Monday, November 8, 2010

Put your money where your mouth is

Psalm 5:11-12

But let all those who rejoice who put their trust in You; let them ever shout for joy, because You defend them. let those also who love Your name be joyful in You. For You, O Lord, will bless the righteous; with favor You will surround him as with a shield.

Sometimes it is easier to talk about faith than to actually have it. Some many times in today's culture we have fun little statements about faith and bumper stickers that proclaim our beliefs, yet when life takes and unexpected turn, it is hard to put into practice.
My family has been going through a hard time lately. It is one of those things that you really don't know why it is happening the way that it is, and just when you think it can't worse, it did or still does. In times like this it is easy to continually imagine what else could happen. That is what is really hard, it seems like the possibilities of evil are endless. When the strength of the enemy becomes your focus, despair is usually the result.
It becomes a tidal wave of worse case scenarios and you wonder what is going to hit next, living life in a fetal position hoping that you can "just make it".
This is not how God wishes us to live. Let them ever shout for joy, because you defend them. How big is God to you? For me sometimes I see the strength of the opposition so easily, yet secretly doubt the ability of God to defend me. As a result, I live in despair instead of joy. If we don't accurately have perspective as to the power of God then our joy will be lacking. We must remember that nothing is bigger, stronger more powerful than God. Yes sorrow may come but joy comes in the morning. Yes things may hurt, but God is the one who heals and restores. It may not be instantaneous but joy will come.
When I lived in Slovakia we were able to go to the Nazi prison camps in Auschwitz, Poland. Your heart breaks as you take in the scene and you realize the great atrocity that happened there. The thousands that were in pain and suffering. One of the things that struck me most is as I walked around the barbed wire fence at the perimeter, there among the rubble were dandelions pushing through. Amongst the evil, beauty was pushing through. With God, there is always hope. I am not trying to minimize the pain that happened, but I am saying that if you just focus on the pain, you will neglect to see the full picture. I don't know why hard or bad things happen. I just know that God does defend and that He is there.
I have recently started thinking that God may allow the rials to increase in my life so that He may be revealed as a rescuer all the more. In hard times our focus should be on God, not on the circumstances. The circumstances lead to despair, God leads us to hope.
I am also reminded of the verses: We are pressed but not crushed, persecuted not abandoned, struck down but not destroyed.
There will be times when you have to put your money where your mouth is. You may talk like a Christian or have some witty bumper sticker or T-shirt, but what really brings glory to God is in the middle of the hard times, You place your faith in Him and live in confidence, not fear. Confidence in Him and His ability to save. I pray for His blessing and for His favor on you as you walk through life with Him.
Thanks for reading. May God bless,

Monday, September 6, 2010

Psalm 5:8-10 Our Part vs. His Part & Discernment

"O Lord, lead me in Thy righteousness because of my foes; make Thy way straight before me. There is nothing reliable in what they say; Their inward part is destruction itself; Their throat is an open grave; They flatter with their tongue. Hold them guilty, O God; By their own devices let them fall! In the multitude of their transgressions thrust them out, for they are rebellious against Thee. "

Sorry that it has been awhile since I wrote last. My apologies.

In these verses there is a transition from God's character that we saw in the earlier part of this Psalm, to the character of the wicked/rebellious. I hope that you enjoy reading and remember that I would love to hear your thoughts. Thanks for taking the time to read.

"O Lord, lead me in Thy righteousness because of my foes" - I'm not very righteous in and of myself. In fact, at times I feel like I have more in common with the wicked, rather than the righteous. Its in these times that I am most reminded that righteousness doesn't come from me, it comes from God through Christ. I don't naturally drift towards God. Give me a free day and instead of spending time with God, I will watch several hours of HGTV. What I'm saying is, is that my need for God is to the core. There is nothing good in me, that is why I need a Savior. This is further seen by the fact that given opposition, my knees buckle and I can lose focus on where to go. We get distracted easily. Kind of like spiritual A.D.D. . We have to be led to God's righteousness because I can't find it on my own.

