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Remember, I have moved my book reviews to their own blog. Tracy's Book Nook is now active.


Thursday, July 30

Do Not Go Gentle...

About two months ago, I began going to physical therapy three times a week. I’d like to say it’s because of an old sports injury, or a wild freak-accident I’d been in, or better yet, that I’d hurt myself rescuing a helpless kitten escape a burning building. You know, something cool like that, but that wouldn’t be the truth.

Sadly, the truth is much less thrilling than any of that. The truth is that I turned 40 this year. Yep, the big 4 0. It is no longer possible to deny that I am middle-aged. But all in all, that hasn’t bothered me too much. After all, my experience has shown me that each decade of my life is better than the previous one.

With aging maturity though, also comes some unwanted things. Things like aches, pains, strains and cracks. Things like not being as fast, fit or flexible. And the understanding of what itis’s are: arthritis, tendonitis, bursitis. I’m now learning the importance of core conditioning and strength training, not for vanity sake, but for health sake.

Some of this is to be expected after all, because we do have earthly bodies that are already in a state of decay and dying to this life. There is no fountain of youth, magical pill, or expensive surgery that will grant us immortality. Unless we meet our demise early in life (which is always possible), old age will creep upon and overtake us. That is merely biology.

But one day, our bodies will last, and we will be pain and illness free. God has prepared for us an eternal and glorified body, to be dwelled in when this fleshly body wears out. One day the aches will be gone, a distant memory of a time when things weren’t perfect and pure. I love the hope, assurance and comfort I get from the following passage of Scripture:

“For we know that when this earthly tent we live in is taken down (that is, when we die and leave this earthly body), we will have a house in heaven, an eternal body made for us by God himself and not by human hands. We grow weary in our present bodies, and we long to put on our heavenly bodies like new clothing. For we will put on heavenly bodies; we will not be spirits without bodiesWhile we live in these earthly bodies, we groan and sigh, but it’s not that we want to die and get rid of these bodies that clothe us. Rather, we want to put on our new bodies so that these dying bodies will be swallowed up by life. God himself has prepared us for this, and as a guarantee he has given us his Holy Spirit.” ~ 2 Cor. 5:1-5

