Sunday, June 16, 2013

The Price of Admission

I take my salvation for granted a lot. Most Christians do. We think once we get it, we're set for life. In my personal belief system, that isn't true. As long as we are obedient to God's Word we're covered. Although salvation is free, despite what a lot of people think, maintaining it cost something.

 Before anyone goes off on a tangent about faith vs works, I remind you of this verse. "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service." Romans 12:1 

If you read the whole chapter you will find it takes a lot of work to present your bodies as a living, holy, acceptable sacrifice to God. Paul calls it a "service". I looked that up. I have to tell you, there are a lot of very interesting definitions for "service". Really, go read them. For purposes here, I selected the following: the work performed by one that serves.

Service involves work. Salvation is free, keeping it requires reasonable service and that denotes work. End of discussion.

But that isn't what this blog is about. It is about praise. Like most Christians I take my salvation for granted. Did I tell you that already? Well, it is worth repeating. We do. In addition to thinking because our salvation is free that nothing else is required of us, we also don't spend a lot of time on praise. We deserve out blessings and we're thankful for them but praising God is .... well ... work. And well, salvation isn't based on works. Right?

Not for me. You see, I want to move beyond the gates. I was born again and that gave me access to the throne but between the gates and the throne is a lot of real estate. I'm sadly lacking in so many areas but how can I move forward, across that great plaza? My service will make me a living sacrifice that is holy and acceptable to God but if you've read your Bible, you know they don't make the sacrifice at the gates. Folks at the gates are just watching what goes on inside the courtyard. The sacrifice is made in there at the altar

"Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, And into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name." Psalm 100:4

Thanksgiving gets you through the gates. Praise gets you into the courtyard. Don't confuse the two. They are not the same thing. Praise is not thanking God for the blessings. It is honoring God for who he is, what he is, and why he is. We are not to praise just when the sun is shinning and all is right with the world but also when hell is knocking on our door and we can't move for fear of being consumed. Praise isn't about you and your blessings. It is about God and his sovereignty and holiness.

Praise is the price of admission to the presence of God. It is what is due him for being Him.

"Sing to God, sing praises to His name; Extol Him who rides on the clouds, By His name YAH, And rejoice before Him. A father of the fatherless, a defender of widows, Is God in His holy habitation." Psalm 68:4-5

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Unceasing Conversation

This isn't working out the way I planned. I'm sure people think I'm crazy.

I would say you're right but that's beside the point. Why do you think you're crazy?

Oh, well, I don't think that.... much. But I've always kept these kind of conversations to myself. I never told anyone that we talk this way. When I read it....

It looks crazy.

See, even you see it.


I don't think it is that  funny.

I'm sorry.

There are some people who frown on this kind of conversation with you. For some reason they feel it is inadequate.

What do you think?

Well, it doesn't seem to matter what I think. Apparently, it doesn't count.

Hmmm, hold on a moment while I get my adding machine, math isn't my strong suite. By my reckoning.... we talk a lot... some days you never stop talking.


I wasn't insulting you. 

I know. You're trying to be funny.

How'd I do?

I'm good with it. I don't buy the math thing. What I don't understand is why this is considered inadequate.

Do you think anyone else talks to me this way?


I'll know if you lie.

No. I don't think anyone else does this. That makes me odd.

It makes you wrong. 

Oh. Why do I feel it is somehow not ..... proper?

Because you've allowed the opinions of others to direct your thinking. You talk to your dead husband. 

Yes, and that's crazy.

Not at all. You love him. You miss him. You want to connect with him. You can't, of course, but you feel connected when you talk to him. It feels almost as if he's with you some days.

I do it less now. Almost never, really. And it isn't enough. It is very painful.

I know. Still, I figure that if you're talking to me the same way, it must mean something. You love me. You miss me. You want to connect with me. When you talk to me, as if I was physically in the room with you, you sense that I am. 


I don't think that's crazy at all. 

