I Stand in Awe


 

Oh Lord, my heart overflows – with praises to You.
It’s just so awesome – the things that You do.
Nothing exists – without Your masterful design.
And all of Your plans – are perfect and fine.
You made everything – in this whole universe
You are most worthy – of my praise in this verse.
You made mankind – and placed us on earth
and you blessed each one of us – even before our birth.
You’ve counted the stars – and each grain of sand.
You hold the universe – in the palm of Your hand.
Oh, Lord I lift my voice – in poetic praise
and I’ll shout hosanna – for the rest of my days.
Lord, You made the green meadows – where animals graze.
And You made beautiful sunsets – on which to gaze.
You sprinkle pretty frost – on the meadow grass
it sparkles like diamonds – or expensive cut glass.
You can order the snowflakes – either day or night
to cover the hillsides – with a blanket of white.
You designed big rivers – to go rolling by
They flow continuously – but they never go dry.
I marvel at the sky – and Your clouds filled with rain
as I watch the rain drops – on my window pane.
Then when lightening flashes – putting darkness asunder
I praise Your Name – when I hear Your mighty thunder,
for the whole sky lights up – as though it were day
While I stand in awe – and in helpless dismay.
What a mighty God – what stupendous power
Lord, you’re in control – every moment, every hour.
You control the universe – with Your mighty hand
All the elements obey – Your every command.

Each time I’m in need – I call on Your Name
and You touch me in a way – that I’m never the same.
For You’ve provided comfort – when my heart was breaking:
You have plenty of assistance – that’s mine for my taking.
You always forgive me – when I humbly request:
Oh, I’m such weak sinner – I feel like a pest.
You love me so much more – than I can even comprehend
and You’re always with me – Oh, true and faithful Friend.
You’re worthy of my praise – from morning till night
and Your glorious face – shall never leave my sight.
For my heart is overflowing – with joy and thanksgiving
and I’ll praise You continually – as long as I’m living.

Courtesy of Mary Katherine Kohl

Blind Willie


Reposted from Radical Mentoring

For almost 20 years, my wife and I have had a little fish pond beside our home. I feed the fish every morning. I throw the pellets in the same area every time, and all the fish hurry there and start chomping on fish food . . . except for one. This little guy is orange, black and butt ugly. His eyes are white and bulging. While the others eat, he floats, swims around in circles, and seems to have no interest in food. He appears to sense that all his colleagues have vanished but he doesn’t know why or which way they went. Eventually, he wanders to the opposite end of the pond where the other fish are. But by the time he gets there, the food I’ve thrown in is gone . . . gobbled up by all the big healthy fish. Eventually we figured out that he was totally blind. So, I named him Blind Willie. The other fish start swimming to the feeding spot as soon as they see me coming. But since Willie can’t see, he’s left swimming around in darkness. One day I started to wonder, “I know Willie can’t see but maybe he can hear,” so I started shaking the food cup as I approach the pond, signaling to Willie it’s time to eat. Now he’s still always late to the party, but he gets there. And I make sure to throw in enough food to make sure Blind Willie gets some.

I don’t think fish do much thinking. But I sure do. And I can’t help but think about the way God loves us. Sure, He feeds the ‘superstars’ . . . the ones who ‘get it’ and got it long time ago. But He also keeps an eye out for guys like Blind Willie . . . guys who don’t have ‘eyes to see.’ He goes the extra mile, figuring out other ways to bring even his most blind children to His food. And He keeps a little extra love for those who get there late.

I was Blind Willie for a long time. In those years when I was far from God, when I was stumbling along in spiritual blindness, God kept making sure I got a little food. He put Charlie Childers in my path. In the midst of dying from one of the most painful types of cancer, Charlie looked up at me and said, “Regi, don’t you worry about me. I know where I’m going. I’m worried about you.” Another time, God sent a guy into my living room who asked me, “Mr. Campbell, if you died tonight, where would you spend eternity?” It made me real angry but a few moments later, that little voice in my head asked, “Regi, if you’re so sure, why are you so upset?” Then there was my friend’s wife, looking me square in the eye saying, “Regi, God’s not going to give up on you!” All these encounters were fish food for Blind Regi . . . dished out from the hand of God. He rattled the cup, trying to get my attention so He could feed me the Bread of Life.

Is there someone in your sphere of influence who is spiritually blind? Perhaps God wants to use you to throw that person a little ‘fish food’ . . . a little love, some compassion, a challenge, or maybe a vision of the man God designed him to be. Maybe you’ve got a son or daughter who’s floating or swimming around in circles, or has no interest in spiritual food. Rest in the fact that your Heavenly Father is rattling the cup, throwing little pellets of spiritual food in their direction, and waiting patiently for them to realize He’s there and He loves them.

