Psalm 4

The idea of these little devotionals is simple. I want to approach scripture with the understanding that God is speaking. I’m reading through the Bible and listening for God to ask me questions. I expect these questions to be fairly open-ended and plan to carry them in my mind throughout the day. I’ll share these questions with you in the hope that you find them challenging and helpful.

The book of Psalms is commonly thought of as a collection of the worship music of the Israelites. They were meant to be sung. These are worship songs that God appreciated enough to make sure they were preserved for us. Let’s see if we can find out why…

Psalm 4
Answer me when I call, O God of my righteousness!
    You have given me relief when I was in distress.
    Be gracious to me and hear my prayer!

O men,[a] how long shall my honor be turned into shame?
    How long will you love vain words and seek after lies?  Selah
But know that the Lord has set apart the godly for himself;
    the Lord hears when I call to him.

Be angry,[b] and do not sin;
    ponder in your own hearts on your beds, and be silent.  Selah
Offer right sacrifices,
    and put your trust in the Lord.

There are many who say, “Who will show us some good?
    Lift up the light of your face upon us, O Lord!”
You have put more joy in my heart
    than they have when their grain and wine abound.

In peace I will both lie down and sleep;
    for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.

From this passage I hear God asking me:
Do you “love vain words and seek after lies”? (vs. 2)
What do you think that means?
What gives you joy? (vs. 7)

What’s the difference?

Whats the difference

Since Monday we’ve seen parent-shaming, the shaming of the parent-shamers, finger pointing, and blame assigning. Then we moved into memes redirecting the focus to abortion, gun-control, animal rights, human rights, and ironically, the idiocy of internet outrage. Next we had the satirical “fake” news articles. (Here was my favorite.) Now we’ve begun seeing the “we’ve had enough” memes.

The six stages of outrage in four days. Not bad.

What I have found interesting is how the shooting of an endangered gorilla to save an endangered human child has highlighted (once again) how the human race is divided.

Because once you get past all the usual stuff, and step back to take in the whole picture, what you see is the wreckage that is left when world views collide.

It seems to me there have been a couple of world views on display, and I don’t think either possesses the language to communicate well with the other.

Consider the images of the two 17 year old male specimens above. How we answer the question can reveal our world view.

One world view would say that the answer to the above question is one of degree.

There are obvious similarities. The two beings in question share a very similar anatomy. Muscles, bones, blood, brain, organs, even DNA are all remarkably similar. From this world view, the reason for the similarities lie in the fact that they have, through random chance and natural selection, evolved from a common ancestor.

The differences are simply differences of degree. Aside from the fact that the one on the left is much cooler than the nerd on the right, the one on the left possesses a much greater mass, strength and agility. The one on the right, on the other hand, makes up for this lack by possessing (arguably) a much higher intelligence.

Because of this view, there is no real difference in terms of value. From this point of view the killing of a gorilla is as much murder as the killing of a human. On the other end of the spectrum, the taking of a human life through abortion or euthanasia is regrettable, sure, but still a matter of choice with no moral consequence. (I recognize that I’m exaggerating and generalizing a bit here, but I believe the line of thinking holds.)

The other world view would say that the answer to the above question is one of category.

There are those among us (of which I am one) who believe what is written in Genesis 1:26-27:

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”

So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.

Now, so we don’t get side tracked, the question of how this creator went about the work of creating is another discussion. But if you believe that he did, it changes your world view. From this view, the similarities found in the above pictured creatures are a result of having a common designer and creator.

The chief difference, aside from the obvious “cool’ factor, is not one of degree but of category. In the entire account of creation in Genesis, only one act of creation merits the phrase “in our image, after our likeness.”

There has been a lot written about these words and what, exactly, it means to be created in God’s image. I don’t think it refers to our physical appearance. I’ve come to believe that it has more to do with things like artistic creativity, our sense of eternity, the responsibility to care for the rest of creation, and our sense of morality. One clear ramification, though, is that human life is categorically different than animal life. The differences are not simply more or less strength or intelligence. There is a difference in value. They were both created by God but only one bears the image of God. So, when life is viewed from this perspective, the killing of a gorilla, while regrettable, may be necessary and unavoidable at times. But the taking of a human life, in any way, carries a heavy load of moral consequence.

