Creative Biblical content at the intersection of life and faith.

Back Porch Psalms - Psalm 6

Psalm 6 is our prayer after a sleepless, tear filled night.  It is the petition from our pain that seeks an answer from God of why life is so unfair and how long He will allow it to go on.  

Join me each morning for Back Porch Psalms live on Periscope.  


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Back Porch Psalms - Psalm 5

Prayer is to be honest, but not careless; spontaneous but not thoughtless.  A day well prepared in prayer helps one to remain in the presence of God even in times of deep distress. 

Join me each morning on Periscope for Back Porch Psalms. 

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Back Porch Psalms - Psalm 4

How do we pray in times of distress?  Our prayers in distress are important, but so are our actions.  How do we respond in times of distress?  Learn how as we take some time to meditate and pray through Psalm 4.

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Rooney and Pinette, Funny Men, A Fitting Reminder

Early on Monday morning I was driving in the darkness listening to the news on the radio.  Two very talented and funny men had died.  Mickey Rooney who was revered to have a unique career that has "spanned almost the entire history of motion pictures" passed away at the age of 93.  It would be difficult to find a person alive, of any age, in our country who has not seen something in which Mickey Rooney was an actor.  From his appearances in The Muppet movies, to the short but mighty security guard who declared that Ben Stein's character, "He looks like a wierdy!", to the classic Its A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, and even dating back to appearances in silent films, you, your kids, your grandmother, and your great grandaddy have all at one time or another laughed at Mickey Rooney.

The second was John Pinette who passed at age 50.  Pinette was the portly fellow who was car jacked in a small town in the final episode of Seinfeld.  Jerry, Elaine, George, and Kramer crassly looked on as desensitized New Yorkers who were merely witnesses to something that goes on all the time.   By failing to help, the Seinfeld crew landed in jail becoming an example case for the conveniently new "Good Samaritan" law.  The final demise of the main characters on a show "all about nothing" was humorously ironic as they did nothing for John Pinette.

I grew familiar with Pinette while living in Birmingham, AL listening to the Rick and Bubba Show.  My wife and I recite his classic punchline to his fast food routine everytime we get behind "that guy" who can't make up his mind.  "Get in the back of the line!"  No one can do justice to the classic way Pinette delivered that line.  The brilliance of Pinette is that the guy could make food funny.

The news of death has a strange way of bringing to the human soul a mixture of nostalgic memories and sobering thoughts.  We appreciate the contribution great people make to our lives.  Those involved in entertainment, especially for someone like Rooney, become definers of culture.  There are markers, movies, one-liners, and images at different moments of our lives that we cannot separate from them.  We are saddened to hear that they are gone, but we can't help hearing the news and laughing a little as the memories of them begin immediately coursing across our minds.  

There is also a sobriety these moments bring.  None of us are going to survive life.  The actors, comedians, athletes . . . time has a way of humbling all of us and death is cruel in that no matter how great we are, eventually our lives are taken away.  93 or 50, we are always too young and death is never convenient. 

These types of stories always remind me of a strange passage in Genesis 6.  There the Bible says that the sons of God went to the daughters of man and to them were born these legendary figures the Bible only refers to as mighty men of old, men of renown.  I'm not here to offer my theory on what exactly these mighty men may have been, but I don't think that they were the earth covered, fallen angels Aronofsky gave us in the recent film Noah.  What I do know is this.  They were legendary.  Every early reader of the Gen. 6 story would have known exactly who they were.  But no matter how great they were, they did not survive the flood.  Only one man and his family found a way to survive the judgment.  Legendary or not, Noah and his family were the only ones on the ark God designed for them.

Death has no regard for legends.  Legend is no merit for salvation.

The news of death has a way of reminding us that the point of life is not merely to be entertained or enjoyed.  There is an all important decision we are all faced with, legends and non-legends alike.  Death levels the playing field for all of us.  What's next?  How do we survive what is to come?

The Bible teaches clearly that after death comes the judgment (Heb. 9:27).  Like Noah's flood, the reckoning for sin brought by a holy God is a deluge faced by all of us.  We have only one way of escape.  Actors, athletes, legends and non-legends alike are offered only one means of salvation, Jesus Christ.  Like the ark became God's ordained way of escape for Noah and his family, so Christ has become God's chosen one, a vessel of salvation for me, you, and your family (1 Peter 3:18-22).

When we stand before God we will not be measured by how funny we were, how many points we scored, or even by how many people knew our name.  Our opinion of ourselves will not stand, no matter how good we think we are.  Even a well versed eulogy offered by a family member or a close friend will not suffice.  Your eulogy may make the rest of us smile at your funeral, but smiles carry no merit when it comes to the salvation of souls.  What people think of us does not agree with how God measures us.  All we are given as merit for salvation is the Son of God.  As sinners we have forfeited any hope that any mark of acclaim or accomplishment will be enough.

