Psalm 151 – Written By My Son

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Did the title of this article catch your eye?  As you may already know, there are only 150 Psalms in the Bible.  But when my son wrote and sent this poem to me (copied out below), I felt like it should belong in the Bible as an additional Psalm.  🙂  I hope you will enjoy reading it and find it encouraging to your faith.

As I read it, I was so impressed by his poetic style and his command of good imagery.  But I also saw that it showed throughout his positive faith in God and his Christian character.  Which is amazing for two reasons: 1) In previous years, Glen wrote many other poems.  He has exercise books full of them.  But so many of them were dark as he went through some difficult months of feeling lost.

And 2) Glen is currently training with the Canadian military, which is not a godly environment.  As you read the poem, you can see the “potential enemies” around him, and yet his faith is carrying him through as he works within a very strong non-faith environment.  I am very proud of him, as well as being proud of my other son, Eric, and his wife of 3 1/2 years, as they all remain true and fast to their faith in Christ and their devotion to God the Father.

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Psalm of Glen

Am I your child God?
Do I have your favor?
Do not abandon me in your anger.
Do not throw me away in your wrath.

How high do the wicked climb,
Trampling the honest and holy ones?

Who is left that Believes?

Father you are gracious.
Your love endures forever.
I, a lowly creature, am not worthy.
 

You have bestowed me gifts and abilities,
That which you have given to me
You have blessed my life and wrapped me
In your love and safety.

In times of trouble, to you I turn.
When I am blessed, to you I give thanks.

Oh Lord, Creator of all things,
You bent low and decided to create me.
I am your humble servant.

Teach me, oh Lord, that I may be,
Holy and righteous in your eyes.
Lead me in the steps of everlasting life.

Thank you Father, for this life.
You have given me much.
Much do I choose to owe,
Yet you hold no debt over me.

I am free, by your blood.
So let me be free in your power.

Rise up, Oh Lord and come to my aid
I am surrounded on all sides.
My enemies bare their teeth,
They wish to devour my flesh.

Oh Lord, My Rock, defend me, your humble servant
I will perish under the weight of their foot
On the rocks I shall be dashed to pieces
Rescue me from my imminent Death, Oh Lord.
Be Merciful to me.

For you are the everlasting God
There is none before, there is no end.
You took me into your arms
Called me like I am your child.

Father, my God, how majestic is your Name.
The mountains tremble at your voice
The trees shake their branches
Even the rocks cry out to you

Forgive us Lord, For our blindness.
We are a Deaf, Blind, Dying race.

You are God Alone.

Oh Lord, My God, Have mercy on me.
Turn to me with Favor,
For all I have done for your children.
Do not leave me to be eaten by the dogs
Raise me up on wings of eagles,
To soar above my enemies.

I will have victory, over my foe.
For the Lord is with me.
Strength and power are his.
The world bends to his call.

“You are my child, whom I love”
Says the Lord
” Do not have fear as you walk among the wolves,
Had the Lord not created the wolves as well?
Is there any power greater than I?”
Says the Almighty.

“I will rescue you from your pain,
I will bring aid for your wounds.
Trust in me,” says the Lord,
“And I will guide your path.”

Let my life be an offering to you.
Let my sacrifice and burnt offering be a pleasing aroma to you.
May I serve you with integrity and excellence.
And may your Word ever be on my lips.

Till the last breath, I serve you.

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Allow me one more time to commend what is written above.  I am currently preparing to do the consultant check on 1/3 of the book of Psalms for a language group over in Papua New Guinea.  As I have been studying all I can about psalms, I learned that there are seven key elements found within what is called a “Petition Psalm” also known as a “Lament Psalm”.

These elements, which can be found in this or a rearranged order, are as follows:

  • Appeal: the Psalmist calls to God to listen and pleads for help in a time of trouble.
  • Problem: greater detail is given regarding the problem that he is facing.
  • Request: what the Psalmist wants God to do in order to help deal with the problem.
  • Confession: his claim of innocence and/or a confession of sin before a holy God.
  • Profession of Faith: a strong statement of belief in God, who He is and what He can do.
  • Promise: a vow to praise God, serve Him, and/or a promise to bring God an offering.
  • Praise: a final word of praise or trust in God.

