Psalm 100–We Are His


The verses of this psalm strike a note of familiarity with the reader and the reason for this is twofold. The themes of praise for God, membership in His flock and the ultimate truth of His enduring love are all present. Because the truths present are all encompassing, the words of the psalm have made their way into countless hymns, choruses and prayers.

Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.

Worship the Lord with gladness;

come before him with joyful songs.

Know that the Lord is God.

Placed in the cultural context of Israel, there are also theological lessons that take root in the subconscious. The Lord is God, not one among many, not capricious and prone to tantrum as the imaginary gods of those surrounding Israel. Knowing this truth and the truths about God make worship and the joy inherent second nature. Unlike the way in which one might approach an idol—hoping but never knowing—approaching the gates of the Shepherd comes with assurance.

For the Lord is good and his love endures forever;

His faithfulness continues through all generations.

Assurance despite any temporary travail or circumstance comes through knowing God. The psalmist doesn’t speak from book knowledge here, he writes from the heart of one who has searched both his personal history and that of the people of Israel, knowing the peaks and valleys. Knowledge brings level to these ups and downs. Knowledge reminds us that time belongs to God and that the contours may only soften over time. Knowledge reminds us that we can still be joyful in this truth.

Grace and peace to you.

image docman

Psalm 77 – I Cried Out to God to Hear Me

image I cried out to God for help; I cried out to God to hear me.

When I was in distress, I sought the Lord; at night I stretched out untiring hands

and my soul refused to be comforted. (Ps 77:1-2)

We are all familiar with these dark nights in which we cry out to the Lord but seem to receive not a word in return. Our distress deepens with the silence but moreover, our thoughts return to times of blessing. Why does God bless us here and leave us in distress there? These thoughts drive the psalmist to say:

I remembered you, O God, and I groaned; I mused, and my spirit grew faint.

You kept my eyes from closing; I was too troubled to speak.

I thought about the former days, the years of long ago;

I remembered my songs in the night.

My heart mused and my spirit inquired: “Will the Lord reject forever? Will he never show his favor again?” (vv 3-7)

Our greatest difficulty comes in the limited time span of our thoughts. We only see tomorrow and the end of our days but God looks into eternity. Our travails which seem unending and insurmountable to us are but a second in His vision. Our difficulty in facing the struggles of today is our inability to look beyond, to know a time when it will be all blessing and no sorrow. Can we look that far?

Grace and peace to you..

image by pshmell

Lent Spent with the Psalms Day Thirty One

image We plead with God for mercy and security, ratcheting up the intensity when we feel that we might be treading on especially dangerous ground. When the voices were raised to free Barabbas, there is no doubt for whom we would have been calling. Like the psalmist in Psalm 140, we see ourselves clearly on one side:

Rescue me, O Lord, from evil men; protect me from men of violence,

who devise evil plans in their hearts and stir up war every day. (vv 1-2)

Does the mirror tell a different story? The Cross offers salvation but it also acts like a mirror, requiring us to look deeply and to realize that we are the people of evil, the people who caused the Lord to be crucified. The observation of Lent is intended to focus our hearts on not only the glory of the resurrection but on the brokenness that lies within that made the Cross necessary. Perhaps our plea should be “Lord, rescue us from ourselves.”

Grace and peace to you.

image by Mance

Lent Spent with the Psalms Day Thirty

imageWe all know the feeling, even if we are unable to bring forth the words:

Why have you rejected us forever, O God?

Why does your anger smolder against the sheep in your pasture? (Psalm 74:1)

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?

Why are you so far from saving me, so far from the words of my groaning?

O my God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer, by night, and am not silent. (Psalm 22:1-2)

From the sixth hour until the ninth hour darkness came over all the land. About the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?” –which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:45-46)

God has not turned his back on you, it can only be that in some way, you have turned your back to Him.

Grace and peace to you.

image Sean Dreilinger

Lent Spent with the Psalms Day Three

imageThe focus of Lent is often on the deprivation that Christians volunteer to engage. The question “what are you giving up for Lent?” is often an introductory comment heard. I believe when we answer this question and go no further, we diminish the depth of this season of the Church year. To see the days as simply a fast from something runs dangerously close to self glory in unsophisticated eyes, even though this is not our purpose in the response. A better response perhaps is to say simply, “I am relieving myself of those things that fall between God and me.” Today we turn to Psalm 126 for a brief reminder of why we rid ourselves of worldly burdens.

The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy. (v3)

That single verse sums up our life in Christ. Even if the only(!) thing He ever did for us was to open the avenue for a restored relationship with Him, we would know unending joy. Earthly blessings and daily sufferings would both vanish in the passing of time as we process the magnitude of what we have been given to us through Calvary. We have been brought back from the wilderness.

When the Lord brought back the captives to Zion, we were like men who dreamed.

Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy.

Then it was said among the nations, “The Lord has done great things for them.” (vv 1-2)

Let one person know see this joy today so that they too can say, the Lord has done great things for you.

Grace and peace to you.

image rickz

Practicing the Discipline? of Celebration


Christians are supposed to be serious and dour all the time, right? Isn’t this what the Bible teaches us?

As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him.

While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and “sinners” came and ate with him and his disciples. (Mt 9:9-10)

Was Jesus hectoring and lecturing the guests at Matthew’s table or was He allowing His joy to infiltrate the gathering, making it a celebration?

When Jesus went to the wedding in Cana with Mary, did He take the jugs of cold water and dump them on the proceedings or did he genuinely celebrate the joyous event? The answer to both of these questions is yes, of course Jesus celebrated to the fullest. The Holiest man ever to tread the planet was no stranger to joy, happiness, and celebration despite the burdens that He carried. With this kind of joy in the head of the Church, shouldn’t the body be following?

