Anti-Psalm 1

If you have been reading for a while, you will know that I tend to have three kinds of posts: 1) I write about the message of a song, or its meaning to me, 2) I expound upon random thoughts that I have had throughout the week, or 3) I have shared what I am learning and seeing in scripture as I read through it.  While these are not bad things, it has been pointed out to me truthfully that they have left my posts a little impersonal and overly-positive.  I have shared much about general truths that speak general encouragements.

Through this, I have recently come to realize that I have done a poor job of humbly confessing my hearts desires.  Not only on this blog, but also to people, in general.  This comes out of a mix of reasons, but when you push past all of my excuses, the reality is that I want to be better than I am.  I trick myself into thinking that if I hide my sinful desires, then they will go away and I will not need to deal with them.  If nobody knows my heart’s temptations, then I don’t really need to know it either.

It is not easy to share or confess where we are tempted.  Fortunately for me, there is great encouragement in the psalms for people like me.  They give us many, many encouraging verses that speak about a million ways God is faithful, God is sufficient, and God can turn peal our hearts away from the things that we cling to that are not Him.

Why is this so fortunate?  When we take these psalms in their inverse, we have an easy way to a) articulate our confession of areas where we are not believing God’s truth, b) better understand what God is trying to teach us, personally, in these verses, and c) hear the very words of our true God speaking into our pain.

As I attempt to confess where I am tempted through these anti-psalms, I am going to post them here.  It is too easy for me to lie to myself and to God when I keep my confessions between me and God (perhaps some truth in “it didn’t happen until its on facebook”?).  Thank you for helping me be honest with you and with God.


Anti-Psalm 1

I feel cursed for trusting in things that are not godly,
standing with sinners
and filling myself with contempt,
I delight in my own strength,
and ignore the ways that I called to depend on God and follow him.
I am like a dead stump with my roots upturned,
pulling away from the fresh water,
I feel thirsty, wishing for the water I have turned away from,
I am tired, all of my branches broken and my leaves fallen.
everything I do seems to be no better than mediocre.
I cannot thrive without the living water,
without it, even my upturned roots will not last.
I cannot stand on my own strength,
I am not strong enough to be counted among the righteous on my own.
I act like know how to improve myself,
but I can’t help but continue to depend on myself for my own help
and continue to press on toward death.


 

Though that may be how I am living, it is not truth.  This is:

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;
But his delight is in the law of the Lord,
and in His law he meditates day and night.
He shall be like a tree
Planted by the rivers of water,
That brings forth its fruit in its season
whose leaves also shall not wither;
And whatever he does shall prosper.
The ungodly are not so,
But are like the chaff which the wind drives away.
Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgement,
Nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous.
For the Lord knows the way of the righteous,
But the way of the Ungodly shall perish.


I just wanted to note that anti-psalms are meant to be a personal reflection on the psalm.  That said, I hope that the anti-psalms I post can help you to see each psalm in a new light.  Keep in mind that though they can be helpful, they are not scripture, but only point to the truth that we actually need.  I encourage you to go back to the psalms, read them, and create your own anti-psalms.  If you are bold enough, post them on Facebook or post them in the comments to my posts.  Let yourself be real about who you are, and embrace the encouragement that is in the psalms.

 

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Summer Update!

Greetings!

One of the purposes for this blog is to have a clear forum for us to share updates to friends and family. We thought we would take a moment to fill you in on what we’ve been up to so far this year as we move into the summer! (And apologize for taking so long!) We also would love for you to walk with us in prayer, and so we will add some ways that you can be praying for us.

School is still very much a part of our lives! Even though we both have Master’s degrees already, we are pursuing more education to make us more qualified for what we want to do. Dan has begun an online Biblical Counseling program, with the goal of slowly taking classes to gain another Master’s degree and certifications in Biblical Counseling. With this training, he can better serve in a ministerial role in our current or future communities! Amanda is still pursuing her Education Specialist degree in School Psychology, along with working to obtain behavioral specialist certifications. It feels like we have never stopped going to school, but we try to think about our pursuit of education as a way to train us to be more qualified ministers of the Gospel. We don’t know what that will look like yet, but we know the Lord is using this time to allow us to get education and experience, and for this, we are grateful.

We also are both working full-time in secular positions. Dan coordinates market research studies for a healthcare company. Amanda works with students with special needs in school or home settings. We both have easy days of work and hard days of work too, but our jobs right now, while not our dream jobs, are helping us gain experience and skills that we will use to further the Gospel. Stay tuned, and you might hear how God is using our current jobs to spread His message!

Church is also a major part of our lives, and we love the community of Citylight! We are both heavily invested on different serving teams in the church (Amanda works with the kids ministry as a lead teacher and doing curriculum preparation; Dan runs the soundboard and prays with people during the service). Once a week, we meet with a small-group of Citylight people to eat, read the word, share our hearts, and share our lives with one another. Since joining Citylight, we have been a part of a couple different groups over the last two years, but we have been with this specific group of individuals since November! We love having a group of people to know, love, and build relationships with, and we have really grown in love for this specific group in the last several months.

When we are not doing schoolwork, working, or doing church activities, we are spending time with our friends, trying to take care of our bodies with exercise, enjoying puppy cuddles, or just trying to refresh ourselves before the next thing on our schedule. This summer, we are hoping to spend some time camping and being out of the city! Life seems very full lately, but God graciously fills us and strengthens us for it.

