“Don’t worry Dear Lady, you’re not forgotten.”

Today, Lady Liberty was insulted by a 5-4 vote to uphold a grievous law. By doing so, politicians have been allowed to trash her house and mock the high cost paid for their freedom to do so. However, this is not the end, because those of us who treasure freedom are not going anywhere and I offer this thought as some encouragement.

2012 marks the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812. Critics back in the day called it “Mr. Madison’s War” because they didn’t believe in the cause. You see, among other things, the British were widely practicing “Impressments” on the high seas by taking American merchant sailors and forcing them into British naval service. Our people saw that as a breach of our sovereignty, forcing the leaders to act. Towards the end of the war, the battle atFortMcHenry in Baltimore Harbor resulted in a perilous night of steady bombardment. Throughout the darkness, the question lingered of whether the fort would hold, or fall like Washington D.C. had. Yes, the capital had already fallen under the hand of the same British commander, General Ross. The Americans had much to be concerned over while anxiously awaiting daybreak, but then…there it was…Old Glory. Frances Scott Key was so moved, he hurriedly scratched down these lines: 

“O say can you see by the dawn’s early light,
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight’s last gleaming,
Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight,
O’er the ramparts we watched, were so gallantly streaming?
And the rockets’ red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there;
O say does that star-spangled banner yet wave,
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?”
 

The Founding Fathers understood freedom; that it was endowed to us by God and they valued it greatly. There have always been irritants to freedom, from the Tories in the beginning to those unconcerned over British impressments in 1812, so we must always stay diligent. Our ability to speak freely and raise our children as we see fit is vitally important. I encourage all who read this to pray for God’s direction personally, and nationally. Be informed and vote so we can prove to still be “…the land of the free and the home of the brave!”

By the way, check out the last stanza Mr. Key penned as he summed it up:

“O thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved home and the war’s desolation.
Blest with vict’ry and peace, may the Heav’n rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation!
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: “In God is our trust.”
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

Angry Like Jesus

Can anger ever be good? I mean in Psalm 4, verse 5 David instructs the reader to be angry without sin right? So, I wondered, “Did Jesus ever get angry?” The answer of course is yes. As a matter of fact, the Bible list several times, such as Him making a whip and laying the leather to some backsides while cleansing the Temple (John 2) and then there’s the Pharisees’ hardness of heart bringing grief and anger in Mark 3.

So what does it mean? Do we have a license to go administer holy slaps to people, as long as it’s with a cheerful heart? Of course not, (even though some of you are enjoying the thought of it). The key is the “without sin” part. We know Jesus lived and ministered without sin and for me Psalm 4 has helped to understand it.

In this Psalm, David is generally understood to be addressing the situation of his son Absalom rebelling against and trying to steal the kingdom. David’s heart was broken, but there was also anger in the picture and we see a helpful 3-part pattern of him dealing with it.

I. He declared God’s goodness

  • “You have relieved me in my distress” (v.1)
  • “The Lord has set me apart” (v.3)
  • “The Lord will hear” (v.3)
  • “You have put gladness in my heart” (v.7)
  • “You alone O Lord make we dwell in safety” (v.8)

David recounts God’s tremendous faithfulness in the past and present. I too should pause (Selah) and consider the same things in my life. Before I let emotions drive actions, I need to remember that He’s shown grace & mercy to me.

II. He decided to search his own heart

Meditation in the Biblical sense (v.4) is to pray for the Holy Spirit to search us, being still to hear God’s voice, while filling our mind with the truth of God’s word (Philippians 4:8). David identified the sin of the adversaries (arrogance and pride v.2), but his thoughts were focused on God’s sovereignty.

III. He dwelled in God’s peace

To lie down at night in complete peace is absolutely priceless. There is a sufficiency in knowing that God is ultimately in control. If anger hinders my sleep or affects my walk with God, then it’s simply not of Him. When Jesus cleaned house in John 2 it was against hypocrisy and spiritual pollution standing in the way of people seeing a clear picture of God’s love.

