Psalm 56

I searched the internet today for verses about God’s trustworthiness (it was an actual auto-fill so other people must look for this sort of thing, too). One of the things I saw was an article entitled “Is God Trustworthy?” It was put out by the Billy Graham organization in 2009, and since I recognized his name, I decided to click on it and see what it said.

While the meat of the article didn’t seem to apply (experiencing cosmic disillusionment or being afraid that if I trust God something bad will happen to me), there was a section about studying some Psalms. I’ve never done a proper study of the Psalms. I should commit to reading one a day because I am David; my emotions run high to low in a single moment, from the depths of despair to the heights to heaven (though lately in all honesty I tend to wallow in the depths).

So, out of the four Psalms it suggested reading, it was Psalm 56 that spoke to me the most. (Though one thing I found interesting was how David always knew that his circumstances and his iniquity went hand in hand in keeping him from fellowship with God, as seen in Psalm 31 and 40).

Here is a little of what spoke to me this morning:

3 When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. 4 In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can flesh do to me?

A friend of mine just put it this way recently. Whenever she’s afraid of something, she plays the “What If” game. “This is happening right now, so what if this happens next (or what if this is the cause)?” She keeps adding what ifs, and eventually it leads to death: her death, or her husband’s, or her child’s, etc. Because that’s the ultimate what if where everything leads. But here’s where the fear stops. Because she’s come to realize that death, even her own, cannot kill her.

Her trust is in God and she is not afraid of what flesh can do to her (even her own). I said to my husband just yesterday that it’s not death that I’m afraid of, it’s the process. But I’m realizing that fear only has a hold because I’m focusing on the process instead of on the end result, which, ironically, is LIFE. Keeping my eyes focused on God instead of on my circumstances is a huge battle for me. And I get overwhelmed, but I have to remember that even in that battle God will fight with me and through me and give me victory if only I will lean on Him through it.

8 You have kept count of my tossings; put my tears in your bottle. Are they not in your book?… 9 This I know, that God is for me.

This verse is beautiful to me because when I’m not sleeping, when I’m afraid, when I’m in tears over a circumstance, it is beautiful to me that I am not alone. That God is not ignoring me, or frustrated with me. My husband gets tired and goes to sleep, or gets bored with the same ole stuff that I’m dealing with. But God knows what I’m struggling with and He stays with me through it, from the depth to the heighth.

10 In God, whose word I praise, in the Lord, whose word I praise, 11 in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can man do to me? 12 I must perform my vows to you, O God; I will render thank offerings to you. 13 For you have delivered my soul from death, yes, my feet from falling that I may walk before God in the light of life.

Just a beautiful way to end a Psalm to a beautiful God. In God I trust, for you have delivered my soul from death and my feet from falling, that I may walk before You in the light of life. Thank you, Father. Empower me today to trust You for life, regardless of every circumstance, even my own death. Keep my eyes on You, and not on circumstances. In You I look for deliverance and victory, in order that I may glorify You.

Trusting God

Proverbs 3

Trust in the Lord with All Your Heart

1 My son, do not forget my teaching,
    but let your heart keep my commandments,
for length of days and years of life
    and peace they will add to you.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
    and do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge him,
    and he will make straight your paths.

11 My son, do not despise the Lord‘s discipline
    or be weary of his reproof,
12 for the Lord reproves him whom he loves,
    as a father the son in whom he delights.

I am struggling right now. I feel like Jacob wrestling with God, and losing. Which is how it always turns out, I suppose.

I have always had trust issues. I’m sure it goes back to my childhood, though I can’t pinpoint what about it caused me to doubt every motive and question every word spoken. If you can’t prove it, I don’t believe it. It suits me well in many areas, for I am not easily taken in by fakeness.

