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What is it about nice people that attract total idiots?Nice people are martyrs. Idiots are evangelists.


Sunday, September 13, 2015

Sunday message: It starts with praise

The other day, I hit a verse that really said a lot about my lack of victory over sin.  It was at the end of Psalm 61:

Psa 61:8  So I will sing praise to Your name forever, so that I may daily pay my vows. 

A lot of translations (I use e-sword so I can compare) leave out the "so" in that, but it is really the critical word here.  The effort of praising God is what wins access to the grace that keeps our promises.  That's why Jesus put it first in the prayer He taught the Apostles.  But praise is a funny thing.  Inside the group, singing with the choir, offering a sweet sound up to God, that is where praise is easy.  But how about at 5 AM when you're just waking up, trying to get ready for work, silencing the latest earworm, trying to forget the dream that just got interrupted?  Without that choir backing you, sometimes "praise" sounds hollow, repetitious... incomplete.


This week, Bobby G. unwittingly named my Tuesday not once, but twice.  On Tuesday, he put it this way:

First off of the porch is our WHO SAID THAT? quote of the week:
"Very little is needed to make a happy life; it is all within yourself, in your way of thinking."
I think this makes a good case for WHY some people fail - the incorrect manner of thinking weighs them down, and causes them to make bad choices.

And I DID have that.  I made every little thing into a life-or-death, heaven-or-hell argument with God.  And what sucked was, I KNEW I was doing it.  I kept telling myself, this is all on you- you're making big deals out of little ones. And moments later, the next three bad things would happen, and I was right back at it again.

And just so I wouldn't forget it, Bob laid it out on me (unwittingly again) the next day:

Most times, the complexities of people are exacerbated by their own selves...THEY make things harder without any outside influence.   OUCH.

So how do you get out of the funk?  Jesus gave the answer- Praise.  I listened to Tony Evans early Saturday morning.  He talked about the procedure for accessing grace.  Grace, or blessings, is like a bank account.  Everything God's ever going to give you is already in it.  Faith is the means by which we make "withdrawals."  And obedience is the characteristic that makes it a faith that has the right "password" to access the account.  Put another way, he explained.  Say you have a pain.  First you try to take care of it yourself, with OTC medicine.  But if that doesn't work, you have to see the doctor.  He runs a battery of tests, and writes you down a prescription you can't understand.  So you take it to the pharmacist.  You trust him to give you the right drugs to alleviate the problem.  But spiritually, many times we ignore the obedience part- instead of "taking two every four hours", we might take two every four days.  And then wonder why nothing's changed.

So then the procedure is obedience which activates faith, and then faith activates grace.  And at least one of the obediences I struggle with is praise.  Not because I forget to/don't make time to/ don't want to praise, but because my human mind doesn't get past the idea of, "How do you tell the omnipotent creator of everything from the smallest particle to the largest galactic cluster how great He is in such a way that He doesn't just say, yeah, I know?"

How do you?  Bow down before Him, eventually you nod off.  Think back on what He has done and where He's been for you, and you drift into Thanksgiving- what He does for you rather than what He is.  Sing a song- how many verses of Holy Holy Holy do you know before you have to repeat?

So then do you try to analyse, until you get to, "so why does a God need worship, anyway?"  Answer, He doesn't.  And there lies the problem.  Coming to Him, wanting to do the right thing say the right words, give Him what He needs... when He doesn't NEED anything.  Praise isn't a need of God's, it's a need of OURS.  Young lovers get it.  Sometimes you just look into the other one's eyes when you can't express what you feel.  And it's enough.

And if all you need to say to God is, "Wow, you're awesome,"  and that covers it, then that's it.  No need to try to find old hymn books or turn a bunch of regular words into a bigger bunch of three dollar words.

After the debacle that was my Tuesday, a text of a Bible passage by a friend made me think, you know, maybe if I had a Bible verse to concentrate on when these brain spasms occur, it might help me.  So I found a random verse generator on my work computer, and Friday I tested it out.  Here's what I got:

Pro 17:22  A merry heart does good like a medicine, but a broken spirit dries the bones. 

Isn't that cool?  But like I told my buddy Bob, the day it comes up John 11:35, I'm getting a sick pass and going home.


  1. Chris:
    I really did not mean or intend that those two posts would "hit so close to home".
    You know me - I kinda get an "idea" for what a post is about and then have at it (except for the copy from media sources).
    I think many times, God directs us without letting is in on a single thing about it (and many times, that works for
    I used to "prep" for my Sunday school classes the same way ..."as the Spirit leads", perhaps?

    You really nailed this down tight, though...especially with the "obedience - faith - grace"...well put.

    And that PRAISE is on the obedience "ledger".
    (be surprised if ANY of us got ALL the "red" off of that one yet)
    We are all works-in-progress, right?

    The neat part about praise is something ELSE you touched on..."bigger is not always BETTER".
    I think God much prefers the HUMBLE in spirit (and heart) when it comes to praise, and all the "window-dressing" never means AS much as a few simple words spoken for no reason at all (to His glory) other to acknowledge who HE is.

    Very good sermonette, my friend..
    God bless & stay safe up there, brother,.

    1. Don't apologize, All pieces of the puzzle...

  2. I've been so discouraged and frustrated and annoyed and ill and bothered and OMG I want to scream since Friday. Thank you for this today. Pushing to work through my discouraged feelings and keep on moving. -Hanging in there

    1. Discouragement is easy in this world. One thing that helps me is looking at pictures of your smiling/pouting kids. If they help me, they should REALLY help you!

    2. I know it should be so easy (and it is) but sometimes they aid in my frustration. Shocking! I know. Man I love them though.

  3. Absolutely. God doesn't need our worship, we do. And it comes back to us ten-fold in basic serenity and calm with the poop hits the fan.

    1. So why weren't you behind me Tuesday Gibbs-slapping me?

  4. I can only speak for me, but praise music is an excellent way for me to get a good mindset. I just tend to do best when it's set to music. I also don't get stuck so much on if it's repetitive (how many verses of Holy Holy Holy do you know?), because if I'm feeling it in my soul, that's what counts.

    That said, when I'm feeling really lousy I don't feel like singing the praise songs. Or even praising. I just want to go back to bed and sleep. That's the "falling down" for me, I think.

    1. In a church setting, without a doubt. But Monday thru Friday trying to wake up in the morning, there EVERYTHING sounds repetitious. Getting past the crap to where I "feel it in my soul", that's where I'm struggling.

  5. Those who sit in prison cells for the sake of the Gospel can teach us a lesson about praise ... and worship! If we need a choir or anything else to pray, praise & worship Him, we may not truly know HIM!

    1. I don't need anything for my sake... I want it to be meaningful. That's the heart of the post. I have the reasons and the desire, I just want it to be worthwhile.