So now that you know this, what do you think about Psalm 151 (Glen’s Psalm).  Can you see all these elements within his poem?  Pretty darn cool, don’t you think?  [“Way to go son!”]

Glen 2010

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“I’m A Father!”

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Who Am I?  Part 12

For five months now, I have been posting articles every second Saturday that talk about the milestones or major events in my life that have shaped and defined who I am.  Things were not looking very good for me where we left off in the last article.  (Click here.)  I was deathly ill, lying on a mattress in the back of our station wagon, while Jill was over six months pregnant and pulling a U-Haul behind our wagon through some horrible “white out” storms across Canada as we headed to Alberta.

As mentioned in another article (1987 – A Pivotal Year), we had just recently lost a pregnancy that was very devastating to us.  Now we were very concerned about my health, as well as this next pregnancy.  In 1987, I know I was not emotionally or mentally ready for a child, but in ’89, even as I was lying there so sick, one of my prayers was to let us have this child.

I prayed, “Lord, let us have a safe delivery, a healthy child, and let me be a father.”  I knew I would be ready this time.  As I now reflect back on that time when I would become a parent, a passage of Scripture comes to my mind.  Psalm 127 tells us a lot about children, parenting, home life, and putting our trust in the Lord.  It’s not long, so I encourage you to pick up your Bible and read it.

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So there we were, driving across Canada, ready and hoping that this time we would be able to start a family.  We were wanting to “build a house” as Solomon wrote in this Psalm.  (Most scholars would lean toward the idea that the Hebrew word here is referring to a family in verse one, and not just a building.)  We definitely had not done well in Toronto, but I figured that things would be different as we headed toward my home town.

We did manage to make it to Calgary, despite our car deciding to quit in upper Ontario leaving us stranded at a lonely gas station stop.  And the RCMP closed the highways due to zero visibility on the highways.  Thankfully the gas station had a mechanic there who fixed the problem in our engine, plus replaced the timing belt which was almost worn out.

I kind of felt like a failure when we arrived back at my folks house.  They graciously let us stay in the basement and did not charge us anything to live there while I recovered and Jill prepared to have our baby.  I felt like I had really let my wife down, I had disappointed my parents, and I was unable to contribute anything.  I didn’t realize at that time how wrong I was.

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In Psalm 127, Solomon tells us that if the Lord is not the foundation and the protector of the house/city (which are both figurative ways to talk about the family) then all that we do can be considered “in vain”.  I still get caught up today in the trap thinking that “it is up to me to provide/save/help the family.”  The truth is that only when we are putting our trust in Him for anything and everything, that we can really be strong and able to withstand the crashing waves of life that pound at us.

But I didn’t get that at this time in my life.  The day for Jill to deliver had almost arrived.  Thankfully (or should I say by God’s grace), I had recovered from my three-month illness that had left me bed-ridden so that I was able to be there for the birth of my first son.  WOW!  What a day that was.  I was allowed to be there for the delivery (pretty awesome moment), and afterwards, I would go around with my chest puffed out and say, “I have a son!”

And then I again felt like it was up to me to provide for our family.  I put myself in charge and tried everything I could do to find employment.  I even stooped so low as to go around door-to-door to sell these huge one-volume dictionaries.  I lost a lot of sleep, and time with my family, while I tried to “make it” on my own.  Only when I had exhausted my resources and turned to rely on God did He let me get back into active church ministry as a youth pastor.  I also made a commitment to help more at home and to help raise our son Eric.

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And I think that is when I started to realize what a blessing it was to be a father and a husband.  I did the work that God gave me to do, but I did not let the job control my life.  I wanted to be home with Jill and my son Eric, to share meals together and build our family.  There were a few people at the church that thought I should be “in the office” more than I was, or work “like a man” and put in 60 hour work weeks, and then do volunteer ministry on top.

But in those early months of Eric’s life, and then a couple of years later when Glen was born, when life could get real busy, and the demands of ministry could start to control me instead of the other way around, there will always be one memory that reminds me that I did make some good choices.  After a work day, when I would walk into the house, and Jill would say, “It’s Daddy!”, first one son, and then two sons would come crawling or bounding into my arms, and I knew where my treasure truly lay.

