Category Archive: Praise

“God Moments”

Don had taken me to Carmel for a few days to celebrate our sixth wedding anniversary. That evening we found an outdoor restaurant where our dogs, Kelly and Paige, could be with us. Central to the eatery was a square firepit, with a young couple seated on one side of it. The waitress directed us to a table at a 45 degree angle to theirs.

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After overhearing a bit of the couple’s conversation with our waitress, I asked “Did I hear you’re newlyweds?” They were. Having been married two days before, Braden and Rebecca then took the train from Abbotsford, British Columbia to California. As we talked and laughed we realized we are all Jesus followers. While we offered to buy them dessert in honor of their marriage, Christy, our sweet waitress, had already done so herself.

That was the first of a series of wonderful events during our relaxed, renewing time away. Don’t you just love experiencing God-moments? We napped, read, responded to a few business issues, walked Kelly and Paige, played ball with them on the beach, and ate with “the girls” on chairs beside us.

Our last morning there we ate our in-room breakfast, then drove to the beach. As we looked for a beautiful view (no bad ones in Carmel!) where we could read our devotions, we rounded a curve to see  the waters frothing white with foam. Gulls and pelicans flew and dived; seals swam; and literally hundreds of dolphins arced and played, getting their fill of the anchovies that have been coming into Monterey Bay in swarms.

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Creation really speaks to me of the glory of God. Watching these sea creatures at work and play reminds me what a tiny part of God’s innumerable galaxies we inhabit, and what a teeny part of His creation is reflected in that one stunning scemario we observed. And I’m reduced to wonder.

Oh Lord, how majestic is Your name in all the earth.

You have made (mankind) a little lower than the angels
    and crowned them with glory and honor.
You made them rulers over the works of your hands;
    you put everything under their feet:
the birds in the sky,
    and the fish in the sea,
    all that swim the paths of the seas.

Lord, our Lord,
    how majestic is your name in all the earth!

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What fills you with awe? Is there a certain kind of creation that speaks especially to your spirit?

Praise His Holy Name

Choir 1My throat was raw. Sound coming out was NOT pretty, by any standard. I tried to hold a tune but couldn’t even hit some of the lower notes. Would I have to drop out of the Christmas choir?

Two years ago I dropped out because of a throat infection. I didn’t want a repeat of that. Singing under the direction of Dr. Tony Dehner was challenging, fun, God-focused. Don and I began to pray that I would be able to sing through the eight Christmas concerts.

And I did. Despite some remaining soreness, I was able to lift up our Lord with the rest of the choir members.

The wonder of Christmas was expressed through James Durbin’s interpretation of “Mary did you Know?” “Mary, did you know the child that you delivered will soon deliver you?”

And our hope, in the midst of the world’s suffering, that ultimately, in Christ, “All Is (or will be) Well.”

There were many Christmases when my mother’s soaring soprano voice rang out in one of my favorite Christmas songs:

        O holy night! The stars are brightly shining, It is the night of our dear Savior’s birth. Long lay the world in sin and error pining, Till He appear’d and the soul felt its worth. A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices, For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.

        Truly He taught us to love one another; His law is love and His gospel is peace. Chains shall He break for the slave is our brother; And in His name all oppression shall cease. Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we, Let all within us praise His holy name.

We still live in a world, weary with struggle, pain, death, loss, loneliness, and evil. But the Christ-child who was born on that holy night, lived in our fallen world, died on a cruel cross, and was raised to life again. And because He lives, we who believe have great hope, hope for life with Him that begins here and will continue–forever! Hope that one day His justice will reign throughout the earth, and peace will rule. Let us indeed praise Him, for His coming, His peace, His presence … and His promise for eternity.

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6 (NIV)

Where do you need peace this Christmas?

 

Creativity, and the Master Creator

celtic woman 2The violinist danced onto the stage, tossing her long, straight blond hair from side to side as she maintained a continuous, lilting melody on the strings of her instrument–a seemingly impossible combination of music and movement.

Backing her were drums, guitars, a piano, and bagpipe. The sounds of Ireland were pure and strong.

Don and I had traveled to Fresno, three hours from home, to hear Celtic Woman, a group I’ve long wanted to see in person. Here we were in the William Saroyan Theater, Row H, Seats 37-38, anticipating the joy of the evening’s music.

celtic woman 3Then, through the darkness and mist at the back of the stage, entered three lovely women clad in elegant, jeweled gowns. As they sang, their harmonies danced around and over each other, making it difficult to know who was singing which part at any one time. The blend and cross-over of their voices, along with the music of the instruments, was sublime. The melodies, costumes, and dance drew me into a mythical world of fairies and woodland nymphs and minor tunes and joy and yearning and passion.

mairead-susan-lynn-mairead celtic womanWe heard the sounds of pain and hunger suffered throughout Irish history and famines. And out of that pain has come incredible creativity which emanates from our Master Creator, the God of the universe, the One who promised to

    • “provide for those who grieve in Zion—
    • to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes,
    • the oil of joy instead of mourning,
    • and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.” (Isaiah 61:3a, NIV)

All good things come from God. The Master Creator, He weaves our lives in and out of situations where we don’t always know whether we’re carrying the melody or a harmony–or if we’re in tune at all. He brings beauty from ashes, joy rather than mourning.

