A Sure Hope – Psalm 33:1-22

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Reflection on Psalm 33:1-22.

Hope in God Alone

I love the last line of this Psalm, “Let your unfailing love surround us, Lord, for our hope is in you (Psalm 33:22).” As the Psalmist scans creation, he sees evidence of God’s love. The world breathes with God’s handiwork. When the Psalmist looks around in awe of all that God is and all that God does, he knows, hope in anything other than God is false hope.

Promises, Promises

I want to echo with the Psalmist, “my hope is in you alone Lord,” but I keep putting my hope in what I can see and touch. I don’t have a warhorse or army, but I do have a checking and savings account, along with credit cards. As I reflect on this Psalm, I ask, “Where have I put my hope?”

I want to put my hope in God alone, but it isn’t easy. Culture continues to offer so many options promising to give me my heart’s desire! Far too many times, I’ve placed my hope in places other than God. I would like to think that I place my hope in God too, but placing my hope in God too isn’t placing my hope in God alone. Maybe I have a God+ kind of hope. Yes, I hope with God, but God isn’t always enough.

Performance

I hate to admit it, but I believe the promises of culture, pushing God out of the center of my life. The Psalmist doesn’t just look at promises, he also looks at performance. He looks at God’s work and sees love. He looks at warhorses and armies, and knows they don’t bring victory. In the end, God brings victory.

Broken Promises

Culture does make a lot of promises. I am told if I am able to afford the “good life” then I will be happy, or if I can just find the right house, or the right spouse, or the right this, or that, or the other thing, then I will find happiness, be content, and everything will be wonderful.

All I need to do is take a look at those who have bought into those promises and where they end up; broken, wounded, and disappointed. All I need is look at the rich and famous and see how many of them have been given false hope and live with broken dreams. They may be rich, famous, or powerful, but it seems like they can’t find what they are really looking for.

Do I really need to discover this disappointment myself?

Hope in God, Alone

The Psalmist puts his hope in God alone, knowing that God’s unfailing love surrounds him. Warhorses and armies might promise victory, but the Psalmist knew the results weren’t so sure. God’s love surrounds you and me too. We can put our hope in many things that promise much, only to be disappointed again and again while having them offer more promises if we only just keep on believing.

When we align our lives with God’s purposes, we discover that we can hope in God alone because he keeps his promises. When we are open and receptive to God’s will and way, we discover his abundant life unfolding in our lives every day. As we journey with him, may we cry out with the Psalmist, “Let your unfailing love surround us, for our hope is in you alone.”

NOTE: Aligning our lives with God’s purpose, at least from my experience, is not easy. It seems simple, but easy and simple are two different things. Aligning our will with God’s will can be a lifetime project. We continue to want to go our own way and culture is right there cheering us on. Only when we surrender to God’s will and live out the prayer, “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done…” will we find peace, fulfillment, and purpose, such that the world can never provide.Then is when we discover, not only God’s love surrounding us, but how we can hope in God alone.

Why Abstinence Isn’t Working in America // Asbury Seedbed

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What really intrigued me in this article is how the issue of abstinence is linked to discipleship (which I agree with), and how Chmielesk further suggests approaching the issue as one of celibacy rather than abstinence. Here’s a quote about the problem:

The call to young Christians to be abstinent until marriage is not working.Why do I say that?The September/October 2011 issue of Relevant Magazine, in an article entitled Almost Everyones Doing It, starts with the following revelation:Eighty percent of young, unmarried Christians have had sex. Two-thirds have been sexually active in the past year. Even though, according to a recent Gallup poll, 76% of Evangelicals believe sex outside of marriage is morally wrong. 80% of young, unmarried Christians have had sex… Wow! 66% of them have been sexually active in the past year.  And yet three-quarters of Evangelical Christians believe this is wrong.More evidence…

via Why Abstinence Isn’t Working in America // Asbury Seedbed.

Here is his basic argument:

This is why I like the idea of celibacy over abstinence. Celibacy includes the premise of abstinence — in that you need to hold off on sexual activity until marriage (should that happen for them… someday) — but it adds to it the bigger, more inclusive notion that for now (and for always) we can delight ourselves in God. We abstain from sexual activity and redirect those energies towards our pursuit of Jesus.

Continue reading “Why Abstinence Isn’t Working in America // Asbury Seedbed”

Culture Making: Recovering Our Creative Calling

Culture Making: Recovering Our Creative Calling Culture Making: Recovering Our Creative Calling by Andy Crouch

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
There are some books that after you turn the last page, you know you will be different. You can’t always explain why, but in the course of reading it, you know something deep within you has been changed. This book has had that effect on me.

I only read it because Amazon suggested it, and it did go along with some of my dissertation research. A couple of times, in the beginning, I thought about reading something else instead, but I continued on and I’m glad I did.

Crouch discusses “cultures” and how Christians interact with the cultures around them. Instead of calling Christians have postures of being against culture, critiquing culture, consuming culture, or transformation culture, he calls them to create culture (which according to Crouch is what God calls us to do).

For me, the best part of the book was Part 3 where he eloquently invites all to be culture makers for the sake of the Gospel.

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Introduction To The Missional Church by Alan Roxburgh

Introducing the Missional Church: What It Is, Why It Matters, How to Become One by Alan J. Roxburgh

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This is probably the best book I’ve read introducing the missional church. Roxburgh does an excellent job describing what missional ministry is, and what it isn’t.

The one critique I do have is the time he spent describing the process he takes churches through (I’m guessing in a consulting role). I wished he would have given some more direction for local pastors in cultivating “missional imagination” within their congregations. Perhaps he does this in his book “Missional Map-making” which I have not read yet.

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Just Not Ready

One of my favorite things (next to week old Valentine’s day candy and week old Christmas candy) is week old Easter candy. Actually it has been closer to two weka now. Shopping at Walmart I discovered they had candy for 75% off! That is a deal I can’t pass up.

However I just couldn’t bring myself to purchase any of the chocolate Easter crosses. I’m just not ready to chow down on a chocolate cross. Seeing all the chocolate crosses still left in display, I guess I’m not the only one.

— Post From My iPhone