First World Problems!

Why does it seem that people in developing countries trust God and praise Him with more passion than people in the western world?

That was the question raised during a recent women’s Bible study on Psalm 33. Asked another way, does possessing more “stuff” dull our desire to worship God with all our heart, soul and strength?

That question reminded me of an article written by Calvin Miller in The Disciplined Life in which he makes 9 drastic suggestions to help westerners who have grown numb and comfortable to increase their appetites for worshiping God.

According to Miller, the following are “nine rather drastic steps wealthy Westerners would have to take to truly identify with the developing world”:

1. Take out the furniture: leave a few old blankets, a kitchen table, maybe a wooden chair. You’ve never had a bed, remember?

2. Throw out your clothes. Each person in the family may keep the oldest suit or dress, a shirt or blouse. The head of the family has the only pair of shoes.

3. All kitchen appliances have vanished. Keep a box of matches, a small bag of flour, some sugar and salt, a handful of onions, a dish of dried beans. Rescue the moldy potatoes from the garbage can: those are tonight’s meal.

4. Dismantle the bathroom, shut off the running water, take out the wiring and the lights and everything that runs by electricity.

5. Take away the house and move the family into the tool shed.

6. No more postman, fireman, government services. The two-classroom school is three miles away, but only two of your seven children attend anyway, and they walk.

7. Throw out your bankbooks, stock certificates, pension plans, insurance policies. You now have a cash hoard of $5.

8. Get out and start cultivating your three acres. Try hard to raise $300 in cash crops because your landlord wants one-third and your moneylender 10 percent.

9. Find some way for your children to bring in a little extra money so you have something to eat most days. But it won’t be enough to keep bodies healthy—so lop off 25 to 30 years of life.

In reality, giving up our stuff is no guarantee that we will draw closer to God. Our relationship with God is not really a matter of what we give up but of who we are devoted to. Still, the growing discomfort I felt when reading each item on this list makes me know there are things that I am more devoted to than the One who provided those things.

Pleasure Seekers

3803641762_0dce488fdaTo many people, the pursuit of pleasure and being fully devoted to God are mutually exclusive endeavors.

If we are truthful we are people who believe that pleasure is found anywhere and everywhere but in God.Yet the testimony of Scripture is that pleasure is found only in pursuing God.

Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart.  Psalm 37:4

I said to the LORD, “You are my Lord; apart from you I have no good thing.” Psalm 16:2

You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore. Psalm 16:11

And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.
Hebrews 11:6

Jon Bloom writes

Pleasure is the meter in your heart that measures how valuable, how precious someone or something is to you. Pleasure is the measure of your treasure. If something sinful gives you pleasure, it’s not a pleasure problem. It’s a treasure problem.

What lesser treasure have you settled for?  What lesser treasure has failed to sustain your happiness and sent you on a search for new pleasure?

Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:4









The Pursuit of Pleasure

fulfillmentThis week our Songs Along the Way class considered Psalm 16.

The Psalmist makes a stunning declaration in verse 2 and verse 11.

For him, maximum joy and pleasure is found in pursuing his relationship with God.  The following Daily Bread devotional develops this thought.

The United States Declaration of Independence says that one of our unalienable rights is “the pursuit of happiness.” I think we would all agree that pleasure, the agreeable reaction of our senses to some stimulus, is a king-size ingredient of happiness. Most people spend much of their leisure time pursuing pleasure in the hope of finding happiness.

Scripture doesn’t say that we shouldn’t enjoy life. Indeed, Paul affirmed that God has given us “richly all things to enjoy”—like food and drink and the ability to sing, laugh, and make music (1 Timothy 6:17).

Paul also warned us that excessive indulgence in God’s good gifts may have a killing effect on our enjoyment of the supremely good. “[The widow] who lives in pleasure,” he wrote, “is dead while she lives” (5:6). And the writer of Ecclesiastes learned that pleasure cannot satisfy (Ecclesiastes 2:1).

Anyone who makes pleasure the main goal of life becomes desensitized to earth’s greatest delight—fellowship with God—which is also the abiding joy of heaven. As David wrote in Psalm 16:11, “In Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” No pleasure can rival that of fellowship with God—a pleasure that is a foretaste of heaven.

A wonderful Savior is Jesus my Lord,
A wonderful Savior to me;
He hideth my soul in the cleft of the rock,
Where rivers of pleasure I see. —Crosby

Fellowship with Christ is the secret of happiness now and forever.

Like A Tree–Psalm 1

Tree by the river 28jun08In week one of “Songs Along the Way” we considered how Psalm 1 contrasts the “two ways” of life. 

The way of the wise was described as a tree planted by a stream.  The way of the wicked described as chaff being blown away by the wind.

Here is a song setting of Psalm 1 by Justin Rizzo.  He clearly meditated on the words of this Psalm and is not afraid of repetition! Repetition is a learning strategy that helps us remember.

Psalms–Songs Along the Way

Psalms Study

Kathleen Buswell Nielson believes that our basic problem in Bible studies is that we have forgotten how to read.  We are often in too much of a hurry and want to rush into the Bible–grab some ready wrapped truth like we grab a fast food meal. 

“We’ve disowned that process of careful reading . . . observing the words . . . seeing the shape of a book and a passage . . . asking questions that take us into the text rather than away from it . . . digging into the Word and letting it speak! Through such a process, guided by the Spirit, the Word of God truly feeds our souls. Here’s my prayer: that, by means of these studies, people would be further enabled to read the Scriptures profitably and thereby find life and nourishment in them, as we are each meant to do.”

A group of dedicated women will begin a journey into the Psalms beginning May 10th.  Using Kathleen’s clear, concise questions we will engage personally with the Scripture and then come together to discuss and learn more together.

May God reveal Himself to each of us as we seek Him in His Word!