Discussing Third Place Ideas

Thoughts from Psalm 11

Absolute Trust

In the LORD put I my trust: how say ye to my soul, Flee as a bird to your mountain? “ – Psalm 11:1

The impulse to flee is one of two that we face in any crisis situation. Fight and flight are the two extremes that confront humans. But there is a third option that occupies the seat of grace – it is to flow and to let God’s grace flow through you as you flow with the circumstances of life. Flowing does not require denial of danger. It acknowledges the truth of the situation, but embraces a greater truth in the mix of reality. It is the truth of God’s presence, His power, and His love. It is the truth that in Him we have a sturdy and steady refuge from danger. In God’s mercy, we neither run to the mountains to avoid potential pain nor stand to fight our battles ourselves alone. The life of faith is a journey of trust and balance. Find your refuge in God today.

For, lo, the wicked bend their bow, they make ready their arrow upon the string, that they may privily shoot at the upright in heart. “ - Psalm 11:2

Wickedness lives in the midst of dark shadows. It attacks without warning and without rules of engagement. The snipers of sin and temptation align with the forces of discouragement, bitterness, despondency, and cynicism to derail our growth in grace and righteousness. Satan would have us flee to the hills and abandon our God-given assignments. Or he would be equally pleased if we would take the battle in our own strength and suffer defeat at his hand. God calls us to take refuge in Him. His is the battle; He is our protector, defender, and friend. Do not be discouraged, dismayed, or shocked by the sinister conniving of evil. Satan is an accuser and liar and hides in darkness. Bring every thought, motive, and deed to the light. Allow every memory that pains the heart to come into the brilliance of God’s grace. Then we can speak as forthrightly and with the same matter-of-factness as the psalmist. Then we can bring these matters that once caused us to tremble before a God who already knows and cares. Then we can take refuge in Him.

Foundations: Faulty and Sure

If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do? “ – Psalm 11:3

Who has not expressed such a lament in the recesses of a discouraged heart?  If indeed, the foundations are destroyed, there is not much the righteous can do. The righteous person depends upon foundations to stand under the weight of external conflict and internal stress. There are values and beliefs in which we invest ourselves. We call them ultimate and we hang our lives upon them. There are irreducible standards that we set for our families, our communities, and ourselves. When these are threatened, we are flung into chaos and spasmodic reaction. We cry out to God in utter desperation and confusion. “God,” we cry, “ is there nothing that is sacred, nothing that is permanent, nothing that cannot be destroyed by the forces that afflict with without and within?” And God answers us that what we thought were the foundations were only part of the extended structure of our lives, that He is our true foundation and He will never be shaken. Paul concluded that no other foundation can be laid than that which is laid: Jesus Christ (I Cor. 3:” – Psalm 11). Anything else can be destroyed, but the believer whose life is planted in Jesus Christ cannot be toppled. Trust Him in the midst of the quaking of the earth and the battering of the storm.

The LORD is in his holy temple, the LORD’s throne is in heaven: his eyes behold, his eyelids try, the children of men. “ – Psalm 11:4

When the foundations are seemingly being destroyed, God remains securely seated in His holy temple and rules from His throne. There is no interruption in His reign, no pause in His oversight, and no cause for concern by His subjects. He is the true foundation that cannot be shaken. He is our refuge. He is our sure protection in times of trouble. Nothing escapes His constant attention. When, in the bleakest moments, all that is right appears vanquished, He speaks and the frayed strands of time and space come into their proper order. We are not a patient people. We are easily stirred from our strident faith. We become disturbed by the news, by prognosticating commentaries on our times, and by our own emotions. We gaze into our problems with such intensity that we, for a moment, lose sight of God on His throne. But He is there. He has not moved. He will not be displaced, replaced, or ultimately ignored. The greatest relevance in the universe is that God is active and alive in His Holy temple supervising and involved in the affairs of men and women. Tune your hearts to that reality today and live in joyful confidence in God.

