Progress in the Local Fight for Life

30 09 2008

Yesterday was my first day participating in this fall’s 40 days for life prayer vigil.  Amy, Becky and I had a powerful time of prayer together with others outside of our local Planned Parenthood.  As we stood there praying, singing, and reading scripture, we noticed the activity at this usually very busy Planned Parenthood was almost nil.  Others standing with us noticed the same thing and wondered if the clinic was closed for the day.  As we talked about it, one of the prayer leaders (who prays outside of this clinic regularly) shared with us that it appears this particular clinic had moved most of its activities to another clinic during the 40 days.

This reveals a real change in the approach of this particular Planned Parenthood center.

Last fall, when the first 40 days campaign launched, the Planned Parenthood employees and volunteers staged a counter protest.  Each day they would stand opposite of those involved in the prayer vigil, holding banners and chanting their slogans.

However, last spring (with the launch of the second 40 days for life campaign) the counter protest stopped and instead the clinic posted a banner announcing their “Pledge-a-Picketer” fund raising drive.

This year there is no banner and there are no protesters.  There seems to be no fight at all. Again, it appears that for the next 40 days this very strategically located clinic is going to try to function on the move and the presence of the prayer vigil has seriously affected their ability to do business.

Praise God.


Psalm 32 part 5 – Godly Guidance

24 09 2008

I am working through Psalm 32 in an attempt to share it’s depth with you as well as help my endeavor to commit it to memory.  Read my thoughts on the previous stanza here.

Psalm 32:8-9

I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you should go;
I will counsel you with my eye upon you.
Do not be as the horse or as the mule which have no understanding,
Whose trappings include bit and bridle to hold them in check,
Otherwise they will not come near to you.

First, a slightly more academic observation.

The obvious reading of this stanza is that by direction of the Holy Spirit, David takes on the role of a pure prophet and dictates for the Lord.  God speaks to David and subsequently the reader to assure us that He will guide us at every step.  This is the general interpretation by most who read this psalm, among whom seem to include MacArthur and Piper.

I found an interesting angle, however, in my Bible Knowledge Commentary by Walvoord & Zuck.  They assert this this psalm was most likely liturgical in nature, meaning it would be akin to something in a book of common prayer.  The point they make is that the assembly would read along with David for most of the psalm, but the last two stanzas would be more of an address from David (or the leader) to the people.  Thus, David is the one pledging to be their guide and watch over them.

I don’t read Hebrew, but I have a feeling that even if I did, it wouldn’t answer the question.  Honestly, I don’t think it makes a HUGE difference since there are other scripture references that speak of both God’s guidance and the guidance of God’s earthly shepherds.

If we read this from the perspective of God speaking, we can take comfort that God is always watching over us, ready with the guidance we need if we will seek it out.  If we read it as David speaking, we can take the same comfort that God has proven in history that He will raise up leaders who will watch over us, ready with the guidance we need if we will seek it out.  The latter interpretation is simply a method of the truth of the former interpretation.  Six in one hand, a half dozen in the other.

Second, observations for application Read the rest of this entry »

Stick with Your Work

22 09 2008

In both life and ministry, it is easy to get distracted and lose sight of whose work we’re really doing.  Years ago I came across this wonderful and anonymous quote.  I have returned to it again and again to remind me of where my focus is to be.  I hope it encourages you today and helps you keep your eye fixed on the prize and your hand to the plow!

Stick with your work. Do not flinch because the lion roars; do not stop to stone the devil’s dogs; do not fool away your time chasing the devil’s rabbits. Do your work.  Let liars lie, let sectarians quarrel, let critics malign, let enemies accuse, let the devil do his worst; but see to it nothing hinders you from fulfilling with joy the work God has given you.

He has not commanded you to be admired or esteemed.  He has never bidden you defend your character.  He has not set you at work to contradict falsehood (about yourself) which Satan’s or God’s servants may start to peddle, or to track down every rumor that threatens your reputation.  If you do these things, you will do nothing else; you will be at work for yourself and not for the Lord.

Keep at your work.  Let your aim be as steady as a star.  You may be assaulted, wronged, insulted, slandered, wounded and rejected, misunderstood, or assigned impure motives; you may be abused by foes, forsaken by friends, and despised and rejected of men.  But see to it with steadfast determination, with unfaltering zeal, that you pursue the great purpose of your life and object of your being until at last you can say, ‘I have finished the work which Thou gavest me to do.’

Psalm 32 part 4 – Faithfulness Beyond Forgiveness

20 09 2008

I am working through Psalm 32 in an attempt to share it’s depth with you as well as help my endeavor to commit it to memory.  Read my thoughts on the previous stanza here.

Psalm 32:6-7

Therefore, let everyone who is godly pray to You in a time when You may be found;
Surely in a flood of great waters they will not reach him.
You are my hiding place; You preserve me from trouble;
You surround me with songs of deliverance.

I see a “therefore”… let’s see what it’s “there for”!

The prior stanzas speak about the blessing of forgiveness, the chastisement of the unrepentant, and the faithfulness of God to forgive.  Now it’s talking about praying to God and relying on Him for deliverance.  Does it seem like a subject change?  I don’t believe so.

David just asserted that when one comes to God seeking forgiveness, forgiveness will be given.  But then what?  Are we caught up in the sky to sin no more?  Does God impart holy Scotch Guard to our souls?  If you are human, you know that sometime after being forgiven, sin will come knocking at the door again.  If we have any maturity at all, we understand the peril our souls are in.  I believe it is temptation and sin that is being described in this stanza in the imagery of calamity.

