Skip to main content

songs of life

on monday i finished leading a seven week study on the book of psalms called "songs of life."  in this study we looked at different types or genres of psalms, including thanksgiving psalms, liturgical psalms, lament psalms, royal psalms, and others.  all together, we read some 60 psalms, studying a few them closely, and only reading or taking a brief look at others.  we had some 30 people participate over the course of the 7 weeks, and while i hope that everyone learned some things, my most pronounced desire is that some of the folks who looked at these psalms in the last two months have been inspired by the poetry therein.  it is my prayer that as they read these ancient words, they discovered that the words are pointing to something beyond the words themselves, and even beyond whatever theological meaning we can contrive.  these profound poems and songs sing of something deeper and truer and higher and more solid and more alive.  they speak of the true grit of human life; of the intense stress and pressure that seems to press in on every side at times; and of the wild and reckless hope that there is a God who not only can, but will (!) deliver us from those enemies.  these were the songs david sang.  they are the song Jesus sang.  and they are the songs that countless Christ-followers have sung through the centuries. 

today we may feel that we don't need the psalms.  we have so much modern praise and worship music that the market is flooded with new songs and new bands and new slick marketing techniques to try and get you to buy it all and use it at your church.  and if that isn't quite your flavor, we have plenty of hymnals available, so that you can sing the old standards, the great songs of our faith, most of which are a couple hundred years old or so.  to paraphrase n.t. wright, when we neglect, ignore, or forget the psalms as our first hymnbook, we are like children who have been led up to the edge of niagara falls that they might look out and behold its incredible strength and beauty, but they have instead been content to keep their heads down and play with their video games.  we have settled for something far inferior. 

so let us embrace the psalms.  let us read them in our own homes.  let us quote them at our meals.  let us sing them in our churches.  let us pray them in our hours of darkness.  let us dance them in our moments of elation.  let us know them deep within our souls.  they are songs of life. 


Popular posts from this blog


i made these comments and prayed the following prayer at one of our worship services at SPWF yesterday, and had a few folks asked if i would post them, so there they are: 
It has been a season of terrible tragedy.  And I have noticed in the news a trending phrase: thoughts and prayers.  It even has its own hashtag on twitter and other social media, but net necessarily in a good way.  People are understandably tired of hearing about others’ thoughts and prayers, when that is only a thinly-veiled way of saying that our only obligation to those who suffer is a brief moment of silence, or nothing more than a tweet or public statement.  The truth is that, for those of us who follow Jesus, much is required when our neighbors suffer.  We are called to do justice where we can, to love kindness and mercy, and to walk with God through it all.  But let us be careful not to throw out the proverbial baby with the bathwater.  We are, as people of faith, those who know that prayer is not simply an em…

a divided tree

there is a tree in my back yard.  i'm pretty sure it's an oak tree.  at least that's what i think Shannon told me.  i don't know my oaks from my maples, my elms from my locusts.  to me, it's a tree: a corinthian column bursting up into life and glory.  full of sap and pulp and rings and bugs and cells pulsing with water and always reaching for something.  it is full of rhythm, reach and flourish then fall and die, and repeat. 

this particular tree, though, isn't of one mind. 

half of it's rusted orange leaves have given up their grip and surrendered -gracefully or not - to the pull of gravity and the threat of winter.  the north side of this inauspicious oak is just about bare naked, all sticks and straight lines, a skeleton of itself.  but the side that looks south is stubbornly resisting change.  no longer green, the leaves have compromised their summer vibrancy, but they are clearly not ready to concede death just yet. 

i feel like i can relate to this …

thankful right now

"if the only prayer you ever say in your life is 'thank you,' it will be enough." -Meister Eckhart

"thanksgiving is inseparable from prayer." -John Wesley

i've been thinking about gratitude quite a bit this week, and how to foster a thankful spirit in the midst of the barrage of bad news that for me is punctuated by yet another "breaking news" notification on my phone, interrupting the busyness of my day to rudely remind me that the world's brokenness knows nothing of limits or boundaries, not to mention my schedule or sanity.  still, the bad news keeps coming. 

i just scrolled through my most recent notifications just from the last few days and they contain phrases like "crimes against humanity," "57 million users hacked, but not reported," "alleged pattern of sexual abuse," and "extremely disturbing," just to name a few.  how am i supposed to be present at a staff meeting when my phone is buzzing …