Tag Archives: believe

My Hero: My Journey Through Psalms (71-72)

From the time that I was a little girl, I have always loved hero stories. Even now, these are my favorite stories to teach. A hero receives a call to adventure, grabs a couple of friends, departs for an unknown world, manages the trials and crises,  and then returns home, triumphant with a prize that regales the people with his bravery and heroism. In fact, my fondest memories are centered around watching a show or movie about a hero and then acting out the roles with my BFFs. First, it was the Ninja Turtles, then Power Rangers and Captain Planet, but I rarely wanted to be THE hero. Typically, I chose the ‘weakest’ hero or even the ‘damsel in distress’. My favorite  thing was pretending I needed to be rescued–and then feeling a RUSH when I was–even if it was only from make-believe monsters and villains.

As a child, it was easy for me to embrace the weaknesses and recognize that heroes should be greater than I.

As an adult, well, it’s a lesson I still have to learn sometimes…okay, a lot of times…okay, daily.

In Psalm 71, David is quick to recognize his own weaknesses: “Rescue me and deliver me into your righteousness,” he calls. And then, “turn your ear and save me.” The poet cries out. Because heroes must receive a call to action for the adventure to begin, and it is only through the adventure that rescuing can occur. As a child, I thrilled in my voice echoing through the neighborhood, signaling to my ‘hero’ I needed help, but today I often let my pride overcome that inner desire for a hero to rescue me. And I remain silent.

It is in that silence that I am bound and captive. 

My hero wants to save me. He keeps the lines open and his ears tuned in…waiting…but I do not call.

And without that call, my hero’s Status Quo remains stagnant. No growth can happen unless my hero and I take that adventure head on.

My enemy seizes this opportunity–thrilled to strike while I am still bound. They say, “God has forsaken him [or her]; pursue him [or her] for no one will rescue him [or her]” (v. 11).

Because you simply cannot be rescued if you don’t call for help. Even David, a mighty and brave warrior recognized this: “For he will deliver the needy who cry out, the afflicted who have no one to help […] and save the needy from death”(72:12-13)

And so I dig deep, searching for the little girl I once was. The girl who thrilled to be rescued, who realized that only when you are weak and vulnerable will your hero come and save you. Because the proud and strong don’t see the need for a hero. They shut him out and claim “I’m okay” and “I can do it myself”.

But I can’t.

The weaker I become, the stronger I must lean on the original hero.

Really, the only hero.

My hero.

My God.

Because my God “will endure as long as the sun, as long as the moon and through all the generations” (72:5), which is what all heroes aim to achieve, but only the ultimate hero can, and will, achieve!

 

Invite God in. Then, see Blessings: My journey through Psalms 67-68

Tone matters.

I say this to my students on a fairly regular basis. Because as any parent knows, it’s often not WHAT you say but HOW you say it.

What.

That one word can convey a variety of different meanings based on tone.

What? [she asks, brows raised into the wrinkles of her forehead]

What. [he rolled his eyes and turned away]

What! [the hard edge to her tone carried all the impatience of a 36 hour shift]

Tone matters.

In Psalm 67-68 I see how tone matters

May God be gracious to us and bless us-and make his face shine upon us

THAT your ways may be known on earth, your salvation among the nations. 

These verses begin in third person as a plea, but end in second person as a breath of thankfulness.

Bless us God, not for our sake, but for the glory of your kingdom.

And there is a difference.

Blessings for the self are often pleas for materialism. But that is not what the psalmist is after. He is offering his blessings back to the Lord even BEFORE he gets them.

To the Western mind, or even human mind, this is baffling. Why would you praise someone for something they haven’t even given to you? Isn’t that a little presumptuous? You are just assuming that your answer will be yes, right?

Well, kind of. And I don’t think that is as presumptuous as it is faithful. You send invites to people because you EXPECT them to show up, right? I mean, it’s possible that they won’t, but if the expectation is for them to attend your party, then you invite them in. God is the same way. It’s hard to see God move if you continually treat him like your imaginary friend, praying to him JUST IN CASE he is real. Instead, when we pray as though we EXPECT him to move, He feels more INVITED to do so and suddenly we can really feel him move in our lives.

Expectation is invitation, as my pastor is fond of saying.

Tone matters.

May he peoples praise you, O God; may all the peoples praise you. THEN the land will yield it’s harvest (67:7-8)

Praise equals harvest; not harvest equals praise.

But often we wait for the blessings before we invite God to the party. How rude! That’s like sending a wedding invitation to someone you don’t like just so you can get more presents. No. Just no. We invite God to the party and then He showers us with his love and blessing in his own way. Seeing is not believing, believing is SEEING.

God is a father to the fatherless, a defender of widows [and perpetually single women] … he sets the lonely in families. (68:5a; 6a).

He gives hope, love and blessings to the lonely, but only if we invite him in.

 

Forgetting our Fears Psalm 24-26

My niece is very profound. The other day she was talking to her mom and spouted some profound theology.

“So Mom, I was thinking about what you read about people wanting to stay in darkness and I thought why would they want to do that? Then I thought about how when you first wake up and the light hurts your eyes. I think they are scared to go because it hurts a little. We have to help them see that the light is better after you get used to it.”

