Archive for March, 2012


Proverbs 16:9 says, “In their hearts humans plan their course, but the LORD establishes their steps.” 16:1 says something similar. “To humans belong the plans of the heart, but from the LORD comes the proper answer of the tongue.” There’s also 19:21, which says that “Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails.”

Maybe a week and a half ago, I had some ideas about how the last nine or ten days were going to go. I was going to keep chugging along with my spring cleaning project, I was going to work three days, I was going to have company in from out of town, I was going to write several blog posts, and so on. It would be fair to say that “many [were] the plans in [my] heart.”

As you may have guessed, things didn’t exactly go according to my plans. Instead of cleaning and getting up posts Friday a week ago, I woke up at 6:30am with a horrible stomachache. Except for brief interludes for throwing up and pacing, I spent the whole day curled up with pain and nausea in bed. Rather than going to work that Saturday, I was still dealing with pain and nausea. Same thing happened on Sunday. Monday I started feeling more human, so I started back with the cleaning. Tuesday, I actually had an appetite, and the cleaning was going well, but I got more and more congested and was getting a sore throat. Hoping it was merely a reaction to all the dust from cleaning, I did go to work on Wednesday and found out it wasn’t the dust. I had almost no voice by midafternoon. The sore throat was hanging around, too. Not only did I have a for-real-not-dust-related cold, it also snowed. It’s late March in a temperate zone. Snow really had no business falling in the last week. Most of the country experienced record high temperatures and not record snow falls, for goodness’ sake! Snow it did, though, making the drive home from work lengthy and treacherous. That might have been okay, but, adding insult to injury, there was so much wet and heavy snow that it knocked down trees and knocked out power all over the place. We lost our’s about 2am on Thursday. The electricity didn’t come back on until around 2pm on Friday. It was only about 36 hours. It is amazing, though, how not having power complicated things. We didn’t have light. We didn’t have heat. We didn’t have water. We did have guests. It was so not the plan. Everything did work out. It was harder, for the most part, but it did work out. It just wasn’t the plan.

As for God’s purposes in all this plan trashing, I couldn’t tell you. I’m sure that He had them. Maybe one of these days, He’ll even reveal ’em! But for now, I haven’t a clue.

What does strike me as interesting, though, is the lack of electricity combined with that lack being unexpected. I’ve lived before without electricity for a week or so at a time. My grandparents used to take us on awesome camping trips every summer over in Eastern Oregon. We didn’t have anything except what we hauled in, and we didn’t haul in generators. I never felt deprived, but we planned carefully. We had alternative methods to keep warm and clean, to dispose of waste, to cook, and to do all the other things that we needed. Losing power without warning at home was another experience entirely. I felt frustrated. I was worried. It was a little bit frightening. It was hard, and there wasn’t much I could do except try to find some workarounds and wait. I had no power over my lack of power.

That is interesting as well. We call electricity power, which it is, in probably more than one way. It is power in that it is a force that runs our lights and heat and all kinds of things. It is also power in that we use all those things to run our lives, to establish control and make our plans come to fruition. I wonder how well we’d do in a world without power, where our plans went unfueled.

It was a sobering experience.  It’s made me a bit pensive.

Ecclesiastes 8:7 – Since no one knows the future, who can tell someone else what is to come?

Ecclesiastes 11:6 – Sow your seed in the morning, and at evening let your hands not be idle, for you do not know which will succeed, whether this or that,  or whether both will do equally well.

Second Story Daffodils

I always look for the daffodils to tell me that spring is coming. My mom looks for the buzzards to return. They are a good indicator that the weather is ready to warm up and bloom, but I like the cheerful hardiness of the daffodils better than the carrion eaters. Imagine that! 😉

The daffys are just starting to roll out their glorious carpet, and Carey stopped for a moment at the end of the lane to grab these three for me. I snapped a few shots and put this one up on my DeviantArt page. As I said there, “Three daffodils, carelessly arranged in a water glass and sitting in the sill of a dirty window, still demonstrate that beauty can be found everywhere.” That’s what I love about daffodils!

Enjoy, folks! Winter is over, and spring nears!

Happy Anniversary!

Last Friday, the second of March, was this blog’s one year anniversary! I put up 45 posts in that year, which didn’t meet my goal of one a week, but isn’t a terrible, crashing failure, either. It’s been fun, and I’m looking forward to seeing what shows up this coming year!

