Psalm 118 ~ Rejected Stone

The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; the Lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes. The Lord has done it this very day; let us rejoice today and be glad. Psalm 118:22-24

These stanzas carry a familiarity for the Christian as they are heard in both the New Testament and modern worship. Christ uses the words of himself in all three of the Synoptic accounts, not only making it memorable but also, markedly important across the three diverse audiences for each book. In its NIV84 form, not a week goes by that the day the Lord has made doesn’t ring out in music from the stages of His church. We hear these words and envision the imagery through Christ’s voice, but what does He intend to convey?

Psalm 118 is a hymn of thanksgiving for deliverance. In the case of the Psalmist, deliverance from military enemies who threatened to encroach upon the sovereignty of God’s people. The author leaves no historical context from which to apply the celebration to a particular victory, leaving it open to wide range of interpretations. Regardless, the hymn begins and ends with a vibrant call to praise that cements the goodness of God in the minds of the celebrants:

Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good;

His love endures forever. (v1)

Is your maturity such that you can say the same thing? Can you look over the record of your life, its struggles, troughs and troubles and say with confidence that God is good every minute of every day and this His love is on full display in your life? Should He elect not to deliver you from trouble, will you sing the same words?

When Jesus speaks these words of the monumental change in the kingdom, He has just told the parable of the Tenants to a dumbstruck audience, most of whom would fail to see themselves as actors in the story. If the parable applied to them, their thoughts would run to a world turned upside-down, something they were wholly unprepared to face.

Salvation for followers of Christ is inextricably bound up in this monumentally changed kingdom. While travail may still be a part of our lives, we can take a celebratory attitude in the hope and promise that this change engenders. For a short time we may suffer, but at an appointed time the Lord’s goodness will be more than a promise. It will be the reality of His enduring love.

Grace and peace to you…

Lent Spent with the Psalms Day Thirty Two

imageThough we pride ourselves as otherwise, our perspective is limited. A few moments of darkness can cause despair and test our faith. To see the Lord hanging upon the cross was certainly one of those moments. To see Jesus release His final breath in the gloom must have sent minds racing. The body releases adrenalin to fuel our escape from fear and our heart races. The mind must quickly rehearse the truths that it has acquired to direct the next critical move.

Readers of the Old Testament have the advantage of seeing over and over how God reminds His people of all of the bondage that he has freed them from throughout history. Faced with silence, the psalmist remembers:

Will the Lord reject forever?

Will he never show his favor again?

Has his promise failed for all time?

Has God forgotten to be merciful? Has he in anger withheld his compassion? (Psalm 77:7-9)

We know these feelings, the despair from thinking that our unworthiness has overwhelmed God’s grace. In these moments we need to remember.

Then I thought, “To this I will appeal: the years of the right hand of the Most High.”

I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes I will remember your miracles of long ago.

I will meditate on all your works and consider all your mighty deeds.

Your ways, O God, are holy. (vv 10-13a)

God does not change.

Grace and peace to you.

image kanelstrand

40 Loaves: Breaking Bread with Our Father

clip_image001The devotional section of most Christian bookstores is filled with volume after volume of promises for a better tomorrow, the sweetest words of the Lord, and readings that plant nothing but positive seeds of faith in the reader. Many Christians find these an enjoyable way to begin or end the day but for some, they fall short. Some Christians are plagued with questions that seem out of place when arranged against the flowery words or sun-shiny phrases they read; why am I so angry, why do I only pray in emergencies, why don’t I feel safe at church? The overwhelmingly positive daily entries of many volumes seem out of place against the reality of disappointment that we see in our lives and they cause the seeds of doubt that we harbor to germinate. As they grow, the doubts do more than nag at us, they form a core of weakness in our lives that we fear addressing because everyone around us gives the appearance of having it so together. For those of us who struggle, C.D. Baker’s new book, 40 Loaves, arranges all the things we wonder about into daily readings and invitations to meditation and prayer.

When you first begin turning the pages you come upon a truth that is key to absorbing the encouragement contained on these pages. “Wisdom is found when troubled hearts ask honest questions.” Despite a church culture that encourages the formation of a false front, Baker steps up and addresses the questions that we are afraid to ask, the questions that make our faith appear weak and doubtful. Initially, we don’t want to admit that we hold these doubts or suffer from these wayward thoughts because we fear the impression they leave with others, especially in the modern Church where everyone works to appear without issue. Baker knows however, that there are more struggling wanderers than we would like to admit within our midst. Perhaps you and I are among them.

The vignettes that lead each entry draw your eyes and you can’t help but find your reflection in at least one of them. When you notice your picture you also notice the question that has bounced around your heart for days or months or years in bold, black letters. Why is my life such a mess? Why am I bored with church, the Bible, and Jesus? Why am I so angry? The great favor that Baker has done for us is not to give pat answers and then just throw in a couple of proof texts. He has allowed that we can have moments like this in our life and then nudges us to return back to the foundational truths that we know, but have trouble accepting. Like any good guide, He leads us to the spot where we see the sunrise but then lets us notice it for ourselves. God works when we are most honest and put down the facade. Doubts are not magically erased but truth begins the process of reducing their hold on our hearts. When the rays of truth begin to strike us and brighten our countenance, our guide doesn’t turn and leave us. Each entry closes with more questions to ponder and a prayer. Our doubts may not be erased but we will certainly not frame them in the same way. These are pages you can return to again and again and find something new to bring to the Father in your time with Him.

40 Loaves is not for every reader. There are no treacly-sweet pat answers to doubt in this small volume nor does it conclude with an assurance that you will be changed by the simple act of turning the pages. Bread will have to be broken with Him repeatedly. You will see yourself on at least one page and if you have the courage to be honest with self and God, your doubts will be eased and pushed aside by a newly growing robustness in your faith.


For more information about this book, have a look here at the Random House web site.


This book was provided for review by the WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group.