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Easter Sunday w/Austin New Church

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Psalm 94 – Shenanigans

Posted: August 31, 2009 in parenting
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I think it’s funny when I catch myself saying things to my kids that my parents used to say to me. I’ve yet to give the ole “you’ll poke and eye out” line, but I’ve certainly fallen victim to the typical parental clichés. Probably the one that I’ve thought even more than I’ve said is, “You know, it wasn’t that long ago that I was your age.”

I’m not trying to argue that I’m young. What I’m saying is that I haven’t forgotten how at that age I thought my parents were clueless, and how while I might have been playing dumb at the time, I knew exactly what I was doing.

It’s funny how our kids think we’re clueless to their shenanigans. As if we were never kids ourselves.

In Chapter 95, the psalmist reminds us that God is not clueless. If He is waiting or seems slow to act, it’s certainly not because he’s unaware.

Does he who implanted the ear not hear? Does he who formed the eye not see?

Does he who disciplines nations not punish? Does he who teaches man lack knowledge?

The LORD knows the thoughts of man; he knows that they are futile.” – Psalm 94:9-10

This might be the most ridiculous thing we do as believers. We treat God as if he doesn’t know what’s going on. We treat Him as if He is unable to hear or as if somehow some circumstance or injustice can slip Him by.

Today, I’m reminded that He is God. The one who spoke and it was. Just as we can trust Him with our eternity, we can trust Him to bring justice. But let’s not forget… He not only hears and sees the shenanigans of others. He’s just as aware of ours.

The majority of today’s passage discusses things that honestly, should scare us. It covers everything from God’s power, anger, and indignation, to His wrath. It speaks of our secret sins being revealed, being turned to dust, and being swept away in death. Not really happy times.

Yet it starts by saying,

Lord, you have been our dwelling place throughout all generations.” – Ps 90:1

The phrase “dwelling place” is translated from the Hebrew “maown” and is from the same as “ownah” which means an abode or retreat, hence an asylum.

So Moses found retreat in Him… the one who’s wrath can turn him to dust.

In light of all else that is said by Moses in this passage, how in the world can He come to this conclusion? If his case is packed with the realities found in verse 2-17, how can this make sense? The answer is something we tend to neglect… a lot. There are two critical verses sandwiched in between the seemingly “scary” characteristics that tell us how. First by telling us how God looks at the temporal, and by implication how He looks at us, our circumstances, and our journey:

For a thousand years in your sight are like a day that has just gone by, or like a watch in the night.” – Psalm 90:4

Eight verses later we see the acknowledgement of Moses, our need to do the same, and the perspective changing wisdom that results.

Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” – Psalm 90:12

I’ve heard that perspective is everything… it really is. It’s not a twist on words in Psalm 90 to find comfort in God’s wrath, it’s a twist of perspective. Truly changing our focus from the eternal not the temporal. Not just in our minds, but in our hearts (vs.12).  And it changes everything… especially how we perceive our God. Then, His power becomes comfort to us as children of God, not condemnation. He becomes our retreat.

kidsThe moment I became a dad, things changed. If you have kids, you know what I mean. I felt like I went through a crash-course on God’s love. And I came out on the other side wanting two things: for my son to understand love and for my son to experience love. Over the past 11 years, and two more kids later, God has used them to teach me a lot about true love: I’ve learned that love is truly unconditional, that it surpasses knowledge, it casts out fear, it heals, it comforts, that it’s not self serving, that it’s not arrogant, it’s not controlling, and that it does not hold record of wrong (among other things).

I will sing of the LORD’s great love forever; with my mouth I will make your faithfulness known through all generations.

I will declare that your love stands firm forever, that you established your faithfulness in heaven itself.” – Psalm 89:1-2

My greatest challenge as a dad is found in this passage. It’s not hidden. It’s obvious. It’s to pass along an understanding of God’s faithfulness to my children. If that happens, all else will fall into place. So the question that follows: How will I make His faithfulness known to the next generation?

It’s interesting. I’ve met plenty of businessmen who find it easier to lead a large corporation than their own family. In the same way, even as a pastor… at times… it’s easier to lead a church than it is to lead my own family (thus the “preacher’s kid” syndrome. Scary.) If we were to analyze on paper why this is, we’d find some pretty obvious and glaring deficiencies and neglect in our leadership. If we spent half the time creating quarterly goals, managing our time, making sacrifices, evaluating and improving our home life like we do our business life… we would certainly see the fruit of our labor.

