Making The First Move

Reconciliation-Who-Will-Make-the-First-MoveBack in December 1964, protester Jack Weinberg told a reporter, “Don’t trust anyone over 30,” and with that statement the 1960’s youth movement was born (source here). Weinberg (born April 4, 1940) is an environmental activist and former New Left activist who is best known for his role in the Free Speech Movement at the University of California, Berkeley in 1964-65 (quote source here). The entire story can be read in an article titled, The Free Speech Movement,” by Gene Marine, published on December 21, 1964 in The Nation at this link. Weinberg is now 76. I wonder what he thinks about his statement now?

I was 12 years old at the time the youth movement got it’s start. And back then it became a motto for an entire generation for those us of who were under 30. However, trust is a delicate issue at any age–young, old, and everyone in between. So is freedom of speech.

For those of us living in America, we are lucky to be living in a country where freedom of speech (sometimes also referred to as freedom of expression) is a Constitutional right given to us under the First Amendment which states:

The First Amendment (Amendment I) to the United States Constitution prohibits the making of any law respecting an establishment of religion, impeding the free exercise of religion, abridging the freedom of speech, infringing on the freedom of the press, interfering with the right to peaceably assemble, or prohibiting the petitioning for a governmental redress of grievances. It was adopted on December 15, 1791, as one of the ten amendments that constitute the Bill of Rights. (Quote source here.)

The First Amendment as noted above also includes several other freedoms besides freedom of speech: the free exercise of religion, freedom of the press, and the right to peaceably assemble. These freedoms are rights that we should never take for granted.

For the purposes of this blog post the freedom in focus is freedom of speech/expression. It is defined as follows:

Right to express one’s ideas and opinions freely through speech, writing, and other forms of communication but without deliberately causing harm to others’ character and/or reputation by false or misleading statements. Freedom of press is part of freedom of expression. (Quote source here.)

Often in our society freedom of expression is used by some people or groups who are trying to silence others who don’t agree with their own particular view or agenda. For example, in this highly charged presidential election year here in America we often see the two primary opposing sides (and many of their followers) relentlessly badgering each other. While that is not unusual in political elections, trying to suppress or silence an opposing view of any kind goes against the rights of those citizens holding that opposing view, whether it is of a political nature, religious nature, or any other issue that is going on in our society.

Being human, we all have a tendency to think we are right while viewing those opposing us or our views as being wrong, or worse yet, as being irrelevant. Watching TV or spending time on social media on any given day gives us a wide variety of opinions of what people think on a particular subject/topic whether they are liberal or conservative or anywhere in between. And verbal fist fighting is nothing new when people disagree.

A friend mentioned a situation that came up recently in a church he knew of where a disagreement between the senior pastor and other members of the church leadership came to a serious disagreement that resulted in the senior pastor resigning from the church and moving to another state. My friend stated that in hindsight, the church leadership thought they were doing the right thing but ended up “shooting the pilot at 30,000 feet” and realized they had done some “really dumb things.” Unfortunately, the senior pastor won’t respond to phone calls, letters or emails. While this type of situation has occurred in other churches (often causing church splits), the travesty is when one side thinks their views are right and presses the point to where serious damage is the outcome. In this case the senior pastor resigned and now, apparently, the church leadership relents.

Unfortunately, we can destroy others with our words. Sometimes it’s intentional, and other times it is not (as is the case in the above stated scenario). Nevertheless, for the person being denigrated (or whose opinion is deemed to be irrelevant) the outcome can be ugly, and their point of view rarely gets a hearing.

reconcile-sibling-after-fightIn reviewing the definition of freedom of expression stated above, key in that definition is the right to express our opinion in various media forms “but without deliberately causing harm to others’ character and/or reputation by false or misleading statements.”  With ever increasing frequency we tend to vocalize our views and disagreements, and in the process we can, whether intentionally or unintentionally, cause harm to another person’s character and/or reputation by spreading misleading or even false statements to prove our point of view or carry out our own agendas. And with all of the technological wonders and social media available to us to dispense our own views at a moment’s notice, it’s hard and sometimes impossible to tell the truth from the lies, especially if those being silenced are not allowed to present their point of view. It often seems that the loudest voices win, and others’ views are seen as irrelevant.

