Tag Archives: fall

On vacation this week

19 Oct


See you next week! In the meantime, share with everyone by leaving a comment how you are worshiping God this week.

For me, it’s been a long year. Having some space to enjoy God in his creation is awe-inspiring, especially in the north with the glorious fall colors. What a creative God we serve! And at the same time, he’s predictable. Fall comes every year, and the leaves change just like the year before. He is truly amazing and worthy of our worship!



Death. And Life.

28 Sep


I will not die, but live,
.  and will proclaim what the Lord has done.  Psalm 118:17

Fall has come to the Midwest. Death is everywhere. Leaves on the ground turn brown and crunch beneath my feet. Flowers once glorious wither, their petals once so glorious have faded as life leaves every cell.

Photos I was looking at yesterday whisper across time that family members and friends are slowly dying like the players in some macabre horror movie. Pink cheeks and sparkling eyes grow into loose eyelids and crow’s feet before our eyes as we watch, every one of us, step by step, walking toward death.

In this moment I am immortal. That is my reality, my perspective, on this fall day. I drink deeply of the pungent fragrance of the leaves under my feet on my morning walk and the pumpkin spice candle burning here on my desk. But the greater reality is that I am living to die, that I will cease to exist in this world today, next week, or in a year yet to come.

I am living to die.

Or maybe, I am dying to live.

The Lord has chastened me severely,
.  but he has not given me over to death. Psalm 118:18

I will die, it’s true. But I will not be given over to it. I am not meant for death; I am meant for life!

My question is then: why do I spend so much time, effort, thought, and resources on what is dying? A better long-term investment would be in what will last.

Logic demands it. The way I live denies it.

Open for me the gates of the righteous;
.   I will enter and give thanks to the Lord.
This is the gate of the Lord
  through which the righteous may enter.
I will give you thanks, for you answered me;
.   you have become my salvation.  Psalm 118:19-21

The way to life is through the gate of righteousness, and (thankfully!) I am not the gate, the Lord is. The gate does not depend on me… yet I must enter. And on the other side, the living side, I give him thanks!

The stone the builders rejected
.   has become the capstone;
the Lord has done this,
.   and it is marvelous in our eyes.
This is the day the Lord has made;
.   let us rejoice and be glad in it. Psalm 118:22-24

This is the day – the day I walk through the gate – that the Lord has made. (Yes, he has also made today, but the day referred to in this verse is the day the psalmist walked through the gate with the solid capstone supporting the arch overhead.)

The verses above are from my 1985 NIV. The latest revision of the NIV makes this phrase clearer:

The Lord has done it this very day;
.   let us rejoice today and be glad. Psalm 118:24

Let’s worship him today because he is our salvation! In fact, how can we keep quiet?



As I look ahead to worshiping God with my church family tomorrow, I’m struck by how much of what we will do is dying. The building where we will gather will have  a shorter life than the Parthenon – which is now in ruins. The instruments will end up broken and unplayable. The tech pieces (many of which are already outdated) are going to malfunction beyond repair and end up in a tox-drop dumpster in a couple of years.

My brilliant harmony will be gone before the end of the song. The choral swell will echo a moment and fade to silence. The band arrangement will disappear just as quickly. The clothes I wear, the outfit I so carefully put together to be just hip enough but not too distracting, will someday be the rag I use to wash my windows.

All this is dying. Is my worship living to die?

Or is it dying to live?


I love it when God puts thoughts from different people together. I was meditating on the above last week, and this is what my pastor wrote and preached on last Sunday. (For the sermon, choose: Awake-Week 1, Sep. 22, 2013.)

Through the Roar

28 Jul

Surely, I am with you always.  Matthew 28:20

The woods were quiet as I ambled down the path toward the creek.  The air, as crisp as the leaves under my sandals, stirred a little, then fell still again.  Perfection.  Not too hot, but not chilly; beautiful blue sky and sunshine; brilliantly lit orange leaves from the ground to the treetops.  Autumn was waking up my senses.

Far away an intermittent roar broke through the idyllic afternoon.  Surrounded by the deep forest, I looked around each time I heard it, but the source remained a mystery.

Out of the edge of my peripheral vision a large swooping object made me duck instinctively and whirl around to face it.  I laughed out loud!

Glorious color floated not too far above the treetops as another roar escaped from the burner throwing flames into the billowy balloon.  I’d never been this close to one before.  Seen from a distance, their silhouettes float across the sky in peaceful silence.  But above me a bulbous craft creaked, broadcast its riders’ voices, and roared.

Now that the balloon was directly overheard the roaring dominated everything– my peaceful walk, the chatter of the birds, and my thoughts.

I was in the woods to spend time with God.  His creation always draws me closer to Him.  Apparently so do hot air balloons, as He began to speak to me through the roar.

I’ll share three insights from that day with you.

1.  The burner stayed with the balloon. 

(I know this is one of those ultra-obvious statements, but being aware of the basics, what is often taken for granted, is what makes the light bulb snap on over my head.)  The source of freedom, progress, and power was right there within reach.  All the captain had to do was reach his hand out and turn the valve.  Instantly, the roar heated the air inside the light-weight nylon, and the balloon gracefully responded.

2. The captain didn’t wait for the balloon to get into trouble before letting the burner roar.

The roars didn’t last long.  Sometimes just a few seconds, sometimes a full minute.  All totaled, the time the burner was lit was probably a fraction of the entire flight.  But frequent bursts were necessary to keep the balloon from crashing into a treeline or listing all the way to the ground.  To run the burner for the same amount of time it ran during the trip before it took off would have made for a very short run.

3. From a distance, the burner is unnoticeable.

I mentioned this earlier.  Previously when I’ve seen hot-air balloons, they have been a long way off.  From my perspective they float effortlessly and beautifully– without roaring.  But, of course I’m just not close enough to hear the burner blast power and the balloon skyward.  Physics and chemistry turn into art and magic.

God spoke to me through these, and many other parallels that day in the woods.  Reminding me that He is always right with me; that I need Him all throughout the day, not just at the beginning; and that He combines many, many relationships and situations to create a wonder for others to see that is my life.

I went out to commune with God through His creation – and He spoke through the roar of a propane and silk ballet.


Ready for Sunday

Every follower of Jesus needs both long drinks at His well (much like filling the entire balloon before a flight) and short sips throughout the day.  Especially as worship leaders, however, we can’t do what He’s called us to do without both.  I know that!  But how do I make it a regular practice… instead of waiting until I’m in trouble?  How do I become so desperate for God, I can’t go on without Him?

I’m interested in your thoughts.  Accountability to someone who asks me hard questions (I’ve given her permission to do so) is part of my strategy.  How have you made these practices part of your life so your relationship with Him propels you forward with His power in order to lead others toward Him?

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