Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Praise Patterns: preview Chapter Two

Here is a little preview of Chapter Two, titled The Mighty God.

As part of our homeschool routine this year, I'm reading stories from American history to the kids while they eat lunch. Today's story described the Pilgrims landing in the New World. As I read about the Pilgrims and thought of their role in our national heritage, I remembered Mary's prayer, and the way she praised God for His hand in her nation's history. I realized that though I am fascinated with history, I don't often praise God for it the way Mary did. I meditated on this as I did the dishes after lunch. I thought of my ancestors who came to America from Ireland, Scotland, Sweden and Germany. My dad loved to tell stories of his grandfather, a pioneer who moved to the new state of Washington in 1889. Easily distracted, my mind jumped forward a century to my own life; I met my husband at a Bible camp in 1989, just a short walk from the land my great-grandfather farmed. I thought about God's guidance through our dating years and I praised God for our marriage. I remembered the birth announcement we sent out when Lydia was born—a healthy baby after our two miscarriages. The announcement included this verse:

The Lord has done great things for us, and we are glad. (Psalm 126:3)

God has done great things for me, and though I thank and praise Him at the time, I think I move on from past events too quickly, forgetting to praise God when memories surface. Remember the Ebenezer we read about a few pages ago? This was one of several monuments the Israelites set up to constantly remind them of God's greatness and His care for them. Mary's song of praise focused on the history of her people—and the greatness of her God. She referred to God as “the Mighty One” who had “done great things for me,” and she said that God had done “a mighty deed with His arm.” She proclaimed that God was involved in the affairs of this world, intervening on behalf of His people.

I followed a trail of cross-references about the “Mighty One” through my Bible, and I found verses about God's greatness, verses about warriors (“mighty ones”), and this beautiful verse from the prophet Zephaniah:

The Lord your God in your midst, the Mighty One, will save;
He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love,
He will rejoice over you with singing. (Zephaniah 3:17 NKJV)

Isn't this verse wonderfully personal? It shows us a God who doesn't just orchestrate great military victories, but also cares for individuals. The Mighty One is faithful and He promises to strengthen us. Nothing is more powerful than His great love:

The Lord is faithful; He will strengthen and guard you from the evil one.
(2 Thessalonians 3:3)
For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers,
nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers,
nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing
will have the power to separate us from the love of God
that is in Christ Jesus our Lord! (Romans 8:38-39

Praise Patterns
will be available for purchase in about a month.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Links worth clicking

Keith and Kristyn Getty have an excellent post today about writing for children, with quotes from C. S. Lewis:
On Writing for Children

Catherine Martin has a new book coming soon: Quiet Times for Women

Rachelle Gardner tries to clear up the mystery of query letters: Queries: Really not that Complicated

And if you haven't found this book review blog yet, you should check it out:
Miscellaneous Mumblings

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Chapter Titles

Each chapter of Praise Patterns: Magnifying God with Mary of Nazareth focuses on a name of God that Mary's prayer mentions or suggests.

1. Wonderful

2. Mighty One

3. My Exceeding Joy

4. God My Savior

5. The God Who Sees

6. Holy One

7. Father of Mercies

8. The Most High

9. My Provider

10. Faithful God

Praise Patterns
is written in a four-days-a-week format. Each week includes a praise quotation from a contemporary or historical Christian, a hymn and scripture readings from the Old Testament, the Gospels, the Epistles and Psalms. Praise Patterns is ideal for group or personal study. Two lists of suggested music are included: a hymns soundtrack and a more contemporary supplementary soundtrack.

Praise Patterns will be available in about a month. Watch this blog for more details.

Friday, June 25, 2010

My book's cover!

Praise Psalms

I like to end my daily Quiet Times with a Psalm or two. Here is the first Psalm selection from Praise Patterns--my soon-to-be-published devotional book.

The book of Psalms is full of patterns for our praises. The authors of Psalms blended praises with petitions, praising privately and calling others to join with them. Some Psalms sprang from hearts overflowing with thanksgiving, while others demonstrate the determined expression of faith in a praise-worthy God regardless of feelings or circumstances.

