Archive for July, 2015

Pluto Knows

New Day, July 24, 2015

“Who is like the LORD our God, who is seated on high, who looks far down on the heavens and earth?” Psalm 113:5

There is no ordinary sunrise and sunset. There is no end in our discovery of Yahweh’s greatness.

Today’s single, eastern cloud absorbed all the color and intensity and joy the sun dared release on a soggy east Tennessee sunrise. It was a gray cloud, irregular in shape, highlighted in pink, then for a moment in dazzling orange, then intense yellow. The reflection of God’s glory increasingly became brilliant and blinding.

There is none to compare to Yahweh, who “looks far down on the heavens (the heavens!) and earth.” This is a poignant thought in light of this week’s spectacular pictures of Pluto. Poor Pluto has been dethroned from her status as our farthest planet and reflector of the glory of God at the edge of our solar system. Still, Pluto knows…

Psalm 113, having awakened us with weighty thoughts of our God, ends with God’s consoling compassion, caring for those He has made. He is holy, righteous, just, sovereign and loving all at once.

“O come, let us adore him…”

Old Maids and Grumpy Old Men

“…but I give myself to prayer.” Psalm 109:4


We live in the tension of what is, what should and could be, and what will be.

Last week Cheryl and I played the game Old Maid with our two oldest grandchildren. In case you have missed out on one of life’s greatest joys…in Old Maid the goal is to not end up with the card that pictures an old maid. An “old maid” is an exaggeration of an elderly, grouchy, lady who has never married. My only comment about such ladies (few in number in my experience) is a question: Why isn’t there a movie titled “Old Maid” but there are two movies called “Grumpy Old Men” and Grumpier Old Men”?

Back to the game. Toward the end of the game it is important to keep a poker face, since other players draw cards from your hand and you hope they will draw the old maid card. Wilder, eight years old, matured through the game but struggled to hold back his joy or disappointment if he picked the old maid card. At first Adeline, eleven years old, had difficulty hiding her emotions but by the end of the evening she did well—except the time her brother picked the old maid card from her on the last round. At that point she burst out with relief, delight, and laughter.

Psalm 109 is an honest burst of reaction to “wicked and deceitful mouths [that] are opened against me” (Cf. Psalm 120). “They encircle me,” David says, “with words of hate, and attack me without cause.” Worse, “In return for my love they accuse me…” For twenty verses David unloads on his enemies in prayer to God. For example, “Let them be before the LORD continually, that he may cut off the memory of them from the earth!”

Do you feel the freedom to join David and talk to the Father that way? Words of judgment aren’t the way we usually pray when wronged—but they can be if used righteously. I like this quote: “Emotions are the language of the soul. They are the cry that gives the heart a voice. While the Psalms allow us to express our emotions, they seek to shape them into righteous ones.”

David does not allow his soul to linger on what his situation is, or what it should or could be, but he transitions to what will be by saying, “But you, O God my Lord, deal on my behalf for your name’s sake; because your steadfast love is good, deliver me!…Help me, O LORD my God! Save me according to your steadfast love!”

How does David get to this point? Earlier he gives a passing word that is weighty, “BUT I give myself to prayer” (v.4). Transitioning, resting, and trusting in God and His steadfast love makes all the difference.

The shepherd boy turned king shows us how one word can change everything, every time.

Rhea Herald-News, July 22, 2015

The Sound of Rumbling Ground

“In these last days he has spoken to us by his Son” Hebrews 1:2

 We are in the middle of NASCAR season. NASCAR stands for the National Association of Stock Car Racing. I have been to five races—Oh, the sound and rumbling ground! I follow the dramas and competition standings, and have even taken in a NASCAR Drive Experience. Phil Savage’s story is compelling.

Phil is the former General Manager of the Cleveland Browns, and he tells about the time he and his wife spent a day at a NASCAR Driving Experience. With about ten other men, Phil and his wife took the morning training class which included detailed instructions for driving high performance automobiles at incredibly fast speeds. Phil said the instructions were complicated and he reminds us that, “All decisions you make are over 100 miles an hour.”

