A blessing for a new beginning

This day,
Like all days,
Is an opportunity for
A new beginning.

May you have the courage to plunge
Into the wrestling and wonder
Of the formation of fresh life.

It will not be easy.
As the saying goes, nothing worthwhile is ever easy.

First, the seed must get buried.
Once deep in the ground,
The seed must wait in silence. 
Until the day comes that it cracks.
And becomes broken enough
For something new to come forth from inside. 
The seedling.
Once that fragile seedling of life emerges,
It must push its way through darkness,
Before emerging into the light.
Only then can it grow the buds of the future, 
As the sun and rain nourish what was once the seed
Into what it has always been meant to become.

May you know that the fight for life is worth the cost.
That wrestling is where your strength is built.

May you experience the deep goodness
Of the Creator’s presence with you.
The God who breathed being into humans in the first days,
Is asking you to trust.

May your heart quiver with excitement, 
Knowing that no matter how old you are
Or how you have lived before this day,
It is never to late to begin anew.
The seeds in you will never expire.

May you experience the hope
Sculpted into your essence.
May you know the God
Who never tires of expanding life.

May you breathe. 
May you wrestle.
May you desire.
May you dream. 

the seeds in you will never expire

One way I experienced new life recently is through the experience of preaching a sermon at Genesis Covenant Church. I have had a long wrestling with teaching, and have often stepped onto the stage as someone other than myself. This experience was different. God helped me be me and bring what God had given me. It was a beautifully redemptive experience. If you want to listen, you can do so here.

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What do we do with vengeance Psalms? Here are 4 ideas.

Psalm 94 is one of those sections of Scripture that you run across and wonder what to do with it. I mean, it starts with the address, “O LORD, the God of vengeance.”

That’s not usually how I begin my prayers. God of love? Sure. God of grace? Definitely. God of vengeance? Not so much.

Just a wild guess, but I’m thinking I’m not alone in that one.

So if you are like me, what do you do with Psalms like these? Psalms that feel prickly, archaic, and detached from the faith we practice day in and day out?

What do we do with vengeance Psalms? Here are a few things that come to mind as I read Psalm 94.

1. Pray their words.

Yup, I know it sounds crazy, but maybe we need to pray some words like these more often. In my middle class, comfortable, suburban American life, it’s easy for me to lose touch with the groaning of this tired and broken world.

But this world does groan, doesn’t it?

“all creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. And we believers also groan, even though we have the Holy Spirit within us as a foretaste of future glory, for we long for our bodies to be released from sin and suffering.” –Romans 8:22-23

And if we are in touch with this reality, shouldn’t we groan, too? Shouldn’t we cry out to our Lord along with the Psalmist,

“How long, O LORD? How long will the wicked be allowed to gloat? How long will they speak with arrogance? How long will these evil people boast?” –Psalm 94:3-4

In crying out, we lean into our faith that God will one day make things right. And oh, how beautiful that day will be.

2. Wrestle with their words.

There are phrases in psalms like these that make my hair stand on end.

“He punishes the nations—won’t he also punish you? He knows everything—doesn’t he also know what you are doing? The LORD knows people’s thoughts; he knows they are worthless!” –Psalm 94:10-11

But instead of running away from that yucky feeling, what if we move towards it? What if we research what was going on at the time and place in which they were written? What if we looked for threads that could still be true today?

Maybe looking for answers would do more to strengthen our faith than to weaken it.

Psalm 943. Find comfort in their words.

Most Psalms are not filled with only one emotion. In the midst of frustrated cries for justice and vengeance, the Psalmist still manages to cry out with words of hope.

“I cried out, “I am slipping!” but your unfailing love, O LORD, supported me. When doubts filled my mind, your comfort gave me renewed hope and cheer.” – Psalm 94:18-19

I love that picture of God supporting us while we slip. (In fact, it reminds me of what I wrote about last week!)

4. Find God in their words.

There’s an important characteristic of God shown throughout all the Psalms, perhaps vengeance Psalms more than any other:

God’s unconditional love for us can be trusted.

It is safe to bring our whole selves, our honest selves, and our hidden selves, before God.

This Psalm, and others like it, doesn’t clarify the theological accuracy or morality of its requests. But it does clarify the character of God hearing the requests.

God does not shy away from our human emotions, weakness, selfishness, frustration, or anger.

When we cry out, no matter how ugly the words, God leans in. He keeps listening. And He holds our hands. Maybe even tighter than before.


That was my reflection on Psalm 94. Link up with your own reflection below. Or stop back next week with your thoughts on Psalm 95.

A Surprise Ending with An Important Lesson

Psalm 89

Sometimes in our cynicism, we make assumptions about people’s faith.

If we hear people say something like this

I will sing of the LORD’s unfailing love forever! Young and old will hear of your faithfulness. Your unfailing love will last forever. Your faithfulness is as enduring as the heavens. – Psalm 89:1-2

We think they are probably the kind of people who are filled with platitudes and pat answers.

Or if we hear people say something like this

All heaven will praise your great wonders, LORD; myriads of angels will praise you for your faithfulness. For who in all of heaven can compare with the LORD? What mightiest angel is anything like the LORD? The highest angelic powers stand in awe of God. He is far more awesome than all who surround his throne. O LORD God of Heaven’s Armies! Where is there anyone as mighty as you, O LORD? You are entirely faithful. – Psalm 89:5-8

Or this

Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne. Unfailing love and truth walk before you as attendants. Happy are those who hear the joyful call to worship, for they will walk in the light of your presence, LORD. They rejoice all day long in your wonderful reputation. They exult in your righteousness. –Psalm 89:14-16

We think they are probably people who walk around with rose-colored glasses with blinders on the sides, always seeing God’s faithfulness and never noticing pain.

The second half of Psalm 89 blows those types of assumptions out of the water.

The Psalmist transitions from words like this

No, I will not break my covenant; I will not take back a single word I said. I have sworn an oath to David, and in my holiness I cannot lie – Psalm 89:34-35

To words like this

But now you have rejected him and cast him off. You are angry with your anointed king. You have renounced your covenant with him; you have thrown his crown in the dust. –Psalm 89:38-39

And we see that his faith is not easy after all.

The Psalmist moves from praising God to questioning Him, all in the same Psalm.

O LORD, how long will this go on? Will you hide yourself forever? How long will your anger burn like fire? – Psalm 89:46

So, what are we to do with a Psalm that seems to contradict itself, from one half to the next?

Stick with it. Read the whole thing. Don’t make assumptions about the person writing the words of either half without connecting them to one each other.

If we stay with this Psalm from beginning to end, if we read through both the overflowing praise that might makes us assume his life is easy, and the frustrated cries that might make us assume he has lost his faith, these seemingly contrasting postures come into focus.

The Psalmist knows God is faithful. He demonstrates with verse after verse how much this is his wholehearted belief. And so, when he experiences pain, he does not walk away from it. He moves right towards it. He picks up his frustration, confidently takes it to God. He knows there must be some way to reconcile it.

The Psalmist’s unwavering belief in God’s faithfulness is precisely what causes him to wrestle with the Lord.

Wrestling is not a sign of weak faith. It is a sign of a strong one.


That was my reflection on Psalm 89. Link up with your own below. Or come back next week with your thoughts on Psalm 90.