Tag Archives: Praise

Addressing iWorries With iPraise

First of all, I have no photos to upload and post.  If you want to call and talk about it, forget it.

Secondly, I am looking at a computer screen with 1 1/2 times the letters I’m actually typing.

Thirdly, the weeds are still there.

Fourth, I’m an emotional bag of nerves.

Will this be an inspirational post? I don’t know. It all depends. If you have a wonderful life where nothing out of control stresses you out, then you may think to yourself, “Man, I’m glad I’m not that guy.”

On the other hand, you may be in Zimbabwe and might think to yourself, “I wish my problems were as few as his.”

Nevertheless, here’s my story.

iProblems

Last night I went to bed and was going to set my alarm on my phone. When I plugged it into the charger, the charger port was broke. How/when did that happen??! I have no clue, but that has to be fixed…today!

I had photos I was going to upload for a post, but now I dare not turn on my phone and run down what charge I still have. Should there be an emergency, I will need to make a call. But now my wife can’t get ahold of me, and that’s a big problem – as you will see in just a second.

iBlind

And if the phone problem wasn’t enough, my glasses broke yesterday. I mean, I literally took them off my face and the dang things just fell apart! We’re not talking a loose screw, or anything – the frame broke!

If you want to know why that’s a big issue, let me just tell you the brand name of the frame: Silhouette.  Another expensive fix.

iNearly Cursed

Before my glasses fell apart in my hands, something else decided to up and die – the new lawn trimmer.

Look, I don’t have to mow the lawn surrounding our church, the fellowship hall, and the house we live in; someone else does that. However, that someone is a little bit older and has difficulty getting on and off his riding mower, not to mention trimming the grass around three structures and parking lots. So, in order to help out, while at the same time give me the satisfaction of doing something outside, I broke down and purchased a new trimmer.

Keep in mind, I might be 5+ months past shoulder surgery, but pulling the crank on a lawn trimmer is still not easy. So, after about 50 pulls I almost let loose a string of profanities, but I didn’t. Well… maybe a word or two.

iMiss’em

Then, on top of all that, my wife and youngest daughter just drove around the corner and out of sight as they are on their way out of town for 3 days. They are going to a conference in Knoxville, TN.

What’s wrong with that? Well, I absolutely hate it when my wife leaves town, especially with one of the girls. Why? Because they are out there somewhere and I can’t protect them. I’m also pretty clueless when my wife isn’t around to manage things.

It’s sorta kind of crazy, I guess. It’s no big deal for me when I leave town for something, but when my wife leaves town I can’t even sleep at night.

iPraise

So, as I was writing down all my first-world problems, I couldn’t help but be reminded of a scripture passage – literally, it came to mind as I stepped away to let the dog out to pee:

In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. – 1 Thessalonians 5:18 KJV

No, that doesn’t mean I should be thankful my glasses, iPhone, and weedeater broke. But what it does mean is that I should be thankful that even in the middle of all this brokenness, Christ has a plan for me. Yes, even when things like these break.

I must remind myself that God ordains my footsteps, and it might just be that He needs my witness at a repair shop or return counter. If a broken iPhone allows me to talk about Jesus, wouldn’t that be great?

Then, right after I thought of the above verse from 1 Thessalonians, another verse came to mind:

Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. – Philippians 4:6-7 CSB

No, I can’t always be there to watch over my wife and daughters, but God is there. They are in His hand. He can watch over them far better than I can.

If I keep that in mind I might just get some sleep.

 

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Filed under Faith, Relationships and Family, Struggles and Trials, worship

The Cure for Writer’s Block

I don’t know if you have noticed, but I have not been writing much in the last few weeks. Maybe it’s just a season in my life, or maybe it’s just that writing takes a lot of work (if you want to do it well).

So, this morning I decided I would try to write, but I didn’t know what to write about! How could this be? Are there not enough stories in the news? Have there not been any blessings to share? Have I not heard any funny jokes?

Do I have writer’s block?

Well, if I did, I don’t anymore! Because I decided to write about having writer’s block.

The cure for writer’s block is writing about having writer’s block. Something’s bound to come from it.

It’s sort of like praise. When you don’t think you’ve got anything to praise God for, just praise Him anyway, and then all the reasons will come.

Praise God for mercy, grace, and love. Thank Him for Bethlehem, Golgotha, and the empty grave. Thank the Lord…praise Jesus…for no matter what you’re going through today, still His promises remain true, His faithfulness is everlasting, and you’re not alone!

I can thank Him for writer’s block.

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“First” Conviction

Since I first – no pun intended – heard the song “First” by Lauren Daigle, I can’t open my eyes in the morning without the lyrics popping into my head.

