Consistent not Common

The Lord is good. His mercy endures forever. His faithfulness endures throughout every generation.
Psalms 100:5 GW

Yesterday, we learned about our being persistent in our prayer.

And in discussing our persistence in prayer, we talked about how all good gifts come from God — and how His good gifts are in contrast to the things of this world that are perishing.

We learned that persistence in prayer is about receiving. Consistency is about abiding, keeping, staying. God demonstrates consistency for us in His goodness, mercy and faithfulness to us.

Another way to look at it is that persistence is striving for what we realized we wanted but did not yet have — and consistency is how we demonstrate that we still want it now that we have it. A child might be persistent about asking for a new “thing” but tire of it quickly and move onto something else. But if that enjoyment remains and they consistently use it and enjoy it year after year, it proves itself to be more valuable to them. In fact, the value may not be as conscious to them as they may still be chasing “new things”, but it’s consistent, abiding presence in their life every day demonstrates clearly to others its value.

I might ask myself, “What am I persistently seeking, and what do I carry consistently with me each day that others can see is most valuable to me?”

I have only been awake for an hour this morning, but there have already been thousands of blessings that I’ve encountered this morning:

  • I woke up healthy.
  • The sun rose.
  • The birds sang.
  • My wife woke up healthy.
  • My daughter woke up healthy.
  • Our dogs woke healthy.
  • The power, water and utilities were all on.
  • The hvac had kept the house confidante through the night.
  • Our house is still providing shelter.
  • Our toilets worked.
  • My body successfully relieved itself of yesterday’s waste to make room for today’s nutrients.
  • I have a good job that I enjoy and that challenges me.
  • Technology allowed me to restart a server (planned outside hours restart) early this morning from the confort of my bed in minutes.
  • I am loved by Almighty God the Father whose mercy provided me a way back into His arms through Jesus Christ the Son, and who provides me each day His abiding presence the the Holy Spirit.
  • My Bible App allowed me to consider, contemplate and study The Word this morning.
  • The WordPress App and connectivity across the globe allows me to share the gospel across every nation, tribe and tongue.

I got up this morning, and so many blessings were present like they are almost every morning. It might be easy to overlook them because they are “consistent” in my life, but my familiarity with these blessings doesn’t make them any less valuable or important. Even just one of these blessings not being present this morning would have impacted my day significantly.

My point is that it may take me stepping back and considering the consistency of God’s goodness that this morning’s verse mentions.

It not only reminds me of who He is, but it sets my heart and mind up in a healthy alignment in order to make contact with the day.

Yes, today will have its challenges, it’s trials, it’s temptations, and it’s struggle — but how much deeper and wider and full is the mercy and love and faithfulness of our God in blessing us every day? Amen.

His Presence

Scripture: “Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence?” Psalm 139:7

This morning, as I read my morning devotional, I wondered and contemplated God’s presence in my life and my own presence and influence in the lives around me.

I am changing jobs and we just officially notified the rest of my team yesterday of my resignation in a wonderfully complimentary email from my supervisor. And I’ll get to attend a celebration dinner next week where six of us will be recognized for work “above and beyond” on a recent project. And many coworkers have reached out to me personally with thanks and well wishes. Each one of these is special and valuable to me because of the relationship that it represents. We have been in each other’s presence daily, serving each other — and even loving each other and building community together.

God goes with me everywhere that I travel. He has been with me at this job, and He will be with me at the next. I am not always aware of His presence and His influence, because many times I get “busy”, many times I get “distracted”, many times I get “tempted”, and many times I honestly just get “complacent”.

And I can get this way about the people around me as well. Sometimes I can “isolate”, instead of “going out and making disciples of the nations”. Sometimes I can get tired of doing heavy lifting and complain that I need help, rather than “bearing my cross daily for the glory of God”. Sometimes I can grumble about what others are or aren’t doing or what things need to change, rather than “being the example and leading the way”.

Honestly, it is only by the power of Christ in me that I don’t consistently get this wrong and make a complete wreck of things. And the goal isn’t just to say, “Yes, I see that I’ve fallen short in this way — thank you Jesus for forgiveness.” Undoubtedly, that is the most important thing to believe and receive when it comes to my own salvation.

