Monday, November 30, 2009

Psalm 149

What are the effects and powers of praise?

Praises to God has an effect on God, an effect on the praiser, an effect of the enemies of God, and an effect on the enemies of God's people. Praise is a two-edged sword that executes judgement. It binds demonic kings in chains. It executes the written judgment.  A casual reader will look at this and think that we are to destroy the enemies with physical warfare. But this psalm is about the power of a spiritual sword. The Bible uses praise as a sword. Unlike Islam which talks of Jihad and often means a physical war. We are to praise and to trust that our words are executing the judgment that God has written.

Psalm 149

 1Praise ye the LORD. Sing unto the LORD a new song, and his praise in the congregation of saints.
 2Let Israel rejoice in him that made him: let the children of Zion be joyful in their King.
 3Let them praise his name in the dance: let them sing praises unto him with the timbrel and harp.
 4For the LORD taketh pleasure in his people: he will beautify the meek with salvation.
 5Let the saints be joyful in glory: let them sing aloud upon their beds.
 6Let the high praises of God be in their mouth, and a two-edged sword in their hand;
 7To execute vengeance upon the heathen, and punishments upon the people;
 8To bind their kings with chains, and their nobles with fetters of iron;
 9To execute upon them the judgment written: this honour have all his saints. Praise ye the LORD.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Psalm 148

This is a Psalm written by the Sons of Korah. I love these guys! I also love Asaph's psalms. Moses' Psalms. And of course the Psalms written by Solomon and David. I'm not really up on the sons of Korah - I pass over them whenever I'm in the historical books without really taking the time to do an indepth study of them. Same thing with Asaph. And yet! What a family, uh?

Their insight in this psalm is that all things are able to praise God. Things spiritual, things organic, things inorganic. 

Psalm 148

 1Praise ye the LORD. Praise ye the LORD from the heavens: praise him in the heights.
 2Praise ye him, all his angels: praise ye him, all his hosts.
 3Praise ye him, sun and moon: praise him, all ye stars of light.
 4Praise him, ye heavens of heavens, and ye waters that be above the heavens.
 5Let them praise the name of the LORD: for he commanded, and they were created.
 6He hath also stablished them for ever and ever: he hath made a decree which shall not pass.
 7Praise the LORD from the earth, ye dragons, and all deeps:
 8Fire, and hail; snow, and vapours; stormy wind fulfilling his word:
 9Mountains, and all hills; fruitful trees, and all cedars:
 10Beasts, and all cattle; creeping things, and flying fowl:
 11Kings of the earth, and all people; princes, and all judges of the earth:
 12Both young men, and maidens; old men, and children:
 13Let them praise the name of the LORD: for his name alone is excellent; his glory is above the earth and heaven.
 14He also exalteth the horn of his people, the praise of all his saints; even of the children of Israel, a people near unto him. Praise ye the LORD.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Son's latest songs

Yeah, they're misogynist...not my fault. Am hoping his rhymes mature. Please, God!

The Gospellers and Tohoshinki

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Psalm 147

Psalm 147

 1Praise ye the LORD: for it is good to sing praises unto our God; for it is pleasant; and praise is comely.
 2The LORD doth build up Jerusalem: he gathereth together the outcasts of Israel.
 3He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds.
 4He telleth the number of the stars; he calleth them all by their names.
 5Great is our Lord, and of great power: his understanding is infinite.
 6The LORD lifteth up the meek: he casteth the wicked down to the ground.
 7Sing unto the LORD with thanksgiving; sing praise upon the harp unto our God:
 8Who covereth the heaven with clouds, who prepareth rain for the earth, who maketh grass to grow upon the mountains.
 9He giveth to the beast his food, and to the young ravens which cry.
 10He delighteth not in the strength of the horse: he taketh not pleasure in the legs of a man.
 11The LORD taketh pleasure in them that fear him, in those that hope in his mercy.
 12Praise the LORD, O Jerusalem; praise thy God, O Zion.
 13For he hath strengthened the bars of thy gates; he hath blessed thy children within thee.
 14He maketh peace in thy borders, and filleth thee with the finest of the wheat.
 15He sendeth forth his commandment upon earth: his word runneth very swiftly.
 16He giveth snow like wool: he scattereth the hoarfrost like ashes.
 17He casteth forth his ice like morsels: who can stand before his cold?
 18He sendeth out his word, and melteth them: he causeth his wind to blow, and the waters flow.
 19He sheweth his word unto Jacob, his statutes and his judgments unto Israel.
 20He hath not dealt so with any nation: and as for his judgments, they have not known them. Praise ye the LORD.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Psalm 146

Wow, what a description of our Lord. The descriptions here don't show us a Lord who purposes to satisfy the rich or the intellectual or the healthy. This God so identifies with the poor and the outcasts of the world that when he declares himself, he declares himself as a God who 

1) Gives food to the poor.
2) Helps the prisoner
3) Lifts up those who are bowed down
4) Preserves the strangers and the foreigners/aliens
5) Relieves the fatherless and the widows.

Think about that. It amazes me. Our God aligns himself with the outcast. 

