in the NIV version and it has the familiar word Selah in it twice, I didn’t realize it until I reread it in the NLT version where they had the word Interlude that it was there. But I don’t like Interlude. I like Selah. From research, it’s unclear what the Hebrew word really means, but from sermons and Christian education classes, I remember hearing Peace, Rest, Pause, or Reflect. It’s a break in a song – such as Interlude, so the NLT has the right meaning, but S-e-l-a-h just sounds like p-e-a-c-e stretched out forever; a long breath. I find these days that I have to really work to take Selah in my life.
As I was reading this Psalm I was thinking of the times I stand enthralled at the eagles. The eagles return November through March by the river about 1/2 a mile from my home. They soar majestically, often without effort high in the heavens. Verse 1 says, “I will hide beneath the shadow of your wings until the danger passes by.”
Recently, I was blessed to see an eagle high in a Cottonwood Tree and get quite close to it. As I slowly walked closer, I enjoyed its ever watchful gaze. I took 10-15 minutes to gradually approach the eagle. I felt like I was enjoying Selah with God and His creation. I was grateful to have my camera and was able to capture several great shots, including the eagle taking off from the tree and soaring away. As he took off, the shadow cast by his wings was huge. To be able to hide in the shadow of God’s wings is beyond comprehension.
To hear the Psalmist say, “Be exalted, O God, above the heavens; let Your glory be over all the earth,” fills my heart with similar feelings that I get when I watch the eagles. The magnificence of the incredible eagle is inspiring. How much more should my God be to me? Like the Psalmist continues, “I will praise You, O Lord, among the nations; I will sing of You among the peoples. For great is Your love, reaching to the heavens; Your faithfulness reaches to the skies.”, so too, my heart soars with quiet praise to my God and Creator.
I think the next time I enjoy an eagle soaring, I hope I will remember to take time and exalt God’s holy name above all things.
May you find time to exalt Your God and praise Him above the heavens for all He has done for you ~ Faye
God’s voice thunders in marvelous ways;He does great things beyond our understanding.He says to the snow, ‘Fall on the earth,’and to the rain shower, ‘Be a mighty downpour.’ [vs 5-6 NIV]Then everyone stops workingso they can watch His power.(I love this image of pausing to look at God’s majesty.)The stormy wind comes from its chamber,and the driving winds bring the cold.God’s breath sends the ice,freezing wide expanses of water.He loads the clouds with moisture,and they flash with His lightning.The clouds churn about at His direction.They do whatever He commands throughout the earth. [ vs 7-12 NLT]
He sends the snow like white wool;He scatters frost upon the ground like ashes.He hurls the hail like stones.Who can stand against His freezing cold?Then, at His command, it all melts.He sends His winds, and the ice thaws.
Thanksgiving Day in America is filled with holiday traditions – time with family and friends, an abundance of good food, football, games, walks. It is often time together with loved ones. For some the day begins by going to church to thank God for all He has blessed us with. It was established by our founding fathers as a day that was set aside for us to give thanks to our Creator and God for the abundant blessings He has lavished on us from the material things to His providential care.
Dr. Charles Stanley was talking about our needs recently and said,
“Don’t be mistaken: there’s nothing wrong with having an awareness of our present needs. But too often we allow them to become the focus of our lives. The result is that our hearts become blind to the bounty all around us – a blessing far greater than blue skies, the beauty of creation, or the food it provides; something more essential than clothing, income, or a roof over our heads. It’s the provision of God Himself, and His constant presence among us.”
After reading these words I saw some of the news stories about Black Friday now becoming Black Thursday. I understand that some people really enjoy getting together with family and friends and hitting the early morning shopping sales experience after Thanksgiving. But it seems to me that we are focusing more and more on the THINGS of Thanksgiving and Christmas instead of the WHO and WHY of these two holidays. Thanksgiving is becoming more about time to spend money shopping for the perfect gifts and Christmas has become more about giving the right gift and making people happy. Those things in and of themselves aren’t wrong, but somehow we’ve lost the WONDER AND AWE of Christmas. We are focused too much on THINGS and not enough of God’s precious gift to us of His Son to save us from our sins and give us eternal life. Thanksgiving becomes more about strategies for what stores to hit and when in order to get the most bang for our buck instead of taking time to Thank God for all He has done for us.
