Revelation–Psalm 19

The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge. They have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them. Yet their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world. In the heavens God has pitched a tent for the sun. It is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, like a champion rejoicing to run his course. It rises at one end of the heavens and makes its circuit to the other; nothing is deprived from its warmth.

Psalm 19:1-6

When we first learned that we were moving to Bozeman it truly seemed dreamy. Surrounded on all 4 sides by several mountain ranges Bozeman is teeming with outdoor opportunities! More than that there is no humidity in the summer months! Lengthy summer days beg to be spent outside. Truly, it is difficult to imagine a less opportunistic environment to envision a creator. The Author, (King David) here in Psalm 19 is declaring with evidence that God exists! All one has to do is look outside for a moment, witness the beauty that surrounds them and come to the conclusion that such magnificence, such order in creation is no accident.

1655862_10152276409287962_1063138673_nOf course, Bozeman isn’t the only place in the world with such beauty and when we consider the full universe we are confronted with not just beauty but mystery as well. The distance across the galaxy, the amount of stars in the milky way, the size of planets and distant stars is enough to make the most skeptical person at least stop and wonder about the existence of God.

But if the natural world were enough then why doesn’t everyone agree that God is real, active and HUGE? What David is getting at here in Psalm 19 is just the beginning of what it means to see and understand God. This natural revelation or general revelation (as it is revealed to all and speaks of God in a general sense) is just the beginning when it comes to knowing God.

In Romans 1 Paul takes the argument further when he says that nature actually presents enough evidence for God that every single person is held accountable to what we believe because of what we witnesses in creation. That means that if we claim that God isn’t real or does not exist then we are suppressing what we ultimately know to be true.

But nature is not sufficient for us to understand who God is and what is at the heart of his nature and character. It’s is not enough for us to simply spend time outdoors or to fill up on the beauty of creation. We need more.

In John 1 Jesus is described as the Logos, or the word made flesh. In Hebrews we see how in the past God would reveal himself to mankind in various ways through the prophets and patriarchs of the Hebrew faith. But now, we have the revealed Logos, the Word of God made flesh.

Spending time outside will only get you so far. Enjoying whatever version of the “good life” you are after will never fill you the way the bread of life will. Jesus tells his audience in John 6 that he is the bread of life. Anyone who hungers must feed on him. We don’t get to make up whatever we want to about God. He has revealed himself to us in his creation but more than that he reveals himself to us in his word.

I struggle with this on the days where I know that I need to read my Bible and pray but what I want to do is forget about it an just go fishing. I fight the battle to confess my sin and humble myself before the God of the universe when what I really wish I could do is just withdrawal by watching Netflix until my eyes dry out!

Psalm 19 reminds me that not only does God care enough about us to leave his thumbprint on creation, but that he loves us so deeply that he gives us his word to see and know who he is, to play witness to the Logos of Christ and with creation declare his glory and praise!

Shifting Motivations

A New Motivation

For a while now I have struggled to carve a niche in the blogosphere. I have several back posts that seem to draw out some important truths but nothing earth shattering or life changing, and to be honest, there is a fair amount of rambling! So it has been a struggle to consider whether or not to even write at all. A while back I met with a friend about blogging. His advice was thoughtful and has caused me to reconsider what to do with this space. Therefore, by way of explanation, here is my plan. You can choose to follow along or not, it’s up to you.

Where I used to want people to comment and be “likers” of my writing, I now, simply wish to write for myself (see the updated about section). What I mean is this: I am sharing these thoughts publicly, but they are how I am personally growing and changing. They are words that first speak to my heart and are not aimed at yours, unless, of course they encourage or challenge you accordingly, whichever the case may be.

What and Why

I am still new to this pastoring thing and want to continue to get better at it, so what you’ll find in the following weeks and months are posts centered around explanation, illustration and application of scripture to our hearts and lives. Feel free to leave comments that either encourage or challenge. I don’t think that I am the only one writing on the internet. There are many options for you, if you choose to read this, then thank you!