In light of this, it is interesting to note that the “godly” are not those who are capable of perfection, but those who know well enough to run to God when sin is preying on them (see Romans 12:9).  After the last couple of years of tsunamis, Katrinas, and Gustavs, the reference to a “flood of great waters” is a little clearer to me.  Think of those disasters where whole houses, cars, and people were just swept away.  Now imagine a towering stone pillar on the coast of this onslaught, impervious and unphased by the cascading storm surge and the harrowing winds.  Would you rather be in the stone fortress… or in a pup tent on the beach? Read the rest of this entry »

The Day I’m Longing For…

18 09 2008

This morning I was reminded of the wonderful proclamation of Habakkuk 2:14: “For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.”

Lately, life has been filled with a lot of trials and difficulties.  All around us, people we love and care for have been hurting.  Some have brought the pain upon themselves, others have had it brought upon them by those close to them.  In all cases, it has grieved my heart and burdened my spirit.  But there is coming a day when all of this ugliness will be gone and the earth will be filled with truth and righteousness and joy and peace, all of it centered in the person of our Lord.

In that day, the knowledge of the Lord’s glory will be as extensive as the “waters” that “cover the sea.”  Note that it is not “as the waters cover the earth” (which would be pretty extensive), but “as the waters cover the sea.”  That is total.  That is universal.  And that is beautiful.

In that day, it won’t be about me and my ego or you and your’s.  It will only be about Christ.  Seeing, beholding, enjoying, delighting in who He is and what He has done.  It won’t be about how your spouse has wronged you, how people are slandering you, how life has mislead you, or how hurt you are; it will all be about Him. How I long for that day.

But, as I thought about that day, I had to ask myself if I could bring some of that day to this day.  I think we can.  Actually, it is what we’ve been called to do.  1 Corinthians 10:31 commands us: “Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”  From day one, it is all supposed to be about Him.  So, how can we live today that way?  How can we manifest Habakkuk 2:14 in our life?  How can we see that the knowledge of His glory fills our life as the waters cover the sea?

I think it begins by making sure that what we are passionate for and that for which we fight and battle is not our own way or our own defense, but the proclamation of Christ and his Gospel.  It looks like us entrusting ourselves to Him who judges righteously (1 Peter 2:21-23) and then faithfully seeking His revealed will for us.  For some, that will mean being a living example of 1 Peter 3:1.  For others, it will be embracing Hebrews 13:17.  For many it includes a renewed commitment to faithfully obey 1 Peter 5:6-7.  For me, Habakkuk 2 has led me back to the pastoral epistles.  I’ve gone there again to be reminded of God’s will for me as a man in ministry. I’ve seen my call to “fight the good fight,” to have love as the goal of my instruction, to pursue godliness through discipline, and to endure persecution and suffering for the sake of my Lord and His glorious Gospel.

And my belief is that the more faithful I am to these truths, the more I will be manifesting “the day I’m longing for” today.

Psalm 32 Part 3 – Coming Into the Light

17 09 2008

I am working through Psalm 32 in an attempt to share it’s depth with you as well as help my endeavor to commit it to memory.  Read my thoughts on the previous stanza here.

Psalm 32:5

“I acknowledged my sin to You,
And my iniquity I did not hide;
I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the Lord’;

There’s one more line to that stanza, but I want to keep it secret for just a moment.  Kudos to you if you already know the line!

This is a hard step to take.  To examine yourself and acknowledge the filth that you are covered in and bring that before the Lord is a serious blow to your ego.  When we fail, it’s a natural tendency to want to crawl under a rock and disappear.  It isn’t easy to come out of the shadows and admit to what we’ve done.

Although on another level, it seems so silly to be afraid to admit our failures to God.  He already knows!  In a sense, everyone else knows too.  I like the way Milton Vincent talks about it (as examined here by my esteemed colleague).  The very fact that Christ died on the cross is a giant neon billboard proclaiming our wretchedness.  Christ died the most horrible death for each and every person.  You can look around and know that every person you see today is responsible for Christ’s death, yourself included.  That’s a pretty demoralizing admission when you think about it.

We still push against confession, however.  We attempt to fool the world and ourselves that we’re not that bad.  Holding on to that lie will keep you in the prior stanza of this psalm… not a fun place to be.

That said, let’s say that you take that step Read the rest of this entry »

Learning to Listen to Psalm 51

15 09 2008

Over the last month, I’ve been preaching from Psalm 51, specifically exploring David’s statement in verse 17 “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.”  When I first got the idea to do this sermon series, I had no clue how rich and deep this Psalm was, nor how easy it would have been for me to spend several months exploring its themes.  However, I should have known.  A few weeks after I began studying for the messages, I came across this new book by Paul David Trip: Whiter than Snow; Meditations on Sin and Mercy.  This book is 52(!) devotionals gleaned from the truths and themes of Psalm 51.  As I worked through the preaching series, I used this books as a means to keep my heart sensitive towards the power of this passage and to help me see beyond my often narrow focus.  What a blessing this devotional book has proved to be!  I highly recommend you purchase it and spend the next 52 days (or more) just learning to listen to the richness of Psalm 51.

For more information on this book, check out this free sample of its contents.