Monday, February 27, 2017

Don't Feed the Trolls
Psalm 64

They hold fast to their evil purpose;
they talk of laying snares secretly,
thinking, “Who can see them?” —Psalm 64:5

 usernames in order to defame and vilify. Surely you've encountered them on Twitter, Facebook, Anyone who uses the internet to communicate has encountered trolls—nasty, profane, cowards that hide behind anonymous accounts and fakeInstagram, Snapchat and other social media.

Trolls, according to Nordic mythology, were wicked, slow-witted dwarves that hid under bridges, harassing travelers, impeding their progress, and exacting a heavy toll from those that passed by. David, in this psalm, is thinking of something similar—assailants that hide in the shadows, “who whet their tongues like swords, who aim bitter words like arrows, shooting from ambush at the blameless, shooting at him suddenly and without fear,” thinking, "who can see (us)." (63:3-6).

But God sees and in time they will be "brought to ruin,” dispatched by their own weapons, “their tongues turned against them” (64:7,8). “What we sow we reap," Paul said with quiet confidence (Galatians 6:5). Evil has within itself the seeds of its own destruction.

So let 'em be. Don't engage with them. To interact with them merely serves their purposes and emboldens them. Ignore them.[1] "Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be rooted up,” Jesus said. “Let them alone." (Matthew 15:13,14 and Hosea 4:17).

David Roper

[1] Parents, teachers, coaches, school administrators and others charged with caring for young people, however, should never ignore bullies.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

"Hey, Soul!"

"My soul is silent before God" (62:1).
"My soul, be silent before God" (62:5).

The verses are similar, but different. In the first verse David says something about his soul; in the second he says something to his soul. The phrase, "is silent" addresses a decision, a settled state of mind. "Be silent" is self-talk, David stirring his soul to remember that decision.

David speaks first of his determination to live in “silence,”—quiet submission to God's will. This is our calling as well, the thing for which we were created. You and I will never be at peace until we've settled this issue: "Not my will but yours be done." This is our first and highest calling as God's children and the source of our deepest pleasure. “I delight to do your will,” the psalmist said (Psalm 40:8). "It's chocolate," the fair Caroline says.

But "the air gets thick in Narnia," so we must "re-up" all through the day, "Hey soul!" We must say again and again, "Be silent (submissive) before the Lord."

That's because God's will is sometimes hard. He asks us to do difficult and dangerous things because they're the right things to do. He calls us to endure hardship without complaining, to love awkward people, to heed the voice inside us that says, "You mustn't," to take steps we'd rather not take. So we must preach to our souls all day long: "Hey soul, listen up. Be silent: Do what Jesus is asking you to do."

We must always ask for God's help, of course, for "our hope is in Him alone" (63:5). When we ask for His help He delivers it, for God never asks us to do anything that He will not or cannot do.

David Roper


Thursday, February 23, 2017

This is War!
Psalm 144

“We’re not yet out of gunshot of the devil” —John Bunyan

Blessed be the LORD, my rock,
who trains my hands for war,
and my fingers for battle. —144:1

Life is war: One skirmish after another. We win a few and we lose a few with fresh battles every day. 

As I look back on my life I must say that youth was a continuous battle to overcome my passions; in my middle years I was besieged by a need to make good. Aging poses a new set of challenges, not the least of which is dealing with losses.

Aging is all about attrition. All the things we’ve spent a lifetime acquiring begin to slip away. Learning to deal with each loss is the spiritual challenge for our last years.

They say that every battle plan is jettisoned in the fog of war. Precision and certainty go out the window. I find myself clueless this morning. A recent loss bewilders me. 

I know no strategy for dealing with this diminishment; no tactic to meet it. I can only entrust myself to God, my rock, who has been faithful through all the years. He must train my fingers for battle and my hands for war.

David Roper


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