The Journey into Union With God

I long and yearn for the courts of the Lord;
My heart and flesh cry out for the living God.

Even a sparrow finds a home, and a swallow, a nest for herself
where she places her young— near Your altars,

Lord of Hosts, my King and my God.
How happy are those who reside in Your house,
who praise You continually.

Happy are the people whose strength is in You,
whose hearts are set on pilgrimage.
As they pass through the Valley of Baca,
they make it a source of springwater;
even the autumn rain will cover it with blessings.
They go from strength to strength;
each appears before God in Zion.

-Psalm 84:2-7
The center of life is union with God.  We all have all kinds of things we are involved in and all sorts of relationships.  A common misconception is that life is about building things like a family, a business, a ministry, a following, a resume, an education or gaining wisdom, wealth or fame.
These are really the incidentals to life, that while being good and important, are not the center of life.  The center of life is union with God.  If we do not make union with God the center of our lives, we become off center, misguided, unhappy and discontent.
Psalms like Psalm 84 are not meant to be nor have the meaning of how wonderful it is to go to church, for Christians.  These songs are not about the longing and desire to get to corporate worship times.  Pieces like this one are prophetic poems about union with God in the life of the believer.
The courts of the Lord is God’s presence.  The psalmist tell us that in his next refrain: “My heart and flesh cry out for the living God.”  The longing is not for congregational singing nor for contemporary worship, but for union with God who is the center of my life.
God is my source, my wellspring and my only hope.  That is who and what I long for.  That is who I must have and who I must and need to be with.
Without God, front and center, in my thoughts and affecting my heart; my life falls apart.  I have an overwhelming desire for God and to be with God.
Every day, there is an opportunity for all sorts of things to creep into my life and crowd out my relationship with God.  I never lose God, but sometimes these things turn my attention away from God.  And I don’t like that and don’t want that.
I want God to be front and center in my life, in my thoughts and in how I see, hear and feel life and the people I come into contact with.
The psalmist looks and sees the birds who have found their homes, in and on the temple of God.  He sees this as a powerful metaphor of living in God’s presence and making that your home where you create your own and give birth and raise your own families.
Next, the psalmist gives us a picture of how a life of pursuing God works in daily lives.  We are each on a journey, on a road or a pilgrimage to God.  We are all people on our way to heaven.
That is what life is about, being on our way to God.  Everything that we go through or that happens to us is raw material that is a bridge to union with God.  Since mankind fell, life has been hard; and every hardship is softened and transformed by relationship with God.
Being a believer has always been an inside job.  We are changed, transformed and live from the inside out.  The strength of the Lord is deposited into our hearts through grace and by faith, resting on God’s steadfast love or faithfulness.  From the strength God provides in a heart under His care, that has begun its journey, the life of the believer is lived.
The Valley of Baca is the place of weeping.  We all pass through places of sadness. We have losses: disappointments, failures, injustices, seeming silence from God, betrayals, sicknesses, setbacks and loneliness.
The valley of weeping is part of the journey.  There are three things to know about this place of sadness on our journeys:
  1. It is unavoidable.
  2. Our time there is finite.
  3. We get to take our sorrow and see it transformed, redeemed and recompensed.
When we encounter sorrow, how we respond is important.  Children do react and respond childishly, but adults need to face troubles in a grown up way.  “God, help me to grow up, before I grow old”, we say.
Being in denial or sinking into shame are two examples of the wrong way to respond to sorrowful circumstances.  Another destructive one is to get stuck in anger.  
We can not and should not avoid our valleys of weeping, because they are a place of transformation.  With every sorrow or thing that makes you sorrowful, there is a gift attached.  Where their is sorrow, we get to find wells of living water or springs of nourishment.
In the same place where we feel the pain of loss or disappointment, God has already provided sustenance and living waters.  A place of springwater is just below the surface in our valley of tears.  We just have to dig down and find it.
God never blesses us small.  God’s blessings are overflowing and there is always extra.  And that is the picture of autumn rains falling on us in that valley of tears.
The place of revival or renewal 
is in our daily routine lives 
as we meet with God 
in our circumstances of life 
that are sometimes sad.  
The place of revival or renewal is in our daily routine lives as we meet with God in our circumstances of life that are sometimes sad.  God puts a deposit in us at the beginning of our journeys and that deposit accrues interest and our benefactor puts in more deposits along the way.  But we also procure our find compensation that has our names on it, in the midst of the sorrows of our lives.
Bravery is called for for every adult saint.  We valiantly face our trials, setbacks and failures; and go forward, finding new grace packages in the place where we are lamenting.  And God transforms us into the image of Christ.
Even in the greatest of losses, that are shocking, God has reviving waters stored up for us.  God takes wrecked lives and transforms, renews, heals and redeems them.  The greater the loss, the greater the work that God has in store to recover us.
Our hearts are set on the journey of union with God.  We see the birds, raising their families, in and on the temple, as a picture of living our lives in, towards and to God; living lives of worship and service to God.  And then, we embrace the reality of small and large losses and sorrows along the journey and we discover that God has hidden help and sustenance waiting for us, to strengthen us; making us more godly.
Life is a journey into union with God.  That is the center from which life is lived and sustained.  

Enthroned? Abiding and Dwelling: Being With God

May he sit enthroned before God forever.

-Psalm 61:7a
In Psalm 61:7, it says, “May he sit enthroned before God forever”, and this word ‘enthroned’ is used in my HCSB and many other translations, like the ESV, NIV, CEB and the NRSV.  The NLT goes further and has ‘reign’, and the CEV has ‘rule’.  My reasoning is that king David is the author and could there be any influence upon translators from New Testament theology, from Paul, that teaches that we are seated in heavenly places, with Christ (Eph. 2:6)?
Paul also says that believers will judge the world and judge the angels, in 1 Cor. 6:2-3.  These are interesting considerations, but I am going to assume that the translators did not have these New Covenant concepts in mind, when they broke down Psalm 61 into English.  The question really is, “What did David have in mind and how do his words apply to us?”
David’s story is that of a humble shepherd who was the youngest of seven or eight sons.  He became, “A man after God’s own heart”.  He also had a problem on his life’s resume, in that he was conceived in sin (Ps. 51:5).  How did he know this and was he ashamed or was he looked down on for this by his family and community?
When David sinned with Bathsheba and tried to cover it up and killed her husband, he reflected on this secret of his ‘sinful conception’.  I mention this to point out that David did not have a ‘charmed life’ and suffered in dimensions of shame and humiliation.  David is a passionate man and a man’s man who was a great leader and warrior as well as a guy who had a big heart with big brokenness.  
That all boils down to, “He was a man like us”.  He was subject to pride and arrogance, but he also learned humility.  David’s psalms are filled with working out our walk with God, in humility.
All that is to say that I think David was humbled by God’s grace, favor and blessings upon him.  He said something here, that can can be translated several ways, because Hebrew is wider and deeper than English.  The particular Hebrew word here which occurs 32 times, is translated ‘sit’, ‘sits’ or ‘sitteth’, 11 times.  All the other times, it says things like ‘dwell’, ‘abide’, ‘remain’ and ‘live’; and I am only looking at the NASB, KJV and the INT; in my concordance.
I believe that David saw his relationship with God as a bigger deal or far more important than being Israel’s king.
I prefer the words ‘abiding’ and ‘dwelling’, to describe what I want to do with God and what I hear Psalm 61 saying to me.  Abide (“He shall abide” or “He will abide”) is the way that the KJV and the NASB have this line.  ‘Dwell’ is how the Young’s Literal has it, as well as the Geneva Bible and the Wycliffe Bible:

Thou shalt give the King a long life; his years shall be as many ages.
He shall dwell before God forever; prepare mercy and faithfulness, that they may preserve him.
So will I always sing praise unto thy Name, in performing daily my vows.                                                                      -Psalm 61:6-8 (Geneva Bible)

Thou shalt add, either increase, days on[to] the days of the king; his years till into the day of generation and of generation. (Thou shalt add days onto the days of the king; yea, year upon year for many generations.)
He dwelleth [into] without end in the sight of God; who shall seek the mercy and truth of him? (He shall live before God forever; may thy love, and thy faithfulness, preserve, and protect him.)
So I shall say psalm to thy name into the world of world; that I yield my vows from day into day. (And I shall sing songs, or praises, to thy name forever and ever; as I offer my vows each day.)                                                                                                                                                                                         -Psalm 61:6-8 (Wycliffe Bible) (italics from the translators) 

 I love, “He shall dwell before God forever”, and “He dwelleth [into] without end in the sight of God.  (He shall live before God forever.)”

“Abide” is the chosen word, instead of “Enthroned”, in the KJV, NASB and NKJV.  But the one I like and think captures the Hebrew best, combining ‘dwell’, ‘abide’ and ‘live’; and makes great sense as a current translation for the season that we are in, is The Voice (2012) that goes like this:

Extend the king’s life, day after day;
increase his years for many generations.
May he be ever present before God,
attended and guarded by Your loyal love and truth.

So I will never stop singing Your praise;
as long as I live, I will fulfill my promise.                                                                                                             -Psalm 61:6-8 (Voice) 

This is the backstory on my previous post.  Or some of the study I did to come up with what I said that might have been a leap that did not make sense, since I did not quote the context of the text and talk about the other dimensions of this Hebrew word “yê·šeḇ”, יֵשֵׁ֣ב.  I’m not a Hebrew scholar, but just a student.

Yes, get a copy of The Voice or check it out on Bible Gateway.  It is really good.

Mercy season.  Being with God, being in life, living, loving, discovering God’s mercy; having mercy on other people.

Here is a song that captures the feeling I have that relates to being with God today.  I like this video of one of my favorite places to be.  And the toy piano, for me, reflects on childlike living.

My Inheritance of Abiding With God

May he sit enthroned before God forever; appoint faithful love and truth to guard him.

-Psalm 61:7
Abiding with God, being guarded by faithful love and trueness is my inheritance.  Sitting enthroned before God is all about God’s love and not about me.  God has dealt kindly and truly with me.
God has appointed or assigned to me his faithful love and his true blue faithfulness.  God is forever loving and true to me.  And my inheritance is to abide with God forever.
The desire to abide with, before and in God is not a hope for the distant future, but a declaration of what I want now and forever.  Abiding with God is living in and before God.  Abiding is hiding, but in plain sight.
I abide in God as I live, as I go and as I live my life.  When I cry out, “Take me away, so I can be with You”, this is not an expression of a desire for escapism or isolation, but rather a desire to have intimate fellowship with God as I face everything in my life.

I do desire and I do long for and I do look forward to every chance I get to be alone with God and focus all my senses and all my energy on Him.  And I face life, having been in and remaining in God’s presence.  The only way to live the life is to abide in Him, remain in Him and face God as I face living my life.

My inheritance is not like a mountain cabin, that I want to get away to.  My inheritance is what He has given me to live in today and into all of the future.  It is what he has given me in my heart.

God’s gift is portable and helps me through everything in my life.  Abiding in God is amplified gloriously when I am alone with Him, but the awesomeness or versatility of my possession is that it is mine to take with me wherever I go.

Everywhere I go and in every situation I am a part of, God is there.  God is big, almighty, to be revered and His love for me is steadfast and He is true.  God is ‘true blue’, truy always and deals with always truly.
God appoints or assigns His steadfast, faithful lovingkindness and His true faithfulness to guard, watch over and protect me.  As I endeavor to abide in God through my life, God appoints His steadfast love and faithful truth as the legs that hold my life up.  God’s faithful love and truthfulness are the walls that protect my desire to abide, sit or dwell in His presence.

Vindication and The Presence of God

A prayer of David:

Lord, hear a just cause; (Listen to me, Lord.)
pay attention to my cry; (It’s my piercing cry for justice!)
listen to my prayer— (My cause is just and my need is real.)
from lips free of deceit. (I’ve done what is right and my lips speak truth.)
Let my vindication come from You, (Lord, I always live my life before your face,)
for You see what is right. (so examine and exonerate me.  Vindicate me and show the world I’m innocent.)

-Psalm 17:1-2 (HCSB, (TPT))

I believe in vindication from God.  God is going to avenge or do revenge on the enemy.
It seems to me that the key strategy of the enemy is to weave lies into the world to stop the progress of the kingdom and the saints.  There is a whole spectrum of lies that are told about God, about faith and about each one of us, to stop us and hold us back.
I can not tell you what you or those you love need vindication from.  But I can tell you that I believe God is about vindicating.
I can tell you that vindication is not something we do for our selves.  Vindication is when God avenges and takes revenge on the enemy.  
He does it all the time.  And it is something that we can expect and do not need to help God do.  He will do it and we can see God do it.
We dwell in God’s presence and God exacts revenge, vengeance and vindication for us against the enemy.
And this is about the enemy and God’s war on the enemy.  This is not about revenge on people or war on people.  Governments and armies and human warfare is a different thing.
Our brothers and sisters are never our enemy, even if they act like our enemy.  The enemy is the demonic realm, headed by satan.  That enemy is involved in mischief, all sorts of lies, murder and destruction in the world, against humans and God’s kingdom.
The enemy has done a whole host of bad things, and God is all about turning that destruction and those lies and the bondage around into freedom and blessing.  Vindication is the word and vindication time is upon us.
 Here are some resources on what vindication is all about.

Vindication is a sweet thing — when you get vindication, you’ve been proven right or justified in doing something. Everyone accused of a crime craves vindication.

Vindication is good, but it can only come after something bad, like being accused of something you didn’t do. If a teacher thought you cheated, but then announced to the whole class that you didn’t, you’re getting vindication. An accused criminal who is exonerated — cleared of the crime — gets vindication. If you believe something crazy — like that your underdog sports team could win a championship — and it comes true, that’s a vindication of your beliefs.


vindication (n.) late 15c., “act of avenging, revenge,” from Old French vindicacion “vengeance, revenge” and directly from Latin vindicationem (nominative vindicatio) “act of claiming or avenging,” noun of action from past participle stem of vindicare “lay claim to, assert; claim for freedom, set free; protect, defend; avenge” (related to vindicta “revenge”), probably from vim dicare “to show authority,” from vim, accusative of vis “force” (see vim) + dicare “to proclaim” (see diction). Meaning “justification by proof, defense against censure” is attested from 1640s.


Synonyms of Vindication:  (Primary) exonerate, revenge.  (Secondarily) justification, exoneration, exculpation, acquittal/acquittance, mitigation, apology, compurgation, amnesty, dismissal.

