I am not, as they say, a morning person. But I have 4 early morning meetings each week (5:30-7:00am). So I am in a constant struggle to get in bed early.
As I have aged I have noticed that my struggle has become even more difficult. Because of this I do a lot of reading about the value of sleep. It is a good motivator. I have read several articles about the waste removal system that our brains use and I wanted to pass on this one.
In his book, The Life You’ve Always Wanted, John Ortberg wrote:
Before Elijah was to spend a prolonged time in solitude and prayer at Mount Horeb, the angel of the Lord had him take not one, but two long naps. Contrast this with the disciples at Gethsemane, who could not pray because they kept falling asleep. Sleep is a gift from God … For some of you reading this book, perhaps the single most spiritual thing you could do right now is to put it down and take a nap.
In my office I have a hand-carved book stand designed to hold an open book. For several years I have had a Bible on that stand open to Psalm 116.
I keep it on a shelf with several items that represent significant moments in my life: small souvenirs from important trips, pictures of special people, gifts from my children. I have a cup from Dresden, Germany, a bullet from a friend’s unsuccessful suicide attempt, an animal carving from Ghana, West Africa, and a few other items that pull me back to those moments in my history that I do not want to forget.
But in the center of this shelf is the open Bible. I keep it open to Psalm 116 because this Psalm led me through a very difficult time in my life.
One morning during this difficult time, I was reading in the Psalms, trying to regain my spiritual focus and my sense of purpose. I usually read with a pen in my hand, marking repeated words and themes, and I noticed in chapter 116, three themes that seemed to be woven together throughout the psalm. I spent quite a bit of time reading, marking, thinking, and praying about these themes. Eventually I assembled them into three lists and wrote them in my journal. Here is almost word-for-word what I wrote that morning:
Psalm 116 Describes — 1st The Human Plight
“Death Entangled Me” (Vs. 3) “The Grave Came Upon Me” (Vs. 3) “Overcome By Trouble And Sorrow” (Vs. 3) “In Great Need” (Vs. 6) “Death” (Vs. 8) “Eyes . . . Tears . . . Feet . . . Stumbling” (Vs. 8) “Greatly Afflicted” (Vs. 10) “In Dismay” (Vs. 11) “My Chains” (Vs. 16)
Psalm 116 Describes — 2nd The Personal Rescue
“He Heard My Voice; He Heard My Cry” (Vs. 1) “He Turned His Ear To Me” (Vs. 2) “The Lord Protects” (Vs. 6) “He Saved Me” (Vs. 6) “The Lord Has Been Good To You” (Vs. 7) “You, O Lord, Have Delivered My Soul” (Vs. 8) “His Goodness To Me” (Vs. 12) “You Have Freed Me” (Vs. 16)
Psalm 116 Describes — 3rd The Only Valid Response
“I Love The Lord” (Vs. 1) “I Will Call On Him As Long As I Live” (Vs. 2) “Be At Rest” (Vs. 7) “Walk Before The Lord In The Land Of The Living” (Vs. 9) “I Will Lift Up The Cup Of Salvation” (Vs. 13) “Call On The Name Of The Lord” (Vs. 13) “I Will Fulfill My Vows To The Lord In The Presence Of His People” (Vs. 14, 18) “I Am Your Servant” (Vs. 16) “I Will Sacrifice A Thank Offering” (Vs. 17) “Praise The Lord” (Vs. 19)
Psalm 116 helped me to turn the corner because it opened my eyes to the coming rescue and led me to gratitude. Gratitude helped me see through the pain of uncertainty. And now I keep the Bible on the book stand as my constant reminder of the power of gratitude.
I ran across this today and thought it was worth passing on. It’s a short read that came out 3 days ago in The Atlantic. The Title is “Workism Is Making Americans Miserable.” It’s full of links to other studies and confirms the rising role of the devotion to work, often over family, faith and relationships.
Here is a little tease:
“The decline of traditional faith in America has coincided with an explosion of new atheisms. Some people worship beauty, some worship political identities, and others worship their children. But everybody worships something. And workism is among the most potent of the new religions competing for congregants … In the past century, the American conception of work has shifted from jobs to careers to callings—from necessity to status to meaning.”
“Most Christians are like people who watch previews of a movie constantly. Somebody is explaining to me what the movie is about. So, I feel like I’ve watched it, but I never did. I know the story line, but I haven’t been caught up in the story itself. So, let’s watch the movie … Reading the entire Bible takes about 80 hours. So, if you do about an hour or two per week, you very comfortably finish the book every year.”
Ecclesiastes 4:12 Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.
Matthew 7:12 So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.
2 Peter 1:5-7 For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love.
Proverbs 27:17 As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.
Ecclesiastes 4:9 Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor.
1 Thessalonians 3:12 May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you.
Proverbs 17:17 A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity.
Ecclesiastes 4:10 If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.
Hebrews 10:24-25 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 2not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another— and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
Matthew 18:20 For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I with them.
Acts 2:42-47 All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.
Ephesians 4:15-16 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.
Acts 5:42 Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Messiah.
John 13:34-35 A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.
Galatians 6:1-2 Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.
1 John 4:11-13 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit.
Hebrews 3:12-14 See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. We have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original conviction firmly to the very end.
Psalm 133:1 How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!