Get Down to The River

joran-felizIn this day and age, how did “The River” by Jordan Feliz become a chart topping song?

It hints to our hunger for home; it sounds an ancient theme; it invites us to where he says, “I know a place…”

I invite you to join him in getting down to the river to pray:

 

 

The River, by Colby Wedgeworth, Joshua Silverberg, & Jordan Feliz

I know a place where we can go
To lay the troubles down eating your soul
I know a place where mercy flows
Take the stains make you whiter than snow

[Pre-Chorus]
Like a tide, it is rising up deep inside a current that moves and makes you come alive
Living water that brings the dead to life, oh-oh-oh-oh

[Chorus]
We’re going down to the river
Down to the river, down to the river to pray
Let’s get washed by the water
Washed by the water and rise up in amazing grace
Let’s go down, down, down to the river (You will leave changed)
Let’s go down, down, down to the river (Never the same)

I’ve seen it move in my own life
Took me from dusty roads into paradise
All of my dirt, all of my shame
Drowned in the streams that’ve made me born again

Like a tide, it is rising up deep inside a current that moves and makes you come alive
Living water that brings the dead to life, oh-oh-oh-oh

We’re going down to the river
Down to the river, down to the river to pray
Let’s get washed by the water
Washed by the water and rise up in amazing grace
Let’s go down, down, down to the river (You will leave changed)
Let’s go down, down, down to the river (Never the same)

Let’s go down
(Huuuu- huhuuuh)
(Huuuu)
Let’s go down
(Huuuu- huhuuuh)
(Huuuu)
Let’s go down

We’re going down to the river
Down to the river, down to the river to pray
Let’s get washed by the water
Washed by the water and rise up in amazing grace
Let’s go down, down, down to the river (You will leave changed)
Let’s go down, down, down to the river (Never the same)

Goo down
Ooooo ooooh
Gotta go, gotta go, gotta go in amazing grace
Let’s go down, down, down to the river
Gotta go, gotta go, gotta go in amazing grace

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The Three “Bene’s” of Gratitude

soul-keepingThe secret of gratitude – of living life with thankfulness – is worth finding. Even more-so as we age –  since we might encounter people (ourselves?) locked in regret or bitterness – or we may be blessed to know elders who live with humble gratitude.  John Ortberg writes “The Soul needs Gratitude” in his book Soul Keeping:

“More gratitude will not come from acquiring more things or experiences, but from more of an awareness of God’s presence and his goodness. It’s a way of looking at life, always perceiving the good. Gratitude is a by-product of seeing things, and it always involves three factors (from the old Latin work bene):

First, the benefit. In order to be grateful, you have to receive and recognize a gift that you believe is good… God does all this. These are the benefits he gives us, and the soul responds with gratitude.

Second, gratitude requires that there be a benefactor…  one who does good, a little factory that produces good. To be truly grateful you must not only recognize the benefits or gifts that come your way, but that they are not just random acts; they are not accidents. They are coming from Someone who has good intentions for you. To be grateful as a Christian, you must believe that the good that is in your life comes from God…

In addition to the benefit and the benefactor, there is the beneficiary: the one who receives the good gifts of God. And that’s you. You are the beneficiary of the benefits of a God who has your best interests at heart, and this is going on all the time. When we take that for granted or believe we deserve his gifts, we are no longer grateful; you can’t be grateful for something you believe you are entitled to, and without a grateful heart the soul suffers. Because the soul needs gratitude.

This is where many of us fail the gratitude test, because we tend to look around us and believe all that we have was gained by our own resourcefulness. Or that we’re entitled to the blessings in our lives. But gratitude always comes from a posture of humility…”

Training for Gratitude

Ortberg finishes his chapter with suggesting that in Jesus’ day, he would have been in a milieu of training for gratitude since:

“… every devout Israelite would pray what was called “The Eighteen Benedictions“… In Hebrew, a benediction was any prayer that began with the word bless. In the morning when they woke up, they would pray eighteen times, “Blessed are you, God.” At night before they went to bed they would prayer eighteen times, “Blessed are you, God”… the Hebrew benedictions connected the gift with the Giver. It reminds the citizens of Israel that all that was good came from God.”

