Monthly Archives: November 2013

Much Thanks

It is good to give thanks to the Lord,
to sing praises to your name, O Most High;
to declare your steadfast love in the morning,
and your faithfulness by night,  (Psalm 92:1, 2 ESV)

In the winter of 1969, I moved from the Midwest to Southern California. Being a quick-study second grader, I learned a few things quickly. First, the warmer climate freed me from having to wear pants under my dresses. Second, living in a small town with a large Hispanic population, it was more appropriate to say “gracias” instead of thank you after eating freshly made tortillas spread with butter and sprinkled with salt. These after school snacks were a simple pleasure that filled me with much thanks so I learned to say “muchas gracias”!

You probably know “gracias” is the Spanish word for thank you. But did you know it shares roots with the English word “grace” because it comes from the form of the Latin ” gratus,” which means “pleasing.” Indeed it is good or “pleasing” for us to give thanks to God all the time, but how much more appropriate on a day set aside for thanksgiving.

As you and I sit down to enjoy the simple pleasures of food and fellowship, may we share with others how the steadfast love and faithfulness of the Lord has filled our hearts with much thanks.

No Separation

After  spending time reflecting on Romans 8:31-39, I realized that because our heavenly Father did not withhold His Son from us, the Lord Jesus is indeed with us now.   I tried to put into words what a “no separation” life is like.

Lord Jesus,
with us now…
Not withheld, but given up
for the Father understands
How we need to receive
the gift of His Son.
No condemnation.

with us now…
Not withheld, but raised to Life
for the Father recognizes
How we long to see
the light of His love.
No distress.

with us now…
Not withheld, but seated on high
for the Father knows
How we desire to hear
the prayers of His heart.
No shame.

with us now…
Not withheld, but conquering still
for the Father grasps
How we yearn to experience
the freedom of His Spirit.
No separation.

Thanks be to God…Amen and amen!

How would you describe your “no separation” life with God?

To Be Near God

But as for me, it is good to be near God.
I have made the Sovereign Lord my refuge;
I will tell of all your deeds. (Psalm 73:28 NIV)

At night it is good for me to be near God and make the Lord my refuge as I talk about my day.  Who I was frustrated with and who I frustrated.  What I consumed and what consumed me.  When I waited for another and when I demanded be waited on.  Where I was lost and where I was found.  How I pursued God’s will and how I pursued my own will.  Why I felt hopeful and why I felt hopeless.

And so I have been ending my days praying the Psalms. Thomas Merton wrote this in a short little book entitled Praying the Psalms:

The function of the Psalms is to reveal to us God as the “treasure” whom we love because He has first loved us, and to hide us, heart and soul, in the depths of His infinite Light. The Psalms, therefore, lead us to contemplation (pg. 14).

Psalm 73 invites us to contemplate God’s goodness. At all times and in all places, may our hearts be reoriented to truly “treasure” how good it is to be near God.

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Shoes or No Shoes!

Once upon a Sunday morning, the four of us were scrambling to get out the door to church on time. When I went to the garage, my husband, Ben, was not in the drivers’s seat waiting for me as usual. I told the kids to get into the car because I would be driving us to church. Just as I was backing out of the garage, Ben came blasting out of the house.

When we stopped in the church parking lot, the kids noticed their dad was only wearing his black socks. He looked down at his feet and said, “Oh well, I just won’t wear any shoes into church today.”  Mortified, I pointed out the obvious, “But you’re not Moses there is no burning bush around.” But he insisted no one would notice and we should just be casual about the whole thing.

One happy ending would be that the pastor’s sermon was about Moses and that he had us all take our shoes off as a sermon illustration. It wasn’t. I am not sure what sermon the rest of the congregation heard that day, because I was distracted by my husband’s feet. Was he being too casual, even irreverent by not wearing his shoes to church? Or were the kids and I being disobedient and irreverent for not taking off our shoes in the church. Where exactly is holy ground?

In his lifetime, Moses stubbed his toes a few time but he learned what it meant to stand on holy ground…to lead a life of reverence before the God of his fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  In her book, An Altar in the World, Barbara Brown Taylor writes: “Reverence requires a certain pace. It requires a willingness to take detours, even side trips, which are not part of the original plan.”

My original plan included a normal Sunday morning…all of us on time and fully clothed for church. But on our detour I found myself on holy ground, in awe of God.

May you and I keep the pace required to live in awe of the One who invites us to take off our shoes moment by moment…like Moses!

Moses said, “What’s going on here? I can’t believe this! Amazing! Why doesn’t the bush burn up?” God saw that he had stopped to look. God called to him from out of the bush, “Moses! Moses!” He said, “Yes? I’m right here!” God said, “Don’t come any closer. Remove your sandals from your feet. You’re standing on holy ground.” Then he said, “I am the God of your father: The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob.” Moses hid his face, afraid to look at God. (Exodus 3:3-6 MSG)


I try not to make a habit to taking verses of Scripture out of context, but my life has felt out of context, rather shaken. A few days ago an expert in leak detection came to find exactly which water pipe was causing the third level of the house to flood. The next day the plumber came with his jackhammer to gain access to the pipe near the foundation of the house. Random thoughts started going through my head.

Oh really…what is my sidewalk going to look like when he is done? Oh my…I hope the whole house doesn’t shake while he is using that thing. About to be literally shaken, I took these words from Psalm 104:5 and prayerfully applied them to my heart:

You set the earth on its foundation so that it shall never be shaken.

And my soul chimed in and begin to sing the words: Whoa I’ll never be shaken…Whoa I’ll never be shaken! Are the words of this praise song familiar to you?

Never Be Shaken
Jared Anderson

You oh Lord You keep my lamp burning
You have turned my darkness to light
Set my feet high on this mountain
And put my enemies to flight

So I will praise You as long as I live
Oh I I will praise You again and again

And when I walk through the valley I will not fear
For You are my strength and my shield
And when everything around me is overtaken
I know I will never be shaken
Whoa I’ll never be shaken
Whoa I’ll never be shaken

2009 Integrity Worship Music/ASCAP and Don Quixote Publishing
(adm by Integrity Worship Music)/ASCAP

I have concluded praising God is appropriate for any context, especially when feeling shaken! Is God inviting you to praise him in your current context?