Monday, January 31, 2011

Compassion for the poor

This Psalm was written by Solomon, David's son.  Solomon mentions kings from foreign nations worshiping God.  That would be us!  I'm not sure what the people thought when they heard this.  But this prophecy has been unfolding for the last 2000 years.

Psalms 72
9 Foes will fall on their knees before God,
his enemies lick the dust.
10 Kings remote and legendary will pay homage,
kings rich and resplendent will turn over their wealth.
11 All kings will fall down and worship,
and godless nations sign up to serve him,

Another thing that amazes me is God's compassion for people who are poor.  You'd think the Creator of the Universe would have more important things to worry about than our financial problems.  But that's not the case.  There are many families in the US, today, that are struggling to make ends meet. 

Moses spoke about how God wanted the poor treated in the book of Deuteronomy. It's the attitude we are to have that's pretty cool.
Deut 15:7-8
7 "If there is among you a poor man of your brethren, within any of the gates in your land which the Lord your God is giving you, you shall not harden your heart nor shut your hand from your poor brother, 8 but you shall open your hand wide to him and willingly lend him sufficient for his need, whatever he needs.

One day Jesus sat and watched how much people were putting into the temple treasury.  There were many wealthy individuals. They came and threw in some of their coins.  But it was someone else who caught His eye.
Mark 12:42-44
42 Then one poor widow came and threw in two mites... 43 So He called His disciples to Himself and said to them, "Assuredly, I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all those who have given to the treasury;  44 for they all put in out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all that she had, her whole livelihood."
As we struggle to make ends meet, this encourages me to give Him all I've got.  To continue in my work and not give up.  The trick is to not blame myself or get discouraged (get stuck on me).  Don't worry about the bank account, but keep moving forward with new ideas and pray a lot!  And give to others when I can.   It's a mystery with God, if I give, thinking something is gone- it somehow comes back like a boomerang.  As exactly what I need.
Psalms 72:12-13
12 Because he rescues the poor at the first sign of need,
the destitute who have run out of luck.
13 He opens a place in his heart for the down-and-out,
he restores the wretched of the earth.

This stood out to me a lot.  God actually feels the pain we feel.  A lot of things will make a lot more sense when we get to Heaven.  What an awesome God!
Psalms 72:14
14 He frees them from tyranny and torture
when they bleed, he bleeds;
when they die, he dies.

Here's a description of Jesus from Hebrews.
Heb 4:15
15 For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.

And to think I thought I was just reading a Psalm today.  God had other ideas. :)   Exactly what I needed to hear.
Psalms 72:18-20
18 Blessed God, Israel's God,
the one and only wonder-working God!
19 Blessed always his blazing glory!
All earth brims with his glory.
20 Yes and Yes and Yes.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

When I'm old and gray

This is a beautiful prayer about aging.  For those that are young, it will never happen.  For those of us who are middle-aged, it's becoming a reality.  And for those who are elderly, it's a prayer of hope.  Chuck Delaney, Dean of the New York Institute of Photography, told us not to bench ourselves.  He was encouraging us to not give up on photography but to keep at it.  Sometimes we don't feel like shooting, and all the flowers start to look the same.  As I get older, I need to keep from benching myself as well.  Each year the winter seems a bit colder.  There's a little something God has for all of us to do, even if it's as simple as praying for others.

Psalms 71
9 But don't turn me out to pasture when I'm old
or put me on the shelf when I can't pull my weight.

David's story with God, began as a young shepherd boy playing a harp, and tending his sheep.  In this Psalm he has a dream for his old age, he wants to keep telling the world about God.  No one is like Him.  I became a Christian at age 16, in two months I'll be 51.  Yikes!  The following verses seem very familiar to me.  Except, I have no ability to play a musical instrument whatsoever.  I do love to sing.

