Please Read This Book On Psalms 23

Reading time: 3 minutes

While living in Edinburgh, we had the wonderful privilege of joining with a new church plant (it was only 3-4 months old when we joined). Due to very tight governmental regulations in Scotland, they have had their Sunday gatherings online via Zoom for a long time. A few weeks ago, they started a four-week series on Psalms 23, and asked if I would speak on one of the Sundays. I was delighted.

Seeing that I was concluding the series, I attempted to provide a birds-eye view of the chapter. I spent several hours preparing and decided in the process that I would write a book on Psalms 23 that consisted of a collection of meditations. I began the book in the process of preparing the talk and wrote somewhere in the neighborhood of 7,000 words.

I then stopped.

In my preparation, I came across the following audiobook on Scribd (far superior to Audible!!!) that grabbed my attention: A Shepherd Looks at Psalms 23 by Phillip Keller. The description reads: As a shepherd, Phillip Keller shares his insights into the life and character of sheep—and of the Good Shepherd who loves and cares for them . . . . this beloved classic will give new meaning to the ageless Shepherd Psalm, enriching your trust in and love for the Lord who watches closely over you.

At times, I was deeply moved. I was also blown away by how much I had missed in prior readings of the beloved Psalm that unfortunately is often relegated to the funeral pile of Scriptures. Even after spending a couple of weeks reading and rereading the Psalm as well as plowing through multiple commentaries in Logos, nothing compared to Keller’s insight. The bottom line is this: he spent a significant amount of time working as a shepherd in East Africa. He had experience which I didn’t have, and it made all of the difference.

The book was so insightful, informative, encouraging, comforting, and challenging that it only took a few hours of listening to decide that any book I write on the topic would be a disappointment both to me and others. Besides, I would probably begin the book with, “Please put my book down and read Keller’s,” which would not exactly be a good marketing strategy.

Suffice it to say that Keller’s book is rich with insight and makes this Psalm come alive as never before. There are some things that you simply cannot see in this Psalm if you have never been a shepherd. Also, Keller does a wonderful job explaining that many of the blessings in Psalm 23 depend not so much on the sheep as on the shepherd. Who doesn’t need to be reminded of this grace-filled message?

The message in this book is a powerful reminder that Christianity is a humble faith, not a power-grab strategy for those wanting to get ahead in our performance-saturated culture. So if you are looking for a book to read, need help trusting in the Lord, and want to grow in the peace and rest that results from trusting the Lord, this book is for you. Please read it. I believe it will really impact you as it did me.

Soli Deo Gloria.

He is Risen

He is risen.

As followers of Christ, we believe that this is a historical event with spiritual, mental, emotional, relational, intellectual, and eternal ramifications.

Neither wishful thinking nor a neurosis (Freud).

Not merely a psychological crutch (Nietzsche), although a wonderful crutch.

Not an “opium” for when the average Joe is suffering economically at the hands of an oppressive bourgeoisie (Marx).

Not a made-up meaning for those wanting an “essence” in what is otherwise an absurd and Godless universe (Sartre).

No.

We believe that Jesus is the long-awaited Jewish messiah, Moses’ snake in the wilderness, Rehab’s scarlet thread, and humanity’s only eternal hope.

Easter is this declaration: He came, he died, but the story doesn’t end there.

He rose from the dead so that he can now live in us, with us, and through us.

May our good and gracious Lord remind us today that no matter what we face, he has already overcome. Let hope abound!

Come Lord Jesus.

I Did It! Facebook is Gone!

This will be the shortest blog I have ever written, but since several of you have recently followed my blog after my announcement on Facebook, I thought it was appropriate to send a quick message. Here it is:

I DID IT!

I have come up with so many reasons in the past for not cancelling my Facebook account. What did I do instead? Waste too much time scrolling through mostly useless information. Distract myself from more important tasks. Update mostly strangers on issues rather than use that time to connect more deeply with REAL friends.

Needless to say, I feel so great about the decision. My wife and I cancelled our Instagram accounts in December, and now I have cancelled my Facebook. I did not even choose the option to keep Messenger. It is all gone, and my information will be more private because of it. Also, I can focus on desires and tasks that God has put in my heart.

*Sigh of relief*

To those that have recently followed, thank you so much. Also, if you don’t mind, share my blog with others if what I write over time blesses you.

Thank you.

The Chosen: My Emotional Response

Read Time: 3-4 minutes

I am not opposed to crying, and often tell my son that there is nothing wrong with men crying. Granted, one doesn’t need to cry at the drop of a hat, but weeping can be very healthy.

