What is it?

Looking through my journals and email, I found out that I was wishing for a lot of good things to happen. I claimed to be “hoping,” but I did not/could not be confident the desired outcome would happen. That is not what hope is about. Hope is more than wishing. [Want to know more? Click here.]

Thursday, April 25, 2013


What will we be doing in heaven? A glimpse of heaven is seen in Revelation 4 and 5. Everyone there is worshipping God and Jesus. That’s what is recorded for us in Revelation 4:8, 9. It says that each of the four living creatures were proclaiming day and night: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come.” It also says that the elders in heaven would join in by falling “down before Him who sits on the throne, and worship Him who lives for ever and ever.”
That’s what everyone in heaven are doing, worshipping and praising God and Jesus. I know I said that already, but I can’t get the point across any other way. I was convicted by how little time I spend worshipping God now. I need to practice this aspect of my walk with God. I need to get ready to be in heaven worshipping. I need to start somewhere so I decided to start by spending five minutes – a long way from day and night – worshipping every morning.
How does one go about praising and worshipping? It’s not enough to just pray. Praying can mean worship but it also means thanksgiving and supplication and confession. Praising isn’t any of those things. Praise is acknowledging God’s attributes apart from how they might benefit me. It’s pronouncing, like the four creatures in heaven, that God is holy, holy, holy. It’s acknowledging that He is the Almighty, the Sovereign, the All-powerful (Omnipotent), the All-knowing (Omniscient), and the Always-present (Omnipresent). It’s proclaiming His truthfulness, His unchangeableness, and His holiness.
Worshipping and praising does involve recognizing His mercy, His love, His grace, and His forgiveness. But it’s recognizing that He possesses the very essence of those things apart from how those things may have an effect on me. If I didn’t exist, God would still be merciful, loving, gracious, and forgiving. If man never existed at all, He would still be merciful, loving, gracious, and forgiving. He is those things just because He is. That’s worthy of our praise.
How much time do you spend practicing worship? I bet, like me, it’s not nearly enough in a day. Why don’t you try it with me. If you run out of things to praise Him for, the Scriptures are full of good ideas. Whether it’s from the Psalms (Psalms 103 and 145 are favorites of mine) or from Revelation 4, 5, there are lots of reasons to praise God. Give it a try. It’s great practice for when we get to heaven.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

A Thankful Heart

I’ve been reading through the Psalms in my devotion time. I’m not very far into them yet but I’ve been impacted by David’s large amount of thankfulness for all that God has done for him. Reading from The Message version of the Bible has shed some different perspective on some of the familiar Psalms. The simpler language and the direct statements speak directly to my heart. I’m gaining a sense of thankfulness for the abundance God has provided for me.
In Psalm 9, verses 1 – 2 say,
“I’m thanking You, God, from a full heart,
            I’m writing the book on Your wonders.
I’m whistling, laughing, and jumping for joy;
            I’m singing Your song, High God.”
I like the picture of David whistling and jumping for joy over what God has done. I wish I could say that when people look at me they see someone who is jumping for joy. I’m not sure that is always the case. However, I’m working on it. I’m working on focusing on having a full heart, a full heart of joy at the wonders God is doing in my life.
As I was thinking about these wonders today, I tried to think about the things I have in my life due to God’s abundant provision for me. The list was longer than I expected including things like a loving husband, a vital and growing church, my health, my relative stability in my mental illness, healthy and happy children, a solid roof over my head, three square meals a day, and so much more. Then there were the spiritual gifts like the time and ability to read Scripture daily, the knowledge and desire to do Bible Study, plenty of time to pray, and the ability to live my life differently today than yesterday should I choose.
I have much to jump for joy over. What do you have to be thankful for and to whistle about, laugh about, sing about and be jumping for joy over? Join me in focusing on the good things we have from God and rejoice with me over them.

Thursday, April 11, 2013


What is joy? That’s the question that I asked myself yesterday. Would I know joy if I found it or is it something I have to make for myself? I recently read Psalm 4:6 – 7 in The Message. It says,
“Why is everyone hungry for more? ‘More, more,’ they say. ‘More, more.’ I have God’s more-than-enough, More joy in one ordinary day Than they get in all their shopping sprees.”
I want more-than-enough joy in each ordinary day, but I don’t think I have it on a regular basis. I try to imagine what joy would look like. Would it be like happiness? Would it be like I feel when I’m proud of my children? Would it be how I feel when I’ve accomplished a hard task? Would it show on my face? Would the things I say reflect it?
After reading Psalm 4, I realized it would be something deeper than any of those things. Joy is something that comes from God. I can have joy regardless of my circumstances if I know God. It’s realizing I have more than enough of whatever it is I think I need as long as I have God. It’s about having everything that God wants for me to have – which is an incredible amount of things. It’s having a sense of security that comes only from being right with God.
Being joyful is more than a lack of sadness. A lack of sadness can be peaceful and calm, but joy is more than that. It’s having an inner sense that all is fundamentally right in the world. That is something I can have even when there is sadness in my life. My joyfulness isn’t dependent upon my moods. True joyfulness happens in spite of my mood. I view joy as a sense of peacefulness that comes from deep within because I know that all is in God’s control. I may be sad because something unhappy happened.
For instance, I was sad when my mom passed away recently. But, there was still a sense that all would be all right and that ultimately my mom was in a better place. She was no longer suffering. I miss her and am sad she is not around anymore, yet because she knew God, I have joy that she is in that better place, a place without illness and suffering. She’s with her God and I can take comfort in that knowledge and be filled with joy.
Joy is more than a mood and it is more than happiness. It’s deeper and it’s something I will take a lifetime getting to understand. I can look forward to days of joy, as the writer of the Psalms knew, because “I have God’s more-than-enough, More joy in one ordinary day.”

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Intricate Patterns

This week is Spring Break around our house. It doesn’t feel like spring outside. It’s still only in the 40’s, but the sun is shining and that makes it look like spring. Usually, we would do something special during this week like take a trip. With it being so early in the spring this year, and the weather not cooperating, we decided to stay home. Instead we are doing some day trips and otherwise keeping to our regular schedule.
On Tuesday we went to the new art museum at Michigan State University. That was interesting. Most of the art is of the modern variety. I especially liked the exhibit called Patterns. The artwork in this exhibit included designs made with string or fish wire pulled across pins. Several were done using only straight lines of wire pulled between pins organized in circles. The resulting patterns made the overall pictures into circles. It also appeared to create texture due to the resulting shadows. Pretty amazing.
As I think about the straight lines creating a circular pattern, I see my life that way, too. As I’m busy going from point A to point B, my life can seem kind of boring and straight. However, the resulting pattern others may see may actually be of curves and circles, not nearly as boring as the pattern I see before me. Sometimes things are not as we see them. Sometimes, doing the little things in our lives that seem boring or straight really yields a beautiful piece of artwork, a complicated mosaic on display for others to see.
That’s how I want my life to be. I want to do the basic, simple things each day but produce great masterpieces of a life well lived. Maybe that’s what my life actually is. Me doing the simple things that turn into something beautiful as the simple patterns are repeated over and over again. That’s how I see other people’s lives. They do the simple things and I see the intricately woven patterns of their lives, beautiful pictures made up of the ordinary actions of each day. Each life is turned into a masterpiece as intricate as those fish wire designs in the museum.