Have you ever had the experience of trying to communicate with someone who doesn’t speak your language? It’s hard. I had the privilege of traveling to India a few years ago. I remember speaking with one of my new Indian friends. There was something specific I wanted to say to him so, to make sure he understood me, I spoke louder. It’s a natural tendency. The words are still gibberish to the other person, but we think because we speak louder it will be more readily understood.

I think that’s what happens when world views collide. We raise our voices, but the only people who understand are the ones who speak our language.

My purpose in writing all this is a little unclear to me, to be honest. I think mainly I would like for us all, believers and unbelievers alike, to take a moment to try to look through the lens of the other world view. I want to understand why you see things the way you do. Certainly, I would love to be able to persuade any of you who don’t see life the way I do to come over and check out the view from here. I think this is the clearer view and makes the most sense of our world.

But the truth is, unless we stop shouting gibberish at each other and learn to communicate with one another, that’s never going to happen.

Lloyd
(and, yes, that’s me on the right)

Psalm 3

The idea of these little devotionals is simple. I want to approach scripture with the understanding that God is speaking. I’m reading through the Bible and listening for God to ask me questions. I expect these questions to be fairly open-ended and plan to carry them in my mind throughout the day. I’ll share these questions with you in the hope that you find them challenging and helpful.

The book of Psalms is commonly thought of as a collection of the worship music of the Israelites. They were meant to be sung. These are worship songs that God appreciated enough to make sure they were preserved for us. Let’s see if we can find out why…

Psalm 3
O Lord, how many are my foes!
    Many are rising against me;
many are saying of my soul,
    there is no salvation for him in God.  Selah[a]

But you, O Lord, are a shield about me,
    my glory, and the lifter of my head.
I cried aloud to the Lord,
    and he answered me from his holy hill.  Selah

I lay down and slept;
    I woke again, for the Lord sustained me.
I will not be afraid of many thousands of people
    who have set themselves against me all around.

Arise, O Lord!
    Save me, O my God!
For you strike all my enemies on the cheek;
    you break the teeth of the wicked.

Salvation belongs to the Lord;
    your blessing be on your people!  Selah

From this passage I hear God asking me:
Who are your “foes”?
What do you fear?
Who is your shield?
Who lifts your head?

(Side note: One of the criticisms of contemporary worship music is how it often seems to be self-focused instead of God-focused. Seems to me that the same could be said of Psalm 3…and many others, as we will discover. -LH)

My Picks for Wednesday 6-1-2016

Picks Wednesday

This is the stuff I found helpful, challenging, interesting, or amusing today that I think may enrich your day as well...

I appreciated this thoughtful reflection…

Confessions of a Media-Protective Parent
Michelle Van Loon
Confessions of a Media-Protective Parent“We didn’t say “no” to everything our kids wanted to watch or listen to, nor did we want to. Our hope was that, if we could land somewhere between the extremes—of passive, uncritical consumption, or blocking all pop culture with ironclad filters—our kids would learn to think critically with music and media…

…There is a time to shelter, a time to expose, and it takes supernatural wisdom to know the difference. This wisdom is at the heart of Philippians 4:8 and makes outsiders of each one of us who follows Jesus, whether we know all the words to Purple Rain or not.”


Are you “Pro-Life” or just “Anti-Abortion”?

Pro-Life from Womb to TombMarshall Segal
Pro-Life from Womb to Tomb j2ndutuk
“Developing a heart for human life, all human life, from a vision and reality like this will radically transform and inspire how we treat people — of every age, every ethnic background, every socioeconomic status. The cause for life began at creation, when God made man and woman in his image, and gave us dominion over every other created thing. And God punctuated the cause for life when he chose to enter the womb himself for our sake…

…Léonce says, “I think there’s a big difference between being anti-abortion and pro-life. Anti-abortion means you have a conviction that it is murder to kill a child in the womb. It’s a good position. But to be pro-life means that you not only want that child to enter the world, but that you want that child to thrive when they enter the world. . . . It’s not just about getting children into the world, but about making sure they flourish as human beings once they’re here.”


