Chapter-a-Day Psalm 134

The blessing of daisies. Lift your praising hands to the Holy Place, and bless God. Psalm 134:2 (MSG)

The other morning I walked into my home office. Other than a few pieces of artwork on the walls, my home office is a fairly stark room. Three desks, three computers, and books. This particular morning I walked in and found a gorgeous arrangement of beautiful daisies on my desk. Below it was a sticky-note on which was written "Praying for you!"

The flowers and note were not from my wife, but from my youngest daughter, Madison. What a blessing to her old man. The daisies are still there, beginning to wilt but I'm loathe to throw them away. The blessing from my daughter continues to bless, even as the leaves wither and flowers fade.

It's easy, in our gimme, gimme, gimme world to constantly ask for our Heavenly Father's blessing. "God bless me with…" is a pretty consistent cry from my lips. I'm reminded this morning that we have opportunity to actually bless our Heavenly Father.

How am I going to be a blessing to God today?

Creative Commons photo courtesy of Flickr and aesum

Chapter-a-Day Psalm 133

Vwell_50th_four_kids4_LR How wonderful, how beautiful, when brothers and sisters get along! Psalm 133:1 (MSG)

Like most people raised in a house full of kids, I remember days of knock-down-drag-out fights with my siblings. My brothers were seven years older than me, five older than my sister. So, they generally couldn't get away with beating up on the "little ones" outright. Their attacks took a more sinister approach, such as asking me if I knew what a "Hertz Doughnut" was. When I responded "no" I was immediately punched by the offending brother who then asked "Hurt's, don't it?" as he cackled with glee. My sister was closer in age and the only girl. So, our fights were worse. One of her favorite things was to grab my wrists and dig her fingernails into my skin until they bled. It was not lost on me how much nicer she became immediately after she realized she was no longer large enough or strong enough to sit on me and hold me down! As for my sibling infractions, those records have been sealed 😉

How my mother made it through the madness, I'll never know. I know that I was responsible for many of those white hairs on her head. But, now we are grown and our parent's house is filled with laughter rather than the screams of rival children. It's a wonderful thing.

How sad that, for some families, the madness never ends.

Chapter-a-Day Psalm 133

Vwell_50th_four_kids4_LR How wonderful, how beautiful, when brothers and sisters get along! Psalm 133:1 (MSG)

Like most people raised in a house full of kids, I remember days of knock-down-drag-out fights with my siblings. My brothers were seven years older than me, five older than my sister. So, they generally couldn't get away with beating up on the "little ones" outright. Their attacks took a more sinister approach, such as asking me if I knew what a "Hertz Doughnut" was. When I responded "no" I was immediately punched by the offending brother who then asked "Hurt's, don't it?" as he cackled with glee. My sister was closer in age and the only girl. So, our fights were worse. One of her favorite things was to grab my wrists and dig her fingernails into my skin until they bled. It was not lost on me how much nicer she became immediately after she realized she was no longer large enough or strong enough to sit on me and hold me down! As for my sibling infractions, those records have been sealed 😉

How my mother made it through the madness, I'll never know. I know that I was responsible for many of those white hairs on her head. But, now we are grown and our parent's house is filled with laughter rather than the screams of rival children. It's a wonderful thing.

How sad that, for some families, the madness never ends.

Chapter-a-Day Psalm 132

O God, remember David, remember all his troubles! And remember how he promised God, made a vow to the Strong God of Jacob, Psalm 132:1-2 (MSG)

I got to thinking about the vows we make to God. As a kid, I used to bargain with God all the time. If God would just [fill in the blank], I would [fill in the blank]. My requests ran the gamut from the Vikings winning the Super Bowl (that didn't turn out so good) to sending those cute girls to drive by the house again (neither did that one).

It took me a while to learn that God isn't my errand boy and prayer isn't a divine Priceline site where I name my price and see if I get what I want for what I'm willing to pay.

Chapter-a-Day Psalm 131

Still waiting. Wait, Israel, for God. Wait with hope. Hope now; hope always! Psalm 131:3 (MSG)

Waiting is a character-producing activity. Even calling the task of waiting an activity seems oxymoronic. Waiting feels like doing nothing. Waiting feels like wasted time.

Still, I'm reminded by the lyrics of today's chapter that my waiting is not void of direction, purpose or activity. I'm to learn contentment as I cool it. I'm to hope while I'm on hold.

[sigh] Man, waiting is hard work.

Creative Commons photo courtesy of Flickr and Eckler

Chapter-a-Day Psalm 130

A long list on the balance sheet. If you, God, kept records on wrongdoings, who would stand a chance? As it turns out, forgiveness is your habit, and that's why you're worshiped. Psalm 130:3-4 (MSG)

Part of my job is analyzing phone calls that people take as part of their Customer Service job, and then coaching them on how they can improve (a la "your call may be monitored to ensure quality service"). When I go into the coaching sessions, I never cease to be amazed at how hard people are on themselves. It's rare that I have to convince somebody they can do a better job. Most often, people criticize their own performance far more mercilessly than I ever would. Most of us are hurtfully self-critical.

I've discovered the same thing to be true when talking to people about their faith journey. Many of us, deep down, are so convinced that the balance sheet of wrong doings to good deeds is so heavily weighted towards the wrong doings that we're convinced God wants nothing to do with us. "You don't know what I've done," is a phrase I've heard a time or two. I've uttered it a few times myself.

On one hand, our natural inclination is correct. If God judged us based on our balance sheet, not one of us would stand a chance. However, when God's message tells us about Jesus dying for our sins, it simply means that He paid the price for our wrong doings. If you will believe Him, God makes a habit of tearing out the negative side of our balance sheet and tossing it in the incinerator.

I'm sure he's surprised when we keep bringing up the subject.

Creative Commons photo courtesy of Flickr and Alpha_Delta20

Chapter-a-Day Psalm 129

"They've kicked me around ever since I was young" —this is how Israel tells it— "They've kicked me around ever since I was young, but they never could keep me down." Psalm 129:1 (MSG)

Perseverance in the midst of trial is the path to maturity. Which one of us is able to look back at the road we've walked and see nothing but beautifully flat, easy boulevards behind us? We have all attempted short-cuts that turned into painful detours. We've all walked through our own deep valleys. And, we've all experienced the exhilaration of the occasional mountain top.

When I was younger, I used to listen to Bob Dylan's album, Saved, over and over again. One of the songs that has stuck with me to this day is a song called Pressin' On. To this day, whenever I feel "kicked around" I hear this song welling up inside of me urging me to keep to the journey.

Press on.