Thursday, November 26, 2009

Give Thanks to the Lord

The trumpeters and singers joined in unison, as with one voice, to give praise and thanks to the LORD. Accompanied by trumpets, cymbals and other instruments, they raised their voices in praise to the LORD and sang:
"He is good;
his love endures forever."
Then the temple of the LORD was filled with a cloud, 14 and the priests could not perform their service because of the cloud, for the glory of the LORD filled the temple of God."
2 Chronicles 5:13-14 emphasis mine

This passage overwhelms me with longing. Oh to experience the Presence of the Lord in this way! Somehow in this moment, these Old Testament worshippers touched the heart of God. Their praises, their voices lifted in thanksgiving and unabashed declarations of His love and goodness, brought the tangible, visible presence of the Lord into their midst. The temple was filled with the cloud of the glory of the Lord and the priests couldn't serve. They couldn't DO anything. They just had to experience and worship in the Presence. They could only BE.

A similar occurrence happens two chapters later at the dedication of the temple:
"When Solomon finished praying, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices, and the glory of the LORD filled the temple. 2 The priests could not enter the temple of the LORD because the glory of the LORD filled it. 3 When all the Israelites saw the fire coming down and the glory of the LORD above the temple, they knelt on the pavement with their faces to the ground, and they worshiped and gave thanks to the LORD, saying,
"He is good;
his love endures forever."
2 Chronicles 7:1-3 empahsis mine

This time there's fire and glory: fire that consumes the sacrifice and glory that fills the temple. And the Israelites response? Faces to the ground, worship and praise flowing from their lips as they declare the goodness and the love of the Lord.

More worship.

These worshippers in Chronicles lived under the old covenant, and the glory and the fire filled a building made of wood and stone. Their worship brought down the Presence in a tangible, visible way and their response was to just worship. To cease activity and to fall on their faces and express the goodness and love of the Lord.

As children born under the new covenant, we ARE the temple of the Lord, the place where He has chosen to dwell. We are the vessels that He most desires to fill with His glory. We are also His priests, chosen and appointed to minister to Him day and night. How much more should we who have been given open access to the Throne of God through the blood of Jesus experience the tangible, visible Presence of the Lord!

As you offer sacrifices of praise to the Lord, as you rejoice and remember the ways the Lord has blessed you, kept you, surrounded you and defended you. As You remember how He's provided, poured out His everlasting love, faithfully shown you His amazing goodness. As you thank Him and praise Him and declare His love and goodness...

May you be filled with the cloud of His glory and the fire of His presence.

May your hearts be drawn to just sit at His feet, to gaze at His face, and to hear His voice speak Your name.

And with faces to the ground may our response to His tremendous outpouring of Love and Goodness be to worship and declare loudly and passionately:
You are good!
Your love endures forever!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Teach the Child - Charlotte Mason part 2

Day 2 of the Charlotte Mason workshop I attended in San Antonio was just what I needed. It was the "how-to" portion and gave me great tools and ideas for how to implement Charlotte's ideas in our home. Most of all, though, I was reminded to "teach the child, not the curriculum."

My children are unique individuals with distinct callings on their lives. They need regular contact with God's creation, free time to process and explore and study independently, short (emphasis on short), structured lessons to give them fodder for thought and most of all a mom who can relax and teach her children instead of the curriculum.

In my opinion, one of the biggest pitfalls for me of a prepared curriculum is the self-imposed pressure to do everything "by the book." And I do mean everything. Most curriculum I look at tells you to not try and do it all, but to pick and choose, according to the individual family needs.

But I don't want to miss anything. And I sure don't want to leave out something important because it all is so very vital to their growth and development. I might scar them for life if I don't do it all exactly as written and suggested. That one thing I chose to skip might be the very piece of information they needed for success and I didn't include it.

Can you feel the panic mounting?

If anything this weekend workshop helped me to stop, take a deep breath, and relax. To be reminded first and foremost that God cares infinitely more about my children, about me, than I have come close to grasping. I really can trust Him to lead and guide me in our family's education journey. I absolutely don't have to stress about doing it all or covering every base. He is faithful. Always.

God used the time to help me see more clearly the path to this gentle way of teaching my children and I look forward to facilitating what the Lord is doing in each of my children as I smooth the way for them to experience Him in all we do.

Isaiah 40:3-5 comes to mind and I like how Eugene Peterson paraphrases it in The Message:
"Prepare for God's arrival!
Make the road straight and smooth,
a highway fit for our God.
Fill in the valleys,
level off the hills,
Smooth out the ruts,
clear out the rocks.
Then God's bright glory will shine
and everyone will see it.
Yes. Just as God has said."

Monday, November 16, 2009

Flame of Love

a response to Richard Rolle's The Spiritual Flame:

Flame of love burn bright in me
Consume my earthly fears
Restore to me passion and purity
Light the way as I go

Be to me the obsession of my life
Let me not turn away
May all I do and all I say
Come from this place of burning love

Refresh my heart, renew my mind
Keep me ever focused and true
Put Your heart within mine
Let them burn as one

Do not abandon me to my desires
My life is in Your hands
Draw my eyes to Your heart of fire
Envelope me, O Flame

Sunday, November 15, 2009

On my nightstand

This month, I have several books going on my "nightstand" (proverbial as I don't do much reading in my room these days). My mom would say I get this from her as she often has multiple books going on at once. I don't do that often as I prefer to work through one book at a time, but for some reason (most probably due to DNA) I have gravitated towards having many started at once.