As for the loudest voices winning, sometimes it is very intentional. Smear campaigns are nothing new, and it’s a very effective method of destroying the opposition, whether in the workplace, or in the political arena, or in any other social and/or work setting. And this has nothing to do with freedom of expression that is our Constitutional right. Freedom of expression is a right of all Americans, and not just those with the loudest voices. And there are many in our society without a voice–the poor, the homeless, the marginalized, and the disenfranchised.

Jesus Christ faced constant opposition from the loudest voices of his day–the religious ruling class known as the Pharisees. With increasing frequency throughout his three-year ministry, Jesus encountered opposition from them right up until they got their way with his death on the cross. However, his resurrection on the third day brought about the way of reconciliation for all of humankind (see John 3:16-18).

Opposition and reconciliation are major themes in the Bible. Two well known stories of reconciliation are the subject of an article on Reconciled Relationships on by Stephen J. Cole, pastor of Flagstaff Christian Fellowship. Here are the opening paragraphs to that article:

Two stories in the Bible evoke strong feelings in me every time I read them. One is the story of Joseph and his brothers. The other is Jesus’ parable of the prodigal son. The reason that these stories often cause tears to well up in my eyes is that they are stories of reconciled relationships.

When Joseph reveals himself to his brothers, treats them kindly, and forgives them for the terrible thing that they had done in selling him into slavery, it is a moving testimony to the power of reconciled relationships. Later, when their father has died, the brothers fear that Joseph would inflict revenge that he had been withholding. But Joseph wept and treated them kindly because he recognized God’s sovereign purpose in what had happened.

In the parable of the prodigal son, the young man impudently rejected the love of his father and chose instead the company of his fast-living, fickle friends. The father’s broken heart longed for the return of his wayward son. When he finally saw him coming in the distance, the father felt compassion for him, ran to him, embraced him, kissed him, and joyously welcomed him back into the family. That powerful story shows the tremendous joy both of reconciled human relationships and also of sinners being reconciled to the heavenly Father.

God created us to have close, personal relationships with Him and with one another. Jesus said that the greatest commandment in the Law is to love God with our entire being. The second greatest is that we should love our neighbor as ourselves (Matt. 22:37-39). (Quote source here.)

Loving our neighbors as ourselves. . . . And it doesn’t come with any “but” statements, such as in “but I’m right and he or she is wrong.” James 4:1-12 states the root cause of our problem:

What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.

You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. Or do you think Scripture says without reason that he jealously longs for the spirit he has caused to dwell in usBut he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says:

“God opposes the proud
    but shows favor to the humble.”

Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.

Brothers and sisters, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against a brother or sister or judges them speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it. There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the One who is able to save and destroy. But you—who are you to judge your neighbor?

As we can see from the above verses, humility has never been our strong suit. However, Philippians 2:3-4 states:

where change beginsDo nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

Being genuinely humble is at the core of all of our relationships with others and with God. I Peter 5:6 states, “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.” GotQuestions?org gives us the definition of humility:

The Bible describes humility as meekness, lowliness and absence of self. The Greek word translated “humility” in Colossians 3:12 and elsewhere literally means “lowliness of mind,” so we see that humility is a heart attitude, not merely an outward demeanor. One may put on an outward show of humility but still have a heart full of pride and arrogance. Jesus said that those who are “poor in spirit” would have the kingdom of heaven. Being poor in spirit means that only those who admit to an absolute bankruptcy of spiritual worth will inherit eternal life. Therefore, humility is a prerequisite for the Christian.

When we come to Christ as sinners, we must come in humility. We acknowledge that we are paupers and beggars who come with nothing to offer Him but our sin and our need for salvation. We recognize our lack of merit and our complete inability to save ourselves. Then when He offers the grace and mercy of God, we accept it in humble gratitude and commit our lives to Him and to others. We “die to self” so that we can live as new creations in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17). We never forget that He has exchanged our worthlessness for His infinite worth, our sin for His righteousness, and the life we now live, we live by faith in the Son of God who loved us and gave Himself for us (Galatians 2:20). That is true humility. (Quote source here.)

Keeping that in mind, I can think of no better verse to end this post with then Ephesians 4:32 which states . . . .

Be kind one to another . . .

Tenderhearted, forgiving one another . . .

As God in Christ forgave you . . . .

