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Posts Tagged ‘Psalm 71:8’

“Would you look at this?” my friend exclaimed. Her outstretched hand waved over a selection of magazines in our favorite place to meet, a local bookstore/cafe.

 

 

Do you see what caught Cindy’s* eye? That word “Mindfulness” or “Mindful” shouted from nine different periodicals.

After the initial surprise, we realized why mindfulness is such a hot topic.  These days many adults are under great pressure to push themselves hard, move faster and accomplish more each day. All the while electronic devices are demanding their attention.

Add to that the worries rasping in their minds: the mistakes and failures of yesterday, the tight schedule and uncertainties of tomorrow, and fears for the future.

The pace, stress, and anxiety take their toll in the form of health problems, sleep disorders, and relational strain.

 

 

As a result, many have embraced mindfulness—a pleasurable time-out to capture the joy of now–like pausing to savor the tart, crisp, juiciness of an apple, stopping to listen as small bare feet patter down the stairs, or taking a moment to study a chipmunk collecting acorns.

And according to the research, just a brief interlude of mindfulness can calm the nerves, reset one’s emotional equilibrium, and foster contentment—all to positive effect upon our physical, mental, and spiritual well-being.

But I wonder, how many people know God offers even more–if we augment mindfulness with gratitude and praise?

 

 

For example, while doing the dishes I can focus on the hot water warming my hands, the clean scent of soap, the rainbowed bubbles floating in a bowl, the burbling water cascading over glasses and cups–then add a short prayer:

Thank you, Father, for giving us five senses

with which to enjoy your world.

 

 

While traveling in the car I can take note of the late summer haze clinging to the hillsides, today’s cloud exhibition, and the leaves on the roadside performing pirouettes on the breeze–then honor the Lord of all things:

I praise you, Father, for your creative genius

on display everywhere I look.

 

 

While reading a book with my two-year old granddaughter, I can pay attention to the sensation of her little body snuggled into my side, the sweet sound of her toddler-voice “reading” some of the words, and the dimples on the back of her hand as she points to a picture–then express gratitude to the Giver of all good gifts:

Thank you, Father, for the delights to be found

beneath the surface of ordinary experience.

 

 

Each day I can pause to observe the rose-pink tint of dawn, the dappled treetops in the noonday sun, and the slow glide of shadows at sunset–then rejoice in God’s power and glory.

My mouth is filled with your praise, O God,

declaring your splendor all day long.”

–Psalm 71:8

 

 

Mindfulness may prod us to notice God’s gifts in the moment, and that’s good.

But mindfulness plus gratitude and praise prompt us to treasure him, and that’s transformational.

God’s presence becomes palpable (James 4:8), joy sings in our hearts (Psalm 92:4), contentment settles in our spirits (Isaiah 26:3).

And the Giver of all good things surely smiles with pleasure in response.

 

 

*Name changed.

 

Photo credits:  Nancy Ruegg; http://www.pxhere.com; http://www.dailyverses.net; http://www.pexels.com; http://www.pixabay.com; http://www.pexels.com; http://www.pixabay.com; ww.canva.com.)

 

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“That does sound wonderful,” a young mother says, “but Brother Lawrence was a monk, working in the garden or kitchen all day. He could pray as he went about his chores. I work in a noisy office and then deal with three noisy kids when I get home. How can I experience continuous communion with God?”

Her dilemma is all too familiar, even for someone like me who’s retired!

So I began a list of possibilities to help me live in more continuous communion with God. Perhaps an idea or two will appeal to you.

  1. Begin the day with God–even as I get out of bed.  “This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it,” the psalmist urged (118:24).  OK, what can I rejoice in and be grateful to God for, as I anticipate the day?

 

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  1. Wear a reminder-bracelet—even a paper one! Write a scripture on it (such as Isaiah 26:3), or an encouraging statement, such as: “He is beneath me as my foundation, He is beside me as my friend, He is within me as my life” (Barbara Johnson, Women of Faith speaker).
  1. Copy a meaningful scripture on a 3 x 5 card. Post it on the inside of a kitchen cabinet door, the visor of the car, or the inside of a closet. Move it around every few days so the element of surprise serves to grab my attention.
  1. Sing to God (while driving quiet streets or doing noisy chores!)
  1. Keep my blessings journal more faithfully. (Even though I established the habit years ago, I still allow some precious gifts to go unrecorded. More attentiveness will add more joy to my days.)
  1. Get outside. Find at least one marvelous gift in creation, and praise God for his genius.

 

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  1. Follow this advice from Barbara Johnson (mentioned above): While using a household product, see if the name or its attributes remind me of God and my relationship with him. One example: Fresh Start laundry detergent. While loading the washer I can pray, “Thank you, Father, that every day is a fresh start with you. Your mercies are new every morning.”  (Interested in more products and their implications?  Click on “A.M. Attitude Adjustment.”)
  1. Post a verse on the bathroom mirror. Work at memorizing it.
  1. Each time I sip my coffee or tea, I can also “Taste and see that the Lord is good” (Psalm 34:8) by savoring the blessings of the moment.  Thankfulness opens my heart to his presence and my mind to his thoughts.**

 

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  1. End the day with God, recalling his blessings or reciting his scripture.