Whether it is God’s providential hand keeping a truck from rolling completely over and drastically injuring the driver, or having a surgical procedure available to help an irregular heart become regular. Whether it is groceries dropped at the door of someone in need, or taking someone to a doctor’s appointment who feels like a burden only to tell them you’ve been in their shoes. You understand how they feel and are so grateful to be able to pay it forward. Maybe it is just the eagles soaring above you as you go for a walk under beautifully blue skies. Or it may be the hug you receive from your 9 year old grandson whom you never thought would make it when he was born at 2 1/2 pounds. It may be the peace of God in your heart as you meet with someone you’ve had conflicts with in the past and realize God’s grace has provided incredible healing.
A while back I wrote how worshiping God changes us to being more like Him. With the renewed advertising campaigns to buy and spend more and more this holiday season, it seems to me that Pastor Jack Hayford’s statement – “Worship changes the worshiper into the image of the one being worshiped,” is very true. Instead of worshiping God and being changed into His image. Too often we are worshiping the almighty dollar and the
happiness it might bring. If that is the case and we are worshiping material things, does Hayford’s quote mean – When we worship material things we are changed into the image of those things we are worshiping? Given the amount of advertising and news coverage over changing the shopping day and getting prepared for the holiday sales, it really makes me wonder. I heard of people who will have been camped out in line in front of a store in Wisconsin for a week by the time the store opens for the sale. Do we, do I, come close to having that type of anticipation and time for God?
I have been challenged to intentionally give God some serious time to thank Him for ALL HE has done for me. He has blessed me, my family and my friends abundantly more than we could ask or imagine. So much more than money can buy. I pray you are able to take time to reflect on and thank God for His love and grace He lavishes on us during this Holy Season.
Our son has served in the United States Air Force since 1997. I have 3 nephews in the military. Our son-in-law was in the Marines. My father served in the Army. We have many young people who have crossed our lives who are currently serving and countless people who have served over the years. We have seen first hand the sacrifices family and friends have had to make while their loved ones serve here in the United States and abroad. However, we count our blessings very much as those dear to us have not had to deal with major injury or loss.
Watching testimonials and tributes to those who have served particularly in recent years – young lives who have been dealt devastating injuries – physical and mental – I find myself in tears. As actors tell the stories of Veterans who have lost limbs, suffered traumatic brain injury, or deal with PTSD, my heart grieves for the altered lives each one of those men and women have to deal with. Their families and friends. Dreams shattered. Expectations unmet. Loss after loss. A “new normal.” The emotional scars. Surgeries. The residual loss of family and friends who can’t take the loss or the changes in the individual and walk out of their lives. And those who never come home.
What an incredible honor to live in a country where people are willing to sacrifice so greatly for their country and the freedom of others.
It is truly a blessing to know that God knows the number of hairs on our head and knows who each one of us are. He knows who the veterans are. He knows where our loved ones are. He knows what they need. He knows because He loves us so much He sacrificed His Son for our eternal life and freedom. He loves and cares for those who are wounded, lost and dying.
Praising God for the dedication and service of the men and women of this country. And REJOICING in His sacrificial gift so we may have complete forgiveness and freedom from our sins ~ Faye
It’s that time of year where we walk around the property and clean up the shrubs and gardens that are done producing. It means pulling up the frost-bit tomatoes and the browned sweet potatoes. It means reshaping my evergreen before winter so the Christmas lights will look nice on it.
