Monday Morning Meditation: A Path to Answered Prayer

After hearing a inspiring and convicting sermon on prayer yesterday, my Bible reading just “happened” to be John 4 today. I always think of John 4 as the story of the Samaritan woman and find myself relating to her, but God had something else to speak to me today.

After the story of Jesus’ work in Samaria, there is a short story that is headed “Jesus Heals the Official’s Son.” There are a few things that struck me about this story as it relates to prayer. It is not a long story, and I encourage you to read it here or in your Bible before you consider these thoughts of mine.

An Example of a Path to Answered Prayer

The man went to Jesus.
He traveled a distance to get there*. There was a cost and much effort to his prayer.

The man begged Jesus to come.
He first invited Jesus to be present.

He begged Jesus to heal.
He clearly stated what he hoped Jesus would do in his begging. It was a passionate prayer, a prayer of faith.

Jesus said that people need a miraculous sign to believe.
He may have been speaking directly to this man, but likely was also commenting on what had just happened in Samaria.

The man said, “Sir, come before my son dies!”
The man said, “I don’t know what that means; all I know is I love my son and am asking that You would heal Him!” He restated his hope and his prayer.

“Go,” Jesus replied, “your son will live.” The man took Jesus at his word and departed.
The man chose to believe all that the Son of God had spoken to him and left prayer, believing.

*The man headed straight home. Later, when his servants met him on the road toward home, the man learns his son was healed yesterday at about 1 PM (or the seventh hour). This means the man had traveled at least overnight to go to Jesus. And the servants confirmed that Jesus healed the boy at the moment He said He did.

The man and his whole household believed.
Healing is not just for the benefit of the person healed. It is a testimony to those around the person that God is alive and active.

What do we learn about prayer here?
There is a cost to prayer. My pastor’s sermon on prayer yesterday was based on Mark 1:35-39. It was fantastic, and will be available on iTunes within a day or two (Church is Brockton Assembly of God). As I considered my own prayer life in light of what he shared, a thought came to me: the time and effort I am willing to devote to prayer is often directly proportionate to my belief about prayer. In other words, if I only devote a little time to prayer, I likely don’t really believe that prayer works or that it will help.

Ouch. I hate it when I convict myself!! OK, not really. But it made me face the fact that sometimes I leave prayer, more discouraged than when I started, because I’ve already talked myself out of believing that God is going to move!

I sang this song at church yesterday. I was asked to sing a song about prayer due to the theme of the day, and this song came to mind. 18 years ago last week, I surrendered my life to Jesus while listening to a song by this artist, Keith Green.

I want my whole life to be a prayer to God. I want my thoughts and actions to reflect that I believe in a God who is near and who loves us and who desires to answer our prayers.

In this morning’s reading, I was most struck by verse 50: “The man took Jesus at his word and departed.” God has already shown me in about 15 different ways that learning about prayer and having a fuller prayer life is to be my theme of 2017.

OK, God, I’m listening and obeying. Lord, may that be my response to prayer. May I always leave prayer, walking in faith, taking You at Your Word.

What has God spoken to you concerning 2017?

Monday Morning Meditation: True Humility

The church we attend has a lot of prayer meetings. At one such meeting, a man named Bernard shared that it was his 29th birthday in the Lord. He shared his story with the group, and one of the pastors asked him to share in church.

Bernard had been a heroin and cocaine addict since he was 14. After almost 20 years of addiction, he walked into a Teen Challenge center in Brooklyn and gave Jesus the opportunity to change his life.

29 years later, he has not touched drugs at all.

Bernard is a powerful speaker! His story itself is thoroughly compelling, and he is quite funny. God has truly transformed him into a man of God.

So what does this trophy of God’s grace do to serve the God who saved him?

He cleans the church.

That’s right. On Saturday mornings, every week, you will find him and his wife on their hands and knees, scrubbing the altar of the sanctuary with huge smiles on their faces.

I know this not because Bernard advertises this fact. I know because I see them. I see them when I come in to the church during the day for meetings or worship practice. I see their hard work and their positive attitudes. I know they have been through their share of great challenges, but you would never know it by the joy in their eyes.

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As he shared his life with us that day, I thought, This is true humility. Someone with a testimony like Bernard’s could be doing a lot of things. True humility is serving wherever God has called you to serve, even if that means cleaning the church.

