Monday, August 31, 2015

10 Days of Praise: Day 4



For the times I couldn't sleep and you gave me rest, I praise you.
For the times I couldn't walk and you carried me, I praise you.

For all the miles I've traveled on roads unfamiliar to me,
And the pieces of myself lost in dark places, I praise you.

For all the trouble and trials, I praise you.
For all the tears, fears, and years of pain, I praise you.

For broken dreams and a broken heart, I praise you.
For lost people, lost hopes, and lost dreams, I praise you.

For the all the days of my life, I praise you.
For all that I was, I am, or could ever be, I praise you.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

10 Days of Praise: Day 3

Day 3 is Sunday, the day we are to dedicate to God because He gave it to us to refresh out bodies, our minds, and our hearts. It is his gift to us, but his desire was that we would desire to share it with him.

Sometimes I am unable to get to church because I can't move without a lot of pain. Or I'm so tired I can't focus or stay alert. I can't tell you the pain of not being able to go to church. It is at these times I miss Jerry most because all I would have to do would be to get dressed. He'd get me there.

Still, through pain and despair, I can love Him. I can give Him my praise. I can honor and love Him. Although, it counts for so little He is due, I can give all that I am able to His praise.

From a tiny ball of gas to an ever expanding universe, with one clap of Your hands we owe our life. No, there is no God like You, Lord. You are Creator of the Universe, Maker of Nations, and Light of the World. You are an everlasting Savior. You are more worthy than all the kings of the earth and Your power and glory fills all of Your creation. Your majesty is beyond our comprehension and yet, You stepped from your throne room and into a stable to give the world Your love and mercy. You offered hope and salvation and asked for so little in return.

“Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean;
Put away the evil of your doings from before My eyes.
Cease to do evil,
Learn to do good;
Seek justice,
Rebuke the oppressor;
Defend the fatherless,
Plead for the widow.
“Come now, and let us reason together,”
Says the Lord,
“Though your sins are like scarlet,
They shall be as white as snow;
Though they are red like crimson,
They shall be as wool.
If you are willing and obedient,
You shall eat the good of the land;
--Isaiah 1:16-19

I give You all that I have of my praise for Your loving kindness is truly greater than life. My lips shall praise You all the days of my life. 

Saturday, August 29, 2015

10 Days of Praise: Day 2

Courtesy Keep Calm-O-Matic
Isn't this cheating?

I don't think so. I mean, who knows what tomorrow will bring. My intention is to make a praise post for the next 10 days. I can write them when I want, but I must post one every day. Thanks to Blogger, I can have it post at the exact moment I want it to post. Besides, what if tomorrow I end up in the hospital?

I think people would understand.

This isn't about other people. I am harder on myself than anyone. I want to do this. I feel it is very important. So, I'm hedging a bit. Writing it when it comes and saving it for the next day.

They'd forgive you for missing one day. This isn't a requirement.

I think it is. At least, I think that is the point that you're trying to press home to me. It is important to recognize every day... no, every moment, that all the praise is God's and that every moment should be an opportunity to praise.

There are times when people can't stop what they're doing to give praise.

Why not? Muslims pray, actually get down in the street on a rug, for heaven's sake, and pray... five times a day! They do this rocking and bowing and kissing the ground while they worship their god. Why is it hard for us to stop 30 seconds throughout our day to say "You are great, Oh God, there is none like you! You are Lord, King, and Savior and you are worthy of all our praise." Really how hard is that?

Well... apparently it isn't as hard as I thought. You may be on to something.

I know!

So, you're going to do that from now on?

..............

I said...

I heard you.

Well?

I'm going to do my best. I'm going to try and focus on it more. I think that is what gets in the way a lot of times. The feeling that you must - not - miss - a -  day. We hate that feeling. It is why diets fail and exercise programs fail. We have to do it. This... this has to be from the heart and when it is, we don't think in those terms. We don't have to do, we can't help it.

Besides, you know that I do stop several times a day to give you praise. Mind you, I don't count them, but we both know that no matter where I am, I usually take a moment to tell you how amazing you are and how much I love you.

I've noticed. And at very odd times, I might add.

Right. Sometimes I whisper it and others, like alone in the car, I just say them out loud. Usually, I just can't help it.

I delight greatly in you, Lord; my soul rejoices in my God. For You have clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of Your righteousness...You are a God at hand and not afar off. Oh, that men would praise you for your goodness, and for your wonderful works to the children of men. Oh God, my heart is fixed. I will sing and give praise, even with my glory. Great is the Lord and greatly to be praised.

