I have Sinned – Reflection on Psalm 51

Psalm 51:1-19

Oldie but Goodie

This Psalm, more than any other, takes me back to my youth. I can almost remember the first time I sang the line, “Create in Me A Clean Heart…Oh God…” I was changed. That song expressed the desire of my heart. Over 30 years later, it still does.

Traditionally, the Psalm has been ascribed to David, but, some scholars believe the Psalm was written later (verse 19’s petition to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem would be out of place if written by David). When I first learned that David may not have written it, I was disappointed. But now, after having time to reflect, I’m okay whether David wrote it or not.
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Psalm 36: Sin’s Whisper & God’s Goodness

Whisper of Sin

“Sin whispers to the wicked deep within their hearts…” – Psalm 36:1 (NLT)

Sin doesn’t just “happen.” Sin begins, not with an action, event, or shout, but a whisper. There use to be a commercial that started with, “When you want to get someone’s attention, you whisper.” If you have ever tried lowering your voice, rather than raising it, you know how effective whispering can be. Sin wants to get our attention and does so subtly.

Subtle Control

I know the Psalmist refers to the wicked, but I am not immune from the whisper of sin. Sin’s whisper takes a hold of my heart, creating a life of its own. Sin’s icy grip closes tight on my heart and I find myself “set on a way that is not good” (verse 4, NRSV) and my slow descent started with a whisper.

Sometimes sin whispers doubts, sometimes desires, bringing envy, fear, jealousy, greed, lust, pride, thoughts and attitudes vying for my attention and control of my life. If sin would make some kind of frontal attack, I would see it coming, and, hopefully, be able to resist. Sin comes in slowly and quietly, not announcing its presence. Before I am even aware, sin has a foothold in my life. I don’t consider myself wicked, but I have heard the whisper of sin.

Looking Up

I’m glad the Psalmist doesn’t end focusing on sin and the wicked. He raises his gaze and catches a glimpse of the vastness of God’s love. He sees God’s faithfulness, justice, and care. He recounts how God shelters us, feeding us from his abundance and great delights. He basks in the Fountain of life and the light by which we see!

The Psalmist desires that all who love God experience God’s goodness, asking God to pour out his love on all who love him, and protect them from the wicked…could I pray that God would even protect me from myself? Sometimes, I get in my own way and I trip over myself…

The Psalmist knows those who continue to listen to Sin’s quiet whisper will be set against those whose eyes are attentive to God. The wicked will continue to “lie awake at night, hatching sinful plots” never seeking to do good. Sin never takes a day off.

God has already dealt with those bent on evil. The Psalmist celebrates their defeat! We can move forward knowing God prevails! We can move live abundantly knowing that Love prevails!

Abundant Delights

Sin, however, will continue trying to get our attention. Throughout this day, sin will attempt to whisper in our heart, perhaps causing us to question the love of God.

May you remain attentive to God’s goodness that surrounds you. When those, who give into Sin’s seductive whisper, try to “push” you around (verse 11) or trap you in their “sinful plots” (verse 4), may you find shelter in God’s unfailing love, finding delight in the One who is our “fountain of life, the light by which we see.” (verse 9).

God has loved you deeply and continues to give you good things, blessing you over and over again. His love is deeper than the ocean and higher than the heavens. He continues to feed you from his abundance and delights.

May God’s presence be your joy.

The Christian Movie Establishment vs. Blue Like Jazz

The movie Blue Like Jazz is set to hit movie screens April 13th. I’ve been waiting for this movie to come since I heard Don Miller discuss the possibility quite a few years ago. The project was on, then off, then saved by an amazing KickStart campaign and now, in less than a month, the movie will be here.

However, this is not your normal Christian movie and that is exactly why I want to go see it. This is also why many, especially Christians, will say Christians should not go to see it. You will have to use your own judgment because, again, this will probably not be like other Christian movies you have been to. Continue reading “The Christian Movie Establishment vs. Blue Like Jazz”

Foggy

image

It’s been a foggy morning here. If there has to be a two hour delay for school I guess I’d rather have it for fog than snow. The fog is a bit easier to shovel. All the fog does is make it harder to see well. Fog only limits visibility. 

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Loving Little….Loving Much

Right now I’m preaching a sermon series on Ephesians. Paul says that at one point we were all dead spiritually speaking (Eph 2:1). He even says we "were by nature children of wrath like everybody else." (Eph. 2:3) There’s no getting around it in Paul. We are all in the same boat. If we have not made the transition from death to life by appropriating God’s gracious gift (Eph. 2:8), then we are still dead.

This is really good news because Paul tells us that God made us alive even when we were dead! (Eph. 2:4) So even if we are dead spiritually, God is more than willing to make us alive in Christ.

In his commentary on Ephesians, N. T. Wright makes a connection between Ephesians 2:8-10 which discusses God’s gracious gift and Luke 7:36-51 which is the story of the ‘sinful woman.’ I think this is an appropriate link to the Gospel, but leaves me with a question that causes me concern.

The story is about a woman who comes in and pours perfume on Jesus’ feet while he is at the party of a Pharisee. Simon, the Pharisee, sees what is taking place and begins thinking that if Jesus was really a prophet, he would know what kind of woman this was and not let her touch him.

Well, apparently, Jesus did know what kind of woman this was and took her actions as a sign of gratitude that she had been forgiven. Jesus then puts Simon on the spot by asking him who would be more grateful (or love more), the one who was forgiven a debt of a few dollars, or of many dollars. Even Simon knew the one who was forgiven the most would be the most grateful.

Jesus then points out how Simon didn’t even show the smallest expression of graciousness or gratefulness in welcoming Jesus into his home. Yet, this woman continued to wash his feet with her tears and anoint him with her perfume. Why the difference? Simon didn’t see his need, but the woman did. Because of that Simon didn’t offer any expression of love, but the woman did.

As I reflect on being dead in my trespasses and sins (Eph. 2:1), and how God has made me alive even when dead, I realize how much like Simon I am. That leads me to the question that causes me concern: What kind of response do I offer? It seems like going to church once a week, praying on the run, rushing through Scripture, or any other type of spiritual ‘guilt’ appeasement doesn’t reflect the kind of depth and gratitude God’s gracious act deserves. You know what I mean…the things we do to say we did them. Our hearts might not be in the act, or we might feel that we ‘just don’t have the time’ so we do what small things we can so we can call it done. Do our practices reflect what we know about our need and God’s response?

Maybe we love little because we don’t understand or realize the depth of our need and the extent of our dilemma. When we do get a sense of that dilemma and what God has done so we might be free, then we might be able to start living lives of grateful response to God’s act in Christ. I have a feeling our lives will begin to look vastly different.