A Different Worship

Don’t get me wrong. 

I love those rousing worship songs. I love the drums, the wailing guitars, the beautiful voices, the happy melodies.

But consider this: what used to commonly be called the Sanctuary, is now most often referred to as the Worship Center.

A sanctuary is a safe place, a haven.

Time was, a worshipper could enter in quietness and reverence and sit in one of the pews before the service…or at other times, too. There, the soul could pour out his or her heart. Repent, grieve, rail at, offer intercession, wrestle with, weep, or contemplate the mysteries of God and His greatness.

But as I enter my church—a church I love and wholeheartedly support in its many ministries—the quietness and the contemplation which I’d been enjoying as I walked toward the building is abruptly broken by the music emanating from the Worship Center.

It’s happy, praise-type music. The drums and the bass guitar make my chest vibrate. 

I like loud music—really, I do.

But before the service, can’t we once, just once, have quiet, contemplative music? 

I’m not that old or old fashioned.

I feel as if the evangelical churches are communicating to me as I enter the church: “only happy faces here. Any other mood that you project will be judged and condemned.”

I know that each culture deems corporate praise and worship according to its own customs. And, after all, the corporate worship is, well, about Christ’s Body.

I don’t have a problem with the loud music during the worship service. Sometimes, the worship leader changes it out and does something soft and mellow.

But, like those who aren’t morning people, can’t we have a quiet time to adjust to full wakefulness?

I have my places of individual worship where I meet God daily.

But, honestly, would you barge into a room like a marching band if you knew that the people within were praying, or weeping in grief, or confessing their most intimate sins?

I think this is what the churches do sometimes with their distractingly loud music before the service.

Wouldn’t it be great if the Worship Center could also be a place for preparation of the heart, for quiet contemplation, for undistracted prayer before the “real worship” begins. They do that in some churches. The worshipers enter quietly, reverently, with the anticipation of kneeling—physically or in their hearts—before the great Creator. 

Have you ever thought this, too? I wish the worship leaders and the pastors of our evangelical churches would let the time before worship in the Worship Center be a Sanctuary for the hurting—which is all of us.

More thoughts later on the beauty and awesomeness of the Sanctuary. 

“How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord Almighty! My soul years, even faints for the courts of the Lord. My heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.” (Psalm 84: 1, 2 NIV Bible)


My doctor is putting me on a three-week cleanse. That’s where she gives you a diet with food you don’t want to eat and tells you to not eat anything you love.

Like pasta, eggs, bread, red meat…donuts.

Along with the list of approved foods, you gotta take lots of supplements.

I just started it. Today I hafta go to Sprouts and Whole Foods and Costco to get all the stuff on the list.

She said, “I’m not gonna lie to you; the first few days are rough ’cause you’re gonna crave the stuff you usually eat.”

Like donuts. Donuts are my go-to treat when I crave something sweet.

(But it’s not just an occasional donut, you understand. It’s all the foods that seem healthy but may not be right for me.)

I don’t do donuts every day. But Lamar’s Donuts is just down the road and it calls to me whenever i drive by.

But I’m motivated. I don’t want to be like those people who can’t walk anymore because they can’t feel their feet. Or the poor people who have to do kidney dialysis.

I’d rather give up donuts so I can keep hiking in the mountains with my husband.

I’m “repenting” from my former life of occasional donuts and a relatively healthy diet. It’s not enough.

Kind of like living close to God some of the time, and then occasionally going out for a night of sin. Doesn’t work. 

I’ve already lost a whole lot of weight. But that wasn’t enough either.

So this is the new regimen. Boot camp.

I’m told it gets easier after being on the new lifestyle for a while.

After the three weeks, I take some new blood tests. 

If this thing works, I’ll let you know how I’m doing. Maybe you readers can keep me accountable.

Maybe my story will encourage you, too.


Buying Their Love

My grandchildren are quite young. The oldest just turned five years old.

At the ages of two, three, four and five, almost all kids respond quite well to little gifts and treats.

Whenever I go to visit, or whenever they come to my house, I try to have little gifts ready for them.

Some might say I’m trying to buy their love. For shame, Grandma!

No way.

These little treats and tokens communicate to my grandchildren that I love them, that I think of them, that I delight in seeing their pleasure.

What could be wrong with that?

It is said, “Money can’t buy love.”

I’m not so sure. Money and gifts are way better than no money and no gifts.

If your husband said he loved you but never gave you anything, wouldn’t you wonder how he actually felt about you?

