What Comes Naturally

Kneeling before the cross
“Only by grace can we enter,
Only by grace can we stand.”

Perhaps it is because the topic yesterday as I sat in the pew was about grace. Whatever the reason, I woke up this morning with the words above circulating through my mind. Not the whole hymn, just those specific words by Gerrit Gustafson. And the more I dwelt on the words above, the more my thoughts went to the “stand” part.

If I were to enter into the presence of God, what would be my response? Of course, I want to try to over-analyze this and think about, well, is it God’s presence in my daily life? Or is it God’s presence after some life-saving, or life-changing event? Is it after a family member or loved one dies? Is it after I die? I need for more information, right, because my response might be different.

Then, as I contemplated more, it became a battle back and forth about what would be most honoring to God. Is standing more honoring? Or bowing before the King? Or kneeling? What to do? What would come naturally? Having these thoughts, maybe I’m simply over-complicating this.

And then part of another song came. Perhaps the song that was there all the time…

“Indescribable, uncontainable…
All powerful, untameable,
Awestruck we FALL TO OUR KNEES as we humbly proclaim
You are amazing God.”

Thank you, Chris Tomlin, for putting into words my thoughts.

Surely your reaction will be unique to you. It may be unique to the circumstance. Whatever, it is, I think we need to be prepared to meet with God. Our Creator, our King, that desires to meet with us on a daily basis. Not just on the mountaintop, or in the valley, but along our daily path. Standing. Walking. Sitting. Bowing. Falling. Kneeling. That part might even be rubbish, after all, we’re talking about the very presence of God. I just want Him to wash over me…to simply BE in the moment!

Ephesians 2:6-7 – “And God raised us up with Christ and SEATED us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.”


That Sense of Wonder

I hope you never lose your sense of wonder
You get your fill to eat but always keep that hunger
May you never take one single breath for granted
God forbid love ever leave you empty-handed
I hope you still feel small when you stand beside the ocean
Whenever one door closes I hope one more opens
Promise me that you’ll give faith a fighting chance
And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance

I hope you dance
I hope you dance

This morning, this song by Lee Ann Womack was on my mind, and resonated enough to draw me here and to share. I don’t think I’ve lost my sense of wonder since I last wrote here in March of last year (where do the days and months go?). Definitely, my wonder shifted more to being behind the camera than writing, as you have no doubt seen if you follow me on Facebook or visit my photography website and Flickr account.

Change is good, as it can help us expand our sense of wonder toward new ways of viewing God’s creation. I definitely feel that photography has expanded my sense of wonder. But maybe this morning will find me drawn to re-engage with my writing.

I hope you dance.

I hope you write.

I hope you laugh.

I hope you read.

I hope you pray.

I hope you run.

I hope you do that thing, those things, that kindle and breath into you that sense of wonder. That sense of wonder as we move throughout God’s creation is a way to be drawn to Him maybe in a new way, or for the first time, or into a closer and more intimate relationship with Him. To Him be the glory!

“For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.”
— Romans 1:20

In Him be the wonder. To Him be the glory!

PS, I found this performance of I Hope You Dance.


Tell Me Why

“I refuse to answer that question on the grounds that I don’t know the answer.”
-Douglas Adams, author (11 Mar 1952-2001)

Last night I was watching American Idol. Two of the contestants sang a song and afterwards one of the judges asked them if they knew what the lyrics of the song meant. They two looks at each other and shook their heads. Neither of them had taken the time to read and try to understand the emotion (if there was any) behind the song. Of course they were then asked, “Then why’d you sing it?”

That dialog was with me with this morning as I got out of bed. When I did get out of bed I got to work and sort of put that little scene out of my mind.

Then the quote above by Adams appeared in my inbox and it demanded attention.

So, I had this idea to look to see how many times “because” or “I don’t know” or “understanding” appear in the NIV. According to BibleGateway.com “because” appears in the NIV 1586 times. I think my all-time favorite use of because comes in Genesis 5:24, but I digress:
“Enoch walked faithfully with God; then he was no more, because God took him away.”

The phrase “I don’t know” appears 20 times in the NIV. “Understanding” appears 110 times.

Okay, so now what? It’s all about our answers, not really the questions we are asked.

“But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. For it is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.”
– 1 Peter 3:15-17

I think God wanted me to hear those words this morning from 1 Peter, “Always be prepared to give an answer”. Those words are the ones that came to me after these moments of contemplation and reflection. On a deep and spiritual level the “tell me why” is about my salvation and being able to share with others my reason for hope. Yet that preparation should permeate all my actions.

“Why did you take that photo?”
“Why did you go there?”
“Why did you say (or write) those words?”
“Why did you read that book?”
“Why did you make that decision?”
“Why are you in pain?”

“Tell me why?”

Sometimes (okay, probably many times) I don’t know the why. Or at least I can’t put the why into words. Sometimes it’s like I’m on auto-pilot or auto-response and just “do” withing being able to articulate the why. There isn’t always an answer.

But there is hope. There is always hope –
“Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.”
– Romans 5:3-5

This morning I leave you with these words and inspiration:
“One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!”
– John 9:25


So, Did You Say It?

“Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.”
— Ephesians 4:15, (NIV)

This was another one of “those” mornings. Those mornings where I start down one road and come smack up to something that hit’s me over the head and says, “it took you a while, but this is why you’re here”.

Lori and I were watching the early morning Seattle news and they talked about an artist coming to Seattle. So I looked up Shawn Colvin on YouTube. Nothing against this award-winning artist, but her performance, voice and style didn’t grab me. Soon I found myself looking at the names listed on the right side. You know, the related videos. A familiar name popped up so I found myself watching some Jewel videos. Jewel has a voice I have always enjoyed because of its uniqueness. What I found myself listening to was a song I had not heard, “Satisfied”.

It was then a small voice inside whispered, “this is where I wanted you to be. These are words I want you to hear”. God is so amazing. To me these words aren’t only about those we love and hold most dear, but about those we otherwise walk by or look past, leaving words unspoken.

“So did you say it
Did you mean it
Did you lay it on the line
Did you make it count
Did you look ’em in the eye
Did they feel it
Did you say it in time
Did you say it out loud
’cause if you did hun
Then you lived some
That feeling inside
That’s called satisfied”
– Jewel

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