December 29, 2003

New Years Wishes

The new year is here - with all the political fever running wild. I hope everyone has exercized their right to register to vote. We have a liquor election coming up in Royse City. Although I am against liquor stores on every corner, I am more opposed to folks who complain, but don't get out and vote their convictions. The same goes for the national election. Our men are overseas right now protecting our rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Freedom comes with a price. Make a down payment at the ballot box. Annie

Posted by Ann Cornelius at 08:50 PM | Comments (0)

We're Off to China, Happy New Year!

Amy and I are off to China on December 31, and will be back after January 14 (how much after depends on how much sleep we need to recover). If we have access to the blog from China, and we have a spare moment, I'll post from over there. In any case, my cousin Ann will be blogging in my absence.

Just before I go, a couple of quick links of some sites of interest I've noticed today:

Scripture-reading lessons from the Church Fathers.
I'm going to look at the Bible in this way, looking for Christ in the whole Bible, Old and New Testaments. Last year, I read the Bible in a dual-way: one reading from the OT and one from the NT each day. Going back and forth sometimes seemed to be a distraction. I'm going to read it one book at a time this year (though not in a strict table-of-contents order). Jesus said that Moses wrote about Him, this year that's what I'm looking for in my Bible study.

Chris Johnson (Midwest Conservative Journal) directs us to this sermon, where The Right Reverend John Bryson Chane, DD makes these statements:

And what was God thinking... when the Angel Gabriel was sent by God to reveal the Law to Moses?

And what was God thinking... when the Angel Gabriel was sent by God to reveal the sacred Quran to the prophet Muhammad?

And what was God thinking... when the Angel Gabriel was sent by God to reveal the birth of Jesus Christ, the Son of God?

Were these just random acts of association and coincidence or was the Angel Gabriel who appears as the named messenger of God in the Jewish Old Testament, the Christian New Testament Gospels, and the Quran of Islam, really the same miraculous messenger of God who proclaimed to a then emerging religious, global community and to us this morning that we are ALL children of the living God? And as such we are called to acknowledge that as Christians, Jews and Muslims we share a common God and the same divine messenger. And that as children of the same God, we are now called to cooperatively work together to make the world a haven for harmony, peace, equality and justice for the greatest and least among us.

I've got issues with that quote. Even if the Islamophiles are correct and Islam is a moral religion of peace, that does not mean that it is a true religion. Christians worship Jesus, the Son of God, who died for our sins, and God the Father setting His seal on Him by His Resurrection. Islam says that God does not have a son and that he did not die for us. Logically speaking, Islam may be true, or Christianity may be true, but they cannot both be true: "Jesus is the Son of God" cannot be equivalent to "Jesus is not the Son of God".

One thought on witnessing, then I've got to get packing: On Wednesday morning, Amy and I will be at the airport getting on a plane that is going to a specific place. There will be lots of planes going to different places. Imagine this scenario: Suppose we're getting on the wrong plane. The lady who takes our boarding pass says, "uh...you're getting on the wrong plane, you need to be at gate A17". We say, "Huh? Who do you think you are? They all go to the same place! Gee you're really intolerant! Leave us alone! We'll take any plane we please!" No, doesn't work that way. If we were getting on the wrong plane, the attendant would be doing us a big favor by telling us before we wound up at the wrong destination. We should, as Christians, consider the consequences of not telling people that what they believe (or don't believe) may result in them not getting where they want to go either.

Happy New Year!

Posted by joelfuhrmann at 04:53 PM | Comments (4)

December 24, 2003

One More Thing...

Merry Christmas!

No more blogging on this site until this weekend, unless Ann submits something, which I doubt because I'm sure she is having family over and has a full Christmas planned. Merry Christmas, Ann!

Posted by joelfuhrmann at 04:41 PM | Comments (0)

Adoption News

We're going to China - real soon!

Two possible dates for us to leave: January 5 or December 31, waiting for travel permission from the Chinese Consulate. Our adoption agency is trying to get us out there asap so we can have a full trip and return by January 22, Chinese New Year. La Vida posts pictures of all their trips on their website, and I expect our pictures will be up there sometime around January 12.

Posted by joelfuhrmann at 04:38 PM | Comments (0)

Praying the Psalms - Conclusion

I've read the whole book of Psalms in a little less than a month, highlighting 24 Psalms. It was a rewarding experience for me. I do memorization work in the Psalms, incorporating them in my prayer time, and often find it rewarding to just think of them, realizing who God is, and how much I have yet to learn of His power, compassion, grace, and truth. For anyone wanting to know God, my recommendation is read the Psalms! Of course, the whole Bible is important, and nothing should be neglected, but I do find reading the Psalms especially rewarding.

The pace at which I covered the book of Psalms is actually a pace suitable for reading the Bible in a year. If you read the Bible six days a week (312 days), you can read the whole Bible in a year at a pace of about 100 verses per day.

Posted by joelfuhrmann at 04:25 PM | Comments (0)

Praying the Psalms - Day 24

Psalm 143, a Psalm of David, is a prayer for God's guidance.

David begins by asking God to hear his prayer, and not to enter into judgment against him, for no one is righteous. He then complains about how he has been mistreated by his enemy, who has made him dwell in darkness. David's spirit is overwhelmed, his heart distressed.

He continues by remembering God's works of old, and admits that his soul longs for God like a thirsty land, similar to Psalm 63 (Day 9). He asks God to hurry with His answer. David's spirit is failing, and he asks God to not hide His face, lest he become like one who is dead. He asks God to show him the way he should walk.

Teach me to do Your will,
For You are my God;
Your Spirit is good.
Lead me in the land of uprightness.

Who are David's enemies in this Psalm? He had many human enemies, but this Psalm doesn't sound like he is talking about them; it seems he is talking about his own tendency to sin, to walk in a way that is not in God's will. In that sense David's enemy is himself, or that part of his nature that wants to live apart from God. David cannot live without God however, so he prays for God's lovingkindness, mercy, and guidance so that he may be led in the land of righteousness and be with God.

Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Posted by joelfuhrmann at 04:11 PM | Comments (0)

December 23, 2003

Praying the Psalms - Day 23

Today's Psalm is Psalm 139, another Psalm of David.

This is a worship Psalm, where the Psalmist praises God for His greatness as shown by His attributes. Four great attributes of God are described: His omniscience, His omnipresence, His role in the creation of the individual, and His holiness.

The Psalm opens with the Psalmist acknowledging that God knows everything about him: what he does, what he thinks, even what he is about to say! Such knowledge is too wonderful to understand; the Psalmist just acknowledges it without any hope of understanding the sovereignty of God.

