the Wonderful Cross…

today is palm sunday. until about 4 years ago i had no idea what palm sunday even was.  i didn’t grow up in a denomination that talks about it really.  we didn’t even really talk about it this morning at church.

so i guess i know that it was God who laid this on my heart…

this is a strange season in my life.  i’m happy, things are great…yet there is still crazy unrest in my heart.  i can’t figure out why or what God is trying to tell me, and one day i decided to quit trying to figure that out and just sit and try to know Him better.  it worked for mary right?  when martha was all frantic about hosting Jesus, He told her that mary had chosen what is best. (see luke 10:38-41).  it’s strange because i’m wrestling with the lies i’ve believed about myself in the past and trying to let them be overcome by the truth of who i am in Christ.  we’ve just started the book learning my name by pete gall in our small group.  last week he came to our small group and just chilled with us for a night.  it was great…he asked us some questions that will be GREAT in ministry, but that hit me where i am too.  i didn’t even recognize it until church this morning.  (i’ll come back here)  one of the questions pete asked us is what do you feel like your name is (like to God)?  because of the past, because of situations, because of lies, the name i’ve heard is forgotten.  it is super rotten to feel like God has forgotten about you…your hopes, dreams, desires, and His promises… david felt like it too, he wrote about it quite often in psalms.  what pete was saying was that we need to quit hearing the negative name we’ve allowed ourselves to hear.

we need to learn to hear what God is REALLY calling us.

that’s a question i need to put before God to find the answer to, but i know that will come because He is good to answer questions put before Him by a captive audience. i have been praying the forgotten prayer that david so often prayed too.

how long o God will you forget me?

today was a great sunday service.  super message…about being disillusioned…wonderful worship time, but i was captivated by the image of the cross.  during the service the message was first today and we had an extended worship time because it was a communion service.  during our communion time we don’t pass a tray around, or stand up in a line with our rows, but we wait until we feel moved to go take communion.  there are various stations around the room…and i love that we do it this way.  today though, i didn’t want to just go take communion.  i prayed and told God i wasn’t going to take it until i felt like it was right.  during worship i don’t know what it was but i had a picture of being there on the day Jesus was crucified on the cross. during the song sweetly broken i was struck by the chorus that says

At the cross You beckon me
You draw me gently to my knees

i wanted so badly to be drawn gently to my knees.  i wanted so badly to understand, to be in awe of the message of the Cross.  i have a picture in my head of what it looked like that day.  today i saw myself in that picture.

i don’t know if the people surrounding the Cross that day really understood the magnitude of what was happening or not.  somehow i really don’t think they did.  as i pictured myself there this morning, i knew that i did understand what was happening.  as we continued we sang hosanna and saviour king. during the two songs i felt myself being drawn to my knees (see…ask and it will be given) .  at some point i felt like as i was sitting there bowed before the Cross His eyes met mine.  it was like that moment y’know when you catch someone you love looking at you and your eyes meet theirs for just a second and your heart is warmed…x 1000.  i felt like i was on my knees in front of the Cross looking up at Him in wonder and amazement of what was going on, and He turned and fixed His eyes on mine.  in my heart He declared You are NOT forgotten! He was all over talking to me today.  answering prayer and doing so immediately.  for the first time in a long time i felt like i understood why we take communion.  i knew that i would have been part of that crowd of people cheering as Jesus rode into jerusalem on the donkey that palm sunday…but i also found myself today being part of the much smaller group who followed Him along the road to golgatha that friday.  who sat at His feet knowing that He is God’s Son as He proclaimed…but also being able to understand the magnitude of the breaking of the Veil.

it was all brought together as i walked back to my seat after taking communion and the band starting playing the wonderful Cross.

When I survey the wondrous cross
On which the Prince of Glory died
My richest gain I count but loss
And pour contempt on all my pride

See from his head, his hands, his feet
Sorrow and love flow mingled down
Did ever such love and sorrow meet
Or thorns compose so rich a crown

O the wonderful cross, O the wonderful cross
Bids me come and die and find that I may truly live

O the wonderful cross, O the wonderful cross
All who gather here by grace draw near and bless
Your name

Were the whole realm of nature mine
That were an offering far too small
Love so amazing, so divine
Demands my soul, my life, my all

how wonderful that day was.  to think of the Love poured out on me…and you…personally.  by His grace i was gathered to the foot of the Cross and given a taste of what truly living means… thank you Jesus for meeting me today.  i’ve not adequately put into words the ministry that You did in my heart today, but i’m thankful that You will receive it anyway.

thank You for starting me on a path to learning my Name.

psalm 7…take 2

i may or may not do 2 posts about this psalm.  there is so much in here that tells me about the personality of God.  on wednesday at staff worship john talked about the different facets of God.  we talked specifically about His relationships with people and how we can’t focus on just one, but we need to step back and try our best to take in the fullness of Him.  for example, potter to clay, teacher to student, father to child, friend to friend, shepherd to sheep, etc.  i’ve also recently been learning this through the names of God, like Jehovah Jireh, Jehovah Nissi, Yahweh, El Shaddai, etc.  to me this psalm also shows God in many different lights.  my focus for this study of psalms was exactly to learn more about the person of God, and that’s exactly what david allowed here.

