Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Famous Last Words (2 Samuel 22-23, Psalm 57)

Here are some famous last words:

Humphrey Bogart: "I should never have switched from Scotch to Martinis."
M. Barrie, author of Peter Pan: "I can't sleep."
Joseph Henry Green, upon checking his own pulse: "It's stopped."
Marie Antoinette after she accidentally stepped on the foot of her executioner as she went to the guillotine.: "Pardon me, sir.  I did not do it on purpose."
John Lennon: "I'm shot."
Elvis Presley: "I hope I haven't bored you."

People sure do get ironic before they die.  But leave it to David to be calm, cool, and poetic as ever in his last minutes:
“The Spirit of the Lord spoke through me;
    his word was on my tongue.
The God of Israel spoke,
    the Rock of Israel said to me:
‘When one rules over people in righteousness,
    when he rules in the fear of God,
he is like the light of morning at sunrise
    on a cloudless morning,
like the brightness after rain
    that brings grass from the earth.’
“If my house were not right with God,
    surely he would not have made with me an everlasting covenant,
    arranged and secured in every part;
surely he would not bring to fruition my salvation
    and grant me my every desire.
But evil men are all to be cast aside like thorns,
    which are not gathered with the hand.
Whoever touches thorns
    uses a tool of iron or the shaft of a spear;
    they are burned up where they lie.”
I certainly won't be able to top that when my time comes.  Just in case, I think I'll start jotting some thoughts down now.  Otherwise I'll undoubtedly wind up notorious for saying something less-than-brilliant like, "I'm hungry." or, "I should have this mole removed."  I'm so happy David had his poetical ability at the end- otherwise 2 Samuel 23 could have gone a totally different direction.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Justice (Psalm 5, Psalm 38, Psalm 41-42)

I had the best meeting tonight!  My church is putting together a Justice Ministry team and we are pumped!  A while back a gentleman from the International Justice Ministry (IJM) came to speak to our church and left us with no choice but to take action.  He told horrific stories about human trafficking and the like; things we know are happening other places.  Far away places.  Or so I thought.

Now I know Toledo, OH ranks fourth in our nation for sex trafficking.  That's a mere two and a half hour drive from me.  Trafficking is a huge problem in Muskegon, minutes from one of my favorite vacation spots.  This happens.  This happens in the state you live in.  It's too horrible to go on about, but I love that churches, lawmakers, individuals, are taking action.  It's overwhelming.  We discussed at our meeting that the research for what we want to accomplish will take a minimum of six months.  Sadly, there are too many directions for us to go.  Local is so important, but what about the poorest of the poor?  They aren't in America.  We are desperate to stop sex trafficking.  And debt bondage.  And forced labor.  And organ harvesting.  There are so many ways to be a victim.

I didn't really mean for this post to be depressing, but I guess it's reading that way, isn't it?  The good news is we are becoming aware and taking action!  IJM Presiden and CEO says: "God has ignited a movement of transformation in his church- a movement of passion and action on behalf of millions who are victims of injustice in our world.  Believers are discovering clear, Christ-centered pathways to concretely 'seek justice, rescue the oppressed, defend the orphan, and plead for the widow.'" (Is. 1:17)

Friday, May 17, 2013

An Old Testament Soap Opera

Oh, the drama!  I feel so fortunate to be part of a family with minimal drama.  Very minimal.  I mean, as far as I know the cousins, aunt, uncles, siblings, even the in-laws, actually enjoy getting together and hanging out!  But I've heard the horror stories; I know not every family is so lucky.  Take David's family for example.

Yikes.  Whoever said reading the Bible is boring, didn't read David's scandalous goings-on.  When he has his friend Uriah killed, I'm so angry at him I want to take a pebble to his noggin, David and Goliath-style.  A few short verses later my heart is breaking for him when his firstborn son dies.  Talk about an emotional roller coaster.  And then there's the wrongness of 2 Samuel 13-15 when David's kids are scheming and being horrible.  Then it really hits the fan.

David seems to be back to his old, good-guy self when he asks his soldiers to be gentle with Absalom, which is sweet.  I also love the gentleman who wouldn't kill Absalom "'even if a thousand shekels were weighed out into [his] hands.'" (2 Sam. 18:12).  Absalom gets it anyway, but I do like to see that glimpse of humanity from random, nameless characters in the Bible. 