The Psalmist continues by noting that there is nowhere he can go to escape from God; not in heaven, nor in Sheol (death), not in the remotest part of the sea, nor in utter darkness. God is with us always.

The Psalmist then recounts how God has formed his inward parts, how he was woven in his mother's womb. He marvels not only at the miracle of life, but that God has ordained all his days.

He closes the Psalm by asking God to slay the wicked, and noting that he hates the wicked; that they are his enemies as they are God's. This runs counter to how we often view God's mercy and forgiveness, but I think we as Christians often forget that while God forgives, He also hates wickedness. Even as we forgive, we should hate wickedness more than we do. I know that a lot of the things I do that I shouldn't often begin with the thought "it's not that bad...". The Psalmist asks God to search him, know him, and try his thoughts, and lead him, a beneficial pair of verses to memorize for times when we are tempted or unsure.

Search me, O God, and know my heart;
Try me, and know my anxieties;
And see if there is any wicked way in me,
And lead me in the way everlasting.

Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


Posted by joelfuhrmann at 10:00 PM | Comments (0)

Last Political Post before Christmas

I'm looking for an editorial by Maureen Dowd where she calls John Kerry a "potty-mouth". I can't seem to find it. There was one where she used that word to describe President Bush, for using a much milder word than what Senator Kerry has been quoted using.

The Nation's Act Now! (links from post in The Nation website are NOT SAFE FOR WORK) column is recommending a "Babes Against Bush" calendar, showing scantily-clad models, as an ideal Christmas gift for their President Bush-hating friends. I suppose another use for it would be to send it to Republicans who might be nominated for the judiciary, then yell and scream about how they are unqualified because they look at p*rn.

Posted by joelfuhrmann at 08:32 PM | Comments (0)

December 22, 2003

Praying the Psalms - Day 22

Today's Psalms are Psalms 120-134, each one titled as "A Song of Ascents", a set of Psalms used by pilgrims on their way to Jerusalem for the feasts of Passover, Pentecost, and Booths. Most of the Psalms are rather short, only one is longer than ten verses long, so they were rather easy to memorize and made suitable hymns of praise for those walking to Jerusalem. I'll cover two Psalms tonight.

Psalm 130:
The Psalmist is troubled by his iniquity, and cries out to God. He notes that if God marks iniquities, no one would be able to stand before Him. Fortunately, there is forgiveness with God, so that we may fear Him (reverential fear, not fear of Him treating us maliciously).

The Psalmist waits for the Lord, and hopes in His word. His waiting is more anxious than than of the watchman for the morning. The Psalmist closes by urging the whole nation of Israel to also hope in the Lord, for His lovingkindness and redemption from all their iniquities.

Psalm 131:
David, who is attributed with this Psalm, puts his trust in the Lord, putting aside a proud heart and haughty eyes, not striving for greatness or things too difficult to do or to understand. He just rests in the Lord, like a weaned child with his mother. Again, the Psalm closes with an exhortation to Israel to do the same.

Both of these Psalms emphasize a simple, quiet, trust in God. Knowing that He forgives us, we are urged to drop our sins at His altar, and wait for Him, resting in His comfort and assurance.

Posted by joelfuhrmann at 09:51 PM | Comments (0)

December 21, 2003

Praying the Psalms - skipping today

Sorry, Christmas activities for church along with some other errands have prevented me from getting on the computer until now, and I'm going go waive posting tonight. Going back to the original schedule, where this would have been the second Psalm 119 day, which I covered yesterday. Three days to go, and will wrap up Christmas Eve.

Posted by joelfuhrmann at 10:34 PM | Comments (0)

December 20, 2003

Praying the Psalms - Day 20

Today's Psalm is Psalm 119, the longest "chapter" in the Bible. Normally, I break this Psalm into two readings, and in my 24-day plan, it takes up two days. The theme of the Psalm is the same for both readings however, so I'm going to just write about this Psalm once. That means I'll actually cover the entire book of Psalms in 23 days, and I'll probably cover an out-of-order Psalm on Christmas Eve.

Psalm 119 consists of twenty-two stanzas of eight verses each, arranged in an alphabetic acrostic, where each stanza, in Hebrew, begins with a consecutive letter of the Hebrew alphabet. The Hebrew letters are actually printed in my study Bible above each stanza along with their English spelling.

This is a wisdom Psalm containing a similar theme to that found in Psalms 1 and 37, but is most like the middle section of Psalm 19 in that the Psalmist stresses the importance of God's word, also called His law, testimony, statutes, commandments, and judgments.

The first stanza sets the theme for everything that follows:

Blessed are the undefiled in the way,
Who walk in the law of the LORD!
Blessed are those who keep His testimonies,
Who seek Him with the whole heart!
They also do no iniquity;
They walk in His ways.
You have commanded us
To keep Your precepts diligently.
Oh, that my ways were directed
To keep Your statutes!
Then I would not be ashamed,
When I look into all Your commandments.
I will praise You with uprightness of heart,
When I learn Your righteous judgments.
I will keep Your statutes;
Oh, do not forsake me utterly!

Those are blessed whose way is blameless, who seek God with all their heart, who do no unrighteousness, and walk in His ways. The Psalmist pleads that his ways may be established to keep God's statutes. Then he will not be ashamed and will give thanks to God.

This Psalm is full of references to God's word, calling it by several synonyms: law, testimony, way, precepts, statutes, commandments, judgments, and those are all used in the first eight verses! All these terms are used all through the Psalm in a similar manner as this first stanza.

Worshipping God is more than just offering praise and thanksgiving to Him. It also involves listening to His voice, and being obedient to what He wants us to do. How do we do that? The first and most important way is to know His word. That is the foundation of everything else we can know about God. In Old Testament times prophets were tested by whether their prophecies were true to the First Commandment. If a prophet ever entreated the people to worship other Gods, they were told that that would be a sign that the prophet was not sent by God. The Law of God, as revealed to Moses, was the standard for testing every prophet who ever claimed to speak for God.

Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Posted by joelfuhrmann at 11:10 PM | Comments (0)

December 19, 2003

Praying the Psalms - Day 19

Today's Psalm is Psalm 116.

This Psalm is a thanksgiving Psalm, giving thanks to God for deliverance from death. The Psalmist opens with a statement of love for the Lord for hearing him. The Psalmist recalls a life-threatening time and his fear, and how he called upon the Lord to save his life.

He reflects on his deliverance, recounting the graciousness and compassion of God, and how God preserves the simple. He acknowledges God's hand in his rescue.

