Thursday, October 30, 2014

Oct 31- Psalm 9:10

Those who know your name trust in you,

for you, O Lord, have never abandoned

anyone who searches for you

Psalm 9:10

Do you know what a "trust fall" is? One person closes their eyes and falls backward, trusting the other person to catch them.

Have you ever seen sad and comical videos of this? The person who is falling is reluctant. They debate back-and-forth, "Can I trust the other person to catch me?" But they debate too long. Therefore, at precisely the moment that this hesitating person decides, "Yes, I will trust," the other person decides, "They're never going to do this," and they let down their hands and walk away. The result is a great fall!

Why do we laugh at such things?! (The Three Stooges and America's Funniest Home Videos made millions with this kind of humor.)

In your relationship with God, are you ever like the person who closes their eyes ... and then debates for hours (or weeks or years) ... as to whether to let go, fall backward, and trust in God to trust you or not.

That is what today's Psalm is all about. Scripture says, "Those who know your name trust in you." The question is: Do you really believe that "[the] Lord [will] never abandoned anyone who searches for [Him]"?

The hard part for many is that God doesn't have physical arms. We can't see him. We can't always feel him. But trusting faith "is the confident assurance that what we hope for is going to happen. It is the evidence of things we cannot yet see" (Hebrews 11:1).

Faith grows as we learn to simply close our eyes and fall backward. It is practicing our trust in him. We can't see his hands and we can't always feel his arms, but the question is: Will we believe that "[the] Lord [will] never abandoned anyone who searches for [Him]"?

In Christ's Love,

a guy who has fallen enough

that he has had to learn to trust

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Oct 30 - Psalm 9:1

A psalm of David,

to be sung to the tune

"Death of the Son."

I will thank you, LORD,

with all my heart;

I will tell of all

the marvelous things

you have done

Psalm 9:1

My wife reads much faster than I do. And generally speaking, she reads with deeper comprehension. Part of the art of reading for comprehension is discerning which details are necessary to pay attention to.

When reading a novel, for example, I tend to read every word, placing equal weight on each syllable. And I sometimes miss the forest because I intentionally bump into every tree and leaf and branch. Mary Louise, on the other hand, often skims. Hurrying past extraneous details so that she has time to savor the deeper parts of the forest.

"Except," said Mary Louise recently, "when I'm reading an instruction manual. Then I slow down and read every word."

"That's funny," I said, speaking like a stereotypical man, "I read every word ... except when I'm reading directions!"

(She groaned. But knew it was true!)

I say this because, I generally read the details … like the small print in today's Psalm. Today it’s definitely worth paying attention to!

When we read that it is "to be sung to the tune 'Death of the Son,'" seasoned Christians will see the capitalized "Son," and think immediately about the Son, Jesus Christ. But having been written 1000 years before the birth of "the Son,” this is probably just a grammatical accident that goes along with capitalizing major words in the title of a song. (For example, when Motion City sings, "I am a Son of a Gun," the capitalized son is probably not referring to Jesus!)

Nevertheless, pay attention to this happy coincidence.

Whenever you are "s[inging] to the tune 'Death of the Son,'" is this your response: "I will thank you, Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all the marvelous things you have done."

The life-giving sacrifice that comes through the death of the Son, Jesus Christ, is our greatest hope. It is the pathway to forgiveness. It is the door to eternal life.

And as this Psalm suggests, there ought to be two responses to this good news:

·       The first is thankfulness ("I will thank you, LORD, with all my heart").

·       The second is evangelism ("I will tell of all the marvelous things you have done").

In Christ's Love,

a typical guy who doesn't like

to follow directions ... but ...

will follow follow this one

to the letter

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Oct 29 - Psalm 8:3-4

When I look at the night sky

and see the work of your fingers --

the moon and the stars

you have set in place --

what are mortals that

you should think of us?

Psalm 8:3-4


We live in the Milky Way Galaxy. How big is it?


Imagine our Milky Way as a dinner plate. (It’s basically round and flat like a disc.)


Wait … imagine our galaxy as VERY large dinner plate.


