day 1 (trek 3): put a psalm in my heart

Today, with MoSt Church, we begin our third trek of five, sixty-day walks through the book of Psalms this year.

On our first pass through this land, we noted some things about the lay of the land, the structure and content, of each psalm as we read them (Jan.-Feb.). On our second hike, we literally sketched something we “saw” along our journey (Mar.-Apr.). During this third walkabout (May-June) let’s compose and write out a single sentence prayer that arises within us from one of the psalms in each day’s reading.

And, of course, I’ll encourage you to do as I do with my reading, namely doing it in a different translation of Scripture than you’ve read before (at least recently). This time through I’ll actually make use of two versions, the GNT (Good News Translation) and the CEV (Contemporary English Version).

Thus far in this project I’ve made daily posts here regarding the Put a Psalm in My Heart project. However, this time through I’ll create weekly posts, usually appearing on Saturdays. Following is this week’s reading schedule:

Tues.; May 1 – Ps. 1-5

Wed.; May 2 – Ps. 6-8

Thurs., May 3 – Ps. 9-11

Fri., May 4 – Ps. 12-14

Sat., May 5 – Ps. 15-17

Remember: compose a single sentence prayer for one of the psalms in each day’s reading.

Grace and peace.

“Good” Friday: stationing yourself to pray

1. See Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane … and pray.

… Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane. He said to the disciples, ‘Stay here while I go and pray over there.’ When he took Peter and Zebedee’s two sons, he began to feel sad and anxious. Then he said to them, ‘I’m very sad. It’s as if I’m dying. Stay here and keep alert with me.’ Then he went a short distance farther and fell on his face and prayed, ‘My Father, if it’s possible, take this cup of suffering away from me. However — not what I want but what you want.’

He came back to the disciples and found them sleeping. He said to Peter, ‘Couldn’t you stay alert one hour with me? Stay alert and pray so that you won’t give in to temptation. The spirit is eager, but the flesh is weak.’ (Matthew 26.36-41)

2. Examine Judas, and yourself, as Judas betrays Jesus and he is arrested. Who can do so and not pray?

And immediately, as Jesus said this, Judas, one of the twelve disciples, arrived with a crowd of men armed with swords and clubs. They had been sent by the leading priests, the teachers of religious law, and the elders. The traitor, Judas, had given them a prearranged signal: ‘You will know which one to arrest when I greet him with a kiss. Then you can take him away under guard.’ As soon as they arrived, Judas walked up to Jesus. ‘Rabbi!’ he exclaimed, and gave him the kiss. Then the others grabbed Jesus and arrested him. (Mark 14.43-46)

3. Peer into the courtroom as Jesus is condemned by the Sanhedrin. God have mercy! Pray.

Then when daylight came, the assembly of the elders of the people, which included both chief priests and scribes, met and marched him off to their own council. There they asked him, ‘If you really are Christ, tell us!’

‘If I tell you, you will never believe me, and if I ask you a question, you will not answer me. But from now on the Son of Man will take his seat at the right hand of almighty God.’

Then they all said, ‘So you are the Son of God then?’

‘You are right; I am,’ Jesus told them.

Then they said, ‘Why do we need to call any more witnesses, for we ourselves have heard this thing from his own lips?’ (Luke 22.66-71)

4. Consider yourself as you behold Jesus denied even by Peter, the man who first confessed him as the Christ. Pray.

Now Peter was sitting outside in the courtyard. A servant-girl came to him and said, ‘You also were with Jesus the Galilean.’

But he denied it before all of them, saying, ‘I do not know what you are talking about.’

When he went out to the porch, another servant-girl saw him, and she said to the bystanders, ‘This man was with Jesus of Nazareth.’

Again he denied it with an oath, ‘I do not know the man.’

After a little while the bystanders came up and said to Peter, ‘Certainly you are also one of them, for your accent betrays you.’

Then he began to curse, and he swore an oath, ‘I do not know the man!’