It doesn’t have to be anything fancy from him. It could be a single red rose, or a card, or some small thing that only the two of you understand and value, that can help build love.

If Jesus said that He loved the world, yet never did anything for us: never came to be born a man, never healed the sick, never fed crowds,  preached good news, or died on the cross….then wouldn’t you tend to doubt His words?

Young children understand that material gifts mean love. Unfortunately, later in their development they come to understand that sometimes material gifts also communicate things like guilt, deceit, bribery, obligation without sincerity.

But for now, these little treats that I give my grandchildren are teaching them that I like to connect with them. And then, if I also play with them, read to them, listen to them, etc. then the toy gifts mean even more to them.

When I was a little child, I knew my grandparents loved me because there was always chocolate milk and orange jello in the fridge when we came to visit. Later, I knew they loved me because Granddaddy took us to the zoo and to China Town and boating on Stow Lake,kayal-89 and Grandmommy taught me how to sew.

Eventually, my grandchildren grow and mature, they will have internalized how it feels to be loved by Grandma and Grandpa. And they will begin to find ways of expressing their own love, not from their parents’ prompting—which isn’t a bad thing—but by their own choice.

The Word of God says: “We love Him because he first loved us. (John 4:18 NIV Bible)

Same thing goes for grandparents and their grandchildren!

Pray For Enemies

We are always exhorted to pray for those in trouble, for those who are persecuted, for those who are sick.

We are rarely reminded to pray for our enemies. But that’s what Jesus did, and what He told us to do.

Who knows? The enemy we pray for may one day become our dearest friend.

Consider this account from the ninth chapter of Acts:

“All this time Saul was breathing down the necks of the Master’s disciples, out for the kill. He went to he Chief Priest and got arrest warrants to take to the meeting places in Damascas so that if he found anyone there belonging to the Way, whether men or women, he could arrest them and bring them to Jerusalem.” (Acts 9 from The Message)

Sound familiar? Do we see things like this occurring in other parts of the world as we speak?

Jesus told his disciples that they would be persecuted for his name’s sake. And those who do the persecuting will think they are offering a great service to God in killing them. Sound familiar?

I have been praying for our persecuted brothers and sisters in Iraq, in Syria, in Egypt, in Sudan, In China, and everywhere the name of Jesus is reviled.

But let’s never forget to pray for those who do the persecuting. Their ultimate fate is way more horrible than the death these dear Christians are suffering.

Let’s pray that they, too, like Saul of Tarsus will experience Jesus, that their eyes will be opened, that they will repent and worship the One who made them and died to secure their eternal peace and security in heaven with the eternal and indescribably loving and holy I Am.

Let’s pray that the light of Jesus will penetrate their souls. As lovers and worshipers of Jesus, His Holy Spirit works in us to be in alignment with God. And God’s will is that none should perish.

Hell was created for the devil and his angels. Not for people.

Think about this: someone prayed for you before you came to Jesus. I know that many people were praying for me before I surrendered my life to Him. There are probably lots of future Christ disciples who are currently persecuting the Church. Let’s pray for their salvation.

The Message puts it this way: “To you who are ready for the truth, I say this: Love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer for that person.” ( Luke  6:35 The Message)


My husband is in surgery right now. Oh, it’s nothing too serious. Just a hernia. Not to worry.

But he’s never been in surgery before. Well, not since he was a teenager and accidentally put his hand through a pale glass window. He almost lost his hand. But that was a long time ago.

Now, he’s got a little bump in his belly. They got him all prepped and shot the happy juice into his IV. “Not to worry, ” I said. Then I kissed him. As they wheeled him into surgery I called out, “nighty night.”

Neither of us slept very well last night. He’s nervous about the surgery. I feel sorry for his feeling nervous. I said, “Not to worry. Everything’ll be fine.”

The prep nurse is terrific. She’s got an Aussie accent and has a great sense of humor.

Bruce is a dignified guy, not used to donning those awful hospital gowns. He’s embarrassed, and trying to tamp down the natural shaky feeling you get before surgery.

The surgeon comes in for a very brief talk. He’s extremely tall, with a deep voice and enormous hands. I wonder how hands that large can possibly perform such delicate surgery.

He leaves and the anesthesiologist comes in with a few questions and information about the kind of stuff they’ll use to knock Bruce out.

I see my husband squirm. “Not to worry,” I say in my head. Everything’ll be fine.” And I pray for Bruce.

