Archive for the ‘Spiritual’ Category

Christ Be In My Waking

I’m thankful for beautiful new music that reaches into my life and draws me closer to God… Lately at church we’ve been singing “Christ Be In My Waking” by Stuart Townend. Although this is a song of contrast and all of the lyrics speak about wanting Christ in my life at every circumstance, the “Christ be in my gladness” verse in particular jumps out for me. There is a contrast of joy and goodness to sorrow and darkness, yet so true how each of these is unpredictably and often simultaneously present in my life . The gladness isn’t diminished because of the darkness, and the sorrow doesn’t disappear just because of the goodness that is there … but in each situation, there is Christ. There is Christ.

Christ be in my waking, as the sun is rising,
In my day of working, with me every hour.
Christ be in my resting, as the day is ending,
Calming and refreshing, watching through the night.

Christ be in my thinking and my understanding,
Guarding me from evil, walking in the light.
Christ be in my speaking, every word a blessing,
Pure and not deceiving, grace to all who hear.

Jesus, this is my devotion,
All my life to know You,
Every day to walk with You.
Saviour, You’re my deepest longing,
You’re the One I live for,
Teach me, Lord, to walk with You.

Christ be in my gladness for the joy of living,
Thankful for the goodness of the Father’s hand.
Christ be in my sorrow, in my day of darkness,
Knowing that I follow in the steps He trod.

Christ when hope has faded, nothing left to cling to,
Every pleasure jaded, every well is dry.
Christ the loving Shepherd draws me with His kindness,
Leads me from the desert to the streams of life.

“The starting point for the song,” explains Stuart, “was the famous 16th century ‘God be in my head’ prayer, but I wanted to apply it in such a way that it helped us to recognise the closeness of God at every hour of the day, and every season of life – in the joys and the sorrows, in the process and the crisis – and I hope that both the song and the brilliant video help to bring this home.”

Everyday scenes play out as Stuart’s vocals call for a wider view of God, one that sees devotion in the simple act of walking with God, every day. The effect is compelling and beautifully articulates the message at the heart of the song: that whatever we find ourselves doing can become a conduit for our own devotion and service to God. There is no sacred/secular divide, and there are no invisible barriers that keep our faith and work separate. Christ can be in our working and walking just as much as he can in our worshipping and witnessing … and even, it seems, in our videos.


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NeckThe strangest thing happened this morning when I woke up with physical marks on my neck from an awful dream in which I was fighting off an attacker. Yes! And the marks are still actually faintly visible … although not tender and sore any more. (I just snapped this picture of the marks with my phone, and can’t figure out for the life of me why I didn’t do it this morning when they were more prominent!)

The marks are where a person might normally have neck creases, except that I don’t have creases there. And the space between the lines, particularly toward the right of the picture above my index finger, is faintly colored in darker like a bruise, and was sore like a bruise.

What in the world was going on last night?!

In the dream, a shabby-looking guy who vaguely resembled Robert Carlyle (saw him in a TV episode last night before bed) was coming up behind me as I hiked a beautiful but solitary ocean cliffs location. As I sped up, so would he, until we were both running full tilt onto a sandy beach. He was screaming something about the Woman, the Beast, Revelation, the Whore of Babylon, and End-Time prophecies … he wanted me to stop so that he could tell me his theories, but I didn’t want to hear any of them. Besides, the level of creepiness was so high that somehow I knew he was going to to try to falsely “judge” me (kill me) as the Whore of Babylon after telling me his theories.

So we got to the sand, he tripped me, and we were tussling together as hard as we could. Motherly instinct kicked in and because I didn’t want him to hurt my baby, I was fighting back like a banshee. I even pulled the bobby pins out of my hair and was stabbing him so hard with them that they broke his skin.

At that point I woke up with my neck hurting.

Too bad that dream incident happened, because it really was a lovely dream location that otherwise I’d return to. But now it’s ruined with the memory of fighting with the guy…

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Try a little kindness

Question: What is the most desirable trait another person can possess?

I think it would be kindness, because that trait flavors every action that a person does, and every interaction that person has. It’s sort of the golden rule, doing to others as I wish they’d do to me? Yeah. Also … it’s W.W.J.D. … err, W.J.W.D. What Jesus Would Do. “Be kind to one another, tender hearted and forgiving one another, even as God through Christ Jesus has forgiven you” (Ephesians 4:32). That was one of the first Bible verses I ever learned.

One of the things I appreciate so much about my husband is that he always generously rounds up when tipping at restaurants. It’s not about service, it’s not even about tipping … it’s that he is showing true kindness by placing himself in the server’s shoes and knowing what that extra bit of tip will mean to him or her. As a habit, Gerry thinks of others before himself.

