Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Psalm 2:4-6

He wo sits in heaven laughs,
The Lord scoffs at them.
Then He will speak to them in His anger
and terrify them in His fury:
"But as for me, I have installed my King
Upon Zion, My holy mountain.

I had a hard time reading this at first. The idea of the Lord laughing at somebody or scoffing at them isn't a pleasant thought for me. I wrestled for a little while about how this verse makes God appear at first reading. He is justified, you can get that from the context, however, it doesn't seem to sync with something.
So this prompted me to dig a little bit deeper.
I would suggest reading Matthew Henry's commentary on Psalm 2 if you have alot of questions.
In verses 1-3 you see basically a battle unfold. Heaven vs. Hell. In verses 4-6 it is not so much about the heart of God as it is about perspective. Basically, God is saying that the opposition to Him is laughable. We know the ending. God wins, heaven triumphs. So it isn't about His heart for these people (consider the verses about how he longs for all to come to repentance or John 3:16), this is more about the futile efforts of the world to frustrate the plans and ways of God. These verses are more about perspective rather than heart.
It ends with perspective as well.
But as for me.....
So regardless of what everyone else does, what will you do? What will you do with the ways, teachings and desires of God?
Will we install them and worship and follow them? Or will we trade them for laughable, feeble attempts to accomplish our own desires?

Thanks for reading.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Psalm 2

Why are the nations in an uproar,
And the peoples devising a vain thing?
The kings of the earth take their stand,
And the rulers take counsel together
Against the Lord and against His Anointed:
“Let us tear their fetters apart,
And cast away their cords from us!”

Did you ever wonder why the Pharisees got so mad at Jesus? Why they would be angered to the point of murder? I remember the saying, “an eye for an eye, a life for a life” and I think it somewhat applies here. Jesus in teaching about grace, took away their life of valued works. He leveled the playing field, tearing down the structures of self worth and glorification that they had built. In defense of their value of life the sought to silence His and to turn off the light of truth that exposed who they really were.

I believe that is why the nations are in an uproar and people are devising vain things. For some the thought of grace brings comfort, for others frustration. When frustrated people get together and take counsel together then things that were previously deemed unthinkable are now justified. In order to maintain our way of life we take life. You see this played out in spy movies all the time. The person who isn’t okay with what “the company” is doing and then the company goes after them to protect itself.

I like to think of myself as the good guy and not the company or the bad guys. However, how often do I get carried along in the uproar and start to justify a way of life that at my core I know is against what God desires for me. Yet in order to justify myself, I am willing to take life from someone else. No, I haven’t killed anybody. But, I have made fun of someone behind their back because they said something that really stung and I wanted to prove that they didn’t have the authority or credibility to do that kind of thing. I am afraid I’m a company man for more than I want to admit.

Yet there is hope. “let us tear their fetters apart, and cast away their cords from us” We have been set free from what at one time used to trap us. Through Jesus’ death on the cross we have been set free. We no longer are captives trying to defend a fruitless way of life. We are sons and daughters of God that have been liberated and justified, set apart and anointed by God for a purpose that He has promised to provide for us to accomplish. We may get confused or have relapses but that is no longer the truth.

I pray that today, you would be set free or remember that you are set free. That you would realize that God has broken the chains, torn the fetters apart and given you a new name, hope, identity, strength and purpose. May we walk in freedom and humility helping others to find it as well through Christ.

Thanks for reading

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Psalm 1:6

"for the Lord knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish."

This verse seems very straight forward, but there is also an underlying complexity. Which I believe is faith.

Do you ever have those moments where you feel like God has forgotten about you? Maybe He got busy and you feel a bit neglected. Usually this happens to me when wave after wave hits me. Whether it be emotional, physical, spiritual or financial struggle, or all four at the same time. At times it can feel as if God has forgotten, that He must not have planned this out. For me to have faith that God knows my way and is all powerful, means that I have to admit that He has allowed these things to happen. And, in all honesty, that is really hard. There comes times where I have to pray for faith to trust God because this (insert trial here) seems like the total opposite of what is good for me.

This is further complicated when you look at the ways of the wicked and you don't think perish. You think, rich, successful and satisfied. All usually based on materialism standards. Their path doesn't look like it headed towards perish. So I must pray for faith to believe that the life God has called me to will not perish, but have life everlasting.

If you step back from these trials and look at them, you may start to get a glympse of perspective. Perspective is something that God grants from time to time to help grant us faith and hope. When you put your position to see beyond the riches and fame or success, and you aren't as enamored by it all. You begin to see the failed marriages, broken hearts, painful and tragic endings. You begin to see lives that are full of stuff but void of meaning. This isn't to say that God doesn't put believers in positions of wealth, He obviously does (Abraham, David, Solomon). However the wealth doesn't define the meaning of the life, the relationship with God does.

