THE PSALMS ARE BI-POLAR

RIFE WITH THE PATHOS OF PRAISE AND THE ETHOS OF AGONY, THE BOOK OF PSALMS CAPTURES BETTER THAN ANY CORPUS OF SCRIPTURE, THE BI-POLAR NATURE OF LIFE. (William P. Brown: Seeing the Psalms) AND PSALM 44 SEEMS SPLIT IN THE MIDDLE, ABRUPTLY CHANGING FROM JOYFUL PRAISE TO HEARTBREAKING LAMENT! PSALM 44:1-8 REJOICES IN GOD’S RESCUE! PSALM 44:9-26 LAMENTS: SO HOW ARE WE TO MAKE SENSE OF THIS? GOD’S PEOPLE ARE NOT FAR FROM HIM: THEY ARE PRAISING HIS MIGHTY DEEDS IN THE PAST, THEIR HEARTS “HAVE NOT TURNED BACK,” THEY HAVE “NOT FORGOTTEN THE NAME OF THEIR GOD” OR “SPREAD OUT THEIR HANDS TO A FOREIGN GOD…” SO WHY HAS GOD “NOT GONE OUT WITH THEIR ARMIES?” “WHY ARE THEY BEING SOLD AS SHEEP FOR THE SLAUGHTER?” THIS VERSE IS THE KEY THAT UNLOCKS THE MYSTERY, FOR WHENEVER AN OLD […]

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WHEN YOU’RE DESPERATE

WHAT CAUSES A FATHER TO  HAND HIS BELOVED CHILD OVER TO A STRANGER IN A RAFT, A RAFT THAT VERY WELL MIGHT NOT MAKE IT ACROSS? I LISTENED WITH TEARS TO MINDY BELZ TELL STORIES OF THE FAITH OF SYRIAN REFUGEES (AND YOU CAN HEAR HER THIS WEEK) AT THE WOMEN’S GOSPEL COALITION. I THOUGHT HOW OFTEN OUR BROTHERS AND SISTERS IN CHRIST WHO ARE FLEEING ISIS HAVE PRAYED DESPERATE PRAYERS, LIKE THE PRAYERS OF PSALMS 42-43. Psalms 42/43 (really one psalm) is one of my five favorite psalms, a psalm I often pray, and a psalm I prayed repeatedly after my husband died. God knows we will each face desperate times and so He has given this psalm to teach us how to hold on to our Rock. This psalm begins Book II of the psalms, and is the […]

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SUMMER STUDY ON THE PSALMS!

IN NORTHERN WISCONSIN THE WINTERS ARE LONG AND WE WAIT AND WAIT FOR SUMMER, AND EVEN THOUGH SHE IS SLOW TO APPEAR, LIKE A BEAUTIFUL WOMAN WHO KEEPS HER DATE WAITING, SHE IS SO ENTRANCING WHEN SHE FINALLY ARRIVES, WE FORGET OUR PETULANCE AND DANCE WITH JOY. SUMMER IS A GIFT. A TIME TO TAKE A BREAK FROM ROUTINE, SAVORING THE SWEETNESS OF CREATION, A TIME TO RENEW FRIENDSHIPS, A TIME TO PONDER LIFE, A TIME TO DRAW NEAR TO THE LOVER OF YOUR SOUL. DURING JULY AND AUGUST, JOIN US AS WE CONSIDER THE PSALMS OF THE SONS OF KORAH. BECAUSE THIS IS A HOLIDAY WEEK (AND HAPPY 4TH TO YOU!) WE WILL TAKE TWO WEEKS FOR THIS INTRO. I WANT TO GET A STRONG START, SO I’VE KEPT THIS HOLIDAY WEEK BRIEF, AND THEN WE DIG IN IN […]

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THE GIFT OF THE WILDERNESS

My dear prison ministry friend, Linda Strom, showed up at my door this week with part of her beautiful team. My house guests and I welcomed them with delight and moved to the back porch to experience the joy of God connecting His family. Linda’s pastor from Temple, Texas, Gary DeSalvo, told us of his shocking diagnosis of eye cancer in 2013. He joked with me about his glass eye. His attitude was so jovial that I joined in his banter, telling him, because I was on his blind side, that I was really beautiful. I was assuming, because of his joy, and because of his wife’s peace, that all was well now. And when I asked him to confirm that, he shocked me, telling me he has been given a thirty percent chance to live two more years. So, […]

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Habakkuk’s Prayer

This political season in America is evidencing a decadence unparalleled in American history. Lying, bullying, and boasting is the norm. Though it would be easy to blame the candidates, we must remember that politics is almost always downstream from culture. Our political front-runners are a reflection of the pollution that has flowed down to them from our culture. POLITICS IS DOWNSTREAM FROM CULTURE So should it surprise us that as in the days of Noah, and as in the days of Habakkuk, that a holy God might “shake the earth” and in so doing, sift the wheat from the chaff? We know the prophecy of Habakkuk is a double vision prophecy, with both a near and far vision. We know the near prophecy was fulfilled. We don’t know when the far prophecy will be fulfilled, but we do know that […]

