Clap your hands all peoples! Shout to God with loud songs of joy! For the Lord the Most High is to be feared, a great king over all the earth. Psalms 47:1-2 (ESV)
The air was electric. The stadium moved beneath our feet as the crowd jumped up and down. (It was the “bounce house” for a reason.) A minute and a half remained on the clock. The visiting team had just scored. With a kicked off and 100 yards to go, the home team fans held their collective breath. Boom. Ninety-five yards later and no time left on the clock, the stadium erupted into a deafening roar. What seemed impossible 90 seconds and 100 yards ago was now a reality. The Knights defeated the Bulls 42-49 keeping their undefeated season intact.
Much like the UCF Knights in 2017, the nation of Israel had much to celebrate. The temple was complete. The country was at peace. A wise king was on the throne. It was time to jump up and down and celebrate. In Psalm 47:1-4, the songwriter encouraged the people to celebrate their great and mighty God by clapping and shouting loudly in songs of praise. The praise was not unwarranted. God had delivered them from their enemies. They were living safely and securely in their own land. The ark was returning to the temple (2Chronicles 7). Their joy was to be an uproarious celebration in the presence of all people. It was not a time to be prim or proper. It was time to let loose and let the world know of God’s great love and salvation.
Loud celebration was not difficult for the crowd at the UCF/USF football game. It exploded out of everyone simultaneously. No matter what, you couldn’t help but jump up and cheer with each exciting play. The swell of those rising around you lifted you to your feet like a wave breaking on the ocean. No one had to be told to clap or shout. You just did. You couldn’t help it.
Our praise to God should be the same way: free, unhindered, spontaneous, joyful, and contagious. Praise should flow freely from our hearts to our mouths. The joy we feel because of God’s presence in our life should automatically open our hearts to praise. No one looks around at a football game to see if anyone notices them cheering. No one compares notes about the right way to cheer. A shout. A fist pump. A head nod. Ferocious clapping. All okay. Neither should we feel the need to look around during worship to see if anyone notices our praise. Singing. Hands raised. Eyes open. Eyes closed. Off-key. All okay. God just wants to hear our heart-felt uninhibited praise.
Today, I challenge you, and myself, to take some time and think about our own corporate praise. Are we wholeheartedly praising the Lord or are we holding back? Let’s take a moment and make a mental (or even physical) list inventorying all the things the Lord has done for us. Then, let’s bring that list with us the next time we attend a place of worship and use it to turn our corporate praise into an honest moment of personal celebration of God’s goodness.
It might just be the game changer our worship needs.
Running Out of Gas
And we desire each of you to show the same eagerness to have the full assurance of hope until the end, so that you may not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises. Hebrews 6:11-12
Have you ever just wanted to give up? Throw in the towel? Quit? Or maybe at the very least, pull the covers over your head and hide out in bed until you have the strength to face the day?
I know I have. Life can be exhausting. Sometimes I feel like I give so much to those around me that there is nothing left of me. The stresses of life often leave me gasping for air under normal circumstances nearly suffocating in times of distress.
Just as a car won’t run on an empty tank of gas, I can’t function on an empty soul. Running out of gas is never fun and always seems to happen at the worst time. The sputter, the jerk and then the sudden silence is quickly met with wails. “Not now! I’m almost there. Can’t you make it just a little a farther?”
Denial yields to reality as the moving vehicle glides to a stop. No amount of coxing, begging or pleading will make it move again. Fuel is the only thing that will bring the engine back to life.
Just as a dead car needs gasoline to operate, we need fuel to function. Life takes energy and if we are not careful, we will find ourselves on empty. Life comes with continuous demands that deplete our physical and emotional tanks. We rush around thinking we have enough energy to get just one more task done only to find our energy sputtering as we roll to a stop. Worn out. Ready to quit. Unable to go on. When our souls are depleted, our spirits sag and our energy wanes. Just like a car that has run out of gas, our productivity comes to a stop.
Hebrews 6:10-12 is a reminder that God is the filler of our souls. He sees our work. He knows our hearts. He monitors our tank gauges. He desires to keep us filled and operating at peak capacity. But, we have to choose to let Him. My car lights up to indicate it’s time to get gas. It will even tell me how many more miles I can drive before the tank is empty. If I ignore all those warnings indicators and keep driving, I will run out of gas and my car will stop. If I am wise, I will refuel my tank before it’s too late.
My life has indicators too. I have built in signals that let me know I am depleting my soul. When I become short-tempered, cranky, unkind, negative, and unmotivated, my soul is telling me something. It’s indicating to me that I need to fill my spirit. My life tank is on empty. I need to take a moment and fill up on the “assurance of hope” that is found only in Jesus. If I don’t take time to refuel my soul by filling my heart with the goodness of God, I stop effectively emulating the love and compassion of Christ.
Take a moment today and check your gauges. What are your indicators signaling to you today? Where’s your fuel gauge? Then stop and give your soul what it needs to day. Cars and lives don’t run on empty.
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It doesn’t insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, endures all things. I Corinthians 13:4-7
I’m a big consumer of podcasts. A wide variety of informative, entertaining, and uplifting stories distract me while I’m logging multiple miles running. Like a good book, a podcast can take me away from the reality I’m experiencing until I arrive at my destination.
Yesterday, I was listening to Bob Goff’s Dream Big podcast and he made a statement that stuck with me. He said “Words that are spoken by kind people are ones that have a shelf life in our lives. Surround yourself with kind people who speak words of truth to you... Give away generously the good that has been stored up in you.”
Think about it.
Kindness matters. Kindness matters to us and to others. Kindness sticks with us. It makes us smile. It makes us feel good inside. It makes whatever burden we are carrying lighter. Kindness makes tough times easier to bear. Kindness matters.
I was waiting a few years ago for my husband to wake up from outpatient surgery. I had been sitting for a couple of hours alone in the dark when a nurse quietly came in propped my feet up on an extra chair and covered my legs with a warm blanket and walked out. She didn’t say anything. I hadn’t asked her for anything. She just did it. Her small act of unsolicited kindness changed my day. It made my waiting easier. I felt seen. I felt loved. I felt cared for. I get a little misty just thinking about it today. That one small kind act had a shelf life in my life and the one who did it doesn’t even know.
We have been given so much goodness by God through Jesus and because of that we can be generous in goodness to others. Our faith should make us generous. Our world is filled with fear and anxiety right now. Let’s be conduits of hope, grace, kindness, and love. Let’s reach off our lives’ shelf of kindness and feed someone some hope today. Let’s all do one small thing to show kindness to someone else today because kindness matters.
Between a husband, 2 sons, and teaching high school my sanity is found in running and Starbucks. I have a circle of running friends who inspire me to be authentic and real as I live a life of faith before them.