Results for tag "psalms"

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Broken Together

The Key - Brokenness

The one thing…

What is the one thing that:

  • enables God’s forgiveness and mercy to flood our souls?
  • ushers us to the point of confession and true repentance?
  • takes us to the end of ourselves where we realize that we have no defense before God?

Brokenness.

Knowing we are utterly and completely messed up.

We have selfish minds, evil hearts, weak wills, unsatisfactory talents, and we simply can’s make this thing called life work. When it begins to crack, crumble, or utterly implode then we cry out to God, “I can’t do this, I can’t take it anymore” and an almighty loving God says, “I know and I love you.”

My Lent devotional, Journey to the Cross, put it this way yesterday,

“You are worse than you think, but also far more loved by God than you ever imagined.”

Ouch and Hallelujah.

Pride says I’m not that bad. I’ve got this under control. I don’t really need God all the time, just occasionally. I’m really OK.

This pride completely shuts us off from God. Pride is worship of self and God hates me worshiping any idol. I dare say there is no greater idol than ourselves. I often say there is really only one sin, Pride. The rest (greed, lust, envy, anger, laziness, and gluttony) are just symptoms of what I think I deserve or want and when I want them.

The funny thing about God’s answer to pride is humility. Humility has only one prerequisite, absolute brokenness.

The point at which I hold nothing back. I reserve nothing from God, he can take whatever he wants and do what he wants. My response to his astounding love and mercy is to utter only one creed, “I have decided to follow Jesus.”

You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise. – Psalm 51:16-17

Broken Together

As I’ve seen God do miraculous open-life surgery on me to rip pride from my chest and have seen brokenness become a beautiful anecdote to so much of my sin…. the question I’m left with is

Why are we Christians, (the church) so consumed with pretending that none of us are broken?

consumed_unbroken

Allow me to give you 2 snapshots from recent months:

  • I’m a breakfast with 3 other men from a local church who by any standard are pillars of faith and the community. By anyone’s estimation these men have it all together: successful jobs, good physical health, beautiful families, savings accounts etc… Yet the conversation that morning was about how truly messed up and damaged we are by sin. Make no mistake these are truly good men that are seriously seeking to honor Christ and yet here we find a common bond of brokenness.
  • At a recent breakfast with a dear friend we began to share or spiritual journeys over the past 4-5 years. This is a guy who has preached, led worship, can teach the Bible at a moment’s notice, and is a giant in my eyes and guess what? He’s broken too. His life has suffered catastrophic blows when God started trying to get his attention. God has redeemed so much of that pain and blessed him tremendously yet he still struggles. (Glory to God he is an agent of brokenness, seeking and sharing to help others.)

It’s as if God intended for us to be broken and to be broken together.

Yet how would a hurting soul see us on Sunday when we all pretend to have it all figured out. Perhaps they need to hear that we are as messed up as they are (perhaps more so when you consider our complacency and hypocrisy after encountering the gospel.) Yet God loves them and us.

I’ve spent years putting on a mask and pretending that I wasn’t broken all the while suffering in isolation in defeat. When God started to get my attention and by his grace I got vulnerable and real honest it was then that God put brothers and sisters in my life that shared their brokenness and suddenly I feel like I’ve discovered exactly what church should have been the whole time.

I told my accountability partner one morning that I’m ashamed that I’ve missed this for 35yrs of my life. That I feel like I finally discovered what church should have been along. Broken folks that stop pretending and celebrate the love and redemption of God against all odds and logic. Sounds like church to me.

So allow me to say: I’m broken, real broken. I’m messed up, I’ve got way too much sin I’m nourishing in my life, I struggle, I doubt, I waver, and I coming running back hurting and helpless to the throne of YHWH and weep when he shows his mercy.

I’ve spent along time dressing well and putting on an “I’m ok” mask on Sundays. I’ve worked hard to maintain a veneer of having it all together and now by the grace of God I’m no longer doing that. I’d rather be broken, because pride was killing me.

So what do we do now?

  1. Resolve not to tear others down when their broken parts are exposed. – Whether by gossip or simply coldness we communicate that being broken makes you an outlier and unwelcome. God forgive us. We never simply excuse sin but if Christ died on a rugged cross for it might I find a way to love someone in the midst of it?
  2. Find a place to get real. – There is certainly a level of wisdom that should be applied. I don’t suggest that the proper place is to ask the Pastor for 15minutes on a Sunday morning to air all that you are struggling with but we must find a safe place to start being real. 1 on 1 or small groups are a good place to start. Ask God to open the door and take courage to walk through. (Relationships have a funny way of requiring us to be vulnerable, why would the family of God be any different.)
  3. Seek others who are broken. – It might be serving the homeless, going on a mission trip, showing love to a visitor, or just finding a way to go the extra mile when you know someone is hurting. The flames of pride stayed doused when we realize that we are loved regardless and suddenly that love spills out onto others.