Before I bring my need
I will bring my heart
Before I lift my cares
I will lift my arms
I wanna know You
I wanna find You
In every season
In every moment
Before I bring my need
I will bring my heart
And seek You

(chorus)
First
I want to seek You
I want to seek You
First
I want to keep You
I want to keep You
First
More than anything I want, I want You
First

Believe it or not, these very lyrics convict me like crazy. They have affected me so much I’ve even re-ordered the order of service on Sunday mornings at the church where I pastor. And speaking of pastoring, or preaching, read the words to the second verse…

Before I speak a word
Let me hear Your voice
And in the midst of pain
Let me feel Your joy
I wanna know You
I wanna find You
In every season
In every moment
Before I speak a word
I will bring my heart
And seek You

I wake up each morning, no joke, hearing Lauren Daigle’s powerful, Spirit-empowered voice exploding out the first word of the chorus… “First!”

This morning was no different, and that is why I am sharing this with you. Are you putting God first in your life? Are you putting Him first every day, every moment, before your own desires or needs? Are we not commanded by Him to “Seek ye first…?”

I don’t want to wake up each morning with guilt, but so often the first things on my mind are  coffee, checking my messages, going to the bathroom, letting the dog out, or hitting the snooze button one more time. I need to work a little more – as in working out my salvation – on growing my love for and dependence on the One who should take priority in every area of life.

It might be easier on a Sunday morning, but what about Monday? What about the next holiday morning? What about when you’re running late, or want to sleep in?

We talk about putting “first things first” all the time, but will you strive along with me to put the Lord first, before everything?

He is worthy. 

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National Day of Prayer 2015

Our Resource

We seek out panaceas to resolve the conflicts of the world and to heal our own personal and private wounds. Many are consulting the psychiatrist, the doctor, the minister, and anyone else who will listen. But we do not seem to recognize that the great need in our own personal lives is prayer. Prayer is the greatest neglected resource that we have; it’s a power that we simply are not using today.” – J. Vernon McGee (emphasis mine)

Today is the National Day of Prayer, and so I want to encourage each of you to pray. We need to be on our knees for our country, our cities, and our homes instead of rioting, protesting, and cursing each other. Oh, how much could change if we would just take advantage of the resource that’s been provided to us!

However, be careful; prayer is nothing but idle words and wishful thinking, motivational self-talk at best, if the Object of our prayer is not God.

“These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God. And this is the confidence that we have in him (Jesus), that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.” – 1 John 5:13-15 (emphasis mine)

Pray, but go to God in prayer. Prayer doesn’t change things – He does.

Specifics

When you pray, pray with intent. Don’t pray in generalities; be specific. If you don’t already have a list of specifics, let me suggest a few to get you started. Let the Holy Spirit guide you after these.

  • Praise God for the opportunity to pray. Thank God that He even allows us into His presence.
    • “Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, [and] into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, [and] bless his name.” – Psalm 100:4
  • Confess your sins to God, and repent. 
    • “I acknowledged my sin unto thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the LORD; and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin. Selah.” – Psalm 32:5
    • “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us [our] sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” – 1 John 1:9
  • Pray for your President (or Prime Minister), your regional officials, and your local government leaders by name, if possible. 
    • “I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, [and] giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and [for] all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this [is] good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.” – 1 Timothy 2:1-4
  • Pray for Wisdom.
    • “Give me understanding, and I shall keep thy law; yea, I shall observe it with [my] whole heart.” – Psalm 119:34
    • “Wisdom [is] the principal thing; [therefore] get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding.” – Proverbs 4:7

“A man is powerful on his knees.”  – Corrie ten Boom (1892-1983)

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Shunning Green Pastures

Study Where You Can

rotundaLast night I was sitting in the rotunda of our county courthouse. No, I was not in trouble – this time. I was just there waiting on my daughter as she was practicing with a group of other kids for upcoming mock trial competition. (If you don’t know what that is, it’s a bunch of high school students from different schools who compete against each other in “mock” trials in court).

Anyway, because her practices usually take at least a couple of hours, I always take something to study. I mean, if I’m going to have to be there, I might as well make use of my time, right? So, this time I took with me my Bible and volume one of a series of commentaries on the book of John by the late Dr. James Montgomery Boice. You see, I’m am beginning a sermon series through the book of John this next Sunday.

So, outside in the rotunda, where I actually found a leather chair in a relatively quite spot, I read the following passage from Dr. Boice’s book. Here’s a little teaser for ya’ – I had to stand up after reading it and raise my hands, with tears in my eyes, and say aloud, “Hallelujah!”

