Archives For Praise

Bless the Lord, O my soul!
    O Lord my God, you are very great!
You are clothed with splendor and majesty,
    covering yourself with light as with a garment,
    stretching out the heavens like a tent.
He lays the beams of his chambers on the waters;
he makes the clouds his chariot;
    he rides on the wings of the wind;
he makes his messengers winds,
    his ministers a flaming fire.

He set the earth on its foundations,
    so that it should never be moved.
You covered it with the deep as with a garment;
    the waters stood above the mountains.
At your rebuke they fled;
    at the sound of your thunder they took to flight.
The mountains rose, the valleys sank down
    to the place that you appointed for them.
You set a boundary that they may not pass,
    so that they might not again cover the earth.

10 You make springs gush forth in the valleys;
    they flow between the hills;
11 they give drink to every beast of the field;
    the wild donkeys quench their thirst.
12 Beside them the birds of the heavens dwell;
    they sing among the branches.
13 From your lofty abode you water the mountains;
    the earth is satisfied with the fruit of your work.

14 You cause the grass to grow for the livestock
    and plants for man to cultivate,
that he may bring forth food from the earth
15     and wine to gladden the heart of man,
oil to make his face shine
    and bread to strengthen man’s heart.

16 The trees of the Lord are watered abundantly,
    the cedars of Lebanon that he planted.
17 In them the birds build their nests;
    the stork has her home in the fir trees.
18 The high mountains are for the wild goats;
    the rocks are a refuge for the rock badgers.

19 He made the moon to mark the seasons;
    the sun knows its time for setting.
20 You make darkness, and it is night,
    when all the beasts of the forest creep about.
21 The young lions roar for their prey,
    seeking their food from God.
22 When the sun rises, they steal away
    and lie down in their dens.
23 Man goes out to his work
    and to his labor until the evening.

24 O Lord, how manifold are your works!
    In wisdom have you made them all;
    the earth is full of your creatures.
25 Here is the sea, great and wide,
    which teems with creatures innumerable,
    living things both small and great.
26 There go the ships,
    and Leviathan, which you formed to play in it.

27 These all look to you,
    to give them their food in due season.
28 When you give it to them, they gather it up;
    when you open your hand, they are filled with good things.
29 When you hide your face, they are dismayed;
    when you take away their breath, they die
    and return to their dust.
30 When you send forth your Spirit, they are created,
    and you renew the face of the ground.

31 May the glory of the Lord endure forever;
    may the Lord rejoice in his works,
32 who looks on the earth and it trembles,
    who touches the mountains and they smoke!
33 I will sing to the Lord as long as I live;
    I will sing praise to my God while I have being.
34 May my meditation be pleasing to him,
    for I rejoice in the Lord.
35 Let sinners be consumed from the earth,
    and let the wicked be no more!
Bless the Lord, O my soul!
Praise the Lord!

Think about what you have control over in your own little context. You probably control whether you brush your teeth, comb your hair, what clothes you put on and you even control whether you get out of bed or sleep the whole day. There are even some people in this world who have control over armies, policies, and they can even control the price of fuel and have nation’s economies in the palms of their hands.


It was not by their power or word that caused the blades of grass to grow, the waters to gush forth, and they don’t even control the darkness like God does. No wonder the Psalmist is praising God because when we consider what we have control it is nothing…

…and I am nothing in comparison to what God controls. God even has control over this mysterious beast named Leviathan because, get this, he formed it! Verse 27 is formative for me as he says, “These all look to you, to give them their food in due season.” In other words, everything that is created is dependent on something or someone else to provide for its basic necessities. The bird longs for the water to bathe itself, the deer desires the cloves to feed itself and we humans desire (all too much all too often) shelter, clothing and food to sustain life.

But as we know, these things can be taken from us in an instant (enter Hurricane Sandy) and so we are ever present that by looking at God’s creation we are compelled to praise him. No wonder he closes with a plea that he will continually worship God and that all sinners be consumed. I love the idea of verse 24 where the Psalmist declares, “How manifold are your works!” An exhaust manifold in a vehicle takes multiple exhaust outlets and combines them into one. It takes complex entities and unites them. God’s works are all over creation and their are outlets upon outlets but the manifold is brought together by God himself.

Questions for Discussion

  1. In what ways do we try to control our own lives?
  2. What are some experiences that have pulled you closer to the Creator?
  3. What are some “manifold” works of God you have seen in your life and in the lives of others?