Bailey is only six years old, but she understands human nature better than some people who have PhDs in psychology. In the end it all boils down to giving in to our fears or overcoming them with righteous and divine guidance

The Earth is the Lord’s and everything in it, the world and all who live in it. For He founded it on the seas and established it on the waters. Psalm 24:1

There is a reason why the most common command in the Bible is “FEAR NOT”. We often allow our fears to keep us from becoming our GENUINE selves.

Guard my life and rescue me, do not let me be put to shame, for I take refuge in you. Psalm 25:20

Unfortunately tough we may forget form time to time, life isn’t about us. We live in a narcissistic, self-promoting society, but that’s not who we are made to be and it’s amazing how many of our fears would melt into obscurity if we would deny ourselves and focus on what we were truly created to become.

My feet stand on level ground, in the great congregation I will praise the LORD. Psalm 26:2

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Preparing our Own Tables: My Journey through Psalms (23)

Our pastor did a sermon on Psalm 23 a few weeks ago and he said something that I’ve been really turning over in my mind ever since.

“The hallmark of the human race is that we prepare a table for ourselves.”

There is truth in that comment, more than I’d like to admit, but even more than truth there is a valuable lesson.

Psalm 23 is familiar–especially if you grew up in church. So familiar you may even take it for granted, roll your eyes a little and say ‘oh that one. Its for little kids to say in Sunday school or at bed time. It’s not for me. I’m learning about Levitical law now because I’m a grown up.”

I have nothing against Levitical law, but there is definitely more to Psalm 23 than a bedtime prayer. Like when you grow up and realize “Ring Around the Rosies” is actually about Bubonic Plague. There is MORE to it. Words are Powerful, so God’s WORD will ALWAYS have something more to say.

And here is where my insight begins.

Psalm 23 has awesome verbage.

He MAKES me…
He LEADS me…

He REFRESHES my…

He GUIDES me…

I am not meant to do the hard work here. The only action verb really attribute to me is “walk”, “not fear” and “dwell”–far less controlling than the action on the part of the Lord.

You PREPARE…

You ANOINT…

We want so badly to be in control of our own lives. To what end? For comfort? For protection?

How ironic. We want control for the same things relinquishing control to God will give us.

And if you think about it. I mean truly think about it. Who is better equipped to prepare a table before your enemies anyway? The creator of the universe…or you?

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Quit Fighting Battles that Aren’t Yours to Fight: Psalms 13-14

Psalm 13-14
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How long will I wrestle with my thoughts?
I’ve always been my own worst enemy. Cliché, I know, but it’s true. Perhaps that is why I don’t like conflict with other people, because I have enough in my own mind that having it outside my head is just too overwhelming.
Each day we wake up to a spiritual battle field, an unseen war waging all around us. Some people are more in tune with it than others, and the only hope we have in in the triumph of God.
Last night I had a dream. It was so vivid I woke up, gasping at the reality of the imagery. I don’t think the dream is coming true, but there is prodigious truth in dreams regardless of their ‘coming true’ or not. I was swimming in a pool with a little girl, and it didn’t occur to me until after I woke up that this little girl looked remarkably like me as a child. Adult me and child me swimming together. Child me squealing in delight, adult me cautiously watching; ensuring that child me doesn’t drown. And then I look up. In the sky a rocket has just launched into space, but something went wrong and instead of heading into space, it’s heading straight for our pool.
Yes, I recognize the randomness of a rocket heading for a pool with two people swimming in it, but I step back from the literal and begin to think about it on other levels too. I don’t dare begin to interpret it, but just to think about how I reacted in the dream. I watched as this rocket came straight toward us, and I could have screamed, run, cried, or even cursed. I could have woken up. I didn’t do any of these things. I stared as the rocket came closer and thought, hm, this is not how I imagined meeting Jesus. Then I closed my eyes, grabbed the little girl and hugged her tight, and waited praying a simple prayer of: hold us in your arms, Jesus.
I don’t pretend like this is how I might actually act in this situation, but when I did wake up upon impact, I stared into the darkness of my bedroom and adjusted to the reality that I wasn’t actually dead.
I have spent most of my life wanting other people to accept me, seeking validation in what the world says I have to be or who I have to appear to be, but it is exhausting. I’ve spent this week rehashing through some wounds, curses, and influences and I’m ready to be free.
In Psalm 13, the author asks “How long will my enemy triumph over me?” and I realize that my own worst enemy is, well, me. How long will I let this war wage in me? When will I just grab my inner child, hold her to me, pray that simple prayer and let God have full control?
While Psalm 13 ends with trust, Psalm 14 starts with fools–The fool says in his heart there is no God. This juxtaposition shows the consequences of continuing in your foolish ways and not learning from the lessons God teaches.

The Lord looks down from heaven on the sons of men to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God. I don’t want him to find me wanting. I want him to be well pleased.


Questions to ponder:
1) What battles are you fighting that you can give over to the Lord?
2) How can you teach the lessons you have learned from God to the next generation?
3) Why is giving over control so hard?