Thursday, February 19, 2009

Developing An Appreciation For The Psalms

I don't like the Psalms.

It's no secret.

Really, though, I'm not a huge fan of...well, basically, the entire second half of the Old Testament.
You see, I'm very much NOT a creative person--I'm so left-brained it's ridiculous. It's not so much that I dislike the Old Testament. It's just that I don't enjoy poetry, in general. I've always felt this way, all the way through school--give me the chronological, historical facts all day long, thank you, but don't make me go through the artistic, poetic stuff--my eyes just automatically tend to glaze over sometimes. The Bible is no exception. Give me the history in the Books of Moses, Joshua, Judges, Samuels, Kings, & Chronicles all day long, thank you. But don't make me go through all those poetry and prophecy books--my eyes just might accidentally glaze over.

Seriously...they're normally hard for me to study. I started reading Isaiah in January...as kind of a New Year's Resolution to read through and study the prophets this year. People read through the whole Bible in a year...surely I can make myself study the Old Testament prophets in a year, right?

It's kind of odd for me to say all of this, really, considering the fact that the verse that is my blog header above is from the Psalms.

HOWEVER...

I've taken a step towards overcoming this obstacle in the way I view scripture. I started attending a ladies' Bible study at my church on Monday evenings, which is currently studying Beth Moore's "Stepping Up...A Journey Through the Psalms of Ascent." When I was working through the very first day's lesson in the workbook, I discovered a way to be more moved by the Psalms.

You see, all though I don't enjoy poetry, I absolutely LOVE music! I'm a 100% bonafide band nerd who played all the way through college and loved every minute of it. Music speaks to me like nothing else. And after all, isn't that what the Psalms were intended to be....MUSIC! This was not necessarily a new discovery to me. It was just something perhaps I didn't realize the extent to which it was touching me already. In the activity at the end of the first day's lesson, Beth asks us to just skim through the Psalms and write down some words to describe the Psalmists feelings when approaching God. I very randomly flipped through my Bible, stopping and just taking in whatever happened to be on the page in front of me. Of the five verses that I turned to, THREE of them are songs that I've heard/sung before to music!

"The Lord Is My Shepherd" (Psalm 23)..."Your Love, Oh Lord" by Third Day (Psalm 36)..."Give Thanks To The Lord" (Psalm 136)...

But even on a second look at those 5 verses just now, a fourth one, Psalm 83 reminds me of an Acappella song, "Your Love Is Better Than Life". Even Ps. 121...one of our main Psalms of Ascent that we're looking at...the first two lines of it are in the Casting Crowns song, "Praise You In This Storm". I'm just realizing how MANY of my favorite songs are Psalms...straight from scripture!!! I've always been fond of songs that are pure Scripture...whether Psalms or not. I know a couple of cute little songs for both Gal. 2:20 and Phil. 3:10. LOVE the Mac Powell (and friends) song "By His Wounds" from Isaiah 53. "The Steadfast Love of the Lord" (Lam. 3) "Teach Me, Lord, To Wait" (Is. 40). Just to name a few. But then you dig into the Psalms for some songs that are common, or songs that I love...older ones like "Hallelujah, Praise Jehovah!" (Ps. 148)...or newer ones like "Create in Me a Clean Heart" (Ps. 51). "Come Let Us Sing" AND "Come, Let Us Worship and Bow Down" (BOTH from Ps. 95). "Thy Word (Ps. 119). "Psalm 40" by NewSong (Ps. 40, of course!). "As the Deer" (Ps. 42). "Better Is One Day" (Ps. 84). Even my verse up at the top here from Psalm 19--yep, you guessed it, there's a song for that! Folks, I could go on and on!

