The Good News

Discussion of the Best News in the World, the Gospel of Jesus, and related topics

Swimming Pigs

 

 

The Enduring Lessons from the Psalms

As the summer course on Psalms began, I became aware of two glaring sentiments brought into the classroom. One: “Professor, prove to me why I should care about the Bible, especially the Old Testament.” Two: “Prove to me that God really cares about me.” It can be a tough audience in those initial getting-to-know-each-other moments. Sometimes a cynical posture seems justified in its edge-over-faith due to life’s disappointments.
Most of my students acknowledged they hadn’t read Psalms before, some even unfamiliar with Psalm 23. This worked in our favor, however, as I witnessed their initial amazement as they read through the heartfelt prayers of David, Solomon and the sons of Korah (psalters in Moses’ day). Together, we examined psalms of wisdom, praise, lament, thanksgiving and encountered the real struggles of the psalmists who were weak — just like us. They discovered these prayers weren’t ashamed to cry out: “God, why are you so far away?” Or, “Why do the nations rage?” And, “Why do the wicked prosper?” The psalters didn’t deny life’s curve balls. They also found relief in realizing it’s even orthodox to take our anger to God. In fact, it’s the safest place. Then we wrestled with the imprecatory psalms, those that actually pray curses against an enemy. So we discussed, can we really do that? After completing a few study-exercises in the various psalms, something turned in our conversations. Their questions had a little more oomph. Gingerly, they started connecting their 2015 prayer journal assignment with prayers said/written in 1500 B.C.
Though the course has necessary academic objectives, I vowed, “Lord, there is no way I can teach the Psalms as merely skilled poetry. You show them this matters. I can’t remove cynicism from their hearts.” I pleaded, “Lord, how can I better point my students to you? I feel so helpless.” And then He mercifully led me through Psalm 118 through the eyes of Jesus.

In my personal study, I had reached Passover Week in the Gospels, when Jesus was about to become the Passover Lamb. The Holy Spirit orchestrated this to fall right in sync with the course material on the Psalms. The Hallel (praise) psalms (113-118) were sung before and after the Passover meal, serving to corporately proclaim supreme confidence in the steadfast love of God. (Note: Jesus quoted the Psalms more than any other book.) As Jesus celebrated Passover Week with the disciples, he prayed Psalm 118, which was likely the last psalm our Lord sang before His passion (Mark 14:26). In unity, He worshiped with the Jewish community, “The Lord is my strength and my song … This is the Lord’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes.” With death right in front of him, Jesus sang the text with a depth we cannot fully understand, “This is this the day that the Lord had made; let us rejoice and be glad in it” (118:24). In the dark hours of Gethsemane when every disciple deserted Jesus, he sweat drops of blood, indicating He suffered beyond what a physical body should bear. The weight of sin. Betrayal. Profound grieving for you and me.

He confronted the Pharisees with Psalm 118:22, “The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.” Jesus clearly was declaring himself as the Messiah when he quoted it, knowing his oppressors would sing these very words after the Passover meal. Without pushing toward persuasive speech, he continued to stand on scripture, “The Lord is on my side; I shall look in triumph on those who hate me. Save us, we pray, O Lord” (118:7). His spiritual thirst was quenched, though offered sour vinegar from the Cross. The psalm strengthened him, over and over.

My class read the psalm as Jesus’ own prayer for the first time, “I shall not die, but I shall live, … the Lord has disciplined me severely, but He has not given me over to death” (118:18). Suddenly, gratitude took over. They saw for themselves how marvelous he is. The two initial glaring sentiments they carried vanished, as they began to write their own psalms of praise. They “knew” the Old Testament was relevant. And they “knew” God loved them. Hallelujah!

“Lord, enlarge all our souls with renewed gratitude. Let us sing with the psalter, ‘Your steadfast love endures forever!’”

Tracey D. Lawrence is an adjunct faculty for Biblical studies at Colorado Christian University.

Repost from the Greeley Tribune

What if Your Husband Had Ebola?

Read this couple’s struggle here.

I cried a lot; he was so matter of fact and calm,” she said. “All I could do was cry and tell him how sorry I was for him and to stay strong and keep fighting. … I wanted to be there beside him and be there to bring him chicken soup and water.

More on Ebola and the Brantly’s.

It’s unfortunate that thousands of African lives and deaths did not warrant the same attention as two infected Americans.

Cry Alone?

I love Deanna’s perspective on living the life.  Let her words heal.

Adoptees: Why It’s Helpful to Cry Alone

The title of this post may seem unhealthy or even dangerous.

Cry alone?

Yes. I’m about to share something with you that I’ve found extremely helpful.

Now, for a disclaimer: Prolonged isolation is not healthy. Disconnection with others can be dangerous– not to mention, it’s completely different from the way God has wired us.
It’s important to have people in our lives who accept the real us, who can handle our joys and our tears. I’m so grateful to have that in my life.When I speak of the need to cry alone, I’m referring to something temporary.

At the same time, I’ve found there’s a certain type of cry that is helpful to have alone.

It’s a cry so deep, by it’s nature tends to overwhelm family or friends who experience it.