But what about others?

What about those around me who need that same salvation?

What about others who are in need of hope and encouragement?

What about their seeing and knowing Good and loving Him and being blessed by His presence?

It doesn’t have to be some big, huge, religious display — listen to them, be there for them, lift the heavy work gratefully to show them the way, encourage them that they can do even more than they see you doing now, reach out to those who you may have lost touch with that might be isolated, seek out those who are in need and could benefit from your presence in their lives. I’m saying these things to myself right now — but also to you my friends. We will have an impact today because of our presence — and our exit from the lives of others will also have an impact because of our presence.

There are two questions:

1) Will our presence be a blessing and our departure be a loss, or the opposite — and why is that?

2) Will our presence clearly demonstrate our faith and the presence of God’s Holy Spirit at work within us and cause others to give God glory, or the opposite — and why is that?

If our life is not generating the type of fruit that we would like it to, maybe we need to truly repent, truly surrender our lives to the Lord, truly trust Him, truly enter into His presence, and be healed, restored, and renewed. This isn’t some once upon a time thing, but is an ongoing, active relationship with the Almighty Living God, made possible by the Blood of the Lamb.

Do we need to enter into His presence today?

Yes we do.


Hear & Obey

The life that pleases God is not a set of religious duties; it is to hear His voice and obey His word.

Richard Foster, Celebration of Discipline

A friend from a church where we used to attend shared a 40 Days of Lent devotional with me via the YouVersion Bible app: 40 Daily Devotionals for Lent

Today’s devotional included this wonderful quote from Richard Foster that was such an encouraging, “Yes!” moment for me.

Yesterday, I had the day off of work, and Mia, my daughter, was out of school as well. So we spent the day together– playing with the puppies at our house — meeting Mandee, my wife, for Mia’ first ever lunch at Ike’s Korner Grill — visiting Milliken to feed the ducks, geese, and lone pigeon — going to Frankie’s Fun Park to play video games and drink Icees — and even grabbing a Caramel Coconut Cookie milkshake at Bruster’s. The rain kept us from enjoying what we thought would be Mia’s first time in the batting cages and from a trip to Carowinds that evening — but we changed directions and headed home to play Mario Party instead.

As my gas light came on, Mia said “There’s a Sphinx station right up here” and I immediately asked “How did you know that?” Because we were in a different town and in an area where I know that she has never been before. I knew that there was a Sphinx station ahead because 15 years ago I used to work in that area. But there was no way that she could have known that herself.

The situation offered the opportunity for me to tell her how I feel like the Holy Spirit whispers things to me that help me so many times in my life that might make people think that I’m wise, or insightful, or thoughtful, or talented — but I think that it is primarily that I’m willing to hear and obey. It is an odd thing to try and explain without sounding a bit crazy — so I just shared it with her and accepted that whether it helped her now or later in life, it is important for me to share with her regularly the differences between religious duties/traditions/dogma versus an active abiding in the Holy Spirit of God.

The same thing happened recently when we had our 1 year old Maltipoo puppy at the vet office after she was very sick, not eating, not drinking water, not urinating, and eventually throwing up blood. I had recently changed the thermostat in my wife’s vehicle. As careful as we had been to insure the dogs couldn’t get to any of the antifreeze, my immediate fear was that she had somehow gotten to some of it. As I lay hands on the little pup and prayed for healing — and then as I pray aloud and sobbing with my wife that God not let my foolishness be the reason for my little girl’s broken heart (if anything we’re to happen to her dog because of my actions) — I let peace wash over me. We took the pup to the vet and as we sat waiting for the blood test results, my wife said, “Maybe it’s pancreatitus?” And when the vet returned later and said Pancreatitus (not antifreeze poisoning) — I asked my wife how she knew that and she didn’t know.

Side Note: Even though the vet was wanting to hospitalize Olive for pancreatitus, we took her home and nursed her back to health, and she is now 100% recovered. Thank you Jesus!

