Tag Archives: Christian

Not Defeated: my journey through Psalms (18)

He reached down from on high and took hold of me; he drew me out of deep waters. Psalm 18:16 He brought me out into a spacious place; He rescued me because he delighted in me. Psalm 18: 19

Sometimes I feel defeated. So defeated. Like nothing I do can be right and everything I’ve ever done is wrong. And I know that is stupid. I’ve been very successful in my life. I’ve triumphed when I should have failed. I’ve succeeded when I should have been crushed. But those days when I feel crushed, those successes just seem so. far. away.

I used to wonder about the Psalmists who seem so bipolar praising God and then despairing all in the same stanza. I don’t wonder about that any more because it feels all too real as the struggle for purpose and success becomes a daily battle in adulthood.

This morning as I sit on my porch, listening to music and the birds sing, I watch my dog wander around and I just bask in the glory of God’s creation. I, like the psalmist, remind myself that God delights in me. And that is beautiful. Because even when I feel defeated–I’m not. I always have Someone fighting for me and in me for the best possible outcome. And what is more beautiful than that.

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Stop Chasing Other Gods: My journey through Psalms (16-17)

Psalm 16-17

Those who run after other gods will suffer more and more (16:4a)

This election season has truly disgusted me. Let’s not even discuss the morality or immorality or qualifications of the candidates, but focus solely on the reactions and inaction of the people for a moment.

When the primary was held in my state, I really struggled with a moral dilemma. Do I vote for anyone or no one at all? Technically I am registered independent. Does that mean that I have no responsibility in the primary and therefore have no guilt if I don’t vote? I lost sleep over this decision, and it was only a primary. Because the fact of the matter is, I don’t know what to do. I try to make very informed decisions, but every time I begin to research a candidate—headlines like this arise:

“Anti-Trumpers Beat Trump Supporters”

“Trump Supporters Brutally Assaulted”

“Pro-Cruz Supporter Loses it on Live Show”

“Trump Blast Protestors as ‘thugs and criminals’”

“No, Hillary Clinton Did Not Commit a Crime”

“Sanders Asks for Extension on Financial Disclosure Forms”

And that is just to name a few. It’s disheartening, disillusioning, and disappointing.

But this is not a political soapbox, and I am not taking a stand for or against a particular party, issue or candidate. The fact of the matter is simple: “Those who run after other gods will suffer more and more.”

For years our country has been elevating other gods.

Money.

Consumerism.

Greed.

Power.

Lust.

All of these things have taken priority in our culture. So much so that they have ceased to become red flags in even the most moral of our senses. They’ve become common place jokes. Oh, we exclaim, of course he’s corrupt. He’s a politician.

How disgusting.

We’ve all run after these other gods. Over and over and over again. To one degree or another they’ve embedded themselves as a part of American society. A new Babylon. And it is time to pay the piper.

Unless we begin to lay boundary lines in pleasant places, we will not receive a delightful inheritance. We will suffer. The problem is not immigration. The problem is not guns. The problem is not the environment or fracking or even education.

The problem is in our hearts. When we run after other gods. We. Will. Suffer.

As for me, I still don’t rightly know what is ahead of me in the upcoming political field, but I do know that “I keep my eyes always on the Lord. With him at my right I will not be shaken. […] You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presences, with eternal pleasure at your right hand” (16:8;11). Even in the midst of a collapsing empire, you will “hide me in the shadows of your wings” (17:8b). 


Questions to Ponder

1) How do we keep ourselves from falling into the trap of serving other gods in a culture that encourages this behavior?

2) How does American culture suffer as a result of chasing after these gods?

3) What would change in our society if we shifted our focus off these gods?

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Dwelling on the Holy Mountain: My journey thorough Psalms (15)

Psalm 15

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Lord, who may dwell in your sacred tent?

Great question, probably the single most asked question of children and adults aside from ‘is God real’, ‘how do you know if you will go to heaven when you die’? Well, this list is sums it up.

  • Your walk must be blameless
  • You must be righteous
  • You must speak truth from your heart
  • Your tongue must speak truth
  • You must treat your neighbors right
  • You must respect others, honor those who fear the Lord and despise the vile
  • You must keep your promises even when it hurts
  • You must not be two faced
  • You must give money to the poor without interest
  • You must not accept bribes

That’s quite a daunting list. Frankly, keeping them all—all the time, seems impossible. Because though I like to think of myself as an honest person, I can’t say that my tongue speaks truth all the time and I’m certainly not 100% blameless. So it’s hopeless.