Psalm 146

 1Praise ye the LORD. Praise the LORD, O my soul.
 2While I live will I praise the LORD: I will sing praises unto my God while I have any being.
 3Put not your trust in princes, nor in the son of man, in whom there is no help.
 4His breath goeth forth, he returneth to his earth; in that very day his thoughts perish.
 5Happy is he that hath the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the LORD his God:
 6Which made heaven, and earth, the sea, and all that therein is: which keepeth truth for ever:
 7Which executeth judgment for the oppressed: which giveth food to the hungry. The LORD looseth the prisoners:
 8The LORD openeth the eyes of the blind: the LORD raiseth them that are bowed down: the LORD loveth the righteous:
 9The LORD preserveth the strangers; he relieveth the fatherless and widow: but the way of the wicked he turneth upside down.
 10The LORD shall reign for ever, even thy God, O Zion, unto all generations. Praise ye the LORD.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Common Tropes of a Carole McDonnell novel

Okay, I was gonna call this "So that's where that came from #2" But I didn't want to go into all that. Just felt like listing all the commonalities I find in most of my stories -- The McDonnellian obsessions, one might say.

Not that these are thematic crutches, or schematic crutches. More like blind spots. Ane mercifully, the stories are all pretty novel -- in spite of their similarities.

I mean... certainly no one could say that Lingua Franca is the same as Wind Follower. Or that Homecoming at the Borderlands Cafe is like Constant Tower or My Life as an Onion. But -- for better or worse-- these commonalities are there.

For your perusal -- my tropes.
1) Young couple involved living together in a courtship that requires some degree of celibacy.
2) Poor girl marrying a rich young man.
3) Both characters are usually of different castes, races, religions.
4) Young man is very spiritual to begin with but grows more committed to his religion as the story continues.
5) The girl's father is usually weak or absent. The boy's father is usually strong but indulgent (until some moment when he loses it.)
6) Characters wading through two or more languages.
7) Courting couple or young marrieds living together within a larger family complex.
8) Loyalty issues -- Friends have to be tossed, especially one close dangerous subtle friend.
9) Belongingness issues -- usually the girl has to the culture of the guy's family.
10) The guy and the girl both have woundedness issues.
11) The story tends to be an exploration of a specific kind of society within a society. Often the household doesn't completely follow the rules of the larger society to which they belong.
12) There are usually three households -- all showing diff
13) There are different circles of friendships. Sometimes concentric, sometimes subsets, sometimes intersecting. The characters have to navigate through these and often might have to leave one.
14) The world is hierarchical and younger folks -- especially the married or courting couple-- must obey the elders
15) There's often a representative of the religion or the society who is troublesome or just plain creepy.
16) Someone has a disability.
17) There's a problematical sibling relationship.
18) The main characters often have more than one nickname.
19) Male character is Asian or Asian-ish.
20) They have a desire to join up with the Called-put ones, exiles of society. They either form a little group of their own that becomes their true home....or they long for one.
21) An obsession with death, the afterlife, demons and of course GOD

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Psalm 145

I love the many times the word "speak" or "make known" appears. YES, speak it! Bless the Lord, oh my soul. 

Psalm 145

 1I will extol thee, my God, O king; and I will bless thy name for ever and ever.
 2Every day will I bless thee; and I will praise thy name for ever and ever.
 3Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised; and his greatness is unsearchable.
 4One generation shall praise thy works to another, and shall declare thy mighty acts.
 5I will speak of the glorious honour of thy majesty, and of thy wondrous works.
 6And men shall speak of the might of thy terrible acts: and I will declare thy greatness.
 7They shall abundantly utter the memory of thy great goodness, and shall sing of thy righteousness.
 8The LORD is gracious, and full of compassion; slow to anger, and of great mercy.
 9The LORD is good to all: and his tender mercies are over all his works.
 10All thy works shall praise thee, O LORD; and thy saints shall bless thee.
 11They shall speak of the glory of thy kingdom, and talk of thy power;
 12To make known to the sons of men his mighty acts, and the glorious majesty of his kingdom.
 13Thy kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and thy dominion endureth throughout all generations.
 14The LORD upholdeth all that fall, and raiseth up all those that be bowed down.
 15The eyes of all wait upon thee; and thou givest them their meat in due season.
 16Thou openest thine hand, and satisfiest the desire of every living thing.
 17The LORD is righteous in all his ways, and holy in all his works.
 18The LORD is nigh unto all them that call upon him, to all that call upon him in truth.
 19He will fulfil the desire of them that fear him: he also will hear their cry, and will save them.
 20The LORD preserveth all them that love him: but all the wicked will he destroy.
 21My mouth shall speak the praise of the LORD: and let all flesh bless his holy name for ever and ever.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

COLORS -- JAE CHUN in concert

Spiritual but not religious?

People who consider themselves deep have a bad habit of saying, "I'm spiritual, not religious." And their words drip scorn as they say it. But if you ask them to tell you about the details of their spirituality, those details are usually (at the best) the same details shared by religious people. Or (at the worst) a kind of vague panentheistic worship and buffet spirituality -- light empty fare, not heavy deep stuff. 

Am not gonna get mad at those spiritual-but-not-religious people who have a good religious background...except to tell them to quit lying and saying they aren't religious when it's obvious their spirituality was born in religion. Why not admit you're religious? Why not admit that your religion -- which you no longer practice-- created all that is good in your spirituality?

