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Prison to praise

by davesandel on May 8th, 2021

Saturday, May 8, 2021                   (today’s lectionary)

Prison to praise

The job our son wanted for two years fell into his lap this week, and he starts today. We finished our taxes yesterday, and we get money back again this year. Neither of us is complaining about our health (within reason, after all, we’re 71). Jasper didn’t get bonked at all the whole day yesterday. Miles had a date with his mom. Don’t worry, be happy.

The Lord is good: his kindness endures forever, and faithfulness to all generations.

Next week my list of praises might go the other way. The negatives would be heavier to lift up as blessings, but they matter just as much, maybe more, on the only path God provides, the path of downward mobility.

If the world hates you, realize that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, the world would love its own, but I have chosen you out of the world.

Aunt Mary lived and ministered for decades in the St. Louis black community. When she moved back to her home town of Lincoln, Illinois into Friendship Manor, a mostly-white retirement home, she brought with her a case of copies of her favorite book, Prison to Praise by Merlin Carothers. After getting settled, she took her new home’s name to heart and knocked on all the doors of all four floors. She introduced herself by passing out copies of the book.

Colonel Carothers was a lifelong military man, WWII paratrooper and guard for President Eisenhower. Then, after discovering how much God loved him, he became a very effective chaplain in Korea and Vietnam. His book is full of stories of the transforming power of praise.

The very act of praise releases the power of God into your own set of circumstances and enables God to change them, if this is His design. Often it is our attitudes that hinder the solution of a problem … I believe that the prayer of praise is the highest form of communion with God. Often the prayer of praise is done in sheer, teeth-gritting willpower, but when we persist a growing stream of the power of God floods us and washes away our old hurts and scars (p. 56).

So I will seek to be still inside when chaos and catastrophes descend. In this I fail so often, but even so, in the next moment I can praise God.

Dying to self is a progressive journey, and I have come to believe it is traveled only through praise. The sacrifice of praise is offered when all is darkness around us. It is offered from a heavy heart, unto God because He is God and Father and Lord. To continually praise Him brings a steady decrease of self and increase of the presence of Christ within us, joy unspeakable and full of glory (p. 65).

Pastor Matt at Grace 360 told us a story I’ve heard more than once. Here’s a version of it for you, although perhaps you’ve heard it a few times too.

A Chinese farmer gets a horse, which soon runs away. A neighbor says, “That’s bad news.” The farmer replies, “Good news, bad news, who can say?”

The horse comes back and brings another horse with him. Good news, you might say.
The farmer gives the second horse to his son, who rides it, then is thrown and badly breaks his leg.

“So sorry for your bad news,” says the concerned neighbor. “Good news, bad news, who can say?” the farmer replies.

In a week or so, the emperor’s men come and take every able-bodied young man to fight in a war. The farmer’s son is spared.

Good news, of course.

Just now, I found a YouTube video of an Amy Grant concert from forty years ago. Couldn’t stop listening. Hope you enjoy it too.

“I have decided … to live like a believer.”

(Acts 16, Psalm 100, Colossians 3, John 15)

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