Friday, June 28, 2013

A song about Psalm 23

Revisiting old school Caedmon's Call this week. I've been loving their song "Walk With Me," which is about Psalm 23. Here's Sandra McCracken's explanation of what the song is all about:

This song is about friendship and Psalm 23. It is a beautiful thing how we were made for community and how our relationships are one of the primary means of our sanctification. These are the places where we see both our sin and God’s mercy, and these are the places where we learn to extend grace and service to others. Because of the fall, however, we find that even our greatest love here will fail us, and our greatest work is still filthy rags by God’s standards. In great contrast, we find our righteousness, perfect rest, and all we need in Jesus.

A few of my favorite lyrics from the song:

Walk with me empty, walk with me strong
The hush of our voices, when the day seems so long
It is like a balm, it is like a jewel
It unravels all I thought I knew


Will you lead me, beside the still waters
Where the oil, it runs over, and my cup overflows
You restore my soul


"The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake."
Psalm 23

Thursday, June 27, 2013

"Never"

The words of a friend who is placing her confidence in the Lord:

"But I know God's timing is perfect and faith in Him requires faith in His timing. And He's never failed before - never broken a promise - never treated the lives of His children cheaply - never turned His ear from me."


Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Resounding Truth: He is better than his gifts

"You created nothing that gives me more pleasure than You. 
You won't give me something that gives me more pleasure than You." 

You Created, Caedmon's Call

Psalm 113 

"Praise the Lord.
Praise the Lord, you his servants;
Praise the name of the Lord.
Let the name of the Lord be praised,
both now and forevermore.
From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets,
the name of the Lord is to be praised.
The Lord is exalted over all the nations,
his glory above the heavens.
Who is like the Lord our God,
the One who sits enthroned on high,
who stoops down to look
on the heavens and the earth?
He raises the poor from the dust
and lifts the needy from the ash heap;
he seats them with princes,
with the princes of his people.
He settles the childless woman in her home
as a happy mother of children.
Praise the Lord."

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Miracles

Every day miracles that encourage my heart to trust God's good work in my life. Here are a few:


  • Love in my heart for someone who has hurt me.
  • Patience while driving, and consideration of the other person's situation.
  • Desire to pray for and seek out my family.
  • Laughter, and lots of it.
  • Delighting in the innocence and beauty of children.
  • Choosing to say no to fear and anxiety.
  • A song that pops in my head randomly (today was the hymn A Sovereign Protector I Have).
  • Peace about big decisions.
  • A smile from a stranger in passing.
  • An encouraging email from a friend.
  • A beautiful walk outside in God's creation.
It's the little things :)



Monday, June 24, 2013

Gratitude: a sign of a surrendered heart

"An evidence that our will has been broken is that we begin to thank God for that which once seemed so bitter, knowing that His will is good and that, in His time, and in His way, He is able to make the most bitter waters sweet."

Nancy Leigh DeMoss

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Working for the best

O Lord, how happy we should be
If we could cast our care on Thee,
If we from self could rest;
And feel at heart that One above, 
In perfect wisdom, perfect love, 
Is working for the best.

Book of Common Prayer highlighting Romans 8

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

His help: timely, wise, effective

"His help is timely, for he is a very present help in time of trouble (Psalm 46:1).

His help is wise, for he knows how to give what is good for us.

His help is effective, though futile is the help of friends.

His help is more than help, for he carries all the burdens and supplies all the needs.

"The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?" (Hebrews 13:6) 

Because he has already been our help, we feel confidence in him for the present and future."

Spurgeon on Psalm 137 & Isaiah 41

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Grace: Turn to him

"Walking on water is not an essential characteristic of faith, but it is essential to pray when you begin to sink. Doing great things for Christ is not indispensable to salvation, but to have the faculty of turning your heart to him in distress is a mark of divine grace."

Spurgeon on Peter's cry to Jesus
Beside Still Waters, p. 196

Monday, June 17, 2013

Rescue through trials

"I can bear witness that trials are a great blessing. I would not have learned much except for trouble. When in painful difficulty and unable to see my way, I knew that the Lord was God when he appeared and broke the bands of my yoke. With a song I have magnified his surprising grace and blessed his delivering love."

Spurgeon on Ezekiel 34:27
Beside Still Waters, p. 160

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Prayer is better

"Peter's faith was a living thing. It might not always walk on water, but it could always pray. Prayer is better than walking on water."

Spurgeon, Beside Still Waters, P. 196


Saturday, June 15, 2013

Hidden jewels in the vault of his power

"The Lord Jesus keeps his people the same way. They are his jewels. He delights in them, and they are his honor and his glory. They cost him a greater price than can ever be realized. He hides them in the vault of his power and protects them with all his wisdom and strength."

Spurgeon, Beside Still Waters

Friday, June 14, 2013

All we need to trust him right now

"God rides upon storms. The dreaded clouds come, yes, but they actually bring mercy for God's people. Behind God's frowning providence is a "smiling face." Unbelief cannot see all this. It is blind. But we can expect that God will make his purposes plain in due time, and he will give us all we need to trust in his goodness in the meantime."