Psalms 71
17 You got me when I was an unformed youth
God, and taught me everything I know.  
Now I'm telling the world your wonders
18 I'll keep at it until I'm old and gray.  
God, don't walk off and leave me 
until I get out the news
Of your strong right arm to this world,
news of your power to the world yet to come,
19 Your famous and righteous 
ways, O God.  
God, you've done it all!
Who is quite like you? 
20 You, who made me stare trouble in the face,
Turn me around
Now let me look life in the face
I've been to the bottom
21 Bring me up, streaming with honors; 
turn to me, be tender to me,  
22 And I'll take up the lute and thank you
to the tune of your faithfulness, God.  
I'll make music for you on a harp
Holy One of Israel. 
23 When I open up in song to you
I let out lungsful of praise
my rescued life a song
24 All day long I'm chanting 
about you and your righteous ways,
While those who tried to do me in 
slink off looking ashamed.

Friday, January 28, 2011

On the hunt for You

Psalms 70

1 God! Please hurry to my rescue!
God, come quickly to my side!
2 Those who are out to get me —
let them fall all over themselves.
Those who relish my downfall —
send them down a blind alley.
3 Give them a taste of their own medicine,
those gossips off clucking their tongues.

4 Let those on the hunt for you
sing and celebrate.
Let all who love your saving way
say over and over, "God is mighty!"

5 But I've lost it. I'm wasted.
God — quickly, quickly!
Quick to my side, quick to my rescue!
God, don't lose a minute.

David starts out this Psalm with a plan, "...please hurry, come quickly, ...let them fall all over themselves, ...lead them down a blind alley, ...taste their own medicine."  I've never found success when I've given God a plan.  I'm fairly certain that if God had destroyed all the bumble bees, like I asked as a little girl, there would be no pollination, and we wouldn't have flowers on earth today.  Still not so sure about spiders... I'm glad He's God and not me. But I do believe He wants us to be honest with Him.  He already knows what's on our hearts, so to pretend or try and hide it won't do any good. 

Gossip is very disheartening.  I want to be one of the ones who hunts for God (vs 4).  I want to sing and celebrate and not get caught up in the nonsense.  I hunt through the Bible, and love His saving way.  

In verse 5 David has lost it.  We all know that feeling.  Things seem so out of control we crumple in a heap.  But God is there waiting to pick us up again, He doesn't lose a minute.  He's with us if we believe and trust in Him, instead of our worries.

Prov 3:5-6
5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart
       and lean not on your own understanding;
 6 in all your ways acknowledge him,
       and he will make your paths straight.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

"All the darkness in the world can't extinguish the light of one candle." Anon.
Wonder what we look like from Heaven....
© Karen Kyle Ericson, all rights reserved.

Blog Hop

Some of my friends are doing a blog hop where we list other people's blogs.  With all the blogs on Blogger it's hard to know what's out there.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

In over my head

One of the things I love about David and the Psalms, is he was very expressive.  The Psalms reach the highest peaks emotionally and the lowest depths.   They are so easy to relate to.  This Psalm is about 4 pages long.  The part that stood out to me the most today, was how he used the image of a swamp to describe his situation.  I pulled out the verses in the Psalm that seem to follow this thread.  I find that even in the dreary Psalms of anguish, they usually end with an awesome praise.  It's worthwhile to read through them.  

When I think of a swamp, I remember a place in Bar Harbor, ME.  It was a beautiful inlet surrounded by trees and a bay.  However, when the water receded the mud was so thick and wet you would sink into it.  My husband had this happen to him!  And it was up to me to rescue him... Yikes!  I had to get a branch and hold on on one end and pray a lot.  I'm really not that strong- he lost a tennis shoe in the process but we got him out.  The look on his face was priceless.  But there are times, I must put the camera away...

Psalms 69
1 God, God, save me!
I'm in over my head,

2 Quicksand under me, swamp water over me;
I'm going down for the third time.

13 And me? I pray.
God, it's time for a break!
God, answer in love!
Answer with your sure salvation!

14 Rescue me from the swamp,
Don't let me go under for good,
Pull me out of the clutch of the enemy;
This whirlpool is sucking me down.