If you do not know Christ as your Savior, please take the opportunity offered to you today (2 Cor. 6:2).  Repent of sin and believe in the gospel (Mark 1:15).

I would not even begin to know the eternal fate of Rooney and Pinette.  But I do know that you and I have been extended grace.  Let's believe upon Jesus for our salvation and receive His gift of eternal life before our lives are wrapped up in a news report or an obituary, another one has passed. 
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Word 3, Blessing (3 Words to Help You Understand the Bible)

I am sharing three words that will help you better understand the Bible.  These three words hold the story of the Bible together and keeping them in mind will prevent us from reading the Bible in a haphazard, random way.  The three words are son, land, and blessing.  Today I want to share with you the final word of the three.  It is the word “blessing.”
The word translated “blessing” in the Old Testament basically means to “make one happy.”  It is one of the most common words in the Old Testament.  It occurs 422 times.  God loves to bless.  He wants us to be happy.
The root of our happiness is in our enjoyment of God.  This is what is implied in the word “rest” used in Gen. 2:1.  The word translated “rest” is the Hebrew word “shabbat” from which we get the idea of sabbath.  It does not mean that God was exhausted after six days of creating work, but rather that God had brought the project to a satisfying end.  God was not tired, he was happy.  God’s rest does not imply that there was no more work to be done.  Man was created to work the ground (Gen. 2:5).  In God’s original design man’s work would be satisfying.  Working the earth would make him happy.  
It doesn’t take a Bible scholar to figure out that between then and now, something went horribly wrong.  Life is far from satisfying.
The Biblical text may be full of blessing but life is full of loss.  Even our best days are insecure.  While we do experience enjoyable moments, we know in each moment we are vulnerable and things can change quickly.  We agree with God.  We want to be happy, but happy can be hard to hold on to.
Happy can also be hard to believe.  If life is such a mess, is it honest to say that God wants us to be happy?  The truth is that God was the only one who was honest that if we rebelled against him, life would be less than happy.  He told us we would “surely” die (Gen. 2:17).  Life is essentially living out the “surely.”  If there is birth there will be death.  In between birth and death there is “surely.”  Surely can be no happy thing.
In the midst of living life in “surely” there is an important plot; God is determined to bring someone back to blessing.  He seeks to restore “rest (Heb. 4).”  God still wants us to be happy.  This is the story of the Bible.  How is God working to bring us back to happiness (Rev. 21-22)?  In Gen. 12:1-3 God promised a man named Abram that something would happen in his family that would be a blessing to every family of the earth.  As you read the Bible between Gen. 12 and Rev. 22 you are essentially reading the story of Abram’s family.  It is the battle for the blessing.  It is a precarious journey towards “rest.”  
Abram was promised a SON, a LAND, and a BLESSING (Gen. 12:1-3).  These three words drive the text of the Bible.  What must God do to keep His promise?  
As you read the Bible watch how God is faithful to keep His promises despite mankind’s unfaithfulness.  God is not satisfied with the world as it is.  He is determined to bring us back to a place of blessing where we will enjoy Him forever.

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Word 2, Land (3 Words to Help You Understand the Bible)

This week I am sharing three words that will help you better understand the Bible.  These three words hold the story of the Bible together and keeping them in mind will prevent us from reading the Bible in a haphazard, random way.  The three words are son, land, and blessing.  Today I want to share with you what I mean by the word “land.”
The Bible begins with a garden and a command for man to subdue the earth (Gen. 1:28).  The garden of Eden was the best of the earth.  It represented life under God’s control.  It was a life giving place of abundant blessing.  As the image of God man was to grow the garden.  He was to spread out upon an otherwise wild planet, cultivate it and do what God did, bring forth life.
In the fall man not only lost the garden, but he also lost the blessing of the land (Gen. 3:17-19).  Now the earth was cursed and subduing it would be no easy task.  A new tension now enters the story.  God wants to give man land, but man will struggle to keep it.
The Bible is very geographic.  Every story has a location.  We often ignore these geographic notes as insignificant bylines to the story, but they are not.  There are promises for land.  There are battles for land.  There are famines in the land.  There are disasters in the land.  There are evil people who inhabit the land.  When reading the Bible one must surely agree that the cities, nations, clans, and peoples that control the various “lands” of the Bible are not fulfilling their “imageness.”  Furthermore, famines, quakes, and floods are not normal parts of a garden party.  
We have not made a garden out of the planet.  We have made a mess of it.
An important plot of the Bible becomes how will God redeem the land?  He promised a land to Israel.  They won it and they lost it.  Will they ever faithfully inhabit it?  Will we ever have a garden again?  Will the earth ever be subdued or will it remain forever wild?  Paul sympathizes with the difficulty of living on a sin cursed planet, but he has incredible hope that one day the SON will come to redeem us and in so doing he will also redeem the land from the curse (Rom. 8:18-25).  We need a garden again.
The good news is that the Bible begins with a garden and it ends with a garden.  In Genesis 3 the heavens and the earth were ruined.  In Revelation 21 the heavens and the earth will be made new.  Adam lost access to the tree of life (Gen. 3:23).  This is why we die.  In Revelation 22:2 we are able to return to the tree.  The rest of the Bible is the story of life in between the trees; life lived in a wild land.      
As you read the Bible pay attention to the land.  Where are we in the story?  Who is in the land?  Is it being possessed in righteousness?  Is the garden growing because of the people in the land?  What are the promises concerning the land?  How has God kept His promise?  
If you want to better understand the Bible, pay attention to the land.  
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Word 1, Son - (3 Words to Help You Understand the Bible)