But when it comes to God, that inability to trust is not serving me well. I have lost the intimacy I have felt with Him, and I am sure it is in no small part due to the fact that I have these trust issues. Accidents, diseases, deaths, and dysfunctions in my immediate family have just brought me down, step by step, to this place of doubt and lost intimacy. As I’ve been made aware of this trust problem, I’ve been worried about how to regain it. How to talk myself back into fully trusting God. But as James Macdonald says in his devotional on Proverbs 3, I don’t have to have trust in my trust, I just have to trust in the Lord. Instead of focusing on my lack of trust, or my worries and anxieties and doubts, I just need to focus on Who He Is. I will trust Him because He is God.

And I need to fight Satan, because I know ultimately he is the puppet master behind so much of what is going on behind the scenes. Not everything. I know my own sin and hardness of heart play a huge role. And I am at the place of confession, crying out to God to forgive me for those areas. But I am still often blind to Satan’s tactics. I am not fooled by fakeness, but I am fooled by evil, because it often seems to be more real or more true than the truth.

I love how verse 1 says let your heart keep my commandments, because that is my issue exactly. My head can believe one thing but my heart refuses to trust it. Not that everything is ruled by our hearts (because Scripture pretty much tells us that our hearts are not to be trusted), but that if we are obeying with our heads only, we are not loving subjects, we are more like soldiers, and maybe even like soldiers ready at any time to mutiny and take over. James Macdonald has also said, “If your trust in God is limited to your understanding of His ways, you will always have a limited trust.” When we love our captain, we are much more ready to believe that His decisions are right, even when we don’t understand them.

Verse 2… peace! Yes, that’s exactly what I’m missing. In this season when I’m not in loving obedience to God, I’m missing out on peace. There are times when I have peace in a certain stressful situation (praise God for that), but the overarching theme of my life right now is definitely not peace.

Such a familiar bit of Scripture – Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. When my heart doubts that my circumstances are for my good (whether they are straight from God’s will or whether they are the discipline for my own sin or lack of faith that verses 11 and 12 speak of), I need to trust anyway. Because I don’t have to understand. And I don’t have to see. I just have to meditate on the fact that the Lord is good (1 Chronicles 16:34) and He is faithful (Deuteronomy 7:9) and my circumstances and trials will turn out for good (James 1:2-4).

I never know how to end these things. Because I don’t know how to “do” what I want to “do.” I only know that today I’m going to say these verses whenever I struggle. Tomorrow will need its own grace and mercy. But if I’m not wrong, God tells me He will provide it anew each day. I’m going to trust Him for that.

Daughters are a Blessing

Psalm 127:3 says: “Know this: children are a gift from the Eternal; the fruit of the womb is His reward.”

This past weekend I got to spend the morning with my oldest daughter at a Fervent conference featuring Priscilla Shirer and Anthony Evans. The conference was amazing, but this post is about being a mom to an incredible daughter, which is just as amazing.

The thing I wanted to mention first was how wonderful it was to spend the time with this beautiful Christian girl – my daughter, my sister in Christ. I am overwhelmed with gratitude that God gave her as a gift to me, to our family. He chose me to be the mom to this sweet, pleasant, positive, outgoing, incredible girl, and I am so thankful for her.

 

My favorite thing is seeing the Spirit work in her life. Yes, I definitely see my influence, and the influence of this whole family on her, but I also see what God is doing in and through her. She is a daughter of the King, and my daughter. And for that I am very thankful!

What’s in a name?

Just musing on the uniqueness and the power of names…

Jesus is the Logos – the Word or the Voice. His very name holds power.

And when we name our children, whether we’re just picking a name because of the way it sounds, or we’re using a family name, or we’re picking a name that means something to us, there is a creative force that goes into it. And in my case, I see my children grow into their names. I couldn’t see any of my kids as anything other than what their names are. I know that naming someone based on what it means has gone out of favor, but we always sought to name our children after a virtue we wanted them to possess. For our boys, we wanted their names to reflect our beliefs in God (and hopefully theirs in the future), so in Hebrew our boys have names that mean in effect “The Lord is God.” For the girls, we have a name for Joy, Grace, and one for “pretty” (because, you know, that’s important). Actually, for that child her name means Pretty Rose, which we thought would mean she would be gentle and beautiful. Instead, she is like a wild rose, all thorns and spunk. Alas, words have power; be sure to be specific!