The Psalmist wonders what he can offer to God for all His benefits:

What shall I render to the LORD
For all His benefits toward me?
I will take up the cup of salvation,
And call upon the name of the LORD.
I will pay my vows to the LORD
Now in the presence of all His people.
Precious in the sight of the LORD
Is the death of His saints.
O LORD, truly I am Your servant;
I am Your servant, the son of Your maidservant;
You have loosed my bonds.
I will offer to You the sacrifice of thanksgiving,
And will call upon the name of the LORD.
I will pay my vows to the LORD
Now in the presence of all His people,
In the courts of the LORD's house,
In the midst of you, O Jerusalem.
Praise the LORD!

What can we give God for His benefits? The commitment to take His salvation and call on His name, and to offer ourselves to Him as His servant, and to offer the sacrifice of thanksgiving. How hard is all this to do? His salvation is a gift to us, completely paid for by Jesus' atoning work. Calling on His name is a similar act of grace, done by our spirit in response to His call. Offering ourselves to His service is a life of discipleship, as Paul commends us to do in Romans 12:1. The sacrifice of thanksgiving is a life of continuous prayer, acknowledging God's goodness in all our circumstances, again as Paul commends us to do in Philippians 4:6.

Posted by joelfuhrmann at 10:42 PM | Comments (0)

December 18, 2003

Praying the Psalms - Day 18

Now in Book V, today's Psalm is Psalm 110, a Psalm of David, quoted extensively in the New Testament. This Psalm is Messianic and is quoted by Jesus during Holy Week, Matthew 22:41-45:

While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them, saying, "What do you think about the Christ? Whose Son is He?" They said to Him, "The Son of David." He said to them, "How then does David in the Spirit call Him 'Lord,' saying: 'The Lord said to my Lord, "Sit at My right hand, Till I make Your enemies Your footstool" '? "If David then calls Him 'Lord,' how is He his Son?"

David, the Psalmist, describes a conversation between the LORD (YHWH), and his Lord (the Messiah):

The LORD said to my Lord,
"Sit at My right hand,
Till I make Your enemies Your footstool."

The Lord is invited to rule in the midst of His enemies. The tone is similar to that of Psalm 2:7-9.

Moving on to the middle of the Psalm, another verse quoted by the author of the Letter to the Hebrews:

The LORD has sworn
And will not relent,
"You are a priest forever
According to the order of Melchizedek."

So the Messiah is not only a king, but a priest as well, but not a Levitical priest, but of the order of Melchizedek, one of the most mysterious characters of the Old Testament, appearing only in Genesis 14, and elaborated on in Hebrews 7. Jesus, being born of the tribe of Judah, could not have been a Levitical priest, but by His atoning sacrifice has served as a high priest for us regardless.

The Psalm closes with a description of God's judgment on the nations, and it is not a picture of a universalist God. The judgment involves the execution of the kings of the earth. There is no mention of any forgiveness of man's rejection of the Messiah here. Grace has been offered; once rejected, time will run out and judgment will follow.

Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Posted by joelfuhrmann at 09:39 PM | Comments (0)

December 17, 2003

Praying the Psalms - Day 17

Today's selection closes out Book IV with two very similar Psalms, 105 and 106. I'll cover Psalm 106 today.

The Psalmist opens with praise, noting the everlasting lovingkindness of God and His mighty deeds. He says that those are blessed who keep justice and practice righteousness at all times. He asks for God's favor and His salvation, and that he may see the prosperity of God's chosen ones, that he may glory in God's inheritance.

Now the Psalm turns into a confession of national sin and shortcomings of Israel before God. The rebellion and unbelief at the Red Sea, followed by repentance at seeing God's mighty salvation and then followed soon thereafter by the people quickly forgetting God's works again.

The rebellion of Dathan and Abiram is recalled along with the molten calf, and again, it is noted that the people forgot God their Savior, who had done great things in Egypt.

After appropriating the land of Canaan, the people did not completely obey the commandment of God:

They did not destroy the peoples,
Concerning whom the LORD had commanded them,
But they mingled with the Gentiles
And learned their works;
They served their idols,
Which became a snare to them.

God's anger is again directed against His people so that time and time again they are given into the hand of other nations, and then time and time again, He would deliver them out of their distress when He heard their cry.

The Psalmist closes the Psalm, and Book IV with this prayer:

Save us, O LORD our God,
And gather us from among the Gentiles,
To give thanks to Your holy name,
To triumph in Your praise.
Blessed be the LORD God of Israel
From everlasting to everlasting!
And let all the people say, "Amen! "
Praise the LORD!

A historical Psalm, the events recalled near the end remind me of the book of Judges, where Israel goes through alternating periods of wickedness and its associated oppression, followed by righteousness, freedom, and prosperity. Our Christian walks can sometimes look like that too. Sometimes we get too comfortable and we think we don't need God. We're wrong when we think that way, but God has ways to remind us that we need Him. Wisdom is in realizing that sooner rather than later.

Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Posted by joelfuhrmann at 10:06 PM | Comments (0)

Western Civ

John Rhys-Davies, who plays Gimli in The Lord of the Rings, is a real smart man, according to Steve Beard, editor of Good News Magazine, writing today's Guest Comment on National Review Online.

Posted by joelfuhrmann at 07:08 PM | Comments (1)

Return of the King

I took the day off from work today (except for a couple of hours this morning to catch up on something) to see The Return of the King. Awesome, exciting, edge-of-the-seat action. I'm not going to say anymore yet, give people time to see it. Is there anyone who's not going to see it today? What are you waiting for?! Ok, some people may not want to see a 3-1/4 hour movie on a worknight or during finals, but I'm sure everyone who wants to will see it before Sunday.

I got The Two Towers Extended Edition DVD for Christmas, and true to my word, will not be opening it until Christmas. The excitement of eager anticipation for Christmas returns!

Posted by joelfuhrmann at 06:40 PM | Comments (0)

December 16, 2003

Praying the Psalms - Day 16

Psalm 104 is a magnificent Psalm of praise, praising God for His creation and His continuing care for all He has made.

The Psalmist opens with a blessing to the Lord, followed by acknowledging God's greatness, His honor and majesty, and notices how God's heavens are stretched out like a curtain. Perhaps he is in awe at the beauty of the night sky. He wonders about the power of the weather, with water, clouds, the wind, and flaming fire.

He describes the oceans and a great flood, noting that at God's command the waters receded to boundaries which were set by God. He notes the water flowing in rivers and streams that provides refreshment to all the wild animals living throughout the earth.

God has given grass for the wild animals to eat, trees for birds to make their homes in, and hills and cliffs for the goats and rock badgers. The sun and moon appoint the seasons and times for light and darkness, so that lions know when to hunt, and man knows when it is time to go to work.

