I Do Declare!

As for me, I will always have hope;
    I will praise you more and more.

My mouth will tell of your righteous deeds,
    of your saving acts all day long—
    though I know not how to relate them all.


 I will come and proclaim your mighty acts, Sovereign Lord;
    I will proclaim your righteous deeds, yours alone.

Since my youth, God, you have taught me,
    and to this day I declare your marvelous deeds.
 

Even when I am old and gray,
    do not forsake me, my God,
till I declare your power to the next generation,
    your mighty acts to all who are to come.

(Psalm 71:14-18 NIV)

Robed

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Everything in the department store that had been such a part of my life growing up was discounted. Changes. The store was closing. I had time between appointments in Calgary so I dropped by the mall for the close-out sale. I left the North Hill neighbourhood long ago and unexpected memories hit me as soon as I passed the bus stop outside the door. As I picked up a few items (in what my mother would have called the foundation department) I had a flashback to when my friends and I spent our emerging freedom hanging out at the mall.

Fashion is about change. The marketing and design managers probably switched the fitting rooms’ location many times over the intervening decades, but suddenly I heard the laughter of teenage friends as we tried on clothes.

“Does this suit me?” the girl who used to be me asked, checking herself out in the three-way mirror.

“No! You look like a missionary!” Ruth blurted.

She tried on a clinging satin dress with a plunging neckline. “How about this?” she asked, trying to keep a straight face.

“Now you look like a tramp!!” Lois answered, feigning shock. “Your mother would hate it! Yes! Get it!”

They giggled and gave the next girl their judgment as she struck a pose in garments decorated with dangling price tags they ignored. It’s like the girls put on a new identity with every new item of clothing.

We came from a culture where the standards of modesty made it difficult to find fashions that fit everyone’s criterion. Our mothers often sewed our clothes themselves. My grandmother called mini skirts “worldly.” When my mother, who learned English from reading Dickens novels, joined me in the fitting room she would say, “It behooves one to dress in a manner more befitting to a girl with higher standards. This is unbecoming.”

Unbecoming. I did not like the word unbecoming. She used it when my summer shorts were too short, or when I didn’t sit like a lady, or when my voice was too loud, or when my silent sulking fits had all the subtlety of a this-week-only salesman with a megaphone. She was right of course, most of the time, which is why she was so annoying. “This is not the direction I have in mind for you.”

I’ve been meditating on the connection between righteousness and peace this week. I looked up antonyms of the word righteousness because sometimes considering the opposite meaning helps me understand – and I’m trying to see beyond the negative parameters of rule-following that make me want to run in the opposite direction. One of the words listed caught my attention. Unbecoming. I can almost hear it in Mom’s voice. Then I read this passage about being clothed with righteousness.

I will rejoice greatly in the LORD,
My soul will exult in my God;
For He has clothed me with garments of salvation,
He has wrapped me with a robe of righteousness,
As a bridegroom decks himself with a garland,
And as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
For as the earth brings forth its sprouts,
And as a garden causes the things sown in it to spring up,
So the Lord GOD will cause righteousness and praise
To spring up before all the nations.
(Isaiah 61: 10, 11 NAS)

Unrighteousness is a destructive attitude. It does not help us to become. It does the opposite; it unravels the beauty God intended for us to walk in. There is a great deal more to righteousness than obeying rules. In fact, clothing ourselves in manufactured rules of conduct that change behaviour but not the heart may not be befitting at all. When we choose to follow the folly of false distractions we fail to choose life. We un-become.

We can choose instead to let wrap Jesus wrap his robe of righteousness around us. Our own home-made efforts embarrass by comparison. They are also unbecoming because they do not represent grace-empowered transformation that enables us to blossom and be all God intended. Righteousness is right thinking, coming into alignment with the Creator’s plans for us (the one who loves us perfectly, understands the future and our potential perfectly and is much better at this than our moms who had their own agendas mixed up in their motives).

A line from an old song comes to mind, “Dressed in His righteousness alone, faultless to stand before His throne…”

 

 

 

 

As One

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Your mercy and your truth have married each other.
Your righteousness and peace have kissed.

(Psalm 85:10 TPT)

A quick read-through of the social media sites I participate in reminds me that thinking the way God does about truthandmercy and righteousnessandpeace does not come naturally to the unrenewed mind.

Sometimes I am confused when a couple has a combined name on a Facebook account. Who am I talking to? One such couple answered my query with, “Us. We tag team.”

I don’t get it. My man and I will have been married 46 years this autumn, and we have never perfectly agreed on anything for more than a few minutes. How could we speak as one?

I love the classic joke from an old episode of All In the Family. Malory tells her brother, Alex, that it’s like she and her boyfriend “have one mind.” After the perfectly timed pause he asks, “Which one of you is using it tonight?”

The only way my husband and I could tag team and trust each other to give the exact same response would be if one of us was redundant – or taken over by drugs or cyborgs or something. I’m the artsy feeling one. He’s the logical scientific one. We have to discuss everything. For hours.

Maybe that’s the point. Maybe it’s the diversity and the broader perspective of seeing more than one side and still being in unity that creates a bigger definition of a concept.

God is multifaceted and sees many sides at the same time. Being totally One there is no polarity, no gap, no need to choose between his concept of mercy and his understanding of perfect truth or his definition of righteousness and his experience of peace.

There is more.

 

Mountains of Influence

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A King’s prayer for the coming King.

O God, make the king a godly judge like you
and give the king’s son the gift of justice too.

Help him to give true justice to your people,
honorably and equally to all.

Then the mountains of influence will be fruitful,
and from your righteousness
prosperity and peace will flow to all the people.

(Psalm 71: 1-3 TPT)

I never noticed until this week how often the Bible speaks of righteousness and peace being in relationship with each other. Our landscapes are shaped by both. Righteousness creates space for peace to flourish. Peace creates an environment for righteousness to grow.

A light in the hall

Photo: Light arises in the dark

“Nana, leave the door open a little bit.”

My little granddaughter always reminds me, when I have the joy of tucking her in bed, that part of the ritual is adjusting the door to her specifications. She doesn’t like darkness. Who does?

When the door is shut and light is blocked out the things we fear the most begin to stir under the bed. We hear them stretch and yawn in the closet. They slip out from behind the curtains. They tap against the window.

My husband, brilliant scientist that he is, reminded me this week that darkness has no power over light. You cannot aim darkness at light and see the light dim. There is no such thing as a flashdark.

The only way we can create total darkness is to intentionally block out every source of light.

I remember visiting the Lewis and Clark caverns when I was a child. Deep in the earth the guide turned off the lights to demonstrate real darkness. Even this was not total darkness since my dad had glow-in-the-dark hands on the watch on his wrist.

I hear people talk about how we need to be aware of dark times approaching, how we need to be aware of dark spirits where we least expect them, how we need to be aware of the lies and secrets hiding in the dark corners of our hearts. As they focus on these things I see fear stirring under the bed; I hear hopelessness yawning in the closet; I see despair slip out from behind the curtains; I sense paranoia tapping on the window.

Every Sunday we begin our service by having a child light a candle and say, “Jesus is the light of the world.” Every Sunday, because we need to be reminded not to shut out the light.

Psalm 112 tells us how to leave the door open enough to remind us that Abba Father never sleeps and keeps watch over us.

Blessed is the man who fears the Lord,

who greatly delights in his commandments!

 His offspring will be mighty in the land;

the generation of the upright will be blessed.

 Wealth and riches are in his house,

and his righteousness endures forever.

 Light dawns in the darkness for the upright;

he is gracious, merciful, and righteous.

 It is well with the man who deals generously and lends;

who conducts his affairs with justice.

 For the righteous will never be moved;

he will be remembered forever.

 He is not afraid of bad news;

his heart is firm, trusting in the Lord.

 His heart is steady; he will not be afraid,

until he looks in triumph on his adversaries.

 He has distributed freely; he has given to the poor;

his righteousness endures forever;

his horn is exalted in honor.

 The wicked man sees it and is angry;

he gnashes his teeth and melts away;

the desire of the wicked will perish!

Psalm 112

When we remain constantly aware of  Holy Spirit’s presence and the riches of  His goodness and faithfulness we can afford to be gracious, merciful and righteous.We give out of the overflow of our hearts.

We can be a source of light in the world.