 

Now if you’re like me, a bracelet on the wrist or a 3 x 5 on a cabinet door soon become such common sights, I barely notice them anymore. Perhaps if I rotate through some of the suggestions, they’ll retain their impact.

Sunday might be the day for an outdoor respite.  Monday might be Bracelet Day; Tuesday could be Taste-and-See Day.

You get the idea.

Bottom line: I want my mouth filled with God’s praise; I want to declare his splendor all day long, simply because he is worthy of praise (Psalm 71:8; 1 Chronicles 16:24-25).

But how glorious is this:  our all-gracious God chooses to bless us when we seek to bless him—blessings such as:

 

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So…

 

“…For a short time, fly from your business;

hide yourself for a moment from your turbulent thoughts.

Break off now your troublesome cares,

and think less of your laborious occupations.

Make a little time for God, and rest for a while in Him.

Enter into the chamber of your mind,

shut out everything but God

and whatever helps you to seek Him, and,

when you have shut the door, seek Him.

Speak now, O my whole heart, speak now to God:

‘I seek Thy face; Thy face, Lord, do I desire.'”

—  Anselm

(1033-1109, Archbishop of Canterbury, caring pastor, author)

 

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What strategies help you to enjoy continuous communion with God?  Please share in the Comments section below!

 

**based on a statement by Sarah Young, Jesus Calling,p. 343

 

(Art & photo credits:  www.azquotes.com; http://www.pinterest.com; http://www.guilford.ces.ncsu.edu; http://www.zazzle.co.uk; http://www.ourdailyblossom.com.)

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I don’t listen to my car radio anymore.  The fuzzy sound coming from the twelve-year old speakers is annoying.

But the silence has turned into a gift, a time for prayer and worship.

As I leave our neighborhood and pass the ponds and large live oak trees draped with Spanish moss, I praise God for the beauty of creation, within steps of our home:

  • The glassy surface of the ponds, reflecting blue sky and mounds of clouds
  • The stately trees, with branches spread wide, as if to praise God with me
  • The family of sandhill cranes, stretching their graceful necks to the ground in search of  breakfast
  • The rich green grass, arrayed in dew-diamonds

And with the psalmist I want to add my enthusiastic voice.

“Praise the Lord, O my soul.  O Lord my God, you are very great;  You are clothed with splendor and majesty…How many are your works, O Lord!  In wisdom you made them all, the earth is full of your creatures.  I will sing praise…as I rejoice in the Lord (Psalm 104:1, 24, 33-34).

Oh, yes!

On the way to my hair appointment the other day, that’s exactly what I was doing:  praising God for the beauty around me.

And then, boom.  My mind veered off to a troubling event that happened years ago.  Before I even realized what was happening, my thoughts were swirling around in a cesspool of negativity.

When I caught myself, I said out loud in a firm but frustrated voice:  “LET. IT. GO!”

And just as suddenly as that cesspool opened up, I found myself singing an old chorus from my childhood, but with new words.  Do you remember:

“Hallelu, Hallelu, Hallelu, Hallelujah!  Praise ye the Lord?”

My altered rendition went like this:

Let it go, let it go, let it go, let it go now!

Praise ye the Lord!  (Repeat.)

Praise ye the Lord!  Let it go, now!  (Repeat three times.)

PRAISE YE THE LORD!

Did you figure out the tune?  Do you remember this song?

Well, no sooner did I start singing that silly song, than I was smiling to myself.  My spirit was downright laughing!

And the cesspool drained away.

I don’t know how ugly matters can flood into my mind, even as I’m praising God.  I don’t know how to keep the mess out once and for all.

What I am learning is this:

As soon as I recognize that the floodgates of negativity have opened, my best offensive move to close them up again is praise and gratitude.

And why does it work?

“Satan so hates genuine praise that his fiery darts of discouragement are not effective against us when we respond in praise” – Bill Thrasher  (A Journey to Victorious Praying, Moody, 2003, p. 206).

Evidently, Satan hasn’t given up on me yet; he’s still firing darts of discouragement to render me ineffective.  You know–reduce me to one of those people who revels in self-pity and the pity of others.

I do not want him to score a single point, much less win the victory!

My aim is to adopt David’s attitude:

“My heart is steadfast, O God,  my heart is steadfast: I will sing and give praise” (Psalm 57:7).

Note that David wrote this psalm when he had to flee for his life from murderous King Saul (1 Samuel 22-24).

M-m-m.  Surely David had to avoid a few cesspools of negativity under such circumstances.  Those words, “My heart is steadfast,” may have been spoken through gritted teeth.

But even when praise is more of a forced discipline than a natural delight, God is undoubtedly pleased.  Perhaps even more so.  Like a parent especially appreciative when the teenager loads the dishwasher.   Even when he doesn’t want to.

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So, here I am, Lord –my toes a bit soiled from getting too close to that cesspool again.  But thanks to you, thanks to the power you’ve given me through praise, it’s only my toes!  Thank you for pulling me away from the brink.  Thank you for turning me around and refocusing me on your glorious wonders.  May “my mouth be filled with your praise, declaring your splendor all day long” (Psalm 71:8)!  Amen. 

(Photo credits:  www.rajschoolofmotoring.co.uk ; http://www.laradunning.wordpress.com ; http://www.istockphoto.com ; http://www.ourhealingmoments.com )

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