Out of love and concern, and maybe even a bit of panic, they might try to “shhhhhhhhhh” the wail and soothe it away. This lamentation will be so discomforting, your loved one will do whatever it takes to comfort you and get it to stop, when what you really need to do is keep going. For it to be effective, exhausting yourself down to the last drop is necessary.

Beyond the Ugly Cry

You’ve heard of the “ugly cry”? This is beyond the ugly cry.

It’s a sob from the depth of your soul that most people will have no idea what to do with.

When you experience the worst wound imaginable — the separation from the one who birthed you, and the further trauma that may occur in conjunction with that as an adult, there’s pain unequaled.

To hold it in can actually make you sick.

My family loves me. So much.

I have friends I believe would lay their life down for me.

And yet, I have not subjected any of them to this cry.

Heck, I don’t even expose my dogs to this cry.

Internal Vs. External
At one time on my journey of the past six months, my blood pressure was high and nothing I was doing externally would bring it down. I was praying, reading the Bible, exercising, eating right, taking soothing baths, listening to relaxing music and connecting with encouraging people. And yet, the high blood pressure remained.

Melissa, my therapist,  shared with me the importance of doing internal work, not just coming at things externally.
In my experience, this cry is very beneficial for one’s emotional and physical health.

I cannot promise the same health result for everyone, but I can tell you it immediately brought my blood pressure down into normal range.  I also feel 100% better emotionally after letting it out.

I have an amazing husband who “gets it” when it comes to my adoptee issues. (His post about this is the most popular one on this blog.) And yet, I know a cry in this fashion would leave him feeling helpless. He wouldn’t be able to stop it or fix it. It would only be an agonizing display for him to witness. As for my children, it would probably scare them to pieces.  But little do they know how much this private cry enables me to be the strong mom they know.

Strength Gained In Releasing

Over twenty years ago, I experienced what is known as “secondary rejection” when my natural mother said no to reunion. The two years that followed before our eventual reunion were a time of intense private pain for me. During that time I was a young mom with two babies just a year apart, and served as a pastor on staff at a church.  One day when the babies were in their cribs napping and my husband was out on an errand, I was doing dishes at the kitchen sink, when all of a sudden my natural mother’s refusal to meet with me was overwhelming. I collapsed at the kitchen sink, and lay on the floor wailing. As limp as a wrung out dishrag, I begged God to help me.

He did.

I got up off the floor and continued to be a strong woman, wife, mother and minister.

Sometimes a cry will get you through.

There is One who can handle the cry, is not freaked out, and doesn’t try to shhhush it. He cares so much about the tears, He bottles them.

“You keep track of all my sorrows.

      You have collected all my tears in your bottle.” Psalm 56:8

Ecclesiastes tells us there’s a time for everything.  I believe it.

There’s a time to cry with others.

And there’s a time to cry alone.

Crying isn’t a sign that we’re weak.

It’s necessary.

It’s healing.

It’s cleansing.

Adoptees, if you’re feeling the physical and emotional weight today and it’s just not lifting…try having a cry alone. Let it come out naturally in all it’s anguish without trying to quell it in any shape or form. When you’ve released what feels like every bit of liquid that can possibly come out of your eyes and your voice is hoarse from crying…you will feel a release.

And sometimes you need to cry, rinse and repeat.

It’s okay.

Let it come as it is.

As many times as necessary.

Part of being strong is knowing when to let go.

Click for more…

Adoptee Restoration

What’s in a Name? The Presence of God!

 by Sue Stratton

How God introduces Himself to us by His personal name tells us a great deal about how he wants to relate to us each day

Old Testament professor Susan Stratton is famous for her rich insights into the names and ‘Presence’ of God.  Her passionate teaching in classrooms, retreats, (and coffee shops) have richly blessed her students, her children, and her adoring husband. Read more of this post

If I Ever Needed Grace

I need his grace…

Holy, holy, holy

8“Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty,
    who was and is and is to come!”

11 “Worthy are you, our Lord and God,
    to receive glory and honor and power,
for you created all things,
    and by your will they existed and were created.”

Worthy

8“Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty,
    who was and is and is to come!”

11 “Worthy are you, our Lord and God,
    to receive glory and honor and power,
for you created all things,
    and by your will they existed and were created.”

Holy, holy, holy

8“Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty,
    who was and is and is to come!”

11 “Worthy are you, our Lord and God,
    to receive glory and honor and power,
for you created all things,
    and by your will they existed and were created.”

Revelation 4

I love Revelation 4.   I also love Revelation 5.   Revelation 4 has what I want to focus on.  It needs no commentary.  Just take it for what God may say to you.

The Throne in Heaven

After this I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven! And the first voice, which I had heard speaking to me like a trumpet, said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.” At once I was in the Spirit, and behold, a throne stood in heaven, with one seated on the throne.And he who sat there had the appearance of jasper and carnelian, and around the throne was a rainbow that had the appearance of an emerald. Around the throne were twenty-four thrones, and seated on the thrones were twenty-four elders, clothed in white garments, with golden crowns on their heads. From the throne came flashes of lightning, and rumblings[a] and peals of thunder, and before the throne were burning seven torches of fire, which are the seven spirits of God, and before the throne there was as it were a sea of glass, like crystal. Read more of this post

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