Sunday, January 27, 2013

Garlands of Hosannas...

So...  Did you know that I direct an amazing choir of folks up at church that love to sing... I mean they really love to sing!!!  Each and every person who subjects themselves to being in this choir is a true saint.  And they are versatile.  We sing all kinds of music from contemporary to blues to country to traditional.  Each week is different and each week is an adventure.

My job is to think up creative, worship-filled songs for them to sing and then execute them (the songs, that is...) What a great job!  I love my job!

And then there's the band...  Words cannot express how incredibly talented these folks are.  Nothing is impossible with them...  They make a killer combo of piano, bass, trap set and trumpet that steps in almost every Sunday to play their brains out...

When we pull together 36 singers and the band to sing big stuff like cantatas, I'm absolutely amazed at what they can do and how well they do it... and what stellar attitudes they shine as they 'throw garlands of hosannas' on our mighty God.

Yup!  'Garlands of hosannas' - I found that phrase in the Bible.

This new scripture has been running through my head (it seems that only one verse can fit in my brain at a time...) It's located at Psalm 32:7:  "You are my hiding place; You will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance."  I like this NIV version, but frankly, songs of deliverance sounds like music from a 70's movie...

I REALLY like the Message version of Ps 32:7:

"God's my island hideaway, keeps danger far from the shore, throws garlands of hosannas around my neck."

The first part of the verse is crazy wonderful, especially today as the ice is falling from the sky here in Iowa and threatening our lines of electricity and thus endangering my creature comforts...

But my imagination jumps all over the part that says God throws garlands of hosannas around our necks!

What an amazing God we have!

I know this is simplistic reasoning but have you ever had a garland thrown around your neck?

 I'm sure it would make me feel special...
 I'd feel favored...
 I'd feel some strutting coming on...
  I'd feel beautiful...
  I'd smell good...

Well, that's the kind of God we have!  One that truly feels favor and kindness and compassion and goodness and love toward each one of us.  He reaches out and woos us to Himself.  He wants each of us to be in close relationship with Him and to experience Him.  He blesses our socks off and 'throws garlands of hosannas around our necks.'

My response?

       I desire to 'throw garlands of hosannas' around His neck...
                                every... single... day... 


Good question...

I praise Him...

I love Him...

I thank Him...

I accept His love for me...

 I seek and find Him every day...

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Hoping to Dance...

So...  Yesterday, my Bible reading told me to splash and today, my reading tells me to dance!  This is going to take more energy than what I have, dear Father...  I'm going to need some help!

1 Thessalonians 4, verses 1 and 2 from the Message version::

                We ask you - urge is more like it - that you keep on doing what we told you to do to please God, not in a dogged religious plod, but in a living, spirited dance.  

Like It said, it's going to take some gumption... Help me, Lord!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Hoping to Splash...

So... today I'm hoping to splash!

I Thessalonians 3, verses 11-13 , from the Message version, says:

              "May God our Father himself and our Master Jesus clear the road to you!  And may the Master pour on the love so it fills your lives and splashes over on everyone around you... May you be infused with strength and purity, filled with confidence in the presence of God our Father when our Master Jesus arrives with all his followers."

                                                                   What a hoot!  

Sometimes, you just have to go to the Message version and hear truth with modern language.  

                                                      There it is!  A call to splash!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Temple Builders

So... What you probably don't know is that I lead an exercise group called Temple Builders
on Tuesdays and Thursdays, 8:15-9:00 - yes, in the morning - up at church in the fellowship hall.

This class is open to anyone that feels they should move their body.  Seriously, that's my class goal.

(If you'd like more info on that, hit the email button.)

If you knew me, I mean...  really knew me, you would know how hilarious and improbable it is that I lead this class.  Here is my secret:  If I lead the class, I have to be there.  No excuses... at all!

Let's just say my yearbook quote was not "Most likely to lead exercise..."  I'm actually quite skilled at sitting.