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LET ALL THE EARTH KEEP SILENT

I love the women on our blog. I love the way you search the Scriptures and ask probing questions, causing the sparks to fly, like iron sharpening iron. Two weeks ago I asked: 2. What comfort does it give you personally that God is a just God and will repay? Several of you struggled with that question and said so articulately, compassionately, and winsomely. It caused me to reflect. Some of the excellent points that were made were that Scripture warns not to rejoice when our enemy falls. Another was that Jesus tells us to pray for our enemies. Another is that we must judge our own hearts and not the hearts of others. Tim Keller, in his devotional on the psalms, writes: In Psalm 69:22-28 the psalmist prays his betrayers be damned. How are we to read this? This […]

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AS THE WATERS COVER THE SEA

In December of 2012 heavy grief came due to the massacre of little children in Newtown, Connecticut. Samuel Freedman wrote a column in The New York Times titled: “In a Crisis, Humanists Seem Absent.” Freedman noted the explicit religious vocabulary in all the public ceremonies. Even President Obama delivered close to a sermon based on 2 Corin. 4 and 5. Though Connecticut is very secular, every single family had a religious service as they buried their child.  In Walking with God through Pain and Suffering, Tim Keller wrote: “When facing your child in a coffin the secular consolation that ‘the dead do not suffer’ seems thin in comparison to the Christian consolation of the resurrection.” We are studying Habakkuk, which is full of suffering. The near prophecies of Habakkuk were fulfilled just decades later as the Chaldeans came and brutalized […]

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THE STONES WILL CRY OUT (HAB. 2)

DURING JESUS’ TRIUMPHAL ENTRY, HIS DISCIPLES WERE PRAISING HIM. THE PHARISEES TOLD JESUS TO REBUKE THEM. HE SAID, “IF THEY REMAIN SILENT, THE STONES WILL CRY OUT.” NOTHING CAN STOP THE WORSHIP OF GOD. IN THE SAME WAY, NOTHING CAN STOP THE JUSTICE OF GOD. WHEN THE CHALDEANS THOUGHT NO ONE SEES, HABAKKUK SAYS: “THE STONE WILL CRY OUT FROM THE WALL AND THE BEAM FROM THE WOODWORK RESPOND.” (HABAKKUK 2:11) WHEN THE ABUSED CHILD THINKS, NO ONE SEES. GOD SEES. WHEN THE PERSECUTED BELIEVER FEELS FORGOTTEN. HE IS NOT. JESUS IS RETURNING, AND JUSTICE WILL ROLL DOWN. ALL OF NATURE IS A TESTIMONY TO THE HOLINESS OF GOD. PREPARE YOUR HEART THIS WEEK WITH THIS, FROM AUDREY ASSAD: JESUS IS RETURNING, REVELATION TELLS US, TO WAGE WAR WITH THE ENEMIES OF HIS BRIDE. (SEE REVELATION 19:11-16) THE STORY IS […]

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HEARING FROM GOD (HAB. 2:1-4)

 HABAKKUK WENT TO HIS WATCHTOWER AND WAITED TO HEAR FROM GOD Habakkuk was lamenting, wondering how long God would allow violence to surround the righteous. God’s answer astounded him — He was raising up a far more violent nation. So Habakkuk lamented again and then went to his watchtower to “see what he will say to me.” D. A. Carson, a mentor to Tim Keller and a founder of The Gospel Coalition, believes Habakkuk’s prophecy (which was fulfilled decades later) may very well be what we call a telescopic prophecy, where there is a near prophecy and a far prophecy, pointing to the end times and the coming of Christ. I will be sharing some of Carson’s New Testament references that parallel Habakkuk and point to the 2nd coming of Christ as this study progresses. Of course we do not […]

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DELIVER ME! (Habakkuk 1)

LAST MOTHER’S DAY WEEKEND I BEGAN WATCHING FOR A CARD FOR MOTHER’S DAY ON THURSDAY… NOPE. FRIDAY. NOPE. MAYBE ONE OF MY FIVE (FIVE) CHILDREN WOULD REMEMBER. SATURDAY. NOPE.   WHERE’S THE CARD FILLED WITH HAND-WRITTEN APPRECIATION FOR ALL I’VE DONE? You need to know THAT I TOO NEED TO BE DELIVERED. I’m a mess. (And you should also know I am SO blessed by my children. Flowers from my firstborn came on Saturday. And all called on Mother’s Day. The next week their cards and gifts arrived. I live in the middle of nowhere and it takes a long time for the U. S. mail to arrive!) WHO WILL DELIVER ME FROM MY PETTINESS? WHO WILL DELIVER ME FROM MY NEED FOR APPROVAL?   Audrey Assad, the daughter of a Syrian refugee, has been anointed by God to write […]