God is still God, he can redeem even the chaos and pain that is in your life and perhaps we can give him more glory and spread his good news more authentically once we resolve to be broken… together.

Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end. – Hebrews 3:12-14

[photo credit: andilicious]
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The Beginning and End of Hope

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For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him. (Psalm‬ ‭62‬:‭5‬ ESV

We readily accept that our hope is in Christ but perhaps this can lead us to an incomplete picture.

Look at v. 5 again. “for my hope is FROM him.” Yes we have a hope in God but don’t overlook that this hope is from God. He is both the source and the fulfillment of the promise of hope. God is the start/finish line of our hope.

Without the Spirit of God working in us we are unable to manufacture true hope and without Christ and his resurrection and victory we have nothing to anchor our Hope.

Look at Romans 15:13 (emphasis is mine)

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. (‭Romans‬ ‭15‬:‭13‬ ESV)

When facing trials, suffering, fear, or uncertainty God does NOT say “Good luck go muster up some Hope” rather he waits for us to turn to him in prayer and stillness to give Him the opportunity to grow Hope in us.

This understanding should bring us rest and lead us to being more desperate for God. (Funny how so much of following God is continually confessing how utterly unable I am to do it in my own power.)

A hope that is planted by Him can sustain through any storm.
A hope that is secured in Him will never fall short.

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Words of Freedom

1146161_46347744It was our very first meeting with the newly called Executive Pastor. I was already fond of this former full-time missionary and I’d seen glimpses of his tremendous faith and skills to motivate and organize. I was part of a ministry team he was leading and he began the meeting by making a simple but astounding promise.

I will always be clean before you

He went on to explain – We will never have any trash in our relationship. If we meet in the hallway you’ll never have to wonder… Is there a problem? Have I done something?

If there is a problem I’ll let you know. I will come to out of a spirit of love and edification.

That is a powerful promise.

Relationships are messy and full of hurt and assumptions. We allow things to fester and we’ll speak of the issue to everyone but God and the person we should approach in love and honesty.

Make this promise today. Verbalize it. Tell your spouse, your Sunday School Teacher, your friends, your family.

It is a precious gift to be surrounded by people that value your relationship enough to  “always be clean before you.”

What relationships in your life need do you need to empty the trash?

Psalm 15:1-3
O LORD, who shall sojourn in your tent?
Who shall dwell on your holy hill?

He who walks blamelessly and does what is right
and speaks truth in his heart;
who does not slander with his tongue
and does no evil to his neighbor,

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Prey

It’s easy to become lulled into a false reality. While we are hyper-aware of our own strengths, weaknesses, and areas of our own disobedience we too easily forget that we have an adversary.

I’d like to share with you one of the most powerful analogies I’ve ever heard.

You are being hunted

Consider the dedication that an seasoned hunter applies to his craft.

They study their prey.They track it’s paths. They learn it’s habits and routine. They know where it likes to lay down and where it prefers to eat. They sharpen their own skills and meticulously prepare their tools. They cover their tracks, blend into the environment, mask their presence, and silently wait for the right time to attack.

You are being stalked by a seasoned hunter.

The moment you professed Jesus is Lord you had a price placed on your head. While your soul is now in eternal safe keeping your testimony is still fair game.

Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.. 1 Peter 5:8

Notice that the devil isn’t stumbling across a victims. He is actively seeking. He is hunting.

Have you ever observed a deer when he hears an unexpected noise? He freezes, with ears up and eyes wide open He knows he is in danger.

He is sober and alert because he instinctively knows that He is prey. We easily forget.

Our paths and habits are being mapped and the shady places we linger are being marked for traps. We start wondering aimlessly and dabbling in sin and one day unexpectedly we hear the branch break and look up just in time to be struck by our enemy’s arrow. Lying on the forest floor with our life hemorrhaging around us we’ll wonder, “What happened?”

You got careless and the Hunter struck.

There is a Destroyer and His goal is turn your life into shambles so you won’t glorify God or be a witness to His grace. He is out to destroy you.

Fear not

You serve a God that knows where the Hunter lurks and where the traps are set. If we diligently follow after our Shepherd He will lead us in a path of safety that leads to victory.

Be sober minded. Be watchful, and take Heart

Psalm 91

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
   will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say to the LORD, "My refuge and my fortress,
   my God, in whom I trust."