At that moment the cock crowed. Then Peter remembered what Jesus had said: ‘Before the cock crows, you will deny me three times.’ And he went out and wept bitterly. (Matthew 26.69-75)

5. Observe Jesus judged by Pilate. Pray to the only true an righteous Judge of all of creation.

Very early in the morning, the chief priests, with the elders, the teachers of the law and the whole Sanhedrin, made their plans. So they bound Jesus, led him away and handed him over to Pilate.

‘Are you the king of the Jews?’ asked Pilate.

‘You have said so,’ Jesus replied.

The chief priests accused him of many things. So again Pilate asked him, ‘Aren’t you going to answer? See how many things they are accusing you of.’

But Jesus still made no reply, and Pilate was amazed. …

Wanting to satisfy the crowd, Pilate released Barabbas to them. He had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified. (Mark 15.1-5,15)

6. Stare as Jesus is scourged and crowned with thorns. Pray with each lash of words and whip.

Then Pilate took Jesus and flogged him. And the soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on his head and arrayed him in a purple robe. They came up to him, saying, ‘Hail, King of the Jews!’ and struck him with their hands. (John 19.1-3)

7. Gape as Jesus takes up his cross. Take all of this up in prayer.

So when the chief priests and the officers saw Him, they cried out saying, ‘Crucify, crucify!’ Pilate said to them, ‘Take Him yourselves and crucify Him, for I find no guilt in Him.’ …

So they cried out, ‘Away with Him, away with Him, crucify Him!’

Pilate said to them, ‘Shall I crucify your King?’

The chief priests answered, ‘We have no king but Caesar.’

So he then handed Him over to them to be crucified. They took Jesus, therefore, and He went out, bearing His own cross, to the place called the Place of a Skull, which is called in Hebrew, Golgotha. (John 19.6,15-17)

8. Gaze with all the mixture of feelings as Simon is compelled to carry Jesus’ cross. Pray with all three of you mind: Jesus, Simon … and yourself.

Along the way, they met a man from Cyrene, Simon (the father of Rufus and Alexander), who was coming in from the fields; and they ordered him to carry the heavy crossbar of the cross. (Mark 15.21)

9. Notice how Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem as he bears his cross. Pray silently as you hear them cry aloud and as he answers their cries.

A large number of people followed Jesus. Some were women whose hearts were filled with sorrow. They cried loudly because of him. Jesus turned and said to them, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me. Weep for yourselves and for your children. The time will come when you will say, ‘Blessed are the women who can’t have children! Blessed are those who never gave birth or nursed babies!’ It is written, ‘The people will say to the mountains, “Fall on us!” They’ll say to the hills, “Cover us!”’ People do these things when trees are green. So what will happen when trees are dry?” (Luke 23.27-31)

10. Refuse to look away as they nail the Christ to the cross, crucifying him. Pray as Jesus prays.

And when they came to the place which is called The Skull, there they crucified him, and the criminals, one on the right and one on the left. And Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.’ And they cast lots to divide his garments. (Luke 23.33-34)

11. Capture with your eyes and heart Jesus promising his kingdom to the repentant thief. Pray this man’s prayer.

One of the criminals began to shout insults at Jesus: ‘Aren’t you the Christ? Then save yourself! And save us too!’

But the other criminal stopped him. He said, ‘You should fear God! You are getting the same punishment as he is. We are punished justly; we should die. But this man has done nothing wrong!’ Then this criminal said to Jesus, ‘Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom!’

Then Jesus said to him, ‘Listen! What I say is true: Today you will be with me in paradise!’ (Luke 23.39-43)

12. Take in Jesus entrusting Mary and John to each other. Pray by means of, and through, your tears.

Jesus’ mother stood beside his cross with her sister and Mary the wife of Clopas. Mary Magdalene was standing there too. When Jesus saw his mother and his favorite disciple with her, he said to his mother, ‘This man is now your son.’ Then he said to the disciple, ‘She is now your mother.’ From then on, that disciple took her into his own home. (John 19.25-27)

13. Watch Jesus breathe his last on the cross. Hang your head … and pray.

It was about twelve o’clock when the sun stopped shining and darkness covered the whole country until three o’clock; and the curtain hanging in the Temple was torn in two. Jesus cried out in a loud voice, ‘Father! In your hands I place my spirit!’ He said this and died. (Luke 23.44-46)

14. And finally, witness Jesus’ body laid in a tomb. Walk silently away from the tomb with Joseph, praying as you go … praying with the groans of your spirit.