Pleasure is not our enemy unless it becomes an end unto itself. We dishonor God by fearing and avoiding it when He has so clearly commanded it and demonstrated it in human form. Celebration is the completion of worship and can be an act of piety in its expression. Celebration is second nature when we have appropriately rooted our attitude by proper thinking:

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. (Phil 4:8)

If your mind is centered on these things and grounded in the faith of the ultimate goodness of the Lord you won’t be able to resist celebrating. It will become your nature rather than a forced act. Joy will become your trademark.

Joy, Joy, Joy and the Discipline of Celebration


There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven. . .

a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance . . . (Ecc 3:1,4)

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. (Gal 5:22)


Holy delight and joy is the perfect antidote to the difficulties we face in the world and from pure and honest delight comes genuine gratitude. Joy is the end result of the spiritual disciplines, the fruit of a soul transformed by God. Without the effect of the disciplines that we engage, true joy will evade us and we will settle for the shallow waters of fleeting pleasures and mud pies. As C.S. Lewis preached in the Weight of Glory,

We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.

The modern Church has made an idol of adversity and trouble, misunderstanding the role of evil. We have taken the Lord’s promise of troubles (John 16:33) to be the whole of our lot in life, making it into something to be endured until we can reach the other side. Nothing could be farther from the truth. We were created to have joy and know the bottomless depths of happiness that come from living within the Lord’s kingdom and knowing restored relationship with Him. Pleasure is not a sin. We dishonor God by avoiding and fearing it as much as we would by living strictly for its pursuit or becoming dependent upon it. God’s instruction in Deuteronomy 14 points the way:

Use the silver to buy whatever you like: cattle, sheep, wine or other fermented drink, or anything you wish. Then you and your household shall eat there in the presence of the Lord your God and rejoice. (Dt 14:26)

As His children, his servants, his worshippers we are to know joy always (Phil 4:4). It is to be our mark but instead, we have become dour and puritanical, fearing that any joy or pleasure will lead us into a temptation from which there is no return. We should be thankful that God chooses to challenge us in the various ways that He does. God works all things for good over the span of His view and finite nature of our understanding can lead us to suspect otherwise. Worse yet, in our narrow view it becomes easy to deny the way in which evil infects our world and our minds associate the Father with the source of the most horrible tragedies.

Celebration is the core of the way of the follower of Christ, a perpetual Jubilee rooted in the trust we have in God. Discipline is the way to get there.

Image swamibu

Psalm 30 – Rejoicing Comes in the Morning

30 Thirty Sunburst The middle verses of Psalm 30 remind us of why we return to these scriptures for strength and comfort time and time again.

Sing the Lord you saints of his; praise his holy name.

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. (vv 4-5)

All of the saints of the Lord are called to raise our voices in praise even though their may be fleeting moments in which we believe that our travails overwhelm our ability to worship. David reminds us that life with the Lord will have these peaks and valleys but that the grace of God remains consistent. We need only turn our hearts toward him to rejoice again in His goodness.

The core thought in this psalm is the distinction between death and silence, and life and praise. Despite current circumstances, the question that it drives us to ask is, are we still drawing breath? If so, we can praise God beginning with this simple fact. Once the praise begins, the Spirit will remind us of all of the other things for which we can praise God as well.

To you, O Lord, I called; to the Lord I cried for mercy.

What gain is there in my destruction, in my going down into the pit?

Will the dust praise you? Will it proclaim your faithfulness?

Hear, O Lord, and be merciful to me, O Lord, be my help. (vv 8-10)

… for if I live I praise you…

You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, that my heart may sing to you and not be silent.

O Lord my God, I will give you thanks forever.(vv 11-12)

It is easy to see only darkness when we feel as though the valley has become too deep to ever climb out of but God has a purpose in it. Small graces will visit us, perhaps even those that we might be unaware of but they are cause for praise. We lift our voices despite the darkness for morning will come, just as God promises.

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Fourth Sunday in Advent – Micah and Mary

image In logical ordering of the world God created, the darkness must precede the light. We must endure the night to know the sunrise and warmth of a new day. This ordering extends to the extension of God’s mercy; our repentance leads to the light of the Lord’s mercy. Reading the words of the prophet Micah paints a vivid picture of this contrast. The Lord rebukes his children and follows it with the promises of mercy to be received by those who turn away from their sin. The greatest promise is a featured part of the Advent tradition,

But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times. (v 5:2)

Mary too knew the sweet longing of anticipation. Carrying the precious gift she bore closer and closer to His birth, Mary was overwhelmed at the change that was about to take place in the world. She was perhaps at a point similar to those moments just before the crown of the sun breaks the horizon, when the purples mix with the deep blue and black of the night sky and the sliver of light pushes the sphere of darkness to the west; though many weeks would still pass the day of the birth of the Lord was nearer than farther! Her heart sang,

My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me—holy is His name. (Lk vv 1:46b-49)

The day is near for us as well, rejoice for Immanuel!

Advent Benediction ~ The Song of Mary

image Rejoice in the presence of the Lord, may His face shine upon you.

May you walk in anticipation of the promise kept,

and may you fall to your knees in humility and repentance.


May you join with your sister Mary and your soul glorify the Lord, your savior.

I pray that you will be known as people of mercy as the Lord works through you

and that you will give to others the same love that He has given to you.


May you remember to be merciful, humble, and faithful,

even when you face uncertainty as Mary did.

May you trust in Him as His ways are perfect.