Thanks for reading! I do appreciate it!



Focus on Worship

Having last talked about Focus and where I think it’s best to keep it, it seems appropriate now to talk about worship. Keeping our eyes on Jesus for salvation is great, but the Bible does make a case for moving beyond the panicky “save me!” approach. In fact, having something else like worship makes it easier to keep eyes where they belong.

What is worship? What do experience and culture teach us? Ever drive by a church and see their board telling you the time of their “Sunday worship?” Gathering together for corporate prayer, sermon, music, and other rituals has been classified as worship. With the increasing popularity of music during services, I’ve also heard worship further narrowed to simply that segment of the service. Music pastors are sometimes even relabeled as “worship pastors.” Occasionally, that’s because a church body is trying to incorporate other forms of art, like dance, into their time of worship, and they want the pastor to oversee that ministry.

Worship with a church is all well and good, but with the possible exception of those committed to monastic life, nobody lives in church! In fact, most of us spend a lot of time in other places. What happens to worship then? Is it relevant outside of a group? Can we practice it on our own? Does a church service actually facilitate worship? So many questions! Do any of them even matter? 😉 I don’t pretend to have any definitive answers, but I certainly have thought about it and do have some ideas.

Merriam-Webster’s dictionary tells us that when we worship something, we have something or somebody that we “honor or reverence as a divine being or supernatural power” or “regard with great or extravagant respect, honor, or devotion.” Personally, I think that definition is a bit dry and removed for such a powerful concept. It’s too intellectual without enough life. Digging deeper is definitely needed.

The apostle Paul, in Romans 12:1, says, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.” Paul isn’t limiting worship to intellectual assent or a service. He tells us to present our bodies to God, bodies which come with us everywhere we go.  I think the greatest commandment, to love God with heart and soul and mind and strength, also applies, because I’d say that to whatever I love enough to give it my life, that’s what I worship.

How I worship it – the methods – changes depending on me and the what. If I was all about Mother Earth, I might be a committed environmentalist. If football was my one, true love, it’s glued I would be to news of it, especially during the season. If I really believed life was all about me, I’d undoubtedly indulge myself terribly and spend far too much time admiring my wondrous attributes. Worship is not, in my opinion, limited to the religious arena, especially since most of us don’t live at church.

We always have the chance to worship, throughout our days, even as we go about our everyday activities. Never mind that those activities frequently feel about as far from spiritually uplifting as the bathroom (just don’t look) does clean. Life is so often a monotonous grind full of tedious tasks. That, or it’s just plain hard, and sometimes, it’s both. What place does worship have there?

I’d like to share with you a fantastic chapter in the New Testament, Colossians 3. The whole chapter is well worth a few moments of study and meditation, but here are two verses particularly pertinent to this discussion. Verse 17 says, “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” Verse 23 repeats it, saying, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.” This could get hokey, I suppose, but accepting that even the most boring or challenging jobs can be presented as an offering to God has certainly made a difference in my life. For example, I work as a nurse’s aide. I got into it because I badly needed a job, not because I wanted – AT ALL – to work in health care, and especially at first, it was really hard. It’s not a job anybody who knew me 15 years ago would have pictured me doing. And there I was, starting a job guaranteed to push many of my easily accessible buttons. I hated it, but I needed to work, and somewhere in there, I ran across Colossians 3. It took a while, but eventually I accepted that what I was doing wasn’t all about the people around me. It was for God, and the… ahem… difficulty of it didn’t have to crush or ruin me. Instead, it was an opportunity for me to grow and practice some of that other stuff we see in Colossians 3, like getting dressed up “with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” It pulled my focus off myself and my struggling and put it on Jesus.

The book of Psalms offers a couple of other helpful nuggets. 119, verses 9 – 11, say “How can a young person stay on the path of purity? By living according to your word. I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands. I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. There’s also Psalm 1, which tells us that “Blessed is the one. . .whose delight is in the law of the LORD, and who meditates on his law day and night.” God, in the Bible, has given us so much direction and advice into getting our focus off ourselves and the other distractions and onto Jesus. It’s not enough to simply read it or listen to a sermon on Sunday, though. It must be practiced and tended until it becomes not just words, but a Word living in us.

Now that I’ve blathered on, do share! What is worship to you?