That evening a rich man named Joseph, a follower of Jesus from the town of Arimathea, came to Jerusalem. Joseph went to Pilate and asked to have Jesus’ body. So Pilate gave orders for the soldiers to give it to Joseph. Then Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen cloth. He put Jesus’ body in a new tomb that he had cut out of a wall of rock, and he rolled a very large stone to block the entrance of the tomb. Then Joseph went away. (Matthew 27.57-60)

day 50 – put a psalm in my heart

This morning we ask of God, wonder at noon if he’s gone AWOL, and then discover he has answered us in the evening (Psalm 119.73-104).

This morning we resonate with Psalm 119.73-80 and ask seven things of God:

“… give me understanding to learn your commands. … May those who fear you rejoice when they see me … May your unfailing love be my comfort. … Let your compassion come to me … May the arrogant be put to shame … May those who fear you turn to me, those who understand your statutes. … May I wholeheartedly follow your decrees …”

At noon today we are confronted with Psalm 119.81-96 and wonder if our requests, or we ourselves, make any difference to God. Seven times we worry aloud:

“My soul faints with longing for your salvation … My eyes fail, looking for your promises … How long must your servant wait? … The arrogant dig pits to trap me … Save me … The wicked are waiting to destroy me … To all perfection I see a limit …”

Tonight we relate to Psalm 119.97-104 and see that all we asked of God this morning, and fretted over throughout the day, has been addressed, seven-fold.

  • We asked for greater understanding and it was granted: “I gain understanding …
  • We requested that we become joyful encouragement to others, and it has become so: “I have more insight than all my teachers …
  • We begged that we be comforted by God’s unfailing love, and such has come to us: “… you yourself have taught me.”
  • We yearned for his compassion toward us that we might live, and that compassion has arrived: “… all day long.
  • We petitioned God to shame our/his enemies, and he has done so, for we can now say we are: “… wiser than [our] enemies.”
  • We solicited God to send God-fearing people to us, and that is what has happened: “I have more understanding than the elders …
  • And we appealed to God for a heart given wholly to obedience to him, and we are seeing growth of him in us: “… I obey your precepts. I have kept my feet from every evil path …

Praise the Lord!

VIVE LA REDIRECTION!

 

Donald Trump.

Do you see him as a savior? Then I say to you:

“Trust in the name of the Lord.”

Do you view him as the enemy? Then I remind you of the command of the Lord:

“Love your enemies.”

Are you somewhere inbetween or elsewhere? Then I say to you:

“Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord.”

And so, to us all I preach the words of the Spirit of the Lord:

“Honor everyone. Love the family of believers. Have respectful fear of God. Honor the emperor.” (1 Peter 2.17)

And how then shall that be done? It begins with honor. Donald Trump is not God, nor is he Satan. He, like each and every one of us, is made in the image of God, and is a victim of Satan.

And so, let us redirect our hearts from veneration or vilification of him. Let us redirect our knees to the ground and our hearts no longer to Washington, but to the throne of heaven instead. Let us redirect our misguided and misled spirit and so, invite every Christian to unite in prayer with me and say with faith in the Lord and with the will of the Amen:

“O Lord, open the President of the United States’ eyes!”

honor everyone … honor the emperor

 

He is virtually worshiped by many. He is, simultaneously, vilified by many. And by many others, something in between.

He occupies an exceedingly powerful position. His choices and actions affect the lives of billions. Billions. And who, I ask, is adequate in themselves for such a task?

Now I don’t care on which side of the aisle you sit – if either – but, as Christians we do take God at his word, don’t we?