Not exactly. There are two things I think might be misinterpreted in this psalm by many and most.

First, I don’t think ‘dwelling in the sacred tent’ actually means heaven.  And second, of course we can’t do any of these things on our own, but with Jesus and repentance. Well, that’s when the impossible always becomes possible.

This is my personal theology speaking here, but dwelling in the sacred place and on the holy mountain with God seems metaphoric with being in God’s holy presence—which prior to the blood sacrifice of Jesus Christ required ritualistic cleansing. But like any relationship, if there is some kind of conflict, it will set up a barrier between the two parties. In this case, God and you. God doesn’t kick you out or leave—but you do. You’ve made a conscious decision to step away from what you know is right and godly, thereby stepping away from the holy mountain.

Fortunately, there is Jesus. Because of God’s infinite mercy, we are able to come back to the holy mountain and re-enter the sacred tent and commune with him through repentance because of our acceptance of a relationship with his Son, Jesus. This forgiveness resets our tables and since we are wiped clean, we are able to claim each of these bullets once more.

But it’s a process—relationships are dynamic and as they grow and change we must constantly grow and change with them. Even though it may be a one and done acceptance and saving grace, we won’t ever experience the true presence of God here on Earth if we aren’t keeping our life in spiritual order through this process of cleansing and resetting the table to claim these bullet points. It’s the only way to live on the holy mountain. And how great is it that we get to do that now, rather than waiting till after death?

No one said it would be easy, but nothing worth having ever is.


Questions to ponder:

1) Have I accepted Jesus as my savior so that I can live with God on the holy mountain?

2) Is there anything on this bulleted list (remember the bulleted list is broad on purpose, think about what it could mean specific to your life) that I need to deal with so I can step back into the holy tent?

3) Why is it better to live in God’s presence now rather than thinking I should wait till I get to heaven?

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?

Standing Strong: My Journey through Psalms (11-12)

Psalm 11-12

Help, Lord, for the godly are no more.(12:1)
The wicked freely strut about when what is vile is honored among men. (12:8)

Looking at the bookends of Psalm 12 is like spitting out the attitude I’ve had for a lot of my life. I look around at this fallen and broken world and instead of feeling hope, I feel despair. Where are the redeemed? It seems every time I hear of one good thing a human does I hear a dozen more terrible things humans do to destroy one another. And I know that much of that is perception, and much of it is the enemy playing on my fears and doubts. The media sensationalizes the worst of humanity (fair and balanced hasn’t truly described any media outlet, maybe ever, but certainly not in the past 20 years). The other day I was watching the news and after much of the gruesome, they showed a YouTube video of a puppy and a bunny doing something cute, which I guess was supposed to be comic relief–but when did we begin living in a play where comic relief is fed to us in between the drastic bits of life? Not to balance out what we see in humanity, but just to soften the perception of reality; in a way to desensitize us to the seriousness of the vile among men.
But that’s not the worst of it.
Since when do we heroize villains and honor them?

I’m not against all secular television, don’t get me wrong, but some of what we call ‘entertainment’ is really frightening. And vile. And it is honored among men.
The thing is, God hasn’t changed since the beginning of time (I think the fact that this applies to our time every bit as much as it did to Davidic times proves that), and he doesn’t appreciate these things. And I know what happens when the vile are honored–God withdraws his protection and his people are scattered. Which is why it is important to draw closer and closer to him each and ever day.
Psalm 11 offers that hope, and provides a warning.

In the Lord I take refuge. (11:1a)

Because there is no one else who can provide shelter from the current or future storm.

How then can you say to me: Flee like a bird to your mountain? (11:1b)

The Psalmist takes a stand, he doesn’t flee. He doesn’t run into his local church and stay there, barricading the doors against the evils of the world. He takes refuge in the world, takes a stand and let’s the arrows fly around him. That is a beautiful image and one I feel is important for me to hold onto. Escapism, whatever form it takes, is awfully tempting. Running seems like a good idea. Sheltering yourself from the evils, sure that might work.


But if all God’s people flee, who will stand against the enemy?


Romans tells us we are MORE THAN conquerors through Him who loved us. MORE THAN, beyond. It is our duty and our right to fight for the Lord’s presence even in times of honor the vile. (Romans 8:35-39)

For the Lord is righteous, he loves justice. Upright men will see his face. (11:7)

And that’s the only promise I need to hold on to.


Questions to Ponder:

  1. What vile things do I need to take a stand against in my life?
  2. How do I continue to stand up for God without alienating myself from the world?
  3. How can I remember to take refuge in God rather than fleeing like a bird? l-373970