Friday, August 28, 2015

10 Days of Praise: Day 1

I had an idea.

I'm listening.

I want to do a new challenge.

You didn't do so well on the last one.

Thank you for reminding me. No, this is slightly different. Well, only in focus and in time span.

I see you've been playing with Paint.net again.

Yeah, I got side tracked looking for a photo. Do you know how hard it is to find a photo of someone praising or worshiping?

Do you know how hard it is to find someone praising or worshiping?

Uh... well...

Never mind. Your idea?

I was trying to go to sleep last night and this idea just popped into my head.

Funny how that happens, isn't it?

Yeah! Really. I mean, I'm not thinking about this stuff. I'm trying to go to sleep and there it is, like a blinking billboard. I don't know why that happens.

Could it be because you're not talking and you're still?

Hmmm... maybe... Anyway, the phrase popped into my head 10 Days of Praise. No idea what it is about but I thought it would make a nice challenge for me.

And how would this challenge play out?

Well, funny you should mention that because I didn't really get beyond the idea before I went to sleep. I mean, all I got was a concept. I'd blog for 10 days and it would be focused on praise.

That's rather limited, isn't it? I mean, you could list 10 things and be done in less than 10 minutes.

No, no, that's not the intent. I mean, I think the spirit of the thing is important. Everyone does these lists of things they're thankful for and I think there is even a 30-day thing on that FB page. No, I want to do something different. I want to write blog posts for 10 days and each one MUST be centered on praise. I want to bring scripture into it but not necessarily long quotes of it. I just want to find a way to focus on praise as the overall theme of the post.

I see. Well, you did say this is a blog about praise. Sometimes I've wondered. 

You're trying to be funny again.

How's it working?

Never mind. I'm going to make guidelines now. I'll be back.

I'm not going anywhere.

..................................

I'm issuing a challenge to myself and to anyone else who may happen to read this. For the next ten days, I will write a blog that will be in praise to God. I'd love you to do this with me, particularly if you're having a rough time right now. I think it can make a difference in how we approach our problems.

This isn't an "I'm thankful for" blog post. We're thankful for stuff all the time. This time I want to focus on the praise aspect. Most people equate praise with either thankfulness or worship. It is neither. I quote from an earlier blog: The Price of Admission  "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 shining 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."

So, in this case, you can talk about what you're thankful for but you must bring in the element of praise to the post. I've set a limit of at least 150 words.

That's it. If anyone follows my lead, they can take the photo above and paste it to their blog to show they're trying it.

O.k. this sounds good. Can you tell me what the point is?

The point is that I spend so much time focusing on the negative aspects of my life that I forget to give you the honor due to you.

Do you have an example? Say a first post to get it going?

As it happens, I do.

I bury myself in the dirt of depression, dejection, and disappointment. I do not know why or how that happens. Days are spent in despair at the problems that arise with the sun. Yet, you are the resurrection, the way, the truth, and the life. I should not be buried. I'm alive because of your greatness, your grace, and your goodness. How can I spend day after day after day wallowing in my misery when you stand right there, with your hand extended to help me up? You, oh Lord, are the light unto my path, the lamp to my feet, and the peace that passes all understanding.

On the darkest days, you, Oh Lord, are my light to guide me through the darkest tunnels, and illuminate the deepest crevasses. You are the hope of the day and the assurance of the night. When I can walk no more, you carry me.

You are so much more than the sum of all my problems. You are worthy of all my praise.

........Well, I think that is a good start. Can I borrow one of those tissues?


Thursday, August 13, 2015

Damaged Emotions

I started reading this book I found Monday was in my bookcase and I think I've read it before, a long time ago. I have underlined some things and marked pages. Healing for Damaged Emotions, by David A Seamands. In the preface, he says early in his ministry he began to notice there were two kinds of people he was unable to help as a minister.
"I saw one group being driven into futility and loss of confidence in God's power. While they desperately prayed, their prayers about personal problems didn't seem to be answered. They tried every Christian discipline, but with no results. As they played the same old cracked record of their defeats, the needle would get stuck in repetitive emotional patterns. While they kept up the outward observances of praying and paying and professing, they were going deeper into disillusionment and despair. 
I saw the other group moving toward phoniness. These people were repressing their inner feelings and denying to themselves that anything was seriously wrong, because "Christians can't have such problems." Instead of facing their problems, they covered them with a veneer of Scripture verses, theological terms, and unrealistic platitudes."  -- Healing for Damaged Emotions, David A. Seamands.
It was this that statement that made me decide to reread this book. He mentions in his first chapter that Christians often go to one of two extremes to address these folks. "Some Christians see anything that wiggles as the devil."  If you have a problem, you must be demon possessed. From my on experience, I've seen this over and over. If you're depressed, it is the devil. If you're overeating, it is the devil. If you're having panic attacks, it is the devil.

