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Tag Archives: Psalms

Comprehensive Praise: some notes from Psalm 150

Psalm 150 is a fitting, yet fascinating, conclusion to the book of psalms. The psalms are prayer-songs that were often used within the corporate, and private, worship of the people of Israel. Psalm 150 concludes the entire psalter with a comprehensive picture of worship. Here are some thoughts that leap out to me about worship from this psalm.

Worship is God-Centered
The beginning word of the psalm is simple: ‘Hallelujah’, which means, ‘Praise the Lord.’ The theme and tone of this psalm, something which sums up the entire book of psalms, is God-directed praise. This word, ‘hallelujah’, sets our compass to true north. Here at the beginning of this psalm, yet at the end of the entire psalter, we remember that God is the center-point and anchor for our lives and worship. As the often-used phrase says, we remember that worship is not about me but about God.

The Intersection of the Mundane and the Holy
Next, we are told to center our worship of God in God’s sanctuary or tabernacle and the heavens or the firmament of the sky. The psalmist reminds us that worship is simultaneously about us drawing near in a Read the rest of this entry »

 
 

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God’s Multifaceted Word (Psalm 119)

In my own daily times of Scripture reading and prayer, I’ve been meditating on Psalm 119. Psalm 119 is the longest of the Psalms by far with 176 verses. This psalm is an extended reflection on the delight and power of God’s word, structured as an acrostic poem with one stanza for each letter of the Hebrew alphabet.

In reading through the psalm, I have been impressed by the expansive catalog of the diverse characteristics of God’s word that it provides. When I read through Psalm 119, I feel like I am getting a multifaceted look at the word of God that is enlightening, stretching, and encouraging.

At the risk of being simplistic, I am offering a brief list below of at least some of the facets of God’s word that are seen in Psalm 119. I’d encourage you to read through the list and, when one statement jumps out at you, to open your Bible to Psalm 119, read that verse, and then ponder the words for the day. There is so much here in Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on June 3, 2011 in Scripture reflections

 

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Prayer video (via Granger)

A friend passed along this gritty video on prayer produced by Granger Community Church. I appreciated the way that it presented the honesty, relationship, and listening aspects of prayer in a fairly creative and engaging way. What do you think?

 
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Posted by on March 25, 2011 in Discipleship, Video Shorts

 

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David Taylor on the Psalms at #fantastical

Here is my final note post from David Crowder’s Fantastical Church Music Conference in Waco, TX, last week. This is from a break-out session with David Taylor entitled, “Singing the Ever-Renewing But Not Necessarily Straightforward New Song.” David is a PhD candidate at Duke and the author of For the Beauty of the Church: Casting a Vision for the Arts.

“It may indeed be said that the purpose of the Psalms is to turn the soul into a sort of burning bush.” – Stanley Jaki, Praying the Psalms

“I Know the Lord’s My Shepherd” – contemporary rendering of Psalm 23 to the tune of “Rudolph the Red-Nose Reindeer” – unfitting

What does it mean to ‘be fitting’ with the text, music, congregational singing and setting

How do we think about the “fittingness” of new songs for congregational worship?

Three distinct meanings in the Psalter for the phrase “new song” with examples from current song writers

Criteria for selection of ‘new songs’ that are fitting:

  • Could my home church do this song?
  • Could the average person sing this (they might need to be taught it)?

Phrase “new song” found in the Psalter: Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on October 5, 2010 in Communication, Worship

 

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You Can’t Take It With You…Can You?

Human beings, despite their wealth, do not endure;
They are like the beasts that perish.
Do not be overawed when others grow rich,
When the splendor of their houses increases;
For they will take nothing with them when they die,
Their splendor will not descend with them
Psalm 49:12, 16-17

The Sons of Korah, who penned this psalm, offer pointed words of wisdom about wealth, possessions, and human life. Looking around, it is all too easy to envy the wealth of others; to wish that I had what they had or could do what they can do. In the economic system of our society, which is built upon the principles of consumerism and buying-power, one’s identity and status is so often equated with what you have or can do based on wealth.

But in Psalm 49, a number of helpful reminders are offered. First off, wealth does not change the reality that we will die just like any other animal. While this may seem insulting or even rude, the statement made in verse 12 is ultimately true. We will die. Don’t ignore it or trick yourself into believing otherwise. Whether you are rich or poor, wise or foolish, our bodies will fail us and we will exhale a final breath some day.

A second reminder we find here in Psalm 49 is that wealth cannot be brought with us into the grave. Not only are we all going to die, but the wealth – or poverty, for that matter – that we accumulate on this side of the grave cannot come into the grave with us. Now, we all know stories of people who cram endless possessions or unique items into their caskets with them. We find it amusing and laugh because of the novelty of it, but also because we know it is a vain attempt at keeping the treasures of this life with us in death. The only help extra baggage in a coffin offers to a dead body is giving it a little extra weight to help bring it into the ground faster.

I’m reminded of Jesus’ encounter with the rich young ruler, who struggled with following Christ because of his wealth. Jesus told His disciples: “How hard it is for the rich to enter the Kingdom of God” (Mark 10:23).

 
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Posted by on March 9, 2010 in Ministry Reflections

 

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What are you thankful for?

We all have reasons to be thankful.

Throughout Scripture, we are encouraged to remember and rehearse together the reasons we have to give thanks to God.

The Psalms reverberate with this charge:

Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever. (Psalm 106:1)

The Apostle Paul encourages the believers in local churches to do this together:

Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. (1 Thessalonians 5:18)

He also reminds us that our ultimate reason for giving thanks is found in Jesus Christ, who lived, died, and rose in victory over sin and death for us:

But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 15:57)

Even though we should be doing this all of the time, it helps to have a time of year where we take special time to remember and rehearse with others the reasons we are thankful.

Why not take some time today and tomorrow to do just that?

We all have a reason to be thankful. What’s yours?

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Posted by on November 25, 2009 in Discipleship

 

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Breaking Through

For the Lord is a sun and shield; he bestows favor and honor. No good thing does the Lord withhold from those who walk uprightly. (Psalm 84:11)

In my more upbeat days, I can easily look around at the world, my life, and my circumstances and see the brilliant light of God shining down upon me and His protective shield around me. I feel His favor and the honor it is to be His. I celebrate the good things He has showered upon me, echoing the words of James: ‘every good and perfect gift comes down from You, o Father of lights.’

But at other times, my life and the world seem more like the valley of the shadow of death than the lush green pastures watered by life-giving streams. I cannot see the way forward. I feel the weight of doubt or depression. I question where God is and what good things He is giving now.

Where are you living now? Are these words in Psalm 84 merely passing happy thoughts that don’t penetrate real life? Or do these words come from a place of resilient truth that can meet us both on the mountaintops and in the dark valleys?

God is a joyful God and yet a sorrowful God.

He knows the heights of joy because He made those mountaintops, but He also knows the depths of darkness because He Himself went under the veil of death’s shadow. He sees them both and He has experienced them both. Sometimes we touch the good things and know them to be the goods they are. At other times, we feel He is holding back from us the good things we desire. It is quite possible that His withholding of things we would call good is actually the extending of grace for our greater good.

Wherever you are living today, call out to Him. Ask for His light to shine upon your way. Ask for Him to defend you from harm this day. Ask to see His favor and good things as you walk upright in His ways. Celebrate His work in your life, both in light and in shadows.

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Posted by on November 17, 2009 in My Spiritual Journey

 

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