Better is One Day

“Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere; I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked.” (Psalm 84:10, NIV)

You may be wondering why I’m writing from Psalm 84 when I said a few weeks ago I was going to work through Leviticus. No, I haven’t given up on Leviticus (again)! In my study of the third book in the Bible, I came across this great quote from L. Michael Morales:

“Entering the house of God to dwell with God, beholding, glorifying and enjoying him eternally, I suggest, is the story of the Bible, the plot that makes sense of the various acts, persons and places of its pages, the deepest context for its doctrines. For this ultimate end the Son of God shed his blood and poured out the Spirit from on high, even to bring us into his Father’s house, in him, as sons and daughters of God… The primary theme and theology of Leviticus (and of the Pentateuch as a whole) is YHWH’s opening a way for humanity to dwell in the divine Presence.”1

What a great (and I think accurate) perspective of Leviticus! The primary theme isn’t the Law or all the regulations concerning sacrifices and offerings. The main point of the book is how we can dwell with God. All the other things drive toward that end. This brought to mind Psalm 84 and one of my favorite songs to sing in worship. I’ve linked it below.

My prayer for this week is that you will enjoy some time in the personal presence of God, even if it’s just for a few moments while you listen and maybe sing along with the song below.


1 L. Michael Morales, Who Shall Ascend the Mountain of the Lord?: A Biblical Theology of the Book of Leviticus, ed. D. A. Carson, vol. 37, New Studies in Biblical Theology (England; Downers Grove, IL: Apollos; InterVarsity Press, 2015), 21–23.

It is in Vain

“Unless the Lord builds the house,
those who build it labor in vain.
Unless the Lord watches over the city,
the watchman stays awake in vain.

It is in vain that you rise up early
and go late to rest,
eating the bread of anxious toil;
for he gives to his beloved sleep.”
(Psalm 127:1–2, ESV)

I get up fairly early to spend with the Lord each day (I actually have a standing appointment with God on my calendar, but I’m a geek and that’s another blog). This morning I was thinking about the busy week ahead, all the things on my list to do. And I thought, Maybe this morning instead of reading the Psalms with God I’ll get a jumpstart on sermon prep for the week. God knows how much I have to do this week and He’ll understand.

As I was thinking this, the Holy Spirit convicted me, and I decided to spend my time with God, but not in Psalms. I would generate a reading plan about the Holy Spirit and start reading through those passages as my “devotional” time. Even while I was trying to make a deal with the Holy Spirit, I realized that if this was my plan I would end up spending my entire “devotional” time researching reading plans, rather than meeting with God in His Word. Plus, researching Holy Spirit reading plans is one of the tasks on my to do list for the week.

I felt pretty strongly that God wanted me to keep my meeting with Him in the Psalms, and the Psalm for today is Psalm 127. I read through the Psalm a few times (it’s only five verses) and was listening to what God might be saying. I got hung up on verse 2 and the way different English Bibles translate it in different ways, so I read it in Hebrew and was thinking about the various translation options when all of a sudden the Holy Spirit turned a light bulb on in my head.

Here I had been trying to convince myself to skip my meeting with God so that I could rise up early and work ahead on my week. But unless the LORD builds the house, the builders work in vain, and unless the LORD watches over the city, the watchmen work in vain… And God couldn’t have spoken any more clearly to me: “It is in vain that you rise up early (v. 2). Unless the LORD shepherds the church, the pastor works in vain! Getting up early to work won’t work unless God is the One working. So if I’m going to get up early, I might as well enjoy a cup of coffee with my Lord and let Him empower my work later.

As God so patiently spent time with me and brought that to my attention, I couldn’t help but laugh. There was no condemnation in His conviction, and I could feel His smile when  I finally got what He was saying to me this morning. My prayer for you this week is that you’ll remember to spend time with God in the midst of the busy-ness of life.


Photo by Igor Ovsyannykov on Unsplash

In My Distress

“I call on the LORD in my distress, and he answers me.” (Psalm 120:1, NIV)

How is your prayer life? Mine has gone through many seasons alternating between fervent, regular, intimate prayer and periods of dryness where I feel like God doesn’t answer or I just plain don’t pray. One thing’s for sure, though, when I’m in a rough patch in life, my prayer habits tend to improve. Funny how distress often causes us to remember God! O that we would call on the Lord when times are good, and not just when trouble heads our way!

