WHY ARE YOU DOWNCAST, O MY SOUL? (PSALMS 42-43)

How I love Psalm 42. It has brought me such strength when all His waves and billows are sweeping me over me. We have done this psalm before, and will do again, for it is ever needed and ever new. Recently, on this blog, we completed the first book in the Psalter, and now we will begin, until the time of Thanksgiving and Advent, the second book in the Psalter. It begins with “nine songs of the sons of Korah,” so we should expect some great music inspired by these psalms. My favorite psalm (at least right now!) is Psalm 42, and its heart cry and dialogue with the soul continues on into Psalm 43. This is a famous psalm — many great pieces of music, even a whole classical hour by Mendelssohn, have been inspired by it. Why does […]

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‘Tis A Gift To Be Single

When Steve was dying, he said, “You will fly so free.” How I resisted those words. I didn’t want to fly without him. But I am flying solo, and the Lord has led me to stay solo for the rest of my earthly days. I remember talking about this with my then six-year-old grandson, Simeon. After Steve died, I bought my first car by myself: a silver Honda Accord. Simeon ran his hand dreamily over the shiny silver door before he got in. He buckled up next to me, breathed in the new car smell, and looked at me with shining eyes: “Grandma, I think you should name your car The Silver Bullet.” I smiled. “That’s a great idea, Simeon – but I’ve already named it The Grey Goose.” His little shoulders drooped. “But why?” I pondered how to explain […]

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THE MARRIAGE BED: A MYSTERIOUS POINTER TO CHRIST AND HIS BRIDE

“…and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. Ephesians 5:32 Why does God care so much about the marriage bed, which is transitory? Why does He want PASSION, PURITY, & PERMANENCE? Because this mysterious union points to Christ and His Bride, in which He also wants: PASSION, PURITY, & PERMANENCE. If you are single and celibate, or in a marriage where you don’t feel cherished, you haven’t missed the best. The best is yet to come! Tim Keller said that when Fidel Castro was asked if he believed in God, he said, “No,” but if he were religious, he would choose Islam, because when they die they get to have sex with many virgins. Keller said, “He has no idea what he is talking about.” […]

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SEXUAL INTIMACY AS GOD MEANT IT TO BE (PART I.)

Three things are too wonderful for me; four I do not understand: the way of an eagle in the sky; the way of a serpent on a rock, the way of a ship on the high seas, and the way of a man with a virgin. Do you see the hidden pearl in this proverb? In each case, two different but complimentary creations of God become one, moving in a beauty that would not be possible without the other. The fourth example is so profound Agur cannot comprehend it: the way of a man with a virgin. It is a mystery, but the marriage bed is honorable, and magical when it flows within the boundaries God ordained. The sexual relationship within marriage is like a pure flowing river, restoring, renewing, and reviving. But a river that exceeds its banks brings […]

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Divorce (An amputation sometimes necessary for life)

When Aron Ralston fell into a deep crevice on the mountain, a boulder tumbled after him, pinning his arm. After days, Aron realized he had to choose between his arm and his life, and so he severed his arm with his knife. Divorce is an amputation. It cuts into each of you, into the “one” that God has joined together. So why, Jesus was asked, was divorce permitted at all? Jesus said it was because of the hardness of men’s hearts, meaning that when a hard heart breaks the marriage covenant, it may be merciful to allow the victim a divorce. Malachi is often quoted where we read “God hates divorce,” but you must read that phrase in context, for so often this phrase has been used as a bludgeon to hammer the victims of divorce. God’s heart breaks for […]

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SUBMIT TO AN UNBELIEVER? YOU’VE GOT TO BE KIDDING!