All that to say, at times, it takes alot for me to believe this verse. I have to pray for faith and for perspective. Trusting God isn't always easy, but it is alway necessary.

I pray that your faith would be strengthened to trust in areas that are hard. Even when we don't understand what God is doing and wouldn't define it as "good", we can still trust that even in the midst of that He is good, He hasn't forgotten and He knows our ways.

Monday, March 22, 2010

What the heck is chaff? and what in the world does this mean? Psalm 1:4

"The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away.Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous;"

We don't often use the word chaff, and honestly if you just read over this verse, it doesn't make alot of sense to us. Why won't the wicked stand in judgement? It seems like they should. After digging around a bit, God allowed me to find out some things that really helped. Hope that they will help you as well.

But are like a chaff that the wind drives away - Chaff is the husk on the outside of a wheat kernel. You can't eat it, and it basically doesn't do anything. You have to take it off before you can make anything with the wheat. How they would do this is they would throw it up in the air and it would seperate from the kernel and the wind would blow it away while the wheat would fall back down. The chaff lacked weight. In this culture your name was closely related to your character, when it talked about respecting the name of someone, you can pretty much sub in character and be ok. Character was also often described as what gave a person weight. It is what the person is made off. When it describes the wicked here as chaff/weightless, I believe that it is saying that they are void of character. Easily blown away by the whims and influences of the world. So how much weight does our character have? Are we easily blown around and influenced by people or are we able to fall back down into God's hands so that He can make us into something useful?

The wicked will not stand in judgement - now when I read this I was like, WHY NOT? It didn't make sense to me at all because it seemed contrary to what scripture says elsewhere. The phrase to stand in this case is different then how we use it today. In courtrooms during this time you were able to stand if someone was behind you vouching for you. It ment that you had the support of someone, someone in your corner. What this verse is saying is that the wicked will have no one to vouch/defend/support them in judgement. I was reminded of this recently when a group of guys went out to party. One of them drank to much and got arrested for fighting. The friends just went home. Didn't go to the jail, just went back home and went to bed. There was no one to stand with him. So many times this happens, we are influenced to do the wrong thing but when consequences or judgement comes, all the people that were with us quickly flee, often in fear of their own lives. The wicked to not stand in judgement means that they don't have a chance. They will get the full weight of everything, the full weight of justice.

Nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous - still going with the metaphor of standing here. Standing also means to identify with. I believe this is talking about how if you choose to do what you want and live "in sin" then you will not be able to identify with the righteous. Upon closer inspection the difference will be seen. Or, going back to the original example, when you are thrown up, you will quickly be blown away. A chaff cannot pass as a wheat kernel.

So, I am left asking myself how much weight does my character have and what is it based on. It has been said that character isn't defined in one or two major moments in your life, but in the countless daily moments that lead up to the big ones. What you do in secret will define who you will be when the light hits you. Just remember that God provides for us to walk with him daily and does not abandon us to live life alone.

Thanks for reading.


Saturday, March 20, 2010

Psalm 1:3

"And he will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields it's fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither; and in whatever he does, he prospers."

I have heard this verse alot but if you were to ask me awhile back what it ment to me, i would say something like "it means God wants to bless me" or something like that. Which isn't inaccurate, but not the whole truth either. I think that the way he phrases things here is for a deeper meaning.

Firmly planted - Are our roots deep or shallow? If you have ever seen a huge tree after a storm that has fallen over at the roots, it will help drive this home. In order for stability a tree has to have deep roots, it has to be anchored. If you continually move a tree/plant, it will not develop the deep roots necessary. Alot of times I don't like to go deep. I would rather live at the surface level and not talk about issues in my life, marriage or walk with God. Just go to church and get out. Let me take care of me and totally miss out on community and sharing life with others. In doing so I prevent my roots from going deep. I get dangerously close to being one of those trees that when a storm hits and the ground softens I topple over. So the question I have to ask, is am I letting my roots go deep? If I keep moving around and hopping churchs or organizations or friends, I am not letting myself take root. But i think it is also good to note that you can plant a tree in a bucket in a forrest and it still not be part of the forrest cause it stays in a bucket. I see this happen alot, people come but they stay in their buckets of busyness or comfort and don't join the forrest so to speak.

Streams of Water - What gives me life? Is there currently anything in our lives that give us life spiritually, emotionally? Or are you trying to exist in the desert of materialism and busyness wondering why you don't feel like you are thriving or why you are feeling dry and choked out? I do this alot. I neglect to place myself by nourishing streams because there is always some seemingly justifiable excuse not to do so, or because i am to prideful to admit that I ended up in a desert. So what streams bring life and how do we need to move towards those?