On this Monday morning, I pray that your ears and eyes would be open to what He is doing around you and that you would have the humility to serve Him, no matter where He calls you.

If you would like to hear more about Teen Challenge’s program, here is their site.

Monday Morning Meditation: Remember the 523

Did anyone watch the Patriots vs. Broncos game last night?

Don’t worry; this post won’t be all about football. I try to limit my sports analogies 🙂 Especially since I don’t watch much sports!

That said, I grew up watching A TON on football. My dad played football in high school; as the kicker, his nickname was “The Toe.”

I couldn’t help but think of my dad when Stephen Gostkowski missed the extra point (also called PAT: point after touchdown) in Sunday’s game.

In the moment, I didn’t think much of it. The Broncos were playing a fantastic game. But as time went on and the Patriots scored more points, I found myself wishing the score of the game would not be so close.

Because I knew how badly Gostkowski would feel.

Toward the end of the game, I did a little Googling. I found out that last night’s missed PAT ended Stephen Gostkowski’s NFL record of earning 523 consecutive extra points. The next closest record holder is 100 points behind him.

523.

523 times in a row, Gostkowski kicked the ball and scored a PAT.

But right now, he’s not thinking about the fact that he has to be one of the best of the best to even be in the playoffs.

He’s not thinking about his 10-year streak of scoring PAT’s: 523 of them in a row.

He’s not thinking about how it takes a team to win or lose a game.

He’s thinking about one miss, one loss, one misstep.

From sports.yahoo.com: Stephen Gostkowski reacts after missing an extra point .

From sports.yahoo.com: Stephen Gostkowski reacts after missing an extra point .

But right now, less than a day after the Patriots lost the game, Stephen Gostkowski blames himself.

Perhaps you had a rough weekend. You made a mistake, a poor choice, or maybe a lot of poor choices. You are dragging your feet, walking into Monday, because you feel like a failure.

My advice to you is this (and to Gostkowski 🙂 ): remember the 523.

Remember all the victories, remember all the good choices, remember all the times God carried you through. Celebrate those rather than dwelling on any failures. Ask God to forgive you, ask Him to empower you to choose well next time, and move on.

There is life after a loss. God is still able.

Remember the 523.

Sharing God’s Story At My Home Church

I had the privilege of sharing the story of God’s work in my life at our now home church yesterday. “New” is relative – we’ve been attending this church since January 🙂 I still get a little nervous when sharing, despite having done it for so long. I get even more nervous sharing at my home church! But God is gracious and able and only good, and He sustained me. Lots of folks shared their own struggles or their experiences having children who are gay-identified.

Some folks who couldn’t be there expressed interest in reading it. So here it is 🙂

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I was born in May of 1975. With an alcoholic mother and a father who worked long hours, I spent much of my childhood alone with few close friends. I began experimenting sexually with girls at a young age. As a high school freshman, I began a physical relationship with my female best friend. Trying to make sense of what I was experiencing, I looked up “homosexuality” in a health book. The book said that if you had attractions for someone of the same gender, then you were gay. I remember thinking, “There it is, in black and white. I am a homosexual.”

This was not good news. I was living in a small NH town. This was 1990. That’s 7 years before Ellen DeGeneres came out and 12 years before Rosie O-Donnell. By age 16, I had a full-blown eating disorder and was also using self-injury as a coping mechanism.

Over the next 10 years, I had a series of lesbian relationships, including a long-term year relationship with a married woman. She and I had a mock wedding ceremony and from then on, she introduced me as her “wife.” I lived with this couple for close to two and a half years. When my wife suggested I have sex with her husband, I did what she asked. I had never been with a man before. This began a cycle of abuse from her husband. I never said no. I was a guest in their home and if I said something, I would have to leave. Proverbs 27:7 states, “One who is full loathes honey from the comb, but to the hungry even what is bitter tastes sweet.” The moments of love and acceptance I experienced with this woman somehow made the pain of the abuse tolerable. I didn’t know if I could live without her love.

My life spiraled out of control in many areas, not only in the area of my sexual identity, but also my eating disorder. Christians seemed to start coming out of nowhere to share about Jesus’ love. They never took it upon themselves to say that I should not be a lesbian. Like everyone else, I was a sinner in need of Jesus in my life. That was my primary need. My sexual behavior was only one of many indicators of my broken, sinful state.