YouTube Video: “Speak Life” by TobyMac:

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Strengthened Through Praise


Are you tired of waiting for a circumstance to change? Do you feel like you are running on empty much of the time? I know the feeling after looking for employment for years and never finding it, and now adding to it my search for affordable housing on a Social Security income for the past two plus years that has yet to show up. When weariness sets in, it’s hard to remember that in the midst of our circumstances God is still working on our behalf.

This afternoon I read a short devotion written by Joyce Meyer, one of the world’s best known practical Bible teachers and a New York Times bestselling author, in her devotional book, The Power of Being Thankful: 365 Devotions for Discovering the Strength of Gratitude (2014), that puts our focus back where it belongs–not on our circumstances but on God who is able to do all things as stated in Ephesians 3:20-21: Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” Here is that devotion (on page 275):

Strengthened Through Praise

Let them praise Your great and awesome name—He is holy.
~Psalm 99:3

There is tremendous power in praise. We gain more and more strength, our faith increases, and the things that are coming to defeat us are destroyed as we praise God. Enjoying good praise and worship music is one of the tools we have available to help us live in an atmosphere of praise.

Every time we have an opportunity–even a minute or two while walking through a parking lot into a store, or waiting in line to pay for an item–take the opportunity to praise and worship God. After a while, praise becomes so natural that it flows out of us without a deliberate decision on our part. We find ourselves singing and thanking God as an automatic response to our awareness of His goodness, mercy, and grace. (Devotion for October 2, p. 275.)

Psalm 34 is an often quoted psalm written by David, the shepherd boy who became the 2nd King of Israel and experienced many difficult trials and circumstances throughout his lifetime. The very first verse states where our focus should be at all times and in all circumstances. I’m posting it in two versions–NKJV and MSG:

Psalm 34 (NKJV)

I will bless the Lord at all times;
His praise shall continually be in my mouth.
My soul shall make its boast in the Lord;
The humble shall hear of it and be glad.
Oh, magnify the Lord with me,
And let us exalt His name together.

I sought the Lord, and He heard me,
And delivered me from all my fears.
They looked to Him and were radiant,
And their faces were not ashamed.
This poor man cried out,
And the Lord heard him,

And saved him out of all his troubles.

The angel of the Lord encamps all around
Those who fear Him, and delivers them.

Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good;
Blessed is the man who trusts in Him!
Oh, fear the Lord, you His saints!
There is no want to those who fear Him.
The young lions lack and suffer hunger;
But those who seek the Lord shall not lack
Any good thing.

Come, you children, listen to me;
I will teach you the fear of the Lord.
Who is the man who desires life,
And loves many days, that he may see good?
Keep your tongue from evil,
And your lips from speaking deceit.
Depart from evil and do good;
Seek peace and pursue it.

The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous,
And His ears are open to their cry.
The face of the Lord is against those who do evil,
To cut off the remembrance of them from the earth.

The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears,
And delivers them out of all their troubles.
The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart,
And saves such as have a contrite spirit.

Many are the afflictions of the righteous,
But the Lord delivers him out of them all.
He guards all his bones;
Not one of them is broken.

Evil shall slay the wicked,
And those who hate the righteous
Shall be condemned.

The Lord redeems the soul of His servants,
And none of those who trust in Him
Shall be condemned.


Psalm 34 (MSG)

I bless God every chance I get;
my lungs expand with his praise.

I live and breathe God;
if things aren’t going well,
hear this and be happy:

Join me in spreading the news;
together let’s get the word out.

God met me more than halfway,
he freed me from my anxious fears.

Look at him; give him your warmest smile.
Never hide your feelings from him.

When I was desperate, I called out,
and God got me out of a tight spot.

God’s angel sets up a circle
of protection around us while we pray.

Open your mouth and taste,
open your eyes and see—

how good God is.
Blessed are you who run to him.

Worship God if you want the best;
worship opens doors to all his goodness.

Young lions on the prowl get hungry,
but God-seekers are full of God.

Come, children, listen closely;
I’ll give you a lesson in God worship.

Who out there has a lust for life?
Can’t wait each day to come upon beauty?

Guard your tongue from profanity,
and no more lying through your teeth.

Turn your back on sin; do something good.
Embrace peace—don’t let it get away!

God keeps an eye on his friends,
his ears pick up every moan and groan.