15 Don't let the swamp be my grave, the Black Hole
Swallow me, its jaws clenched around me.

16 Now answer me, God, because you love me;
Let me see your great mercy full-face.

29 I'm hurt and in pain;
Give me space for healing, and mountain air.

32 The poor in spirit see and are glad
Oh, you God-seekers, take heart!

33 For God listens to the poor,
He doesn't walk out on the wretched.

34 You heavens, praise him; praise him, earth;
Also ocean and all things that swim in it.

35 Guess who will live there
The proud owners of the land?

36 No, the children of his servants will get it,
The lovers of his name will live in it.

We all experience those times where we feel stuck.  At work, with our families, as Christians, so many things we can get stuck in.  Today, I have a strong burden for those in the military overseas, think I'll say a prayer for them.  For me, I'm working at home now.  At first I was so excited not to have a boss looking over my shoulder!  Then I realized I tend to do a lot more at home than work.  Maybe I should put up a photo of a stern faced man...   All situations seem to bring something challenging.  It's good to acknowledge when we feel stuck and come up with ideas to get out.  It's great to praise God, to see and be glad, take heart!  God listens, He doesn't walk out.  We are the lovers of His name.  There's always hope and miracles.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Coming in the clouds

Psalms 68:1-4

1 Up with God!
Down with his enemies!
Adversaries, run for the hills!
2 Gone like a puff of smoke,
like a blob of wax in the fire
one look at God and the wicked vanish.
3 When the righteous see God in action
they'll laugh, they'll sing,
they'll laugh and sing for joy.
4 Sing hymns to God;
all heaven, sing out;
clear the way for the coming of Cloud-Rider.
Enjoy God,
cheer when you see him!

Another exciting Psalm, unless you're an enemy of God.  Enemies are admonished to run for the hills, they will be a puff of smoke, a blob of wax in the fire.  Yikes!  Those of us who believe in Jesus and love God will laugh and sing, those who are against Him will vanish.  I don't believe God is looking forward to this.  I believe He wants everyone to believe in Him.  Like Jesus said,
John 3:16-17
16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.  17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.
His purpose has always been to save as many people as He can.  We are His creation, when I scrap a photo or drawing it isn't an easy decision.  There's a bit of me in it, something I really loved, and I hate to see it go.  But it's nothing compared to what God must feel, people were made in His very image.  He designed each of us carefully with a set of gifts and talents.  We are all so unique.  There must be a huge ache in His giant heart when He condemns.

When I read "the coming of Cloud-Rider" I got all excited.  Oh oh that's Jesus!  David is writing a prophecy about Jesus from the Old Testament.  When I lived in Washington state, enduring the rain storms, I thought, "This is a great location when Jesus comes in the clouds, I'll be right there!" 
Matt 24:30-31
30 Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.  31 And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.

In Revelation it says everyone will see Him- those who have died, the living.  Even those who hung him on the cross.  Ouch.  Some things are hard to read in the Bible, I am so sorry for them.  I understand what it's like to go headfirst into something only to realize it was the wrong move.  But they shouldn't have crucified the Son of God.  Huge mistake- huge results for God to show His glory.  He works everything out for good, for His glory.  They had no idea this act would open God's kingdom to the world.  We needed a Savior.
Rev 1:7
7 Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him. Even so, Amen.

These verses are a thread throughout the Bible.   To think that the Creator of the universe, God Almighty, would care about widows and orphans is so awesome!  He sees the homeless; He cares about the prisoners.  These are people society tries to hide.  The people that are forgotten.  But not to God.  They are His children too.  As my Pastor preached yesterday, "Joseph was a prisoner."  He was thrown into prison because of false accusations.  It was a miserable place and he wanted out.  But God used him in prison to make connections with Pharaoh, to lead Israel and provide food in a terrible drought in Egypt saving many lives.  We have no idea what our circumstances are for.
Psalms 68
5 Father of orphans,
champion of widows,
is God in his holy house.
6 God makes homes for the homeless,
leads prisoners to freedom,
but leaves rebels to rot in hell.

When I became a Christian I was the only one in my family.  I became the black sheep.  They were very nervous about what I would become.  I admit, I was too.  Did I have to wear dresses and braids to be a Christian?  Funny shoes?  Nope not at all.  I can wear blue jeans and tennis shoes or hiking boots (especially since I'm not in an office anymore! Yay!)  But, would I have to carry a huge black Bible and say, "Verily, verily?"  When I read this verse I was so happy and relieved. 
James 1:27
Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.
Next thing I headed for a nursing home to visit an elderly woman. Now that's something even I could do. It was amazing, I'll share it in another post.

