Popped strings, and other favorites tunes.

guitarAs a past worship leader, I appreciate, at least in a small degree, the importance and effort that goes into putting song sets together for the congregation.  In the case of contemporary music, there’s rhythm and flow to be considered, as well as your team’s availability for that week, and hopefully prayerful discernment. 

Of course, then I would break a guitar string in them middle of it all, and God shows His sense of humor…Not only does the string almost hit you in the face, but it throws the rest of the instrument out of tune, and naturally it can’t happen during practice, oh no, but during the set, in front of the congregation.

So then there’s life, well planned, even prayerfully so, and then…

…BOOOIIIINNNGGG!  (And usually not in private, right?)

Kinda sounds like this worship leader from a long time ago.  His name was Heman, an ancestor of Ezra, so he’s got an impressive Hebrew pedigree. The note at the beginning of his song reads as follows:

“A song to be sung to the tune ‘The Suffering of Affliction.’”

(…because that would certainly be a go-to for a Sunday morning.)

“O Lord, God of my salvation,
    I cry out to you by day.
    I come to you at night.”

Starts out okay, but kinda plays on that “out of tune instrument” from then on.

“For my life is full of troubles,
    and death draws near.
I am as good as dead,
    like a strong man with no strength left.
They have left me among the dead,
    and I lie like a corpse in a grave.
I am forgotten,
    cut off from your care.
You have thrown me into the lowest pit,
    into the darkest depths.”

ETC, etc, etc…. Then he says this.

“Can those in the grave declare your unfailing love?
    Can they proclaim your faithfulness in the place of destruction?
Can the darkness speak of your wonderful deeds?
    Can anyone in the land of forgetfulness talk about your righteousness?”

Now, c’mon, how can he talk about God forgetting him (and worse) in one breath, and in the other speak of God’s unfailing love and faithfulness, His wonderful deeds and His righteousness??

Something tells me this is more about Heman reminding himself of God’s goodness, than reminding God to take care of him. Obviously, somewhere in his past, Heman has an intimate history with the Deity of his ancestors, as well as a working knowledge of God’s unchanging character leading up to this personal crisis.  He’s hurting, but not hopeless.  He’s frustrated, but in still fanning the flames of faith.

I find it most informative, and incredibly encouraging, that God has included Heman’s depressing little song of woe in the eternal Word of the Ages, alongside “the Lord is my Shepherd”, and “I am fearfully and wonderfully made”, and “those who live in the shelter of the Most High”, and “I will lift my eyes to the hills”.  It allows me to be real with my Father Who art in Heaven, even though His name be hallowed. 

He’s got big enough shoulders to cry on.

But then, there is plenty of reason to dry the tears also.  Because, as Heman’s song shows by its very poetic construction, God’s “unfailing love, faithfulness, wonderful deeds, and righteousness” are in there, smack-dab in the middle of my mucky life situations (“grave, destruction, darkness and forgetfulness”)!

Like Heman’s predecessor and fellow hymn-writer (King David) penned, “yea, though I walk THROUGH the valley of the shadow of death, Thou art with me…” (Emphasis mine.)

And that’s something to smile about.

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Psalm 88:1,3-6,11-12 Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

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Here comes the bride!

IMG_20150103_172451138Planning weddings has become a multi-gazillion dollar business.  I fancy you could send their kids to college with some of the hoopla that society calls weddings these days!  I mean, c’mon, if half as much time, effort, and financial resources went into preparing for the marriage as it does in preparing for the wedding, well…the statistics would read a whole lot differently.

So there’s my soapbox.

Evidently, however, our 21st century Western culture is not alone in this absurdity.  Take another look at 1st century Judaism—

“The next day there was a wedding celebration in the village of Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there, and Jesus and his disciples were also invited to the celebration.  The wine supply ran out during the festivities…

One source I looked at said that wedding celebrations typically lasted five to seven days, and the whole village would be invited!  Okay, they’ve topped us on that one.  I don’t know how much wine costs back then, but over a week, it would’ve certainly driven up the bill.

“…so Jesus’ mother told him, ‘They have no more wine.’”

 “Dear woman, that’s not our problem,” Jesus replied. “My time has not yet come.”

I love, love, love Mary’s concern for the bride and her family.  True empathy.  It could be that she has already married off daughters of her own, and can feel the coming embarrassment if something isn’t done, and quickly.  Very possibly, her own husband, Joseph, is dead by this time, so she turns to her nearest benefactor, her oldest son Son.  (How convenient.)

Her next remark is brilliant—

But his mother told the servants, ‘Do whatever he tells you.’”

Seemingly having just been given a bit of a brush off, albeit polite, she proceeds to clear the way for something extraordinary should God decide, in His wisdom, to do something…extraordinary.

Which, as we know, He did.

I don’t know if the bride and groom, or their parents, ever found out.  (Yet another example of how God comes to the rescue for us when we’re not even aware we’re in danger, but that’s another whole lesson, I suppose.)  However, the disciples knew what happened, and it made a decisive impact.

people-2576936_1920Which leaves me with another impression—shall I ask God for something and not “clear the path” for Him to do what only God can do?  Should I not also listen for His voice in response to my request rather than go on wringing my hands?