Here is a vindication prayer:

From David’s prayer:

“Lord, hear a just cause; pay attention to my cry;
listen to my prayer— from lips free of deceit.
Let my vindication come from You, for You see what is right.”
(Ps. 17:1-2, HCSB)

And from  a song of David’s:
“They all will stand awestruck, over what God has done,
seeing how he vindicated the victims of those crimes.

The lovers of God will be glad, rejoicing in the Lord.

They will be found in his glorious wrap-around presence
singing songs of praise to God!”
(Ps. 64:9-10, TPT)

About Psalm 17, my first thought was that this is a declarative prayer that asks God to vindicate us:  Asking God to prove we are right.

But then I thought, maybe it means something about being vindicated in relationship with God?

This prayer is asking for God to examine me and exonerate me, showing others that I am innocent of any false charges that have been leveled against me.

In other words, the prayer might be asking for those who would believe something untrue to see the goodness of God in me and in my life, even though I am just a human being who makes mistakes and gets it wrong sometimes.

Is that it, or part of it?

There is also a prayer that says, “Deliver me from the lust of vindicating myself”.

The word, “From your presence let my vindication come! Let your eyes behold the right!”, means; “let me continue to abide in you and somehow in however you, God, choose; let me be in the vindication that is in Christ.”

When I see Jesus Christ as the definition of God.  And when I see Jesus’ death on the cross as the definitional lens from which I see God; it gives me perspective of my life in Christ.

In time, and eternity; Jesus Christ has been vindicated.  And I am vindicated as I am in Christ.

When it says, “From your presence, let my vindication come”, it means that, “In abiding in you, I am vindicated: so let that be, let that come, and let that happen in my life.”

The work or intention of my life is to abide in Christ.  And everything in my life is about my relationship to God.  God is intensely relational.

Every challenge I face, every trial, every argument, every disagreement and every disappointment are occasions or opportunities to trust God, know God, have faith in God, be loved by God and come to know again that God is good.  That is the presence of God from which my vindication comes.

The presence of God is the face of God.  “Lord, I will always live before your face.” (Ps. 17:2)

The presence of God is in the face of God.  Where God faces, God’s presence is.  I want to be before God’s face.

Getting in someone’s face is something we say when we really tell someone off.  But the Bible concept of this is that we want to be in God’s presence.  Seeking God’s face is the intention to be in God’s presence.

To seek God’s face is to ask for an audience with the King and to ask for an increase in God’s presence in our place where we are.

To say, “Vindicate me in your presence”, is to ask God for a transformed life.  We do not know how our vindication will work out or play out with others, but our vindication is what we desire and ask for.

When we say, “Vindicate me!”, we are not telling God to do it or how to do it.  We are giving up our right to do it and agreeing that God is the vindicator.

I am putting all my trust into God to be my judge and make all the right judgments about me and for me.

I don’t think we have to convince God that we are right.  Instead, we are going to live in asking for God to put His gaze on what we are doing and what we are saying and to make it righteous.  Maybe that is what living before God’s face is all about.

“Vindicate me”, is asking God to turn around the false accusations and mis-judgments in my life.  And the “From You”, part means that I want God’s presence in my life.  I want to kisses of God on my face.

To live before God’s face is to live in transparency and honesty.  We are asking God to give us a clear and blessed relationship with God manifested out into the world we live in.

I want to live in God’s embrace so much that when I am accused or mis-judged or slighted in any way, real or imagined; that I just have to look into the face of God and then it is not my problem.  My prayer is that I will live in God’s presence, and all the settling of what is unsettling will come upon me from God.

I want to see God do vindications, vengeance and revenge on the enemy.  The ministry of Jesus, setting captives free and turning lives around is known in the non-believing world.  The fear of God will be known to all and all of us will be in awe at the turn arounds that God does in the lives of people who have been falsely blamed, charged, guilted, disapproved and indicted by God’s enemies.

The wrap-around presence of God and the glory of God is where vindication comes from, overturning the works of the enemy.

We will not just praise God for what we believe, but what he is doing now.  Our praises to God will be for actual works of God in our day to day lives, where in God is vindicating his Children.

Living Today In My Future House With God Forever

I will live in Your tent forever and take refuge under the shelter of Your wings.  Selah

-Psalm 61:4
Living forever with God, beginning now.  Being sheltered under Gods care.  This is what I need.  And this is my ambition.
This is what I desire.  This is the one thing.  This is my request.  I want to abide in God.  
I want to dwell where God lives.  I want to go there and live there.  That is where my home is.
God’s dwelling place is my refuge.  God’s house is my safe-house.  His place is my bomb-shelter.
God’s house is sanctuary for me.  That is where I always want to Go.  
God’s house is my north-star.  His presence and place is where I am always wanting to go.
Wherever I am on earth, I point myself toward where God is.
My trust is in God.  God’s care of me.  God watching over me.
I am protected from everything by God.  I trust in the secret place of God’s wings.
God hides me and I am hidden in God.  I am under God’s protective care.
In my misfortune, in my time of banishment, I ask God to let me live in the house of God.
People have rejected me.  People have not noticed me.  But God sees me.
I ask God to let me live in the house of God, now and forever.
In this forlorn place, this dry place, this desert place; I set my will to live with God now and forever.
I am making my loss into gain by declaring that living with God is my goal in life.
My desire is to find God’s house, in my life time.  I want to go to God’s living place and visit.  This is the journey that I am on.
My purpose in life is to find God and be protected by Him.  
I desire to worship God, with other people and by myself.  I desire to worship God inside a structure I can see and also in God’s invisible structure.  
I desire to be a worshiper wherever I am.  
I will be restored to worship and prayer with people, in visible structures.  But today, in this distant, obscure and hidden place; I worship God.  I wholeheartedly commit my life to God, seeing my future in God’s house forever.

No One Ever Is To Blame

Do not judge, so that you won’t be judged. For with the judgment you use, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye but don’t notice the log in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and look, there’s a log in your eye? Hypocrite! First take the log out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye. Don’t give what is holy to dogs or toss your pearls before pigs, or they will trample them with their feet, turn, and tear you to pieces.

-Matthew 7:1-6
“No one ever is to blame”, is a way of saying the same thing Jesus said about not judging.  Yet, we constantly judge or blame others.  It seems to me that the log in the eye and getting trampled and torn to pieces, is the more common way that we live, than the way of Christ.

There is a better way to live than the way of blaming:

  • Start dealing with your own stuff.  
  • Start taking responsibility.
  • Start letting God love you.
  • Start being a disciple of Jesus.
  • Start living a life of communion with God, 24-7.
  • Start letting love rule your heart, mind, thoughts and words.
  • Start listening.
Blaming or judging others is not the way to live.  There is a better way.  In order to get clean, we first have to know we are dirty.
The word ‘bigot’ is a favorite of some people to name call others.  But bigotry actually means, “intolerance toward those who hold different opinions from oneself.”.  People who call others ‘bigots’ are actually showing that they themselves are the bigots, because they can not tolerate other’s opinions.
It is a paradox perhaps, that when you call someone a bigot, you have shown yourself to be one.  Because, by definition, a bigot is someone who is intolerant of other’s opinions.
Does this mean we should be tolerant of illegal and/or destructive behavior?  No.  Jesus’ word to not judge does not contradict the law, the moral law of God; like, “do not murder”, and “do not lie”.  We can say, “that’s wrong”, or “that hurts”, and not be breaking Jesus’ word.
We can say, “I think that’s wrong”, or “ouch, that hurts”; and the other person may argue or question back.  This is very different than judging or blaming.  We can dialogue and debate, have questions and answers, without blaming.