Friday, January 21, 2011

God's smile

Psalms 67

1 God, mark us with grace
and blessing! Smile!
2 The whole country will see how you work,
all the godless nations see how you save.
3 God! Let people thank and enjoy you.
Let all people thank and enjoy you.
4 Let all far-flung people become happy
and shout their happiness because
You judge them fair and square,
you tend the far-flung peoples.
5 God! Let people thank and enjoy you.
Let all people thank and enjoy you.
6 Earth, display your exuberance!
You mark us with blessing, O God, our God.
7 You mark us with blessing, O God.
Earth's four corners — honor him!

This is another Psalm that gave me a big smile.  We often think of God as a judge, with a big gavel, from a black and white movie.  We see Him as a man watching for people to mess up, watching with a shrewd eye, so He can dole out His justice.  When people are having a rough time some will even wonder what sin they committed, or the individual will wonder what they did wrong to deserve this.  It's not like that.  Like we read in the last Psalm, part of being a believer is being refined like silver in fire.  He knows we need to gain strength through the hard times so we can shout all the louder in the end.  God's judgments are fair and square.  He wants us to be happy and thankful.  To see our blessings.    

One day Jesus and the disciples had a conversation while walking past a blind man,
John 9:2-7
2 And His disciples asked Him, saying, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?"
3 Jesus answered, "Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but that the works of God should be revealed in him.  4 I must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work.  5 As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world."
6 When He had said these things, He spat on the ground and made clay with the saliva; and He anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay. 7 And He said to him, "Go, wash in the pool of Siloam" (which is translated, Sent). So he went and washed, and came back seeing.

Sometimes Christians come off as being very serious. We forget joy and compassion.  We forget God's smile.  I know He has a sense of humor, just look at the kangaroo.  What a silly animal- they hop on two feet and come with a pouch to carry their babies. How cool is that? How did He ever come up with the color hot pink?  He used it on flowers, snakes and different places.  Butterflies are so amazing.  They start out as caterpillars crawling about, become a cocoon and transform into swallowtails.  Amazing!  Sometimes I can feel His smile, like when I ask Him to show me where the good shots are to photograph.  Or when I finally get it after trying to figure out a problem.  When I simply surrender and say, "Forgive me, You're will be done."

This Psalm describes us as a happy people filled with joy, marked by blessing.  When I quit my last job, I knew I'd done the right thing, 3 hours of commuting each day and 9 hour days in the office.  My car was racking up more miles than the money I was earning to replace it.  I quit with a huge smile on my face.  It drove the bosses crazy, "Why is she smiling?"  So I'd tell them I'm a Christian.  Some of the ladies said, "I knew it!"  Which was a great encouragement, because sometimes I don't feel very Christian.  That's when I just need faith. God's smile, I can't explain it.  It comes from deep within us, and surrounds us from Heaven. 

Nehemiah 8:10
"...Do not sorrow, for the joy of the Lord is your strength."

If you don't feel like smiling today.  That's ok too, sometimes we're not supposed to. 

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Applause for God!

Psalms 66

1 All together now — applause for God! 2 Sing songs to the tune of his glory, set glory to the rhythms of his praise. 3 Say of God, "We've never seen anything like him!" When your enemies see you in action, they slink off like scolded dogs. 4 The whole earth falls to its kneesit worships you, sings to you,can't stop enjoying your name and fame. 5 Take a good look at God's wondersthey'll take your breath away. 6 He converted sea to dry land; travelers crossed the river on foot. Now isn't that cause for a song?
7 Ever sovereign in his high tower, he keeps his eye on the godless nations. Rebels don't dare raise a finger against him.
8 Bless our God, O peoples! Give him a thunderous welcome! 9 Didn't he set us on the road to life? Didn't he keep us out of the ditch? 10 He trained us first, passed us like silver through refining fires, 11 Brought us into hardscrabble country, pushed us to our very limit, 12 Road-tested us inside and out, took us to hell and back; Finally he brought us to this well-watered place.