"Make thy way straight before me" - How many times do I try to self justify and make my ways straight? I think that if there was an award for self justification, I would win. I will act impulsively and charge off into the jungle of self justification of actions rather than stay on the road of repentance. I then spend the next, however long, hacking through the jungle trying to say that this is still God's way and people should follow. I need Him to make His ways straight before me. One of these days I pray that I learn in my core that His ways are better than mine and remember it.

The Character of the Wicked

"There is nothing reliable in what they say; Their inward part is destruction itself; Their throat is an open grave; They flatter with their tongue."

The first part can clearly be seen in any late night infomercial. Big boast of shortcuts to your desires, you go for the product and are severely disappointed. The world boast of great things, yet how much of it is reliable. I'm not saying to be a pessimist. I am saying be a realist. If you want what is good, go to the source, not some cheap imitation. Check out James 1:17. Now compare that to this verse. Pretty clear huh?

Their inward part is destruction itself - what is at their core. Is your inward core life-giving, or destruction? If we have been restored by God through Jesus' death on the cross, then it is life-giving, however if we have not then it is destruction. We are still in a state of wrath that through our actions, intentional or not, we are in the process of dismantling and destroying the beauty and plan of God. You can see this displayed and described in Ephesians 2:1-3.

Their throat is an open grave - What is usually in a grave? Dead things. So if you ponder this for a moment? What comes out of them is death, instead of life. Are our words life giving or do they bring about death. If these are descriptors of the righteous then the righteous should be the inverse of this. If death is out of the mouths of the wicked, then life should be out of the righteous. Which best describes your words? Are you a life giver, or are they more characterized by death and destruction. Alot of times we try to self justify our words by saying that we are kidding with people and that it is all in good fun. But if you stop to consider reality. That the wicked out number the righteous. Then we must stop to consider that your words are better spent filling the need of edification instead of making a joke at someone else's expense.

They flatter with their tongue - The thought that comes into my head is the poison apple from the fairytale stories. It sounds appealing at first and may even look good, but their is always a hidden agenda and a selfish motive. I don't feel as bad about things if I can do it in a crowd.


This verse may sound harsh, but in reality it is justice. We don't often like justice when it pertains to us. Then we want mercy. The Psalmist is asking that people would see and receive the fruits and results of their actions.

The world we live in loves short cuts and trying to dodge consequences. Instead of eating healthy and exercising, we want to take a pill to lose weight, instead of going to bed early and getting the rest that the human body is designed to have, we take things like energy pills and drinks. We love to skirt the system. The psalmist is asking God to wake people up. To see the results of their ways.

The verse ends with the statement of "for they are rebellious against thee". It is such an easy thing to say about someone being rebellious, however what does it really mean? Upon reflecting on the surrounding Psalms, I think rebellion is not taking refuge in God. It is to try to satisfy, self-justify and exist outside of the provision of God. I tend to think of myself in the righteous camp, but I need to see that I can just as easily, when left to my own ways, end up in the rebellious camp.

I pray that we would walk in the reality of what Christ did for us on the cross and through his resurrection and how he has given us life. In turn, I pray that we would be life givers in a fallen world.

Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Psalm 5:5-7 - So, How did you get here?

"The boastful shall not stand before Thine eyes; Thous dost hate all who do iniquity. Thou dost destroy those who speak falsehood; The Lord abhors the man of bloodshed and deceit. But as for me, by Thine abundant lovingkindness I will enter Thy house, at Thy holy temple I will bow in reverence for Thee."

In these verses we see the holiness of God and His righteousness. He does not mix with evil, bloodshed, deceit or pride. Yet so often I find myself hanging out with all of these. I'm not talking about the people. I'm talking about desires. These verses so often can become and us or them kinda thing. Oh the Lord doesn't like them, yet if you read the verse, it says all those who do iniquity. Um, that's me. I have done iniquity. I fought with my brother, I suckerpunch people in the face in my head at times who make me mad. I make sure people know what I contributed to something. Yet so often, when I read this verse, I separate myself from these people/desires. I have a tendency so often to do that. I always identify with the good guy in scripture and not the bad. Yet you can't get around words like ALL fall short, or ALL have sinned.