“Honor everyone. … Honor the emperor.” (1 Peter 2.17)

And so, how exactly can/will we, Christians, “honor” Donald Trump?

If in no other way, we can do this: we can honor Trump by holding him up before God in prayer. Deliberately and regularly.

Not in reaction to matters we see or hear in the news. Not motivated or filtered by our own personal, political perspectives.

And if our prayers are heard by others, we will not pray in any way “to the gallery,” as if to make a point, get in a jab, or to stimulate a mocking laugh or sneer. Nor will we pray in knee-jerk response or with a “Monday morning quarterback” air about us concerning his attitudes, behaviors, policies, or Tweets.

But, simply to pray for a fellow human being made in the image of God, Donald Trump. A man who is just like each of us: a being in desperate need of God and so, the prayer of others on his behalf.

“Honor everyone. … Honor the emperor.” (1 Peter 2.17)

Imagine. Imagine every Christian in this land praying for Trump on a regular basis. What might happen? What could happen? For Trump? For ourselves? For the world? For the church families of which we are a part? If we pray in faith?

And so, let talk to God, with trust, for Trump, laying aside any and all sense of human politics within us.

For our Lord has sent his Father’s to us through his Spirit and his will says to us:

“Honor everyone. … Honor the emperor.” (1 Peter 2.17)

Q & A: my political Facebook posts

 

Q. David, for someone who is apolitical, you certainly don’t shy away from posting links to articles on political subjects on your Facebook. Why is that?

A. I pray the news. I refuse to simply “scan and stew” over or “glance at and gossip about” news that appears in my news feed. Instead, I deliberately attempt to re-frame such in my mind so that they become prompts for me to pray. I believe such is a healthy way of engaging the news that helps me keep the leverage of spiritually-healthy habits in my own hands. That is, rather than just being a passive sponge soaking up what happens to come my way, I seek to actively take people and matters to God in prayer. That’s where they belong, right?

For example, if I come across piece that stirs up in me a reminder to pray for a person or people group spotlighted by that piece I am either not accustomed to praying for, then I pray for them, then and there. I occasionally share links to such posts, along with comments as to how that particular items moved me to pray, with hopes that it will spark in others similar prayers.

Q. While prayer is certainly good, wouldn’t it be better for you, and perhaps for all, to just ignore the whole political scene?

A. I think not. What good would that do? It isn’t like politics is going to just go away anytime soon or that people are going stop drinking in the news. No, we’re just like the ancient Athenians, aren’t we? (“For all Athenians, and even foreign visitors to Athens, had an obsession for any novelty and would spend their whole time talking about or listening to anything new.” – Acts 17.21, Phillips)

And so, if the news if going to wash up on us and we’re going to choose to swim in it, then someone needs to be modeling how to swim in the surf, how to avoid being carried out to see by the riptide, and how not to drown in the swell. I seek to humbly instruct. Period. Among other things, true Christ-followers seek to hold up to the Lord in prayer all who are leaders, not merely those we happen to agree with or who we want to see become leaders (1 Timothy 2.1-2).

Q. Noble. But really now, how many people do you think are actually going to take up seriously praying the news? You’re pretty much alone in this, buddy.

A. No, I don’t believe I’m alone in this by any means. And I seek to lay out and model good. Whether anyone else takes that up or not should have no bearing on my choice of doing what I understand to good in the light of Scripture. I believe I see many people making unhealthy choices all the time as to how they process, or fail to process, “the news.” I seek to hold up a good way of handling “the news” and leave what is done with all of that up to God and others.

Q. Well then, do you have any advice or thoughts in general about how to read your posts, particularly if they link to political matters?

A. Do remember, I am apolitical and so, I refuse to stump for or promote any particular candidate anywhere. If you find some news links I post offensive, recall that they just might have been offensive to me in some way, too. I post not because I necessarily agree or disagree with everything in a piece, but because I know others are likely encountering the same or similar and because such posts prompted me to do the very best thing I could do – talk with God in some way about it all.