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A Place at the Table: Hallelujah

As much of a social butterfly as I consider myself to be, one social situation sends my heart racing – and not from excitement. I turn into a bundle of nerves when I have to find a seat at a table, especially in a public place. What if there’s not a seat for me? What if I sit in someone else’s place? I’ve come to discover that those fears reflect some fears I didn’t realize I had about the Kingdom of God. I’ve learned though, sitting around tables across the world, that there is always room at His table. Hopefully you’ll find some encouragement in these stories shared around my table.

 

Hallelujah

Praise the LORD! Praise the LORD, O my soul! I will praise the LORD as long as I live; I will sing praises to my God while I have my being.
Psalm 146:1-2

TuesdayIt’s nearly 8:00 pm in a village in Swaziland, and I’m marching through a tall field of grass with four other girls. Being in the middle of nowhere changes the way the stars look. We’re not lost and we’re not crazy. We’ve been invited to a local church dinner.

From the field, we can see the faint light of the church in the distance. We hear the voices inside singing and immediately realize we’re in for a long night. When we finally arrive, we join them in worship. We’re dancing and singing, but only one word.

Hallelujah.

Over and over again, we sing the word hallelujah. For six minutes, this goes on—our dancing and our one-word song. We could have kept it up for the entire night, and it would have gone down in my book as one of my favorite church services of all time.

Something about singing the word hallelujah again and again before sitting down around the table together made us feel like we had stepped back in time to the early church. Worshipping arm in arm and passing plates of food between us seemed to go hand in hand with one another. Our precious Swazi brothers and sisters had sacrificed to give us a feast unimaginable and invited us in with genuine joy and love. I realized that this is what the heart of Christ looks like.

He invites us to His table full of love and joy and asks us to partake with Him and enjoy the blessings He places before us. Around that table, things get spilled and messes get made, but even still it remains a table and a feast that can be defined by one word: hallelujah.

We’ve done nothing to deserve our place at His table, just like we had done nothing to deserve a place at the church dinner in Swaziland. Even so, we have been invited to enjoy a feast at the sacrifice of another, and for that, a six-minute song of hallelujahs seems not nearly enough.

Chelsey

A Place at the Table: Everyday Doxology

As much of a social butterfly as I consider myself to be, one social situation sends my heart racing – and not from excitement. I turn into a bundle of nerves when I have to find a seat at a table, especially in a public place. What if there’s not a seat for me? What if I sit in someone else’s place? I’ve come to discover that those fears reflect some fears I didn’t realize I had about the Kingdom of God. I’ve learned though, sitting around tables across the world, that there is always room at His table. Hopefully you’ll find some encouragement in these stories shared around my table.

 

Everyday Doxology

I will praise you, O LORD, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonders. I will be glad and rejoice in you; I will sing praise to your name, O Most High.
Psalm 9:1-2

As crazy as it may seem to some, I had never heard the word Doxology until I was in college. Twenty-four hours after a tornado ripped through my college town, I found myself in the backyard of a pastor’s home with 50 college students singing these four lines:

MondayPraise God from whom all blessings flow,

Praise Him all creatures here below,

Praise Him above ye heavenly hosts,

Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost,

Amen.

The only thing that made sense to us in a season of destruction and rebuilding was to praise God. For weeks after the tornado, we would gather in a pastor’s backyard for dinner and sing the Doxology together. Those nights helped those four lines sink into my bones and take root, to a point where I find myself still breathing out those words habitually throughout the day.

It’s easy to repeat the Doxology after a day when the sun is shining and everything is going your way. It’s easy to stand and sing praises when your life is an adventure and the hand of God is evident in every day. But sometimes a tornado sweeps through your life, literally or figuratively, and you’re stuck figuring out which way is up again.

The Doxology is a piece of quiet comfort to me. It’s a simple song full of strength, and one that can almost be finished in one breath. It’s a song for times when we’re not eloquent or put together, for when all we know to do is to acknowledge that God is with us.

When we find our place at the table of God surrounded by the people of God, praise should be pouring off our lips. Our Creator delights in us every day, in every moment. This should lead us to delight in Him in the same way, to live and breathe that Doxology every day and in every moment. The good and the bad, the happy and the sad—whether the sun is shining or a tornado is coming.

Praise God from whom all blessings flow.

Chelsey

What To Do When You’re Doing Too Much: Say Yes to Rest

Are you often overwhelmed? Overcommitted? Do you have a hard time saying no? Then hang around this week. We’re going to start off the new year by learning to say “no” to filling our days with busyness and say “yes” to the things God wants in our lives.

 

Say Yes to Rest

And he said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat.
Matthew 6:31, ESV
But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.”  But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”
Luke 10:40-42, ESV

mary-martha-and-jesus-1354812-mI admit it. This is something I struggle with every day. I have a tendency to stay up way into the night to get things done that I didn’t have time for during the day. I spend my weekends catching up on things at home that I’ve neglected during my busy week. I’ve often lamented, “If only I didn’t need to sleep! I could get so much more done!”

I don’t know about you, but I have a very hard time relaxing when there’s laundry to do, dog hair to vacuum, errands to run and projects I need to finish. It doesn’t help that we’ve always been told things like “idle hands are the devil’s workshop” and that a Proverbs 31 woman never stops working—she rises while it is still night and her lamp never goes out. Sitting around doing nothing? I can’t even comprehend that most days.

As admirable as the woman in Proverbs 31 is, I don’t think this kind of non-stop busyness is what Jesus wants for our lives. When Martha was fretting over Mary not helping her serve their guests, Jesus gently reminded her that it wasn’t necessary to be so anxious, and that Mary had chosen the thing that mattered—spending time with Him.

I know at times I get so busy that I forget to spend time with Him. I try to remember each morning to read my devotions and pray, but on those days when you sleep through the alarm and wake up running, sometimes the day slips by before I realize I haven’t taken that time.

Women, especially mothers, tend to put everyone else’s needs ahead of our own. We often neglect things like our own rest, whether that’s physical or spiritual. And ladies, they’re equally important. (I’m preaching to myself here, trust me!) We cannot continue to serve others or God if we’re physically and spiritually exhausted.

Physical rest is vitally important. It’s linked to heart health, brain function, and even weight loss. Scientific studies have shown that adults who get 7-8 hours of sleep at night are actually much more productive during the day than those who burn the midnight oil to get things done. I know it’s not always easy, especially if you have small children, but try to remember that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, and caring for it is your responsibility. If you’re exhausted and sick, you won’t be much help to anyone.

The same is true for spiritual rest. Find time, even a few minutes a day, to sit down, cast your cares on Jesus, and then listen to what He has to say. Plug in to the Scriptures. Recharge spiritually. Talk to God as you go through your day. If you’re afraid people will think you’re nuts, then pray silently. Give thanks for little things like a good parking place at Walmart or the feel of the sun shining through the window. Connect with God, as often as possible, because whenever you do, your spirit will find rest. And the best part?

He’s always there, waiting.

In His Love,

Amy