Antinomy-Psalm 53

The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, and vile; there is no one who does good. God looks down from heaven on all mankind to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God. Everyone has turned away, all have become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one. Do all these evildoers know nothing? They devour my people as though eating bread; they never call on God. But there they are, overwhelmed with dread, where there was nothing to dread. God scattered the bones of those who attacked you; you put them to shame, for God despised them. Oh, that salvation for Israel would come out of Zion! When God restores his people, let Jacob rejoice and Israel be glad!

Antinomy Are you ok with contradiction? Actually, let me put it this way, are you ok with a life that can’t seem to escape contradiction? I can remember when I used to think (my early version of Christianity when I was a whipper-snapper) that life was black and white and that being a Christian meant being good (not-a-sinner) unnamed-3while being a sinner meant, well, just that, being a sinner. But as I grow and understand God’s story better I now see that the problem for many of us is not that the world isn’t black and white but that we can’t fit ourselves into finished categories of what we wish we were or could potentially be. Typically, we don’t like contradiction. We don’t like to think about what we wish we were and then act another way. We don’t like the fact that we would love to do what our hearts love to do, but at the same time make our hearts want what we know that we should do (ummm, ok, if you got that then just wink twice and move on). When I look at a donut, I want it! But what I would love is to make my heart not want it so that I don’t actually eat it. But alas, I eat it. Again and again and again. Confession As I grow to understand Hebrews 10:14 better, “For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.” I am thankful for the antinomy, the seemingly contradictions of life. As Paul says in Romans 7, “I don’t do what I so desperately want to do!” Ever feel this way? Grasping the gospel is being ok with confession. Grasping the gospel is being ok with not being ok. That doesn’t mean that we get to act like the fool who says, “there is no God.” but it does mean that we are thankful that the essence of grace is that we are given what we so desperately can’t get on our own. For there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus! Salvation for a Reason In verse 6 here in Psalm 53 we are reminded that we are saved for a reason. “Oh that salvation for Israel would come from Zion! When God restores his people…” We are both, made perfect and are being made perfect. Our salvation is a gift which restores us to God, by the blood of Christ and this gift of life also works to perfect us even now as we are in the body. We grow and learn and understand that there are times of desperation and unbelief and there are times of great joy and obedience knowing that salvation has come from Zion! We are not overwhelmed with dread because, though yet we are fools, and turn from God, corrupt and vile, we are restored! What grace and beauty comes from this gospel of salvation for those who are in Christ! We don’t have to look at our lives as if we are accepted by God one day and then not the next. The contradiction we feel is good because what it means is that we care about and confess our unbelief and rebellion. As we live in the body, what we do in the body matters and has consequences, but we remember that Christ has redeemed us! Salvation has come from Zion and we are restored and are being restored. We are faithless, yet full of faith. We are broken, yet not broke. We are sinners but not lost to sin. Where sin abounds, grace abounds all the more. We are free, but are learning to live in this freedom. In the meantime… Let Jacob rejoice and Israel be glad! Salvation has come from Zion! soli deo gloria

Just Stop Moving-Psalm 46

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells. God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day. Nations are in uproar, Kingdoms fail; he lifts his voice, the earth melts. The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.

Come and see what the Lord has done, the desolations he has brought on the earth. He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth. He breaks the bow and shatters the spear; he burns the shields with fire. He says, Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” The Lord Almighty is with us; The God of Jacob is our fortress.

“Just stop moving!”IMG_0947

A few years ago (ok probably about 6 now) some friends and I went to the river to fish. That doesn’t sound strange, and since I live in Montana now it is a regular event. But in Arkansas our adventures to go fishing in streams of cool water for trout were fewer and farther between.

On this particular adventure we chose to fish the calmer flows of the North Fork river. Calmer waters or not, river fishing involves wading through waters that can sometimes become unexpectedly deep with rocks that are slipperier than Arkansas roads after a half inch of snow.

In a situation just like this, my friend Topher realized (as I have many times myself) that rather than try to tackle the slippery rocks head on sometimes the best advice, (as shouted from Mike nearby on the shore) is to just stop moving!

My Way or God’s Way

The rocks of the North Fork river or the green of the Gallatin here in Montana don’t have an agenda. They’re just there, waiting for unsuspecting feet to try to find footing on their round vegetated surfaces. As any experienced fisherman may know, it’s futile to move too fast or to keep going when the best course of action is to stop, assess and in many cases, go back or find another way.

The Psalmist here in Psalm 46 reminds us that to push forward, to seek to do it our own way without submitting to God, only ends in fear and destruction. In order to understand Psalm 46 it helps to go back and read Numbers 16. Psalm 46 was written by the Sons of Korah. The Sons of Korah were descendants of Levi, a priestly nation given the special task of carrying holy items as the Israelites moved through the wilderness.

In Numbers 16 a dispute breaks out. The ancestors of the Sons of Korah from Psalm 46 make a tragic mistake. They begin to believe that they are due honor and glory that they aren’t given from God. They complain to Moses and tell him that they don’t like being subordinate to anyone. They threaten a coup and so God decides to remind them who is in charge.

I won’t give the story away but just to say this, the earth does gives way, the waters roar and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea. It’s quite possible that the author of Psalm 46 is reminded of this rebellion and the mistake that his ancestors made. In an attempt to lead God’s people in worship he reminds them and us to, “just stop moving!” “Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted in the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”

Submitting

It’s hard to submit, and I find myself desperately wanting to complain and tell God what the Kohathites told Moses in Numbers 16 that “you, God, have gone too far! Life is too difficult and I want to do it my way now!” But slippery rocks are a dangerous way to cross a river. I confess of my arrogance in thinking that I know the best way and that I want to be God.

The command to “be still” doesn’t simply mean to stop moving. To be still, in the way that the Psalmist means it, is to stop going the way that we think is best. Stop doing it our way. We’re not in charge and until we submit to God’s plan and will we won’t know what it means to find God as a refuge and strength.

Verse 4 reminds us that, “there is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy places where the Most High dwells.” Jesus, when ministering to the woman at the well in John 4 reveals 2 things about the Kingdom of God. 1. The Kingdom of God has perfect standards for admission. 2. Anyone of drinks from the water of life is included. We can keep moving, believing that we are in charge and that our way is best or we can, be still, and know that He is God.

“Come and see what the Lord has done! The Lord almighty is with us, the God of Jacob is our fortress!”

Soli Deo Gloria

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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A Benediction

Jacob Blessing Joseph’s Children Shoshanna Brombacher 2008

Hebrews chapter 11 is sometimes referred to, throughout much of Christendom, as the “hall of faith.” The author of Hebrews is celebrating those who have, in faith, gone before us and who serve as a blessing to those who are still living out their faith in word and deed.

Jacob is mentioned, among others, for a seemingly non-productive act. The writer of Hebrews is recounting Genesis 48 where Jacob offers a benediction upon his grandsons, Ephraim and Manasseh. At the protest of Joseph, their father, Jacob begins his providential proclamation; an act of great faith. Faith, to a secular world, will seem non-productive but its foundation lies in the letting go of production while trusting in the faithfulness of God and not ourselves. Where we honor accomplishment and achievement, God honors trust and faith in the One who achieved what we never could. The Gospel is the good news of what Christ has done and not what we can or even could do. What seems foreign to man is right to God and what is right to God seems foreign to man. Don’t expect the gospel to make sense as we are chained down by worldly thoughts, structures, economies and beliefs. Continue reading