For the next several weeks and months here is my commitment to myself and you, if you choose to read: At least two posts a week centered around the liturgical practices of worship from the Psalms. I have been reading 3 Psalms a day for a few months now and have benefited greatly from the beauty of these poetic and liturgical masterpieces. Liturgies shape our hearts and loves (some of these ideas are spurred on by our recent Christ and Culture lecture series where James K.A. Smith shared his wisdom and research with us on what it means to have our hearts and desires shaped and bent toward Christ and His Kingdom).

I am currently on Psalm 19 and it’s wonderful. I look forward to sharing with you what God’s Word is teaching me about our desires and His Kingdom.

Final Thought

Since brevity is the soul of wit and I tend to use too many words my goal is 500-750 words per post. Help me stay accountable to that! Oh yea, I forgot, I am reading a biography on John Calvin as well as his Institutes Of The Christian Religion of which I may be inclined to share some thoughts, from time to time.

I will also throw in some thoughts on resources for ministering to your family. There are many books and ideas out there on how to raise our children in the Christian faith. Hopefully some of my limited experience and research will be helpful to you.

That’s about it. Thanks for reading. Look for Psalm 19 tomorrow! Title God Revealed. 

God bless!

Scott

Let the Morning Bring Your Unfailing Love

Christmas is a joyous time. It’s a celebration of the very incarnation of God. As we gather around family and friends and nourish ourselves with community, worship and hearts of gratitude we are reminded that beauty, love, kindness, mercy and grace are gifts from the God of all gods, Lord of all Lords and King of all kings!

But, Christmas doesn’t mean that life suddenly changes and the dark, heavy parts of our hearts suddenly get better. The work of redemption is lengthy, bloody and filled with tears. Christmas doesn’t mean that we stop hurting and crying out to God to change us or our circumstances. Christmas, remember, results in Calvary and therefore as we reflect on the beauty of the incarnation let us not pretend that we aren’t in desperate need for redemption from sin, reconciliation to God and restoration from brokenness.

A prayer, a reminder that we who have trusted in Christ are servants of The King. We thirst, we long for God’s face, we desperately need intimacy with our Creator. Let the morning bring your unfailing love…

Psalm 143
Lord, hear my prayer,
listen to my cry for mercy;
in your faithfulness and righteousness
come to my relief.
Do not bring your servant into judgment,
for no one living is righteous before you.
The enemy pursues me,
he crushes me to the ground;
he makes me dwell in the darkness
like those long dead.
So my spirit grows faint within me;
my heart within me is dismayed.
I remember the days of long ago;
I meditate on all your works
and consider what your hands have done.
I spread out my hands to you;
I thirst for you like a parched land.
Answer me quickly, Lord;
my spirit fails.
Do not hide you face from me
or I will be like those who go down
to the pit.
Let the morning bring me word of your
unfailing love,
for I have put my trust in you.
Show me the way I should go,
for to you I entrust my life.
Rescue me from my enemies, Lord,
for I hide myself in you.
Teach me to do your will,
for you are my God;
may your good Spirit
lead me on level ground.
For your name’s sake, Lord, preserve my
life;
in your righteousness, bring me out of
trouble.
In your unfailing love, silence my
enemies;
destroy all my foes,
for I am your servant.

Joy is born from grief and peace is brought from turmoil and violence. The One who was born, bore our sin and suffering. The One who suffered at the hand of his enemies and faced the abandonment of God did so that we, who put our trust in him, might know joy and peace; a release from the hand of our enemies. In the place of abandonment we are welcomed into the eternal promise of “I will be your God, and you will be my people.”

Revelation 21:3
And I heard a loud voce coming from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.”

