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Friday, March 29, 2013

I Stand Amazed

I grew up singing songs in church. Lots of songs. Songs in Sunday School. Songs in children's choir. Songs in big church. Songs in youth choir. Songs in adult choir. Songs in the pew. Songs in the praise team. Lots of songs... I can still remember songs from my childhood. I could sing them in my sleep.. 

Unfortunately, I think too often, we are singing them in our sleep. We sing from rote and our minds wander while the words and the notes pour from our mouths. How often do I sing a song on Sunday from start to finish while my mind wanders to what everyone is wearing, or what's for lunch, or... you get the picture.

I love singing. I love the children's songs and the choir anthems and the old hymns and the contemporary praise and worship music. I love it all - I really do. But I think if just every once in awhile we slowed it down enough to really think about the words, we would sing with renewed vigor. Or maybe, we would find ourselves so choked up by what we are singing that the words will no longer come. We would find ourselves truly worshiping instead of just going through the motions.

Tonight was our Good Friday service at my church. We sang one of my favorite 'old hymns'. (I love old and new music, but I believe our children are missing a tremendous amount of theology and history by not learning the old hymns of our faith) 

Just take in the words to this one for a minute:

"I stand amazed in the presence of Jesus the Nazarene..."  Whoa. In the presence of Jesus. Who wouldn't be amazed? More than amazed. Awestruck. Dumbfounded. In Revelation 1:17, John couldn't stand in His presence. He fell down at His feet as though he were dead. Holy reverence. Worship.

"And wonder how He could love me, A sinner condemned unclean." How, indeed? Do you ever wonder?

"He took my sins and my sorrows, He made them His very own..." Are you sorrowful tonight? The God of the universe will take your sorrow and make them His own. He took MY sin and yours and made it His. What kind of God IS this?

"He bore the burden to Calvary, and suffered and died alone." He took my sin and made it His. He hung it on a cross. His Father couldn't even look at Him. He was more alone than we can even begin to comprehend. Thank you, Jesus! There is not enough gratitude in the world.

From the 1956 Baptist Hymnal
"When with the ransomed in glory His face I at last shall see..." Can you even stand it?!?! To see the face of Jesus...what more could anyone want? Ever? Nothing else even compares. 

"Twill be my joy through the ages to sing of His love for me." Yes it will! Did I mention I love to sing?? Singing through the ages...of what He did for me. Loving me in my sin. Praying for me. Taking my sin. Dying on the cross. Forgiving me. And why can't the ages start now?

So just meditate on those lines for a moment. Really think about them. Turn them around in your head and your heart. How could He love you? How could He love me? It is inconceivable, but He does! And we don't have to wait for eternity to stand in His presence. He is here with us and in us. We can stand in His presence moment by moment, day by day, because He loved us enough to do the necessary work that would reconcile us to Him. Really meditate on that.

NOW, you can sing the chorus:
"How marvelous! How wonderful! And my song shall ever be;
 How marvelous! How wonderful! Is my Saviour's love for me!"  

Yes. It. Is.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Seasons of the Soul

Larry and I left home yesterday to begin the trek northward to the Tennessee mountains. This is one of our favorite places, but we don't generally journey there this time of the year. What draws us this year is a new grandbaby.

As we are making our way through northern Georgia, the reason we choose a different season is abundantly clear. Although winter is technically over, the landscape is relatively bare. In many places the grass is still brown, trees look dead and leafless. There is a drab lack of color.

We have been this way before. In the spring when the green is especially vibrant and the leaves look particularly tender. We have been this way in the summer when flowers are blooming and wildlife is thriving. We have been this way in the fall when leaves are yellow and gold and red and orange - when the mountains appear to be on fire. We know there is life here - we just can't see it right now.

Life is always a cycle. I recently lost two elderly family members. They had lived long lives and left a Godly legacy as well as a huge family legacy...children, grandchildren, great grandchildren. A life ends and, yet, life goes on.

Larry and I are going to see a new grandchild only a few weeks on this earth. Life begins again.

Our spirit is often the same. We have the spring of a new lesson learned, a sweet and tender time with Jesus. We have summers of activity and wildness when our relationship with God is an adventure to be sure. Then there is the fall when we settle in with wonder and amazement at what He has done.

And, of course, there are the winters. The barren times of the soul when colors are drab and our spiritual lives feel lifeless. But just like the mountains in winter, there is still life here. It is waiting for just the right moment to burst forth in a new spring and the cycle will begin again. We just have to keep living and moving and having our being in Him. (Acts 17:48) This is the time to be still and know that He is God. (Ps 46:10) The time to know that He holds all things together. (Col. 1:16)

We have been this way before...




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Friday, March 1, 2013

Window to the World

You sit in an office...staring at a computer...performing the same repetitive tasks over and over...wondering why you are here...

And then, God gives you a window. A window that looks out at the world He created. Suddenly, in the midst of the mundane, you can see the sun breaking through the tops of the trees. Shining through the glass. Warming your face. Causing the grass to sparkle as it reflects off the dew.

Or maybe the sun is hiding today, and, instead, you get a rainstorm so close you feel you need an umbrella. Just on the other side of the glass.

And we cannot forget the visitors who come to keep you company. The regal egret, slowly picking his way through the landscaping. He stops and eyes any movement he sees coming from inside the glass on his way by. And there are the cardinals that visit the large palmetto bush just the other side of the lawn. The little stray cat that stops and peaks in the window to see what you are doing from time to time with her belly full of kittens that are soon to make their appearance.


Today's visitor was another flash of red in the big oak tree. You watched and realized it was a little woodpecker flitting among the branches looking for unsuspecting insects.

Ah....God's glory!

Often we get so caught up in what we believe are our mundane, monotonous lives that we forget God's glory is all around us. We simply have to have our eyes open to see.

Open the eyes of my heart, Lord, I want to see You.