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Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Trusting Dad

The X-rays clearly showed the finger hadn't healed.  The fracture was still there.  The look of pain on my son's face was not the result of the injury sustained.  It came when the verdict of "six more weeks to heal" was shared.  In the first week of basketball season.  The doctor seemed uncomfortable that I cried.  But he had no way of knowing about the weeks of preparation leading up to the season.  The quickness drills.  The hours of shooting hoops.  The hopes for success.  All hinging on those black and white picutres lying on the table. 

Monday, April 29, 2013

Psalm 23:3b

He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake.

The position of "shepherd" was a lowly one.  It was not one that people looked up to, aspired to, nor admired.  Even in this humble spot, though, a shepherd took pride in the health and appearance of his flock.  He didn't want sickly, weak, feeble sheep that would prove detrimental to his reputation.

So, what does it mean that he leads us in paths of righteouness for his name's sake?

Friday, April 26, 2013

Psalm 23:3a

He restore my soul

Notice how the psalmist has switched from the imagery of a sheep (green pastures, still waters) to that of a person in need.  A soul in need of restoration.  A soul that has been worn out, messed up, marred, incapacitated.  The Shepherd restores it.  Let's unpack this passage....

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Psalm 23:2b

He leades me beside quiet waters.

A sheep will not drink from rushing waters or from a swirling stream.  Other animals will, but not sheep.  Sheep need calm, quiet sources of fresh water. Turbulent waters or even murmuring springs are frightening to sheep.  They have to have quiet and fresh water sources. A shepherd takes great care to locate proper sources for drinking.  Some streams are too agitating.  Some still water is stagnant.  Sheep need a quiet but fresh supply of water.   Oftentimes, there are no such bodies of water in the area of their grazing.  In those times, the early morning dew soaking the pasture grasses are their best source of hydration.

Thoughts that result from this knowledge of sheep and meditation on verse 2b -

Monday, April 22, 2013

Psalm 23:2a

He makes me lie down in green pastures.
This seems reminiscent of naptime battles when I tried to make one of my children take a nap against their will. I wanted to make them lie down!  But I don't think this is what the Psalmist means.  Here's what I learned about sheep that helps explain this sentence.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Psalm 23:1

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.

I'll bet you thought we finished verse 1 yesterday!  Uh, no, not yet.  We dissected it and looked at each part but I have a bit more to share about the verse as a whole. 

Friday, April 19, 2013

Psalm 23:1b

I shall not want.

This phrase follows "The LORD is my shepherd" and therefore communicates a consequential relationship.  BECAUSE The LORD is my shepherd, I don't want for anything.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Psalm 23:1

If you missed the first post, go back and check it out.  Some great info on the characteristics of sheep. Now, on to verse 1...

The Lord is my shepherd.

Rolls off my tongue easily.  But what is David the shepherd boy...and our Lord...communicating to us in this phrase? Just a nice feeling?  A sweet metaphor? 
Here are some thoughts:

Monday, April 15, 2013

Unpacking Psalm 23

The 23rd Psalm is one of the most well-known and most beloved passages in all of Scripture. It is one of the most read and most memorized sets of verses but perhaps it is so familiar to us that we have fallen short of a deep understanding of it.  At least that's what I found true for myself.  I uncovered alot of truths in it that I had not known so I thought that might be the case for you, too.  So, for the next few posts, we are going to unpack these six verses.  Let me know what you think.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

New series

Next week, I will begin a new series of posts on Psalm 23.  I hope you'll join me in unpacking this very familiar and much beloved passage of Scripture.

A Psalm of David.

23 The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
3 He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
for his name's sake.
4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
5 You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life.

Friday, April 12, 2013

May musings

I am having the most sentimental Mommy-thoughts recently.  It's because it's almost May.  What does that have to do with anything, you ask?  Well, duh, the month of May is not about springtime.  It's about the end of school.  Graduation.  Moving to the next grade or stage of life.  I always am a little melancholy when May approaches. 

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Be happy - compilation

My friend Lisa suggested a list of all the tips.  I think she had a good idea so I did just that.  I feel pretty inadequate, laying these thoughts to you, in hopes they can be of some help or encouragement.  But I know from my own experience and  many of my friends that fighting depression and discouragement is indeed a real battle.  I wish I could believe it doesn't have to be fought in the lives of Christians but that is simply not reality.  We Christ-followers are indeed waging a costly war against this malady.  And, it brings me to tears as I recall some who never have found victory.  I believe we can, I know we can.  If you find yourself in such darkness that you cannot even find the faith to believe, then I will believe for you.  That's not unbiblical - see Luke 5:20.  Let me know how you're doing.  If you've been able to encourage someone else with a tip or two from here.  Or if you've been encouraged yourself. 

