The 23rd Psalms says, “He makes me lie down in green pastures;” Let’s break it down into two parts:
1. “lie down”
Why not sit down? Why not lean up against a tree? Why did God inspire David to write, “lie down?” Let’s look at Isaiah 14:30, it says, “The poorest of the poor will find pasture, and the NEEDY will LIE DOWN in safety.” It is safe to lie down. When we sitting up or standing up we are targets for assault or activity. More thought, more talking, more movement. When we lie down, we are still. When we are still, God can speak; when God speaks, we can hear Him.
2. “makes me”
Here, God is telling us, “Do it.” Again, let’s consider what God did not say: He did not say “I suggest,” “studies show,” “perhaps you should.” No, here, in the Psalm of comfort, God says I will make you lie down. You know how a shepherd would make a lamb lay down? If a lamb kept running off and getting lost; or kept running and not resting; or kept getting threatened by the wolves from running away, do you know what the shepherd would do? Make him lie down. How? By breaking his legs. I’m telling you, if you don’t take time to lie down and truly listen to the Lord, He is capable of making you.
In 1999, I paid a huge price for not resting. I ran–like a dumb lamb–for too long & refused rest. So when I was Baker-Acted and forced to spend the night in a psychiatric ward–I was made to lie down. Yes, God loved me that much that He forced me to rest. I don’t know where you are in your life, but I hope you are resting. You were made to do great things–but resting is part of that plan.
Sometimes, we will attend something, be with someone or read something that will completely fill our heart but also overflow it. Case in point, the Leading and Loving It Retreat I just attended. I mean, let’s face it, in the day-to-day, we give out a lot from our heart. And God knows it. So He is so good to put things into our lives that fill our hearts back up again fully and overflow them abundantly. My heart is overflowing from this retreat. Filled to the brim–and pouring out. What to do? What to do? Here’s what I think: don’t keep the overflow for yourself. Your overflow can be someone’s answer for depletion. Someone around you has a heart running on empty and is praying, hoping that someone will somehow come along and fill it. My heart is full as I write this and I am so thankful. But I don’t want to be selfish and keep the excess for myself. I pray that God and I can use this overflow to help someone around me. Someone needs a hug, a smile, a laugh or a shoulder. After this retreat, I’m ready to be that one.
A soft answer turneth away wrath; but grievous words stir up anger. (Proverbs 15:1) I should be the last person to write about a soft voice. I’ve always had a big mouth! I guess that is why I made a good cheerleader in school, but a terrible bookkeeper after college. To illustrate this point, let’s compare the soft and the hard of our everyday life to a soldier’s military life: a Sealy Posturepedic bed with a Down Comforter or a hard cot with a wool blanket//soft pajamas or military cargoes//Soft-soap, lavender-scent or a bar of Dial//a soft-padded dining room chair or a hard wooden bench. My point? If soft things are more appealing to us, a soft voice is more appealing to others. And remember, God has never yelled at you. God not only challenges us to use a softer voice, the Incarnate, himself, uses one every day. God whispers to you because real, authentic love is near enough to not have to shout. Shout when someone is about to hit your car–not when you wanna make a point or win an argument. 🙂
“He forgives all my sins and heals all my distresses.” (Psalm 103:3) It is one of the greatest feelings in the world: You owe money, and out of nowhere, you are told, “Don’t worry about it, it’s been taken care of.” Isn’t that the BEST??!! Money is hard to come by, when pardon is made for something difficult to attain, it is wonderfully liberating. If my alma mater called to inform me that I didn’t need to pay back my student loan debt, I would surely accept! Conversely, my hubs would freak out if I insisted on holding onto that debt & refused their offer. Friends, God freaks out when we hold onto our debt too. Since I was born, I’ve been sinning (accumulating debt) & by comparison, my sin-debt is probably in the trillions! But God says,”Child, let it go, there is no sin you have done that my Son did not die for.” From a Father who sent his Son to be sacrificed for our sin, yet sees us holding onto it, must truly grieve Him. As Christ-followers, if we took the chance to believe that Jesus Christ is our Lord and Savior, why can’t we take the chance to receive His forgiveness? What good does it do to hold onto ANY sin? What GOOD IT DOES DO to let it go! God inspired the Psalmist to write, “He forgives ALL my sins…” Jesus didn’t die with a disclamier. He didn’t suffer with accrural. He died. He rose. You are forgiven. Let it go.
