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When Jesus Prays for You

In John 17, Jesus prays for His disciples before He goes to Calvary. In this prayer, we see that Jesus’ desire is for us to be a “sent” people that live in the world. While we are called to go into the world, Jesus also prays that we would be set apart, distinct, and different from the world. This prayer speaks to a necessary tension we should all feel as believers, which can also create conflict. That’s why Jesus’ prayer ultimately becomes a call to genuinely and actively build into healthy, God-honoring community. This is not just for our sakes, but also for the sake of our effectiveness as Christ followers, for the sake of the world and, of course, for the sake of Jesus who prayed this prayer for us on the night He was betrayed.


New Life // Psalms of Reorientation

There are a lot of ideas and images that come to mind when we hear the word “resurrection.” Many Christians first think of being “saved from death” when thinking about what Jesus accomplished with His resurrection. While this is certainly part of the equation, it is, by no means, the whole of what resurrection means for followers of Christ. Resurrection always includes two movements for believers: being saved from death and being given new life. Eugene Peterson says, “Resurrection does not have to do exclusively with what happens after we are buried or cremated. It does have to do with that, but first of all it has to do with the way we live right now.” Psalm 40 is a Psalm of Reorientation that speaks to the full pattern of resurrection and what it means to embrace the new life God gives us.


New Life // Psalms of Reorientation

There are a lot of ideas and images that come to mind when we hear the word “resurrection.” Many Christians first think of being “saved from death” when thinking about what Jesus accomplished with His resurrection. While this is certainly part of the equation, it is, by no means, the whole of what resurrection means for followers of Christ. Resurrection always includes two movements for believers: being saved from death and being given new life. Eugene Peterson says, “Resurrection does not have to do exclusively with what happens after we are buried or cremated. It does have to do with that, but first of all it has to do with the way we live right now.” Psalm 40 is a Psalm of Reorientation that speaks to the full pattern of resurrection and what it means to embrace the new life God gives us.


Resurrection // Psalms of Reorientation

Easter Sunday is typically a day Christians associate with thoughts of victory, celebration, and light. We do so with good reason because the death and resurrection of Jesus forever changed the trajectory of the human race. However, the full story of the resurrection as it’s given to us in the Gospels is not as flashy as we imagine in our minds. In fact, the Easter story actually begins in darkness rather than light (see Luke 24:1). At first, Jesus’ disciples are afraid and full of doubt and unbelief. The story of Easter is one that ultimately does end with celebration, but it only gets there by going from darkness to light. This is the same movement we see in Psalm 30, a psalm that points to the pattern of resurrection. It reminds us our celebration is not celebration in spite of pain, but celebration based on the fact that God has delivered us through our pain and reorients us to a new, resurrected life.


Persecution // Psalms of Disorientation

This Sunday begins what Christians around the world call “Holy Week.” The death and resurrection of Jesus forever changed the trajectory of the world. Yet, before we jump to Good Friday and Easter Sunday, we must remember the events began a week before on a day now celebrated as Palm Sunday. On Palm Sunday, the crowd in Jerusalem has reached a fever pitch because they are tired of waiting for their redemption from the Romans. They want the revolution to begin and are looking for a messiah to lead their military conquest. They want someone, anyone, to return them to the “glory days of the past” when they were not ruled by a foreign power. Their feelings were similar to the emotions expressed in Psalm 74. This year, by reading Psalm 74 on Palm Sunday, we are remind that longing for a political, earthly kingdom and the glory days of the past can cause us to miss the new work God has for us in this current time and place.


Waiting // Psalms of Disorientation

By this time, Lent is dragging on just a bit for our modern taste. The fact that we are six weeks into this season, yet not quite near the end has us asking, “How long?” Waiting and longing can quickly become a disorienting time for us because we are operating from a finite perspective. Henri Nouwen says, “For many people, waiting is an awful desert between where they are and where they want to go. And people do not like such a place. They want to get out of it by doing something.” The reason waiting is an “awful desert” for us is because it reminds us we are not in control, and we are not God. When we are forced into seasons of waiting, we have a choice: Will we take things into our own hands, or will we trust our circumstances to God?


Glory In Exile

During this Lenten season, we have been studying the Psalms, particularly the ones known as Psalms of Disorientation, psalms that describe periods in our life that leave us lost and confused. The poetic narrative of the Book of Psalms is a sample of the larger story of Scripture that does not hide from the dark moments but in fact, draws our attention for a closer reading of the disorienting episodes of the interactions between God’s people and God’s glory, as if to tell us God’s glory deserves reflection, God’s glory demands attention, and God’s glory might not meet our expectations but could even be present in exile. Like the Psalms, the book of 1 Samuel offers evidence of disorienting moments in the human situation. In moments of victory, as well as occasions leaving us feeling defeated, God’s glory is worth noticing, not neglecting.


Death // Psalms of Disorientation

As we continue focusing on Psalms of Disorientation, our attention is directed this week to the psalms dealing with the subject of death. What is more disorienting than staring your own mortality in the face? Death has been called “the great wrecking ball” of life because it has the ability to destroy everything we’ve built. When we’re confronted with this fact and our own mortality, there are usually two natural responses. Our first response is to try to cling to what life we have left and grip things even tighter. Our second response is usually to see the world operating on a depressing pattern of “life to death.” While these responses are natural, Jesus came to offer us a better, alternative way. Jesus offers hope to the world, and we see seeds of this hope in Psalm 49. In this psalm, we see that understanding death is the key to living life.


Enemies // Psalms of Disorientation

Something we learn early on in life is how difficult and disorienting it can be when we feel betrayed by another person. The story of Cain and Abel in Genesis 4 warns us of the grim reality about life: our brother will, at times, become our mortal enemy. When this happens, particularly when we are innocent, it can be very confusing. This confusion can lead to the desire for vindication, but it also can bring on the thirst for vengeance, as well. Psalm 35 shows us the full range of emotions that accompany unprovoked attacks from our enemies. In a practical way, Psalm 35 also shows Christians what it means to pray for our enemies; thousands of years after the psalm was written, Christ uttered similar words regarding a proper approach toward our enemies. This Psalm of Disorientation ultimately leads us to a place of faith by taking our desire for vengeance and turning it over to God’s care and control.


Depression // Psalms of Disorientation

During Lent this year, Harris Creek is focusing on the theme of the “wilderness” and acknowledging the fact that we all go through disorienting experiences in life. Most people will go through a wilderness period of despair that is less about our external circumstances and more about the state of our soul. For whatever reason, it is very likely that each of us will find ourselves in a dark place internally at some point in our lives. This dark place is generally called “depression.” Depression is disorienting because it seems as though nothing is able to break through the thick cloud hovering over your life. It has also carried with it a stigma within the church for far too long. What we see in Psalm 88 is that depression is not always the result of a spiritual, emotional, or physical problem; we can go through periods of darkness due to living a life of faith with God.