Saturday, March 30, 2013

Psalm 3: Our Shield

Ever been in physical danger?  This psalm was written when David was forced to flee from his son Absalom.  This is the first recording of a historical setting, it refers to 2 Samuel 15 & 16.  Here's the scoop; while David had been occupied with the affairs of the government his son Absalom stole the heart of the people and raised a rebellion in the nearby town of Hebron.  The revolt was so sudden and unexpected that David had no recourse but to flee Jerusalem with whatever leaders remained faithful to him.  To the desert they went.  David's heart was broken, he was weeping, barefoot, and his head was covered with sorrow.  Ever been there?  David was devastated.  His own son betrayed him.

We may not be facing an imminent military battle most mornings, but we are facing some battle (job, children, spouse, legal issue...).  Whatever distresses you that is precisely when you will find The Deliverer!  Here is the mountain top point:  turn your attention away from the battle and onto God.  When a believer gazes too long at his enemy, the force arrayed against him seems to grow bigger and bigger until it appears overwhelming!  But when he turns his thoughts to God, God is seen in his true, great stature and the enemy shrinks to manageable proportions.  In the midst of these struggles we must remember God's promises.  "Do not forget the things your eyes have seen, lest they depart from your heart...",  Deuteronomy encourages us.

I remember going through a really difficult struggle that went on for months and months and I finally came to my end.  Prostrate on the floor I cried out to the Lord and instantly Philippians 4:8-9 flooded my mind.  "...whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy - meditate on these things.  The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you."  Spiritual hymns started pouring out of me like a warm blanket of protection.  I will never forget that moment.  It was at that exact moment when everything changed.  The dark cloud that had hovered over me for so long vanished.

Switching your focus off the issue and onto God and His plan changes things.  When you start listing that which is true and noble and of good report suddenly everything is different.  It's like mumbling over a flat tire but remember that someone you know is suffering from illness in the hospital.  It's a change in perspective.  It's swapping your turmoil for God's grace, peace, and strength.

Spurgeon said, "We need not fear a frowning world while we rejoice in a prayer-hearing God."  Verse 5 is a beautiful picture of one so trusting in God that he is able to sleep soundly even while the treacherous seeks his life.  David is pointing out some important points:
1.  God is a 'shield' around us.
2.  God lifted-up his head from a downcast posture.  Sin & strife beat us down.
3.  God answers when we cry out to Him.
A confidence is expressed in the hope of the next morning.  The psalmist went to sleep trusting God and awakened with the events of the day firmly in God's hands.  God shows up and provided.  He caused Absalom to listen to bad advice and failed to pursue and defeat his father when he was most vulnerable.  When battle engaged, after David gathered strength and prepared for it, David's troops achieved a great victory!  Sadly, his son died that day.

Salvation comes from the Lord.  God is indeed the author of salvation from beginning to end.  So why tremble before the lesser, physical dangers of this life?  Triumph in faith!!  Start your morning off with everything in God's hands...sound like a good day to me!

My prayer journal is a testimony to the Lord's victory in my life and for those I have prayer on behalf of.  I treasure being reminded of how God has answered petitions and prayers.  My viewpoint is so small but God's is vast and wide and deep.  Allow yourself a quiet confidence in the midst of distress- and sleep well!

Coram Deo,

Friday, March 29, 2013

Psalm 2 : God's Supremacy

Why do the nations rage,
And the people plot a vain thing?
The kings of the earth set themselves,
And the rulers take counsel together,
Against the Lord and against His Anointed, saying,
“Let us break Their bonds in pieces
And cast away Their cords from us.”
He who sits in the heavens shall laugh;
The Lord shall hold them in derision.
Then He shall speak to them in His wrath,
And distress them in His deep displeasure:
“Yet I have set My King
On My holy hill of Zion.”
“I will declare the decree:
The Lord has said to Me,
‘You are My Son,
Today I have begotten You.
Ask of Me, and I will give You
The nations for Your inheritance,
And the ends of the earth for Your possession.
You shall break[a] them with a rod of iron;
You shall dash them to pieces like a potter’s vessel.’”
10 Now therefore, be wise, O kings;
Be instructed, you judges of the earth.
11 Serve the Lord with fear,
And rejoice with trembling.
12 Kiss the Son,[b] lest [c] He be angry,
And you perish in the way,
When His wrath is kindled but a little.
Blessed are all those who put their trust in Him.
Here is a matrix example to dissect this psalm...

Psalm 2 gives a wide-angle panoramic view of the nations. The theme is the supremacy of God and His purposes over the nations of the world.  The Psalmist declares that God laughs at the rulers of the world when they defy Him.  At the time of Psalm 2’s writing, the name of the game for Near Eastern nations was to wage war and expand territories, and Israel was just one puny nation among others to be conquered. Some say that King David composed this psalm after he had taken Jerusalem from the Jebusites, as described in 2 Samuel. 
Verse 4 is the only time in the bible where God laughs-He is laughing at the ludacrous people.