However, these verses make it pretty clear how a generation will truly know of His faithfulness: When we declare that His love stands firm forever (vs.2).

In other words, we get to pass on God’s love to our next generation. And it is indeed the understanding and experiencing of that Love that makes the passing along possible. Without it, it cannot happen. Not because we’re such great lovers, but because God Himself is love. We must embody that concern for one another, model that love with our spouse, and express that love to our children. If they see and experience anything, let them see and experience love.

“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing… And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” – 1 Corinthians 13:1-3, 13

Psalm 88 – Cry for Closeness

Posted: August 20, 2009 in Guest Post
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Guest Post: Mike Kilbane

But I cry to you for help, O Lord; in the morning my prayer comes before you. (Psalm 88:13)

Depending on our degree of longing or desperation for God’s touch, the intensity of our prayers will vary from a conversation, to a request, to a plea, to a cry.  While at different times, each is appropriate; our relationship grows the most when we’re crying out to Him.  It’s at those  moments that our surrender to Him and acknowledgement of His majesty is greatest.  Whether He rescues or just comforts us, when we desperately seek Him, we can be sure He hears our prayer.

If we desire to actively grow our relationship with God, one of the best ways is to look outside of ourselves to find things to pray desperately about.  Over the past few weeks things were going pretty good and I felt my prayer time lapse into more conversational tones.   I had lost an earnestness in seeking Him.  Digging deeper to find things I was struggling with, as well as being more diligent in upping my prayers for others – moving them from “requests” to “cries”, has been extremely helpful in getting my prayer life back on track.  I don’t have to wait for a personal crisis to get closer to God.  I can look around me and easily find things that are unjust, where there is suffering taking place, or where I need to reset my priorities, and cry to Him for help.  It’s not “manufacturing a crisis” to get close to God, it’s seeing the world through Jesus’ eyes and recognizing how much help this world needs from Him.

Guest Post: Tray Pruet

Indeed, of Zion it will be said, “This one and that one were born in her, and the Most High himself will establish her.”The LORD will write in the register of the peoples: “This one was born in Zion.” 
   Selah Psalm 87:5-6

Where we were born tells a lot about us.  For instance…I tell people I was born in Ft. Walton Beach Florida….and the question most people from that area or in the military will ask is…”Oh, was your dad in the Air Force?”

Where we were born is always on our Birth Certificate….and is a common questions when filling our government documents.  It’s a way of tracking our authenticity and making sure that we are, who we say we are.

In verse 6, the register is the same as the “Lambs Book of Life” and all those born of Zion….or born of the Spirit….are included in that book.

Honestly, most of the time people are surprised when I tell them I was born in Florida.  Maybe because I don’t fit their preconceived notions as to what someone from Florida may look like…. maybe because I am so far from my original birthplace….Whatever the case, are we authentically ‘repping’ our birthplace well? Does it make sense when we identify ourselves as being born of the Spirit?  Or does it surprise people……Why?

Guest Post: Mike Kilbane

How many signs of God’s goodness do we need before we recognize it’s Him?

Give me a sign of your goodness, that my enemies may see it and be put to shame, for you, O Lord, have helped me and comforted me.” -Psalm 86:17

In today’s world, I think many of our enemies take a much different form than in David’s time.  Whereas he contended with physical enemies out to kill or destroy him, we tend to struggle against doubt, cynicism, pessimism, and apathy.  I thought of these enemies today and their attempts to attack my Spirit and attitude.

In this context, I saw the signs God gives me on a daily basis to put these enemies to shame.  He has given me signs of health, a family, opportunities, friendships, joy, peace, and material blessings that I’m incredibly grateful for.  But, the key to putting the enemies of doubt and negativity to shame is to recognize the gifts for what they are.  To understand that they are gifts given by a loving creator for my pleasure and His glory.  Not things to overlook or take for granted.

Thank you, Lord, for your abundance.  Thank you not only for signs of your goodness, but also for the awareness of them, that I might give you glory, and honor, and praise. Amen”