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Posts Tagged ‘Chris Tomlin’

Gifts are a part of many celebrations at this time of year.images

Retailers are counting on us to spend, spend, spend towards their financial success (and our financial decline, which will eventually put them into decline as well … but, I digress). The signs are everywhere;
SAVE,
SALE,
LAST CHANCE,
DON’T MISS OUT!

The gifts we give are … well … expected.

And that expectation of receiving a gift from someone can devalue that gift.

Let me explain …

When we are dating, a gift, at any time, from that special someone, can melt our hearts! Even if it is not an exciting gift, we are able to receive it with such thanks, such delight, such surprise … because we were not expecting it. After years, and years, and years (speaking personally) in a marriage can mean that expectations are attached with gift giving. The giver might give expecting a certain response, and the receiver might receive expecting something that is not hidden under the outer wrappings.

Recently, my hubby received a gift. He has been coaching a group of boys on a football team, HE has been the GIVER all season … that was his role in the relationship with the boys. But at the recent year end banquet, the boys had a gift for him (as well as a number of individual gifts). This gift was and is so very meaningful to hubby, and he will cherish and keep it always. The gift came from an expected giver … it was unexpected, and it was delighted in by the receiver.

At Christmas time we celebrate the birth of the Christ-child. We sing:

“Come, thou long expected Jesus …”

Long expected …

I wonder if one of the reasons He was not well-received was that expectations had been built up to the point where the gift could not be received with the delight that the Giver had given?

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Recently I was reading Psalm 107, and as I heard those words of hope, of provision, of redemption, of God’s faithfulness, of the history of His people, and I felt something bubble up inside of me … joyful hope!

Maybe it is because as I read the first line, “give thanks to the Lord, for he is good” I started hearing the worship song, “Forever” written by Chris Tomlin, and it’s upbeat music simply set the mood for my scripture reading.

I love this Psalm! There is a constant thread through it that God is faithful to his people, that there is a desire on the part of God to care for those who love Him. There is also a thread of justice that weaves throughout this Psalm … something that sometimes seems so absent in our world today. It is a Psalm that reminds us that we have not because we have not yet cried out to him.

I believe that to read this Psalm is to read it, not a something written for another person, at another time …

… we need to read it as written for us as individuals, for us, and for now!

Give thanks to the Lord,

for he is good!

His love

endures

forever!

PSALM 107

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
his love endures forever.

Let the redeemed of the Lord tell their story—
those he redeemed from the hand of the foe,
those he gathered from the lands,
from east and west, from north and south.

Some wandered in desert wastelands,
finding no way to a city where they could settle.
They were hungry and thirsty,
and their lives ebbed away.
Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble,
and he delivered them from their distress.
He led them by a straight way
to a city where they could settle.
Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love
and his wonderful deeds for mankind,
for he satisfies the thirsty
and fills the hungry with good things.

10 Some sat in darkness, in utter darkness,
prisoners suffering in iron chains,
11 because they rebelled against God’s commands
and despised the plans of the Most High.
12 So he subjected them to bitter labor;
they stumbled, and there was no one to help.
13 Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble,
and he saved them from their distress
14 He brought them out of darkness, the utter darkness,
and broke away their chains.
15 Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love
and his wonderful deeds for mankind,
16 for he breaks down gates of bronze
and cuts through bars of iron.

17 Some became fools through their rebellious ways
and suffered affliction because of their iniquities.
18 They loathed all food
and drew near the gates of death.
19 Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble,
and he saved them from their distress.
20 He sent out his word and healed them;
he rescued them from the grave.
21 Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love
and his wonderful deeds for mankind.
22 Let them sacrifice thank offerings
and tell of his works with songs of joy.

23 Some went out on the sea in ships;
they were merchants on the mighty waters.
24 They saw the works of the Lord,
his wonderful deeds in the deep.
25 For he spoke and stirred up a tempest
that lifted high the waves.
26 They mounted up to the heavens and went down to the depths;
in their peril their courage melted away.
27 They reeled and staggered like drunkards;
they were at their wits’ end.
28 Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble,
and he brought them out of their distress.
29 He stilled the storm to a whisper;
the waves of the sea were hushed.
30 They were glad when it grew calm,
and he guided them to their desired haven.
31 Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love
and his wonderful deeds for mankind.
32 Let them exalt him in the assembly of the people
and praise him in the council of the elders.

33 He turned rivers into a desert,
flowing springs into thirsty ground,
34 and fruitful land into a salt waste,
because of the wickedness of those who lived there.
35 He turned the desert into pools of water
and the parched ground into flowing springs;
36 there he brought the hungry to live,
and they founded a city where they could settle.
37 They sowed fields and planted vineyards
that yielded a fruitful harvest;
38 he blessed them, and their numbers greatly increased,
and he did not let their herds diminish.