But friends, if we take nothing else away from this story, let us remember to watch our hair when riding our mules under large oaks.
2 Samuel 13-15
Psalm 3-4, 12-13, 28, 55,
2 Samuel 16-18
And now I'm all caught up!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Can I Buy A Vow?

Sometimes I have Duck Dynasty on when I'm reading my Bible and blogging. I just do.  Today I had it on as I started Psalm 65.  It was the episode in which Jase and his wife buys his third wedding ring and not one day later, Jase loses it while duck hunting.  I empathized because my loving husband is also on his third wedding band.  He's due to lose it any day now.  My point is, the very first verse I read is, "Praise awaits you, our God, in Zion; to you our vows will be fulfilled."  !!!  Vows!  Wedding bands!  Is God speaking to me via Duck Dynasty?!

Just kidding.  He certainly is not.  But my eye was drawn to the vow bit.  The word pops up again in Psalm 66: 13-14.  "I will come to your temple with burnt offerings and fulfill my vows to you- vows my lips promised and my mouth spoke when I was in trouble."  The Duck Dynasty episode was nothing more than coincidence, but God really was putting these verses in bold for me.  And it's because I have unfulfilled vows.

The month of April was a horrible one and I prayed a lot of promises to God to get me through that month.  Now it's time to pay up.  I've made promises to God before, but I tend to go back on my word when the trouble passes.  I usually explain to myself that God doesn't accept bribes- my promises meant nothing to Him.  I'm a big wimp, I know.  That's so awful.  Not this time, though.  I'll be paying up.  I can't tell myself this is a bribe- this is a token of appreciation for pulling me through some hard days.  It's the least I can do, because I appreciate his grace so much.  I do.

Today I read:
Psalm 65-67, Psalm 69-70
2 Samuel 11-12, 1 Chronicles 20 

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

The Infamous Psalm 23

Slowly but surely I'm catching up!  There are so many possible blog posts when your topic is the vast and always eye-opening Word of God.  It's hard to decide what to write about on any given day.  But I simply cannot skip over Psalm 23 and not say a word or two about it.

Psalm 23 has a lot of negative emotion linked to it because it's so often read at funerals.  But I actually didn't know that when I first studied the verse in sixth grade; I thought it was just lovely, and still do.  It's peaceful, calm, true, comforting... all positive adjectives even though the chapter does dredge up memories of various funerals for me now.  I love the visions of green pastures, the quiet waters, the idea that I have not a thing to be afraid of.  God is expecting me in His holy home to eat (!!! Ohmygosh, I bet that food is... well- heavenly!), and my cup does overflow!  There is so much to love in these verses. 

While teaching us about Psalm 23, my sixth grade teacher also recommended a book to us that I read  and have to pass on to you.  It's certainly not a light read, so if you're looking for something fluffy to take to the beach, I have plenty of other recommendations.  In the Presence of Mine Enemies (by Howard and Phyllis Rutledge) is a hard-to-stomach, but important book for patriots and Christians.  It's been years and years since I read it, but if you get your hands on it, you have to drop me a line and tell me what you think!

Still catching up!  Since my last post, I've read:
2 Samuel 8-9, 1 Chronicles 18
Psalm 50, 53, 60, 752 Samuel 10, 1 Chronicles 19, Psalm 20

Monday, May 13, 2013

Tune In

Sometimes I joke that I need a prayer thesaurus because I use the same words in every prayer that comes out of my mouth.  It’s a lot of, “Please help…” and “Just let me be….” and “I can’t thank you enough for…” and “If you can- well, I know you can, but if you would….” and did I mention “Lord, please help!!”  So when I read Psalm 96:1 and Psalm 33:3 I was struck by the “newness” of these verses suggesting that we “sing to the Lord a new song.”  I’m pretty sure this isn’t just intended for our churches’ Music Directors. 