No this is for the folks who think that all religions are fundamentally the same, that the core of all religions are the same: love neighbor, live a good life, etc. And that they have found the right syncretist blend of every truth. First, all religions are not fundamentally the same. They are fundamentally different. Yes, itt's the externals that seem the same, the core of all the religions are totally different.  And only folks who don't understand the depth and details of any religion is going to say they are alike. Allah is not like Yahweh. Submission in Buddhism is nothing at all like submission in Christianity. The notion of self, the idea of being born again are utterly different concepts in Hinduism, Christianity, Bahai. The definition of human in Islam is utterly different from the definition in Christianity.

Truth is in the details and religion deals in details. For instance, the Christian God created man to be loved and to be loved by him. Allah is far above such notions of love. It insults a true Muslim when Christians talk about God being a Father or God being Love. Humans in the Christianity religion are a strange creation that God made because he wanted spirit and flesh to meet -- thus Jesus is the ultimate perfect human because in him spirit and flesh have met. And he is the perfect emanation of God because He is a God humans can touch.

So when spiritual-but-not-religious folks see the Bible I'd like them to refrain from sneering and assuming that we religious people are stupid dogmatic people who just haven't arrived to the level of spirituality that they have. A psalm might seem to spiritual folks as too religious when they see words such as king - which might offend those who dislike the patriarchal god.
Or when they see words such as praise -- which might offend folks who say such things as "I praise myself because I am god."
Or when they see such words such as "wicked"-- folks might be offended because they think "religious" people have stupid old-fashioned ideas about what goodness and evil is.

But please -- if you're so spiritual-- try to believe in us. Try to believe that there is nothing so wrong with being spiritual and religious. We religious people understand the details, that's all. We understand the specifics of a religions. Try-- if you can-- to even be humble when you say that "spiritual but not religious" comment. If you're as spiritual as all that, you could lose the sneer and your great spiritual soul wouldn't feel the urge to make other folks feel small. (Am just saying.)

If you want to say that you're free from all dogma -- because you've evolved past the rituals and doctrines of Christianity-- try not to be so smug about this freedom. Remember that you haven't really studied them. Oh, you may have thought you have...but if you haven't healed the sick or raised the dead or battled with a haven't begun to understand the power of Christian sacrament, dogma, ritual, and doctrine. Simply say: "It was not for me. I didn't understand its riches and its depths. Some part of it offended me. And it is quite possible that what is most spiritually true in Christianity offended me because of my own issues, or because of the tacky behavior of certain so-called Christians. After all, one of your great theologians have said, 'Christianity hasn't been tried and proven wrong. It has be attempted and found difficult.' So that is probably my problem. I stopped because loving my neighbor is difficult, loving judgmental Christians is not something I want to do, giving up something the religion considers a sin is just not in me." That seems more honest to me. Say that -- or something like that-- rather than go about scornfully sneering at religious people.

We understand that all the religions -- even those we don't believe in-- have at least made a committment to a particular view of God and are sticking with some well-tried rules. They aren't wimping out with this vague "spiritual" label. And honestly, many of the folks I know who call themselves "spiritual-but-not-religious" are often so shallow. Why? Because they have not committed to going deep into any particular religion, and because they are walking around judging religious people. How can you be spiritual if you're going around judging religious people as not being spiritual?

Heck, I'm spiritual and religious. My spirit is alive. Jesus brought it to birth after it had died. During the night, during the day, God leads us. We are often saved from heartache and trouble. We have seen demons and angels. We've prayed for sick people and many have gotten better. This is the heritage of those who trust in the Lord. We are more alive than we can even describe...and more than some of the spiritual folks we know.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Psalm 144

What is MAN?

This question is asked twice in the psalms:

In Psalms 8:4 -- >What is Man? - What is man, that thou art mindful of him? And the son of man, that thou visitest him? .

And again in Psalm 144

In Psalm 8, we're told that God has made man lower than the angels -- and some translations read, "lover than Himself." It tells us how God crowns man with honor and power and glory. 

In Psalm 144, we're told that man dies and his life is vanity.

These psalms do not contradict each other. Man is powerful spirit and man is dying flesh. Jesus is the perfect man and lived to show what a true perfect sinless son of man is: powerful over the waves and wind; powerful over sin, powerful over self.

To the atheist eye, man is a cosmic accident. To the pagan, man is part of nature. To the Judeo-Christian, man is fully spirit and fully flesh -- a being made to be more like God than any of God' other creatures, a creature made to glorify God, a being who (unlike the angels) can be infilled with God. Yet a being who has lost himself and his bearings. To the Christian, man is redeemed. And Jesus is our redeemer and the Second Adam who has restored us to life and to who we are supposed to be -- children of God.

Psalm 144

 1Blessed be the LORD my strength which teacheth my hands to war, and my fingers to fight:
 2My goodness, and my fortress; my high tower, and my deliverer; my shield, and he in whom I trust; who subdueth my people under me.
 3LORD, what is man, that thou takest knowledge of him! or the son of man, that thou makest account of him!
 4Man is like to vanity: his days are as a shadow that passeth away.
 5Bow thy heavens, O LORD, and come down: touch the mountains, and they shall smoke.
 6Cast forth lightning, and scatter them: shoot out thine arrows, and destroy them.
 7Send thine hand from above; rid me, and deliver me out of great waters, from the hand of strange children;
 8Whose mouth speaketh vanity, and their right hand is a right hand of falsehood.
 9I will sing a new song unto thee, O God: upon a psaltery and an instrument of ten strings will I sing praises unto thee.
 10It is he that giveth salvation unto kings: who delivereth David his servant from the hurtful sword.
 11Rid me, and deliver me from the hand of strange children, whose mouth speaketh vanity, and their right hand is a right hand of falsehood:
 12That our sons may be as plants grown up in their youth; that our daughters may be as corner stones, polished after the similitude of a palace:
 13That our garners may be full, affording all manner of store: that our sheep may bring forth thousands and ten thousands in our streets:
 14That our oxen may be strong to labour; that there be no breaking in, nor going out; that there be no complaining in our streets.
 15Happy is that people, that is in such a case: yea, happy is that people, whose God is the LORD.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Psalm 143

Folks who don't understand the spiritual dimensions of the psalms will often ask, "What's this crap with 'enemies'?" Why are you Christians always talking about fighting and battles etc? 

