Warm Wednesday Words: Despising the Shame

scandalDictionary.com – *Shame – 1. The painful feeling arising from the consciousness of something dishonorable, improper, ridiculous, etc., done by oneself or another.  4. A fact or circumstance bringing disgrace or regret.

*Shame  launches us into a sort of sacred suffering that gives us tools, otherwise illusive, that can actually save us.  It can originate in our own conscience, or it can be “assigned” to us by others who are more then willing to serve it up and offer seconds.  Constructively, it can provoke remorse and change, or when felt on behalf of others, comfort, grace and prayer.  Yet it also can circle over our heads with landing gear down, powerless to make its mark, if we aren’t willing to humbly inspect our hearts.

Jesus was no stranger to shame.  He didn’t turn from it, but conquered the sting of it for the joy that came from making a way to save us.  Hebrews 12:2, “Who for the joy that lay before Him endured a cross and despised the shame…”  Shame can be a stalker and a haunter, especially if we’re prideful, but when we follow Jesus example and despise it, we shrink it to its rightful place and role and amazing things can happen.

When I worked at a local daycare, we often sang action songs including a favorite “We’re going on a Bear Hunt”.  Within the lyrics, there is a great message, “we’re coming to a wide river, and there’s no bridge going over it, no tunnel going under it, it’s just plain old water, and we’re gonna have to swim…I’m not afraid.  Are you?”

We’re often put in circumstances just like that.  There’s no way around, under, or over.  We just gotta go through and get thicker skin while the elements pelt us.  The ultimate example is Christ on the cross.  John Piper wrote an excellent post on what it means to despise the shame.  He concluded Jesus “despising the shame” was like saying, ‘Listen to me, Shame, do you see that joy in front of me?  Compared to that, you are less then nothing…You think you have power.  Compared to the joy before me, you have none…. You think you can distract me.  I won’t even look at you….You are a fool.  Your filthy hands fulfill holy prophecy.’  There was once a man who over the course of his lifetime had experienced devastating parenting failures with dire consequences, committed adultery, and set up a murder to cover his own mistake.  Yet because he loved God and repented of his sins, he was able to say, “Those who look to Him are radiant with joy.  Their faces will never be ashamed.”  (Ps. 34:10)  If you guessed David, you’re right.  I love reading the Psalms, and am thankful he despised the shame and told his story.

So yeah, I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength, and so can you.  That includes the boldness to be honest and humble for Christ’s sake, no pun intended.  Some would rather avoid the power tools that can be earned in trials and shame, then admit anything shameful touched them or their families.  Ann Voskamp said in a recent post “the worst grief is a grief that cannot speak…..Grief is the guaranteed price we pay for love.”  The Bible is rife with examples of the type of guarantee that things are going to get tough, and that there’s no way around but through.   There are no guarantees of turbulent free friendships, marriages, parenting, businesses, health, reputations, etc; only of a Savior who will walk beside us triumphantly through the turbulence and “keep” that which we’ve committed to Him, ultimately souls.  He may allow some deep plunges, shame, grief, or heartache in order to refine and use what is of high value to Him.

For us, the hope and promise is that we have a Savior who showed us how to despise the shame and find joy.   Have the filthy hands of shame and despair propelled you toward a destiny?  Are you willing to share what might be useful to encourage someone?

Despise the Shame

*For the purpose of this post I chose not to split hairs over shame vs. guilt.
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Warm Wednesday Words: Acres of Hope

IMG_9703As another Mother’s Day approaches I am leaning into hope and steering clear of man’s conclusions as I prod through my valleys.  I  refuse to compare myself to Mother Theresa, Susanna Wesley, Michelle Dugger, nor any young and idealistic mother full of preconceived notions about life and parenting, though I’m happy for all of them.  But for myself, I’m madly in love with my kids and grandkids no matter what.  Every single one.   The sweetest celebration of my motherhood is not on any one particular day, or in reveling in any one of my children’s successes, though I do that.  It is in the thoughtfulness of each one of them throughout the year.  And then another year and another and another.  It is in cards, calls, visits, and laughter.  For the ones with children (my sweet grands), it is in the effort they put into guiding the grandkids to gift us with sweet indulgences of artwork, notes, hugs and chats.  For seasons when there has been too much gap between visits or too much silence in the conversation, (on either end) it is in the celebration of a God who mends and heals in our lack, our uncertainty, and yes, even in our sin.

If I have ever doubted the lavishness of my God, and I don’t generally, I have only to feast my eyes on an azalea bush in May to settle the matter.