How big? A dinner plate as big around the earth!


Now, if that 7901-mile-wide plate represents our Milky Way Galaxy, then guess how big our sun and our moon would be in comparison: Just a piece of salt (the sun) and a speck of dust (earth) an inch apart on this 7901-mile-wide plate!


That’s us. We may be big (in our imaginations), but we’re tiny. Insignificant!


Indeed, even our massive galaxy is tiny in respect to the whole universe. How tiny? Imagine our disc-shaped Milky Way as barely the size of one round hub cap in a universe as big as the city of Chicago!


Get the point?


Well even if that analogy was hard to understand (and it probably was!), the point is this …


Our little planet is itsy-bitsy, teeny-tiny.

And you aren’t even a speck of dust

on a grain of salt in the

grand scheme of human history or

the grand expanse of the universe.


And yet, you are the most important thing in all creation.


How do I know that? Because Christ died for you. As it says in Romans 5:8, “God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us.”


The Psalmist invites us to walk outside. Stand under a starry sky. Be humbled by the massiveness. And then say, “Wow.”


And then say, “Thank You.”


“What are mortals that you should think of us?” Who am I that you would die for me?


In Christ’s Love,

a guy who spells “Thank You”

… W-O-W


and who spells “Wow!”

… T-H-A-N-K- -Y-O-U













 if you placed a grain of sand an eighth of an inch away from a speck of dust. 


represent the sun and the earth. 





Monday, October 27, 2014

Oct 28 - Psalm 7:11a

God is a judge

who is perfectly fair.

Psalm 7:11a

"That's not fair" is one the greatest cries of childhood.

Brothers and sisters look at one another and often measure their parents' love based on equality.

But is equality really the best measure of fairness?

My son Paul is a professional musician. He excelled at the piano and then the organ. We encouraged him by paying for lessons and taking him to competitions.

Jay is also musical. So would equality be what was fair for Jay too? Piano lessons and organ competitions? No. Fair for Jay was bag pipe lessons. (And his bag piping has paid for trips across America and to several foreign countries. In fact, recently, his XO even had him play them from the bow of his Navy ship when they docked in Scotland!)

Would equality have been fair for my boys? And what about Robbie? Should we have given him organ lessons, should we have dressed him in a bag piping kilt? No. We helped him get a classic car and let him tinker!

Fair is nurturing each person's gifts passionately, but uniquely.

Fair is encouraging and challenging and pushing each child deliberately, but uniquely.

Fair is putting each child in situations where they will stretch and grow ... sometimes whether they want to do it or not! Indeed, as long as we are ultimately keeping them safe, we need to consistently teach them that life is not about their personal preferences and desires. It's about responsibility. It's about lifting the needs of others and the praise of God above self.

Fair is also being judged for our actions. Virtually all our sin boils down to selfishness. We value our wants and desires more than we value our parents' wisdom (including our heavenly Father's wisdom). In a rebellious lack of trust, we reject our heavenly Father's and our earthly mother's ability to provide, thinking that we know better what we really need.

God must judge our rebellion. And it is fair. And it is loving. He wants us to grow. He wants us to thrive. He wants us to play organs in cathedrals, pipe from the bridge of Navy ships, tinker on classic Mustangs, worship him in faith, serve our neighbor, and fulfill destinies higher than we can ever hope for our children or ourselves.

And what is not fair is not judging, not challenging, not pushing, not calling us to standard as high as heaven.

In Christ's Love,

a guy who learns

a lot about God

by raising kids

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Oct 27 - Psalm 7:14-15

The wicked … are …

pregnant with trouble

and give birth to lies.

They dig a pit to trap others

and then fall into it themselves.

Psalm 7:14-15


Men, let me save you a lot of grief. The most important question to NEVER ask a woman is …


Are you pregnant?


Even if the woman appears to be thirty-nine and a half weeks along, you’re better off talking about the weather until she’s holding the baby or she says something about it to you.


Good advice … nevertheless, I think it would be wise if we in society talked a little more about pregnancy – the Psalm 7 kind of pregnancy.