And do you know what else?  There are 15 members in the class!  Fifteen people subject themselves to my attempts to lead them into exercise utopia!  It's shocking!

All of this is to tell you that I'm searching for new music.  My 3 favorite playlists of Christian music are getting a bit stale and I need something fresh with which to pummel my class and incessantly hum around the house.

Here's what I found:

                          "Oh How I Need You" by All Sons and Daughters
This song has a fresh banjo sound that's quite jolly juxtapositioned with a killer lyric.  You'll like it.  Plenty of quirky video...

                            "Called Me Higher" also by All Sons and Daughters
This song gets my vote for the best lyric ever.  Be challenged to feel like you should get off your duff and do something.

And if you need motivation to dance your way through your day:
                                   "Dance" by Jesus Culture and Kim Walker.
Five times through this song will blast that body fat down a percentage!

So...  I'm still looking for new songs...  3 songs a playlist does not make.  My classes are 45 minutes long, plus chat time and perhaps a cup of coffee (sans sugar, of course.)

I'm especially skilled at sitting combined with fellowship...

What are your favorites?  Any new songs in your life?  Some old ones?  Maybe I need to listen to some old tunes with fresh ears...

Any suggestions?

I thank you so very much!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Switch On...

So... I saw a fb post from Reinhard Bonnke that I thought was pretty profound... enjoy!

Christianity Boring? So is television… if we don't plug in. For the best programs, switch on - it makes quite a difference! So does switching on to God. God bless you. REINHARD BONNKE

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

This Dopey Cat...

So... I have this dopey cat that has a one-track mind.  It kinda drives me crazy.  I know all you cat lovers will really relate to this because I'm sure your cats do the same thing and it probably drives you crazy, too.

My cat's name is Goldie for obvious reasons.  She is a cymric which means she is a long-haired tailless cat.  She loves people, especially me.  We bought her as a toddler cat with lots of playful sass, spunk and personality.

She lives to do one thing:  to sit in my lap.  She stalks me...  She's persistent in this.  She seeks me out and is only purring with satisfaction when she is absolutely in the center of my lap and has my full attention.

Could it be that her example should teach me something?

I'm into a new book this week entitled "Rumors of God" by Darren Whitehead and Jon Tyson.  I picked up this book when John and I attended worship at Willow Creek Church in Chicago last fall.  Darren Whitehead is a pastor there.  The book jumped out at me as I perused the bookstore.  I bought it and added it to my ever-increasing list of books to read in January.

And it's January!  Yay!  Time to read!

This book has turned into a 'mark-up' book, which was something I didn't really expect.  I was humming along, reading and marking away, until I read the chapter 'The Faith You've Only Heard About' which started to get pretty personal and convicting.

The chapter starts out with Jon recounting how passionate he was for God when he became a new believer.  He got up early and prayed in the church parking lot and was often overwhelmed with a strong sense of God's Presence... He could not get enough...  He was filled with love and joy.

10 years later, he started working at Willow Creek - a wonderful God-loving church with really high impact.  Good things were happening but his passion slowly eked out as he began doing more and more for God and becoming more and more distracted with things that needed to be done.

Jon was studying Revelation when he realized his life paralleled the Christians in Ephesus.  God commended the Christians in Ephesus for their hard work and perseverance, their holiness and their doctrine.  Many good things were happening - miracles, healings, people were really listening to the gospel and living it.  What else could Jesus want from them?

"Yet I hold this against you,"  Jesus said.  "You have forsaken the love you had at first.  Consider how far you have fallen."  (See Revelation 2:1-7)

Jon knew he had lost his passion in the midst of all the good stuff happening.  And I quote from his chapter:
     "Jesus wants more than a life lived for him.  He wants us to live with him - not defined 
      by what we do but by whose we are."

      "I think the first thing we have to do is value the voice of Jesus above anything else.... We
       must commit to making the voice of Jesus the loudest voice in our lives."