I think every worship leader struggles with this question from time to time…

Am I a Hypocrite?Michael Farren
Screen Shot 2016-06-01 at 2.51.15 AM“Even after all my years of leading worship, knowing full well that it has nothing to do with my worth or perfection, I will admit to still wrestling the question of hypocrisy every time I step onto the stage in a broken or messy state of being.

But it’s not just a worship pastor problem. I would make a very unscientific yet experienced observation that roughly half of all attendees walk into church on any given Sunday feeling more or less hypocritical…

…Harsh as it may sound, for the first time ever I now see that there are way more hypocrites at home on Sunday than are sitting in the pews. And I’d rather stand with my hands raised next to messy, broken, yet hope filled people, than become a hypocrite. I refuse to let the enemy blackmail me with his lies and accusations…if we have placed our belief in the goodness and kindness of the one true God, let’s stop behaving in a way that disagrees with that belief.”


There is a lot of information in this article to digest and I think it’s worth whatever time it takes…

Alarmism And Transgendered KidsRod Drehera katz / Shutterstock.com
“This is what’s happening now. The current state of scientific research says that most kids’ — 75 percent — gender dysphoria resolves (the kids are likely to end up identifying as gay or bisexual). But that is extremely politically incorrect — so much so that respected scientists lose their jobs over taking that position…

…This is where we are: a culture driven by the politics of transgender activists…Activists are writing the policies. Activists are driving the media and academic culture…

…Ten, twenty years from now, there are going to be a lot of maimed, broken people staggering around. This episode in history will be looked back on with horror. We will wonder how we gave in to such madness, and harmed so many people, or allowed them to harm themselves. Doctors, activists, celebrities, the media, and politicians will bear so much guilt, but probably little blame. It will all go down the memory hole. Progressives in the future will say of the transgender madness, “How were we to know?”

If they say anything at all.”


Wally’s political opinion…
Tina: I saw your political opinion on Facebook and now I think you're an awful person. Wally: What did you think about me before? Tina: I didn't think about you before. Wally: Sounds like I got promoted.
Click image for a larger view. Source: Dilbert

Psalm 2

The idea of these little devotionals is simple. I want to approach scripture with the understanding that God is speaking. I’m reading through the Bible and listening for God to ask me questions. I expect these questions to be fairly open-ended and plan to carry them in my mind throughout the day. I’ll share these questions with you in the hope that you find them challenging and helpful.

The book of Psalms is commonly thought of as a collection of the worship music of the Israelites. They were meant to be sung. These are worship songs that God appreciated enough to make sure they were preserved for us. Let’s see if we can find out why…

Psalm 2
Why do the nations rage[a]
    and the peoples plot in vain?
The kings of the earth set themselves,
    and the rulers take counsel together,
    against the Lord and against his Anointed, saying,
“Let us burst their bonds apart
    and cast away their cords from us.”

He who sits in the heavens laughs;
    the Lord holds them in derision.
Then he will speak to them in his wrath,
    and terrify them in his fury, saying,
“As for me, I have set my King
    on Zion, my holy hill.”

I will tell of the decree:
The Lord said to me, “You are my Son;
    today I have begotten you.
Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage,
    and the ends of the earth your possession.
You shall break[b] them with a rod of iron
    and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.”

10 Now therefore, O kings, be wise;
    be warned, O rulers of the earth.
11 Serve the Lord with fear,
    and rejoice with trembling.
12 Kiss the Son,
    lest he be angry, and you perish in the way,
    for his wrath is quickly kindled.
Blessed are all who take refuge in him.

From this passage I hear God asking me:
Who’s really in charge?
What does this Psalm say to you about this year’s election?
Anything?
Where do you find your refuge?