I think not.  I prefer Mary’s tack, doing what I can do at present to allow for future heavenly intervention.  Then, listen.  Carefully, and creatively.

(To be continued tomorrow….)

John 2:1-5 Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Ripe pickins

garden lastOops, I picked this melon before its time:

melon (1)

In my defense, I didn’t know what it was when it was growing, since I didn’t actually “plant” it.  Then when it starting sprouting, I uprooted it to give it a better chance in the garden, and as it grew, thought maybe it was some sort of squash or something.  Lo and behold, as it began to mature, it’s a cantaloupe! Continue reading “Ripe pickins”

Still Water Reflections

quillA great idea (in the form a beautiful poem) from Enthusiastically, Dawn, (yes!  another Dawn to BLESS the blogosphere, just sayin’!!)  If you haven’t seen her site, definitely stroll over (her Instagram is fun also).  Here’s a thinker for us all today:

Still Water Reflections by Dawn Paoletta

I have an idea…

for you

to keep you from judging your peers,

to help you not criticize your neighbor –

the one who brings out your fears…

that person you just don’t get

yet.

Am I judging my peers,  criticizing my neighbor?

Do I? Am I?

I have an idea, for you-

to keep you from logs in your eyes,

to keep you from tripping over them

to guard against compromise,

to help you listen, really listen to another

not just think your thoughts

while they talk

and you supposedly listen,

waiting to interject- and inject your

poison.

Do I listen, really listen?

Does my compassion and empathy rise

or do I just wait to stop pretending

I’m listening?

Do I listen? Do I lie?

I have an idea for you,

to keep you from corrupt

communication

to help you not discuss with others,

what was never meant for discussion.

To keep you from speaking lies, disguised

as truth,  masquerading as prayer

but lacking the one thing that matters

before words are ever spoken about another :

love.

Is grace my motive to speak?

Do I love that which I speak of?

Am I guilty of slander or gossip?

Do I hate?

Do I? Am I?

I have an idea, for you-

one to keep you shining like gold,

one to help you reign in your tongue

whether you’re young or old:

Do you grumble under your breath,

murder others with your speech,

excusing your comments and conversation

before you begin to preach?

The words that flow from your mouth,

may seem wise in light of today,

but if you don’t stop the flow,

how can you ever pray?

No protest marches in Tyre

IMG_20150103_172451138It fatigues my already tired mettle when that worn out rag of an opinion resurfaces that Christianity is somehow anti-female. Of course, now that the definition of “female” is under debate, I suppose that is, itself, a shifting deck in a storm of opinion.  No matter, because at least, historically, there is in my mind (admittedly, for what that’s worth…) substantial evidence that feminism has its actual roots in true Christianity.  Note the word “true”.  Not necessarily organized religion, because most people never bother to check out the Source Document for themselves, and if they do, it’s merely a cursory study without much in depth “what’s-really-going-on-here” desire to know truth.  I realize that’s a scathing indictment, but there it is.  

Case in point, here’s a story that can be easily misunderstood, but in reality, it’s one of my faves: Continue reading “No protest marches in Tyre”

Unconditional

quill

Not enough can be said about the the amazing things God accomplishes through our pain.  (Anyone not yet seen Pixar’s Inside Out??)  In light of that, here’s another beautiful offering of grace from Nico at Ancient Skies.  

UNCONDITIONAL

When our trauma has been washed, and we are in one piece again,

our blood shot eyes will begin to see the good

in each of us, and our shattering

will teach us the courage

to love

unconditionally.

       

Poetry and Image © Copyright 2016, ancient skies

In other words…

cane-1292876_1280

“‘But a beautiful cedar palace does not make a great king!
    Your father, Josiah, also had plenty to eat and drink.
But he was just and right in all his dealings.
    That is why God blessed him.

He gave justice and help to the poor and needy,
    and everything went well for him.
Isn’t that what it means to know me?”’
    says the Lord.”

Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Compassionate haircut

IMG_20150103_172451138I think it’s not an uncommon scenario, a young mother dressing up her precious little ones in the new clothes from Grandma for a family photo only to have the 3-year old get ahold of mommy’s lipstick and use it to “paint” his little 1-year old sister.  On the way.  The baby’s face is sufficiently cleaned off, and miraculously (mercifully) none of the red “paint” got on the dress…only to have the other “end” of the situation explode, uncontainably. 

One of my personal favorite recollections is Bob coming into the room where I was napping before going to work nightshift at the hospital one evening.  He enters with this question, “Honey, do you love your middle daughter??”

Great way to wake up.

Robin had decided to give her little sister a haircut.  And I willingly leave Continue reading “Compassionate haircut”

Give Him a break, people! (or not…)

wood 2Now here’s an interesting scene.  Jesus’ cousin, herald, and probably one of his closest friends to date, John the Baptist, has just summarily ended his sojourn in Herod’s jail by being beheaded.  Jesus, by contrast, was at the height of His popularity with the people and had crowds clamoring to get whatever they could by being around Him.  But after such a personal Continue reading “Give Him a break, people! (or not…)”

In other words…

IMG_20160214_221406307

“Do to others as you would like them to do to you.”

Luke 6: 31  Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007, 2013 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.