Which yields it's fruit in it's season - People have seasons. There are times when we experience the joy of new things like Spring, there are also times we deal with the reflective quiet of Winter. The danger is when we compare. So often we compare ourselves. We look at somebody and think that they are better at something, did you ever think that it is because they are in Spring and you are in Fall? We don't all change seasons at the same time, and seasons last different lengths of time for people. The other promise to see here as that fruit will and should come. If you are a believer fruit should happen in your life. Sometimes we try to stay in a season because it is comfortable because it is what we are used to and we don't make the changes necessary because they are scary or uncomfortable. I don't know how comfortable new growth is for a tree, but i do know that having a baby isn't very comfortable. Yet, if you don't go through the pain then life will not be created. Are we choosing to stay in Winter's chill because we don't want to go through the awkward maybe painful process that it would take to move to a fruitful Spring/Summer?

It's leaf does not wither - Leaves are an outward showing of how healthy a tree is. If they start to die, you can bet that tree isn't doing well. It's interesting that he talks about seasons and then says that the tree's leaf doesn't wither. I think the lesson here is that our life doesn't depend on circumstance. We can still possess life even when we go through hard times/difficult seasons. It has been said that being a Christian doesn't exempt you from trials, but it does give you the hope to persevere. It gives you life in the middle of the Winter.

Whatever he does he prospers - It is very easy to misread this. You can read it and think that whatever he does he doesn't fail and succeeds. However that is not what it says. I think that it means that even in failure/trial he prospers. Not necessarily meaning materialistically but also spiritually/emotionally. This guy is walking with God. He is living fully surrendered to God. So what he does is going to be of God. If this guy decides to become a drug dealer it doesn't mean that he will prosper, because this guy is walking with God and wouldn't become a drug dealer. We can tend to read this verse and use it as a banner to justify all kinds of actions and try to call down God's blessing. But the underlying theme here is that this guy has deep roots and is walking with God through good times and bad. So prosperity will not look the same as it does from the worldly standpoint. I believe it means a life full of rich fruitful meaning.

Thanks so much for reading.


Thursday, March 18, 2010

Psalm 1:2 Delight, Despair and Fast food

"But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night."
I don't know about you, but for me delight and law seldom go together...for example, I recently got one of those photo stop light tickets, i broke the law , the $50 fine does not equal delight.
The word delight here also translates desire. His desire is for the law of the Lord. I don't think the law itself is the object of His desire, we seldom want more rules to follow. I think the focus is the intimacy with God that living in God's law brings. That is his delight or desire. So what happens if we don't desire that? What happens when you loose desire and loose connection and intimacy with God and begin to drift. I think it comes down to one word, despair. Despair is the abscence of hope. Hope comes from knowing God and experiencing his prescence. This grants you perspective, comfort and peace. Without it, you are left to your own devices, which prove futile and empty, lacking hope. So either we choose desire/delight or despair, God's ways or our's.
Meditate - now I usually chalk this one up to a hippy, yoga thing and move on thinking that i read my Bible and that is how a person that grew up Baptist meditates. Everything else seems a little mystic. However, when you dig a bit deeper to see what he means by meditate, it means to mull it over, to chew on it. I don't really treat scripture like this alot of times. I prefer the drive thru version of a quiet time were I list of my order of ways I wish God to speak, He says thank you please drive around and I'm out in 15 minutes. So I like to live on the surface, I don't like to sit and ponder or stare at scripture because then I start to see things. I start to see that instead of seeing the "Pharasees" as the dark side if you will from StarWars, they begin to look like me. I start to realize that I don't apply what I read and I have alot of McDonalds bags in my car but nothing to show for it so to speak. I don't like to meditate not because it is mystic, in all actuallity it is because it is intimate and personal and God gets all up in my business. Yet, if i stop to ponder and actually look and listen, God engages me in ways that I would have never forseen or considered. Can you survive of off fast food, yes. Will you be healthy? No. And usually the more you eat fast food is directly proportionate to the amount of time you work out. So we eat fast food, grow spiritually obese and complain cause we didn't get it our way right away. I don't think this is God's desire. God's desire is that we would sit down, look at the recipe and take the time to cook, savor and enjoy. Jesus didn't really rush, yet I try to get him to stamp my busy time sheet all the time.
So choosing to meditate is choosing to cook instead of eat fast food. It is choosing to delight instead of despair.
Thanks so much for those of you that read this, I don't know who is or why God is having me do this, but I pray it is a blessing.
ps - i also think it's funny that i am writing this in panera, i plan on working out later.
Have a great day.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Psalm 1:1

"How 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 is one of those verses that I usually just read over and keep moving till I get to something that has to do with godly people cause I don't think I am this guy. Yet, a few days ago God hit me with a brick of understanding with this verse.

