Now Sings My Soul: Psalm 22:22-24

My God in Heaven,

There is none like you!

You are God who sits high above all of my sins, my hardness, my wickedness, my trespasses and my calamity. You are exalted far above all of my gods.

But in your steadfast love, abounding grace, and tender mercies, you saved me! You sent your son, Jesus Christ, to come live and die for me. More than that, your Son rose from the grave and conquered all of the sins, hell, Satan, demons, and death once and for all.

Now I live to you and for you and with you and you are with me and in me forever.

What can I do but give you thanks and sing praises to you for all of my days?

What else can I do but tell the world that you alone are God and you alone are mighty to save?

I will tell the world that if they turn their face towards you, you will bring them in and you will save them.

Because you are God.

Series: As a young believer, I have not had the chance to read all the way through the Bible. The Psalms and Proverbs will be the last books before I finish the Old Testament in Ezekiel, Daniel, then Isaiah. As I read through the Psalms, I was struck by the very personal and intimate nature of the Psalms despite the deep theological, doctrinal, and Christocentric focus of the written songs themselves.  Using the Psalms as a mere template and an outline, how I would I respond? So doing just that, I began writing out prayers based on each of the Psalms.

Now Sings My Soul: Psalm 22:19-21

Almighty God,

Who are you, my Lord, whose glory fills the entire earth? Whether I am in the heavens or make my bed in hell, you are there with me. If I ascend the mountain of your glory or wander in the desert of the wilderness, you are face to face and closer than a whisper.

My God, you are never far! You are with me! Always. While I might feel desperate or despair sadness or anger or happiness, you are with me and within me.

You are at work in my soul and heart. Because you are at work, I know that it is you that gives me true life and the fullness thereof. For once I was lost, now found. Blind, now I can see. Deaf, now can hear. Mute, now preach your gospel. Ignorant of unbelief, now I know you.

Once dead, now fully alive.

You’ve sent your Son to die in my place for my sins so I can be with you. His cross is where my enemies were trampled underfoot and their teeth shattered. It is his empty grave where the bulls’ necks are broken by burying my sin and to stay buried forevermore.

You alone are worthy of my praise. Blessed be your name forever!.

Series: As a young believer, I have not had the chance to read all the way through the Bible. The Psalms and Proverbs will be the last books before I finish the Old Testament in Ezekiel, Daniel, then Isaiah. As I read through the Psalms, I was struck by the very personal and intimate nature of the Psalms despite the deep theological, doctrinal, and Christocentric focus of the written songs themselves.  Using the Psalms as a mere template and an outline, how I would I respond? So doing just that, I began writing out prayers based on each of the Psalms.

Now Sings My Soul: Psalm 22:12-18

Dear God,

My enemies are on all sides and their attacks are relentless, you are my protector.

When lions clamp down on my guts, you are the teeth-breaker and my healer.

When I am buried, you call me out of the ground.

When I was dead in my sins, you lived, died, and rose alive so that I might live.

You have never left me.

You have always been with me even when I did not know nor loved you.

You have always been there.

And I will forever worship you.

My God.

Series: As a young believer, I have not had the chance to read all the way through the Bible. The Psalms and Proverbs will be the last books before I finish the Old Testament in Ezekiel, Daniel, then Isaiah. As I read through the Psalms, I was struck by the very personal and intimate nature of the Psalms despite the deep theological, doctrinal, and Christocentric focus of the written songs themselves. Using the Psalms as a mere template and an outline, how I would I respond? So doing just that, I began writing out prayers based on each of the Psalms.

Now Sings My Soul: Psalm 22:6-11

My Lord,

Who am I that I have been rejected a million times and despised a million times more?

You say, “Speak of my love” and it falls on deaf ears. You say, “Speak of my power” and it means little to the strong. You say, “Speak of my glory” and their eyes remain blind.

However, you saved me. You made me with your hands. You are the one who started my heartbeat. More than that, when I was wicked and evil and when I despised your holy name, you did nothing but see me and let your grace and love fall on me.

