Normal Anxieties

Remember how I was excited about getting back to my goals? Well, I ended up catching a cold. Coughing, sneezy, runny nose, body aches. So much for watching my diet and exercising. Haven’t eaten much. Haven’t moved much. Pretty much sucks. This kind of sick just has to run its course. It better hurry up, because I’ve got stuff to do!

One week until I start seminary school. Later this week is orientation. I’m super excited to get started already! I’m ready to learn! I’m also getting nervous. What if it’s too hard? What if I can’t keep up? What if I fail? These are normal anxieties. A lot of people feel this way when they step up to something big. But that’s why they’re big dreams. Not everyone has the courage, will, and determination to do it. So here I am, making my attempt, answering the call. And I will be successful. It’s a path that I’m ready to take on. Each step will lead me to bigger and bright things in the future.

 

“May God be gracious to us and bless us
and make his face to shine upon us, Selah
that your way may be known on earth,

your saving power among all nations.”
(Psalm 67:1–2)

“Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.”
(Isaiah 60:1)

Isaiah 43:2

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
    and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
    and the flame shall not consume you.”

Isaiah 43:2 ESV

 

Read Scripture: Judges

An overview on the book of Judges to get you a little up to speed before reading my take.

 

My Take on Judges Ch. 2

“And they abandoned the LORD, the God of their fathers, who had brought them out of the land of Egypt. They went after other gods, from among the gods of the peoples who were around them, and bowed down to them. And they provoked the LORD to anger.” (Judges 2:12)

The book of Judges goes through several stories after the rule of Joshua during which there was peace and obedience to the Lord. During this time the Israelites had forgotten all the things that the Lord had done during Joshua’s time. They were a generation that was corrupted by the world around them. They served other gods above the Lord.

“Whenever the LORD raised up judges for them, the LORD was with the judge, and he saved them from the hand of their enemies all the days of the judge. For the LORD was moved to pity by their groaning because of those who afflicted and oppressed them. But whenever the judge died, they turned back and were more corrupt than their fathers, going after other gods, serving them and bowing down to them. They did not drop any of their practices or their stubborn ways.” (Judges 2:18-19)

These Israelites literally served other gods. Idol worship existed in every household at that time. Although the god of the Israelites asked them to follow only him, they went their own way and basically tried to assimilate into this local culture and it brought them destruction.

In our world today idol worship means a very different thing. In our world we worship wealth, prosperity, power, relationships, careers, sports teams, politics, hobbies, comfort, all these things. You could add a multitude to this list of things that we put above god.

Now, there’s this story in the New Testament about a Samaritan woman at a well that meets Jesus. (See John 4:16-26). They chat a bit. They talk about worship. Jesus says to the woman, “You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him.” (John 4:22-23)

The Old Testament God was angry. “Whenever [the Israelites] marched out, the hand of the LORD was against them for harm, as the LORD had warned, and as the LORD had sworn to them. And they were in terrible distress” (Judges 2:14). But god keeps giving them rulers (judges) to bring them back to himself. He gives them chances to be redeemed and forgiven.

In the story of Jesus and the Samaritan, he is telling her that worship should be directed at the Father and no one or thing else. Everything else is a false idol when we put them above god. They can be tools to bring others to god, but they cannot replace god. Plus these idols do not have the ability to forgive our sins the way Christ can. Ultimately we are all ruled and judged by Christ himself and he is good, forgiving, and gracious. The story of the Israelites and the Judges is what we deserve when we are disobedient. When Christ died, he was sacrificed with all of our sins on him so that we no longer bear them. We are free from the wrath that the LORD would have put upon us. Because he has already done it by sacrificing his son.

Psalm 40

Psalm 40
To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David.

I waited patiently for the Lord; 
he inclined to me and heard my cry. 
He drew me up from the pit of destruction, 
out of the miry bog,
and set my feet upon a rock, 
making my steps secure. 
He put a new song in my mouth, 
a song of praise to our God. 
Many will see and fear,
and put their trust in the Lord.

Blessed is the man who makes the Lord his trust,
who does not turn to the proud,
to those who go astray after a lie!
You have multiplied, O LORD my God,
your wondrous deeds and your thoughts toward us;
none can compare with you!
I will proclaim and tell of them,
yet they are more than can be told.

In sacrifice and offering you have not delighted,
but you have given me an open ear.
Burnt offering and sin offering you have not required.
Then I said, “Behold, I have come;
in the scroll of the book it is written of me:
I delight to do your will. O my God;
your law is within my heart.”

