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Month: June, 2013

We Press On

Psalm 42

As the deer pants for the water brooks,
So pants my soul for You, O God.
2 My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
When shall I come and appear before God?[b]
3 My tears have been my food day and night,
While they continually say to me,
“Where is your God?”

4 When I remember these things,
I pour out my soul within me.
For I used to go with the multitude;
I went with them to the house of God,
With the voice of joy and praise,
With a multitude that kept a pilgrim feast.

5 Why are you cast down, O my soul?
And why are you disquieted within me?
Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him
For the help of His countenance.[c]

6 O my God,[d] my soul is cast down within me;
Therefore I will remember You from the land of the Jordan,
And from the heights of Hermon,
From the Hill Mizar.
7 Deep calls unto deep at the noise of Your waterfalls;
All Your waves and billows have gone over me.
8 The Lord will command His lovingkindness in the daytime,
And in the night His song shall be with me—
A prayer to the God of my life.

9 I will say to God my Rock,
“Why have You forgotten me?
Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?”
10 As with a breaking of my bones,
My enemies reproach me,
While they say to me all day long,
“Where is your God?”

11 Why are you cast down, O my soul?
And why are you disquieted within me?
Hope in God;
For I shall yet praise Him,
The help of my countenance and my God.

Observation

This psalm is full of perseverance. The psalmist must have looked crazy to those who asked “Where is your God?” But still the psalmist did not give up. 

Application

We’ve got to be relentless in our pursuit of God. No matter what the situation looks like, feels like or seems like we’ve gotta know that we know we serve a God of endless possibilities. We will make it!                                                                     

Today’s Prayer

Lord we thank You for being our confidence. Guard our minds and hearts so that we will not look to the left nor to the right but keep our minds stayed on You. We thank You for redeeming us and redeeming this time. Use us mightily and show us how to overcome all obstacles.

In Jesus’ name,

Amen.

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A note to Miley Cyrus and all cultural tourists

What’s beef?

Beef is when I see you making a mockery of the culture, I know you can do so because somebody gave you a pass.

I have no doubt that if hip-hop does die, it will be its own doing because those of us who purport to love this culture and value blackness stand by and do nothing as raiders of this last art make a mockery of it.

I refuse to let hip-hop become jazz, the blues, rock or funk.

How many genres must die before black people and all people who value blackness and black expression stand at the proverbial gate and say,

“No! You cannot rape my culture.

This may just be a phase for you but this is my lifestyle.”

My music is sacred.

My dance has meaning.

You cannot boil blackness down to its most ignorant, shocking dregs then parade these cheap tokens as key elements of the culture.

My taboos are not your souvenirs.

Saved from Despair

1 Kings 19:1-15

19 And Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, also how he had executed all the prophets with the sword.2 Then Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah, saying, “So let the gods do to me, and more also, if I do not make your life as the life of one of them by tomorrow about this time.” 3 And when he saw that, he arose and ran for his life, and went to Beersheba, which belongs to Judah, and left his servant there.

4 But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a broom tree. And he prayed that he might die, and said, “It is enough! Now, Lord, take my life, for I am no better than my fathers!”

5 Then as he lay and slept under a broom tree, suddenly an angel[a] touched him, and said to him, “Arise and eat.”6 Then he looked, and there by his head was a cake baked on coals, and a jar of water. So he ate and drank, and lay down again. 7 And the angel[b] of the Lord came back the second time, and touched him, and said, “Arise andeat, because the journey is too great for you.” 8 So he arose, and ate and drank; and he went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights as far as Horeb, the mountain of God.

9 And there he went into a cave, and spent the night in that place; and behold, the word of the Lord came to him, and He said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

10 So he said, “I have been very zealous for the Lord God of hosts; for the children of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars, and killed Your prophets with the sword. I alone am left; and they seek to take my life.”

God’s Revelation to Elijah

11 Then He said, “Go out, and stand on the mountain before the Lord.” And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore into the mountains and broke the rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; 12 and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice.

13 So it was, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood in the entrance of the cave. Suddenly a voice came to him, and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

14 And he said, “I have been very zealous for the Lord God of hosts; because the children of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars, and killed Your prophets with the sword. I alone am left; and they seek to take my life.”

15 Then the Lord said to him: “Go, return on your way to the Wilderness of Damascus; and when you arrive, anoint Hazael as king over Syria.

