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.

enCompass Church


Psalm 27: Scaredy Cat

We’re all scared of something. Our common fears include the fear of flying, of public speaking, of the dark, of germs, of spiders and snakes. I guess that’s good news for me, because I can handle most of those pretty well. (Unless those things were all happenings at once—ewh!)

There’s other fears we don’t often talk about yet are still very, very real: fear of losing a friend or family member, fear of failure, fear of rejection, fear of pain, fear of public shame or embarrassment, fear of death. Part of living is learning to cope with the fears that lurk around us.

The author of Psalm 27 wasn’t willing to simply cope with his fears—he wanted to conquer them. This expression of finding strength and grace, hope and love in God is one of the most eloquent and inspiring pieces of poetry available. I have a personal bias here—this is probably my favorite Psalm of all.

I’m especially stirred by the closing verse—reminding us that even when things don’t go as planned and our fears start raging out of control, a simple faith in God is all that’s needed.

You’d better read it for yourself. I hope you like it. I sure do.

enCompass Church

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 20: Nervous Energy

I’ve never had to go off to war. I’m very thankful for that.

I have to imagine that the sense of fear and foreboding going into a battle in which one’s life could be lost creates more than a little nervous energy. Preparing for a day or night of death-defying battle must push one’s sense of personal anxiety to it’s highest possible levels.

Psalm 20 captures for us the moments before a battle. The psalm offers a public blessing prayed over a military king and his troops just before they embark on a journey to engage the enemy. I can’t help but imagine that the praying crowd included many weeping mothers, apprehensive fathers and sick-hearted sweethearts. The dire need for God’s strength, protection and help would be deeply felt by every bowed head.

By God’s grace, most of us won’t have to go off to war, nor send off our sons or daughters. Yet everyday we face countless spiritual dangers–battles in which our enemy is rarely seen or heard. As we head out the door each day, we’re making decisions that determine the eternal legacy of our lives. The stakes couldn’t be higher: today we’ll either find victory through God’s grace, hope and wisdom . . . or we’ll allow our souls to be slaughtered by selfishness, bitterness and despair.

So let’s bow our heads and pray Psalm 20, nervously pleading for God’s strength, protection and help through each and every battle.

enCompass Church

Psalm 2: God Giggles.

We live in a world of power plays. We often hear about how certain politicians, corporate bosses, world leaders (yes, and I suppose we have to include hockey players, too) all engage in maneuvering around, seeking to put themselves on top of our opinion polls, income brackets and government structures. It’s pretty easy to feel small and powerless in the world in which we live.

Ever wonder how God responds to ego-driven people who put themselves forward in an attempt to personally dominate an industry, a population or a country? Psalm 2 gives us an insider’s look at God’s most natural reaction. We’re reminded here of who truly controls human history.

The New Testament quotes this Psalm quite often–because it reveals how God transfers his power and authority to his “anointed one.” The people of the Old Testament would have seen the “anointed one” as the king of their land. As we (and the writers of the New Testament) look back on this Psalm, we catch a glimpse of the authority that Jesus (the true “anointed one,” or “the Messiah”) has over the power plays of human history.

Where do we find hope from this Psalm? Take a look at the last line. In a world of power plays, it’s actually us little people who are in the best possible position. Spend time praying over the events of your day–that you’ll sense God’s power and protection through it all.

Kevin T.
enCompass Church, Roseville