An Anyhow Praise

“Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation.  The Lord God is my strength, and he will make my feet like hinds’ feet, and he will make me to walk upon mine high places….” – Habakkuk 3:18-19

Funny story: I was driving from work the other day listening to a gospel station on Pandora, I believe it was the Ricky Dillard one.  Like I always do, I had the music cranked up and was singing along, the contralto/tenor part (because yeah, that’s what I normally sing) to Maurette Brown Clark’s “One God”.  With every key change I got louder, having a good old time.  About halfway through the song, I noticed a car in the middle lane keeping pace with me.  I didn’t look over, figuring whoever was watching me would go on because I wasn’t gonna stop singing.  I was gettin’ my praise on, fam.

Eventually the car kept it moving, and I continued singing…and the cell phone rang.  Through the car’s Bluetooth (because I wasn’t trying to break any traffic laws that day), a friend of mine asked me what was I doing, because from his view I was either having a concert or telling someone off.  He said he kept honking trying to get my attention, but I wouldn’t look over.

All I could do was laugh and explain I was singing, and he laughed too.

That’s how it’s been for me since the world is in a strange season.  With more news and more safety mandates, with companies trying to stay afloat and families caught up in that process, I’m feeling like the prophet Habakkuk; I will rejoice and praise God anyhow.  While this pandemic is unprecedented in modern times, the awesome healing and restoring power of the Lord is not.  He never stops doing either of these things, nor does He ever stop loving His children.  Speaking personally, His track record of making a way out of no way, of coming in clutch, is impeccable.  So how can I not praise Him through song, or deed, or even this blog?

There are a few things about what praise is and what it does that we’ve all got to remember.  I’ll paraphrase and share my thoughts on a few of them from this great source at

Praise confuses the Enemy and sends Him running. Y’all, this is so very true.  He cannot stand when we praise God in and out of season, especially when we’re in the “out” as we are today.  This is because our very being is so laser-focused on God that the Enemy can’t worm his way past our spiritual armor to wreak havoc on our minds and hearts.  Imagine the enemy throwing a fit like Rumpelstiltskin before running off to scheme against us once more.

Praise means no time for complaints and worrying.  In addition to the mental and emotional effects of spending time in praise and not in complaints, there are the physical effects that are similar or really the same as those from the “Good Thoughts” post from several weeks ago.  If singing “One God”, “Intentional” by Travis Greene, or even an old 100 like “Amazing Grace” helps me feel healthy and well all over, then I’m gonna be “sangin’” every day.  If thanking Him for all that He’s done can have such a profound effect, then best believe I’m gonna thank Him every chance I get.

Praise invites the Lord’s presence.  When the Lord’s Spirit draws close through praise, there is a feeling of connection, of relationship, for which there are no adequate words to describe.  The cares of this world melt away, leaving just us with the Lord Our Father.  The worries of the day vanish, leaving the creation with the Creator.  In His presence, the reminder of who He is rings clear along with the reaffirmation that there is nothing too hard for God.  And that includes COVID-19.

Praise allows God’s power to be displayed.  This.  Right.  Here.  This isn’t the only way for God’s power to be displayed, of course.  But when we glorify the name of the Lord despite our circumstances, the atmosphere shifts.  We remember all the marvelous things that God has done for us in the past, when we couldn’t see a way out.  And we are reminded that if He did it once, He can do it again. 

We can stand by and watch doors that were sealed shut burst wide open.  

We can witness the weapons that were formed against us fail, just like Isaiah prophesied. 

Sickness and disease are no more, leaving doubters baffled. 

We can rejoice with the people who break through and break out of dead situations. 

We can testify to the Lord who shatters the chains of the enemy, and who makes us to walk upon the high places.

So yeah, I’m gonna keep having the traveling gospel concerts in my car.  I’m gonna stay prayed up and praise full through this current world situation and even after it.  I will praise God anyhow, and be a witness to His signs, wonders, love, and power.  Why?

Because He is the joy of my salvation.

Prayer: Lord God, I just want to praise You and say “Thank You” for simply being You.  Good days and bad days, I will sing Your praise for You alone are worthy.  Amen.