One of these friends gave me a CD by a passionate Christian artist. His voice sang of a friend who was always there, a friend who would give everything for him. That friend is Jesus. And this was good news. In the midst of that song, I cried out to God saying, “I want what he has!” God, in His great mercy, honored my prayer on that day in January of 1999.

I asked hard questions, of myself and of God. Was it really even possible to break free of the chains that still held my life in so many ways, and give myself fully to my relationship with Jesus Christ? I knew homosexual behavior was a sin. I knew Jesus was more real than anything I had ever experienced. I was faced with a choice: continue to embrace the familiar, which was the gay identity I had lived for so long, or take a major risk and trust that Jesus would be and could be enough. I did what I knew I shouldn’t do: I entered into another lesbian relationship. After 3 months, the girl I was dating said, “Listen – you can’t be a Christian and be gay. The Bible says you must either be hot or cold – one or the other, but not lukewarm.” While quoting Scripture, she ended our relationship.

Soon after, I said, “Fine, God! I don’t want this. Please – take these desires away from me.” And in some ways, He did. While my desires for women lessened, the events and circumstances of my life that led me in the direction of lesbianism, an eating disorder and self-injury had not changed. I knew I needed more help and healing than just my prayer of surrender. Romans 12:2 says, “let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think.” I went to a Christian counselor who helped me transform the way I lived and the way I thought.

Still, besides my closest friends, I didn’t want anyone to know about my past. I mean, I had seen how Christians treated gay people on Oprah! They basically tarred and feathered them! I remember being at a campus ministry conference soon after I laid my sexuality at the cross. There was a couple there – the husband had come out of a gay past. I talked to his wife, giving me my first glimmer of hope that maybe there was another way. Maybe I didn’t have to be gay.

Fast forward through a lot of pain and hopelessness and wrestling with God, and God continually pursuing me and teaching me He is who He says He is and He will do what He has said He will do. It was the summer of 2002. I had just gotten engaged to my now husband Roy. I kept in touch with that couple I had met at that conference. I wrote to them, wondering if there was a way I could give back. They connected me with a ministry in Boston, Alive in Christ. Alive in Christ reaches out to Christians impacted by SSA, and they needed a women’s leader.

I thought, God, this can’t be Your will! I just wanted to lick envelopes! Did God really want me to build a ministry around this part of myself I wasn’t sure I wanted to speak openly about? I prayed and once again, like I still try and do every day, surrendered myself and my agenda at the cross. 8 months later, I became the women’s leader, and 1 year and a half after that, in August of 2004, I became the director of Alive in Christ.

Since then – well, I no longer have any issues talking about my same-sex attraction. It was a slow progression over the past 12 years, but in those years, I’ve been in the Boston Globe, on TV news, in 2 award-winning documentaries, on the TV show Pure Passion, and now speak at conferences around the US.

By the grace of God, I am married and have 2 amazing sons and a sweet baby girl. Still, I want to be really clear about something. I minister in this way despite the fact that I still experience same-sex attraction. It’s to a much lesser degree. Whereas once my same-sex attraction was like a swarm of killer bees, now it’s more like the occasional fruit fly. Experiencing temptation is not sin – but acting on it would be. Jesus was tempted – but did not sin. If we expect ourselves to never experience temptation, then we expect to be more free than Jesus.

I can serve and give, even out of my weakness, because God is God, I am not, and He never asked me to be! 2 Corinthians 12:9 says His power is actually made perfect in our weakness, in those places where I still struggle and have to admit that truly, apart from Him, I can do nothing. Gal. 5 says, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.” Freedom is not defined by how I feel; it’s defined by what He did. Freedom is not even defined by the mistakes I still make or how good my behavior is or how free I’m feeling on a particular day; it’s defined by the new identity God has given to me, and the freedom I’m learning to walk in. I am freed to serve, even out of my weakness, simply because of what Jesus did on the cross.

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Sharing my life with new folks reminds me of how very blessed I am – a husband I never thought I’d have, kids I never imagined I could be blessed with.

Truly grateful.

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Monday Morning Meditation: Waiting Well

At the time this is published, I will be 1 day shy of 39 weeks pregnant.

I wish I could say that pregnancy has been all roses and silver-lined clouds, but it hasn’t. It’s been 9 months of waiting and dreaming and at times dreading what is to come.