16 All believers, come here and listen, let me tell you what God did for me. 17 I called out to him with my mouth, my tongue shaped the sounds of music. 18 If I had been cozy with evil, the Lord would never have listened. 19 But he most surely did listen, he came on the double when he heard my prayer. 20 Blessed be God: he didn't turn a deaf ear, he stayed with me, loyal in his love.

Ok I'm a conservative Christian.  Even as a young child I was awkward and uncoordinated, the doctor even noticed.  I was not the dancing queen in High School, I can assure you.  If there's a pew to walk into, I will.  A crack in the sidewalk to trip on- yup.  But I read this Psalm this morning and felt like I should shout, "Glory!" and do a dance.  He doesn't mind if we aren't graceful- He's got all the grace in the world.  Verse 6 describes how God parted the waters so Moses could lead His people across.  In verse 7 He assures us He is watching what's going on in the nations. 

These verses are amazing.  He does set us on the road to life.  The training program can be a bit intense.  But it's like silver, we are being refined by fire.  Most of us know what it's like to be pushed to our very limit, to hell and back.  Then He gently and lovingly brings us to a well watered place, a place of rest and peace.  Life can be very hard at times no one would disagree.  To me, it's a comfort to know there's a reason behind it.  I can't describe how many times He's pulled me out of a ditch; I have no idea how many times He helped me avoid one.
9 Didn't he set us on the road to life? Didn't he keep us out of the ditch? 10 He trained us first, passed us like silver through refining fires, 11 Brought us into hardscrabble country, pushed us to our very limit, 12 Road-tested us inside and out, took us to hell and back; Finally he brought us to this well-watered place.

God listens.  That in itself is pretty amazing.
19 But he most surely did listen, he came on the double when he heard my prayer. 20 Blessed be God: he didn't turn a deaf ear, he stayed with me, loyal in his love

No matter what we face today, He has a plan and knows what He's doing.
Jeremiah 29
11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. 12 Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. 13 And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Moment of silence

Psalms 65

9 Oh, visit the earth,
ask her to join the dance!
Deck her out in spring showers,
fill the God-River with living water.
Paint the wheat fields golden.
Creation was made for this!
10 Drench the plowed fields,
soak the dirt clods
With rainfall as harrow and rake
bring her to blossom and fruit.
11 Snow-crown the peaks with splendor,
scatter rose petals down your paths,
12 All through the wild meadows, rose petals.
Set the hills to dancing,
13 Dress the canyon walls with live sheep,
a drape of flax across the valleys.
Let them shout, and shout, and shout!
Oh, oh, let them sing!

Here's the rest of Psalm 65.  As an artist, I read this and can see all the images described in these verses, they fill me with wonder at what God can do and does.  I think maybe these verses need to be thought about silently like it said in the first verses, silent praise.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Silence is praise

Psalms 65

1 Silence is praise to you,
Zion-dwelling God,
And also obedience.
2 You hear the prayer in it all.

We all arrive at your doorstep sooner
or later
, loaded with guilt,
3 Our sins too much for us
but you get rid of them once and for all.
4 Blessed are the chosen! Blessed the guest
at home in your place!
We expect our fill of good things
in your house, your heavenly manse.
5 All your salvation wonders
are on display in your trophy room.
Earth-Tamer, Ocean-Pourer,
6 Mountain-Maker, Hill-Dresser,
7 Muzzler of sea storm and wave crash,
of mobs in noisy riot — 
8 Far and wide they'll come to a stop,
they'll stare in awe, in wonder.

Dawn and dusk take turns
calling, "Come and worship."