We do always have to make evaluations or value judgments, based on the ethics of Christ, but without condemning, which is what blaming is.  There may also be a time and a place for verbal rebuke, but that is different than blaming, fault-finding, or judging, that is blind to one’s self and places fault, blame, and condemnation outside or onto the other.

Jesus says that the person who goes around blaming others, without looking at and dealing with their own faults will receive the same treatment.

We do need to discern right and wrong.  There are fair and charitable ways of judging.  We have the phrase, “fair enough”, that a person uses when a fair or non-condemning judgement is spoken towards them.

“Do not judge” or “stop blaming”, are admonitions to stop being unfair, unkind and uncharitable.  Charitable, kind or fair evaluating (I hesitate to use the word judging or blaming) must be done with humility.  I always need to ‘go first’ and look in the mirror and humble myself, before I can have any chance of you being interested or in any way responsive to my pointing out your fault.

Blaming, judgmental-ism and fault-finding break Jesus’ ethic of love.  There is a better way.  We need to be hard on ourselves and generous with others.  Love is tolerant while blaming is intolerance.

The hypocrite is blind to their own faults or shortcomings, while being obsessed with the failures of others.  That is not love, is not Jesus way and is not the Christian way.

Nothing is accomplished by blaming.  Blaming is destructive: it hurts and wounds, and is ungracious and not redemptive or healing.  When we are blaming, we step out of communion with God.

Blaming is an elixir where you flatter yourself into believing you are superior to others.  Blaming joins in with the work of Satan, who is ‘the accuser of our brothers and sisters’ (Rev. 12:10).

A person who blames, shames, judges or grumbles against others is a person who has not been sanctified or cleansed by God; because once you have been delivered from your own junk, you will not have the temerity to blame others.  The person who blames others can not see the ugliness of themselves outside the grace of God, because they are blinded by their hypocritical style that completely lacks grace.  In other words, when we are honest with ourselves about what we are like outside of God’s grace in our lives, we will stop looking down, judging or blaming others; but instead we will want to be peacemakers, lovers, bridge builders and ministers of reconciliation.

We need to cultivate an un-blaming style, an uncritical temperament and a tolerant, non-judgmental approach to others we disagree with.

There is a way to disagree with others and do it in love.  But Christians often say or write nasty things that are without grace, love, or an eye on redemption.

There is a style that is called ‘the blame game’.  In a nut-shell, it means not taking responsibility.

In life and in the world, there is good fortune and the unfortunate.  These two things happen in a huge variety of ways.  When unfortunate things happen, we can chose how to react; and a bad choice is the blame game.

Another popular manifestation of the blaming style today is what is called ‘victimism’.  The way it goes is that when bad things happen to me or I suffer misfortune, then I see myself as a victim and then take on that persona: the ‘victim mentality’, and live a life of blaming, judging, grumbling and being bitter.

The first blamer in the Bible was Adam, who blamed Eve.  When we get in trouble, like Adam did, we are also tempted to blame.  To blame is to not accept responsibility.

Two people can be in the same situation, where misfortune befalls them and one blames, while the other takes responsibility.  Blame blocks growth, forgiveness and reconciliation.  Authentic love and prosperity take a back seat and are stifled or frozen out by blaming.

Stop blaming and start loving.  No one is to blame.  Start taking responsibility, being a minister of reconciliation and authentically loving.

Even though the verse that I started with says, “do not judge”, and doesn’t say, “do not blame”; what I am getting at is that when we blame, we are judging unrighteously.  “No one is to blame”, means “don’t blame”, or “blaming does not lead to growth”.  Instead of blaming, which is making an unrighteous judgement, we ought to take responsibility, reconcile and authentically love.

Taking responsibility is when you take it for what happened, if you were at fault, and take it for going forward.  If you were 99% or 1% responsible, take responsibility for that.  If you feel you could have done something or more of something that might have helped and you did not, and you were passive, take responsibility for that.  There is no shame in taking responsibility, but it exercises your humbling yourself, from which you open the way to grace.

Reconciliation is when two different people, with different points of view, and different hurts about the same thing come together and touch.  If I live in the land of ‘blaming you’, I can not reconcile with you.  If I wait for you to admit fault first, I am blaming you and can not reconcile with you.

When we have someone who has hurt us or offended us or failed us, but they won’t see it and won’t admit it, we still must not blame them and hold blame against them, because that is standing in judgement and being unforgiving and unloving.  Remember that love does not say sin is ok, abuse is ok; or that sloppy, selfish relating is ok; but love loves without condition.  Love keeps no records of wrongs.

Authentic love is when I know God loves me, so I love myself, and then I love you, without condition.  Authentic love starts with God’s love, which is unconditional.  God loves sinners, of which I am, and I love me, and I love you, with and through God.  It is still me loving, but God has been transforming my heart, to love the way He loves.

When I live in blame or make judgments about people, I block grace from entering, because God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.

There is a time and place to assign blame, that seeks a judgement, but is not sinfully judgmental.  When there is an auto accident, for example, the authorities or insurance adjusters want to assign blame.  There is an ruling that does not assign blame personally that is just called an accident.  When the Space Shuttle Challenger blew up after launch, in 1986, they needed to investigate why, and who or what was responsible.

And when someone hurts us or bumps us, we can say, “ouch”, and that is not judging or blaming or grumbling.  But constantly complaining about everything and anything, especially when it is in bitterness, anger, and judgmental-ism, is called grumbling, which is sinful and destructive.

The ‘blame game’ is when we do not take responsibility.  If you do not take responsibility, you are not honest, and I never get to know you and love your authentic self.  Being the ‘blamer’ or the ‘victim’ or the ‘recipient of dramatic sufferings’ is a persona and not the real you, so when that is your presentation to others, others end up knowing or loving your persona, while never knowing and loving the authentic you.

Blaming sometime works like this.  Something has happened and now we must figure it out, so we can fix it, and part of the problem-solving that we are engaged in gives rise to blaming.  Rather than looking at ourselves and being loved and being loving, we instead blame.

Blaming is just like what Jesus said about unrighteous judging, having impaired vision, while trying to fix the other people’s vision.  Jesus called the Pharisees ‘blind guides’, because their vision was so bad.  They blamed and judged all over the place.

Blaming, psychologically, is a defense mechanism.  We project our communal blame onto others in a scapegoat fashion.  We deny responsibility for our part in the fiasco, often feigning disgust, and we displace our feelings of loss into another compartment, area or issue rather than working our problem.

Blaming is the opposite of  ‘The Serenity Prayer’ life-style, where we humbly pray for God to help us accept the things (and the people) we can not change and to have the courage to change the things (my self with God’s help) that we can and to know the difference.

Blaming is a destructive conflict resolution method.  Who wins when we blame?  No one.

Love actually covers sin.  Love actually overlooks a fault.  Love says, “let’s talk”.  Love listens.  Love wants to know people who are different.

Blaming is judgmental, arrogant and proud.  Blaming prosecutes, persecutes and is unmerciful.  Blaming is hopeless and looks down on the miserable ‘low life’s’ below it.

When we blame, we are playing God.  The blaming person is not complete in their own godliness, yet they take it upon themselves to fix, solve, categorize and punish others.  The temptation from Adam and Eve to today has always been to play God, be a law unto yourself and then blame the other person when something goes wrong.