Beauty in Rebuke

“Better is open rebuke than hidden love. Wounds from a friend are faithful, but an enemy multiplies kisses. One who is full loathes honey from the comb, but to the hungry even what is bitter tastes sweet.” Proverbs 27:5-7

How do you handle criticism and honesty? I don’t mean the rash or brazen criticism that’s easy to shirk off. I am talking about the sit down one-anothering that comes from difficult words by a loving friend. What if you worked really hard at something and felt really proud of your work only to have it criticized and for lack of a better word, “rejected.”

I used to find any criticism as an attack. I would discount all words of correction as a personal affront, truly I still struggle with this. But isn’t the rebuke of a friend and the words of correction necessary for growth? If we are only around people who offer us coke a cola answers to our struggles and “performances” we are in a dangerous place.

Growth for anyone requires a good friend to be honest with you. For the Christian, this type of friendship is essential. The version of Jesus that I was taught to believe in was the nice guy who let people punch him on both cheeks and then let men kill him. But if we read the Gospels carefully we see phrases that don’t fit that mold. Many places Jesus holds nothing back, “You brood of vipers”, “You should not be surprised by this”, “Oh, you of little faith”, “Go and learn what this means”, “Woe to you”, “You’re a teacher of Israel and you don’t understand this”, “Get out of here!”, “Does this offend you?” and many others.

This certainly doesn’t sum up who Jesus was but it does demonstrate the truth of love. Love isn’t a door mat. Love isn’t a feeling that you get when someone likes your Facebook pictures. Love isn’t acceptance by a group that never holds you accountable. Love is hard. Love is faithful. Love is offensive because it requires. The author of Hebrews reiterates the teachings in Psalms and Proverbs when he says, “Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? If you are not disciplined-and everyone undergoes discipline (if they are true children)-then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all.”

There is beauty in rebuke. If we didn’t require rebuke then why did Christ die? The author of Hebrews continues in chapter 12, “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.”

The real beauty of rebuke is that it demonstrates to us the love of God in Christ enduring the cross on our behalf. Jesus did not ignore the hard work of discipline and was/and is not a god of complete and utter acceptance. If we ignore rebuke and correction for training in righteousness and surround ourselves with communities of people who never offer hard truths then we ignore the suffering and anguish that Christ endured on our behalf.

Love doesn’t keep a record of wrongs because true love, God’s love took on all of those wrongs when he offered himself up for us. He didn’t just forget about our offenses without consequence, he absorbed them. Give thanks if you are loved by a friend who can offer you open rebuke and then remind you that you are more wicked than you could possible imagine but more deeply loved that you could ever understand.

Our instruction to understand discipline and correction is driven by the knowledge that Hebrews 12:1-2 reminds us of, “…let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith. For the joy set out before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” God doesn’t discipline out of anger or out of inexperience, he does so as one who is fully disciplined and endured. He disciplines out of love.

Blessed are you who undergo discipline. For to the hungry even what is bitter tastes sweet.

The Road and the Sword

Too often I forget myself. My pride swells like a Cracker Barrell-egg-shell-toy-dinosaur that has been left in it’s bowl of water too long. At times like these I’m gently and sometimes subtly reminded with a nudge by the staff of Christ to return to the sheepfold. This reminding is at best a slight, noticeable bump, but at other times it is a sword. A sword that cuts deep into the idols that I cling so tightly to. My grasped knuckles of pride and arrogance, disbelief and panic are as white as my woolen coat. The Shepherd wins, always.

As I walk the road that has been set before me, I seem to long more often for the destination than I ever have before.

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…God Meant it for Good…

French Artist Gustave Dore’ Joseph and His Brothers

“You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people.” Genesis 50:20 NLT.

When I was a younger man I struggled greatly with losing my hair. It started to thin when I was a senior in high school. By the time I graduated from college I was consoling myself with the fact that I shared this trait with both Officer John McClane and James Bond (well former James Bond anyway)…but then I remembered that saving 200 hostages and keeping international relations secure for all of the Western World gave them a bit of an advantage over a college graduate with 1000 hours running a backhoe and a class B commercial Truck driving license. Neither was I Bruce Willis nor Sean Connery.

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