Monday, April 27, 2015

All That Has Breath


[Photo of the woodwind section of an orchestra]

“Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.”
—Psalm 150:6

As a musician, maybe more than others I can appreciate the absolute essential nature of air under motion. Without that element, no acoustic instrument can make a sound. The scientific and even most elemental study of sound proves that point. A vibration must be set in motion by air in order for a violin string, a clarinet reed, a trombonist’s lip buzz, or a pipe organ’s speech to produce sound.

Singers know they sing on a column of air. They spend long warm-up sessions exercising the diaphragm and lungs to build their capacity for long difficult passages.

In this electronic age when, to an untrained ear, a sound produced that closely resembles the natural thing sounds right, we have come to forget the miracle of natural sound with all its overtones and varying timbres.

Not only does moving air carry instrumental and singing sounds, but it gives us as humans our very life. Genesis 2:7 says:

…the Lord God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.

And, Acts 17:28 states:

For in him we live and move and have our being.

We owe our earthly lives to our ability to breathe the air God has made for us at just the correct temperature and pressure to keep us healthy. We live by the Breath of God because we are not automatons who merely copy the real thing. We live just as God does because we were formed in His image.

When we arrived from our mothers’ wombs, with a slap on the behind, we were given the gift of breath. As Christians, when we experience the Second Birth, we gain Eternal Life through the breath of the Holy Spirit. In Greek, the term is “pneuma.” That Holy Spirit’s breath now lives in us and carries us along just as the atmosphere supports our natural bodies with air.

At the first Pentecost after Jesus’ resurrection, a real-life illustration of this came as the disciples waited. In Acts 2:2-4 we read:

Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit.

The next time you hear an instrumentalist play or hear a fine singer, let the beauty remind you of the tremendous gift of life that flows through the musician and the instrument and be thankful. Let it also remind you of the natural breath of life you enjoy through the goodness of a wise Creator. Most of all, take a cue from the following song 1 and pray for the air of the Spirit to fill your life full with the Presence of God:

Breathe on me, Breath of God,
fill me with life anew,
That I may love what Thou dost love,
and do what Thou wouldst do.

Breathe on me, Breath of God,
until by heart is pure.
Until my will is one with Thine,
to do and to endure.

Breathe on me, Breath of God,
till I am wholly Thine,
Until this earthly part of me
glows with Thy fire divine.

Breathe on me, Breath of God,
so shall I never die,
But live with Thee the perfect life
of Thine eternity.


1 Hatch, Edwin. Breathe on Me, Breath of God, (Public Domain).



Monday, April 20, 2015

Gotta Go Through


[Drawing of a bear's face looking our of a cave]

“But he brought his people out like a flock;
he led them like sheep through the desert.”
—Psalm 78:52

You may remember the chant, “Goin’ on a Bear Hunt,” in which the teacher leads the children and they echo the words and motions:

Goin’ on a bear hunt! I’m not scared!
Got my lunch by my side,
my camera too.

Coming to some tall grass!
Gotta get through!
Can’t go over it!
Can’t go under it!
Can’t go around it!
Gotta go through!

Coming to some thick mud!

Coming to a big lake!

Coming to a tall tree!

Coming to a dark cave!

(slowly) It’s dark in here!

There’s something furry up ahead!

It has yellow eyes!

And sharp teeth!

(Quickly) It’s a bear!

(Note: Go backwards through the motions: up and down a tree, swim the lake, walk in mud, part grass and finally wipe brow.)


In life, sometimes we find that there is no way over, under, or around problems. We just have to go through them. These life situations, like the proverbial bear, make us scared and we fear how we will ever navigate them.

We must remember that whatever path God leads us through, He has promised to walk with us. And, even walls and doors cannot stop His presence. John 20:26 reminds us:

Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!”

He has power over unbearable situations, and He asks us to trust Him to get us through them.

An old gospel song comes to mind: 1

Got any rivers you think are uncrossable?
Got any mountains you can’t tunnel through?
God specializes in things thought impossible,
He does the things others cannot do.

If you are staring at an impossible route ahead, trust our God who cannot be stopped by the obstacles we face. If you “gotta go through,” He will be with you and will grant you His peace.