IMG_9723For my friends who have yearned to have children, but could not, I am sorry.  Truly sorry.  My heart aches for you.  I am also sorry for those who have loved and held a child who passed away.  There are no words to say I understand, because I don’t and can’t.  Your hope for reunion is literally an eternity away.  Then there are heart holes for those who have had to give up a child, parent a child without the parenthood “title” or for those of us who have miscarried without ever holding that child.  As Ann Voskamp said in a recent post, “Grief is the guaranteed price we pay for love.”  She went on to explain that God is the ultimate grief converter because He promises to invade our grief with joy and pour lavish comfort on us in our circumstances.

IMG_9735I hope that God fills your heart with hope in abundance this Mother’s Day…hope that you know how much love God has for you.  If you are a believer in Christ as your Savior who died for you, that makes you a daughter of the King, and a joint heir with Christ.  In other words, you are royalty!    Since God has all the traits that were divided in Adam when He created Eve, He longs to love us and our children with a motherly type love, as well as a fatherly love, and of course, His agape love (which is not based on feelings).  “How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings…” from Luke 13:34.

This Mother’s Day I once again am thankful that God indulgently  allows us to be a miracle in the middle of our circumstances.   Our compass is always pointed to hope, as is beautifully expressed in a song about Christ and the church, “And though you’re in the dark here call me friend…not safe but worth it, so worth it…As you lead us away to valleys low, to acres of hope, acres of hope.”

Do you realize the miracle that He has allowed you to be and the acres of hope that He is leading you in from your “unsafe” valley?

Warm Wednesday Words: Not so Steady Sentiments

Me and TonyExuberant (Merriam Webster Online Dictionary) very lively, happy or energetic:  filled with energy and enthusiasm.
Passion (Dictionary.com) Any powerful or compelling emotion or feeling, as love or hate.
Grief (Dictionary.com) A cause or occasion of keen distress or sorrow.

It can be a blessing and a curse to feel strongly.   I’d  rather dwell on the fun and happy…better yet, joyous, side of things, especially since what we feel deeply must be expressed some way or another.  When I was growing up, Donna Fargo’s lyrics, “Shine on me sunshine, walk with me world, it’s a skippidity do-da-day, I’m the happiest girl in the whole U.S.A”  resonated with me.  My mom loved to tell stories and laugh and joke while we cleared the dinner table and wound down most evenings.  Like anybody, I love the fun times but can embrace the occasional heartbreak, too, and sometimes even in the same general time frame.

To both soar high and plunge deep is the personality God gifted me with and its bane is restrained by the Christ who lives in me.  Unfortunately, that restraint is an ongoing and unfinished process.  But for most folks,  honest humility necessitates reciprocal forbearance.  I find comfort in the Biblical David, and many other Biblical characters who felt deeply.  As obvious from the Psalms, David dealt with a restlessness and a range of emotions.  Yet his confident expectation was in God that without a doubt all would be made right.  (Ps. 63:1-11)  He was hidden in Christ and an avid worshiper.  And so am I.

open my mouth wide enoughGuy Brown, Ph.D., commenting on Kay Jamison’s book,  “Exuberance:  The Passion for Life”, says that ‘exuberance appears to feed off social interaction…and in adults exuberant behavior can be regarded as youthful playing or “kidding around”…exuberance is a behavior or mode of interaction, rather than an emotion …Exuberance keeps occasional company with grief, though grief may command the greater mention.’  It is here that passion, with its’ long suffering tendency, may over ride the sometimes more flitty exuberance.  While talking at length on exuberance and all its pros and cons, Brown says, “Yet exuberance and joy are fragile matter.  Bubbles burst; a wince of disapproval can cut dead a whistle or abort a cartwheel.  The exuberant move about the horizon, exposed and vulnerable.’  There was a curious request made of God in an Anglican prayer, he says.  ‘Shield your joyous ones.’  Everyone asks God to watch over the sick, the despairing, the suffering; as well we should.  Yet, I’m thankful someone thought fit to pray for divine protection for the exuberant ones normally left to their own devices, and the misunderstandings and judgments that cloud their paths.

Brown and Jamison allow that the exuberant types can be “silly, juvenile, annoying, and disruptive”.   But thankfully, Jamison added a saving grace, “Potentially, they may be more creative, because they generate random, playful ideas.”  Though Brown was somewhat searing on the exuberant types and admitted to being more of an “Eeyore” than a “Tigger”, he did offer food for thought.