God won’t put up with rebels;
he’ll cull them from the pack.

Is anyone crying for help?
God is listening,

ready to rescue you.

If your heart is broken,
you’ll find God right there;

if you’re kicked in the gut,
he’ll help you catch your breath.

Disciples so often get into trouble;
still, God is there every time.

He’s your bodyguard,
shielding every bone;

not even a finger gets broken.

The wicked commit slow suicide;
they waste their lives hating the good.

God pays for each slave’s freedom;
no one who runs to him loses out.

So be encouraged!!! I Thessalonians 5:16-18 also reminds us to Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” So the next time weariness starts settling in, instead of focusing on what we cannot change on our own, let’s give thanks and praise God . . . 

And let God take care of the rest . . . .

Enjoy the psalm . . .

And the song . . . .

YouTube Video: “God of Wonders” by Third Day:

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Leaps of Faith

leap-of-faith-2This morning I got into a brief discussion with a friend via email about Søren Kierkegaard (1813-1855). Kierkegaard was a 19th-century Danish philosopher who has been called the Father of Existentialism,” and with those few words I have told you everything I knew about Kierkegaard. My friend suggested I do a Google search on Kierkegaard especially having to do with his writings regarding leaps of faith as he said I tend to do that a lot (e.g., taking “leaps of faith”).

So, I decided to take my friend up on his suggestion this morning and here is what I found:

The phrase [leap of faith] is commonly attributed to Søren Kierkegaard; however, he never used the term, as he referred to a leap as a leap to faith. A leap of faith according to Kierkegaard involves circularity insofar as a leap is made by faith. In his book Concluding Unscientific Postscript, he describes the core part of the leap of faith, the leap. “Thinking can turn toward itself in order to think about itself and skepticism can emerge. But this thinking about itself never accomplishes anything.” Kierkegaard says thinking should serve by thinking something. Kierkegaard wants to stopthinking’s self-reflectionand that is the movement that constitutes a leap. He’s against people thinking about religion all day without ever doing anything. But he’s also against external shows and opinions about religion and in favor of the internal movement of faith. He says, “where Christianity wants to have inwardness, worldly Christendom wants outwardness, and where Christianity wants outwardness, worldly Christendom wants inwardness.” But, on the other hand, he also says, “The less externality the more inwardness if it is truly there; but it is also the case that the less externality, the greater the possibility that the inwardness will entirely fail to come. The externality is the watchman who awakens the sleeper; the externality is the solicitous mother who calls one; the externality is the roll call that brings the soldier to his feet; the externality is the reveille that helps one to make the great effort; but the absence of the externality can mean that the inwardness itself calls inwardly to a person-alas, but it can also mean that the inwardness will fail to come.” The “most dreadful thing of all is a personal existence that cannot coalesce in a conclusion,” according to Kierkegaard. He asked his contemporaries if any of them had reached a conclusion about anything or did every new premise change their convictions. (Quote source here.)

In the middle of that pool of information, what I liked best about what is being said is the point Kierkegaard makes when he stated he’s “against people thinking about religion all day without ever doing anything. But he’s also against external shows and opinions about religion and in favor of the internal movement of faith.” And it is that “internal movement of faith” that transcends so much of the “talk” and “showiness” of Christianity we see on the surface so much of the time. 

I also found some information on Kierkegaard on the philosophy website at Texas A&M University that I assume (from the URL) is written by a professor (or associate) by the name of S. Daniel (URL and source here). This is what he wrote:

Volitional Arguments for Religious Belief (continued):
Søren Kierkegaard (Religious Existentialism)

Søren Kierkegaard: religious beliefs are beliefs, not objective bits of knowledge. The confrontation with, and anguish (angst) over, the ambiguity of human existence–what is its point if one is going to die anyway?–raises the prospect of the meaninglessness of one’s existence. Since no convincing arguments can be given to justify existence itself, the only proper (i.e., authentic) response is unconditioned faith, belief that there is a God who has promised us his salvation.

Abraham is the embodiment of the religious mentality. He is not great because he is willing to sacrifice what he loves most but because he acts not knowing (in fear and trembling) whether he is right but nonetheless believes that this is what God asks of him. Indeed, humanly speaking, he is insane because his act is unintelligible and even contradicts what God has told him to expect as the father of a great nation: he acted “by virtue of the absurd.” That is, he took responsibility for his action, affirming his power rather than engaging in (Freudian) resignation.

