Monday, February 25, 2013

Journaling Psalm 51 Part 3

Psalm 51 is David’s repentance for his many sins including adultery and murder. He was a man after God’s own heart yet a sinner – saved by grace. Join me on this solemn and blessed journey of prayer, confession and repentance.

Psalm 51:7-9 NLT
Purify me from my sins, and I will be clean;
wash me and I will be whiter than snow.
Oh, give me back my joy again;
you have broken me – now let me rejoice.
Don’t keep looking at my sins.
Remove the stain of my guilt.

Dear Father,
Purify me from my sins, and I will be clean; wash me and I will be whiter than snow.
You washed the disciples’ feet to show us we are to serve others and be humble, not puffed up. I’ve also been washed by baptism and with tears of repentance. But only you can wash me whiter than snow and cover all my black spots and you did this with your blood. I thank you and praise you for this. What an awesome God you are. 

Oh, give me back my joy again; you have broken me – now let me rejoice.
You “broke” me as I surrendered to your call and went out on a limb – or jumped off a cliff to do what seemed to be your will for me. You have given me back my joy at a number of crisis or change points over the years. The change in my attitudes is amazing. I’m calmer, more at peace, more confident (in you), kinder and I see my sins quickly and repent and make amends. (I hope this is true, I’m a work in progress, I know.) Now I am rejoicing. Hold me close in your love, your joy and your peace.

Don’t keep looking at my sins. Remove the stain of my guilt.
I am tired of looking at my sins but I know it helps me grow closer to you and that you are gently showing me my sins. Last night was very difficult as I got angry and hurt when M was quiet, distant and didn’t hear me. I struggled and prayed and didn’t want to sin in my anger. I couldn’t let it go so I asked to talk with M. This helped some but we talked again later and I spoke the truth in love to M. Forgive the irrational anger that I did express. I know I need to work out all this inner pain. I give it all to you and know you will help both M and I through this struggle. M in fact, felt we had a break through last night. Another sin I realized yesterday helped me be a kinder person. I was going to eat all the left over popcorn before M got back with the mail – until I realized how self-centered this was and I fixed him a bowl. So I guess I’ll ask you to keep showing me my sins I’m not aware of and help me change. Show me how to walk in your light, even when raw from inner pain.

Blessings, Dottie

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Journaling Psalm 51 Part 2

Psalm 51 is David’s repentance for his many sins including adultery and murder. He was a man after God’s own heart yet a sinner – saved by grace. Join me for part 2 of this solemn and blessed journey of prayer, confession and repentance. 

Psalm 51:3-6 NLT
For I recognize my shameful deeds –
 they haunt me day and night.
Against you and you alone, have I sinned.
I have done what is evil in your sight.
You will be proved right in what you say,
and your judgment against me is just.
For I was born a sinner—
yes, from the moment my mother conceived me.
But you desire honesty from the heart,
so you can teach me to be wise in my inmost being.

I recognize my shameful deeds – they haunt me day and night. I recognize my shameful deeds - leaving you for decades and as a result, not raising my children to know and love you, not raising them in church. These sins haunt me day and night. I’m learning that sleepless nights often point to other shameful deeds I’ve denied. Lord, reveal my shameful deeds to me. Guard my mouth especially so I can be angry but not sin and so I will discern gossip before I say it or hear it. Help me see my distorted, self-centered and prideful motives. I thank you that you forgive my sins.

Against you, and you alone, have I sinned. I have done what is evil in your sight.
Against you I have sinned over and over. I have sinned by drifting away from you for decades and forgetting your love and your Word and your church. Even now that I’m back I forget you or drift away without realizing it. Some times I want to sit on the throne. I’d rather “practice the presence of self.” I become angry and rebellious. Some times I don’t understand what has broken my strong connection with you. Help me learn to abide in you always. I’m thankful you always run to meet me when I’m heading toward you. I know when I hurt M (or others) it hurts you also. I don’t like to think about this.

After more than 20 years of allowing you to change me I’m still like an immature child – wanting my way, wanting what I want when I want it. I’m so full of pride. Lord, change me. I know I’m made in your image and that you live in me. Without you, I will continue to mess up. I ask your forgiveness for all these sins: self-centeredness, impatience and pride. I want to turn away from these and become a new creation in Christ. I accept your forgiveness and pray you will fill me with your Holy Spirit today and every day.

Father God, You will be proved right in what you say and your judgment against me is just. For I was born a sinner – yes, from the moment my mother conceived me. You have been more than just with me. I repeatedly drift away from spending time with you. Reading Romans 8 yesterday and your offer to adopt me as your child, to be mother and father to me, made me cry. Help me keep you on the throne of my heart today and help me practice your presence.

Father, You desire honesty from the heart, so you can teach me to be wise in my inmost being. I know you desire honesty from the heart and I don't always give this to you. Forgive me. I know I escape much struggle and pain if I let you search my heart, if I listen to you and face/confess my sin daily. Thank you for the road you’ve led me on recently – a road that required surrender and honesty yet leads to a closer walk with you, and will bring you glory. Forgive my self-consciousness and nervousness in being transparent with others. I know this will become easier and you know it stretches me right now. 