The Psalmist pauses from his recounting of God's works to offer this beautiful statement of praise:

O LORD, how manifold are Your works!
In wisdom You have made them all.
The earth is full of Your possessions

The Psalmist notes that all of creation is dependent upon God for their livelihood:

These all wait for You,
That You may give them their food in due season.
What You give them they gather in;
You open Your hand, they are filled with good.
You hide Your face, they are troubled;
You take away their breath, they die and return to their dust.
You send forth Your Spirit, they are created;
And You renew the face of the earth.

The Psalmist closes with words of praise, and the hope that his meditation may be pleasing to God.

I will sing to the LORD as long as I live;
I will sing praise to my God while I have my being.
May my meditation be sweet to Him;
I will be glad in the LORD.
May sinners be consumed from the earth,
And the wicked be no more.
Bless the LORD, O my soul!
Praise the LORD!

Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Posted by joelfuhrmann at 10:33 PM | Comments (0)

December 15, 2003

Praying the Psalms - Day 15

Today's Psalm is Psalm 90, a Prayer of Moses.

Moses begins the Psalm with a declaration of God's eternal nature, noting that He is their dwelling place in all generations, and that He was God even before the creation of the world. He also notes the timeless nature of God in this verse quoted by Peter:

For a thousand years in Your sight
Are like yesterday when it is past,
And like a watch in the night.

He acknowledges their (Israel's) sin against God, and the terrifying nature of God's wrath, and asks God to teach them to number their days that they may gain a heart of wisdom.

Who knows the power of Your anger?
For as the fear of You, so is Your wrath.
So teach us to number our days,
That we may gain a heart of wisdom.

Moses continues his prayer with a plea for God's mercy, and to be satisfied with God's mercy, so that they may rejoice and be glad all their days. He closes with a plea for God's work to appear to His servants, and for Him to establish the work of their hands.

Oh, satisfy us early with Your mercy,
That we may rejoice and be glad all our days!
Make us glad according to the days in which You have afflicted us,
The years in which we have seen evil.
Let Your work appear to Your servants,
And Your glory to their children.
And let the beauty of the LORD our God be upon us,
And establish the work of our hands for us;
Yes, establish the work of our hands.

Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Posted by joelfuhrmann at 11:14 PM | Comments (0)

Yea!

Am I ever late in blogging on this weekend's great news! I usually don't like to blog on Sundays, giving the day to football and laundry duty, but here's my very late post with my thoughts.

Congratulations to our armed forces for this great news, and I hope that it does indeed help with the capture of many more terrorists, and that it may cut off a lot of the financial aid going to the cause of terrorism, now that one of their primary financial supporters will no longer be doing so.

I've been praying for our armed forces as an arm of our government, praying both for their safety and their success in restoring the rule of law, with liberty, to Iraq and Afghanistan. I agree with something I heard President Reagan say, but I think he was quoting Abraham Lincoln, that while it may be vain to suppose that God is always on our side, that it is appropriate to ask if we are on God's side. I add to that, and I think that President Bush would agree, that if you know what is good, and what is evil, it is appropriate to act against that evil, and I believe that he has done so.

Here are some links I've seen today that I enjoyed reading:
Jason Steffens urges us to pray for our captured enemy, and not rejoice at his fall,
Lee Anne Millinger comments on Saddam's losing face in the Arab world (and read the next post about if it is appropriate to stand trial in Iraq or The Hague) Ouch, Lee Anne - hope you weren't thinking of me when you wrote that first sentence!
Susanna Cornett has comments on how to react to Saddam's capture. Her comments in her update motivated me to post similar thoughts above.
Joshua Claybourn discusses popular opinion about the capture, and includes a very statesmanlike quote from Senator Joe Biden, "if we can capture Osama and Mullah Omar and stabilize Iraq and the president gets re-elected, that's just fine with me, and best for the country." Josh also discusses negative reaction to the event.

Speaking of negative reactions:
International ANSWER, a Stalinist propaganda outlet, says nothing has changed; the invasion was still a violation of international law. Show me the treaty, guys, or are you just saying that because you wish it's so? These are the people who say that the capture was a good thing, but lament the military force required to make it so. Bottom line: They wish that none of this ever happened, and that Saddam was still living in a Baghdad palace, torturing and killing his subjects.

Posted by joelfuhrmann at 09:50 PM | Comments (1)

December 14, 2003

Praying the Psalms - Day 14

Today I'm wrapping up Book III of the Psalms by covering Psalm 84, another Psalm from the sons of Korah.

The Psalmist marvels at the dwelling places of the LORD of hosts, even envying the birds who build their nests there, and the temple servants who dwell there. The Psalmist goes on to note how blessed is the man whose strength is in the Lord, passing through the valley of Baca, which my study Bible notes say is not a specific place, but a reference to a place of trouble or desolation, meaning that the faithful pilgrim persists through troublesome times to obtain the blessings of seeking God.

The Psalmist goes on to say this famous verse, put to song and sung as a modern song of praise:

For a day in Your courts is better than a thousand.
I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God
Than dwell in the tents of wickedness.

The word "wickedness" reveals the meaning of this Psalm -- the house of God is not the temple or any physical building, it is the state of being, the heart and soul of the person who "is a worshiper of God and does His will" (John 9:31), and who worships God in spirit and truth - (John 4:21-24).

The Psalmist closes by noting the blessings God bestows on those who walk uprightly and trust in Him:

For the LORD God is a sun and shield;
The LORD will give grace and glory;
No good thing will He withhold
From those who walk uprightly.
O LORD of hosts,
Blessed is the man who trusts in You!

Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Posted by joelfuhrmann at 10:53 PM | Comments (0)

December 13, 2003

Praying the Psalms - Day 13

Today's Psalm is Psalm 81, another Psalm of Asaph. This Psalm is associated with a Feast (my study Bible says the Feast of Booths), a call for repentance, and a lament that the call for repentance has not been heeded.

The Psalmist begins with a call for the people to praise God, and recounts God's calling them out of Egypt, when they did not know the language of God's call to liberation. God's deliverance in times of trouble is remembered.

The Psalmist continues by quoting God speaking in the first person, and pleading with the people to put away their foreign gods, and worship Him alone:

"Hear, O My people, and I will admonish you!
O Israel, if you will listen to Me!
There shall be no foreign god among you;
Nor shall you worship any foreign god.
I am the LORD your God,
Who brought you out of the land of Egypt;
Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it."

