“Why, O My Soul, Are You sorrowing?” The Story Behind Psalm 43 in Timeless

This is the second in the series of stories behind some of the songs from Timeless: Ancient Psalms for the Church Today Psalter/Commentary. It was written by Gary Pendergrass of Greenville, Texas, and is a gripping story of how a lament psalm ministered to him during his son’s near fatal cardiac arrest in the hospital.   … [Read more...]

“My God and King” and the Beginning of the Timeless Psalter/Commentary Project

My next several blog posts will be stories behind some of the songs from Timeless: Ancient Psalms for the Church Today Psalter/Commentary series. Timeless is a commentary set of all new translations and commentaries on the psalms by established Old Testament scholars for the layperson. Timeless also includes 2–3 new musical settings following each psalm to enhance worship and reflection, study and devotion. Timeless books may be purchased through acupressbooks.com, Amazon.com, or timelesspsalter.com. Professionally recorded CDs and booklets of the music may be purchased through CDBaby.com and timelesspsalter.com … [Read more...]

Grace and Peace: Remembering the Kingdom Work of David Worley

Grace and Peace: Essays in Memory of David Worley is a compilation of biographical essays honoring the life of a remarkable man. A man, that I must admit, I did not know before reading this commemorative work. Edited by Thomas H. Olbricht and Stan Reid, this compilation was penned by 18 very different authors – all of whom knew David well. An honest and intimate look at one man’s life, this book is a collection of memories to be preserved and passed on for the benefit of those who grieve him now, as well as those who never knew him. As the back cover indicates, “David Worley was an extraordinary man of many talents and interests.” In reading … [Read more...]

The Struggle is the Glory: Trials, Travails, and the Astros

//  On November 1, 2017, it was all worth it. The struggling, the long-suffering, the disappointment of the many years all made this moment sweeter. I was suddenly aware that I was glad for the struggle. Glad for the broken TV remotes, for the moments of absolute heartbreak. I savored the hurt now in light of the glory. I suppose I should explain what I’m talking about: I grew up in Houston. That’s probably enough for you to understand what I’m getting at, but I’ll explain for those of you who grew up in, say, Dallas, or Pittsburgh. This means the sports teams I’d loved my whole life specialized in tearing my heart out. Oh, the … [Read more...]

Edelweiss, Rosmarie von Trapp, and tel Tamar

I was six years old when Rodgers and Hammerstein’s musical “The Sound of Music” was first performed on Broadway in 1959, starring Mary Martin. I was a few years older when the movie, starring Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer, came out in 1965. “The Sound of Music” is the musical adaptation of the story of the von Trapp family singers, who escaped from Austria after the Nazi invasion in 1938. “The Sound of Music” has gone on to become one of the most beloved musicals in American theatrical history. Fast forward to 2004, at the Israeli community of En Hazeva in the Negev Desert, at the juncture of hwy. 90, the Eilat highway, and 227, that … [Read more...]

Blessed with Nothing: The Rich Young Man in Matthew 19:16-30

  The story of the rich young man in Matthew 19 has often been appropriated for the church in a moralistic way. It generally goes something like this: We each have our own thing—something that has become, perhaps, an idol. The thing for this rich young man that blocked him from eternal life was his material wealth. This got in the way of truly loving his neighbor. What is that thing for you, which you need to give up? Mine is coffee and Oreos (not at the same time). There, I said it. That’s not a terrible application. It is certainly something worth reflecting upon. But I think there is more to this story than … [Read more...]

Calamity and Creation: Does God Cause Disasters?

Deep calls to deep at the roar of your waterfalls; all your breakers and your waves have gone over me. (Psalm 42:7 ESV)   When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him? (Psalm 8:3–4 ESV)   This dispatch is offered as a meditation on the two psalm verses quoted above (honest!). A bit like Pascal, though, I didn’t have time to write a short blog post, so I had to write this long one instead. The headlines that have greeted us as August has yielded to September … [Read more...]

In the Face of Death: The Meaning of “Faith” in Christian life

My grandmother, Juanita Saxon, went to sleep in the Lord in May of this year. She passed after a long, strenuous battle with congestive heart failure (and other ailments). My grandmother was (as was my grandfather, “Pop”), to me, the very picture of Christian faithfulness. By her last breath she had fully formed her life into the image of her Lord, sharing in his passion in her own (as must we all), and finding herself finally to be alive and ready to be at rest in him. I was with her during the time of her passion, with my family. Seeing her suffer and then pass into her rest has been the cause for much reflection for me. Perhaps most … [Read more...]

What I learned from my heart attack

When one has a massive heart attack, it tends to “concentrate his mind wonderfully,” to misquote Samuel Johnson. The following is my text message correspondence with a good friend and minister, Randy Daw, soon after a heart attack I experienced on April 13, 2017. I had no advance warning before the heart attack, but such a surprising turn of events can result in re-prioritizing and re-focusing on what is truly important. I offer this as one person’s attempt to grapple with mortality, faith, and focus in light of unexpected reversals in health. … [Read more...]

Confessions of a Smartphone User

Well, it happened.  I am now the reluctant and mostly unwilling owner of a portable, Orwellian telescreen, or, as most people call it, a smartphone.  In view of the 10th anniversary of the iPhone, and for cathartic ends, I will now engage in the jeremiad that I have effectively deferred for the last few years.  Caveat lector: if imprecation and lament are not your thing, do not read any further. There have been a few memorable moments over the years that have irreversibly affected my opinion of cellphones.  In 1993, when I was 16 years old, I worked part time at the A&W inside Town East Mall in Mesquite, … [Read more...]