What I (And You) Need to Hear Today

Whether you are low or scared or worried or overwhelmed or happy or excited or terrified or delighted or ashamed, here is the greatest comfort I can give you today:

"Bless the LORD, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name! 

Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's. 

The LORD works righteousness and justice for all who are oppressed. He made known his ways to Moses, his acts to the people of Israel. 

The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. He will not always chide, nor will he keep his anger forever. He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities. 

For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us. As a father shows compassion to his children, so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear him. For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust."
-- Psalm 103:1-14 (ESV)

Photo Courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons and Patrick Emerson.

Pursue Fruit, Not Peaches

Once a woman told John Piper, "I don’t think you should say, ‘Pursue joy with all your might.’ I think you should say, ‘Pursue obedience with all your might.’"

Piper responded, "But that’s like saying, ‘Don’t pursue peaches with all your might, pursue fruit.’"

I've been thinking about this as I read the Psalms. Joy and obedience are all tangled up together.

God gives us commands so that we can delight in Him.

"Be glad in the Lord, and rejoice, O righteous, and shout for joy, all you upright in heart!" (Ps. 32:11)

"Let those who delight in my righteousness shout for joy and be glad and say evermore, 'Great is the Lord, who delights in the welfare of his servant!'" (Ps. 35:27)

"Let the nations be glad and sing for joy, for you judge the peoples with equity and guide the nations upon earth" (Ps. 67:4).

God expects both obedience and joy. But as Piper suggests, aren't they really intertwined? For the Christian, we obey God with joy and delight in God by obedience.

And that's pretty encouraging.

A Refuge Better Than Helm's Deep

While we east coast Canadians continue to battle Old Man Winter, my dad has been lapping up the California sunshine this past week at the Shepherd's Conference. During last week, Mom and Travis and I have been enjoying lots of candy and, among other things, a Lord of the Rings movie marathon.

Three nights ago we finished off the second movie, The Two Towers. If you're familiar with the story, you'll know Helm's Deep. Helm's Deep was a massive refuge for the people of Rohan, built into the cliffs, solidly protected. It was said that no army could get into this refuge. It was utterly untouchable and stolidly implacable.

But there was a tiny flaw. You see, there was a small drain that cut underneath the refuge and entered the city through a little grate. And when the good people of Rohan holed up in Helm's Deep in The Two Towers and the evil Uruk-Hai armies of Sauron marched against the refuge, the Uruk-Hai found the drain. And they stormed the keep. As massive and protected and apparently unapproachable as Helm's Deep was, this refuge was not unbreachable.

My church was blessed to have Bert Kuehner guest preach yesterday while my dad's in California. He preached on Psalm 46 and Martin Luther's age-enduring hymn, "A Mighty Fortress is Our God." He pointed out one thing that was utterly powerful, especially in light of the movie we finished off on Friday.

In the first verse of Psalm 46 we read:

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

What Bert Kuehner pointed out was that God is the only refuge that will never fail. Even Helm's Deep could be stormed. Only God will never let you down. For the people of Rohan, Helm's Deep was their saviour, their hope, their lives. But instead of fulfilling their desire for total protection, it only revealed that their hope was ultimately misplaced.

We have our own substitute refuges, Mr. Kuehner pointed out - money, sex, people, pleasure, possessions. But all will fail us. Only One can give us the safety, the protection, the care that we crave. He will never let us down.

And that's some beautiful encouragement for the people of God.

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The Nicest Bad Guy in the Bible

There are lots of bad guys in the Bible. There are cruel soldiers, wicked kings and queens, deceitful priests, witches and prostitutes and whole cities and nations who loathe God. But there is one sinner who stood out to me recently. And what's so terrifying about this sinner is that he's still alive.

If you met this bad guy on the street, he'd probably smile at you. If you were behind him in Starbucks, he might have bought your coffee. He's never been convicted of a crime, because - based on the law - he's not really bad at all. In fact, he's remarkably nice.

Psalm 36 tells the tale of this nice villain. Verses 1-3 are as follows:

"Transgression speaks to the wicked deep in his heart; there is no fear of God before his eyes. For he flatters himself in his own eyes that his iniquity cannot be found out and hated. The words of his mouth are trouble and deceit; he has ceased to act wisely and do good ... he does not reject evil."