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OUR BIGGEST PROBLEM

WHEN LARRY CRABB HAD CANCER, IT WOULD BE UNDERSTANDABLE FOR HIM TO THINK   CANCER WAS HIS BIGGEST PROBLEM BUT IT WASN’T. WE MAY THINK OUR GREATEST NEED IN AMERICA IS TO GET A PRESIDENT OF CHARACTER AND INTEGRITY, BUT THE LORD MAY KNOW WE NEED REVIVAL MORE AND THAT SUFFERING MAY LEAD TO REVIVAL. ANY KIND OF LOSS HURTS — BUT IT IS STILL A 2ND THING. THE FIRST THING IS ALWAYS OUR RELATIONSHIP, OUR PASSION, OUR INTIMACY WITH CHRIST, BOTH AS INDIVIDUALS AND AS THE BODY OF CHRIST. EVERYTHING ELSE WILL PASS AWAY. OFTEN, IF WE GET THE 1ST THING RIGHT, WE’LL GET 2ND THINGS THROWN IN, OR AT LEAST, BE ABLE TO GET THROUGH THE LOSS OF THEM. When Steve died, that seemed my biggest problem. But my loss pressed me into Christ like nothing else, and […]

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FURTHER UP AND FURTHER IN

AS WE GROW IN HIM, WE’VE ALSO EXPERIENCED CLOSER RELATIONSHIPS WITH ONE ANOTHER. HOW I LOVE AND RESPECT OUR FELLOWSHIP HERE! AND I AM EAGER, AS C. S. LEWIS PUT IT, TO GO FURTHER UP AND FURTHER IN. LISTEN TO THIS TWO MINUTE BROADCAST: FURTHER UP AND FURTHER IN   FOR THE NEXT FEW WEEKS, BEFORE WE BEGIN A SUMMER STUDY, I WANT TO CONSIDER SOME WAYS TO GO FURTHER UP AND FURTHER IN  THE SHADOWLANDS — RIGHT HERE AND NOW WITH THE LORD AND WITH ONE ANOTHER. MAY IS ALMOST AS BUSY A TIME AS DECEMBER, SO THE LESSONS WILL BE SHORTER.              i’VE BEEN PONDERING WHAT LARRY CRABB CALLS “RELATIONAL SIN.” WHAT IS IT? HOW TO OVERCOME IT? THIS CAN BRING US FURTHER UP AND FURTHER IN WITH THE LORD AND WITH ONE ANOTHER. Relational sin is moving […]

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SET ME AS A SEAL

We’ve come to the close of this love story, of this Song of all Songs. Important things are said when time is running out.   She has come “up from the wilderness” leaning on her Beloved. She is experiencing the whole point of life: intimacy with her Beloved. But He must leave her for a time. And so he tells her: “Set me as a seal upon your heart.” Listen to this carefully– and may it prepare your heart for this Sabbath day, and review for you where we have been. There are three love stages in the Song: First Love, Wilderness Love, and Invincible Love. Do you remember how He “awakened her under the apple tree” in the first love time? We were dead in our sins. But He awakened us and told us to taste and see that […]

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THE DANCING SHULAMMITE

ONCE SHE SAID, “DON’T GAZE AT ME!” NOW SHE IS DANCING BETWEEN TWO ARMIES! ONCE SHE WAS ASHAMED OF HER “VINEYARD.” NOW SHE IS WALKING WITH HER BRIDEGROOM INTO THE VINEYARDS TO SEE THE CHOICE FRUITS. When my friend Twila was in her forties and the mother of five, she went into a severe clinical depression that lasted ten years. She tried everything under the sun to be delivered: various anti-depressants, alternative medicine, confessing and repenting of any known sin, counseling, eating right, exercising… all, it seemed, for naught. She was roller blading ten miles a day, but whenever she got to the five mile mark to turn around, she would plead with God: “Please, Lord – just let me die.” Her counselor kept stressing the love of God to her and had her constantly in the Word and reading […]

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AN ARMY WITH BANNERS

THE BRIDE IN THE SONG IS SOMETIMES SINGULAR, AS WHEN HE SAYS: MY DOVE, MY SISTER, MY ONLY ONE. INDEED, HE SEES YOU AS AN INDIVIDUAL, KNOWS YOUR NAME, EVEN HOW MANY HAIRS ARE ON YOUR HEAD. BUT OH, HOW HE LOVES HIS CORPORATE BRIDE! SHE IS AS BRIGHT AS THE SUN, FAIR AS THE MOON, AND AS AWESOME AS AN ARMY WITH BANNERS. EVER SINCE THE FALL WE HAVE BEEN AT WAR WITH THE ENEMY WHO COMES TO STEAL, KILL, AND DESTROY.  CHRISTIANS ARMED WITH THE SHIELD OF FAITH, THE SWORD OF THE SPIRIT, AND THE HELMET OF SALVATION HAVE PREVAILED WHERE OTHERS HAVE RETREATED. IN GROUND-BREAKING RESEARCH, CHRISTIANITY TODAY (PDF OF ARTICLE) GIVES PROOF OF THE PREVAILING OF GOD’S ARMY. IT IS CHRISTIANS WHO HAVE BEEN WILLING TO FIGHT DISEASES THAT COULD TAKE THEIR LIVES FROM: THE BUBONIC […]

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