God is refuge.

–noun

1. shelter or protection from danger, trouble, etc.: to take refuge from a storm.

2. a place of shelter, protection, or safety.

3. anything to which one has recourse for aid, relief, or escape.

i keep hearing the word refuge like it’s used in isaiah 25:4 …You are a refuge from the storm and a shelter from the heat

i can totally understand both of those things.  it’s rained here a lot lately it seems like.  it’s been so gross.  i hate having to be outside in the rain.  i know it’s good for the ground and plants and stuff but it really makes me just want to stay inside with a blanket and be lazy.  too bad that usually isn’t possible.

I think of the time Jesus is sleeping on the boat and the disciples are freaking out, and Jesus just calms the storm.  they were afraid for their lives and Jesus was probably so calm when he rebuked the waves.  that’s how i see refuge in a storm.  storms in our lives are when we’re so afraid for our lives.  we think we can’t get out because death is inevitable.  He is our refuge.  He’s not freaking out.  He’s so calm, we just have to trust Him to rebuke the wind and the waves.

and yuck..shelter in heat…all you have to do is be outside in alabama in august to understand this. i love going inside on those days when you sweat just from thinking about how hot it is.  the relief to walk into air-conditioning is amazing.  refuge.

verse 6 says that God feels anger and wrath.

thankfully it also says that He is just, unlike i tend to be when i’m angry.  the thing about God’s justice though is that sometimes His justice and our idea of justice (especially when it’s pointed towards ourselves) doesn’t exactly line up.  this points me to God’s mercy and grace, even though they’re not mentioned in this psalm.  justice points me to grace because it shows how God gives us grace instead of the justice, or anger, or wrath that we deserve. God’s justice tells me that i don’t have to take revenge, because He will make it right.  He might not make it right the way i think is right, or do it today or tomorrow, but He will make it right.  He sees when people do wrong, and it’s cool cos He’ll take care of it.

grace is a cool thing.  i like it when it’s given to me…i have a harder time giving it back toward others.  the thing i’m learning about grace though, is that when we receive it, we have to pay it forward.  we have to give it out.  simply, grace is getting what you don’t deserve.  we’re saved by grace (acts 15:11, eph 2: 5, 8, 2 tim 1:9).  it’s harder to give sometimes than i think it is to receive.  grace is not holding others to a higher standard than yourself.  i think people tend to do that.  i put myself above others all the time.  Jesus knew that when He taught about the greatest command.  Love God, then Love Others.  if that came easily He wouldn’t have had to teach about it.  It’s also in Deuteronomy 6 and psalm 1. grace is realizing you can’t cuss someone out for doing the exact same thing you did 10 seconds ago.  it’s also realizing that all humans screw up, and it’s ok, i can forgive and be nice because  sometimes i screw up too…alot to be quite honest.  i’m thankful for God’s grace.

He is Ruler.

He is my shield.  my mind picture is like a warrior.  he has a shield to protect him from arrows (or guns if you wanna come to this century…)  in the line of fire, God stands before us protecting us from the arrows that satan shoots our way.  i also recall that He is called our defender (psalm 48:3, 68:5, prov 22:23, isa 51:22).  it’s cool how by going through THIS psalm i’m remembering other qualities too.

the last one i’m talking about is judge. i’m glad that He has that job.  in james 4:12 i’m told not to…12 God alone, who gave the law, is the Judge. He alone has the power to save or to destroy. So what right do you have to judge your neighbor?  the MSG version says who do you think you are?! haha thanks Eugene Peterson…

there aren’t enough words to describe my God.  i’m glad.  i’m glad that the God i worship isn’t one that can be fully described in words.

the gospel…?!

today was awesome.  finally we were all back together, i really missed everyone last week that was gone.  the five of us sat at work today for hours telling stories from the past week’s adventures.  i think we all learned a lot last week.  i think we were all challenged last week…i’m glad for that too…i needed to be challenged.  i’ve been struggling lately with the dreaded plateau.  i’m doing more than going through the motions, but not really giving my all.

so peter talked for a long time.  literally 2 hours about his time in panama last week.  panama is where God speaks as far as he is concerned.  his team spent the week in the jungle…in panama.  as far as i’m concerned they got to do one of the coolest, greatest, most exciting things possible.  they got to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ to a people group who had never heard of Him before.  seriously, a whole group of people who had never heard the name of Jesus before; who had no idea about the Bible or sin or salvation or heaven or hell or any of it.

they got to start with the beginning and just share it all.  pure and simple Gospel.  the mystery and majesty that is Jesus, His Plan, and His Redemption for humanity.

through his talking today about his experiences, i was reflecting like crazy.  i just kept having thoughts, and my mind was going 1000 miles an hour.  i haven’t even processed a lot of what he said or what it has to do with our ministry specifically or anything…but he asked us 2 questions that really got to me.