This person turns away from God and trusts in himself. He is convinced of his own goodness. He has silenced his conscience, so that he can't even see all the sin wading in him like swamp water - or if he does, he's sure that no one else will be able to see it. He thinks he's a good person (and is perceived as one too).

He also doesn't reject evil. This statement implies some passivity about it. Rejecting evil is hard, but actively pursuing good is harder. The fact that sin is unimportant characterizes this man.

He remains unnamed in Psalm 36, and I think that's for good reason. This is probably not one specific person in David's time that lingers on his mind as he wrote this. This is the profile of a wicked man. And he lives on today. The North American religious climate seems plagued with this idea that sin is no longer vile, despicable, and worthy of rejection. They are convinced that they are good people. Psalm 36's bad guy walks the sidewalks of our cities, lives on our streets, teaches in our schools, hangs out in our coffee shops, judges from our courts, works in our offices, and even sits in our pews.

In the middle of Psalm 36, after the profile of this nice bad guy, David shifts his trajectory. Instead of continuing on in this explanation of the man, he begins praising the faithfulness of God. Where that sinner failed, God succeeded.

"Your steadfast love, O Lord, extends to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds. Your righteousness is like the mountains of God; your judgments are like the great deep; man and beast you save, O Lord. How precious is your steadfast love, O God! The children of mankind take refuge in the shadow of your wings." 

Man is sinful. God is not. Man is lost. God is the glorious One who finds. That is the good news of the gospel. Psalm 36 sings this good news. And as David seemed to think that the gospel met even the nicest bad guy's needs, we too can be assured that it is hope for the hopeless, peace for the restless, and healing for the broken-hearted. So what are we waiting for? The nicest bad guys surround us. Who are we sharing this good news with?

Some Encouragement for a Grey Day

Today is the first day of March. Here in cold, snowy Halifax, spring seems far away. On this grey day, I feel like some encouragement, and I want to share it with you. I've been reading the Psalms in my devotions and as I read these prayers and praise to God, some particular verses have stuck out to me:

"Lord God, my strong Savior, You shield my head on the day of battle." Psalm 140:7

"Yahweh [the Old Testament name for God], if You considered my sins, Lord, who could stand? But with You there is forgiveness, so that You may be revered. I wait for Yahweh; I wait and put my hope in His word." Psalm 130:3-5

"For Your faithful love is higher than the heavens, and Your faithfulness reaches the clouds. God, be exalted above the heavens, and let Your glory be over the whole earth. Save with Your right hand and answer me so that those You love may be rescued." Psalm 108:5-6

"[God] is my faithful love and my fortress, my stronghold and my deliverer, He is my shield and I take refuge in Him." Psalm 144:2

"Let me experience Your faithful love in the morning, for I trust in You. Reveal to me the way I should go because I long for You. Rescue me from my enemies, Lord; I come to You for protection. Teach me to do Your will, for You are my God. May Your gracious Spirit lead me on level ground. Because of Your name, Yahweh, let me live. In Your righteousness, deliver me from trouble." Psalm 143:8-11

"The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and great in faithful love. The Lord is good to everyone. His compassion rests on all He has made. ... The Lord is faithful in all His words and gracious in all His actions. The Lord helps all who fall." Psalm 145:9, 13-14

"Hallelujah! My soul praise the Lord. I will praise the Lord all my life; I will sing to my God as long as I live. ... Happy is the one who's ... hope is in the Lord his God, the maker of heaven and earth, the sea and everything in them. He remains faithful forever, executing justice for the exploited and giving food to the hungry. The Lord frees prisoners. The Lord opens the eyes of the blind. The Lord raises up those who are oppressed. The Lord loves the righteous. The Lord protects foreigners and helps the fatherless and the widow, but He frustrates the way of the wicked. The Lord reigns forever; Zion, your God reigns for all generations. Hallelujah!" Psalm 146:1-2, 5-10

Confessions of an Obsessed Teenager

I have a confession to make: I'm an obsessive person. And that's not particularly good. But when I go into something, I go into it full-throttle. If I'm reading a book, I get totally immersed, and I can think of hardly anything else. If I watch a movie I love, then I'll watch it every day for a week and eat, sleep and breathe this movie. I can get obsessed with lots of things, from certain songs to a good artist, from an author to a type of food, from a piece of clothing to a dance. If there's something I like - well, it just becomes a passion.

