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Paul Hayden

What You Say Everyday

August 8, 2022

As I travel the globe speaking at churches and leadership conferences, every once and a while, I meet someone special who brings refreshment, a beyond-the-borders approach to Christianity, and profound but straightforward wisdom. 

Such was the case when I met Jimmy Lim in Singapore in 1999. He is a character that has godly character. I've visited Singapore over 40 times and always make it a point to call Jimmy and Christine Lim. There's no place like Singapore. I've been to most of those places you've seen in the movie Crazy Rich Asians. 

When you enter Jimmy's three-story house in Singapore, you can't help but notice his four pet parrots. Christine, Jimmy’s wife, and Jimmy teach their parrots Bible verses and sayings. As I was having breakfast one morning, Jessie, their Yellow Amazon parrot, said in a perfect Singlish accent, "for da Bibo tell me so.” I started to laugh. The parrots know perfect Singapore English which I will use for Jimmy’s dialogue.   

One evening at 11:00 PM, Jimmy came home, and one of his parrots started squawking loudly, "hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah!" At first, Jimmy tried to calm the parrot down. “Be quiet – you wake neighbah’s – quiet!”  

As Jimmy recalls this incident, he gives me the intense Jimmy look and says: “Then I rememba Bibo verse – Let everything tha has breath, praise da Lowd!" Jimmy continues, “Then I say to parrot – OK – I cannot stop you – you have breath - you must praise da Lowd.” All I could do was smile and think, Jimmy's right; that parrot must praise the Lord. Simple, profound, trusting, believing, just what the Lord wants.

I resonate with the verse Jimmy quoted. “Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.” There are songs about this verse. Psalm 34:1 says, “His praise shall continually be in my mouth.” 

Notice the connection with the words 'breath' and 'mouth.' There's a story 'behind the story' that will blow your mind if you are open to it. I found it in the music group, 2nd Chapter of Acts' Facebook page. Read what Sandra Thurman Caporale, from the Memorial Church of Christ in Houston, wrote about letting everything that has breath praise the Lord. 

"There was a moment when Moses had the nerve to ask God what his name is. God was gracious enough to answer, and the name he gave is recorded in the original Hebrew as YHWH. Over time we've arbitrarily added an "a" and an "e" to get YaHWeH, presumably because we prefer vowels. 

But scholars and Rabbis' have noted that the letters YHWH represent breathing sounds or aspirated consonants. When pronounced without intervening vowels, it sounds like breathing. First, we YH (inhale). Then we WH (exhale). 

So, a baby's first cry, their first breath, speak God's name. Or a deep sigh calls His name or a groan or gasp too heavy for mere words. Even atheists or agnostics say His name, unaware that their very breath is giving constant acknowledgment to God. Likewise, a person leaves this earth with their last breath when God's name no longer fills their lungs. 

So, when I can't utter anything else, is my cry calling out His name? When you are breathing, you are speaking His name constantly. So, is it heard the loudest when I'm the quietest? In sadness, we breathe heavy sighs. In joy, our lungs feel almost like they will burst. In fear, we hold our breath and be told to breathe slowly to help us calm down. When we're about to do something hard, we take a deep breath to find our courage. When I think about it, breathing gives him praise, even in the most challenging moments. 

This reality is beautiful and fills me with emotion whenever I grasp the thought. God chose to give himself a name that we can't help but speak every moment we're alive. All of us, always, everywhere. Waking, sleeping, breathing, with the name of God on our lips."

If you don’t know what YHWH or Yahweh means, here's your definition. YHWH is a proper name (like Peter or John) built out of the word meaning “I Am," reminding us that God absolutely is. It has an implied sacredness attached to it.

YHWH reminds me of the creation of humankind in the Bible in Genesis 1:7parts. “Then the Lord God formed Adam…and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and Adam became a living being." So, I don't think it is a coincidence in John 20:21-22 when the risen Jesus says to his surprised and ecstatic disciples, “…as the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” And when He had said this, He breathed on them and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit."    

You can praise God too little, but you can never praise him too much. So, the psalmist David writes, "From the rising of the sun to its going down, the Lord's name is to be praised." Psalm 113:3.  

Here’s your takeaway. The more you focus on problems, the more problems will focus on you. When you are overwhelmed by difficulties, praising God is the last thing you feel like doing. But it's the first thing you should do. Praise gets your attention off yourself and onto YHWH.

Consider this. You might as well praise the Lord. You're already doing it anyway. And all the parrots say, “hallelujah.”

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Ed Delph is a leader in church-community connections.
Visit Ed Delph's website at www.nationstrategy.com