Tag Archives: reflection

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!

 

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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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?