No Room For Fear

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” – Isaiah 41:10

Like many churches across the world, the one of which I am member is complying with the COVID-19 emergency ordinances and is streaming Sunday worship service and midweek Bible Study.  I’ve been a member roughly a year and am always grateful to the Lord for leading me there; there has been so much growth, it’s almost unreal.  And so, it was a little hard to accept that we can’t worship and fellowship together in person.  I felt some type of way, as the younger crowds say (or used to; I’m at the point now where keeping up with the jargon and slang just isn’t me…i.e., I’m getting old, fam).  But here I was early Sunday morning, following the usual routine as if I was going to church: listening to the Bible in One Year for the day, washing up, getting dressed, and making breakfast. 

The additional step was preparing the TV room with sorting, cleaning, setting up the electronics to watch the service on the big screen, and most importantly praying.  I prayed for the Holy Spirit to manifest in my home, to remove all things and thoughts that were not of Him, to empty me of self so that I can be refilled and refueled.  I prayed to be freed to worship like King David.

Finally, I looked at the yorkie terrier who’s been my roommate for the past few months and told him, “Okay, dude.  There’s gonna be some praisin’, singin’, and shoutin’ this morning.  Don’t freak out, just let me be.”  He gave me the canine equivalent of the People’s Eyebrow for you Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson fans, and padded away.

10am, worship began and my prayer was answered: the Holy Spirit showed up and moved throughout my home.  I sang with the praise team, shouted at that good Word brought by the senior pastor.  I had what we Southerners call “Chuch”, minus the “r”.

In truth the Holy Spirit has been showing up for the past couple of weeks, whether at home, on the way to and from work, to and from church.  He has shown up in the daily devotional and scripture readings, the verse of the day, and in songs from one of the Pandora gospel stations.  He has shown up during death of loved ones, bringing the peace and acceptance that the Lord is sovereign no matter what.  There has been this pull towards Him without real thought.  Perhaps this was all in preparation for yesterday, to give to God sacrifices of praise, song, prayer, and service.  I don’t really know.  But one thing I do know is this:

There was no room for fear. 

There is no room for fear.

The mechanics of this virus and how to treat it are still being sorted out, people’s livelihoods have changed, and we find ourselves at crossroads we never thought we’d reach.  Panic and possibly greed have driven some to buy things in bulk that cannot be used or consumed in one or two years, leaving others at risk to go without.  Healthcare workers, providers, and first responders are doing their absolute best to help everyone, with resources and energy depleting.  Leadership in government appears to rely more on its own human (i.e., limited) understanding instead of getting real with God and asking Him for help.

Still, there is no room for fear.

I say this because I am just crazy enough to believe the Word of God –both literal and incarnate–when it says, “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.”

I’ve underlined the “do not” portions because these are the Lord’s instructions, not suggestions or recommendations.  Through the prophet Isaiah He told Israel not to fear their return after exile and the challenges they would face, because He was them.  He was their God who worked great and awesome things throughout their history, and He would do it again.

Guess what, fam?  He’s telling you and I the same on March 23, 2020.

When we keep that fact of the universe at the forefront of our minds, that the God is with us, He who promises to strengthen and help us, there is no vacancy in our hearts for fear. 

That False Evidence Appearing Real has gotta go. 

There is only room for confidence and trust in Him.  Never forget that our God is stronger than anything anywhere at any time.  When He says He will do something, best believe He will: “…I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”  That is both a promise and a testament to the Lord’s faithfulness.  And He is always faithful. 

So be encouraged and encouraging, fam.  Even in this period of social distancing and heightened safety, keep lifting those voices whether it’s Sunday morning or Friday night.  Keep sending up the prayers and praise, for the Lord will shower down blessings of healing and recovery for us all.  Like Elevation Collective sings in their song, “Do It Again”:

Your promise still stands

Great is Your faithfulness, faithfulness

I’m still in Your hands

This is my confidence, You’ve never failed

Your promise still stands

Great is Your faithfulness, faithfulness

I’m still in Your hands

This is my confidence, You’ve never failed me yet!