Entering God’s Sanctuary

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Psalm 15

A Psalm of David

1 Who may worship in your sanctuary, LORD?  Who may enter your presence on your holy hill?

2 Those who lead blameless lives and do what is right, speaking the truth from sincere hearts.

3 Those who refuse to gossip or harm their neighbors or speak evil of their friends.

4 Those who despise flagrant sinners, and honor the faithful followers of the LORD, and keep their promises even when it hurts.

5 Those who lend money without charging interest,and who cannot be bribed to lie about the innocent.  Such people will stand firm forever. (New Living Translation)

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This Psalm of David has more meaning and significance for me now that I have worked on the book of Hebrews.  During the past month, I have been engaged in preparing and in checking Hebrews in the A. language, one of the local languages of Papua New Guinea.  I had read Hebrews many times in the past, but this was the first time that I had seriously studied the book verse-by-verse.

Sometimes when we are checking Scriptures we may go the other way and instead of  getting a good grasp on the big picture or main ideas in a book, we can get lost in the details of checking the meaning of a verse or phrase.  And yet, I think that even with our intense scrutiny of Hebrews, it was almost impossible to not get the main thrust of the book.

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This is very true as one considers the flow of the text from chapter 1 through chapter 10.  The author is very methodical, but very clear, that we are to see just how great Jesus is, our Mediator, our High Priest, our once-for-all sacrifice for sin.  From the cosmic (Jesus is better than the angels), to the simple (he shared in our humanity), from the earthly (from the line of Judah) to the heavenly (a great high priest forever), Jesus is the One through whom we can go to come into the very presence of God.

And yet, we as Christians today forget these great truths at times, and at other times we behave in ways that draw us away from God.  In reading again from my daily devotions, “Connection! Devotions for Every Day Life“, I thought the writer of one devotion asked some very good questions based off of Psalm 15 which asks about who can enter in and worship in God’s sanctuary.  She writes:

If you are experiencing times of intercession and worship that are dry and difficult, it may be time to take inventory as David did in Psalm 15.  Ask the Holy Spirit to show you if any of the following are hindering your worship:

• Are you leading a blameless life and doing what is right? What about staying away from things that have the appearance of evil? (v. 2)
• Are you speaking the truth from a sincere heart? Any half-truths or painting yourself in a better light when recounting a story? (v. 2)
• Do you absolutely refuse to slander others no matter what? Do you refuse to harm your neighbors or speak ill of your friends or spouse? (v. 3)
• Do you despise persistent sin? Do you honor the bride of Christ in thought, word, and deed—including those from other denominations? (v. 4)
• Do you keep your promises even when it hurts? (v. 4)
• Do you want something in return when you do something nice for someone? (v. 5)
• Do you speak against someone when it is in your own best interest? (v. 5)
Holy Spirit, show me any areas of my life that are hindering my prayer life.  I desire to enter in with a pure heart!

–by Sandra Higley, author of A Year of Prayer Events for Your Church; Taken from an article that originally appeared in Issue 19 (July/August 2000) of Pray! magazine.

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And as I read these questions, I recognized my own failings.  I know that there are times, more often than I would like to admit, that I sin against God or against another person.  For the Israelites, they were required to come to the Tabernacle (later the Temple) where they would bring an animal sacrifice and offer up the sacrifice as a means of atonement for sin.  How sad it is when we read “again and again he (the high priest) offers the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins.”  (Heb. 10:11)

But praise be to God, when Jesus offered himself as a living sacrifice, even though he had done nothing wrong, had never sinned, “by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.”  (Heb. 10:14)  We are no longer under the old regulations whereby we deal with sins temporarily, but we are assured of eternal forgiveness.  And that gives us the great assurance that yes, indeed we can come into God’s heavenly sanctuary and worship Him.

And like a climax, the author says these inspiring words in 10:19-22

19  And so, dear brothers and sisters, we can boldly enter heaven’s Most Holy Place because of the blood of Jesus.  20  By his death, Jesus opened a new and life-giving way through the curtain into the Most Holy Place.  21  And since we have a great High Priest who rules over God’s house, 22 let us go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting him.  For our guilty consciences have been sprinkled with Christ’s blood to make us clean, and our bodies have been washed with pure water.