I have told the glad news of deliverance in the great congregation;
behold, I have not restrained my lips,
as you know, O LORD,
I have not hidden your deliverance within my heart;
I have spoken of your faithfulness and your salvation;
I have not concealed your steadfast love and your faithfulness from the great congregation.

As for you, O LORD, you will not restrain your mercy from me;
your steadfast love and your faithfulness will ever preserve me!
For evils have encompassed me beyond number;
my iniquities have overtaken me;
and I cannot see;
they are more than the hairs of my head;
my heart fails me.

Be pleased, O LORD, to deliver me!
O LORD, make haste to help me!
Let those be put to shame and disappointed altogether who seek to snatch away my lfe;
let those be turned back and brought to dishonor
who delight in my hurt!
Let those be appalled because of their shame who say to me, “Aha, Aha!”

But may all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you;
may those who love your salvation say continually, “Great is the LORD!

As for me, I am poor and needy,
but the LORD takes thought for me.
You are my help and my deliverer; 
do not delay, O my God!”

 

Psalm 35

Psalm 35

of David,

Contend, O LORD, with those who contend with me;
fight against those who fight against me!
Take hold of shield and buckler and rise for my help!
Draw the spear and the javelin against my pursuers!
Say to my soul, “I am your salvation!”

Let them be put to shame and dishonor
who seek after my life!
Let them be turned back and disappointed
who devise evil against me!
Let them be like chaff before the wind,
with the angel of the LORD driving them away!
Let their way be dark and slippery,
with the angel of the LORD pursuing them!

For without cause they hid their net for me;
without cause the dug a pit for my life.
Let destruction come upon him when he does not know it!
And let the net that he hid ensnare him,
let him fall into it–to his destruction!

Then my soul will rejoice in the LORD,
exulting in his salvation.
All my bones shall say,
“O LORD, who is like you, delivering the poor
from him who is strong for him,
the poor and needy from him who robs him?”

Malicious witnesses rise up;
they ask me of things that I do not know.
They repay me evil for good;
my soul is bereft.
But I, when they were sick–
I wore sackcloth;
I afflicted myself with fasting;
I prayed with head bowed on my chest.
I went about as though I grieved for my friend or my brother;
as one who laments his mother,
I bowed down in the mourning.

But at my stumbling they rejoiced and gathered;
they gathered together against me;
wretches whom I did not know
tore at me without ceasing;
like profane mockers at a feast,
they gnash at me with their teeth.

How long, O LORD, will you look on?
Rescue me from their destruction,
my precious life from the lions!
I will thank you in the great congregation;
in the mighty throng I will praise you.

Let not those rejoice over me who are wrongfully my foes,
and let not those wink they eye who hate me without cause.
For they do not speak peace,
but against those who are quiet in the land
they devise words of deceit.
They open wide their mouths against me;
they say, “Aha, Aha!
Our eyes have seen it!”

You have seen, O LORD; be not silent!
O LORD, be not far from me!
Awake and rouse yourself for my vindication,
for my cause, my God and my Lord!
Vindicate me, O LORD, my God,
according to your righteousness,
and let them not rejoice over me!
Let them not say in their hearts,
“Aha, our heart’s desire!”
Let them not say, “We have swallowed him up.”

Let them be put to shame and disappointed altogether
who rejoice at my calamity!
Let them be clothed with shame and dishonor
who magnify themselves against me!

Let those who delight in my righteousness
shout for joy and be glad
and say evermore,
“Great is the LORD,
who delights in the welfare of his servant!”
Then my tongue shall tell of your righteousness
and of your praise all the day long.

Porterbrook Day 1

“What is the main theology of Christianity?”

The group threw out a couple of ideas. “Repentance?” “Resurrection?”

No.

It’s Jesus!

Jesus is the center of Christianity. Jesus is what it all revolves around. Such an easy answer. This whole morning we learned about how the Old Testament points back to Jesus. We learned about how the Hebrews’ story of creation differed from every other culture’s view of creation. Genesis talks about how God made us in His image. We talked about the fact that they write that their kingdom have failed. Rather than saying, “We’re awesome!” instead they say, “We suck! But our God is great!”

We got to come together today to kick off the first of three trimesters for the first year of Porterbrook. It’s Bible training for the regular person. We had a guest speaker, a professor of Old Testament scholarship, teach us and point us to Jesus.

We talked a lot of about Genesis and Exodus. Then went through a super quick summary of the rest of the Old Testament. It was quite the whirlwind. It illuminated so many of the stories from the time before Jesus and how it all points forward to Him. I learned so many new things. And now I’ll be going back to the Old Testament with a whole new worldview. I can’t wait!