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 presence.....is 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.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Warning Signs: Psalm 4:2-3 Bad Art & Diet Pills

"O men, how long shall my honor be turned into shame? How long will you love vain words and seek after lies? But know that the Lord has set apart the godly for himself; the Lord hears when I call to him"

It is a warning and an affirmation of truth. It is a question of perspective and a call to awakening.

How long will my honor be turned into shame? It is hard to continue to do something when people don't value it. It is even harder when they directly oppose it or devalue it's significance. That is what is going on here. A person's honor or their character is the essence of who they are. When it is not valued, despised or diminished, it is held in shame. I know that a lot of times we as Christians/believers play the martyr card here and talk about being oppressed. Mainly that is usually because of our Christian bubble is being threatened. There is a difference between something being shamed and something not being respected. I think that honestly we put out second rate work or incomplete work and say we are oppressed because it is not respected or does not sell. That is not what this verse is talking about at all. This isn't about someone not liking your Thomas Kinkade painting. This is about someone going against the essence of who you are as a believer. This is about looking at what God calls us to, and then doing the opposite. It is promoting the things not of God (see Romans 1) and instead promoting things of self. It is trading the truth of God for a lie, for things that are empty.

How long will you love vain words and seek after lies? Diet pills don't work, if they did, think about it....there wouldn't be overweight people? If there was a true diet pill then society would change drastically. Yet, people buy them and they are a million dollar business. Why? because people are suckers for empty promises. We hope for a lot of things, especially things that promise to better us with out much cost. But the reality is, you can't escape hard work. There is no easy way, there is just denial of reality. I am not meaning to sound like a pessimist, but a realist. We love comfort, we love things that are easy, so we are suckers for things that promise to satisfy and cheat the system. This is a verse that challenges us to wake up. STOP! Stop chasing after lies and realize that God is the only truth and thing that satisfies. There no life apart from Him.

In juxtaposition to this is the promise that God does value the godly man, so much so that He sets him apart for Himself. In most cases in scripture this phrasing is usually plural, talking about Godly people. Here it is singular which shows that there is an emphasis on each individual. So God does not just lump us together, but He has set each of us apart for Himself. You have a purpose and you have a connected relationship with the Father and Creator of all.

The Lord hears when I call to Him. I love that this is a statement of certainty. Not one of condition. He does not say the Lord hears my prayer because I have done (insert good work here). But instead it is because of a relationship. It is showing that the Lord has set us apart and we are connected to Him. This is certain and is true regardless of the shame or opposition from the world.

I think it is interesting that this verse is a warning, the desire is that people would wake up, not just follow lies. I am continually amazed by God's pursuit of us, even when we love what is worthless and exchange the truth of God for a lie. His grace is there, He loves us, disciplines us and restores us, in short, He redeems us. And Redemption is a beautiful thing.