Meantime, I tend to ere more on the lighter side and find lengthy cut and dry, “left brain” centered engagements like a stuffy room, drastically in need of a breath of fresh air.  In one of my favorite Oswald Chambers devotionals (and there are many), he says, “Beware of allowing yourself to think that the shallow aspects of life are not ordained by God; they are ordained by Him equally as much as the profound.  We sometimes refuse to be shallow not out of deep devotion to God but because we wish to impress….And it causes us to be a walking rebuke to other people.” (Nov. 22 My Utmost for His Highest)

humor, faith, laughter, prayerJesus promised those of us who grieve are blessed, because we will also laugh.  We are told that laughter is good medicine.  I personally think that should include belly laughter, and definitely should include a trust in God despite circumstances.  God tells us quite simply how to live:  “Be fair and just to others, compassionate and loyal in our love, and don’t take ourselves too seriously, but always, always take God seriously.”  (Micah 6:8 The Message).  Along with being Holy, Just, Mighty, Fearsome and many other things, God is also Compassionate and has a sense of Humor.  On the exuberance scale are you more the Tigger or the Eeyore?  What characteristic do you have that vacillates between a blessing and a curse?  How do you keep on the positive end of the spectrum?  How forgiving are you with failures, both in yourself and others?

Warm Wednesday Words: Friendship: A Divine Work

our hearts - old friendsFriends warm hearts, evoke smiles, and build up souls.  I’ve recently enjoyed some particularly warm words and sweet times with friends.  It feels like an emotional sun bath after a spell of rainy weather.  Though there may be many in the bigger tent of acquaintance type friendships, I am referring to sweet and personal friendship; i.e. the kind that endears and fills the “love tank”.  At the inception of friendship is some kind of commonality, random though it may be, and the time it takes to discover it.

you too Then when two or more hearts make this discovery, words are spoken that settle into a heart, find their place, and no matter what fractures may come, the healthy heart will hold onto the good, and ascribe the most positive motives possible to friendship blunders.

friendships imprintedWhen the blunders occur, and they will in all of us called human, there may be a time to question or confront.  As with any other conversation between friends, it is personal, and a preference of private, rather then public should be assumed.

iron sharpens ironHumility, smiles, hugs, (and maybe even chocolate and coffee) are great accompaniments to any such planned conversation, or a good idea for a follow up, which is an important cusp to transition from possible tension to sweet rejuvenation.

sweet perfumeThis gregarious and humble camaraderie deepens the roots of a friendship, and harmony and amicability are all but pulsing in each tete-a-tete.  Both heartaches and victories are shared with lavish empathy.  Here we feel freedom to breath, to speak, to be oneself just as we have in our friendship with our Lord, Jesus.  (Acts 17:28) Here, pretext melts and love, empathy, and yes, definitely laughter reign and are freely reciprocated.

Winnie the Pooh Friends The old saying holds some truth, “Make new friends, but keep the old.  One is silver and the other gold.”   And, “When we do the hard intimate work of friendship, we bring a little more of the divine into daily life.”  Do you have friends with whom you feel safely tucked in love and forbearance?  Can you laugh at yourselves as well as weather a rebuke?  If so, treasure these friends as a divine gift.  The hard work of friendship has a divine calling on it straight from the scriptures.  Are you willing?

Warm Wednesday Words: The Healer on the Journey

Lately I’m latching on to my healer a little tighter, and He has me securely in His Hand and under His wing on this lap of my journey, as always.  There is an incredible peace that is present in a relationship with a Heavenly Father who knows and loves me.  “He wounds, but he also binds up; he injures, but his hands also heal.”  Job 5:17-18 (NIV)   Whether we suffer physically or emotionally, in our weakness, He is made strong.  When I’m misunderstood or misunderstand someone else, I can still trust Him… “Hallelujah!… for true and righteous are his judgments.” Rev 19:1-2 (NIV)  I “remember there is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus.” (Rom. 8:1), and I’m patient with myself because God is completing the work in me that He began and has a few prayer warriors praying for me prolifically with joy and the affection of Christ Jesus  and who value my particular contribution to the gospel.  Thus I can grow in wisdom and discernment and overflow with the same kinds of prayers for others partnering in the gospel.

encouragementIn Ps. 3:3, David, who experienced a wide gamut of “good” and “bad” from the Lord,  recorded that feeling of being protected by God, “But You, LORD, are a shield around me, my glory, and the One who lifts up my head.” (Ps. 3:3)  Zephaniah also spoke, not only of the knowing of a mighty Savior, but of a tender and personal love; i.e. the kind of love that warms a heart and prompts goodwill.