This Psalm is so beautiful I wanted to break it into two posts, so I could think about it.  Just like a good Father would do with his child on earth.  The hard words about what we say in Psalm 64 are followed by encouragement.  Silence and obedience are considered our praise to God.  I tend to babble.  So this stands out a great deal to me. In  Psalm 46, God says, "Be still, and know that I am God..." NKJV 

Sometimes emotions and thoughts get the best of me, I try and pray and all that comes out is confusion or doubt.  The best thing to do during these times, and maybe a few moments anytime is simply to be quiet, know God is God.  Be silent.  In verse 8 it says both dawn and dusk calls us to worship.  Morning and evening take a moment to be silent.  Some denominations are better at understanding silence without music than others.  But I still believe worship through singing is also awesome!   Our lives on earth will end one day.  That's a fact.  When we die we will know how we lived our lives, we will know guilt or forgiveness.  In verse 4, God's house is described as a  house, a heavenly mansion.  Jesus also described His house in the New Testament:

14 "Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me.  2 In My Father's house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.  3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.  4 And where I go you know, and the way you know."

There's just one problem, on our own we're not good enough to get in...  We all know that deep down.  There's guilt and shame where we've failed in our lives.  Jesus described the solution this way:
John 3:16-17
16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.  17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.

This description was written by someone who considered himself the worst of all sinners.  The apostle Paul killed Christians for a living before he accepted Christ. His words are clearly inspired by God and experience.
Eph 2:8-10
8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.

In the Old Testament the priests made sacrifices of animals to God as a payment for man's sin.  This went well for awhile, until the priests became corrupt, no longer represented the people, nor cared about God.  Jesus came to be our priest and the only acceptable sacrifice to God.  He is God's Son.  He is God.  A trinity that's hard for us to understand.  God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are all one God but have different forms.  So when Jesus died on the cross, God became man and also became the sacrifice for our sin.  By accepting His sacrifice, and our need for it (by confessing our sin), we are forgiven and set free from our guilt (requiring faith and the belief that this is true).  Then the Holy Spirit can dwell in us and counsel us and lead us to repentance.  Jesus works on our behalf as our advocate in Heaven protecting us from Satan's lies.  God is still the Earth-Tamer, Ocean-Pourer, Mountain-Maker, Hill-Dresser, and the Muzzler of storms.  Now we can know Him in our hearts by His Holy Spirit, and be silent knowing He is God.  Our sacrifice of praise.  Not much to ask of us considering what He's done.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Words like arrows

Psalms 64

1 Hear my voice, O God, in my meditation;
Preserve my life from fear of the enemy.
2 Hide me from the secret plots of the wicked,
From the rebellion of the workers of iniquity,
3 Who sharpen their tongue like a sword,
And bend their bows to shoot their arrowsbitter words,
4 That they may shoot in secret at the blameless;
Suddenly they shoot at him and do not fear.

7 But God shall shoot at them with an arrow;
Suddenly they shall be wounded.
8 So He will make them stumble over their own tongue;
All who see them shall flee away.
9 All men shall fear,
And shall declare the work of God;
For they shall wisely consider His doing.

This is one of those Psalms that I'd rather not think about, but know I must.  I'm not sure which hurts more being talked about behind my back, or having someone point out that I just said something I shouldn't have.  Gossip is everywhere you go and it's sooo tempting to say that little tidbit about someone.  Something you'd just love to share.  But honestly, it doesn't feel good.  When I do this I walk away wishing I could use an eraser on my words, or click the delete key on my keyboard.  You can't.  It's also horrible to be the subject of gossip.  I had a job where I managed to become the most exciting topic in the office.  I could hear people saying things behind my back.  It was hard to focus on my work.  Each day the stories would become more exciting.  So I started asking people up front, "Any new gossip about me today?"  It put some people at ease, caused a few to blush, and helped me let them know I knew what was going on.    It actually influenced my boss who believed it.  It's so damaging.  And so hard to resist at times.  Here's what it says in James:

James 3:8-9
8 But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. 9 With it we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the similitude of God.

In my case God used this to help me move on to a better life.  I love this verse "He will make them stumble over their own tongue." Ps 64:8  (As long as it's not me doing the stumbling...) Hard as it is, the Bible is true, things go much better when I think before I speak.  When I do mess up, God will forgive me like it says in 1 John 1:9.  But I just can't take back what I said.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Miracles happen

Psalms 63:1-8

1 God — you're my God!
I can't get enough of you!
I've worked up such hunger and thirst for God,
traveling across dry and weary deserts.