Quite simply, they don't know that we're in a war and that we're fighting demonic principalities. Yeah, I know... sounds silly but hey, it's true. Jesus not only came to save humans from death but he came to redeem the world -- buy it back-- from evil. 

By managing to live a perfect life -- the only human to ever do so-- he managed to do something mythic. He won back the authority man lost against sin, sickness, death, and demonic entities. Just as the first Adam caused us to be born subject to those things, Jesus -- the second Adam-- restored us again and destroyed/spoiled demonic princes. 

I can believe all this because I have a mythic heart. I love the power of myth. And the world is a majorly mythic place. Christians know that words have power and spirit -- as the Japanese say kotodamai. Words and doctrine are no mere things to be believed but things that we preach to the demonic princes. So, yeah, back to the psalm. 

When the psalmist says, For the enemy hath persecuted my soul; he hath smitten my life down to the ground; he hath made me to dwell in darkness, as those that have been long dead,
he's not only thinking of human enemies. He's thinking of the relentlessness of the demonic, the relentlessness of sickness, the relentless choreography of evil that pursues those who love God. I say "choreography" because the evil is often directed. Especially if someone is a good person. Most people suffer in some ways. We're human and its part of life. But there's a kind of suffering that comes after a person when the demonic wars against someone because of the word within them. 

It's a harsh relentless suffering that can only be fought and endured and won with God's help...because it's a suffering whose sole end is to make us not love God. Kid you not. 

Psalm 143

 1Hear my prayer, O LORD, give ear to my supplications: in thy faithfulness answer me, and in thy righteousness.
 2And enter not into judgment with thy servant: for in thy sight shall no man living be justified.
 3For the enemy hath persecuted my soul; he hath smitten my life down to the ground; he hath made me to dwell in darkness, as those that have been long dead.
 4Therefore is my spirit overwhelmed within me; my heart within me is desolate.
 5I remember the days of old; I meditate on all thy works; I muse on the work of thy hands.
 6I stretch forth my hands unto thee: my soul thirsteth after thee, as a thirsty land. Selah.
 7Hear me speedily, O LORD: my spirit faileth: hide not thy face from me, lest I be like unto them that go down into the pit.
 8Cause me to hear thy lovingkindness in the morning; for in thee do I trust: cause me to know the way wherein I should walk; for I lift up my soul unto thee.
 9Deliver me, O LORD, from mine enemies: I flee unto thee to hide me.
 10Teach me to do thy will; for thou art my God: thy spirit is good; lead me into the land of uprightness.
 11Quicken me, O LORD, for thy name's sake: for thy righteousness' sake bring my soul out of trouble.
 12And of thy mercy cut off mine enemies, and destroy all them that afflict my soul: for I am thy servant.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Myth of a Christian Religion: Losing Your Religion for the Beauty of a Revolution

The Myth of a Christian Religion: Losing Your Religion for the Beauty of a Revolution (Hardcover)
by Greg Boyd

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Zondervan (May 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0310283833
  • ISBN-13: 978-0310283836

Here's the blurb:
In this sequel to his bestseller, The Myth of a Christian Nation, Dr. Gregory Boyd issues a clear call to manifest God's beauty and revolt against evil ”with Jesus' life as our example. Passionate theology and practical insight combine to create a guidebook for simple, radical, Christlike living.

The Myth of a Christian Nation: How the Quest for Political Power Is Destroying the Church

The Myth of a Christian Nation: How the Quest for Political Power Is Destroying the Church (Paperback)

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Zondervan (May 1, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0310267315
  • ISBN-13: 978-0310267317

Here's the blurb:
Arguing from Scripture and history, Dr. Boyd makes a compelling case that whenever the church gets too close to any political or national ideology, it is disastrous for the church and harmful to society. Dr. Boyd contends that the American Evangelical Church has allowed itself to be co-opted by the political right (and some by the political left) and exposes how this is harming the church's unique calling to build the kingdom of God. In the course of his argument, Dr. Boyd challenges some of the most deeply held convictions of evangelical Christians in America “ for example, that America is, or ever was, "a Christian nation" or that Christians ought to be trying to "take America back for God."

Monday, November 16, 2009

Psalm 142

Wow, the abundance of all these "my"s. I love it! "My" is a wonderful intimate word, especially when we live in a world that tells us we ought to not think of our own little issues. Ever had to deal with one of those smug ministers who steps up to the pulpit and makes you feel so small as he proceeds to tell you that if you're really spiritually advanced, you must think of the larger picture and not focus on yourself. 