By definition, obsessed means,
"The domination of one's thoughts or feelings by a persistent image, idea, desire, etc."
And when I really think about it, if my thoughts or feelings are dominated by clothes, music, books or TV, how is the focus on God?

This realization struck me the other day: We need to be obsessed with God.

All throughout Scripture, we see people who are obsessed with God. One example is David. David was rich. He was king. He had all the worldly pleasures that could be afforded. Yet he wasn't obsessed over them. He was obsessed with God. You see this from Psalms, the prayers, that he writes to God.

"On the glorious splendor of your majesty, and on your wondrous works, I will meditate." Psalm 145:5

"For God alone my soul waits in silence; from him comes my salvation." Psalm 62:1

"O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water. ... Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you. ... My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me." Psalm 63:1,3,8

See, my obsessiveness can get me into trouble sometimes. The reason for that is because I focus on unimportant things that get me unfocused on other more important things. And my obsessiveness is always on the trivial things, like a sweater or a novel.

But if I strove to focus all my obsessive energy on God, I'd be like David and spend all my time thinking about the most important Being of all!

Another thing about my obsessiveness - what I'm obsessed with comes and goes. I get over that novel I couldn't put down. I stop thinking about that movie so much. I don't listen to that song a thousand times anymore. My sweater eventually gets donated to the Canadian Diabetes Society. My obsessiveness is actually fickle; it wavers.

But obsessiveness with God is different. That is something that would (and should) stay. If every thought is dominated by Him, His commands, His promises, His praise, that's not something that's fleeting. It won't burn up for a while, and then fizzle away. It's lasting and liberating.

So I hope you get obsessed. I hope I get obsessed. I hope we get obsessed. With God.

The Place I Can Always Go

One sometimes wonders if there's a place you can go that will never disappoint. In this world we live in, everything seems like sand, always shifting, changing, disappointing. People and circumstances deceive us. But if there was just one place I could always go ...
"Lord, I seek refuge in You; let me never be disgraced. Be a rock of refuge for me, where I can always go." - Psalm 71:1, 3
I read this just the other day. In a place surrounded by change, there is one place I can always go, and that is to the Rock of refuge, the Rock of ages, the Lord. I think of Peggy's Cove when I hear the term rock. Peggy's Cove (see picture above) is this beautiful place near us, a big bed of rocks on the water. It's hard to explain, but there's hundreds, probably thousands of these thick, immobile rocks. A big lighthouse stands atop it. The waters splash and wash over these rocks, but they never move. They're always the same.

So when people change and circumstances deceive and the world disappoints, remember that there's one place you can always go. To the Rock.

Sweetest Honey, Most Desirable Gold

What is sweeter than honey? More desirable than gold? To put it simply, nothing. At least, nothing we know of! But there actually is. I discovered it early yesterday morning in Psalm 19:8-10:
"The precepts of the Lord are right, making the heart glad; the command of the Lord is radiant, making the eyes light up. The fear of the Lord is pure, enduring forever; the ordinances of the Lord are reliable and altogether righteous. They are more desirable than gold—than an abundance of pure gold; and sweeter than honey, which comes from the honeycomb." 
The words of the Lord are sweeter than honey and more desirable than gold! Think of opening up a bottle of honey and squeezing a huge dollop into your mouth. That would be so sweet! Perhaps too sweet. But even though the words of the Lord are sweeter than honey, they aren't too sweet. They are just absolutely, perfectly rich and wonderful! And think of gold, a piece of 100% pure gold. There really isn't anything on earth worth more than that, yet the words of the Lord are!

So what is sweeter than honey or more desirable than gold? Nothing ... except our God!

