Warm Wednesday Words: Margin for the Other Side Journey

BeFunky_IMG_20150315_081054430.jpgThe pendulum has swung wide for me recently on life events, and there have been moments in the stormy times, I’ve lost sight of the other side.  Because stresses and griefs tug at the heart even through the elation of miracles, I’ve had a time of it.  Yet the recent warmth of personal kindnesses and encounters threatens to thaw the icy numbness that settles and resettles in my arms.

I will highlight a few, but not all, of the weekend warmths God sent my way.  On Saturday, a friend and marathon runner committed one of her many miles she runs to praying for our family.  She says she likes to pick a friend and devote a mile to them in prayer.  I’m humbled, honored. and grateful.

Sunday I received a “random” message from an out of state friend who I have not been in touch with for months.   Among many other encouraging words, she said, ‘I am praying that the Lord carry you through the storms and calm the waves. May you always remember that the Lord is in the boat with you and that because He is, you will make it to the other side. When the Lord went into the boat with the disciples, he said to them “let us go to the other side“.  There was no doubt that they would make it to the other side.even in the storm…even though they were afraid when the storm came…because Jesus was with them and He knew they would make it, it was not yet His time. It is hard to Trust in the storms that shake us, but Jesus says “Do not be afraid, Lo I am with you always, even unto the end of the earth….” ‘ 

Again on Sunday (after church and a deeply satisfying nap) I did some catching up in the “Breathe” Bible study (by Priscilla Shirer) that I am in, on making room for the Sabbath, boundaries, etc.  After discussing boundaries and margin, Shirer quotes Brad Lomenick, respected innovator and leader of the Catalyst Movement in America as saying several things about the powerful concept of ‘margin’ in several areas of life, including this quote, “Margin in our friendships creates significance and impact.”

If there’s anything new I’ve concluded about friendships over the past year or so, it’s that in my own strength, I might be able to encourage and pass along the love of Christ to someone on occasion, but any consistency is lost on me without some margin in my  life for such efforts.  To have margin requires that I set boundaries.  To set wise boundaries necessitates time in prayer to be sensitive to what parameters I need in order to keep the proper things in their place, and to be guided to friendship as the Lord would lead.

Hebrews 4 says “for the person who has entered  his rest has rested from his own works, just as God did from His.  Let us then make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will fall into the same pattern of disobedience.”  Entering into a “rest”, or a cessation of normal activity, and especially to focus on God, counters the physical world and is the beginning of true freedom and blessing.

Oswald Chambers says, “are these things crushing us? Are they badgering us out of the presence of God and leaving us no time for worship? Then let us call a halt, and get into such living relationship with God that our relationship to others may be maintained on the line of intercession whereby God works His marvels.”

Today, I was blessed with a friend who I haven’t seen for weeks coming by my place of work just for a quick hug.  And then blessed again with a good ole chat with my mom, who I will never stop needing.  I’m touched in those moments and more recently by many around me who get off the merry go round of their normal activities and in effect, say, ‘Let’s go to the other side.  I’m with you.  And, oh, yes, there IS another side and we’re headed there together!’   I’m so thankful to God because He sends those who would speak His Words, and actively care the way He does.  That is what points to Him and reminds me what I momentarily forgot about the other side.

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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: God Won’t Waste Our Affairs – He Cares

God is with me

When hope lingers slow and the mountain stays the same
words mean little minus public acclaim
When hypocrisies loom bold
and love waxes cold

When you live too many days
under friendly fire haze
And what was real
is denied by hearts of steel.

When friends join the throng
of the popular traitor’s song
it may hurt
but you learn – don’t dessert.

When vision is blurred
And your cries obscurred
Steps grow weak
and hands work meek

Fears grow strong
and doubts come along
God is there, rising up
to fill your cup.

When the promise is broke
and love wears a cloak.
Hate wins a round yet
angels rush to surround.

When the swords come clanging
Radicals at the door banging
shouting “Deny!”
or to your children say goodbye!

But you’ve taught them well
They won’t choose hell.
They close their eyes
and wait to meet you in the skies.

Storms may gather
but God would rather
we look to Him, not the storm..
He’ll transform.

Jesus is worth every trial
there’s no room for denial
His love grows more dear
with every year.