I’m not going to make out like we’re perfect and holy and “more in tune with God” and that’s why we’re blessed. But I’m also not going to ignore the fact that even though we are imperfect — that there truly is something about the Blood of the Lamb washing us clean and allowing us the opportunity to hear and obey that brings us blessing that is beyond what I believe we would accomplish in our own.

“I will meditate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your ways.” 

Psalm 119:15

Lord, thank you for calling us by name. Thank you for speaking wisdom and truth to us. Please heal our hearts, open our ears to hear you, and open our eyes to see clearly that obedience truly is for our best. Help us to hear and obey. Thank you for the opportunity to sing your praise and give you the glory for every good gift. Amen.

Falling Asleep

Question: What if I fall asleep while praying?

First things first, we need to make sure that we are getting adequate sleep. Our body is the temple of the Lord, so proper upkeep and maintenance of that temple is important. I sometimes overlook that part of the equation because it doesn’t sound all “spiritual” and “wise” to talk about (and it is an area where I need to improve personally) — but it really and truly matters. So please get adequate and healthy amounts of sleep, exercise, water, and food.

Many times when that happens to me, it was peace washing over me that I needed desperately.

But occasionally it can be my body fighting against my spirit having close, intimate time with the Lord concerning issues that really need to be dealt with. In those cases, I find that physically getting on my knees in the floor and leaving my head down towards the floor offers a position where I can sustain it for longer periods of prayer, humility, deep contemplation, and repentance without falling asleep.

In my experience, it really depends on what I need in order for my heart and my thoughts to be closer to His heart and His thoughts.

If I’m falling asleep because I’m not making time to be with God — and I’m just occasionally saying a prayer because I know I should in the morning or evening — I could probably benefit from being more intentional about my intimacy with God. I might need to grow in my attitude towards Him and my hunger for His Word. Once we’ve believed and received the Holy Spirit as promised in the Word of God — these types of groanings to God in periods of dedicated prayer (like we see Christ and the disciples model for us) can be powerful and offer growth, breakthrough, deliverance, healing, and renewal.

If I’m in a hard season where life has me worn, and it is work for me to lift a hallelujah because as I sing my praises, and my hope is that I truly believe these words that I’m singing, and I’m wondering where God is in all of this — that is a wonderful season where I can come to Him with my troubles, lay in His arms with faith like a child, say “I need you Father” and let Him wrap His loving arms around us and comfort us with peace and sleep.

He knows exactly what I need even better than I do. He is also a Good Father who loves me and welcomes me with open arms — I don’t have to make grand gestures or complete certain practices in order to speak with Him. But sometimes I need something practical to wash my hands and prepare my heart to sit with Him again.

Whatever it is that we need in order to draw close to Him, I pray it is granted by God, received by us gratefully, and empowered by the Holy Spirit to impact us and this life. Amen.

Offer sacrifices in the right spirit, and trust the Lord. Many people say, “Who will show us better times?” Let your face smile on us, Lord. You have given me greater joy than those who have abundant harvests of grain and new wine. In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, O Lord, will keep me safe.
Psalms 4:5‭-‬8 NLT

Some great verses to guide your study on intimate conversation with the Lord (aka prayer):


I heard someone recently say that one of the hardest lessons that we have to learn is that we are not the hero of everyone else’s story. It reminds me to not think myself too important or valuable in the lives of others, and to appreciate those that do enjoy me being a character within the book of their lives.

As I read Psalm 22 this morning, I am tempted to internalize this Word of God and try to make it about myself. I read the first few verses and think about how challenging this season of life has been in many ways:

My God, my God, why have you abandoned me? Why are you so far away when I groan for help? Every day I call to you, my God, but you do not answer. Every night I lift my voice, but I find no relief.
Psalms 22:1‭-‬2 NLT

I even find myself playing the victim in my own mind as I read and contemplate the Word of God, considering what has been hard or troubling or difficult. It’s almost like I think of “heroes” like David in the Bible and I want to interject myself into the story — making it a first person movie about the hero that I could be rather than a revelation to me of my God who loves me.

