Tag Archives: inspiration

Strongholds: Psalm 27-28; 30-31 (My journey through Psalms)

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Many of us struggle with different strongholds in our lives–sometimes we don’t even realize they’ve become a stronghold until something rather significant knocks us on our rear-end and we’re left staring up at the sky wondering what happened. When all along, it wasn’t what happened at that moment, but what had been festering inside us all along, growing stronger. Something we simply chose not to deal with, or thought we could ignore, or believed wasn’t a big deal. Or worse, thought we could handle on our own.

But strongholds are, in fact, strongholds because we CAN’T handle them on our own and until we hand them over to Jesus and make him the ONLY stronghold in our life (Psalm 27:1), we’ll continue to lay on our backside staring at the sky and wondering.

So why do we hold on to strongholds like bitterness, pride, fear, anger, lust, all these things that bring so much pain?

I think it’s because despite the pain, it has become comfortable. Letting go is scary. It’s like in an action-adventure movie where the hero and heroine are hanging off of some kind of cliff or something and swinging back and forth. You can tell at any moment the hero is going to lose his grip and drop the woman into the pit, but then he says ‘do you trust me’? and the woman is sitting there, hanging over that pit thinking ‘dude, I just met you, why on Earth do you think I would trust you?’ But she really doesn’t have any choice. And in that moment she knows he is going to let her go and she has to decide if she trusts him enough to let go or if she wants to hang on–in pain, but where she still feels the comfort of being held.

Inevitably, when the hero lets her go, she falls to some safe little nook. Like it was made just for her in this time of crisis, but if she had held on she might have fallen straight into the pit.

Our strongholds are the same way. We want to hang on because it seems like that is safe. It’s what we know, but if we keep holding on we’re going to fall into the pit. If we let go and let God drop us into a nook of grace, that’s where true grace begins to change and envelop us.

That is not to say that Christians don’t struggle with strongholds. Believe me, they do. And sometimes they’re holding on just as tight as the next guy. BUT the difference is the ultimate STRONGHOLD is there to BREAK the defenses of these other things (Psalm 28:1). And even if we do fall into the pit, he is there to pull us back out again. Because he is always willing to redeem us. It’s all a part of his infinite mercy and grace.

So, do you trust him? Then LET GO!

 

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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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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Healthy Respect: my journey through Psalms (9)

Psalm 9
Sometimes the world worries me. I read the news, I listen to political debates, and I shudder to think what will happen next. What could happen next? How far can we really fall as a nation? As a people?
And then I read something like Psalm 9. Verse 15 states that the nations fall into the pit they have dug. And sure enough, many of the problems in our world are a direct result of problems we created ourselves. We fall into the pit of our own iniquities. Instead of trying to right a wrong, we try to look out for the bottom line, or material productiveness. We don’t ask how can I make things better, we ask how can I profit from this. It is a direct result of this narcissism that has led to an unraveling of our egotistical minds.
When the psalmist declares in the end ‘strike them with terror, Lord; let the nations know they are only mortal’. I close my eyes and breathe deep. That is a terrible price the nations must pay to learn that we are not gods, but a part of the creation. And every time an earthquake, tsunami, or other natural disaster occurs striking down millions, we are reminded of our mortality–not that it is God striking fear into the world, but it is a stark reminder that we do not control everything ergo we should stop pretending that we can or even that we should.
A healthy respect for the world, for God and for each other is the only way we will ever really achieve any kind of peace on earth. And unfortunately, many are unwilling to do even one of these three things, let alone all three.
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Questions to ponder:
1) Do I have a healthy respect for the world, its guidelines and rules and my role in it?
2) Do I give thanks to God regularly for his presence, wisdom, guidance, and protection in the world?
3) Do I have a healthy respect for ALL people in the world and their roles in it?