Sing Praises!

Psalm 47.

O clap your hands, all ye people; shout unto God with the voice of triumph.

For the LORD most high is terrible; He is a great King over all the earth.

He shall subdue the people under us, and the nations under our feet.

He shall choose our inheritance for us, the excellency of Jacob whom He loved. Selah.

God is gone up with a shout, the LORD with the sound of a trumpet.

Sing praises to God, sing praises: sing praises unto our King, sing praises.

For God is the King of all the earth: sing ye praises with understanding.

God reigneth over the heathen: God sitteth upon the throne of His holiness.

The princes of the people are gathered together, even the people of the God of Abraham: for the shields of the earth belong unto God: He is greatly exalted.

Because this is a short psalm, I decided to print it in its entirety. I hope you will read it and get wrapped up in the praise David expresses for our great God, He is the King of the entire Earth. He is the Creator, the Provider, the Sustainer of all things.

Even though there are times in which it seems Satan is winning, the ultimate battle is the Lord’s. Satan knows his own end, and is doing as much damage to that which God loves as he can before that end comes. He WILL go down in defeat! Shout to the Lord!

Be Still!

Psalm 46:10-11.

Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.

The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah.

Psalm 46 is a wonderful psalm. I did not skip the middle because I think it is unimportant. Every word of scripture is important. What I am doing is landing on the verses that spoke very clearly to ME. You may have a different take on the psalm, and that’s just fine. In no way am I dismissing the verses that I have not written about in this or any of the other psalms. Read it through for yourself. Allow God to speak to you however He chooses, to meet your need.

Apparently, my need right now is to just be still. Be still, and ponder on Who God is. Ponder on what He has done and will do. Ponder on the fact that no earthly power can stop His plan or His work. Ponder on this: If it is my time to die, no power on earth can keep me here; if it is not my time to die, no power on earth can take my life. That thought is not original with me. I don’t remember where I first heard or read it. What I do remember is that it gave me a profound sense of peace. Everything, including the power of life and death, is in His hands.

Selah. Think of that!

Sunday Morning Coffee: I’m Late! I’m Late!

Goodness! The morning flew by, and I can’t believe it’s almost 3:30 p.m. I’m home today, still nursing a case of mono. I don’t feel sick. Just incredibly tired, like someone pulled a plug and all my energy has drained out. I folded a load of clothes that Terry brought up last night, and just doing that small chore took every bit of energy I had.

I’m not enjoying this at all.

A friend loaned me the first two seasons of The Chosen a few weeks ago. It’s been hard to find the time to binge watch, but that’s pretty much what I’m doing today. I’m impressed with the acting, the settings, the representation of what Israel looked like in that day. And I think the Romans are portrayed quite well, too.

Of course, the writers, producers, etc., are taking some “poetic license,” adding things that are not in scripture, but then, we don’t know every single thing that happened during Jesus’ time on earth. I do not believe, so far, that anything in these DVDs takes away from scripture. Nor is it presented in a way that “adds to or takes away from” God’s Word, making it seem as if it were Divinely inspired. The watchers need to understand that this is a story, created to teach and to entertain.

So I got to thinking about that last sentence: Teach and entertain. I thought about all the
years I spent, when I was much younger, teaching little kids the stories in the Bible. I taught them truth, I tried to do it in a way they would remember. Sometimes, that was to use humor, or a dramatic telling of the story. I will never forget the little one who sat on the edge of his chair as I told the story of Snowflake, the little lost lamb. Every time the Shepherd called, “SNOWFLAKE!” the little lamb bleated as loudly as he could. I spoke the pitiful. “Baaaahhhhh!” with a hitch in my voice. Once, when I called out “SNOWFLAKE!” this little guy hollered “Baaaaahhh!” He was that involved in the story. We all had a good laugh over it, including the boy himself. And I suspect he didn’t soon forget the story of the Good Shepherd,

I do think we need to take care when we dramatize the scripture. We need to tell the truth. We need to portray Jesus, Himself, in all His divinity and His humanity.

Jesus often used stories–parables–to illustrate truth. I don’t think He recited those stories in a droning, boring voice. I think He spoke with authority, and joy, and deep respect for the Father. I believe He spoke with sincerity, and with deep concern for those to whom he preached.

The Bible is not a boring book. We shouldn’t be boring in the way we teach it.

Saturday Soliloquy: Why do I Teach?

Yesterday, I spent an hour at the homeschool co-op our church sponsors. This year, we’ve been learning about “the art of the argument.” We’ve discussed several fallacies of which we are all guilty, like ad hominem (to the man) attacks that include using 100% words like always and never. It’s been fun and interesting to see how my students react to all of this, even going so far as laughing at themselves when they recognize their own tendencies.

Yesterday, we worked on building credible, provable syllogisms. It’s harder than you think, but we had lots of good laughs in the process.

One student turned in this one:

Proposal One: Humans have ten fingers and ten toes.