39 Then their numbers decreased, and they were humbled
by oppression, calamity and sorrow;
40 he who pours contempt on nobles
made them wander in a trackless waste.
41 But he lifted the needy out of their affliction
and increased their families like flocks.
42 The upright see and rejoice,
but all the wicked shut their mouths.

43 Let the one who is wise heed these things
and ponder the loving deeds of the Lord.

The larger our platform becomes,
the more intentionally we have to focus on the heart of our calling:
to introduce people to God and to show them His glory.”
—Chris Tomlin

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Why do I forget what I know?

Why do I overlook the obvious?

Why do I look for what I need in the wrong places?

Why do I look at all, when what I need is right in front of me?

“A man of many companions may come to ruin,
but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.”
Proverbs 18:24

3cc4f3db908903d40e74834f0fc5823dWhen we experience disappointment, loss, loneliness, discouragement … and we all will … it is important to remember that we are never alone, and that all that this Earth and life offer (people and things) is dust in the light of what god offers.

We have all had hours, days, weeks, even years when it seems as though there is no hope at all in our life. The future, whether tomorrow of every tomorrow until our last breath, can appear to us to be void of any hope.

But we have it all wrong!

Our hope is not in ourselves or our abilities.

Our hope is not in our families.

Our hope is not in our job.

Our hope is in nothing but Christ.

He is always with us … “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:20

He is always for us … “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11

He is our strength  … “I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10

This song came on the radio one day, when hope seemed lost:

“You hear me when I call
You are my morning song
Though darkness fills the night
It can not hide the light
Whom shall I fear?”

Along with the fitting lyrics of that song, were the words I had written on My Loves page, Numero-Uno. It was a good reminder to me that my hope is not in anyone, but Christ.

The words of that page were written on a ‘good’ day, but they are true for every day!

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156148312051762778_tvv1QTVo_bJanuary is (finally) at it’s end. A dark month, both physically and emotionally.

There has been one thing that I have been reminded during of this month of ebony … we aren’t there yet.

There being the life that waits for us once our life here on Earth has come to an end. There being that place where the streets are paved with gold (Rev. 21:21), where there will be no more death, or mourning, or crying in pain … no more tears (Rev. 21:4), where there will be no more night (Rev. 21:25), where we will dwell with God (Rev. 21:3).

There being the existence that we were originally created for, back in the garden.

I am no detester of this Earth, or this life we live. This IS my Father’s World …

and He created all that is good in it. But the world He created changed in it’s totality when sin came into His perfect, flawless, self-sustaining creation, and the effects of that sin are all that weighs us down in this life … sickness, floods, starvation, money, lies, hurts, death.

In the absence of the perfection that God intended for us to live, is the longing for … more. That more can only be found there.

“There’s a day that’s drawing near
When this darkness breaks to light
And the shadows disappear
And my faith shall be my eyes”
Chris Tomlin “I Will Rise”

As we trod this earth as believers in the Triune God (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) we wish that we had such great faith that it is our eyes. We wish that we could see those around us with the faith of full belief, but we cannot. It is only in the presence of our Creator that our faith specs are able to see fully.

542402_10151372980315789_1055680521_n428224_10151372978860789_461048034_n

Walking on my favorite trail with my beast, I came to this realization.

A few weeks back I took the photo above and to the left. It was a chilly, bright, clear day. If you look really closely you can see the snow covered mountain in the far background. It was a beautiful view!

Then, this past weekend I took the photo above and to the right. It was a cool, damp, cloudy, rainy day. The walk was equally beneficial, but not so beautiful. There is no mountain in sight, as it was hidden from my view by those rain-filled clouds.

You now know, because I shared my pictures, that behind those gray clouds are beautiful mountains. If I had just told you about them, you might have trusted my telling, and, with faith, believed that the mountains I shared with you are truly there, and beautiful. But, because you are able to see them for yourself (albeit with a magnifying glass), your faith has been made sight!

“For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face.
Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.”

1 Corinthians 13:12

And that is what awaits us. Faith that has been made sight!

“For instance, we know that when these bodies of ours are taken down like tents and folded away, they will be replaced by resurrection bodies in heaven—God-made, not handmade—and we’ll never have to relocate our “tents” again. Sometimes we can hardly wait to move—and so we cry out in frustration. Compared to what’s coming, living conditions around here seem like a stopover in an unfurnished shack, and we’re tired of it! We’ve been given a glimpse of the real thing, our true home, our resurrection bodies! The Spirit of God whets our appetite by giving us a taste of what’s ahead. He puts a little of heaven in our hearts so that we’ll never settle for less. That’s why we live with such good cheer. You won’t see us drooping our heads or dragging our feet! Cramped conditions here don’t get us down. They only remind us of the spacious living conditions ahead. It’s what we trust in but don’t yet see that keeps us going. Do you suppose a few ruts in the road or rocks in the path are going to stop us? When the time comes, we’ll be plenty ready to exchange exile for homecoming. But neither exile nor homecoming is the main thing (OR, in the NIV: “for we live by faith, not by sight”). Cheerfully pleasing God is the main thing, and that’s what we aim to do, regardless of our conditions.” 2 Corinthians 5:1-9 (MSG)

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imagesChristmas has been cleaned away from our house.

