Thursday, September 30, 2010

Do you "Ripple" like Grateful Dead?

Positive or negative, I must admit that Grateful Dead truly has had a ripple effect, as have many music and entertainment icons over time.

However, the "Ripple" to which I am referring is actually one of their songs.

A friend of mine mentioned to me recently that he had a bit of an epiphany when this song came on Pandora as it not only reminded him of how much he has always liked "Ripple" but also made him realize why he liked it so much - beyond the Jerry Garcia music part.  He said it was because the lyrics (written by Robert Hunter) "just absolutely slammed (him)."

Then he requested my thoughts on it.

So, here I will provide you with the lyrics followed by my thoughts on them:


If my words did glow with the gold of sunshine
And my tunes were played on the harp unstrung
Would you hear my voice come through the music
Would you hold it near as it were your own?

It's a hand-me-down, the thoughts are broken
Perhaps they're better left unsung
I don't know, don't really care
Let there be songs to fill the air


Ripple in still water
When there is no pebble tossed
Nor wind to blow

Reach out your hand if your cup be empty
If your cup is full may it be again
Let it be known there is a fountain
That was not made by the hands of men

There is a road, no simple highway
Between the dawn and the dark of night
And if you go no one may follow
That path is for your steps alone


Ripple in still water
When there is no pebble tossed
Nor wind to blow

You who choose to lead must follow
But if you fall you fall alone
If you should stand then who's to guide you?
If I knew the way I would take you home

My thoughts:

Those are very good and deep lyrics (no water pun intended).

Makes me think of how we all have our own intended path & purpose in life that no one else can fill.  Also that our words and action may be that ripple that start small but ultimately reach much farther. 
And the reference to leading yet following...perfect example of a good, true leader - a servant leader.  I personally think of Jesus in that aspect because He was/is the true servant leader who taught His disciples and us, His followers, to lead by serving and genuinely caring for others regardless of whether they recognize or appreciate it and regardless of whether the love and service is returned.  
Also, to me, the reference to the fountain not made by the hands of men, a very clear reference to the fountain of living water of eternal life and ultimate, eternal fulfillment in Jesus.  He says in John 4 to the woman at the well, "Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life." (Referring to His Holy Spirit which comes to live in us when we ask Him to and confess that we believe in Him.) 

Even the songs references to reaching out your hand if it is empty reflect that initial asking for the drink of Living Water. And though we, as believers, have His Spirit in full forever in us, some days we feel less full and drained from this life and don't always live in the fullness of His power and love that is in us, so in those times, all we have to do is tap into the One who resides in us and we will feel full again.

Oh, and then, the part about the road, ours as followers of Christ is just that - a narrow, road - not a simple highway. We are assured in the Bible that there will be few who will follow that road, so many times we feel we are even on it alone.  The road of faith is often lonely and is tough, because it is just that - faith - "being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see (Hebrews 11:1)."  So as we walk that road, we are, like the song says, risking falling "alone" since so many others choose not to walk that road at all for fear of being wrong. But the hope and assurance I have, which I feel the song writer at that time was just on the edge of but not quite ready to go there, is that I am not alone. My God is always with me and though no one on this earth may be able to guide me safely, He is my guide as I stand and as I fall and is leading me safely home.

That's my take on the song.

What is yours?  I would love to hear your feedback.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Buried Alive by Roy Hallums

What would you do if you were kidnapped in a foreign country knowing practically none of their language nor their intentions behind your kidnapping?

Would you - could you survive?  Considering torture, unsanitary living conditions, and uncertainty of rescue or release...How long?  A few days?  Possibly even a few weeks?

How about almost a full year?

Roy Hallums did.  As the title of his book alludes, he was even literally Buried Alive, yet his faith in God and his resolve to live and see his family again miraculously carried him through to the time of his unexpected and dramatic rescue.

This book is not one that will have you sitting on the edge of your seat with suspense, nor is it filled to the brim with him expressing his love for and faith in God.  However, Mr. Hallums recounts with straight-forward, realistic honesty the tortures and emotions he and his stateside family endured throughout his 311 day captivity.  Not just 10 months, to him each of the 311 days was unique and difficult in itself.  And throughout his retelling of these days, from both his and his loving family's perspective, the thread of God's love and provision over them is woven.  Though the story is in no way beautiful, until his blessed rescue at least, the tapestry of God's plan for his life is to be treasured.

In addition to gaining a better understanding of what goes on in all aspects of kidnapping in foreign lands, I was most touched by the dramatic rescue of Roy Hallums.  It brought me to tears to read how our military men risked their lives to go in and save his and anyone else they may find. 

"The first rescuer pulled off an American flag patch that was velcroed on the sleeve of his uniform and pressed it into the palm of my hand, which he clasped with a handshake.

'You've been rescued,' he said to me.

