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Changing Desires: Psalm 37

Delight yourself in the Lord and HE will give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:4 http---www.pixteller.com-pdata-t-l-485577

I’ve heard, read, and taken a lot of hope from these verses over the years, but this summer is the first time I really started to understand what it would look like to truly RECEIVE the desires of my heart. Especially if the desires of my heart weren’t…exactly…what I thought…the desires of my heart….were.

God knows what I truly want even more than I do.

God knows me better than I know myself.

That’s hard to admit.

I want to believe I know myself. I want to believe I am in control of myself. I want to believe that at 31 I am the kind of person who is fully comfortable in her own skin, and then I stop to think…do I really know myself?

I say something like “I would never  do that, say that, be that.” And then this thing called life happens. Emotion happens. And I do that. I say that. I am that. And I wonder…what got into me? How could I have done those things when I thought I would never, ever do it? What got into me? But it wasn’t necessarily what got into me, but something that was already there just waiting to come out under the right circumstance. A ‘me’ that I didn’t know at all.

Because even though I think I know myself, I don’t. So what I think I want, what I think is best for me, really may not be in my best interest at all. God knows what I truly desire even before I understand it and what will make me soul happy. Really, truly deep down soul happy. But until I truly start communing with God on a regular basis and developing our relationship so that I am SICK in love with HIM our two understandings will not match up. WHEN THEY DO, that’s when he will give me the desires of my heart—because the desires of my heart will BE in LINE with WHO HE IS.

This hit me like a two by four falling from the sky while I was having my much needed alone introvert refreshes in Slovakia.

I was outside watching the Slovak and Americans play Ultimate Frisbee and they were laughing and high fiving and calling out to each other in English and Slovak, communicating in ways that overcame language barriers and reached down into a deeper connection. That connection that people make when they realize that eternity can’t separate the because they are bonded by an agape love that surpasses anything we can comprehend here on Earth. I was sitting on a bench, watching this unfold and God showed me that my heart desires had changed on a soul level. What I though I always wanted, wasn’t what I wanted any longer.

His desires for me became my desires for me.

Now these are my heart desires, so as much as I love ya’ll I’m not going into detail on this blog, but this moment was powerful. I knew that God was showing me something important, but also that timing wasn’t quite right yet, because the rest of the psalm is clear too–

Desires are not granted like wishes from a genie. You must WAIT, BE STILL, and TRUST in the Lord.

Because delighting ourselves in the Lord, interestingly, becomes one of the desires of our heart the longer we do it! And we fulfill this promise just by obeying his commands. And to me…well, that’s pretty cool.

Get Naked: Psalm 32-33

In America we thrive on choice.

We have the right to choose what clothes to wear, where to go to school, who to date, who not to date, and even what laundry detergent to use. But when it comes down to making the choice to live life intentionally and without secrets. To live a full and abundant life. To live the way we were actually created to live, we tend to make some pretty terrible choices.

Living in darkness seems easier.

I’ve been watching Netflix for three hours. The sun has gone down. It’s easier to sit in the dark than to walk less than three feet to the light.

But it’s this darkness that enslaves us. We hide out, burying hurts, sins, and shames in the dark places of our hearts.

Because it seems easier.

But is it?

Our God, our father, Abba, Love itself, knows what we’ve done already, so what do we really gain by trying to hide out? Let’s go back to the garden of Eden for a minute–that first sin; Eve and Adam were told what not to do, so of course being rebellious humans they did exactly that. But instead of confessing to one another and to God what they had done was wrong, they tried to hide it. Genesis 3:8 says that they heard the sound of God walking in the garden in the cool of the day so they hid among the trees. Of course this was after they’d tried to hide themselves with fig leaves in Genesis 3:7. Which is exactly how we try to hide and cover things up. We start with the surface. We paste a wooden smile on our face and when someone asks ‘how are you’? Our first response is always the same.

Fine.

No matter how NOT fine you are. You’re fine.

Maybe your best friend has just betrayed you. Maybe your dog is sick and you worry about her. Maybe your family is falling apart.

And still, you’re fine.

Because you’ve covered yourself with fig leaves.

I am the worst at this. For some reason when people ask me how I am I want to immediately say fine, even when I am far from fine. Partly to hide. Partly because I hate being the center of attention and partly because I feel so incredibly weak when I admit that I can’t handle things on my own. Right now, I’m dealing with about 5 different stressful situations all coming from different directions: work, family, personal, financial, etc. Some days I really am fine. Some days I’m not. But when anyone asks, I don’t really want to talk to them. It feels like a burden to share these things with people. But I’ve learned, especially in the past few weeks that sharing things with people, communicating, is really the only way to make it through certain situations. Because when you don’t have someone to weather the storm with, you get beat to a pulp. And getting struck by lightening is just really not great. I’ve got the split ends to prove it.

No one wants to be naked in front of others. There is a vulnerability that comes from that kind of exposure.

And so, you’re fine.

But most of us won’t just stop with surface hiding. We go deeper. We hide among the trees, especially if something in our life is not quite up to what our community might deem as ‘right’ or ‘good’. So when a friend comes walking toward us, in the cool of the day when we are supposed to be relaxing, maybe with a glass of wine on the back porch. Instead of listening to the cicadas, we recoil and hide. We miss opportunities to connect with people and feel love because we are hiding.

Our sin, our shame grows heavy. Our isolation may grow familiar, but it chokes us. It saps our strength. “When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer,” Psalm 32:3-4 laments. And if you’ve spent even five minutes in South Carolina during the summer…you know how quickly your strength can be sapped in the humid heat of summer. And we CHOOSE to live our life in this depleted state, all because we are too proud to admit that we need help.

That we need people.

That we need God.

Because unfortunately our lives have deadlines. So we can live in this eternal state of isolation and pain or we can set ourselves free as the Psalm suggests in 35:6: “Therefore let everyone who is godly pray to you while you may be found; surely when might waters rise they will not reach him.” Being with others, being with God offers protection and provides a place to hide and rest–: “for YOU are my hiding place!”

Darkness seems easier, but it’s exhausting. When things come into the light, that’s where true healing comes from. We choose God, but he also chooses us. And there is really no better choice to make than that.


“Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD, the people he chose for his inheritance,” Psalm 33:12.


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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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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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