Thursday, September 23, 2010

Beautiful for situation

"Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised in the city of our God, in the mountain of his holiness. Beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth, is mount Zion, on the sides of the north, the city of the great King. Psalm 48:1-2 KJV

I awoke this morning with these two verses going on in my head. They were being rehearsed in my mind to the tune we used to sing them, many years ago, when we would sing bible verses as choruses. I haven't thought of this tune, nor the bible verses, in a while. I sensed it as a reminder from God to me. Thanks, Lord. It is very timely, and a needed word.

I thought about the words. I began to meditate on them, and, with dictionary and concordance, explored the thoughts. "Great is the Lord." The dictionary defines great as remarkable in magnitude; chief or preeminent. Strong's concordance defines the word as bigger, far more, exceedingly, mighty and great, great things. "Great is the Lord." Yeah! Our God is remarkable, preeminent, great and mighty, far more than anything or anyone! And he is "greatly to be praised." Lord, we praise you today for your greatness.

My thoughts ran to the second verse. I grew up with the King James Version of the bible, so that is what came to my mind. "Beautiful for situation." The dictionary defines situation as mode of being. I thought about the situations of life. What is your mode of being? What situations are you presently going through? Are you suffering a marriage breakdown? Going through divorce? Having problems paying your bills? Is your health suffering? Your situation may be difficult.

I know this- My situation may be ugly, but God is beautiful. And Mount Zion is beautiful. Zion represents his church. The church has been attacked by both the secular world, and the religious. But hope is offered in the church. Love is offered in the church. It stands as a messenger of the King and his kingdom. Beautiful for situation. When you are struggling, Zion offers prayer, an encouraging word, a family of faith. I have been called "churchy." I guess it is supposed to be a negative thing. But I am for the church. The local church preaches the word, evangelizes the community and world, feeds the hungry, cares for the sick, offers hope. It is a city set on a hill.

The word translated beautiful in the King James Version of the bible in the Hebrew is the word noph. It means elevation or height. So the literal translation is "beautiful in elevation." Isn't that awesome? God is great, and highly exalted. Zion is beautiful in elevation. In the midst of all the turmoil, all the pains and difficult situations in life, God reigns. Let the church rejoice!

This I know. Whatever my situations in life may be. God is beautiful. And so is Zion. Thank you, Lord. Thank you, church.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Max Lucado and a hymn

I got up this morning with a lot on my mind. Much is going on, and I wanted to clear my head. Church is tonight, and I want to be fresh when I stand before the people of God to deliver the message. I put on some coffee, grabbed a book, bible, and notepad, and went outside to relax and meditate. There was a slight breeze, and while summer is not yet ended, the morning air gave an indication that fall will soon be here. Nearby a woodpecker was busy hammering on a tree. I love outdoors. The atmosphere was refreshing to me.

I'm not sure why I picked up this particular book. I have had it several years. Roaming through my library, the words on the cover spoke to me.."Just like Jesus." Sipping on my coffee, my fingers opened up a chapter called "The greenhouse of the mind." In this chapter, the writer reminds us to guard our thought life. As I read the chapter, it reminded me of sermons I have preached on the subject. One of the verses Max used was Proverbs 4:23 "Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life."(NIV) Another translation states, "Be careful what you think, because your thoughts run your life."

It sort of hit me between the eyes. Bam! Not in a bad way, but in a good way. As a reminder from God. I have been dealing with some negative thoughts lately. After a five year push by my family doctor and my wife, I had some tests done. The doctor had discovered My PSA was high. High PSA is linked with cancer. I hate the C word. My grandfather passed away with it, my mother in law, and last year both my dad and my son in law. So biopsies have been taken, and I am now waiting for the test results to come back.

Meanwhile, thoughts have ran through my head. Fear and anxiety, worry and doubt. All those things I have taught and preached against for over thirty five years. I know the faith words, I know how to confess. But I find myself struggling. Judge me if you wish. And in saying this, I am not after your pity. One of the things in writing and communicating, is you open yourself up to people who do not know, nor appreciate you. I have on several occasions thought of discontinuing both the blog and social networks because of this. Then someone encourages me that I am helping them, and they appreciate the transparency.

I don't know Max Lucado personally. But he sure did help me. As I read chapter nine, I was encouraged. Coffee, Lucado, and birds chirping. Some prayer and meditation. Feeling better. I hear the words "It is well" in my spirit. Thank you, Lord!

And an old hymn comes to my mind. I haven't heard it in a while. "Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus, Just to take him at his word. Just to rest upon his promise. Just to know thus saith the Lord. Jesus, Jesus, how I trust him. How I've proved him o'er and o'er. Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus. Of for grace to trust him more." The song was written by Louisa Stead in 1882, after the accidental drowning of her husband. As the song ran in my head, I am reminded to trust God no matter what I am facing.

I felt God speak to me this morning through a book and a song. Thanks, Lord for the reminder. You are good, and have everything in control. I will trust You!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Blessings disguised as problems

I find myself attempting to encourage a very dear friend this morning. She is a member of the church I pastor, and finds herself having to cancel a vacation this morning. Plans to celebrate the 10 year wedding anniversary with her husband were put on hold. Her 3 year old daughter would not get to see the ocean for the first time in her life.

This lady is a vital part of our church, and is like family to us. A couple of days ago she had become sick. Praying she could get some meds in her and go on, she was pressing ahead. But upon awakening this morning and stirring around, she realized she was not feeling well enough to make the trip. And so, the plug had to be pulled.

I hate when things happen to our plans, don't you? I know the pain of having the rug pulled out from under your feet by an unexpected and unwelcome situation. But things happen in life, don't they? And often, things which we initially see as problems turn out to be blessings instead. Look through the bible, and you will discover this truth.

I'm not sure how or if this applies to my friend. I know God didn't make her sick, and I'm not saying God didn't want her to go on this trip. What I am saying is that there may be a blessing in this that is not evident at the moment.

I know from experience. I have had life's problems that turned out to be opportunities, which turned into blessings!