Ascribe to the Lord, O heavenly beings,
    ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.
Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name;
    worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness.

The voice of the Lord is over the waters;
    the God of glory thunders,
    the Lord, over many waters.
The voice of the Lord is powerful;
    the voice of the Lord is full of majesty.

The voice of the Lord breaks the cedars;
    the Lord breaks the cedars of Lebanon.
He makes Lebanon to skip like a calf,
    and Sirion like a young wild ox.

The voice of the Lord flashes forth flames of fire.
The voice of the Lord shakes the wilderness;
    the Lord shakes the wilderness of Kadesh.

The voice of the Lord makes the deer give birth
    and strips the forests bare,
    and in his temple all cry, “Glory!”

10 The Lord sits enthroned over the flood;
    the Lord sits enthroned as king forever.
11 May the Lord give strength to his people!
    May the Lord bless his people with peace!

This is a beautiful praise Psalm that coincides with the praise theme that God is universally present and sovereign. Sovereign is a fancy word that simply means God is king and reigns over all of creation. It is said that David wrote this Psalm (or it was for David…) and we are unsure as to the situation when David wrote it. Perhaps you could imagine David strolling through his kingdom on a donkey or a hummer and he looks at everything that is around him. Immediately he asks the people to stop so he can have his scribe jot down a few lyrics he is thinking about. As he looks at everything he is moved by the vastness of God’s awesome power and the only thing due to God is giving him the glory!

That’s exactly what he asks the readers and the heavenly beings to do: give God the glory. “Ascribe” is a fancy term that simply means assign or designate. Note why God is designated with glory (vv. 3-9): he is over the waters, thunder, the trees, regions of land, fire, and even a deer giving birth. Notice the contrast in verse 9 between birth of a deer and death of a forest. But the comparison is that both are naked: one entering and one existing. I am reminded of Job when he says, “Naked I came into the world (mother’s womb) and naked I shall return…blessed (or praise) be the name of the Lord” (Job 1:21).

God’s be praised because he is universally sovereign and universally present.

Questions for Reflection

  1. Give a time when you felt pulled to praise God? What were some words you used to describe God’s glory?
  2. Talk about specific things (write them down) where you see God’s sovereignty?
  3. Why do you think David asked God to give us strength and peace to his people (v. 11)? In other words, what is so important about strength and peace?

Dear 2010

December 28, 2010 — Leave a comment

Dear 2010,

Like most years you started with much ambition, goal-setting and prayer.  Like most years though things happen and the plans started usually ended before you began Spring.  2010 you move too quickly as I saw the birth of my fourth child and then the other children turn 2, 4 and 5.  You are relentless in how you keep moving forward and before I could even get a handle on you now you are leaving.  You did not bring me much comfort this year as I saw Haiti become devastated and people dying all over the world.  2010 you are unforgiving.  I wish you would slow down so I could tell all of the people how much I love them and miss them.  2010 you did bring a lot of good to the ministry here as we had a few amazing souls baptized: Meredith, Hannah, Rebecca, Morgan, Derek, Elijah and probably others I have forgotten.  Friends graduated, 2010, and moved away quicker than I could say good-bye.  2010I am not sure what to make of you.  You are an enigma wrapped up in a mystery.  I wish you would not leave so fast though because next year I turn 30 and I am scared, nervous, and confused about the possibilities that are ahead.  However, if my 30s are going to be better than my 20s then I am ready for it but if you would just wait 2010 then I could prepare myself for 2011. Like most years, 2010, you brought both life and death, sadness and happiness, frustration and fulfillment which leaves us wanting.  I just have a request from you then I will leave you alone.  Will you talk to your friend 2011 before you leave and tell him that I want a better year?  Will you tell him to slow down so I can enjoy my kids better?  Will you tell him to bring reflection, contemplation and celebration to my life so I can be all that I can be for Main Street and my family?  Good-bye 2010 and I am thankful you came into my life…I will think about you often.  