Teach me to be wise in my inmost being - my unconscious? My spirit? My soul? – all of these! I know this will only happen as I let you lead me and as I am honest and open with you and with myself. Help me in this Lord, I’m willing – yet I know I resist and stray from you. Help me see myself as you do. Help me stand naked before you. 

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Journaling Psalm 51

Psalm 51 is David’s Psalm of repentance for his many sins including adultery and murder. He was a man after God’s own heart yet a sinner – saved by grace. Lent is a call to prayer, confession and repentance. I plan to journal on Psalm 51, dividing the Psalm into six sections which will be posted once a week through Lent. Join me on this solemn and blessed journey.

Psalm 51:1-2 NLT
Have mercy on me, O God,
because of your unfailing love.
Because of your great compassion,
blot out the stain of my sins.
Wash me clean from my guilt.
Purify me from my sin.

Have mercy on me, O God, because of your unfailing love. You have shown me so much mercy. You have forgiven all my sins – even my rebellion — willfully turning away from you. I ignored you for decades and you took me back. I continue to sin and you always forgive me. Yesterday I spurted anger at M about a minor issue. You forgave me when I asked (and so did he). Your mercy never ends. Your love is unfailing, beyond comprehension. You love without conditions. Forgive me for not living as though I believed this. This is obvious in my need to control things rather than trust you. Help me trust you.

Because of your great compassion, blot out the stain of my sins. Your compassion has no bounds and we who receive it do not merit it. It is unmerited favor – truly Amazing Grace from the God of the universe. Your compassion is so huge you gave your Son to suffer and die for me. Your compassion is so unending that it is with me every moment of every day if I will just see it. Open the eyes of my heart and remove the spiritual cataracts from them. Blot out the stain of my sins. I want to be one with you yet my sin keeps me from you. I continue to put myself on the throne. I flare with anger and irritation. I gossip. I entertain worry thoughts. I’m fearful. I’m critical of others. I confess again these sins and ask your forgiveness.

Wash me clean from my guilt. Purify me from my sin. You blot out the stain of my sins. You accept me as I am and call me to listen to you, lean on you, and follow you. Purify my heart in the consuming fire of your love. You have washed me clean of my guilt – with your blood. “What can take away my sin? Nothing but the blood of Jesus” sings in my soul. These words are true. Thank you for the hope I have in you. 

Blessings, Dottie 

Friday, February 15, 2013

Books to Deepen Your Faith

Here are three books I highly recommend to read any time. They are especially suited to deepening your faith throughout Lent.

Perfect Trust 
Perfect Trust by Charles Swindoll is a small but powerful book. Its size belies the profound wisdom it contains. This is a great little book to use devotionally to increase trust in God. It can be given as a small gift. There are memorable quotes throughout. One of my favorite is “When God says no it’s not necessarily discipline or rejection. It may simply be redirection.” This little book is a gem.

Seeing and Savoring Jesus Christ 

Seeing and Savoring Jesus Christ by John Piper is a beautifully written, profound and inspiring book that asks who was Jesus Christ? John Piper answers this question in chapters describing Jesus’ ultimate aim, deity, excellence, gladness, power, and wisdom. These are followed by chapters on his desecration, anguish, saving sacrifice, mercies, severity, resurrection and second coming. Each chapter brings new insight into the character of Jesus, with biblical references. Here are a couple of samples:

Jesus “knows all people thoroughly, our hearts and our thoughts….There is no one who perplexes Jesus. No thought or action is unintelligible to him. He knows its origin and end. The most convoluted psychotic and the most abstruse genius are open and laid bare to his understanding. He understands every motion of every mind.” Pg. 52

What God has made is like a toy compared to the complexity and depth of who God is. All the sciences that scratch the surface of the created universe are mere ABCs compared to Christ’s exhaustive knowledge of the created universe. Pg. 54-55

The chapter titled The Tough Side describes the severity of Jesus. Piper says “It is often the offensive side of Jesus that we most need.” This chapter alone is worth the price of the book.

King’s Cross 

Timothy Keller in King’s Cross gives a profound, detailed and inspiring account of the Gospel of Mark. In Part 1 Keller offers an exposition of the first eight chapters of Mark demonstrating the Kingship of Jesus and in the process exposing our sinfulness. In Part 2 Keller shows that the purpose of Jesus is to die on the Cross. He tells this to the disciples over and over but they don’t get it. This section of the book is an exposition of the book of Mark from the Transfiguration to the Cross and the Resurrection. Keller unearths many beautiful gems of Truth throughout the book. This is an insightful book to read and reread. It convicts us of sin, reveals a more complete picture of Jesus, humbles us before our Lord and Savior who died for us, and cements the reality of the Resurrection. 