After 2 difficult births including a c-section, after walking with friends who have experienced babies born still, after losing one of my children to miscarriage, I know all the possibilities of what could happen over the course of these long months.

Baby Girl at the mid-pregnancy ultrasound

Even now, with a child still in my womb as I type this, I know that the next few days and weeks and months of this child’s life are in many ways out of my control. I don’t know how the birth will go. I don’t know if this child will have severe food sensitivities like her oldest brother, and how that might impact what and how we both eat. I can only pray she’ll be healthy and that things will go smoothly.

But there are no guarantees.

All the fears and doubts I’ve wrestled with during this time have brought me to the question:

How do I wait well?

What does that look like?

I can tell you what it doesn’t look like because I’ve been doing a lot of that. Moving 500 miles 6 months into the pregnancy likely didn’t help! Waiting well does not look like worrying and doubting and giving in to fear. It doesn’t look like allowing your imagination to run wild with all the things that could happen and focusing on those things. It doesn’t mean giving in to the depression and anxiety that at times comes so naturally.

Yesterday, as I didn’t wait well, these verses came to mind.

“I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits,
and in his word I put my hope.
I wait for the Lord
more than watchmen wait for the morning,
more than watchmen wait for the morning.”

Psalm 130:5-6 (NIV)

What are we waiting for, anyway? In any period of waiting, while we might be waiting for something specific to happen (like the birth of a child), what we are really waiting on is The Lord.

One way we wait well, as demonstrated by the psalmist, is by putting our hope in His Word.

I realized upon reflection that I had been putting my hope in things turning out a certain way, and not only is that not beneficial, that clearly wasn’t working for me! I was reminded that the only real secure hope I have is God, and one way to rejuvenate that hope within me was to reflect on His Word.

I knew I need to fill myself with His truth, and I chose to do that through worship. You may put your hope in His Word by reading the Bible or listening to it, listening to sermons, or reading a Christian book. I pulled out my guitar and started to sing.

You are my hiding place
You always fill my heart with songs of deliverance
Whenever I am afraid, I will trust in You

I will trust in You
Let the weak say I am strong
In the strength of the Lord

This oldie but goodie has carried me through many a challenging time, and I went on from there, singing songs as they came to mind.

How can you fill yourself with truth today? In your present circumstances, what would it mean to hope in God’s Word?

“Israel, put your hope in the Lord,
for with the Lord is unfailing love
and with him is full redemption.”

Psalm 130:7

Monday Morning Meditation: It Takes Practice

I’ve been asked a few times by people, “How do you have peace/joy/hope in trials? How do you pray with faith with there’s no evidence to put your hope in? How do you keep smiling when things are difficult?”

The answer is simple but not easy.

Practice.

God, in His sovereign purpose, has given me plenty of opportunities to practice learning these truths. Or perhaps it’s just that I was crushed by my choices and my circumstances when I came to Christ that I couldn’t NOT practice these things.

It was do or die, literally. I had to cling to these promises of God as if my life depended on it – because it did.

After being asked about this again last week, this Scripture was read in church yesterday:

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.” Philippians 4:8-9

I do not often hear these 2 verses quoted together. I don’t usually quote them together, but I should, because so often when I reference them, I’m sharing on our thought life. What I hear Paul saying is this: This isn’t easy and it won’t come naturally. It takes practice and hard work to fight against our old patterns of thinking and living.

Paul goes on to talk about how he has learned the secret to being content. God promises to teach us these things as we choose to walk in the truth of His Word, who He says He is, and what He has said He will do.

Why is this so hard for us? If we want to become skilled at something, we know it requires practice, whether it be cooking, knitting or running. If I want to run a race at a faster time than I previously have, I practice running at a certain pace, I do track work, and I cross-train. Why does it surprise us that this is also true for the Christian walk?

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From WikiMedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Stopwatch2.jpg

God has given me even more opportunities to practice these things with our recent move back to Massachusetts from Virginia. Moving all our stuff, my dad’s stuff, my children’s stuff, and our bodies (including my 6+ month pregnant self) is a major chore, and wow. So many things have gone wrong. It could make me question whether or not we made the right choice – but I’ve chosen not to do that. Given that I’m reading through the Old Testament right now, I can see parallels in the Israelites’ journey into the Promised Land. It wasn’t easy to begin with, and they made it much more difficult by complaining their way through. So I am trying to choose to pray and praise rather than complain and grumble. This is something I’ve practiced, and that practice is now coming in quite handy!