The Psalm continues with God still speaking, and lamenting that the people did not listen, and recounting some of the blessings they are forgoing by ignoring His call:

"But My people would not heed My voice,
And Israel would have none of Me.
So I gave them over to their own stubborn heart,
To walk in their own counsels.
"Oh, that My people would listen to Me,
That Israel would walk in My ways!
I would soon subdue their enemies,
And turn My hand against their adversaries.
The haters of the LORD would pretend submission to Him,
But their fate would endure forever.
He would have fed them also with the finest of wheat;
And with honey from the rock I would have satisfied you."

Do you or I have any foreign gods separating us from God? Let them go! Enjoy the blessings that God has in store for you, the first of which is the blessing of God's fellowship when we walk closely with Him.

Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Posted by joelfuhrmann at 05:28 PM | Comments (0)

December 12, 2003

Praying the Psalms - Day 12

Today is the halfway point through the Psalms, and so we'll cover Psalm 75 today.

A Psalm of Asaph, who, according to my study Bible notes was "an outstanding musician in the time of King David who was appointed minister of music in the Temple, whose descendants were also official musicians." (Ryrie Study Bible, Moody Press, copyright 1986,1995).

To the Psalm: A Psalm of thanksgiving, the Psalmist also notes that a time of God's judgment is near:

We give thanks to You, O God, we give thanks!
For Your wondrous works declare that Your name is near.
"When I choose the proper time,
I will judge uprightly.
The earth and all its inhabitants are dissolved;
I set up its pillars firmly."

The Psalmist notes that exaltation does not come from political alliances with ones neighbors, but from God. God alone is the Judge, putting down one and exalting another:

For exaltation comes neither from the east
Nor from the west nor from the south.
But God is the Judge:
He puts down one,
And exalts another.

The Psalmist closes by declaring unending praises to God and acknowledging that God will cut off the horns of the wicked and lift up the horns of the righteous. (horns is an OT symbol of power - if your horn is lifted up, it means you are victorious and strong; if your horn is cut off, it means defeat and shame)

But I will declare forever,
I will sing praises to the God of Jacob.
"All the horns of the wicked I will also cut off,
But the horns of the righteous shall be exalted."

Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Posted by joelfuhrmann at 10:04 PM | Comments (0)

Introductions

Hi - I'm Ann Cornelius, from Texas. Actually, I was raised in Southern California in the 60's by Christian parents. Although I read the Word and knew the Word, I didn't know Jesus. We were in a socially conscious church, and I met the 60's head on. Really had fun, lived like the prodigal son, until I had an encounter with the One who let me know that the things in His book are real. My political leanings are, (I listen to Rush Limbaugh and don't trust the media), pretty conservative. Texas and I get along very well. Once I came to understand what sin really is, and that I had missed the mark, I've spent the last 16 years trying to move to the center of the target. I'll be checking the blog for Joel while they go to collect their newest family member. Bye Ya'll

Posted by Ann Cornelius at 06:52 PM | Comments (1)

December 11, 2003

Praying the Psalms - Day 11

Today I'm wrapping up Book II of the Psalms with Psalm 72, a Psalm of Solomon.

This is a royal Psalm where Solomon prays that the king's reign will be based on God's judgments and righteousness, and that he may vindicate the afflicted and crush the oppressor. He also asks for a vast country to rule over, and victory over his enemies, and foresees other kings giving gifts to the king of Israel.

He foresees the king delivering the needy and afflicted, and having compassion on the poor and needy. He continues by asking for an abundance of grain (agricultural prosperity) and for those in the cities to flourish (general prosperity).

The Psalm ends (except for one concluding statement about David) with praise to the LORD God of Israel, "may the whole earth be filled with His glory. Amen, and Amen" Psalm 72:19 NASB

The Psalm, while immediately applicable to Solomon, is ultimately fulfilled in the Lordship of Christ, who is the ultimate King of Kings. Some of the statements in the Psalm have little relevance to Solomon, who did not have to engage his enemies in warfare. He also did not have a great reputation for compassion, being mainly known for his wisdom and wealth, and having a reputation for tyranny as cited by his son Rehoboam when Rehoboam was due to inherit the throne.

The Psalm closes with the statement "The prayers of David the son of Jesse are ended" Psalm 72:20 NASB. This is either a reference to Solomon reciting this Psalm soon after his father's death, or to a rearranged or abbreviated book of Psalms in Solomon's possession at that time.

What happened to Solomon to make him turn from God later in life? He is known to have been very wise. His wisdom was not sufficient for him to love God all the days of his life however, even though he states that "the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge" (Proverbs 1:7). One obvious answer is that he married many foreign wives and they turned his heart away from God. But why would he do that - allow his heart to be turned like that? I'm not sure what went on in his heart, but I think he began to look to materialistic wealth and the pleasures of having many wives, and began to seek love from them rather than from God, and it probably happened slowly, over a long time -- a little disobedience today (what could it hurt?) leads to a greater tolerance for greater disobedience tomorrow. The famous saying of Lord Acton may also apply "Absolute power corrupts absolutely", and no king of Israel had more power than Solomon. Before you know it, God was a stranger to Solomon, and Solomon's wisdom was compromised by his lack of love for God.

Posted by joelfuhrmann at 09:15 PM | Comments (0)

December 10, 2003

New Author

I have decided to keep this blog active during our trip to China, and in order to do so, I've doubled our production budget and am adding another author!

Ann Cornelius, my cousin from Royce City, Texas, has graciously accepted my invitation to blog in my absence. I'm sure that Ann will fill in very well in my absence. I'm even thinking that the writing of two people will improve this site, so I'm going to leave her invitation to blog open even after we return.

Posted by joelfuhrmann at 10:59 PM | Comments (1)

Praying the Psalms - Day 10

Today I'm going to cover a short Psalm, Psalm 67, and give myself a break of sorts. This is a very short Psalm.

The Psalmist, speaking for the people, or the nation, asks for God's blessing. Is this just national self-righteousness? No, there is a godly motive here; that all the nations may know the ways of God and His salvation.

God be merciful to us and bless us,
And cause His face to shine upon us, Selah
That Your way may be known on earth,
Your salvation among all nations.
Let the peoples praise You, O God;
Let all the peoples praise You.
Psalm 67:1-2 NKJV

The Psalmist continues by urging the nations to worship and praise God, for He will judge all the peoples in uprightness and guide the nations. How can this happen, however, unless God's people tell the world about His marvelous works? Or, as Jesus said to the Samaritan woman, "We know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews" (John 4:22 NKJV)

The Psalm concludes with an acknowledgment of God's blessing and that all the nations will fear Him, just as was asked for in the beginning of the Psalm.

