Among the many things changed by Covid has been my involvement in a choral group that included many music teachers from surrounding communities. We rehearsed weekly in one of the high schools. Last spring as we prepared for our concert the school closed the building to outside personnel like us. Within a week school closed period. In the beginning we had hopes of rescheduling our concert for maybe June. Then September or October. My music still hangs in a bag on a hook ready to grab as I go out the door to rehearsal.
This song is not from last spring’s planned program. It is from an earlier concert, but the text by American abolitionist, James Russel Lowell (1819-1891), has stuck with me. In recent days its meaning seems all the more powerful.
I have been reading a lot about Native Americans this past year in an effort to better understand my Ojibwe neighbors. I read The Orenda by Joseph Boyden in early March, but then Covid made it seem irrelevant. Recent protests for social justice brought my thoughts back to understanding neighbors whose cultures are different from mine, whose life experiences and worldviews are different. We aren’t all alike. We are different, and that difference enriches our world. Difference does not mean one is any less an image bearer of God than any other. We all deserve respect as God’s creation. We all stand in need of the gospel of Jesus Christ—a brown man from a lower class family in a backwater of an oppressive empire.
With the publication of my new book Honey from the Comb, we have been talking about prayer on this blog. I have been using what is now published as Honey as the basis of my devotions for many years, but it doesn’t cover all the specific and immediate things that need prayer in my life—loved ones without Jesus, friends with cancer or with a job interview this week. When Honey was in a loose-leaf notebook, it was easy to keep extra pages in the back for my lists. More recently, that turned into a list on my phone. A few months ago, Marcia Strauss, prayer coordinator for our mission (SIM) introduced me to PrayerMate, a free app for organizing my prayer list.
Many times these days I have found my stomach tied in knots. Parties with no social distancing prolong our corona agony. Anger against social injustice spills over into more injustices. Pickup trucks plow through protesters to make their own protest. What will happen when local schools reopen? How can we agree on measurable goals to put an end to violence in the street and racism in our communities? I pray, “Lord have mercy,” even as I acknowledge that we don’t deserve mercy anymore than Jerusalem did as the Babylonians approached.
The first section of my new book, Honey from the Comb, collects verses to help you focus on who God is and what he is like. But when we do that, we realize that we aren’t as good as we would like people to think we are. Isaiah was a young prophet when he had a vision of God in the temple (Isaiah 6). His response wasn’t “Wow! What a great worship experience!” It was “Oh, no! I’m ruined! I have such a dirty mouth, and everyone around me has a dirty mouth!” He was embarrassed when he compared himself to God instead of to other people.
Part 2 of Honey from the Comb focuses on Scriptures to help you be specific in confession.
My newly released book, Honey from the Comb, follows the ACTS pattern for prayer--Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, and Supplication. In coming days we will look at the other sections, but today, lets think about Adoration.
Adoration is praising God for who he is and what he is like. It focuses on his character more than on the specifics of what he has done. (That is the job of thanksgiving.) The passages in the first section of Honey from the Comb are chosen to help you meditate on different aspects of who God is. The idea is to read a line and pray it back to God, telling him how true it is and why it matters to you right now.
A dear friend in our church passed away last week from cancer. Her family are much on my mind today as I think about God, our Comforter.
He heals the brokenhearted
and binds up their wounds. Psalm 147:3
Lord, I know you heal the brokenhearted. Bind up the wounds of Char's family right now.
The LORD is close to the brokenhearted
and saves those who are crushed in spirit. Psalm 34:18
Lord, I praise you because you come close to the brokenhearted. May Char's family know your presence in a special way at this time.
Perhaps you are hurting right now or know someone who is. Use these verses from the Adoration section of Honey from the Comb to worship our great God and guide your prayers.
Fighting in the streets.
Not to mention personal struggles with relationships,
and feelings of failure and inadequacy.
“Stand up from the waist,” the tiny round-faced woman demanded. “Sit on the part of the body God gave you to sit on, and I don’t mean your back!” She always said it with a scowl that she could never hold without breaking into an infectious grin. For more than fifty years I have heard that voice in my head and scooted to the edge of my seat to comply every time. How can anyone pretend to sing slouched in an armchair?
Elise Marshall, my high school music teacher, formed me as a singer. She taught me to use my diaphragm, an open throat and a loose jaw.
In the days since Black Mountain was released, I have been eagerly watching for reviews. I asked some people ahead of time and lined up several blogs. I have been mentioning them on Facebook, but didn't want to stuff your mailbox every time one went up. So here is a summary. I'd love it if you added your review to those on Amazon.
June 4 Rani's Simple Living Rani thinks I need to write a book about Nicholas. I'll have to think about that!
June 8. Book Reviews from an Avid Reader. Joan likes the research (which I enjoyed very much.) She also says, "What I liked most in this novel is the idea of God redeeming and restoring the life of a repentant person. What a great representation of the life transforming nature of the gospel. I also liked the suspense at the end."
June 9 International Christian Fiction Writers. Donna Fletcher Crow, author of Glastonbury; A Novel of Christian Britain, interviews me about Black Mountain. She says in her review, "Black Mountain concludes Leanne Hardy’s Glastonbury Grail series with a powerful pilgrimage, both physical and spiritual. Magic and faith, myth and eternal truth intermingle in this novel of the Holy Grail. With the beauty of an epic poem, it presents an allegory of the grace of God."
June 11 History Thru the Ages. This historical Christian fiction site features an article by me on how my Glastonbury Grail series came to be written. It's not too late to comment and enter a drawing for a free copy of Black Mountain.
June 12 History Thru the Ages. An article about how writing was viewed in the 16th century and the "new" 1536 translation of the Bible into English by William Tyndale. Comment again and enter your name in the drawing a second time.
The Lord longs to be gracious to you;
therefore he will rise up to show you compassion.
For the Lord is a God of justice.
Blessed are all who wait for him! (Isaiah 30:18)
Compassion and Justice, hand in hand. It is who our God is. Not one or the other, but both together. "Grace and Truth" is how one of his closest friends described him when he came to live with us--Word made flesh, the One and Only come from the Father (John 1:14).
We are living in difficult times. But they are also exciting times. No, I don't expect to see the Kingdom of heaven in its fulness, coming in the next few months, certainly not by political efforts. But I do hope to see Christians standing for compassion, Christians speaking out for justice, Christians living out grace and truth in an age when it is so much easier to sling mud on the Internet.
LeAnne Hardy has lived in six countries on four continents. Her books come out of her cross-cultural experiences and her passion to use story to convey spiritual truths in a form that will permeate lives.
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