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Thursday, January 31, 2013

Psalm 86 vs. Matthew 5

the mount outside my house
We're studying the Sermon on the Mount at church.  Not just in the sermon, but in Sunday School and in Life Groups.  We're going to try to absorb it and 'get' it.  To take it from head knowledge to heart and life knowledge.  This was the first week and we've been looking at the beatitudes.  

It's pretty challenging.  They are not characteristics I cherish in my own life, or situations that cause me to rejoice and feel blessed.

I began reading Psalm 86 today because it was the verse of the day on my BibleGateway app and the more I read, the more I saw the beatitudes peeking through!  I guess the repetition of Sermon on the Mount is working!

I color coded the similarities I saw.  I thought it was cool to see an Old Testament parallel.

The Beatitudes

“God blesses those who are poor and realize their need for him,
    for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.
God blesses those who mourn,
    for they will be comforted.
God blesses those who are humble,
    for they will inherit the whole earth.
God blesses those who hunger and thirst for justice,
    for they will be satisfied.
God blesses those who are merciful,
    for they will be shown mercy.
God blesses those whose hearts are pure,
    for they will see God.
God blesses those who work for peace,
    for they will be called the children of God.
10 God blesses those who are persecuted for doing right,
    for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.
11 “God blesses you when people mock you and persecute you and lie about you and say all sorts of evil things against you because you are my followers. 12 Be happy about it! Be very glad! For a great reward awaits you in heaven. And remember, the ancient prophets were persecuted in the same way.

Psalm 86

Bend down, O Lord, and hear my prayer;
    answer me, for I need your help.
Protect me, for I am devoted to you.
    Save me, for I serve you and trust you.
    You are my God.
Be merciful to me, O Lord,
    for I am calling on you constantly.
Give me happiness, O Lord,
    for I give myself to you.
O Lord, you are so good, so ready to forgive,
    so full of unfailing love for all who ask for your help.
Listen closely to my prayer, O Lord;
    hear my urgent cry.
I will call to you whenever I’m in trouble,
    and you will answer me.
No pagan god is like you, O Lord.
    None can do what you do!
All the nations you made
    will come and bow before you, Lord;
    they will praise your holy name.
10 For you are great and perform wonderful deeds.
    You alone are God.
11 Teach me your ways, O Lord,
    that I may live according to your truth!
Grant me purity of heart,
    so that I may honor you.
12 With all my heart I will praise you, O Lord my God.
    I will give glory to your name forever,
13 for your love for me is very great.
    You have rescued me from the depths of death.
14 O God, insolent people rise up against me;
    a violent gang is trying to kill me.
    You mean nothing to them.
15 But you, O Lord,
    are a God of compassion and mercy,
slow to get angry
    and filled with unfailing love and faithfulness.
16 Look down and have mercy on me.
    Give your strength to your servant;
    save me, the son of your servant.
17 Send me a sign of your favor.
    Then those who hate me will be put to shame,
    for you, O Lord, help and comfort me.


Tuesday, January 22, 2013


Since I didn't write last week, and this week is looking just as crazy, I'm writing a spontaneous shout out to "Steve".

If you've never seen these hilarious videos from the BBC, you simply must.
"Steve" the prairie dog

This "Steve" is a blast from the past.  A high school friend and I used to joke about pretending to date the Blue's Clues host.  It's a long story, not that interesting, but comes in handy for the "Steve" post.
What a guy, right?

Steve Dirks is the director of Lone Tree Ranch, which is where I was last weekend on a Winter Retreat with the youth group from church.  He has been instrumental in shaping my understanding of the Bible by using fascinating cultural and historical insights.  This weekend was no exception; he taught on spiritual transitions, using the story of Joshua.

Things that stuck out to me:
Canaan=God's best for the people of Israel.  They resisted and doubted and failed as they falteringly followed God's leading to conquer the promised land.  Even after they had victory, and had seen God do amazing things, Joshua still had to tell them to choose whether they were going to serve God!
How often I resist God's best for me, even when I've seen him do amazing things.

God's law required that blood be offered for atonement of sins.  At the temple, two lambs were to be offered each day, one at 9 o'clock and one at 3 o'clock.  Every day at those times, the shofar's horn would blow and remind people to stop and thank God that he did not destroy them because the lamb's blood had been offered for their sins.  On the day of Jesus' death on the cross, he was crucified at 9 o'clock and breathed his last at 3 o'clock. So cool to see that his atoning blood correlated perfectly with the sacrifices offered at the temple.
When I consider his atoning sacrifice, may I stop and thank God for his incredible gift that allows me to  approach the throne of God with confidence

Thanks for letting me process some thoughts from this weekend.

And here's to all the Steves in our lives!

links to scripture are taken from; Steve the prairie dog from YouTube; Blue's Clues Steve from a tumblr page

Saturday, January 12, 2013


For most of my life, I have wanted sisters.  And I have had only brothers.  Wonderful, pesky, non-chatty brothers.  I love my brothers.  Each one has a unique personality and gifts and strengths and ways that make me laugh.  But they are not sisters.

This is pretty much who they are
Last year, two of my brothers got married.  So, between June and September, I gained two sisters!  I love having sisters.  And the best part is that we didn't grow up in the same house, fighting over bathroom space, clothes, boys and other stupid girl stuff, so we can just start from right now without any of that stuff clouding our perception of the other.  

It's official: I have two sisters!

Well, honestly, I guess the best part is that I genuinely love my two sisters and feel like I can embrace them with zero qualms.  They both really love the brother whom they married, and I can see the ways in which my sisters help my brothers become better men, which makes me even happier.

Christmas gift from my new sister

When I opened this gift on Christmas, I was reminded of the blessing of my new sisters.  I'm grateful for my brothers, but I'm glad I get the added bonus of sisters.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

New Year, New Life

Happy New Year!  2013 has arrived.  

Today I decided to reflect on what might happen in 2013.  

As I cozied up with a cup of tea at a local coffee shop planning to come up with worthy goals for the year, I was gently reminded by good ol' Deitrich Bonhoeffer that "the road to hell is paved with good intentions".  All my goals and good intent for the year will come to nothing unless I allow God to do the work and make the plan.

I read through 2 Corinthians 5 and was struck anew by the tension we live journeying between old life in sin and new life in Christ.  

I love this: "While we live in these earthly bodies, we groan and sigh, but it’s not that we want to die and get rid of these bodies that clothe us. Rather, we want to put on our new bodies so that these dying bodies will be swallowed up by life." 

This year, I want my earthly life to be swallowed up by true life.

"So whether we are here in this body or away from this body, our goal is to please him."  

This year, I want to remember that when I'm tempted to be dissatisfied with where God has me now, my goal is to please him.

"He died for everyone so that those who receive his new life will no longer live for themselves. Instead, they will live for Christ, who died and was raised for them."  

This year, in every selfish moment (which I am confident will be countless), I want the Holy Spirit to remind me that I no longer live for myself.

"And all of this is a gift from God..."  

This year, may I be reminded that the gift is not something I can or should try to earn.

My goal setting session turned out differently that I envisioned.  But it reminded me that while I'm living here, my heart and purpose should be just the same as what I imagine it to be when I finally dwell there.

Happy New Year!

Dietrich Bonhoeffer God is in the Manger; All scripture were obtained from in the New Living Translation