I love God’s incredible timing because I’m just reading through a daily devotional a page or two at a time and I started midyear, so I’m not on the correct date in my reading. However, that seems to let God bless me more in very intentional words needed at just the right time. In Abundant Life Day Book by Nancy Guthrie, she looks at the Bible verses in the photo. Then she shares how God knows how to specifically nurture me into a faithful branch in God’s vineyard. Working in the garden center, I’ve watched how some of the staff has learned over the years to read the individual plants. They know which ones need more water or less, who needs to be repotted because it has become pot-bound and is no longer taking in the nourishment needed. And they know when and what plants need fertilizer and which ones don’t. When I compare that to Guthrie’s comments, I am stunned at how closely God pays attention to the details that surround me. If I need time with Him, He may cause a slow-me-down (often one that I’m not willing to take the time to deal with, but so necessary in hindsight). He may have to prune me to shape me into what He wants me to be now and in my heavenly home. He knows what activities are sapping my energy and He will trim it away.
One of Guthrie’s comments rang very true, “God may cut out some of the activities you enjoy so that in the stillness you can hear My voice.” I cannot tell you how true this is, but many who face chronic illnesses definitely know the truth of these words. For me, that was the enjoyment I had in working with teens in youth group – teaching, encouraging, worshiping, fooling around with, attending activities … it was what seemed to be the one way God allowed me to worship and serve Him. God changed that and told me it was time to step down after about a year of dealing with RA. It was hard. I argued with God and struggled with the let down. But God in His infinite wisdom allowed me to grow during the period after working with teens. He had a lot to teach me about BEING with Him. And the more I am with Him, the more I realize I want to be with Him even more. But I struggle with “finding” – no really with “making” time for Him. I know that if I don’t He’ll have another slow-me-down to help prune me and shape me into what He wants me to be.
Pruning and cutting hurt. Sometimes pruning is a simple snip from a clippers, other times it is a hard snap from a loppers or sometime it takes a hacksaw to cut away the dead growth. Whatever it takes, I need to remember that God’s pruning is with purpose, it is never careless or just because. He has learned to read me like a book and knows whether I need water, fertilizer or pruning.
By the way, again in God’s infinite wisdom and timing, I’m working with young people in a totally different perspective by helping them as they learn how to lead others in worship. I get to spend good time with them, hearing how life is going and encouraging them in their relationship with God.
Incredibly blessed by God’s incredible timing and careful pruning ~ Faye
I don’t have any profound thoughts to share. I’ve just been enjoying being in God’s presence and worshiping Him through His creation the past week and thought I’d share the photos that brought to mind the words from Psalm 148:
1 Praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord from the heavens!
Praise him from the skies!
2 Praise him, all his angels!
Praise him, all the armies of heaven!
3 Praise him, sun and moon!
Praise him, all you twinkling stars!
4 Praise him, skies above!
Praise him, vapors high above the clouds!
5 Let every created thing give praise to the Lord,
for he issued his command, and they came into being.
6 He set them in place forever and ever.
His decree will never be revoked.
7 Praise the Lord from the earth,
you creatures of the ocean depths,
8 fire and hail, snow and clouds,[a]
wind and weather that obey him,
9 mountains and all hills,
fruit trees and all cedars,
10 wild animals and all livestock,
small scurrying animals and birds,
11 kings of the earth and all people,
rulers and judges of the earth,
12 young men and young women,
old men and children.
13 Let them all praise the name of the Lord.
For his name is very great;
his glory towers over the earth and heaven!
14 He has made his people strong,
honoring his faithful ones—
the people of Israel who are close to him.
I’ve so enjoyed my walks lately – especially in the early dawn before the birds begin to sing. I’ve seen muskrats and raccoons, owls, blue herons and even an early eagle. (They usually don’t show up until November in our area.) But I’ve been very intrigued by the Indigo Bunting. The female and young buntings are brown, but the Indigo Blue of the male is striking. So I did some more research on it. I found out that the beautifully deep blue of the bunting isn’t really a blue bird – “actually it is a black bird. The bunting lacks blue pigment in its feathers (just like the Blue Jay). The sunlight is refracted within the structure of the male bunting’s feathers, making them appear blue. ” (allaboutbirds.com)
I began to remember the verse in 2 Corinthians 3:18 that talks about Christians reflecting the glory of God. As sinful man we are like the black bird. We don’t have any stunning color. But as the glory of God grows within us through the power of the Holy Spirit at work in us, the more we reflect God’s beauty within us, changing us, transforming us into stunning “blue birds”.