The three enemies of authentic existence and faith are: (1) established Christianity (i.e., doing what the Church says is right); (2) middle-class, bourgeois culture (i.e., doing what society says is right); and (3) the dominant philosophy of the day (i.e., Hegelianism, in which truth is objective, rational, totalizing). The aesthetic life lies in doing what seems or “feels” right according to society because it is what we have been taught; the moral life consists in doing what can be rationally justified (philosophically); only the religious life entails acting on faith in doing this or that particular action.

Truth is subjectivity. Rationality and knowledge are based on the premise that truth is objective, impersonal, a relationship between a belief and the world. But the truth about human existence is not something about which we are simply intellectually curious but is rather something about which we care deeply. Our caring about it determines it as something different from other things; that is, what it is depends on how we feel about it. Our existence and salvation are meaningful not because they correspond to some objective fact but because our interest in them is unconditioned and passionate, without any inner reservations or doubt. This entails:

The leap of faith: there is ultimately no justification for the belief in eternal life and God’s existence; the gap between the finiteness of our comprehension and the infinity of the justification is incommensurable. Only a leap of faith can surmount the gap. Religious belief must be just that–a belief for which one cannot give rational justification. Knowledge of moral directives is rationally possible on a universal level but not on the personal level, and doing something because it is the socially acceptable (or aesthetic) thing to do involves no faith at all. Moral knowledge is general, faith in salvation is particular. The leap of faith is not irrational as much as beyond rationality. (Quote source here.)

walk-by-faithFaith is not something that can be seen with the eyes or touched with the hands, and as stated above, it is not irrational as much as it is beyond rationality to those who do not understand or live by faith and only live by what they can see, experience, and manipulate.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-1945), a German Lutheran pastor, theologian, anti-Nazi dissident, and key founding member of the Confessing Church during the reign of Adolf Hitler in Germany (1933-1945), wrote a statement in his diary in 1939 that is an excellent example of his taking a “leap of faith.” I quoted it previously in a blog post titled, Free At Last,” and it happened at a time when he was contemplating returning to Germany after spending only 26 days in New York City. While he was “safe” in New York City from the reach of Hitler, he was compelled to return to Germany in spite of Hitler’s growing reign of terror. While making the decision to return to Berlin, Bonhoeffer wrote the following in his diary:

It is remarkable how I am never quite clear about the motives for any of my decisions. Is that a sign of confusion, of inner dishonesty, or is it a sign that we are guided without our knowing, or is it both? . . . Today the reading [a passage of Scripture not noted in this diary entry] speaks dreadfully harshly of God’s incorruptible judgement. He certainly sees how much personal feeling, how much anxiety there is in today’s decision, however brave it may seem. The reasons one gives for an action to others and to one’s self are certainly inadequate. One can give a reason for everything. In the last resort one acts from a level which remains hidden from us. So one can only ask God to judge us and to forgive us. . . . At the end of the day I can only ask God to give a merciful judgement on today and all it’s decisions. It is now in his hand. (Quote source: Bonhoeffer Abridged: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy (2014), by Eric Metaxas, p. 130).

This is a classic example of taking a “leap of faith.” On the surface, his decision to return to Germany seems quite irrational as it would be putting him squarely in the face of danger, and yet it was that “internal movement of faith” noted by Kierkegaard that compelled him to return anyway. God always has His reasons that we cannot understand (see Isaiah 55:8-9).

A minor prophet, Habakkuk, in the Old Testament spoke of days much like Dietrich Bonhoeffer faced when he returned to Germany from New York City back in 1939. I’ve written about Habakkuk in several previous posts, most notably in a post written three years ago titled, The Problem of Evil–Habakkuk Revisited.” The theme of Habakkuk has repeated itself down through the pages of history, and Habakkuk lived during the death-throes of the nation of Judah before the Babylonians destroyed that nation. Bonhoeffer lived during the Nazi invasion of Germany, and died at the hands of Hitler a scant three weeks before WWII ended in 1945 (Hitler committed suicide at that time). I can’t help but think that Bonhoeffer, being a pastor and a theologian, might have remembered the words of Habakkuk while he was in prison awaiting his execution. Habakkuk was the only prophet recorded in the Old Testament who took our side in the conflict of why God allows evil to apparently ride roughshod over people who are just trying to live decent lives.