Your participant,

Robbie Mackenzie

I close this series with joy filled in my heart anticipating Christmas day.  I long for the time with family, the meals, the happiness, the presents but also the knowledge of why we are there.  “Advent” is a word that comes from the Latin word adventus meaning “coming.”  It is the Latin translation for the Greek word parousia which is used in the New Testament most often to describe the Second Coming of Christ (see 1 Thess. 4:13-5:11).  Apparently advent was started in the 18th century to recognize not only the birth of Jesus but also the coming of the Lord.  We live in a tension right now that all Christians live in from the time Jesus ascended in Acts 1 until the time of Jesus returns.  The tension is entangled in mystery and wonder knowing that God has wrought a day in which the Lord will return and we shall be like him and dwell forever.  But not yet…not now…not here…not long.  The advent season is about recognizing and celebrating the birth of Jesus but paradoxically anticipating the return of Jesus.  The fact is…Jesus is here and there are implications for you and I.  To really celebrate Christmas is to subvert the consumerism that society puts out and to make it more than simply “HAPPY HOLIDAYS.”  I saw last night where the ACLU sent memos to Tennessee schools warning them of celebrating one religious holiday to the exclusion of others.  That’s fine but the celebrations typically seen are incorrect for the real point of advent is to show that everywhere and anywhere Christ is the Lord who was born of a virgin from the seed of David.  Caesar was not Lord nor is the president today.  Our idols of power, freedom, pride, consumerism and safe-living all miss the mark for the only true Lord in this world is and was Jesus Christ.

So celebrate appropriately.  Decorations are only a hint of the beauty of Christmas as we celebrate the coming of God himself.  We celrbrate that JEsus is Lord.  We anticipate that one day all wrongs will be right and that true peace will reign at the coming of our Lord.  We long for that day but know there is much work for us to do while injustice and evil still reign.  Jesus, we welcome you in our lives as Lord.  Thank you for coming down to this earth and relinquishing your God-abilities to be human.  We recognize the work of your Father as the work we adhere to.  Forgive us this season for our consumerism and allow us to celebrate what is most important beyond the toys, decorations and false narratives sent by society.  Allows us to celebrate you.  Thank you for coming.  I love you.  Reign in my life and let my breath breathe the air that comes from only you.  Amen.

Below is an advent poem by W.H. Smaw and then a couple of songs I thought were worthy of note.  Peace.

I am. I was. I will be.
I am not coming soon I am here.

I was born on a cold night in a cold place
Unnoticed, unheralded by cold people
Who turned my mother away.
On that night were you listening?
On that night the “least of your brothers” was me.
Now do you see, do you hear and do you care?
I am not coming soon I am here.
In your life do you see me
In the ragged men and women
Who search the cold street
Looking for my reflection in your heart?
Do you hear my voice in
Their muttered plea or in their tear?
I am not coming soon I am here.
Do you hear me when your friend turns to you
To ask forgiveness and trust?
Do I not forgive you always?
Do I not give you a merciful ear?
I am not coming soon I am here.
In this season I was born unto you
Fulfilling the promise of God’s care.
Look for me, listen to me…
I am not coming soon I am here.

Moving from Iraenaus’ claim to the apostle John we find comfort in knowing that it was God who came down to be one of us…to be one with us.

14And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. 15( John bore witness about him, and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.'”) 16And from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. 17For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.  (John 1:14-18)

A few things to note about this text that is worthy of reflection and devotion.  First of all, the Word became flesh.  Describe this?  I am not sure what happened but I know that he “emptied himself” (Phil 2:7) which means, in my opinion, that Jesus abdicated his rightful place on the throne of God and took on the form of something lesser…us.  Secondly, Jesus did this so that we would receive grace and truth.  Without this moment we do not have access to the father.

13For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the sprinkling of defiled persons with the ashes of a heifer, sanctify for the purification of the flesh, 14how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God. (Heb. 9:13-14)

How is this possible? Because it was the plan altogether (see John 1:1-4; Col. 1:16-17; Heb 1:1-2).  During this time of the year we celebrate the plan that God wrought through His son.  We celebrate the plan that Jesus executed as he was executed.  No matter how you put it, the birth of Jesus points to the death of Jesus.  In the season of giving presents, decorating houses, drinking hot cocoa, eating fruit cake and kissing under mistletoe isn’t it much more meaningful (although I do like kissing under mistletoe) to recognize the Savior of the world?  Tim Keller, in a context of discussing reasons for the existence of God, reiterates the importance of Jesus coming to this world:

In the Christian view, however, the ultimate evidence for the existence of God is Jesus Christ himself.  If there is a God, we characters in his play have to hope that he put some information about himself in the play.  But Christians believe he did more than give us information.  He wrote himself into the play as the main character in history, when Jesus was born in a manger and rose from the dead.  He is the one with whom we have to do.[1]


[1] Tim Keller, The Reason for God, (New York: Riverhead Books, 2008): 128

One would think you could not see NYC in a weekend and I would say you are right my friend.  From the moment my plane touched down in La Guardia to the moment I returned in Nashville we were on the go.  The purpose of the trip was for me, my dad, my uncle and my cousin (who lives in NYC) to go to the Braves-Mets series at CITI Field.  However, we wanted to work in some tourist sites between games so we did as much as we could.  This post is simply a walk-through of what we did in NYC…the pictures are low-quality because it was with my phone.