The opposite of blaming is interceding.  The person who intercedes gets between the problem, the failure, the brokenness or sin and the person or people.  I broke someone’s window once, and my dad interceded for me and fixed it with no blaming and no shaming.

We live in a world and in a society where blaming is the norm.  People who embrace the blaming style end up hurting others, but their biggest loss is towards their own self.  This is because blaming blocks healing, reconciliation and deliverance.  Blaming is a pure work of the flesh and puts a stop sign to spiritual growth in the blamer’s life.

Stop blaming.  No one ever is to blame.

  • Start dealing with your own stuff.  
  • Start taking responsibility.
  • Start letting God love you.
  • Start being a disciple of Jesus.
  • Start living a life of communion with God, 24-7.
  • Start letting love rule your heart, mind, thoughts and words.
  • Start listening.

When we blame, we wall ourselves off from our own healing.  Not only does blaming hurt the ones you blame and is a form of cursing, but blaming says, “I don’t need you and I don’t need God”.

The blamer sees God as on their side.  They are self-righteous.  Their indignant tone is not centered in the living Christ, but in their self-righteousness.

The blamer, if they are a Christian, thinks they are working with, for, and in God.  They may even believe that their blaming tirades are prophetic messages.  They treat and talk about their brothers and sisters in Christ as if they are the enemy, but your brother or sister is never your enemy.

Self-righteousness will delude a person into killing others who do not share their ideology.  Today, some of the people in some of the ideological camps demand complete tolerance to their practices, while at the same time being the least tolerant and even violently intolerant of different practices, beliefs, view-points or ways of life.

There has only been one man who was righteous, only one man who did not need to grow up, and only one man who did not need to repent and be open to inner and outer healing.  The rest of us are all in process, in need of growth and in need of healing.

Spiritual grown is a process.  Changing our ways is a process.  The way of self-righteousness is always a temptation and a pit fall.

Humility is the way of Christ.  There is a way to disagree in humility.  We ought to be weeping over our discord, disunity and disagreements, rather than blaming, shaming, rebuking, judging, demonizing, being in fear of, psychoanalyzing and dis-fellow-shipping or shunning our brothers and sisters.

Can we forgive each other?  Can we listen to each other, to others who hold a different view or opinion than ours?  Can we as Christians make it our goal to love, rather than being right?

When I choose not to blame, but rather forgive, extending grace and love, weeping with you and for you; I want to be in God’s image and be in Christ, as a bridge to God.  Jesus did not come to teach us the right way to get saved so much as He came to save us.  We are saved in His person.

We have Christians today who bear Christ’s name, but not his character and his love, nor his wisdom.  They act as if being a Christian is about getting it (the gospel, the Bible, theology, ecclesiology,  epistemology or politics) right.  But, Jesus told his disciples, “love one another as I have loved you, and then the whole world will know you are my disciples”.

Will we die to our selves and selfishness and live in Christ?  Will we take up our crosses instead of taking up our rightness and our correctness and our bossiness over others?

If you stop blaming, it will begin in your heart, then your mind and then in your words, written and spoken.  People who stop blaming are no longer defensive, and begin to take responsibility and admit failure.

Blaming comes from low self-esteem, whether you blame others or take on the blame yourself.  Healthy self-esteem does not blame or shame or judge.

No one ever is to blame, so stop blaming.

  • Start dealing with your own stuff.  
  • Start taking responsibility.
  • Start letting God love you.
  • Start being a disciple of Jesus.
  • Start living a life of communion with God, 24-7.
  • Start letting love rule your heart, mind, thoughts and words.
  • Start listening.

What if every word was mediated through Christ, his cross; his death, burial and resurrection?  What if what I say to and about people comes from my heart and soul that is filled with the Spirit of God?  What if I lived as a Christian?

There is a place for rebuke, but it is not the main thing.  The cross of Christ is the biggest rebuke to sin, carnality, and every wicked spirit.  We have Christ’s love and His love shown on the cross, as our primary weapon for saving the world from sin and darkness.

As we live and walk with Christ ourselves, we are in the process of having our eyes made clear, to see as he sees with his eyes through his heart.  When we are walking with and in him, the time comes and it happens often, that we help remove specks from each others eyes, in love; as one’s who love much because they have been forgiven much.  And we become more than willing to lay down our lives for one another in generous humility.  When the trouble happens or discord erupts, when misunderstanding or disagreement comes up between us, the soul living in Christ, always says, “No one is to blame.”

Headship: God, Christ, The Husband, and The Wife

But I want you to know that Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of the woman, and God is the head of Christ.

-1 Corinthians 11:3
What is the foundation of a Christian marriage?  Who is the key to a happy, joyful, abundant husband and wife relationship?  And what is the Christ-following husband’s role in regards to his wife?

These are questions that cross the minds of Christians who are married, thinking about being married, or have been married in the past and are looking back or looking forward.  In society, getting married is much easier to do, even though some single people who are searching or waiting might not agree with this; it is easier to do than getting a drivers licence or all sorts of other things we commonly do.

Being married and staying married are much, much harder.  Two people living in a space together, even with rings and the paperwork, does not a marriage make.

Christian marriage is a covenant between two people, both who are in Christ, that is held together by God.  The legal marriage certificate is a contract that in enforced by laws that will come into play if one of the spouses ends the marriage through divorce.

The covenant only works when we work with it.  God holds our marriage together, as we hold onto God.  It is all about our relationships to God and to one another.

We are all in a covenant, the New Covenant, in Christ, with God.  There are always two sides or two parties in a covenant.  Even though God does all the saving in our covenant with him, we must participate or be engaged in it to actualize the covenant in our lives.

We can’t say, “I’m saved”, and then go back to our lives, running our show.  Being saved means we have begun a journey with God, where we give up everything we have and God gives us everything we need.  That may not be the gospel message that you have heard or believed in, but this is the gospel of the kingdom.

When we say we are in the covenant of salvation or the covenant of marriage, the next step and life style is to live in the covenant relationship.  We don’t leave Christ or our spouse at the altar, so to speak, where we said “I do” and then go off on our own, saying, “see ya when I need ya!”.  But that is how some people live towards Christ and towards their spouse.

Before we look at this issue of head and headship, we need to make sure we are saved and look at our salvation.  If a man or a woman is not in a vital union with the living Christ, where they are dying to their selves and living to Christ, marriage will not work.

Many people are legally married, but not living in marriage.  The Bible gives clear instructions on how to live in marriage as Christians.  If you are not first living as a Christian, then you will not be able to or will have troubles participating in marriage, God’s way.

What Paul is saying in 1 Corinthians 11, is, “this is the way it is and the way it is supposed to be”.  If you read the whole letter, you will see that the Corinthians had problems and Paul is addressing the problems and their questions.  Some of them were not doing great in their being in Christ.

Before Paul addresses the issues that were coming up regarding hair and head coverings, he says the statement that I am highlighting, as a foundation or backdrop to a discussion on hair and head coverings.  Paul could have said: “Thanks for remembering a lot of the stuff I taught you about being Christians.  Now, before I get into this issue of hair and covering or not covering one’s head, I want you to know that Christ is the head of every man and the man is the head of the woman, and God is the head of Christ.”

In case you did not realize it, and the Bible translation, HCSB, that I quoted has a footnote to flag this: scholars say that Paul meant husband and wife, when he wrote man and woman, here.  The ESV, for example, does this without a footnote:

But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God.

