Archive for March, 2008

Good “Spread” – Spread the Word! Psalms 105

BBQ chicken picnic - Good “Spread” - Spread the Word! Psalms 105My girls and I were invited to a cookout at the home of a friend of mine this weekend. It wasn’t anyone’s birthday. We weren’t celebrating any particular event. Nobody was moving away. We just wanted to spend time together, the worship team and their families and mine.

It was perfect. The weather was just right, complete with a gentle, Florida sea-breeze. The ‘Rican “spread” was just right – juicy chicken on the grill, dirty rice and lots of other great food (these people know how to cook great food!). The conversation was fun, full of laughs and memories, but always with the attitude of gratitude. We’ve all been through a lot this past year, and we had grown quite close. There was an unspoken hint of sadness now that we’re not working together, but a healthy balance of “God is in control.”

As I read today’s chapter, I was reminded of the last conversation between my gracious host, his wife and I. All things turned back to God and all that He has done for us. We recounted many of the good things God had done in the past year, then even further back in the lives of our families and friends. My daughters were there to listen, too, which made it even that much more meaningful to me.

As I read the first verse of Psalms 105, I smiled and thanked God for the weekend’s experience:

1 Give thanks to the Lord, call on his name; make known among the nations what he has done.

The rest of this chapter goes on to recount the faithfulness of God to the children of Israel. It tells of the glorious ways God kept His promises to the children of Israel and their deliverance from bondage in Egypt. It details how God intervened on their behalf and rescued them time and time again, with very specific detail how it was done.

As I read it the second time, it dawned on me how important it is that we carry on this tradition and tell our children and their children what God has done – not only for the children of Israel, but for us as well!

I am thankful for the family that invited us all over this weekend. Each time I am with them, I see them praising God for all things. I see them consciously (and unconsciously) praising God through telling of stories of how God has rescued them and blessed them and challenged them. I see their children listening.

That’s spreading the gospel if anything is.

What has God done for you? What has He rescued you from?

Tell someone today!

Thank You, God, for all you continue to bless me and my girls with – especially my good friends!

grace & peace,
e

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“The Witnesses” in the recording studio!

The Witnesses in the Recording Studio March 2008

What an amazing, jam-packed couple of weeks it has been!

We’re recording the soundtrack for the show “The Witnesses” so it’s been late hours in the studio. But I must say – what a great bunch of musicians, and just all-around good people I work with on the cast. It has been a blast!

Then, we did three shows of “The Rock & The Rabbi” on Easter weekend at the Plaza Theatre in Orlando, Florida. I can’t think of a better way to celebrate Resurrection weekend!

What’s next, you ask? Well, there’s a rumor that “The Witnesses” is going to be at Palm Harbor United Methodist Church on April 26th. Stay tuned for more details.

grace & peace,
e

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God is still in control – Psalms 104

Mountain Lake - God is still in control - Psalms 104

Perodically, I have to remind myself that God is God and I am not.What I mean is, I sometimes find myself thinking that I’m much more significant than I really am. There are times I get to thinking that things revolve around me and what’s going on in my life. But – happily – this is not the case. Today, I rejoice that God is in control. I am grateful that there is nothing I can do to either positively or negatively affect God’s perfect plan.

Today’s reading in Psalms, chapter 104, reminded me of this refreshing fact:

5 He set the earth on its foundations; it can never be moved.

I also found comfort in the following passage in this chapter:

10 He makes springs pour water into the ravines; it flows between the mountains. 11 They give water to all the beasts of the field; the wild donkeys quench their thirst. 12 The birds of the air nest by the waters; they sing among the branches. 13 He waters the mountains from his upper chambers; the earth is satisfied by the fruit of his work. 14 He makes grass grow for the cattle, and plants for man to cultivate– bringing forth food from the earth: 15 wine that gladdens the heart of man, oil to make his face shine, and bread that sustains his heart. 16 The trees of the LORD are well watered, the cedars of Lebanon that he planted.

17 There the birds make their nests; the stork has its home in the pine trees. 18 The high mountains belong to the wild goats; the crags are a refuge for the coneys. 19 The moon marks off the seasons, and the sun knows when to go down. 20 You bring darkness, it becomes night, and all the beasts of the forest prowl. 21 The lions roar for their prey and seek their food from God. 22 The sun rises, and they steal away; they return and lie down in their dens. 23 Then man goes out to his work, to his labor until evening.

24 How many are your works, O Lord! In wisdom you made them all; the earth is full of your creatures. 25 There is the sea, vast and spacious, teeming with creatures beyond number– living things both large and small. 26 There the ships go to and fro, and the leviathan, which you formed to frolic there. 27 These all look to you to give them their food at the proper time.