He’ll be in there for an hour. In fact, as I write, I imagine that they’re just getting their scalpels ready.

Ach! Now I’m nervous. I’m praying.

God speaks into my heart, “Not to worry. Every’ll be just fine.”



Robin, My Heart Grieves

Last week I posted about the terrible wars, murders, and persecutions happening all over the world. I asked for Christians to pray not only for the oppressed, but for the oppressors.

Today,  I want to go intimate. My heart ached when I heard the sad news about Robin Williams. Please pray for his family as they grieve his loss.

I’ve followed Robin William’s career from the 1970s when he was Mork from Ork. When Mork and Mindy first aired, I though it was the stupidest idea for a program ever. But once I tuned in and watched Robin Williams, I realized that no lame theme, no cheap set, or vapid script could hold this young genius down. The first time he said” I am Mork from Ork. Nanoo, nanoo,” I thought, no one else could say those words and sound authentically alien and indescribably funny the way Robin Williams could.

William’s quicksilver wit catapulted him to stardom soon after. But he was also a deep, tender, and amazing dramatic actor.

I knew he’d had some trouble with drug addictions, but I didn’t know about the depression he also battled.

Some people who spoke about him on the news said they couldn’t understand how someone with so much talent and who had so much else going for him would commit suicide.

I can answer that. I’m no genius or extraordinary talent, like Robin. But I’ve been through a terrible depression, and I can say without any reservations that it was the most painful experience I’d ever undergone. Death seemed preferable.

When you’re depressed, even though everything may actually be going well, you can’t see it. That’s part of the illness. Think of the person who’s struggling with anorexia. They look in the mirror and see a fat person. We understand that they have a distorted self-perception.

Depression is just like that. To the well person, it seems obvious that things are not that bad. But to the person suffering with depression, the world is perceived in hues of black and charcoal.

It’s horrible.

That’s why I cried when I heard about Robin Williams. He couldn’t get out of his blackness. Maybe his drug use was a flimsy way of coping with the chronic depression.

The sad thing is that depression can be treated. I’m proof of that. I wanted to die, but my loved ones helped me seek professional treatment. It took a long time —well over two years—but I recovered.

There’s hope. If you’re depressed, please don’t think you’re weak by  taking medication or talking to a therapist. Wouldn’t you go to a doctor if you were physically ill? Mental illness is physical, too.

Get help!

It doesn’t have to end like it did for Robin Williams.

Only Prayer

As I watch the news lately, I can hardly believe all the horrible things that are happening throughout the world. Innocent children used as pawns at the border crossing. Children and other civilians used as human shields in Gaza. The horror of war. The desperation of Israel, just trying to exist while surrounded by people who hate them so much that they want every Jewish person annihilated. And then there’s the religious persecution of Christians.

What can we do? The needs are endless. My resources are few.

I can send money. But then, what?

I can make these needs known in my small corner of the world.

I can blog about it. Perhaps my words will move someone else to do what they can to bring attention and aid to these poor suffering people.

Sometimes I forget my most powerful weapon: PRAYER.

Jesus left us the perfect example of the man or woman who walks closely with God. He went off to a quiet place each day to talk to His God. I hope we also do that daily, not only for our own spiritual sustenance, but to entreat Him for mercy and provision for the victims of evil.

Yesterday I was reading in the book of Revelation. In Revelation chapter five, the Lamb: Jesus Christ, is worthy to take the scroll from God. As He does so, twenty-four elders fall down before Him. They are holding harps (for musical worship) and vials filled with incense (containing the prayers of the saints.)

The prayers of the saints.

Never think that our worship and our intercession for others is insignificant to God. If they are mentioned in heaven, then they have indeed reached Jesus, who intercedes for His saints.

I was struck by this mention of our prayers. They are precious to our Lord.

The Lord listens to the prayers of His saints. The Word of God promises it.

Lets pray and pray and pray for the world, for those who are victims of horrible, hateful religious fanatics, and for those who hate God and want to throw off His yoke—however righteous and gracious it is— forever.

Pray for Israel.

But also pray for those who hate Israel.

Pray for the persecuted and those who are being used.

But also pray for the haters and those who only value their own profit and power even at the cost of many innocent lives.

Lets fall on our faces before our precious Savior and intercede for the whole world. Lets pray every day and as often as we hear of more trouble.

“Pray hard and long. Pray for your brothers and sisters. Keep your eyes open.”( Ephesians 6: 23 The Message)

Seeking the Creator in nature and the arts


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