2 So here I am in the place of worship, eyes open,
drinking in your strength and glory.
3 In your generous love I am really living at last!
My lips brim praises like fountains.
4 I bless you every time I take a breath;
My arms wave like banners of praise to you.

5 I eat my fill of prime rib and gravy;
I smack my lips. It's time to shout praises!
6 If I'm sleepless at midnight,
I spend the hours in grateful reflection
7 Because you've always stood up for me,
I'm free to run and play.
8 I hold on to you for dear life,
and you hold me steady as a post.


God is my God!  I can't live without Him.  There's just no hope in the world or in the things I do.  Traveling across dry and weary deserts stands out a lot to me today.  You see my brother was diagnosed with liver cancer.  I was told to accept his fate nothing would fix things.  What a long weary desert.  But I believe in miracles.  God created our bodies and He is the Great Physician.  So I prayed for a miracle.  Yesterday I learned the tumor on his liver has died.  They went to do more chemo but there's no more cancer to kill. They are now recommending a surgeon remove part of the liver where the tumor is.  I will wait upon God.  But this is a miracle only God could do!  Even my husband, who works in the medical field, said that when a tumor grows this quickly and then dies it's a miracle.  When I read this Psalm this morning I had to smile real big.  I am so grateful and have been bubbling over with praise.  Yet I know I must wait upon Him.  It will be over when He says it's over.  Today I will run and play.  I will hold onto Him.  And continue to spend time in grateful reflection.  Thanks Father!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

No special vitamins required

Psalms 62

1 God, the one and only —
I'll wait as long as he says.
Everything I need comes from him,
so why not?
2 He's solid rock under my feet,
breathing room for my soul,
An impregnable castle:
I'm set for life

7 My help and glory are in God
granite-strength and safe-harbor-God —  
8 So trust him absolutely, people;
lay your lives on the line for him.
God is a safe place to be.

9 Man as such is smoke,
woman as such, a mirage.
Put them together, they're nothing;
two times nothing is nothing.

10 And a windfall, if it comes —
don't make too much of it.

11 God said this once and for all;
how many times
Have I heard it repeated?
"Strength comes
Straight from God

I love this Psalm.  There are so many descriptions of God:  solid rock under my feet, breathing room for my soul, an impregnable castle, granite-strength, a safe harbor.  Waiting upon God is tough.  My watch says now is a good time.  But God weighs the scales.  One man's blessing can be another man's curse.  His wisdom is infinite.  His timing is perfect.  It's so easy to get excited about winning the lottery and getting a million dollars.  After taxes it's about $600,000, plus insurance, the new car, it really wouldn't last long in our economy.  David warns us about windfalls telling us, "... not to make too much of it."  Money comes and goes with emergencies and those exciting offers on TV.  I can honestly say He has supplied all my needs.  I was taught early on as a Christian to really think about the difference between what you need and what you want.  It sure helps.  When you look at the larger picture men and women don't last all that long.  We will all pass away.  But God remains always, and gives us strength straight from Him.  No special vitamins required.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Last gasp prayer

Psalms 61
1 God, listen to me shout,
bend an ear to my prayer.
2 When I'm far from anywhere,
down to my last gasp
I call out, "Guide me
up High Rock Mountain!"
3 You've always given me breathing room,
a place to get away from it all,
4 A lifetime pass to your safe-house,
an open invitation as your guest.
5 You've always taken me seriously, God,
made me welcome among those who know and love you.

It's easy to get caught up in all the madness around us.  So many images on TV distract us.  So many stories of heartache and pain.  In our own lives we struggle with illness, attitude, bad work environments, war.. we pray the last gasp prayer like David.  We shout, "Are you listening God?  Are You there? I can't do this anymore.  I give up!" 

When I pray this, God waits until I'm done.  Then a very profound thought comes to mind, like, "You don't need to do it alone."  Sometimes a peace, a place in my heart to get away from it all.  Sometimes I even wonder what my problem was.  He does take us seriously.  I believe God wants us to let out our frustrations and then find His safe place.  It all starts with prayer.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Where is the hope?

