Beautiful Entry to Worship

“Now a man crippled from birth was being carried to the temple gate called Beautiful. . .” Acts 3:2 NIV

Certain words or phrases from the Word of God can really resonate with our spirits, can’t they? That’s how I feel when I read the phrase “the temple gate called Beautiful.” As I read it, my spirit says yes.

This scripture, of course, refers to the entry to the temple in Jerusalem not long after Jesus’s resurrection and ascension. My NIV text note tells me that this gate was, in fact, the favorite entrance to the temple court. How fitting that it should be known as Beautiful. What better name could there be for a gate that gave entry to the house of God, that people passed through on their way to worship?

Today our entry—our privilege of entering the Lord’s presence—is still Beautiful. What’s more, we don’t have to go to the temple (or our local church) to do it. With a simple turning of our thoughts . . . or lifting of our eyes . . . or falling to our knees . . . or bowing of our heads . . . or whisper of his name, we can enter into worship wherever we are. All we need to do is turn to him.

Turning to him—a beautiful entry indeed.

“Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the LORD our Maker;” Psalm 95:6 NIV

*If you had the chance to name an entry into the Lord’s presence, what would you call it?

*The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter, comes out in early November. One lucky subscriber (new or current) will receive a $15 gift card to Starbucks and a signed copy of my book to use personally, give as a gift, or donate to a library. Sign-up is free and to the right! (If you’re on a mobile device, scroll to the bottom of the screen and click View Full Site to find it.)

*For info about my book Mother of the Bride check out my Books/My Work page.

*Flickr photo by mkreynessCreative Commons License

Hear the Call to Worship

Chime! Chime! Chime! On weekdays, not more than a dozen blocks from our house, children arrive and begin their school day at the local Catholic church and school. When I’m lucky, I happen to open my door or step out on my back steps and hear the church bells ringing in a new school day, signaling the time to begin.

I don’t know their schedule, but I like to think they are starting with moments of worship and prayer. As they hear the chiming of the bells, I hope they are gathering to acknowledge the Creator of the world, gathering to say prayers to their heavenly Father.

I know for me, when the rich ring of the beginning bell wafts through the air, I hear a call to worship. I hear my Father saying, “Think of me! Think of me!”

And I do. I think of him. I think of the glory of the morning and of the world around me. I think of how worthy he is to be praised. I think of how blessed I am to have such a loving and faithful heavenly Father. I think of him, I think of him.

On days when I’m caught up in something else and miss hearing the ringing of the bells, I still feel the call to worship as I look at the beauty of my Lord’s creation or as I think of blessings he has poured into my life. Each work of beauty, each sound of nature, each blessing he has granted is like a church bell chiming, “Think of me! Think of me!”

How about you? What calls you to worship? What calls you to think of him? Whatever it is, take time to answer his call. Take time to think of him.

“When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them? . . . LORD, our LORD, how majestic is your name in all the earth!” Psalm 8:3-4, 9 NIV

*For info about my book Mother of the Bride check out my Books/My Work page.

*The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter, comes out on Thursday Feb. 1st. One lucky subscriber will receive a $15 gift card to Starbucks and a signed copy of my book to use personally, give as a gift, or donate to a library. New subscribers this week won’t be included in this giveaway but will be included in all future giveaways. Sign-up is free and to the right! (If you’re on a mobile device, scroll to the bottom of the screen and click View Full Site to find it.)

*I hope you enjoyed this newly revised post from February 2011.

*Flickr photo by vxlaCreative Commons License

Church in My Backyard

DSC03385*I won’t be posting next week during Spring Break, but I’ll see you back here on March 28!

I’m not the most observant person in the world. Case in point: We helped move our daughter and son-in-law to a townhome in a new city one November several years ago, visited them on the following New Year’s weekend, and then again over the following spring break, but it wasn’t until the trip after that that I noticed they had a church in their backyard—or side yard to be exact. The point is it’s right there.

Imagine my delight when I looked out the upstairs bedroom window early one morning before anyone else was stirring and saw a church tucked behind the stand of trees lining their development. Wow, I thought. They’ve got a church right in their backyard! I could feel a blog post coming on so I grabbed my camera and started snapping away.

