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Posts Tagged ‘faith’

Psalm 40 and U2

March 26, 2012 2 comments
prayer

"I waited patiently for the Lord..."

This afternoon I had a coffee meeting with a friend from church. Before I met with her, I had few minutes to spare and so I opened my Bible to Psalm 40. For some reason I just found I could relate more to this passage right now. As I shared with my friend over coffee, I do not really feel like I have anyone against me…but I do feel like I’ve been through the muck and mire when it comes to things in my life lately – job search, SUV issues, and some personal matters.

I love how The Message version of the Bible translates several verses in this passage:

Psalm 40:1-2 “I waited and waited and waited for God. At last He looked, finally He listened. He lifted me out of the ditch, pulled me from deep mud. He stood me up on a solid rock to make sure I wouldn’t slip.”

I honestly feel like I am still in that “waiting for God” stage most days. I know eventually He will lift me out of the circumstances with which I am dealing and put me in a safe place, but right now I feel like He is using those circumstances to help grow me and to teach me something.

Psalm 40:11-15 “Now God, don’t hold out on me, don’t hold back your passion. Your love and truth are all that keeps me together. When troubles ganged up on me, a mob of sins past counting, I was so swamped by guilt I couldn’t see my way clear. More guilt in my heart than hair on my head, so heavy the guilt that my heart gave out. Soften up, God, and intervene; hurry and get me some help, so those who are trying to kidnap my soul will be embarrassed and lose face, so anyone who gets a kick out of making me miserable will be heckled and disgraced, so those who pray for my ruin will be booed and jeered without mercy.”

In some ways I can related to David (the author of this passage). I do feel like I’m waiting for God to intervene and do something – and do it quickly. However, I do not feel like anyone is intentionally trying to make me miserable or that anyone is praying for my ruin. The only things that I feel like I’m facing are circumstances that are brought on by the devil (and not in a “the devil made me do it…he’s in everything that I see as negative” type of way, but I do believe he is alive and well and orchestrating things behind the scenes to trip us up and denounce our faith — “spiritual warfare” as it is often called) and I would love to see him embarrassed, lose face, heckled, disgraced, and a whole lot more!

Psalm 40:17 “Let those who know what You’re all about tell the world You’re great and not quitting. And me? I’m a mess. I’m nothing and have nothing: make something of me. You can do it, You’ve got what it takes — but God, don’t put it off.”

This is a great reminder that God is not finished with me (or any of us for that matter) yet! I agree 100% with David – I am a mess on my own, but through Christ I have the strength to do all things (Philippians 4:13).

Each time I read this passage, I immediately think of U2’s song “40.” Enjoy a live rendition of this song in the video below.

Photo Credit: By Chris Yarzab

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Take A Break – You Deserve It!

February 24, 2012 Leave a comment
relax

It's okay to take time to relax!

When life gets busy, other things have a tendency to fall by the wayside. What makes matters worse is we start feeling guilty as a result. It is okay to take time away from the people and things we love and enjoy. Returning to these things only reminds us how much we really appreciate them. Give yourself permission to take a break.

Some religions believe in what they call “Sabbath.” This is just dedicating time to yourself where you can turn off your phone, shut down the laptop, and just refocus for a day. If you don’t take this time, you can easily experience burn out and you will not be at your best in whatever you do – be it personally or professionally. How you spend this down time is up to you. I enjoy spending time with friends, listening to music, or reading something fun. Each person is different and how they “recharge their batteries” is just as unique.

I have several friends who work for a church and as result they are typically working on Sunday (when most people take their Sabbath). These friends usually have Friday off, so they make that their day of rest and refocus. It doesn’t matter when you do it, it just matters that you do it. Find time in your schedule that works best for you and permit yourself to just enjoy time away from your every day life.

Do you take a “Sabbath” day each week and if so, what do you do on that day?

Photo Credit: By lukey dargons

Life Lessons From The Black Crows

November 9, 2011 Leave a comment
black crow

Birds of the air don't worry, so why do we?

Today I was looking out the window and saw four black crows (not to be confused with the rock band that made the song “Hard To Handle” popular in 1990).  As I observed the birds, I noticed they were very free-spirited and just went about their business. They didn’t worry about living conditions, food, or really anything else for that matter. I immediately thought of what scripture tells us about worrying.

Matthew 6:25-34
“For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life? And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith! Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

Why is it that we are so quick to worry and not immediately turn things over to God? Is it a pride thing? Is it human nature? Whatever it is, how do we change this vicious cycle?

What do you do to overcome worry?

Photo Credit: By Isa Sorensen

Big Brother – A Dissection of (Not So) Good Community

August 26, 2011 2 comments
There's More To Life Than Reality Shows

Looking for "true community?" Watch reality tv shows like Big Brother and do the opposite!

