A Go with God moment.
I declare this Praise Week for the School of Theology and Ministry.
Now, in honor of such a declaration, a word study on “praise” would be a wonderful endeavor. But rather than showing myself to be a Greek or Hebrew geek, can I list just a few verses that have struck me this week from Psalm 22. You know, the Psalm that Jesus quotes from the cross as His own death approaches.
My God, my God, why have you abandoned me? Why are you so far away when I groan for help?
Every day I call to you, my God, but you do not answer. Every night you hear my voice, but I find no relief.
Yet you are holy, enthroned on the praises of Israel.
In the midst of what appears as life at its worst; Jesus teaches us that praise should resound from our lips since it is the very place within which the Lord resides. Read the rest of Psalm 22 and you will discover that this tragic story is utterly transformed into a cacophony of praise. Psalm 22:22-24 reads like a completely different story
I will declare your name to my brothers; in the congregation I will praise you.
You who fear the LORD, praise him! All you descendants of Jacob, honor him! Revere him, all you descendants of Israel!
For he has not despised or disdained the suffering of the afflicted one; he has not hidden his face from him but has listened to his cry for help.
May I say simply, “Appearances can be deceiving.” Life may look dim and dark when you can only see thru your physical eyes. Moreover, you probably are missing a large part of the overall story if your trust only what you can see. We need to develop “eyes of faith” and a life of perseverance. For example, throughout the Gospels Jesus taught that His death was only the prologue to Easter and His resurrection. Thus, Jesus’ words from the cross should not be reduced to a faithless cry of dereliction but they are the prophetic announcement of God’s ultimate victory for us all. He is proclaiming Praise to all the world with His last breath.
So, as a School of Theology and Ministry, I declare this as Praise Week. I want you to tell others your words of praise for who the Lord is and what He is doing for you. I’ll start. Below is part of an email I sent to “Umf” Jim Lo last Thursday morning. He asked me if I was doing alright; because he know I was struggling:
Yes, there seems to been a real heaviness on me these days. I have suffered from severe headaches for the last 10 days. So much so that for the first time in 10 years I stayed home on Monday and dismissed my class. But even that did not seem to help. It only prolonged an already painful weekend into a blue Monday. But Wednesday afternoon Jennie Telfer and Michele Perry (Wed chapel speaker) stopped by my office and the three of us talked for quite a while. It was a deep and significant conversation on many levels. As they prepared to leave, they asked how they could pray for me. So I told them specifically about my headaches and my inability to shake them. Then they prayed. It was a wonderful and beautiful time with the Lord. Since then my pain is gone. PTL. But the best part is that I can now think more clearly than I have in quite some time. And to use a strange metaphor, “Finally, I have been able to breathe again” and God seems to be filling my lungs with His breath.
Now, here is my assignment to each of you.
1. Tell your praise to someone else. Do not keep it to yourself. Let’s make a contagious effort where declare that God is “enthroned on the praises of His people.”
2. Send a brief note of praise to Melissa.Fipps@IndWes.edu and she will begin to have them scrolling on our computer screens in the CM Building so your prase can touch our entire school. Do not hesitate but pass the word, “Praise” is our marching orders this week.
Now I will start.
Praise # 1: Just this weekend I heard a wonderful praise. It came from two former IWU students, Daniel and Stephenie (Beutler) Freemyer (both ’06 grads). Daniel went on to Duke Divinity school (MDiv ’09). They just paid off their entire grad school bill this week. They have made huge personal sacrifices to see this become a reality in their lives. I Praise the Lord for how the Lord will use them even more profoundly in ministry because of being debt-free.
Allow us to realize that momentary hardships are merely precursers to lives of praise.
Give us eyes to conceive of Your Kindgom,
Eyes to perceive Your Glory,
Most of all, may we have voices to reveal praises in Your Name.
I usually end with the words, “Go with God.”
Not today, I ask you to go to your computer and send a note of praise; student, alumni, or merely a reader of this note; “let’s just praise the Lord.”