This hasn’t always been the pattern in my life. A few years ago, when Asher was a baby, he was pretty sick and had to go to the ER. Even though I was a pastor who counseled people to call on the Lord in times of trouble, it didn’t occur to me to apply that counsel to my own life. We got to the hospital, checked in, and were waiting for the doctor. Corinne asked me if I would pray for Asher, and I immediately recognized the Holy Spirit speaking through my bride: Are you going to ask for My help or try to muscle through this on your own?

The truth that God walks through our distress with us, giving us the strength to endure, fell from my head to my heart. I had learned it, but I didn’t know it–does that make sense? It took a little distress in my life for God to teach me that lesson.

One of my favorite things about God is that He answers us when we call on Him. He walks through life with us. He helps us when we’re weak and calms us when we’re afraid. He celebrates with us when things go well, and encourages us when they don’t. My prayer for this week is that you will call on the Lord and He will answer you, whether you’re in distress or delight.


Photo by Felipe P. Lima Rizo on Unsplash

Moses, Aaron, and Samuel

“Moses and Aaron were among his priests; Samuel was one of those who prayed to him. They prayed to the Lord and he answered them.” (Psalm 99:6, NET)

I love to read. I especially enjoy stories with dynamic and interesting characters you can get to know through the story. By the end of The Lord of the Rings saga, you almost feel as though you are friends with Frodo and Sam, Aragorn, Legolas, Gimli, and Gandalf, and many others in the story. It’s the same with Ender from Ender’s Game, Liesel Meminger from The Book Thief, Teo and Anna from the Chiveis Trilogy, and many others. The best books develop deep characters who are realistic enough you can relate to them (even if they’re a hobbit or a wizard).

One of the things I love about reading the Bible, especially the Old Testament, is that it is filled with incredible stories and fascinating characters. But whereas the stories I mentioned above are fictional, the stories from the Bible are true historical events. This makes them even more interesting! When we read in Psalm 99 that Moses, Aaron, and Samuel prayed to the Lord and He answered them, we’re not reading a pleasant poem about make-believe characters in a fictional story. We’re reading about real people who called on the Lord and received an answer to their prayers. And if God could answer them, then He can answer us when we cry out to Him in prayer. This isn’t pretend, it’s for real!

Think about some of the people whose stories have impacted your faith through the years. These could be people from the pages of Scripture, like Moses, Samuel, David, Solomon, Paul, John, and Peter. They could be people from the archives of history, like Polycarp, Augustine, Billy Graham, or Jim Elliot. And, think about people from your own life, whether inspirational or no, whose lives have changed your relationship with God. A grandparent, a parent, a sibling, a Sunday school teacher, a pastor, a friend, or even an enemy. Chances are, even if you’re new to your faith, you can think of a handful of people from your own life’s journey who’ve impacted your faith in some way. Some we’d like to imitate, and others to learn from their mistakes, but all have changed the way we walk with God.

My prayer for this week is to thank God for the true stories that have shaped my faith and for the people He has placed in my life to guide me (even the bad examples). I also pray that I would be a good example to those around me, so that someday my kids or grandkids will remember my relationship with the Lord and talk about how much it impacted their faith.


Photo by Brandi Redd on Unsplash

The Language of the Soul

“It is good to praise the Lord and make music to your name, O Most High, proclaiming your love in the morning and your faithfulness at night, to the music of the ten-stringed lyre and the melody of the harp.” (Psalm 92:1–3, NIV)

I have loved music as far back as I can remember. It’s in my DNA, part of how God created me to be me. It is commonly said that music is the “universal language” that transcends culture, history, and linguistic barriers, and unites humankind in a common expression. There’s just something about music that moves the heart and the mind in ways that words alone cannot.