1. what are you doing here

2. what does the gospel mean to me

they’re both hard.  i don’t have perfect answers to either of them…but i know that my answer to #2 has a great deal to do with how i respond to #1.  so thanks pete for the reminder…

a few years ago on thanksgiving day, i found myself facing the fact that if Jesus hadn’t interceded in my life my life would be drastically, horribly different.  i’m not going to get into it, but i found myself in tears at just the THOUGHT of what could have been.  it was horrible to think of.  i have one of those stories of conversion that church people might call a “good testimony”.  i really hate that term.  all it means is that i’ve had some really cruddy things happen in my life and i’ve made some bad choices.  some cruddy things were because of bad choices…most of them had nothing to do with my choices, but the hand i was dealt.

one day those few years before that, while reading a book for a bible study i’d recently started i fell onto isaiah 43.

1 But now, O Jacob, listen to the Lord who created you.
O Israel, the one who formed you says,
“Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you.
I have called you by name; you are mine.
2 When you go through deep waters,
I will be with you.
When you go through rivers of difficulty,
you will not drown.
When you walk through the fire of oppression,
you will not be burned up;
the flames will not consume you.
3 For I am the Lord, your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.
I gave Egypt as a ransom for your freedom;
I gave Ethiopia and Seba in your place.
4 Others were given in exchange for you.
I traded their lives for yours
because you are precious to me.
You are honored, and I love you.

i wept. like cried and cried…it was that moment that i KNEW that Jesus loved me. i read verse 4 over and over…i’d been wrestling with the death of  someone very close to me, and trying to understand why i had been protected from it.  in that verse i read that i am precious to God, and He loves me. i’d never heard that before.  i suddenly knew that He had a bigger plan for me, and that He’d been walking with me all along.  it was the moment that i understood that footsteps poem about the two sets of footprints walking along.  He’s ALWAYS with me.  no matter what, He will be there, AND to top it all off He loves me.  i don’t know about you but that was …and still is…so profound to me.

HOW COULD THE SAVIOR OF THE WORLD LOVE ME?! seriously, it’s mind boggling…i don’t get it.  that day, sitting by the pool, reading isaiah 43, i understood that my life was no longer mine.  there is no way i could ever repay Him for what He saved me from.  i sat there that day, i don’t know the date, but i know the day like it was yesterday…i sat there and i gave Jesus my life.  i told Him to take all of it…do whatever He wanted…my life was His.  i knew then that He really did know what was best, and that surrendering to Him would be the greatest, most significant moment of my life. that day i went from knowing about Jesus to knowing Jesus.

that thanksgiving, i not only saw how eternally my future was different, but i had the blessing of seeing what my present life would have been like if He hadn’t stepped in and rocked my world.  all it took was driving past the place where some old friends lived once.  i remembered that place…those people…and how disgusting it all seemed to me now.  i saw what He saved me from.  what He protected me from.  how much He loves me.  what a better life He gives.  and i determined that day that i would live my life proclaiming it.

so…the gospel.

the Gospel that i believe in has Power. it transforms lives, hearts, people…

the Gospel that i believe in is Miraculous. things that can’t happen through human power happen because of the Gospel.

the Gospel redeems, heals, cleanses, gives hope, loves, …

it saves.

there aren’t enough words.  i can’t explain it.  but i do what i do because of Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior.  i believe that He is alive and moving, teaching and speaking, healing and declaring love over His people.  i believe that He is longing for His creation to return to Him.  i believe that He wants all people to know Him, to accept His perfect love, to partake in His power, grace, mercy, love, hope, salvation.  to give us hope and a future past this broken world.

acts 5…the disciples were beaten and oppressed for preaching this Gospel. but they REJOICED that they were counted worthy of it.  it says that they couldn’t stop talking about what they’d seen and heard.  i don’t want to either.  the Gospel is why i’m alive…it saved me…in so many ways.  galatians 6 says that i’m a new creation in Christ and in Him alone am i to boast.  all i have of worth is Him and what He’s done in my life.

the Gospel is LIFE…all i want to do is share it’s power, love, might, hope…with the world.

