Scratching the Surface of the Psalms
“Strong Calm Sanity”
While having no doubts about God’s providence in my life, I have some regrets; and my greatest regret is having spent too much time reading books about the Bible than spending most of my time reading the Bible.
Since October 2011 and my time with Jan and Eugene Peterson, Chuck Legvold, Jeff Borgerson, and Ken Ritchie near Flathead Lake in Montana, I have tried to make up for that.
It’s impossible to articulate fully what happened.
I felt almost like Wesley and I’ve never been the same.
My heart was strangely warmed during those days and the Holy Spirit opened Holy Scripture to me in ways never known before.
Anger evaporated and was replaced by a heart for grace, mercy, and forgiveness enveloped in agape along with an unquenchable hunger and thirst to read and wrap my head, heart, and gut around Holy Scripture.
While I’m just scratching the surface of my relationship with Jesus by the book, I’ve concluded since without hesitation or reservation or equivocation that I would’ve been a much better man, husband, father, son, brother, friend, pastor, and presbyter if I had spent more time in the Bible than in books about the Bible.
If I had spent more time with Jesus by the book, I would’ve known the “strong calm sanity” that Oswald Chambers wrote in My Utmost for His Highest is God’s intention and invitation to everyone: “It is a joy to Jesus when a disciple takes time to step more intimately with Him…When once we get intimate with Jesus, we are never lonely, we never need sympathy, we can pour out all the time without being pathetic…The only impression left by such a life is that of the strong calm sanity that our Lord gives to those who are intimate with Him.”
Intimacy is accessible to everyone through worship founded upon, focused on, and filtered through Jesus by the book.
Or as David revealed, “God inhabits the praises of His people.”
That’s why I never express anger toward people who do not worship God regularly.
How can I be angry with people who are only hurting themselves?
Miracles occur in the heads, hearts, and guts of regular worshippers.
Regular worshippers don’t need pills and pastors and other band-aids to feel good and be healthy; for worship connects believers to the “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.”
The more intimate that we become with Father God, Savior Jesus, and Sustaining Holy Spirit, the more happy, healthy, whole, joyful, and eternally secure that we will be.
Psalm 48 is David’s song of praise to God for such confident living generated by the assurance of eternal life.
Like the rest of his psalms and most of Holy Scripture, Psalm 48 refers to an existential moment with eternal parallels.
Turning again to the late President of Emmaus Bible College William MacDonald, the connection is clear: “A foreign invader had come up to the very gates of Jerusalem…the people were expecting the agonies of a long siege…the prospects were bleak. Then the Lord worked a miracle. The enemy saw something that threw them into utter panic. They retreated in terror. Jerusalem was preserved from destruction, and a great wave of praise went up to God.”
The ecstatic praise for that moment in history is captured in Psalm 48; and the praise moves from the existential to the eternal.
David addressed the existential salvation of God: “Look! The kings of the earth have assembled against us…[but]…they looked and saw God on our side, froze with fear, and fled…With God on our side, they trembled like a woman in labor.”
David addressed the eternal salvation of God: “This God, our God forever and ever will lead us eternally…You can tell the next generation detail by detail the story of God…God is our God forever and guides us til the end of time and beyond.”
Again, MacDonald: “It will be a wonderful story to share…how God supernaturally preserved Jerusalem…God who did this is ‘our God forever and ever. He will be our guide even to death’…This God is our God from eternity to eternity. He will be our guide even unto death, over death, and beyond death.”
In short, God takes us from here to eternity.
Knowing that - knowing Him - yields strong calm sanity in the meantime as preface to paradise after time.
I think of my many last visits to our beloved organist and saint on the corner of Lincoln and Main – Mona Sorensen.
There is so much that I want to say about her.
She is a gem amid the fiberglass.
Please notice the present tense because Mona is eternal ergo moving from life in time to life in heaven by grace through faith in Jesus.
When I arrived to be undershepherd to the Good Shepherd for our family of faith aka as First Presbyterian Church, she along with Karen, Jeremy, and Murph were the only staff members who were kind and welcoming to me.
Long before those last days in prayer and among the most gentle, warm, calming, and breathtakingly loving conversations in my lengthening life and ministry, we often talked about Mona and people like me – give or take 30 years – being a dying breed.
We talked about an American church that reached its peak between the end of WWII and the mid-60s with a noticeable and increasing decline ever since.
We talked about the Korean and WWII generations being the backbone of the church’s worship attendance, financial backing, and volunteer support.
We talked about being a dying breed that will never again be resurrected as we approach the return of Jesus sometime during or after these increasingly tribulating times.
I confessed, like the apostle, my jealousy that she was going to heaven.
Really, who would rather be on earth than heaven?
Answer: only those who don’t believe in heaven as paradise in the explicit terms of Revelation 21.
Only a non-believer prefers the present over paradise.
Read Philippians 1:21ff.
Yes, life is good by God’s design – read those opening verses of Genesis again – if we don’t mess it up; yet heaven is pure and perfect in every way and can never be messed up forever.
So in those last days in time together, I would say in parting, “Mona, I’ll see you tomorrow; and if I don’t see you tomorrow, I’ll see you later. I’m glad you’ll be part of the kind and welcoming family of faith once again and forever.”
That’s the saving knowledge in time that endures, overcomes, and goes on and on and on world without end.
No wonder the intimate with God have such strong calm sanity.
Blessings and Love!
Wake up! Look up! Stand up! Speak up! Act up for Jesus!
Shatter the sound of silence!
Salt! Shine! Leavenate!
Shatter the sound of silence!
Salt! Shine! Leavenate!
Thank you, Bob. This is a most moving essay/meditation.
Peace of Christ
I’m with you, Bro . . . seeking True Truth each day and conversational intimacy with Jesus, the Spirit and my Papa.
I’m very thankful for Monas.
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