Tag Archives: heart

Singing with the King (85) – I Love You (1/2)

The LORD is like a father to his children, tender and compassionate to those who fear him… the love of the LORD remains forever with those who fear him. (Psalm 103:13,17)

Father and SonThe earliest childhood memory I have with my Dad was laying on his chest, as he sat in his recliner, with both of us eating out of a can of peanuts, watching Rassling (long before it became so dramatic and overproduced). I still remember his arms wrapped around me.

But, it took me 27 years to hear my Dad say “I love you”. Don’t get me wrong, I knew he loved me. (As testified by the above story.) He worked on big yellow things with wheels, tracks, etc., for as long as I could remember (a master mechanic), but he still had time to go to his son’s games and meets; band and choir concerts. And even if it meant skipping a day of weekend overtime to see his son run or sing, he was there.

When I was in college I read a book on prayer by a Jesuit theologian. It changed my life. Up to that point I had thanked God, praised God, worshiped God, rejoiced in God, and made my prayers and petitions known to Him (in Jesus’ name). But I had never told my Heavenly Father that I loved Him. After reading the book, I made sure that in all my prayers, to tell my Heavenly Father I love Him, to this day. And for the people who I loved, I made sure to tell them I loved them.

So it was probably around my early twenties that I noticed my Dad’s typical response to my “I love you.” It was either “Ditto” or “You too.” It became my mission in life was to hear those three words from him, whether over the phone on in person. It happened the summer of my 27th year. I was back on the West Coast, visiting my parents, with the usual hugs were going around. While squeezing my mom I told her that I loved her, and she responded as she always did: “I love you.” Dad and I grappled in our usual bear hug, and I told him I loved him and he grunted or something. But later in that week, I told him I loved him, and he said…”I love you too, son.” And I cried (maybe Dad even got a little teary). From that day on until he died 9 years later, the “I love yous” abounded.

Now why do I share this ancient history with you? Well, if you’re a parent, have you told your _20161125_125039kids you love them today? They need to hear it; and they need to see it and feel it. And for you Dads, loving your kids is going to give them a great glimpse into the love of their Heavenly Father.

What about the rest of the family? Maybe  you’re distant (emotionally or geographically). Or estranged. Maybe there are wounds, scars, whatever. Love them. Tell them. Because, Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins. (1 Peter 4:8)

Now there are certain traumas and griefs we go through which may loosen your tongue, but don’t wait for that. A funeral and the loss of a loved one can pry those three words out of you, especially for those us who have been left behind. Cancer or heart disease can get your attention. It did for me and my family. But I don’t want to go through that again—so don’t wait.

What about those in the Family of God. Have you told them you loved them? Maybe they’re alone, or their family’s a complete disaster. Did God bring you into their lives to love them? Tell them. Don’t wait for disaster to strike, because maybe you—or they—end up in the presence of Jesus. Tell them… now.

Please understand that this tirade is for those who may be challenged verbally and emotionally—especially us guys. Who knows, if you speak these three words, with God’s help, you may be able to begin living them. But if you’re more at ease speaking, don’t allow those three words to become some glib motto. Rather, Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for each other, love one another deeply, from the heart.  (1 Peter 1:22)

SInging with the King (77) – It’s Only a Song

It’s Only a Song…

Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again—my Savior and my God! (Psalm 42:5)

Singing AloneThis verse appears three times, twice in this one and once is Psalm 43. When you read these Psalms together, you realize that this phrase (v. 5, 11, and v. 5 in the second psalm) fills the function of a refrain or chorus. Now the purpose of a chorus (except for those who aren’t very good with lyrics and need to say things over and over) is to repeat lines both thematically and musically to ensure it sticks, and that we don’t miss whatever it is being said (sung). So what precedes this chorus?

Verse 1 . (musically speaking) Apparently the Psalmist is no longer near the Temple, is missing the  worship and the fellowship, and is taunted by his enemies about the very existence of his God.

We should remember the passage from Hebrews:  And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near. (Hebrews 10:25)

If for some reason the writer found himself alone, then worship and encouragement would have been is short supply.

Verse 2. More isolation; more taunting and oppression.

But in the midst of this second verse, the Psalmist sings: But each day the Lord pours his unfailing love upon me, and through each night I sing his songs, praying to God who gives me life. (42:8) Now I’ve got to ask: if God is pouring out His unfailing love each day, and he’s singing and praying every night—what’s wrong with his heart?

Verse 3. The oppression continues, as well as false claims against him.

Here he prays for God’s deliverance and guidance.  Then the chorus appears for the last time.

So the question still stands: what’s wrong with his heart? It is not for me to question, for clearly there is something troubling this saint. Within these two psalms, we’ve seen plenty of reasons for sorrow. But we’ve also seen God’s provision. So is sorrow winning over God’s grace?