These are excellent books to read during Lent. They will inform you, inspire you and deepen your faith.

Blessings, Dottie

Thursday, February 14, 2013


For God so loVed the world,
       That He gAve
             His onLy
                       That whosoever
        Believeth In Him
          Should Not perish,
       But have Everlasting life.
                 John 3:16

Blessings, Dottie

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Valuing Ash Wednesday

Today is Ash Wednesday, a special day celebrated in many Christian churches. Ash Wednesday is the first day of Lent, the beginning of the 40 week days before Easter. Lent is observed in many Christian churches as a period of prayer, fasting, confession, repentance, and self-denial. It echoes the 40 days in the wilderness Jesus spent fasting and overcoming temptation. It also assists Christians in focusing on Jesus resolute journey leading to his crucifixion and resurrection. We learn to identify with his unwavering obedience. We recognize the price he paid for us.

Our faith journey, described in Changing Churches, began in a United Methodist Church - a church that observes Ash Wednesday. Throughout our years there, Ash Wednesday marked the beginning of a solemn and holy time of reflection. While searching for a church in 2008 we attended an Ash Wednesday service at another Methodist Church. I noted in my journal:
We sang six verses of "Just As I Am" and "There is a Fountain Filled with Blood." The hymns, responsive readings, confession, and pastor's message, touched and filled us. We received ashes in the shape of the cross on our foreheads and took Communion - opening and recommitting ourselves to Him. What a sacred event!

Prayer Journaling
In 2004 the teacher of my ladies Bible class mentioned journaling Psalm 51 (about David's sin), one phrase at a time, for the forty days of Lent. This proved to be a sobering but valuable exercise. 
Christians must change and grow in order to build up the church. We must face our own sin and repent. The next forty days are a good time to focus on this in prayer.

Understanding the Church Calendar
For those not in a liturgical church, Mark Galli's explanation from his book Beyond Smells and Bells, may help you appreciate the emphasis on the church calendar. He writes:
The church calendar aims at nothing less than to change the way we experience time and perceive reality. . . . Advent signals the new year. For the church, the annual rhythm is not winter, spring, summer and fall, but Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, Easter and Pentecost. . . . The church calendar is not about the cycle of life - school or sports or harvest time - but about the movement of history toward a glorious goal. We celebrate the past events of history not merely to remember them, but note how they infuse the present with meaning and power, and point us to our future hope.

Let this be a Holy season for all Christians to ponder and pray and deepen our faith.
Blessings, Dottie

Wednesday, February 6, 2013


Q. My husband gets angry very easily. We have a good marriage except when this happens. During the early years I was afraid of his anger and so I avoided confrontations. Later I began yelling back because I was tired of giving in and tired of being misunderstood. But this just made things worse. Now I'm tired of fighting but don't know what else to do. What should I do when my husband loses his temper? What will defuse anger in marriage?

How to Defuse Anger in Marriage
There are several steps you can take to defuse anger in marriage:

1. Ignore the bluster, blame and criticism. Think of these as bait used to start a fight. Don’t take the bait. His anger, accusations or criticisms may conceal the actual reason for his anger. Ignoring the bluster, remaining calm and rational will help quiet things down and will help you find out what’s upsetting him. Ignoring your husband’s blame or criticism doesn’t mean you agree with what he is saying. Though your husband’s anger may come out in blame or attacks on you he may actually be very angry with himself. People who are hard on those closest to them are often even harder on themselves.
2. Calm down and talk. You may be able to reduce the level of your husband's anger by insisting that it is preventing you from understanding and helping with the problem. You might say, "I know you're angry. Let's sit down and talk about it." Be persistent yet calm and friendly. Repeat this several times if necessary. You might also suggest discussing it later when he isn't so angry. Set a time for this and follow through.
3. Focus on solving the immediate problem. If you remain calm yet persistent you are taking control and are the strong one in the situation. When you learn why your husband is angry, focus on solving the immediate problem. For example, if your husband is angry because he can't find a tool he needs, concentrate on finding it. If he’s angry about something at work let him vent about it and be sympathetic. If he’s angry about something you did or said listen to his view point on this without being defensive. Tell him you’re sorry if this hurt him. If this doesn’t satisfy him ask what else you can do about it now. Asking for forgiveness will help also.
4. Try distraction or humor. Some times distracting your partner by changing the subject will lessen his or her anger. The careful use of humor can also break the tension.

5. Leave the room to cool off. If none of these ideas work and you can’t control your own anger or you think your partner's anger is getting out of hand, it’s time to leave. You can leave the room or if your partner follows you, even leave the house. Make it clear that you’re willing to talk about the problem later on when he has calmed down and that you are leaving to enable both of you to cool off.

If these steps don’t help, counseling can help both of you learn how to defuse anger in your marriage. I recommend you see a counselor together.

A fool is quick tempered but a wise person stays calm when insulted.” Proverbs 12:16 NLT

Blessings, Dottie