it’s my passion…and i’m desperate to share it…Jesus is amazing…His story is amazing…and the most amazing part is that He chooses to let us be part of it…i want to run the race just simply because i love to run…

psalm 6 :: mercy::

Your mercy found me upon the broken road, and lifted me beyond my failings-hillsong

the Lord has shown you what is good. and what does He require of you? to act justly to love mercy and walk humbly with your God.  micah 6:8

turn o Lord and deliver me; save me because of your mercy (niv…unfailing love)

for his mercy endures forever . psalm 136

the word mercy is mentioned 100 times in psalms alone.  i started counting variations of the word mercy like merciful, mercies, etc…but i lost count twice so i stopped.

webster’s defines mercy as this:

1 a : compassion or forbearance shown especially to an offender or to one subject to one’s power; also : lenient or compassionate treatment <begged for mercy> b : imprisonment rather than death imposed as penalty for first-degree murder
2 a : a blessing that is an act of divine favor or compassion b : a fortunate circumstance <it was a mercy they found her before she froze>
3 : compassionate treatment of those in distress <works of mercy among the poor

i bolded and italicized the ones that to me describe the mercy david was begging God for in psalms.

david starts this psalm asking God to not punish him in His anger.  He’s asking God for mercy.  for lenient or compassionate treatment…that he doesn’t deserve.  none of us deserve His mercy.  all humans have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.  one of God’s attributes is His justice.  fortunately for us He doesn’t send His judgment down on human beings like we deserve.  He shows us mercy.

i read this psalm in the NLT, NIV, MSG, KJV, and ESV translations of the bible.  6:2 (niv) : be merciful on me, Lord, for i am faint.

instead of the word merciful, other translations also used : be compassionate, or be graceful.

6:4 (niv) turn, o Lord, and deliver me; save me because of your unfailing love. unfailing love here is also translated mercy in the kjv.

so …david is a guy who knew what a messed up pile of junk he was…AND that he was loved and known by a great, merciful, powerful God. in this book, my beautiful idol by pete gall he talks about how we see ourselves as this pretty, idol-worthy, better than the world person.  i could be wrong, and i’ll ask him next week…cos he’s coming to our small group, i could be wrong…but i think that the book is sort of his journey from seeing himself as a great successful guy to seeing himself as a pile of junk that is in need of a Savior…and in the midst of that finding out his value to that Savior.  i think maybe that is the key to understanding mercy. i’m pretty sure that we can’t understand our desperation for the Savior’s mercy until we can truly see that we deserve his wrath.  wow…wrath.  that’s a harsh word. i think that possibly God’s wrath is the same thing that demanded that Jesus be separated from Him, for the first time in eternity, to die on the cross for the sin of all mankind, which includes me.  and it demands that i open my eyes to the fact that if Jesus hadn’t done that, i’d be headed straight for eternal punishment…hell…the lake of fire…the place of eternal weeping and gnashing of teeth…eternal separation from God…eternal anguish…even just typing those words brings tears to my eyes.  because even if i deserve it, i don’t want that…it’s so frightening that i deserve that…but the tears come from relief that i have knowing that God showed me His mercy. because of His mercy , His unfailing love, His compassion, His grace i don’t have to go to that horrible place for eternity, but i get to spend it with Him.  if there was ever a moment for a really loud HALLELUJAH i think it might be now.

i don’t like to see myself like that though.  that might have been another thing pete gall was admitting in his book.  i need to understand how horribly icky i am.  i need to see myself without my selfish blinders on and see myself through the eyes of justice.  because THEN …when i see myself as i truly am THEN i understand a little more of how amazing it is to be loved by the Savior.  then i understand mercy. my worth is in the Almighty.  i’m nothing…but He loves me and shows me mercy.

david was begging God not to give him what he deserved.  he understood that he was just a pile of junk.  but he knew that God heard his prayer (6:9).  God hears the prayers of the righteous (prov 15:29).  because of His mercy, God saw david as righteous instead of the pile of dirt and scum that he really was.  that’s how He sees me too. i don’t deserve it…i don’t understand it…but i’m so thankful for it.  but even so, i’m not sure i’m really thankful enough…i don’t think i beg for God’s mercy enough…or see it when He shows it.  instead i selfishly beg for more things that i don’t deserve…ha, and generally gripe about it when God says no, or wait a while longer.  when it really comes down to it, i still see myself as that beautiful idol…but i’m trying so hard to see myself as He does.  it’s really hard.  that’s why i’m doing this thing.  i want to see Him, and know Him more…outside of myself.

today i see that He is merciful and for that i’m amazed and humbled.