You’ve never failed me yet….”

Prayer: Dear Lord, I’ve seen You move, and I know You will do it again.  I pray that You keep on, Lord, and see us through.  Amen.

Under His Shadow

Psalm 91

Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
    will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
    my God, in whom I trust.”

Surely he will save you
    from the fowler’s snare
    and from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with his feathers,
    and under his wings you will find refuge;
    his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
You will not fear the terror of night,
    nor the arrow that flies by day,
nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness,
    nor the plague that destroys at midday.
A thousand may fall at your side,
    ten thousand at your right hand,
    but it will not come near you.
You will only observe with your eyes
    and see the punishment of the wicked.

If you say, “The Lord is my refuge,”
    and you make the Most High your dwelling,
10 no harm will overtake you,
    no disaster will come near your tent.
11 For he will command his angels concerning you
    to guard you in all your ways;
12 they will lift you up in their hands,
    so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
13 You will tread on the lion and the cobra;
    you will trample the great lion and the serpent.

14 “Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him;
    I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.
15 He will call on me, and I will answer him;
    I will be with him in trouble,
    I will deliver him and honor him.
16 With long life I will satisfy him
    and show him my salvation.”

Considering our world today, this week’s thought is on Psalm 91, one of the most powerful and comforting songs in the word of God.  Despite what we are all going through with COVID-19 and its ramifications, I believe the Lord’s shadow is more than enough to cover us from this noisome pestilence.  I know He is Jehovah Shammah, The Lord is There, and is with us every day.  He will not abandon because He loves us, because He is Love.  Because of this, my encouragement to you is to:

Trust that the shadow of Jehovah Nissi, the Lord Is My Banner– comprised of his provision, protection, and prevention – is so broad to deflect the arrows of panic, misinformation, and fear and the reactions they induce from us. 

Be confident that God’s faithfulness is unfailing: it is the shield and rampart that defend us against the attacks of the enemy on our bodies, minds, and hearts.

Declare with the boldness of the saints of old that “The Lord is my refuge”, not could or may be our refuge, our shelter.  No, He IS, ongoing without pause. 

Praise El Sabaoth, the Lord of Hosts, with the highest praise because He commands His angels to guard us in our going out and coming in, and to lift us up from harm. 

Shout glory and honor unto Jehovah Rapha, The Lord That Heals, for the healing that is coming for us all. 

Thank Him for His promises to rescue and deliver us, because we know His name.  Jehovah Jireh, The Lord Will Provide, will send it without question, without fail.

Be assured that God has not left us or forsaken us.  He is El Elyon, the Most High God that moves on the behalf of His children.  And do believe He is moving on time.

This week and the weeks and months to come, let’s all read Psalm 91 everyday, speaking the Lord’s truth and power into the atmosphere.  Let’s gather under the shadow of the Almighty God as one body of many parts, trusting Him to be all that we know Him to be:




Prayer: Lord God, thank You for this song that like Your Word has withstood the test of time and provides comfort in these uncertain times.  Please let your healing waters flow upon this earth like a flood, restoring health of the body, mind, and, heart.  I ask this in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth.  Amen.

Good Thoughts

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.” – Philippians 4:8-9

(Note: First off, I owe you an apology for the irregular postings these past few weeks.  It was definitely not the intent and I am very sorry, fam.  But after this week we’ll back to Sunday evening updates.  Just had to get that out there.)

A couple of years ago while I scrolled through my Facebook feed, I stumbled across a picture of a glass jar filled with scraps of paper.  It wasn’t anything fancy, just your standard mason jar, but it was the caption above it that caught my attention.  The author of the post (I wish I can remember who it was!) suggested that at the end of each day, we should write down on a piece of paper one good thing that happened.  Whether it be finding a $5 bill on the ground, completing a task at work, exercising, or even having a pleasant conversation with a stranger, we should write it down.  At the end of the year, every piece is removed from the jar, and we should read aloud every good thing that occurred.  “That’s a good idea,” I remember thinking, and started doing that in September 2018.  I admit that I didn’t stick with it and didn’t have very many noted things on December 31.

“No worries, I’ll try again in 2019,” I encouraged myself.