If you were to look in Ephesians 2, you see that we were all dead and in darkness, but God reached out and saved us.

That is why I like verse 7, it says "but as for me, by Thine abundant lovingkindness I will enter Thy house"

Lord know I am not supposed to be here because of what I have done. And it's not that He showed us "some" lovingkindness, He showed us "abundant". Yup, hate to say it but we are just one hot mess in need of grace, alot of it. That is why I am here, not because of anything I have done. I didn't earn it, I was separated from Him, He saved me.

That is how I got here, in His house, in His temple. Via grace. Once inside, I bow in reverence. Kinda interesting when you think about it because we don't bow to much these days in our American culture. On the contrary, we get stiff necked and talk about our right to be here and why we deserve it. Yet when it comes to God and dwelling in His presence, I don't have the right to be here. It is by grace I am here, that any of us are, and I need to act accordingly. I need to bow, in reverence and submission and surrender of my own efforts. I need to say thank you. The only reason why I got here, where I am, in a relationship with God, dwelling in His grace.

Hope you are doing well. God bless,


Sunday, July 18, 2010

Psalm5:4 - Why is the front door always open?

"For Thou are not a God who takes pleasure in wickedness; No evil dwells with Thee"

This verse seems very straight forward, and it is. If God is perfect and holy, which He is, then no evil thing delights Him or dwells with Him.

This verse prompted me to think that if we are supposed to be like Christ, and this verse describes Him...does it describe me?

Do i take pleasure in wickedness? Do i live with evil or allow it to live with me?

Our saintly attitudes love to say no to this question and then keep rolling on. Yet, if i look at my life, and what I allow into it, then i see the truth.

The truth that i do like to laugh at stuff i shouldn't, or i'm ok if the cussing in the movie isn't that bad. I tend to make compromises for my entertainment purposes. I tend to take pleasure in things that i shouldn't. I am not talking about being a prude or anything. I am an artist and i see the need to portray realistic situations in order to accurately convey a story. However, this is a line and there is excess. I like to pretend the line doesn't exist, especially if it's funny.

The next phrase talks about dwelling with evil. I've talked before about how dwell means to "live with". What am I ok living with? I tend to allow alot and many times unfortunately, welcome things into my home. It is like my front door is always open. I am not protecting it. I am allowing bad morals, perverted ways of thought, the devaluing of God's creation and people be beamed right into my living room or to my computer screen. I'm realizing i need to shut the door, and also ask some things to leave. Again, I am not talking about a holier than thou, attitude. But my mind goes back to verse in Proverbs 4:23 "Guard your heart, for from it comes the wellspring of life".

So, I am gonna ask God to help me shut the front door and show me where I am gonna need to change. This won't be fun. If things weren't funny, enjoyable or entertaining then the Christian life would be a piece of cake. So, i am praying for perseverance and for strength. I will be praying the same for you.

Thanks for reading,


Thursday, July 15, 2010

Psalm 5:1-3 - I need to be proactively sketchy

"Give ear to my words, O Lord, consider my groaning. Heed the sound of my cry for help, my King and my God, for to Thee do i pray. In the morning, O Lord, Thou wilt hear my voice; In the morning I will order my prayer to Thee and eagerly watch"