Mark Dever on the book of Ruth

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Prosperity & Success: wolves dressed like sheep

Sometimes living in this city really stresses me out. When I advise friends who are considering a move to DC, I always tell them that this city will seek to eat you alive, so intentionally plan how you will care for your soul / mind / body (ie: find and commit to a local church). 

Quick aside: August will mark my fourth year in this crazy place, and my heart is filled with gratitude. There's nowhere else I'd rather be! I honestly believe every point in my life has been purposed and carefully planned to bring me to where I am now. I have no other choice than to believe that! God has been completely faithful to me. 

So, even with intentional strides to care for myself in this place, I have still struggled with the anxiety that this city of  (fellow) type-As brews. I see no problem with working hard and building a career (especially in our 20s and 30s - now is the time!). I do, however, see a major problem when I give in and believe the messages that the world is telling me to believe  that my work defines me and gives me my main identity, value and worth. I often hear:

 Achieve. At all costs. 

You are what you make.

You can do more.

Climb that ladder. 

Gain approval and respect. 

Win. 

Stay late(r) - even when you don't need to.

Get to the top. 

Be the best. 

These chants of prosperity fly at me and sometimes throw me into despair! When they come in rapid succession, and come from others and from within my own head and heart, I tend to get overwhelmed. But for the grace and mercy of God in my life, I would not be able to identify and resist them. Resisting is an active struggle for me, but the big picture of the gospel and the future keep me doing so. 

I just finished Tim Keller's Counterfeit Gods, in which he unveils the idolatry and empty promises of money, sex and power. He says, "More than other idols, personal success and achievement lead to a sense that we ourselves are god, that our security and value rest in our own wisdom, strength and performance. To be the very best at what you do, to be at the top of the heap, means no one is like you. You are supreme." Keller states that this false sense of supremacy leads us into a false sense of security which comes from, "deifying our achievement and expecting it to keep us safe from the troubles of life in a way that only God can." 

Keller quotes Harriet Rubin's article on Fast Company, where Mary Bell, a counselor whose work is directed to corporate high-achievers, states that "achievement is the alcohol of our time." She continues:

[...] These days, the best people don't abuse alcohol. They abuse their lives. "People brag to me that they're working 80 hours a week, giving their lives to the company store," Bell says. "It's heartbreaking. Those people are prime candidates for self-destruction." The reason is simple: "Our bodies will produce the pain we need to get our drugs."

The demon success has three faces, Bell explains: "euphoria," "normal," and "pain." On a sheet of paper, she draws a chart showing these three terms arranged from top to bottom: "euphoria" above, "normal" in the middle, "pain" below. "You're successful, so good things happen," Bell says. "You complete a project, and you feel dynamite, so you move up to euphoria. That feeling doesn't last forever, and you slide back to normal. You think, 'I've got to start a new project' - which is still normal. But you love the feeling of euphoria, so you've got to have it again. The problem is, you can't stay on that high. A new car is good for six trips around the block, and then it's a used car. The euphoria is gone."
And then there are the events that drop you down to the pain level. "Say you're working on a deal and it doesn't get approved," Bell says. "This time, you don't stop at normal - you fall all the way to pain. Your self-esteem is on the line, because you've been gathering your self-worth externally. Eventually, in this cycle, you drop to the pain level more and more often. The highs don't seem quite so high. You may win a deal that's even bigger than the one that got away, but somehow that deal doesn't take you to euphoria. Next time, you don't even get back to normal, because you're so desperate about clinching the next deal."
An "achievement addict" is no different from any other kind of addict, Bell suggests. In either case, the individual still must choose between bondage and freedom. "Can you live without your junk? I ask CEOs that question all the time," Bell says. "Can you live without the deals that you make just to reach the fantasy state of euphoria? Can you stop trying to please the boss or the board, rather than yourself? Who owns you? Do you own you - or do your projects own you?"
I know that in fifty years I want to be alive and well, whether I am successful or not in the business world. I want to be a woman who loves deeply, even if I don't know how to manage contracts or write a business plan. I know I want my wrinkles to be from laughter and walking alongside friends during trials, not from looking at a computer screen 15 hours a day. I want to work hard, but I don't want my work to consume every part of my life, and certainly do not want it to be my drug and drive in life.
A lot of these thoughts are still coming together, but this is a start... and I am happy to muse on it more in the days to come.  

Dispossess the heart of the old

"The only way to dispossess the heart of an old affection is by the expulsive power of a new one [...] 

Thus [...] it is not enough [...] to hold out to the world the mirror of its own imperfections. 

It is not enough to come forth with a demonstration of the evanescent character of your enjoyments [...] to speak to the conscience [...] of its follies [...] 

rather, try every legitimate method of finding access to your hearts for the love of Him who is greater than the world."

Thomas Chalmers' sermon The Expulsive Power of a New Affection. It's rocking my socks off these days.