Better Than Kevlar

“But Thou, O LORD, are a shield for me…” (Psalm 3:3)

Psalms 3 presents a number of ‘firsts’ in the Psalms: the first to exhibit a Psalm heading (A psalm of David….); the first psalm to attribute its authorship to David; the first occurrence of the rather enigmatic term ‘selah’ (which scholars believe means “pause, and think about that”); and, by type, the first ‘lament’ to appear in the Psalms.

A lament is an expression of grief, anxiety, fear, sorrow, etc. Laments in the Psalms share an experience of ‘trouble’ (disease, oppression, slander, injustice, military threat, personal sin, etc.) from which the psalmist is seeking deliverance. It’s precisely within this context we find David writing this psalm. In verse 3, acknowledging that God, alone, can protect him, David writes, “But, Thou, O Lord, are a shield for me….”

In his “Treasury of David”, 19th century British pastor, Charles Spurgeon, writes: “The original Hebrew signifies more than a shield; it means a shield ‘round about,’ a protection which shall surround a person entirely, a shield above, beneath, around, without and within. Oh! What a shield is God for His people! He wards off the fiery darts of Satan from beneath, and the storms of trials from above, while, at the same instant, He speaks peace to the tempest deep within us.”

Solomon, David’s son, would later reinforce this truth of God’s “round about” protection by writing, “The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous man runs into it and is safe.” (Proverbs 18:10)

Soli Deo Gloria, Nick

America’s Crisis of Biblical Illiteracy

[Jesus said to them,] “Your problem is that you don’t know the Scriptures.
(Matthew 22:29, nlt)

Several years ago, the George Barna Group asked basic doctrinal questions to over 6000 adults representing all major church denominations. What Barna discovered will shock you:
• Only 41% believed in the total accuracy of the Bible.
• Only 40% believed Christ was sinless.
• Only 27% believed Satan to be real.

So, how about those polled who classified themselves as “Southern Baptists”? After all, we proudly call ourselves “People of the Book.”
• 57% believed works play a part in salvation.
• 34% thought Satan was a real being.
• 66% believed the Bible to be totally accurate.

When I first read this article I was shocked. I can understand a believer not understanding all there is to know regarding “Christ’s second coming,” “what heaven and hell are really like,” and “the Trinity.” But…that Christ was sinless?!?….that Satan exists?!?

Southern Seminary president, Dr. Albert Mohler, said, “The [statistics] are a striking indictment of the loss of doctrinal confidence and erosion of biblical beliefs…” He goes on to state, “Christianity is defined by certain definite and non-negotiable doctrines. Without these, there is no Christianity at all.”

Barna commented, “The Christian Body in America is immersed in a crisis of biblical illiteracy. How else can you describe [it] when most churchgoing adults reject the accuracy of the Bible, reject the existence of Satan, claim that Jesus sinned, and believed that good works are essential for salvation?”

David wrote in the Psalms, “Your Word have I hidden in my heart…” It appears God’s Word is still being hidden by believers – hidden so well that we don’t even know where we put it!

How well do you know your Bible? Given the plethora of Study Bibles, commentaries, and “how to read your Bible” resources readily available, our society is without excuse when it comes to biblical literacy. We know song lyrics, political poll results, e-mail addresses, web sites, the latest gossip, recipes, MLB batting averages, NASCAR standings, and NFL Draft predictions – but when it comes to “certain definite and non-negotiable [biblical] doctrines”, well…it’s no wonder Christianity isn’t making a bigger impact in our nation.

Not everyone can attend a Bible College or Seminary to pursue a degree in theology. However, “I don’t have a theology degree” won’t hold up in God’s courtroom, nor will it garner us any respect – or Holy Spirit power – when we can’t, to our family & friends, site from Scripture what we believe, and why.

Soli Deo Gloria, Nick

In Our Weakness He Is Strong

So for the sake of Christ, I am well pleased and take pleasure in infirmities, insults, hardships, persecutions, perplexities and distresses; for when I am weak [in human strength], then am I [truly] strong (able, powerful in divine strength).
(2 Corinthians 12:10; amplified)

L.B. (Mrs. Charles E.) Cowman worked as a pioneer missionary with her husband in Japan and China from 1901 to 1917. When her husband’s poor health forced the couple to return to the United States, she turned her attention to caring for him until his death six years later. It was out of the experiences and heartaches that filled those six years that she wrote the devotionals that fill her classic, Streams in the Desert.  Commenting on the biblical passage cited above, Cowman writes:

The literal translation of this verse adds a startling emphasis to it, allowing it to speak for itself with power we have probably never realized. It’s as follows: “Therefore I take pleasure in being without strength, being insulted, experiencing emergencies, and being chased and forced into a corner for Christ’s sake; for when I am without strength, I am dynamite.”

The secret of knowing God’s complete sufficiency is in coming to the end of everything in ourselves and our circumstances. Once we reach this point, we will stop seeking sympathy for our difficult situation or ill treatment, because we will recognize these things as the necessary conditions for blessings,…realizing they are the evidence of Him working in our lives.

Interestingly, it was while enduring a similar situation that C.S. Lewis wrote his Chronicles of Narnia. In fact, the more you study and discover what God has produced in His children not through “picturesque mountain tops” but rather through “dark valleys,” you find it’s no wonder James wrote, “Consider it great joy…when you experience various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance…” (1:2, csb)

Soli Deo Gloria, Nick

You’ve Got a Friend in Me

“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the [one] who falls and has no one to help him up!” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10, nlt)

Solomon was a lonely man with few friends when he wrote the verses cited above. He was the richest man in the world. But, as life moved along, he was learning that there was little on earth as valuable as a true friend.

Woody needed Buzz. Shaggy needed Scooby. Spongebob needs Patrick (sort of). And Chuck Noland (Tom Hanks) needed “Wilson” in the movie, “Castaway.” Sure, each of these examples is from pop culture. But, consider these examples as proof-positive that even the secular world gives credit to what King Solomon wrote some 3000 years ago: we need each other.

Woody & Buzz

Where would we be without close, trusted friends? I had a man tell me once as we discussed this topic, “I don’t have any close friends.” My heart hurt for him.

Developing this level of friendship requires somewhat of a paradox. In order to enjoy safety you must first make yourself vulnerable. It’s also work. It requires effort. It’s the old ever-so-true adage: “In order to have friends, you must first be friendly.” Pastor/Author, Doug Fields, wrote, “You can log hours and years with someone without allowing anyone to understand your secret aches, longings, hopes, dreams and fears. You can be surrounded with friends who are essentially strangers. [Should you choose to remain distant and guarded, not allowing access to your inner self from the outside world], you’ll be choosing a kind of inner loneliness for the rest of your life.”

When we do find true friends, what we receive is a gift from God on many levels. Author, George Eliot, once wrote, “Oh, the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person; having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words, but to pour them all out, just as they are, chaff and grain together, knowing that a faithful hand will take and sift them, keep what is worth keeping, and then, with the breath of kindness, blow the rest away.”

Thank God for our friends.

Because, as Piglet says, “It’s much more friendly with two.”

Soli Deo Gloria, Nick