Today is Memorial Day in the US, where our nation pauses to remember those who have served in our armed forces. Many Americans have a 3-day weekend and spend today with friends and family. I have many fond memories of Memorial Day growing up. My family would always attend a church-wide picnic where we would all fellowship, eat, and play outdoor games. On our annual drives to the park I would frequently think about men and women serving in careers that required them to work on holidays. Nurses, grocery store workers, gas station attendants, and security personnel are among those who must continue to work today to serve the public.
It's been years since I've made the drive to the state park with my family, and today I find myself in one of those occupations. As an intercessory missionary, vocational ministry to the LORD is why I am at work today.
As I paused to write this briefly during our 10am meeting here in the prayer room, beautiful melodies and choruses were arising to Jesus from about 150 people in the room, being led by a full worship team on stage:
"Great is the Lord..." "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty..."
At 2pm today, I'll take my place on that stage behind a keyboard as my worship team ministers to Jesus for our two-hour shift.
Yesterday much of the Far East and the Southwest US experienced an annular solar eclipse, often described as a "ring of fire" because of the way the moon blocks out most of the sun, leaving a bright ring around it in the sky. Much of the event was also visible here in Missouri, beginning around 7:30pm and lasting for 45 or 50 minutes.
I was able to view the eclipse at my folks' house where they have an open view of the western sky thanks to the rolling Missouri plains. We took turns looking through a thick, dark welder's lens. The sights were breathtaking! One news report I read on the event quoted a NASA official describing people's reactions to the eclipse: "You get everything from stoic, staring into the sky ... to people breaking down and crying, they're just so moved".
In this age where sin has deeply rent the human heart from its created purpose to make much of God's glory, there are heightened moments our lives when the Holy Spirit engenders faith to believe in a restoration of that purpose. Several months ago I had one of those moments - not while in prayer, worship, or study, but simply standing in my kitchen eating a banana.
In order to explain I have to start sometime late last year when I listened to this teaching by Stephen Venable entitled Sovereignty and Prayer. Stephen's goal in this teaching was to remind us what the scriptures say about God's rulership and governance over His creation. We live in an age where "Mother Nature" and "natural laws" have taken the place of the LORD as the sustainer and ruler over all that He has made. Scripture emphatically declares that the LORD gives life and breath to all things actively (Psalms 104:27-30; Daniel 5:23; Job 12:10; Isaiah 42:5), causes plants to grow, gives rain, and gives food actively (Job 5:10; Job 37:6-13; Psalms 65:7-11; Psalms 104:7-13; Psalms 147:8; Psalms 147:15-18), and presides over the lives of men actively (Job 34:14-15; Acts 17:24-25; 1 Samuel 2:6).
I had been meditating on some of those scriptures, particularly Psalms 145:16 and Psalms 65:7-11 and how the LORD is the one who sends rain for the earth's crops to grow. I was asking Jesus to shake me from my naturalistic perspective, that His word would renew my mind and take root in my heart, and that awe and gratitude would be my response to His glory as the creator and sustainer of all. I didn't really "feel" much during this time, but continued to ask in faith knowing that He heard my prayer.
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My worship team at IHOP has been playing this song by David Brymer a lot lately. As one called to vocational ministry to the LORD as an intercessory missionary, I'm grateful for this simple song of devotion to Jesus.
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