and while i’m on the topic of waiting…

i’m going to rant about it for a minute.  i HATE waiting.  i hate it, i hate it, i hate it.  and if you didn’t get it already, i HATE WAITING!!  but God seems to be a big fan of allowing me (and others i think…) to wait.  i really especially hate waiting on something that God has promised.  i used to question God’s promises when they didn’t show up immediately.  then one day my very wise boss made the comment that “supposedly (that was sarcasm…) sheep know their shepherds voice” (that part wasn’t sarcastic at all).  so i thought of john 10.  it’s a chapter that i’ve spent a lot of time thinking on the last few months, but that’s another post.

john 10:3-4  the watchman opens the gate for ‹the shepherd›, and the sheep listen to his voice.  He calls His own sheep by name and leads them out.  when He has brought out all His own, He goes ahead of them, and His sheep follow him because they know His voice.

i DO know His voice.  sometimes i’m not listening well enough to hear, but when i hear Him i KNOW its Him.  if i wasn’t sure, even after i HEAR, there are all kinds of other confirmations i feel/see.  one of the most confirming things that i have is peace. it’s that crazy peace that passes all understanding.  and the opposite is true too…if i’m being disobedient i feel sooo anxious, antsy, and unpeaceful until i obey and do whatever He says to.  i think the word i’m describing is conviction.

but off the bunny trail and back to waiting.  God uses waiting a lot.  (if you read psalms 5 and have seen this already sorry…)  abraham waited on issac for lots of years. sarah, his wife, did too…bless her heart.  she waited so long to have kids that when the angels or Jesus or whoever it was (the 3 men who visited?!) that visited them and told her she’d have a son she laughed!!  noah waited.  joseph waited…for a long time.  he got sold into slavery, accused of rape, and forgotten about in jail by the guy who HE got out of jail.  the isrealites waited 40 years in the desert to enter the promised land because they were a bunch of thick-headed knuckle heads. david waited 22 years after being anointed by samuel the prophet until he was anointed king over isreal.  i could probably go on, but i won’t.  the point is, God doesn’t mind making us wait on His promises and timing.

the thing is…if they hadn’t had to wait, they might’ve tried to steal some of God’s glory in the outcomes or missed God’s hand in working it out.  sarah and abraham may not have seen issac as such a gift from God if they hadn’t waited 80 years on him.  joseph waited and waited…but when he finally got out of jail, he was placed in a position of high honor, a position that ultimately BROUGHT the isrealites into egypt.  if they hadn’t been brought there, they wouldn’t have had to be led out away from pharoah, which seems like a good thing, but it was all part of God’s plan.  it’s part of His story.  in beth moore’s the patriarchs she writes about Issac and Rebekah (p. 107) had issac and rebekah conceived the first year they would have been tremendously less attentive to spiritual purpose and divine participation.  in other words, they might have missed the God-gift.

God has all things worked out in HIS TIME . His timing isn’t ours, or dictated by our desires.  His timing is PERFECT.  He works things out in the timing that will give Him the most glory and work out for the Kingdom.  BUT because of His amazing grace, it works out for our good too. (romans 8:28)

and the thing is…God doesn’t forget about us…or His promises to us.  but still we wait…and waiting stinks.  but what if waiting was part of the glory.  what if IN the waiting we sat with Him and waited together.  what if my eyes weren’t fixed on the promise, but on the One who made those promises.  what if i used the time in waiting to seek Him, to know Him, to see what He’s doing, and how i can be part of it NOW…waiting doesn’t mean sitting still.  He’s put me in position NOW…for later.  for my future and the future of the Kingdom.

i want to learn to delight in the Lord.  because He is worth it.  because He rescued me.  because He loves me.  because He deserves all our praise.  because He IS.  i want to be able to forget about everything else and see HIM.  not what i can get from Him.  i just want to run hard and fast with all i’ve got straight to Him.  never taking my eyes off and getting distracted, always remembering that HE is the prize. He’ll make good on His promises.  it’s who He is and it’s all about Him.

while i’m waiting i want to remember that.

salmos cinco, part 1

this is a strange one.  it goes back and forth from “God you are so good”, to “man those evil people stink…but You’re gonna take care of that…” i wonder what was going on in his mind when he wrote this.

verses 1-3 and 11-12 are the ones that really stuck out to me.  as i’m reading through this, focusing on getting to know God’s heart, i’m also noticing how much i’m focusing on david’s feelings.  he was a man after God’s own heart. david was God’s CHOSEN king of isreal.  i don’t know if God really has favorites or not, but if He did, i’d think david definitely was on that list.  even so, david had a tough run through life for awhile.  he was 15 when samuel anointed him, but it was 22 years after that that he became king of all isreal…i mean wow…talk about a lesson in patience.  and he was God’s CHOSEN one.  i guess in some way it makes me feel better that even DAVID felt like God had forgotten about him sometimes too.  i have to laugh though, because if you look at the guys in the old testament, waiting on God’s timing was a really key theme.  joseph waited a long time IN JAIL to be delivered and come into his place of honor.  abraham waited a long time on his promised son. noah waited a long time on a boat…that by the way took him a really long time to build…in the desert…when it had never rained before. i wonder if they felt forgotten too.  the people of isreal waited on the Messiah to finally come, and now we’re in the ultimate waiting game waiting on Him to come BACK and rescue us.