But God's workings in human life is often on the small issues. St Paul says we should cast all our care on God because God cares for us. Not just our large cares, or our important cares, or cares the world deems valid, or family cares, or world cares. God cares about the tiniest things and he can be as glorified in helping us find the perfect peanut butter if that's what our kids need to he can in healing a toothache or a cancer. 

This psalm makes us aware that God is aware of me, myself, my and I.

Thou, God, seest me


Psalm 142

 1I cried unto the LORD with my voice; with my voice unto the LORD did I make my supplication.
 2I poured out my complaint before him; I shewed before him my trouble.
 3When my spirit was overwhelmed within me, then thou knewest my path. In the way wherein I walked have they privily laid a snare for me.
 4I looked on my right hand, and beheld, but there was no man that would know me: refuge failed me; no man cared for my soul.
 5I cried unto thee, O LORD: I said, Thou art my refuge and my portion in the land of the living.
 6Attend unto my cry; for I am brought very low: deliver me from my persecutors; for they are stronger than I.
 7Bring my soul out of prison, that I may praise thy name: the righteous shall compass me about; for thou shalt deal bountifully with me.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Psalm 141

Hubby posted this today:

When we pray it is important to know what we have, what has been provided for us, what we possess as an inheritance; In verse three we exhort God to set a watch before our mouth.  Effective prayer has correct understanding behind it. To pray as if we must bribe Him or jump through holy hoops to get Him to respond is going to lead to frustration. Just trust Him (verse 8), that's what He wants!

Psalm 141

 1Lord, I cry unto thee: make haste unto me; give ear unto my voice, when I cry unto thee.
 2Let my prayer be set forth before thee as incense; and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice.
 3Set a watch, O LORD, before my mouth; keep the door of my lips.
 4Incline not my heart to any evil thing, to practice wicked works with men that work iniquity: and let me not eat of their dainties.
 5Let the righteous smite me; it shall be a kindness: and let him reprove me; it shall be an excellent oil, which shall not break my head: for yet my prayer also shall be in their calamities.
 6When their judges are overthrown in stony places, they shall hear my words; for they are sweet.
 7Our bones are scattered at the grave's mouth, as when one cutteth and cleaveth wood upon the earth.
 8But mine eyes are unto thee, O GOD the Lord: in thee is my trust; leave not my soul destitute.
 9Keep me from the snares which they have laid for me, and the gins of the workers of iniquity.
 10Let the wicked fall into their own nets, whilst that I withal escape.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Psalm 140

Wicked people. Wicked people. Honestly, most of the time as we go through life we don't really ask ourselves if someone we know is wicked or not. Perhaps we should. 

I suppose this is a matter of degrees. After all, I'm wicked. You're wicked. Compared to God, everyone is wicked. If we ask God to protect us against a wicked person, shouldn't someone else be asking God to protect them against us and our own wickedness? When we say, "That person is wicked" or "If there's a God, he shouldn't allow that wickedness," we aren't asking rightly. The question of degrees comes in. After all, where is the cut-off line? Should God stop the mass murderer by giving him a heart attack before he strikes yet draw the line at our nephew who sells crack on the street or at the woman who is having her third abortion? 

 The violent man. Again. This is a matter of degrees. It looks like an entire generation has been reared to be violent and to be nasty and snippy if they think they're being dissed. How do we separate teenage sniping anger from violence? Or is there no difference?

In this Psalm, the psalmist gives us a description of the type of violent person we should avoid -- the type of person we need to be protected by God from.
The person who imagines mischiefs in his/her heart -- A petty person, a person with cruel fantasies, a person who paranoidly (is that a word?) assumes evil of other people and is always in a war against his neighbor.
The person with a cruel tongue that gossips and spreads untruths.
The person who wants to overthrow someone else's life.
The person who is proud who likes catching people in mental, career, neighborhood traps.
The person who speaks evil of other people and who thinks a lot of him/herself.

Lots of folks fall into this category:
From the mean drug dealer who sets out to snare innocent kids to the jealous neighbor to the religious churchgoer who imagines evil of her neighbor and tells one's business under the guise of intercession. And of course the devil! HE is the most violent speaker/accuser/snare-setter of them all.

These are the kinds of people we should ask God to deliver us from. Because even though we avoid them, and we tell our friends, kids, and neighbors to avoid them, we don't know the snares they've laid for us. Only God knows.

Psalm 140

 1Deliver me, O LORD, from the evil man: preserve me from the violent man;
 2Which imagine mischiefs in their heart; continually are they gathered together for war.
 3They have sharpened their tongues like a serpent; adders' poison is under their lips. Selah.
 4Keep me, O LORD, from the hands of the wicked; preserve me from the violent man; who have purposed to overthrow my goings.
 5The proud have hid a snare for me, and cords; they have spread a net by the wayside; they have set gins for me. Selah.
 6I said unto the LORD, Thou art my God: hear the voice of my supplications, O LORD.
 7O GOD the Lord, the strength of my salvation, thou hast covered my head in the day of battle.
 8Grant not, O LORD, the desires of the wicked: further not his wicked device; lest they exalt themselves. Selah.
 9As for the head of those that compass me about, let the mischief of their own lips cover them.
 10Let burning coals fall upon them: let them be cast into the fire; into deep pits, that they rise not up again.
 11Let not an evil speaker be established in the earth: evil shall hunt the violent man to overthrow him.
 12I know that the LORD will maintain the cause of the afflicted, and the right of the poor.
 13Surely the righteous shall give thanks unto thy name: the upright shall dwell in thy presence.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Spider Dreamlet

I dreamed I was walking along a fence which bordered two properties. I've often been near a fenced property in some dreams. The other property belonged to a neighbor/friend. There was a little spider we were aware of, possibly a spider we had rescued and as I walked along the fence I felt little strands of web threads and called out to my neighbor, "How beautiful! Look! He's making a web!"
But before I knew it...suddenly and quickly..I was engulfed in a heavy white web that was so tightly woven that it felt like a heavy winter blanket. I tried to get out but it was so heavy and there was no way out. I called out to my friend for help.