All of us who are Christians have no veils on our faces, but reflect like mirrors the glory of the Lord. We are transfigured by the Spirit of the Lord in ever-increasing splendor into his own image. New Living Translation
So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image. J. B. Phillips
Nothing between us and God, our faces shining with the brightness of his face. And so we are transfigured much like the Messiah, our lives gradually becoming brighter and more beautiful as God enters our lives and we become like him. The Message
The depth of beauty in the Indigo Bunting is incredibly stunning. He stands out and is seen much easier than the browns of the female. I pray that the blessing of God’s glory shines through you as you go out and share His love with others.
Abundantly blessed this week by a tiny little blue bird ~ Faye
It’s been an incredibly busy 2 weeks since I posted last. I was going to write more about Invitation to Solitude and Silence by Ruth Haley Barton right away, but God seemed to have other plans. I wanted to share about Elijah’s life, but I was coming at it from the incredibly spiritual high he had just had by seeing God’s power displayed miraculously with the prophets of Baal. (1 Kings 18) I couldn’t quite understand how going from that incredible experience Elijah decided to throw himself a huge pity-party and in that state of mind begged God to end his life because he was all alone. Didn’t he have the memories of God’s miraculous acts of starting fire on a water-doused altar to encourage him?
Then God had a talk with me. He reminded me of the spiritual highs, the closeness I’ve enjoyed with Him on many occasions (some even while writing for God’s Abundant Blessings). There are days I get into the mentality of “poor me”. “No one really cares about me.” “Everyone else has their own little groups.” Maybe you know the script. I hope not, because it isn’t an uplifting one. Anyway, I was in this blue funk about a month ago, and when reminded of the Elijah story, even looked at comparing myself to Elijah. But I didn’t have the incredible mountain-top experience … or did I?
This year my husband has had two heart procedures that have been slowly showing signs of improving his lifestyle, and if nothing else, at least he is still here with me. Last year my mother-in-law was diagnosed with terminal cancer – and she is still alive and doing very well today. Through the blessing of new medicine, my rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia that once caused severe pain when I lifted the bed sheets or turned a car key to having a physically active lifestyle and minor discomfort. After two years with no job, God blessed in ways I couldn’t imagine with a seemingly perfect job for me at this stage of my life. When the hospital bills have rolled in, we celebrate God’s faithfulness for good medical insurance. The list goes on and on … I’ve been blessed by God’s presence in my life in wonderful ways this year – both big and small (seeing 5 deer this morning on my foggy walk down by the river).
So why did I find myself about a month ago crying, “Poor me”? I think Satan likes to keep us in the pits of despair so we lose our focus on all that God has blessed us with and we come complaining to God. What parent would rather hear, “I love you Mommy,” than once more hear, “Why?” or the whiny “I don’t want to do that …” I can only imagine what God thinks of me when I start my pity-party once again, instead of praising Him. What He must go through when I whine and complain instead of worship and thank Him for all He has done for me.
In Elijah’s despair, God didn’t leave him alone. He sent an angel to minister to him with food and then sent him to Horeb, the mountain of God. He went into a cave to spend the night. And God appeared to him and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” Elijah goes on to tell all he has done for God and then begins to whine about his troubles. But the all-knowing God knew Elijah needed to understand who God really was. He told Elijah to “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.”
