Happy To Welcome You To The Hallelujah Chorus

I will exalt you my God, the King, I will praise your name forever and ever. Every day I will praise you and exalt your name forever and ever. Psalm 145:1-2

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

CAN'T OUTRUN THE FATHERHOOD OF GOD

Trying to ignore God or hide from his Fatherhood is futile. Pointless. We've all tried to go that route at one time or another only to find out that our actions only put us square in the middle of his holy radar. We can't run, we can't hide, we can't reason or rationalize our way past his unfailing love. All we can finally do is give in to his truth and seek his forgiveness for our foolishness.
David tried that same dead end street - for most of a year. I really don't think he did much singing or praying or writing of worship songs after his sin with Bathsheba and against her brave husband. God waited and waited for David to come to his senses and own up to his sin, but David was on the run. It was only after God confronted him in the person of Nathan the prophet that David gave in to the sadness his sin had created in his spirit. At some point between his visit from Nathan and the conception and birth of Solomon David once again picked up his pen to open his heart to what he had known for a long time was going to happen anyway.
This whole story is played out at 2 Samuel 12 for all of us, men and women, to learn something about our Father. I believe David may have penned Psalm 51 during his 6 days of fasting and praying while his son's life hung in the balance. But it could have been later. If you haven't read that story in a while, take ten minutes to do so and get the point that what God did was save David from himself.
If sin is allowed to fester in the soul long enough, it always poisons our entire spirit and causes us to ignore what we know is the truth. Eventually the heart assumes a "what's-the-use" posture based on the demonic conclusion that there is nothing good in me anyway so why even try!? But our Father will not accept that very wrong assumption from any of us.
"My sin is always before me" is David's confession to God that he had always understood the seriousness of what he had done. He pleads with God to give him his joy back and cleanse him of his sin. This prayer at Psalm 51 has been uttered by God's people for centuries because we too have tried to run and hide from Yahweh in our own way. Our Father just won't ever give up on any of us who will turn back to him and pray David's emotional prayer.
I have also learned to appreciate Psalm 32, which seems to be David's song of thanksgiving after his joy had been restored. Our Father is always seeking to correct our thinking and behavior. His Holy Spirit will always convict and encourage. HALLELUJAH!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

CAN'T SEE YOUR WAY THROUGH?

The daily human experience is often frustrating, disappointing, infuriating, depressing etc, etc, etc. We all have good days and not so good days and totally disastrous days. Stuff happens that can turn a good day into the equivalent of walking a tightrope across the Grand Canyon. Not exactly the GC experience we expect.
But, as we travel the road hour to hour, day to day, the years rush by with increasing speed and all people of real faith reach this point - "PILE YOUR TROUBLES ON GOD'S SHOULDERS - HE'LL CARRY YOUR LOAD, HE'LL HELP YOU OUT. HE'LL NEVER LET GOOD PEOPLE TOPPLE INTO RUIN .... AND I TRUST IN YOU." Psalm 55:22 MSG
I kinda think Peter may have been singing David's song just before he wrote his own version - "HUMBLE YOURSELVES THEREFORE UNDER GOD'S MIGHTY HAND THAT HE MAY LIFT YOU UP IN GOOD TIME. CAST ALL YOUR ANXIETY ON HIM BECAUSE HE CARES FOR YOU." 1 Peter 5:6-7 NIV
Bad days tend to produce bad moods which usually turn into bad decisions. And that result can bleed over into the next hour or the next day or a lifetime. I really like how Eugene Peterson interpreted Peter's next statement - "KEEP A COOL HEAD. STAY ALERT. THE DEVIL IS POISED TO POUNCE AND WOULD LIKE NOTHING MORE BETTER THAN TO CATCH YOU NAPPING." 1 Peter 5:8 MSG
Now if I can only remember that when I'm having a bad time of it. If you look closely you can always detect Satan's footprint in your bad moods and their accompanying decisions. I'm sure happy to know God is on my side. HALLELUJAH!