I've been working through Ruthless Trust by Brennan Manning, and, boy, is it shedding light on areas I don't trust God in. I say "ouch" several times a page, but it's worth every word. I usually read this one while I'm on a bike or eliptical machine at the Y in the early (for me) morning. It's exercises my brain while I exercise my body and becomes food for thought all day long.

Then there's Repenting of Religion by Gregory Boyd. I've barely cleared the introduction, but I can tell that it will be surgery performed on my heart. And just in time. God's been bringing this particular topic up quite frequently of late and the first few lines I read yelled out: Confirmation! Read me now!. I've only had this book for almost a year, and it's not like me to not start a new book right away, but looks like the timing is just perfect.

Loving Our Kids on Purpose by Danny Silk has me on round 2. If you are a parent, you should read this. If you are not a parent, you should read this. So, so good. I will blog about it at another time, but suffice to say it is the best parenting book I have read to date. Or maybe it's just timely for me. Either way, go read it.

I have been savoring Holy Spirit Revelation and Revolution by Reinhard Bonke for a few months now, ever since I won the freebie contest on a blog. Lots of meat there. Chew slowly, at least 20 times each bite.

I picked up Princess Bride (yes, the one the movie came from) at the library on a whim the other day. It's fun, light reading...and it's actually the only one on this list actually on my night stand as I've taken to reading it before going to sleep. So far I haven't gotten past the author/abridger's introduction. It is fascinating or at least very interesting. I never used to read the intros to books...always skipped straight to the story. I must be getting older.

Finally, I am every-so-slowly moving through Devotional Classics, edited by Richard J. Foster and James Bryan Smith. I discovered this book through the Essentials Green course I took last spring. What a treasure it is. There is a virtual group of us reading selections and dialoging about them every 2 weeks or so. This week's selection is by Richard Rolle of York who lived from 1290-1349.

Look for my thoughts on that tomorrow.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Negativity Fast

A couple of weeks ago, the words "negativity fast" were dropped into my spirit and subsequently confirmed in a variety of ways, so last week I started "fasting" from saying negative things to my kids.

It's hard.

I have been more and more convicted of how I correct much more than I praise my kids. They could have the whole room picked up and vacuumed, and I never mention what they have done well. Instead I zero in on the one sock left on the floor or the miniscule piece of trash still on the coffee table. I point out the crumbs they missed on the kitchen counter and the spot still on the bathroom floor. Sigh.

Now, I value a job well-done and part of the correcting comes from that desire to see them learn to do all things well. But when those words are 90% of what they hear from me, I fear that the message I am sending them is not so much about doing a job well but about not ever being good enough.

And that is a terrible burden to be asking them to live under. I need to change the way I'm communicating to them.

My focus this last week has been on appreciating their work and affirming their efforts. I have not been without my share of slip-ups, but over all I can feel the kids relaxing (particularly the older ones) and the atmosphere in our home shifting more to the side of honor and love.

Which is my ultimate goal. I want our home to be full of love and honor for one another, for the things we do and the ways we serve to flow out of a place of desire to love and honor and not from a place of fear of correction and punishment.

These next several weeks, I am shifting the bulk of my communication with my family from words of correction to words of love and honor. Care to join me? Just leave a comment and in the days and weeks ahead, we can encourage one another with testimonies of how God is using this season to rebuild and renew communications within our families.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Psalm 66 - a variation

Shout with joy
Sing the glory
Say to God:
Your deeds are awesome!
Your power is great!
Your enemies cringe!
Come and see what God has done...
He has set my feet on a Rock and placed a new song in my mouth
He has turned my mourning into dancing
Given me a garment of praise and a righteous robe
Praise our God
Let His praises BE HEARD from our lips
An audible sound
A loud sound
A sacrifice of praise
Look at what He's done!
Preserved our lives
Kept our feet from slipping
Tested us
Refined us

I will come with my offerings
In Your presence I will do what I've vowed, what I promised to You when I was in trouble

Come and listen!
Let me tell you what He has done for me:
I cried out to Him
Had praise on my tongue
I chose to turn from unbelief and offense
I did not hold bitterness, unforgiveness and anger in my heart
I refused to cherish sin because He would not have listened to me if I had
But He did listen
He listened and He heard my voice.
He acted on my behalf.

Praise be to God who has not rejected my prayer
Praise be to God who has not withheld His love from me!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Released for more

Thanksgiving always releases more freedom. When I cease focusing on what I can't have, on something gone awry, on perceived lack in my life and instead practice thanksgiving and focus on the good that surrounds me, I am no longer tethered to the dead weight of ungratefulness, negativity and pessimism. I am free to fly on the wings of possibilities with God. I am free to bask in His goodness and to rely on His faithfulness in every situation. I am released for more laughter, more joy, more trust...more God.