Archive for the ‘life’ tag
“Worship is transcendent wonder.” (Thomas Carlyle)*
“One minor change to the oder of worship for Sunday.” (A friend talking about an upcoming worship gathering.)
From the sublime to the ridiculous?
Is this a misspell or a Freudian slip?
Neither: but maybe it’s a reminder that worship is not primarily about us, but about God and bringing others to appreciate and love Him. And this kind of worship is not just about what happens at worship gatherings, but it involves all of life.
“Our offering to God is this: We are the sweet smell of Christ among people who are being saved and among people who are being lost.” (Paul in 2 Corinthians 2:15 NRS)
In another place, he said it this way:
Everything you say and everything you do should all be done for Jesus your Lord. And in all you do, give thanks to God the Father through Jesus. (Colossians 3:17 NRS)
So how is your worship “oder”?
*From Heartlight.org, Quotemeal
Several days ago, I sat with a friend who was sick from a powerful chemo cocktail. This was the second round of this person’s battle with cancer. Though a person of strong faith, that faith was a battle every day because of the the physical illness, weakness, and emotional roller coaster caused by the combo of powerful drugs.
Several days after our visit and frank, but tender conversation, I found the image below. I was drawn to it for many reasons. One reasons was because we battled for years to find images of faith that pictured people of color — I have often used this as an example of “institutional racism” that us white folks often don’t notice. This image, however, is a powerful statement of faith, and it caught my eye immediately. A second reason I love the image, is the lighting — if you have ever been in a battle of life and death and experienced the grace of God’s light invading your darkness, you know what I mean. Finally, my meanderings around in the Psalms led me to this powerful verse (Psalm 49:15), which seemed to articulate for me, the prayer and faith hidden in the image:
But God will redeem my life from the grave; he will surely take me to himself.
Here is a small version of the image. It doesn’t really do it justice, so I’ve included links to the full sized images that are prepared for Heartlight.org and the free Scripture graphics there.
You might, at first, think of this as a verse of resignation — giving up and saying, “OK, God, I know I’m going to die, but I trust you will bring me to yourself.” And granted, it can mean this and should offer us comfort. God will not abandon us to the grave. He will bring us to himself. Faith in the face of such things is a powerful and comforting blessing.
But I also think of Hezekiah, who found out he was going to die and then prayed with Isaiah, and God redeemed his life and granted him fifteen more years of life (2 Kings 20:1-6). I am also reminded of my friend, Saundra, whose liver tumors vanished “without explanation” between the time other malignant material was removed from her and her trip to MD Anderson in Houston to one of the few surgeons who could do the surgery she needed at the time. She is still alive today nearly two decades later.
Yes, we are all going to eventually die. But my whole being believes that God does redeem our lives from the power of the grave. He does this sometimes by rescuing us from immediate death and brings us to himself, bringing healing and granting us more years on this earth. He also does this sometimes by rescuing us through death and bringing us to himself to await the glorious day of Jesus’ return. Paul says it well, and I will end today on this note:
Yes, and I will continue to rejoice, for I know that through your prayers and the help given by the Spirit of Jesus Christ, what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance. I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christi and to die is gain (Philippians 1:18b-21 tniv).
Today, we’re also joining Randy Elrod with Watercooler Wednesday — How to Recycle a Church?
In you, LORD my God,
I put my trust.
I trust in you;
do not let me be put to shame,
nor let my enemies triumph over me.
No one who hopes in you
will ever be put to shame,
but shame will come on those
who are treacherous without cause.
Show me your ways, LORD,
teach me your paths.
Guide me in your truth and teach me,
for you are God my Savior,
and my hope is in you all day long.
Remember, LORD, your great mercy and love,
for they are from of old.
Do not remember the sins of my youth
and my rebellious ways;
according to your love remember me,
for you, LORD, are good.
Good and upright is the LORD;
therefore he instructs sinners in his ways.
He guides the humble in what is right
and teaches them his way.
All the ways of the LORD are loving and faithful
toward those who keep the demands of his covenant.
For the sake of your name, LORD,
forgive my iniquity, though it is great.
Who, then, are those who fear the LORD?
He will instruct them in the ways they should choose.
They will spend their days in prosperity,
and their descendants will inherit the land.
The LORD confides in those who fear him;
he makes his covenant known to them.
My eyes are ever on the LORD,
for only he will release my feet from the snare.
Turn to me and be gracious to me,
for I am lonely and afflicted.
Relieve the troubles of my heart
and free me from my anguish.
Look on my affliction and my distress
and take away all my sins.
See how numerous are my enemies
and how fiercely they hate me!
Guard my life and rescue me;
do not let me be put to shame,
for I take refuge in you.
May integrity and uprightness protect me,
because my hope, LORD, is in you.
Redeem Israel, O God,
from all their troubles!
\o/ — Comments Psalm 25: In You, my LORD and God, I put my trust! — \o/
We have all sorts of ways of trying to find significance, fulfillment, and meaning in life. Reading this Psalm reminds me of all the ways I need to turn to the LORD for my identity and security. I am vulnerable and in need in so many areas — physical safety, physical health, spiritual health, spiritual correction, spiritual nurture, spiritual growth, … the list could go on and on. Yet when I am honest with myself, I realize that I cannot manage, much less fix, any of these situations. I am profoundly dependent upon the LORD and His care. My cries in this honesty are very much the same as the psalmist:
… show me Your ways!
… guard my life!
… do not let me be put to shame!
… be gracious to me!
… free me from anguish!
… forgive my iniquity!
Now if I can with full heart put my trust in God and have my hope fixed on Him! Ah, this is my goal form this day forward … to rely on the LORD, His grace and strength, and not rely on my own ways, but tune my heart and life to honor Him.