Every human heart has a ruler.  This psalm speaks of the rebellion of the world's rulers against God's Anointed.  

Our assignment to is carry the message of God's decree and Christ's rule to the nations or community or neighborhood...  We are to proclaim that Jesus is Lord to all.  So take refuge in Him, the only refuge from the wrath of God is God's mercy unfolded at the cross of Jesus Christ.

This passage is a great reminder to pray for our leaders, our country, our world at large.  We live in such atrophy and blindness.  It's hard for me to laugh at the world when I see abortion clinics, traditional family life diminishing, a divisive president, the list goes on and on.  God however is not phased by what he sees, but make no mistake, he does not turn a blind eye to one bit of it!  That is my comfort, to know that even when it is difficult to bear what is passed onto me against my will I shall endure and persevere because God is supreme! Our best defense is prayer.  Rejoice Christian with trembling!  Give him your devotion and worship only Him!

Coram Deo,

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Psalm 1: Wisdom

Two portraits are presented in Psalm 1:

Practical advise is given in this passage.  The way to find happiness and fulfillment in life is to dive into scripture, drink it in, savor it and then walk in it.  The law of God is necessary, we need boundaries, a standard to live by, a view in which to see the world.  The law reveals to us our inability, our great need for a Helper.  Scripture has been given to us to do us good.  We are blessed by the Word.  Godliness is presented positively as the way of one who delights in what God has laid out for us before the creation of the world.  In contrast, the world rolls its eyes at old-fashioned biblical truths.  The world thinks we're not 'progressive', that we are stuck in our narrow single-mindedness.  There is no sex appeal, no toys to accumulate, no fame or boring they say!  My questions is...which one of us is content?  Which one of us knows deep joy instead of fleeting happiness?  Whose conscience is pricked by right and wrong?  And YES there is such a thing as right and wrong!!

A striking feature in Hebrew poetry is parallelism:  saying the same thing in 2 or 3 linked lines.
Set 1:                    Set 2:                    Set 3:
Walk                     Counsel                 Ungodly
Stand                     Path                      Sinners
Sit                         Seat                      Scornful

Want a fast track to emptiness, regret and frustration?  Embody this lifestyle-  there's the magic formula!  The way of the lost is a slippery slope bobsledding downhill fast.  It may seem 'fun' for the moment but I guarantee that moment will come to a halt!  Charles Spurgeon said, "When men are living in sin they go from bad to worse.  At first they merely walk in the counsel of the careless and ungodly who forget God-the evil is rather practical than habitual-but after that, they become habituated to the evil, and the stand in the way of open sinners who willfully violate God's commandments; and if let alone go one step further and become themselves pestilent teachers and tempters of others and sit in the seat of the scornful."  Check yourself, be aware of your associations and that you are not counted among the 3rd set.

How does one 'delight' in Gods law?    The idea of mediating simply means to reflect and think about what you have read.  Journaling is great way to record your reponse.  When you study in school you take notes, memorize and respond to your information, same thing for studying the Bible.  The word 'law' refers to the whole of God's inscripturated revelation:  learning about God is beautiful, and a privilege, be ravished by it!

John Stout wisely said, "delight is an indication of the new birth, for'...the sinful man is hostile to God.  It does not submit to God's law, nor can it do so' (Romans 8:7).  As a result of the inward, regenerating work of the Holy Spirit, however, the godly find that they love the law of the God simply because it conveys to them the will of their God.  They do not rebel against its exacting demands; their whole being approves and endorses it...Delighting in it, the godly will meditate in it, or pore over it, constantly, day and night."

In love with...

Where are you walking?  Who are you standing next to?  Who is sitting next to you?  BE GROUNDED in your faith and convictions!  Meditation requires groundedness, that is why we are given the illustration of the tree planted by the rivers of water.  The land around the tree may be barren, dry and empty.  Nourishment comes from the Water of Life, Jesus.  Compare the grounded tree to the flaky chaff being swirled and blown around holding onto a notion.  The chaff is lost.

The less traveled road is not the popular one.  You are not promised an easy journey, there are perilous things ahead.  How will you handle choices, crisis points and chaos on this road?  By delighting in the One who knows you best and has your back.  When life throws you a curve you will not be blown around like the chaff because scripture supersedes the turmoil.  But that scripture has to be planted deep in the reservoir of you heart in order to conquer the enemy-this is the key to wisdom.

When I walk I want to walk with the upright, focused on the direction I am going and not getting pulled and side-tracked into other venues.  I want to stand with no shame in my face, my head held high, my body healthy and strong to bear any load I am carrying.  When I sit I want to be able to sign my name at the end of the day with a smile.  Knowing I did not walk one part of my journey alone for He watches over me, equipping me, and helping me.  I pray the road that is behind me is one my children will want to follow, hopefully there won't be too many ditches or bumps that I created!  Thank you Lord for blessing me.

