"God be merciful to us & bless us, & cause His face to shine upon us.
That Your way may be known on earth, Your salvation among all nations.
Let the peoples praise You, O God; Let all the peoples praise You.
Oh, let the nations be glad & sing for joy!"
Jesus, who suffered deeply on behalf of your people’s sins, and was raised for
our justification so that you might bring us to the Father; help us to see that
our “Image-of-God-occupation” is to be worshippers – even in the midst of
years back I did a conference at a church called “Worship and Suffering”.
Strange title, to be sure, but I was tackling the knee-jerk reaction of our
hearts that when we’re suffering we want to cut ourselves off from Worship and
Church, become the “feel-sorry-woe-is-me” people who think that we are the only
ones to ever suffer this or that. / This series actually began with my first
sermon on Ruth – Naomi (and so, if you want the full impact, go listen to that
one – it’s on sermon audio).
on Psalm 42 and 43 appear to have been one Psalm. There are repeated statements
and phrases: 42.9 and 43.2; as well as 42.5, 11 and 43.5. Though there is value
in the two Psalms having been separated (Psalm 43 is more manageable for
memorization) I am going to present them together.
Longing (1-3): It’s interesting that the pious
Psalm-writer is very vocal about desiring God when he is destitute, dry, and
dejected (Moses-Ex.33; Psalmists ; Jesus on the Cross). And it’s in the weary,
withering wasteland, that we are cast onto our own resources and find that all of
our haughtiness, high-mindedness, know-how-ness melts into helplessness and we
long for resolution->God! But also there, in the howling, scorching winds blowing
across our shriveling souls we hear voices – many voices taunting us and
laughing at our once resilient faith. In v. 3 the Psalmist’s own tears
tauntingly ask: “Where is your God?” That is probably the most painful moment
of our predicament. Just as when Christ cried out, Eloi, Eloi, lema
Worship (4): Here the
worshiping believer finds a 2 edged sword. He remembers the days when he once
was close to the place of God’s enthronement, the Temple…..But this joyful
memory can also launch into self-pity. For the Psalmist the public worship of
God was the place to join in the fellowship of God: both with God and God’s
fellows. But now he is cut off, cast out, thrust out into exile.
Refrain (5): Suddenly, surprisingly, the Singer stops
short and does the unexpected. He grabs himself by the shirt collar, punches
his finger into his chest, and talks to himself in the gray cloud of this blue
funk. As Martyn Lloyd-Jones once put it: “You have to take yourself in hand,
you have to address yourself, preach to yourself, question yourself. You must
say to your soul: ‘Why art thou cast down’ - what business have you to be
disquieted?” / You must take yourself in hand and say “Hope in God” instead of
repeating the mantra of gloom and despair. Remind yourself who God is, what has
done and what has pledged Himself to do. And then defy yourself, defy your
tears, defy the voices wafting on the winds blowing through your withering self!
and Assurance (6-8): Then
the Sacred Singer turns to God, encouraged by this inspired self-talk, and
bares his withered soul to God, telling God the depth of his desertion.
Sometimes we lie to God trying to paint honey over the putrefying wounds as if
we’re sure God has a fragile ego and will be shattered if we’re honest with
Him. \\ The Psalmist describes his
location; he is up north where the Jordan flows out of the Hermon mountain
area. This was probably penned sometime after Israel was split in 2, and the
northern Israelites had embraced the half-breed religion of Jeroboam and were
sliding into outright paganism. A time and place when those who longed to be
loyal to God were quickly becoming the minority. His gloom and sense of
forsakenness resounds with verbatim language from Jonah (2.7
etc). Yet while meditating on the creation around him, the sacred-singer is
drawn up into God’s assurances-the 24/7/365 God!
Oppression (9-10): The repeated taunt: “Where is your God”
comes now from the surrounding enemies. Their nagging voices echo with his
tears... Christ and His detractors: “And those who passed by derided him, wagging their heads and saying,
"You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save
yourself! If you are the Son of God,
come down from the cross." So also the chief priests, with the
scribes and elders, mocked
him, saying, "He saved others; he cannot save himself. He is the King of
Israel; let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. He
trusts in God; let God deliver him now, if he desires him. For he said, 'I am
the Son of God.'" And the robbers who were crucified with him
also reviled him in the same
way” (Matthew 27.39-44).