“The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.”  (Zeph. 3:17)

As long as I remember whose offspring I am, and receive whatever He has in His hand for me with the grace and truth He has lavished on me, then I can live and move and exist freely and fully loved in Him.

Are you under His wing in your journey?  It’s a “safe” place to be.  Have you a few prayer warriors who value you?  Are you that for at least a few others?

Warm Wednesday Words: Intensive School is in Session

 

from dark cloudsI am in a Master’s Degree School Program as I trudge through some one way valleys.  After over 25 years of homeschooling seven children I have become accustomed to curriculum, whether bought as a package or whether I put it together hodge podge style.  I spent many an August watching kids and sometimes grandkids swim at the city pool while I poured through the following year’s school plans and calender.  Implementation of each year took off with grandiose thoughts of how organized I would be, how much they would learn and what balance of study versus hands on and field trips would be used.  In addition to hours of planning, there were many, many more hours of reading out loud, drilling of tables and verses, etc.  Admittedly, I did fall asleep a few times while reading out loud in the evenings, and my kids won’t let me live down the way I mastered “reading” in my sleep.  There were a few such times when I sent them to bed, but still under the spell of sleepy delirium, told them to do such interesting things as “Brush your teeth and get in the toilet.”  But none of those years of homeschooling required my focus as much as the intensive classroom of praying and keeping faith while an adult child wades through serious troubles.

As I focus on standing on many scripture promises, I can’t allow myself to indulge in logic and reasoning.  Oh no.  I serve a big God who is able to do exceedingly above all that I ask or think.  (Eph. 3:20).  Nothing is impossible for Him.  (Luke 1:37)  He can reach where I can’t.  (Isa. 59:1)  He will rescue my children, even when they’re not innocent if I keep my hands “pure” because of Christ.  His rescue is first and foremost the soul, but sometimes he rescues circumstances also, if He chooses to bring glory to Himself from them a different way.  (Job 22:30)  His Word that we helped them store away, won’t return void.  (Isa. 55:11) He is able to bring our children back to the Way; i.e. their own spiritual “land”.  (Jer. 31:17)  And best of all He is able to accomplish all this in spite of me, and all of my teaching efforts, because He will actually be their teacher and give them peace.  Not only does He not judge me, He makes up for my lack.  (Isa. 54:13)  That is my teaching retirement verse.  The very spring of my last year of supervising our home school, God caused that one to stand out in “neon” letters, both as a wake up call and a comfort, so that I can get on my knees before Him each day and give the teaching results to Him.  Then I’m able to start a new day with renewed faith knowing He made this day for my faith to land on and soar in, no matter what circumstances I’m in.  He causes me to repeat such promises as “What time I am afraid I will trust in Thee.”  (Ps. 56:3) and Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. (Phil. 4:6)  And most of all, He brings me around to a sacrifice of praise to Him even when I’m down.  My praises may come out in a sob but they switch my focus to Him and bring His presence into my circumstances or that of someone I’m praying for, sometimes with a surprising turn of events.

Giving the results to God as I bow my head in the “faith” school takes focus, but is rewarding.  I have set backs, where I just don’t really want to display His glory.  I’d rather stay under a pile of blankets (at least mentally) and indulge in some grief over some latest turn of events.  He is patient with me as I need a little “down time” before forging ahead in this Master program He has me in.  During those times I feel all the brokenness and all the pain and know that it is real.  There is healing in this acknowledgement and in tears, which God collects and keeps.  He hears my cries and yours!

But back in the faith classroom, He carries me to the table where I don’t see my brokenness anymore.  I see things from His perspective and it’s so much better then my own.  I’m whole and I know He is fulfilling His promises as He sees fit in my life and that of my family.  This degree program doesn’t commence until eternity, but the dividends can’t be equaled in any other program out there.  There is faith and peace for character enrichment and future crowns to lay at His feet.   This is a program that some of the most intelligent folks don’t acquire; since it requires a surrendered heart.

Who am I to question His ways or His timing.  It is enough that He carries me to a table I don’t deserve.  Do you struggle with trials and His timing?  What ways help you not see your brokenness, or that of a loved one, anymore, but rather the One who carries you?

