Friday, September 24, 2010

Rise up, women of the truth

I was exhausted. Dishes filled the sink and a heap of laundry overflowed a living room chair. I ignored it all and went shopping for music online. A song by Robin Mark caught my attention and suddenly my exhaustion disappeared as I worshiped. “Shout to the North” called me to sing to and depend on my glorious King. It reminded me that when there are differences within the Christian faith, Jesus is Savior of all. The second verse described “women of the truth” singing to broken hearts, and I praised God for those women of truth who have taught and encouraged me.
Here are the first two verses and the chorus, with the scriptures they brought to my mind.

Men of faith rise up and sing
Of the great and glorious King
You are strong when you feel weak
In your brokenness complete

But He said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness." Therefore, I will most gladly boast all the more about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may reside in me. (2 Corinthians 12:9)

Shout to the North and the South
Sing to the East and the West
Jesus is Savior to all
Lord of heaven and earth

For there is one God and one mediator between God and man,
a man, Christ Jesus, who gave Himself—a ransom for all,
a testimony at the proper time. (Timothy 2:4-6)

Rise up women of the truth
Stand and sing to broken hearts
Who can know the healing power
Of our awesome King of love?

He comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any kind of affliction, through the comfort we ourselves receive from God. (2 Corinthians 1:4)

Oh Lord, you have called me to be a woman of Your truth. Give me Your songs to sing to broken hearts. Remind me that my weaknesses allow You to show Your strength through me. You are the mighty Lord of heaven and earth, yet You are my personal Savior and Friend. Speak Your love through me today.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Everyday Adventures

Last night we watched Inspector Lewis on PBS. I enjoy the characters on this mystery program, but I especially like the scenery. Lewis lives at Oxford. Those ancient English locations fascinate me, and I long to visit them. "That's beautiful," I said to my husband as we watched a scene in a walled courtyard. "Why can't we live somewhere exciting like that?"

And then I laughed at myself.

I live in Las Vegas.

Dear Lord, remind me that I live exactly where You placed me. Open my eyes to the everyday adventures around me. Show me Your plan for me right here. Thank You for our modern technology that allows us to view other locations so easily.

Friday, September 17, 2010

stop picking blackberries

I'm reading a delightful book by Fiona Castle titled His Light in Our Darkness: an Anthology of Praise. It's filled with hymns and poems and the author's own meditations. Today I read a little poem by Elizabeth Barrett Browning:

Earth's crammed with heaven
And every common bush afire with God
But only he who see it takes off his shoes
The rest sit round it and pick blackberries.

Isn't this a fascinating situation to visualize? I can just see a crowd of people bustling around picking blackberries while one quiet person stands barefoot in worshipful awe because he has become aware of God's presence and heard God's voice. It's so easy to get caught up in our daily duties--many of them necessary, some of them related to our ministry--and forget to stop in awe and wonder at the presence of God. Maybe we can't see His fire, but His spirit lives within us, and His word is available to us.

Lord, keep me aware of You and focused on You today.

Note: I'm a featured author at The Pastor's Wife Speaks today.

Thursday, September 16, 2010


Isaiah 61:10: I greatly rejoice in the Lord, I exult in my God; for He has clothed me with the garments of salvation...

A few days ago I looked up the meaning of "exult," and I saw that one of the definitions (now outdated) is "to leap with joy." Isn't that a great description of praise? I thought of my children and how sometimes they enjoy the singing at church so much that they actually jump up and down. (I try to settle them down before they crash into each other.) This is how excited Isaiah was about God's salvation.

What has God done in your life lately that made you want to jump up and down with delight?

Monday, September 6, 2010

Introducing Praise Patterns

If you follow my blog, you've already read about my Praise Patterns book, but tomorrow I'm introducing it at Bible study. I will say something like this.

If someone gave you a love note or a beautiful Valentine, would your first response to that person be a list of chores you need help with?

Think about this for a minute: you probably have a love note on your bookshelf. It's not covered in lace or ribbons. It's your Bible--God's message of love to you.

I've been realizing that I read this precious love note from God, and I respond to Him with only a list of my needs and concerns. Now of course, I do need His help! And He does care about my concerns! But He deserves to hear my praise and thanksgiving.

I looked for a pattern for praise, an example to echo, and I found a beautiful prayer in the book of Luke. You probably hear it every Christmas. It's Mary's prayer and it begins “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord...” That's what praise is all about: proclaiming the greatness of God.

As I read Mary's prayer, I saw that she knew God. If I want to praise Him more frequently, I need to know Him better. I kept studying the prayer and I saw ten names of God that Mary either mentioned directly or suggested: My Savior, My Exceeding Joy, the Faithful God... Using one of these names not only expands your knowledge of God, but sets the tone of your prayer; it's like finding just the perfect beginning for a love letter.

