Psalm 44:1-8

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 44:1-8
O God, we have heard with our ears,

    our fathers have told us,
what deeds you performed in their days,
    in the days of old:
you with your own hand drove out the nations,
    but them you planted;
you afflicted the peoples,
    but them you set free;
for not by their own sword did they win the land,
    nor did their own arm save them,
but your right hand and your arm,
    and the light of your face,
    for you delighted in them.

You are my King, O God;
    ordain salvation for Jacob!
Through you we push down our foes;
    through your name we tread down those who rise up against us.
For not in my bow do I trust,
    nor can my sword save me.
But you have saved us from our foes
    and have put to shame those who hate us.
In God we have boasted continually,
    and we will give thanks to your name forever.    Selah

From this passage I hear God asking me:
What have your parents and grandparents told you about me?
What did I do for them?
What are you telling your children and grandchildren about me?
What have I done for you?
What am I doing for you?
Personalize verse 6 by filling in the blanks for yourself:

“For not in my _________ do I trust,
    nor can my _________ save me.”


Is God asking you anything more, or anything different?
I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

Monday Picks ~ 10-9-2017

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

One Uncomfortable Implication of Praying for God’s Will to be DoneMichael Kelley
“When we pray for God’s will to be done, we are implicitly stating that our will should not be done. We are giving over our plans, our dreams, and our aspirations to the will of God. We are, in a sense, dying. Submission to God’s will requires this of us.”


Do you think we’ll ever completely understand the intricacies of God’s creation? Not in this life…

Scientists Somehow Just Discovered a New System of Vessels in Our BrainsJames Hamblin
A transparent model of the brain with a network of vessels filled inYou are now among the first people to see the brain’s lymphatic system. The vessels in the photo above transport fluid that is likely crucial to metabolic and inflammatory processes. Until now, no one knew for sure that they existed.

Doctors practicing today have been taught that there are no lymphatic vessels inside the skull. Those deep-purple vessels were seen for the first time in images published this week by researchers at the U.S. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.


Noteworthy for pastors…

Atheists Again Get Pastors’ Best Benefit Ruled UnconstitutionalJeremy Weber
Atheists Again Get Pastors’ Best Benefit Ruled UnconstitutionalOnce again, a federal judge has declared that the longstanding clergy housing allowance violates the establishment clause of the First Amendment.


Maybe you need to read this today…

God Is Not Ashamed of YouDan DeWitt
Christian, God is not ashamed of you. You may very well be ashamed of you. God isn’t.

This truth is presented in the book of Hebrews twice. It’s repetition is driving home a point that our hearts desperately long to hear but often avoid. We shrink back from it because we know ourselves too well. God must be ashamed of us. We would be if we were him.

But he isn’t. He knows us better than we know ourselves. And he’s not ashamed of us. He doesn’t regret us. He doesn’t wish he didn’t save us. Hebrews give two reasons for this…


I hate sentences that begin with “at your age”…
https://safr.kingfeatures.com/idn/cnfeed/zone/js/content.php?file=aHR0cDovL3NhZnIua2luZ2ZlYXR1cmVzLmNvbS9CaXphcnJvLzIwMTcvMTAvQml6YXJyb19wLjIwMTcxMDA0XzYxNi5naWY=
Bizarro

Psalm 43

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 43
Vindicate me, O God, and defend my cause

    against an ungodly people,
from the deceitful and unjust man
    deliver me!
For you are the God in whom I take refuge;
    why have you rejected me?
Why do I go about mourning
    because of the oppression of the enemy?

Send out your light and your truth;
    let them lead me;
let them bring me to your holy hill
    and to your dwelling!
Then I will go to the altar of God,
    to God my exceeding joy,
and I will praise you with the lyre,
    O God, my God.

Why are you cast down, O my soul,
    and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
    my salvation and my God.

From this passage I hear God asking me:
Do you want me to send out my light and truth to lead you? (v.3)
Are you sure?
If I send out my light and truth, would it vindicate you? (v.1)
If I send my light and truth to lead, will you follow?
What if I’ve already sent it?