Posted by joelfuhrmann at 10:11 PM | Comments (0)

December 09, 2003

Praying the Psalms - Day 9

Today I'm skipping all the way to Psalm 63.

"A Psalm of David when he was in the wilderness of Judah," this Psalm describes David's longing for God while we was separated from God's presence at the Tabernacle. David's faith alone, with no Tabernacle, no Ark, no Levitical sacrifices, carries him through this hard time.

David's longing for God is urgent and pressing, he seeks God early in the morning, probably during the act of waking itself. Before he gets out of his bed he is praying to God.

O God, You are my God;
Early will I seek You;
My soul thirsts for You;
My flesh longs for You
In a dry and thirsty land
Where there is no water.
So I have looked for You in the sanctuary,
To see Your power and Your glory.

David is out in the wilderness, where there is no water, and yet he does not complain. He has the fellowship of God, and life is grand. His problems are insignificant compared to the wealth of God's companionship.

Because Your lovingkindness is better than life,
My lips shall praise You.
Thus I will bless You while I live;
I will lift up my hands in Your name.
My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness,
And my mouth shall praise You with joyful lips.

The day is done, and David meditates on God's goodness on his bed, his life protected by God's goodness for yet another day.

When I remember You on my bed,
I meditate on You in the night watches.
Because You have been my help,
Therefore in the shadow of Your wings I will rejoice.
My soul follows close behind You;
Your right hand upholds me.

David is confident in his relationship with God, knowing that he has been anointed to be the king of Israel. He is confident that just as God is protecting him, God will also bring an end to those who seek his life.

But those who seek my life, to destroy it,
Shall go into the lower parts of the earth.
They shall fall by the sword;
They shall be a portion for jackals.
But the king shall rejoice in God;
Everyone who swears by Him shall glory;
But the mouth of those who speak lies shall be stopped.

Can we praise God in rough times? Or do we concentrate on how hard life can be sometimes? Can we be so wrapped up in how good God is that we can allow that joy to completely overwhelm any hardship, any fear we face?


Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Posted by joelfuhrmann at 09:44 PM | Comments (0)

December 08, 2003

Praying the Psalms - Day 8

Today's Psalm is Psalm 49, another Psalm from the sons of Korah.

The Psalmist exhorts everybody to listen to his wisdom, "both low and high, rich and poor together". There is no special status for anyone with respect to the ability to know God, or in the fate we suffer if we neglect to do so.

He continues with a disclosure about redemption, it cannot be bought, at any price:

Those who trust in their wealth
And boast in the multitude of their riches,
None of them can by any means redeem his brother,
Nor give to God a ransom for him
For the redemption of their souls is costly,
And it shall cease forever
That he should continue to live eternally,
And not see the Pit.

He notes two things about redemption: that no one can buy it, it is greater than the riches of any man, and when life runs out, the time to obtain it has ceased forever (more clear in the NASB translation perhaps)

The Psalmist goes on to note that all men die, the wise man and the foolish together; while we all think our houses will last forever, in the end, we are just like all the animals of the earth in that we all perish. However, he notes that God will redeem him from the power of the grave, and receive him. In the end he notes:

A man who is in honor, yet does not understand, Is like the beasts that perish.

What is there to understand? That life is all about loving God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, the first commandment. (Mark 12:30)

(All scripture references from the New King James Version)

Posted by joelfuhrmann at 11:17 PM | Comments (0)

December 07, 2003

Praying the Psalms - Day 7

Today's Psalm is Psalm 46, from the sons of Korah, who were singers in the Temple choir. The sons of Korah are credited with twelve Psalms, 42-49, 84-85, 87-88. Their Psalms are magnificent and moving. Psalm 45 is quoted in the book of Hebrews for its Messianic references.

Korah, of course, is remembered for his rebellion against the Lord, along with Dathan and Abiram, by asking for the priesthood of Aaron (Numbers 16). Korah, Dathan, and Abiram, along with many others were slain by the Lord in their rebellion, however, the descendants of Korah did not die (Numbers 26:11). They went on to become singers in the Temple choir, and were active in Jehoshaphat's victory over the Moabites and Ammonites (2 Chronicles 20:1-30), where an enemy was defeated by God with no effort exerted by the army of Judah (the only effort exerted at all was by the singers singing God's praise!), which I mention because it fits the context of this Psalm.

God is recognized as being our refuge and strength, even through natural disasters and calamity. Even through the rage of nations and the upheaval of kingdoms, God's city shall not be moved. God does mighty works in the earth, breaking the bow, cutting the spear in two, and burning the chariots of war in the fire. We are urged to be still and know that He is God, and He will be exalted among the nations, in all the earth.

To the chief Musician for the sons of Korah, A Song upon Al'amoth.

God is our refuge and strength,
a very present help in trouble.

Therefore will not we fear,
though the earth be removed,
and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;

though the waters thereof roar and be troubled,
though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof.
Selah.

There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God,
the holy place of the tabernacles of the Most High.

God is in the midst of her;
she shall not be moved:
God shall help her, and that right early.

The heathen raged, the kingdoms were moved:
he uttered his voice, the earth melted.

The LORD of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our refuge.
Selah.

Come, behold the works of the LORD,
what desolations he hath made in the earth.

He maketh wars to cease unto the end of the earth;
he breaketh the bow, and cutteth the spear in sunder;
he burneth the chariot in the fire.

Be still, and know that I am God:
I will be exalted among the heathen,
I will be exalted in the earth.

The LORD of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our refuge.
Selah.

A bit of trivia about this Psalm: Psalm 46 is thought by some to have been translated for the King James Version by William Shakespeare. The 46th word from the beginning is "shake", and the 46th word from the end is "spear". Shakespeare was 46 years old (that's my age!) when the King James Version was dedicated in 1611. Some others say that it was an underhanded way for the translators to recognize Shakespeare via a hidden wordplay. I find this theory very unlikely, the effect is very esoteric, so most people wouldn't get it, and I don't see how it is really helping Shakespeare out in any way. If there is any merit to this idea, someone should have found someone's notes saying that it was so. In the absence of such evidence, it's just idle conjecture. Anyway, in honor of this "coincidence", today's citation is from the King James Version.

Posted by joelfuhrmann at 12:38 PM | Comments (0)

December 06, 2003

Criticizing The Nation

No, not the United States. The Nation - the magazine, or probably more specifically, Matt Bivens, who writes The Daily Outrage.

Earlier this week, he criticized the turkey President Bush held up to the troops in Baghdad as a fake (as fake as the display food in any cafeteria, by the way, real, but not meant to be eaten - and I don't hear many complaints about that). He's scraping the bottom of the barrel to dig this up, and it sounds like the editors at The Nation are pretty desperate to discredit the President any way they can. Trouble is, it's starting to sound pretty pathetic.

