Friday, October 29, 2010

Prayer Requests

The Preacher was calling for prayer requests. He urged that folk pray faithfully for those names and needs being called out. "Yes, let’s pray for John’s new job; don’t forget Brother Carlson’s bad cold, and let’s continue to hold Sister Smith’s leg up in prayer."

Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Load

Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. Galatians 6:2

Whenever they left the classroom, Marion Peters assigned one of her third graders the task of carrying her purse. Now, Marion didn’t travel “light,” as they say. She always had a hefty bag, often with a long shoulder strap. I comically watched the children struggling to hold the purse off the floor as they made their way down the hallway. But, for some reason, they loved to do this for her. And, Marion trusted them, even though her bag contained her most necessary and personal items.

Jesus gives us the task of carrying some of His most prized possessions too. When He left us to go to Heaven, He left the Church to carry His responsibilities in the world. He has left us to reconcile the world back to Him, an awesome burden. He has commissioned us to teach all nations about Himself. He has left us to love and serve others in His name—to carry their burdens. He has trusted us with an incredible task.

Do you count it a privilege to take up Christ’s burdens today? He has called us to a most noble task in his name.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Untapped Riches

And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. Ephesians 2:6-7 NIV

Edna Farnsworth (not her real name) lived in a large house on an avenue of wealthy estates, many with servants’ quarters. Among these houses also sat the Governor’s mansion. This street of beautiful homes framed our church lot and Edna was a frequent guest with us. Now she never attended a service, but came often to borrow books from our library. She also managed to find out when the church scheduled various receptions with dainty foods, and showed up to pile up her plate (and purse). Apparently Edna didn’t want to admit her wealth, or had become miserly in her old age.

How many of us have received the richness of God’s grace through forgiveness of sin and have a place FOREVER in his family, but forget to appropriate and appreciate it? We feel more comfortable, like Edna, borrowing and begging rather than boldly living like children of the King. Let us today remember our riches in Christ and rejoice in his goodness to us!

Oh, the unsearchable riches of Christ,
Wealth that can never be told!
Riches exhaustless of mercy and grace,
Precious, more precious than gold!
by Fanny Crosby

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Just Call

In my distress, I called to the Lord; I cried to my God for help. From his temple he heard my voice; my cry came before him, into his ears…The earth trembled and quaked,…Smoke rose from his nostrils,…He parted the heavens and came down…He reached down from on high and took hold of me;…He rescued me from my powerful enemy. Psalm 18:6-17 NIV

My little sister and I walked home every school day from the bus-stop, a quarter mile up the road from my father’s dairy farm. One day I took off for home, but my sister lagged behind, taking her time. A car, carrying a stranger stopped to engage her in conversation. And she, a lively talkative child, responded. My father, near the barn, saw this interaction, and before I could turn around and see the predicament, he took off running down the road toward the bus-stop. The stranger, seeing him on his way shouting to my sister, drove on.

I have thought about that incident many times when reading Psalm 18. God watches us, listens for our cries, and responds to protect us in times of danger. Sometimes we know that help immediately. Other times, though, it seems he hasn’t heard us, and we wait to see if help will ever arrive. We can be sure, however, that he DOES see, and watches over us in tender care. If he needs to come running, he does, sometimes in the nick of time.

If you call God your Father, be assured that He will shield and protect you. I'm reminded of the lyrics of Carole King, “Just call on my name, and you’ll know wherever I am, I’ll come running.”

Monday, October 25, 2010


And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross. Colossians 2:15 NIV

My little brother disliked peas. He therefore devised a solution that seemed good to him. He hid them under the lip of his plate. There! Now he couldn’t see them and he wouldn’t have to eat them. Trouble was, the rest of us at the table could easily see the little green monsters, and quickly discovered his plot.

St. Paul in Ephesians tells us that we have an Enemy who plots to do us harm with his schemes. These schemes threaten us so sharply that God has provided spiritual weapons with which to fight against all of Satan’s authorities and powers. They can hide, but they will be exposed by the One who sees all. He means for us to see victory through him. Not only does he fit us with armor for the fight, but reminds us that he has already defeated this Enemy on the cross by disarming him IN PUBLIC!