There’s something reassuring about this writer’s perspective. When you stop and think about all the complex interractions that are taking place each split second – it could easily blow your mind. Yet – each day the sun rises and sets. Each day, God’s mercies are new. Each day I rejoice that God is in control.

Enjoy this day that the Lord has made!

grace & peace,
e

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What is God like? – Psalms 103

Father Son Muscle - What is God like? - Psalms 103While reading Psalms 103 today, I found myself re-reading the following verses:

8 The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. 9 He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever; 10 he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. 11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; 12 as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. 13 As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him; 14 for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust.

Having grown up in church, I remember hearing about what God is like as a young child in Sunday School. But lately, my path has led me to meet many people who have never been to church before. At work and in my men’s group, Wildmen, I keep meeting people who have no frame of reference for who God is – or what He’s like. And the questions keep coming.

I think this passage is a wonderful description of what God is like. It describes His loving characteristics, but contains glimpses of His righteousness. For example – “slow to anger” does not say He will never get angry – it says it takes a lot to make Him angry. “He will not always accuse” – contains the phrase “not always” rather than “never.” It indicates that He won’t harbor anger “forever”.

Then, we see the father example. I understand that to many an example of a compassionate father might seem meaningless because they grew up with either an abusive or absent father. But, even those can relate to what they wanted as a father. That’s why I think this passage is so powerful.

He knows exactly how we were formed. He is our compassionate Father. A holy balance of love and complete authority.

Thank You, Father!

grace & peace,
e

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Cry Out To God – Psalms 102

Folded Hands Praying - Cry Out To God - Psalms 102Like most, I’ve been in situations where all I could do was cry out to God for help. So, my attention was drawn to the following verses in today’s reading from Psalms chapter 102:

17 He will respond to the prayer of the destitute; he will not despise their plea. 18 Let this be written for a future generation, that a people not yet created may praise the Lord: 19 “The LORD looked down from his sanctuary on high, from heaven he viewed the earth, 20 to hear the groans of the prisoners and release those condemned to death.”

What I found interesting as I read this is how the writer of this Psalm, despirate to hear from God, is concerned not only for his own current situation, but for the situations of future generations – “those not yet created.”

As a parent, I have concerns for what my daughters will have to look forward to in their lives. I’ll be honest, at times I fear for their futures. All the war, the nasty politics, the degradation of society, the crime, the trash on the Internet and TV, social security, terrorism…it’s overwhelming to think about. I want them to have quiet, safe, peaceful lives, but I’m not sure anyone can guarantee that for them.

Yet God looks down from heaven and hears the groans of the prisoners, and releases those condemned to death.

Without God – it’s hopeless. But, for those “condemned” to living on this dying planet – there is hope. God hears. He answers.

Cry out to Him – you’ll find He will answer.

grace & peace,
e

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Profession of Uprightness – Psalm 101

Flaming Sword - Profession of Uprightness - Psalm 101I’ve had it in my mind for a few days now to jump back into daily Bible reading. I mean – this is the blog that’s “dedicated to the habit of daily Bible reading”, right? Now that my schedule has returned to one that is maintainable and no longer unhealthy, I really don’t have an excuse. But – it feels like I’ve gotten out of the habit. Not good.

Still, my friends are still going strong with their dBrag group. Reading their posts each day has encouraged me to jump back in. For more information about what a dBrag group is, check out www.dBrag.org.

Today, I felt led to join my friends as they continue in the book of Psalms, and I felt led to start at 101. I’m glad I did. I’ve been looking for these verses for a while now, wanting to memorize them since they’re such a powerful profession of uprightness. I would encourage you to join me in committing these eight little powerhouse verses to memory:

The Psalmist’s Profession of Uprightness.
1 I will sing of lovingkindness and justice, To You, O LORD, I will sing praises. 2 I will give heed to the blameless way. When will You come to me? I will walk within my house in the integrity of my heart. 3 I will set no worthless thing before my eyes; I hate the work of those who fall away; It shall not fasten its grip on me. 4 A perverse heart shall depart from me; I will know no evil. 5 Whoever secretly slanders his neighbor, him I will destroy ; No one who has a haughty look and an arrogant heart will I endure. 6 My eyes shall be upon the faithful of the land, that they may dwell with me; He who walks in a blameless way is the one who will minister to me. 7 He who practices deceit shall not dwell within my house ; He who speaks falsehood shall not maintain his position before me. 8 Every morning I will destroy all the wicked of the land, So as to cut off from the city of the LORD all those who do iniquity.