Warm Wednesday Words: The Secret Things

friendship of the LordThere are times I am in circumstances that require me to seek God for the sake of God, not because I have an agenda.  This is not because I don’t have an agenda or keep a prayer “wish” list.  It’s just because I have no control over my list anyway, so I might as well find warmth, comfort and love from God because He is God, loves me and offers an eternal perspective full of hope.  And isn’t that what trust is about anyway?  Turning my control (or lack of) over to the only One who really has control and is All Knowing.  When I spend time worshiping in this realm, it’s not long before my list becomes secondary to His will and He reveals Himself to me in some intimate, personal and often delightful way.

These expressions of His love to me are very real, though their significance is not always  easy to explain to others.   Nor is it always easy for others to explain such personal and holy “secrets” or blessings from God.  It’s not because they’re not genuine, but because God chooses to extol His extravagant love in an often deeply personal way.

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Truthfully, no one can love the way God can.  Who else knows the number of hairs on my head?  Or exactly how I was formed in the womb, including any “defects” he allows as thorns in the flesh for a greater purpose or assets and gifts He places inside for eventual discovery and selfless use.  As Oswald Chambers said in “My Utmost for His Highest”, ‘then we find that God wants to get us into relationship with Himself, to get us in touch with His purposes.  Are we so wedded to Jesus Christ’s idea of prayer – “They will be done” – that we catch the secrets of God?  The things that make God dear to us are not so much His great big blessings as the tiny things, because they show His amazing intimacy with us.  He knows every detail of our individual lives.’
Have you laid aside your prayer “wish” list lately and simply pressed into listening for His intimate expressions of love, joy and communication toward you?  He has secrets ready to share with His intimate friends.

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Warm Wednesday Words: The Rock that’s Higher

There are days…no seasons…when I have to seek a higher Rock.  Those times can feel like I’m between a rock and a hard place.  But when I recognize Who truly is my Rock and Redeemer, I’m no longer in that hard place, I’m both set upon the Rock and sheltered by Him; i.e. The Rock of Ages.  My circumstances may not feel better, but my focus changes and they no longer are the big issue I thought they were.   Not that God has forgotten about them, nor asks me to.  He just grows my faith in His sweet and personal love that He will shine through it for those who have eyes to see and cause joy even in pain.  He gives beauty for ashes.  Everything is transformed in the light of His grace into something with His beauty stamped all over it even in our weakness.

10369221_10202873739737365_5990994660212438186_nJust as flowers are more prolific on the plant that has been through a season of winter. drought or stress then on a plant that has been over indulged with rich nitrogen, so we are more fruitful for Christ when our roots have been forced to reach deeper, then when we aren’t stretched by our circumstances.

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Oswald Chambers puts it well in the May 14 devotional, “My Utmost for His Highest”, ‘The only thing that will enable me to enjoy the disagreeable is the keen enthusiasm of letting the life of the Son of God manifest itself in me….If God puts you there, He is amply sufficient.”

10363953_10202873935142250_6242588642847180332_nWhen I think I’m being pressed beyond what I can do, I remember 2 Cor. 12:9, “’My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.’  Therefore, I will most gladly boast all the more about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may reside in me.

 

Warm Wednesday Words: Visions of Rapture

 

blurry vision

Visual distortion can be an issue for me.   Physically, I have post radial keratotomy complications, which I now realize are quite common due to not well researched optometrist claims made back in the 80’s and 90’s.  As frustrating as this condition is increasingly becoming, it is not these visual distortions and fluctuations that can cause me the most grief.  The most critical visual malady I suffer from on occasion is when I focus on the perspective most easily seen by my circumstances, negative or otherwise, rather than God’s perspective.  When I submit to God and refocus to His point of view I am enveloped in a spiritual bubble of truths and promises, often revolutionary, that I couldn’t see before or had temporarily lost sight of.

God's ways higher

Refocusing gets easier with practice.  It comes about by time spent in the Word, in prayer, in worship and seeking out those who give Godly and encouraging words and counsel and who will help identify the negative lies of the enemy to toss out and replace with truths.  I know why Fanny Crosby, the blind hymn writer, wrote in “Blessed Assurance”, ‘Perfect submission, perfect delight!  Visions of rapture now burst on my sight; Angels descending bring from above Echoes of mercy, whispers of love.’

