Reflections on the Psalms and Prayer

We have turned our calendars to September, and even though the season of fall doesn’t officially begin for a few weeks, my mind is already thinking about what is ahead. But I don’t want to miss the opportunity to take time to reflect on the summer and appreciate what I have learned and how I have seen God at work.  

As I have said before, I have relished soaking in the Psalms. One of the most helpful reminders was the repeated theme that God is king who sovereignly reigns over all the world. We as humans tend to believe we have more control or power than we do, and life often brings us experiences we neither want nor choose. So it’s good to be reminded that God is the supreme ruler of all and has power over all things, including our lives. We know we can trust God who is always with us and will help us, no matter what comes. 

When You Face Enemies

If you have been reading the psalms this summer, you have undoubtedly noticed that God is the primary subject of these prayers and songs of Israel. But have you noticed that enemies may well take second place? The theme for this week’s psalms in the devotions is “Psalms for when you have enemies.”  

I’ve been thinking about this. I really can’t think of personal enemies. That is, I know of no person or group of people who is threatening my life. I may have people who don’t like me or are against me (though I confess I am unaware of it), but they are probably “too nice” to tell me so and simply choose to distance themselves to avoid me altogether.   

But that was not the experience of Israel. They had real enemies who wanted to destroy them. Nearly half of the psalms (73, to be exact) are attributed to King David. He had to contend not only with foreign nations and leaders who were enemies, but also with the jealousy and hatred of his mentor King Saul and the betrayal of his own son Absalom.

Let Us Take the Adventure Jesus Has for Us

I shared recently that I just finished reading The Chronicles of Narnia again. There was a phrase that I noticed was repeated many times from the first book to the last: “Let us take the adventure Aslan has for us.” The context is important, as these words are usually spoken at a time of uncertainty, risk, and even danger. It’s not clear what will happen next or even if the outcome will be positive or whether they will even survive. But there is no going back. The only option is to press on, to move forward with faith and confidence in Aslan, the Christ figure in the stories.

“This Train Is Bound for Glory,” VBS, Jim Singleton, Identity

Trains were a huge part of my life growing up. I’ll share more about that in a moment, but it helps explain why I was very excited about the theme for Vacation Bible School this week: Rocky Railway. I know that trains do have a lot of power to pull freight and passengers, just like Jesus’ power pulls us through, helping us do hard things and giving us hope. That theme goes really well with our psalm study this summer. Jesus helps us in the midst of our real-life experiences of pain, hurt, disappointment, loss, anger. His power gives us the help, hope, comfort, and strength we need.

Hamilton, Isaiah, King Jesus, and the Need for Courage

7/5/20 Glenda Simpkins Hoffman This week I had a remarkable confluence of circumstances. A friend told me that the movie Hamilton, filmed in 2016 with original cast on Broadway, was to be released on Disney Plus on July 3. I haven’t seen it yet, but I can’t wait. I’m listening to the soundtrack again to get ready for it.   Every time I listen, something new […]

How Long, O Lord?

On Friday noon I took part in the Racial Reconciliation prayer meeting on Zoom that many Great Banquet people and others are participating in. That evening I attended the Juneteenth Rally for Remembrance at First Baptist Church. Those present at both of these events were reminded of the historical significance of this day that commemorates the end of slavery in the United States.

The Lost Art of Lament

A few weeks ago I came out of a kind of fog from all the adapting to online ministry, and I decided to read some familiar books including To Kill a Mockingbird. I started the book before the killing of George Floyd, and I finished it the weekend the protests began. Interesting timing.

Psalms for Every Season: Orientation, Disorientation, Reorientation

I have enjoyed reflecting on and praying the psalms the past few weeks and look forward to doing so throughout the summer. The truth is, I need the psalms to give me words to pray. This has been quite a year with the announcement of Pete’s retirement, Pastor Stan Ott’s and Doug LeMaster’s retirements, Pastor David Jordan-Haas’s death almost a year ago, remodeling the building, and redesigning our Sunday morning worship and learning communities. That was a lot…