Print them out. Put them on your fridge, your mirror, your day-timer. Hide them in your heart so the next time you’re faced with temptation to look at something worthless or hang out with those who have fallen away, you may remember God’s words…

Now…if I can somehow get back in the habit…

grace & peace,
e

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Slow Fade – the deadly progression of ungodly counsel – Psalms 1

Casting Crowns - The Altar and the Door TourI was so blessed to be given tickets to the Casting Crowns concert last Sunday at the Saint Pete Times Forum in Tampa, FL. I was also blessed by my 18 year old daughter changing her plans at the last minute to go with me. We had a really great time.

We enjoyed both opening acts, John Waller and Leeland. If you are not familiar with both of these groups, check them out – you must! Great worship songs and great concert experience.

I’ve been a big Casting Crowns fan since I heard the song “Voice of Truth”. I’ll never forget the feeling as the powerful lyrics to that song penetrated my heart and God really used it to speak to me. Since then, they have written several songs that have had a similar impact on me. I went to this concert with great worship expectations – and I was not disappointed. The whole place around us was singing (especially on “Who Am I”) so I was in good company.

At one point, the entire band came to the front, sat down on stools, and began praying for everyone in the audience – one by one they lifted up specific prayers as God led them. I was so grateful for that.

At one point, Mark Hall introduced the song “Slow Fade” with a powerful message that has stuck with me. God really spoke to me through what Mark said. First, look at the lyrics to this song:

Lyrics to “Slow Fade” by Casting Crowns:

Be careful little eyes what you see
It’s the second glance that ties your hands as darkness pulls the strings
Be careful little feet where you go
For it’s the little feet behind you that are sure to follow

It’s a slow fade when you give yourself away
It’s a slow fade when black and white have turned to gray
Thoughts invade, choices are made, a price will be paid
When you give yourself away
People never crumble in a day
It’s a slow fade, it’s a slow fade

Be careful little ears what you hear
When flattery leads to compromise, the end is always near
Be careful little lips what you say
For empty words and promises lead broken hearts astray

It’s a slow fade when you give yourself away
It’s a slow fade when black and white have turned to gray
Thoughts invade, choices are made, a price will be paid
When you give yourself away
People never crumble in a day

The journey from your mind to your hands
Is shorter than you’re thinking
Be careful if you think you stand
You just might be sinking

It’s a slow fade when you give yourself away
It’s a slow fade when black and white have turned to gray
Thoughts invade, choices are made, a price will be paid
When you give yourself away
People never crumble in a day
Daddies never crumble in a day
Families never crumble in a day

Oh be careful little eyes what see
Oh be careful little eyes what you see
For the Father up above is looking down in love
Oh be careful little eyes what you see

The Scripture reference Mark used to introduce this song is one I’ve read many times. But, as I’ve commented on so many times before in this blog, the Word of God is living and sometimes you read something you’ve read before and get an entirely new thought or message from what you’ve read before. Check out this familiar verse in Psalms 1:

1 Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers.

Mark pointed out a progression of sin in this verse I’ve never noticed before, and it has to do with receiving counsel from others. Do you see it? First, one walks in the counsel of the wicked, then he stands in the way of sinners, then he sits in the seat of mockers. It’s a pattern of death and dying. Walking – then standing – then sitting.

And it all has to do with the counsel we receive.

I’ve seen it so many times, espeically in church leadership. For whatever reason, someone starts listening to unwise or ungodly counsel, and problems begin. A gradual but sure downward spiral follows with all kinds of decisions that don’t make sense. The decay of discernment, the demise of dignity, until finally there is no one left that can help. Those wanting to follow God begin to leave. Even the most loyal, though they may take longer, eventually seek opportunities to serve elsewhere.

King Theoden and Wormtongue - Lord of the RingsIt reminds me of a scene in the popular “Lord of the Rings” trilogy, where the aging king Theoden had been increasingly misled by his chief advisor Wormtongue, who was secretly employed by the evil wizard Saruman. The image here shows the eyes of the once great King now clouded by years of deceit. Everyone in Theoden’s once great kingdom seemed to know exactly what Wormtongue was doing, but because of the subtle, strategic persistance of the enemy, they were powerless to say or do anything that would put this obvious plot to an end. The King who once walked proudly among his people, as in this Scripture, is now sitting on his throne, being mocked by everyone.

Fortunately for King Theoden and for Middle Earth, Gandalf exposed Wormtongue for what he really is, and Theoden returned to his senses. But, that makes for good fiction. Unfortunately, as my experience has shown me, it’s not so easy in real life.

So – be careful little ears what you hear. Heed the warnings of this important passage of Scripture and avoid this “slow fade” – the deadly progression of ungodly counsel.

grace & peace,
e

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