Until that time comes, however I intend to do what I can to be, and live, healthy. Simple activities like eating well, stretching, strengthening, and getting enough water and sleep are great ways to put off the inevitability of old age. Yes, it will come, but I'll not just sit back and let it overtake me. I am reminded of one of the few poems that I actually like. I first heard it in high school and it struck a chord with me even then. I hope you enjoy it too.

~~~

Do Not Go Gentle into that Good Night
By Dylan Thomas


Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night. Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And The Winner Is...

For my very first give-away, Michelle Gregory has won the prize! Michelle, I have a copy of Blue Like Play Dough by Tricia Goyer for you. Email me your address and I'll get it sent to you right away, so you can read it before you meet Tricia in a few weeks!

Wednesday, July 22

A Sacrifice of Praise

Therefore, let us offer through Jesus a continual sacrifice of praise to God, proclaiming our allegiance to his name. ~ Hebrews 13:15 (NLT)


Have you ever made a sacrifice of praise? I thought I had, until the time came that I really knew I had. It seems like such a simple act, to praise God, and really it is. But this particular Scripture makes reference to a sacrifice of praise. A sacrifice.


The thing about a sacrifice is that there is cost involved. Think about it. If we can easily, even glibly, do something without giving it much thought or consideration, it is not a sacrifice. If we throw $20 into the offering plate and we still have plenty left over to pay the bills, go to lunch, buy a new purse or pair of shoes, and hit Starbucks a few times, then we’ve given an offering, but not a sacrifice. On the other hand, if we use the money we’ve been saving for our annual vacation (or whatever), to help a family who has lost everything in a fire (or something else), that is a sacrifice.


A sacrifice is not always the easy or pleasant thing to do, but it is the right thing to do. A good parent will sacrifice their own wants and desires to provide for and take care of their family. Most of us would even go so far as to sacrifice our own life, if it were to protect or save the life of a loved one. And of course we have the amazing example of Jesus, who came as the Lamb of God, to be sacrificed, in order to reconcile us to God.


A sacrifice of praise comes from a broken heart or a shattered spirit. It is not given without pain, because to praise in the midst of sorrow is a sacrifice. To choose, or will yourself, to rise up above the circumstances that are pulling you down, and praise the Living God, no matter what, is a sacrifice. When you are feeling crushed by the heaviness of grief, or are being mercilessly battered by the storms of life, and you choose to believe, to say, “Nevertheless, God is good,” you are offering a sacrifice of praise.


The first time I offered to God a sacrifice of praise was after my first miscarriage. I was hurting and I was angry. And I didn’t understand why I lost the baby it took me so long to conceive in the first place. For a while I went through the motions, but that’s all they were. I’d go to church, and was present in body for worship, but not in spirit.


Then one day during worship, I stood, and I bowed my head, and I began to cry. In that moment, I spoke to God, telling Him, “All I have to offer is my pain and anger, but if you want it, I give it to you.” And then I began praising Him for who He is. It wasn’t easy, and it wasn’t full of energy and life, but I did it. I remembered that God is good, even in my grief. I gave him a sacrifice of praise.


When worship was over, I was changed. No, the pain wasn’t magically all gone, but I felt the peace and love of God. I found that when I praised God in spite of my hurt, it strengthened me. I was able to experience the loving comfort of my Abba Father. Since that time, I’ve had other occasions to offer up a sacrifice of praise, and every single time, God has met me there, and comforted me.


Giving a sacrifice of praise during a time of sorrow isn’t easy, but it is important. Not for God, not to stroke His ego, but for us. It is through our sacrifice that we are able to let go of the pain and begin to truly heal. God longs to comfort us when we are hurting, but He is a Gentleman, and will not force Himself on us. He is there though, waiting for us to allow Him to. And it is only then, when we are willing, that He can give us beauty for ashes.


Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. ~ Matt. 5:4 (NKJV)

Friday, July 10

God is God and I Am Not

Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable. Do your part to live in peace with everyone, as much as possible. Dear friends, never avenge yourselves. Leave that for God. For it is written, “I will take vengeance; I will repay those who deserve it,” says the Lord. Don’t let evil get the best of you, but conquer evil by doing good deeds. ~ Rom. 12:17-19, 21


Yesterday morning, during my God time, these were the verses that jumped out at me. I finished reading, and literally said out loud, “Blah, blah, blah.” Yesterday was not an easy day for my husband and I. We were put in the position of having to deal with consequences that came from trusting someone we shouldn’t have, who subsequently betrayed and hurt us deeply.


Even though I’d forgiven this person, and turned them over to God, I didn’t want to read the above verses. I wasn’t in the mood. I knew what we’d soon be facing, and my stomach was churning. Nevertheless, I prayed and I asked God for His mercy, grace and favor, to get us through the day.


Not long after that, when we were in the midst of our “stuff,” we abruptly and unexpectedly came face to face with this person. To the best of our knowledge, this person was not going to be there, and was in fact there for a different reason. We were stunned. There was our enemy, the one who’d so casually betrayed and hurt us, the one we’d hoped we’d never see again. The one we certainly didn’t expect to see on this day.


As I sat there, feeling as if we’d been sucker-punched, I was questioning God, why? Why are we face to face with our enemy? I mean, God is the God of the Universe! He is the Lord God Almighty! He is omniscient, omnipotent and omnipresent! He could have done something, right? Well, He did. He reminded me of these Scripture verses I’d read just that morning. He’d spoken to me through His Word, and reminded me that He was in control, and that even if I didn’t see what was happening, this was in His hands.


Phew! I gained some peace by this and hope that though this situation was excruciating, it wasn’t the end, and that if we remain honorable, God would use it for good in our lives. I believe that. I also believe that God is good, and He can be trusted, with my life, with my heart and with my hurt. Sometimes I just need to remember that God is God and I am not. And I am so grateful that He loves me enough to teach, guide and correct me through His Word and through other sources. I am so grateful that He loves me enough to accept me where I am, but He loves me too much to let me stay there.


My child, don’t reject the Lord’s discipline, and don’t be upset when he corrects you. For the Lord corrects those he loves, just as a father corrects a child in whom he delights. ~ Prov. 3:11-12

Wednesday, July 8

To Tremble

But God showed His great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God – all because of what our Lord Jesus Christ has done for us in making us friends of God. ~ Rom. 5:8,11


I am so grateful for God’s goodness and mercy. I am so thankful that He loves me, forgives me and accepts me, that I can call Him both Father and Friend. I read His Word, talk with Him, and make a joyful noise to Him. In addition to Father and Friend, He is my God, my Healer, my Creator, my Reedemer, and my Provider. In fact, He is everything I need.


Knowing God in so many ways, it is easy to be comfortable around Him. To be just me. I know Him so well, as a loving Father, full of mercy and grace, meeting me wherever I am and accepting me with whatever I have to bring Him. This is comfortable and comforting. It’s safe.


Sometimes though, too often really, I forget another part of Him. I sometimes forget that He is Holy. I sometimes forget that I could not stand in His presence, because His Holiness would drop me and my un-holiness like a rock. I forget that He is the Righteous Judge and that my “good works” are as filthy rags to Him. Sometimes I’m so comfortable with boldly coming to the throne of grace that I forget to tremble in His presence.


My God is a Holy God, Mighty and Righteous, the Source of all power, He is the Beginning and the End. Yes, it’s good for me to know Him as my Daddy and come to Him as His child. But it is also important that I know Him as Holy, and that I should display humility when I approach Him, and that sometimes, I should not forget to tremble.


Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come. ~ Rev. 4:8


Years ago, I heard a song by Nichole Nordeman that was called simply Tremble. It was on her This Mystery CD. I don’t think it was ever released as a single, but can’t remember for sure. This amazing song always reminds me of Who He is, and that yes, I should remember to bow before Him and tremble. I’ve included both the lyrics and the video below. I hope you enjoy them.

Link to video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6R5x-AQYKqQ

video

Have I come too casually?
Because it seems to me
There's something I've neglected

How does one approach a Deity
with informality
And still protect the Sacred?

'Cause you came and chose to wear the skin of all of us
And it's easy to forget You left a throne

And the line gets blurry all the time
Between daily and Divine
And it's hard to know the difference

CHORUS:
Oh, let me not forget to tremble
Oh, let me not forget to tremble
Face down on the ground do I dare
To take the liberty to stare at you
Oh, let me not,
Oh, let me not forget to tremble

What a shame to think that I'd appear
Even slightly cavalier
In the matter of salvation

Do I claim this gift You freely gave
As if it were mine to take
With such little hesitation?

'Cause you came and stood among the very least of us
And it's easy to forget you left a throne

CHORUS:
Oh, let me not forget to tremble
Oh, let me not forget to tremble
Face down on the ground do I dare
To take the liberty to stare at you
Oh, let me not,
Oh, let me not forget to tremble

The cradle of the grave could not contain Your Divinity
Neither can I oversimplify this love

Oh, let me not forget to tremble
Face down on the ground do I dare
To take the liberty to stare at you
Oh, let me not
Oh, let me not forget to tremble