God is watching. There is a popular song that announces that truth but distorts it with the words, “from a distance.” That is only half-true. There will always be a distance between God and man because He is God and we are men – but that is a distance of essential nature that Jesus bridged and brought us into intimate fellowship with the Father. Even those who do not know Him are known by Him for He is as imminent as He is transcendent.  Some envision a God so far away that He requires a telescope to observe us, but it is with His eye that He watches and nothing escapes His notice. He examines us with such divine scrutiny that all is known, even that which our hearts cannot acknowledge in awareness. Knowing that God knows frees us in prayer to be absolutely honest. It liberates us from the limitations of language to open ourselves to Him. He knows every circumstance and every deed done in darkness or in light. He has all the information and, in His wisdom, is the only true and reliable interpreter of history and current events. It would behoove us to withhold judgment until He speaks in a matter for we see only within a thin spectrum of all that is. He sees all. Understand that as you meet Him in prayer today.

The God Who Sees

The LORD trieth the righteous: but the wicked and him that loveth violence his soul hateth. “ – Psalm 11:5

Does this bother you? Are you disturbed by the psalmist’s assertion that there are people who God’s soul hates? Let me ask you this: at your best, how do you feel about that part of you that loves wickedness and violence? Do you not repudiate that false self within you in order to embrace the Christ-life which is the truth about who you are and who God made you to be? Doesn’t God know that the false self within you wars against the true you that He loves passionately and sacrificially? We must embrace this paradox in our understanding of God if we are to fully appreciate His love. It is love that produces this level of hate because it is wickedness and violence that destroy those made in the Father’s image. He despises that which destroys what He loves. Ask Him for a special grace today to hate within you that which destroys you and your relationship with Him and know that His love for you is so deep and strong that He will fight for you against all wickedness and violence.

Upon the wicked he shall rain snares, fire and brimstone, and an horrible tempest: this shall be the portion of their cup. “ – Psalm 11:6

There is another dimension of this hate that God has for the wickedly violent: judgment. When we try to assign human emotion to God it is called “anthropomorphism.” That is a complicated word that means any attempt to understand something other than a human being by human standards. God’s hate is not man’s hate. Man expresses arbitrary hatred based upon emotional considerations (or lack thereof). God’s anger is against anything that goes against Him and it is expressed in wrath and judgment. Even that is paradoxical for He is, at the same time, actively and lovingly reaching out to the individual who is embroiled in sin and rebellion. He judges the sin and the sinner while sending His Son to take the penalty upon Himself and pleading for all to come to repentance. When we would understand the horror of the wrath of God, physical descriptions are required to impress upon us how awful it is to come under His judgment. The reality is more horrible. To go against God is to place ourselves in the concentrated path of all the evil He is flushing out of a sinful world to fashion His Kingdom. Take this truth and embrace it. In Christ, you are not under judgment. Cheer for the triumph of God’s will and invite all that will hear to come into His merciful grace. Pray for the victory of truth, righteousness, and holiness in your own life and in the life of your community.

The God Who Loves Righteousness

“For the righteous LORD loveth righteousness; his countenance doth behold the upright. “ – Psalm 11:7

God is righteous. That means that everything about Him is fully integrated into His holy character – He is 100% pure truth, love, goodness, and holiness. There are no contradictions in God – except those that we contrive in our own misunderstanding of Him. He loves justice. His heart delights in seeing things set aright. He loves consistency in our lives. He takes joy when His truth is integrated into the loose dimensions of our lives and we come into right relationship with Him. There is a promise in this verse, that the upright will see His face. What a glorious affirmation! The more we seek Him, the more our hearts are changed by His power within us and the clearer our vision of Who He is becomes. We can see God. His grace in Jesus Christ removes the scales from our eyes so that we may have a glimpse in this life and the hope of full disclosure in the life to come. Let that truth sink into the pores of your being today and celebrate it as you walk through the maze of confusing messages and distorted truth. You can see God.