Saturday, May 28, 2005

Doxologies and Standing Ovations

How very rich are God's wisdom and knowledge! How he judges is more than we can understand! The way he deals with people is more than we can know!
"Who can ever know what is in the Lord's mind? Or who can ever give him advice?"
"Has anyone ever given anything to God, so that God has to pay him back?"

All things come from him.
All things are directed by him.
All things are for his good.
May God be given the glory forever! Amen. (NirV)

I was struck this morning by a passage in Paul's letter to the Roman church. When I consider God and his work to make the world and all things in it - you and me included- and his initiative in history through Christ to make mankind his, I am provoked to praise and emotion. Some would call that response a doxology.

The word - doxology- doesn't pop up every day. So, here is a working definition. Doxology : a short prayer or hymn of praise that extols the glory and majesty of God. But, do we only sing a doxology to God?

John Piper, a pastor in MN, once said, " There is in the heart of every child and teenager and adult the need and longing to sing a doxology. We may sing it more lustily to athletes or rock stars or architecture or space technology or politicians or purple mountain majesties, than we do to God. But there is no denying that the doxology is there in every heart."

Sometimes, such a doxology is a quiet, heart whisper. Sometimes, it’s a standing ovation replete with awe and wonder. Piper continues, “We were made to worship and sing. We were made to have a hero to brag about, namely God”.

It may sound odd but I find it natural to praise God. I think the degree of ease is somehow related to the depth on my desperation and need. Living the practical aspects of life is challenging and I find that the real sparks of spiritual growth come from desperation rather than discipline alone.

By discipline I can stay the course of surrender and delight in God to varying degrees for differing seasons of living. However, desperation constantly drives me into His presence. It moves me to cry out- Help, My Lord and my God and at that point I find that I am precisely where He wants me.

9But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. 10That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (II Cor 12)

Is desperation a spiritual trait? I don’t know. It can, however, lead me to Christ and to a fellowship with God the Holy Spirit that resonates through every fiber of my being and reminds me that He is God, I am not, and all of creation is under His rule.

Here are few doxologies from the ancients:

Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen. (Paul, The Apostle)

For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen. (Paul, The Apostle)

To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father -- to him be glory and power forever and ever! Amen. (John, The Apostle)

May the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen (Author of the N.T. Book of Hebrews)

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.(Paul, The Apostle)

Ok, there it goes….a standing O…

Read more!

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Mud Pies or Sand Castles

It's been a crazy busy week. Yet, in the midst of it all, I have felt God's sustenance and found encouragement from family and friends. How very grateful I am - and happy too - that this morning I found a quote that I first encountered in John Piper's The Dangerous Duty of Delight. It's worth the read.

"We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.
C. S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory

Left to myself, I do think I could become enamored with making mud pies. Thank you to the Spirit of God, His Word, and the Body of Christ – my Heavenly Father’s lavishly provided means of grace. I am humbled by His alluring call that beckons me towards the din of crashing waves, the sight and sounds of seagulls in the breeze and the chance to get lost in a sunset viewed where the horizon meets the mercy of God and a much needed holy embrace on a shore far away from the distractions of mud pies and the ambitions of a life centered around myself or hollow pursuits.

Ok, look! A solitary shell rolling in the receding surf. Placing the conch shell to her sun drenched ear, she revels in the sound of a distant briny expanse and the memories of her very first holiday at the sea.

Read more!