Before Paul gets into the hair and veil customs, he grounds things in Christ; and that is how we get this verse and that is the context, which we will go through broadly, in a moment.  The back story to Paul’s admonitions on head coverings, may have been questions or problems with this issue at Corinth.  And Paul brings them and all his readers from then till now, back to our relationship to God and each other.

Before we get into head and headship and the wife being under her husband’s head, we have to say this:  A married Christian woman is a person who is herself in Christ, under Christ, and living her life from Christ; while also being and living under her husband’s headship.  A married Christian man is a person in, under, and from Christ; while also the head of his wife.

There has been an ongoing discussion, a theological debate, about what “head” here means.  Over on one side, some scholars have said that head here means ‘source’ or ‘origin’; while the other side says that head means ‘chief’ or ‘ruler’.  Head (kelphale’) also means the ‘end-point’ of something: the top of a column or the end of a pole.  The Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah, is also called the head of the year. 

Also, head (kelphale’) means controlling agent, but not preeminent.  Our physical heads, having our brain within, rules and has authority over our bodies: our head is the controlling agent of our bodies.  This has nothing to do with preeminence, but everything to do with function.  The head is the boss, from which control emanates, but is not bossy nor controlling.
A body without a head is dead.  It is normal for a body to be under the rule and control or authority of the head.  When we take headship as a metaphor, we see that Christians can and do live without being under Christ’s headship.

In Christ, there is life and outside of Christ there is not life.  If a Christian is not living in Christ, functionally, then they are not living in his life.  Imagine a person who is legally married, but does not live in a marriage.

Living as a room mate, living self centered, not sacrificing, not sharing everything you have, and not laying down your life for your wife; are examples of the husband who is not living under the headship of Christ.

Christ is head of the church, head over all things, the head corner stone, and head of man; and God is the head of Christ and husbands are heads of their wives.  The church can ignore, set aside, or give lip service to Christ being it’s head.  And wives can also not believe in or live under the headship of their husband; and both of these can be happening today, to our detriment.

After studying, reading, listening, looking things up, and reading some more; my conclusion is that ‘head’ (kephale) here in Paul, means ‘authority’, and not ‘preeminent’, ‘source’, or ‘origin’.  There are links to articles, in the bibliography at the bottom, for your further study, if desired.

There have been Christians who are confused about Christ and God, saying things like, “the man upstairs”, or “God is my co-pilot”.  The truth is that God and Christ is king and we need to bow and surrender our lives.  But God is also good, love, and full of mercy and grace.

Christians are the bride of Christ and the children of Father.  God and Christ are not this incredible religion or philosophy that we adhere to.  Being a believer means we give up everything and God gives us a different everything.

It means death and resurrection.  It means leaving our mother and father and getting married to Christ.  It means that we are no longer orphans, but get adopted and become God’s children.

If you do not have these basics, these staring points down; if you are not in and on the pathway of Christ; then having Christ as chief, head, authority, and boss of your life might be a strange and off-putting topic for you.  And it would follow, that if you are a wife, to have your husband over you in any chief, boss, or leader role would possibly be foreign, unwanted, incorrect, and rejected as archaic and bluntly crass.

God and Christ is and are our source, and that is a Pauline idea (Acts 17:28, Rom. 11:36).  But that is not what 1 Cor. 11:3 is saying.  It is also not saying that one is superior and one is inferior.  Paul is not saying the husband is the inferior to Christ and the wife is the inferior to the husband and Christ is inferior to God.

The text is neither saying that the husband is inferior to Christ nor is Christ inferior to God, and not that wives are inferior to husbands.  But it is saying that there is a hierarchy.  Some of us don’t like that word.

God’s headship of Christ gives us an example to follow.  Jesus lives under his father’s authority.  He did all the good things and said all the good things, under his father’s headship.

The husband lives out his life under Christ’s headship and his wife lives out her life under her husband’s headship.  The wife has her own walk under Christ, while also walking under the headship of her husband.  Christ is the wife’s savior and Lord, but she functions under the authority of her husband.

The husband has Christ as his model for leadership.  Christ’s leadership is sacrificially loving.  The husband is called to sacrificially love his wife, who he is head over.

Men and women are equal before God.  Husbands and wives are equal in value before God.  But husbands and wives have different roles in marriage.

Different positions in the hierarchy does not mean superior/inferior.  That is a worldly perspective and not part of Christ’s way.  Jesus and the Father are one.  Jesus Christ is Lord, and not just a man who was a carpenter and a traveling teacher/prophet/healer, who had and still has followers.

“God is the head of Christ”, means God the Father has a role of authority over Christ.  It is a function and role issue.  While the husband is not God, Christ is also the head of him; and again it is a role and function.

Remember how in the great commission, Jesus says, “all authority has been given to me”?  Father gives authority to Christ and Christ gives authority to us.  The one is functionally over the other and gives authority to the other.  Jesus has a oneness with Father, but is also under his headship.

In marriage, the two become one; but the wife is under her husband’s headship.

This is an aside, but if Christ calls a woman, a married lady, to be a pastor; her husband is obviously still her head.  If she is married, a blurb on their church’s website might read, “Sue Jones is the pastor (or lead minister) of Tall Mountain Jesus Is Lord Fellowship, and her husband Larry Jones is the boss of her”.  For anyone worried that she is not under her husband’s headship, that settles it.

To every pastor, preacher, or standing up in front of people in a leadership role person; I would simply ask, “has Christ called you?”  If Christ calls a woman and if Christ gives a woman the desire to serve and teach and speak and minister, and gives her his authority to stand in leadership; who are we to argue with him?

If elders are men and the elders are the pastors, then it makes it difficult to be a woman pastor.  But if Christ not only gifts a woman with gifts and then calls her to serve as a leader, and there is much discernible fruit from her ministry, then we call her a pastor, agreeing that Christ has made her one and his.  He has ordained her and we bless his work in her life.

Also, it would be ideal for a woman pastor to have a qualified elder husband.  His being qualified as an elder actually is an endorsement or qualifier of her standing up and speaking and thereby leading other people.

However, most people don’t make it to the ideal, and being divorced or never married should not disqualify anyone who Jesus desires to use, and he does.

Is Christ the head of all Christians, male and female, husbands and wives, young and old?  Yes, of course.  This passage or section does not need to say that because Paul is talking about roles and functions.

Husbands and wives have equal value and standing before God, in Christ.  But they have different roles, and that is what this verse is saying.  Imagine a narrow path, where only one person can fit at a time and one goes first and the other follows.  That is a picture of roles, not about one person being valued more.

Think about a car, where there is one steering wheel in front of one seat that the driver sits in.  The one who drives and manages the wheel, is not superior, but only in the role, function, and service of driving.  Drivers who drive recklessly, speed, blare the radio, where headphones, text while driving, have their eyes off the road, tailgate, cut off other drivers, or drive the wrong way may be called bad drivers and get in trouble or hurt themselves or others, but being in the role, function, or service is not a bad thing.

And that is the way it is with bad husbands.  Their God given role of being head is not the problem, but what they are doing in their role is the problem that needs correction.  Egalitarianism might be saying that the role thing is the problem, so we need to get rid of that and be equal in the roles.

But the complimentary roles and functions, unique to each sex, are given by God; and are not the problem.  The problem are people who do bad things, act in bad ways, and are ungodly.  Egalitarianism seeks to set us free from ‘archaic’ roles, ‘patrimony’ and ‘misogyny’.