Elijah had to take that step of faith and go outside of the cave. When he did, there was a severe wind that split mountains and broke rocks, but God was not in the wind. Then came the earthquake and the fire, but God was not in either of them. Then came a gentle whisper. Elijah heard it, pulled his cloak over his face in respect and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave. God wasn’t in the chaos of the wind, earthquake or fire. God wasn’t in all the chaos that surrounded Elijah. When God moved Elijah out of the cave – with his whole self – the good, the bad and the ugly (Barton) – and go out and stand on the mountain and WAIT for the presence of the Lord to pass by. Once again God asked him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
Barton encourages us to ask ourselves, “What are you doing here, Faye [your name]?” in this time in your life? Because it wasn’t until Elijah was most vulnerable and risked exposing himself to whatever God had to show him next, that the Lord’s presence passed by. I’m not sure I’d have been willing to leave the security of the cave after seeing mountains split, rocks break, earthquake and fire. I’m glad Elijah had the faith to step out and WAIT for what God had for him. If he hadn’t taken the risk, he would have missed what God had planned for him.
For several days after my blue-funk, I spent a fair amount of time in solitude and silence (those that know me know that the silence is actually the bigger challenge) with God. When I began to ask myself the question, “What are you doing here, Faye?” I realized I was learning to intentionally refocus on God and allowing Him to fill me more than any one person – anyone else ever can. I’m grateful He took me through those days earlier this month because this weekend we had the blessing and privilege of celebrating 40 years of God’s faithfulness to our little church. From my perspective as a worship leader looking out over the congregation and seeing all the different families that came back, I reflected on God’s abundant blessings in their lives – suicide; miscarriage; loss of a spouse, parent or child; abortion; cancer; heart-disease; chronic illness or pain; job loss; financial struggles; abuse … the list goes on. But through it all, I saw and was blessed by the hearts lifted up toward God in worship. Many of these people have been on the mountain-top and the depths of despair, but they’ve learned to continue to walk with God and see where He is leading them.
These seem to be some disjointed and random thoughts, but just praying and encouraging you to take the time to let God ask you, “What are you doing here, _______?” so that you can give Him an honest answer. And praying that in that next phase, God will bless you with things you can hardly understand, things too great for you to comprehend ~ Faye
He MAKES me lie down in green pastures. – Ps 23:2
We often hear from older generations that life used to be so much slower. For example, before the Industrial Revolution people walked instead of drove to get places so they had time together walking, talking and listening. Life on the farm didn’t seem to be such a frantic whirlwind of family activity. A young friend is teaching in Morogoro, Tanzania, and she tells of the slower pace of the culture there. If you meet someone when you are out walking it would be an offense to quickly buzz by them. Time for relationships is more important than deadlines. She has learned that you need to stop and converse with the person, extending hospitality and fellowship. She basically has to plan to have time to rest and “be” with someone on her way to her destination. Today we have technology at our fingertips that connects us to the world. We have drive-up coffee shops and fast food services. Sitting, enjoying, resting and being in the presence of someone is seemingly a fading act.
Psalm 23:2 always makes me stop and think. It doesn’t say “I lie down when I feel like it.” It says the Shepherd (God) MAKES me lie down. There’s a part of me that wishes He would do this more often. Slow-me-down’s from God aren’t always fun. Matter-of-fact, I’ve usually experienced them in the form of sickness and trials. So I’m not sure I really want Him to do it that way. But I wish more often I’d wake up fresh at 5:00 in the morning, an hour before my alarm, and be ready to spend time resting with Him.
Preciously, this morning is one of those mornings. 5:00 – awake, more awake with a cup of coffee and water splashed in my face. I could curl up in bed and read my book, but I’ve learned that this is precious time from God. Usually, it means that we’ll spend time together and since there is plenty of time before my day actually begins, I’ll be sharing my/His thoughts. And I can get completely absorbed in time with Him. Basking in His presence. Just being in His word and just resting with Him. I’m sitting in my office which faces east and watching a beautiful display of colors appear with the sunrise. Sometimes my times where God makes me lie down with Him are early in the morning, grabbing a camera and heading out to watch His wonderful creation once again. Ever changing, always creative, always consistent. I just enjoy BEING in God’s presence. Whether it’s in the beauty of the birds songs, the varieties of greens in the trees, the intricacies of the flowers, or His glorious sunrises, I KNOW I am in the presence of my miraculous, Almighty Lord.