It is a cry for help, yet at the same time it is worshipful. The psalmist is being worshipful because it is to God that he is praying. He doesn't lift up his request to an idol or an emotion or an action. You can see that the psalmist believes and has faith from the get go that the Lord is even interested in His plight.
So many times I act like God doesn't care. I try to distance him for the majority of my life and time yet when something bad happens, I want him there and aware. Kinda like an on call doctor. This is a very Reactive way of relating to God. This does serve a purpose at times to help wake us up in our actions or sin, however I don't think that it is a sign of maturity.
For some time here the Lord has been working on my heart about being Proactive.
Instead of waiting for things to happen, set God as our priority. You see here that it could be a possibility that the psalmist is reacting (which sometimes we do), yet we also see shortly there after that becomes proactive in his times with God.
"In the Morning, O Lord, Thou wilt hear my voice; In the morning I will order my prayer to Thee and eagerly watch"
By starting in the morning, he is taking a proactive approach of walking with God for the remainder of the day.
He also says I will "order" my prayer to Thee. This word is basically the opposite of word vomiting your request to God. Which we so often fall prey to doing. This word had the heart of systematically thinking through it. No this isn't a robbing of all emotion or intimate connection, I say just the opposite. It is taking this emotion and connection and fully seeing where you need God's help, healing and direction. It is coming before Him asking specifically and then waiting to see him work. This word that means eagerly watch also means to spy out. So it is to look at things intensely to see what God is doing.
I need to be more Proactive in my walk with God. I know alot of the artistic souls out there are worried that I am being to structured and that the concern would be that you would become to formulaic in your approach to God. In being an artist myself, I understand this concern, yet I also see that when the masters painted, it was seldom freehand. Could they do it. Oh yeah. But have you ever seen all the sketches that they did before hand, discovering how the composition came together? I think in ordering our prayers, being proactive, we are sketching and seeing where we need help. I have learned the value of this many times when I am trying to draw faces especially. You have to sketch it to get your proportions right. In the same manner in coming before God and laying out our life, we see where we need help and where we need to ask Him to work. Sometimes this will look more put together than others, but such is the nature of developing a masterpiece.
We need to be proactive in our relationship with God, because He is proactive in His relationship with us.
Eph 2:10 - "For we are His workmanship (translates poema or masterpiece in the original language), created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. "
I pray that we would be proactive in our relationship with God as it becomes our priority.
May God bless!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Psalm 4:6-8 - Contentment and safety vs. comfort

"Many are saying, 'Who will show us any good?' Lift up the light of Thy countenance upon us, O, Lord! Thou has put gladness in my heart, More than when their grain and new wine abound. In peace I will both lie down and sleep, for Thou alone, O Lord, dost make me dwell in safety."

Sometimes we desire affirmation. We long to have sort of validation or affirmation that what we are doing is worth it. That walking with God is worth it, and that our lives are making a difference. Unfortunately, that is very hard to come by. I have been in ministry for over 10 years now and there aren't alot of thank you's. You do hear some. But, there are times when things are so overwhelming, that you just cry out "Can I please get some encouragement or something!"

It is in these times that we need a perspective check. If you reread vs. 6, he says "lift up the light of your countenance upon us." I think it is interesting that he refers to the light of His countenance. Something must be in darkness to need light. You need light to see things that you are missing. This verse is driving home the fact that in God's presence, clarity is given and purpose is seen.

The honest answer to "Who will show us any good"? ...maybe nobody. Are you ok with that? Are you content with the light of the presence of God or do we long for some kind tangible pay off. I will continue to walk with God if i see fruit come from it. I will walk with God as long as good things happen to me. When verbalized like this, it becomes a bit more clearer to see. We need His presence, and that is it. He promises that He is enough to meet our needs, the question is, do I believe that?

"Thou has put gladness in my heart, more than when their grain and new wine abound"

Our happiness isn't tied to circumstances. Our peace and satisfaction, our joy comes directly from God. Sure you are happy when you are profitable or you see a bountiful harvest for your efforts, but does it last? Things come and go. If we lived our life chained to circumstances then we will be dragged around all over the place. Will you have joy when the crops fail? Do you know your worth doesn't come from them? Even if there is no more new wine, no more grain, you are still loved, accepted and cherished by God. In our performance driven society this is a hard thing to grasp because we so often don't see it modeled. In our desire for newer, bigger and better, we have harnessed a spirit that determines contentment based on things. Here the psalmist is calling us to remember that contentment, gladness is placed in our heart from the Father, who loves us and cherishes us.