Monday, September 13, 2010

GOD'S NAME IS NO BYWORD

When God spoke to Moses from the burning bush at Exodus 3, he established an everlasting theological principle at V:15 - "Say this to the people of Israel, 'The Lord the God of your fathers has sent me to you.' This is my name forever".
The word "LORD" when written in capital letters stands for the divine name YHWH, the most sacred name of God among the Jews for centuries.
In his Psalm 30:4, David wrote a phrase that seems to mirror what God had said to Moses - "Sing praises to the Lord, O you his saints and give thanks to his holy name." In Hebrew that literally translates into "the memorial of his holiness". David was certainly aware of God's instructions to Moses and wanted his own people to honor this sacred memorial.
I feel pretty sure YHWH is saddened at the habitual, flippant use of his sacred name by so many in our world today. To me, its very sad that we humans have turned the sacred forever name of God into a common expression of every emotion from disgust, to anger, to sadness, to joy, to whatever.
Yahweh demands and deserves our praise not our lame attempts at profane manipulation of him. Let's praise his name every day without allowing the world to shape our vocabulary into something we will regret forever. He is no byword. He is LORD! HALLELUJAH!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

MY 9/11 REVISITED

Nine years ago this week I was in San Antonio, Tx to do some management training for my company. We wrapped that up on Thursday and I had planned to drive to Victoria the next day to do a safety and training compliance audit at one of our stores.
The next morning I was dressing for the day while watching CNN on the TV. As I sat down to put on my shoes the TV screen was suddenly filled with the images of a plane crashing into the Twin Towers in NYC. At the time there was rampant speculation about why that had happened, but it didn't take long for those questions to be answered.
I sat there saddened and dumbfounded for about two more hours, constantly answering my cell phone. My family, friends and coworkers back in Dallas at the corporate office were concerned that I might get on a plan to fly to Houston or back home. My kids kept calling me all day to vent their anger and sadness and needing Dad to reassure them that though a tragedy, we would get through it. I think all of us lived through that day and the immediate days after on the edge of a precipice, not knowing who or where the terrorists might strike next.
I finally did make it to Victoria in the early afternoon but spent the rest of that day talking and praying with our store employees and customers. No one was in any mood to do anything but watch the TV screen. I think every customer who came into that store just stayed, some sitting on the floor and some on chairs and couches. When I finally left in the late afternoon, every television (and there were many) was surrounded by people struggling to make some kind of sense of the horrible thing that exploded into their world that morning. Many were military related families since San Antonio is home to a large Air Force base and about 60 miles north is Fort Hood, one of the nations largest military training bases.
As I arrived back in San Antonio around 8:00 pm I had heard on the radio that a blood donor station had been set up at El Mercado, so I drove there. What a sight I saw when I drove into that area to find an enormous crowd of people patiently waiting to give blood at one of several bloodmobiles that had been set up there. I had also learned from the local radio station that the city was virtually shut down and the only restaurant open was La Margeurita which is located just outside the Mercado. I found out that the restaurant was providing free food so I was able to get something to eat around 10:00 pm.
I stayed around until well past midnight doing whatever I could to help. That was a day and night I will never forget. That usually happy, festive place was as somber as a cemetery. I did not know a single person that I saw but we were all drawn together like family, each seeking to make any kind of comforting, personal connection. I truly needed that too because, although I had talked with the Rose and our kids off and on all day, they were hundreds of miles away. But, I never felt alone because we all shared a common grief and sought comfort from one another.
If the terrorists thought their actions would cripple America or break our resolve, they thought wrong. That night I toyed with the idea of re-enlisting myself, but it didn't take long for common sense to convince me that since I had recently turned 60, the Navy wouldn't have a job for me. As a people we have paid a very high price in the aftermath of 9/11 and it seems to go on and on, but every year on this anniversary, even in the sadness, our collective resolve rises again.
It is true, we will NEVER forget 9/11, nor will we ever roll over for the cowards who still hide throughout the world to prey on unsuspecting, innocent people all in the name of their made-up god. I choose to do what Jesus taught us to do and pray for these misguided enemies and call on our Father to eliminate their fanatical hatred. It's not about religion anyway, its always been about the politics.
GOD BLESS AMERICA. HALLELUJAH!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

HAS JESUS MADE A DIFFERENCE?