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Be happy - final tip

Wow.  22 posts about our journey for joy.  When I began this series, I thought I would list a few things and take maybe a couple of posts to do so.  As I began writing, I had more and more to say.  And many of you were interested enough (and encouraging!) so I kept going.  I think I'm done.  I am sure I haven't covered all there is to say on the topic but I think I've exhausted my expertise.  One final word.

What to do when the darkness will not lift.  When you've tried all these things I've suggested, to the best of your ability.  What then?

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Be happy - tip #21

When discussing strategies to combat depression, the question of medication comes up.  Is it helpful?  Necessary?  A good idea?  A bad idea?  Overused?  Underutilized?
We seem to polarize the issue - saying we should never use medication or automatically relying only on a prescription without considering any other issues.

I don't know the answers. I am not a professional counselor, a psychologist, nor a physician.  But I do know the Wonderful Counselor, the Soul-ologist, the Great Physician.  And here are some principles that I can garner from His Word that might address this question.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Be happy - tip #20

In Matthew 18, Jesus tells the parable about the servant who owed a ginormous debt to the king.  (Side note - I always wondered what in the world that man did to run up such large debt!!  He was still a servant!!!  ANYHOW....)You're probably familiar with it.  Remember how the story goes?  He asked the king for mercy and the king graciously forgave his debt but then the servant turned right around and refused to forgive a fellow servant who owed him a piddling amount.  The king was not happy.  Familiar story.  But perhaps it bears pointing out a couple of verses that tie this to our topic of being happy. 

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Be happy - tip #19

This tip is difficult to embrace when you are hurting.  But it is necessary because it's the truth. 

Tip # 19 - It's not all about you.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Expression of sympathy

I am typing through tears.  Tears of pain and grief and helplessness.  I just learned of the the suicide of Rick Warren's son.  My heart is breaking. 

Be happy - tip # 18

Tip # 18 - Don't trust your feelings.

That sounds odd.  We are trying to learn how to be happy, how to overcome depression or despair -- and I tell you not to trust your feelings????

Friday, April 5, 2013

Be happy - tip # 17

Tip # 17 - Be thankful.

Grateful people are happy people.  And happy people are grateful people.  Without exception.  Cultivating a spirit of gratitude is a potently positive action.  It changes our perspective, our feelings, our responses, and our behavior.  Oh, and it has a marvelous effect on our surroundings, too!

I recommend making it a habit to not only frequently list things for which you are thankful, but also to thank God for His generous gifts and to thank other people, too.  First, thank the Lord.  Then express thanks - in person, on the phone, and, my personal fav, in a note, to someone else. Powerful, absolutely powerful.

Try it.  Today.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Be happy - tip #16

Do you ever have those times when you just feel like crying?  Maybe there's seemingly no basis for it but  there wells up within you a thundercloud of tears.  Usually at a time when you can't hide and cry! Those emotions need an outlet.  It doesn't have to be via a sob but they need an outlet.  The expression can be in a positive way instead of stuffing it into depression or exploding into destructive outbursts.

Tip #16 - Just do something.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Be happy - tip #15

Today's "Be Happy" tip is also this week's Wednesday's Word.  It's powerful. This may very well be the cure for every spiritual and emotional ill.  It's that powerful.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Be happy Tip #14

Sometimes people ask me "Isn't my depression spiritual warfare?  Isn't Satan attacking me?"  Well, I certainly believe in spiritual warfare - because Scripture tells us in Ephesians 6:12 : "For we struggle not against flesh and blood, but against the kingdoms, against the powers, against the world leaders of this darkness, against spiritual wickedness in the high places".  And the Bible also warns us that "your adversary, the devil, walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour" (I Peter 5:8)

So, is everything undesirable that happens to us a casualty of this battle?  I don't think so.  Yes, we need to be sober and vigilant (I Peter 5:8a) and yes, we need to be armed and able to wage war successfully (Ephesians 6). But we don't need to fear and we don't need to always chalk all our problems up to The Enemy of our Souls.  I like how John Piper puts it "Give the devil his due, but no more". 

Monday, April 1, 2013

Be happy - tip #13

Let's review the tips so far:

1. Check out possible physical problems (fatigue, hormones, illness)
2. Acknowledge God's command to be joyful
3. Don't blame others - accept responsibility for your own joy
4. Confess sin
5. Address systems errors (ways to do things better/more successfully)
6. Accept the unchangeables.
7.  THE WORD - get in it.
8.  Pray.  And listen.
9.  Talk to yourself - but be sure and preach the Truth!
10.  Monitor music and media
11.  Immerse yourself in God's creation
12.  Don't go to the extreme of over-activity or of isolation.