Even though Kristin and Shawn didn’t end up attending this particular church, I was still excited to think they had a church—such a visible reminder of God—standing tall and strong so close to their home. A picture of God, if you will, living in their midst, watching over them, inspiring worship and peace for any who would open their eyes and see (the way I finally did!)

Believe it or not, I have a church in my backyard, too. No, it’s not a building made of stone and brick. It’s simply my yard. But it’s filled with visible reminders of God. The trees, the grass, the birds, the breeze all point to him and remind me that he’s living in my midst. He’s watching over me, and yes, inspiring worship and peace when I take the time to lift my eyes and turn my thoughts toward him.

Amazing, huh? I can’t help but proclaim, “Wow—I’ve got a church in my backyard!” How about you?

“Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth, burst into jubilant song…” Psalm 98:4

*Where are some places, other than church, where you’re inspired to worship?

*Hope this slightly revised and updated encore post from March 2010 blessed you today!

*My photo

My Father’s World

Fall 2011 284My Father’s world is an amazing place. The wonders of his creation never cease and never grow old. They inspire fresh worship every day. Not only did God create the magnificent world we live in, but he sustains it. And he alone is ruler.

The old hymn “This Is My Father’s World” beautifully expresses the miracle of God’s world. When I sing it my heart swells in worship. And gorgeous fall days provide the perfect backdrop to just such worship.

Let’s step outdoors this week and lift our voices in praise. Let’s sing to our Father about his amazing world!

This Is My Father’s World

“This is my Father’s world,
and to my listening ears
all nature sings, and round me rings
the music of the spheres.
This is my Father’s world:
I rest me in the thought
of rocks and trees, of skies and seas;
his hand the wonders wrought.

This is my Father’s world,
the birds their carols raise,
the morning light, the lily white,
declare their maker’s praise.
This is my Father’s world:
he shines in all that’s fair;
in the rustling grass I hear him pass;
he speaks to me everywhere.

This is my Father’s world.
O let me ne’er forget
that though the wrong seems oft so strong,
God is the ruler yet.
This is my Father’s world:
why should my heart be sad?
The Lord is King; let the heavens ring!
God reigns; let the earth be glad!” —Maltie D. Babcock

“The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it;” Psalm 24:1

*What in God’s creation are you enjoying this week?

*The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter, comes out in early November. Sign up is free and to the right!

*My photo

A Surprise Audience

17200735_e649e76ce6*It’s been a busy month for me so I’m sharing an encore post today. Hope this September 2009 post blesses you!

Last week as I was indulging in another early morning drink of nature, I did a quick survey of my surroundings (as I always do) and saw that no one else was in sight. Good. I was free to give actual voice to my worship and sing my praise –albeit quietly — to my Creator and King.

Looking heavenward, favorite praise choruses flowed from my lips. After all, it was just the two of us. Just me and the Lord. Or so I thought.

In mid-melody, I glanced down and found, quite unexpectedly, I had an audience. A neighborhood cat had slinked in from behind the bushes and was sitting there on her haunches watching and listening to me as if she had purchased a ticket to a show. I couldn’t help but smile.

So as not to disappoint, I continued quietly singing and found myself watching the cat and wishing I had my camera. I’m not sure how long she would have sat there if I hadn’t broken the concert spell, but I couldn’t help it — I had to try to get a picture. I inched my way into the house, but of course by the time I returned, the moment was gone, and the cat had moved on to a more exciting adventure. Digging under the bush. My surprise audience had slipped away.

My early morning encounter with this neighborhood kitty reminded me that just when we least expect it in our lives, we may discover that someone is watching. We may have a surprise audience.

We, in fact, have people watching us all the time, don’t we? What will these unsuspecting ticket-holders see before they slip away? Let’s hope they see something of our Savior. Let’s hope they see something of Jesus.

“But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him.” 2 Corinthians 2:14

*When might others have opportunity to see Jesus in you when you’re unaware of it?

Flickr photo by fazen, Creative Commons License