James Schaap says, “[God] takes care of me [like sheep]. He makes me lie down in green pastures even when I don’t think of it. He takes care of me even when I don’t ask Him. He shepherds me even when I don’t shepherd myself. … The Lord God Almighty cares for me.” God cares about each one of us enough that He guides, leads, and provides for us quality quiet time with Him. We need to be receptive to His call.
Often when I watch a sunrise I remember the words to the song: “When morning gilds the skies, my heart awakening cries, ‘May Jesus Christ be Praised!'” It prompts me to take a deep breath, enjoy His beauty, rest in His presence and sing for joy in my heart. In The Quest for Serenity, G. H. Morling says, “I should endeavor to be silent unto God and should take time for that blessed culture. … when calm is upon the spirit, one is drawn out more readily in adoration. It is in the silence that the Father’s care, the Savior’s cleansing, and the Comforter’s strengthening are experienced, and worship becomes almost inevitable.”
Abundantly grateful for God MAKING ME lie down in His green pastures this morning ~ FayeWhen morning gilds the skies, My heart awaking cries: May Jesus Christ be praised! Alike at work and prayer To Jesus I repair: May Jesus Christ be praised! To Thee, my God above, I cry with glowing love, May Jesus Christ be praised! The fairest graces spring In hearts that ever sing, May Jesus Christ be praised! Does sadness fill my mind? A solace here I find, May Jesus Christ be praised! Or fades my earthly bliss? My comfort still is this, May Jesus Christ be praised! When evil thoughts molest, With this I shield my breast, May Jesus Christ be praised! The powers of darkness fear, When this sweet chant they hear, May Jesus Christ be praised! When sleep her balm denies, My silent spirit sighs, May Jesus Christ be praised! The night becomes as day, When from the heart we say, May Jesus Christ be praised! In heaven’s eternal bliss The loveliest strain is this, May Jesus Christ be praised! Let earth, and sea, and sky, From depth to height, reply, May Jesus Christ be praised! Be this, while life is mine, My canticle divine, May Jesus Christ be praised! Be this th’ eternal song Through all the ages long, May Jesus Christ be praised!
Words: From the Katholisches Gesangbuch (Würzburg, Germany: circa 1744) translated from German to English by Edward Caswall. Public Domain
The yield of our life does not depend so much on the number of things that we do, but more on the quality of self-giving that we put to each thing. In order to add this quality, we must depart from this atmosphere of the modern world which is completely obsessed with activism, even in the church: do, do, do always more. Let us rather, once again, become inspired and tranquil men.
A recent conversation with a friend reminded me of where I was in my 20s and 30s. I was busy raising a family, starting my own secretarial business and serving God. At least that’s what I was telling myself I was aspiring to. But in reality over the years, I’ve learned that too often I was “doing” church. My husband and I remember our very young son, at the time, in the back seat of the car once asking, “Are we going to church again tonight?” We had been there 3 times for meetings during the week and twice on Sunday. It made us rethink WHY we were involved. Were we looking for the accolades that come with being “committed” to serving God? Were we hoping to “earn a jewel for our crown” by doing one more thing? Were we hoping to appear more holy to God? Were we simply seeing a need and filling it, but quite possibly at the expense of our own spiritual lives? Were we actually enjoying serving God out of grateful hearts? Looking back, I think it was some of each of these. There were Sundays when we showed up to worship God, but were so busy with teaching, leading, or some other task that we missed the opportunity to truly worship and praise God, giving thanks for the blessing He gave us that week. We were too busy “doing” church and not taking the essential time of giving glory to God for ALL He has done for us.
Years of reading God’s Word, listening to messages, reading books like The Quest for Serenity and Celebration of Disciplines by Foster have encouraged me to really think why I am “doing” something for God. During a time when my R.A. was really interfering with my lifestyle, I couldn’t “do” much of anything physically. I found myself having a purposeful “slow-me-down” from God. During that time I grew in my relationship with God because I knew my “doing” had to be mostly emotional, mental and spiritual instead of physical.
