Let All the Earth Rejoice

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The splendor of the King
Clothed in majesty
Let all the earth rejoice
All the earth rejoice

He wraps Himself in light
And darkness tries to hide
It trembles at His voice
Trembles at His voice

How great is our God, sing with me
How great is our God and all will see
How great, how great is our God

– Chris Tomlin

This morning I am downloading photos from my camera as I listen to live streaming of a gathering of believers from around the world. A delegation of Koreans is praying for North America. They were singing Holy, Holy, Holy and How Great is Our God as this photo came up.

My heart cries out to the Lord with them. With tears.

How I love the Korean Church. They can pray!


Evidence of Transformation

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I love those time-lapse videos of plants tossing over bits of soil as they shoot up and flowers unfurling like proud flags on the top of their stems. Beautiful! But as I stare at a skinny daffodil stem in my garden I realize that is not my earth-bound time reality. Even if I observe, with utmost patience, the tiny yellow tip on the end I still can’t see any change. If I go away for a few days and re-visit it when I come home I can see progress, but it’s way too slow to see without enhancement.

A course I am taking suggests keeping a journal with a special section for “evidences of transformation.” Why? Because sometimes the process of personal transformation is like watching the unfolding of springtime in the Rockies – in slow motion. It’s not easy to see  change. It can be discouraging. Old habits die hard.

This has been the kind of week that used to hit all my anxiety triggers.
– I just drove eighteen hours return trip (passing several serious accidents on the way) to help someone who passionately hates me no matter what I do, and yet needs me.
– Ambient noises in the hotel (none of which were the fault of management) startled me awake every fifteen to thirty minutes or so for two nights in a row.
– Dear people I looked forward to visiting while I was in that city were all desperately sick with the flu. I felt it was not wise to expose myself to the virus since I am booked for surgery tomorrow.
– My last surgery date was cancelled when two doctors fell ill themselves. Since it involves a biopsy, having to wait another month until they could be replaced and another OR time booked has been a little hard on the nerves. Then there’s the increasing pain issue.
– We encountered legal complications this week because the actions of a person who (sadly) is mentally ill and not able to make wise decisions right now.
– On Tuesday one of our precious grandchildren was diagnosed with the same rare condition her father has – one that greatly challenged him and our entire family when he was growing up and still makes his life difficult.
– Then my husband and I got into a major argument because we had different memories of the outcome of an important discussion that took place months ago. Work I did on that basis may have to be thrown out.
– We are both dealing with unwelcome signs of aging in the other one – like less acute hearing for both of us.
– Family and friends I love are also facing major stressful events in their lives – life and death issues, some of them – and I do care.
– Worst of all, my fat pants are too tight.

But I’m not overwhelmed -and that is a miracle right there.

I’m grateful for the advice to make note of evidence of change in the way I think. It’s time to evaluate by looking at my life in a kind of time-lapse photography manner. Maybe I need one photographic exposure every few months to see change.

It’s still stressful and my upset tummy tells me I am not yet completely at peace, but five years ago I would have been in a flipping panic and ten years ago I would have needed medication. Old posts are showing up on my Facebook of memories of this day in an eight year history. This is good for me. They remind me of very stressful times in our lives and tremendously exciting times of answered prayer and periods of accelerated growth. I can look at a memory frame that comes up and see how God took care of us and the strength he built in us through situations custom-designed to stretch us in faith.

So my journal entry is about thanking God that I can thank God, that his peace is growing in my heart, that I am learning to trust him not only with my problems, but with the problems of those I love. The joy of the Lord that is my strength is not dependent on circumstances and even though it seems like my progress is excruciatingly slow and I should be much further along the path by now, Holy Spirit still walks with me and surrounds me with love and promises that he is not going to withdraw his grace any time soon – or ever.

He has taught me that hope is vision-led endurance, and maybe, just maybe, that lesson is starting to sink in.

Division and the Search for Wisdom

I looked out the window of a shop built on the edge of the Grand Canyon and thought, “Man, that other side is a long way off. Can you even get there from here? How long would it take to descend down into that great rift and back up the other side? How many miles would it be to walk around? Before telephones did the people living on either side even communicate with each other?”

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Can I admit there is something strangely satisfying about venting long-withheld anger? For a moment. Then there’s the mess to clean up.