Regardless our circumstances
and the uninformed glances
He won’t waste our affairs.
He sees, He hears, He cares.

LaDonna English

faith makes things possible

Warm Wednesday Words: What is Needed in the Storm

friends pick us up

I’m going through a season of storms, changes and stretches in my life, and so are several of my friends.  Looking back I know that God put many details in place in my life in preparation for this time.  That He did this and impressed several scriptural promises on me beforehand gives me confidence as I walk this path.  Just as I take shelter in a physical storm, I often take shelter in stormy life seasons.  I allow myself the privilege of being hidden in Christ in more meaningful ways then times of “clear skies”.  Making time for deeper and more personal Bible study, reading, journaling, prayer time and worship are all helpful during life storms, even if I have to give up on something I normally make time for.  Just as in a physical storm I might not put myself in the same places as in clear weather for practical and safety reasons, so in a life storm I allow myself to pursue supports that are helpful and loyal, and am cautious about places that may be hurtful.

storms change usOther then my sweet and dependable family members, who I do not take for granted, and especially my husband who prays often while he drives during the day and who is a great listener,  God put other supports in place. They would include prayer warriors, those who encourage, concerned and empathetic listeners, good church leaders and teachers, a generous friend or two offering their skill sets, and a mentor who pours herself into exhorting me and believing in me when I need it the most.  She often asks me to choose her role for the eye of the storm, and if it’s possible she fulfills it.  All of these supports are just the vessels God has used to pour out His love.  They are special, very, very special, but they simply point to a personal God who seems to be saying through them, “It is Me!  I am with you in this storm.

your silent presenceOswald Chambers said (Aug 12 “My Utmost for His Highest”), ‘There are stages in life when…a crisis arises that we instantly reveal upon whom we rely.  If we have been learning to worship God and to trust Him, the crisis will reveal that we will go to the breaking point and not break in our confidence in Him.”

blessing while going through your own stormWhen Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, He didn’t suddenly run out of energy when he asked Lazarus’s friends to remove the grave clothes.  He wanted them to be a part of the burden bearing and therefore the bonds that come about from shared burdens and the joy that comes about from answered prayer and miracles.  What is needed in the storm are supports that get us through.  And, interestingly, this is a mutual need and blessing.  What supports has God put in your life to get you through stormy seasons?  Do you see Him in them?  How do you provide support for your friends when they are in a stormy season?

Warm Wednesday Words: Stretcher Bearers

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There are times I’ve been carried on a stretcher, unable to walk where I needed to go, and there have also been times I have helped carry a “stretcher” with a friend aboard where he or she needed to go.  Though one of the stretcher times for me was a literal stretcher from our wrecked one ton suburban to the ambulance and ER, (I was miraculously ok, albeit sore with a case of whiplash and bruised ribs,  after the full speed blow of a semi broadsided my side of the car giving me a couple full twirls), most of the stretcher times for me weren’t literal.  These have been times when I needed the emotional support of a friend to get through a hard time.  I’m sure you’ve had those times as well.  God is faithful to provide those friends who provide the crutch or stretcher and ample words of encouragement and exhortation.  A stretcher situation requires some coordinated efforts between more than one person, but even if it’s just one friend with a crutch, it’s enough to get me through.

little girls helping

In the Bible, (Luke 5:17-26) there is a story of a man who was carried on a stretcher by his friends to seek healing from Jesus.  In between the lines of this story, it’s easy to see that here were some friends who left enough margin in their lives for helping someone.  And they had enough strength, courage and determination to try the rooftop route when they couldn’t squeeze through the crowd at the door.  They weren’t looking for the first excuse out of this job.  This roof didn’t just have a stretcher sized hole in it.  They had to remove roof tiles, and presumably hung around long enough to fix the roof as well.  I doubt they had the ropes in their back pockets to lower him down.  This endeavor, as most endeavors do, started to grow larger on them.  But they pressed on.  And Jesus healed the man based on “their” faith.    Wow…what a thought that Jesus is willing to heal a man based on his own, possibly weakened, faith combined with his friends.

a friend hears the song I am so thankful for friends and family who lend a crutch or provide a stretcher when I need it.  What I don’t need is tale bearers.  And who does?  Our prayers and faith should have “feet” that spur us on to good deeds of encouragement.   One of my favorite songs is “Carried to the Table” by Leeland.

