Wednesday, July 02, 2008


This word gets used a lot, but what does it mean? Well, it's a command given to the children of Israel to praise their God. But what's that? It's to say how great and powerful and generous and loving and patient and kind and just he is.

But why were they told to do that? Why should we do that today? Is God unsure of himself, like he has to be told all that stuff?

Ah, no. That would be a false god, created in your image -- or, rather, in mine. The true God does not need our praise. He is not like the Julia Roberts character in Hook, who would disappear if nobody believed in her.

The Israelites (the Jews) praise the Lord, and we do if we're wise, because it's beneficial to us. If I'm thinking about God's power and glory and grace and riches and kindness and generosity, it's pretty hard to be worried or depressed or self-righteous or proud. I won't be self-absorbed because I'm God-absorbed. And when I do that I recover my sense of wonder; I celebrate my incredible good fortune. How, I ask myself, did I get so lucky? To be born in this country, to my parents; to be married to the lovely Carol; to have such amazing children; to have a great run, 32 years, in the tech sector and great colleagues; to be blessed with friends and health, fellowship at church, a relationship with the Master of the Universe (and assurance of eternity with him), the opportunity to make a difference in people's lives... all these things come from God, not because I deserve them, but because of his generosity and love.

If you can read this, you've got a lot to be thankful for, too; you've received a lot from God, for the same reason (or lack thereof) that I have.

So here is an exercise that I learned from the lovely Carol: to go through the alphabet and make up sentences praising God. For example:
  • Almightly: Lord, you created the heavens and the earth by your great power and stretched-out arm. Nothing is too difficult for you!
  • Beauty: Thank you God for the beautiful things you created in this earth.
  • Compassion: Thank you for having compassion on us, for knowing all our worries, whether weighty or small or silly.
  • The Lord is with us when we're in Danger. He is our God forever and even until Death.
  • His yoke is Easy and his burden is light.
  • He is Faithful and always keeps his promises
  • He is Generous, giving to me things I do not deserve and never could earn.
  • He gives Health
  • ...
You get the idea. As I go through this list, or make it up, I calm down, I breathe more easily, I become more able to listen to others. I get well -- or better at least.

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