My soul, praise the Lord! Lord my God, You are very great;
You are clothed with majesty and splendor. (Psalm 104:1)
I will praise the Lord at all times; His praise will always be on my lips.
(Psalm 34:1)
The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him, and I am helped.
Therefore my heart rejoices, and I praise Him with my song. (Psalm 28:6-7)
I will thank the Lord with all my heart; I will declare all Your wonderful works.
(Psalm 9:1)
Sing to Him, sing praise to Him; tell about all His wonderful works!
(Psalm 105:2)
I will speak of Your glorious splendor and Your wonderful works. (Psalm 145:5)

Wonderful Lord, I marvel at the love of the Father, the power of Jesus, and the presence of the Spirit. Forgive me for my self-centered prayers and enable me to proclaim Your wonderful name.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Book Preview: Praise Patterns

Last year I wrote about prayer; this year's book's topic is praise. The title is Praise Patterns: Magnifying God with Mary of Nazareth. Two weeks ago, I sent my manuscript to my publisher, and I'm ready to show you a little preview. This is the first page of chapter one.

Chapter One
For You are great and perform wonders;
You alone are God. (Psalm 86:10)


Would you reply to a love note with a shopping list? Would a Valentine prompt you to demand assistance with household chores? Would you pause to express a word of thanks or offer a smile before pointing out the honey-do list on the fridge? Your bookshelf—or perhaps your nightstand—holds a love letter to you from God—your Bible. How do you respond to His words?

I asked myself these questions and I came to the conclusion that I am a self-centered lover of God. I read His Word and immediately present Him with a list of my problems. I know He wants to hear whatever is on my heart, and I certainly need His help and provision, but He is my Savior and my Provider, and He deserves to hear my thanksgiving. The trouble is, I'm so easily distracted by my own needs. I need a pattern for praise—and I found one in the book of Luke. One of the most well-known Biblical prayers, it was spoken by a very familiar woman: Mary of Nazareth, mother of Jesus.

And Mary said: My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord,
and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior,
because He has looked with favor on the humble condition of His slave.
Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed,
because the Mighty One has done great things for me, and His name is holy.
His mercy is from generation to generation on those who fear Him.
He has done a mighty deed with His arm;
He has scattered the proud because of the thoughts of their hearts;
He has toppled the mighty from their thrones and exalted the lowly.
He has satisfied the hungry with good things and sent the rich away empty.
He has helped His servant Israel, mindful of His mercy,
just as He spoke to our ancestors, to Abraham and his descendants forever.
(Luke 1:46-55)

Mary proclaimed God's mighty power, His salvation, and His awareness of His people. She rejoiced in the holiness, mercy, provision and faithfulness of the Most High God. She saw that God was involved in the lives of His people, doing unexpected things for lowly people and satisfying the hunger of their hearts. This is the essence of praise: expressing our gratitude to God for who He is and what He does. The root of our English word “praise” is a Latin word that means “price” or “value.” When we praise God we express His worth. Biblical praise terms include “glory,” “blessing,” “thanksgiving” and “hallelujah.”

Mary's praise demonstrates that she knew God intimately. She described God's name as holy: unique and perfect. If we want to praise more frequently, we need to know God better. As we examine this prayer we will look at the names of God she mentioned or suggested. We will remember the way God proclaimed His name in the Old Testament, see Jesus reveal the name in the New Testament, and respond to God's name as the Holy Spirit prompts us to spiritual growth.

Can you hear the awe and wonder in Mary's praise? The word “wonderful” is an everyday word to us, but it was one of the names the prophet Isaiah used to describe the Messiah:

For unto us a Child is born,
Unto us a Son is given;
And the government will be upon His shoulder.
And His name will be called
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6 NKJV)

As you read and meditate on Mary's words, think about the ways God has been Wonderful to you and the things that amaze you as you read His word and look at His creation.

Praise Patterns will be available for purchase in about a month.