If you notice there is a progression or a pattern if you will. The guy goes from walking, to standing and then to sitting. Here are some thoughts on this and how this verse applies a whole lot more to me than I thought or would dare to admit.

Walking - Walking is a daily activity, and everybody does it. This guy walks (daily lives) in the counsel of the wicked. How often do I let the influence of the world and what it deems important, significant counsel my daily life? Alot more than I care to admit. This counsel affects what i think and what I say. This guy is carried away, I don't think this is intentional, he probably goes to church on Sunday. However, in his daily life he is counseled by the world and carried along on the streams of worldy desires, that take him farther away from God.

Standing - If you are standing somewhere, you pretty much aren't doing anything. You stand when you wait for something or can't make a decision. I think that this guy has grown passive. He stands in the path of sinners. He doesn't turn and move towards God. He may actually get in the way of people that are trying to see God. To me, standing represents passivity in our relationship with God. This guy has/is growing cold. He may be tired, or something may have happened that he doesn't like. For whatever reason he has chosen to stop. This is a critical juncture in our life where faith is key. Faith in God, even when we don't understand, grants perspective. Perspective grants hope, lack of perspective/faith breeds despair.

Sitting - In this culture when you sit somewhere, it was understood that you were identifying with it. So this guy has moved from being counseled, to growing passive and now he is identifying with a scoffer. Now if you were to think of a scoffer you would probably think of a heckler at a comedy club that is being rude. However, I think we scoff at things everyday. When you scoff at something you deny it's power or value and diminish it. How many times do I do this with God? This guy has moved to a place perhaps from despair or lack of faith, perhaps from disobedience, where he identifies more with a scoffer than a believer. If you look at how he lives, you would identify him as a scoffer. You can't distinguish between the two. Not because he is in the back of the church heckling the pastor, but because his life if void of faith and instead filled with actions that show he does not trust God in any way shape or form.

So take some time to think about a verse that we would usually skip over. Don't be afraid to see yourself in it, because that is when life change happens. Remember that if God is showing you something it is because He loves you and wants to draw you closer to Him, not because he is out to make you feel miserable.

Application ?'s take a few minutes to process through these:

- How am I letting myself be counseled by the world instead of God? Usually i try to justify these things, I am a terrific justifier, unfortunately.

- How have I grown passive and why? At the intersection of faith, doubt and unbelief, which way am i headed and what needs to change?

- How have I started to identify with a scoffer? Is there something that I think God's power is limited in? If somebody looked at my life, what would they identify me as: a scoffer or a believer?

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Beginning

It would take an act of God for me to become a blogger, and it did. A few weeks back God laid it on my heart to start sharing some of the things He has been teaching me. Not that they may be earth shattering revelations, but maybe a help or encouragement to you. So what about the name. The Bohemian and The Bible. Here is a little bit behind the name and the purpose of the blog.
When I lived in Slovakia, I would often venture up to Prague in the Czech Republic. It is known as the region of Bohemia. The area is beautiful, the natural setting is amazing with farms and rolling hills and people who are gifted in the arts. The people of this region actually played an important part in Christianity.
Alot of people know Martin Luther, what alot people don't know is that Martin Luther was inspired by the teachings of a man named John Hus. Hus was a pastor of a church in Prague who began teaching that you can have a personal relationship with God that doesn't have to go through a priest. He taught that you can read the Bible on your own (a foreign concept at the time) and challenged his parish to do so. They did, and it exploded. People began to read the Bible for themselves and the truth began to set them free. This did not escape the eyes of the powers that be and Hus was removed from his position and killed.
So, why did I name my blog "The Bohemian and The Bible"? Because I feel as if we in today's society have lost the ability to read and meditate on scripture. We listen to other via podcast and read alot of books, but we don't savor scripture for ourselves. Bohemian has come to mean free spirit and one who pursues beauty. I have always been told that my view of things is a little different, and I think that has come from God's desire to increase peoples understanding of who He is. As an artist, I try to mirror and convey God's love, creativity and beauty and put that on a common level for people to see, value and appreciate. So my hope is that through this, people may come to value and appreciate the beauty of scripture and meditate on it in their daily lives.
My goal is to blog all the way through Psalms, this may take awhile and i'm not promising there will be one a day, but i will try. I believe that God causes our hearts to pause when we read scripture but often times we are so consumed by schedule we fly past and ignore the pause that God was teaching. So there is no deadline or goal. This is just a reflective walk through scripture to listen to God and hang out in the garden with Him once again.
I don't know where this will end up, but thanks for those of you who even took the time to read this, and I pray that God would bless you.