Christ is my ultimate “stretcher” bearer.  Actually, He doesn’t even need a stretcher to carry me.  He carries me to the table of communion with His strong arms and He’ll carry me (and all who trust in Him as Savior) to the table at the Marriage Supper of the Lamb.  A table where I don’t belong, but He says I do.  “Have you had a crutch or stretcher provided for you when you couldn’t do it alone?  Have you lent one?  Do you know the One who will carry you to the ultimate table where you can’t go without His invitation?

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Warm Wednesday Words: Wilderness Manna

gentle terrain

As a believer in Christ for many years, I have covered a wide range of life’s “terrains”, including lush pastures, gentle streams, raging waters, wilderness and desert.  During some seasons I walked a fairly easy trail, other than typical ups and downs.  God lets the young see His splendor, even more than the seasoned ones.  As newlyweds, my husband and I saw it often, especially in the young marrieds class we were heavily involved in at church.  So many stories of “God in Action” with exciting outcomes for both our friends and for us as a couple, as we birthed six beautiful, healthy babies over the years and added an adopted child, too.  A house full of kids and a little farm with extended family nearby had to be somewhat like heaven on earth.  There were also a few times I may have subconsciously stolen a little of God’s glory, too.  It’s so easy to do that when everything is fairly simple, going well and seemingly in my control.  As Oswald says in the May 7 devotional, “Is God going to detect in His searching fire that we have built on the foundation of Jesus some enterprise of our own?”

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kids and the floodcandace's wedding

I wasn’t alone in the   young Christian trap of taking notice of the scriptures that seemed to fit into the “God is about me or what I can do for Him” paradigm.  In her book “Extravagant Grace”, Barbara Duguid says “the baby Christian gravitates toward those Scriptures that tell him what to do, and there are many…the baby Christian is experienced primarily in the realm of feelings…his faith is weak, but his heart is warm.  He tends to mistake the nature of these gifts from God and think they are his…that he will always have them.  He believes he is right and strong because he has them, and he is prone to feeling superior to believers that don’t…He thinks that there is nothing left now but to walk through life with the victorious hand of God on his side, and then to enter heaven forever.  He doesn’t yet know that, like Israel, there is a huge desert to cross before entering the Promised Land.  The desert he has yet to see and grapple with properly is the wilderness of his own sinful heart.”  At the parting of the Red Sea, and the subsequent praise dance, the Israelites could not have seen the 40 year trek in the desert just ahead, where many of them died off before entering the Promised Land.

desert

Maturity in Christ, for me, has meant some desert or wilderness times, in which I am stretched beyond what I ever dreamed.  In order to get a drink of the Living Water in these seasons, it is critical that I deepen my roots even more into Christ, my Savior, sometimes for even the next thought and breath.  “My” thinking and “good works” is something to despise more than to purport.  Difficult “terrain” requires much time in the Word, in worship, in prayer, in meditation and in seeking good Christian counsel, which God is faithful to supply.  It is also an important season to be consistent in a journal in order to remember His answers, see the desert or wilderness experience from His perspective and to record this and any particularly encouraging words offered by friends and acquaintances along with scripture promises to stand on in faith.  God’s perspective on my experiences often doesn’t look anything like how others may see it; nor how I see theirs.  That’s because, unless we are interceding and seeking God’s perspective for others,  it’s not our business.

wilderness

The unbeliever may or may not experience overwhelming hardships in life.  The rain falls on the just and the unjust.  (Matt. 5:45) As believers, however, we can count on them, but by our loving God and for glorious purposes.

If I can only hang onto the “invisible” perspective of God during stretching experiences, then I can walk above heartbreaks and disappointments while in the wilderness, and so can you.  In Him I live and move and have my being.  My clay feet sometimes step down into the waves of the storm, or get tired in the wilderness and my vision can get obscured there; however this is usually not an issue of backsliding, but a need for encouragement.  We question Peter’s faith (as Christ, rightfully did) when he struggled, but Peter was the only one who even tried to walk on the waves!

Peter on water

Duguid again offers that, “the greatest heroes of Scripture are deeply flawed throughout their lives.”  And speaking of her women’s Bible study ministry she says, “It is a common occurrence to have someone confess their struggle and weakness in a certain area, only to be rebuked and censured by a younger sister in Christ, who eagerly shares the three easy ways they can overcome the problem….Simplistic answers to complex problems can be discouraging to weary strugglers….We should, therefore, practice great caution in evaluating the spiritual maturity of people around us.”  questions by google

I’ve been guilty of judging (at least silently) with my idea of God’s standards, rather then just watching for fruit, praying, encouraging and leaving the rest to God no matter how different the progress may be in someone else.  Anyone honest would have to admit this also, at some time or another.   After all, it’s too easy to default and compare to each other, but it’s a tendency to kick out, not adopt.   God will carry His work to completion in each of us in His time and through whatever means He chooses, and in the end, there will be fruit in those who are His.  I hope to be an encourager to those along the path near me, especially those who are going through a trial of some sort, and I am blessed more than I can say by those He uses to give me manna in my wilderness journeys.

say what is helpfulWhat kind of terrain are you on right now in your life?  It will likely not be the same in a few years.  Have you found encouragement if your path is rough?  Have you purposed to encourage someone else?  If you’re in “lush pastures” right now, write down all that God has favored you with and remember it for dryer seasons.  No matter the terrain, the “God actions” are there, even if the wilderness obscures your view of them.

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Warm Wednesday Words: Broken Hallelujahs

face down broken hallelujahEveryone has times when their “hallelujahs” are broken; i.e. they grieve, yet still worship.  For some, their worship may look and sound the same while their heart is broken.  For others, the words, music and energy won’t come for a spell.  They are worshiping in silence as they process their grief.  They may be soaking in the worship they are hearing.  A lump in the throat may prevent the escape of words even if they tried.  A groan might be the only sound for them.  For still others, the worship of grief may start slow and crescendo.  There are many biblical characters who grieved and worshiped.  Job lost all of his children in one day, he stood up, tore his robe, shaved his head and fell to the ground and worshiped, saying in effect, ‘I came into this world with nothing, it’s not mine to hold onto.  The Lord gives, the Lord takes away, blessed be the name of the Lord.’  I’m betting those words were poured out in heaving sobs as he lay on the ground.  Jacob mourned for Joseph many days and refused to be comforted.  Hannah accompanied her husband to Shiloh to worship and sacrifice, but because she was barren her “worship” came out in a torrent of silent bitter brokenhearted prayers, which God heard and answered.  David mourned as he prayed for his child Bathsheba bore him, but worshiped after he knew the child had died and, therefore, his mourning would not induce God to relent.  This probably was not the jubilant and expressive worship that had characterized David on the day the arc was returned, not that we all, at least consistently, have such expressive personalities in worship.  But we are told he worshiped.  David also mourned when Saul and Jonathon died in battle, and several other occasions.  The instance of David seeming the most broken was when Absalom was killed, in which he sobbed for him and publicly grieved.  In fact Joab had to sternly counsel David to snap out of it and encourage his men.   Rachel  had great difficulty giving birth to Benjamin and mourned for her children in a lament (which is a song and likely a sort of mournful worship). She died in childbirth.  In this prophesy given by Jeremiah, God heard and promised that her reward would come.  She represents all the mothers in Bethlehem who lost their baby boys because of jealous and wicked Herod’s edict, and every mother who has ever suffered for her children.  Mary stood at the foot of the cross and watched in grief and terror as the crucifixion of her son unfolded before her eyes.  John (19:25) tells us that there were three other women there with her united in grief.  (Yay, for sisterhood!)  Mary had pondered the things God had told her in her heart.  She had significant  insight into what was unfolding.  But this was her son.  There were no words or songs recorded from her position of grief, loss and agony that day.  Yet, she knew.  She worshiped in silence as she grieved.

stronger in the broken places

God expects us to grieve.  Jesus grieved for Lazarus.  But we are to grieve with hope, because He wants us to see things from His perspective.  (1 Thes. 4:13)    Ps. 34:18 says, “The Lord is near the brokenhearted; He saves those crushed in spirit.”  When your hallelujah is broken, do you find a way to worship anyway?   Your grief is not the final say.
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Warm Wednesday Words: God Leads His Dear Children