Therefore, go forth and practice Gratitude.

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Reveal through Story

Reveal through Story, by Ken Gire

Dear God,

Reveal to me through stories something of what it is like to walk around in someone else’s shoes.

Show me something about myself in the stories I read, something that needs changing, a thought, a feeling or attitude.

Deliver me from myself, O God, and from the parachial and sometimes prejudiced views I have of other people, other nations, other races, other religions.

Enlarge my heart with a story, and change me by the characters I meet there.

May some of the light from their lives spill over into mine, giving me illumination where there was once ignorance, compassion where there was once contempt.

For more see “No Storyless Prayers.”

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Echoes of Mercy

today.salve.edu

today.salve.edu

Who, but Fanny Crosby, being blind almost since birth, could be more attuned to the sounds of God’s goodness so as to draw our attention to “echoes of mercy and whispers of love?” Thus this well loved hymn written in the midst of the shadow of the Civil War (1873) is itself a “foretaste of glory divine.”

Blessed Assurance, by Fanny Crosby

Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine!
Oh, what a foretaste of glory divine!
Heir of salvation, purchase of God,
Born of His Spirit, washed in His blood.

Refrain:
This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Savior all the day long;
This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Savior all the day long.

Perfect submission, perfect delight,
Visions of rapture now burst on my sight;
Angels, descending, bring from above
Echoes of mercy, whispers of love.

Perfect submission, all is at rest,
I in my Savior am happy and blest,
Watching and waiting, looking above,
Filled with His goodness, lost in His love.

To hear “Blessed Assurance,” go to this rendition by Third Day.

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The Oldest Benediction in the Bible

silver-amulet-of-numbers-6

Silver scrolls of the oldest benediction discovered in excavation

The oldest benediction found in scripture, indeed, in any literature, is found in Numbers 6:24–26 known as the “Priestly” or “Aaronic” Benediction:

The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you; the LORD turn His face toward you and give you peace.

I had the unique privilege of viewing these original silver scrolls when I visited The Israel Museum last week. It is something to behold an artifact over 2600 years old that hearkens to the revelation of the Living God.

The most important fact about this benediction is the revelation of the One who: blesses, keeps, makes His face shine, is gracious, who turns His face toward you, and who gives you peace.

Second to that is our own faithful paying this forward as we bless those in the spheres of our influence.

Lastly, if you are so inclined and need such information, here is a little word about a discovery made of this benediction.


Biblearcheology.org” reports:

“Excavations in Jerusalem in 1979–80 by Gabriel Barkay turned up two [silver] amulets dating from the late seventh century BC. They were found in the fourth of several burial caves he discovered on an escarpment known as Ketef Hinnom, which overlooks the Hinnom Valley (Gehenna) just opposite Mt. Zion. Each amulet contained a rolled-up sheet of silver which, when unrolled, revealed the Priestly Benediction inscribed on them. The exact Hebrew words (translated into English) are:

May Yahweh bless you and keep you;
May Yahweh cause his face to
Shine upon you and grant you
Peace   (Coogan 1995: 45).

“This is now the earliest occurrence of a Biblical text in an extra-Biblical document, significantly predating the earliest of the Dead Sea Scrolls. It is also the oldest extra-Biblical reference to YHWH, the God of Israel,” said Archeologist Kathleen Kenyon (1987: 124; cf. King and Stager 2001: 306).

“Time magazine, reporting on the find, stated that this discovery suggests that at least part of the Old Testament was written soon after some of the events it describes (Lemonick 1995: 65)…The discovery made it clear that parts of the Old Testament were being copied long before some skeptics had believed they were even written (ibid., 67).

Michael D. Coogan, professor of religious studies at Stonehill College in Massachusetts, similarly remarked that,

“The two [silver] amulets are evidence of the antiquity of traditions preserved in the Bible; it also provides indirect evidence, as do the Dead Sea Scrolls and other manuscripts from the Second Temple period, of the accuracy of scribes who for centuries copied sacred texts (1995: 45).