Thinking about Thinking

Yesterday in my devotions I found myself in Psalm 104. Verse 34 really caught my attention:
"May my meditation be pleasing to him [God]for I rejoice in the Lord."
This really intrigued me, so after a quick search on ESV Online, I found some other verses in the Psalms quite similar, like Psalm 19:14 for example:
"Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer." 
What David (the author of Psalm 19) and the author of Psalm 104 are saying is, "Let my thinking - the thoughts I dwell on deep in my heart that no one else can ever know - be pure and honouring to God." When I realized that, I started really thinking about thinking.

How often do we hear messages and Bible Studies and read books on making our actions and speech honouring to God? Everybody pushes for pure words and pure actions - in other words, everything that other people can see. But what about your thoughts, the only thing that no one but you can see? Often, we forget about that. But David and the Psalmist certainly didn't. They prayed that their thoughts, their meditations, would be pleasing, or acceptable, to God. Because even if no other human being can read your mind, the Lord can.

So why don't you think about thinking? Yes, let's still try to make our actions and words glorify God, but let's also work on making our thoughts glorify God.

One of My Favourite Psalms

After performing a show on social justice at an elementary school and going to the hospital this morning, I couldn't help thinking back to one of my favourite psalms. It's Psalm 46, and it is a psalm for the burdened, for the fearful, for the wondering, for the helpless, for the alone, for the insecure, for the lost, and for the broken.
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling. Selah There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy habitation of the Most High. God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved; God will help her when morning dawns. The nations rage, the kingdoms totter; he utters his voice, the earth melts.The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah Come, behold the works of the LORD, how he has brought desolations on the earth. He makes wars cease to the end of the earth; he breaks the bow and shatters the spear; he burns the chariots with fire. “Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah

A Delightful God

A couple of nights ago in family devotions, we got on the subject of God delighting in us. That morning I had been reading Psalm 41 and verse 11 had stuck out to me:
"By this I know that you delight in me: my enemy will not shout in triumph over me." 
The "you delight in me," which David was saying to God, really interested me. So during devotions we discussed what it means to have God delight in us. There are numerous other references to this incredible fact throughout Scripture (e.g. Psalm 35:27; Proverbs 11:20; Proverbs 12:22; Isaiah 62:4). But, as we questioned and reasoned in devotions, how does that work and what are the implications of it?

Dad mentioned that one of the biggest struggles for him in recognizing God's delight in him is that he thinks there is nothing to delight in. That is one of the main stumbling blocks for most people. We wonder why God would delight in us? We're sick, sinful creatures. But then my brother brought up an excellent point. He said that God does not delight in us, in ourselves, but in His work through us. God does not delight in sin, but in sanctification, as He makes us more holy, setting us apart for Himself.

So what are the implications of God delighting in us? Well first, we must delight in God. At least twenty times throughout the Scriptures, people speak of delighting in God, in His law and in His commands. And then we must rejoice in the fact that the mighty God of heaven and earth, the Creator of the universe, the Lord of lords, and King of kings delights in us, His creatures! And finally, we should live our lives with a different attitude in everything we do, because we have a delightful God, a God who looks upon us with delight.

Daddy's Daughter: Insights on My Dad's Sermon

Why do you go to church? Dad opened yesterday's sermon with. It may be because you've always gone to church. Maybe it's because your parents go to church. Or maybe it's because you just feel guilty. But in the text, Psalm 29, we discovered that all those reasons are wrong. There's only one pure, Biblical reason for going to church, and it's to worship Christ. But what do we mean by worship?

Dad's sermon-in-a-sentence was: Worship is not an option; it's defined by God, it's directed by God, and it's demanded by God.
  1. Worship defined. True worship, as found in Psalm 29:1-2, is giving glory to God. This is often misunderstood. Our giving glory to God is not an act of us giving God something that He needs. Nor is it us giving God something we have that He doesn't. Our giving glory to God is entirely because He deserves it. We give glory to God (i.e. worship Him) because He is worthy to be worshipped.
  2. Worship directed. What this means is that true, Biblical worship is directed by God (Psalm 29:3-8). He is the motivation and the means by which our worship comes, and He is, of course, the object of our worship.
  3. Worship demanded. As we learn in Psalm 29:9-11, God demands our worship. There is no way to get around it. We will either bow the knee now, or we will bow the knee the moment after we die. God will be worshipped. He will be worshipped through His mercy in granting some salvation, and He will be worshipped through His judgement on those who rejected Him. 
So why do you go to church?

