Prayer of Adoration

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Prayer of Adoration

Psalm 66

Praise for God’s Goodness to Israel

To the leader. A Song. A Psalm.

Make a joyful noise to God, all the earth;

sing the glory of his name;

give to him glorious praise.

Say to God, “How awesome are your deeds!

Because of your great power, your enemies cringe before you.

All the earth worships you;

they sing praises to you,

sing praises to your name.” Selah

Come and see what God has done:

he is awesome in his deeds among mortals.

He turned the sea into dry land;

they passed through the river on foot.

There we rejoiced in him,

who rules by his might forever,

whose eyes keep watch on the nations—

let the rebellious not exalt themselves. Selah

Bless our God, O peoples,

let the sound of his praise be heard,

who has kept us among the living,

and has not let our feet slip.

For you, O God, have tested us;

you have tried us as silver is tried.

You brought us into the net;

you laid burdens on our backs;

you let people ride over our heads;

we went through fire and through water;

yet you have brought us out to a spacious place.

I will come into your house with burnt offerings;

I will pay you my vows,

those that my lips uttered

and my mouth promised when I was in trouble.

I will offer to you burnt offerings of fatlings,

with the smoke of the sacrifice of rams;

I will make an offering of bulls and goats. Selah

Come and hear, all you who fear God,

and I will tell what he has done for me.

I cried aloud to him,

and he was extolled with my tongue.

If I had cherished iniquity in my heart,

the Lord would not have listened.

But truly God has listened;

he has given heed to the words of my prayer.

Blessed be God,

because he has not rejected my prayer

or removed his steadfast love from me.

When we choose to follow God, He will lead us into places and experiences we never imagine. To be fair, not all of these experiences are pleasant, but they make us step back and realize how vast the world is around us, and how magnificent our God is Who keeps it going.

To be honest, I’m having a rough couple days myself and it is made worse by the fact that there is plenty I should be grateful for. As usual, I’m a mess. Sometimes its a mess I can laugh about. Other times it is not. Today is one of the latter.

I hesitate to share even that much, but after several hours praying for guidance and discernment, this is where I am.

One of the many things o should be feel more in awe of was an opportunity to see several dolphins, pelicans, marlins, and even this osprey today.

Amidst my personal struggles, this was a rare opportunity for me to see the wonder and beauty of creation in ways that, while I may have seen them on television, I never thought to see in person. Oh how much I wish I could say that this brings me hope that I can transfer over to the issues that plague me, but I cannot. One is not the same as the other. The issues are not correlated. But the God of my problems and the God of wonder who created the world is one and the same. The same One Who has heard all my former answered prayers and prayers left u prayed still hears my prayers today as well.

So today I have no answer for the many dilemmas you and I face. Just a witness, that I’m there with you, and that even here, in the mess of trying to be obedient, we still see the almighty power of God, and need to find ways to adore him.

Where do you see the wonder of God today?

Where do you struggle the most to see it?

The Art and Science of God – Why is it so hard to get good employees?

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Why is it so hard to get decent employees?

Jonah 1

Jonah Tries to Run Away from God

Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah son of Amittai, saying, “Go at once to Nineveh, that great city, and cry out against it; for their wickedness has come up before me.” But Jonah set out to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord. He went down to Joppa and found a ship going to Tarshish; so he paid his fare and went on board, to go with them to Tarshish, away from the presence of the Lord.

But the Lord hurled a great wind upon the sea, and such a mighty storm came upon the sea that the ship threatened to break up. Then the mariners were afraid, and each cried to his god. They threw the cargo that was in the ship into the sea, to lighten it for them. Jonah, meanwhile, had gone down into the hold of the ship and had lain down, and was fast asleep. The captain came and said to him, “What are you doing sound asleep? Get up, call on your god! Perhaps the god will spare us a thought so that we do not perish.”

The sailors said to one another, “Come, let us cast lots, so that we may know on whose account this calamity has come upon us.” So they cast lots, and the lot fell on Jonah. Then they said to him, “Tell us why this calamity has come upon us. What is your occupation? Where do you come from? What is your country? And of what people are you?” “I am a Hebrew,” he replied. “I worship the Lord, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land.” Then the men were even more afraid, and said to him, “What is this that you have done!” For the men knew that he was fleeing from the presence of the Lord, because he had told them so.

Then they said to him, “What shall we do to you, that the sea may quiet down for us?” For the sea was growing more and more tempestuous. He said to them, “Pick me up and throw me into the sea; then the sea will quiet down for you; for I know it is because of me that this great storm has come upon you.” Nevertheless the men rowed hard to bring the ship back to land, but they could not, for the sea grew more and more stormy against them. Then they cried out to the Lord, “Please, O Lord, we pray, do not let us perish on account of this man’s life. Do not make us guilty of innocent blood; for you, O Lord, have done as it pleased you.” So they picked Jonah up and threw him into the sea; and the sea ceased from its raging. Then the men feared the Lord even more, and they offered a sacrifice to the Lord and made vows.

But the Lord provided a large fish to swallow up Jonah; and Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.

Jonah present us with an interpretive challenge. Part of me wants to believe that this may be another allegory, that this is just a fantastic tale like Aesop’s Fables – meant to teach us a lesson about faithfulness and rebellion. But there is a problem. This story is not just about some generic prophet, or even just some prophet named Jonah. It is clearly written about a particular man name Jonah, son of Amittai. This same Jonah is written about briefly in the history books of Israel (2 Kings 14:23-25). So at the very least, this is a fantastic story about a real person as opposed to a mythological person altogether. Jonah was real.

