Dear Friends in Christ, One of my favorite verses of Scripture is Psalm 22:3: "God inhabits the praises of His people." The notion is that God resides, dwells and lives in us when we praise. The language of praise is instinctive. As sons Dr. Davis Chappell and daughters of God, made in His image, we are often awed by beauty, wonder and grace. Our native tongue is praise. God Himself spoke words of affirmation and praise after each phase of creation, saying, "it is good!" We live however in what social scientists call "the culture of complaint." A comedian once said, "language was invented because of our deep and inner need to complain." To be sure, the Scriptures are full of lamenting. Complaint prayers make up roughly one-third of the Psalms. God desires us to be authentic in sharing our honest hurts and heartaches. But God inhabits our praise! What a beautiful thought. When we acknowledge, affirm and give expression to our praise, God is very near. Paul sees praise as a mindset, or an attitude. He says in Philippians 4:8 "finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-if anything is excellent or worthy of praise - think on such things." This doesn't mean we are to ignore or dodge the concerns. But it does mean that the praiseworthy is much greater. As a disciple of
Christ, I sometimes find myself "lost in wonder, love and praise," as one of our Wesleyan hymns says. Today, I choose to praise. I praise God for the beauty of creation, for the colors of fall, for the changing seasons. I praise God for family and friends who love me, in spite of my flaws. I praise God for the privilege of serving in ministry with people I have quickly grown to love. I praise God for challenges and difficulties that call me to a deeper faith. I praise God for His full expression of grace in Jesus Christ, and for the ongoing grace that is ours each day as we rely on the Holy Spirit. I praise God for a church that 'gets it,' and very much wants to 'give it.' Finally, it was good to welcome new members Cristy Caldwell, Parker Dennis, Emmy Hill, Jacob Parker, Susanna Parker, Rick Donely, Wendy Wilson, and Jackie Postell. Welcome to our church community. In this season of thanksgiving may you also be lost in wonder, love and praise. Thanks be to God!