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July 17, 2009

Chapter-a-Day Psalm 124

Abandonment Oh, blessed be God! He didn't go off and leave us. Psalm 124:6 (MSG)

The fear of abandonment is such a huge anxiety for many of us. I look back now on my life relationships and see how fear of being rejected played Stage Manager to many of the key relational roles of my life. It's hard to play your role well when that fear is hidden in the wings producing all sorts of irrational anxieties.

How interesting that God consistently reminds us of his stalwart faithfulness. Jesus repeatedly reminded His followers that He would never leave them or forsake them.

I've often heard it said that our experiences with human relationships affect the way we see and perceive God. I know that's true. I tend to believe, however, that God would prefer the opposite to be true; that our relationship with Him would positively affect the way we relate to others.

Creative Commons photo courtesy of Flickr and Rickydavid

July 16, 2009

Chapter-a-Day Psalm 123

Road Trip Tunes. I look to you, heaven-dwelling God, look up to you for help. Psalm 123:1 (MSG)

What is a road trip without tunes? As a kid, I can remember trying to get a decent station on the Delco AM radio in the car, and then the luxury of having Simon and Garfunkel on the 8-Track! Then there were the sing-alongs. "One-Hundred Bottles of Beer on the Wall" seemed to pass a lot of time (and drive the adults crazy) and road trips with Grandma V would always include choruses of "Jimmy Crack Corn."

The liner notes for this short song calls it a "song of ascents" or "a pilgrim's song." It was written as a tune for the road. As it happens, Wendy and I have a little early morning road trip this morning (and I have my iPod ready to roll) and this opening lyric happens to coincide with the prayer of our hearts as we go.

I love synchronicity.

Creative Commons graphic courtesy of Flickr and Amanda Woodward

July 15, 2009

Chapter-a-Day Psalm 122

Light in me. When they said, "Let's go to the house of God," my heart leaped for joy. Psalm 122:1 (MSG)

When I read Psalm 122, my mind has to stretch a bit. In David's case, "Let's go to the house of God" referred to the journey people made to the temple in Jerusalem. Many people made pilgrimages to Jerusalem. It was the center of worship. For most of us, we read "Let's go to the house of God" and think of our weekly trek to church on Sunday. Different time, different location, but the same principle. We still tend to think of church as a place we go to pay God a visit, and a place where He resides inside a safe little boundary that I can slip into and out of at my whim.

And yet, between David and us there is a HUGE paradigm shift. Before Jesus, the temple in Jerusalem was the place on Earth where God's glory was chosen to reside. After Jesus' resurrection, the Holy Spirit was poured out into the lives of every believer. We no longer go to the Temple, we ARE the temple! Today, when we say "Let's go to the house of God," we are saying "Let's visit the God who is in me," and for that we don't need to travel. For that, we need no passport or entry visa. For that, there is no journey required save our faith journey.

How cool to experience my heart leaping for joy with every remembrance and realization that the God of the universe resides in me and I in Him.

Creative Commons photo courtesy of Flickr and jakevol2

July 14, 2009

Chapter-a-Day Psalm 121

Watching over us day and night. He won't let you stumble, your Guardian God won't fall asleep. Psalm 121:1-2 (MSG)

Sleep has never been a big on my priority list. As a young boy I was always up before the rest of the household. I distinctly remember my father pointing to the antique mantel clock in the living room and saying, "Until that clock chimes SIX times. I don't want to see your face!" I can't tell you how many mornings I would hide behind the living room chair waiting for the clock to chime six. To this day, I'm the early riser.

And yet, I do need sleep (I should probably sleep more than I do). As much as a father (especially the father of teenage daughters) wants to stay up all night and make sure the children are always safe - I do have to sleep. I can't watch over them at all times, as much as I'd like to do so.

It makes me glad to know that our Heavenly Father doesn't sleep. His vigil over me, and my children, never ceases.

Creative Commons photo courtesy of Flickr and Matthew Cachia

July 13, 2009

Chapter-a-Day Habakkuk 3

The Hiding Place. Though the cherry trees don't blossom and the strawberries don't ripen, Though the apples are worm-eaten and the wheat fields stunted, Though the sheep pens are sheepless and the cattle barns empty,
I'm singing joyful praise to God. I'm turning cartwheels of joy to my Savior God. Counting on God's Rule to prevail, I take heart and gain strength. I run like a deer. I feel like I'm king of the mountain!
Habakkuk 3:17-19 (MSG)

The Hiding Place is a great book by Corrie Ten Boom. It tells the story of Corrie and her family hiding Jews from the Nazi's during World War II. They created "a hiding place" in their home. They were eventually caught and sent to concentration camps. There, her family members all died. Corrie, however, survived and - it was later learned - was released from the camp due to a "clerical error." She spent the rest of her life telling her and her family's incredible story.