Especially interesting to note is the fact that the words of the blessing, including the sacred personal name of God, were written on silver. This sheds light on Psalm 12:6: “The words of the LORD [= YHWH] are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace…” Barkay’s discovery thus shows this verse to be literally true as well as spiritually.”

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A Prayer of Devotion


A Prayer of Devotion – by Ken Gire

Dear Saviour at whose feet I now sit,

When you knock on the door to my heart, what is it you are looking for? What is it you want? Is it not to come in to dine with me and I with you? Is it not for fellowship?

And yet, so often, where do you find me? At your feet? No. In the kitchen. How many times have I become distracted and left you there…sitting…waiting…longing?

What is so important about my kitchen full of preparations that draws me away from you? How can they seem so trivial now and yet so urgent when I’m caught up in them?

Forgive me for being so much distracted by my preparations and so little attracted by your presence. For being so diligent in my service and so negligent in my devotion. For being so quick to my feet and so slow to yours.

Help me to understand that it is an intimate moment you seek from me, not an elaborate meal.

Guard my heart this day from the many distractions that vie for my attention. And help me to fix my eyes on you. Not on my rank in the kingdom, as did the disciples. Not on the finer points of theology, as did the scribes. Not on the sins of others, as did the Pharisees. Not on a place of worship, as did the woman at the well. Not on the budget, as did Judas. But on you.

Bring me out of the kitchen, Lord. Bid me come to your feet. And there may I thrill to sit and adore thee….

This prayer of devotion is excerpted from An Intimate Moment with Mary and Martha from the book Moments with the Savior by Ken Gire, Zondervan 1998.

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Abandonment to Divine Providence

What one finds when reading the unabridged copies of earlier spiritual masters is the degree to which their insights are complete, thorough, and extensive. Such is the case for Jean-Pierre de Caussade’s “Abandonment to Divine Providence.” At the end of his instruction (a set of rules that were the common practice of the day), he provides these two prayers (below).

Join me in this prayer of abandoning ourselves to God’s “divine providence” – to trust His wisdom, grace, and sovereignty that ensures our inclusion into “Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven:”

Abandonment to Divine Providence

Oh my God when will it please You to give me the grace to remain habitually in this union of my will with Your adorable will, in which, without uttering a word all is said, in which all is accomplished by allowing You to act, in which one’s only occupation is that of conforming more and more entirely to Your good pleasure; in which, nevertheless, one is saved all trouble since the care of all things is confided to You, and to repose in You is the only desire of one’s heart? Delightful state, which, even in the absence of all sensible faith, affords the soul an interior joy altogether spiritual.

I desire to repeat without ceasing by this habitual disposition of my heart, “Fiat,” yes, my God, yes, all that You please, may Your holy will be done in all things. I renounce my own will which is very blind, perverse, and corrupt in consequence of its wretched self-love, the mortal enemy of Your grace, of Your pure love, of Your glory, and of my own sanctification.

 

Prayer to be said in temptation:

Oh my God! preserve me by Your grace from all sin, but as for the pain by which my self-love is put to death, and the humiliations which crucify my pride, I accept them with all my heart; not so much because they are the effects of your justice, but as benefits of your great mercy. Have pity on me then, dear Saviour, and help me.

 

“Written to help those who despair of ever becoming holy, Fr. De Caussade elucidates in Self-Abandonment to Divine Providence how surrendering our will to God is key to attaining peace and holiness in this life, and that it is readily available to all people—from beginners to those well advanced in the spiritual life.Father De Caussade’s teachings were deeply influenced by St. Francis de Sales, St. John of the Cross, and the Sisters of the Visitation founded by St. Jane Frances de Chantal. These influences and apparent in his explanation that the perfection God expects from us consists mainly in our purifying the innumerable little actions that occur in the course of everyday; in our heroic attention to every detail in our lives and humble acceptance of the lot God has chosen for us. This edition of Self-Abandonment to Divine Providence includes over 150 letters from Father De Caussade to his spiritual children on the practice of self-abandonment. These exchanges provide many profound insights and practical tips for applying the timeless lessons found in this classic guide to achieve holiness.”

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