And when my perspective is self-centered, when I let myself become the hero or the villain of my life — it truly does feel like He doesn’t answer — not because He is far away, but because I am turned away from Him. He is the hero, and we are truly the ones in need of rescue. “He resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”

As we continue reading Psalm 22, it should become evident that this story is not about us. There are lines in this Psalm that we can associate with and contemplate and understand — but some verses go far beyond our common experienced. Not many of us can see all of our own bones or have had our hands and feet pierced and our clothes gambled for. We also begin to realize that this is not just another Psalm by David telling of a dark time in his own life where he had to rely upon God yet again to see him through. No, this is clearly a Psalm inspired and written long before Jesus’s birth to tell of the Messiah to come, and for us to look back at in awe and wonder.

It is good that there is much to the Word of God that I can understand and comprehend through shared experiences and commonalities — because even though God is Almighty and His ways are higher than ours, He reaches down from heaven in beautiful ways to be close and not far — that is the very point of the Good News of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

So, Lord, come be the hero of our story — and help us to not be the villain of anyone else’s story today. Help us to love and serve each other and bring YOU honor and glory. Amen.

Associated Reading:

  • Psalm 22
  • James 4

Honest Lips

Associated reading:

  • Psalm 17

As I read Psalm 17 this morning, I was wondering if David’s recorded prayer to the Lord would be one of those moments where as we pray to God for justice from “cruel and evil people” — that God reveals something in ourselves that needs to be corrected in the heart of the prayer by a stirring of the Holy Spirit within us — and an awareness of those things we can control to improve the situation. Many times in my life, prayer does that — it shifts me from a paralyzed, victim mindset where I’m blaming others — into a purpose driven victor where I’m biased towards the action necessary to move forward.

But this Psalm 17 is either not one of those Psalms — or maybe this morning is not one of those mornings. There are healthy, mature, mountaintop moments in our Christian walk where we can say “declare me innocent” and it isn’t just because we are guilty yet again and calling to be washed by the Blood of the Lamb. We aren’t meant to be satisfied to always be walking in defiled garments and be victims who are powerless against things like temptation and pride. So it is encouraging that we can sometimes stand to declare ourselves innocent and not be lying through our teeth in the presence of a Holy God — but truly be saying, “Lord, I have done everything I possibly can myself. I really need you to help me with this.”

Yes, there is a balance and this should not become a narcissistic attitude of “I’m right and they are wrong” every day or every prayer — because that is clearly shallow and wrong hearted. But we also cannot be afraid to acknowledge that God is working in us through the power of the Holy Spirit so that we will walk upright and “Holy as He is Holy”.

The beautiful thing about the Living Word is that one morning, I might read this Psalm 17 and be convicted about how my lips weren’t honest and how I need to repent and make amends. Another morning, I might read this Psalm 17 and realize that someone I’m considering an enemy has simply offended me and I need to truly forgive them to release my heart from “the Bait of Satan”. Another morning, I might actually be at the end of my rope and need God to lay low a mountain that I can’t on my own. Isn’t that wonderful?

No matter where you are this morning, my friend, our goal should be to come to Him in prayer with honest lips. Listen to what we are saying when we are praying — and a humble prayer doesn’t have words lower than the truth in shame — nor higher than the truth in pride. That is worth repeating:

A humble prayer doesn’t have words lower then the truth in shame — nor higher than the truth in pride.

– Harold “Hop” Ballinger

Let’s strive in our prayer life for honest lips, actively listening to ourselves introspectively and for the stirring of the Holy Spirit to reveal whether we are higher or lower in our understanding of the truth of our circumstances. And let’s do everything that we can to be actively upright, honest, kind, loving, and self-controlled — but also rest in peace and patience when our faith has us eagerly waiting for God to move. Amen.

Remembering Accurately

Associated reading:

  • Genesis 8 & 9
  • Psalm 8 & 9
  • Joshua 8 & 9
  • “Factfulness” by Hans Rosling

As I read the chapters yesterday and today, they helped remind me of the the importance of remembering accurately. It also helps that I’m listening to another book on the subject of accuracy vs misconception on Audible (“Factfulness” by Hans Rosling), that was given high praise on LinkedIn by a co-worker.

