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Psalms of the Salter: Some Thoughts on Really Living for the Lord: Psalm 142

Psalm 142

A maskil of David. When he was in the cave. A prayer.screen-shot-2016-12-29-at-6-42-45-am

I cry aloud to the Lord;
    I lift up my voice to the Lord for mercy.
I pour out before him my complaint;
    before him I tell my trouble.

When my spirit grows faint within me,
    it is you who watch over my way.
In the path where I walk
    people have hidden a snare for me.
Look and see, there is no one at my right hand;
    no one is concerned for me.
I have no refuge;
    no one cares for my life.

I cry to you, Lord;
    I say, “You are my refuge,
    my portion in the land of the living.”

Listen to my cry,
    for I am in desperate need;
rescue me from those who pursue me,
    for they are too strong for me.
Set me free from my prison,
    that I may praise your name.
Then the righteous will gather about me
    because of your goodness to me.

 
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Posted by on June 16, 2017 in prayer

 

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Psalms of the Salter: Some Thoughts on Really Living for the Lord: Psalm 141

Psalm 141

A psalm of David.

I call to you, Lord, come quickly to me;screen-shot-2016-12-28-at-6-27-21-am
    hear me when I call to you.
May my prayer be set before you like incense;
    may the lifting up of my hands be like the evening sacrifice.

Set a guard over my mouth, Lord;
    keep watch over the door of my lips.
Do not let my heart be drawn to what is evil
    so that I take part in wicked deeds
along with those who are evildoers;
    do not let me eat their delicacies.

Let a righteous man strike me—that is a kindness;
    let him rebuke me—that is oil on my head.
My head will not refuse it,
    for my prayer will still be against the deeds of evildoers.

Their rulers will be thrown down from the cliffs,
    and the wicked will learn that my words were well spoken.
They will say, “As one plows and breaks up the earth,
    so our bones have been scattered at the mouth of the grave.”

But my eyes are fixed on you, Sovereign Lord;
    in you I take refuge—do not give me over to death.
Keep me safe from the traps set by evildoers,
    from the snares they have laid for me.
10 Let the wicked fall into their own nets,
    while I pass by in safety.

 
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Posted by on June 14, 2017 in self-examination

 

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Psalms of the Salter: Some Thoughts on Really Living for the Lord (Psalm 119): Part 8

ח Heth

57 You are my portion, Lord;screen-shot-2016-11-16-at-5-35-47-am
    I have promised to obey your words.
58 I have sought your face with all my heart;
    be gracious to me according to your promise.
59 I have considered my ways
    and have turned my steps to your statutes.
60 I will hasten and not delay
    to obey your commands.
61 Though the wicked bind me with ropes,
    I will not forget your law.
62 At midnight I rise to give you thanks
    for your righteous laws.
63 I am a friend to all who fear you,
    to all who follow your precepts.
64 The earth is filled with your love, Lord;
    teach me your decrees.

 
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Posted by on April 2, 2017 in promises

 

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Psalms of the Salter: Some Thoughts on Really Living for the Lord (Psalm 119): Part 5

 ה He

33 Teach me, Lord, the way of your decrees,screen-shot-2016-11-13-at-5-56-39-am
    that I may follow it to the end.
34 Give me understanding, so that I may keep your law
    and obey it with all my heart.
35 Direct me in the path of your commands,
    for there I find delight.
36 Turn my heart toward your statutes
    and not toward selfish gain.
37 Turn my eyes away from worthless things;
    preserve my life according to your word.
38 Fulfill your promise to your servant,
    so that you may be feared.
39 Take away the disgrace I dread,
    for your laws are good.
40 How I long for your precepts!
    In your righteousness preserve my life.

 

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Some Rantings and Ravings from Someone Who’s Been in Christian Ministry for a Long Time! (Part 2 of 2, I Promise!)

We’re ranting and raving here for a few minutes.  There are so many concerns screen-shot-2017-01-25-at-4-50-23-amthat I have, especially for the next generation.  I hope I don’t come across like the old curmudgeon to the right, but these are matters that are really critical.

What got me thinking about these issues is the conference I just attended.  I’m actually writing this before the conference, but, Lord willing, it will (did) take place and I will do (did) an okay job of speaking on the topic “Anti-Intellectualism Isn’t Spirituality.”  The conference took place at Emmaus Bible College February 6-7 and was called the “Christian Ministry Seminars.”