So it's as though I've been hit anew by a ton of bricks by this not so new realization last week. Imagine my excitement to go into the Beth Moore study for a video session this past Monday evening...and our entire topic that evening was focusing on the Psalms as songs!!! She made some very relevant points, that reminded me of just why I love music so much, and perhaps of how I can manage to get a little bit more out of the Psalms!
1. Song originated with God and accompanied creation. (Job. 38:7)
2. In Scripture, singing is attributed to both God the Father and Christ the Son (Zeph. 3:17; Matt. 26:30; Heb. 2:10-12)
3. Emotions and experiences can be expressed through song in ways that spoken words can never satisfy.
4. A song greatly enhances the ability of the human mind to memorize (Deut. 31:19-22)
5. We can think a song is beautiful and memorize its words yet remain completely unaffected by what it says. Consider the relevance of Paul's words in I Cor. 14:15 in this present context: "I will sing with my spirit, but I will also sing with my mind."
6. A song can change our entire perspective (Acts 16:24-26)
7. A song can also greatly affect the heart of God
8. In ways beyond our comprehension, the gift of song is not limited to humans and angels. (Rev. 5:13; Luke 19:39-40; Ps. 150)

It's been an incredible week, for me to study through some of the Psalms this week and be reminded why I love so many of the songs that I do...because they are His inspired Word.

Perhaps I don't dislike the Psalms as much as I thought, after all...

Monday, February 9, 2009

For the Fans...

About a week or so ago, I was told that "the fans were clamoring" for a new post from me.

I guess, more accurately, that would be "fan", singular. So for my dear friend, Ellen, here goes...

I've not written on here for awhile, mostly because I've been pretty busy since the beginning of the year. But, believe it or not, I've been wanting to catch up over here...so there's quite a bit to review over the past month or so.

I guess, first of all, with the coming of the new year, and a fresh beginning, is a chance to review the previous year's resolutions (or in my case, the ANTI-resolutions from last year!) You can find them here.

As for #1, I think I've strengthened my prayer life, at least a little bit. Unfortunately, I failed miserably at the possiblity of writing a prayer journal. Maybe I'll try that one again this year. Maybe not.

My #2 is fabulous! Although I still get nervous, I've truly LOVED every opportunity our singles group has had to host blood drives. The only time I didn't get to donate last year was in October. I sat in the room all morning watching/assisting others with their donating. I left for about 45 minutes to go to lunch, and when I came back, the nurses had already started taking everything down! :(

I'm still working on #3. Have had a couple of trims which, unfortunately, were a little bit more than I expected. So now, I'm hoping it'll be long enough by the end of THIS summer. We'll see.

#4--Wow. That's a big one for me. One that I've worked on for quite some time, and have gradually gotten a little bit better. But it wasn't until THIS year that I actually started going to Celebration, which is a singing class at our church on Sunday afternoons, where our worship minister gives out sheet music to some of the newer songs and teaches them! It is surprisingly fun, and I love it! It helps. As I've told a couple of others who have asked me about it, for someone who doesn't sing, it is relatively painless! :)

My #5 is one that I did okay on...for a little while. But it fizzled out in the end. I think I stopped sometime in September or October. But I've taken it up again, as kind of a New Year's resolution for 2009. So we'll see how it goes this year.

Number 6 was a piece of cake! I absolutely did not step on a scale at all last year. And when I got back on one on January 1, 2009--it was EXACTLY THE SAME as it had been the previous year.

I'm also desperately working on #7. I've discovered that I'm such an emotional/sentimental pack-rat. I've gone through the boxes in my closet, only to find little trinkets from a bunch of the trips that I took when I was in college. I can't think of any reason to keep these things, except for once every two years when I go through my closet, I can say, "Oh yeah, this was from the time I was in..." and then put it back in the box. So I'm gonna see what I can do about getting rid of some of that stuff. Here's another one that I just can't seem to throw away--church bulletins. "Hi, my name is Lacey, and I'm a bulletin hoarder..." I've got a drawer in my bedroom...every month or two, I will clean out my Bible and put the new bulletins in there. I don't have one for EVERY week, because we don't mail out our bulletin every week, so I don't have one for the weeks that I'm not there. (But if I really wanted to be OCD about it, I could go to our website and print out the ones I don't have!) But, seriously...I've got a stack of MOST of my church's bulletins from Feb. 2006 until now. I'm not sure why. But I'm not ready to throw them away either.

Finally, for #8--that's a hard one to measure. It's always a constant goal of mine to focus more and more on the things He would have me to, rather than on things of this world that don't really matter. I pray I can continue that in 2009.

That's all I'll bore you with for now.

Thanks for reading, and much love.