i’m going to mix it up a little.  psalm 5:3, 1-2  in the morning, O Lord, You hear my voice; in the morning i lay my requests before You and wait in expectation.  1. give ear to my words, O Lord, consider my sighing 2. listen to my cry for help, my King and my God, for to You i pray.

2 things pop out.

1. in the morning i lay my requests before You and wait in expectation. i think sometimes i pray safe prayers.  i don’t set my expectations high enough.  a few weeks ago my expectations were SHAKEN UP when after the death of a friend i found out that his parents were praying for LIFE; yea…for ressurection.  i’ve struggled with this since then.  yeah in my head i BELIEVE that God can do things like raise people from the dead, but in my heart…way deep down, do i really believe that He can do it right here, right now, right before my eyes?  that day i was hit right in the face that my answer was NO.  and i was devastated.  it struck me that i put God in a box.  i believe that HE IS GOD…He is Creator, He loves me (unexplainably…and that always gets to me) and that He is STILL ALIVE…and doing miracles all the time.  i’ve even been blessed enough to see one or two, but WOW…resurrection, really?!  my expectations are too low.  and i am not ok with that.  since then i’ve been praying for God to show Himself in mind blowing ways, to manifest Himself miraculously, LARGELY, mind-blowingly (not a word i know…), because i want to break my box to shreds.  i want to KNOW personally the God who heals cancer instantly, who protected shadrach, meshach, and abednigo in the fire, i want to SEE the fire and rain come down from heaven because we ask for Him to reign and do miracles, the GOD that i BELIEVE HE IS…i want to know He’s that, and i think david did too. i want Him to blow my mind…He’s done it over and over again, but i’m not satisfied.

2. david says that he knows God hears his voice…but in verses 1 and 2 he is begging God to listen.  give ear to my words, consider my sighings, listen to my cry. it’s almost like he’s so desperate that he’s begging God to listen and move in his life, but in verse 3 he’s reminding himself and declaring to God that he KNOWS He hears and that God WILL answer.

i’m glad that david, the man after God’s own heart, the man God CHOSE as king of His people had to remind Himself of God’s attributes.  in his waiting, hiding, and running He KNEW who God was, but sometimes had to cry out to Him and declare it to Him to remember it.  i’m glad that i’m not the only one who sometimes feels like i’m begging God to hear my prayers.  He WILL show up to me.  He WILL manifest Himself. He WILL be faithful to His promises, and because of His mercy and grace He WILL work everything out for my good…when i knock, He WILL answer.

i want to be waiting expectantly.

psalm 4

tonight was fantastic.  thursday nights have quickly become one of my favorite things.  to top it off i had an awesome time with leah kathryn just sharing about what God is teaching us and wondering and dreaming about Him.

already in verse 1 david is saying GOD C’MON answer me already…please answer me…i’m desperate.

at the end of the verse we see david’s prayer…give ME relief from MY distress…be merciful to ME and hear MY prayer.  i don’t think praying that stuff is bad…i think that we’re supposed to lift up our troubles and pleas and requests to God.  the Bible tells me so.  but i do wonder about praying prayers like this.

i wonder if praying prayers like this keeps us from receiving the blessing of praising, glorifying, and worshiping God.  i don’t know about you but when i’m praying stuff that sounds like oooh help me, i’m so bad off, help me, teach me, give me, me, me, me i don’t always leave that time of prayer or worship feeling blessed…in fact, when i spend time in prayer like THAT i tend to leave broken, sad, wallowing in self pity, frustrated, and certainly without much hope that things will look up.  i forget which one of us is God and which One of us is in control.  and to top that all off…i leave mad at myself for spending time in worship worshipping myself.

but when i lose myself in praise of God, i come away not only feeling good, but KNOWING that the God on my side is BIG, HUGE, AMAZING, POWERFUL, WONDERFUL, BEAUTIFUL, LOVING…my problems seem much smaller compared to the size of the God that i know.  it’s losing myself in worship of HIM and who HE IS that reminds me that He will never fail me, and that nothing is too big for MY God.  when i can withdraw from my surroundings, turn off my distractions, and allow JESUS to captivate my thoughts i feel like i really CAN DO ALL THINGS THROUGH CHRIST. nothing seems out of reach because when i spend time in prayer PRAISING AND WORSHIPPING El Shaddai i am ready to strip off every weight, thought, and sin that holds me down.