In Habakkuk, (see Habakkuk 1-3) the prophet asks God two questions, and God answers both questions, and it is in God’s answers that Habakkuk understood. In the answer to Habakkuk’s second question Habakkuk makes a statement at the end of the question, and God’s answer begins after his statement (See Habakkuk 2:1-4):

I [Habakkuk] will stand my watch
And set myself on the rampart,
And watch to see what He will say to me,
And what I will answer when I am corrected.

Then the Lord answered me and said:

“Write the vision
And make it plain on tablets,
That he may run who reads it.
For the vision is yet for an appointed time;
But at the end it will speak, and it will not lie.
Though it tarries, wait for it;
Because it will surely come,
It will not tarry.

“Behold the proud,
His soul is not upright in him;
But the just shall live by his faith.”

But the just shall live by his faith. . . . The rest of Chapter 2 states what happens to the proud, and their end eventually comes even in the midst of chaos all around. Chapter 3 is Habakkuk’s prayer of worship to God for who He is, and a hymn of faith is given at the end of the chapter that states (in verses 17-19):

Though the fig tree may not blossom,
Nor fruit be on the vines;
Though the labor of the olive may fail,
And the fields yield no food;
Though the flock may be cut off from the fold,
And there be no herd in the stalls—
Yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
I will joy in the God of my salvation.

The Lord God is my strength;
He will make my feet like deer’s feet,
And He will make me walk on my high hills.

Even in the midst of great trials, God is still in charge. 

Hebrews 11 is the great “hall of faith” chapter in the Bible and it is full of examples of people who believed and put actions behind their faith and belief in God. “Faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see” (verse 1), and if we don’t put actions (that “internal movement of faith”) to our faith, we have no faith at all. And as Hebrews 11:6 states, “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” Therefore, “leaps of faith” are a normal and natural part of the genuine Christian experience, and true believers are compelled to take them, just as Dietrich Bonhoeffer was compelled to return to Germany in the summer of 1939.

We walk by faith . . . .

I’d like to end this blog post with the benediction found at the end of Hebrews 13 (verses 20-21):

Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him . . .

Through Jesus Christ . . .

To whom be glory for ever and ever . . .

Amen . . . .

YouTube Video: “Step by Step” sung by Whitney Houston (in “The Preacher’s Wife”):

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Psalm 18v30Today, August 3rd, is my mother’s birthday (see blog post titled, Incomparable,” written on July 25, 2012). She would have been 88 today; however, she died when she was 54 in 1983 from complications caused by diabetes. I thought it would be appropriate to commemorate her birthday by citing one of her favorite verses which is found in 2 Samuel 22:31 (and repeated again in Psalm 18:30):

As for God, His way is perfect;
The word of the Lord is proven (flawless);
He is a shield to all who trust in Him.

The entire chapters of Psalm 18 and 2 Samuel 22 are virtually identical, and they are the words that David (as the future King of Israel) spoke on the day the Lord had delivered him from the hand of all of this enemies, and from the hand of Saul (who was the current King), who sought vigorously for years to destroy David. 2 Samuel 22 contains 51 verses and Psalm 18 contains 50 verses; however, for the purposes of this post I am posting the first 37 verses from 2 Samuel 22:

Praise for God’s Deliverance

Then David spoke to the Lord the words of this song, on the day when the Lord had delivered him from the hand of all his enemies, and from the hand of Saul. And he said:

The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer;
The God of my strength, in whom I will trust;
My shield and the horn of my salvation,
My stronghold and my refuge;
My Savior, You save me from violence.
I will call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised;
So shall I be saved from my enemies.

When the waves of death surrounded me,
The floods of ungodliness made me afraid.
The sorrows of Sheol surrounded me;
The snares of death confronted me.
In my distress I called upon the Lord,
And cried out to my God;
He heard my voice from His temple,
And my cry entered His ears.