Proposal Two: Monkeys have ten fingers and ten toes.

Therefore, humans and monkeys have the same ancestor.

You should know that our upcoming debate project will be Creationism vs. Evolution. The above syllogism was presented as an argument in favor of evolution. This is no easy task, since none of my students believe in evolution. However, they need to be able to debate either side of the issue. Also, keep in mind that these are high school kids, ranging in age from 13-17. And they are remarkably bright.

Part of the exercise was to pick apart the syllogisms, finding the flaws and fallacies. Can you do it? What is/are the fallacies in the example above?

So. Why do I teach? I’m retired, after all. I’m 75 years old. I don’t have to do this.

The number one reason I continue to teach is that I absolutely love seeing the light of understanding in the eyes and faces of my students.

Second, we have a LOT of fun while we learn! We got so involved yesterday that I lost track of the time and we went almost fifteen minutes over our closing time. No one minded. The kids were engaged, participating, enjoying the give-and-take.

Third, I love learning. I have an inquiring mind :). I’m curious, and I hope I will never be too old to enjoy learning something new. I believe my love of learning kindles that same thing in my students. I hope they, too, will become lifelong learners.

Finally, and most important, the environment in which I teach allows me the freedom to use the Bible, to talk about God. We spent some time yesterday on His amazing (unbelievable to our finite minds) creative power. We discussed the fallacies involved determining the ages of rock strata. It was good, intense, and interesting to all of us.

Here’s a video from the fascinating series Is Genesis History? If you’re interested, you can find a lot more under that same topic:

There is a River

Psalm 46:4. There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacles of the most High.

It’s a short post this morning–I have a busy day ahead and need to get ready for it.

The first line of this verse put this song in my head. I hope it blesses you as it does me.

Our Refuge and Strength!

Psalm 46:1-3.

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.

Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;

Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. Selah.

Because I have an inquiring mind, I did some research this morning before starting to write. Verse two of today’s passage made me stop and picture what it would look like if the whole earth moved, and all the ranges of mountains around the world were moved into the water.

It’s hard to imagine such a calamity. We talk about the strength of the high mountains. Can we imagine that strength being simply swallowed up by the roaring waters of the earth?

I knew that islands are, with very few exceptions, the tops of mountains that are largely under the water. That concept was hard for me when I first learned it, because some island are quite mountainous. If their visible landmass is so high and broad, what must the rest of that mountain that is under the water actually look like?

And all those islands are connected to the earth, way under the water. You can’t swim under them (there are, of course, always a couple of exceptions–just giving you the broad outlines here.) So, I asked myself, what is the difference between an island and a continent? The answer is simple, but boggles the mind: The only difference is size.

That means that continents, too, are simply above-water land masses supported by massive underwater eruptions of the earth. If all of this fascinates you, as it does me, there is a wealth of information available. I think, however, that a lot of the formation of islands and continents occurred during the Flood, when we read in the Bible that the fountains of the earth broke forth. I don’t think we can begin to imagine the violence that took place as massive underwater fountains broke open and spewed unimaginable torrents of water upward to meet the curtains of water descending on the earth from above. There is also the possibility that some of those fountains of the deep spewed magma, forming what we know today as the surface of the earth.

Here’s something else around which to wrap your mind. This vast globe, encircled by vast amounts of oceans and mighty mountain ranges, is going to be completely consumed. It will burn with a “fervent heat” (II Peter 3:10-12). Lots of people want to explain that passage away with the event of nuclear warfare. I don’t think so. Our God is a consuming fire (Hebrews 12:29). He will not need man’s assistance in fulfilling prophecy. He, after all, created everything without man’s help. When the time comes, He will also destroy what man has defiled without man’s help. I’m not talking about pollution and “climate change” here. I’m talking about the sin in the hearts of all mankind; the sin that turns our hearts away from God and denies His power and His very existence.

God is our Refuge. He is our Strength, He is our very present Help in time of trouble. Think of that (Selah!)

God Blest Forever!

Psalm 45:1-2.

My heart is inditing a good matter: I speak of the things which I have made touching the King: my tongue is the pen of a ready writer.

Thou art fairer than the children of men: grace is poured into Thy lips: therefore God hath blessed Thee for ever.

According to Strong’s numbers, the word inditing in Hebrew means to keep moving; to stir. So David is saying that his heart is moved about something good.

The introduction to this psalm would seem to indicate that it is a song of praise to some unnamed king in Israel. Some commentators believe it was for Solomon when he married the Princess of Egypt. Almost all agree that it also foresees the coming of the King of Kings, the Lord Jesus Christ, Who is fairer than all the fairest.

I especially love the statement, “My tongue is the pen of a ready writer.” Some point to this sentence as David claiming a special inspiration in writing this psalm. His heart was moved, stirred, full of something very good, and he was ready to sing this song of praise, perhaps knowing that his words would be preserved down through time.