so why do i spend time praying about poor pitiful me?  right now that seems so silly…

so what do we do instead?!  because it says CRY OUT TO THE LORD…and He will hear. but maybe our cries should be for Him to show Himself so that we can be released from the grip of ourselves.  i believe it is scriptural to cry out…to be emotional…and present your requests and cries to the Lord.  but maybe, like david did here in psalm 4:1 it should be short…and sweet…and move onto the part declaring that the Lord HEARS His Beloved, praise Him, and allow our hearts to be filled with great joy (4:7).

this is a short psalm.  it starts off with david clearly crying out for relief…but just 8 short verses later he will lie down in peace.  he knows.  david is confident.  this has been consistent in the first 4 chapters…his hope, his comfort, his safety rest not in his army, but in the arms of the Lord that are not too short to save.

i feel like i can’t quit without focusing on verses 4 and 5 too.  in verse 2 he clarifies that he is talking to the men. (he does that by saying how long O, MEN…) so at least these 4 verses are talking to them.  but i have to wonder if david is declaring to them or himself, or possibly both that God has set apart the godly for Himself.  is he telling the men or HIMSELF don’t sin in your anger, go be still, make sure your prayers, worship, sacrifices, acts are all blessing the LORD.  it’s like he’s giving himself a little pep talk too maybe, “ok david, i know you’re angry, scared, mad, exhausted…don’t do anything you’re gonna regret in the morning.  GOD IS IN CONTROL. TRUST HIM.”

Our Father, who art in Heaven

hallowed by Thy Name

Thy Kingdom come,

Thy Will be done,

on earth as it is in Heaven

(Will You) give us this day our daily bread

(Will You) forgive ME as i forgive those who sin against me

(Will You) deliver me from the evil one

for Thine is the Kingdom, the Power, and the Glory forever and ever.

let us remember the words of Jesus…this is how you should pray.  i don’t want to pray this prayer as a memorized recitation…but i want to pray this way, with passion, hope, and thanksgiving KNOWING the One i’m praying to.  knowing that His Will IS the best way and BELIEVING that i KNOW the One to whom all power and glory belongs forever and ever. in prayer i don’t want to focus on my woes…i have them…and i fall into them a lot of the time. i fail miserably at losing myself in worship.  i am selfish and ask for what i want too much, but today i’m going to choose to praise Him for all that He’s done and all that is still to come.  i want to tap into the POWER that belongs to Him…

what if we prayed like that…

psalm 3

yup…i skipped psalm 2.  that’s because last night i was too tired to type and tonight i’m on psalm 3.

i love this. so far this psalm thing has been really great.  one comment on psalm 2 since i’m skipping it for now is that God is teaching me about being who He created me to be.  He’s also laying it on my heart to teach about it.  It seems to come up in all sorts of places, and it seems to be the root  of the struggles so many of our kids are going through.  it’s in psalm 2 too. i love that.

ok. psalm 3.

david is surrounded by this huge army.  the outcome may look pretty grim from where he’s sitting. everyone is telling him that God won’t even be able to rescue him from this one…but then he lays out his always present hope.  maybe that’s why he was a man after God’s own heart…he always says in the midst of his crying out that his hope is in God.

so here it is…and it’s beautiful.  he says

but You are a shield around me, O Lord, You bestow glory on me and lift up my head.

i see this picture of a little kid.  he’s fallen off his bike or something and his confidence fell off with him.  he’s sitting on the front porch all slumped down with his knees up and his face down.  he’s beyond bummed.  then his dad comes outside, wraps the little boy up in a big ol bear hug and takes his finger and lifts up his chin.

now the boy is postured so that he is looking directly into his daddy’s face.  the daddy says it’ll be ok…i’m here now.  i’ll help you.  i won’t leave you alone to fall again. NOW the little boy has hope again.  his face shines proudly as his dad helps him back onto his bike. what he couldn’t do on his own is now possible because his dad is there to be strong enough for him.

to the Lord i cry aloud and He answers me from His Holy Hill.

in his fear, when all odds were against him david just cried out to God.  it’s where his hope was.  it was what he knew would connect him to the power of the Almighty.

then he goes to sleep.

so this huge army is after him.  david cries out to God because he’s surrounded and knows that he stands no chance outside of the miraculous intervention of God. so he prays…then he sleeps.  when he’s being surrounded by this huge army!!!  he doesn’t run, or get his weapons, or summon his giant army…he sleeps. WHAAAT?!?

later in psalms he declares that he cries out to God because he knows that He listens.  proverbs 15:29 …God hears the prayers of the righteous.  what makes someone righteous? hebrews says that it’s faith so does james. by his (abraham) FAITH it was counted to him as righteousness (james 2:23)

so when we come to Him in FAITH which means our hope is in Him…He hears us.  hallelujah!

so he sleeps because he knows 3 things.

