Wednesday, November 12, 2008

A Psalm and a Prayer for President-Elect Obama

Psalm 12

1Save, O LORD, for the godly one is gone;
for the faithful have vanished from among the children of man.
2Everyone utters lies to his neighbor;
with flattering lips and a double heart they speak.
3May the LORD cut off all flattering lips,
the tongue that makes great boasts,
4those who say, "With our tongue we will prevail,
our lips are with us; who is master over us?"

5"Because the poor are plundered, because the needy groan,
I will now arise," says the LORD;
"I will place him in the safety for which he longs."
6 The words of the LORD are pure words,
like silver refined in a furnace on the ground,
purified seven times.

7You, O LORD, will keep them;
you will guard us from this generation forever.
8On every side the wicked prowl,
as vileness is exalted among the children of man.

Let me make clear what I do and don't mean by posting this Psalm. I am not saying that President Bush is "the godly one" in v1. Bush is a professing Christian but so is Obama. I had great hopes in 2000 about the administration of a bold "born-again" Christian but my disappointment began just after 9/11 when he shifted the focus on the War on Terror from bin Laden to Hussein. What I do see in this Psalm that is very pertinent is the cry of a people who are surrounded by leaders who are deceitful and do not hold to their word. This is infectious on both sides of the aisle. I also see the need for our leaders to be concerned with the poor and needy. May Obama seek the LORD and find true integrity with his words. I personally pray that he can't do everything he has promised in his campaign; regardless, may the LORD develop in him the discipline to let his "yes" be "yes" and his "no" be "no" in the midst of a wishy-washy Washington culture. May Obama lead the charge to find truly long-term successful ways to help enable to the poor and needy to find firm footing in this life. May the LORD give him wisdom to be faithful to the Christian call to the less fortunate in a way that gives help that will last while also being financially responsible on a federal level. May God mold and form Obama to be a man of integrity and vision who is able to unite a country and uphold morality. God, I am not asking for a leader who will legislate Christianity... I am asking for one who will do what is right.

Monday, November 10, 2008

An Open Ear

Psalm 40:6-8

I have been thinking a lot recently about the correlation between hearing God and obeying him. In John 10:3-5, Jesus says that those who belong to him are able to hear his voice and follow him. In Greek, the word for "I hear" is akouw and the word for "I obey" is hupakouw; I plan on doing a study on these two words, but without any research it's apparent from the surface that to obey has a dependency on or at least a relation to being able to hear. When my daughter doesn't obey something I told her to do, it's not unusual for her to say, "I didn't hear you."

In Psalm 40, the psalmist emphasizes that God ultimately doesn't seek religious sacrifices from his followers but obedience. God has given the writer "an open ear," meaning that he is able to hear God's commandments, and in v8 he describes the condition of his heart before God by saying, "I delight to do your will, O my God; your law is within my heart."

The disciple's life isn't easy, but it doesn't have to be complicated. That's why I describe it as "the simple life." It's not easy to follow God in obedience - there are times that it may cost us greatly. However, the tools that are necessary to follow Christ in obedience and power are not complicated. One of the most important things a disciple needs is an open ear, the ability to hear God's voice - in his Word, through prayer, in daily circumstances, etc - and then obey. The open ear is part of the "intimacy" side of the discipleship coin (one side is intimacy, the other is influence). When a disciple is unable to hear God's voice, his attempts at obedience revolve around what other people have told him/her that God desires and it all degenerates into lifeless religion. However, as the disciples cultivates the ability to listen to God and obey him, his journey with Christ comes alive and immediately supersedes religious obligations.

Do you have an open ear to hear God? Why are you doing the "Christian" things you do? Has God told you to do them? Is there something God has directed you to do - even a long time ago - that has been left undone? Obey him. How do you cultivate an open ear? It's not easy, but it's not complicated! For beginners, understand the truth (with boldness!) that if you have said "Yes!" to Christ, his Spirit lives in you and, by his direction, you CAN hear his voice. Here's the real question: are you listening? Like my daughter, we often have selective hearing because we're afraid that Christ may ask us to do something we don't want to do. The more we try to ignore the Spirit's voice, the more closed our ear becomes. The more we attempt to hear God, the more open it will be. Amazingly simple!