Warm Wednesday Words: I Can’t Get No Satisfaction…Or Can I?

 

Divine Romance

Phil Wickham “Divine Romance”

Though I too often let the business of life crowd out the mindset God has laid out for me, the deepest feeling of satisfaction for me comes from time spent in the Word because God never fails to reveal things to me and because His presence is a great comfort and guide in this life full of trials and temptations.

It’s natural for us to try to find comforting things that make us feel happy and I certainly have my favorites: a cup of coffee (even better a latte), a pile of books, family times, a close friend, a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon, and dark chocolate to name a few. But I’ve found that nothing can bring the satisfaction I long for except time spent in the Word and worship. Beth Moore says in her “Living Free” Bible study, “I believe God creates and activates a nagging dissatisfaction in every person for an excellent reason….God purposely created us with a need only He can meet…. Unfortunately, salvation alone does not completely fill the need…Christians can be miserably dissatisfied if they accept Christ’s salvation yet reject the fullness of a daily relationship that satisfies…He wants us to find the only things that will truly satiate our thirsty and hungry hearts.”

Sometimes too much of a good thing is gluttony and runaway expectations are hurtful. Beth goes on to say, “I am not minimizing the difficulty, but I am suggesting the obstacles are removed by volition. Some of the idols in our lives – things or people we have put in God’s place – can take much longer to remove. Some of them have been in those places for years and only the power of God can make them budge. We must begin to remove idols by choosing to recognize their existence and admitting their inability to keep us satisfied.”

The Rolling Stones captured the age old problem of dissatisfaction in their song, “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction”, ‘I can’t get no satisfaction, cause I try and I try and I try and I try.’  As long as our misguided hearts cause us to seek satisfaction in the wrong places permanent satisfaction will continue to elude us.  Not only will it elude us, but our efforts to chase it down and have it can become dangerous to ourselves or those around us.  To continue to indulge makes that thing an idol and/or a stronghold.  Isaiah knew exactly what happens to an individual caught in such a trap, “He feeds on ashes, a deluded heart misleads him; he cannot save himself, or say, ‘Is not this thing in my right hand a lie?’ (44:20)”  This is where intercession with all sorts of prayers for ourselves and others entrapped can be like a spiritual life raft for the soul.  God can and does open the blind eye and set free the captive when we pray with tenacity and faith.

Beth Moore confides in her personal experience of having her eyes opened to a lie she once held tightly in her hand, “I also remember the harrowing moment God opened my eyes to see what a lie I had believed.  I cried for days.  I originally thought this lie was a good thing…My heart, handicapped in childhood, had deluded me….My only consolation in my idolatry is that I finally allowed God to peel away my fingers…I am very aware that Satan will constantly cast idols before me.”

Chris Tomlin expresses well the delightful satisfaction in choosing what’s true in his song, “Satisfied”.

The most satisfying time of my day is the time in Bible study each morning with my husband.  God’s Word never fails to comfort and exhort me.  I am grateful for those who have prayed for me, because at times in my life I have blindly fed on ashes and grasped at lies.  Have you?  Do you know someone was praying for you?  I also know some who have or are feeding on ashes and “cannot save themselves”,  as Isaiah says, because they don’t recognize the lie.  They need and get my prayers!   Have you went to war in prayer lately for yourself and others in order to peel a lie from the hand and pull back a friend from a meal of ashes?

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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.

Warm Wednesday Words: Inside Out

insideout.jpgSitting in church Sunday, I glanced at my husband and was dismayed to notice that his shirt was inside out.  Surprised, but not too ruffled, he exited out the side door right by him and made the switch.  That was actually the second time my dear husband has been an inside out shirt trend setter at church.  The first time I noticed it after we returned to our seats from the alter where we had stood, back to congregation, and prayed for our youngest son on Graduation Sunday, while sporting “Faded Glory” washing instructions across his back for anyone with a keen eye.  While laughing at work the next day about our mishap, a sweet boss told me that it is the sign of a lucky man to find his shirt on inside out.  I don’t know, but I was thinking about the inside out business of being a Christian.