1. God is in control.  david is not.

2.  he knows that God heard his cry.

3. he knows where his victory lay…whether or not he wins this battle his hope is in heaven.

the last verse declares that. from the Lord comes deliverance. from the Lord comes deliverance.  from the Lord comes deliverance. when i cry out in faith…knowing that He hears me, i can declare that no matter what the outcome of the situation is my hope , my deliverance, and my victory stand in the Lord alone.

psalm 1

yep it’s “psalm 1” not “psalms 1”. crazy i know.

“blessed is he…who delights in the law of the Lord and meditates on it day and night.”

deuteronomy 6:7 tells me that the “law” is to love the Lord God with all my being; then love others.

it says to impress this law on my children and meditate on it while sitting at home, walking around, lying down, and getting up.

blessed is he…who delights in loving God and others and meditates on it day and night.  blessed is he who doesn’t allow the other stuff to get in the way of thinking and loving God.  blessed is he who is anxious about nothing; prayerful in everything; and thankful in anything because his thoughts are on the Lord and loving Him.

that’s a big commitment.  this is just psalm 1!

this psalm doesn’t just say blessed is he who thinks about God…but it says blessed is he who delights in the law of the Lord.  it makes me question myself.  was loving God my delight today?  all day?

i know that walking on the greenway today i was filled with awe and gratitude to Him.  while i was there loving Him was my delight.  2 hours later my thoughts had wandered away from loving Him to being totally distraught and sold into lies from satan.  i fell back into the all too familiar place of feeling forgotten by God.  HOW DID THAT HAPPEN?

::this is where i bunny trail::  the big theme God is getting me to TEACH right now is that we are all ADORED by Him.  that we’re all uniquely, perfectly, beautifully created by a God who loves us more than we could ever even think to imagine.  Psalm 139, Jeremiah 1, Song of Solomon…just to mention a few talk about how we are God’s beautiful Beloved.  He ADORES the girls i’m teaching.  i can preach it, pound it into them, pray it over them…because i am so desperate for them to hear how God loves them.  i’m so desperate for them to be free  from the pressures that high school, media, culture, america, us, their parents, bob jones and sparkman put on them.  i’m desperate for them to know that their worth is not in some boy, or a grade, or act score (seriously i hate the act), or which college they go to. i’m DESPERATE for them.  words can’t express how much i love them and want them to know what REAL love is…how much i want them to know the One who pours out that love so lavishly on them.  it’s the greatest challenge i’ve ever been given.  it’s giant and i know that it’s from the Lord…because it’s something i can’t do.

ok off the bunny trail, but i had to say that because it’s RIDICULOUS that i can preach that all day long and BELIEVE it to the core of my being, fight for those precious girls to KNOW it way down deep in them…and forget that it applies to me too.  amazing.  somehow satan won that fight last night.  but i hope that that fight is coming to an end and that God is about to write the big W in His column but only He is able to help me have victory over satan.  i hate that guy.  gah.

back to that blessed is he thing…

and he will be like a tree planted beside a stream of water, that yields fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither.  whatever he does prospers.

when our delight is in loving God we’re like david fighting goliath.  who cares that all we’ve got is a little pebble and we’re fighting against this 9 foot giant guy with machine guns and tanks.  when our delight is in God we win.  satan loses. and of course God gets the glory which is kinda the point anyway.

this was fun.

the psalms

blog huh…i have to say that i have never actually wanted one of these.

i’m on this journey through the Psalms.  I want to get to know the Person of God.  my goal here is to find Him, reconnect with Him and fall in love again. yesterday, the first day we’ve really tasted spring yet this year, i was out walking on the greenway.  i was so amazed and touched by the beauty of the day and my surroundings that i almost cried.  i heard God speak and say “i did this for you to enjoy”.  later i felt almost like it was Him saying, “I was hoping you’d notice Me and how much I love you”.  i lost it.  i cry a lot…Jesus moves me. He’s so amazing, and beautiful, and incredible, and awesome…i don’t know how i ever “forget” it.

i’m inspired by david…the man after God’s own heart.  the psalms are such an interesting collaboration of praise, cries, hopes, fears, sorrow, joy, and so much more.  it’s where i always go if i don’t know where else to find help in a circumstance…there is pretty much one for anything.  but i’m not here this time for anything…i’m not looking for comfort, or help in a crisis, i’m solely looking for One thing.  i’m looking for the heart of God…