 

fear notThe only guarantee you have in life as a Christian is that God will lead you through whatever is ahead and, if you let Him, He will use it for good.  If you’re one of those people who feel you have life squarely under control, enjoy that feeling while it lasts, because it is a fleeting illusion.  Whether it’s the dandelions in your yard or something of a far more serious nature, life holds variables.  We like to know what’s ahead.  We think this makes us feel secure.  Having a plan insofar as our insight takes us, is a good thing.  However, we need to keep our eyes on Christ in this sojourn, because life circumstances may veer out of our “controlled” course.  But they will never, ever veer outside of God’s control.  It is not what we know about the future.  It is Who we know, because He will lead us.  It may be hard, at times, to keep our eyes on Him and pray in faith, instead of taking in the enemy’s lies, but God will gently lead us along, lifting our focus back to Him, come what may.


He not only will lead us, He sometimes will carry us.  Most of us have read the poem about the footprints in the sand and we may even have these sure enough words framed on our wall.   Our Savior really will pick us up and let us take refuge from the storm, while He carries us.  As my pastor reminded me recently, “He is a shield to all who take refuge in Him.”  (Ps. 18:30b) He is a refuge for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble.  (Ps. 9:9)  When we get “down under it all”, He often sends someone to “pick us up” with prayers, encouraging words, and other tokens of love and friendship.  His arm is not too short to reach down to us and pull us up to refuge one way or another.

In the place of refuge and surrender we find rest, grace, faith, trust, promises, renewal, nurturing, comfort and liberating eternal perspectives.  This place of refuge is a hidden place of shelter and not for the double minded.  Our baggage of pride, control, plans, ideas, fears, worries and expectations gets checked at the “door”.  In their place we get so much more.  Circumstances may or may not be going on the course we prefer, but there, in our Refuge, we regain our footing of trust in the One who will navigate us through the storms and variables and not waste a thing along the way.   The saying is much more true than trite, “I don’t know what tomorrow holds, but I know Who holds tomorrow.”

coffee

 

 

 

Warm Wednesday Words: I am Learning

I Surrender AllI’m learning God wants my devotion to Him and not what I want from Him.  Slowly  learning.  A few years ago someone  said to me, “Whatever you think you must have in order to experience peace with God is an idol.”  [Insert eye opening head thump here.]  Putting it into practice doesn’t come quite as quickly as the revelation, though.  Life goes on with some improvement in that regard.  Yet, old fretting habits and figuring things out logically, well, they die hard.

Fast forward to the new year, 2014.  I listen to “I Surrender All”, this time in yet one more arrangement and style on Pandora.  And it hits me.  One more thing I have not surrendered since I am nearly sweating bullets if ____ happens.  Yikes.  I thought I surrendered “all” the last time God laid it out plain for me in a different trial.  Guess I put back on a few more layers of “my way” again in my thinking.  Not that “my way” is anything bad. In fact, it’s peaceful, lovely, not offensive and usually socially desirable.   It might be “your way” too, if you knew.  It’s just…well…MY way, and not necessarily the way God will choose.

So I resolve to lay it down.  Yet, how quickly and subtly I entwine another layer or two of my own logic into my prayers.  A few weeks later, I read in my “Utmost for His Highest” devotional, ‘were you devoted to your desire or to God?’.  Okay, God.  Trying.  Thanks for your patience and reminders.  I’m learning to embrace the occasional darkness of dismay and getting better at seeing His light shining into it.  I’m learning to marvel at His continual grace.  I am reminded that Jesus works in the supernatural, not in common sense ways.  If He finds it best for my soul (or that of another) to grant what I ask of Him, He will do the impossible above all I ask or think.

Then I read in the March 25 “Utmost” devotional, “A beautiful saint may be a hindrance if he does not present Jesus Christ but only what Christ has done for him.”  Yes, my testimony is important and it is often about what God has done for me, but ultimately it is about who He is to me!  It’s about me making Him my master ambition.  No circumstance can ever mess with that.  I am learning this is a place of peace and unspeakable joy.  Two steps forward, one step back.  Slowly.  I am learning.

Trust without borders

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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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