Posts Tagged ‘praise’

Photo by Fr. Lawrence Lew

The ultimate offerings at the center of the universe then, this throne that is surrounded in concentric circles of devotees, are seven words or seven blessings. They identify the One who is worthy to receive them and they engage the giver who recognizes their value.

Revelation 7:11b-12
They [angels and elders] fell down on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying: โ€œAmen! Praise and glory and wisdom and thanks and honor and power and strength be to our God for ever and ever. Amen!โ€

1. Praise: approval and admiration; good job! way to go.
2. Glory: resplendent beauty and magnificence as well as “high praise” and distinction.
3. Wisdom: knowledge of what is true and right coupled with justice; enlightened understanding.
4. Thanks: expression of gratitude, appreciation, and acknowledgment.
5. Honor: honest, fair, and worthy of respect.
6. Power: marked ability to do or act; a force.
7. Strength: courage, firmness, as well as mental and/or physical power.

Amen, they cried out. So be it. This is the God we worship. This is the God we trust. This is the God we love.

And these are the merits and offerings we should be recognizing and offering to others. If Spirit is source, then these must also come from there. Is there anyone who cannot benefit from them?

Want to pray for something? Pray for these.

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Pray for encouragement and strength because it is these two elements that give what is needed to “stand firm and hold fast” [vs 2:15]. So simple: deep power comes from encouragement. I know this, but I don’t use it nearly enough . . . for myself.

II Thessalonians 2:16-17
May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.

I’m pretty good at encouraging others, particularly in a work environment. I believe in extolling the virtues of my staff and acknowledging a job well done. That’s important. And I mean it. I do appreciate the work, whether great or small, that each person contributes to the process.

I am not as good with myself. I hear the other voice instead, that internal condemnation voice. Even when everything goes well, if there is one flaw or one mistake, the experience can be ruined for me. I push hard. And the voice is good at pointing out my errors, flaws, and missteps.

Worse still, I don’t accept encouragement from others very well either, even though I need it. I crave it. But I don’t believe in its authenticity. I may cast off encouragement because I don’t trust the one who is offering it or I don’t trust the intentions or that person’s knowledge of the circumstances.

It’s a sad situation. People like me, people with a lot of natural confidence don’t appear to need encouragement, but that’s all a sham.

So, here are some things that need to happen, to change in me. First, I must use more energy to disregard the evil voice and allow the Holy Spirit to encourage me and thereby receive strength from within. This is the most important source. Secondly, I must open the doors of my heart to the words of others and look for the good in them. Lastly, although I do speak encouragement and strength and even pray for those in my care, I am not as good at encouraging those above me. It’s the same trap. I have assumed they don’t need it from me just as others have assumed it about me.

Praise and acknowledgment are easy. Prayers of encouragement for others even easier, but will gain even more power if followed by words and practices of good will.

If you are reading this post today, I thank you and want you to know that all will be well. There is hope today because God is sovereign. There is a moment still to come that will speak love to you. There is a person whose touch will remind you of your value. There is a breath. And from all of these things, gain courage to stand firm and hold fast to the truth of your worth.

Live loved.

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There comes a time when a person’s principles will separate him/her from certain friendships or situations, either by choice because the circumstances are unpalatable or by the pressure of others. The question is whether the separation is a wall or a space.

II Corinthians 6:16-17a
What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.” “Therefore come out from them and be separate, says the Lord.

Even though Jesus supped and interacted with “prostitutes and tax collectors,” these folks were not his daily diet. He still had to seek out solitude and silence. He needed time with God, his heart’s true home. He also needed time with his close friends with whom he shared his himself.

This scripture reference has been used for centuries to justify the creation of exclusive “societies” in the name of holiness. Convents and monasteries became the ultimate separation and for years; they thrived until humanity called out for help and slowly they came out and brought their faith to the world around them. It was a difficult change, a time to learn balance between separation and service.

There are other ways to separate. Simply an attitude or affiliation can be a dividing wall. For some, it’s like a badge of honor to maintain a list of things they don’t do: watch R-rated movies, listen to secular music, dance to a beat, look at nude paintings or sculpture, drink wine, beer or any alcohol at all, send their children to public schools, take communion in a particular way, baptize in a particular way, pray in a particular way, and so forth. The walls become thicker and taller over time. Unfortunately, if anyone crosses over or digs a hole through the wall, he/she is considered a reprobate. The wall is fortified.

Some of the extreme examples are the groups who have created compounds in the name of “community” where rules dominate, families inter-marry, and women are considered chattel once again. There are churches where membership is a complex ritual. There are religious groups where the “shepherds” determine whether two people marry or not, or whether a family should buy a car, or how much should be tithed. Yes, these are extremes, but their is separatism all along this continuum. They become an oppression.

How or what people do in the name of God can be diverse. How an individual is led to worship and honor God is a choice. But when these practices become a source of intentional alienation, something is wrong.

It is my heart that my life would be a flowing stream that can break down walls but also create pools and coves of safety. I don’t ever want to become a stagnant pond in the name of “holiness.”

He [she] is like a tree planted by streams of water,
which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither.
Whatever he [she] does prospers. [Psalm 1:3]

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John 5:41-42
I do not accept praise from men, but I know you. I know that you do not have the love of God in your hearts.

Praise can be given but has no value if it is not accepted. Genuine praise must come from the depths of the heart. It is grounded in truth and love for the other. Anything else is self-serving.

It comes back to motive. Why do we praise others unless we really want them to be lifted up? Genuine praise comes from genuine humility.

And so, it is really quite simple: we are challenged to get the heart right before we give out from there. Praise that comes from the heart is full of power. It is truly about the “other” and not about self. Once we can tap into this authentic love, praise will come naturally.

Lord, fill my heart so that praise becomes a natural expression… for you and for others. This is my prayer.

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Psalm 47:2
How awesome is the LORD Most High, the great King over all the earth!

This morning I was really floundering around as I looked for a verse or thought that I could meditate upon and then write about. My mind was like an empty cave: nobody home! My prayer life tends to operate so much on the edge, on the stress side of things: asking, begging, pleading, hoping, longing, crying out to God for something, for help. When the cave is empty of fears and anxieties, I’m a little lost. ๐Ÿ™‚ I’m not used to a contented or calm interior self. That’s amazing!

And so, I give thanks for the “Om” within today. I give thanks to the King of the Earth, who is sovereign over all that is without and within. I give thanks and praise to the God of my mind, my heart, my soul.

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