When you see the Enemy and his plotters nearby, grab the armor of God and rest in the word of our Almighty God, the God of Hosts, who by a word can expose the Enemy and bring him to his knees!  

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Singing in Choir

"My favorite part of chorus is when we sing a song and we all forget who's popular and who's not, who's rich and who's poor, who has the best clothes and who doesn't, who has the best voice and who can barely carry a tune, and we can all sing a song and get along and be friends regardless of whether we get along. And we make a song and sound so good that we just want to die right then. That's the best part. That's the greatest reason for singing in this choir."
--Reannon Peterson, 9th Grade
Kettle Moraine High School, Wales, Wisconsin
in Kid's Voices, 1996 MENC

Friday, October 22, 2010

Dear God:

Maybe Cain and Abel would not kill each other so much if they each had their own rooms. It works out OK with me and my brother.



You have been a refuge for the poor, a refuge for the needy in his distress, a shelter from the storm and a shade from the heat. For the breath of the ruthless is like a storm driving against a wall and like the heat of the desert. Isaiah 25:4

The rain that November relentlessly fell. Umbrellas sat in corners never getting dried out. Children’s coats dripped water all over the already saturated closet carpets. Buckets sat in the hallways under leaks in the roof. Moods of adults and children alike mirrored the dreary weather. When would it end? There seemed no end in sight, and what did we have to look forward to but more dreary days ahead filled with rain, or worse yet, snow.

Maybe life for you feels like these school day trials. Just when one problem seems resolved, up pops another. Weariness has become a way of life, and there seems no relief from the relentless onslaught. Satan often throws his darts at us too, taking advantage of our weakened state. But, we DO have a refuge. So many times in Scripture God assures us that He will hide us under His wing, (Psalm 91) in His hand, (Isaiah 51:16) and in the shelter of the Rock (Psalm 31).

God wants to speak to us through the storm, as He did to Job, so that we might know Him better. When faced with overwhelming trials, trust Him to protect you until the storm is passed.

When the storms of life are raging stand by me.
When the storms of life are raging stand by me.
When the world is tossing me like a ship upon the sea,
Thou who rulest wind and water, stand by me.*

*by C.A. Tindley ã 1905

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Developing Eagles' Wings

The mother eagle teaches her little ones to fly by making their nest so uncomfortable that they are forced to leave it and commit themselves to the unknown world of air outside. And just so does our God to us. He stirs up our comfortable nests, and pushes us over the edge of them, and we are forced to use our wings to save ourselves from fatal falling. Read your trials in this light, and see if you cannot begin to get a glimpse of their meaning. Your wings are being developed. —Hannah Whitall Smith

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Walking By Faith

You were unwilling to go up; you rebelled against the command of the LORD your God. You grumbled in your tents and said, “The LORD hates us; so he brought us out of Egypt to deliver us into the hands of the Amorites to destroy us. Where can we go? Deuteronomy 1:26-27.

My husband walks with two canes. I can only offer him help with doors, or steps if I stay with him. If I want to have any kind of conversation with him while we walk along, I must slow my pace to match his. Otherwise, if I speak, I am so far ahead of him he can’t hear me, or I am unable to hear him because he lags behind me. It takes hard work to stay with him and curb my impatience.

Similarly, the Israelites found it easier to remember their past life in Egypt (“Better the devil you know than the devil you don’t.”) or even to look forward to Canaan than to trust God and His servant Moses day to day in the wilderness. These travelers felt bound by the Cloud by Day and the Fire by Night and knew they needed to move only when God told them to. They hated the manna they had to eat because they compared it to the tasty fare they enjoyed in Egypt. In addition, they were constantly hearing about the land “flowing with milk and honey” to which they were headed.

Maybe you feel hampered in your walk of faith. Perhaps you have much “behind” you that you feel you have lost. Perhaps you, like the Israelites, remember the good, but conveniently forget the difficulties of what you have left behind. And, perhaps you look forward, no doubt with a bit cloudier vision, but with a longing for a new season of life.

Today, ask the God of grace to fit you for the journey with a new kind of perseverance. Your steps are ordered by the Lord. (Psalm 37:23 KJV). He knows where you’ve come from and where He is taking you. In order to get His direction and receive the help He constantly has to offer you, you need to walk beside Him, not before or behind. This requires the daily gathering of manna (His word) for nourishment, and the hopeful waiting and watching for the signs that He wants to move you forward. Stay in faith today.  