Veterans' Day -- Poems from the war poets

My favorite war poet, Wilfred Owen, wrote this poem. It's called Disabled!

And this is Henry Reed's famous Naming of Parts

Alan Seeger's I have a Rendezvous with Death

Waltzing Matilda

Monday, November 09, 2009

Psalm 139

This is one of the best psalms to teach a kid, I think. I often recite it to younger son along with Isaiah chapter 40 and Psalm 104. With a tweaking, any kid could understand it.  Of course there is the little hurdle there with verses 19-22 and I suspect there's a time when one decides to include the discussion of the wicked in the recitation. 

Psalm 139

 1O lord, thou hast searched me, and known me.
 2Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, thou understandest my thought afar off.
 3Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways.
 4For there is not a word in my tongue, but, lo, O LORD, thou knowest it altogether.
 5Thou hast beset me behind and before, and laid thine hand upon me.
 6Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it.
 7Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence?
 8If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there.
 9If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea;
 10Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me.
 11If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me; even the night shall be light about me.
 12Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to thee.
 13For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother's womb.
 14I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.
 15My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.
 16Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them.
 17How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum of them!
 18If I should count them, they are more in number than the sand: when I awake, I am still with thee.
 19Surely thou wilt slay the wicked, O God: depart from me therefore, ye bloody men.
 20For they speak against thee wickedly, and thine enemies take thy name in vain.
 21Do not I hate them, O LORD, that hate thee? and am not I grieved with those that rise up against thee?
 22I hate them with perfect hatred: I count them mine enemies.
 23Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts:
 24And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Psalm 138

I once pissed off a church friend when I said God was humble. She thought I was insulting God. God wants us to be holy and we have no problem saying God is holy. God wants us to be loving and we have no problem saying God is loving. God wants us to be humble so why should calling God "humble" bother her?

Because humbleness/humility is identified in some minds with "less than." I don't really know why she was so offended by me saying God was humble. But to me, God's humility amazes me. First off, because he has no one above him. Show humility can be shown by great people. It's not about being better than; it's an attitude toward others. Second, we are in no ways equal to God. Yet, He has called us His children. This is not to say that we are perfect creations worthy of this love. God loves us, not because we're great...but because HE is great. God loves us not because we are so lovable, but because He is so loving. Thirdly, other so-called gods -- demons and idols-- are generally rather proud. They do not desire our love as our God does. They desire our worship. They desire to show how important they are. But when we praise our God we praise Him because of His love for us. He has humbly looked in on our lives -- we who are dust-- and has walked in our shoes. What a loving humble God the Everlasting -- never-created, never ending-- Creator of the entire Universe is!

Psalm 138

 1I will praise thee with my whole heart: before the gods will I sing praise unto thee.
 2I will worship toward thy holy temple, and praise thy name for thy lovingkindness and for thy truth: for thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name.
 3In the day when I cried thou answeredst me, and strengthenedst me with strength in my soul.
 4All the kings of the earth shall praise thee, O LORD, when they hear the words of thy mouth.
 5Yea, they shall sing in the ways of the LORD: for great is the glory of the LORD.
 6Though the LORD be high, yet hath he respect unto the lowly: but the proud he knoweth afar off.
 7Though I walk in the midst of trouble, thou wilt revive me: thou shalt stretch forth thine hand against the wrath of mine enemies, and thy right hand shall save me.
 8The LORD will perfect that which concerneth me: thy mercy, O LORD, endureth for ever: forsake not the works of thine own hands.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Psalm 137

Wow, someone -- the enemy-- wants to hear our songs. Hey, maybe they like our tunes. They don't know, do they? If we can sing one of the songs of God while we're surrounded by our enemies, how powerful we will be!

Yes, we can sing the Lord's song in a strange land. We have to. No matter what the world does to us -- we have to sing the Lord's song.

They that hold us captives don't know the power of our songs.

Now, about that last line. YEAH, we gotta talk about it. Yeah, it's one of those imprecatory psalms that offend some noble folks who think anger, vengeance and spite are tacky in religious circles. Well, they don't know what it's like to have seen their little ones dashed to pieces by an enemy. So they wouldn't understand what it's like for the writer of Psalm 137 to wish the same upon his enemies.

I'm not up on Christian pacifism so I don't know how to answer it. And I'm no lover of war either. But I know the desire for revenge. And I know about singing the Lord's song in a strange land.

