You draw praise out of me in every situation

I’m thanking you, God, from a full heart, I’m writing the book on your wonders.
I’m whistling, laughing, and jumping for joy;
I’m singing your song, High God.

The day my enemies turned tail and ran,
they stumbled on you and fell on their faces.
You took over and set everything right;
when I needed you, you were there, taking charge.

You blow the whistle on godless nations;
you throw dirty players out of the game,
wipe their names right off the roster.
Enemies disappear from the sidelines,
their reputation trashed,
their names erased from the halls of fame.

God holds the high center,
he sees and sets the world’s mess right.
He decides what is right for us earthlings,
gives people their just deserts.

God’s a safe-house for the battered,
a sanctuary during bad times.
The moment you arrive, you relax;
you’re never sorry you knocked.
Sing your songs to Zion-dwelling God,
tell his stories to everyone you meet:
How he tracks down killers
yet keeps his eye on us,
registers every whimper and moan.

Be kind to me, God;
I’ve been kicked around long enough.
Once you’ve pulled me back
from the gates of death,
I’ll write the book on Hallelujahs;
on the corner of Main and First
I’ll hold a street meeting;
I’ll be the song leader; we’ll fill the air
with salvation songs.

They’re trapped, those godless countries,
in the very snares they set,
Their feet all tangled
in the net they spread.
They have no excuse;
the way God works is well-known.
The cunning machinery made by the wicked
has maimed their own hands.

The wicked bought a one-way
ticket to hell.
No longer will the poor be nameless—
no more humiliation for the humble.
Up, God! Aren’t you fed up with their empty strutting?
Expose these grand pretensions!
Shake them up, God!
Show them how silly they look.
Psalm 9

A rare influence in personal chemistry

Walking with the wise — those who want to lift us up rather than pull us down. People who will sacrifice themselves to help you become more of who you are meant to be. Individuals who count it no loss to lose your friendship if their love is too firm and insistent for your tastes.

What a disgrace to miss these blessings in our lives! To turn one away is to miss the rare treat of discovering what it can really be like to know love in its rawest form — a catalyst so strong that it will enable us to form compounds of character and action that we would never have seen as possibilities.

Let’s raise our voices high and thank Him. God has shown Himself to us in all these separate personalities. May we honor those today to whom we owe a dept for pushing us to be what we are today, and can be tomorrow!

The peek – a – boo problem

When is the last time you played peek – a – boo? Can I guess? Was it yesterday? When God was looking for you, could you be found, or were you too busy forgetting enjoying your hiding spot?

Has it been so long that you are afraid you could finally decide to pop out and He would be no where to be found? Are you afraid that He has forgotten your name because you no longer here it being called by the voice you’ll recognize? Is it easier to believe that He has forgotten you and run off to do something more interesting because you can’t admit that you forgot, even for a moment about Him, being so busy running away?

Why do we play peek – a – boo anyway? It’s a game that has its nitch in toddler tantrums and frightened faces of hurt children. Isn’t it time that we lay down this way of relating to God and let Him show us how an adult act with Him?

I think it would be worth it. Even if we felt discomfort so strongly we got knots in our stomachs and were so self-conscious that our hands shook to shield our faces from the surprises we might find in the unexplored aspects of relationship with God.

But, what if we felt all that, acknowledged it, but went ahead to meet God on a mysterious and higher plane anyway? What would we find? Perhaps some watching us go after Him would hear our scream when the foliage around the bend eclipsed us from their view. But, what a pity to them that not having gone with us, they could not here the sigh that followed and the peace that settled on our soul.

There is too much ahead to miss. Too many unseen wonders to pretend we haven’t heard that they exist. Too strong a desire within us to know and explore more for us to safely turn His offer down.

Holy Hide-n-Seek

Kittens hiding within the bricksGod can’t be found. What is He doing? Why hasn’t He been in any of the places that I have looked?

God is confusing. He doesn’t show up when we think, He lingers around longer than we would like, and He sometimes steps on our feet when we greet Him. What’s up with that?

Do these things make God inconsiderate or undesirable? Does His seeming lack of good manners give you reason to move away? Did He seem an unlikely refuge when you turned your back on Him?

Perhaps asking these questions makes you feel uncomfortable. But, if God is perfect and intentional in all He does, then it could not be an accident that He has put Himself off on us as He has. There is no need for you to distance yourself from Him with a protective veneer of politeness.

Since God knows everything, and is the premier expert in predicting your every thought and move, He no doubt expected you to react to His behavior exactly as you have. But, what may be worthy of considering is that He knows more about you than you know about Him and therefore He had some excellent reason for whatever elusive or intrusive measures He has enacted in your presence.

The marvelous personality of a holy God is wrapped up specifically for you in everything He does and says. He presents Himself to you for your enjoyment. Doubt the biblical nature of what I say? Read Matthew or John and you will find verses like:

“I’ve told you these things for a purpose: that my joy might be your joy, and your joy wholly mature.” (John 15:11)

Jesus told this simple story, but they had no idea what he was talking about. So he tried again. “I’ll be explicit, then. I am the Gate for the sheep. All those others are up to no good—sheep stealers, every one of them. But the sheep didn’t listen to them. I am the Gate. Anyone who goes through me will be cared for—will freely go in and out, and find pasture. A thief is only there to steal and kill and destroy. I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of.” (John 10:6-10)

Not only did He choose to make Himself known to us in such a way that we would enjoy Him, but also that we would recognize that in Him we are absolutely full. If such were the experiential case of our lives, we would have no reason to doubt that God is our deepest craving and delight. The world would have no opening to tantalize us with empty things; God would have us “heart and soul.”