His strength in our weaknessWhen life seems overwhelming, I run to the Rock that is higher then I, and (sometimes after kicking and screaming inside first), I usually find this inside out truth – that His strength is made perfect in my weakness.  I make it my goal to…” take pleasure in weaknesses, insults, catastrophes, persecutions, and in pressures because of Christ.  For when I am weak, then I am strong.”  (2 Cor. 12:9-10 HCSB) When I forgive others with the same grace I’ve received, knowing the ground is equal at the foot of the cross, and when I trust God to turn a situation around for the good, He is then willing to go to work on my behalf.

possible with HimHe picks up right where my weakness and faith invite Him in to take over.  Nothing is impossible with Him.

do not be anxiousMost everybody knows worry is a bad thing even in the most upsetting of circumstances.  It might take me a little while to get to a place of peace.  But the most inside out thing of all is to give thanks for my upsets and tragedies.  Not that I am glad for tragedies, but that God can be glorified through them.  For that I can give thanks with His help.

more blessed to give then receiveHere’s another inside out principle….storing up and  coveting more and better without thought for the poor (and that is not necessarily defined by government) can make a selfish and hardened heart, yet generous sharing enriches a soul.  God warns not to live in selfish  luxury and indulgence.  Giving, especially sacrificial giving, definitely softens the heart and just plain feels good.  In another inside out twist, God has actually chosen the poor who love Him to be rich in faith.

rejoice in insults I have been on both ends of rudeness and mistreatment before, (whether intentional or not) as likely anyone whose honest has.  It happens, though the persecutions spoken of here are more serious and horrific around the globe, and on the increase even in our country.  But the inside out perspective is this.  There’s a reward waiting when I leave it in God’s hands and refuse bitterness.

treasures in clay jarsThe cool thing about being a child of God is the enemy can’t win.  He’s already lost.  Even when I’m down.  God rushes to  rescue (soul first and foremost) and uses it all.  When I rally in my own strength this promise does not apply.

those who exalt themselvesWith God, the way up is down...bowed down in prayer that is.  Praying His promises, believing He will fulfill them because I have died to self and live for Him.  Just as a flower dies to drop it’s seed before renewal, so I have to leave my vision in His hands to fulfill or not, according to His best plan.

we look at what can't be seenHere’s a great inside out truth.  I look at what can’t be seen.  But actually, in my faith, it can be seen and I hold onto it through His promises.   Because of this I can let go and worship while still in the storm.  I can “see” with my faith vision, and because of His love for me that I know so well, I know that I know that He is at work.

we fight on our kneesIn my prayers, I go to war with the most powerful weapons not generally known to man.  They are mighty weapons that demolish “invisible”, but very real, strongholds.  They are the weapons of the name of Jesus, my faith in Him, and the Scripture promises that I stand on!  There is nothing on this earth so effective as a devoted child of God praying with “clean hands” and a pure heart (because of Christ) and childlike trust.  It’s here that often dismal circumstances turn with God’s miraculous touch, but whether or not, I definitely abide in His presence and know His love.  No matter how my life is going here, where I am just a stranger, I long for the day I am with Him in eternity and these present sufferings behind me.  I know it’s just ahead and I keep my eye on the prize.

faithful to death - crown of lifeThat seems to be the ultimate inside out deal.  Faithful unto death, gets the crown of life.  Whether it’s death to a thousand little selfish things, or choosing death over denying Christ for eternity’s sake, this is the ultimate call.  So next time you find your shirt on inside out, consider yourself “lucky” to be reminded that we live inside out.  What have you worn inside out or turned around?   Please tell me it’s not just at our house.  What “lucky” application fits?

 

Warm Wednesday Words: Shambles, Mockingbirds and Prayers

to kill a mockingbird

When the city’s in shambles
and unknowns abound
pray hard for the vandals
that truth would confound.

Lies meant to stir hatred
violence, crimes and unrest
destroy what is sacred
and won’t pass the test.

For evidence will disclose
a man’s effort to be true
one who heroically forgoes
his own safety for me and you.

He has respect from the grateful
even if a sorrowful state of mind
and violence from the hateful
who have an axe to grind.

They forgot the mockingbird was innocent
like the very one set up.
He was not defined by insolence
nor fight, thievery and such schmuck.

“To Kill a Mockingbird” was a sin
because the plot did imbibe
meanness, lies, and scandalous rumors wherein
the fearful and bullies felt emboldened in the tide.

But now who is the mockingbird
and who is the lynch mob?
Where is the hero who will stand strong and be heard?
Must the mockingbird’s heart continue to throb?

Lord make us humble
walk in truth, respect and by a code
Let us not stumble
into hypocritical mode.

May God hear the prayers
of those who know power rests in Christ
who hold up pure hands with these cares –
pure only because they know He sacrificed.