I hugged him and thanked him.  To this day, I carry that little flag in my pocket wherever I go."  (pp. 206-207)
During these times of international struggle in our world, this book would be an interesting, informative, and enlightening read for you.   This man's struggle in captivity is not to be taken lightly as there are so many others daily who are enduring very similar circumstances, many without the hope of rescue.  Let this book be a guide for how better to pray for those people and their families.  It has been that for me.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Sunday, September 12, 2010

It is what it is...or is it?

Having spent two years of my adult life living in New Jersey with my husband and son, this Southern girl picked up on a bit of their regional phraseology. All regions have it. They are no exception.

True, I heard things that sounded like they could have come straight out of The Sopranos, but trust me, Jersey folk are in no way accurately characterized by the likes of the mafia-based show - at least not as a whole. In the Garden State (a.k.a. New Jersey), we had a wonderful Christian community of neighbors and friends.

What kind of phrases did I hear frequently in the great Garden State?

"It is what it is."

"What are you gonna do?"

"Not for nothin'..." (This one was usually followed by a statement of the person's opinion or something of that sort.)

Fast forward a few years to this Sunday morning in church.

My pastor was reminding us of Nehemiah and his "Heart for Home" as he was burdened to pray for and help begin the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem (see Nehemiah 1:1-11). One of my pastor's points was that Nehemiah had the right heart---a heart for the way it could be. Not just "It is what it is."

Unbelievable! This Texas-born-and-raised, long-time Louisiana resident said something very familiar to my New Jersey memories. And it struck a big chord with me.

Very recently while studying Joseph, I was very impressed by the fact that he told his brothers and his father his dreams (Genesis 37:1-11) regardless of the fact that he may look foolish or even egotistical. He had to know his brothers were already jealous of him and did not care for him, yet he boldly and honestly yet humbly told them the strange dreams he had in which it appeared that he would rule over them---which later came true.

Do you have dreams?

Not just the strange ones from your sleeping hours that stick with you, but even the God-given visions and callings on your life.

Are you afraid to share them with anyone? Afraid of what they will think?

Nehemiah prayed for almost four months that God would grant him "success today by granting him favor in the presence of this man (the king)." (Nehemiah 1:11 - italics, mine) He did not fear when he finally went before the king with his plan to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem so the Lord's people would again have a safe home in the City of David.

Nehemiah knew what he was called to do. It was not at all something that most would find to be wise nor beneficial, but he knew the way it could be---the way it should be. He would not settle for just saying, "It is what it is. What are you gonna do? Not for nothin', but do you realize how much work that will take? And for what?"

No, Nehemiah did not let fear get the best of him. He shared his dream and pressed on, knowing God was supporting and sustaining him all the way.

Okay, so this fearless thing works fine for Nehemiah and Joseph, but they didn't live in my world. Enormous obstacles are in my path daily. Things much larger than anything I can handle. And God, yeah, I sense He is calling me to do some pretty big things...but they sound so far-fetched that there is no realistic way I can ever do these things. What if I try and fail? The "I told you so's" will be more than I can face.

Does that sound a little familiar to you?

Then consider the man I was reading about just before church this Sunday morning---Gideon in Judges 7.

Was Gideon convinced? Was he a "yes man"?

Not exactly.

He wanted to be, but his real nature was that of fear and doubt. He constantly needed reassurance from God before moving forward with his assignments.

Yes, you probably recall his back-and-forth with God in which he requested many specific signs from God. (See Judges 6) Each time, the Lord obliged him and gave the signs he requested. God didn't belittle him about his fear and doubt. He lovingly and specifically delivered as requested.

Then, in Judges 7, as Gideon and the Israelites were camping in preparation for attacking the Midianites, God woke Gideon up in the night and told him,

"Get up, go down against the camp, because I am going to give it into your hands. If you are afraid to attack, go down to the camp with your servant Purah and listen to what they are saying. Afterward, you will be encouraged to attack the camp." (Judges 7:9-11 NIV)

I love that. God knew Gideon would be afraid to attack the Midianites as God was instructing (and with a much smaller army than the enemy), yet God again did not belittle him. Instead, God gave Gideon an acceptable, non-humiliating option of action to take in order to overcome his fear and be encouraged. God used the enemy's words to encourage His Gideon, His "Mighty Man of Valor. (Judges 6:12 NKJV)"

And again, God used His chosen man to change something from "what it is" to "what it could be."

God used the sleeping dreams of the Midianites as well as some clever trickery by the Israelites to send the numerous Midianite enemy army running for their lives in fear and even turning their swords on each other. Gideon and the Israelites in the name of the Lord won the victory.

Again I ask---What dream(s) do you have?

What seemingly foolish and insurmountable task(s) do you know the Lord is calling you to do?

Fear not. Tell others your dreams. Go to God with your doubt and let Him reassure and encourage you.

It's time to do what He says.

"Jesus looked at them and said, 'With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.'" (Mark 10:27 NIV)

"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." (Philippians 4:13 NKJV)

The time for a Hope Revolution is now.

God is leading us into revival just as He led Nehemiah, Joseph, Gideon, and so many more. His Word is full of proof and instruction.

Read it. Trust Him. Do it.

Not for nothin'---let's do it for Him!

*Scripture is from