Too many people in our world are “pregnant with trouble.” Unfortunately, it’s politically incorrect to talk about wickedness nowadays. Only tolerance is tolerated.


As Christians, we are called to be loving. It should be our absolute calling card. But is tolerance really love?


Let me tell you a story: A year or two ago, a friend of mine was trying to take a picture. To get the whole scene in the frame, she backed up … and backed up … and backed up … until she tripped. Falling, she broke both writes.


If we see someone backing up blindly toward the edge of a cliff, shouldn’t we warn them? Isn’t that the loving thing to do?


Wickedness is a cliff.


In just one book of the Bible – Proverbs – look at all the things that wickedness is associated with …


·         treachery and injustice (2:22, 19:28),

·         compromises and lies (25:26, 6:12),

·         hurt and harm (9:7),

·         danger and fear (28:15, 28:28),

·         cravings and addiction (10:3),

·         “shame and disgrace” (13:5),

·         worry and moaning (24:19, 29:2)

·         hatred and tyranny (29:27, 29:16),

·         darkness and trouble (4:19, 15:6),

·         alienation and evil (15:29, 15:28),

·         crushing, hatred and punishment (20:26,29:27, 21:18),

·         ravages and abomination (3:32, 11:11),

·         “contempt, shame, and disgrace” (18:3),

·         perversion and violence (17:23, 21:7),

·         futility and corruption (10:28, 10:32),

·         desolation and the weight of sin (10:30, 11:5),

·         “murderous ambush” and ensnaring traps (12:6, 12:13),

·         great wrath and “the curse of the Lord” (11:23, 3:33),

·         death and destruction (10:27, 3:25).


Look at that list! Tolerance is not loving. People we love are backing up blindly toward the edge of a cliff.


Wait! Read that last line again. Who’s backing up toward the edge of a cliff? “People we love.” Yes, we should absolutely love all people, but should we be yelling at people we don’t know?


People and churches that are great at evangelism are guided by a simple truth: You can’t expect non-Christians to act like Christians. In other words, we shouldn’t yell at non-Christians, even when we worry that they’re pregnant with trouble.


Instead, we should love them … and love them … and love them … and love them. And finally, when the time is right, when they’re beginning to give us permission to speak into their lives, then we should point out the cliff. Actually, we should point them to the one who bridges the cliffs and chasms with a cross.


There is a canyon between heaven and hell, life and death, hope and destruction. That canyon was carved by sin. But Jesus crossed it with a cross. His love brings forgiveness. Our love of unbelievers brings hope.


Yes, this world is pregnant with trouble. But love people and learn their story before you ask if they’re pregnant! In time, you can introduce them to the Father of Truth. With love, you can draw them from the father of lies.


In Christ’s Love,

a guy who’s pregnant

… with hope


(Go Ahead: Ask me about it)












. . . . . .


How can we pray for you? Including ALL SAINTS?

November Prayers

Come anytime Sat, Nov 1 – 8 to Noon

Let us know how we can pray for you

… including names of friends and family

who’ve died in the last year

for our All Saints List.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Oct 25-26 - Psalm 7:1

O Lord my God,

in you I take refuge;

save me from all my pursuers

and deliver me

or like a lion

they will tear me apart

Psalm 7:1-2


Have you ever been chased by "a lion."


In my day, I’ve faced a handful of lions. (And I’ve faced a lot of termites too – lots of little things that I’m tempted to see as insignificant, but in the long-run can make me fall as easy as pouncing lion.)


In today’s Psalm, David's ravenous foe was surely human. He (or they) were of flesh. Literal people (or armies) were angry, spiteful, and sinful. Like lions, they were pouncing on David.


My internal foes – the termites of anger, greed, lust, and other deadly sins – are human too. They are my fleshly nature, as the Apostle Paul would have said. They are my old and feeble nature which I have yet to crucify.


Yes, in both cases, these are human foes. But any vengeful human that was stalking David (and any fleshly sin stalking us from the inside) is surely not alone in its destructive desires. Scripture tells us that there’s another enemy. “Like a roaring lion your adversary the devil prowls around, looking for someone to devour" (1 Pet 5:8).