I didn’t fare much better, because…life, stress…”adulting”.  But, on December 31, 2019, I sat on my bedroom floor, poured out what I had collected and read every piece out loud.  I smiled and chuckled as I remembered every moment that led up to the one good thing.  Quiet reflection happened a lot, too, followed by tears of gratitude to the Lord.  Through all of the highs and lows in our standard 24-hour period, there was always at least one event worthy of thanks and praise.  Even if it was something like, “I didn’t go off on this person today” (not saying there was a paper slip with this, but…well, anyway), or “I completed repainting the bathroom today and didn’t mess it up”, it was a positive experience that had to be noted, a positive experience of peace.

So, I tried it again on January 1, 2020, and this is what my jar looks like (with a few missing days):

The “Good” Jar

This activity made me think of this week’s Scripture because let’s be honest, Fam, we all could do with some positive thinking.  Through our disruptive seasons, endurance trials, and the like, it is important to focus on “…whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable”.  Paul instructed his readers to do this and instructs us, too. 

Now being the nerd that I am, I searched for the healthy benefits of positive thinking, which may include the following:

  • Increased life span
  • Lower rates of depression
  • Lower levels of distress
  • Greater resistance to the common cold
  • Better psychological and physical well-being
  • Better cardiovascular health
  • Better coping skills during hardships and times of stress

I underlined the word “may” above because 1) that’s how the author of the source link wrote it, and 2) because these bullet points could very well not be realized without the guarantee from verse 9 –that God’s peace will be with us when we follow Paul’s lead.  It’s interesting how we sometimes forget this fact, but the Lord’s presence and His power make the difference every time

Correction, it’s not “interesting”: it’s the human condition predisposed to initially focus on any and everything but God, especially during the bad times.  So much thought, energy, and emotions are consumed over planned do-overs and reactions, the “I wish he/she would try me again, because I’m the right one on the wrong day” attitude.  Or if we’re not reciting the “wish” creed, we’re going extreme research/NCIS/forensic files, analyzing the negative moments and intentions until we think we’re down to the last atomic particle. 

PSA, fam: We ain’t Gibbs from NCIS or Grissom from CSI.  We can’t analyze every single thing, and I’m totally including myself.  😉

Operating in this mode, there’s little room to remember the positive moments and offer up a “Thank You, Lord”.  There’s little room to use four muscles to smile, because we’re too busy straining forty-two muscles to frown.  Yet there’s plenty of room for spiking blood pressure, restless nights, and stress eating.

But when we’ve exhausted ourselves near the point of no return, and the Enemy’s trick of distracting us to call on the name of the Lord falters, look Who’s right there ready to do what He does best?

“And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:7

“Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” – Ephesians 4:31-32

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” – John 14:27

“This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” – Psalm 118:24

“And to be renewed in the spirit of your minds,” – Ephesians 4:23

“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

“And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.” – Colossians 3:15

There can be no greater comfort than knowing the Word of God alone is so powerful to calm a stressed and agitated mind with reminders like these and similar verses.  It is a miracle, really, how one positive thought, one good, righteous deed, can cancel out every moment of a “terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.”  And it is on us to recondition our mindset to capture that moment and give the Lord thanks and praise.  In times like these, we need to seek and appreciate every miracle we can get.

So, here’s my challenge to you, fam: starting tomorrow, get a jar, tear up some paper or use Post-Its, and before you go to bed right down one good thing that happened.  And watch God’s peace at work.

Prayer: Dear Lord, we thank You and bless You for the little miracles each day that make us smile, lighten our hearts, and calm our minds.  Guide us always to see the good—Your good—at work in all things.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

The Ultimate BFF

A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity.” – Proverbs 17:17

This week’s inspiration stems from a conversation I had a couple of weeks ago with a friend.  We go back to 2005, when we were both working in the same department.  We met while trying to put up a hanging folder rack on a cubicle; between the years of degrees and previous work experience, you would think the both of us could have figured it out.  That rack gave us the blues, Fam, until we finally realized it was missing some key hardware pieces.

Engineers…gotta love us.