Is God asking you anything more, or anything different?
I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

Give It To Jesus

http://millersportcc.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/Boy-with-5-loaves-and-2-fish-608x456.jpg

“…this little boy with five barley loaves and two fish did the one thing that the disciples never in their infinite wisdom thought to do.
In all their strategy and their frustration about their own inability
to affect any sort of change in their situation,
they neglected to do what was implicit to this little boy:
they never once thought to give what they had to Jesus.”

Michael Kelly

Weekend Picks ~ 10-6-2017

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

First, a couple of good articles on “Thoughts and Prayers”…

The first was written in 2015 following the San Bernadino shooting…

On ‘Thoughts and Prayers’ After Another Mass Shooting
Andy Crouch
On ‘Thoughts and Prayers’ After Another Mass Shooting …we must never settle for a false dichotomy between prayer and action, as if it were impossible to pray while acting or act while praying. Nonetheless it is vital, whenever possible, to pray before acting lest our activity be in vain.

To insist that people should act instead of pray, or that we should act without praying, is idolatry, substituting the creature for the Creator. It insinuates that goodness can be known, possessed, or done apart from relationship with the only One who is truly good. While our neighbors who do not share our faith will not agree, for people with biblical faith this prideful declaration of independence is idolatry, the original sin of humanity, and the ultimate source of the evil in the world and in our own hearts.


Then there is this one published today…

I’m Done PrayingKevin Seguin
Picture“Our thoughts and prayers go out…” to the victims, to their families, to the shooter’s family, to our leaders. It’s the same old song and dance, isn’t it? It’s such a predictable response that people predictably make jokes about how predictable the response is.

Personally, I think the time for praying is over…


What kind of leader would you like to be?

Effectiveness Isn’t EverythingDarryl Dash
EffectivenessOne lifted an entire nation out of despair. He led with vision and inspired passion. His life impacted everyone alive today. He set in motion an industrial and scientific revolution that led to the invention of many things we enjoy today. By the time he died, everyone knew his name.

The second leader lived in the same era. He ran a school of a hundred students. He wrote a few books, was regarded by those who knew him as intelligent and faithful, but died with his life’s work incomplete.

Which leader would you like to be? Adolf Hitler or Dietrich Bonhoeffer?

“My point is simple,” Jethani writes. “Effectiveness isn’t everything.”


An important reminder for Christian Americans…

Majority Rule has Never Been the American Way, and It’s Not Jesus’ Way EitherTim Fall
Some might say that in a democracy the majority rules. Those in the minority can only hope to convince enough people to agree with their position so as to become the majority the next time.

That might be how it is in a strict democracy, but the United States is not a strict democracy. It’s a constitutional democracy. Despite what the majority desires, if the desire conflicts with the U.S. Constitution the majority will not get what it wants…

At no time does the Constitution allow the government to become “the mere instrument of the major number.” …

The way of Christ is the way of protection of the downtrodden, those unable to speak for themselves. This is the way of God for all his people, regardless of politics, regardless of being in the majority or minority.


“You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

Defining AuthenticitySeth Godin
Image resultFor me, it’s not “do what you feel like doing,” because that’s unlikely to be useful.

You might feel like hanging out on the beach, telling off your boss or generally making nothing much of value. Authenticity as an impulse is hardly something to aspire to.

It’s not, “say whatever is on your mind,” either.

Instead, I define it as, “consistent emotional labor.”

We call a brand or a person authentic when they’re consistent, when they act the same way whether or not someone is looking. Someone is authentic when their actions are in alignment with what they promise.

Showing up as a pro.

Keeping promises.

Even when you don’t feel like it.

Especially when you don’t.


Greek philosopher or ailment? Take the quiz…
https://wronghands1.files.wordpress.com/2017/09/greek-philosopher-or-ailment.jpg
Wrong Hands – Click image for a larger view.