Monday, October 18, 2010

The June Cleavers Among Us

The death of Barbara Billingsley (the mom on Leave it to Beaver), led me to remember a thought I had several years back. June Cleaver (her TV name) always dressed in pretty dresses and high heels to do her housework. She was a nurturing, perfect mother figure. As I see it, music teachers play the June Cleavers of the teaching profession. You can see them before and during concerts dragging risers around, moving pianos, oiling trumpets, and setting up chairs while wearing their concert best. Often they take wrinkle producing trips with their performing groups by school bus all the while dressed in their finery. AND, they nurture children and young people in the finer things of life, just like June Cleaver! Salutes to music teachers everywhere!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Prayer for the Choir Year

Heavenly Father,
            We come to you who made the morning stars sing together with the angels at the Creation. We come to you, who composed songs through your people for Old Testament worship, and who ordained praise from all you have given breath--He who sent the angels with a song to announce the birth of your Son, and who remembers the Disciples singing a hymn on the night of your Son’s arrest.
            We thank you that you have given us the gift of singing, and allow us to lift up praise to your glory and for the edification of your people. Thank you for the beauty we enjoy, the truth we can share, and the work you do in our lives through the music we present.
            Like the ancient Levites, purify us for this year ahead, that we may offer our gifts of music in righteousness. Anoint us for service, bless us with your joy, and transform us by this holy ministry we pray. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

All For Jesus

All for Jesus, all for Jesus! All my being's ransomed powers:
All my tho'ts and words and doings, All my days and all my hours.

Let my hands perform His bidding, Let my feet run in His ways;
Let my eyes see Jesus only, Let my lips speak forth His praise.

Since my eyes were fixed on Jesus, I've lost sight of all beside;
So enchained my spirit's vision, Looking at the Crucified.

Oh, what wonder! how amazing! Jesus, glorious King of Kings,
Deigns to call me His beloved, Lets me rest beneath His wings.
 --Mary D. James

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Ordained for Praise

From the lips of children you have ordained praise. Psalm 8:2

The fall had brought a beautiful mix of children to my church choirs and I had prepared them to sing for a Sunday worship service. They came polished and ready to robe and warm-up. One last minute comment I made to them before we lined up to enter the sanctuary must have resonated with one of my beginning singers. After the service his mom came to me and reported that with great excitement he had come to her and exclaimed, “Mom, we sang for God!”

Oh, that we could all remember why we prepare, and what makes singing in church different from any other choral experience. We don’t sing for parents, grandparents, or even congregation members, although God richly blesses the people of God through the gifts of children. God is our primary audience, and we should remember that His applause matters more than that of any other.

From the creation forward, God has made us all for the purpose of bringing Him glory. What a joy to offer our songs to Him.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Noble Purposes

In a large house there are articles not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay; some are for noble purposes and some for ignoble. If a man cleanses himself from the latter, he will be an instrument for noble purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work. 2 Timothy 2:20-21

Organ pipes, carved piano legs, a smooth inlaid tabletop, a Stradivarius violin, a Native American canoe. What do these objects have in common? Though made of wood, they serve ordinary purposes. They offer beauty as well as function because a master craftsman has carved and worked them. In a word, they serve nobly.

Until recently, I believed that these scripture verses about the various materials urged us as Christians to aspire to become like gold and silver articles, not as wood or clay, because they served somehow more nobly. I struggled with this, because no matter how hard I worked, others always seemed to possess greater gifts, receive higher honors, and seemingly provide greater usefulness. How could I ever hope to offer the Lord gold or silver when all I seemed to contribute looked more like wood?

Then it occurred to me to study the passage a little deeper. Does the Lord make everyone with gifts of gold or silver? Or, has he created some as wood or clay for different, but still noble purposes? Some gifts serve more practical purposes, more everyday uses; some sparkle as show pieces. But, God can use both for noble purposes, if we allow Him to cleanse and make us holy for any good work He chooses.

If you feel more like a piece of wood than gold or silver, take heart. The Master Carpenter waits to carve you into a beautiful object, useful to Him for His purposes. Take delight in the object He crafts of your life!