Friday, September 25, 2009

Raise Your Hands If...

Raising or lifting of hands is pretty much universally accepted as a form of worship. It can signify surrender to or exaltation of the one to whom the hands are raised. Remote and uncivilized tribes do it. People of every religion known to man do it. It's a little less common in North America where things that can't be measured scientifically are regarded with a bit of skepticism. It's pretty abstract and mystical to raise your hands to someone or something that can't be seen.

The Bible mentions lifting hands to God seven times. In all but one, it's mentioned as, "I will," or "Let us lift...". Only once is it stated in the imperative: "Lift your hands in holiness, and bless the Lord." (Ps. 134:2) Now, I'm not about to make a doctrine of raising hands: Thou shalt raise thy hands lest thou be considered carnal. No way! I just want to tell you a story.

I like raising my hands to God. In the same way that bursting out laughing feels better than choking it down, raising my hands in worship feels like a release. Somehow having the posture of my body reflect the attitude of my heart is a feeling of alignment. I do try to control this impulse when it might make people uncomfortable. Like, you know, when you're in the bank and you find out you have more money than you thought you did. I've been known to forget a time or two when I'm out for a walk (a really good time for conversations with God), but the men in white jackets haven't come for me yet, so perhaps it just looked like I was waving at someone?

I also love discovering what I call the "mysteries of God". Nature reflects God in a million different ways. From simple things like the way a caterpillar turns into a butterfly to really complex things that I'm not smart enough to explain, we find demonstrations of who God is. The story of His love is reflected in a thousand different facets. Every time I encounter another one of these treasures I get so excited!

So, one day I was listening to the radio and they were doing a talk show about breast cancer (in men and women, just in case any of you guys were about to stop reading). According to the doctor they were interviewing, maintaining healthy lymph glands in your underarm area is a really important part of prevention. It seems that the ones in the underarm area don't drain very well on their own, but there are two things we can do to help. The first mentioned was the action of jumping up and down--thus the rebounder craze. The second?? Lifting your arms. I didn't hear the rest of the program. All I could think was, "Wow, God!! You mean when I lift my hands in praise to You, not only is my spirit lifted, but my body is made healthier too? Body, soul, and spirit, I'm detoxified by the act of praising You? Wow! Wow! Wow!!" And I feel like my Daddy is chuckling because He's made those little surprises for us and He's delighted when we discover them.

Why are thou cast down, O my soul?
And why art thou disquieted within me?
Hope in God: for I shall yet praise him,
Who is the health of my countenance, and my God.
(Psalm 43:5 KJV)

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Hungry Mommy??

Funny name, eh? Dreaming up user names and passwords for every different site and remembering them all is the bane of my internet existence! When I had to pick one for blogging this one popped into my head without any effort. However, explaining all the subtleties of the subconscious to someone else can be tricky...

The "Mommy" part is pretty self-explanatory, but it's not like that's what totally defines my existence. Being a mom has certainly propelled my pursuit of God to deeper levels! I can't imagine managing such a difficult role without His strength and wisdom. Also, there's nothing like the love you have for your kids to make you want to be free of those traits that hinder healthy relationships. He
is the answer for that--self-help didn't get me nearly far enough!

The "Hungry" part... Those of you who know me well are probably thinking it refers to my need to eat every three hours, or four after one of those big Thanksgiving dinner-type meals! It's actually something altogether different. I've been pondering an interesting paradox. In order for my physical body to become hungry, I need to go without eating for a while. However, when it comes to feeding myself spiritually, the less I "eat" the less hungry I get. The more I "eat", the more I discover of His incredible truth and amazingness, and the hungrier I become! I want more and more of Him.

Now, before you sigh and say to yourself that, yes, you wish you had more interest in reading the Bible, stop! God's Spirit is
never condemning. His conviction is clean and motivates us to change, so quit "shouldn'" on yourself and simply get out your Bible and read a favorite passage! Ponder it. Read it out loud. Of course it's difficult. We're busy. And you know what? There's a struggle going on to prevent you from getting hungrier. (Eph 6:12) On really busy days I appreciate a great devotional book where I can just read a page while I'm eating my breakfast. It gives me something to go on for the day. Filling ourselves with the Truth is really important because our culture shouts a million lies at us every day. Unless, we know the Truth, we believe the lies and our hearts are filled with darkness and discouragement.

Reading the Bible regularly is only one facet of this relationship though. Worshiping, praising, petitioning, delighting, and talking to other people about how great He is make a wonderful soundtrack for our lives. When I'm feeling blah or downright wretched I need praise. I put on some music that lifts me. Praise puts everything in it's proper perspective and rightful place. God is above all else and greater than our greatest trouble. When our whole posture is turned toward Him our concerns become petitions and our delights become an offering of worship. Pleasure in a sunrise or a cup of coffee or a good visit becomes worship because our focus is such that we know all those good gifts are from a God who loves us! Consciously choosing to focus on Him becomes a habit --a relationship--and we begin to see and know that His presence is constantly affecting our lives!

You know what?? He's longing for this kind of a relationship with us. Not a "God will you zap me out of this trouble," or "Lord, I wish you'd straighten out that annoying person," sort of a relationship, but a "God, you are so amazing and I want You more than anything else" sort of a relationship. If you don't feel that way, that's okay. Seek to know Him better as an act of faith that He is what He says He is and you will! The God of the universe, the mountain maker, the one who hung the stars and designed a belly button wants a relationship with you! That's why He created you. Makes you kind of hungry, doesn't it?

Sunday, September 20, 2009

To Blog or Not to Blog

I've thought of starting a blog many times. I love to write. My kids give me lots of material. Life is pretty funny. It might be entertaining. It might feel like a huge responsibility. Maybe I'd feel guilty because I hadn't updated for a long time. Maybe no one but my mom would read it (Hi, Mom!).

I love God. I'm constantly longing to know Him better. It seems like every day I discover new and exciting things about Him. Nothing makes me happier than when I get to share those things with another person and they're encouraged. I long to share. I want to spread hope and encouragement. I want to tell people that God is longing for a relationship with them, that Jesus
is real and He makes a difference, and that the Holy Spirit does transform our lives. It's like an ache inside. Sometimes, I wish I was a pastor so that at least once a week I could unload! In fact, sometimes I think if I don't share, I'll burst!!

My husband is wonderful and listens interestedly. My kids--well, do they have a choice? Sometimes they're interested and sometimes they tell me I use too many words. (Gotta love their honesty!) I have really great friends that listen, but sometimes too many days go by and a lot of things build up. The other day I was pondering this and thinking that surely God has put this desire in me to share. How, though, how? I thought I heard a whisper, "Start a blog." Could this be God? It would be an outlet. What if once in a while someone stumbled upon it and was encouraged? It might keep me from bursting! (This would be good. Sometimes that bursting thing is overwhelming judging by the expressions on the faces of those present when it happens!)

I'm pretty sure it's a calling, this urge to encourage. Romans 12:8 says, "If your gift is to encourage others, do it!" So that's what I want to do, not in a Pollyanna-don't-worry-be-happy sort of way, but in a based-on-the-Solid-Rock sort of way. The apostle Peter says it best:
My purpose in writing is to encourage you and assure you that the grace of God is with you no matter what happens.
(I Peter 5:12)

If you're taking the time to read this, thank you so much! May the Spirit of God bless you and encourage you!