I talk to you more that I do him. He's moving away, in time and it feels like in space. Although, I suppose time-wise, we're moving closer.

In a manner of speaking.

I can't help talking to you the way I do. It feels normal to me. I've always done it. You know, sometimes I become so engrossed that if I'm in a public place I have to check to see if I said something aloud.

O.k. that's probably crazy.

Very funny. But seriously, I seem to become so involved in the conversation that I forget everything else. I really should stop that. I need to wait until I'm alone.

Why do you think you do talk to me as if you see me?

Because I need you. I can't cope with all that has happened alone. And you left me alone here. You removed all the supports and expected me to stand. You left me no one to lean on. I was so angry. I think, sometimes I still am. No, I know I am. Sometimes.

I never left you alone. And yes, I know it feels like it. You talk to me so much to remind yourself that I'm still here. You believe.

I can't post this.

Why not?

Because... it is crazy.

Sure it is. I suspect some crazy person will read it and feel much better. Knowing they aren't alone.

Do you know that I don't have a scripture for this? I mean, this is supposed to be about giving you praise.

Really?  "Whatever I tell you in the dark, speak in the light; and what you hear in the ear, preach on the housetops." Matt 10: 27 

Or how about this, "However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come." John 16:13 

Oh, this one is even better, "Pray without ceasing,"1 Thessalonians 5:17

I get it. Thank you for listening. Do you know how very much I love you?

Tell me.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Pass the Salt

Keepers of Salt

I've been reading this book. It is answering so many questions, some that I didn't even know were questions for me. Things I've been confused about for years. There are so many references to salt that makes so much more sense now! 

Ah, that's a good thing.

It is! And there are stories she tells that hit so close to home for me. I never heard anyone really talk about covenants. Well, I've heard about them but not how intertwined they are into our lives. I never really considered the impact or importance of them in just the way she explains it. I never realized how they affect not only those in covenant, but those connected to them. I didn't know their importance.

You're not unique in that.

I know. I wonder when we stopped teaching about covenants? Why did we stop? Because we have, you know. No one keeps their word any more. Broken promises are the norm rather than the exception. How does this happen? Why is no one teaching this?

Men... and women, no longer value integrity and promises mean nothing to the vast majority of people, whether Christian or not. Keeping promises requires recognition of a system of honor and integrity... of values. The current intellectual stance is there is no fixed set of values, that everything is relative to one's feelings and desires and it isn't necessary to honor anything. "The earth also is defiled under the inhabitants thereof; because they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant."  Isaiah 24:5

My laws are out of fashion. Covenants are too much like rules for the average person. Once a person's word was all you needed to transact any business. Then, legal documents came about to insure a person kept a bargain so that integrity of character was no longer a factor. They were designed to keep dishonest people honest under the law. It didn't work. Now, even legal documents are suspect and require a team of lawyers to interpret. 

Covenants have to be honored by both parties. The person who breaks a covenant actually brings curses on themselves! So a broken covenant could be responsible for so much that is wrong in our lives. Covenant keeping and breaking are profound and powerful mechanism that would bring balance to the world. If people began to keep the covenants they make the world would immediately feel the effects.

I know.

When I realized the impact of this... the truth of it... my heart broke.

Mine, too.

I haven't even finished the book and I feel so .....



There is a solution.

Broken covenants can't be fixed. I can only make new ones.

.............  "But the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him, and his righteousness unto children's children; To such as keep his covenant, and to those that remember his commandments to do them." Psalms 103: 17-18. 

What if I mess up? You know, break the new ones. I mean, the consequences....

Are no worse than what you've been living with and the understanding you are gaining now will help you do better. If you do not try, then what?

I don't want to contemplate that. 

Would that everyone felt that way.

I am so thankful you put this book in my hands. Oh... I just realized... my banner verse: 
"Vows made to You are binding upon me, O God; I will render praises to You, For You have delivered my soul from death." Psalm 56:12-13  It's a covenant!

It is.