Categories
Christianity

The Madness Of Praise

“When you have an attitude of praise, you won’t be able to outrun the goodness of God. What you send up comes back down.”

– Joel Osteen

In a world where decisions are increasingly based on feelings, praise is often reduced to a feeling.

Praise here being a descriptor of all things worship. Not just that “upbeat” part of a church services where all the “fast” songs are sang.

We do it when we feel like it and it feels right. And when it doesn’t? We don’t.

And that right there is the crux of the problem.

A spiritual discipline (worship) cannot be led by a natural disposition. That which is natural will only ever bear natural fruit. It takes spiritual effort to birth spiritual fruit.

I don’t know where we got this notion that praise must always feel good. Yet, the Bible has so many instances of worship in the midst of terrible circumstances e.g. at some point, Joshua and all those people going round the walls of Jericho must have gotten tired and wondered what the heck they were doing. If I’d been there, I’d probably have been grumbling before Day 1 was even over. But they submitted their thoughts and feelings to the counsel of God and steadfastly praised in obedience for 7 days.

Praise is honest. It’s not a denial of what is but a difficult choice to invite God to be there for us in hardship. To throw our anger, grief, frustration, disappointment, shame, and every other burden at Him knowing He can handle it better than anyone else. To trust in the goodness of God even when it’s not immediately apparent.

The whole point of the enemy stealing, killing and destroying is to make us turn away from God. But when we dig in our heels, raise our hands higher and lift our voices louder, we’re pretty much saying “NOT TODAY!”. Praise then becomes the spiritual weapon that turns things around. One that doesn’t wait for manifestation on this side of heaven. No. One that sings of the testimony in eternity and in so doing ushers it into being here on earth.

In the spirit, we don’t just praise because something has happened. We praise to make things happen. 

Sometimes it will sound like a confident shout. Sometimes it will be quiet whispers and choked sobs in His presence. Sometimes it will be a seemingly endless stretch of silence between two friends who know the wounds are still far too raw for words.

Most times it won’t make logical sense.

That’s simply the madness of praise that calls us to be fools for God.

Even when the Michals in our lives fail to understand, may we always be like David before God. Undignified before men. Beloved by God.

“If you don’t know my pain, you’ll never understand my praise.”

– Juanita Bynum

Categories
Christianity

Psalms Of My Heart

I waited patiently for the Lord;

He turned to me and heard my cry.

He lifted me out of the slimy pit,

out of the mud and mire;

He set my feet on a rock

and gave me a firm place to stand.

He put a new song in my mouth,

a hymn of praise to our God.

– Psalm 40:1-3 [NIV]

I’ve never been one for new year resolutions. But I do believe in introspection and since my birthday falls on the first month of the year, I guess you could say I have life resolutions. Initially they used to be about what I wanted for myself in the new year of life I had. But gradually they’ve become about what God has in mind for me.

One of the things He placed in my heart at the start of this year was to read the Psalms. A Psalm a day as my meditation to feed my spirit.

Nothing could have prepared me for the journey that this has turned out to be.

There’s something about the raw vulnerability with which every psalmist presents themselves before God. Brutally honest confessions of their despair followed by defiantly hopeful declarations that God was and is able to make it all better.

They didn’t praise just because they were in the mood and life was dandy. They sang of disappointment but their song didn’t end there because they stood on the hope that their story wasn’t over. God wasn’t done yet. He had barely begun so how could they not sing?

“Sometimes you gotta tell your soul to sing

Even when you don’t feel a thing.

You gotta sing louder.”

– Steffany Gretzinger

They praised themselves into the manifest presence of God. Even when everything was a mess and all seemed lost. They exalted the name of God above all else. Every word uttered in faith, speaking of things they had yet to see, took them a step deeper into the reality of the goodness of God.

I have marvelled at the audacity of their faith. I’ve moved over lines with my heart in my mouth as I whispered the very same words over my life.

“My heart, O God, is steadfast; I will sing and make music with all my soul. Awake, harp and lyre! I will awaken the dawn.” 

– Psalm 108: 1-2 [NIV]

I am learning to sing the song that awakens the dawn. 

The song that bursts forth because I know the light of dawn is coming not because I’ve seen it already.

The song bravely…defiantly…sung in darkness that calls forth the light.

Those roosters that crow way too early in the morning even before the sun shows up? Those birds that start chirping even before the cover of darkness lifts? They’re actually onto something. Who knew?