Chills filled me as I heard a bagpipe coming from our left. The air moved through the pipes as he soloed, walking toward the stage. Just as he climbed the stairs, the other instruments joined his, filling the auditorium with quiet strength. Then the women entered, singing these meaningful words:

Amazing grace! How sweet the sound bagpipe
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost, but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.

‘Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
And grace my fears relieved.
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed.

Through many dangers, toils and snares
I have already come;
‘Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far
And grace will lead me home.

Voices and instruments crescendoed, reaching a climax of praise to God.  And one day every created thing will give Him praise and honor as we fall on our knees before His majesty, glory, and grace.

The Mountains and Hills will Burst into Song

The sound of music ...

The sound of music …

Have you ever heard the melody of a tree? This is amazing, and beautiful! It brings to mind Isaiah 55:12: “You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands.”tree slice

Listen to this incredible music, transmitted from a tree ring: http://thespiritscience.net/2015/05/14/what-a-tree-sounds-like-when-played-on-a-record-player/

Scripture we have sometimes thought to be simply allegorical is being played out in front of us.God has said that if we don’t praise Him, the very rocks will cry out!

“When he came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen:

‘Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!’

‘Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!’Treble clef

Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, ‘Teacher, rebuke your disciples!’

‘I tell you,’ he replied, ‘if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.'”

Not so far-fetched when I listen to this music. So, I will choose to praise Him.

  • I praise Him for His unconditional love
  • For His faithfulness through the highs and lows of my life
  • For His forgiveness and salvation
  • For being Mighty God, Prince of Peace, Counselor, King of Kings, and Lord of Lords
  • For the beauty of the world around me, and for the music of the spheres
  • For family and friends who express love to me and allow me to share it with them
  • … and for loving me!

For what can you praise God today?

Galilee and the Galilean

We began our day at the the Mount of Beatitudes, where there is a lovely convent and church. Rene taught us from the Beatitudes, and we had time to wander and pray.

Convent at Mount of Beatitudes

Convent at Mount of Beatitudes

From there we traveled to Capernaum, where Jesus lived for several years. A Church has been constructed over what are believed to be the ruins of the apostle Peter’s mother-in-law’s home. Most interesting to me was the detail of God’s plan. Capernaum was on a major highway, a route that anyone traveling between five countries had to travel.  Nothing of God is simply chance.

Capernaum Ruins

Capernaum Ruins

Nearby, we walked onto the shores of the Sea of Galilee and imagined Jesus calling some of his disciples.

Boarding a boat in the sunshine, we left one shore. About halfway across the Galilee we hit a sudden squall which included slamming rain, which  stopped before we docked on the opposite shore. We sang along to wonderful Jesus songs from the 70s and 80s, were taught the Hava Nagila dance (“Let us rejoice”), and laughed at our missteps. It was amazing to be part of the same kind of weather Jesus and the disciples faced in their day.

We next stopped on the Jordan river which had about eight areas set aside for baptism. Those wishing to be baptized changed into their swimsuits and covered them with provided white gowns. Folks must not have realized how transparent these white gowns were when wet … some who didn’t have anythong on underneath might have been quite surprised that nothing was hidden! Fortunately, our folks all had swimsuits. Two of our group were first-time baptisms, the others seven wanted to recommit and to be baptized where Jesus was.????????

The Jordan Baptism Site

The Jordan Baptism Site

Afterward, I heard groups praising God in different languages. Tears came to my eyes as I heard Asians singing on one side,  Africans on another. The unity I felt with these brothers and sisters in Christ brought joy to my heart and tears to my eyes. As the church, we are one in Christ. What will heaven be like?

Wonderful day in every possible way. Time for bed.

Wednesday – Dan Nature Preserve, city of Dan under the rule of Jeroboam, and the gates of Canaan, the oldest known gate being excavated. This is the gate Abraham would have walked thru to find his nephew, Lot.

Then on to the Baniass Nature Preserve and spring, site of the Temple of Pan, source of the words panic and pandemonium. How appropriate that worship of this, or any false god, brings pandemonium.

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Looking down into a bunker

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Golan Heights signpost

We wandered the fortifications at the Golan Heights, 4500 feet above sea level, from which we saw Syria and Lebanon. Had some wonderful mocha coffee to warm our hands and innards … The remaining snow and a hefty wind kept it chillingly cold!!!

I’m amazed at the topography in Galilee. Beautiful, green, fertile; almond, orange and lemon trees in abundance, along with banana and date palms. The green hills are absolutely spotted with rocks. The Israelis have brought wonderful productivity to a rocky land.

Tomorrow, Jerusalem!