When we are given instructions on how to do something — as Noah was with his instructions concerning the Ark, as Joshua was with his instructions concerning the town of Ai, and as the Israelites were in receiving their instructions for life through Moses — it is important that we remember accurately those instructions, so that we can follow them accurately. And this is critically important in the short term. Like daily manna, if we rise from our slumber and go out into God’s Word each day to gather our daily bread, and if we meet with Him in the garden for intimate time alone with Him, and on the seashore for time of restoration, and even at the cross for reflection and repentance — we will remember Him more accurately through our day’s plans, tasks, circumstances and surprises.

We also do not want to forget what He has done for us in the past or remember wrongly the history of our lives, of our family’s history, and the history of the world. Relying upon our own memory alone can be tricky — as we have a tendency to forget, to embellish, or to be selective in our long term memories of things. We are not perfect in our memories like God, even though God has favored us so undeservedly as David describes, “What are mere mortals that you should think about them… You made them only a little lower than the heavenly beings”. Humankind not only has our individual memories, but we have our spoken and written and recorded history as well. We have all that we speak amongst our families, friends, neighbors, acquaintances and strangers during our waking lives. And we have all that might be read, listened to, or watched that we have done that might even exceed that short span of our breath- filled lungs.

Since God is of utmost importance in the story of the life of one who “walks in The Way”, shouldn’t He be the ever present salt that flavors our shared remembrance, and the testimony of our trials be the pepper and herbs, and our profession of Christ risen from the dead be our life giving drink? Just as Joshua sat the people down to hear the whole of God’s commands then, shouldn’t we gather together to read and hear the whole of His Word amongst ourselves?

As I am going through this “Old Testament” reading plan ( ), I don’t look at this example and pat myself on the back for making it 9 days in faithfully — because I remember accurately how many times I have started and never finished such an undertaking. And I’m not ashamed or in despair either about it. Nor am I flippant about my wanting to make it through to the end consistently this time. It reminds me accurately that but for the grace of God, I would be those people drowned outside the Ark, I would be those enemies appointed for judgement, I would be like Achan who stole from the Lord and deserved to be set up as an example of “what not to do”.

But for the grace of God, what would be remembered accurately about our lives?

What history would be left in the wake of our selfish, prideful, foolish, wicked, sinful lives if a better way (even the best and only way) hasn’t been revealed to us?

As I sat down for lunch with a leader yesterday, we talked about how our “default setting” is not that best way and that we both rely on God’s grace and power daily to strengthen us and carry us through. That too often, we make the same foolish mistakes as all the other characters in the Bible, save the one perfect Lamb of God who “got it right”. It is so refreshing and encouraging to sit with friends over a meal and just experience friendship and fellowship together!

As for me and my house, I want us to remember accurately all that the Lord has done for us. I’m not exactly sure what that looks like or how we live it out consistently, day by day — for our own benefit, for the world to see, but most importantly for the glory of God — but I’m eager to see what the Lord has in store, and grateful for the opportunity to be a part of it. Amen.

The Contrast

There is a great contrast between the grace and mercies found in intimate closeness to God — versus the harsh reality of death, darkness, and destruction that comes to those separated from and opposed to God.

Genesis 2 lays out for Adam and Eve an explanation of the consequences of “choosing the wrong side” when they are told “If you eat its fruit, you will surely die.” And Psalm 2 contrasts those who do not submit as “you will be destroyed in the midst of all of your activities” to “what joy for all who take refuge in Him!” And even Joshua 2 lays out a choice and consequences for Rahab the prostitute, who helped them.

In each of these situations, we see kind advice communicated — like a good father would warn his children about not touching a hot stove top — but we also see the opportunity for submission or opposition. And even more importantly, we see that the ones giving advice and extending grace have the wisdom and insight to indicate the “If you choose X, your consequences will be X — our If you choose Y, your consequences will be Y.” It would be foolish for a father to not warn his child about the consequences of a hot stove — just as it would be foolish of a child not to heed his father’s advice about the hot stove.

But we have all at times in our lives ignored the advice of our heavenly Father and traded what is best for a different set of consequences. In fact, being a slave to sin is having our joy and our greatest blessings stolen from us repeatedly, day after day, as we are tricked into giving up willingly what is best — in trade it for the momentary pleasures of “sin”.