Coram Deo,

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Psalm or Psych?

I have found an author that writes commentaries that explain bible passages in such a way that expounds my understanding of scripture in a succinct way and enhances my knowledge base.  Reading through scripture I will be thinking of a question and there in the next paragraph is the answer.  Pretty cool!  I read through Matthew last year gleaning so much.  James Boice writes to an audience such a me.  I have read through the bible numerous times, I have led and taken countless studies over the years, and now I am ready for something richer.  Just give me The Word and help me read between the lines, decipher the text, and fill me in on the history, audience and original Greek and Hebrew meanings.

There are oodles of self-help books lining the shelves.  I remember taking Psychology 101 in college.  Then I took Psychology 102, even bought the book my professor wrote (had it signed) and I have to say it was a lot of drool.  I didn't feel like I had a better knowledge base of decision making or sorting out problems.  I do recall thinking that some of the philosophies held by the 'big wigs' were far-out!
So where do we get wisdom?  How do we discern a given situation?  Whose advise do we take?  Everybody has an opinion and they are more than happy to tell you what you should do!  It can get confusing when the advise varies, which would not help if you need answers!  I know where to get wisdom, it's found between the thin pages of scripture.  The moral of the story: you don't need psychology, you just need to read God's Word, particularly the Psalms and Proverbs.

My plan is to read a Psalm a day and journal what I learn and apply it to my journey.  I will share what I glean from James Boice and describe the important key points.  As well as make any action points to take away from scripture.  Come study with me, perhaps something will help you too!

First thing to tuck away; scholars speak of various types of genres of psalms, pointing out that there are perhaps seven types in all.  The seven genres are usually referred to as hymns, laments, psalms of thanksgiving, psalms of confidence, psalms of remembrance, wisdom psalms and kingship psalms.  Next to the Psalm of the day I want to write a subtitle such as 'Forgiveness' or 'Healing' so that I have a GO-TO directory when I need insight.

Coram Deo,

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

It is Well

That's my boy...all four parts.  This is my favorite hymn!!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Progressive Dinner Party

 Surprise!!  Yep, she was!

I have always wanted to do a progressive dinner where you have one coarse of a meal at a given persons house and then move from house to house as the evening meal progresses.   Round 1 of our progressive dinner party started with assorted sushi, chicken satay, and hummus with sweet potato chips.

Course 2 at the next house was pear and pecan salad, shrimp and chicken teriyaki and jasmine rice.

 Finally ending at our house with dessert shots of key lime pie, caramel chocolate mousse, and raspberry creamy something with chocolate, oh my they were divine!

A wonderful celebration and fun, fun, fun evening!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Janet's 60th Birthday

 Only her hubby could barge into her classroom while she was teaching with an entourage of groupies to celebrate with panache!  Thankfully the youngest was home for break from college so he and his best bud could sing a little song.

 David had a cake made with her sweet baby picture in black and white.

 He put together a slide show of her growing years together to share with her students.

 Janet and I have been great friends linking arms and sharing life's journey together, encouraging one another and sharpening each other.

 This 3rd grade class can PAR-TAY!  First I love Grace's dimples, second I love the price tag on the glasses, very chic!
 Douglas is their surrogate son while her youngest is away...

Happy birthday special lady!  You look marvelous!!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Cardboard Crafting

All because of a book from the library, construction began with a cat apartment that turned into a multi-level condo.  Gabe had little spinny things hanging off the door so that when Queen Sophia entered her domain she could be entertained.
Couldn't leave the dog out, he too got a Gabe original house with a roof-top.
Alas, the alpha cat took occupancy there as well.  Poor Toby.
I love it when my kids create!!

Coram Deo,

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Rustic Elegance

 This families new home is a combination of their ski lodge in the mountains and their previous home.  Surprisingly, the merging of the 2 worked out quite well.  The newest additions to the collection were the big TV armoire, the fireside chair and window treatments.  There are 12 windows in this room creating wonderful light but also a draft in the winter time.
 We installed lined woven shades and panels on the bottom level.  The room took on a Ralph Lauren feel with the block plaid.  It's a really pretty material that has warm browns and reds running through it.

 I love creating reading nooks anywhere and everywhere.  This one is tucked in next to the fireplace with a sweet birdcage lamp to read by in the comfy chair.

Filling in large wall units can be tricky.  Because these are 20 foot ceilings there is a ton of space to fill.  These skies were in their cabin so we used these on top of the armoire.

The kitchen links into the family room with it's reds and buttery yellow.  The kitchen table was custom made from barn flooring.  I couldn't get a picture because she was having a party of the time of me taking  pictures so...I will have to get a picture another time.  Her kitchen has granite counters and a oval braided rug under the table.
Their home is as lovely as their family is, it was terrific working with them!