Psalms 58
1 Is this any way to run a country?
Is there an honest politician in the house?
2 Behind the scenes you brew cauldrons of evil,
behind closed doors you make deals with demons.

I read this in the Psalms and I thought, "Oh no!  Not this!  It's in the Bible too!!?"

I tried to avoid it. Then I realized many of the things we experience today have happened before in history, man hasn't changed, just the weapons have.  I am tired of the political talk and all the opinions.  I rarely watch the News on TV these days.  Although the Psalms were written thousands of years ago, they still apply today.  I know I've seen these words in newspapers.  So where is the hope in all of this?  Will it ever end?  The answers are throughout the Bible.  Our hope is in God and the return of Christ to set up His kingdom.

Jer 17:7-8
7 Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord,
And whose hope is the Lord.
8 For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters,
Which spreads out its roots by the river,
And will not fear when heat comes;
But its leaf will be green,
And will not be anxious in the year of drought,
Nor will cease from yielding fruit.

Jer 29:11-14
11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. 12 Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. 13 And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Tears are important

Psalms 56
8 You've kept track of my every toss and turn
through the sleepless nights
Each tear entered in your ledger,
each ache written in your book.

9 If my enemies run away,
turn tail
when I yell at them,
Then I'll know
that God is on my side.
10 I'm proud to praise God,
proud to praise God.
11 Fearless now, I trust in God;
what can mere mortals do to me?

12 God, you did everything you promised,
and I'm thanking you with all my heart.
13 You pulled me from the brink of death,
my feet from the cliff-edge of doom.
Now I stroll at leisure with God
in the sunlit fields of life

Life is hard at times.  It can also be filled with peace and "sunlit fields."  I have to remember this, there are many experiences in our lives.  God watches over us.  He knows when we are sleepless and when we hurt.  He even keeps track of our tears, that's amazing because I can't remember.  In verse 9 David makes an "if then" deal with God.  "If my enemies run away, ... when I yell at them, then I'll know ... God is on my side."  One of the things I love about God is He has a mind of His own.  I try and tell Him what to do and how to fix things.  But thankfully He does things His way.  When I went to college I had no money and I prayed, "If it's Your will for me to go to school, then please provide the money."  I got the full financial aid package and paid off my debt early.  Not exactly what I had in mind...  but it certainly worked out just fine.  I believe God answered David's request.  He goes on to praise God even though he was in captivity with the Philistines.  As a young shepherd boy, he killed one of their giants.  That would've made for a very uncomfortable experience and many restless nights.  God is God, sometimes He says, "Yes."  Sometimes, "No."  And sometimes, "Wait."

Ps 126:5-6
5 Those who sow in tears
Shall reap in joy.
6 He who continually goes forth weeping,
Bearing seed for sowing,
Shall doubtless come again with rejoicing,
Bringing his sheaves with him.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Big shoulders

Psalms 55
16 I call to God;
God will help me.
17 At dusk, dawn, and noon I sigh
deep sighs — he hears, he rescues.
18 My life is well and whole, secure
in the middle of danger

Even while thousands
are lined up against me.
19 God hears it all, and from his judge's bench
puts them in their place.
But, set in their ways, they won't change;
they pay him no mind.

22 Pile your troubles on God's shoulders —
he'll carry your load,
he'll help you out.
He'll never let good people
topple into ruin
23 But you, God, will throw the others
into a muddy bog,
Cut the lifespan of assassins
and traitors in half.

And I trust in you.

Sometimes it seems like everything can fall apart in an instant.  Disease, death, financial problems all follow us.  Even in our high tech modern medical society, processes fail, promises broken.  But God never does.  This Psalm is so encouraging.  We are told to "pile your troubles" on God's shoulders they are incredibly big.   He's available 24x7.  Every day, every night.  And He doesn't transfer your call to an answering machine!  Nor does He speak a language you can't understand.  This amazes me about God, He actually wants us to let out our frustrations to Him.  He's pleased when we are humble enough to admit our fears.  You would think the Almighty would say, "Talk to the hand.  The ears aren't listening."  But He doesn't, He hears each word.

1 Peter 5:6-7
6 Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, 7 casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.