The Bible and the roles for husbands and wives are not wrong and don’t need a re-write.  We need to separate the people who have done wrong, lived sinfully, even while saying they are walking with God, from the God we serve, who has created man and woman, with equal value, but different roles as husband and wife, that compliment each other.

The only way to have a Christian marriage is in and through Christ.  We know that Christ is under the headship of God, but the husband must also be intimately aware of his being under Christ’s headship, for his wife to take her place under his headship.  It is about function and relationship.

But before the husband begins to exercise his authority, as head of his wife,there is something to check.  Is he under or functioning under the headship of Christ?  If he is not, then he needs to come under Christ and let Christ be his authority.

This is the subject I wanted to talk about.  Everything I have said up to this point is an introduction to what I am about to say.  There is a problem today, with Christian marriages failing or being dysfunctional, because the husband is not living under the headship of Christ.

I could and am tempted to give you a list of bad things that Christian husbands do.  I could also give you a list of problems that Christian wives have that are to an extent, the result or fruit of their husband not being under Christ’s headship.  Obviously, Christian wives may sin themselves in ways that are not the fruit of their husbands lack of relationship with Christ, but that is not what I am talking about.

This word, that I am focusing on, that says that, “Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of the woman, and God is the head of Christ”, is found in the context of Paul’s words about hair and the covering of a person’s head.  It may be stating the obvious, but we know that Christ and his headship is for all time and universal; but the issues of hair length, and the covering of one’s head, in Corinthian, Grecian society are particular.  

The challenge for us with passages like this, is to find out how the passage applies to us today.  And we can broadly place many things in the Bible into two categories: custom and command.  The statement, that Christ is the head of the husband is a command, for all Christians: to obey.
But, the words that follow in 1 Corinthians 11, about hair length and veil wearing are in the custom category.  Paul is referring to the customs of their culture and  reflecting on how to be loving, in Christ, in the midst of their particular cultural customs.
The husband being the head of the wife is also in the command column.  If you place that piece into the custom column, then you must also place Christ and his headship over man  in the custom column as well.  And some people do that, who say that the whole Bible is just customs.
At the other side of the spectrum, some might say that this whole passage is of the command type, and we must strongly transpose Paul’s words then to our lives now.  And what this point of view would say, is that, “women must wear head coverings, for the Bible commands it”.
What is funny, in an ironic way, is that if you were to grow up, or be raised up and discipled in a church culture today, where you were taught, “women must wear head coverings, for the Bible commands it”, you would hear, and we could say, be indoctrinated, by an argument, that would lead you to believe that veils or head coverings are required by scripture, and the rest of Christianity and secular society that does not practice head coverings, is wrong.  Does that sound like any groups of people today?
This is why critical thinking and cross-pollination is so important and beneficial for Christian strength of learning.  Indoctrination and sectarianism are religion.  Christianity is centered in Christ.
Today, many Christians are centered on their beliefs, doctrine, and customs; rather than Christ.  They say they are centered on Christ.  But if they were centered on him, they would love what he loves, both the lost and all of his different flocks.
Now, here is the context of the first half of 1 Corinthians 11:

Imitate me, as I also imitate Christ.

Now I praise you because you always remember me and keep the traditions just as I delivered them to you. But I want you to know that Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of the woman, and God is the head of Christ. Every man who prays or prophesies with something on his head dishonors his head. But every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head, since that is one and the same as having her head shaved. So if a woman’s head is not covered, her hair should be cut off. But if it is disgraceful for a woman to have her hair cut off or her head shaved, she should be covered.

A man, in fact, should not cover his head, because he is God’s image and glory, but woman is man’s glory. For man did not come from woman, but woman came from man. And man was not created for woman, but woman for man. This is why a woman should have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels. In the Lord, however, woman is not independent of man, and man is not independent of woman. For just as woman came from man, so man comes through woman, and all things come from God.

Judge for yourselves: Is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head uncovered? Does not even nature itself teach you that if a man has long hair it is a disgrace to him, but that if a woman has long hair, it is her glory? For her hair is given to her as a covering. But if anyone wants to argue about this, we have no other custom, nor do the churches of God.

-1 Corinthians 11:1-16
If you use this passage to say that women should wear head coverings, I might say that is ok, but please do not try to force it on others.  It is interesting to note that in Paul’s day and today, in Judaism, in their worship; the men where the skull cap and women let their hair flow down and about.  How did Paul get from that to the other?

The answer is tradition or custom or culture.  If you look around the world, you will see different styles of dress.  In various cultures, women cover up their heads and even their faces.

Corinth and Greece at the time had a culture that the Corinthians lived in.  They had to live and witness for Christ within that culture.

This hair and head covering part is a cultural discussion that we can transpose and glean some wisdom from for today, which is what many even handed preachers try to do, when they speak on this passage.  But that is not the point of my message.

My message is this:  Christ is the center and Christ is the head of man and head of the husband.  The husband is head of his wife, but that will not work out very well, unless that husband is under the headship of Christ.  Any Christian husband who is not under the headship of Christ, needs to start living in and from that place, and any wife who in not under her husband’s headship needs to start living from, in, and through that place.

If we refuse this calling, we are living a double life that is exhausting and not in the peace of Christ.  We will do the religious things to feel good and then be selfish and lash out at others and even make disciples in this wrong way.  Please don’t do it.  Please come home to Christ.


Brauch, Manfred T.; The Head of Woman is Man?, The Hard Sayings of Paul, The Hard Sayings of The Bible, pp. 559-602, (1989)

Bruce, F. F.; The New Century Bible Commentary: 1 & 2 Corinthians; pp. 103-4, (1971)

Grudem, Wayne; Does Kefalh (“Head”) Mean “Source” Or“Authority Over” in Greek Literature?A Survey of 2,336 Examples (1985)

The meaning of κεφαλή (“head”):An evaluation of new evidence, real and alleged, (2002)

Kroger, Catherine; Head, The Dictionary of Paul and His Letters, Hawthorne & Martin eds.; pp. 375-7, (1993)

Nathan, Rich; Why Vineyard Columbus Encourages Women To Preach, Pastor & Church Plant, (2014)

Warfare Worship

Then my head 

Will be high 
Above my enemies around me; 
I will offer sacrifices 
In His tent 
With shouts of joy.
I will sing and make music to the Lord.
-Psalm 27:6
There is a place where God lifts our heads up above our enemies and we give high praise to God with shouts of joy, songs and music.  There is a reality of warfare in our lives with the enemy: God’s enemy and our enemy.  There is a key to walking in victory over the enemy, which is simply practicing the presence of God.

There is a place that God has for us, where we are above our enemies, and enjoying God.  Warfare worship is to travel into God and then praise God, sing, and shout from the elevated place of God’s presence, where the enemy can not touch us.

The starting point of worship and warfare is that God is our salvation.  The act of God saving and delivering us immediately brings us into spiritual warfare.  When we are saved or delivered, the first thing that is natural to do, is to thank God and enter into praise and and worship as a life style or way of living.

The enemy is irritated with people who become saved or delivered, like hornets who’s nest has been poked.  The enemy always has limited resources or assets, so they don’t waste energy on those who are captive or deceived, but pursue and war against those who have been set free or are walking in freedom.  They would like to recapture us, or prevent or discourage us from setting others free.