Music has the power to engage us at the heart-level. It can stir emotions in us that well up from deep within. Music gives form to the expression of our souls; we create, listen, and engage with music in every area, in every season of life. Music can be an instrument (pun intended) to express our joy, our sorrow, our anger, our pain, and our love. And I think that’s exactly why God gave us the gift of music: to give a language to our souls for creating beauty, moving emotion, venting stress, and most importantly, for expressing worship.

I have had friends over the years who believed that emotion in worship was dangerous and best avoided. The music that characterized their churches was robotic and expressionless. And sad. If I can’t bring my feelings to God, where can I take them? Reading through the Psalms, I don’t get the impression that David suppressed his emotions, rather, at times he seems like an emotional hot mess! And he expressed his soul to God through music.

My prayer this week is that we will open our hearts to God through the gift of music, whether it’s something we play or sing ourselves or something we listen to. When we come next Sunday to worship together, allow your soul to speak the language of music in praise to the Risen Lord.

Yesterday in worship, I was moved deeply by the song Death Was Arrested. I hope you enjoy this song this week!


Photo by Mohammad Metri on Unsplash

A Shepherd

“[F]rom tending the sheep he brought him to be the shepherd of his people… And David shepherded them with integrity of heart; with skillful hands he led them” (Psalm 78:71a, 72, NIV).

Psalm 78 is a great overview of Israel’s history and how God led them, protected them, provided for them, and disciplined them when they sinned. It reveals God as the Shepherd of His people, and we shouldn’t be surprised that Jesus is also revealed as a shepherd in the New Testament, the Good Shepherd who lays down His life for the sheep (John 10:11). In Psalm 78 God raised up another shepherd to lead His people–David. And I love what the Bible says about David’s leadership as king of Israel: he shepherded them with integrity of heart and led them with skillful hands.

As someone God has called to be a pastor (or shepherd, for that is what the word pastor literally means) of His people I pray these words would be true of me as well. I confess my sin to God and ask for integrity of heart through the sanctifying power of the Holy Spirit. And I constantly pray for wisdom, that I may lead with skillful hands. I pray this as well for the elders and all those in leadership at LakeView.

Hebrews 13:7 says to “remember your leaders” and a few verses later in 17 it says that the leaders of the church “keep watch over you as those who must give an account.” The elders, who are also shepherds of God’s people, have a heavy responsibility. They will stand before God one day and give an account for every decision they made, every word they said, every policy they wrote as an elder and shepherd of LakeView. They need our prayers and encouragement to shepherd with integrity of heart and lead with skillful hands.

Will you join me this week in praying for each of the elders by name?

  • Mike Moll
  • Ryan Horrisberger
  • Wayne Hansen
  • Tom Roe
  • Kevin Louis
  • Gary Cook

Let the Glory of Your Name be the Passion of the Church

“Be exalted, O God, above the heavens; let Your glory be over all the earth.” (Psalm 57:11, NIV)

David wrote these words while hiding in a cave from King Saul, who was trying to find and kill him. Even when being pursued by an enemy who most certainly would’ve murdered him, David took refuge in the worship of God! It’s easy to praise God when things are going well, but how often do we exalt Him when things are not going well? When life is hard, God is our refuge, and worship is our solace.

For that to be true of us, we must be enamored by God. When was the last time I experienced the awesome glory of God? Do I seek His glory? Moses said to the Lord, “Show me Your glory,” and God answered his prayer. We sing songs about God’s glory filling all the earth, but are those songs really the anthem of our hearts? Do we look for God, seeking to be transformed by encountering His glory? Do we hunger for His name to be exalted above the heavens and His glory to fill the earth?

Or have we grown so familiar with phrases from songs and words like “glory” that they’ve lost their sparkle? Are we so busy with our own lives, our own jobs, our own pursuits, and our own glory that we forget we live not for ourselves, but for the Glorious One who alone deserves to be worshiped? When we put things in perspective and live outside of ourselves for the glory of God, we will find that worship becomes our refuge from the storms of life, and God’s Spirit sustains us as we commune with Him.

There’s a song by Chris Tomlin that has a line in it that makes my heart leap every time I hear it. The song is All to Us, and the line is “Let the glory of Your name be the passion of the church.” Amen! That is my prayer for this week.


Photo by Ksenia Kudelkina on Unsplash