Every morn, I have hang-time with God. And believe-you-me, it SO didn’t happen over night. Over a period of time, I realized, one, I’m desperately in need of God to help me through the day & two, God has taken a lot of time to be with me. So with these 2 things convicting me, I started having daily hang-time with Him. Now the “what” has changed over the years–depending on what season of life I’ve been in. These days, my personal time is a combo of 2 things: bible reading (via YouVersion app) & prayer time. How do I pray? On my knees. What do I pray? I follow the acronoym “A.C.T.S.” A for Adoration, I just give God applause for who He is. Sometimes I recite words from a particular worship song I’ve got on “repeat” in my heart, sometimes I just think of many adjectives that describe Him. Then, I “C” for confess. Confession is apologizing for all my crap, asking God to forgive it & help me turn from it. Then I proceed to “T” for thanks. I have tried to get into the practice of thanking God for FIVE things every day. During my bouts of depression that has been extrememly difficult. But in those bouts, I’ve learned this: there is ALWAYS something to be thankful for. Finally, I wrap up my prayer with “S” for seek. These are what we’d call prayer requests. It’s the things I am seeking God’s help on. Some are for me, some are even for you! So that’s how I roll with my daily hang-time with God. I don’t know where you are–but I hope in a small way, this encourages you to daily hang with God too. 🙂
Dr. Donald Barnhouse told of the occasion when his wife had died. He, with his children, had been to the funeral service for her. As he was driving his motherless children home, they were naturally overcome with grief. Dr. Barnhouse said that he was trying to think of some word of comfort he could give them. Just then, a huge moving van passed them. As it passed, the shadow of the truck swept over the car. And as the truck pulled on in front of them, an inspiration came to Dr. Barnhouse. He said, “Kids, would you rather be run over by a truck or by its shadow?” The children said, “Well, of course, Dad, we’d much rather be run over by the shadow! That can’t hurt us at all.” Dr. Barnhouse said, “Did you know that 2000 years ago the truck of death ran over the Lord Jesus…in order that only its shadow might run over us?” Psalm 23 promises us that we walk through the valley of the shadow of death. Be comforted by that promise. Death is a part of life–but with Christ–it is a shadow He joins us in, and by His love, sent his son to spare us from its worst reality.
1) Invite people! We have really cool biz cards & 5×7 cards. Hand them out! Give them to cashiers, doctors, teachers, drive-thru cashiers, baristas, neighbors. Who are the people in your neighborhood? Seriously, whoever they are, invite ’em!
2) Dress up! Just because we are old doesn’t mean we have to act old. Join the CBG staff and pastors in dressing up in a superhero or villain character this weekend. I already have my costume! 🙂
3) Join a LifeGroup. Are you whining that you have no friends? That you never have fun? Well are you doing life with people?? This weekend there’s going to be a huge push to find a lifegroup that fits your lifestyle, all’s you gotta do is SIGN UP!
4) CONNECT 4. This Sunday at 11:04am, in the Chapel we are launching our new Membership-Get-on-Board CBG class. If you are new to the church or ready to find a way to get more involved, ATTEND this class! It’s only ONE hour, it’s FREE, it’s going to include a field trip (FUN!!) and I’ll be there and well, not that means anything, but let’s just have fun together, eh?
OK that’s the scoop. Leave a comment if you have any questions or if there is anything I can do to help you make this weekend a memory for us and a blast for you! BOOM!
I am not inherently a patient person. I’ve often tweeted, “patience is a virtue, but first it is a test!” That being said, I’ve learned I MUST depend on something to teach me patience because there is nothing in my “Heather” that I can draw from. So what to do? LEARN GOD’S WORDS! If we can learn passages about patience then when we’re at that point where we are about to go psycho & lose our patience, we can recall or recite them. Amazingly (but to no surprise to God) we will then discover a calming in our spirit and a chill in our actions. For starters, I would put these on sticky-notes or index cards around your world. Then, I would work to memorize them. Wah-Lah! Who’s with me?? 🙂
1) I won’t be impatient for the Lord to act! I will keep traveling steadily along his pathway and in due season He WILL honor me with EVERY blessing. Psalm 37:34, TLB (emph., mine)
2) I waited patiently and expectantly for the Lord; and He inclined to me and heard my cry. Psalm 40:1
3) Patience is better than strength. Controlling your temper is better than capturing a city. Proverbs 16:32
4) Let your patience show itself perfectly in what you do. Then you will be perfect and complete and will have everything you need. James 1:4
5) And patience produces character, and character produces hope. Romans 5:4
Today, I tweeted, “do your best even at your worst.” It dawned on me that when we are at our worst–in a bad relationship, a bad job, a deep depression, a long addiction–we can do our best. And I didn’t arbitrarily tweet that. I tweeted that from years of experiencing it. In the first year of our marriage, when we were at such a horrible point that divorce seemed imminent, I did my best by not letting divorce be an option. When I was hospitalized 16+ times over a span of 10 years for chronic lung problems, though my physical state was at its worst, I did my best to share my faith with doctors, nurses, pulmonary therapists, x-ray techs & the like. When I went through depression a couple years ago, I was definitely at my worst–how do you do your best when you are in the bottom of a dark, silent, isolating pit? Your best becomes your refusal to give up. I’d be remiss if I didn’t tell you that many times I have been at my worst and did not do my best. But my heart’s desire has always been not to give up & to give it all I have. I don’t know where this post finds you today, but if you are at your worst–please take heart–you can still do your best.