Too often Christians love to be busy for God, but we miss the resting in God. Once we life restfully with God and in God, we will be filled with restful lives. The Westminster Catechism reminds us that “Man’s chief end is” – not personal happiness – “but to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.” Don’t let your lives become so busy DOING that you don’t take time BEING filled with God’s presence. The calm and serenity is really worth it.
May the blessings of God rest upon you.
May God’s peace abide in you.
May God’s presence illuminate your heart
Now and forever more.
It’s Spring in Iowa. Actually one might even think it’s been Summer with temperatures in the 70s and 80s for over a week instead of 30s and 40s. All of the plants and trees have been budding and bursting forth their beauty. I’ve been working in a garden center and am blessed that the owners allow me pretty much free reign of the property to take photos. Every where I turn something else seems to herald its praises to God.
When I see how God has blessed me throughout my life, how can I keep from shouting His praise? Funny, as I’m writing this, Chris Tomlin’s How Can I Keep from Singing? is playing in the background. God’s timing is so incredible. I turned on Chris Tomlin’s CD this afternoon after I needed a spiritual remake and a lifting up of my spirits. I ran into some people who pretty much are able to only see the glass of life as half empty. They’ve had many difficulties in life, but after talking with them I just felt so sad and sorry for them. When I got home, I knew I could wallow in their self-pity or I could crank up the music and praise God for all He has given to me. These friends have been stuck in the past dreading the changes life offers. Now I don’t like change either, especially when it comes with trials – chronic illnesses, infertility, floods, tornadoes, broken water pipes, health concerns, etc.
But then I look at these beautiful plants and flowering trees. They’ve been hibernating over the Winter after dying off in the Fall just to be able to withstand the harsh winds, snow and ice. Then when the sun comes out, temperatures warm and the Spring rains come, they burst for their glorious color and intricate beauty. Look at this Magnolia blossom, it’s beautiful before it even opens. The white, pinks and purples all gracefully coming out of the base of the bud. There’s not even leaves of the tree when the bud is showing off it’s glory. It doesn’t care if the sky is cloudy and overcast, it’s ready to praise its Maker. It’s not worried about any possibility of weather changes and even the “danger” of frost. It just obeys God’s command to glorify Him.
My heart grieves for these friends who are struggling to see God’s beauty in their lives. I am so grateful to be deeply content in You alone, for You have been there for me through all of the trials and blessings of life. Help me to keep these words in my heart and mind:
How can I keep from singing Your praise? How can I ever say enough, how amazing is Your love? How can I keep from shouting Your name? I know I am loved by the King and it makes my heart want to sing! ~ Chris Tomlin
So abundantly grateful for the blessing of being able to give praise and glory to God! ~ Faye
I’m just back from another worship rehearsal. I thoroughly enjoy the team God has put together for me to serve with. We enjoy spending time working out the kinks before Sunday and not taking ourselves too seriously. We enjoy who God created each of us to be. I recently purchased a beautiful calla lily and had fun taking photographs of it. When I got it home I realized that one of the blossoms was actually “deformed” with a second petal. I had spent about 1/2 an hour taking photos and never saw the flaw. Why? Because I was so captivated by the beauty of the plant from its multicolored leaves to it’s inviting blossoms. God doesn’t care if we sing off key, hit wrong notes on the piano, can’t get the sound system to pick up the guitar, or miss the timing of a slide. God doesn’t care about the little details. God just wants our worship. We were made to serve an Audience of One. Just enjoy praising God with your heart today! I was searching for some quotes on worship and came across these two:
“As John 4:23 says, Its time, as worshipers of God, to give him all we have. For when he is exalted, everything about me is decreased. So many times we stand in the way of really stepping into the secret place of worship with God. Just abandon tradition and the “expected” ways of Praise & Worship and get lost in the holy of holies with the sole intention of blessing the Fathers heart.” Jessica Leah Springer
“When I worship, I would rather my heart be without words than my words be without heart.” Lamar Boschman
Praying that your heart may be blessed with the fullness of God to lift up your hearts in praise to worship Him! ~ Faye