So what do you think of the deal?

Will you take the chance? Don’t excuse yourself by speaking of the sacrifice, the burden, the distance it will make you go. You have a choice. Use this priceless gift and make the best one you can.

Perhaps you have been reading about the cost of following God, of truly getting to know Him, and while it pulls at those unfamiliar deep places of your soul, you can’t think of saying yes. You want more, but at the same time, less. You will take the world if its handed to you, but if you have to work to see any part of it, you will stalk back into your tiny corner and sulk. No, it is not worth your time and effort; you would be more comfortable simply staying where you are.

Never mind that it’s really not serving you to be there. Give no second thought to the fact that your loyalty is a sacrifice, a hardship in itself. Your present position is truly an inconvenient place from which to reach the goals that you have marked in your mind.

Remaining behind, and shoving off God’s call on your life is saying good bye to all you might have known of the best in life. You will never know what it means to really live so long as you keep your own boundaries. Boundaries conceived in the idea of liberty with no death, no sacrifice, no joy and no peace can offer you no life.

The prison that keeps me deceptively comfortable

Belief is the key to knowing and including God in everything you do. Unbelief, whether we realize it or not, is the key to disassociating ourselves from Him.

Unbelief, what is unbelief? Lack of trust? Ignorance of God’s love? Unwillingness to concede that God is who He says He is, and should dictate how we act?

I believe that everyone of these things makes up unbelief — each one has greatly affected how I perceive and participate with God. I believe there is nothing solid other than what I believe and act upon. Yet it shakes me to the core when God rises up to prove that He is unmoving, and I have been wrong about Him.

In so many ways I need Him to be loving and tender yet I don’t want that to come to me in such strength that He commands my attention and demands my response. I would much more easily be satisfied if He were a soft, servile deity who fits loosely around me and my plans. I think He should be like a nice blanket that keeps me warm in winter weather, or a skin that makes me appear richer or more important.

In every case it seems that I don’t believe Him at His Word and action because I want Him to only agree to my word and action. I like what I believe, I don’t like what He wants me to be, therefore I find myself recognizing the unpleasant truth that I don’t like Him as much as I would like to think and say that I do.

Every day my doubts of God present themselves anew to my attention. And every day I have a choice between them and God. One is true, and the other is merely attractive on a temporary basis. One raises me up, and the other pull me down.

God knows that I have these doubts, and He knows that they express my mental and emotional vein at the moment, but He also knows what’s of  more validity than what’s going on inside of me.

Deceit occupies me inherently, but the Truth is always waiting at the door to be invited in. Where He is anything false can no longer stand. He is infinite and what a mistake I make in permitting an inaccuracy to diminishable or reinvent Him in my mind.

When I consider how deep the distortion of God within me resides, it comes as no surprise that I must be instructed in the Truth with a life-obsessed intensity; I cannot distinguish what it means to be alive until I turn from death. My life in Christ depends upon the death-like surrender of my life in sin. The depths of one are closed off to me so long as I cling to my right to search out the depths of another. The Truth will hold me if I choose to leap from the manipulative embrace of self-interested lies when He gives me the chance.

Foxy features of a life gone awry

How harmful could it be if we hang-out together?

[My heart was touched and I fervently sang to him my desire] Take for us the foxes, the little foxes that spoil the vineyards [of our love], for our vineyards are in blossom.

Song of Solomon 2:15

Recently I have had the privilege of having God rearrange my life — from the inside-out. No, this has not been so much about how my difficult circumstances have been swept up in a nice big, central pile and carted away. And no, it has not been about opening my front door to a world full of blessings begging me entrance into my home and habitat. No, it has been about so much more than that.

The changes that I’ve watched God make have gone so much deeper, making me feel so much fresher, so much more alive than anything done on the outside could achieve. The changes have been in me. The changes have been the work of God correcting and chastening me (and until now, I don’t think I knew what that second c-verb really was).

He has been showing me the best way of handling things as opposed to simply settling for a good way. He has been challenging me to live for Him in everything I do, not just in the big things. Loving Him is living for Him in His way to the best of my ability at all times, not just what comes easily or when I feel like it.

But, unlike I used to think, this is not meant to burden or condemn us for how we live. Far from it! It is meant to lift us up to the highest life we could possibly know — and this is in being full of God and focused on Him.

I am not there yet, but I want to be. So, naturally some things have to be adjusted and even ejected from my life. For me these things come in several distinct forms. One of them is the addicting little habits I revert to when I need something mindless to do. Another lies in my responses to situations that I don’t like or that are inconvenient for me. The last is where I let my mind go and how I handle mental temptations to flit from one contemplating one scenario after another and totally losing sight of God and how He is worthy to be consistently occupying my thoughts.

I like to hold onto things that convince me in so many tiny ways that I don’t need God. I excuse myself by saying that this is just who I am; to change would  be to compromise who I am. But what is of greater worth and significance in all of life or identity than standing for Christ in what He stands for: death to self for the sake of loving obedience to God?

This is the only thing that is worth living for. This is the only thing that stands. With God I have the tender burden of letting go of everything to Him and setting up shop where He is. In choosing to live for anything else, I am willingly taking on heavy, unnecessary burdens that I have to hold up myself.

Why wouldn’t I put these burdens down, when the only way they are held up is that I shoulder the weight. It only brings me down. And why would I want that when I could be lifted up by strength that isn’t my own?