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Archive for August, 2013

The end of August! School resumes. You may be relieved…the family routine will settle and normal chaos will again reign, or you may be baffled wondering where did summer go…how is it over so quickly? There is a saying, “The only constant is change.” Yet, in the midst of all that is changing around us, there is One constant that is unchanging.

The Lord is King! He is robed in majesty.

Indeed, the Lord is robed in majesty and armed with strength. The world stands firm; it cannot be shaken.

Your throne, O Lord, has been established from time immemorial.

You yourself are from the everlasting past.

The mighty oceans have roared, O Lord.

The mighty oceans roar like thunder; the mighty oceans roar as they pound the shore.

But mightier than the violent raging of the seas, mightier than the breakers on the shore–

The Lord above is mightier than these!

Your royal decrees cannot be changed. The nature of Your reign, O Lord, is holiness forever.

~ Psalm 93

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“When doubts filled my mind, Your comfort gave me renewed hope and cheer….But the Lord is my fortress; my God is the mighty rock where I hide.”

~ Psalm 94:19,22

I have seen movie scenes where the room fills rapidly with smoke and the person quickly struggles to safety while gasping for air as their eyes and lungs burn. The sense of “Will I make it?” is conveyed through the visual images on the screen, but that same sense fills my brain even without the related dangerous smoke and fumes. Will I find a way out of this pain? Will I find a way to be happy…to bring peace, security, stability to my family? Perhaps those doubts and fears assail you too at times. The lifeline in those moments frequently is found in the soothing words of the Psalms. David, even as a shepherd boy, wrote and sang many of these renewing, life-breathing assurances: “But each day the Lord pours His unfailing love upon me, and through each night I sing His songs, praying to God who gives me life” (Psalm 42:8).

Like a deer pants for water, may you be encouraged today that He waits to meet your every need, calm all of your fears, and renew your hope and your mind (Psalm 42). The Lord God can and will bring you out of the smoke and fill your lungs, heart and life with His love, for He is your safe haven (Psalm 43:2). He will give you the courage and strength to be victorious (Psalm 44:4-7).

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“What is the app for that?” “Text me.” If you are not of the millennial generation or “Gen X,” you may get just as lost in this world of technology, shortcut texting language, and aspects of the digital electronic age as many of my fellow baby boomers do. But there is one language that all generations can understand–God’s language of love. Twenty-six times the psalmist reminds us in Psalm 136 that “God’s faithful love endures forever.”

Repeatedly, we are reminded to “give thanks” to the Lord God…to give thanks for His creation…to give thanks for His protection…give thanks for His faithfulness to fight for us and save us from our enemies…give thanks that despite our weaknesses He remains faithful and loves us.

This morning, how has He reminded you of His faithful love? If you would like a text version of that message to remind yourself or others, just remember whatever you are facing today, GLYASDI (God loves you and so do I).

“Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! His faithful love endures forever.”

~ Psalm 136:1

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A five-year-old blond, blue-eyed beauty was being distracted from touching priceless art in a Chicago museum by a staff member gifted at keeping the child talking by asking questions. She was overheard asking the child, “Where did you get such beautiful eyes?” To which, the little girl promptly responded, “From God.” The staff member quickly asked, “Well, why did He give you such beautiful eyes and not me?” Without a moment’s hesitation, the little girl replied, “Because you didn’t ask Him and I did.” Yes, that had us all smiling and chuckling, but it also contained a profound truth and the faith of a child that is a reminder and an encouragement to us all of how much God loves us:

“You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Thank You for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous–and how well I know it. You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb. You saw me before I was born….How precious are Your thoughts about me, O God! They are innumerable!”  

~ Psalm 139:13-17

Some think their noses too long, their hair too curly or too straight or too thin. Others have issues with their body shape or height. But no matter the imperfections the newsstand models try to urge us to correct and modify, there is One today who loves you just as you are for He is the One who created you. Celebrate your wonderful complexity today and know that He sees you as wonderfully perfect in His sight.

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“Send me a sign of Your favor, then those who hate me will be put to shame, for You, O Lord, help and comfort me.”

~ Psalm 86:17

“So, my mom just called for the sixth time today. This time to tell me she changed her bed and took the recycling out. Doesn’t she know I have work to do and am busy?” This was part of a conversation of frustration I related to a dear friend. With wisdom of age, she smiled and gently pointed out that with each piece of information my mom relates, she is really asking, “Am I still of value? Am I important?” Hmmm….do you ever feel undervalued?

Even the Psalmist David reached such a point that he asked the Lord God to send a sign that David had favor. Perhaps like David you want to know you are favored in the face of a crisis or mean-spiritedness from others. Possibly, like my mom, the “favor” you seek is just to know you still count and matter to someone. David claimed the truth of God’s unfailing love and that he counted…that he was favored when he acknowledged, “for Your love for me is very great. You have rescued me from the depths of death!…You, O Lord, are a merciful and gracious God, slow to get angry, full of unfailing love and truth” (Psalm 86:13,15).

Know today, you do count! You do matter! You are valued and “loved with an everlasting love” (Jeremiah 31:3).

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“I will come in 5 minutes.” This was a frequent statement when my daughter was little. I would be busy working at something I thought was important when she would call for my attention. My response was to put her off because I knew she would either be asleep or forget that she needed me in 5 minutes and I could keep working. Oh, many of you moms may be able to relate to that sense of too much to accomplish and too little time when those grabbing around your knees demand attention right now.

I learned a powerful lesson about that attitude one day when the radio played the Johnny and June Cash song, “Will the Circle be Unbroken?” My daughter commented that she would ask the funeral driver to slow down so finally in the coffin I could slow down to see her wave. Yes, that probably hits your heart as it did mine. The result…I took the time to slow down and really listen…look her in the eye when she talked and never again put her off as less than a priority unless it truly was an emergency.

As I have grown deeper in love with the Lord God, I am so glad He didn’t and doesn’t put me off. He listens. He makes Himself always available immediately–now. Psalm 86 echoes that no matter what, I can call out and know He is there and will promptly answer:

“Bend down, O Lord, and hear my prayer; answer me, for I need your help….Listen closely to my prayer, O Lord; hear my urgent cry. I will call to You whenever trouble strikes, and You will answer me….”

~ Psalm 86:1,6-7

Perhaps your prayer today is the same as Psalmist David and the cry of my heart: “Teach me Your ways, O Lord, that I may live according to Your truth! Grant me purity of heart that I may honor You” (Psalm 86:11). And, Lord, as I go today, may I slow down enough to listen for Your voice and offer others my time and attention as a way to serve and honor You. Amen.

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I went through a very rough season reconciling my upbringing with God’s love. After all, how could He have allowed some of my experiences if He knew so much about me and loved me so much. Psalm 139:16 says, “Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in Your book before one of them came to be.” I learned to not lean on my own understanding, but to trust what the Word says. He had a plan for me and my life from before I was formed. When we are faced with trials, we can remember that nothing takes our God by surprise; He has ordained your days.

Do you see yourself as being of great value? Most of us don’t, at least not on a regular basis. But God says He knit us together in the womb, that we are fearfully and wonderfully made, and you were not hidden from God as He made you in secret (Psalm 139:13-15). Isn’t that awesome? I believe we rely too much on feelings and not enough on the truth of who God says we are. You are His special creation. When we make introductions, maybe we should say, “I would like you to meet, ________, God’s special creation.” Bet we would get a few raised eyebrows…could be fun.

Psalm 139:17, “How precious to me are Your thoughts, God! How vast is the sum of them.”  To think the God of all creation loves us so much. May we find ourselves thankful for His thoughts and His great love toward us.

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