Psalm 42

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 42:1-11
As a deer pants for flowing streams,

    so pants my soul for you, O God.
My soul thirsts for God,
    for the living God.
When shall I come and appear before God?[b]
My tears have been my food
    day and night,
while they say to me all the day long,
    “Where is your God?”
These things I remember,
    as I pour out my soul:
how I would go with the throng
    and lead them in procession to the house of God
with glad shouts and songs of praise,
    a multitude keeping festival.

Why are you cast down, O my soul,
    and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
    my salvation[c] and my God.

My soul is cast down within me;
    therefore I remember you
from the land of Jordan and of Hermon,
    from Mount Mizar.
Deep calls to deep
    at the roar of your waterfalls;
all your breakers and your waves
    have gone over me.
By day the Lord commands his steadfast love,
    and at night his song is with me,
    a prayer to the God of my life.
I say to God, my rock:
    “Why have you forgotten me?
Why do I go mourning
    because of the oppression of the enemy?”
10 As with a deadly wound in my bones,
    my adversaries taunt me,
while they say to me all the day long,
    “Where is your God?”

11 Why are you cast down, O my soul,
    and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
    my salvation and my God.

From this passage I hear God asking me:
Do you have friends who ask, “Where is your God?”
Do you live in the midst of a society that asks, “Where is your God?”
Do you ever ask, “Where is God?”
So, what is the answer?
Where am I?


Is God asking you anything more, or anything different?
I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

Psalm 41

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 41:1-13
Blessed is the one who considers the poor![a]

    In the day of trouble the Lord delivers him;
the Lord protects him and keeps him alive;
    he is called blessed in the land;
    you do not give him up to the will of his enemies.
The Lord sustains him on his sickbed;
    in his illness you restore him to full health.[b]

As for me, I said, “O Lord, be gracious to me;
    heal me,[c] for I have sinned against you!”
My enemies say of me in malice,
    “When will he die, and his name perish?”
And when one comes to see me, he utters empty words,
    while his heart gathers iniquity;
    when he goes out, he tells it abroad.
All who hate me whisper together about me;
    they imagine the worst for me.[d]

They say, “A deadly thing is poured out[e] on him;
    he will not rise again from where he lies.”
Even my close friend in whom I trusted,
    who ate my bread, has lifted his heel against me.
10 But you, O Lord, be gracious to me,
    and raise me up, that I may repay them!

11 By this I know that you delight in me:
    my enemy will not shout in triumph over me.
12 But you have upheld me because of my integrity,
    and set me in your presence forever.

13 Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel,
    from everlasting to everlasting!
Amen and Amen.

From this passage I hear God asking me:
Be honest. Don’t you think this psalm is a little self-centered?
Did you notice how much the writer speaks about himself?
Shouldn’t your worship be focused on me?
Do you think I am offended by this?
So, why do you think I liked it well enough to preserve it?
Now let me ask you this:
Do you ever feel this way?
Are you ever burdened by people talking trash about you?
Have you ever felt betrayed by a friend?
Aren’t you ever mad at me?
Go ahead and tell me about it. I can take it.
I am not offended when you bring your true self to me.
I am offended when you don’t.
Or, worse, when you take your true self elsewhere.
What do you think worship is?
Come to me first, with everything you are, no matter what.


Is God asking you anything more, or anything different?
I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

Will We Sing Any New Songs In Heaven?

http://www.grahamkendrick.co.uk/images/albums/shine/graham-kendrick-shine-jesus-shine-cover2-600.jpgI moved back to the Cincinnati area in 1992 to become the new music minister at White Oak Christian Church. The senior pastor at the time told me he wanted me to lead the transition of the musical part of the worship services here from a very traditional (think hymns/organ/piano/1st, 2nd, and last verse) to using a worship band and more contemporary music. (As I look back on it now, I find myself wondering if the congregation was on board with this. But that’s the subject of a different post.)

I began introducing some new songs. Songs by Matt Redman, Graham Kendrick, Darlene Zschech, Don Moen and others.

We would learn these songs at choir rehearsal and teach them to the congregation on Sunday.