Then the earth shook and trembled;
The foundations of heaven quaked and were shaken,
Because He was angry.
Smoke went up from His nostrils,
And devouring fire from His mouth;
Coals were kindled by it.
He bowed the heavens also, and came down
With darkness under His feet.
He rode upon a cherub, and flew;
And He was seen upon the wings of the wind.
He made darkness canopies around Him,
Dark waters and thick clouds of the skies.
From the brightness before Him
Coals of fire were kindled.

The Lord thundered from heaven,
And the Most High uttered His voice.
He sent out arrows and scattered them;
Lightning bolts, and He vanquished them.
Then the channels of the sea were seen,
The foundations of the world were uncovered,
At the rebuke of the Lord,
At the blast of the breath of His nostrils.

He sent from above, He took me,
He drew me out of many waters.
He delivered me from my strong enemy,
From those who hated me;
For they were too strong for me.
They confronted me in the day of my calamity,
But the Lord was my support.
He also brought me out into a broad place;
He delivered me because He delighted in me.

The Lord rewarded me according to my righteousness;
According to the cleanness of my hands
He has recompensed me.
For I have kept the ways of the Lord,
And have not wickedly departed from my God.
For all His judgments were before me;
And as for His statutes, I did not depart from them.
I was also blameless before Him,
And I kept myself from my iniquity.
Therefore the Lord has recompensed me
According to my righteousness,

According to my cleanness in His eyes.

With the merciful You will show Yourself merciful;
With a blameless man You will show Yourself blameless;
With the pure You will show Yourself pure;
And with the devious You will show Yourself shrewd.
You will save the humble people;
But Your eyes are on the haughty,
That You may bring them down.

For You are my lamp, O Lord;
The Lord shall enlighten my darkness.
For by You I can run against a troop;
By my God I can leap over a wall.
As for God, His way is perfect;
The word of the Lord is proven;
He is a shield to all who trust in Him.

For who is God, except the Lord?
And who is a rock, except our God?
God is my strength and power,
And He makes my way perfect.
He makes my feet like the feet of deer,
And sets me on my high places.
He teaches my hands to make war,
So that my arms can bend a bow of bronze.

You have also given me the shield of Your salvation;
Your gentleness has made me great.
You enlarged my path under me;
So my feet did not slip.

My mother had a very strong yet quiet faith in Jesus Christ. Going back to my years even as a very small child, I can remember she always talked to me about Jesus from the time I was still in the cradle. And as I stated in that blog post mentioned above titled, Incomparable”:

The foundation that was laid by my mother when I was very young has been a part of my life all of these years–in the best of times and the worst of times. . . .

Success in our culture, many times, is defined by our outward trappings–materialism, prosperity, successful careers, and the list goes on. But success is not defined by what we have. True success is having a humble heart and serving God through Jesus Christ in whatever circumstances He brings into our lives. Hebrews 11 is the great “hall of faith” chapter in the Bible and it is written to give us encouragement to press on in faith by giving us so many examples of those who have gone before us and paved the way. The last two verses of Hebrews 11 states: “These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised. God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.” (vv. 39-40). “Something better for us” came through the life, death, and resurrection of God’s only Son, Jesus Christ. If you don’t know Him, you can learn about Him by reading the Gospel of John.

In the 33 1/2 years since her death our society has changed in some very monumental ways. Ronald Reagan was just two years into his first term as President of the United States at the time of her death in March 1983. The advent of the internet age had not yet begun in the public arena; the Berlin Wall didn’t come down until 1989; the Moral Majority started by the late Rev. Jerry Falwell (1933-2007) in 1979 was in it’s heyday until it was dissolved in the late 1980’s; Disco music was all the rage; and it was still 18 years before 9/11 would bring terror to the shores of America; and the two greatest Wall Street crashes in 2001 (caused by 9/11) and 2008 (caused by the housing bust) had not yet occurred. And, her youngest grandson wasn’t even born yet (he is now 32 and married).

Yes, the world has changed a lot since then, but the faith of my mother is still the same faith found in the Bible that has sustained believers down through the ages right up through today. And it is the same faith that sustains me as well as all believers in Jesus Christ all around this planet of ours. After all, Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8).

My mother had two other verses that were also favorites of hers, and I’ll end this post by quoting those verses found in 1 John 5:14-15:

Now this is the confidence that we have in Him,
That if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.
And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask,
We know that we have the petitions
That we have asked of Him.

YouTube Video: “Til The Day I Die” by TobyMac:

Photo credit here