Well, since school, work, and church are the big things in our lives right now, we could use some specific prayer for these areas.  If you are so kind as to want to pray more specifically about any one of these areas, please let us know and we would love to share more details with you.

  • Pray that we can feel endurance and strength that can only come from God (Ephesians 3:14-21)
  • Pray that we can rest in Jesus in this busy season (Matthew 11:25-28)
  • Pray that we can glorify God in everything we do (Colossians 3:18-25)
  • Pray for our marriage, that we can walk with Jesus together (Colossians 3:1-2)
  • Pray that we can live missionally, being bold to share about Jesus (1 Peter 2:12)

For those of you that have already been praying for us, we want to share some ways that we have already seen God at work!  Thank you for your prayers!

  • Our neighbor is excited about Jesus and studies His word!
  • Amanda’s process of certification has begun! The first round of paperwork has been sent in! Just waiting now!
  • God has provided us lots of opportunities to grow toward Him and love Him more deeply!

Thank you to everyone who prays for us, cares for us, and loves us from close or far away! Feel free to reach out to catch up and share what is going on in your life!

 

Ecclesiastes 10:18-19

Hard work and money are dangerous.  We know that they can lead to sins that pull us away from God if we depend on them, but that is not what makes them dangerous.

They  are dangerous because in a lot of ways, they work.  Money and hard work produce a lot of results, and it is easy to be tempted to trust them instead of trusting God.  I promise that God is so much better.  They are not bad things, but God is even better.

Evidence of Love

There is a balance of works and grace here in Titus 3:1-8.  It reaffirms that it is God’s mercy that saves us, but if we believe in God, we should be careful to do good works.

This type of dichotomy is not unique to our relationship with God; he has implanted this picture into marriage as well. No matter how many good works I had done, they were not what was going to make Amanda marry me.  It was because, I presume but we will have to confirm with her, she loved me so much that she was willing to forgive all of the not-so-great qualities just to be in relationship with me.

Yet, at the same time, imagine what would happen if I never did good works or deeds for my wife?  It probably wouldn’t be the end of the world, but I am sure she wouldn’t be happy with me.  Not only that, but every person looking in on our marriage would probably doubt that there was love as they do not see the evidence of it.

We are loved by God.  If we truly believed that, Good works would be evident in our lives.

Colossians 1:3

Pail is writing to the church at Colosse to correct them and their incorrect theology.  The majority is spent doing that: sharing the truth in order to correct.

It is because of that truth and purpose of the book that v3 is so wonderful.

Paul gives thanks, first and foremost, for the faith of the church.  Then, out of that loving thankfulness he prayerfully corrects the Colossian Church.

Do we do that? I know that I usually don’t. What would it look like the next time you are on Facebook and see that post that you want to argue with or you feel needs correcting, you first were praying for the conversation, and those in it, and were thankful for the other person, and you told them that?

If I am being honest, that sound hard to do.  Can you do it?

P.S. If Paul can write full paragraphs as one long sentence, so can I.

 

Ecclesiastes 10:10

Having the right skills is important, without them tasks will be incredibly difficult.  It is worthwhile to understand where we are gifted, where we need to grow, and where we are not gifted, before we attempt to accomplish a task.

That being said, God will grant and has granted us the skills we need to accomplish any task before us.

Colossians 3:12-13

These verses beautifully describe things that we can, and should put on as Christians: tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, long-suffering.  When I read this list I start hearing that old sesame street song play in the back of my head: “one of these things is not like the other.”

It is easy for me to accept kindness, humility, tenderness, mercy, and even meekness as virtues but long-suffering?

Other translations use the word patients.  I can get behind patients as a virtue, but the focus here is not just of patience but of patience in spite of troubles.

This means that it isn’t good enough to be patient until you are being yelled at, corrected, or frustrated. It is in those moments where Christ is calling us to have long-suffering.

This makes patience a much harder thing to have, but if we are transformed by the new life given to us in Christ, we are called to put on long-suffering as part of the character of our new man.

A Godly Man

What is a biblical man called to be like?  I do not know about you but sometimes, I feel like the bible doesn’t talk very much about what it means to be a man, in general.  We get verses about being a godly woman, father, employee, husband, and many others but not really what a Godly man looks like.

Even when we do get a piece, it seems vague.  Titus 2 says a man should be “sober, reverent, temperate, sound in faith, in love, in patience….  sober minded, always showing yourself to be a pattern of good works; in doctrine showing integrity, reverence, incorruptibility, sand speech, that cannot be condemned.

You may notice that some of the items repeat.  That is because the first list is to older men and the second is to younger men.  Let us compare what things are the same between them.

Sober minded, reverent, are the ones that I see highlighted in both lists.  Why these two?

Perhaps a definition and exploration of each may help.

To be sober-minded is to be non-intoxicated by anything in life but instead, remaining in control and coherent.  To be reverent is to show deep and solemn respect.

So, all men are called to not let anything other than God control or guide us and to be filled with respect.  I believe these are the tools God uses to bring about other desirable qualities.  For young men (v7) we can develop a pattern of good works when we reverently some those in need.  We become incorruptible and above reproach when we have respect for God and do not allow ourselves to be controlled by worldly forces.

For older men (v2) the qualities bring about patience when we respect others, and love.  We develop sound faith by being sober minded.

Each of the things God has called us to, as men, start here: with sober-mindedness and reverence.  The trick is that there is a prerequisite for attaining and holding on to these traits: a dependence on Jesus (v13-14).