Observation

Who hasn’t been in situations where you have felt the edge of despair? Where the waters below are indistinguishable from the darkness above? Elijah is certainly bent by his circumstances but thanks be to God he was not broken. It’s amazing to know that even when we think death is our only recourse, our Father speaks life in a still, small voice.

Application

What do you do in the grips of despair? Remember that we serve the same God who freed Elijah. Yes the same God cares for and loves you unstoppably. 

 

 

Today’s Prayer

Lord help us to never lose sight of Your goodness and mercy. It says in Your word that we have never seen the righteous forsaken. We stand boldly on your word and declare that no matter what it looks like, You are in charge. You are the captain of our souls. Lead us through disaster, give us Your strength to overcome every obstacle and use us to free all whom you have called. It says that He whom the Son sets free is free indeed. We believe this and thank You for being committed to us time and time again. We love You and praise You.

In Jesus’ name,

Amen.

 

Let’s Be Honest

Psalm 5:1-8
1Give ear to my words, O LORD; *
consider my meditation.

 

 

2Hearken to my cry for help, my King and my God, *
for I make my prayer to you.

 

 

3In the morning, LORD, you hear my voice; *
early in the morning I make my appeal and watch for you.

 

 

4For you are not a God who takes pleasure in wickedness, *
and evil cannot dwell with you.

 

 

5Braggarts cannot stand in your sight; *
you hate all those who work wickedness.

 

 

6You destroy those who speak lies; *
the bloodthirsty and deceitful, O LORD, you abhor.

 

 

7But as for me, through the greatness of your mercy I willgo into your house; *
I will bow down toward your holy temple in awe of you.

 

 

8Lead me, O LORD, in your righteousness,
because of those who lie in wait for me; *
make your way straight before me.

Observation

This scripture shows how important honesty is to God and why we should value it as well. 

Application

What are others to you? Do you use them as a means to your own ends or are you willing to share the gospel with them by any means?

 

Today’s Prayer

Lord help us to value people the way you value them. Let us not view them as trophies to collect nor as doormats to walk over, let us see You in them and may they see You in us. Lord we thank You for saving us and sparing us from the worst of life’s difficulties. We ask You to strengthen us to overcome adversity so that our very lives proclaim Your goodness and mercy. We thank You for everything You are doing in our lives.

In Jesus’ name,

Amen.

The Price of Ambition

1 Kings 21:1-21

The following events took place: Naboth the Jezreelite had a vineyard in Jezreel, beside the palace of King Ahab of Samaria. And Ahab said to Naboth, “Give me your vineyard, so that I may have it for a vegetable garden, because it is near my house; I will give you a better vineyard for it; or, if it seems good to you, I will give you its value in money.” But Naboth said to Ahab, “The LORD forbid that I should give you my ancestral inheritance.” Ahab went home resentful and sullen because of what Naboth the Jezreelite had said to him; for he had said, “I will not give you my ancestral inheritance.” He lay down on his bed, turned away his face, and would not eat.

His wife Jezebel came to him and said, “Why are you so depressed that you will not eat?” He said to her, “Because I spoke to Naboth the Jezreelite and said to him, `Give me your vineyard for money; or else, if you prefer, I will give you another vineyard for it’; but he answered, `I will not give you my vineyard.'” His wife Jezebel said to him, “Do you now govern Israel? Get up, eat some food, and be cheerful; I will give you the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite.”

So she wrote letters in Ahab’s name and sealed them with his seal; she sent the letters to the elders and the nobles who lived with Naboth in his city. She wrote in the letters, “Proclaim a fast, and seat Naboth at the head of the assembly; seat two scoundrels opposite him, and have them bring a charge against him, saying, `You have cursed God and the king.’ Then take him out, and stone him to death.” [The men of his city, the elders and the nobles who lived in his city, did as Jezebel had sent word to them. Just as it was written in the letters that she had sent to them, they proclaimed a fast and seated Naboth at the head of the assembly. The two scoundrels came in and sat opposite him; and the scoundrels brought a charge against Naboth, in the presence of the people, saying, “Naboth cursed God and the king.” So they took him outside the city, and stoned him to death. Then they sent to Jezebel, saying, “Naboth has been stoned; he is dead.”]

As soon as Jezebel heard that Naboth had been stoned and was dead, Jezebel said to Ahab, “Go, take possession of the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite, which he refused to give you for money; for Naboth is not alive, but dead.” As soon as Ahab heard that Naboth was dead, Ahab set out to go down to the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite, to take possession of it.