In fact, I’m quite certain God wants us to be wildly creative in our worship of Him.  I trust God loves hearing our songs of praise (well, maybe not my off-key tunes, but yours for sure!!), but I get the feeling from these verses that we shouldn’t be limiting ourselves to a few hymns to express our love.  In addition to our rockin’ hymns, I think God wants us to pray about things we don’t normally pray about, talk to people we tend to avoid, stop being grumpy in the morning, smile at a stranger, befriend an atheist (with no intention of dragging him to church!), increase an offering… do something NEW!! 
Of course, some good old-fashioned singing to God at the top of your lungs is pretty awesome too.  Here's one that's good for singing and dancing!

I'm behind on reading, but here's what I've done since my last post:
Psalm 1-2, Psalm 15, Psalm 22-24, Psalm 47, Psalm 68
Psalm 89, Psalm 96, Psalm 100-101, Psalm 105, Psalm 132
2 Samuel 7, 1 Chronicles 17
Psalm 25, Psalm 29, Psalm 33, Psalm 36, Psalm 39

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Oh, Deer Me

My face has not been in the Bible.  It has been attached to my head, which has been banging against the wall thanks to my Internet woes!  I won't bore you with details; I seem to be up and running right now, so that's good news.  Sadly, I've also fallen several days behind in my Bible reading....

My husband is in the woods turkey hunting today.  He is an avid hunter, and I was thrilled to find this book for him last fall:

It's a great book of devotions for hunters.  And wives of hunters too, I guess, since I've been known to peruse it every now and then.  Here is a blurb that seems fitting these days, as I have been struggling to find the time or ambition to get my face in the Bible:
"It's impossible to know how many deer I have never seen because I didn't make the effort to really study the woods.  And when it comes to the Scriptures, I shudder to think what I have missed as a result of reading it with no particular motivation other than curiosity or just 'get in a daily quota.'  I want to do better..."
With the busyness that comes with warm weather upon us, I pray we all still find divine motivation to get our faces in our Bibles.  I'm especially talking to myself here!  A blog is a great way to be held accountable, but... it shouldn't be the only reason I'm spending time in Scripture, right?!  I'll be catching up on Psalms, Chronicles and 2 Kings quickly (and prayerfully!) and will be back on task around here!

Friday, May 3, 2013

Easy As 1, 2, 3! (Psalm 133, 106-107)

A lot of the Psalms we've been reading start out the same way, "Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever."  And no wonder!  It's worth repeating. (And making into a song!  See below!)  Every part of the verse is so simple and true and I'd be smart to repeat it a thousand times a day.

1. "Give thanks to the Lord"  Yes!  Do it!  It is just good manners.  Plus, a self-serving spin: it keeps my own spirits up.  Nothing puts things into perspective like itemizing every blessing I can think of!
2. "for he is good"  I don't know if our human minds can even understand this one.  God is GOOD.  He is without wickedness, he does not manipulate, become greedy, act unjustly... ever!!  That's amazing.  That's miraculous.  That's God!
3.  "his love endures forever."  And thank goodness for it!  My heart breaks for people who never felt a parent's love- as a child or as a parent, because it gives me such comfort to know God loves me even more than my parents loved me.  Even more than I love my kids.  I will love my munchkins forever, so I know that as much as I might screw up and frustrate God, his love for me will endure all my sin for all time.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

May Day (Psalm 102-104, 2 Samuel 5:1-10, 1 Chronicles 11-12)

Happy May Day!  I could not be happier to be done with April!  Mother Nature agreed, and gave us 80 degree weather and the most lovely sunshine I've seen all year!  I put out my hummingbird feeders, bought my garden seeds, pulled some weeds and soaked up my vitamin D!  Then I celebrated the day with a root beer float.  It hit the spot in a big way! 

Root beer floats are just one of my weaknesses.  I love food.  I eat when I'm happy, I eat when I'm sad, I eat when I'm stressed, I eat when I'm mad.  So Psalm 102:4 is just bewildering to me: "... I forget to eat my food."  What?!  I've never had that problem.  Nope, never.

Poor David in all his 1 Chronicles, chapter 11 thirst probably would have looooved a root beer float.  I bet he wouldn't have poured that on the ground!  The three mighty warriors of 1 Chronicles 11:18 must have been ready to wring his neck when he just dumped their bravely sought out water on the ground.  It was a nice gesture, David, but !?!?!!?

I hope your own day was filled with ash-free food and tear-free drink (see Psalm 102:9), and here's to root beer float-filled tomorrows!