Tuesday, May 26, 2009

New BLOG Address!

Well, I finally made the jump to WordPress. For those who read my posts, please make any necessary changes. Here's my new address: http://brandonhatmaker.wordpress.com/

Psalm 77 – Turning Point

Throughout the book we see the Psalmist on an up-and-down journey. We see psalms of victory riddled with praise, we see psalms of discouragement reflecting dark days of the soul, and most often we see psalms with elements of both. The only thing that seems as consistent as this reality of a roller-coaster type journey is the obvious “turning point” found in each. It’s the attitude expressed that always seems to get them over the hump.
“I will meditate on all your works and consider all your mighty deeds.” – Psalm 77:12
This is great instruction. When we focus on the bad, we spiral down. When we meditate on the loss, we suffer more loss. When we consider our works and deeds, they are always second (or worse) to someone else’s out there.

But, when we focus on the greatness of our God, when we meditate on His great victories, when we consider His works and His mighty deeds. Things change.
Your ways, O God, are holy.
What god is so great as our God?
You are the God who performs miracles; 

You display your power among the peoples.
With your mighty arm you redeemed your people, the descendants of Jacob and Joseph.


Psalm 77:13-15

Monday, May 25, 2009

Psalm 76 - God's Got Game

Guest Post: Tray Pruet

"You are resplendent with light, more majestic than mountains, rich with game." - Psalm 76:4
Well I actually added that last comma….sorry God, but he does have game….and it’s rich.

I was just amazed yesterday, and I was searching for words to describe God….but realized that any word used, falls short. Not that ‘resplendent with light’ came to mind….but I realized that all these descriptions, are merely words trying to capture the glory of the Creator. All the Psalms, 150 in all…..with all the words contained, still fall short. Yet we live as though we are serving a finite God. We give Him a Sunday or two every now and then to hold him at bay.

I read yesterday that in recent years, via the Hubble telescope that it is (conservatively) estimated that there are 350,000,000,000 galaxies….conservatively estimated! Why? Why did our Creator create things that no one in history knew about until recently. Maybe he is wanting us NOW to know….even with your fancy computers and telescopes....you cannot fathom the depth of me. You could spend your whole life trying to describe me…and still fall miserably short, not even scratch the surface.

God forgive me for not giving you my all, and forgive me for thinking you are smaller than you are.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Psalm 75 – Approachable

I’ve enjoyed being married to an author and communicator. It’s interesting to me to see how people interact with Jen depending upon how they know her. If you were to watch those who first met Jen through one of her books or from the audience of a conference she was speaking at, you’d think she hung the moon (Which I’m pretty convinced she did). It’s fun to listen to the emails that come to her saying “I know Jen probably isn’t the one who checks all the emails” as if she has a team of assistants doing it for her. It’s flattering to see women at the “signing” table, wanting to grab a quick picture with her, and give their 15 second expression of how much they appreciate her work.

It’s fun to hear the stories because to me, to her kids, and her friends, she’s just Jen. The gal we love, adore, and appreciated just as much even before the first book was published. To us, it’s no surprise her fan base is growing. We’ve been fans for years. The more you know her, the more comfortable you are around her, the more you know you can be yourself, the more you know you can trust her, the more you know… she’s just Jen. (Sorry Jen, if you somehow found this, I know you’re embarrassed that I’m even writing this.)

Each of us has experienced our own level of “celebrity status”. Most of us with crowds like our third grader’s classmates, because we brought the cup cakes. Regardless of who’s expressing it, it feels good to be appreciated. And it feels good to express appreciation to others… especially those we hold a high opinion of.

In Psalm 75, the Psalmist gives us some insight to how we can interact with a really big God. It reminds us that we don’t have to be star-struck or deal with a personal assistant whose job is to keep you from wasting His time.
“We give thanks to you, O God, we give thanks, for your Name is near; men tell of your wonderful deeds.” – Psalm 75:1
I was captured by this phrase, “Your Name is near”. So I did some research on why the Psalmist chose to use the word “near”. What I found is that it’s also the Hebrew word commonly used for “neighbor” and is meant to communicate a close physical proximity in where we intentionally take residence. Its root means “to cause to approach” or “to be approachable”. So it’s not just talking about a neighbor… it’s talking about a good neighbor… an approachable neighbor.

This is the gift of God. That who He is… all He has done… and that His name literally represents a close proximity and personal presence. That closeness is because HE caused it and because He willed it. No wonder Jesus calls us to remain in Him. It’s His very nature to do the same. It’s the reason He came to earth and put on skin.

I’m thankful today that we don’t just have a God of the universe, we have a personal God, who is close and who we can call daddy. A God who is approachable. What does that change? Everything. And as the Psalmist says (twice in one verse), we should give thanks.

Psalm 74 - Devastating

I'm reminded today how we often let the physical and temporary things in our life become central and therefore seem critical. When they are taken away or even challenged it can quickly feel like a devastating loss. In chapter 74, the Psalmist reminds us that while we may be derailed by what we consider a "devastating loss", a sovereign God cannot be contained. No matter the temporal object destroyed, an eternal God is still in control.
They burned your sanctuary to the ground;
they defiled the dwelling place of your Name.

They said in their hearts, "We will crush them completely!"
They burned every place where God was worshiped in the land.

But you, O God, are my king from of old;
you bring salvation upon the earth.

Psalm 74:7-8, 12