Then the word of the LORD came to Elijah the Tishbite, saying: Go down to meet King Ahab of Israel, who rules in Samaria; he is now in the vineyard of Naboth, where he has gone to take possession. You shall say to him, “Thus says the LORD: Have you killed, and also taken possession?” You shall say to him, “Thus says the LORD: In the place where dogs licked up the blood of Naboth, dogs will also lick up your blood.”

Ahab said to Elijah, “Have you found me, O my enemy?” He answered, “I have found you. Because you have sold yourself to do what is evil in the sight of the LORD, I will bring disaster on you.”

Observation

People have abused their power for a long time. Twisting the law, cruelly using influence to advance their selfish gains. Yet God is not mocked. Justice can flourish in the most arid of conditions.

Application

Is ambition more important to you than doing the right thing? What are you seeking, prestige or greater intimacy with the Father?

 

Today’s Prayer

Lord we need your guidance. Line our will with Your will. Purify our desires and let us never be in the business of using people for our selfish benefit. Transform our ambitions into devices that uplift. Draw us nearer to You so that we can be safehouses for everyone who seeks You.

In Jesus’ name,

Amen.

Carry On

PSALM 30

 

 

 

1
I will exalt you, O LORD,
because you have lifted me up *
and have not let my enemies triumph over me. 

 

2
O LORD my God, I cried out to you, *
and you restored me to health. 

 

3
You brought me up, O LORD, from the dead; *
you restored my life as I was going down to the grave. 

 

4
Sing to the LORD, you servants of his; *
give thanks for the remembrance of his holiness. 

 

5
For his wrath endures but the twinkling of an eye, *
his favor for a lifetime. 

 

6
Weeping may spend the night, *
but joy comes in the morning. 

 

7
While I felt secure, I said,
“I shall never be disturbed. *
You, LORD, with your favor, made me as strong as the mountains.” 

 

8
Then you hid your face, *
and I was filled with fear. 

 

9
I cried to you, O LORD; *
I pleaded with the Lord, saying, 

 

10
“What profit is there in my blood, if I go down to the Pit? *
will the dust praise you or declare your faithfulness? 

 

11
Hear, O LORD, and have mercy upon me; *
O LORD, be my helper.” 

 

12
You have turned my wailing into dancing; *
you have put off my sack-cloth and clothed me with joy. 

 

13
Therefore my heart sings to you without ceasing; *
O LORD my God, I will give you thanks for ever.
Observation

Something powerful about verse 5, “For his wrath endures but the twinkling of an eye, his favor for a lifetime.” It helps me to endure because it’s as if I can hear the Father say, “Carry on.”

Application

Praise is a weapon. Can you muster up the necessary hope to praise God in spite of your circumstance?

 

Today’s Prayer

Father I just want to thank You for being so committed to us. Thank You for walking with us through the difficulties of life. Guide us so that we can keep the right perspective. Not focusing on our circumstance but centering ourselves in you. Let us remember that You are our source and are greater than any obstacle we may encounter.

In Jesus’ name,

Amen.

Fed Up

Jeremiah 12

Jeremiah’s Question

Righteous are You, O Lord, when I plead with You;
Yet let me talk with You about Your judgments.
Why does the way of the wicked prosper?
Why are those happy who deal so treacherously?
2 You have planted them, yes, they have taken root;
They grow, yes, they bear fruit.
You are near in their mouth
But far from their mind.

3 But You, O Lord, know me;
You have seen me,
And You have tested my heart toward You.
Pull them out like sheep for the slaughter,
And prepare them for the day of slaughter.
4 How long will the land mourn,
And the herbs of every field wither?
The beasts and birds are consumed,
For the wickedness of those who dwell there,
Because they said, “He will not see our final end.”

The Lord Answers Jeremiah

5 “If you have run with the footmen, and they have wearied you,
Then how can you contend with horses?
And if in the land of peace,
In which you trusted, they wearied you,
Then how will you do in the floodplain[a] of the Jordan?
6 For even your brothers, the house of your father,
Even they have dealt treacherously with you;
Yes, they have called a multitude after you.
Do not believe them,
Even though they speak smooth words to you.

7 “I have forsaken My house, I have left My heritage;
I have given the dearly beloved of My soul into the hand of her enemies.
8 My heritage is to Me like a lion in the forest;
It cries out against Me;
Therefore I have hated it.
9 My heritage is to Me like a speckled vulture;
The vultures all around are against her.
Come, assemble all the beasts of the field,
Bring them to devour!