a bright warrior angel

To our detriment, we often don’t see what God knows and sees.  Elisha’s servant had this problem and was overcome with fear, as anyone might be, when he saw the enemy armies surrounding them.  Elisha, who was seeing a spiritual realm, prayed for God to open his servant’s eyes to see the deliverance at hand.  Ps. 34:7 promises, “The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear Him, and rescues them.”   Have you ever spent time with someone who so bolstered your “faith” perspective that you walked away feeling squished between the Christ beside you, behind you, and ahead of you?  I have and I am thankful God uses brothers and sisters in Christ to provide just the medicinal spiritual boost we need on occasion.

warrior angel help

In Zechariah we are told of unseen angels that patrol the earth and go before the throne to inquire on our behalf. We also know, but may forget, that Christ is there to intercede for us day and night.  Balaam was initially unable to see things quite from God’s perspective, yet God allowed Balaam’s donkey to see the warning angel.  Balaam later repented for not realizing this invisible spiritual realm and the urgency of God’s will in the matter.   Daniel may have thought his prayers were slow in being answered but eventually an angel arrived with the answer and chalked the delay up to a strange but unseen struggle in the spiritual realm.   Joseph’s view of the bad that happened to him was summed up in the spiritual perspective he acquired during his years of trials, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good..” (Gen. 50:20).  This is the promise we have when we love God.  This is why we can have a peace even when evil seems abundant in high places.  God is still ultimately in charge and His plan has not changed.

angels surround us

In stressful situations when I have trouble with keeping my perspective on the faith filled focus I know to be true, I pray for help (Mark 9:24).  Then I attempt to press on with Hebrews 12:1-2 in mind, “ Therefore, since we also have such a large cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us lay aside every weight and the sin that so easily ensnares us.  Let us run with endurance the race that lies before us, keeping our eyes on Jesus….”  Those invisible witnesses are martyrs, loved ones who have gone before us to Heaven and angels watching our spiritual progress with great interest.  Though curiously mysterious, we are being watched by an invisible crowd, we have angels to watch and attend us, and Christ is constantly interceding for us.  We serve a God who not only sacrificed His Son for us, but who stands with us in all of our circumstances and uses every one of them for our good when we believe Him.  I have learned to cope with fluctuating distortions in my vision and may even find a remedy soon, but I do not want to be spiritually nearsighted.  Visions of rapture are too good to miss!  What are your most recent visions of rapture that took a second look to “see”?

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Warm Wednesday Words: It’s the Small Thing

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A small thing that makes a big difference is…to sing.  Edmund Clarence Stedman, a late nineteenth century poet, said, “Faith and joy are the ascensive forces of song.”  It doesn’t matter what kind of voice you have as long as you can make a noise.  Heartfelt singing lifts depression, reduces stress and anger, instills gratefulness and joy, unscrambles jumbled thoughts and and desires into prayers, exercises your lungs, improves circulation, decreases muscle tension, tones your facial muscles, releases pain relieving endorphins, improves your immune system and, best of all, when worshipful, invites God into your circumstances.

worship is a lifestyle

Singing with a group adds even more benefits.  It is a powerful experience to abandon “self” for the immersion into a corporate body of believers for unifying worship in which God’s very presence is felt.

corporate worship

Ps. 147:1 says, “Praise the Lord!  For it is good to sing praises to our God; for it is pleasant and a song of praise is fitting.”  Ps. 104:12 says, “Beside them the birds of the heavens dwell; they sing among the branches.”  Prisoners in deplorable conditions have found joy from hearing a bird sing outside their cell each morning.  Others have gained peace from the recollection of a song.  As Paul and Silas prayed and sang while in prison, God sent an earthquake to break the bonds of all the prisoners and then used Paul and Silas to bring them and the jailer to heart freedom.  When you choose joy in your trials and sing praises, you might just witness the unexpected and miraculous.IMG_6169

As Jesus was making His triumphal entry into Jerusalem, his disciples broke out in joyful praises of God.  When the Pharisees told Jesus to rebuke them, He replied, “I tell you, if they were to keep quiet, the stones would cry out!”  Like some today, the Pharisees were impervious both to the contagiousness of joy, and, of far worse consequence, to the humble insight that would recognize Jesus as Savior and Lord.

triumphal entry

During many of the early years of raising our family, we attended a home church which employed an hour of  A Capella worship each Sunday before communion.  The men and boys called out the songs of choice for their families, and my kids nearly always chose “The Trees of the Field Will Clap Their Hands”.  Breathtaking imagery is harnessed in the visualization of merging with nature in majestic praises.

go out in joy

For me, singing propels faith, joy, thankfulness, love, hope, and peace into prominence as I go about my daily chores, and it articulates heart prayers.  What small thing makes a big difference in your life?

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