The subject of “community” has been on my radar lately. A couple of weeks ago, the sermon at church was on community. I am also starting two new community groups – one that I will be leading and another in which I am participating (a mentoring group for community group leaders). When I look up community in the dictionary, four of the definitions really stick out to me:

  1. “A social group of any size whose members reside in a specific locality, share government, and often have a common cultural and historical heritage.”
  2. “A social, religious, occupational, or other group sharing common characteristics or interests and perceived or perceiving itself as distinct in some respect from the larger society within which it exists (usually preceded by the): the business community; the community of scholars.”
  3. “A group of men or women leading a common life according to a rule.”
  4. “Similar character; agreement; identity: community of interests.”

One of my latest guilty pleasures is the reality television show Big Brother. If you’ve never watched the show, it’s basically a group of people whom have never met and they have to live in a house together under the watchful eye of “big brother” (the American public). Each week there is a competition that determines who becomes the “head of household” and that person has to nominate two other residents to be considered for eviction. Residents then compete in another competition for “power of veto” and whomever wins this competition is able to veto one of the nominations or keep them as is. At the end of the week, all house guests must vote to evict one of the people who ends up on the chopping block. Once the competition is down to two people, the previous eliminated house guests vote on which of the remaining two will receive an enormous amount of money.

Needless to say, this show is a VERY bad example of  how a community should be:

  • Individuals on the show form alliances against one another – in community you must be willing to work together as one unit.
  • There is a lot of back-stabbing that occurs on Big Brother – members of community should not turn on each other.
  • Big Brother contestants are caught frequently calling one another names – those involved in community should encourage one another and not embarrass or put down others in the group.
  • Greed seems to be a common theme on Big Brother – those in community want to see everyone succeed in the group and actively celebrate those times with them.

If your “community” were to be filmed for a reality show, would it be like Big Brother?

Photo Credit: By Elaine Ashton

 

“Every Single Man’s Battle” Has The Best Of Intentions

August 16, 2011 6 comments
Every Single Man's Battle

Photo Credit: By Christianbook.com

About a year ago, I read “Every Man’s Battle” by Stephen Arterburn and Fred Stoeker with Mike Yorkey. I read the book with six other guys in a single men’s small group through my church. The overall message was much appreciated, but we found out the book was geared more toward married men. When I found out about “Every Single Man’s Battle” (by the same authors) I was very excited, that was until I actually read the book. To my dismay, I was disappointed for a few reasons.

  1. “Every Single Man’s Battle” constantly refers to “Every Man’s Battle.” What gets me is there wasn’t a whole lot of information from that book that was geared toward single men. They should have just taken what little information that was for single men in “Every Man’s Battle” and just put the information in “Every Single Man’s Battle” instead of saying “read chapters 1-5 of Every Man’s Battle.” It’s like the sole purpose they did this was to sell more books and I have a big problem with that.
  2. The author’s writing style was a little bothersome as well. Everything was “you need to do…” or “you should…” which comes across as if the authors were not single men, but married men who are not currently experiencing the whole issues trying to be a sexually pure single adult male. I would have liked it a lot more if the authors changed the wording to “we as single Christian men should…” or “we should…” that way it doesn’t come across like the authors have no idea what single men are going through or like they don’t sympathize for them.
  3. This book is better suited as a small group study curriculum, otherwise it is a very difficult read.

The message of the book is a good one that is definitely needed for all single Christian men and I found several take away items including:

  • “Actually, sexual impurity is a series of bad decisions on our part – as a result of immature character – and deliverance won’t deliver you into instant maturity. Character work needs to be done.”
  • Our sexuality is not just about obeying God’s commands but also a way to honor our relationship with Him.
  • “When you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.” – 1 Corinthians 10:13
  • “Being about our Father’s business is our rite of passage into manhood.”
  • Single men should not live alone, but have at least one male roommate to help provide accountability in the area of sexual temptation.

I definitely recommend this book (with the above disclaimers) and even though it is a challenge at times to abide by this, the long term rewards are well worth it.

Strength

bicep

"HIS strength is perfect..."

At times it can be scary to have God reveal something to you. Maybe I should explain exactly what it is that I mean. Sunday of last week, the sermon at church was on having strength in your fears (from Rodney Anderson – select Part 2 at bottom). The rest of the week I had different things concerning “strength” stuck in my head. Two songs kept repeating in my head – one song by Chris Tomlin that says “strength will rise as we wait upon the Lord…” and Steven Curtis Chapman’s “His Strength Is Perfect.”

Later in the week I kept having these Bible verses that were stuck in my head:

1 Chronicles 16:11 – “Look to the LORD and his strength; seek his face always.”

Psalm 18:32 – “It is God who arms me with strength and keeps my way secure.”

Isaiah 12:2 – “Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid. The LORD, the LORD himself, is my strength and my defense ; he has become my salvation.”

Isaiah 40:29 – “He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.”

Isaiah 40:31 – “Those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”

The whole week I kept thinking “What is it with this strength theme in my life this week?!” Well, I found out on Friday…I lost my job. It’s weird when God prepares you for something that is about to happen (especially when you don’t know that it is coming).

Photo Credit: By Beverly & Pack

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