10 “Many rulers[b] have destroyed My vineyard,
They have trodden My portion underfoot;
They have made My pleasant portion a desolate wilderness.
11 They have made it desolate;
Desolate, it mourns to Me;
The whole land is made desolate,
Because no one takes it to heart.
12 The plunderers have come
On all the desolate heights in the wilderness,
For the sword of the Lord shall devour
From one end of the land to the other end of the land;
No flesh shall have peace.
13 They have sown wheat but reaped thorns;
They have put themselves to pain but do not profit.
But be ashamed of your harvest
Because of the fierce anger of the Lord.”

14 Thus says the Lord: “Against all My evil neighbors who touch the inheritance which I have caused My people Israel to inherit—behold, I will pluck them out of their land and pluck out the house of Judah from among them. 15 Then it shall be, after I have plucked them out, that I will return and have compassion on them and bring them back, everyone to his heritage and everyone to his land. 16 And it shall be, if they will learn carefully the ways of My people, to swear by My name, ‘As the Lord lives,’ as they taught My people to swear by Baal, then they shall be established in the midst of My people.17 But if they do not obey, I will utterly pluck up and destroy that nation,” says the Lord.

Observation

God is perfect and detests iniquity. Injustice, even when it seems to be winning, will not prosper.

Application

When we are fatigued by the evil we see, we must remember that God too is incensed by it and is in the midst of it employing devices of justice. 

 

Today’s Prayer

Lord help us not to be overwhelmed. Let us remember that You are the overcomer, our champion who is right there with us in the midst of every circumstance. We thank You for being the greatest example of empathy we could ever have. We ask that You soften the hearts of those who work iniquity, let them know Your love and draw them close to You.

In Jesus’ name,

Amen.

Fed Up

Jeremiah 12

Jeremiah’s Question

Righteous are You, O Lord, when I plead with You;
Yet let me talk with You about Your judgments.
Why does the way of the wicked prosper?
Why are those happy who deal so treacherously?
2 You have planted them, yes, they have taken root;
They grow, yes, they bear fruit.
You are near in their mouth
But far from their mind.

3 But You, O Lord, know me;
You have seen me,
And You have tested my heart toward You.
Pull them out like sheep for the slaughter,
And prepare them for the day of slaughter.
4 How long will the land mourn,
And the herbs of every field wither?
The beasts and birds are consumed,
For the wickedness of those who dwell there,
Because they said, “He will not see our final end.”

The Lord Answers Jeremiah

5 “If you have run with the footmen, and they have wearied you,
Then how can you contend with horses?
And if in the land of peace,
In which you trusted, they wearied you,
Then how will you do in the floodplain[a] of the Jordan?
6 For even your brothers, the house of your father,
Even they have dealt treacherously with you;
Yes, they have called a multitude after you.
Do not believe them,
Even though they speak smooth words to you.

7 “I have forsaken My house, I have left My heritage;
I have given the dearly beloved of My soul into the hand of her enemies.
8 My heritage is to Me like a lion in the forest;
It cries out against Me;
Therefore I have hated it.
9 My heritage is to Me like a speckled vulture;
The vultures all around are against her.
Come, assemble all the beasts of the field,
Bring them to devour!

10 “Many rulers[b] have destroyed My vineyard,
They have trodden My portion underfoot;
They have made My pleasant portion a desolate wilderness.
11 They have made it desolate;
Desolate, it mourns to Me;
The whole land is made desolate,
Because no one takes it to heart.
12 The plunderers have come
On all the desolate heights in the wilderness,
For the sword of the Lord shall devour
From one end of the land to the other end of the land;
No flesh shall have peace.
13 They have sown wheat but reaped thorns;
They have put themselves to pain but do not profit.
But be ashamed of your harvest
Because of the fierce anger of the Lord.”

14 Thus says the Lord: “Against all My evil neighbors who touch the inheritance which I have caused My people Israel to inherit—behold, I will pluck them out of their land and pluck out the house of Judah from among them. 15 Then it shall be, after I have plucked them out, that I will return and have compassion on them and bring them back, everyone to his heritage and everyone to his land. 16 And it shall be, if they will learn carefully the ways of My people, to swear by My name, ‘As the Lord lives,’ as they taught My people to swear by Baal, then they shall be established in the midst of My people.17 But if they do not obey, I will utterly pluck up and destroy that nation,” says the Lord.