Do you feel like your being chased by circumstances, pursued by illness, hunted by creditors, stalked by depression, enslaved by bad habits, or ripped apart by gossip?


You're not alone.


David's hope was not clever plans, skilled doctors, better psychology, or powerful human intervention. He cried, "10 God is my shield. He saves the upright in heart ... 17 [Therefore,] I will ... sing praise to the name of the Lord, the Most High."


In Christ's Lord,

a guy who knows

a real lion tamer


Thursday, October 23, 2014

Oct 24 - Psalm 6:6

I am worn out from sobbing.

Every night tears drench my bed;

my pillow is wet from weeping.

Psalm 6:6

Have you ever had seasons of weeping?

Are you weeping now, in this season?

Why do we cry? Besides the wonderful happy tears and the sweet sentimental stirrings, I can think immediately of three primary reasons for "worn out ... sobbing."

·       Pain: Dropping a hammer on your toe can produce a cartoonish-flood of tears.

·       Worry and Fear: When waiting for biopsy results or wondering where our lost child is, worry and fear swamp us.

·       Change, Loss, and Grief: This is the one I want to address today. In fact the pattern of change and loss reveals many of the tears and much of the despondency that we can't quite explain in our lives. He's the pattern ...

Every change brings loss.

And every loss brings grief.

Read that again, and let it sink in. Every change -- even good change -- brings a loss of something. And that's where much of our heart-ache comes from in life.

Imagine, for example, that Mary Louise and I were offered a deal on a great house. Everything was significantly better about it than our current house -- better neighborhood, better floor plan, better price, nicer, newer, wonderful. And so we move and get settled ... and yet something is gnawing at us. We're frustrated. Unexplainably unsettled and sad.

What's wrong? Something changed.

Maybe we're five minutes further from the church. (Change!) Maybe we drive on different roads and shop at different stores because they’re now closer. (This causes a change in pattern.) We love our new neighbors, but we miss the regular contact with a few old friends. (Change.) And even though that old house might have potentially left a lot to be desired, we still miss that old comfortable familiarity. It's like we said goodbye to a season and some memories. (Change.)

Ninety-five percent of our move is objectively better. We're mostly excited. Thrilled, in fact! And we'd feel guilty, ungrateful, about even mentioning any frustration. Nevertheless, has any five-percent change and loss ever snuck up on you? You’re frustrated and can’t explain why.

Yes, we know a hundred percent change (the loss of a spouse) causes grief, but does this view on small changes explain any of the unsettledness and heart-ache you’ve been feeling?

It time (as David did in this Psalm), when we’re aware of our grief, we ought to simply go back to God and cry, "Have compassion on me, Lord, for I am weak. Heal me ..." God is not only the healer, but he's the constancy that never has to leave. And when we make our home in him, then it's less about where we live and less about our changeable situations and more about his unchangeable permanency.

In Christ's Love,

a guy who doesn't

have a pillow full of tears

(my pillow's full of goose feathers

and my life is full of hope

because my pillow’s in my home,

and my home is in him)

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Oct 23 - Psalm 5:4,7

O God, you take  no pleasure in wickedness;

you cannot tolerate  the slightest sin.

[But] because of  your unfailing love,

I can enter your house;  with deepest awe

I will  worship at your Temple.

Psalm 5:4,7


Sometimes we think of the Gospel as a "New Testament thing." Something new that started with Jesus.


But the Gospel wasn't "new" Jesus' with birth, death, or resurrection.  The things of God -- including the Gospel -- are "the same yesterday and today and forever" (Psalm 5:4,7).  The Gospel was (and is) God's plan from eternity.


And the Gospel is this ...


Point One

  • Because God "take[s] no pleasure in wickedness" Psalm 5:4 ...
  • And because God "cannot tolerate the slightest sin" Psalm 5:4
  • Then "the wages of sin is [necessarily] death" Romans 6:23 ...

Point Two


·         And "since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" Romans 3:23 ...