Scripture: Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” (John 6:35)

In the Midst of your Circumstances


Reposted from Radical Mentoring

Sometimes I say stuff and think “Hmm, that sounded pretty good! I wonder if I made that up?” Usually I find it was from Andy Stanley or one of the many other people smarter than me. But just to make sure, I’ll google it to see if I can find the author. If it doesn’t pop up, I assume maybe I did come up with it. So, here’s one . . .

No man can gain perspective in the midst of his circumstances.

Your perspective is the way you see something. Perspective has a Latin root meaning “look through” or “perceive.” All the definitions of perspective have something to do with looking. David Brooks, in his book The Road to Character, talks about how our perspective changes with age and experience. Younger people see what’s right in front of them and in real time while older people ‘pan the camera back’ and see the bigger picture and the longer run.

Our perspective is often skewed by our vested interests and our ego. We want to brag about the things we get right and hide those that are ‘going south.’ A couple weeks ago, we talked about the idea of having a ‘plus one’ in your life . . . it’s exactly for this reason . . . to help you get or keep perspective on the things you’re doing or thinking about doing. You’ve heard the idea of getting a ‘fresh set of eyes’? Same thing. Someone outside your circumstances walks in, looks around and sees things you don’t. Sort of like the clutter in your house . . . it’s been there so long you no longer see it. But bring in a stager or someone focused on de-cluttering and “Boom . . . there it is!”

Counselors help us get perspective. They come into our lives and relationships with fresh eyes and clear ears. They listen to our words and the tone we use as we say them. They watch our body language and help us see what we can’t see.

Consultants do this for organizations. Tony Morgan is a friend with a team of crackerjack people who do this for churches. In his new book, The Unstuck Church: Equipping Churches for Sustained Health, he gives church leaders perspective on their circumstances. He encourages them to take an objective look at where their church really is in its life cycle and offers some pretty solid ideas for next steps.

But . . . why is it so hard for us to step outside our circumstances and objectively look back? What keeps us from inviting in a trusted friend or a counselor or a consultant?

Pride.

Plain and simple.

We don’t want to be wrong. We don’t want people to think we didn’t see it for ourselves. We’re afraid we’re going to have to change. To live, love or lead differently. Ignorance is bliss . . . as we don’t have the facts we don’t have to face the facts. And thus, we allow ourselves to settle for the status quo.

As Jesus-followers, we know we don’t own anything. Our life is a stewardship. We steward our bodies, our health, our relationships, our money and our faith-walk. We steward our churches, whether we work there or attend and serve. But be honest, can we be great stewards without inviting ‘fresh eyes’ in to help us gain and keep perspective?

Scripture: 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 Ain’t Confessin’ Nuthin’”


Reposted from Radical Mentoring

Nowadays, we talk about transparency. But for centuries, it was called confession. It’s the idea of telling another Jesus-follower your failures and misdeeds. Confessing sin to one another was a huge part of the early church and perhaps a big part of its profound power and influence. Over the years, public confession was replaced by private confession . . . usually to a priest. He was ‘safe’ . . . faceless and anonymous.  It’s usually easier to confess to a professional than to a regular person, especially a friend . . . someone you’ll see often ­­and you fear may judge you for your failures. But Christian community was (and is) the best place for bringing our darkest ‘stuff’ into the light. Here’s a piece from Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Life Together . . .

In confession there takes place a breakthrough to community. Sin wants to be alone with people. It takes them away from the community. The more lonely people become, the more destructive the power of sin over them. The more deeply they become entangled in it, the more unholy is their loneliness. Sin wants to remain unknown. It shuns the light. In the darkness of what is left unsaid sin poisons the whole being of a person. This can happen in the midst of a pious community. In confession the light of the gospel breaks into the darkness and closed isolation of the heart. Sin must be brought into the light. What is unspoken is said openly and confessed. All that is secret and hidden comes to light. It is a hard struggle until the sin crosses one’s lips in confession. But God breaks down gates of bronze and cuts through bars of iron (Ps. 107:16) Since the confession of sin is made in the presence of another Christian, the last stronghold of self-justification is abandoned. The sinner surrenders, giving up all evil, giving the sinner’s heart to God and finding the forgiveness of all one’s sin in the community of Jesus Christ and other Christians. Sin that has been spoken and confessed has lost all of its power. It has been revealed and judged as sin. It can no longer tear apart the community.

Confessing to God in private or to an anonymous person might make us feel better, but it doesn’t always help us do better. To quote John Lynch in The Cure . . .

What if there was a place so safe that the worst of me could be known, and I would discover that I would not be loved less, but more in the telling of it?

It’s counterintuitive but public confession . . . confession among Jesus-followers, yields respect, not shame. We connect with each other’s humanity but, more importantly, we connect in a common gratitude for His pervasive forgiveness and amazing grace.

If you don’t have a friend or a group who knows your dark corners . . . where you can confess that last 10% nobody knows about you and your heart, start asking God to connect you. Don’t stop looking until you find that ‘safe place’ . . . where trust is total and nothing is hidden.

Scripture: I am sending you to them, to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me. (Acts 26:17b-18)