First, this is the view from our hotel at Manhattan.  You can see the runway was packed with planes, 14 or so were in line.

Shortly after the hotel we left to go to CITI Field which is where the New York Mets play.  Below are some picture of our seats and the field itself.  It is really an amazing park which is a shame because the Mets are so terrible.

 After the game we decided to go to Time’s Square but that meant riding the MTA Subway.  It was an experience for sure and below are a couple of pictures that gives you the feel for the subway. 

On tthe nyc subway! Awesome

From the Subway we went to Time’s Square which was eye-opening in that there is so many different lights and billboard displays.  Whole buildings were digital displays and it was absolutely amazing. 

Time Square!!!!!

After walking around for a bit we went to a place called John’s Pizzeriawhich makes some of the most amazing pizza ever.  Visit the website for a full tour but below is a picture I took of the ceiling. 

John's Pizza in Times Square...what a ceiling

We went back to the hotel and the next day we set out to see some sites.  We saw the Rockefeller (the Rock) and walked to Central Park.  Below are some pictures of that excursion. 

Top of the Rock with a view of Central Park

After that we went to eat but before we got there I saw a lady from our church just be sheer happenstance waiting in line for Carnegie’s Deli who was up there the same time I was.  Who would have thought I would run into them in a city of 10-12 million people?  Amazing.  Anyways, we went to a deli just down from Carnegie on 7th called Stage Deli.  I had the best pastrami sandwich ever but it was a bonsai of a sandwich.  It was massive.  I learned a lot this weekend about life in the big Apple.  People are always busy and the city never sleeps.  I felt honored to graze in the same concrete fields as renown men of history like John Rockefeller, Andrew Carnegie and others.  Speaking of happenstance, while I was in Central Park I ran into the famous actor Ethan Hawke who was with his current wife and two children.  I knew who he was and he knew that I recognized him so I just talked to him and asked him how he was doing.  No autographs, no pictures, just a brief hello.  It was neat.  I would love to return someday and see more of the sites and even visit some churches on the way.  I hope you enjoyed following me as I sent pictures on Facebook and Twitter.  Have a good day and week friends!

Businessman Pouring Coffee into MouthThis week was the first week of my year-long journey to live without some things.  This week (as you can tell from the picture) I chose to start off slowly and live without caffeine.  Like most people, I live off of caffeine and it’s present everywhere I go.  In the morning when I go to the office the first thing I do is grab a few cups of coffee while I am studying.  Then if I go out to eat I usually will drink some diet coke with my meal and when I eat dinner at home I have sweet tea or something with caffeine.  This week was hard but not as bad as I thought.  I had a headache for two days straight but I was able to overcome that.  The biggest challenge for me was to retrain my thoughts into thinking about what I wanted to drink instead of grabbing a can of coke and downing it by second nature.  My body went through some physiological changes during the week: my heartburn went down; I was able to sleep better at night; I wasn’t as jittery during the day; I could focus more on my studies; waking up (paradoxically) was actually easier after the first couple of days; my teeth got a little whiter. 

Amazing.  Below are a few lessons I learned this week as I lived without caffeine…

  1. If change is going to occur you must be intentional about it.  We all like to talk a big game and say that we want to do things different and we are going to do it.  Many of us have been in church meetings where we had these great ideas and then a few months later we were left asking ourselves, “Well what ever happened to that idea?”  I had to be very specific in my lifestyle to make a difference in something I saw as worthwhile. 
  2. You never know how much you are dependent on something until you live without it.  Physiologically, my body was sending me signals that said it needed caffeine.  In a small infinitesimal way I experienced what many experience who smoke, drink or use drugs and then go through the process of quitting. 
  3. Change Hurts.  This whole process hurt for the first two days.  I did not like it and I was miserable.  The headache was so throbbing I could hardly function.   But… 
  4. Change Heals. That same process of hurting helped me to heal.  My body is probably better off (being diagnosed with ADHD) without caffeine.  I feel so much better without.  Will I never take a drink again?  Doubtful.  But this may be a permanent change.  Which leads me to….
  5. Be Perceptive of What God is Doing.  In my office I have 6 priorities that I hang all over the office.  Priority #6 is to “treat my body in a way that will allow me to be in God’s service for the maximum amount of time.”  2010 might be a wake up call and perhaps God is telling me that I am way too dependent on things I don’t need to be. 

