HOW THE GOSPEL CAN DELIVER YOU FROM THE POWER OF SIN (PART II. PSALM 37)

SUMMER! HOW WE’VE WAITED FOR IT IN WISCONSIN THIS YEAR! AND IT HAS COME. THE WINTER IS PAST, FLOWERS APPEAR ON THE EARTH, AND THE TIME OF SINGING HAS COME. THERE WAS A TIME IN MY LIFE WHEN MY HUSBAND DIED AND I WANTED TO DIE TOO. NEVER WOULD I HAVE IMAGINED THAT TEN YEARS LATER I’D BE SO FULL OF THE JOY OF THE LORD SO THANKFUL TO STILL BE ON THIS EARTH WHERE I CAN FEEL THE WARM SUN ON MY SHOULDERS HEAR THE WAVES LAP ON THE SHORE AND WATCH SALLY AND HER PRECIOUS GIRLS PULL DAISIES FROM THE SANDBOX. THE WINTER IS PAST. THE TIME OF SINGING IS COME.    AND YET I KNOW, THAT WE ARE NOT HOME YET. THOSE VERSES FROM THE SONG OF SONGS REALLY POINT TO THE DAY WHEN WE ARE TRULY […]

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HOW THE GOSPEL CAN DELIVER YOU FROM THE POWER OF SIN (Part I. Psalm 36)

THE GOSPEL HAS THE POWER TO OVERCOME NOT JUST THE PENALTY OF SIN, BUT ALSO THE POWER OF SIN. REMEMBER HOW IT IS PUT IN THE HYMN ROCK OF AGES? IT’S THE DOUBLE CURE FROM THE PENALTY BUT ALSO THE POWER OF SIN HOW EAGER WE ARE TO UNDERSTAND THIS. AS KELLER SAYS, “IF YOU ARE SURE YOU UNDERSTAND THE GOSPEL, YOU PROBABLY DON’T. IF YOU THINK YOU ARE JUST STARTING TO GET IT, YOU MAY BE.”  I am starting to get it. Truly, the gospel is helping me in some areas tremendously, but in other areas I am still so prone to wander, so prone to leave the God I love. Yet I had some exciting light-bulb moments when I was in Psalm 36 and Psalm 37 that I am so eager for us to look at together. In […]

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HOW ARE WE TO PRAY THE CURSING PSALMS? (PSALM 35)

My dear friends Sylvia and Ann have come to my home each summer since Steve’s death — true and faithful friends who radiate the love of Christ. Each year we renew our friendship through tears and laughter and prayer. I am blessed by their seeking hearts, hungry for God, and by their unselfish husbands who give them up, knowing what this time means to us all. Again, this year, they helped me in both spiritual and practical ways. (Ann and Sylvia gave me the necklace I’m wearing from the Holy Land that says. “I am my beloved and my beloved is mine.” Then they took me shopping because “my wardrobe looked a little tired.”) I love them so! What a gift from God friendship in the Lord can be.   Sylvia, me, and Ann — forever friends –  July 2014. In […]

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TASTE AND SEE THAT THE LORD IS GOOD! (PSALM 34)

It was one of my first experiences of answered prayer as a result of praying the psalms — too dramatic to ever be forgotten. The Lord saw my distress, parted the heavens, and came down to rescue me. I was a twenty-three year old mother of two baby boys, and Steve was working round the clock in his internship. I was terrified to be alone at night, and yet I was — every other night. We lived in a rental right on the Puget Sound and our bedrooms were on the first floor. I didn’t know whether “they” would come by land or by sea, but I felt quite sure one night de-ranged men would break in and murder us all. I was foolish and childish, suffering from too many scary television shows. Yet God had mercy on me, this […]

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EUCHARISTEO. DOES IT SAVE US? (PSALM 33)

Eucharisteo — a poetic word pregnant with meaning. It represents the gospel, the broken body of Christ — and our response of thankfulness for who He is, what He has done, is doing, and will do. Eucharisteo. I welcome letters, even those that strongly disagree with me, if they are peaceable. (James 3:17) Thoughtful questions make me think, and help me see things I may have been blind to, or show me if I am being unclear. God uses the fellowship of believers to keep us from sin and error. I try, as Dawson Trotman (founder of Navigators) did, to take criticism into my prayer closet and sift it before God, to see what is true and what is not. I recently received a gentle letter from a women’s ministry leader that decided not to have the women in her […]

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PRAYING YOUR TEARS (PSALMS 30, 31, 32)