There’s also a lot of power in the name Mom or Dad. Never did I feel as powerful in my own body as when I became a mom, with everything the full weight of that word imparts.

Anyway, here’s a funny video on baby names. Enjoy, and watch your words!

In which I place my insecurities for all to see

Spent Friday and Saturday wallowing in the fact I’m a big loser. Because Facebook. And Instagram. And possibly Twitter. 

Everyone does everything better than I do. Everyone is more fit and more fun and more fabulous. Their children are smarter, cuter, and more talented. Their husbands are more loving, more generous, and more connected to them and their family. They have abilities that overshadow even my biggest achievements. And so many friends…

And they do all this with perfect hair and the perfect smile. 

And the perfect filter. 

And it’s really all very insignificant anyway and why does it have this power to make me feel less than? 

My friend would say it’s pride. And insecurity. Rooted in pride. And by all that’s good and right stop following those people.

And she’s right.

And the sad thing is I don’t even follow them. I seek them out when I’m due for a good dose of self pity.

Oh that it were like snapping the fingers and declaring that the Holy Spirit is more powerful so begone feelings of insecurity. But it’s more like wallow rise sink cry trust gain sink fall climb.

It’s messy. And complicated. And it’s in the life of it that the relationship becomes real. Because a quick fix would be a genie, not a God.

So I have to decide. Do I want a genie, or do I want a messy, imperfect relationship with a powerful, unpredictable, untamable, fierce, good, holy sovereign King?
Which seems like a pretty easy choice when I put it that way.

But I’ll choose the relationship anyway. 

What about banning (or burning) books?

I went through a sanctification process, maybe 10-12 years ago now, where I realized that some of the music, TV, and books I was allowing into my life were not growing me in the direction that the Holy Spirit wanted me to grow. And that they created in me a desire to do things I knew were sinful (for me). So I threw out a bunch of stuff.

 

Now what I didn’t do was invite people over and tell them how I had thrown out a bunch of stuff that was evil and they should, too. Because it was personal, and all of the stuff I threw out wasn’t sinful in and of itself; it was my own mind/heart/soul that was doing the sinning (or the not growing in some cases).

 

Now there might be some stuff that “should” be destroyed: child pornography comes to mind. I don’t see how that could benefit anyone. But even destroying that blurs the line and makes it easy to call for the banning or destruction of other art that is NOT pornography.

 

Trying to force others not to read something by burning it, in my study of history, has never seemed to really change the hearts of the people involved and often resulted in the destruction of things that really were beautiful and good and true. So I guess the short answer is no, I don’t think books or music should necessarily be destroyed because of their content. But we all have the responsibility of listening to the Holy Spirit’s prompting in our lives regarding what we personally choose to imbibe.

Should children be allowed to read anything?

I have to admit I struggle with the idea of setting no limits on what we read in order that truth might manifest itself in the very abundance and depth of our reading (an idea proposed first by John Milton in “Areaopagitica” and later by Karen Swallow Prior in “Booked”). I hear that, but then my parenting radar kicks in. What about “garbage in, garbage out.” What about Paul’s warning in Philippians that “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things”? I’m not taking black markers to my kids’ books (yet), but I’m also not saying, “Pick anything from the library and have at it.” Not only because I don’t want them exposed to pornography or abuse or foul language, but because I also don’t want them exposed to poor writing.

I don’t enjoy submersing myself in evil, either. Especially evil disguised as entertainment. I doubly do not want that for my children, especially as they are still under the umbrella of my protection (which I believe means physically, emotionally, and spiritually). I think there is a reasonable line between freedom of speech (and freedom to read) and defense against heresy (and reveling in evil). But where that line lies I think is a work of the Holy Spirit individually in each soul, and individually in each set of parents.

The man who blacks out his child’s book is ridiculed as an example of censorship; but the parents who allow their young children to submerse themselves in soft porn and drug usage are heralded as heroes. I think the line lies somewhere in between those two examples.