Now he's complaining that the Justice Department is doing its job too well, by identifying peace activists as potential terrorists, a fact cited by the ACLU as a threat to our civil liberties. The trouble is, Matt Bivens doesn't seem to acknowledge this fact either: some peace activists are thought to be potential terrorists, because, ...ahem, ...they are!

As one of my cousins said to me back in Christmas 2001, "those who are afraid of the government watching them probably have good reason to be".

Now I share concerns about what the government can know about me, and what I believe. I have a right to protest, peacably, against actions of the government that I disagree with. The trouble is, many protests against our administration went well over the line into acts of violence, and I have no problem at all with our government finding out who those people were and preventing them from traveling anywhere ever again. If that means they can't fly, well good for our FBI for doing their job -- and boo for The Nation for portraying peace protestors as peaceful people when that isn't true.

Posted by joelfuhrmann at 02:00 PM | Comments (0)

Praying the Psalms - Day 6

Today's reading closes out Book I of the Psalms, and I'm highlighting Psalm 37.

Psalm 37 is a wisdom Psalm, constrasting the life of the godly, who trust God, against the wicked. It starts out with a plea to the listener to not fret because of evildoers, they shall be cut down. The listener is urged to make the LORD his delight, as found in this famous quotation:

Delight yourself also in the LORD,
And He shall give you the desires of your heart.

Is this a promise of prosperity for those who follow God? Yes, but note the wording: if we make God the object of our desires, He will grant our desires, which are -- God! So the promise is, if we want God, He will give Himself to us, similar to that promise in Hebrews 11:6, "he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him."

A description of a life of discipleship follow:

Commit your way to the LORD,
Trust also in Him,
And He shall bring it to pass.
He shall bring forth your righteousness as the light,
And your justice as the noonday.

God's bringing forth of our righteousness isn't something that happens immediately as if we could be turned on like a light switch. It happens through a lifetime of trusting Him, of making decisions based on knowing and following God's will. It also involves going through hardship and rough times, and it also involves learning how to deal with temptation and dedicate ourselves to holiness in our walk. Is it a lot to do? Yes, but our job is to commit our way to the LORD, and trust in Him. He is the one who brings it to pass.

The Psalmist continues by urging the listener to pay no heed to those who prosper or bring wicked schemes to pass. Don't worry, don't be angry. The wicked shall soon be no more - their successes are fleeting. The days of the upright are forever.

The LORD knows the days of the upright,
And their inheritance shall be forever.
They shall not be ashamed in the evil time,
And in the days of famine they shall be satisfied.
But the wicked shall perish;
And the enemies of the LORD,
Like the splendor of the meadows, shall vanish.
Into smoke they shall vanish away.

The Psalmist paints a picture of God's protection of us as we go about our lives, ordering our ways, and picking us up whenever we fall.
The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD,
And He delights in his way.
Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down;
For the LORD upholds him with His hand.

The Psalm ends with an assurance of God's protection from both times of trouble and the wicked:
But the salvation of the righteous is from the LORD;
He is their strength in the time of trouble.
And the LORD shall help them and deliver them;
He shall deliver them from the wicked,
And save them,
Because they trust in Him.

Posted by joelfuhrmann at 01:08 PM | Comments (0)

December 05, 2003

Praying the Psalms - Day 5

Today's reading from the Psalms includes Psalm 33.

Psalm 33 starts with an expression of praise, urging the listener to praise God with the harp, stringed instruments, a new song, with skill, and a shout of joy. It acknowledges that praise from the upright is beautiful, offering at least a partial answer to those who wonder why God would be concerned with our praise. To that concern I would add that our praise focuses our attention on God's greatness and away from our shortcomings, which God wants us to put aside when we approach His throne in grace.

The Psalmist acknowledges God's power in creation, that it was all done by the power of His word. He continues by noting that all the plans of God are sure and fast, while those of man are transient and fleeting:

The LORD brings the counsel of the nations to nothing;
He makes the plans of the peoples of no effect.
The counsel of the LORD stands forever,
The plans of His heart to all generations.

One bit of spiritual humor I've heard lately is: How can you make God laugh? Tell Him your plans! God has plans for us which we don't have an inkling of understanding for, and they may be simple or complicated. Look at Joseph (back in Genesis). Imagine what it would have been like to have been thrown in an Egyptian jail in one's youth. I'm sure he had thoughts that he was going to be there for the rest of his life, but God had plans for him, and Joseph was just where God wanted him to be - part of His plan.

The Psalmist continues by noting that God sees all the works of man, a threat to the wicked, but a source of confidence to those who trust and fear Him. Our mighty armies and great strength cannot provide true security, which comes from trusting in God alone.

A note on Hebrew literature:
According to the notes in my study Bible, the verses cited above are an example of two literary techniques called synonymous parallelism and antithetical parallelism. In synonymous parallelism, the Psalmist expresses the same idea in two phrases using different words. In antithetical parallelism, the Psalmist expresses a contrasting idea in different words.

Synonymous:
The LORD brings the counsel of the nations to nothing;
He makes the plans of the peoples of no effect.

Antithetical:
The LORD brings the counsel of the nations to nothing;
...
The counsel of the LORD stands forever,

It's not really complicated, but if the alert reader knows how these literary techniques are used, they can provide additional insight into many passages of Hebrew literature.

(All scripture quotations are from the New King James Version)

Posted by joelfuhrmann at 06:57 PM | Comments (0)

December 04, 2003

Praying the Psalms - Day 4

I'm going to skip over several famous well-known Psalms in the 20's and go all the way to Psalm 30 today.

Psalm 30 is an individual hymn of praise, yet is marked as "A Song at the dedication of the house of David". My study Bible says it may have been recited or sung at the dedication of the site of the future Temple.

This Psalm is special to me - it was a great source of comfort earlier this year when two special people in my family passed away, my Aunt Marjory in February and my mom in April. Close friends and sisters they were, and a lot of people were deeply affected by their passing.

The Psalmist opens by praising God, and delivering him from his enemies, sickness and death:


I will extol You, O LORD, for You have lifted me up,
And have not let my foes rejoice over me.
O LORD my God, I cried out to You,
And You healed me.
O LORD, You brought my soul up from the grave;
You have kept me alive, that I should not go down to the pit.