As I have wandered around in David's seventy Psalms this year I have often tried to visualize him as he sat writing the words of most of them. He surely was an emotional person who never seemed to hesitate to say whatever he felt. This one is among his most striking to me - "THE FOOL SAYS IN HIS HEART, 'THERE IS NO GOD'. THEY ARE CORRUPT AND THEIR WAYS ARE VILE; THERE IS NO ONE WHO DOES GOOD." Psalm 53:1 NIV One of the reasons I am struck by this Psalm is that David, for some reason, repeated it verbatim at Psalm 14. Although David repeats certain words and phrases in many of his songs, this is the only one, as far as I can tell, that is repeated in its entirety.
Maybe 1000+ years later, at Romans 3 Paul strings together five quotes from David and Isaiah to make the same statement about his own generation. He was discussing the fact of sin among both the Gentile and Jewish communities and concluded there is no real difference between them and quotes David's words from Psalm 53 to make his point.
David and Paul were both obviously very disappointed in the people they lived among. So was God!
I don't think what David wrote is true of my generation because I know many more people than I could ever count who do a lot of good for the glory of God and in the name of Jesus. Without question there are many who ignore God, many who do little or no good with their lives and many who live in an impenetrable fog, and their number may be growing. But, that has always been true because satan rules the world with his maze of lies and trickery.
I choose to praise God for the many others who are eager to know God's will and allow His Spirit to be their daily Counselor. If they were not in my life, I am sure I would have the same pessimistic attitude that David sang about. Maybe his song was true of his generation, but I am very thankful to live in a time when and where Jesus has made a huge difference. HALLELUJAH!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

But What Does 'Praise the Lord' Mean?

I've heard the phrase "PRAISE THE LORD!" for as long as I can remember, but I was never taught to go about my life every day saying those words when I received a gift or something good happened. But, I am happier when I give God the glory for his gifts of love. Most of the 'praising' I have done has been in the form of lyrics of songs I learned at church or from some singing group.
David ended his iconic Psalm 103 with these words - "PRAISE THE LORD, ALL HIS WORKS EVERYWHERE IN HIS DOMINION, PRAISE THE LORD O MY SOUL." NIV But, what does PTL really mean? What is it about?
For me, PTL means:
1) Having the HUMILITY to acknowledge him as Lord!
2) THANKFULNESS for all he has done, is doing and will do in my life and my family
3) BOWING before him in absolute faith & submission
4) LIFTING my heart and my hands to him out of pure, unashamed joy in his presence
5) Never failing to tell him "I LOVE YOU"
6) Spending INTENTIONAL TIME alone with him, listening and sharing my heart!
Luke tells us that soon after Pentecost, the earliest disciples of Jesus were "praising God and having favor with all the people" and the Lord just kept multiplying their number "day by day". There truly is something infectious about being around people who "Praise the Lord". I need people like that in my life. I find myself more and more looking for people who just do what David said we should all be doing. HALLELUJAH & HALLELUJAH!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

POLITICS AS USUAL

Politicians obviously haven't changed much from David's time to today. I guess it has always been true that "power tends to corrupt - absolute power tends to corrupt absolutely". David wrote - "How long will you assault a man? Would all of you throw him down - this leaning wall, this tottering fence? They fully intend to topple him from his lofty place; they take delight in lies. With their mouths they bless, but in their hearts they curse." Psalm 62:3-4 NIV
David reigned as King a little over 40 years with the constant threat of tyranny from his own countrymen. They were typical of men today who have a little power and always plan to have bigger power. A little power in the hands of a small person can become a nightmare because they're always looking for any weakness or perceived mistake they can exploit to further their own agenda. Like David said, they speak well of you and to your face but their hearts are always plotting for their own success.
Politicians aren't necessarily a menace to society, well some are I guess, but small minded people with a little power always have dreams of bigger power. Democracy has always been pretty messy, even from the earliest days of our great country, but right always finds a way to overcome.
David understood, he wrote "Find rest in God, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken." Psalm 62:5-6
People of true faith in God understand the ultimate source of all power. It isn't in the halls of Congress or in the hands of election polls nor even in the President. All power finally comes from the Creator of heaven and earth. It's true that a good person can be fired for a bad reason or voted out of office or even assassinated, but their goodness and faith will always win out at some point.
From David's time to our own, our Almighty Father is fully committed to the success of his plans and his people. HALLELUJAH!