Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Flabby Faith & Spiritual Love Handles

I recently joined the worship team at church, and realized that I do not know many of the contemporary Christian songs... DOH!  While I enjoy the challenge of sight reading every Sunday, it's better to actually know some of the music, especially when you're on a mic in front of the congregation...  So I've been listening to the local Christian Rock station, Spirit 105.3.  While I tend to get incredibly sapped-out by some of the "feel good" stories and DJ's, and while the "family friendly sound" of the child laughing makes me think more Children of the Corn instead of Children of God, I really enjoy the music. 

Today they were talking about giving thanks, and what were callers thankful for.  And I'm not quite sure how this story ended up there, but the morning DJ was talking about someone who had been in a 2nd or 3rd world country, spreading the word of God, and when he left the people hosting him said, "We're praying for you."  He turned to them and asked, "What are you praying for?"  And they were silent... eventually, they answered him that they were praying for persecution, so he could become stronger in his faith. 

That almost seems like a completely horrible thing to do, pray for hard times so someone can become stronger!  But then the DJ said something along the lines of how, in America especially, our Faith was flabby.  Indignantly I said to myself, "Ha, my faith isn't flabby, look at the personal struggles I've survived over the last 15 years!"  But really?  I think all of us have our little flabby-faith "love handles". 

Just like any other workout, start simple- a little prayer here & there.  Start with a new routine- give thanks as you brush your teeth every morning, say a prayer for a safe commute as you buckle your seat belt.  Eventually you'll find that you don't have to remind yourself to do these things, you'll just do them.  Then step up to the next, Spiritual-Cardio.  Be there for someone else while they're having hard times... ask if you can pray with them, pray for them, and commit to doing it every single day.  Even take it a step further, see if there are any peer-support programs in your area!  By helping others to carry the load they bear, you're helping to strengthen your faith and love for God, and God's children! 

Be that spotter than helps someone lift their new max-weight on bench press - quite literally help to lighten the load on their heart!!!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Understanding How to Heal

By now, we've all heard about the Colorado movie theater masacre.  I try to actually not watch the news much or read all the commentary about why someone did something so horrible.  Doesn't matter, it's still horrible. 

Dozens of peoples lives were changed, and they will never, ever be the same.  Ever.  But slowly, eventually, they will begin to heal, and find that it's either easier or harder than they thought it would be.... everyone heals differently.  Everyone processes things at different rates, in different ways.  There's no formula.  It's not like a recipe. 

The most important thing to realize is that every single feeling and emotion that you go through in this process is valid.  It took a long time for me to accept this, when I had to learn how to heal after losing so many loved ones in my life. 

"Healing does not mean going back to the way things were, but rather, allowing what is now to move us closer to God." ~Ram Daas.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

The Most Amazing Song

Laura Story

We pray for blessings
We pray for peace
Comfort for family, protection while we sleep
We pray for healing, for prosperity
We pray for Your mighty hand to ease our suffering
All the while, You hear each spoken need
Yet love us way too much to give us lesser things

'Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You're near
What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise

We pray for wisdom
Your voice to hear
And we cry in anger when we cannot feel You near
We doubt Your goodness, we doubt Your love
As if every promise from Your Word is not enough
All the while, You hear each desperate plea
And long that we have faith to believe

'Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You're near
And what if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise

When friends betray us
When darkness seems to win
We know that pain reminds this heart
That this is not, this is not our home
It's not our home

'Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
And what if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You're near
What if my greatest disappointments
Or the aching of this life
Is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can't satisfy
And what if trials of this life
The rain, the storms, the hardest nights
Are Your mercies in disguise

This has got to be one of the most amazing songs I have ever heard.  I first heard it months ago, when we were planning one of the Quest retreats, my friend brought it to the table.... Hopefully we can use it this coming year. 

There have been so.many.times. I have gotten mad at God, thinking He delights in our suffering, otherwise why would He let so much pain & so many bad things happen to His beloved children?!  BUT- because there's always a but - I remember, and this song reminds us, that we're not put here to be an end-all, we're not put here so we always feel good, we're here to bring God's goodness to others, and to find comfort & goodness in Him.  Sometimes the only way God can touch us when we need him most is by showering us with rain.  Sometimes we need to have those sleepless nights so we can listen to the silence of our hearts & hear His gentle words answering us. 

(BTW- if the video link doesn't work, please google it yourself, listen to the song!  I will check it when I get home, and fix the hyperlink)

Friday, July 6, 2012

Psalm 42:5-6

Why are you downcast, O my soul?  Why so disturbed within me?  Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise Him, my Savior and my God.

Last night, and very early this morning, I was wide awake - from 11pm until almost 2am.  Something just didn't sit right, something felt off... I still can't quite put my finger on it, except that maybe I'm fearing that certain situations might leave me vulnerable. 

In looking for solace, peace of mind, and something to turn off my brain from reeling through a million questions, I got out my trusty bible verse app on my phone & started flipping through the random verses.  Just like I was saying yesterday, psalms-it-is! 

These verses are pretty much a conversation with your soul, telling it to chill out- God's got it under control.  Now, does that mean that I fell asleep within seconds of reading this?  Nope.  But it did mean that I was able to direct the spinning thoughts in my brain down a different, more relaxing, less anxiety-filled path that eventually led me into a well-rested sleep. 

Here is Psalm 42, in its entirety:
for the director of music- a maskil of the Sons of Korah.

As the deer pants for streams of water,
so my soul pants for you, my God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
When can I go and meet with God?
My tears have been my food
day and night,
while people say to me all day long,
"Where is your God?"
These things I remember
as I pour out my soul:
how I used to go to the house of God
under the protection of the Mighty One
with shouts of joy and praise
among the festive throng.

Why, my soul, are you downcast? 
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God
for I will yet praise Him,
my Savior and my God.

My soul is downcast within me;
therefore I will remember you
from the land of the Jordan
the heights of Hermon- from Mount Mizar.
Deep calls to deep
in the roar of your waterfalls;
all your waves and breakers
have swept over me.

By day the Lord directs his love,
at night His song is with me-
a prayer to the God of my life.

I say to God my Rock,
"Why have you forgotten me?
Why must I go about mourning,
oppressed by the enemy?"
My bones suffer mortal agony
as my foes taunt me,
saying to me all day long,
"Where is your God?"

Why, my soul, are you downcast?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise Him,
my Savior and my God.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Pass the Psalter, Please?

psalms: plural of psalm (Noun)
Noun: 1.A sacred song or hymn, in particular any of those contained in the biblical Book of Psalms and used in Christian and Jewish worship.

2.A book of the Bible comprising a collection of religious verses, sung or recited in both Jewish and Christian worship.

A dear friend in college said that you should always keep a Psalter by your bed, and I agree whole heartedly.  Nothing brings more peace of mind & soul than reading the poetry of the bible.  I don't know that I have an absolute favorite, but for now, any one of the Psalms that Dr. Richard Nance has arranged just bring me to a happy place - maybe it's because we sang so many of them, maybe it's because the memories that go with where we were when he arranged them, maybe it's just the very words combined to such heavenly sweet sounds...