Aaron Summers

Posts Tagged ‘Psalm’

5 Decisions to Finish Strong

In Transition on October 8, 2015 at 7:51 am

Finish Strong

At 45, I am beginning to have thoughts of what it will take to finish strong.  Sitting in the middle of life, I want to be able to approach retirement and grand-parenting with no regrets.  How can I make the most of my choices now so that I can finish strong?  Someone once said, “One thing about getting old is that you can sing in the bathroom while brushing your teeth.”  I want to believe God has more for us to do!  Let’s look at Psalm 71 and see 5 crucial decisions if we are going to finish strong.

5 Decisions

Some say David penned Psalm 71 when he fled from his son Absalom. If this is the correct chronological context of this psalm, then David would have been about 62 years old when he wrote this portion of scripture. And throughout the psalm, it becomes clear that he is writing from the perspective of old age. For example, in verse 9, he says, “in my old age, don’t set me aside.” Then in verse 18, he says, “Now that I am old and gray do not abandon me, O God.”

Decision #1 Make your refuge in God – When life gets hard where do you go?  Where do you find your comfort?  I will admit today that I have 2 things I do when I get super stressed.  I eat and I play football on XBOX.  These two things allow me to just get away from things.  I am not saying either are the healthiest things to do, but that is what happens.  Why don’t we turn to scripture?  Why don’t we turn to prayer?  Often, the reason we are stressed out is because we over-stretch our abilities and time.  We become exhausted.  Escapism is real.  The problem is in what we choose to escape.  Making our refuge in God will set the tone to finish strong!

Decision #2 Make your requests to God – The Psalmist asks God to fill him with praise and with presence.  We look around some days and find it hard to praise.  From Oregon to Ferguson to Florida it is hard to praise God. The number of mass shootings this year alone is staggering.  God is not dead.  God is not unaware.  God has not forgotten us.  We have walked away.  We have neglected.  We have abandoned.  For those who faith remains we must balance the pressure with praise of the Most High.  Ask God to fill you with praise.  Ask God to fill you with His presence.

Decision #3 Find your resolve in God – Choosing to have a mood that reflects God’s presence is important.  The attitude you have is the one who chose to have.  Surrounding circumstances and people can affect your demeanor, but the attitude you reveal is your responsibility.  Find your resolve in God to give you peace and joy in pain and tragedy.  Resolve to live in God’s peace.  Resolve to act on what you know of God and what you have experienced through salvation.  Nothing else can compare to God.

Decision #4 Often reflect on God – Looking back on life with an eye for God’s hand lift your spirit and strengthens you for the finish line sprint.  As I reflect on life I see how God has worked to get me where I am with the abilities I have.  In the midst of those difficulties you can’t see clearly.  The fog of frustration blinds you to the reality.  The life God gave and the labor God gives you today sustains you through each moment.  Reflect on the movements of God more than the moments you felt anger.

Decision #5 Rejoice because of God – The Psalmist ends with rejoicing in God.  He chooses to because he understands the restoration and redemption he found in God.  Choosing to rejoice keeps our spiritual life above the fray.  We still face pain.  We still face pills and doctors.  We still face grief.  However, choosing to rejoice in what you can balances your life.

2 Lessons Learned

  1.  I will retire someday from a position, but I will never retire from my passion in Jesus.
  2.  When I retire I will choose to refire in new ways for God.

 

What choices are you making today to finish strong?

 

Tears of Joy

In Chrisian Life on October 16, 2013 at 10:10 am

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4Restore our fortunes, O Lord, like streams in the Negev! 5 Those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy! 6He who goes out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy, bringing his sheaves with him.

Psalm 126:4-6

Our gospel work for God can be brutal at times. This verse reassures. Why might we weep?

1. We weep because of rejection. People might reject the gospel and the resulting reality is eternal death if their mind is not changed.

2. We weep because of relentless opposition. The work itself can take its toll on your body, your family, your marriage, and your job. Yet, when you turned your life over to God, the King, He is now in charge. We weep because the opposition is strong and we are placed in a defiant moment of culture and history.

3. We weep because of replacement. Jesus told the churches that their lamp could be removed or replaced. Many have speculated whether this meant the pastor or the church body. It could be either one or both depending on the severity of the issue. We weep because that process is not easy. We weep because friends and roots have been made.

We are reassured here that though we sow and toil in tears we will harvest in joy. Don’t stop because it is hard. Press on until the job is done.

Psalm 46

In Chrisian Life, Family, Grief, Parenting on May 23, 2013 at 11:01 am

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I felt like I had lost my son.

I sat in the home of a good friend when I received the text message telling me I was needed at home immediately.  My son had gone off the deep end.  For several weeks, he has dealt with severe abdominal pain for which we have no cure to this point.  We have been in and out of ER’s and doctor’s offices with plans and prognostications, but no pain relief.  Most days he sits on the floor in his room building with Lego’s to distract from the pain.  If  he lies down he hurts.  If he eats or doesn’t he hurts.  If does nothing or everything he hurts.  I have argued with doctors.  I have sat up overnight in the ER.  I have held his hand and hugged his neck.

His face was wrinkled up in a mixture of pain, emotion, and tears.  He yelled and screamed uncontrollably as the pain washed over him.  The ability to filter was gone.  Like a liver that is shutting down the toxicity rises.  His emotions are raw, laid open because of the pain.  His face withdrawn and the light in his eyes gone, he balled himself up as tight as possible.  His body seemed so small, wracked by the pain.

Have I lost the boy who laughed and played?  Have I lost the boy whom I could never fill with enough food?  Have I lost the one who was sweet, tender, kind, and strong? Have I lost the blue-eyed, blonde, light-up-a-room kid?

As I write this, I am reminded of Psalm 46.

1 God is our refuge and strength,a helper who is always found in times of trouble.
2 Therefore we will not be afraid,though the earth trembles
and the mountains topple into the depths of the seas,
3 though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with its turmoil.

God is our refuge.  In Him we can place our trust.  In Him we can find safety and security.  I remember being chased as a child by some older boys.  I raced back on my bike as fast as I could.  Skidding into the front yard I was ecstatic to see Dad standing out there.  I dropped the bike and ran over behind him.  I sat down in his shadow and peeked around.  The other boys had stopped short of the yard.  Seeing my Dad, they decided it was not worth it.  I had found my refuge.  I can find refuge today in my Heavenly Father and so can you.  Whatever you are dealing with today, God can be your refuge.

God is our strength.  God bears our burdens.  He is strong when I am weak.  He is bold when I am fearful.  He is positive when I am hopeless.  As I  prepared to build a small deck behind the house, I researched what to do.  I found out that the ground work and foundation blocks were as critical as the deck planks themselves.  The blocks and beams were what held up the deck that everyone saw.  God is like those blocks and beams.  He bears the weight often in ways no one sees.  He is our blocks and beams so that our lives can shine with beauty and stability.

In true Psalmist fashion, I began with a pitiful position and will end in a praise posture.  Though our lives seem dark now I look to God’s creation and see that it is always darkest before the dawn.  God is able to do that which I cannot understand.  I run to Him as my refuge and strength.  Hope comes from those who trust in God!

My hope is in you Lord.  My strength is in you Lord.  Praise God!

Be still and know that I am God.  Psalm 46:10

Would Jesus Have Been In 4-H?

In Chrisian Life, Community, Missional on April 24, 2013 at 8:46 am

Oklahoma 4H

I pledge
my head to clearer thinking,
my heart to greater loyalty,

my hands to larger service,
and my health to better living,
for my club, my community, my country, and my world.

My kids are in 4-H.  Right now they both hold offices in their Jr 4-H chapter.  Every month at the meeting they begin with this pledge.  At the first National 4-H Camp in Washington, DC in 1927, the present 4-H pledge, worded first by Otis Hall, state leader in Kansas, was officially adopted.  The Executive Committee of the Land-Grant College Association had requested Dr. R. A. Pearson, president of Iowa State College, and Dr. A. C. True of the Federal Extension Service to write a pledge, and they had turned in the pledge substantially as written by Hall.  In 1973, the words “and my world” were added.

As I stood there and said the pledge I wondered, “Would Jesus have been in 4-H?”  He probably would have shown sheep or goats and showmanship would have been perfect!  Coming from a carpenter family, his skills in construction would have won something at the fair.  As I recited that pledge I thought of how well each of those parts create an individual that would be honorable.  As Moses was wrapping up his time as leader he spoke to Israel and his words are recorded in the book of Deuteronomy.  One famous line is now known as the Shema from Deuteronomy 6, “4Listen, Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is One. 5 Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. 6 These words that I am giving you today are to be in your heart. 7 Repeat them to your children. Talk about them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 8 Bind them as a sign on your hand and let them be a symbol on your forehead. 9 Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”

When asked what was most important about the religious law given to Israel, Jesus answered, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind.”

While the words might be rearranged a little, the same sentiment is seen in the 4H pledge.

I pledge my head to clearer thinking.  The Israelites were told to bind these words to their forehead.  God meant that figuratively to mean that Scripture should be on your mind.  Paul would later write to the Philippians, “Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable—if there is any moral excellence and if there is any praise—dwell on these things. (Philippians 4:8)”  Keeping your mind set on Christ generally clears things up!

I pledge my heart to greater loyalty.  Loving God with all your heart means that the passions and desires of your life should be filtered through Scripture more than your friends and followers.  Loyalty does not happen automatically.  it takes time and attention.  Loyalty is a decision.  The wisest of all kings, Solomon, wrote, ‘Never let loyalty and faithfulness leave you.  Tie them around your neck;write them on the tablet of your heart. (Proverbs 3:3)”

I pledge my hands to larger service.  Helping other people can be seen throughout the life of Jesus.  Because of Him, the lame walked, the deaf heard, the mute spoke, the sick were healed, and the hungry fed.

I pledge my health to better living.  The antithesis of this is found when we are breaking the other three pledges.  Even the Psalmist knew there was a certain way of living that brought health and choices that did not.  The Psalmist wrote, “There is no health in my body because of Your indignation;there is no strength in my bones because of my sin. (Psalm 38:3)”  If sin is simply seen as missing the mark, then it is right to think that when our head, heart, and hands are not right then our health will not either.

Would Jesus have been in 4H?  I don’t know.  However, I do think 4H provides opportunities that make better kids.

Portrait of Evil

In Commitment, Decisions, Faithfulness, Sin on May 23, 2011 at 10:58 pm

My wife and I have visited museums all over the country.  She has been on a journey to make sure I gain culture in my otherwise “sheltered” life.  From the very beginning of our relationship we have viewed art.  The Amon Carter Museum in Fort Worth was not my first experience but it was the beginning of both our relationship and my cultural education.  Having grown up in a home that loved Jesus but, in the later years, not the culture, there was no furtherance of this type of education.

Museum after museum, room after room, we have viewed thousands of pieces of art.  All of the famous painters and sculptors from all the major eras have been viewed, examined, discussed, and re-viewed again.  I am grateful for these moments, though probably more because I am with her than the art itself.  Most of the time, I am done far sooner than she is.  I enjoy them, but do not have to read every word of every sign under everything!  I love my wife, especially when she can fill me in later.  However, I am getting better!

As I read this Psalm, the concept of portraits comes to mind.

1 An oracle within my heart
concerning the transgression of the wicked person:
There is no dread of God before his eyes,
2 for in his own eyes he flatters himself [too much]
to discover and hate his sin.
3 The words of his mouth are malicious and deceptive;
he has stopped acting wisely and doing good.

4 Even on his bed he makes malicious plans.
He sets himself on a path that is not good
and does not reject evil.

Psalm 36

As we evaluate this portrait of the wicked we begin with the thoughts behind the eyes.  There is no dread of God.  What this means is that there is no thought of God, or consideration of God’s sovereignty.  The wicked person does not think of God throughout the day or when making decisions.  The wicked have no fear, or reverence, for God in life.  Everything that is done is about themselves.  The wicked think about themselves and how they can be satisfied.  The pursuit of happiness is consuming our culture.  The obsession with fun has removed our ability to see the destructive nature of this movement until it is too late.

Our next station of evaluation is of the mouth of this portrait.  Consideration is given to what is being said by the wicked.  If their thoughts and eyes are consumed with pleasing themselves, then their mouths will be filled with malice and deception.  How could someone bent on being happy ever speak with malice?  When obsessed with pleasing themselves, malice is shown every time it does not happen.  Usually, this emotion is directed at the person or group responsible for restricting the completion of this fun.  In order to maintain such a pleasurable lifestyle requires a bit of deception to avoid those who would demand a more serious life.  The wicked have stopped acting wisely and doing good.  What, then, are they doing?

The body language of the subject as they lie on the bed suggests a contemplation on evil plans.  This is a culmination of the thoughts and words.  Moving from poor reactions to premeditated evil responses is a downward movement with regard to the type of morality honored in scripture.

What a disturbing portrait.  As I evaluated this portrait, I found a little of me and lot of “potential” me.  Didn’t you?  We live in a culture that is flaunting this portrait as normal.  We are challenged to walk a different path.  We are challenged to be different.

In response, I will allow the master painter to retouch, recolor, redraw whatever He sees is required.

Join me?

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