Once more, you were always my God. Even after my mother abandoned me and while my father sought to destroy me, You were my God.

Even when I didn’t know you, your righteousness and holiness tainted my walking corpse and I tasted of your power.

But your mercies come quickly: you followed that up with your heart in place of mine.

Be ever so close to me. Be the whisper that draws me out–yes, even into the wilderness. Because if I have You, then I have everything I need.

Series: As a young believer, I have not had the chance to read all the way through the Bible. The Psalms and Proverbs will be the last books before I finish the Old Testament in Ezekiel, Daniel, then Isaiah. As I read through the Psalms, I was struck by the very personal and intimate nature of the Psalms despite the deep theological, doctrinal, and Christocentric focus of the written songs themselves.  Using the Psalms as a mere template and an outline, how I would I respond? So doing just that, I began writing out prayers based on each of the Psalms.

Now Sings My Soul: Psalm 22: 1-5

God!

Where are you?

I am in trouble!

Sin and wickedness have surrounded me. Everything goes dark and cold. Satan and his minions look upon my flesh with lust and hunger.

Temptations are too much. I cannot do battle. My muscles are weak, small, and frail.

I cry and scream: HELP ME, O GOD!

But you are my powerful Champion. You are the people’s Savior. You are invincible. You are forever strong.

I have praised you in the past and my lips shall sing of your praises for as long as I draw breath and beyond.

Your people before me trusted you and I trust you now. You have never failed me. Even when there have been moments when I didn’t know your goodness, you were always good.

You have rescued my grandmother and my dad.

Now rescue me!

Save me, O God.

My life is in your hands.

Series: As a young believer, I have not had the chance to read all the way through the Bible. The Psalms and Proverbs will be the last books before I finish the Old Testament in Ezekiel, Daniel, then Isaiah. As I read through the Psalms, I was struck by the very personal and intimate nature of the Psalms despite the deep theological, doctrinal, and Christocentric focus of the written songs themselves.  Using the Psalms as a mere template and an outline, how I would I respond? So doing just that, I began writing out prayers based on each of the Psalms.

Now Sings My Soul: Psalm 21

My Lord and My God,

My focus is far from you, the one who sets up Kings and puts them down.

I have been distracted by the choosing of kings rather to place my focus on the King of kings.

It is in you, O Lord, where my strength resides
my salvation is present
my heart’s desire
my soul’s fulfillment.

Be my provision. Be my grace. Be my mercy.

Be my life. Be my zeal. Be my might.

Be my glory.

Bless me, O Lord.

Smile upon me.

Help me to trust in you, your faithfulness, and your steadfast love.

Hold me in your hands.

Protect me from the enemy of my soul.

My life is yours, O God. I love you with all of my heart.

Amen.

Scared Shitless

I honestly thought they would have done the right thing.

I honestly thought there would have been justice for Mike Brown and every other person of color who have been gunned down by the police.

But America has made it abundantly clear that we will remain a hateful, ignorant country.

On this day of Thanksgiving, I give thanks to God for the mercy and grace that He has given me.

May God have mercy on us all.

Protesters in Ferguson approach a police line with their hands up after the grand jury decision. © Adrees Latif/Reuters
Protesters in Ferguson approach a police line with their hands up after the grand jury decision. © Adrees Latif/Reuters

Psalm 51: Confession and Repentance

Psalm 51
 Have mercy on me, O God,
    according to your steadfast love;
  according to your abundant mercy
    blot out my transgressions.
  Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
    and cleanse me from my sin!

  For I know my transgressions,
    and my sin is ever before me.
  Against you, you only, have I sinned
    and done what is evil in your sight,
  so that you may be justified in your words
    and blameless in your judgment.
  Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity,
    and in sin did my mother conceive me.
  Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being,
    and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart.

  Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
    wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
  Let me hear joy and gladness;
    let the bones that you have broken rejoice.
  Hide your face from my sins,
    and blot out all my iniquities.
  Create in me a clean heart, O God,
    and renew a right spirit within me.
  Cast me not away from your presence,
    and take not your Holy Spirit from me.
  Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
    and uphold me with a willing spirit.

  Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
    and sinners will return to you.
  Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God,
    O God of my salvation,
    and my tongue will sing aloud of your righteousness.
  O Lord, open my lips,
    and my mouth will declare your praise.
  For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it;
    you will not be pleased with a burnt offering.
  The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
    a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.

  Do good to Zion in your good pleasure;
    build up the walls of Jerusalem;
  then will you delight in right sacrifices,
    in burnt offerings and whole burnt offerings;
    then bulls will be offered on your altar.

That Satan Himself May Understand

If Satan fume and roar against you, whether it be against your bodies by persecution, or inward in your conscience by a spiritual battle, do not be discouraged, as though you were less acceptable in God’s presence, or that Satan might at any time prevail against you. No! Your temptations and storms that arise so suddenly argue and witness that the seed that is sown has fallen on good ground, has begun to take root, and shall, by God’s grace, bring forth fruit abundantly in due season and convenient time. That is what Satan fears; and therefore thus he rages (and shall rage) against you, thinking that if he can repulse you now suddenly in the beginning, that then you will be at all times an easy prey, never able to resist his assaults. But as my hope is good, so shall my prayer be, that you may be so strengthened, that the world and Satan himself may understand and perceive, that God fights your battle.

John Knox, The Works of John Knox Vol. 4

(ht: Blogging Theologically)

Love Letter: Griffen

My wisest Griffen,

griff-murricaKnowing you has been one of the greatest honors of my life. It is pure joy being with you, getting to raise you, being in family with you, and getting the chance to love you. In more ways than I could possibly count, you are the best parts of me (and we are not even blood related). I am smart but you are smarter. I have some wisdom but you are wiser. I can think but you are better at thinking.

You are a genius. There is no denying that. What I am the most eager to see is how you will use your brilliant mind for the glory of God. Griffen, you were born into this world, this country, this philosophical mindset of Evangelicalism, and this Christian sub-culture where it is deeply discouraged to think and ponder the deep things of all truths. That boggles the mind since all truths come from God, all matter is held together by the mind of Jesus Christ, and the whole earth is filled with his glory. Why should we battle against the intellect when all truths come from God alone?

In the words of Augustine, “Love God and do what you want.” So, love God and do just that: Politician, Scientist, Philosopher, Theologian, Programmer, Engineer, and/or Professor. Any revelations will come from God. He alone will reveal those things to you. That is why in all spheres of knowledge, He alone is glorious. Since you have access to the fountainhead of all truth through Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit, there is nothing you cannot discover.

But no matter what you do, I charge you to think through on all deep things of God. You don’t have to settle for my faith or your Mom’s faith. God has gifted you to think well. You might run into some notions or some Scriptures that might challenge your assumptions. Pray for the Holy Spirit and push through. Don’t settle. No other religion other than Christianity that works itself out logically and rationally. You might face Atheist and Agnostic claims that the Bible contradicts itself. But you would have thought those things through and with great humility, challenge naysayers to complete their thinking and not to give up simply because they arrived at a place where they are comfortable.

This might sound like a great weight. I expect great things from you not because you can but because you will get to depend on the strength of the Lord to do the work He has laid out for you. But work it will be. This work will not necessarily be easy. I promise you that the more work you put into what you like and Whom you love, the more you will get out of it. You know I am not referring to riches or accolades. I speak on the glory of God.

Griffen, you are a man. I charge you like a man. I speak to you as a man. I bless you as a man. Now you know the weight of responsibility. Now you are starting to know what it is like to care for others and love others. Please understand that I do not expect perfection because perfection is of God alone and Jesus Christ completely his life perfectly for you. You might fail but God will lift you up and you get to start again. That is called grace and we are all dependent upon it—

Thank you for your incredibly wisdom and maturity. Thank you and praise God.

Griffen, I love you so much. I cannot wait to spend the rest of my life getting to see what God has in store for you and to get to know you better.

I love you, brother.

Sincerely,

Your Papa Joe.