The tree is down and out on the deck, the lights are packed away, my collection of nativities are snug in their boxes, and I am thrilled with the cleanliness and order of my living room.

I have been accused of being too excited to un-decorate from the Christmas season. Perhaps it is because I start hinting at doing so just after opening all of the presents on Christmas morning? I do admit to loving the process, but not because I am putting away Christmas.

I think I have discovered that what I love about putting away the Christmas decorations is that I have all the time in the world to do it. I can look at each decoration with precious memories of who gave it to us, when and why. The tree in our home is not an interior decorator’s masterpiece, it is a conglomeration of ornaments of sentimentality, tossed on the branches by our trio of children who look at each and reminisce as they hang them precariously on the tips of the branches.

When we decorate for the season, it is a far more rushed affair! This year even more than others, as we struggled for so long to find the time to all go to get a tree from the tree farm. Finally, thanks to a ‘snow day’ on December 19th, we got the tree. Then, on December 22nd, I donned my grumpy pants, and told the men in our house that they had better get that tree in the stand and in the living room before I got home. Then, on December 23rd, I re-wore my grumpy pants and told everyone that they had better be home and unpacking the tree decorations that afternoon … or else! So, by December 25th, I was just thankful that it had gotten done.

And now it is all over. The hustle and the bustle, the wrappings and the unwrappings, the cooking and the eating (and the eating, and the eating).

As I admired each decoration, with memories and stories and love attached. As I placed each representative of the first Christmas story back in it’s packaging, the song of the season for me played again in my heart.

Although I was slow and negligent to prepare the outward elements of the Christmas season, my inner preparations and focus were perfectly clear all season long.

It stared in late November when I encountered this song, as though God himself set it to reverberate in my ears, my brain, my heart, just long enough to know that it was my focus of worshiping Him for this season.

As if to confirm my understanding of the earlier gift of this song from my Creator, as we sat to enjoy our Christmas Day feast together … snow was falling …

“Oh, You came like a winter snow
Quiet and soft and slow
Falling from the sky in the night
To the earth below”

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When we hear of the name of King David our minds think of Goliath, death threats from King Saul, naked dancing in the streets, bad children, and, of course, Bathsheba. His is not a life to emulate! And yet, Samuel says of David, “the Lord has sought out a man after his own heart and appointed him ruler of his people” (1 Samuel 13:14).

A man after God’s own heart …

That is the verse that has had me wondering for years. When I see my Creator face to face, I will ask for further explanation. It makes me wonder, if David’s had God’s heart, maybe I have hope too.

When I was young, and idealistic, I have to say I thought the whole thing of David having a heart like God’s was a typo. Really how could a man who messed up so often, with so many people (his family, and an entire nation) and with such dire consequences, have a heart after God’s own heart? That just makes no sense. That just does not seem to be logical.

Maybe the clue to how David had the heart of God comes from when the prophet Samuel came to anoint one of the sons of Jesse as the next king of Israel. The first son he meets is the eldest, Eliab and he would seem to have looked like the right man to sit on the throne, because “Samuel saw Eliab and thought, “Surely the Lord’s anointed stands here before the Lord” (1 Samuel 16:6).

But God interrupted the thoughts of Samuel on his first impressions of Eliab, and He said to Samuel, “do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7

Maybe David was only about ten when God had Samuel anoint David as king, but God saw his heart. He saw:
the gentle shepherd boy,
he saw the brave giant killer,
he saw the man who would lose all kingly demeanor and dance, un-robed, as the Ark entered the city,
he saw the great leader,
he saw the very human man who blew it royally (pun intended) by staying home while his soldiers fought on, who allowed his hands to take what his eyes desired (in another man’s wife), and who killed her husband,
who focused on his kingly duties to the point of forgetting his fatherly responsibilities,
who chose Solomon, not his eldest, as successor,
he saw a man from whose genealogy the Messiah would come, and through whom there would “never fail to have a successor on the throne of Israel” (1 Kings 2:4).

In short, God knew how very human was David’s heart, but He loved it anyway! Just as God does with the hearts of all humankind. It is by His grace, that we too can hearts after God’s own heart.

And, like David, I want to reach the end of my days and have people say that my heart looks like the heart of God.

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