Tag Archives: Psalms

Making Movies

I’d be very surprised if the movie, “God’s Not Dead,” convinced anyone to abandon atheism.  Perhaps I’m wrong, but I suspect movies like that mostly feel good to those who already know God’s not dead.  I’m pretty sure God does not need to be defended.  Why?  Because He isn’t dead!  He’s all powerful and His purposes prevail.  If He was dead, then maybe we’d need to work hard to prove He wasn’t.

That’s the idea humorously and ironically illustrated by these guys:

24 A silversmith named Demetrius, who made silver shrines of Artemis, brought in a lot of business for the craftsmen there. 25 He called them together, along with the workers in related trades, and said: “You know, my friends, that we receive a good income from this business. 26 And you see and hear how this fellow Paul has convinced and led astray large numbers of people here in Ephesus and in practically the whole province of Asia. He says that gods made by human hands are no gods at all. 27 There is danger not only that our trade will lose its good name, but also that the temple of the great goddess Artemis will be discredited; and the goddess herself, who is worshiped throughout the province of Asia and the world, will be robbed of her divine majesty.   (Acts 19:24-27)

Any so-called god who can be “robbed of divine majesty” because of something someone says is no god you want to follow.   I’ve seen many movies about faith in God that have stirred my soul.  Don’t get me wrong: I’m not down on God movies.  It’s just that the real God doesn’t need our movies; He makes His own:

1 The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
2 Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they reveal knowledge.
3 They have no speech, they use no words;
no sound is heard from them.
4 Yet their voice goes out into all the earth,
their words to the ends of the world.  (Psalms 19:1-4)

We’ll Leave the Light On

Once again, I watched “Close Encounters,” one of the best movies ever made.  Do you remember the scene, early in the movie, in which the people who had seen or sensed the presence of the aliens gathered on the hillside, lighting lights to welcome them?  Remember how they watched and waited, eagerly anticipating their coming? 

It would be nice if Christmas lights were lit with that same attitude, watching and waiting, eagerly anticipating the coming of our Lord.  Perhaps they once were, back before Christmas became flattened and homogenized into “Happy Holidays.”  But you and I can light welcoming lights year round, not on our gutters and bushes but in our attitudes and actions.  Watching and waiting, as many once did for His birth.

David said it like this:

I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word I hope;  my soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen for the morning, more than watchmen for the morning.  O Israel, hope in the LORD! For with the LORD there is steadfast love,and with him is plentiful redemption.  And he will redeem Israel from all his iniquities.(Psalm 130:5-7)

Red Pencil

As it came time to bury Ann Maree’s ashes, I began looking through her Bible, to see what passages and verses meant the most to her.  Easy enough to tell; she had a red pencil and carefully underlined her favorites.  Your eye was automatically drawn to the places her heart hung out.  Especially The Psalms; some of those wound up looking like a grammar school theme after Mrs. Owens was done with it.

I was also taken by the lines she did not highlight, contrasting them to those she did.  For example, consider some lines from Psalm 31.  As Stage 4 bladder cancer continued its inexorable siege, you might think she would have underlined this:

“Turn your ear to me,
come quickly to my rescue;
be my rock of refuge,
a strong fortress to save me.” – (Psalm 31:2)

But she did not.  No frantic plea for healing.  No desperation.  Instead, she settled herself with this:

Since you are my rock and my fortress,
for the sake of your name lead and guide me.”  –  (Psalm 31:3) 

Through her red pencil, she said, “I know I can trust you, even in the midst of this final struggle, so please, God, show me what I should do.” 

I was gripped with awe.  Ann Maree never made a big public deal about how much she trusted God, but in her quietness and peace, the straps of her faith were cinched tight.

You can see it for yourself, in the rest of what she emphasized with that red pencil:

“But I trust in you, LORD;
I say, “You are my God.”
My times are in your hands…” –  (Psalm 31:14-15a)

“How great is your goodness, which you have stored up for those who fear you.”  –  (Psalm 31:19a)

“Praise be to the Lord, for He showed His wonderful love to me…”  –  (Psalm 31:21a)

“Into your hands I commit my spirit; redeem me, O LORD, the God of truth.” –  (Psalm 31:5)

Your prayers for Ann Maree were graciously answered this morning, around 1:30.

Ann Maree is home at last!    OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Last October, after the full scope and sobering consequences of her cancer were known, God woke her in the small hours and gave her a foretaste of the unbridled “shalom” awaiting her in Heaven.  She was laughing and crying the next morning, trying to find words to convey what she experienced.  And so grateful to Jesus for His promise to her of that destiny.   This morning I imagine her family and friends in Heaven are saying, “You think that was cool, check this out!”

Here’s a song for Ann Maree, again taken from the Psalms:

“I have set the Lord always before me.
Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.
Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices;
my body also will rest secure,
because you will not abandon me to the grave
nor will you let your Holy One see decay.
You have made known to me the path of life;
you will fill me with joy in your presence,
with eternal pleasures at your right hand.

(Psalm 16:8-11)

Quotes: The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984 (electronic ed.). Grand Rapids: Zondervan.


PS – If you would enjoy seeing some of Ann Maree’s artwork, go to annmareebeaman.com.

When the Lines are Down

Well, it happened again.  I was saying something heartfelt and important to someone on my cellphone, not realizing that the connection had died.  After a few seconds of silence, “Hello… hello… Are you there?”  Feels kind of stupid and helpless, talking to a dead phone, right?  Do you ever feel as though your prayers aren’t getting through?  Like you are trying to talk to God and the connection is broken?  Don’t sweat it, it happens to everyone, even to a guy considered to be so good at praying, he wrote many of the prayers in the Bible.

David felt disconnected and cried out,  “Hear, O Lord, and answer me, for I am poor and needy.”  And“Have mercy on me, O Lord, for I call to you all day long.  Bring joy to your servant, for to you, O Lord, I lift up my soul.” (excerpts of Psalm 86:1-4).

You’ve probably felt like that, too, right?  What do you do then?  (“Who you gonna call?”)  Consider two things David asked God for when he felt that his connection was down:

“Teach me your way, O Lord, and I will walk in your truth; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name.” (Psalm 86:11)

David knew God could hear him, even when he felt disconnected.  But he also knew he, David, needed to change in order to “hear” God.  So he asked God to teach him the right way, so he could walk on the path of truth.  David sensed that the disconnect he was feeling happened in part because he had wandered off the path of truth and into the weeds of ideas and attitudes that were not true.

It’s kind of like when an adolescent gets the false idea his parents don’t love him, as so frequently happens, even when they really do.  All their attempts to communicate become disrupted. It is not until he accepts what is true about their love that their relationship can be really restored.  So David says, show me what’s true, show me your way.  Smart man.

But he also asks God to give him “an undivided heart.”  David recognizes his heart goes back and forth between the ways of God and the pull of the world.  Perhaps you, like me, yearn for a heart that is undivided by all the stuff that clamors for our attention in the world.  David knew to ask God to fix his heart, that self-help wasn’t going to work.  When he asks “that I may fear your name,” he doesn’t mean that he will be scared by God’s name.  He means that he will live with an awareness of God and a reverence that keeps their lines of communication intact.

My guess is that David’s prayers were answered on the spot, because one of the next things he says is this:

“For great is your love toward me; you have delivered me from the depths of the grave.” (Psalm 86:13)

Next time you feel as though your prayers are bouncing off the ceiling, try David’s approach.  Ask God to show you where you’ve gotten off the path of truth and the way you should go.  Ask Him to fix your heart so it is undivided.

Quotes: The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984 (electronic ed.). Grand Rapids: Zondervan.


Words and Music

As Albert Einstein lay dying, he gathered a faltering breath and spoke final words. Are you curious to know what he said?  Nobody knows, since his nurse didn’t speak German!  It was probably only a critical correction to his theory of relativity or something.  Famous last words…  Often the last things that a person says come from a very deep place.

When Jesus died on the cross, His final words were a quote from a psalm written by David, roughly 1000 years earlier.  He said,

“Into Your hands I commit my spirit…”   (Luke 23:46; Psalm 31:5)

If you read the rest of that psalm, it is uncanny how perfectly it expresses what Jesus must have been thinking and feeling, a complex mixture of anguish and trust.  Jesus also quoted Psalm 22 on the cross:

“And at the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?”—which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”” (Mark 15:34, Psalm 22;1)

Once again, David’s psalm eerily captures both the agony of Jesus,

“Dogs have surrounded me; a band of evil men has encircled me, they have pierced my hands and my feet.” (Psalm 22:16)

and, later in that same psalm, His overriding confidence in God:

“You who fear the Lord, praise him! All you descendants of Jacob, honor him! Revere him, all you descendants of Israel! For he has not despised or disdained the suffering of the afflicted one; he has not hidden his face from him but has listened to his cry for help.” (Psalm 22:23-24)

Those who write songs frequently say they feel as though the words and music were already there, waiting to be discovered.  It must have been that David was so in tune with the heartbeat, the “words and music” of God, that the words he was inspired to write, were the ones spoken from the lips of the Son of God, moments before His physical death.

I’m not sure there is a lesson there, or any practical application.  But when I ponder that powerful connection between David and Jesus, it casts me into a deep, swirling pool of profound awe.  I hope it might do so for you, too.  I believe it is in such awe that we find ourselves more in tune with God’s “words and music.”

Quotes: The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984 (electronic ed.). Grand Rapids: Zondervan.