But from that, a friendship was born that is still going on and strong.  We’ve laughed together, cried together, ranted like Yosemite Sam and then some together.  He is my “brother from another mother”, and I wouldn’t trade him for anything.  

God has gifted me with other friends, three who are like my brother and are part of my core, the “circle of four”.  Dating back to college in one case, work in another, and an online writing group for the third, these women and men are my go-to’s for prayer, advice, laughter, crying shoulders, and classic venting sessions.  I look at them and all the years we’ve known each other, and I’m reminded of the theme song from “The Golden Girls” (yes, I’m dating myself and I don’t care.  Y’all know that show was and still is hilarious.  I’m pretty sure some of you have a Dorothy, Blanche, Sophia, or Rose in your crew, too):

Thank you for being a friend / traveled down the road and back again / Your heart is true / You’re a pal and a confidant /
And if you threw a party / Invited everyone you knew / You would see the biggest gift would be from me / And the card attached would say /
Thank you for being a friend‘”

I am forever grateful to the Lord for our paths crossing, and our backgrounds not being so different that true bonds of friendship — of kinship — couldn’t be formed.  And I can confidently say that we are lifetime friends; they couldn’t get rid of me even if they tried.  😉

When the bond of friendship is true and strong, there is no judgment or condemnation.  There is love at all times, like today’s verse says, a love that won’t enable us to do what we know is wrong and harmful.  Friends- especially the life-timers- don’t hype each other up to fail and fall.  They give us the proverbial (and maybe even literal) knock upside the head when we’re being total numb chucks about a situation, a person, or our own selves.  They don’t rejoice and tear us down when we ignore their advice and jump feet first into some good old foolishness.  They pull us back and give us the “business” (i.e., fusses like an old school grandmother with the classic “I told you so!”), but also helps us straighten what we’ve messed up.  Friends are always ready to fight our battles with us, to stand in the gap and agree that no weapon formed against us (or them) will prosper.

Lord, thank You for the gift that are friends.  I call them a gift because in this world, they are not promised, and should be treated as the treasures they are.  😊

Still, as much as they are a gifted treasure, we can’t forget there is one Friend we all have.  Whether it’s early in the morning or late in the midnight hour, He is always available; He neither slumbers nor sleeps.  He’s better than Dr. Frasier Crane from that old TV show, in that we can find no better listener.  He heals our bodies and mends our hearts like the surgeon of all surgeons.  He doesn’t judge, doesn’t talk about us behind our backs.  Rather, He is with the Father constantly interceding for us when the Accuser brings up every selfish and sinful thing we’ve done, said, or even thought.  He’s there each time, saying “My blood covered that.”

His presence is so comforting when we’re grieving, or feeling lonely, or exhausted.  He doesn’t allow us to think poorly of ourselves and sends us confirmation of who we are to Him and the Father through the Word, song, inspirational thought, and of course our friends.

He gives us joy in all situations (something that forever baffles the Enemy) and demonstrates His power and authority to work all things for our good.

As for fighting our battles for us, lookee here: nobody gets down like our Friend.  He can just speak and demons tremble, devils flee.  He tells us to “be still and know” that the Lord is God, and makes our enemies behave.  For example, think of that co-worker or supervisor who seemed set against you and Who you represent.  How many of us can testify to the Lord’s goodness of fixing that work situation and changing people’s hearts and minds when we called on Him?  Or what about the problem that seemed to pass from generation to generation- how many can testify to how He broke that curse and set people free?  Show of hands, please! 😊

He conquered death and the grave by sacrificing His life for us, so we all should know He can conquer anything.  Is there anything too hard for Him?

Of course, I’m talking about Jesus Christ, the One who knows and loves us anyway.  He’s traveled down the road with us and back again, never giving up on us.  He is our eternity Friend, who truly loves at all times, and our elder Brother who stands up for us to protect us.  He does more than we can ever think or imagine.

He is the ultimate BFF; now who can beat that?

Prayer: Lord, thank You for gifting us with friends.  Thank You even more for the ultimate Friend in Jesus Christ.  May we treat all of them as the treasures they are.  Amen.