Refrain (11): So he stops to take a breath and preach
the Gospel to himself again!
and Deliberation (1-2): Now the
sacred-singer begins to break free and resolution starts to dawn over the edge
of his desert.
in Anguish: Public Worship (3-4):
And where does he envision that God’s deliverance will take him? Not further
away but visually closer to God, into the public worship of God at his
Refrain (5)! Finally,
the twice repeated refrain comes forth with faith and certainty.
not the only one who has gone through the valley of the shadow of death.
this silly nonsense of trying to save God’s ego. Don’t be irreverent, flippant
and stupid; but quit lying. As Derek Kidner in his commentary on the Psalms
wrote….””The very presence of such prayers in Scripture is a witness to His
understanding. He knows how men speak when they are desperate” (Vol. 1, 157).
Therefore, genuine prayer is the ‘disburdening of the heart before God. It is a
pouring-out of the soul with its complaints into His bosom’ (Ronald Wallace, Calvin’s
Doctrine of the Christian Life, 281).
public worship should be our ambition in the midst of the anguish. Why? It’s
because of who this God is (42.8b, 9a, 43.2a, 4).
with this, public worship needs to be real-a place and space where grievers and
mourners and people at the breaking point know they can come and disburden
their souls into God‘s bosom. Not a place of pretending that this is a giddy
High School Pep Rally or a Tupperware party with a cross. Our songs, preaching
and use of the sacrament must portray the reality that at the cross God has
entered once and for all into our grief and agony, and that He has triumphed
over death, devil and doom in His resurrection.
package of Psalms (42 and 43) is all about Christ (grief, death, resurrection,
ascension, High Priest)…..and so I close with the words of John Calvin, “We do
not die apart, but along with Christ, that we may afterwards have life in
common with Him.”
When I was 20 years old, I was stationed in a Muslim country for two years. During that time I read the Quran (in an English translation from Oxford), interacted with Muslim acquaintances, and saw Islam lived out in it's communal context. Therefore I was excited when my mother gave me a copy of "Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus". With bazillions of reviews already plastered on the various sites and venues, mine will be short and succinct.
Nabeel Qureshi has woven together a very personal and personable volume written to give "an insider's perspective into a Muslim heart," as well as equip readers "with facts and knowledge, showing the strength of the case for the gospel contrasted with the case for Islam," while chronicling his own inner struggles, sacrifices and doubts when grappling with the Christian faith. The style of writing is autobi…
"When evil looms and darkness falls And tragedy is breaking When all that's good seems overturned By God I'm not forsaken For though I fall or wander far I'm not too far for saving And when my Shepherd seeks and finds How can I keep from singing" (229)?
So cantillates Jennifer Michelle Greenberg, mother, wife, writer, musician and abuse survivor, in her new 240 page hardback "Not Forsaken: A Story of Life After Abuse". This volume is the tale of her terrors and troubles at the hands of an abusive father, and it is far, far more. It is truly a story of life after abuse, abundant life found only in the One who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. An easy to read book, it is ideally suited for those who have been traumatized and those who long to help the trampled! "I am not my abuser. I have a choice. I aspire to heal and grow by God's grace" (82).
It's a memoir, a series of journal entries telling a very human set of stories in a very friendly, personable way. It's not fully polished, but it's real, sometimes raw, and always forthright and frank! Holly Rench, Executive Director and co-founder of The Welcome Mission, has penned a touching series of real-life exploits, escapades, agonies and adversities of the women she has been involved with for over twelve years in this 231 page softback "At Home: The Incredible Story of The Welcome Mission".
Rench unravels the tangled lives of several of her and Marcus's "adopted" adult children describing their destructive pasts and how many of them, through love and hospitality, have moved further up and further on. But the tales are also filled with pitfalls and potholes that will jar the reader's suspension system's and rattle any self-righteous lug-nuts s…