“How many of us, the South’s writers-to-be of my generation, were blessed in one way or another, if not blessed alike, in not having gone deprived of the King James Version of the Bible. Its cadence entered into our ears and our memories for good. The evidence, or the ghost of it, lingers in all our books. ‘In the beginning was the Word’. “ ~ Eudora Welty, One Writer’s Beginnings
While her understanding of John 1:1 is flawed, I find it interesting and sad that this cadence is no longer a part of the lives of children in our country. According to the Shelby Baptist Association, Shelby County is the most unchurched county in Alabama. David Olsen, in his book The American Church in Crisis , states that only 16.4 percent of the population in Shelby County attends church on a regular basis.
Though I grew up in church and became a Christian at an early age, I am ashamed at how sorely lacking I am in having memorized scripture. Or in having memorized much of anything. I have snatches of verses in my heart and in my head, but I can’t tell you the reference for the majority of them. Growing up in public schools for the most part, I didn’t memorize scripture until seventh grade when, at a Christian school, we were required to recite chapters. Fortunately we were given numerous chances, reciting in chunks, until we got through the entire passage. Sadly, I was always one of the last to complete the requirement. Years later, after listening to the Guess Who’s song, Hang On To Your Life, numerous times throughout my teens, I read Psalms 22:13-15 as an adult and made the connection between the words spoken in the song and the verse in the Bible:
They gaped upon me with their mouths, as a ravening and a roaring lion.
I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint: my heart is like wax; it is melted in the midst of my bowels.
My strength is dried up like a potsherd; and my tongue cleaveth to my jaws; and thou hast brought me into the dust of death.
This is all just food for thought – I don’t really have a conclusion.
“I felt that so much Scripture floating around might tend to harden some hearts, that Scripture should be treated with reverence and not pasted to any flat surface you could find- at least, that was what I said when Brethren asked why I didn’t carry a ‘The Peace of God Passeth All Understanding’ bookbag to school. “
– Lake Wobegon Days by Garrison Keillor
I see scripture misplaced/misused all over, but most noticeably on T-shirts, like this one…
or this one…
Then there are the comments and catch phrases.
As Matt Redmond pointed out on twitter, the phrase “a God Thing” is just so wrong.
A few more:
Do your Best, and God will do the Rest!
How will you spend eternity, Smoking or non smoking? (this one is just so sad)
WARNING! Exposure to the Son may prevent burning. (ditto)
A better idea would be to follow Psalm 119:11 –
Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.
In the Lord I put my trust; How can you say to my soul, “Flee as a bird to your mountain”? For look! The wicked bend their bow, They make ready their arrow on the string, That they may shoot secretly at the upright in heart.
Many of us worry and live in fear. Yes, we are to be wise in our comings and goings; we shouldn’t recklessly put ourselves in dangerous situations. But, often, I think we shy away too much from situations when we don’t trust the Lord. How many of us think, or even say “I don’t want to go to that part of town” when it’s in just “that” neighborhood that people need to hear the Gospel.
Others are preoccupied with stuff and with socking away money for retirement. I don’t recall reading about any of the saints in scripture retiring. We fell prey to the “building bigger barns” syndrome when we bought a house that was larger than we really needed just because we could. And then it was a struggle to maintain.
In this election year, many struggle with the issue of our future as a country. I can’t even begin to wrap my head around all the strange and scary things I read and hear daily. Truly I have to lay this all at the feet of Christ, for I can only pray and trust. I don’t understand the whys, but I know it’s in His hands. Always has been.
Verses 3-4 of Psalm 11 say:
If the foundations are destroyed, What can the righteous do? The Lord is in His holy temple, The Lord’s throne is in heaven; His eyes behold, His eyelids test the sons of men.
This is how Dale Ralph Davis puts it in The Way of the Righteous
in the Muck of Life: “Despair is managed by keeping Yahweh himself in the center of your vision.” I thought this was a great summation.
And let me leave you with this one last quote from Davis: “You have not seen Jesus yet you love Jesus. Christians are such conundrums.”
….there are seasons in a believer’s life – and sometimes the seasons change suddenly…Faith is perplexed and yet goes on pleading. The psalmist does not use God’s baffling him as an excuse for disengaging with God but as an incentive to press on with him. from – The Way of the Righteous in the Muck of Life by Dale Ralph Davis
I don’t know just what season I’m in right now. It’s like the rainy season – sprinkled with showers of doubt; covered in clouds of despair. But sometimes, the clouds will break up and the sun will shine through and I am reminded that God is still there, always there, even when I doubt.
The Psalm begins this way in verses one and two:
Why do You stand afar off, O Lord Why do You hide in times of trouble?
The wicked in his pride persecutes the poor; let them be caught in the plots which
they have devised.
Why? I’m always wondering why. I find myself too full of questions and doubt. But, the psalmist sees that God is good in verse fourteen:
But You have seen, for You observe trouble and grief, To repay it by Your hand.
The helpless commits himself to You; You are the helper of the fatherless.
And again in verses 17-18:
Lord, You have heard the desire of the humble; You will prepare their heart;
You will cause Your ear to hear, To do justice to the fatherless and the oppressed,
That the man of the earth may oppress no more.
My prayer for myself is that God would change my whys into words of trust. That I would
trust in Him to shelter me in the days of darkness and give me joy in the rays of His grace.
“ …in tight places you have made space for me.” – The Way of the Righteous in the Muck of Life by Dale Ralph Davis
David was almost killed by a javelin thrown by Saul, his house was watched by Saul’s henchmen, he was let down through a window and escaped; yet in all this he pleas for and relies on the grace and mercy of God. Oh to have the faith of David!
I can’t say I’ve had the experiences of David. We all have our own trials and temptations, but God knows this. He knows our needs even before we do. I do know that God has relieved me in many distresses but I also know I have clung to crumbling walls and fretted over failures instead of giving my burdens to Him. My prayer today is for mercy.
…God speaks through His Word and says, ‘I will remember your sins no more.’ He does not say, ‘You will remember your sins no more.’ Only God can forgive and forget. Some things we’ve done will be in our memories as long as we live. The message of the gospel is not the erasure of memory, but rather the healing of our memories. – Steve Harper
Wouldn’t it be nice if we could forget? I would love to forget some of the memories that swim around in my mind and pop to the surface again when I think I’ve drowned them out.
Healing isn’t easy. There is no pill or supplement that erases memories. Only in science fiction, or in cases of amnesia, Alzheimer’s or dementia can a memory be truly lost. Since none of those choices are appealing to me, I need to figure out just how memories are healed but not eliminated. I need to be like the Bereans.
“…they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so.” – Acts 17:11
In a book by Madeleine L’Engle, Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art, she quotes from Chekov’s letters: “You must once and for all give up being worried about successes and failures….It’s your duty to go on working steadily day by day, quite quietly, to be prepared …for failures.”
I needed this advice last year when I received a rejection via email. I had submitted three poems to a new literary magazine. I was really hoping that at least ONE might make it. I had two people look over 6-7poems and tell me which ones they thought were best. Evidently the judges weren’t in agreement.
I have since experienced several other “failures”. Is failure to be expected? Yes. Does it hurt? Sure. Is it easy to “…go on working steadily day by day, quite quietly…”? No, unless we stop and realize that this is what we are supposed to do. Life isn’t all about limelights and successes. Contrary to popular belief, spouted by coaches and educators, we can’t all be whatever we want to be. But, we can all labor to shine as lights in the world.
Do all things without complaining and disputing, 1 that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain.