Psalm 29: Chaos Theory

I deeply admire those who are expertly organized and skillfully systematic. Some days my admiration can even morph into envy. While some among us seamlessly arrange life like a 2011 edition Excel spreadsheet, my approach feels more like a 1937 cubist painting. I think my life has all the right parts, yet I struggle to arrange them in a recognizable format.

Maybe Psalm 29 was written for me—or those like me. This worship song paints an expressive portrait of a planet teetering on the brink of breaking apart. Churning water, rumbling thunder, splintering trees, flashing lightening and shifting soil create the image of a world ready to collapse into complete chaos.

In the midst of the chaos, one thing is constant: God. God can handle the chaos—sometimes he even causes it. From what appears to be an utterly disordered world, God emerges as our only permanent source of personal stability.

So if your world starts twisting and turning, try your best to remember: (vs. 10-11)

The LORD sits enthroned over the flood;
the LORD is enthroned as King forever.
The LORD gives strength to his people;
the LORD blesses his people with peace.

May we all find a way to enjoy God’s strength and peace, no matter the chaos in us or around us.

Kevin
enCompass Church

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Psalm 23: Messing with a good thing?

Reading Psalm 23 is like singing “Amazing Grace”–no matter where and when it happens, its pretty much always the right thing to do. This Psalm is considered the Bible’s best-known and most-loved expression of God’s comfort, peace and protection. When life is troubling and panic inevitably sets in, these words offer a stability and comfort that has withstood the test of time.

Go ahead, read it and pray it–you can’t go wrong.

Yet . . . is it possible that our familiarity can lull us into sleeping our way through this Psalm?  (If you absolutely love Psalm 23 in it’s most traditional form, you might want to stop reading right here).

From a contemporary perspective, I don’t see many shepherds and sheep on a regular basis. I also never quite resonated with the faux-paintings (often found in Sunday School classrooms) of a placid and pale Jesus sitting on the lush hillside while cradling a cute little lamb. It’s just not my ideal image of Jesus.

This might sound strange (no, it probably IS strange) but it’s been said that the perfect form of national leadership is a benevolent dictatorship. A dictator is one who directs every aspect of a country’s administration. A benevolent dictator is one who truly and deeply cares for the well-being of all it’s citizens. In our broken world, benevolent dictators never work in the long run–eventually the power of the position corrupts the leader’s character. But that wouldn’t be true of Jesus, would it?

So here goes . . .

The Lord is my Benevolent Dictator,
    he’s in complete charge of everything,
    and takes care of every one of my needs.

He has created an amazing variety of places
    for me to rest and relax;
He has established a peaceful homeland for us all– 
    it is pristine and beautiful and free of all pollution.
He offers me guidance when I get confused,
   because his public reputation is always on the line. 

Yes, there are moments when I travel through desolate regions
    that are dark and dangerous and scary.
Yet you’re always poised to dispatch your skilled militia 
    to assist and protect me at every twist and turn. 

Even though enemies lurk at our borders
    You still declare national holidays
    and offer lavish receptions
that my friends and I always seem to enjoy.

I never have to worry that you’ll
    lose your power or get overthrown.
Your care and concern will never go away,
    so I’m proud to be one of your citizens
    who is on your side forever.

Psalm 3: Sweet Sleep

This Psalm associated with King David offers an astonishing proclamation: he’s able to enjoy sweet, peaceful sleep, despite a swirling array of personal threats, worries and dangers. As far as I know, this piece of poetry was penned long before the creation of sleep aids like NyQuil and Lunesta. How does a person enjoy such a satisfying snooze when everything seems to be going so wrong?

Our Psalmist expresses an impressive and truly enviable confidence in God. It’s his trust in God that produces his great nights of sleep. During this season of prayer, let’s all pray that our confidence in God becomes greater and more impressive than the challenges and worries swirling in and around us. For many of us, to simply enjoy an extended run of great sleep would be an almost miraculous achievement.

SIDE NOTE: This Psalm (like a slew others) expresses a concern over many enemies and foes. While we all have people who irritate us, I’m not sure that your annoying neighbor or that obnoxious person in the adjacent cubicle at work can truly constitute a foe or enemy in the biblical sense. Without question, there’s evil people in our world, yet I can’t say that I run into many of them on a daily basis (for which I am deeply grateful, truly.) When I read about Psalm’s “foes and enemies,” I often think of the struggles in life that seem to wear my soul ragged–struggles like anxiety over the future, anger over specific irritations, disappointments over a lack of progress. It’s these “enemies” that Satan often uses to weaken my resolve and cause me to second-guess God’s goodness. As you pray through this Psalm, consider the internal “foes and enemies” that sabotage your joy and then, in turn, invite God to conquer them with you and for you.

Kevin T.
enCompass Church, Roseville