“FOR THE BELIEVER, LIFE HOLDS DEEPER SORROW AND DEEPER JOY.” (TIM KELLER) WE SEE OUR SIN AND KNOW IT HAS BROKEN THE HEART OF GOD. WE SEE THE BROKENNESS IN THE WORLD AND KNOW IT ISN’T HOW THINGS ARE MEANT TO BE. YET, HERE IS THE PROMISE IF WE SOW OUR TEARS, HE WILL TURN OUR MOURNING INTO DANCING HE WILL REMIND US THAT OUR TIMES ARE IN HIS HAND, HE WILL REMIND US WHAT HE HAS STORED UP FOR US, AND THAT, NO MATTER HOW DEEP OUR SIN, FORGIVENESS IS GIVEN. HE, INDEED, IS OUR HIDING PLACE AND HE WILL SURROUND OUR HEART WITH SONGS OF DELIVERANCE. All three psalms deal with the believer’s deeper sorrow and deeper joy. What we must learn is how to pray our sorrows, to sow our tears. Amazingly, our tears, when prayed, can […]

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LORD OF EVERY STORM (PSALM 29)

HIS VOICE THUNDERS OVER THE WATERS HIS VOICE BREAKS THE CEDARS HE IS LORD OF EVERY STORM SO HE IS LORD OF YOUR STORM Watch this to prepare your heart for the week and for this powerful psalm: This week we see the power of the Lord, the power of poetry, the power of accompanying music — and most of all, from the psalm, the confident assurance that God is in control. There is no storm over which He is not Lord, no sorrow that heaven cannot heal. Storms, like the flood in Noah’s Day, show both His fury, but also His mercy.  I have not seen the Noah movie (but I will when it comes out on DVD) and I know they added to and changed the story — but believers I respect were able to filter that out […]

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GAZING ON THE BEAUTY OF THE LORD (PSALMS 26, 27, 28)

I live in a summer place that I inherited from my parents, filled with memories of them. I  have Mother’s piano, a gift from my father on which is a plaque: “How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.” I keep a piece of music on it that I often heard her sing in her lilting soprano voice: The Lord is My Light and My Salvation. It reminds me of the truth that calmed her soul, and which can calm mine. I can almost hear her singing when I pass by her piano. She sang and sang and sang — all through the day. Often it was the hymns, hymns that calmed her soul, the way David’s psalms, played on his harp, calmed the troubled soul of Saul. You see your parents differently when you become an adult […]

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UNTO THEE O LORD, DO I LIFT UP MY SOUL! (PSALM 25)

  Psalm 25 is etched in my heart because of singing it with our daughter Annie when we had just adopted her. She didn’t know a word of English, but Psalm 25 can be sung in a round, where the child repeats the phrase sung by a parent. I can still hear Steve’s deep voice singing it and Annie’s soft voice echoing him. Her English was distorted, but she was in earnest to repeat what her “opa” (daddy) sang. Unto Thee O Lord (Echo) Unto Thee O Lord Do I lift up my soul (Echo) Do I lift up my soul O my God (Echo) O my God I trust in Thee (Echo) I trust in Thee (Together) Let me not be ashamed, Let not my enemies triumph over me.   I don’t know that she understood at all what […]

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LIFT UP YOUR HEADS, O GATES, THAT THE LORD OF GLORY MAY COME IN! (PSALM 24)

I AM EXCITED ABOUT BEING A PART OF A NEW CHURCH PLANT IN MY LITTLE THUMB OF WISCONSIN. BUT, OH, THE SPIRITUAL WARFARE HAS BEEN INTENSE! I CAN BECOME FRIGHTENED & DISCOURAGED. THIS LIFE IS CHALLENGING AND I AM CONSTANTLY BATTLING THE WORLD, MY OWN FLESH, AND THE DEVIL. I KNOW YOU FEEL IT TOO. SO WHAT CAN WE DO? JOHN PIPER SAYS “BEHOLDING IS BECOMING.” BEHOLDING CHRIST IN THE PSALMS WILL CHANGE US INTO OVERCOMERS. WE CAN, IN CHRIST, OVERCOME THE WORLD, OUR FLESH, AND THE DEVIL. Recently our own Susan was contemplating how Tim Keller often emphasizes that if we try to follow Jesus, we will be crushed, but if we let His glory melt our hearts, we will be changed. This is what the psalter can do for us when we see Jesus in every psalm. And […]

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BECAUSE THE LORD IS MY SHEPHERD, I HAVE EVERYTHING I NEED (PSALM 23)