The other extreme was "Read your Bible. Pray. Have more faith.  If you were spiritually OK, you wouldn't have this hangup. You could never get depressed. You would never have any sexual compulsions or problems." 

In my experience as a Pentecostal, we're told we just need to shout more, sing more, speak in tongues more, and check our hems and hairlines. I believe all those things have their place in our faith, but not every problem is fixed or even addressed by any of those. Even Jesus noted that there are some problems which require more than the external actions of the believer and those ministering to them to correct.

When I suffered from clinical depression years ago, I experienced the second kind. I re-experienced it again when Jerry died. If you're one of those who deliver this kind of ministering, let me make one thing perfectly clear. You're nuts. That is not compassionate and it most certainly is not Biblical.

People suffering from damaged emotions can't be "fixed" by standard methods and they can't be fixed after one revival. They may feel better for a time, but the nature of these kinds of wounds is that they are deep and generally infected. It takes time and consistent attention to heal. I suspect that it takes a mixture of love, prayer, special encouragement, and counseling to stitch up the wounds and time to allow them to heal.

I'm going to continue reading this book. It isn't long and I'll let you know if I find it helpful.


Sunday, August 2, 2015

When the Glow Fades

I'm shameless.

No!

Yes, I am. I'm wallowing in a sort of nice, albeit tiny glow.

Ah, that explains that aura around you.

Yes.

So, what happened?

I got this lovely email from someone who wants to join my writing group. They were impressed by the content of this blog. Isn't that nice?

Yes, very nice.....

I hear a but in there.

No, really, it is nice. You had hoped that someone would get something from the posts.

I did. There is still a but in there.

I just don't want you to let a compliment go to your head.

Well, it isn't like I get a lot of them, you know.

I do.

{sigh} O.K., O.K. There's a point, right?

{smile}

Really, don't do that.

How will readers know?

The greatest difficulty to this blog is that you've chosen it to discuss things directly at times. Don't get me wrong. I really like these sessions. Often, I reread them and I actually smile and laugh at some of the stuff. A few times they made me cry, too. However, it does make it difficult to express certain things in writing. Technically, this is dialogue.

Well, we're talking, so yes, I get that.

So....... in writing, you don't generally express all the visual nuances in dialogue. You do it in tags and narration. And you limit it to the most necessary to set the tone.

All right, then. That's good to know and you can put that on your other blog. Let's get back to the real problem.

I have a problem?

Take just a moment and read down to your first sigh.

.................................

You took half an hour to get back to me.

I'm sorry. It took a while to find a photo and it isn't really what I had in mind, but it has to do. I did reread that section, though. I suppose you don't want me to get the big head from my only compliment. This seems a bit of a let down from some of our other conversations.

I'm sorry to hear that. You seem to have drifted off course. First, it isn't your only compliment. Others have said nice things. You've had a couple of tweets. You got "favored". All those constitute a type of compliment. 

I didn't think of that.

You spend a lot of time thinking about where you fail and none about where you've succeeded. You crave approval. Most humans do, but they don't recognize it most of the time. "For they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God. " -- John 12:43. 

.......... OK. Maybe. I don't know what all this means.

All of you seek to feel loved. You seek approval in so many ways that you can't even keep up. You seek it in ways that are foolish, unsafe, perverted, distorted, and dangerous. When you get the real thing, you often don't even recognize it. Your view of approval is distorted. A compliment goes straight to the brain, like a shot of oxytocin. Then you brood because not everyone recognizes your worth. You don't even recognize it.

Did I do something wrong?

No.

Why does it feel like I did?

Because the need for approval is so strong in all humans that when attention is brought to bear on the need, one feels guilty about feeling it.  You want to be approved, but you feel unworthy of approval. 

{sigh} I'm confused.

You are very vocal on your blogs. You don't apologize for being a radical Christian conservative. Yet, you feel the need for others to validate you in some way. In a way, this is an apology. 

So ... compliments are bad.

Compliments are wonderful, especially when they are deserved, but if you don't recognize your worth without them, you will never be satisfied for long with them. That warm glow you felt from the email is a nice feeling and deserved but when the glow from that fades, it always does, will you recognize your worth?

....................