"In peace I will both lie down and sleep, for Thou alone, O Lord, dost make me dwell in safety"

You don't rest when you are fearful, you don't lie down when you are agitated, you don't sleep when you are stressed. If we live in fear: fear that we will not be accepted or loved, fear that if we mess up then everything is going to come crashing down, fear that this will never be over - then we will be robbed or sleep, or rest.

The Lord makes us dwell (live in) safety. Not just visit safety, like here is a postcard of what it would look like to live in safety. But He makes us to dwell there, to live there. We are robbed of this whenever we have an inaccurate view of God or an inaccurate view of our importance. The reality is that God is sovereign and in control. The truth is that God is our only constant. He loves us, values us, provide for us and in Him we are safe.

Safe and Comfort are not the same thing. Safe means that when hard times come, you have a refuge and you are protected and provided for. Unfortunately, we expect comfort. Comfort is a life void of difficulty or action, this is not promised. In fact, the opposite is promised. We will endure hard things, but as we see in this verse, God allows us to dwell in safety.

I pray that God's light would shine in both of our hearts, that we would realize He longs for us to dwell with Him in safety, not stressed out and in fear. I pray that God would place gladness not based on circumstance in our hearts, and that we would be a light to those around us.

Thanks for reading.


Thursday, July 8, 2010

Psalm 4:4-5 Care bears and the Mechanic

"Be angry, and do not sin; ponder in your own hearts on your beds, and be silent. Offer right sacrifices, and put your trust in the Lord"

Be angry, and do not sin - I find this verse very interesting, because alot of times I think that we are to view Christians like Care bears who run around in a world void of hard things. We are given emotions for a reason. We are not to be ruled by them, yet they also at times help us to see what is wrong or right in a situation. To only use emotions alone to guide you is alot like getting rid of your other senses and just trying to smell your way through life. You may be able to smell smoke from a fire, but you wouldn't know which way to go. In the same way if we just let emotion take over, we may very well fall prey to sin. We may take control instead of letting God do what he promises he will do. Does this mean that the wrong done is validated...No. It is ok to to feel, just don't let your feeling lead you to sin. So what do you do with it?

Ponder in your own hearts on your beds and be silent - Emotions may help reveal that action is needed, but they also may be an inaccurate source as to the amount of action needed. You are supposed to ponder in your heart. What is the difference between pondering and obsessing? I think that pondering is done with right perspective. You measure the wrongs done or situation against scripture and objectively - realizing that you are both not perfect, so what went on? Obsessing is just that, you make the offense the obsession, it is the only thing you see and it voids scripture from your thought process. The charge is also to be silent. This is also backed up in Psalms, a rash word spoken is very seldom profitable, and my favorite proverb : better to be silent and considered a fool than to speak rashly and prove it to be true.

If you read in James 3, you see that our tongue is extremely hard to control. If you add emotional trauma to that, then you have a very volatile situation. A harsh word could ignite a fire that destroys much more than you intended, much like a forest fire.

Offer right sacrifices, and put your trust in the Lord - The wrong done does not give you the validity to stop doing what you are supposed to do (make right sacrifices). You are never justified in sinning or taking matters into your own hands. This is sin because it basically removes your trust in the sovereignty of God and promotes yourself to judge. Don't get me wrong, restitution may need to be made, and God will provide that in His time. It may be different than what you seem to think, but God has a bigger view and plan than yours.

It is ok to feel, don't invalidate feelings so easily. The issue is what do you do with them. Think of it as a maintenance light coming on in your car, it is a sin that something is wrong. If you start yelling at the car, it doesn't do any good, you may have to take it to someone else to see what is wrong, or give it time to see the pattern before dealing with it. But you are supposed to take it to the divine mechanic or creator if you will and trust Him to put things rightly back together.

I pray that God would grant you wisdom and insight, and draw you ever closer to His side.

in Him


ps - please comment, i would love to get some feedback on this topic and this blog.