This week I am sharing three words that will help you better understand the Bible.  I believe these three words hold the story of the Bible together and that keeping them in mind will prevent us from reading the Bible in such a haphazard and random way.  The three words are son, land, and blessing.  Today I want to share with you what I mean by the word “son.”
The way the Bible reads it seems as if we only made it to early Sunday afternoon of the second week of existence before Adam and Eve royally blew it.  The bad news was that the LAND (hint, hint) would be cursed adding pain and toil to human life that would eventually end in death.  The good news is that a SON would be born to the woman who would deal such a blow to the serpent that he would be defeated and life would be redeemed.  Adam certainly interpreted God’s pronouncement this way and changed the woman’s name to Eve, celebrating the fact that from her a son would be born that would give us life (Gen. 3:14-20).  
The rest of the Bible is concerned with the search for the saving son (The Old Testament).  The birth, life, death, and resurrection of the saving son (The Gospels).  The assurance that Jesus was the saving son (Acts through the Epistles).  The return of the saving son and the completion of redemption (Revelation).  
It may sound overly simplistic, but allow me to give you a few examples from books of the Bible that you may otherwise ignore.  In my first post I asked you to hold this question about the son at the forefront as you read through the Bible, “Who (or sometimes where) is the promised son?”  The boring genealogies of Genesis are important because they begin to trace which family of which nation from which the son will be born.  In 2 Samuel 7 David is promised that his son will be an eternal king.  That certainly helps us narrow down the identity of the son.  1 and 2 Kings and 1 and 2 Chronicles give us countless stories of David’s failed royal sons.  Certainly none of them were the promised son.  Eventually Israel loses the LAND as they are captured and exiled to Babylon.  What will become of the promised son?  The prophets begin to resurrect hope for the exiles that indeed God has not failed in his promise and the hope of a saving son is not lost.  You and I usually see these passages on Christmas cards (ie. Isaiah 9:6-7) - but I assure you, the prophets had much more in mind than simply Merry Christmas! 
When we move from the Old Testament to the New we are smacked in the face with a genealogy, Matthew 1.  This list of names may appear boring at first glance, but if you read the Old Testament you would see that these names are a roll call of hope that connect the following story contained in the gospels with the Old Testament expectation of a saving son.  Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John serve as heralds to Jews and Greeks alike that this Jesus is the saving son.  Much of Paul’s defense of Jesus in his epistles is built on the fact that Jesus is the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy concerning the son.  You will also see this in most of the preaching passages of the Book of Acts.  In the end the saving son returns, rescues us from sin, and redeems the LAND by creating a new heavens and a new earth.
When you read the Bible always look for the saving son!  
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3 Words to Help You Understand the Bible

Most people understand the Bible to be 66 disjointed books full of random religious sayings and stories.  Even if this is not our understanding of the Bible, most of us read the Bible as if this is indeed what it is.  We skip around, pick and pluck, and often approach it in a random fashion with no intent to engage the plot of the story at hand.  The end result is that we may find a verse here and there that seems to have something meaningful to say.  Yet even then, our interpretation of the golden nugget we find is not faithful to the context; and as for the context, it is categorically ignored and the rest of what we do not take time to understand is flushed into the abyss of the Bible scholar.  Scholars may find the blessing in the obscure passages, but there is no meaning in them for the rest of us.  I assure you, this was not God’s intent and it is simply not the case.  
This week I want to share with you three words that will help you better understand the story of the Bible.  Although these three words do not account for all that the Bible says, they are three words that do seem to give the story of the Bible cohesiveness.  The three words are:  son, land, and blessing.  I will explain more as the week goes along, but for now entertain these three questions as you approach the story of the Bible:
  1. Who (sometimes where) is the promised son?
  2. What is the promised land?
  3. Who is receiving the promised blessing?
If you will hold these three questions at the forefront as you read the Bible it will help you to see the big picture of what God is doing to fulfill His promises to give man a son that will redeem him from sin, to redeem the land from the curse of sin, and to bring a group of chosen people to a place where they will enjoy His blessings forever.
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