    Daddy's Daughter: Insights on My Dad's Sermon

    Yesterday, Dad preached on Psalm 23, a familiar passage to many. One thing that really stuck out to me was something he mentioned about the very first verse, Psalm 23:1 ("The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures.") It was specifically in the first half of verse one: "The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want." What does that phrase mean - "I shall not want"? It's an interesting statement if you think about it. David, the author of Psalm 23, just finished saying that the Lord is his shepherd, or his leader, his guide, his comforter, his provider, and his conclusion is I shall not want. But what does that mean, we're still wondering? Basically, David is saying that he has such complete and utter trust in the Lord, his shepherd, he wants nothing more. He is totally and fully satisfied in his Maker. He doesn't want the Lord + anything. He just wants the Lord. 

    Many people who call themselves "Christians" seem to have a much different view. They are not satisfied with only the Lord. They think they need a person + the Lord to satisfy. Or an activity + the Lord. A possession + the Lord. Money + the Lord. Something + the Lord. He is not enough for them. They may think He's their shepherd, but they still want. So what does that say about them? If they want anything but the Lord to satisfy them, then the Lord is not their shepherd. Now, just because we sin in not being totally satisfied in the Lord all the time, that doesn't mean we're not Christians. It means we simply must repent of our sin and pray that the Lord would bring us to the point where He is truly all we need.

    So let's focus our desires on the Shepherd, not on money or people or possessions, so that we can wholeheartedly say with David, "The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want."

    Our God is an Awesome God

    The thunderstorm that rattled the Maritime provinces last night made headline news all over the internet. "Maritime thunderstorms wreak havoc" claimed the bold headlines on CBC. "Storms lash the Maritimes" announced the Weather Network. "Intense storm delays flights at Halifax airport" was splashed across The Chronicle Herald. Yes, the thunderstorm was certainly a good one. I remember standing at the front window last night, watching the rain lash against the window, seeing the lighting flash vividly against the dark sky, and hearing the thunder crack and boom, and I was reminded that our God is truly an awesome God.

    "Awesome is God from his sanctuary; the God of Israel—he is the one who gives power and strength to his people. Blessed be God!" Psalm 68:35

    "Let them praise your great and awesome name! Holy is he!" Psalm 99:3

    "He sent redemption to his people; he has commanded his covenant forever. Holy and awesome is his name!" Psalm 111:9

    Thunderstorms are a testimony to the power, to the awesomeness, of their Creator. Sometimes I'm tempted to be more in awe of the creation than the Creator, but I must never do that. No matter how cool or incredible or amazing a creation is, if you think about it, it really just makes the Creator more awesome. So, when that thunderstorm booms and flashes and I'm amazed, I will smile and think about how incredible it is, and then I will turn my praises to the Creator of that thunderstorm. For our God is truly an awesome God.

    An Exhibit at the Maritime Museum, an Impromptu Prayer Meeting, and a Reminder of the Sovereignty of God

    Saturday morning my mom was looking up directions to get to downtown Halifax, where we would meet my dad for lunch. She needed an address, and the only thing that she could think of that was near where we wanted to go was the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic. So she called up their website, and as soon as she opened the page, a bright notice boldly announced the opening of a new exhibit, "Hello Sailor! Gay Life on the Ocean Wave."

    Needless to say, Mom was disappointed and confused as to why a display on sexual preference (regardless of what it is) has a place in any museum. But it seemed that this was only the beginning. For it was made known to us that this upcoming week is Halifax's tragic and disturbing Gay Pride Week. Homosexuals have dedicated a whole week to flaunt their sin (Leviticus 18:22; Leviticus 20:13; Romans 1:26-27; 1 Corinthians 6:9) before the people of Halifax. Starting yesterday, all week, July 17-24, special events will be held at the library, unique exhibits will be opened at museums, "family" picnics will occur, a special gay harbour cruise will sail, and, on Saturday, a huge Gay Pride Parade, dedicated to families, will take place. According to Halifax Pride itself,
    "Halifax has the fourth largest Pride Parade in Canada. Halifax is renowned for its family friendly community strong parade. This year’s parade will be no different. Join over 60,000 spectators and 1,400 parade participants, for the annual Halifax Pride Parade Saturday July 23rd, 2011. ... Community groups, organizations and businesses strut their colours as we all march 'better together' in Pride!"