For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler
   and from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with his pinions,
   and under his wings you will find refuge;
   his faithfulness is a shield and buckler.
You will not fear the terror of the night,
   nor the arrow that flies by day,
nor the pestilence that stalks in darkness,
   nor the destruction that wastes at noonday.

A thousand may fall at your side,
   ten thousand at your right hand,
   but it will not come near you.
You will only look with your eyes
   and see the recompense of the wicked.

Because you have made the LORD your dwelling place—
   the Most High, who is my refuge
no evil shall be allowed to befall you,
no plague come near your tent.

For he will command his angels concerning you
   to guard you in all your ways.
On their hands they will bear you up,
   lest you strike your foot against a stone.
You will tread on the lion and the adder;
   the young lion and the serpent you will trample underfoot.

"Because he holds fast to me in love, I will deliver him;
   I will protect him, because he knows my name.
When he calls to me, I will answer him;
   I will be with him in trouble;
   I will rescue him and honor him.
With long life I will satisfy him
   and show him my salvation."

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Approach Him in Truth Psalm 145:18

“The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.” Psalm 145:18

http://bible.us/Ps145.18.ESV


It's easy to underestimate the implications of the final word in this verse. God's promise to hear us & be near is clear but the manner in which we are called to approach is key.

“in Truth”

This goes beyond the eternal truth of God's Word.

1) It is also being truthful about me.

Who I am.
Where I am. (spiritually)
What God says I am.

2) The the truth of who He is…

Righteous, just, merciful, forgiving….

3) And who He is to me…

Is he my Lord? My Master?

The requirement is to approach God honestly & transparently. Not deceiving ourselves & not playing games with Him.

After all he already knows the truth about us & still loves us. The truth about Him should lead us to love Him more.

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Am I Willing to Wait? Psa 25:4-5

Waiting… I don’t even like the sound of the word. It conjures images of Doctor’s offices & DMV lines. This whole notion of stillness & patience seems outdated.

 

Doesn’t God know we live in an instantly connected, drive thru world? Heck even Starbucks is selling instant single packet coffee these days. (it’s notably worse than their normal brew & that isn’t a high benchmark to begin with)

 

Yet twice today I encounter these verses,

 

“Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him;” Psalm 37:7

 

“Make me to know your ways, O Lord; teach me your paths. Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long.” Psalm 25:4-5

 

God’s divine sense of irony is in full swing because my focus this week has been on “being” not doing.

 

I easily get caught up in the activity of being a good church person without fully taking time to “BE” a believer. Being a Believer is a state of being. It is a progressive identity not a todo list. It requires that I know who I am and in whom I place my faith.

 

To know myself means I must continually examine scripture to see who I am in Christ. Where am I disobedient? What is out of line of God’s plan in my life? Much of this can be simplified by asking, Have I died to Christ today? Gladly surrendering my attitude and desires at the foot of the Cross.

 

Part 2 is tougher for I must know Him (Christ). As a believer we should be continually having our understanding of who Christ is broadened.

 

Both Knowing myself & Knowing Him require a serious & daily injection of God’s Word into my life. Coupled with prayer & meditation to allow God to speak & apply them to my life.

 

The only problem is God isn’t selling instant coffee. He’s interested in real relationships and those take time.

 

Back to Psalm 25:4-5 Lord I want:
1) to know your ways
2) to learn your paths.
3) to be led in your truth

 

I can almost hear the answer from God.

Keith, That’s exactly what I want for you as well but they take time & a lot of listening on your part. Are you willing to wait on Me? Am I worth your time. -God

 

Yes Lord, you are. -Me

 

Good, now prove that by giving me first place in your ToDo List & block out plenty of time. Trust me this is going to be amazing. I’ll teach you to “be” -God

 

God are you sure there isn’t some Knowing God in 15 min a day program? -Me

 

*silence* -God

 

Father, help make me willing to wait.

This is my prayer. If I truly desire to know God then time is part of the prereq.

 

Make me willing to wait… Because an instant coffee Christianity isn’t going to being peace or fruit.
-posted via posterous
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Like a tree in the house of God Psalm 52:8

Psalm 52:8

“But I am like a green olive tree in the house of God. I trust in the steadfast love of God forever and ever.”

 

How I desire to be a tree… Firmly rooted & producing fruit.

Note the location of the tree, it’s inside the house. Indoor plants must be watered & cared for. Makes me think of Isa 27:2-3

“In that day, “A pleasant vineyard, sing of it! I, the Lord, am its keeper; every moment I water it. Lest anyone punish it, I keep it night and day;”

Steadfast. Fruitful. Continually watered by God. That’s my prayer.

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