We sort of learned about this at church tonight. The teaching pastor took us through a passage of Scripture from Philippians 2 where Paul commends two guys, Timothy and Epaphroditus (sp?), using the passage to demonstrate how to study the Bible. (Observe what it actually says, interpret what it meant to the original audience, check out correlating passages, and find the application for us today.) Anyway, we discovered that Paul wanted the readers of this letter to honor and consider these two guys, Timothy and Epaphroditus, as examples and role models. Which begs the question, then what were these guys like? Well, they were:

  • Caring
  • Consistent
  • Cooperative
  • Considerate
  • Courageous

All of these traits go hand-in-hand with kindness… (Pastor Rick loves making lists of words with matching first letters, or that create crazy acronyms. This week in his small group curriculum, we learned the S.P.A.C.E.P.E.T.S. method of study … I am not joking. Space pets. That man’s sense of humor is … is … is … so innocent and ridiculous all at the same time.)

After church, Gerry and I attempted to go on a fun, cheap date that failed at “cheapness” in every way. The original plan was to go see the Muppets movie at our local dollar theater, but when we arrived there, it was all sold out. So then we thought about going to Costco (a new favorite cheap date) for samples and slices of pizza, but Costco was closed. Then we drove to the mall, where we were going to walk around, play table games at the Microsoft store, sample Godiva chocolate, and again try for cheap slices of pizza … but the mall had closed at 7:00 p.m. We were on the right side of town for Lamppost Pizza, the best pizza I’ve ever had, so although not cheap, we headed there. We accidentally parked at the wrong block of shops and walked around for a bit before realizing it, and then after googling the restaurant and retracing our route a few blocks, we found out that Lamppost Pizza had gone out of business … but there was another pizza shop in its place. So finally we just went in and ordered a medium Hawaiian pie for $20. It was tasty, but not the best like we had been expecting. And then when we tried to pay with a Mastercard gift card I’d received for participating in a focus group, it wouldn’t work and we had to pay with real money.

It was still a fun date, however, as all of these adventures unfolded. I always enjoy talking with my Gerry, and over dinner we played Scrabble against each other on his phone. Time well spent.


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Tomorrow is the last official meeting of my high school small group! I can’t believe that our year is almost over already…

Since it will be June 7, the chapter for the day will be Proverbs 7. But as instructive as it is to be warned against falling in with adulterous women, you have to admit that my 18-year-old female students are not exactly the target audience for this section of Scripture. So I am planning to go back a week to Proverbs 31. (I had skipped this meeting in order to celebrate my anniversary with Gerry.)

There’s a tendency to think of the Proverbs 31 woman as unreasonably perfect, and therefore irrelevant to the modern woman. C’mon, who does all those things?! However, I know the story is there for a reason, and she is appropriately described as the creme de la creme of the wife pool — she’s a rarity. She is a great example for modern women wanting to mature in their womanhood or to be excellent wives. She has that type of character that is really hard to achieve on your own — you kinda need someone to model it for you first so that you can know what’s possible.

To add an interactive element to the lesson, I plan to take the girls out into the parking lot, pop the hood of my car, and ask them to check the oil. (Or perhaps to check the tire pressure.) This is Orange County, after all, so I’m confident that they will be clueless. I’ll let them fumble for a bit before I take the dipstick and a rag to demonstrate. And then they’ll get to try a second time and it should be easy.

So likewise, the Proverbs 31 woman goes ahead and demonstrates what it looks like to be a good woman and wife. None of my girls are wives yet — just as none of them have an actual need to check their oil — but having the knowledge and the ability to prepare now is going to prove invaluable for them in the future. I want them to know who they can be!

I thought it would be cool to also show them a list of other women of significance in the Bible, and so over the weekend I sat down and started listing these ladies off the top of my head. And wow, my list filled two pages! I had no idea… This list is going to be a neat resource that I can use on my own over the summer to study, learn, and grow from.

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The song “Sorrow” by Bad Religion absolutely moves me every single time that I hear it.

And lucky for me, it’s played on the radio a lot despite the fact that it’s a 9-year-old song. I have it included in in several of my iTunes playlists as well. Today I watched the music video for the first time and was impacted even more deeply as I watched the emotions on the face of the lead singer. In our world, there is pain, there is sorrow, there is evil, and you cannot come to grips with it by trivializing it. Unless you recognize that there is something greater, you only make a mockery. (I think this is how John Lennon messed up with “Imagine.”)

“Sorrow” explores the suffering of the Biblical character of Job, but there’s a personal connection as well as so many of us long for “the only true messiah” to come to the rescue. While I am not responsible for all of the pain in the world, I certainly am responsible for some. I’m human; I mess up. I cause a whole lot of my own problems, I often cause problems for others, and I am part of the kind of others-second society that is to blame for everything from food shortages to genocide.