Psalm 137

 1By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept, when we remembered Zion.
 2We hanged our harps upon the willows in the midst thereof.
 3For there they that carried us away captive required of us a song; and they that wasted us required of us mirth, saying, Sing us one of the songs of Zion.
 4How shall we sing the LORD's song in a strange land?
 5If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning.
 6If I do not remember thee, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth; if I prefer not Jerusalem above my chief joy.
 7Remember, O LORD, the children of Edom in the day of Jerusalem; who said, Rase it, rase it, even to the foundation thereof.
 8O daughter of Babylon, who art to be destroyed; happy shall he be, that rewardeth thee as thou hast served us.
 9Happy shall he be, that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Hope -- The Confident Expectation of Good

Just came back from driving with hubby where we had a really great conversation about hope -- the confident expectation of good.

Trying to make the meditation of my heart be on that... because after so many years of being ill and seeing child ill, it's hard to dream again.

Jesus told us to be careful how we hear. We have to be so careful what waters the soil of our hearts. Faith is one thing but faith has to be planted in good ground. A heart that believes the gospel thoroughly yet is pessimistic at the core...makes certain hearts really unable to conceive of answers to their prayers or even good things happening to them.

St Paul says we must not be conformed to this world but to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. This means we double-minded must not only purify our hearts from our own personal melancholic pessimistic leanings, but we must purify it from the world's ways, expectations, fears, basic fundamental beliefs.

The words of our mouths and the meditations of our hearts must be hopeful, faithful, loving, truthful because Faith works best in a hopeful heart and with a mind that has been renewed and made non-comformable to the world. By "world" I mean the pundits and the personal doctors who keep telling you you're going to die because of such and such, or the TV news anchor folks who try to make you afraid of everything and who feed us with fear.

This is an interesting time in our lives. On the one hand, it sometimes feels as if I'm fighting for my life. So I have to force myself to believe I'll still be alive next year. (And I so love Onion and Constant Tower that I'd like to see them published.) I also want to see younger son's healing manifest. I know Jesus died to heal us and my job is to fight to keep the victory of the gospel -- not to let the illness win. But on the other hand, now that hubby is suddenly unemployed these six months (after 13 years) --and the house is just in such dire need of fixing because younger son has kicked in walls and the bathroom is leaking terribly-- this is really a time to learn to hope. It's like what James Joyce says: "I'm almosting it."

I can almost grasp the feeling that this really is a new time in our life for a big deep change. We could leave the house, sell it for a pittance, sell it for a lot, let the bank take it. (Younger son would be free of congestion definitely if he gets out of this house.) We could leave town, stay in town but move to another house or apt, move back to California where we have family instead of living so solitarily because of the reclusivity caused by son's and my illness. Hubby could start an entirely different job. There is so much of a possibility. No money, though. And no real clear guidance. So I believe something good is coming. At least I can almost kinda believe something good is coming.

Anyways, am really trying to catch whatever thoughts float past my mind. I just have to have a heart that believes good thing will happen. I have faith but I don't have that joyful hope. Asking God to change my heart. God, help me please.

"I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year
'Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.'

And he replied, 'Go into the darkness and put your hand into the hand of God
That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way!'

So I went forth and finding the Hand of God
Trod gladly into the night
He led me towards the hills
And the breaking of day in the lone east.

So heart be still!
What need our human life to know
If God hath comprehension?

In all the dizzy strife of things
Both high and low,
God hideth his intention.

.. Minnie Louise Haskins (1875-1957), "The Desert" (c. 1908) Also known as The Gate of The Year

This is a part of a post I made a couple of days ago. I'm reprinting it here because it's so on my mind.

Thought about the Bible verse about Elijah
  1 Kings 17:9 Arise, get thee to Zarephath, which belongeth to Zidon, and dwell there: behold, I have commanded a widow woman there to sustain thee.  

And Andrew Wommack was doing a sermon on this verse:

1 Kings 17:4 "It shall be that you will drink of the brook, and I have commanded the ravens to provide for you there."

What I like about this story is that the widow woman didn't know she had been commanded to feed the prophet. As far as she knew she was preparing to die. Yet the command was already in her soul and whether she knew it or not God had set up her soul to feed this prophet. The prophet had his job to do. As Andrew Wommack said in his sermon, God has provided a "there." And in the first instance with the ravens, Elijah had to go THERE. In the second instance, Elijah not only had to go "there" but he had to ask a woman who considered herself at the end of her rope to help him. In both instances the feeders did something not really typical of them. Maybe the lady was very kind-hearted and would've helped him anyway, but as a mom a part of me thinks that she would be loathed to even part a bit of food to the prophet that would've helped her son. Anyway, whatever the obstacle, God's command was done.

Hubby's lack of a job is an interesting time right now. Where is our "there"? Is it a job nearby? Is it far-off? Where should we go? So many obstacles, but so many possibilities? We just have to hear what God has commanded us to do.

We Who Live at the End of Time

Here's a clip on a soon coming National Geographic special

Back in the day -- I mean way way way back-- the higher critics set to work to disprove the Bible. They said David didn't exist, and Pilate didn't exist, and the Hittites didn't exist. Then archeology proved them wrong.

More and more the Bible is being proven to be true. When someone tells me that physicists say the world was created by sound and light, this is nothing new to me. I already knew: "And God said, Light Be. And Light Was." I already knew that Light created everything.

Anyway, the Book of Revelations annoyed the heck out of a lot of people. Thomas Jefferson was a deist but he couldn't go so far as to believe in the supernatural. And being a child of his time, there were things he considered supernatural that we moderns wouldn't blink at.