My last message in my four-part series expressed some of these concerns that I am summarizing here and in the earlier post of the same title (Feb. 18th).  Permit me to share just a few more of my “issues”:

(1)  I’m concerned that young believers get into the battle and do good work on an intellectual basis.  This means reading books that challenge the Christian faith (what I call “Boiling Books”, i.e. books that boil your blood before you get through the preface).  If we only read the books we agree with, we will not learn the questions and issues an unbelieving world has with the gospel.  “Doing good work” on anscreen-shot-2017-01-31-at-5-37-06-am intellectual basis involves good study skills, critical thinking, and solid research.  Believers of the next generation need to work hard in what are called the “primary” sources, rather than get all their information from secondary sources.  Primary sources are the original documents of a writer or thinker, not what others have said or written about him or his position (secondary sources).  So, if one is going to challenge the abandonment of the gospel by someone like the late Chuck Templeton (at one time Billy Graham’s best friend and an evangelist), one needs to read Templeton!  His Farewell to God as well as his An Anecdotal Memoir would be the first place to start (before one reads Lee Strobel’s interview of Templeton in The Case for Christ).  Does that make sense?  Sometimes Evangelicals are guilty of reading only what others have said about a person’s beliefs — and not that person himself.

Suggestion:  Start small.  Begin a blog and take on some topic with which you want to engage.  Be positive toward the writer and gracious toward what they have written.  But point out the weaknesses in their argument or position as you formulate your response from a biblical perspective.

(2)  I’m also concerned with how many of us view life in general.  My generation frowned on such activities as going to the movies, roller skating (it was dancing on wheels, unless you fell a lot like me), and visiting museums (a waste of time — one ought to be reading his or her Bible).  Today’s generation, it seems to me, doesn’t give those issues a second thought (which is good), but doesn’t hesitate to go to (or download) just about any movie screen-shot-2017-01-31-at-5-40-12-am(some are downright diabolical), learn and sing the lyrics of just about any contemporary song (have you analyzed the words in songs by Lady Gaga or Beyonce?), or attend any play just because the critics said it was good.  If you’ve never been tempted to walk out of a movie theater, turn off your TV in disgust, or ask for your money back at a play, check your Christian pulse.  You might be dead.

Suggestion:  There’s a better way than the legalism of my generation and the libertarianism screen-shot-2017-01-30-at-8-52-13-amof today’s young people.  I believe Mike Witmer has articulated that better way in his book Becoming Worldly Saints.  Christians are to enjoy God’s good creation (I Tim. 6) and not become or be known as anti-world.  We should live in biblical freedom!

(3)  I’m also concerned with how many of us look at the local church.  It seems that for many today the local church is a big bother.  We go through the motions; we serve when we have to; we give when we must. Instead of seeing the church as the one thing that Jesus is presenting building, we tolerate it as our Sunday activity and as a gathering place with other Christians.  I’m not surprised that one of Philip Yancey’s books is entitled Church: Why Bother?  We must move from thinking of the local church as a place we must be to a place we get to be.

The church in Acts focused on four priorities, according to Acts 2:42 —  “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.”  Here’s my final list of questions:

1.  Are you truly “devoted to” the local church? How do you or I show that?

2.  How concerned are we about biblical doctrine/truth?  Do we see theology screen-shot-2017-01-31-at-5-41-09-pmonly as the domain of elbow-patched, sweater-wearing academics who debate how many angels can sit on the head of a pin?  Or are we committed to knowing, enjoying, and defending the truths of God’s Word?

3.  Do we really understand “fellowship”?  Perhaps we all need a primer on something as basic as FRIENDSHIP!

4.  We must constantly ask, are we truly worshiping the Lord?  Or are we just keeping the machinery going?

5.  I have so much to learn — and to practice — when it comes to the issue of prayer!  I commend you to my post back on January 9th when Dr. Roy King talked about the three prayers we all ought to pray everyday!

So much for my rantings and ravings.  Any you wish to comment on?

 
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Posted by on February 20, 2017 in christian life

 

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Some Rantings and Ravings from Someone Who’s Been in Christian Ministry for a Long Time!

screen-shot-2017-01-25-at-4-50-23-amOkay.  Okay.  Maybe I’ve not yet entered the rank of an old curmudgeon who’s always complaining, but I do have some concerns which I want to share.

I’m writing this before my Emmaus Bible College’s conference “Christian Ministry Seminars” which will be (was) held on Feb. 6-7.  I will speak (spoke) on the topic “Anti-Intellectualism Isn’t Spirituality” and I hope it will go (went) well.  Whew!  I’m confused with these verb tenses!

For my fourth and final message I want to vigorously challenge the students at Emmaus on several areas of the Christian life.  Let me divide my concerns into three categories:

(1) The Christian life in general:  I’m deeply concerned with Christians of my generation screen-shot-2017-02-16-at-6-33-00-amwho lived like they could simply glide to glory.  Some did not take personal Bible study very seriously.  Few (it seems to me) have a strategic prayer list that they go through on a regular basis.  Very few have unsaved friends.  Only a handful volunteer for work in the local church.  Many don’t know what spiritual gift or gifts they have — so how can they be deployed in serving other believers?  I’m equally concerned with this generation of young people who have far more and far more addictive distractions than my generation did.  Social media tends to make people anti-social (just look at a family of four in a restaurant fixated on their devices rather than conversing with each other).  TV programs on demand tempt us now at all hours of the day to watch whatever we want on whatever device we presently hold.  “Binge watching” can consume hours upon hours of mindless “entertainment.”  Someone has said, “If and when American civilization collapses, future researchers will sneer, ‘They entertained themselves to death.'”