Isn’t that good news?  Yes, in fact it is fantastic news.  What we could never achieve on our own, Jesus has accomplished by dying on the cross and moving aside the barrier that once had separated God from mankind, and mankind from God.  Now we can come before the King of the Universe, bow before Him and worship Him, knowing that our sins have been dealt with, and we are found acceptable in God’s eyes.

Some Practical Christianity

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“Open Heart, Open Home”

I’m sure you have heard the idea that we are to be “the hands and feet of Jesus”.  It sounds great, but what does it mean?  Are we to go over to India and follow in the example of Mother Teresa and minister to the poor and dying in that country?  Well, yes, maybe God is calling you to do this, and if so, you should start praying and packing.

But for most of us, even myself at this time, we will not find ourselves leaving our home country to go live in another part of the world to serve the Lord full-time.  So what is it that we are supposed to do that would qualify us as being Jesus’ hands and feet.  Of course we do have the words of Jesus Himself who told us how we can “flesh out” Christianity in practical ways.  He says in Matthew 25:35-40

‘I was hungry and you fed me, thirsty and you gave me a drink; I was a stranger and you received me in your homes, naked and you clothed me; I was sick and you took care of me, in prison and you visited me.’  The righteous will then answer him, ‘When, Lord, did we ever see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you a drink?  When did we ever see you a stranger and welcome you in our homes, or naked and clothe you?  When did we ever see you sick or in prison, and visit you?’  The King will reply, ‘I tell you, whenever you did this for one of the least important of these followers of mine, you did it for me!’

This is one of Jesus’ parables, and it begins to give us some insight into what good practical Christianity looks like.  It is showing the same kind of mercy and compassion to a fellow human being that God would show, but as is so often the case, God is asking us to do these acts of compassion on His behalf and in His name.

Now someone reading this may be saying that this is still too general of a mandate and would like to see at least one of these ideas fleshed out more specifically.  I have anticipated this possibility, and so I would like to offer a good suggestion, especially to fellow Christians who are living in North America and are living very nice modest lives, if not down right well-to-do lives when compared to most of the rest of the world.

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And here is my thought:  I would venture to say that nearly every Christian who reads this post is currently living within 100 miles of a University or College.  And in nearly every institution of higher education, there would be a certain percentage of foreign students who have come to study in our countries.

So why don’t we become proactive and invite some of them, four people, or two, or even one to join our family for a meal and “Please stay to visit with us longer”, and leave with “What date shall we set for doing this again?”  Time may be short right now, but most Universities and Colleges should be coming up to the Spring Break.  What better time to open your hearts, and open your homes when the international student has no idea what they will do or where they might go during this break.

I leave you now with an excerpt from a good book “Revolution on Our Knees:  30 Days of Prayer for Neighbors and Nations” written by good friends of mine, Dave & Kim Butts, who have an international prayer ministry called Harvest Prayer Ministries.  They offer a Scripture passage, and then a real challenge to all us who are Christians.

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“May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face shine upon us, that your ways may be known on earth, your salvation among all nations. May the peoples praise you, O God; may all the peoples praise you. May the nations be glad and sing for joy, for you rule the peoples justly and guide the nations of the earth. May the peoples praise you, O God; may all the peoples praise you. Then the land will yield its harvest, and God, our God, will bless us. God will bless us, and all the ends of the earth will fear him” (Psalm 67).

Every year almost 700,000 international students flock to college campuses in the United States. They are far away from home, many for the first time, navigating a strange culture and attempting to take classes in a language different from the one that is most natural to them. Many of these students want to impact their nations in a significant way, but most are not Christians. These students are a huge untapped resource for the cause of Christ, but about 70% of them will never see the inside of a Christian home unless we reach out to them.

The reality of this situation is staggering when we consider that these potential kingdom workers already know the language, customs and layout of their own countries. Through hospitality and acts of love, our families and churches can become the hands and feet of Christ to them, bringing many into the Kingdom of Light! Then, by training them to reach their own nations for Jesus Christ, these young men and women can become incredible tools in the hands of a mighty God.

Gracious Lord, please give me a heart for the nations, for I long to see all the ends of the earth fear Your Name! Help me to see the big picture of how reaching out to one young student can change the world for Jesus! Let me be one of many in my church to seek to build relationships with young men and women from all over the world so that they might have an opportunity to see the living Christ in our homes! Teach me to stretch beyond what is comfortable to learn from and minister to these young students, so that they will see Jesus in me and know that I care about them.