      "I began to see that the primary task of my life was to prioritize time with God and learn to 
       hear his blessing and love spoken over me.  Only then would I be free from the crowd
       and the addiction to accomplishments."

      "I no longer rush off to the office first thing.  I set the alarm, get up early and seek God's
      face.  But I don't do it out of shame and guilt.  I do it out of passion.  I open his Word to 
      the wonder of his truth and promises and slowly let them flood my soul.  I drink in his
      unconditional love.  I meditate slowly and intentionally through the passages of Scripture
      that talk about who God is and how he feels about me - his grace and beauty and peace 
      and love."

      "I love beginning each day knowing I am a child of God, dearly loved."

      "After I have drunk deeply from the fountain of God's love, I listen to what God is 
       asking of me.  I want to respond in obedience to exactly what it is that he wants me to
       do.... and serve him faithfully in that (job) first."

So... here's the lesson I have learned from my persistent dopey cat who demands to sit in my lap and have my attention:

God wants me to persistently seek him and 'sit in his lap.'  Well, maybe not actually sit in his lap, but definitely know his love and have a sense of his Presence and hear his Word and understand what He wants me to do - each and every day.

He says, "Come to Me , all ye who are weary and I will give you rest."  I am 'ye' in this passage... 

If I will persistently be with Him, I know my passion for Jesus will be strong and I will hear His voice and I will be in a close relationship with Him.

It will not drive Jesus crazy that I want to do this...  it's His heart's desire....


Sunday, January 6, 2013

Blurred Vision...

So...  You guessed it.  These nerdy looking glasses are 3D glasses.  And why am I showing a picture of them, you ask?

Well, my dear husband and I went to the movie Life of Pi in 3D and thoroughly enjoyed it, I might add.    As you all know, you receive 3D glasses (such as these pictured) when you buy a ticket to a 3D movie.

For some reason, which I do not understand in the least, without these glasses, 3D movies are blurry and weird.  Words are impossible to read.  Details are not understandable.

So during the previews, all watchers rip open the the plastic bag and perch these jaunty black-rimmed spectacles on their noses to watch the screen which then magically becomes 3D and beautifully clear.

When the movie is done, you take these said glasses and put them in the receptacle marked 'glasses' as you leave.

I DID put glasses in the receptacle as I left - my sunglasses, that is.

And of course, by the time I discovered MY glasses had been hastily thrown in, the container had been shipped to the great recycler in the sky.

So now I have the wrong glasses.  As I look at my surroundings with the 3D glasses, all is blurry, details are not understandable, things look weird.

Last night I read a book by Mary C Neal, MD, entitled,  "To Heaven and Back."  It detailed Mary's drowning in a kayak, her experience in heaven and her return back into her earthly body.  In her book, she described her surroundings in heaven and explained how she was able to communicate with angels. Her descriptions are full of beauty and joy and peace and love beyond my imagination.

She continued to communicate with an angel (who might have been Jesus) after her return to her body.  She was given explanations to questions and was told she had more to accomplish.  She viewed her accident as an incredible gift and was able to understand how Jesus was there the entire time.  He made a way with miracles and angels and saturated her thoughts with peace.  She had no fear.

I'll just say right out I LOVE books that describe experiences with Jesus and heaven.

They blow my mind.

They expand my vision because most of the time, I use the wrong glasses.  I look at situations through glasses out of focus.  Sometimes I wear glasses of fear.  I don't see what God is doing.  I shrug off incidences as coincidences when there's been heavenly intervention.... something miraculous...

This book challenges me 'see' differently...

             not with my daily regular eyesight,

                       not with 3-dimensional eyesight,

                                 but with "God-dimensional" eyesight.

I need to see situations through glasses of faith!

It's a new year, and Father, help me to see what you are doing in my life and in the lives of others.  I want to see how You operate... I want to experience You because I know You handle everything with love...  I want to see Your ways of peace and joy and faithfulness...