God Will Judge with Equity

IMG_0443

Rainbow Bridge – Odaiba Island – Minato, Tokyo, Japan

Kon ni chi wa (Hello!) from Tokyo, Japan.

Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would visit this country, but I’m here anyways and it is fantastic.  However, Tokyo isn’t the main subject of this post (I’ll do a full post of our adventures some other time).

Being in a far away, foreign land isn’t as bad as I imagine it was “back in the day”.  In fact today, with the presence of social media (and healthy wi-fi) you really don’t have to miss a beat. Since being in Tokyo, we typically end the night going through photos taken throughout the day and maybe catching up on things back home.  Social media then, has been a gift because we are able to keep up with all sorts of cool things taking place across the water.  However, the flip side is that because of social media we get to see all of the terribly dark and horrific things taking place back home as well.

With all of the election drama going on and starting (but not yet finishing) the new portrayal of “Roots”, I was actually glad to be able to get away from the States for a bit. As a result, being in Tokyo has been the reinforcement I needed to remind me that the world is much bigger than the US and in the grand scheme of things, our problems, my problems are but a blip on the global radar. Yet still, because of the pull of social media and my (sometimes unhealthy) attraction to it, I can’t help but to have one eye on the amazing sights here and another on my home country.

As I lay on this Shiki futon in Tokyo while dark clouds have formed and are about to bring forth seasonal rainfall, a dark cloud hangs over my home country. Sadly, these days this is a recurring theme.  Once again the nation is hurting, families are hurting.  Once again, there is this thunderous sound of voices all jockeying for position to be heard.  There are no shortages of commentary and opinions on the recent events in Orlando and other headlines. People are talking, people are arguing, people are asking questions, people are providing “answers”; everyone has something to say.  The temptation for me is to throw my voice in the imaginary ring and vie for a space and opportunity to be heard.  Yet, I fight to restrain myself and refrain from being a part of the noise especially in times like these.

Contrary to popular belief and practice, in times like these it’s all the more important for us to be:

“…quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to anger.” (James 1:19)

Why?

“For the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God” (James 1:20)

Instead, I will simply remind you of what my wife and I were reminded of this morning as we read a chapter from the Psalms.  At the end of day, when we don’t have the words to say or when there are too many words being said, we ought to take a step back and hear the voice of God.  When all other voices become clanging cymbals and when all other voices eventually fade out (until the next “big thing”), God’s Word will remain faithful and true; it (nor He) never fails. Listen to this:

We give thanks to you, O God;
    we give thanks, for your name is near.
We recount your wondrous deeds.

“At the set time that I appoint
    I will judge with equity.
When the earth totters, and all its inhabitants,
    it is I who keep steady its pillars. Selah
I say to the boastful, ‘Do not boast,’
    and to the wicked, ‘Do not lift up your horn;
do not lift up your horn on high,
    or speak with haughty neck.’”

For not from the east or from the west
    and not from the wilderness comes lifting up,
but it is God who executes judgment,
    putting down one and lifting up another.
For in the hand of the Lord there is a cup
    with foaming wine, well mixed,
and he pours out from it,
    and all the wicked of the earth
    shall drain it down to the dregs.

But I will declare it forever;
    I will sing praises to the God of Jacob.
10 All the horns of the wicked I will cut off,
    but the horns of the righteous shall be lifted up. – Psalm 75 (ESV)

May His words (Word) be the foundation upon which you stand.  May they fill you with hope and peace. And finally, may they even be the basis for the words you choose to speak and the life you choose to live. For Christ’s sake, amen.

Listening to and for Him,

T.

 

 

Advertisements

Embracing Overwhelmed-ness

First off, I’m not sure overwhelmed-ness is a real word but I am rolling with it.

Like most people I go through seasons where everything is going smoothly; work (auditing) isn’t too hectic, ministry is clicking on all cylinders (for lack of a better phrase), relationships aren’t too dysfunctional and I am tiptoeing through the tulips. Then there are times when I wonder why my employers even hired me? Why would God call me to Pastor? Why would these people let me Pastor them? Who decided down is up and up is down and left me out of the loop? Why aren’t there more hours in the day? Why is my metabolism working at a snail’s pace? Why is everyone enjoying relationships except me? Why am I so overwhelmed?

As of today, I’m not sure if I am going into the latter season or coming out of it, but I sense something. I may even be right in the middle of that season; in fact, I know I am. I am overwhelmed. Yes, I just full on processed my feelings in the middle of writing this.

So yesterday I drove from San Diego to La Mirada and back to San Diego in a matter of six hours for two of my jobs. I know that sounds crazy, but this is my life. I’ve done it plenty of times, but yesterday the thought of it made me feel anxious, slightly depressed and angry. I wasn’t so much upset at the fact that I have multiple jobs, but simply because it was just bad timing. There is so much going on – on one hand, and not so much on the other hand, but I’m still required to do both.   Yesterday, however, it really got to me and in my massive amounts of alone time in the car, I was reminded of one of my favorite passages:

“Hear my cry, O God; attend unto my prayer. From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I. For thou hast been a shelter for me, and a strong tower from the enemy. I will abide in thy tabernacle for ever: I will trust in the covert of thy wings. Selah.

For thou, O God, hast heard my vows: thou hast given me the heritage of those that fear thy name. Thou wilt prolong the king’s life: and his years as many generations. He shall abide before God for ever: O prepare mercy and truth, which may preserve him. So will I sing praise unto thy name for ever, that I may daily perform my vows.” (Psalms 61:1-8 KJV)

For the sake of this post and for the rest of this post I want to draw attention to the first four verses which end at “Selah”.

This is a Psalm of David that focuses on having and finding security in God (as noted by the heading in the HCSB translation). My aim is not to fully exegete this text, but to share how it ministered to me yesterday. As I read it multiple times and read multiple translations I kept being drawn to the word “when” in verse two. I’m not so sure that David’s heart was overwhelmed or weary or faint (words used in the different translations) at the time he wrote this. I honestly believe that he was stating a fact that there were times in his life when that was his reality and when it was, he wanted to be pointed or led to or directed to the One that he could lean on. Yes, David knew and understood that sometimes life can happen in such a way that it causes one’s heart to become weary, faint, overwhelmed or just plain weak.

It happens. It is natural. This is mankind’s plight.

In a fallen, broken world, everything is not going to go smoothly all the time. Everything is not going to go as planned all the time. There are going to be times when we are rendered powerless and confronted with our finite-ness, and that is ok.

I realized yesterday that I was beating myself up because I allowed myself to become overwhelmed as if being overwhelmed is a bad thing, or, as if I have total control over my life. Pride is so deceitful. Often times when I am overwhelmed by either throw on my superman cape and try to do everything on my own, or I become paralyzed and do nothing until the storm blows over. Both of which are terrible responses because in each case I end up handling things my way, in my strength, using my logic. Instead of being proactive like David, often times I finally turn to God when I am burned out and/or the poop has hit the fan. That’s not a good way to live and that is not the life God wants for me.

So today, I am embracing the possibility and the reality of being overwhelmed. Instead of waiting until the last-minute I am praying that in this moment and in those moments, God would continue to draw me to Himself and that He would give me the courage to rely on Him, the One, the Rock who is higher than I.

I can do this because I know from past experience, as did David, that He always delivers. He always shelters. In Him there is security. He never fails.

Selah.

Leaning on Him,

Terry

Lead Me to the Rock

Ps.  I absolutely believe we can be overwhelmed by things that are foolish and unhealthy.  This post does not speak to those things although I do firmly believe that even in those situations God invites us to Himself.