Thursday, February 14, 2008


1 The fool says in his heart,
"There is no God."
They are corrupt, their deeds are vile;
there is no one who does good.

--Psalm 14:1

We may believe in God. I recently took an assessment which told me that I believe very strongly in the trinitarian God. Maybe you've never doubted God's existence in your mind. But what about in your heart? The psalm says the fool says in his HEART "there is no god." We might say we believe in God, but do we live as if that's really the case? Out of the heart everything flows. The brain directs and points us this way and that. But the heart keeps us alive. We can kick and scream all we like and try to convince ourselves of this and that but ultimately we always follow our hearts. In our hearts lie our desires and they pull and nag at us and ultimately have their way. If we don't believe in God in our hearts, it matters little what we tell ourselves. Of course beliefs are made with the mind. What can it really mean to believe with your heart? This kind of belief cannot come from within ourselves. It is not ultimately based on a mental assessment and evaluation. This kind of belief comes from God. Like the man in Mark 9 we must turn to Jesus and say "I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!"

Monday, February 11, 2008

The Path To Peace

1Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus,
To all the saints in Christ Jesus at Philippi, together with the overseers[a] and deacons:
2Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
--Philippians 1:1-2

Grace and peace are the substance of love. Peace is the way things are supposed to be. Grace is how you get there. Everybody wants peace. Everybody knows peace is what's supposed to happen. But do we really understand that grace is the necessary prerequisite for peace? Grace is given by those who have been wronged to those who have wronged. The lion's share of global tension is rooted in deep-seated hatred and bitterness over past wrongs. The parable of the unmerciful servant teaches us that our inability to forgive others is rooted in our lack of understanding of how much we need to be forgiven ourselves. What does it mean to sin against God? Why does it matter to Him what I do down here? Why does He get bothered by stuff I do? Until we really get what it means to have fallen short of the glory of God we'll never get the grace of God. And until we get the grace of God we'll never be able to really offer it to others. And until we can offer it to others we'll never find peace. So when we are discouraged--when we feel unsettled--we must ask God to show us the reality of the depths of our sin.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

The Lions Den

1 O LORD my God, I take refuge in you;
save and deliver me from all who pursue me,
2 or they will tear me like a lion
and rip me to pieces with no one to rescue me.

--Psalm 7:1-2

It is an important step of growth to be broken down. Muscles grow when they are first worked beyond their capacity. It is frightening yet necessary to come to that point in life when you realize that defeat is a real possibility. Perhaps you dreamed of nothing but the best for yourself. But now you see that it might not happen. You just might lose. Circumstances or sin might overtake you. You aren't as strong or as good as you might have thought. You just might be torn by the lions. You can't depend on yourself, you don't have the strength. You can't depend on others--who possibly could carry you through this? Your only hope is that God himself will reach down into the lions den and pull you out.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Praying the Psalms

9 Be merciful to me, O LORD, for I am in distress;
my eyes grow weak with sorrow,
my soul and my body with grief.

10 My life is consumed by anguish
and my years by groaning;
my strength fails because of my affliction,
and my bones grow weak.

--Psalm 31:9-10

We wake up in the morning and we have our quiet time. And each morning we enter into it with an expectation about what's supposed to happen. We are supposed to "get something out of it." We are supposed to have some sort of an ah-hah moment where God opens our eyes with new insight to a pearl of spiritual wisdom. If this doesn't happen we feel like our time with God has failed. Like it didn't really count. We need a do-over. But the psalms teach us otherwise. The psalms aren't really meant to be studied. The psalms are meant to be prayed. We shouldn't read the psalms trying to get something out of them. Rather, we should live them. The psalms are the prayers and journal entries that our own hearts need to pray and need to write. So I read this psalm today and pray it as if it were my own.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Down In The Dumps (aka the Pit)

1 I will exalt you, O LORD,
for you lifted me out of the depths
and did not let my enemies gloat over me.
2 O LORD my God, I called to you for help
and you healed me.
3 O LORD, you brought me up from the grave;
you spared me from going down into the pit.
4 Sing to the LORD, you saints of his;
praise his holy name.
5 For his anger lasts only a moment,
but his favor lasts a lifetime;
weeping may remain for a night,
but rejoicing comes in the morning.
6 When I felt secure, I said,
"I will never be shaken."
7 O LORD, when you favored me,
you made my mountain stand firm;
but when you hid your face,
I was dismayed.
8 To you, O LORD, I called;
to the Lord I cried for mercy:
9 "What gain is there in my destruction,
in my going down into the pit?
Will the dust praise you?
Will it proclaim your faithfulness?
10 Hear, O LORD, and be merciful to me;
O LORD, be my help."
11 You turned my wailing into dancing;
you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy,
12 that my heart may sing to you and not be silent.
O LORD my God, I will give you thanks forever.

--Psalm 30

"What gain is there in my destruction?" Have you ever actually been to the point where you are wondering if God is allowing or even planning to have you destroyed?--that point where your misery is all that God seems to have in store for you? The depths of pain and defeat to which God will allow us to reach is sometimes staggering. Though the extent to which we see this to be so common in the lives of His people as revealed throughout scripture and especially in the psalms should cause us not to be surprised. It might be a test of our faith. It might not have any reason we can perceive or understand. But it should always turn us heavenward. Like a beetle stuck on his back squirming helplessly and looking toward the sky, we also must turn in defeat and despair to the only one who can turn us right side up. Cry out as we may--even accusing God of foul play--let us return to praise as we confidently look beyond the here and now and see clearly a future written by the hands of a good and sovereign God. Our weeping will turn to rejoicing, our wailing to dancing, and our hearts will turn from silence to singing.