Observation

God is perfect and detests iniquity. Injustice, even when it seems to be winning, will not prosper.

Application

When we are fatigued by the evil we see, we must remember that God too is incensed by it and is in the midst of it employing devices of justice. 

 

Today’s Prayer

Lord help us not to be overwhelmed. Let us remember that You are the overcomer, our champion who is right there with us in the midst of every circumstance. We thank You for being the greatest example of empathy we could ever have. We ask that You soften the hearts of those who work iniquity, let them know Your love and draw them close to You.

In Jesus’ name,

Amen.

The Beautiful Game

 

Image

I wanna play basketball for the rest of my life. Many of my life decisions (at least my school decisions) have been through the lens of a basketball fiend.

 

When making the move from public to private school, I had dreams of getting glory on varsity. (Nevermind that I was an incoming 7th grader)

 

In high school I frustrated my college counselor to no end because while he wanted me to look at the bevy of liberal arts colleges in the Northeast, I was looking at schools that were in the AP top 25. (For what it’s worth, we met halfway. Davidson is a top liberal arts college and a bastion of getting buckets. So good, so good.)

 

Basketball got me through my first year of seminary.

 

I collected all the microaggressions throughout the week and left them at the altar.

 

The court was my sanctuary.

 

Even as lupus was beginning to rear its head basketball got me through. I was in the bed battling pneumonia and texting my coach partner for our 7th grade boys’ score. (My wife had to threaten me, lovingly of course, not to go to practice.)

 

My hospitalization in Feb 2012 coincided with Linsanity (also known as one of my favorite times to be a Knicks fan ever). God knows it was a tremendous comfort for me to see my Knicks on tv so often (I was in Charlotte at the time) and a beautiful escape since they were actually winning.

 

The illness brought fatigue and tremendous fluctuations in weight but it could not take basketball from me. My meetings with doctors often included the inevitable question, “So…when can I play ball again?”

 

A little over a year has passed since the worst of everything and I’ve only dabbled in playing ball since. In those moments I was reminded of how much I treasure the game and challenged because of the road I have ahead of me. My touch (I’ve always likened my game to that of a poor man’s Sam Perkins) is not what it used to be and I’m working to get my lungs where I need them to truly enjoy playing.

 

Doin’ It In The Park” and “The Doctor” rekindled my love for pick up ball. I spent my elementary school days learning the game at Soul in the Hole and I count The Cage on West 4th as one of my favorite fortresses of solitude. I’m getting better for a variety of reasons and thank God that basketball is a source of hope. My dreams of winning a championship for my beloved blue and orange will never come true but my days of getting buckets on the blacktop never have to die.

 

Least of These

Psalm 146

 

 

1
Hallelujah!
Praise the LORD, O my soul! *
I will praise the LORD as long as I live;
I will sing praises to my God while I have my being.

 

 

2
Put not your trust in rulers, nor in any child of earth, *
for there is no help in them.

 

 

3
When they breathe their last, they return to earth, *
and in that day their thoughts perish.

 

 

4
Happy are they who have the God of Jacob for their help!*
whose hope is in the LORD their God;

 

 

5
Who made heaven and earth, the seas, and all that is in them; *
who keeps his promise for ever;

 

 

6
Who gives justice to those who are oppressed, *
and food to those who hunger.

 

 

7
The LORD sets the prisoners free;
the LORD opens the eyes of the blind; *
the LORD lifts up those who are bowed down;

 

 

8
The LORD loves the righteous;
the LORD cares for the stranger; *
he sustains the orphan and widow,
but frustrates the way of the wicked.

 

 

9
The LORD shall reign for ever, *
your God, O Zion, throughout all generations.
Hallelujah!

Observation

Our God is a champion for the least of these. Those whom the world neglects, are they whom the Lord selects.

Application

If God is with the orphan, the stranger and the widow, where should we be?

Today’s Prayer

Lord we thank You for another day because it is another opportunity to get it right. And we know it is not by our works Oh Father but by Your goodness and mercy that we are here. We ask You to guide us to make the most of this day. Let us be a blessing to our family, our friends, coworkers, and everyone we come across today. Help us to love people we may not even like. We ask You to strengthen us and to walk in the confidence that You are good and You are for us.

In Jesus’ name,

Amen.

Brian Mooney

Educator, Scholar, Author

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