Sunday, August 19, 2018
Scratching the Surface of the Psalms - 18
Scratching the Surface of the Psalms
“Our Opportunity for Overcoming”
Belvidere in Boone County, Illinois is my home.
Despite proximity to Springfield and the dolts down there who are dominated by the Chicago mob who are taxing the rest of the state to death to enable the city’s corruption, crime, waste, whoring, depravity, and defiance of federal law, there is no place on earth that I’d rather be.
Notice I said there’s no place on earth that I’d rather be.
I’m with Paul on heaven; and you can read about that in Philippians.
Sadly, my home is being challenged by cultural shifts that threaten our unity and viability for positive societal evolution.
While the challenges may seem particular to us, I think they’re analogous to the challenges facing many other communities in our country.
Though my list is more suggestive than complete or categorical, I see four undeniable challenges; recalling how Rockford street preacher William Taylor often says, “You can’t fix what you won’t face!”
1. When District 100 decided to go from one to two high schools over a decade ago, it sparked a split in the community with divisions deepening ever since. Surely, fledgling Belvidere North has made remarkable academic and athletic advances; yet the once-proud city that heralded well-rounded education accented by football as its poster child of excellence has become increasingly disjointed, dysfunctional, and divided.
2. Many of our city and county’s icons have retired or died and have folks wondering, “Who will be stepping up to the plate?”
3. While local government has embraced “Home Rule” to the tune of gas taxes with the potential/probability for more to follow, people are concerned more about the principle than infinitesimal financial burden upon taxpayers. Local government has the option on ignoring the majority of public sentiments to impose ordinances, create/grant licenses, tax, and incur debt apart from ballot referenda. While terms expire and elections are forthcoming, there is a growing feeling of “taxation without representation” in our neck of the woods.
4. The selling of Belvidere/Alpine Bank to Midland States Bank is a seismic emotional challenge. Aside from the movement from classy blue to garish orange signage that would be fitting on the turf of the Harlem Huskies but not for Bucs and Blue Thunder, there is a pronounced sense of betrayal as the hometown bank has gone regional. I’m reminded of my first conversation with Mayor Fred Brereton at the extinct Huddle over a dozen years ago. I asked, “Does Belvidere identity more with Chicago or Rockford?” “Belvidere,” he answered. That’s why orange has made folks so blue around town.
Again, Winston Churchill said we must have the courage to be candid within a collaborative context to advance civilization.
It’s not going to help anyone to become defensive or offensive or even rationalizing about the challenges before us.
Go back to William Taylor’s counsel.
While I may be wrong about the dynamics of many of our challenges and while my list doesn’t pretend to be dogmatic, it’s analogous to the problems facing just about everyone in every neighborhood; and while I’m not smart enough to prescribe particular solutions, I am faithful enough to trust God to help us overcome them if we turn to Him.
Or as Lloyd Ogilvie, former Chaplain of the U.S. Senate, often urged, “Let God love you!”
Psalm 18 is all about overcoming challenges in/through/for God.
With only Psalms 78, 89, and 119 being longer, I am struck by Psalm 18’s simple prescriptive recipe for overcoming challenges and renewing relationships akin to Revelation 2:1-7.
The risen Lord Jesus provides a recipe for one particular church in Ephesus for overcoming challenges and renewing relationships applicable to all churches: “Remember your first love and repent/return to your first love so you may receive continued blessings and rejoice in Him.”
Whenever we’re falling away and down, remembering how much God loves us and how much we have loved God for loving us enables us to overcome challenges and renew relationships with Him and His.
David remembers God as “my strength…rock…fortress…deliverer…
Remembering how much God has done for us and always been here or there and everywhere for us inspires strong calm sanity in the midst of challenges by knowing we will overcome them sooner or later, usually sooner than later, and definitely in the end because it’s always been that way with God.
Repent and Receive
Turning afresh to God insures the same old same old that is forever renewing and refreshing; or as David exclaimed, “I called to the Lord who is worthy of praise and I was saved…I called to the Lord in my distress and I cried to the Lord for help and He heard and helped…He reached down from on high and took hold of me. He pulled me up and out of deep waters…He rescued me because He loves me and delights in me…The Lord rewarded me.”
When we remember and repent and then receive His graces, we are moved to doxology: “Praise God from whom all blessings flow!”
David sets the tone for our praises in Psalm 18: “God’s way is perfect! God is pure! He is a shield to all who take refuge in Him. Only God is our rock! The Lord lives! May my rock be praised! The God of my salvation is exalted! I praise You! I sing about Your name! He gives victories to us! He shows loyalty to His family!”
I like how Eugene Peterson summarized the theology of this psalm in his introduction to Mark: “The sooner we get the message, the better off we’ll be; for the message is good, incredibly good. God is here and He’s on our side!…God is here right now and on our side; actively seeking to help us in the way we most need help…God is passionate to save us.”
Here’s one way to personalize this recipe for overcoming challenges and renewing relationships.
Repent and Receive.
Just before your next personal prayer time at home, make a list recording how God has spoken to you in the past, been with you in the past, answered your prayers in the past, intervened in your life in the past, bailed you out just in the nick of time in the past, always come through for you in the past, ignored your requests to provide something better in the past, and loved you so amazingly in the past.
Write it down.
You’ll need a lot of paper.
That’s when you’ll experience the blessings of remembering God’s love for you and your love for Him and repenting/returning to that love causing thanks and praise that raises the roof.
There’s a song that describes what will happen to us if we personalize this recipe:
Count your blessings, name them one by one;
Count your blessings, see what God has done.
Count your blessings, name them one by one;
Count your many blessings, see what God has one.
If you’re like me, counting blessings from God takes so long that there’s usually not enough time left for intercessions, supplications, petitions, and so on.
No wonder people who really worship God are happier than those who don’t.
Blessings and Love!
Shatter the sound of silence!
Wake up! Look up! Stand up! Speak up! Act up for Jesus!
Salt! Shine! Leavenate!