Those are the five quick lessons.  I hope you gained some insight into this.  Stay tuned next week as I live without something else because it just might surprise you…

Blessed Be Your Name

October 7, 2009 — 2 Comments

Maybe you have gone through some depression.  Maybe you are divorced or just married.  Maybe you have so many decisions to make you just don’t know what to do.  Maybe someone really close to you has died.  Watch this video…it will help.  Have a blessed day! 


August 20, 2009 — Leave a comment

I am still on my “God is Great” kick and have been thinking a lot about my life here lately.  Yesterday I had the honor of speaking at the Concord Road church of Christ in Brentwood, TN.  I arrived early so I noticed (on my GPS) that there was a park nearby so I decided to investigate because I had some time to kill.  At the park there were some little league teams practicing baseball and I decided to sit down and watch them play.  My mind went back in time to the 11 years I played baseball and I thought about some of the best memories of my life.  I looked at how far God has brought me since my little league years.  I could never have imagined that I would grow up to be a Youth Minister with a wife and 3 kids.  When you are that young you just don’t think about what your future will be.  The closest I got was envisioning myself playing shortstop for the Atlanta Braves. I look at my life and wonder what it would be like if things happened differently.  No matter how I think about it I am still think about how far God has blessed me…especially in spite of me.  I had it all figured out when I was young enough to play baseball.  I would be a baseball player making millions of dollars everybody would know who I am.  Isn’t it funny how things change from year to year?  God put me exactly where I need to be and (on a daily basis) humbles me to where I need to be.  Just when I think I have everything figured out and that I am the best this or best that I find myself getting humbled.  God is great friends.  I guess I am so busy that I have failed to let the greatness of God permeate my life.  Maybe I have been helping others so much that I have failed to help myself.  God is great. 

I hope you see the greatness of God today and how some things just really do not matter.  For those of you who are confused about what your future may be know that you are loved and that God’s greatness cannot be surpassed by difficult things here on earth. 

Psalm 63:1 O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.

God is Great

August 18, 2009 — 3 Comments

One of the favorite parts of my day is to sit there and listen to my children pray.  “God is great, God is good, let us thank him for our food, In Jesus name, AMEN!”  Madelyn throws her arms up and pounds her seat and immediately says, “EAT!”  Amelia, by far, is our most animated person when it comes to wording prayer.  She smiles, and opens her mouth wide as she prays and draws out words to emphasize certain things.  “Goooooood is goooooood.  Gooooooooooood is greeeeeeeeeat!” 

God is good though.  That has been revealed to me more so in the last few months than ever.  I was sitting in the surgery waiting room today looking at people who are nervous and timid because their children are in the operating room.  Every now and then a lady would announce a family’s name as a nurse or a doctor would call them updating them on their child’s progress.  Words cannot accurately describe their facial expressions when they hear their name called.  It is a moment where they are not sure what happens.  Some brace themselves for the worse but an amazing feeling is when they get off the phone and you see that sigh of relief. 

Something else I saw was a whole group of men who came to be with a family whose child was going through surgery.  It just looked like such an effort to bear the burdens of the family and do or say what little they could.  I wonder how difficult it is to say that “God is great” in times of uncertainty and trouble.  You know those times when you feel like the world is stacked against you and there is nothing you can do or say.  “God is great!”  That’s what Amber’s mom said when I saw her after I saw Amber.  With tears in her eyes she looked at me and said, “Robbie, God is great!”  When Abby and I were with Amber while she was waking up Amber mumbled to me, “Don’t leave me….don’t go!”  I held her hand and leaned over and kissed her on the cheek and with tears in my eyes I thought to myself, “God is great!”

I am not sure what you are going through right now….maybe it is immense pain.  Maybe the cards are stacked against you and everyone could care less what you believe or say.  “God is great!”  Maybe you have had some experiences that have put you into questioning things in your life, “God is great!”  Maybe people have failed you and they have stabbed you in the back, “God is great!”  Maybe you are doing well and have no reason to complain, “God is great!”  Be blessed today and pray to God thanking him for all his blessings. 

Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me,
   for in you my soul takes refuge;
in the shadow of your wings I will take refuge,
    till the storms of destruction pass by. (Psalm 57:1)