Time No Longer

And sware by him that liveth for ever and ever, who created heaven, and the things that therein are, and the earth, and the things that therein are, and the sea, and the things which are therein, that there should be time no longer. Rev 10:6

Einstein ended time early in the 20th century, in a sense, in his theory of special relativity.  Time is not immutable, he said! So we can say the end of our ideas about the nature of time came in 1905!

Okay, some Bible folks translate the verse as "there will be delay no longer." But the meaning is also "time." And I like that meaning. The angel has declared that Time no longer will exist. And now that Einstein has told us that time can change, we see that the Book of Revelations is right.

For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie.

I saw a WalMart ad the other day touting a new drug mailing service they're offering. It's getting easier to get your medication. The Bible in Revelations talks about addictions to sorcery- this word can be translated as Pharmakeia, or medicine.

Slavery is something we think of as a scourge of the past- Middle Passage slave ships, chains and plantations.  But the fact is that people are being forced to work against their will, with no restitution, all around the world in the present day.

Whoremongers means human trafficking, which can involve anything that takes advantage, exploits, trespasses in any manner a fellow human being.Understood this way, we can see this is a fairly common human experience

The word for sorcerer is the word Pharmakeia which is used in the Bible for witchcraft, hallucinations brought on by medication, and also medication. We live in a time of all that. Mind-altering drugs, Big Pharma, etc.

The mark of the beast
And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads:

Now it's nothing for us to think of a chip or a laser tattoo on someone's forehead. What with the credit and money issues.

Every Eye shall see them and the people will send presents to each other
For three and a half days men from every people, tribe, language and nation will gaze on their bodies and refuse them burial.

This really annoyed folks like Thomas Jefferson. How could all the people of the world see one thing? And for three days, no less.

And, of course, there is the biggest hurdle Jefferson and the Higher Critics had: God said Israel would become a nation in a day. And that Jewish people from all over would return to their land.

Okay, someone can say that maybe the christian world forced the issue by declaring Israel a nation back in 1948. But really? Really? Folks back in Jefferson's day didn't think Israel could ever become a nation again. And when one sees all the people from India, China, Pakistan, Ethipia, Afghanistan, etc...who have kept their Jewish traditions all these centuries RETURNING to their homeland...then one knows the Bible is right and that we are definitely living in the endtimes.

Mark 13: 33-37

"Take heed, watch and pray; for you do not know when the time is... Watch therefore, for you do not know when the master of the house is coming--in the evening (Pre-Trib), at midnight (Mid-Trib), at the crowing of the rooster (Pre-Wrath), or in the morning (Post-Trib)-- lest, coming suddenly, he find you sleeping. And what I say to you, I say to all: Watch!’"

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Psalm 136

We folks in the Black church have a way of greeting each other.

"God is good!"
"All the time."

Or as this Psalmist would say: For He is good, for His mercy endures forever.

What a great call-back song this would be! I wonder how this psalm was sung in the temples in Israel way back in the day. I try to imagine it. The cantor singing each new phrase, and the congregation of the Lord chiming in with: For He is good, For His mercy endures forever.

The refrain praising God's mercy would resound through the temple or through the fields. It feels as if it would be a joyful and fun song to sing, a song of triumph. Well, I don't know of any rendition of this song, let alone any rendition of it that is joyful and fun and triumphant. But one day, when I'm in glory I'll hear the song the way the original writers sang it. And maybe I'll hear the angelic version of it. Who knows?

The Lord alone does wonders!
The Lord created the Heavens and the Earth
The Lord protects and guards His people
The Lord destroys His enemies.
The Lord provides food for all His creatures.

What a wonderful Lord He is!

Psalm 136

 1O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever.
 2O give thanks unto the God of gods: for his mercy endureth for ever.
 3O give thanks to the Lord of lords: for his mercy endureth for ever.
 4To him who alone doeth great wonders: for his mercy endureth for ever.
 5To him that by wisdom made the heavens: for his mercy endureth for ever.
 6To him that stretched out the earth above the waters: for his mercy endureth for ever.
 7To him that made great lights: for his mercy endureth for ever:
 8The sun to rule by day: for his mercy endureth for ever:
 9The moon and stars to rule by night: for his mercy endureth for ever.
 10To him that smote Egypt in their firstborn: for his mercy endureth for ever:
 11And brought out Israel from among them: for his mercy endureth for ever:
 12With a strong hand, and with a stretched out arm: for his mercy endureth for ever.
 13To him which divided the Red sea into parts: for his mercy endureth for ever:
 14And made Israel to pass through the midst of it: for his mercy endureth for ever:
 15But overthrew Pharaoh and his host in the Red sea: for his mercy endureth for ever.
 16To him which led his people through the wilderness: for his mercy endureth for ever.
 17To him which smote great kings: for his mercy endureth for ever:
 18And slew famous kings: for his mercy endureth for ever:
 19Sihon king of the Amorites: for his mercy endureth for ever:
 20And Og the king of Bashan: for his mercy endureth for ever:
 21And gave their land for an heritage: for his mercy endureth for ever:
 22Even an heritage unto Israel his servant: for his mercy endureth for ever.
 23Who remembered us in our low estate: for his mercy endureth for ever:
 24And hath redeemed us from our enemies: for his mercy endureth for ever.
 25Who giveth food to all flesh: for his mercy endureth for ever.
 26O give thanks unto the God of heaven: for his mercy endureth for ever.

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