Tag Archives: reflection

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. Clich√©, 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

Hubris: My Journey through Psalms (10)

Psalm 10

Hubris, the greatest flaw of every hero be it tragic, epic, or romantic, throughout literature and history excessive pride always goes before the fall of almost every man or nation.

Which begs the question: why do we still allow ourselves to be puffed up with egos the size of the Chrysler building?
Because it feels good. It feels right. It is our natural inclination.

But it is also our natural inclination to sin, so just because it feels good and feels right, doesn’t mean it is what is good and right for our benefit or for God’s glory.

In his pride the wicked man does not seek him [the Lord]; in all his thoughts there is no room for God. His ways are prosperous; your laws are rejected by him; he sneers at all his enemies. He says to himself, ” Nothing will ever shake me.” He swears, “Now one will ever do me harm.” His mouth is full of lies and threats. trouble and evil are under his tongue. […] He says to himself, “God will never notice; he covers his face and never sees.” Psalm 10: 4-7;¬† 11
They say pride goes before a fall. True. But pride also separates us from the Lord, because when we puff ourselves up, we push out all the other things in our lives that used to have priority. The Lord is the first to go, because he is supposed to have first priority, now we do. Then our family, friends, and the things we used to love to make time for. Slowly our identity shifts and we barely recognize ourselves–though we still physically may be the same person we’ve been consumed by greed and pride and become a vile creature, unacceptable to God and to the people who once were so important in our lives.

Excessive pride isolates, changes and extorts from us the value and peace of our purposeful lives. And it doesn’t look pretty in the end.



Macbeth had his head cut off.
Oedipus scratched his own eyes out.
Arthur’s brains oozed from his head.
Beowulf was killed by a dragon.
Nebuchadnezzar wandered for over 5 years (7? 8?), insane in the desert.


All because of pride.

If nothing else, Psalm 10 teaches us to take a look at our own lives and see where the excessive pride is and eliminate it. Have we been struggling with a problem that we need help with but are too stubborn to ask for guidance on? Do we need to confess something to a life group, partner, or friend? Have we built up a personal empire and rely on that wealth to protect us rather than God? Do we put more faith in something other than God to sustain us? Where is the pride in our lives?

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Questions to ponder:
It’s not a matter of if I have excessive pride but where is the excessive pride in my life?
Who can be an accountability partner to help eliminate and guard against the pride taking over my life?
Why is it important to continually guard against pride (especially in the first world)?

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?

Regret to Repent: My journey through Psalms (6)

Psalm 6

The other day I was babysitting my nieces. My eldest niece is eight going on thirteen and so when we were sitting down to eat dinner, she was in quite a sassy mood. In her attempt to assert some kind of rebellious authority after having been told no, she reached over and tried to jerk something out of my hand. Well, you can imagine how well that went over. She was in trouble now, and she knew it. Out came the water works, but you see. I’ve been the queen of water works since I was three, so that didn’t work on me. Off to your room, I said, you can finish your dinner when you’re ready to act like a decent human again.

The big guns came out then. There was foot stomping and hands on hips now and for a moment I thought she was going to tell me no. Straight to my face. Until I said the magic words.

Do you really think your mother and father aren’t going to hear about this little fit?

Instant silence. Rebuked and shamed now, she begrudgingly trudged to her room.

Later, worn out from her fit, she put a card in my hand that read ‘I’m sorry, Aunt Ashley’ and she whispered, “Please don’t tell Mom and Dad.”

The fact is we all mess up and feel regret–especially when we feel like what we have done is going to be found out (as clearly seen in Psalm 6), but it is the Lord’s unfailing love that allows us to heal when we come to Him with our sorrow and repentance. Because the Lord accepts our prayers readily and forgives our transgressions even mores readily than an Aunt who forgives a niece for a temper tantrum of epic proportions.

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Questions:

1. What am I afraid of admitting to God and others?
2. How does my openness with God shame my enemies and free my soul?
3. What are the rewards of repentance?