    It was because of this that my dad decided Sunday morning at 12:04, one minute before he would rise and pronounce the closing benediction to the congregation, to hold a prayer meeting that evening to pray specifically for this evil that's going on right in our very city. Last night was a blessed time, as for one hour, we simply prayed. We prayed for the salvation and conviction of sin for the LGBTQ (Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Queer) community; we prayed for our mayor, Peter Kelly, who is an outspoken supporter of the LGBTQs; we prayed for the kids and youth of Halifax who are being taught that homosexuality is okay, are being brought to homosexual promotional events and are being taught "tolerance" in the schools; we prayed for other "Christian" churches in Halifax who are boldly promoting Gay Pride Week; we prayed for Christians who struggle with homosexuality and who are being tempted to fall back into that sin this week; we prayed for boldness for us as Christians to speak out against this evil; we prayed for love and compassion when interacting and praying for homosexuals; we prayed that we would be aware that we are just as much sinners as LGBTQs and that it was only the grace of Christ that saved us; and most importantly, we affirmed that though this seems like something that's simply out of control, our God still reigns and ultimately, He is sovereign

    My dad opened our prayer meeting last night by asking someone to read Psalm 37, a Psalm that they had stumbled upon when they were riled up and getting angrier and angrier about all this debauchery going on in our city. I pray that I will take this to heart and truly act upon it, not just this week, but every minute of every day:

    "Do not be agitated by evildoers; do not envy those who do wrong. For they wither quickly like grass and wilt like tender green plants. Trust in the Lord and do what is good; dwell in the land and live securely. Take delight in the Lord, and He will give you your heart’s desires. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in Him, and He will act, making your righteousness shine like the dawn, your justice like the noonday. Be silent before the Lord and wait expectantly for Him; do not be agitated by one who prospers in his way, by the man who carries out evil plans. Refrain from anger and give up your rage; do not be agitated —it can only bring harm." Psalm 37:1-8

    When You Remove the Shepherd from Psalm 23

    I'm reading a great book right now by Paul E. Miller, entitled "A Praying Life: Connecting with God in a Distracting World." In Chapter 10, I came across a great quote. I encourage you to read this:

    "Our modern secular world has removed the Shepherd from Psalm 23. Look what happens to the psalm when you remove the Good Shepherd and everything He does:
    The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in great pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. (NIV)
    We are left obsessing over our wants in the valley of the shadow of death, paralyzed by fear in the presence of our enemies. No wonder so many are so cynical. With the Good Shepherd gone, we are alone in a world of evil."

    Venting to God

    I don't know about you, but I like to vent. When I'm angry, when I'm sad, when I'm frustrated, when I'm confused. Venting helps me gather my thoughts and put my life into perspective. But venting to people can send you down a dangerous road. Venting to people can easily lead you (and the people you're venting to) into sin. Gossip, slander, malice, frustration. Any of those sound familiar? They're all sins that seem pretty tangible when you head down the venting road.

    So what do we do? The answer is simple: we vent to God. If we have a problem with someone, we don't take it up with other people around us (i.e. friends or family). We take it up with God. God created that person we have a problem with, and He knows them and He loves them. When we have burdens or troubles, it can seem really easy to dump them at someone else's door step. But that's not what the Bible tells us to do in Psalm 55:22: "Cast your burden on the LORD, and he will sustain you." 

    When you have burdens, pent-up anger and troubles, don't take your complaint to your friends and family. As David encourages us in Psalm 142:2, "I pour out my complaint before him [that is, the Lord]; I tell my trouble before him." David pours it all out to the Lord, and we should too.

    That doesn't mean it's right, though. We've got to be careful. Though venting to God is better for us and for others, unrighteous anger, malice, frustration, slander, and any other sins that we commit when venting need to be repented of.

    But don't pour out your complaint to those around you. Pour it out to God.