THIS LAMB WANDERED TOO CLOSE TO THE RAGING RIVER AND SLIPPED IN, HELPLESS TO SAVE HIMSELF TWO YOUNG NORWEGIAN MEN RISKED THEIR LIVES AND BROUGHT HIM TO SAFETY WE TOO WERE IN PERIL, HELPLESS TO SAVE OURSELVES OUR SHEPHERD NOT ONLY RISKED HIS LIFE, BUT LAID DOWN HIS LIFE, TO BRING US TO SAFETY. JESHUA IN HEBREW MEANS “RESCUE” OR “SAFETY” JESHUA IS JESUS THE LORD JESUS IS OUR SHEPHERD, AND NOTHING: NOT MAN, NOT DEATH, NOR ANY OTHER THING CAN PLUCK US FROM HIS HAND.   OUR OWN WANDA TELLS THIS STORY: My dad died at age 70 of pancreatic cancer.  He was still young and had been healthy until the diagnosis.  Surgery gave him one year with us.  He was alert, active, aware and at home through that year.  When the cancer returned after almost a year following […]

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CELEBRATING OUR KING OF KINGS (PSALMS 20-21)

ON RESURRECTION MORNING, THIS WAS THE SCULPTURE GOD MADE IN MY FRONT YARD THROUGH A GIANT ICE SHOVE ON THE LAKE I HAD THE SAME THOUGHTS AS MY SON, J. R., WHO SAID: IT REMINDS ME OF THE CROSS, THE RESURRECTION, AND THE ASCENSION ALL AT ONCE. WE BELONG TO THE KING OF KINGS, AND WE JOIN THE CHURCH IN PRAISE: BE EXALTED O LORD IN YOUR STRENGTH! WE WILL SING AND PRAISE YOUR POWER. PSALM 21:13 As we are learning to discover Christ in every psalm, as Bonhoeffer did, and so many saints of old, there is a richness I had not known before. In “Christ in the Psalms,” Patrick Reardon says that Psalms 20 and 21 were prayed “by the holy Church, both east and west, during the earliest hours of Sunday morning, the Resurrection day of her […]

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THE LORD’S TWO GREAT “BOOKS” (Psalm 19)

  God has given us two great books: His Creation and HIs Word. Nonverbal and verbal communication, reinforcing one another, shouting the glory of God. There is no speech nor language where their voice is not heard. I am so excited about this week. This is my surprise — and I hope it delights you too. A month ago I asked our own Rebecca if she would help make Psalm 19 live in your hearts through her gift of music. Years ago I memorized Psalm 19 with the help of T. M. Moore, who has put the psalms to familiar hymn melodies. He paraphrased Psalm 19 and put it to the music of “Beneath the Cross of Jesus.” Rebecca, with the help of her nephew on guitar, has done it for us and we can see them on vimeo. I […]

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HE MAKETH MY FEET LIKE HINDS FEET (PSALM 18)

WHY DO YOU THINK THE 23RD PSALM IS THE MOST BELOVED PSALM? I THINK, IN PART, IT IS BECAUSE THE WORD PICTURES MAKE THE TRUTHS LIVE WE CAN PICTURE THE SHEPHERD CARING FOR HIS SHEEP, LEADING THEM BESIDE STILL WATERS ANOINTING THEIR WOUNDED HEADS WITH OIL BUT WORD PICTURES PERMEATE ALL THE PSALMS, NOT JUST THE 23RD. SO AS WE CONTINUE OUR JOURNEY, LET US ALLOW LESS FAMILIAR WORD PICTURES SEEP INTO OUR HEARTS MAKING THESE PSALMS OURS GIVING THESE PSALMS POWER TO QUICKEN OUR PRAYER LIVES SUSTAIN US IN TRIAL, AND OVERCOME THE LIES OF THE ENEMY. THIS WEEK WE WILL LOOK AT THE MURAL OF PICTURES IN PSALM 18. TO BEGIN, ON THIS SABBATH DAY, CONSIDER: Hannah Hurnard’s classic, “Hinds Feet in High Places,” tells of the lamb, “Little Much-Afraid” who wanted the Good Shepherd to carry her […]

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HE IS RISEN, JUST AS HE SAID! Easter Sunday 2014.

OVER AND OVER THEY HAD BEEN TOLD: IN THE BOOKS OF MOSES, IN THE PSALMS, IN THE PROPHETS, IN THE WORDS OF THE WORD HIMSELF. HE WOULD SUFFER. HE WOULD BE CRUCIFIED. BUT ON THE THIRD DAY, HE WOULD RISE. IT IS THE THIRD DAY AND THEY ARE OVERWHELMED WITH SORROW WHEN A STRANGER COMES ALONG SIDE THEM. NO MORE GRIEF NO MORE CONFUSION NO MORE PAINFUL STEPS AND SLOW THEY ARE RUNNING TO TELL: HE IS RISEN, JUST AS HE SAID! This week you’ll watch a WONDERFUL Keller video on Luke 24. Jesus showed the two how He was in the psalms, and we will review the psalms of this Lenten season and see Him. It will be a great week. Easter Sunday: 1. What stood out to you from the above and why? 2. There is so much […]

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