·         Then we should all be "dead, doomed forever because of [our] many sins" Ephesians 2:1


Point Three

  • "But God is so rich in mercy Ephesians 2:4-5 ...
  • and he loved us so very much Ephesians 2:4-5 ...
  • that even while we were dead because of our sins Ephesians 2:4-5 ...
  • he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead" Ephesians 2:4-5 ...

Point Four

  • "For by grace you have been saved through faith" Ephesians 2:8 ...
  • "And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God" Ephesians 2:8 ...
  • "For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son" John 3:16 ...
  • Indeed, "God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us" Romans 5:8 ...
  • And, "because of [God's] unfailing love, [we] can enter [His] house." Psalm 5:7

That's the Gospel. Do you see it in the Old Testament too? God is eternally consistent.


So ... what should our response be? Today's verse tells us: "deepest awe" and "worship." 


In Christ's Love,

a guy who is deep

-- deep in awe



Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Oct 22 - Psalm 4:6

There are many who say,

"Who will show us any good?"

Lord, lift up the light of

Your countenance upon us.

Psalm 4:6


There's a lot of discouragement in this world. "Who will show us any good?"


Some people don't have an answer for that question. And the bigger the hurt is in their life, the more desperate that question seems to become.


When you are hurting, do you cry with uncertainty: "Who ...?" ... Or do you cry with confidence: "My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth" (Psalm 121:2).


When trials appear, strive to make your first response David's response. Not: "Who?" Not: "How?" Not: "When?" or "Why?" But simply and confidently: " Lord, lift up the light of  Your countenance upon us."


In Christ's Love,

a guy who doesn't wonder "Who?"

a guy who simply says, "Thank You"





Monday, October 20, 2014

Oct 21 - Psalm 4:2

How long will you people

ruin my reputation?

How long will you make

these groundless accusations?

How long will you pursue lies?
Psalm 4:2


I've had to train myself to be any good at all in prayer. And to tell the truth, I still fall woefully short. 


My natural tendency is to let thoughts and ideas and frustrations rattle around in my own empty head. 


And I say "empty," because any "answers" that I come up with are only as wise or powerful as me ... which in the grand scheme of things is pretty powerless. 


I'm not wise enough to untangle the mysteries of the atom, the "formula" for life, or every grieving person's cry of "why?." But God is. 


My mind can't spin planets, part the seas, or raise the dead. But God is. 


And yet day-by-day I'm proud enough to live in my own head, rely on my own thoughts, and do my own thing. (And then complain when I get my own Ed-made results!)


I started this reflections by saying, "My natural tendency is to let thoughts and ideas and frustrations rattle around in my own empty head." And here's the question: Is that natural? Do you do that too? I think we all do ... including David who wrote this Psalm. 


But David did one powerful thing differently than me …

We normally think of Psalms as prayers (and they are). So why does David spend so much of this Psalm addressing other people? For example, "2 How long will you people ... make these groundless accusations? How long will you pursue lies?" That doesn’t seem like prayer, does it?


Prayer is conversation. And in verse 2, I see David as talking out loud (… but also to God, simultaneously). I think he’s much like Tevye in "Fiddler on the Roof. (Have you seen that play or movie?!)


Some people interrupt events to stop and pray. Tevye – and I think David – viewed life as a running conversation that always includes God. There’s no need to stop and pray because they’re praying all the time!


Therefore, I don’t see verse 2 as advice to other people (How long will you do this or that?). I see David as crying out loud in frustration. I think he’s probably yelling at the top of his lungs – out loud … and maybe to no one in particular. "How long will you people ... make these groundless accusations?" And as he’s yelling, he’s still talking to God because he’s learned to see God who is always beside him.


And I suspect that God is … listening, commiserating, comforting, and whispering back … “They may not listen, David. They may not even care. Indeed, there’s a pretty good chance that they won’t ever do what you or I want. In a physical, practical sense, this life is a mess, and your life may personally get harder, David. But do not fear, my child. I am beside you. I love you. I will protect you. And in the end, all things will be made right.”


In Christ’s Love,

a guy who wants

that kind of relationship!



Oct 20 - Psalm 3:3

You, O LORD, are

a shield around me, my glory,

and the one who lifts my head high.