During her stay in the camp, Corrie descended into bitterness and hatred towards her cruel captors. Her sister, however, continued to experience great joy in the midst of the incomprehensible circumstances. One morning during role call, her sister looks up at the birds flying overhead through the acrid ash and rejoices at such a "beautiful sight." Corrie is dumbounded at her sister's ability to see beyond the barbed wire of their current existence.

When we experience real communion with the infinite God of the universe, the discouraging circumstances of the moment do not keep us from "turning cartwheels of joy," taking heart and gaining strength.

July 10, 2009

Chapter-a-Day Habakkuk 2

Impatient. If it seems slow in coming, wait. It's on its way. It will come right on time. Habakkuk 2:3b (MSG)

There is a time for everything. That's what wise King Solomon wrote about 3,000 years ago. The Mamas and the Papas even put it to music and made it famous 40 years ago. Some messages bear repeating. We are all anxious children bouncing up and down and whining in anticipation. We don't want to wait. We want what we want, and we want it NOW!

We need to hear the message repeated. Innocent children slow to ponder our Father's words and reticent to let them soak into our minds and heart, we need the constant reminder.

Chill. Be patient. It will happen when it's supposed to happen.

Creative Commons photo courtesy of Flickr and ashley.adcox

July 09, 2009

Chapter-a-Day Habakkuk 1

Silence. So why don't you do something about this? Why are you silent now? This outrage! Evil men swallow up the righteous and you stand around and watch! Habakkuk 1:13b (MSG)

I learned as a father that, just because I choose to be silent does not mean I don't care. Sometimes I'm silent because there is a greater good that will be served by letting my child experience their current, momentary hardship. I can see the forest when my children can only see the giant tree in impeding their path. Sometimes I'm silent because maturity and wisdom come from having to struggle to work things out for yourself, and learn from the consequences of your mistakes and your successes.

And, sometimes I'm not silent, but my words have fallen of deaf ears.

When I experience God's silence, I try to remember what I've learned as a father.

Creative Commons photo courtesy of Flickr and stephmel

July 08, 2009

Taylors Birthday Dinner

It's a little late. It took a while to coordinate schedules. But, we finally got the four of us and son to be out for Taylor's birthday!Taylors Birthday Dinner

Chapter-a-Day Nehemiah 13

Ahhhhh sabbath. Then I directed the Levites to ceremonially cleanse themselves and take over as guards at the gates to keep the sanctity of the Sabbath day. Nehemiah 13:22 (MSG)

I live in a peaceful little town. Every small town has its' quirks. One of the quirky things about my town is that it has historically valued Sunday as the Sabbath, the day of rest. To this day, most businesses do not open. People generally don't mow their lawns or do anything that might make excessive noise to disturb their neighbors. Families go to church. They have dinner together. They take naps. You know what? I like it. Sundays are peaceful. Sundays recharge my spiritual, emotional and physical batteries. That was God's idea when he instituted the whole Sabbath idea.

However, when God principles are policed we easily lose our perspective. When you have to make rules to keep principles (e.g. "You can go outside and play catch with the ball, but if you organize a game you're breaking the Sabbath" because organizing a game is technically work") you quickly stop seeing the forest for the trees. Even Jesus ran into trouble with Sabbath cops.

Slow down. Rest. Take a day to relax. But, remember: working hard at keeping the Sabbath sort of defeats the purpose.

Creative Commons photo courtesy of Flickr and Virginia Zuluaga

July 07, 2009

Chapter-a-Day Nehemiah 12

Seriously. When it came time for the dedication of the wall, they tracked down and brought in the Levites from all their homes in Jerusalem to carry out the dedication exuberantly: thanksgiving hymns, songs, cymbals, harps, and lutes. Nehemiah 12:27 (MSG)

I've been around the block a few times, and I've been to my share of services in all sorts of different churches. I've seen a lot of things dedicated to God: children, buildings, individuals, groups of people, objects, instruments, rooms, houses, etc. In observing all of these dedications, there are a lot of adjectives I would use to describe what I observed.

Sadly, the word exuberantly is not one of them. 

God, help me not to be afraid to worship you exuberantly.

Creative Commons photo courtesy of Flickr and dydcheung