Lord, come quickly and rescue me from myself! I ache for that day when there is “sorrow no more…”

Father can you hear me?
How have I let you down?
I curse the day that I was born
And all the sorrow in this world

Let me take you to the hurting ground
Where all good men are trampled down
Just to settle a bet that could not be won
Between a prideful father and his son

Will you guide me now, for I can’t see
A reason for the suffering and this long misery
What if every living soul could be upright and strong
Well, then I do imagine

There will be sorrow
Yeah, there will be sorrow
And there will be sorrow, no more

When all soldiers lay their weapons down
Or when all kings and all queens relinquish their crowns
Or when the only true messiah rescues us from ourselves
It’s easy to imagine

There will be sorrow
Yeah, there will be sorrow
And there will be sorrow, no more

With these lyrics about the Messiah’s return fresh in my mind, I can’t help but to think about the end of the world tomorrow. Oh, sorry. The rapture tomorrow and the end of the world in October. What an idiot this guy is to predict Christ’s return for tomorrow! If he truly understood this rapture that he’s trying to predict, he would know that one of its most basic tenets is that nobody can know the date (Matthew 24:36). And the same Bible that he says predicts the rapture on May 21 (it doesn’t) also says that anyone who believes this guy is a fool (2 Thessalonians).

I understand from reading the Bible that the requirement for Christians is that they should be able to recognize the end of the world when it does come (1 Thessalonians 5). But again, nobody can predict that.

In the midst of my opinion about the May 21 preacher being an idiot, however, I was struck by the thought that just because this guy says the Messiah will return tomorrow does not mean that the Messiah will not return tomorrow. Wouldn’t that be something?! Of course I kinda hope that he’ll stay away just to spite, but … he is coming. He is coming some day and I am eager to see him, and excited in that nervous skydiving-from-a-plane-for-the-first-time sort of way. I’ve never done this before, and it’s going to be grand!

So if the purpose of all of this May 21 hoopla is to make you and me more heaven-minded, then okay, that’s all right with me.

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The B-I-B-L-E

My friend Lori recently asked on her blog what parts of the Bible her readers have been in lately. I thought it might be appropriate to share a few of my answers and thoughts.

For the past month and a half, I’ve been reading through Galatians over and over again while preparing to teach it to my small group girls. It really is an astounding treatment of the Law, its purpose, and how Christ’s fulfillment of the Law actually works for believers.

Deuteronomy is a favorite of mine, and so I have been reading through it again a chapter every few days. In Deuteronomy 13, it gives instructions to utterly destroy any friend, neighbor, or relative who tells you to go after idols. It sounds awfully extreme — but then, it shows me that God is dead serious about the first commandment of loving Him with all of my heart and soul and mind. (Loving my neighbor as myself, that tends to have real-world consequences if I don’t do it, but choosing not to love God doesn’t always appear to be all that bad in this life here-and-now.)

And then when I heard that Romans 12 had been read at the royal wedding, I decided I needed a refresher course and went and spent some time in that chapter. It reminded me that my work can be my worship — and therefore on Monday, when I had to scrub our old apartment floor to ceiling in preparation for moveout, I blasted praise music the whole time to remind myself that my work was my worship. Guess what?! I wasn’t even tempted to complain!

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Recognizing God’s voice

Recognizing God’s Voice: Seven Ways to Test an Impression

Rick Warren – March 13, 2011

What you think is the right road may lead to death. (Proverbs 14:12)

Don’t believe everything you hear just because someone says it is a message from God; test it first to see if it really is. (1 John 4:1)

An example of this is when Jesus commended Peter’s faith and spoke the famous line, “Upon this rock I will build my church.” But only moments later, he was saying to Peter, “Get away from me, Satan!” It is important to test the message itself, and not simply to trust the messenger.

Anyone who wants to do God’s will can test this teaching and know whether its from God or whether I am making it up. (John 7:17)

1. Does it agree with the Bible?

God’s will does not contradict his Word.

Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away. (Luke 21:33)

Truth stands the test of time. (Proverbs 12:19)

Let God’s curse fall on anyone including myself who preaches any other message. Even if an angel comes from heaven and preaches any other message, let him be forever cursed. (Galatians 1:8)

2. Does this make me more like Christ?

In your lives you must think and act like Christ Jesus. (Philippians 2:5)

God is much more interested in my character than in my comfort, and Jesus is the perfect model for my character.

We take every thought captive so that it is obedient to Christ. (2 Corinthians 10:5)

Anybody can criticize; it takes maturity in order to find the beautiful in things and situations.

If you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition … such wisdom is of the devil. The wisdom that comes from God is pure, peace loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy, impartial, and sincere. (James 3:14-17)

This is an incredible description of Godly wisdom! I was particularly struck by the word “submissive,” and its meaning of being open to reason and willing to be tested.

Five more points…

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