Where are believers re-discovering the “spiritual disciplines”?  Where is real mentoring going on?  Even church leaders, it seems, appear to be content only that the one hour of the week (Sunday morning) “goes well” and is well-attended.  But what about discipleship?

Are Christian leaders feeding the flock — and protecting them from unbiblical ideas which bring ruin to the soul?  Which leaders are standing up and saying, “I’ve read the newest best-selling Christian book — and it’s dangerous and ruinous to your spiritual health.  And here’s why . . .”?

(2)  Ministering in our culture:  We are not like Jesus.  Let’s face it.  He had unsaved friends.  He was a friend of publicans and sinners.  We usually aren’t.  We excuse our friendlessness in a variety of ways.  But the bottom line is — we don’t take the time and screen-shot-2017-01-30-at-8-11-49-aminvest the energy to develop meaningful relationships with lost people.  And we wonder why we see so few come to know the Lord.  We surround ourselves with Christian music, Christian books, Christian wallpaper, and Christian cookies and we seem oblivious to those around us who don’t have a clue about the gospel.  This is a day of good news — and we’re doing a great job of keeping it to ourselves!

Some look at the Christian life as if there is no room for FUN!  It is all duty, drudgery, and discipline. screen-shot-2017-01-30-at-8-06-41-amSomeone has said that the mentally and emotionally healthy are those that have learned when to say Yes, when to say No, and when to say Whoopee!  Where are our “whoopees”?  Where does the world see Christians having a blast, enjoying God’s good world, interacting with screen-shot-2017-01-30-at-8-52-13-amGod’s creation with a thankful heart (see I Timothy 6 here.  Michael Witmer’s Becoming Worldly Saints is also quite helpful in this area).  Jesus did not say, “I have come to give death” but “I have come give LIFE and that more abundantly!”  Some of us act as if Jesus gave us a misery pill and told us to go out and medicate the world!

(3)  Christian careers:  Some of us come from a background which criticized “denominational” churches.  We’ve inherited a suspicion (sometimes legitimate) of professional ministers (= clergy) and rightfully challenge the idea of the omni-competent pastor.  All believers have spiritual gifts and should be encouraged by the local church’s leadership to exercise those gifts for the screen-shot-2017-01-30-at-8-48-46-ambuilding up of the body (Eph. 5).  HOWEVER — we need qualified, trained servants of God in our local churches to help equip believers in their ministries.  We need men who can faithfully and carefully teach the Word of God, women who can lead effectively in the areas in which God has called them, and young people who are developing the skills to serve our lost and dying world.  We need Bible colleges and seminaries which provide excellent training for an impatient generation that will vote with its feet when the local church has poor preaching and unwise leadership.

Some Christian parents hardly blink when they decide to send Johnny or Susie away to college and graduate school for six or seven years to become an engineer or a lawyer or a physical therapist.  But what about our church leaders?  Three or four years in a solid Bible college plus three years in a reputable seminary appears to many to be out of the question!  “Where’s the money in that?”, they might not ask out loud, but think to themselves.

I guess it all depends on what kind of currency we’re attracted to.

 
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Posted by on February 18, 2017 in christian life

 

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Psalms of the Salter: Some Thoughts on Really Living for the Lord (Psalm 86)

Psalm 86

A prayer of David.screen-shot-2016-10-03-at-6-48-42-am

Hear me, Lord, and answer me,
    for I am poor and needy.
Guard my life, for I am faithful to you;
    save your servant who trusts in you.
You are my God; have mercy on me, Lord,
    for I call to you all day long.
Bring joy to your servant, Lord,
    for I put my trust in you.

You, Lord, are forgiving and good,
    abounding in love to all who call to you.
Hear my prayer, Lord;
    listen to my cry for mercy.
When I am in distress, I call to you,
    because you answer me.

Among the gods there is none like you, Lord;
    no deeds can compare with yours.
9 All the nations you have made
    will come and worship before you, Lord;
    they will bring glory to your name.
10 For you are great and do marvelous deeds;
    you alone are God.

11 Teach me your way, Lord,
    that I may rely on your faithfulness;
give me an undivided heart,
    that I may fear your name.
12 I will praise you, Lord my God, with all my heart;
    I will glorify your name forever.
13 For great is your love toward me;
    you have delivered me from the depths,
    from the realm of the dead.

14 Arrogant foes are attacking me, O God;
    ruthless people are trying to kill me—
    they have no regard for you.
15 But you, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God,
    slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.
16 Turn to me and have mercy on me;
    show your strength in behalf of your servant;
save me, because I serve you
    just as my mother did.
17 Give me a sign of your goodness,
    that my enemies may see it and be put to shame,
    for you, Lord, have helped me and comforted me.

 
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Posted by on January 8, 2017 in relationship

 

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