Thursday, February 23, 2023

Lenten 2023 - Respond

The place where God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world's deep hunger meet.  Fredrick Buechner

We search the world for meaning, for purpose, for reasons. When the world does not offer wanted answers, we wonder if God has forgotten us. If we pray to God for meaning, for purpose, for reasons, and He does not respond as we expect, we doubt that God is listening. We crave more and more of the world's tokens, collecting the trophies of greed and pride, and we are empty. And still, God calls to us and seeks us ~ wherever we are. God has designed a purpose for each of us ~ a place to serve. God abides with us ~ in all times. Perhaps it is we who have forgotten; it is we who are not listening.

Read 1 John 2:12-17

I remind you, dear children: Your sins are forgiven in Jesus' name. . . And a second reminder, dear children: You know the Father from personal experience. . . Love of the world squeezes out love for the Father. Practically everything that goes on in the world - wanting your own way, wanting everything for yourself, wanting to appear important - has nothing to do with the Father. It just isolates you from Him.
1 John 2:12-16 The Message

In a deeping relationship with God, our wants change. We can respond with greater compassion, with quiet humility, with sincere love. We begin to respond to the Father's love. We search the heart, the mind, the soul for His Presence. We find deep gladness.

consider this!
  • When your deep gladness in God merges with the world's deep hunger, what happens?
  • How does a growing personal relationship with God change your wants?
  • What are your God-cravings?

Living Word ~ remain in our hearts ~ guide our thoughts ~ abide with us always. Forgive us when we ignore You. How often we stand at the corner of "Want" and "More," uncertain and unsure! Yet You forgive our selfish ways, call us to a place of deep gladness. Take away our cravings for the world and replace them with cravings for You. Amen. ~ dho

*previously published on this blog/2009/dho

Wednesday, February 22, 2023

Lent 2023 - Ash Wednesday

The season of Lent begins today, Ash Wednesday. I pray this will be a season of reflection and your soul finds new intimacy with Christ. May you know spiritual renewal as you spend time remembering Jesus - His Love, His Life, His Gift.

Lord, mark me with ashes as a reminder that I am in need of your grace -dho

Thursday, February 16, 2023

So Many Words!

Words satisfy the soul as food satisfies the stomach; the right words on a person's lips brings satisfaction. Proverbs 18:20 NLT

We are overloaded with words every day! Words arrive electronically by emails, texts, tweets. Television and podcasts depend on words to convey information, entertainment, and advertisement. Newspapers and magazines and books, either tangible or electronic, infuse our minds with thoughts, ideas, and possibilities. We use words, spoken and written, to express our emotions and our opinions, to share our sympathy and our joy, to defend our decisions and our beliefs. Unfortunately, sometimes in communicating, we choose words that wound and deceive.

Eugene Peterson reminds us, "Words are never mere words - they convey spirit, meaning, energy, and truth." He goes on to say that words reveal and words conceal. Every day I read ancient words composed centuries ago, but they still touch my soul, enrich my living, convict my spirit, encourage my journey. The Holy Bible is composed of words inspired by God and the revelation of The Word sent by God. Mother Teresa is quoted, "Words which do not give the light of Christ, increase the darkness." In a world overflowing with words from sufficient to superfluous, how satisfied is your soul? Do your words increase the light of Christ in the world? Word of Life, be mine! ~dho

Thursday, February 09, 2023

Becoming What You Worship - Part 4

Through Jesus, then, let us keep offering to God our own sacrifice, the praise of lips that confess His name without ceasing. Hebrews 13:15 The Voice Bible

Blackaby writes, "Genuine worship...originates within our hearts." In the Old Testament, under the original covenant, sacrifices hold an important role in the offerings, and Levite priests offer the sacrifices in the temple "on behalf of the people". Blackaby refers to the Levites as “worship leaders of their day." In the New Testament, animal sacrifices lose their importance because Christ becomes the last blood sacrifice needed, and God clearly emphasizes our praises and thanksgiving in worship. All this makes me think of those we call Worship Leaders in churches today. They are usually the ones who help us give voice to our hearts’ praises to God.

Music, in its various forms, is central to the worship experience and frequently sets the mood and tone. T
hrough music, the rhythm of our soul's offering of praise to the Lord finds expression. Words cause the mind to ponder His character, expose the soul's deepest need, and provide the heart an opportunity to reply. Matthew Henry, Bible commentator, reminds us that "Christ is both our Altar and our Sacrifice." As we worship, this ceaseless sacrifice of praise defines the authenticity of the Christian heart.

Typically, in traditional and contemporary settings, the Worship Leader designs spiritual opportunities and engages the people. In more contemporary styles, this worship time is often referred to as 'praise music'. Comparing Worship Leaders of the OT, with today's Worship Leaders, I find stark contrasts. No longer are animal sacrifices offered for people's sins; today, people directly worship God and stand in His presence because of Grace. Today's sacrifices look different. No more blood sacrifices are needed. Our sacrifice of praise rises to the Lord in prayer and thanksgiving, with song or in Scripture, on chords or in chants, with drums or dance. Worship Leaders exalt God's majesty, while allowing us to examine our hearts and evolve our praise language. Praise and Worship is language pleasing to God!

* previously posted on this blog 10/23/14

Thursday, February 02, 2023

Becoming What You Worship - Part 3

I'm ready, God, so ready, ready from head to toe,
Ready to sing, ready to raise a tune: "Wake up, soul!" Psalm 57:7 The Message

Several years ago I spent the better part of a day touring Daufuskie Island, a ferry ride away, just off the coast of Hilton Head, SC. An island full of rich history and Gullah culture merging with renewal and preservation, my thoughts were captured. We stopped and toured a church still used and small by the standards of today's churches. Out to the side was a small unpainted, wooded structure not bigger than an outdoor garden shed. It was not the original structure built in1823 but a replicated (2002) one. Above the door it read "Praise House."

The Gullah people used this little house as a house of prayer and praise. Apparently, the prayers started quiet and as inspiration led, the prayers would become more intense, eventually becoming 'Praise Shouts'! As I thought about that progression of the moving of the Spirit, I wondered how often is my soul moved to the point of Praise Shouts? And when this happens, do I just contain the joy or does my response raise a tune of praise to the Lord?

Psalm 57:9 The Message: "I'm thanking you, God, out loud in the streets, singing Your praises in town and country."  Try praising God ~ in public! ~dho