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Delight in God Our Shepherd

Psalm 23 served as the place of teaching this last Sunday.  While most of us know the Psalm so well we forget that it's not a funeral Psalm (as it is used in funerals so often), but rather a Psalm of Confession - David's confession of God as His Shepherd...over the whole of his life..through the good times, the bad times, the ugly times...God has faithfully directed his ways through all of the Valleys of life.

I ended it with summarizing the last verse as "the hound dogs of heaven".  "Surely, goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever".

I ran across this some time ago, and it sums the Psalm up beautifully: The Lord is my Shepherd = That’s relationship. I shall not want = That’s supply. He makes me to lie down in green pastures = That’s rest. He leads me beside still waters = That’s refreshment. He restores my soul = That’s healing. He leads me in the paths of righteousness = That’s guidance. …
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The Gift of Peace Within

I was sawing wood yesterday and thinking about lots of things.  Recently I asked the Elders to release me from full-time and allow me to work part-time and hire my son to be an assistant to me in order for the church's teaching needs, and pastoral needs to still be met.  The other choice was to retire, step away from ministry altogether and let the church get on with the task of finding another Pastor.  As I cut wood I found myself thinking about all sorts of things in relation to this.  Most people were happy that I chose to stay on and not retire, but there were a few who did not.  I care about people...and yet most of the thoughts I had yesterday were negative.  Did I do the right thing?  Should I have done more?  Emotions surface - sadness, self-pity, regret, guilt - to name a few.  

There is a word that I was introduced to years ago in reading Henri Nouwen.  It is the word Nepsis.  Nepsis means to be "alert, attentive, watchful, especially in relation to our spirit and so…

Work as Duty and Sacred

One of the hardest things I ever did was travel to Zambia, the town of Chingola and there along with 25 other European/Americans and a dozen or so Zambians, built an orphanage.  It was work without the supervision of safety under OSHA.  We used a lot of means that were not safe at all in climbing, use of tools, and equipment.  Scaffolding made out of leftover wood pieces cobbled together and used to work high.  I remember the afternoon where it all came tumbling one was hurt. 

It was an adventure in working manually.  We made our own bricks out of muck, cement, and water.  They were made in the shape of bricks like we buy in the States, but laid out in the sun for a day so that they would harden into bricks to build walls with.

We worked was a duty, a job to be done.  No one complained, everyone was exhausted at the end of the day.  We slept in grass-covered huts built especially for our team.  They poured small cement pads before we arrived and we put …

So Will You!

This last week I had another eye set-back.  The left eye had a retinal tear, which meant I had to return to the retinal specialist for laser surgery.  I have to admit I was really down.  The surgery isn't that painful, but it's not fun either.  The after-effects are lots of soreness, floaters that don't go away, some bleeding and I did very little except sit around feeling sorry for myself.

This morning as I awoke I started to think and pray - Lord, everything happens for a purpose in my life and you said that it was all for the good...but I'm struggling to find the good.  I picked up my Spurgeon morning devotional and he must have been writing it to me.

And the king crossed the brook Kidron.  2 Samuel 15:23 David passed that gloomy brook when fleeing with his sorry company from his traitorous son. The man after God's own heart was not exempt from trouble; in fact, his life was full of it. He was both the Lord's Anointed and the Lord's Afflicted.…

A Summer in the Psalms - Getting Started

Last week I began a teaching series I'm calling "A Summer in the Psalms".

Of all of the books of the Bible, the Psalms are breath-taking in scope and substance.  There are 150 individual Psalms, but in reality, there really are 5 Books of Psalms.  For centuries, the Church met to sing the Psalms - called the Psalter - because the Psalms are poetic, rhythmic, structured to be used for Worship and Prayer more than give us information.  Yet the Psalms also give us instruction, which is why they fit into the Wisdom literature of the Bible.  More than anything the Psalms point us to Jesus Christ.  He is the Messianic promise of so many of the Psalmists as they cry out to God for deliverance and Redemption.

A couple of notes to you if you're interested in learning more of the Psalms.  First, follow along this summer as we teach the Psalms.  You can listen to messages on our website, under the teaching heading.

Secondly, read the Psalms.  Begin today an…

Jesus became a curse for us

One image, one aspect, of the atonement, has receded in our day almost into obscurity. We have been made aware of present-day attempts to preach a more gentle and kind gospel. In our effort to communicate the work of Christ more kindly we flee from any mention of a curse inflicted by God upon his Son. We shrink in horror from the words of the prophet Isaiah (chap. 53) that describe the ministry of the suffering servant of Israel and tells us that it pleased the Lord to bruise him. Can you take that in? Somehow the Father took pleasure in bruising the Son when he set before him that awful cup of divine wrath. How could the Father be pleased by bruising his Son were it not for his eternal purpose through that bruising to restore us as his children? But there is the curse motif that seems utterly foreign to us, particularly in this time in history. When we speak today of the idea of a curse, what do we think of? We think perhaps of a voodoo witch doctor that places pins in a doll made t…

Why Doubt?

As we journey closer to Easter, it is good to remember what Jesus has done for us.  This morning I read from a daily reading by Charles Haddon Spurgeon - one of the greatest preachers in all history.  Pastor of the Metropolitan Tabernacle in London, England in the mid to late 19th century, he was known as the prince of preachers...and this is one of the demonstrations of why that was so.

For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. [2 Corinthians 5:21]
Mourning Christian, why are you weeping? Are you mourning over your own sins and failings? Look to your perfect Lord, and remember, you are complete in Him. You are in God's sight as perfect as if you had never sinned; more than that, the Lord our Righteousness has clothed you with a royal robe of righteousness, which is wholly undeserved—you have the righteousness of God.
You who are mourning by reason of inbred sin and depravity, remember, none of your sins can condemn y…