–Adapted from Revolution on Our Knees: 30 Days of Prayer for Neighbors and Nations by Dave and Kim Butts.  Click on the title for more information on this resource.

God Spoke Through People

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How I Became a Missionary – Part 1

Many times I have been asked the question, “How do you know God’s will?”  This is so broad of a question it is hard to answer.  And in fact, what people are often asking is, “What would God want me to do with my life?”  The most important decision a person needs to make is to accept Jesus as their personal Saviour and Lord.  The next two most important questions for most people then revolve around, “Who should I marry?” and “What career will I pursue in my life?”

The beginning of my journey to become a Christian was shared in an earlier blog, “For My Tears, Jesus Died.” The interesting and hilarious details of how I chose Jill to be my wife will be in future blog entries.  But the third question regarding the choosing of a career, and in my case a missionary career, I think is a fascinating story and will probably take many blog entries to give you the full story.

On this post, I want to share about how God used people and spoke through people to help guide me on this quest of what I should do with my life.  I’m sure I could name many people who influenced my life, such as my parents, key friends, teachers, pastors, etc.  But as I look back at my life, I can see very clearly how four individuals very specifically impacted me, although they themselves did not know at that time the impact of what they said.

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The first person to impact my life, was a lady from Wycliffe Bible Translators.  I did not know her personally, but she was a member of my church and had been overseas working for Wycliffe.  She was giving a slide presentation on her work, and on the work of Bible translation in general.  I was 14 at the time.  I had been a Christian for only two years.  But when as I watched her presentation, a chord within me resonated, and the germ of an idea, or should I say. the germ of a vision was planted.

The second person, actually couple, were also Bible translators, living in the highlands of Peru and working to get the Scriptures into a Quechua language.  I was 16 at this time, and was also in the Canadian Navy.  (But that story will have to wait for another time.)  I got special permission from our ship’s captain to have a 3 day leave so that I could visit these people who were also supported by my church back in Canada.  During those three days, I became absolutely fascinated with what I saw and heard about Bible translation.  The seed had sprouted and began to take root in my heart.

The third person was also a Bible translator, and I met her at a fundraising banquet for Wycliffe.  I was 18 and she was probably in her 60’s or older.  (My thought at first was, “Oh great, I get stuck next to an old lady!”)  But God spoke through this saint to me.  She told me story after story about Bible translation work, and I was quickly enraptured by her stories.  Then suddenly she asked an odd question.  She said, “Are you very good at math?”  I replied, “Yes, I get 90s and 95s all the time.  I love math.”  Then she replied to me, “Then you would make an excellent Bible translator.”  Wow!  Was this a prophetic word?  And the interest within became a burning desire from that time on.

Now jumping over many years, and without going into details of the many years and places that our wandering lives and various ministries took us, finally in 1993, while living in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island (PEI), we got talking to an old college friend of mine.  I had been worn down and beaten through some tough ministry experiences and did not have a drive or a passion left in me.  And this shocked my friend, who then said, “I thought you always wanted to be a missionary!”  And that statement woke me up and rekindled the fire within to pursue a missionary career.

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What value does this story have for you and I today?  First, we all need to realize that God places people in our lives at strategic moments.  And in these moments, God will send us a message, one intended just for you or me.  God wants to speak through these people and help guide us into the things God would have us do.

Secondly, this story tells us that we must keep our spiritual eyes and ears open to be able to catch the messages God is trying to send us.  Are we listening?  Thirdly, we may never realize that we are the ones who might be impacting others with a word of wisdom or the planting of a vision.  So keep on sharing from your heart whatever God lays on your heart and leave it in God’s hand to bless what you say to the benefit of someone else.

But most important of all for me, is the spiritual truth that God often will plant a dream, a vision, a deep yearning for something in our heart, and if we will remain faithful to Him, and be honestly seeking to hear His voice, then these desires of our hearts are in fact also God’s desires and He will in every way strive to see these passions of our hearts come to pass.

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Scripture itself says it this way:

Psalm 20:4    “May he give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed.”

Psalm 37:4     “Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart.”

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