He then exhorts the people to praise God and offers a beautiful picture of the eternal steadfastness of God's grace and comfort in hardship:

Sing praise to the LORD, you saints of His,
And give thanks at the remembrance of His holy name.
For His anger is but for a moment,
His favor is for life;
Weeping may endure for a night,
But joy comes in the morning.

The Psalmist becomes comfortable in the prosperity of God's fellowship, but soon hardship (maybe as a result of sin, or of God's testing) follows:

Now in my prosperity I said,
"I shall never be moved."
LORD, by Your favor You have made my mountain stand strong;
You hid Your face, and I was troubled.

He cries out to God for help, noting that when he dies, he cannot praise Him any longer:

I cried out to You, O LORD;
And to the LORD I made supplication:
"What profit is there in my blood,
When I go down to the pit?
Will the dust praise You?
Will it declare Your truth?
Hear, O LORD, and have mercy on me;
LORD, be my helper! "

The Lord answers the Psalmist's prayer, and restores gladness to his life. The Psalm ends with a magnificent expression of thanksgiving:

You have turned for me my mourning into dancing;
You have put off my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness,
To the end that my glory may sing praise to You and not be silent.
O LORD my God, I will give thanks to You forever.

There are times in our fellowship with God when it will seem that He is not there. Our prayers may become dull, we may face hard obstacles, and when we pray for a way out of them, the answers may be too slow for our liking. Every righteous person mentioned in the Bible went through a period of testing where they were given an opportunity to praise God and follow Him even when their circumstances told them there was good reason not to. "Praise from the upright is beautiful" (Ps 33:1), and when it comes in the midst of hardship, I'd say it's even more beautiful indeed.

(All scripture quotations are from the New King James Version)

Posted by joelfuhrmann at 09:50 PM | Comments (0)

December 03, 2003

Praying the Psalms - Day 3

On to our next Psalm, Psalm 19.

This Psalm is a beautiful expression of praise, acknowledging the evidence of God in His creation, acknowledging the truth and wisdom of His law, His testimony, His statutes, His commandments, the reverential fear of God, and His judgments. Paul alludes to the evidence of God in His creation in Romans 1, but natural evidence alone is not enough to know all that God intends for us to know about Him. His law and testimony as revealed to us by Moses, the prophets, and apostles completes the picture.

David goes on to acknowledge the role that God's judgments play in living righteously, recognizing that there is great reward in keeping them. He asks for forgiveness from secret, or unrecognized, faults, and for deliverance from presumptous, or deliberate sins. He closes with the prayer I quote at the top of this page:

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart

Be acceptable in Your sight,

O LORD, my strength and my Redeemer.

A beautiful Psalm of praise, adoration, and righteousness, I believe this is an excellent choice for memorization for anyone wishing to use the Psalms for prayer and worship.

Posted by joelfuhrmann at 11:41 PM | Comments (0)

New York, visas, and Radio City

Late blogging tonight, Amy and I just got back from New York City, where we picked up our visas for our upcoming trip to China. Also picked up a beautiful name-banner painted by hand, where the artist spells a person's name using multi-colors and makes the letters in the form of pretty animals. In our case, our daughter's name will be Rebecca.

We also went to see the Christmas Spectacular at Radio City Music Hall, but did not stay for the Christmas Tree lighting - way too crowded and we were too far away when we got out of the show. The show is wonderful, and the living Nativity scene is quite beatiful and appropriate for the season, no matter what anyone from the Fort-Worth Star Telegram thinks (last year they were critical of the Radio City Christmas Show because of the Living Nativity scene - their columnist apparently wants to get Christ OUT of Christmas).

Posted by joelfuhrmann at 10:59 PM | Comments (0)

December 02, 2003

Praying the Psalms - Day 2

Psalm 11, a Psalm of David, is an expression of God's sovereignty and protection for the righteous, along with condemnation of the wicked.

David starts off with an expression of trust in God, and asks a rhetorical question of the wicked,

"How can you say to my soul, flee as a bird to your mountain?"

He trusts in God to protect him, but he also wonders,
"If the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?"

What are the foundations? In Psalm 19 (tomorrow) God's Law (perfect), His testimony (sure), His statutes (right), His commandments (pure), the fear of God (enduring forever), and His judgments (true and righteous altogether) are singled out for special mention.

In the New Testament, several verses are foundations: "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life." John 3:16 NKJV, is often the first verse memorized by Christians. I'd say that qualifies as a foundation. For ongoing discipleship another verse jumps out at me:

"But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him."
Hebrews 11:6

Back to Psalm 11, David goes on to say that the LORD's throne is in heaven, that He is sitting in His holy temple, and His eyes test the sons of men. He tests the righteous (proving their righteousness, and developing maturity), but hates the wicked and those who love violence. The wicked are promised fire and brimstone as the portion of their cup, but the LORD's countenance will behold the upright.

Posted by joelfuhrmann at 09:22 PM | Comments (0)

December 01, 2003

Praying the Psalms - Day 1

The Psalms begin with a wonderful description of wisdom, Psalm 1:

A picture is painted of the godly, those who don't follow the advice of ungodly people, who don't stand in their path (not even walking yet!), or sitting in the seat of the scornful, those who disrespect God, along with His righteousness and justice. The godly are like trees planted by a river, well watered, and ever bearing fruit. My minister said in a sermon on this Psalm that the word for planted actually means transplanted, as if the tree did not sprout there from a seedling, but was intentionally placed there. I like that description: wisdom isn't something we have naturally, we obtain it from God by His grace.

What about the ungodly? Blown away, like chaff in the wind. The chaff is the light stuff on the outside of a kernel of wheat, useless for nutrition, which can easily be separated from the nutritious part by throwing it up in the air and letting the wind blow it away. When judgment time comes, the wicked will find they have no place to stand.

Posted by joelfuhrmann at 09:48 PM | Comments (0)

Advent Blogging

I usually post about political and cultural issues on this blog, emphasizing a Christian, or Biblical, worldview in interpreting the news. I'm going to make a marked change in emphasis over the Advent season. This isn't a traditional way to treat Advent, but it's something I've been mulling over in my mind lately, and I've decided to blog each day on a series I'm going to call Praying The Psalms, inspired by a series I read a while back on Search God's Word.

The Psalms can be read in a month reading just five a day. Of course, five every day is kindof difficult when you get up to Psalm 119, which is the longest "chapter" in the Bible, so I've divided the Psalms into 24 readings of approximately 100 verses each, and I'm going to dedicate the twentyfour following days to twentyfour Psalms spread throughout this magnificent book of prayers, praises, and wisdom. I'll just be posting my thoughts and reflections, including commentary gleaned from others when appropriate.

Posted by joelfuhrmann at 09:24 PM | Comments (0)