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Showing posts from March, 2009

Great benefits package

The last two verses of Psalm 5:

v.11 "But let all who take refuge in You be glad, Let them ever sing for joy; And may You shelter them, That those who love Your name may exult in You."

v.12 "For it is You who blesses the righteous man, O LORD, You surround him with favor as with a shield."


After talking about the enemy for 3 verses, David returns to a more positive note. Those who are not God’s enemy are those who take refuge in Him, and they get not only protection, but joy. The word joy appears twice, as the word “exult” literally means to jump for joy.

The benefits to being with God, as listed in these two verses, include refuge, joy, shelter, more joy, blessing, righteousness, favor, and protection. Wow! Where do I sign up?

A memory I am not proud of

Have you ever had a memory pop up from long ago, something you had completely forgotten? It happens to me occasionally, and earlier today, I had a one of my worst-ever memories come to mind. I was actually shaking and almost choked up just thinking about it.

It was 1986, and I was in the Army. We had just gotten into formation. For those not familiar, I mean it was the beginning of the day. I had showered, eaten, and dressed, and we all lined up in a formation; that is, lined up according to platoons and squads. Our company captain (C.O.) spoke to the entire company. He announced that Rock Hudson, who had recently announced that he had AIDS, had died overnight. What happened next, in hindsight, is mind-bogglingly shocking. There was applause. Every soldier in the company, upon hearing of Hudson's death, burst into applause, and cheered loudly. I honestly don't remember if I joined in, but I probably did. Still, I remember that I was very bothered by the outburst.

Thinking abou…

Transparency

When greeting someone at church on a Sunday morning, it's inevitable that I will be asked "How are you, James?". I try to avoid saying "Fine. How are you?" (let's refer to that phrase as IFHAY for short).

Why do I avoid IFHAY? Some who know me will accuse me of bringing my non-conformism into these situations, and I must admit, there's something to that. But that's not the primary purpose for not using that tired phrase. My problem with IFHAY is that it's a little too safe. Someone can have this mini-conversation several times on a Sunday morning, and never get any closer to anyone by day's end. By relying on IFHAY, you convince yourself that you have checked in on people and let them check in on you, but you get to keep your shield up, and you have managed to avoid challenging others to let theirs down, as well. Ultimately, you have done nothing worthwhile in any of these conversations.

The genuine Christian life includes transparency. Callin…

The first 3 verses of Psalms

Psalm 1:1How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, Nor stand in the path of sinners, Nor sit in the seat of scoffers!
--This not saying to never interact with non-believers. Jesus did that, and instructed His followers to do so in a particular way. It says don’t walk in the counsel of the wicked. Don’t take on their mindset and attitudes. Keep thinking godly thoughts.

How can we do that? The next verse yields a strong clue:

Psalm 1:2But his delight is in the law of the LORD, And in His law he meditates day and night.

--getting into God’s written word will change how we walk, and how we think. But notice it doesn’t say “he who reads the law (word)”; it says he who delights in the law. The word “delight” means just that: happiness. When we get to the point where the Word makes us happy, where it’s the central thing in our lives, we are on the right track. Note that this does not mean to become a scholar. You might or might not become one, but that’s not the go…

Is U2 a Christian band?

Ephesians 2:10 "For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them"

U2's new CD comes out this week, and it brings up that old discussion among Christians about whether u2 is a Christian band or not. Scripture tells us that all of creation speaks to the glory of God. Mainstream Christians have no problem acknowledging that mountains, flowers, and waterfalls glorify God without actually speaking His name. But we are mistaken if we forget that humans can do the same, simply by walking in their calling. If a country singer, for example, is truly walking in his calling, he can continue to sing about the pain caused by adultery, for example, and it glorifies God every bit as much as biblical tale of David and Bathsheba, which carries the same message about adultery.

If God has created you to be a story-teller (and singers are story-tellers), then be a story-teller, and you will glorify the one who crea…

Picking sides

When U2 performed in the Super Bowl in 2002, the nation was still hurting from the 9/11 attacks. If you take a few minutes to view the clip at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n13CU-NvPMU , you'll note that around the 1:20 mark, Bono says this, twice: "O Lord, open my lips, That my mouth may declare Your praise." This is from Psalm 51:15. The band then launches into "Where the Streets Have No Name."

As the story goes, the song gets its roots in the fact that in Ireland, the tension between Catholics and Protestants is so strong that they segregate themselves by neighborhoods. When you meet a person, you determine if you are going to like them or not when he tells you the name of the street he lives on. Bono, the son of a rare combination of Catholic/Protestant parentage, looks forward to a time and a place where street names -- representative of those things that divide us into opposing groups -- will no longer be important.

Although this message was certainly tim…