For a couple of years, my close friend Kerr Howell has been telling me about The Chosen. It is available through an app, tells the story of Jesus Christ, and touts the claim: “Created outside of the Hollywood system.” As Kerr knows, I don’t jump out of my seat to watch things produced by and for Christians, because sometimes the “cheesiness” is sickening, just like the predictability and shallowness of contemporary Christian music that often plays on the radio (for those that listen to the radio lol).

However, this was so different. I watched the first episode this morning and the last five minutes broke me. I wept. I then watched the scene with Mary of Magdalene 15 more times, and wept more. I needed to wash my face to refresh my eyes when done, and for those who know me, not much moves me to tears except reflecting on my precious daddy’s tragic death and his loud absence since.

This morning I wept, and I welcomed it. If you have not watched The Chosen, download the app and try the first episode. The first 30 minutes was a little slow for me, and then the ball got rolling.

How did it impact me? Well, it is interesting that I finally watched this the day after a line in C.S. Lewis’ Out of the Silent Planet grabbed me: “Oyarsa sends for you.” An eldil, an angelic figure, speaks to Ransom and he finds out that Oyarsa, a God-like figure in Melecandra, was calling for him and had been drawing him for the longest time. And then today I watch The Chosen and the part about Jesus calling Mary by name, and it broke me in the most wonderful way.

Maybe the Lord is reaching out to me in a fresh way. Maybe the Lord is calling my name as he hasn’t yet done in this new season (unless I am missing something, which is often the case). I am not sure, and don’t want to get all sentimental for the fun of it. Yet, I believe that God calls our name in unique ways, and uses various means to knock on the available and buried doors of the heart. Emotion is good, and I welcome the Lord cracking open the emotional part of my being so that it too is sanctified, redeemed, and open for his impressions and glory.

Anyway, I hope that you go and watch the first episode of The Chosen this week. You won’t regret it.

My Daily Peace: Walks with C.S. Lewis

Read Time: 3 minutes

I work from home, and sometimes I grow very restless. Sometimes I just want to get outside, and at other times I want to log off of work and have some creative time so that I can write, create items for my TpT store, etc. But I have found one thing that is really helping me, and considering so many of us are living different lives due to COVID, you might find this helpful.

Around 2 or 3pm every afternoon, I go for a walk and listen to an audiobook about the life of C.S. Lewis. This is my current focus, and honestly, I think I will stay with writings either about Lewis or by Lewis for the next few months (when listening to audiobooks). He inspires me. The book I am currently reading is by Oxford Don and Theologian Alister McGrath: C. S. Lewis-A Life: Eccentric Genius, Reluctant Prophet. I knew that I would learn a lot, but I had no idea that I would be so inspired. Lewis faced so many obstacles, had to work so hard, dealt with financial struggle, the loss of friends, being overlooked for one academic post after another, and a host of other issues. Yet, he didn’t give up; he worked harder and harder and harder after every setback. He wanted to be a poet, but failed; yet he wrote poetically-flavored prose that has captured the minds and hearts of so many and will continue to do so for generations to come. God had a plan.

At times, I have even fought back tears listening to McGrath’s book. This is a good thing. My heart is stirred to not give up, to not quit praying, to not quit reading, to not quit dreaming, and to not quit writing. God has not put things in me, or you, by accident. He will make a way for all that is in our heart, unless it is not from him; in that case, he will put new desires in our heart (probably the best way to understand the famous phrase in Psalms 34:8). I don’t want to leave anything that God has put in me for him and for others on the table. Nothing wasted.

These are difficult times for so many. COVID has destroyed—or at least interrupted—people’s dreams, livelihoods, relationships, disciplines, and family rhythms. Intentionality is needed more than ever to maintain mental, emotional, relational, and spiritual health. For me, a walk a day keeps insanity away, especially with Lewis in my ear.

So besides my prayerful time in God’s Word most mornings (I do my best), my daily walks—right now with C.S. Lewis—is my daily peace. Now, sometimes I don’t do it because duty calls, or I would rather take my son with me to let him ride his bike. But all in all, I need this 30-45 minute walk. It makes my heart beat. It lifts my eyes above the ordinary grind. It gives my eyes and mind a break from staring at the computer (I work full-time in online education). It reminds me that while my present is full of so many blessings, more is ahead.

So what is your daily peace? Are you doing it? Are you prioritizing it? I hope so.