That brings me to the question I have to ask myself, “Does Gospel-hindering things and attitudes make me mad, or do I let the trivial stuff get to me?” To be honest, I’m ashamed of my answer and I pray for a different attitude. How about you?

Series: Psalms-Lesson 2

Reflections on Father’s Day 2012

Is Father’s Day just a gimmick to sell cards and gifts? Some would say yes, but it’s really a great reminder of the unique role of Dad. It can also bring a wide variety of emotions, depending on circumstances. Personally, I’m starting to see Father’s Day as not only a day to honor my father (as God commanded us in Exodus 20:12), but to take inventory of how I’ve led my family since last year’s celebration.

To be honest, as their spiritual leader, there are a few areas I need work in and just for fun here’s the short list:

  • To quit making excuses for my lack of follow-through
  • To not let my son outdo me in talking about how awesome God is
  • To not let my daughter outpace me in inviting people to church
  • To stand strong for the right things instead of just against the wrong things
  • To offer forgiveness as readily as I hope for it
  • To choose honesty over my pride…every time
  • To model the Golden Rule more than I quote it
  • And to remember to put my coffee cup in the dishwasher…every day 

I know they’re not profound thoughts, but it’s a start. How about you other Dads out there? God has given us a great privilege to lead. Let’s “man-up” together and be who He’s called us to be!

Pop Culture is in the Toilet, Now What?

Build a commune and string up barbed wire? Hmmm, I admit there are days when it sounds tempting, but of course is the wrong answer. With atheism, homosexuality, and other agendas on the advance, what’s a Christian to do? Simply put…live in the moments given to us, because good or bad, this is our time. The iconic leaders of the older generation will soon be gone and as the mantle is passed, we must move forward.

I sometimes think about the early Church and what they talked about with such depravity around them. I’m sure there was discouragement and worry. Of course Paul, John, and Peter wrote them encouraging letters and are often my “go-to” place, but there is also another diamond placed at the front of the Psalms that gives great clarity looking ahead. Take a look:

1 Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful; 2But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night. 3 He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither; and whatever he does shall prosper. 4 The ungodly are not so, but are like the chaff which the wind drives away. 5 Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous. 6 For the Lord knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the ungodly shall perish.” –Psalms 1:1-6 NKJV

It should be the same for us too, drawing strength and confidence in the fact that God knows us. Through Jesus, we’ve been made one of the righteous. Here are three ways this Psalm helps me: 

  • To Find Joy in His Word – Our delight should be in His Word (v.2). To the Believer, “the Law” represents Christ’s work on the cross satisfying God’s requirements and the grace He’s shown. Prayerfully pondering the depths of His Word should be part of my life each day. Christian authors, podcasters, etc. can be great, but only the scripture is the actual revealed truth of God. Don’t sacrifice time “in the Word” for someone talking “about the Word”.
  • To Stay Healthy – The image of a tree growing and producing fruit is used many times in scripture to describe the person following God’s instructions. Paul described the workings of the Holy Spirit in us as “fruit” in Galatians 4:22-23. The most important part of a tree is the hidden root system below the surface. Our roots must sink deep and be connected to the source of living water-Christ. Conversely, if roots are shallow, then there can be stunted growth, disease, or easy destruction by a strong wind.
  • To Keep Wins/Loses in Perspective – If we’re not careful, the cultural battle can drift into terms of wins and losses. This Psalm helps me remember that God will ultimately “put things right”. There will be a day when God’s sovereignty will be on full powerful display, but it should motivate me to share, not be a reason for smugness. Yes, we should always speak truth, but in a prayerful way (Colossians 4:2-6). Bible passages aren’t bullets for a holy six-gun, but life giving seeds for new trees. 

Remember, the race is set before us (Heb. 12:1-2), run it with confidence!

Series: Psalms-Lesson 1

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