Exercise Devotion

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Pronunciation: /dəˈvōSH(ə)n/
NOUN Love, loyalty, or enthusiasm for a person, activity, or cause

This morning I became acutely aware that I needed to begin my day with some devotion. In the stress and hustle of daily life it is all too easy to forget that I am a spiritual being, I am capable and needful of such expression. My voice, though not well trained or particularly pleasant, is made to actively be raised in love and enthusiastic loyalty. It is made to sing. It is made to call out. My heart, though sometimes bruised and left thumping in fear and anxiety, is whole and held. My days, though sometimes long, sometimes dull, sometimes bright, sometimes warm, sometimes short and sometimes frantic, are gifts given to me, each one.

So I got in my car to drive to work, you know, my job at the Mall. I searched my phone for the tunes that would support and inform this stirring I felt in my heart and mind. I settled on a few songs by Acappella including To Him Who Sits On The Throne. I rolled up windows, bumped the AC, and I screeched along in the protected (for the safety of others) privacy of my little vehicular world. I found it later on YouTube, of course…

When you feel that little stir, a hollowness that feels kinda like hunger with twinge of giddiness, that need to sing, that absence of devotion, let something loose. Dance. Sing. Shout. Don’t forget that you are made to praise, you are a human being capable of deep and amazing beauty and grace. God has so gifted you. 

1 I will lift my praise above everything to You, my God and King!
    I will continually bless Your name forever and always.
2 My praise will never cease—
    I will praise You every day;
    I will lift up Your name forever.
3 The Eternal is great and deserves endless praise;
    His greatness knows no limit, recognizes no boundary.
    No one can measure or comprehend His magnificence.
4 One generation after another will celebrate Your great works;
    they will pass on the story of Your powerful acts to their children.

5 Your majesty and glorious splendor have captivated me;
    I will meditate on Your wonders, sing songs of Your worth.
6 We confess—there is nothing greater than You, God,
nothing mightier than Your awesome works.

    I will tell of Your greatness as long as I have breath.
7 The news of Your rich goodness is no secret—
    Your people love to recall it
    and sing songs of joy to celebrate Your righteousness.
8 The Eternal is gracious. He shows mercy to His people.
    For Him anger does not come easily, but faithful love does—
    and it is rich and abundant.
9 But the Eternal’s goodness is not exclusive—it is offered freely to all.
    His mercy extends to all His creation.

Psalm 145:1-9 from The Voice translation

“If the only prayer you ever say
in your entire life is thank you,

it will be enough.”
Meister Eckhart

AMDG, Todd

surprised by gratitude

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surprised by gratitudeit was like the birds waited in ambush
to wake me some from my walking slumber
breaking in on my morning
to startle me with beauty, and
surprise me with gratitude
for their song
for the creation happening all around me
and i had to give thanks


AMDG, Todd

Nov. 6, 2013 Civility in Xian Scripture

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cocreators in making ourselvesNovember 6:  I am civil with the created because I revere the Creator.

James 3:10 & 11, “Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring?”

I once lived by a spring. I had grown up for some years running in the woods and playing in and around little spring-fed creeks, but then I moved and lived next to a bonafide right-there-in-front-of-me spring, a hole in the ground that simply gave and gave and gave. It fed several stock tanks and then a creek that meandered off somewhere past my fields of wandering. That spring held my imagination. It was both cool and scary… it was primal.

James has a lot to say about our tongues and our words, and I’ve always enjoyed his poetic bent. He won’t just say, “Hey! Stop thinking you can use your words to bless and curse. Hypocrisy and doubled-mindedness like that is no good. Do you kiss your mother with that mouth?” Instead he says, “Think about your identity and nature. What is your primal identity? Is yours a nature that blesses or a nature that curses? Is your primal well of being a source of pure, sweet thought and word? Or is that essential spring of your life a salty wasteland that doesn’t give life?”

James doesn’t think we can cultivate two streams of life, one of cursing and one of praising, one of sweetness and one of saltiness, but instead he expects us to choose. In the context of the passage he points to a problem with thinking we will praise God but curse God’s created people. He doesn’t believe we can be two people, reserving respect, dignity and praise for the Creator while living a life of cursing, reviling and destruction with the created. It’s my very love and respect for God that becomes the basis of my love and respect of God’s created people.

I don’t have the option of loving God and hating people. I don’t have the option of being a “fig tree” with God and a “grapevine” with people. James insists that I be a whole person whose primal well-spring is consistent, sincere and good. And that is going to take some intention and some effort.

James alludes to it being a matter of “maturity” and that’s a good word for it. This consistent wellspring of my life will be the product of growth and development. It has been chosen and pursued. It’s no accident. Neither a fig tree nor a grapevine will reach maturity on accident, but by the collusion of their nature, their cellular intent and the proper environmental conditions. As humans we have this amazing gift of conscience and consciousness. We are co-creators even as we are part of the created. So we are not just fig trees and grapevines; we are participants in making ourselves. Will we choose the best fruit, a consistent fruit and a “praiseful” fruit for our neighbors?

I’m thinking back on that spring when I was young and the way it made me a little fearful. Clear, sweet water came from it, but I couldn’t see the bottom. There was no end to it’s giving. Maybe that’s my fear with civility. If I open that well in my life and give myself to it, where will it end? Who will come to drink of that well? Will I be emptied and drained completely? Can my well keep me refreshed while having to give so much to others? If I live a life toward the created that I live toward the Creator, will they abuse the gift? Will they understand? Will they be wasteful of it? Will they be deserving?

Faith says I can give my well to God. Faith says that I can trust God with the bottom I can’t see. Jesus promised a Samaritan woman that he would provide a drink of water that would become an internal wellspring of life (John 4). He promised it to anyone who came to him for a drink. There is my seed-spring, my well-beginning. So the intent is the starting place, and then comes the long walk of effort. It feels cool and kinda scary. My faith says I can do this, but I still get a bit wibbly inside when I can’t see the bottom.

AMDG, Todd