There was a super nice couple in the choir around that time named Dennis and Rosalee Hendricks. I love these two! Dennis was about 10 years older than me. I was around 40 at the time and I still thought of 50 as pretty old. Old enough to maybe prefer the old style of music.

I wasn’t sure.

One of the songs that we did quite often back then was Shine, Jesus, Shine. Remember that one? It was written by Graham Kendrick in 1987. This quickly became Denny’s favorite song! Whether he was in the choir on the platform, or in the congregation, I could see his face light up every time we sang it.

The last time I spoke with Denny, he mentioned how much he loved that song.

I sang it this morning at his funeral.

Rosie was sitting on the front pew.

Dennis was singing around the throne…

Lord, I come to Your awesome presence,
From the shadows into Your radiance.
By the blood I may enter Your brightness,
Search me, try me, consume all my darkness.
Shine on me. Shine on me.

I recently read an article that was critical of the new worship music. It talked about the old hymns and how these old songs bring comfort to the grieving and the dying, and claimed that the newer songs could never do that. “Could you imagine singing one of these new songs in worship around the death bed of a loved one?” it challenged.

Yes. Yes, I can.

I realize Shine, Jesus, Shine is no longer one of the “newer” songs, but it was new 25 years ago. It was a new song that Dennis Hendricks didn’t learn until he was 50 years old.

What songs are you learning today that you will sing in heaven?

Lloyd

Psalm 40

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 40:1-17
I waited patiently for the Lord;
    he inclined to me and heard my cry.
He drew me up from the pit of destruction,
    out of the miry bog,
and set my feet upon a rock,
    making my steps secure.
He put a new song in my mouth,
    a song of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear,
    and put their trust in the Lord.

Blessed is the man who makes
    the Lord his trust,
who does not turn to the proud,
    to those who go astray after a lie!
You have multiplied, O Lord my God,
    your wondrous deeds and your thoughts toward us;
    none can compare with you!
I will proclaim and tell of them,
    yet they are more than can be told.

In sacrifice and offering you have not delighted,
    but you have given me an open ear.[a]
Burnt offering and sin offering
    you have not required.
Then I said, “Behold, I have come;
    in the scroll of the book it is written of me:
I delight to do your will, O my God;
    your law is within my heart.”

I have told the glad news of deliverance[b]
    in the great congregation;
behold, I have not restrained my lips,
    as you know, O Lord.
10 I have not hidden your deliverance within my heart;
    I have spoken of your faithfulness and your salvation;
I have not concealed your steadfast love and your faithfulness
    from the great congregation.

11 As for you, O Lord, you will not restrain
    your mercy from me;
your steadfast love and your faithfulness will
    ever preserve me!
12 For evils have encompassed me
    beyond number;
my iniquities have overtaken me,
    and I cannot see;
they are more than the hairs of my head;
    my heart fails me.

13 Be pleased, O Lord, to deliver me!
    O Lord, make haste to help me!
14 Let those be put to shame and disappointed altogether
    who seek to snatch away my life;
let those be turned back and brought to dishonor
    who delight in my hurt!
15 Let those be appalled because of their shame
    who say to me, “Aha, Aha!”

16 But may all who seek you
    rejoice and be glad in you;
may those who love your salvation
    say continually, “Great is the Lord!”
17 As for me, I am poor and needy,
    but the Lord takes thought for me.
You are my help and my deliverer;
    do not delay, O my God!

From this passage I hear God asking me:
Do you “love your salvation”?
What do you mean by that?
Do you “say continually, ‘Great is the Lord!'”?
I don’t mean a lot of the time, I mean continually.
When life is good?
When life is bad?
When you don’t get your way?
When your responsibilities to others dominate your time?
When you recognize that so much of your life is already over?
When tragedy strikes?
Do your words proclaim my greatness?
Do your actions say that I am great?
Does your attitude through it all say, “Great is the Lord!”?
Do your friends see my greatness in you?
How about your enemies?


Is God asking you anything more, or anything different?
I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.