I researched these names of God, and I organized each chapter to include the way God proclaimed His name in the Old Testament, an example of Jesus showing us His name in action in the New Testament, and God's call to us to respond to His name. God asks us to praise Him not just with our words but with our actions and our lives. This is not just a study about prayer and praise: it's a study about following God.

As usual for my studies, there's a hymn in each chapter, and a list of recordings of the hymns that you can download if you want to. This study also has something new: a list of contemporary songs that go with each chapter; you can choose to download a soundtrack to help you meditate on the week's lesson while you wash your dishes or drive your car.

Each chapter also has a poem or a quotation from a historical or modern Christian to give us further patterns for praise.

Each chapter has four days of study, about ten minutes of reading each day.

I also have a new option for those of you who like a seven day a week study—if you want a little more homework—I have a plan for that too.

I also set up a private online chat forum for anyone who wants to discuss the book during the week, or anyone who knows they'll be gone for a week or two but still wants to be included in the discussion. This is another optional part of the study.

I am excited to see who God brings to this class; whoever you are, I've been praying for you for a year and asking the Lord to make this study relevant and helpful to you.

Friday, September 3, 2010

A new online community, and an online Bible study

Author Catherine Martin introduced a new online community this week: It has all the usual forum features like chatting and blogging, but it adds something unique: the ability to set up your own private discussion group for any Bible study or women's ministry that you lead. I wanted to see if this was an easy process, so I set up a discussion group for Praise Patterns. It was a simple two minute process.

In a few days I'll be introducing Praise Patterns at church and I'll beginn to facilitate a study there. I'm inviting all the women who attend to join my discussion group at Ministry for Women, but the online group is also open to anyone who has the book. There is no fee to join the online group, but you will need to order a book.

If you'd like to join the discussion group (and you've already ordered a book), just go to, join the forum, go to the Groups section, look for "Praise Patterns Discussion Group" and request to join.

Here's the schedule of discussions:

Wednesday, September 8: Group officially opens! (You don't have to wait til then to join, though.) This week's theme is Introductions.

Tuesday September 14: Those of us who meet at Shadow Hills will get acquainted in person and begin our study at church.

Wednesday September 15: I'll begin posting a few notes on Chapter 1.
Jump in and discuss it with me! I'll also be reading the first three days of Reading through the Epistles. This is an optional part of the study (see the last page of the book).

Wednesday, Sept. 22 Begin reading and discussing Chapter 2

Wednesday, Sept. 29 Begin reading and discussing Chapter 3

Oct. 6 Begin reading and discussing Chapter 4

Oct. 13 Begin reading and discussing Chapter 5

Oct. 20 Begin reading and discussing Chapter 6

Oct. 26 Begin reading and discussing Chapter 7

this is a two week chapter because we do not meet at church on Nov. 2

Nov. 10 Begin reading and discussing Chapter 8

Nov. 17 Begin reading and discussing Chapter 9

Nov. 24 Begin reading and discussing Chapter 10

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Potpourri of Scriptures

Let them praise the name of God—
it's the only Name worth praising.
His radiance exceeds anything in earth and sky;
He's built a monument—His very own people!
Praise from all who love God!
Israel's children, intimate friends of God.
(Psalm 148:13-14 Message)

Wait for the Lord;
be courageous and let your heart be strong.
Wait for the Lord. (Psalm 27:14)

The Lord is my light and my salvation—
whom should I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life—
of whom should I be afraid?
(Psalm 27:1)

I have asked one thing from the Lord;
it is what I desire:
to dwell in the house of the Lord
all the days of my life,
gazing on the beauty of the Lord
and seeking [Him] in His temple. (Psalm 27:4)

Lord, I am tired today and I have a headache, yet I have quite a few things I need to do.
You are my intimate Friend, and I ask You for courage and strength.
Be my Light, my guide, my joy.
Show me Your beauty as I seek You.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Praise Patterns: the supplementary soundtrack

Every chapter of Praise Patterns includes the lyrics to a hymn that expresses the theme of the chapter in poetic praise. In the front of the book I list my favorite arrangements of these hymns. They're also in a handy Itunes Imix I linked to several posts ago.

In the back of the book is a Supplementary Soundtrack: a list of contemporary songs that express these same themes. This is a convenient way to continue meditating on the material while you do dishes or drive or go for a walk. Here is a the Imix of contemporary songs. There are thirty-eight songs in a variety of styles, several for each chapter. Listen to clips on Itunes and download only the ones you like.