Here is another of the devotionals I’ve uploaded to HopeStreamRadio:
I have referred to the book of Proverbs and how we can incorporate the wisdom found there into our times of personal and family devotions and I am sure I will refer to passages from this book in future devotionals as well.
Today, however, I would like to discuss another book of the Bible that is rich in teaching packaged in brief, bite-sized portions, the book of Psalms.
We also recently discussed what so-called proper Christian behaviour looks like and the importance of prioritizing the why rather than the what, the heart condition rather than outward behaviour and appearance.
Hand in hand with strong opinions about how a Christian should dress and act are strong opinions about what Christians should feel—or at least what feelings they should openly express.
How I thank God that He saw to it that the book of Psalms was included in the Scriptures! This book includes the whole gamut of human emotion and many of the psalms were written by King David, referred to in Acts 13:22 as a man after God’s heart. It is my understanding that this flawed, sinful individual is the only one in Scripture referred to in this way.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that we can give full vent to our emotions without taking into account that there are consequences for doing so. Take James 1:20 for instance: “The anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God” (ESV).
There are most certainly consequences to flying off the handle and lashing out in anger—whether verbally or physically.
As I’ve mentioned before, when my children were young, I struggled with anger. Wrath often boiled up and overflowed. I was like a volcano that could not help but erupt. Although, because of God’s mercy and grace, I have great relationships with my three grown children, I know there were times I hurt them emotionally.
Was the anger itself to blame? No, I believe that emotions are benign. In essence, they aren’t positive and negative, good and bad. It’s what we do with them that has a lasting effect. There are those who, despite—or maybe because of—their challenges and heartaches make a lasting godly impression on our lives.
I think of two people I was honoured to know who are now with the Lord. Many years ago, when my youngest was just a baby, I was good friends with a precious lady who developed cancer. The last time I saw her at church, it was as if she was already gone when I looked into her eyes. She could have felt useless, discouraged, resentful—and perhaps she did at times. But the most vivid memory I have, the one that leaves me awestruck, is of her calling me from her sickbed—get this—to ask how I was doing. Can you imagine? This humbles and challenges me every time I think about it.
As does this story of a man I didn’t know near as well . . .
Allan cared more about others than he did himself. Plus, he figured as long as he drew breath, God had plans and purposes for him. Not long after he discovered he had terminal cancer, his telephone rang. Most of us are familiar with telemarketers. Some of us hang up on them. Some of us are impatient and tell them what we think of them trying to solicit our business—or worse, scam us out of money or information. But not this man.
The weight of his prognosis squarely on his shoulders, when asked the obligatory, “How are you?” he responded, “I’ve been better. I’ve just be diagnosed with stage 4 cancer.” I’m sure the caller didn’t have a standard comeback for that response, but what ensued was thoroughly amazing.
No-one would have blamed Allan if he had come to the conclusion that his days of sharing his faith and making the most of every opportunity had come to a close—but no. As I said, he believed that as long as he was drawing breath, he could serve his Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ and make Him known.
It’s my understanding that for the best parts of an hour he shared his faith with this telemarketer. I’m not sure of the results of that conversation in the other man’s life, but I do know that those of us who have heard the story have been challenged not to allow discouragement, fear, and grief to hinder us from living for the Lord.
One of the things about many of the psalms that encourages me is that no matter how discouraged, angry, or outraged the psalmist, his heart turns back to God. He expresses the greatness of the Almighty and his deliberate decision to honour and worship the Lord, no matter what his circumstance.
Will we do the same, no matter what we’re feeling? Will we seek to teach our children that they can honour God even if they feel sad, discouraged—or even angry?
Now it’s time for my ROW80 check-in . . .
Get back to writing fiction
~ signed up for Camp NaNo and will be hosting a private cabin
~ plan to write 50,000 words in July, 10,000 of them fiction
Keep up with writing and recording for HopeStreamRadio
~ written and recorded devotionals for airing up to June 19
~ sure to have lots of new books to review after I attend the writers’ conference at the end of the week
Keep on schedule with work for my clients
~ waiting on two projects that are coming down the pike
Finish prepping to co-lead a Creative Nonfiction Intensive at Write Canada
~ all ready except the review Monday and Tuesday so it’s all fresh in my mind
Finish work on InScribe Christian Writers’ Fellowship anthology
~ got the file to the lady who will be doing the formatting (Woohoo!)
Keep up with my current blogging schedule
~ need to focus on posting regular material to stephbethnickel.com
Clean, organize, and declutter some
I made an itty bitty start and that’s good.
~ walking more
~ plan on adding regular resistance training after the conference
Last but not least . . .
Check in with my fellow ROWers regularly
~ pretty much on track
~ signed up as a sponsor for the next round