1 Oscar C. Eliason, Got Any Rivers (Grand Rapids, MI: Singspiration, Inc., 1945)



Monday, April 13, 2015

The Cake


[Photo of a two-tier chocolate cake]

“And we know that in all things God works
for the good of those who love him, who
have been called according to his purpose.”
—Romans 8:28

I can’t think of a better example of things working together for good than a cake! My mother taught me at age five to bake a “Crazy Cake”—everything dumped in together and mixed up—and I have always loved chocolate cake.

Recently, I read a paragraph written by Elizabeth George 1, in which she likened our lives in Christ to a cake. Flour comprises the largest volume of ingredients. And, like life, most of our days seem rather tasteless—ho hum, all quite ordinary. Some events of our lives simply taste raw, like eggs, but act as a necessary ingredient, nevertheless. Sometimes bitter experiences come our way. But, like bitter chocolate, these experiences give some of the best flavor.

The sour circumstances, like buttermilk in a cake, give life a slight tang that enriches. Of course, no cake would taste right without the sweet element of sugar. And, if you’re like me, the sugary frosting made into roses gives the most joy. The sweet elements of life, while we like them the best, can’t make up the entire “cake”—and life certainly isn’t all roses!

Once we gather all the ingredients, they must be mixed together in the right quantities—just as our Heavenly Father knows exactly the correct measure of each ingredient for our growth in His grace. Then, He knows whether to “fold in” the components, or to “stir,” or “whip.” them. Most of the time, we know that “beating” works the best.

We may think He must be done once the beating has ceased, only to find that He places us in a hot oven and leaves us for the prescribed amount of time.

Where do you find yourself in the completion of your “cake of life”? Philippians 1:6 tells us that:

He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Jesus Christ.

Take heart! God is creating a wonderful, “tasty” masterpiece, fit for a King, and He will most certainly complete it!


1 George, Elizabeth, Becoming a Woman of Beauty and Strength. Harvest House: Eugene, OR, 2001. p. 97.



Monday, April 6, 2015

Mirror, Mirror


[Photo of the Evil Queen and the Mirror from Snow White]

“Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a
woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.”
—Proverbs 31:30

“Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who’s the fairest of them all?” We remember the wicked witch in Snow White asking that question. Very few women have the kind of beauty we often see held up as an example of perfection in our culture. And, like the above Scripture verse tells us, that beauty is fleeting. It won’t last forever.

Even in the Bible, though the writers tell of many women, they mention very few as beautiful. We know that Queen Esther had beauty and God used it for a very special purpose. Most Biblical writers do not make reference to the women in their texts by mentioning their physical appearance or exterior beauty.

Some had shrewd wisdom. Others had a notable devotion to Christ. Others show strength of character and even leadership qualities. These kind of traits—competence, intelligence, humility, charity, skill, dignity, honor—most often identify certain women in Scripture.

One of the reasons for this lack of mention of external beauty could be that God cares more for the internal beauty of people, even those He has created with all the “right” features.

We read in 1 Samuel 16: 7 of Eliab, David’s brother whom Samuel would have chosen for the next king of Israel. Of Eliab, God said:

“Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

Now I am not advocating that women forget entirely about the way they look. God has given us as women a mindset that results in certain care for such things. To well represent Him, we do need to concern ourselves with cleanliness and to the taking all of the reasonable measures that lead to a modest attractiveness. But clearly, God thinks more like my mother when she said, “Pretty is as pretty does!”

Isaiah 53: 2 describes our Lord Jesus this way:

“He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him.”

Even those who actually saw the most important man to ever walk the earth saw someone with no remarkable external features. His beauty came from the glory of Heaven within Him.

I like how the following hymn 1 speaks of Jesus:

Fair are the meadows, fairer still the woodlands,
Robed in the blooming garb of Spring;
Jesus is fairer, Jesus is purer,
Who makes the woeful heart to sing.

Fair is the sunshine, fairer still the moonlight,
And all the twinkling starry host:
Jesus shines brighter, Jesus shines purer
Than all the angels heaven can boast.

Beautiful Savior! Lord of the nations!
Son of God and Son of Man!
Glory and honor, praise, adoration,
Now and forevermore be Thine!

If we truly desire beauty, we have the perfect model to follow. The very perfection of Jesus carried the beauty that counted with His Father. Let us desire that kind of beauty for ourselves and do our best to resemble Him!


1 Originated as an anonymous German Hymn, Münster Gesangbuch, from 1677.