Did you know that a sheep will not eat or drink when it is lying down? Most people have never heard this. But it is a fact, and it gives special meaning to the phrase, “He makes me lie down in green pastures.” If a sheep is lying down, even in the greenest of pastures and even with the most tender morsel of grass within an inch of its nose, the sheep will not eat the grass. Instead, if it is hungry, it will scramble to its feet, bend over, and then eat the morsel that was much easier to reach before. Thus, when the psalm tells us that the Lord Jesus Christ, our Shepherd, makes us to lie down in green pastures, it means that he is able to satisfiy us so completely that we cannot possibly yearn for anything more. – James Montgomery Boice. The Gospel of John, Volume 1: The Coming of the Light, p.41.

What did you think about that?

Greener Pastures?

So, what got me so excited there in the rotunda of the county courthouse? Reading a truth that had never crossed my mind before: Jesus wants to make me not even care about green pastures!

That’s right! When Jesus satisfies our souls, nothing else can compare, not even the best offers of the world; more prestigious position; the more attractive temptation; etc.

When we are totally satisfied with Jesus, He can lead us to the greenest pastures and have us so fulfilled in Him that we can lay down and never take a bite! For that matter, when our souls are completely nourished with Him, the desire to seek greener pastures doesn’t even cross our minds; it’s not even appealing!

Oh, hallelujah, my friends! Satisfy your hunger with the Bread of Life; quench your deepest thirst with the Water of Life. Find your satisfaction in the abundant life of Christ and greener pastures won’t even be appetizing.

With Jesus satisfies your soul, you can be content in whatever field you’re led.

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From the Pit to Praise

And he hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God: many shall see it, and fear, and shall trust in the LORD. – Psalm 40:3

A New Song

How many times have you heard someone sing “Hallelujah! Hallelujah!” after something really special happened? Can you hear Handel’s Messiah playing in your head this very moment? I remember a particular scene in the movie Scrooged, starring Bill Murray, where Scrooge (played by Bill) realized he’d been given another chance at life. In an instant he stepped out of pure terror into rapturous joy… “I’m ALIVE! I’m ALIVE!”… Hallelujah! Hallelujah! … everything was new.

(Enjoy the clip, but pardon the mild language – after all, the guy hasn’t had a lot of time to change his vocabulary, right?)

Are we singing songs of praise? Do you remember the pit? Are you in one right now? What kind of songs are “pit” songs? What kind of songs does one sing when he is hopeless, in the dark, burdened with despair? Shouldn’t the old songs become new when you’ve been delivered?

It might not be the Hallelujah Chorus coming out of your speakers, but something should be “new” about the song choices of one who has passed from death unto life (John 5:24; 1 John 3:14). Am I correct? Maybe it’s just the preacher in me is talking.

What Others See

People-watching is a favorite pastime, one that even I sometimes enjoy (especially when there’s not enough money to buy anything in the mall). But it doesn’t have to be a place where people congregate to find people-watchers; they’re everywhere.

Because there’s always someone watching us, taking note, even trying to be like us, it’s important to remember that when God does a work in our lives, people see that too! As a matter of fact, the bigger the miracle, the bigger the response.

John:  “Hey, Jim, do you remember that guy, Anthony?”

Jim:  “Anthony?  The one who’ll never make anything of his life? The guy who’s beyond help? The one who’s been stuck in that pit so long he’ll never change?”

John:  “Yeah, that guy…well sorta.”

Jim:  “What do you mean?”

John:  “Well, something’s really changed about him. He’s different. He’s not depressed, or angry, or worried anymore. Things are going better for him, and all he can do is praise God for picking him up! He doesn’t even accept the credit! All he does now is talk about the Lord, loving people, and all that stuff. He even changed the music he listens to!”

Jim:  “That’s scary, man. But if God really did that much for Anthony, I wonder what he might do for me if I just trusted Him more?”

Gotta Have “It

Any kind of experience that will make a man run towards a guy with a shotgun, a guy who was trying to kill him… Any kind of experience that would make a man jump out of an elevator and scream, “I’m ALIVE! I’m ALIVE!“… That’s the kind of experience that will get people’s attention.

Friend, do you have any idea how close to hell you were before you accepted Christ? Were your feet in the flames and you didn’t even know it?

You at the computer…the one reading this on an iPad or a smart phone… what’s your deal? Have you been delivered from some dark, dank, depressing, hopeless pit? Are you in one right now? Well, when God delivers you, if He hasn’t already, I hope your reaction will reflect what’s been done.

People are looking for hope; do you have “it”?</

Note: A previous version of this post was being written when my computer decided it was time to update Windows. Before it was erased, that post elaborated a little on the “it” that David said the people saw. What do you think the word – inserted by translators for clarification – was referring to? The being lifted out of the pit and so forth, or visible praise? Both?)

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