I suppose it can, if we leave ourselves to it, and surrender to the sadness. Then depression an discouragement can set in. But all throughout this psalm, this songwriter examines his surroundings, his emotions, and his relations. And his decision? I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again—my Savior and my God! I will, he says. And he chooses action over inaction. He chooses worship over weeping.

One more thing.  The last phrase is: my Savior and my God. And the Hebrew word for Savior is Yeshua, which is Jesus. So if you’re experiencing this sorrow, remember: Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” (Matthew 11:29-30)

Choose the Savior over sorrow.

Singing with the King (67) – Joy!

What joy for the nation whose God is the Lord, whose people he has chosen as his inheritance. (Psalm 33:12)

Dancing in the Sun3I don’t want to draw an parallels between Israel as a nation and any other nation today or even in the ancient world. Israel has been and is unique. But the parallel we can draw is about the people He has chosen as an inheritance. Paul tells us in Romans:

The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ… (Romans 8:16-17a) For us, it’s not about a particular nation or nationality; it’s about being His Chosen People—the Church: And I saw another angel flying through the sky, carrying the eternal Good News to proclaim to the people who belong to this world—to every nation, tribe, language, and people. (Revelation 14:6)

If the Good News has been preached to you, then you are indeed an heir of God and fellow heir with Christ. And now here comes the question: How’s your joy?

If you were truly joyful, what would your testimony look like? Would people be asking you about that joy? Of course they would. And sharing Christ with them would be neither problematic nor inconsistent. The problem is, we are NOT a joyful lot; for we think there is little in us that would attract another to Jesus. But is that true?

The fact is we HAVE joy.

No wonder my heart is glad, and I rejoice. My body rests in safety. For you will not leave my soul among the dead or allow your holy one to rot in the grave. You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of your presence and the pleasures of living with you forever. (Psalm 16:9-11)

The commandments of the Lord are right, bringing joy to the heart. (Psalm 19:8)

You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing. You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy. (Psalm 30:11)

I have inherited Your testimonies forever, for they are the joy of my heart. (Psalm 119:111)

“Oh, what joy for those whose disobedience is forgiven, whose sins are put out of sight. Yes, what joy for those whose record the Lord has cleared of sin.” (Romans 4:7-8)

You received the message with the joy that comes from the Holy Spirit. (1 Thessalonians 1:6)

It is one of the fruit of the Spirit: But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,  gentleness, and self-control.

As you can see, there are is a multitude of reasons to be joyful. Joy is both a consequence and a gift. It’s time to exhume that gift, embrace that gift, explain that gift, exemplify that gift and export that gift.

I don’t see joy overtaking us as a nation. If it does. it will have be done one heart at a time—hearts that have received the inheritance of God.

 

Singing with the King (40) – The Right Perspective

O Lord, my heart is not proud, nor my eyes haughty; nor do I involve myself in great matters, or in things too difficult for me. Psalm 131:1

Daddy and daughter40 years ago I was in a Bible study with the pianist from the Christian band Glad, Bob Kauflin, and occasionally he’d teach us some new songs. One that he taught us was the above Psalm. I can still sing and play it, but I don’t know who wrote the music.

This is another of the “Song of Ascents”, and it is only three verses long:

O Lord, my heart is not proud, nor my eyes haughty; nor do I involve myself in great matters,
or in things too difficult for me. Surely I have composed and quieted my soul; like a weaned child
rests against his mother, my soul is like a weaned child within me. O Israel, hope in the Lord from this time forth and forever.

Understand, this is King David, a reasonably (if not wildly) successful king, and of whom it was said that he was a man after God’s own heart. And he’s saying, his heart is not proud, his eyes are not haughty. And he doesn’t get involved in great matters or difficult things.

Now we could consider his battles and victories; his plans for building God a house; and how he set up all the care and maintenance for the temple and its ministries. Great matters? Difficult things? Hmm.

But it really is a matter of having the right perspective–God’s Perspective. Where did David’s skill, strength, and victories come from? The LORD. What about his art and creativity? From the LORD. What about his legacy of worship? From the LORD. And his greatness? Compared to God’s he had none.

Yours, O LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, indeed everything that is in the heavens and the earth; Yours is the dominion, O LORD, and You exalt Yourself as head over all.  Both riches and honor come from You, and You rule over all, and in Your hand is power and might; and it lies in Your hand to make great and to strengthen everyone.  Now therefore, our God, we thank You, and praise Your glorious name. But who am I and who are my people that we should be able to offer as generously as this? For all things come from You, and from Your hand we have given You. (1 Chronicles 29:11-14)

David knew all that he had and all that he was had come from God, and without Him, he was nothing. In this Psalm, David saw himself as a child leaning up against his Heavenly Father. And for all the things he did, and all the victories he had gained, this was where he wanted to be.

May you find that same comfort, leaning up against your Heavenly Father.