My children still talk about the day I was so frustrated with the filthy condition they left the kitchen in that I wound up and with all my might, hurled a brand new bag of Oreo cookies at the wall. They stared incredulously as the split package of crumbs and filling slid to the floor with a thud. Store-bought cookies were a highly-valued rare treat in our home. One simply does not throw Oreos at the wall.

Not the Oreos!! Mom must be really mad.

I made my point. They took me seriously and for a while, scrambled to tidy up after themselves.

But then I noticed the kids start to express their frustration with each other by throwing and smashing things. I had set a precedent. Now I had a bigger mess to clean up than a bag of broken chocolate cookies. My end goal was to raise responsible, considerate children, but I lost track of that bigger picture in my longing for just one evening without dirty dishes filling every inch of the counters (and in this case actually sitting on the floor when they ran out of room to pile them by the sink.) It was a Pyrrhic victory.

I remember reading a verse in the Bible later that said, “The anger of man does not accomplish the purposes of God.” Oops. My action was temporarily effective, but not wise.

Lately the Lord has been bringing the word wisdom to my attention. Googling “spiritual gift of wisdom” led to an interesting, if inconclusive rabbit trail. Is wisdom the ability to study scripture and make practical behavioural applications in a sermon, or is it a sudden divine download on how to secure a better mortgage rate? I’m not satisfied with what I found, frankly. I need more. I find that I am in need of wisdom about understanding God’s definition of wisdom.

Sometimes, as a starting point, we can learn more about what something is by hearing what God has to say about what it is not – like the description of love in 1 Corinthians 13. “Love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.”

We read in Proverbs that wisdom is not presumptuous or insolent, nor the product of our personal conclusions; in Psalms that it is not about striving or frantic activity; in James that it is not a hypocritical or bitter or envious or self-seeking  action (the KJV uses the words vainglory and strife).

I looked up the original word for strife in Greek. Eritheia. That’s revealing. It implies a political-style power grab via manipulation.

In 1 Corinthians 3:3 we read: For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh and behaving only in a human way?

The result of strife – the human fleshly way – is division. Separation. A rift as wide as the Grand Canyon.

That’s the other thing grabbing my attention lately – division. It’s as if people are pressured to join one side or another and are actually repelling each other in their zeal to win the argument. Topics may vary from vaccination to modes of education to climate and pollution to the evils of processed cheese. Mob mentality on social media means middle ground is sinking into the earth and fewer people are willing to listen to each other. More people seem willing to compromise civil behaviour and resort to dismissive name-calling to win their case. Instead of solving problems I see my culture splitting and  becoming more entrenched in extremes.

I’m not the only one noticing it. The political rift is becoming dangerously polarized to the point where teenagers in my neighbourhood in a little valley in Canada talk to me about classroom discussions of fears of civil war breaking out in the country to the south. The kids see it and they are afraid of the effects it could have around the world.

How does it help to portray people who disagree with us as enemies? How did people who love the same country become adversaries? Where is wisdom in all of this?

One beloved children’s TV show host talked about taking his mother’s advice to look for the helpers after a disaster. Right now I am in a search for the wise before a disaster.

How will we recognize the wise in a world of angry frightened people hurling words at each other, rejoicing in Pyrrhic victories, and talking in terms of winners and losers?

I found this clue of what to look for and warnings of what to avoid in a search for those who demonstrate wisdom:

Who in your community is understanding and wise? Let his example, which is marked by wisdom and gentleness, blaze a trail for others.

If your heart is one that bleeds dark streams of jealousy and selfishness, do not be so proud that you ignore your depraved state.

The wisdom of this world should never be mistaken for heavenly wisdom; it originates below in the earthly realms, with the demons. Any place where you find jealousy and selfish ambition, you will discover chaos and evil thriving under its rule.

Heavenly wisdom centers on purity, peace, gentleness, deference, mercy, and other good fruits untainted by hypocrisy. The seed that flowers into righteousness will always be planted in peace by those who embrace peace.
(James 3:13-18 The Voice)


Oh Lord, we need Your wisdom. We need people You have gifted with wisdom. We need humble people willing to set down their own opinions and learn from You. We need those who see from Your perspective to arise in the body of Christ to speak purely, peacefully, gently, mercifully with deference and full of Your love and grace. Give us discernment to know when we have heard Your truth spoken in love. Help us to pay attention. Change our hearts, Oh Lord. Make us more like You.