That brings us to another problem then. Was the great fish real as well? A giant fish does not seem so out of place with what all we have found in the depths of the ocean. Someone surviving inside a fish’s stomach for 3 days though? That is another story.

Taken as a whole, this story is either irrefutable evidence that God likes to mix things up sometimes and do crazy things in response to our faithfulness and rebellion, or it is an extreme example of God’s foreknowledge of us and how perfectly He orchestrates all of creation around our decisions to follow God’s will or not.

(Pause)

I think it is more popular today to go with the former assumption, that God does wild and crazy sometimes… but something in me still sees something familiar in the God who harmonizes everything. Is it perfect? No. If God’s will was always perfectly accomplished every day, there would be no sin, no need for a Savior, etc. Wild and crazy seems too much of an easy answer, but there has to be some flexibility – and that middle space is a bit terrifying.

That place between God’s sovereignty and our freedom to choose to follow Him or not, means that the whole world may be much more detailed and purposeful than we ever imagined. God knows how many hairs are on my head and how many grains are on the seashore, and if He is truly orchestrating this all together then that means He has purposes for every one of them. That would mean that people are immeasurably valuable. It would mean that the environment around me, the plants and animals I share this world with may exist for something more than just my pleasure. It means we live in a world of potential and God is letting us hold the reins. We cannot take them from Him, but we get to hold on and influence in our own small but powerful ways.

I suppose it is like becoming a new parent, being handed this tiny life that holds so much potential and is so intricately woven together. Fearfully and wonderfully made, as King David wrote. It is more than I can grasp.

It makes me wonder, what if I mess it up? What if I am not the good servant that God wants and that this world needs?

Well then, perhaps God has a great fish waiting for me as well…

Rejoice

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“The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad,

the desert shall rejoice and blossom;

like the crocus it shall blossom abundantly,

and rejoice with joy and singing.

The glory of Lebanon shall be given to it,

the majesty of Carmel and Sharon.

They shall see the glory of the Lord,

the majesty of our God.

Strengthen the weak hands,

and make firm the feeble knees.

Say to those who are of a fearful heart,

“Be strong, do not fear!

Here is your God.

He will come with vengeance,

with terrible recompense.

He will come and save you.”

Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened,

and the ears of the deaf unstopped;

then the lame shall leap like a deer,

and the tongue of the speechless sing for joy.

For waters shall break forth in the wilderness,

and streams in the desert;

the burning sand shall become a pool,

and the thirsty ground springs of water;

the haunt of jackals shall become a swamp,

the grass shall become reeds and rushes.

A highway shall be there,

and it shall be called the Holy Way;

the unclean shall not travel on it,

but it shall be for God’s people;

no traveler, not even fools, shall go astray.

No lion shall be there,

nor shall any ravenous beast come up on it;

they shall not be found there,

but the redeemed shall walk there.

And the ransomed of the Lord shall return,

and come to Zion with singing;

everlasting joy shall be upon their heads;

they shall obtain joy and gladness,

and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.” Isaiah 35.1-10 (NRSV)

Christmas Eve is here! It is the night so many children can hardly wait for and a day of excitement of all sorts for everyone around the world. Tonight is a night we welcome Hope, Love, Joy, and Peace into our homes. It is a night some will welcome Santa Claus into their homes as well. It is a night we can all welcome Jesus into our homes again as well.

Every time God shows up there is reason to rejoice! We come to the edge of time (the fullness of time as Paul writes) and celebrate God coming into the world both as the end of Advent and Beginning of Christmas. We remember the Jesus of the manger and we wait for Him to come again and bring justice and redemption to our world. Both are cause for celebration.

Both are also cause for anxiety as well. Those of us who have built our lives upon things other than God will find them shaken up… as Ebeneezer Scrooge found out in A Christmas Carol. Others will find themselves lifted up out of the storms of life. The first shall be last and the last shall be first and those who served the least, the last, and the lost shall find themselves face to face with their king. Is it really any wonder why the traditions of Santa Claus, who embodies generosity also keeps a list of who is naughty and nice?

It all comes together tonight and, as much effort as we put into it, we will find ourselves surprised yet again by God presence coming into our celebrations, and if we pay attention, we will find new cause to rejoice in the love our God sends into the world tonight.

  • How will you celebrate the birth of Christ today?
  • What do you hope Christ will bring into your life tonight?
  • Who will you share your hope, love, joy, and peace with today?

Rejoice! Rejoice!

Emmanuel has come to us, O Israel

Saturday December 24, 2016

First Frost

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Supple droplets coalesce

in morning mist, whose cool caress

embraces all in loneliness,

sinking into shallow ground.

Follows then a breath of air,

whose northern accent chills the fair

unfinished droplets, held with care

there upon my glass found.

Shining into crystal likeness,

bright and white and round –

they harden without sound.

Beaded strings of peasant pearls

twined about in crescent curls,

crawling up my window, whorls

unbroken in a line.

There beset with misting sweat

they bind together, tight and yet

their seamless sheen and coverlet

grows gently as a vine.

Silently, with silver strength,

they reflect the moonshine –

until the night’s resign.

Morning brings a glassy sight

a world engulfed in frost-fire light

and painted crystalline and white

in heavenly decor.

The dusted streets stand glistening

while festive boughs are listening

to birdsong southbound christening

the mountain to the shore.

The fragrance of festivity

wafts in and out my door –

til spring returns once more.