Tag Archives: praise

Uncertainty and a Call for Action

Some people thrive on uncertainty. People like me, planners, call those people daredevils. What do you mean unplanned events, pending results, or even undecided outfits don’t keep you up at night?

Oh, how it seems life would be so leisurely if only I would be more comfortable with uncertainty, but I am my mother’s (and father’s) daughter and therefore I am destined to be tortured by the pending, the “to be continued”, and the dreaded “what ifs”. But do I really have to accept that I will forever obsess over the uncertain? Or is it my “hidden” distrust in God, my worry that keeps my mind reeling with the risk of what’s around the corner?

This morning, on my way to work, I listened to a worship song playlist on my smart phone. The song “Oceans” by Hillsong came on as I prayed silently to God. It’s amazing how many ways this song has spoken into different situations in my life. As I was driving along, the lyric “my soul will rest in your embrace” drew tears to my eyes. It was in that moment I realized it’s not that God isn’t embracing me. It’s that I’m not resting in his embrace. All this fretting, it’s not allowing him to embrace me. I’m just shrugging him off by trying to carry a burden I’m not meant to carry.

As I sang along with the rest of the song, God revealed to me exactly what he wanted me to do about the uncertain situation for which I was obsessing. It’s as if he said, “You think because you care, but what is care without action?” Thinking is not enough, caring is not enough. When God calls you into action and you respond, that’s when your soul can rest in his embrace. It can rest because God stirred it up for action, not for obessing over what might be, not for worrying.

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Bragging won’t Help your Self-worth

In the late 1990’s television show Ally McBeal, Ms. McBeal’s assistant Elaine has a recurring case of inflatable head, not a physical head swelling, but a verbal puffing up of her ego. Feeling nostalgic the other night, I watched a few episodes on Netflix, and immediately felt self-conscious and even a little convicted. I know at times, when I feel I’m not getting recognition, I have resorted to puffing myself up to feel better, to feel accomplished. In the show, the writers even have Elaine’s head physically growing as she brags over her achievements small and large.  Am I just as irritating when I brag? More importantly, why do I find recognition and praise so important to my self-worth?

Pretty much from birth my parents instilled in me a sense of right and wrong, a strong set of morals, especially in regards to keeping my word, integrity, and dependability. If I say I am going to do something, it is very rare that I will not come through. It amazes me that so many people are willing to break their promises. Because of these morals, I have clung to the rules in many areas of my life. I don’t like it when my coworkers don’t do what they supposed to do or when someone at the grocery store cuts in line. In many ways I am like the Jews of Romans 3 who believe that everyone should follow the law of Moses. They believed that since there is this set of rules for Jews, that everyone should follow those same laws in order to be as good as them.

God corrects this thinking, however, in Romans by recalling earlier scripture in verses 10-18 if Romans 3. Paul clarifies in the verses that follow, saying, “…so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God.” It’s almost like he’s speaking directly to me and fictitious character Elaine. Paul, who by the way, I think also liked to brag, is saying something to the effect of, “By judging others you are only putting that same judgment on yourself.”

When we puff ourselves up, when we brag, we are in turn, subconsciously, putting down others. When we list all our accomplishments without acknowledging others, we are in turn downgrading the accomplishments of others. The alternative is to humble ourselves before God, thank Him for giving us the gifts he has given us to achieve the things we have achieved, and we will start to see appreciation for others flow out of that.

Today’s sermon was “Does my service within the church really matter?” Some people are feeling like it doesn’t, while others might be feeling like their service is the only one that matters. When we look at the bigger picture, it all matters. I work in a hospital five days a week. A hospital operates like a machine. If the doctor is not there, then the clinic could come to stand still, but in the same way, the housekeeper must be there to stock the toilet paper and empty the trash. Each person has an important role in keeping the whole operation running.

Let’s start our week humble to give God the glory, to appreciate each other, and to put our self-worth in God’s hands and not in the mouths of men. Praise God for the many people He uses in our lives, for every one contributed to where we are today.

Open your Mouth

But I will sing of your might; I will sing aloud of your steadfast love in the morning. For you have been a fortress for me and a refuge in the day of my distress. – Psalm 59:16

This weekend I had the pleasure of hearing Christina Reynolds of International House of Prayer, Kansas City sing at my church. I have always wished I had a better singing voice, and often feel inadequate when praising God in song. Hearing Christina’s beautifully written and vocalized songs of praise made me wish even more that I could be proud of my singing voice before the Lord. But a worship song is more than a beautiful voice. It is the meaning of the words, the attitude of the heart, and the openness to receive and freely give. While I am sure God is beaming when he hears Christina sing because he gave her that spiritual gift, He also beams when He hears me sing in my untrained pitch-y voice.

The Bible says our prayers are like a sweet incense. A worship song is a prayer put to music. How much more does God see even a poorly sung worship song as a sweet smelling incense? He enjoys, savors, and begs us not to stop even when everyone else in the room is plugging their ears.

2 Samuel 6 tells us David danced before the Lord wearing only a linen ephod (like an apron). You would wonder how pleased the Lord was when He was likely staring at David’s bare behind, but the Bible says God punished David’s wife, making her barren, because she made fun of her husband’s praise. So we see that God is pleased with all kinds of wild and seemingly inappropriate worship.

Do not fear what God or anyone else thinks when you are praising Him. You may praise quietly, loudly, expressively, prayerfully. Whatever you do, do it for Him and He will delight in the sweet smelling incense that is your praise.

Dance and sing along even if you don’t know the words…

On Earth Peace, Goodwill Toward Men

Tonight I attended Christmas Eve service with my family. As with any such service the story of the first Christmas was told from scripture. Luke 2:13-14 was read, “And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men.” I pondered this scripture throughout the service.
First, what are heavenly hosts? According to Wikipedia “heavenly hosts” are a large army of good angels. This makes sense because right before the verses above Scripture describes an angel giving the message of the King’s birth to the shepherds. After the angel had finished the heavenly hosts joined the angel to praise the Lord.
The second point I pondered was why were they saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men?” Of all the things they could say, why was this what they chose to say, that for which they praised God? Tonight’s sermon highlighted the message the angel brought, “good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.” Of course the newborn King would bring good tidings of great joy. After all, He is our Savior, our Messiah, our Immanuel (God with us). As I think about the praise of the heavenly hosts I can see why they praise God for the King he sent; why they speak of the peace that will come over all the earth with the presence of this new King, for Jesus is the provider of peace that passes all understanding. But why do the heavenly hosts say, “goodwill toward men.” Perhaps the reason I didn’t understand is because I didn’t fully understand the definition of “goodwill.” Merriam-Webster dictionary defines “goodwill” as “a kindly feeling of approval and support : benevolent interest or concern.” God sent His son to be born fully human and fully God because he had a genuine interest and concern for His people. He was willing to give Himself as a sacrifice for our sins.
Because of these verses I have examined a bit of God’s character a little more deeply than before. He is a compassionate and generous giver of love, peace, grace, and mercy, and He NEVER desires for us to hold onto guilt and shame. Those things are from Satan and from our own misunderstanding. If he wanted us to struggle with guilt and shame He would have never sent his precious son. If there is a bit of guilt or shame, residue from past sins, and you have genuinely confessed and repented, remember that to deny His forgiveness is to say His sacrifice is not enough. Let the healing begin today because Christmas is about the peace and goodwill God provides which came in the form of a baby King.