In the afternoon, the group competed against each other in three multi-lap races with a professional pace car driver speeding ahead of them to make sure none of the drivers overdid it.

To the surprise of the other drivers, Phil’s wife won the first race handily. And the second.  And the third. At a dinner that evening, the men paid tribute to her for humbling them so completely. Afterwards, Phil asked her, “How did you do it? How could you keep up with all of those instructions? I was struggling just to remember them.” Hang on men…

She smiled and said, “Oh, I didn’t think about any of that. I just followed the pace car.”

We have many distractions and we are very blessed. In America, we’ve had the rich and amazing freedom to be part of Christian subcultures, sometimes negatively referred to as bubbles. In the “religious south,” as a church planting friend of mine calls us, we can’t imagine life without tax benefits for our financial support, freedom of speech, and an atmosphere that is friendly to our beliefs and traditions. In our county, we have a church for about every two hundred citizens. We still have businesses that close on Wednesday afternoons and/or Sundays, and prayers are said at many public occasions.

The evening news is raining on our parade. These days, are you wondering how long our heaven-on-earth ride is going to last? I am.

Follow Jesus. The fickle crowds laid palm branches before Him when He rode into Jerusalem on Sunday, calling out “Hosanna” (“Save us now”)—and on Thursday they screamed “Crucify Him.” On Friday they had their wish. And we remember His warning, “In this world you will have trouble,” It just might be our turn. So, hear Jesus’ ageless appeal in Luke 9, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me”? Churches and Christians: May the Spirit of God show us how.

I can’t forget the thrill of driving a race car next to a wall at over 100 miles an hour. Try it! But…don’t forget to follow the pace car.

Rhea Herald-News

July 1, 2015

Lord’s Day Sunrise

New Day, The Lord’s Day

July 12, 2015

“I will awake the dawn.” Psalm 108:2

The moon could not have smiled more broadly this morning before the sun appeared. I know, early mornings are painful for many. But not Sister Moon.

Sister Moon watched and smiled and waited as streaks of pink morphed into a massive swathe of bold yellow-orange. Before she faded behind a line of thin clouds she quietly declared God’s glory and glorious creation in another of the infinite array of sounds, colors, temperature, and companions in the sky only He can make.

The awakening of the dawn (above) is by David in the midst of more talk about enemies. There’s a hint of concern that some promises are unfulfilled—yet. Psalm 108 is striking for the circumstances of David’s life are encased in the greater mission, future, and character of God. For instance, David turns the dawn into thoughts of God’s glory and, eventually, His holiness.

How great is each new day’s offering of God’s creation, His glory, and His holiness when we renew our trust in God’s uncompromising character and kingdom agenda.

Oh yes…Psalm 108 reveals David’s awakening of the dawn was apparently noisy—with instruments and singing. I don’t think my neighbors would appreciate me literally applying those words from my front porch! You be careful about that, too.


New Day, July 11, 2014

“Who enclosed the sea behind doors when it burst from the womb,

when I made the clouds its garment and

thick darkness its blanket…?” Job 38:9

Imagine this morning’s welcoming wave: a continuous six inch streak of heavy blue-gray cloud with a piercing spotlight peaking over the top. The world is surrounded by the glory of God, who protects and provides for us uninterruptedly.

Interestingly, the word for blanket in Job 38:9 is “swaddling clothes.” Newborns sleep safely and soundly when swaddled.


Gazed Amazed

New Day, July 2, 2015

“Your steadfast love, O Lord, extends to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds.”

Psalm 36:5

I’m told the pink moon two nights ago was an atmospheric special delivery from Canada. No matter, it was stunning. Cheryl and I stood in our driveway and gazed amazed.

And then, the next morning the sun strained to push through thick clouds with a well-defined, piercing focus. Though it was a twenty-four hour block of time where I couldn’t write it down, I can’t forget it.

The endless, ever-fresh voice of God (Psalm 19) keeps humming of glory, beauty, variety, and Yahweh’s steadfast, faithful, loyal love (hesed).

Silly me, I thought just Cheryl’s love was out of this world.

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