PETER TELLS BELIEVERS TO SUBMIT TO UNBELIEVERS: CITIZENS TO GOVERNMENTS, SLAVES TO MASTERS, AND BELIEVING WIVES TO UNBELIEVING HUSBANDS. Before you protest, remember this is all “relative submission.” You don’t have to submit when the authority goes against God. If you are asked to do something that is clearly wrong, you should refuse. That’s what Corrie ten Boom and Deitrich Bonhoeffer did during Hitler’s holocaust, at the risk of their lives, and they glorified God in doing so. But if the authority over us is not asking us to do something immoral, submitting to them is what we are commanded to do. How can we possibly do that, especially to an unbeliever? Our own Elizabeth put it so well, saying it was even hard for her to submit to her godly husband when they disagreed, and she could not imagine what it must […]

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EMOTIONAL ABUSE (Recognizing, Repenting, and Responding to Abuse)

Whether you are experiencing emotional abuse personally or not, this is relevant, for we are all capable of subtle forms of abuse, and, abuse is rampant, even by those who claim the name of Christ. The gospel can help us recognize our propensity toward it and repent of it. If it is a pattern in a spouse (as our focus these weeks has been on marriage) or one close to you, Scripture gives us wisdom in dealing with it. One of the first scriptural truths we must recognize is that emotional abuse is just as damaging, if not more, than physical abuse. God tells us that rash words can pierce just as much as physical sword thrusts. In marriage, the thrusts go particularly deep, for this is your covenant partner who promised to love you. This week I will link […]

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LIVING OUT THE GOSPEL IN MARRIAGE (WEEKS TWO and THREE)

Whew! First, a note about last week. I realize I pushed us all into the deep water, but you swam with grace and gumption! The subject and the scriptures were challenging, and emotions ran understandably high. There aren’t many places where I would even dare to do what I did, yet I have found this place to be an amazingly safe place to try, together, to plumb the deep waters of our mysterious God. Thank you, for your spirit, blog sisters. Bravo! You have two weeks to do this lesson since the 2nd week includes Labor Day weekend and many of you will be taking a break. We are covering the huge subject of marriage, but we need all of you. You are the body of Christ and every part is important. Often singles and those unequally yoked can see […]

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The Varying Faces of Complimentarianism (Week One)

The Gospel Coalition has made Complimentarianism part of its core because of the belief that our view of men and women and how God has called us to work together in marriage and in the church is an issue that matters to every believer, married or single, male or female — for it affects the whole body. Let me begin with a very basic definition of complimentarianism upon which I think most complimentarians would agree. Men and women are of equal value in God’s sight and co-heirs together in the grace of God. Men and women are created differently to compliment one another. In marriage,  God has called man to be the loving and sacrificial leader, as Christ was for the Church, and God has called woman to respect and submit to him, as the Church submits to Christ. In […]

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THE POWER OF TESTIMONY (The close of Book One of the Psalter: Psalms 40-41)

DO YOU GET TONGUE-TIED WHEN SHARING YOUR FAITH? DO YOUR HANDS GET CLAMMY WHEN YOU EXPLAIN WHY YOU BELIEVE? I’m facilitating a summer study for skeptics. Two weeks ago one of the skeptics asked such a good question: “Why do you pray? What do you get?” I fear those whom she was asking looked like deer caught in the headlights, for we so wanted to give the “right” answer. What I heard expressed was platitudes. I could tell that our sincere question-asker wasn’t satisfied! My friend Twila had to miss that week and I e-mailed her we’d dropped the ball. She said, “Oh, I wish I’d been there, because I know what I would have said!” She then e-mailed me a  testimony, based on Psalm 18 (which has many parallels to this week’s Psalm 40.) I told her that I […]

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GOD KNOWS HOW WE SPEAK WHEN WE’RE DESPERATE (Psalms 38-39)

Psalm 39 is a Psalm of Lament: But instead of ending with a resolve to trust God in the midst of suffering, it ends: Look away from me, that I may smile again, before I depart and am no more! Tim Keller, in the message you will hear this week, says that this psalm used to trouble him. But then he read what Derek Kidner wrote and it ministered to him deeply in a place he needed to be reached: The very presence of such prayers in Scripture is a witness to His understanding. He knows how men speak when they are desperate. Recently our own Rebecca, who handles the administrative side of my ministry, and Christy, who often travels with me (and is trying to tutor me in technical aspects of my computer) came to Wisconsin for a “working […]

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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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