 

 

Warm Wednesday Words: The Three Step Plan

There are moments when I am weary inside and out and loosen my grip on the promises I stand on.  That’s when I use the Three Step Plan – Turn, Believe, Go.  It’s all right inside the hymn, “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus”.  It seems to be the same plan in essence that God spoke to His remnant of people through Haggai and other prophets as they worked on the temple when he told them to be strong (turn), get to work(go) and remember His promises (believe).

First I turn my eyes from troubles toward my Savior through one or more avenues such as worship, Bible and devotional readings, or seeking Godly counsel with someone who cares enough to both exhort and encourage and will take the time to give thoughtful and timely counsel.

Second, I believe.  I find what God has said and reposition myself on that truth, or if it’s not clear to me yet, I try to unearth it.  This is usually through my Bible, devotional or journal (which has notes of encouragement, exhortation, scripture promises  sermon notes, a diary and prayer log).  As Oswald Chamber said in the June 5 “My Utmost for His Highest” devotional, “I will remember God’s say-so…like a child ‘bucking himself up’ to reach the standard his father wants.”

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Third, I go.  That means action.  We all have different callings and burdens in various seasons of our life, so action can look entirely different on each of us.  Action can just as rightly be toiling over a prayer list in private or faithfully serving in the family as it can be doing the most visible job in a traditional church service or sacrificing time on a mission trip.  But, acting allows God’s Spirit and light to flow out in ministry, in addition to being an act of obedience to God.

094e796d7fcccdf8eb225715589989cb What a promise we have to know that Jesus life is our light and it can never be extinguished no matter what dark places we go forth with it.   Sometimes it may feel like my light is flickering, but since it’s Christ in me, it burns strong.  What is your strategy for those weary moments?

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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: 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: 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: Get social

community doing life together

How do you socially connect with those around you?   Beginning with the Trinity, and thereafter with Adam, then Eve, and on down through time, God designed and modeled social connections.  From invading Adam’s personal space when He breathed life into his nostrils to sharing friendship in the first garden with Adam and Eve, God showed Himself to be social and still does in your life, too.

God with Adam & Eve

While there are times when a silent retreat is needed and good, as in Jesus example of getting away to pray alone or with a few followers, most of His adult life was spent in connecting and engaging with individuals and crowds.  He had a mission both with the lost and with His followers.  Social pretense was and is a waste of time with Him since He can see right into heart motives.

prayer and solitudeAs Brandon Cox said in his book, “Rewired”,  ‘boundaries, in their proper place can be a good thing…What I am saying, however, is that keeping people away usually makes us feel safe, and not in a good way.  We live in the most connected yet disconnected age since the Garden of Eden..we are lonelier than ever, and our isolationist ways have left millions struggling through life…honesty and intimacy are far more difficult than silence…’

cold loneliness

While appropriate boundaries are occasionally needed, in our society walls are too conveniently erected and fortified, and silence magnified in our relationships.

walls instead of bridges

In our day and age, it is not the lack of connections that breeds loneliness and worse maladies.  It is the silence we allow in those connections.  Overcoming silence with friendly and encouraging words may very well be that “cup of cold water” that is needed today, both inside and outside the church.  “And if you give even a cup of cold water to one of the least of my followers, you will surely be rewarded.” (Matt. 10:42) And what better way to display to the world the love God has given, then to start within the church and go out.

speak life & truthTypical modern day lifestyles are often missing healthy margins and can be the death knell for maintaining social relationships, therefore it is becoming a trend to seek out receptive places to listen, speak and connect.   Socializing is sprawling into constantly changing networks; i.e.  facebook, twitter, blogging, linkedin, pinterest, instagram, google, tumblr and more.  Some are surface skimming social avenues, but many have the means to go deeper.  Churches who encourage and support small groups and small group atmospheres are onto the modern day needs of all ages within their membership.  The kinds of relationships that result are an attraction to a lonely world.  Online social groups, such as (in)courage  offer places where friendships can be made and enjoyed to whatever depth and extent you desire and even encourage real life meetups by sponsoring annual  simulcasts and other supports for such gatherings.   The example of those engaging in social networking and small group fellowships may just be the winning ticket to stamp out the societal ill of problem-breeding relational silence and loneliness.

social networkingPerhaps it is the modern day come back to front porch chats among neighbors back when the word “neighbors” meant something more personal.  What ways do you think socializing has changed, for better or worse,  in recent years?  What ways can you socially give “a cup of cold water” to someone?  What ways might you be denying one by your silence?

cup of cold water

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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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