Instead of seeing sin as “getting to do what I want instead of having to follow God’s rules” — we must understand that sin is always us “giving up what is best for us in trade for something less”.

A good father knows that his child might be foolish, and isn’t telling him “don’t touch the hot stovetop” to keep him from enjoying exploring some new areas of the kitchen — but to protect him from the hurt that he knows will be the inevitable consequence. In fact, a good father isn’t waiting eagerly to beat the foolish child for touching the hot stove and getting burnt — he longs to share wisdom and good advice for the benefit of the child.

Unfortunately, I fear that much of what extreme evangelical teaching has used (seemingly as a shortcut for denomination centered religious “conversions” not Christ centered life-altering “salvations”) — by scaring people with an emphasis upon hell and eternal torment and a wrathful, vengeful Father God, with Jesus as a “get out of hell free card” if they can explain the “Roman road” and recite a “sinner’s prayer” — has completely skewed the common understanding of God as Heavenly Father and how “sin” is understood. I know that I personally misunderstood this for decades of my young church going life.

To look at “sin” from a “do this and don’t do that” perspective alone is having information but not knowing how to truly understand it. This is what is meant by “the letter of the law kills”. That is the religious, judgemental, hypocritical perspective that would enjoy and take pleasure in repeatedly beating a child for placing their hand on a stovetop that wasn’t even hot — while using the excuse “it’s for his own good” to justify their perverse pleasure in doing harm to the child. That is not how God operates, and those who act as if it is — not only do not know Him personally — but clearly know very little “about Him” as well.

When we look at the love of a father who warns us of the dangers, yet allows us to learn — either by being his advice and enjoying the fruit of wisdom — or by ignoring his advice and experiencing the consequences of the prodigal — that grace available for both the wise and the foolish, will either have us grateful like the prodigal son, or confused and mad like the jealous older son in that story. This is the gospel, and it sees things from a spiritual perspective.

Related reading:

  • Genesis 2
  • Psalm 2
  • Joshua 2

My PrayerMate

Great is the Lord , and highly to be praised, And His greatness is [so vast and profound as to be] unsearchable [incomprehensible to man].
Psalms 145:3 AMP

I really enjoy the PrayerMate app. It helps me bring some order to my prayers while not just being repetitive. I can build out separate lists and tell it how many items to automatically give me from each list when I start a prayer. That way, many of your names come up.

For my lists, I start out praising God for who He is, with separate items praising:

Who He is as Father
Who He is as Son
Who He is as Holy Spirit
What He has done

Then I submit myself:

Confess who I am in Christ
Confess my sin
Pray to be granted Repentance
Surrender My Will to His Will

Then I pray your names and relationships:

My Closest Inner Circle
Extended Family
Church Family
Marketplace Relationships
Specific Unbelievers

At times, people ask for, or I feel led to specific intercessory prayer for others. I have a separate list of those names in that grouping.

Then I have groupings for:

My Walk with God
My Specific Needs
Sharing My Testimony
A list of Biblical Prayers

I can set this app to remind me during the day to take a moment to pray. And by maintaining these lists, I can either have it automatically hand me a number of items to fit how much time I have right then for prayer — or I can drill down into a particular group and list.

Admittedly, I could be much more consistent and intentional with my prayer than I am at times. But this app really helps me with this, and when I’ve fallen out of practice, or when I’ve just been “phoning in my prayers” — I can look at the names and the needs listed and see the real hurt, challenge, and need and be prompted to truly contemplate the need, then pray for and try to help — rather than just grow cold.

I’m not sharing this to say “look how good I’m doing”. Nope, this is just an app that is helping me do what I should love you deeply enough to gladly remember to do on your behalf, to remember your needs, to remember our relationships and value them, and to remember that I can take it all to my Awesome God on your behalf.

I’m showing you my weakness. My crutch. That I need help, but that this is helping me — with organization, with access, with reminders, and with accountability.

I’m hoping that maybe someone else might find my crutch helpful, and maybe we could hobble along and encourage and pray for each other?

