Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Here's to the Good Old Days

This may come as a surprise to some, but Wikipedia really does provide some useful information from time to time. Consider what I recently learned about the phrase "auld lang syne":

       "Auld Lang Syne" is a Scots poem written by Robert Burns in 1788 and set to the tune of a traditional folk song. It is well known in many countries, especially in the English-speaking world; its traditional use being to bid farewell to the old year at the stroke of midnight. By extension, it is also sung at funerals, graduations, and as a farewell or ending to other occasions. The international Scouting movement, in many countries, uses it to close jamborees and other functions.
       The song's title may be translated into standard English as "old long since", or more idiomatically, "long long ago", "days gone by", or "old times". Consequently, "For auld lang syne", as it appears in the first line of the chorus, might be loosely translated as "for (the sake of) old times".

This new understanding of what those words mean is helpful to me as I consider Daniel Fogelberg's bittersweet song, "Same Old Lang Syne". It was a 1981 hit for Fogelberg and is still played from time to time, especially here in late December. Not only is it a true story (except, reportedly, for the woman's eye color and her husband's vocation), but its wistful wishing for "days gone by" rings with truth.

Truth is...I think almost everyone can relate to the feelings evoked in this song. What if I had done this one thing differently? What if I had turned right instead of left? Is my life now the life I was meant to live? Am I satisfied?

I hope it's not a sin to feel that way from time to time, and I am overjoyed to know that Yahweh takes the sum total of our decisions, actions, and attitudes...washes them clean...and "causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose." (Romans 8:28 NASB)

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Christmas Presence

It was a dark night during a short-term mission trip to Panama. Our small group of adults and teens were getting ready to bed down for the night in a mountain village...and I use the term village loosely. The men were in the back of the army-surplus truck we had used to get there, and the women were on the dirt floor of the central shelter used for communal cooking...and I use the term shelter loosely.

The tall, red-haired missionary we were working with tapped me on the shoulder and said, "Follow me."

Before I knew it, I was on the tail end of a group of three Norte Americanos being led single file on a winding path by a young adult Panamanian woman who had said she wanted us to pray for her sick father.

You should know that the whole conflict with Noriega and drug-trafficking wasn't that old of news at this point, and the thought did cross my mind that I might not be heading back to the village that night all in one piece.

But my fears were groundless. We soon reached a small lean-to of a hut, lit only by a tiny, clay, oil lamp. It only took the four of us, the sick father, and our guide's mother to fill the tiny space. And yet, when we started to pray, the space was filled even more...the Spirit of Peace and Truth came and rested upon us all.

Truth is...even while I was experiencing this, I was reminded of another simple structure, probably lit by a very similar lamp, that was also filled with a very special presence. Emmanuel: God With Us. He came to Earth knowing full well that he would not be returning home unscathed.

In the midst of the presents this year, may you also experience His presence.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Three-Way Church Swap

Three churches in Western Dakota County, Minnesota, recently went through an amazing three-way location swap that could not have come about without the direct leading of Yahweh.

It's an amazing story, and if you've got 7:48, I'd like to tell it to you.

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Truth is...This would never have happened if it were up to humans alone. God's fingerprints are all over this and I can't wait to see what's coming down the road.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

The Rock That Doesn't Roll

He was too rocky for church and too churchy for rock radio, but Larry Norman was a pioneer of what is now called Contemporary Christian Music. There was no "industry" for it back in the late 60s and early 70s. It was simply known as Jesus Music.

And other than the 1973 Imperials Live album, wherein a Southern Gospel group successfully constructed a bridge between "Beulah Land" and "Jesus Made Me Higher", Larry Norman's album, In Another Land, was my personal introduction to music that sounded like 70's radio, but spoke of things of the Spirit.

I was led to think about Norman the other day when I saw the following picture posted on Facebook with the caption, "WHAT'S THE FIRST SONG YOU WOULD PLAY ON THESE SPEAKERS?"

My answer was The Rock That Doesn't Roll, by Larry Norman:

I was lost and blind 'til a friend of mine

Came and took me by the hand.
Then He led me to His kingdom
That was in another land.
Now my life is changed, it's rearranged.
When I think of my past, I feel so strange.
Wowie, zowie, well He saved my soul.
He's the rock that doesn't roll.

He's the rock that doesn't roll.

He's the rock that doesn't roll.
He's good for the body and great for the soul.
He's the rock that doesn't roll.

I was all alone like a rolling stone,

I was going nowhere fast.
I was on the road so far from home
When the future touched my past.
Now I feel so blessed 'cause He gave me a rest
And I finally feel like I've passed the test.
I wanna be like Him, yes, that's my goal
Like a rock that doesn't roll.

He's the rock that doesn't roll...

I was lost and blind 'til a friend of mine
Came and took me by the hand.
Then He led me to His kingdom
That was in another land.
Now my mind is blown, my head has grown
A solid rock ain't a rolling stone,
Wowie, zowie, well the cat's got soul.
He's the rock that doesn't roll.

He's the rock that doesn't roll...

You got to rock me on the water
You got to rock me from my grave.
You got to rock me 'til I'm feeling good,
You got to rock me 'til I'm, rock me 'til I'm saved.
©1976 Beechwood Music Corp./J.C. Love Publishing Co.

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Truth is...It's pretty nice when a Scriptural concept has a good beat and is easy to dance to.

There is no one holy like the Lord; there is no one besides you; there is no Rock like our God. (I Samuel 2:2)

My God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation. He is my stronghold, my refuge and my savior (2 Samuel 22:3)

But the Lord has become my fortress, and my God the rock in whom I take refuge. (Psalm 94:22)