Who else but Jesus is fairer than all the children of men? Who else has grace pouring from His lips? Who else can be said to be blessed by God forever? Lily of the Valley, bright and morning star, fairest of ten thousand.

I believe that when David sang this psalm, he was overwhelmed with the beauty, love, grace and majesty of the Lord.

God My Rock

Psalm 42:9-11.

I will say unto God my Rock, Why hast Thou forgotten me? why go I mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?

As with a sword in my bones, mine enemies reproach me; while they say daily unto me, Where is thy God?

Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise Him, Who is the health of my countenance, and my God.

I love mountains. I was born in Colorado, and though I grew up mostly in Minnesota, I loved going back to Colorado on vacations and seeing the vastly different landscape of those immense mountains. There is such a sense of changelessness, strength, and protection in those massive ranges.

In these verses, David repeats his questioning of the disquiet of his soul. He then responds to that disquiet in the same way he did in the early verses of this Psalm. He trusts in God, his Rock, his Fortress, Who is unchanging no matter what trials may come.

I couldn’t find absolute confirmation, but I wonder if these last few verses of this psalm are prophetic. I think of Jesus crying out from the cross, “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken me?” He knew, of course, that God would never forsake Him, but in the worst of His suffering He felt the burden of fear and despair as He bore the sins of all mankind.

Later, after He had died, a soldier thrust his spear into Jesus’ side, confirming that He had already died. Before He died, they had mocked Him, asking Him where His God was now? Both of these events are reflected in v. 10.

Deep Calleth unto Deep

Psalm 42: 7-8.

Deep calleth unto deep at the noise of Thy waterspouts: all Thy waves and Thy billows are gone over me.

Yet the LORD will command His lovingkindness in the daytime, and in the night His song shall be with me, and my prayer unto the God of my life.

When I was 10 years old, we moved from Minneapolis, where the Mississippi River held sway, to Portland, OR. For the first time, that summer, I saw an ocean. I was speechless. although I did try to write a poem to express my complete amazement. I was overwhelmed with the power of so much water! I remember, possibly on that first trip to the coast, being on my stomach on a high overlook. I watched the huge waves crashing into the rocks that were possibly as high as a 10-story building, thankful it was all happening far below me. I thought of stories I had read, like Robinson Crusoe and The Swiss Family Robinson. Those stories included accounts of broken ships that were picked up by mighty waves and cast like toys against the cliffs and rocks. The height of the waves and the depths of the troughs they crashed into were beyond my experience, for sure.

I’ve wondered exactly what “deep calling unto deep” actually means. I can tell you that the ocean, along the coast of Oregon, can be louder than I ever expected. When the wind is wild, so is the ocean.

I used Strong’s numbers and learned that “deep” refers to “deep (of subterranean waters)” or “the sea, abysses (of sea).” We know that there are places in the ocean that we have measured for depth only recently. The deepest place so far known is Challenger Deep and is located beneath the western Pacific Ocean in the southern end of the Mariana Trench, as far as we know now, it is 35,876 feet in depth. That is equivalent to 6.794697 miles.

The actual word used in v. 7 is better translated as waterfalls rather than waterspouts. So think, now, of that incredible depth of the ocean. Think of the power of a waterfall (a strong wave, perhaps?) that is so powerful that it plunges all the way to the bottom of the Challenger Deep, carrying everything it has picked up along the way, down to the very depths of the sea.

Remember that David was a poet–an artist who used words to paint a perfect picture of the despair and helplessness he felt as he was plunged into the depths by a power too strong for him to resist.

Then, consider the next verse, in which he acknowledges that no matter the depths of his despair and trouble, His lovingkindness will preserve David in the daytime, and His song will encourage David in the dark night of his suffering. David will always remember to pray, and find comfort in knowing that God hears him. God will give him a song in the darkest night.

As usual, there is music in my head:

Sunday Morning Coffee: Sigh!

Well, I’m not as “over it” as I thought I was. Cold symptoms are gone, but this lingering fatigue is driving me nuts. And I don’t want to focus on that, so I decided to switch my perspective. It is often helpful to focus on the positive 🙂

I have the freedom to rest and sleep when I’m sick. No children to care for. No job demanding my presence. A comfortable house and well-stocked freezer and pantry. A husband who is willing to step in when I just don’t want to cook. Family and friends who check in on me and pray for me.

I have my laptop, my Bible, and handwork to occupy my time–between catnaps. Along with a stack of other reading I need to do. Of course, reading tends to make me sleepy 🙂

I also have good medical care, with good insurance, if the need arises.

So I can handle being extra tired, for however long it takes. My Father knows all about it!

12:09 p.m: PS:

A friend of mine has a granddaughter who is in the hospital for a bad case of mono. The penny dropped when I read that. I’ve had mono before, and that’s what this feels like. Not bad enough to see a doctor, so it’s not a definite diagnosis, but it makes me feel better just to think I have an answer 🙂