Psalm 3:3


What are you most afraid of?


Some will say spiders and snakes. Others are afraid of heights. Others quake at the mere thought of speaking in public.


Trace those fears back to their roots, though, and you’ll find that what we’re really afraid of is death.


·         We don’t like ladders and heights because we’re afraid that we might fall and die.

·         We don’t like dogs that bark and snakes that crawl because they might bite us and we might die.

·         We don’t like speaking in public because we might be embarrassed.


Wait … embarrassment is not a death.


No, not technically. But every time we’re embarrassed, we die a thousand little deaths. Every time someone gossips about us, it’s like a thousand little stabs in the heart. Every time we’re perceived as week or needy or foolish or vulnerable, it’s like a thousand little pin pricks.


As many times as we sin, fail, and fall short (see Romans 3:23), you’d think we’d be accustomed to being pin cushions. Bruised. Battered. And humble, rather than proud. But we’re not. We’re brittle. Therefore, instead of venturing boldly forward into life, too many of us isolate ourselves. We guard our feelings and hide our hearts.


Today’s verse tells us, however, that we should really be a little bolder. After all, we have “a shield around [us].” What is that shield? It is God – “You, O Lord, are a shield around me.”


I can still remember where I was when a light bulb went off in my wife’s head … and it sparked a newfound confidence in my heart. Reflecting on Romans 3:24, she said, “If God justifies us, we do we spend so much time trying to justify ourselves.”


Wow! Simple but profound.


We all waste so much time and effort in life trying to look good in the eyes of others. But really, there’s only one who’s opinion really matters … and that’s God! And God loves us. And forgives us. He calls us his child. He watches over our days. And by his grace, even death isn’t deadly anymore. Indeed, death is just the gate to heaven and an even better life.


In Christ’s Love,

a guy who’s still

wise about ladders

and wary of snakes,

but is free in God’s

justifying grace!

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Oct 18-19 - Psalm 2:1-4

Why do the nations conspire,

and the peoples plot in vain?

The kings of the earth set themselves, and ...

He who sits in the heavens laughs

Psalm 2:1-4


Have you heard this old saying ... “If you want to hear God laugh, tell him your plans”?


Well ... that’s the theme of Psalm 2!


It is not that God doesn’t care deeply about our hopes and dreams. It’s that his plans for us are bigger and better than our plans for ourselves!


We sometimes doubt that, of course!


It’s human nature to think that we know what’s best for us.


But human plans are inevitably laced with both altruism and selfishness, both faith and sin.


But God holds all of human history in his hands! And part of faith learning to trust that his plans are designed to bless us and the world in ways we don’t even see yet.


If our first consideration here is -- “Who is God?” -- then the theme of Psalm 2 is that, “God is big.” BIG!


Psalm 2 talks about king’s and nations. And normally, we think of these political forces as being powerful. And kingdoms are big. But they’re not BIG!


Let me share with you an example ...


In the first church that I served as a pastor, we had a forest fire threaten our community.


But most of us weren’t worried. We lived in an important town. One of the national laboratories was there. This community was vital to America’s strategic interests. So as the flames drew near, many of us had a false assurance that “the government” wouldn’t let anything happen to us.


How naïve!


Four hundred of the six thousand homes in town burned down.


I remember talking to a firefighter afterwards. He said they took their stand at the foot of the mountain. They were determined not to lose one home. Then the flames came over the final rise.


He said they were 70 feet tall. Propelled by 50 mph winds, they were bearing down on them like a freight train. He said they cut their hoses and ran!


We had a vain belief in the power of kings and nations. But nature dwarfed us. And it does all the time. We can’t control hurricanes, tornados, or earthquakes. Why? Because nature is big. But God is BIGGER!


Indeed, by definition, God is much BIGGER! He created nature. He birthed kings. He allows kingdoms. And he has made you.


So why do we conspire and make our own plans? The beginning of faith is learning to trust in a God who is bigger and better and wiser than you!e wells of salvation.” Isaiah 12:2-3


In Christ’s Love,

a little guy

with a BIG God