And most importantly, and as praising Him is first in my PrayerMate order, He is worthy of our praise. So whether it is with an app or not, let’s not miss out on our opportunity today to spend time with Him, to praise Him, and to walk with Him.

God bless.

If you want to be on my list, please just ask. I won’t even proudly say you’re already there. I’ll just be grateful that we have a relationship where we might be able to pray for each other and share something more than surface level things that are posted to Facebook. I want to love you, and prayer ands remembering the names of you and your family specifically ands regularly helps me. Thank you.


Glory in His holy name; Let the hearts of those who seek and require the Lord [as their most essential need] rejoice.
Psalms 105:3 AMP

This morning as my wife read our morning devotional aloud, and Mia and I listened — my waking mind wandered and struggled to maintain focus. As she finished and it was time for me to pray, I realized that I wasn’t sure that I had really comprehended everything that was spoken. But lyrics from a song immediately came to mind that seemed to fit so well with the parts that I had heard — and I prayed about how God is worthy always. I prayed about when our circumstances are challenging, or when we need to let go of things like fear, anxiety, anger, unforgiveness, bitterness, temptations, or sin that poisons our spirit ands hinders our worship– and that anyone can easily see how those things cause hurt in the world — that time worshipping changes that. When we desire to be with the Lord and spend time with Him, He changes us in that intimate time together.

My mom shared with me yesterday how she starts each day with prayer and how some mornings it comes easy and is quick, and some mornings it is more challenging or long, but that it is always good. I shared with her that I’ve had the same experience and that I sometimes mistake “needing more time with Him” with being “my fault” or “something I’ve done” as the reason for the difference. While that can be the case, that my own self can hinder the process of prayer and worship — who is greater, and who is the solution when I need healing? JESUS!

Speaking with mom on the topic, I was reminded of a video that my pastor Mark Pangel shared of a prophet speaking “there is no wasted time, there is no wasted effort” and given instruction “clean the house” and “the lost coin will be found”. And we talked about how our limited perspective just doesn’t see things right.

It’s like people who foolishly say “Israel wouldn’t have had to walk through the wilderness for 40 years if they had just obeyed God” and stop there. While the facts of their statement might check out when measured by the law — and their exegesis may check all the boxes — they might have missed the whole point of God’s sovereign will and His purpose to walk close and intimate with them, and that He purposed, designed, planned and allowed that time for a specific reason.

Knowledge is easy for smart people, and rules and laws, and cause and effect makes sense to them — but wisdom is something greater than just accumulated knowledge — and wisdom begins with the fear of God.

I encourage you to watch and consider this wonderful video “He confounds the wise”:

Sometimes God has to break me out of the pattern of “just” reading comprehension, of “just” good hermeneutics, of “just” application, of “just” knowledge, of “just” understanding — to intimate time soaking in His presence.

Whether we need a quick shower to get on our way, or whether He has a long soak in the tub in store for us — whether our prayer and worship to start the morning ends up peacefully finished in our allotted timeslot — or whether it lasts through our morning commute and we must sit in our parked car for an extended time before entering our day’s responsibilities — our time is not wasted, our effort is not wasted. He is working in us to desire and to do His good pleasure, to bring His Kingdom on earth as it is in heaven, to turn graves into gardens, to turn mourning into dancing, to trade ashes for beauty. Amen.

“Graves into Gardens” is a song performed by American contemporary worship band Elevation Worship and American contemporary Christian singer-songwriter Brandon Lake which was released as the second single from their eighth live album of the same name, Graves into Gardens (2020), on August 7, 2020. The song was written by Brandon Lake, Chris Brown, Steven Furtick and Tiffany Hammer.

We sing this song because we have known the power of taking time to seek the Lord, desiring to know Him better. We’ve experienced coming freely into His presence and letting our hearts rejoice in Him regardless of the circumstances around us at the time because HE IS WORTHY OF PRAISE. when we ate standing upon the Holy Ground of genuine praise and worship, and we breathe in the rarefied air of His holiness, refusing our cars and concerns to rest in awe and wonder of the His glory, His presence envelops us like a big, spiritual hug, permeating us through and through — and He turns graves into gardens, turns mourning into dancing, gives beauty for ashes.

Thank you, Jesus!