In today’s My Utmost for His Highest, Oswald Chambers discusses the Christian life being “gloriously difficult.”

God saves people by His sovereign grace through the atonement of Jesus, and “it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13). But we have to “work out” that salvation in our everyday, practical living (Philippians 2:12). If we will only start on the basis of His redemption to do what He commands, then we will find that we can do it. If we fail, it is because we have not yet put into practice what God has placed within us. But a crisis will reveal whether or not we have been putting it into practice. If we will obey the Spirit of God and practice in our physical life what God has placed within us by His Spirit, then when a crisis does come we will find that our own nature, as well as the grace of God, will stand by us.

This is quite similar to how I describe the freedom that is available in Christ. God has given us everything we need for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3), but we need to learn to walk in that.

We need to put it into practice.

What discipline do you need to practice today? Is it joy? Contentment? Praying and praising no matter what?

Monday Morning Meditation: His Treasured Possession

What is your most treasured possession?

We are in the process of moving (again). In fact, shortly after this posts, the movers will be here. As we pack, we have been setting aside things that we will drive to our new home in Massachusetts. Fragile things, awkward but important items, expensive or irreplaceable keepsakes – they will travel in the cars, rather than risk them being damaged or broken in the moving truck.

Some of them won’t even look like much to others. Some boxes of Freedom Book will be in there. We have an airplane propeller that my dad gave to my oldest son (his first grandchild), a couple pieces of driftwood, a box of old cameras. These things have value simply because we decided they have value.

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The book of Deuteronomy is one long admonition from Moses to the Israelites. They will soon be entering the Promises Land, and, since he cannot go with them, there are some things he wants them to remember. In the midst of warnings not to intermarry, cautions not to bring detestable things into their new homes, reminders to not forget God, we find this gem:

“For you are a people holy to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be his people, his treasured possession.” Deuteronomy 7:6

It would be easy for the reader to become overly focused on Moses’ numerous warnings of “Don’t do this, don’t do this, and don’t do this.” Sometimes I know I get overly focused to those things myself. But we must not lose sight of the why.

God had chosen the Israelites. He called them by name and set them apart. He absolutely treasured them and did not want to see them harmed.

As I put a piece of driftwood that my dad saved because it reminded him of a dancer in my car, I carefully wrap it in a blanket. I pad the sides to insure nothing bumps into it or damages it. If someone else were to move it, I would call out, “Be careful!”

Because it is just that important to me.

How much more so does God treasure us! He encourages us and admonishes us to grasp the “Life that is truly life” (1 Timothy 6:19), an abundant life that will satisfy us so much more fully than anything else (John 10:10). Because He doesn’t want to see harm come to us (Jeremiah 29:11). Because His love is better than life (Psalm 63:3). Because He delights in us (Psalm 18:19).

Because we too are His treasured possession.

Monday Morning Meditation: God is Able

Just wanted to send you off into this week with a quick thought:

“Now to Him who is able…..” Ephesians 3:20

I purchased the new Paul Baloche album, Live, last week. I’ve become a fan of Paul Baloche over the years. If you are a worship leader or team member, you may notice that quite a few of the songs we sing today were written or co-written by him. The last church we attended in Boston (which was mostly folks from the Philippines) sang quite a few of his songs, though sometimes when I hear Paul sing them, I still expect a strong Filipino accent 🙂

As I listened to the album one day, I noticed Paul was repeating these lines from an old hymn:

A mighty fortress is our God
A bulwark never failing.
A mighty fortress is our God
A bulwark never failing.

I thought to myself, How my heart would be changed if I spent my days repeating that truth rather than staring at the seemingly insurmountable mountains in my life.

A similar truth that is contained in Ephesians 3:20 has challenged me to my core lately. It begins, “Now to Him who is able.” That alone is enough to give me pause. I have found myself repeating this to myself and to friends in the simple statement, “God is able.” But Paul, the writer of this letter to the church in Ephesus continues:

“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine,”

We all like the “immeasurably more” part, and that has seemed to be the phrase my heart has latched on to in the past. But lately, I find the next phrase greatly encouraging: more than all we ask or imagine.

When I don’t know what to pray, when I’m afraid to dream another big dream, when my hopes seems outlandish, the God of the cross is able to do abundantly more than I could even think up. How is that even possible? “According to His power that is at work within us.”

Not my fancy prayer. Not my willpower. Not my effort, even, but according His power that is at work because of His Holy Spirit in me.

And because He loves me. Read Ephesians 3:14-19 for reference.

No matter how your week plays out,
No matter what challenges you face,
No matter what mountains come your way,

Remember.

God is able.

“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.” Ephesians 3:20-21 (NIV)

Monday Morning Meditation: Teach Us to Pray

Luke 11:1: “One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, ‘Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.'”

I’ve been spending a lot of time with the section of Scripture we call “The Lord’s Prayer” lately. Not studying it – just praying it. This prayer I memorized as a child that flows out of my heart when I’m not sure what else to say.

In December of 1998, I was introduced to Keith Green. I was given his biography, No Compromise, as well as a couple of his CD’s. I was not yet a Christian, but a friend thought maybe Keith’s music and life would draw me closer to Jesus during a difficult time.

Keith was a radical. He was 100% sold out to Jesus. And one night in January of 1999, as I listened to one of Keith’s passionate songs, as I heard him sing about Jesus, I cried out to God, “I want what he has!”

I don’t know that I was ever taught the context of the Lord’s Prayer. This wasn’t a prayer that Jesus apparently recited over and over, as my Sunday School teacher did, in order for the disciples to memorize it. It wasn’t super lengthy or wordy. It wasn’t even a topic that Jesus brought up on His own accord.

One disciple wanted to be taught how to pray.

Read Luke 11:1 again, as quoted above. The disciples saw Jesus praying. When Jesus was finished, one of his disciples said of Jesus, as I said of Keith Green that January night, I want what He has.

If you struggle with knowing how or what to pray, ask, as the disciple asked:

“Teach us to pray.”

God, let that be our prayer this week. Teach us to pray as You pray. We want what You have.

Monday Morning Meditation: And All That is Within Me

“Bless the Lord, O my soul,
And all that is within me, bless His holy name. 103:1” Psalm

I have just finished 30 days of concentrated prayer, something that Mark Batterson suggests in The Circle Maker. I asked a few of my closest friends what they would like me to pray about for them, and prayed for those things most days. Somewhere in that process I was reminded of Psalm 103, and read that psalm out loud many of those days.

This psalm has special meaning to me. Long before I knew much about Jesus, I loved using the gifts He gave me. One gift He has given me is music. When I was a tormented high schooler, ostracized among my peers because of my sexuality, I auditioned for the musical, Godspell. I was given the part in the production that sang, “O Bless the Lord, My Soul,” a song based on Psalm 103.

During a time of turmoil, God gave me moments of peace among my musical peers and even my non-musical ones. We performed pieces of the musical in front of the whole school. From that moment on, I may not have been liked by some, but in my small town, they respected me because of my talent.

Godspell

Oh bless the Lord my soul!
His praise to thee proclaim!
And all that is within me join,
To bless His holy name!

God’s truth is still truth, no matter what its source or circumstance. Despite the fact that I didn’t know much about God, at this early age, God began to allow His truth to take root in my heart.

I auditioned again for another production of Godspell 5 years later at a theater company where my girlfriend worked. I was once again given the same role and sang the same song.

He will not always chide
He will with patience wait
His wrath is ever slow to rise
And ready to abate
Oh bless the Lord

Psalm 103 begins with self-directives. David sings (as psalms were sung) that he is to bless and praise the Lord with all that is within him.

As I have repeated this psalm many times in recent past, I recall the truth God began to weave into my soul decades ago. I am reminded of His faithfulness and sovereignty in a time when I did not recognize Him as Lord.

I also plainly see that there is much within me that does not bless Him at all: my complaining, my procrastination, my fear that paralyzes at times, my unloving and prideful attitude.

Oh bless the Lord my soul!
His mercies bear in mind!
Forget not all His benefits,
The Lord, to thee, is kind.

How would my life change if I were to choose to allow “all that is within me” to bless His holy name? No allowing the negative thoughts to take over my mind but instead, pressing my fears into God’s heart and choose to praise Him?

Take this thought with you for the week. Ask yourself: are my words, whether spoken or thought, allowing all that is within me to bless His holy name?

*Words in italics are from the song, O Bless The Lord My Soul, by Stephen Schwartz and John-Michael Tebelak.