This Psalm starts by saying “The Lord is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear?”  Fear and salvation are like dark and light.  Light extinguishes darkness.  
There were things that made David afraid and stuff that makes us afraid.  A tactic of the enemy is to get us to fear.  
This is a part of the normal life of the believer.  Having enemies and being saved, delivered, and protected from them, by the Lord is also normal.

Psalm 27 begins with this:

The Lord is my light and my salvation— whom should I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life— of whom should I be afraid?
When evildoers came against me to devour my flesh,
my foes and my enemies stumbled and fell.
Though an army deploys against me, my heart is not afraid;
though a war breaks out against me, still I am confident.

This is a warfare psalm and there are a lot of them.  We could easily read this and take in the fact that David was a warrior and had real battles with real people.  We see and learn how he relied on God in his troubles and on the battle field.
If we were soldiers today, we might take comfort from these warfare psalms.  But as civilians, we might be tempted to set aside the warfare and enemy paradigm or scenario and just draw comfort from the fact that the Lord has saved and is saving us, taking care of us; and we do not need to fear, because God is taking care of us.
That is all somewhat true.  But we can not set aside warfare and the reality of enemies.  Part of the Christian life involves spiritual warfare, with the enemy, which is Satan and the demonic realm.
The context of Psalm 27 is warfare.  When we read psalms like this, we have to decide if we are going to just slice out and set aside the warfare part and say that the writer really was a warrior, who was in war, and he wrote some great things about praise and worship, in the midst of where he was (in warfare).  Or, are we going to take the alternative viewpoint, which is the view that I hold, and that is that we see the whole of the scriptures through Christ, and Jesus Christ, who was and is at war with the enemy, who also has become our enemy.

Basically, what I am saying is that is you are in Christ, you are at war, like it or not.  You and I are warriors.  The bride of Christ is a beautiful lady, who is a warrior.

In that light, we see the warfare psalms, like this one, as instructive for the Christian life, which is a life of warfare.  There are thoughts, beliefs or ideas out there that say that the demonic is not real or they are all somehow gone.  But the truth is that the demonic realm is real and are at war with God and God’s people.
That is my lens through which I apply the scriptures.  David and we have enemies that God saves, delivers, and protects us from.  With that in mind, this in the next thing David writes:

I have asked one thing from the Lord; it is what I desire:
to dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life,
gazing on the beauty of the Lord and seeking Him in His temple.
For He will conceal me in His shelter in the day of adversity;
He will hide me under the cover of His tent;
He will set me high on a rock.

“One thing”, means the main thing or the foremost thing.  Have you ever had one thing you were asking God for?  Something is in the forefront of our minds, and that is how it was with David.
His one thing he wanted, and remember that this is a guy in war, who had enemies after him; the one thing he asked for was to “dwell in the house of the Lord” all the days of his life.  He then fills in his request or vision of his desire by saying that he just wants to gaze on the beauty of the Lord and seek Him in His temple, and be concealed in His shelter.  He then ties this into the backdrop of the warfare he is involved in, saying he desires all this during the day of his adversity, and asks to be hidden under the cover of His (the Lord’s) tent and set high (by the Lord) on a rock.
That is a lot of information or a detailed prayer request.  Some questions arise for me:  What is the house of the Lord?  What is His temple?  What is His shelter?  And what is His tent, that David is referring to?  And how does this apply to me?
  • House of the Lord, to dwell in, every day
  • Temple of the Lord, to gaze upon God’s beauty and seek Him in
  • Shelter of the Lord, He conceals me in
  • Tent of the Lord that He hides me under the cover of
It is worth noting that the Temple in Jerusalem was not built yet.  But there was a tabernacle, that we call “The tabernacle of David”, which was a tent.  David might have had the tabernacle (worship tent) in mind.  But it is interesting, that he does not say that he wants to go there and sing, make music, or dance; but that he wants to dwell there, gaze at God there, be concealed there, and be hidden, made under cover there.
This song begins with the statement that the Lord saves me, so I will not be afraid.  He then could have said that he just wants to sing, to worship and praise the Lord.  But, instead, David uses words to express that he desires to dwell with the Lord and just look at the Lord, and become concealed and hidden, in the Lord.
This is a little bit different than singing praise and worship songs.  He says his number one request, with the backdrop of the warfare he is in, that is fear inducing and that he needs salvation from and through; his one thing he asks is to dwell with the Lord.
And then he unpacks that statement to say, everyday, gazing at the Lord’s beauty and seeking Him, coming into the Lord’s sheltering concealment, and being hidden and under cover in the Lord’s tent.  This is what David means by dwelling in the house of the Lord.
Again, the context of his saying these poetic words, is that he was being hunted by evil predators.  He can look out and see a whole army deployed against him.  We know that David was a great and brave warrior, who had others with him usually and knew how to use weapons and fight hand to hand.
But in the oncoming warfare, David’s heart turns to these thoughts about the Lord and rather than praying for victory in the possible oncoming battle, he asks God to let him dwell with Him and life in his presence, everyday; and for him to be able to gaze at the Lord and become wrapped up and enfolded by the Lord, so that he becomes concealed, hidden, and under cover.
The lesson here is that warfare worship can be where we dwell with in the Lord.  It starts with the choice, desire, and action to dwell with the Lord, which often just involves gazing upon Him.  And then what happens, is that we become hidden, concealed, or made to become under the cover of the Lord.
And boom, that is the warfare or a worship warfare lifestyle that this song of David teaches us today.  The dwelling leads to coming up into the place of the Lord, that is above the enemies around us.  From that place, we shout for joy in worship, sing and make music.
We might sometimes have it backwards, when we begin with loud singing and music.  The place to begin with is dwelling, which involves gazing at the Lord and coming into his presence in solemn awe.  It is like the phrase, “peace be still” or “be still and know”.
Then when we come into God’s presence, because his presence has come to us; then we shout, sing, and make music.  Today, we often make music, sing, and shout first before we seek to come into God’s presence.
There are a lot of admonitions in scripture to wait on God.  What if more of our worship and lives of worship was waiting and gazing and dwelling in the quiet first, and then singing, shouting, and making music after God lifts us up?  This is a lesson in worship & warfare that is being illustrated here:

Then my head will be high above my enemies around me;
I will offer sacrifices in His tent with shouts of joy.
I will sing and make music to the Lord.

The word “Then” points back to the preceding verses for context.  He is saying, that after he is able to dwell with the Lord, which is gazing upon the Lord’s beauty and getting so wrapped up in the Lord, that he becomes hidden, concealed or under cover; he is then in a higher place, above his enemies, and from there shouts for joy, sings, and makes music to the Lord.
But getting to the “then” of having dwelt with the Lord, is a struggle of sorts.  There is a transition from being under attack to being in God’s dwelling place and getting lifted up.  The transitional roadway is prayer:

Lord, hear my voice when I call;
be gracious to me and answer me.
My heart says this about You,
“You are to seek My face.”
Lord, I will seek Your face.
Do not hide Your face from me;
do not turn Your servant away in anger.
You have been my helper;
do not leave me or abandon me,
God of my salvation.
Even if my father and mother abandon me,
the Lord cares for me.

Because of my adversaries,
show me Your way, Lord,
and lead me on a level path.
Do not give me over to the will of my foes,
for false witnesses rise up against me, breathing violence.

I am certain that I will see the Lord’s goodness
in the land of the living.
Wait for the Lord;
be strong and courageous.
Wait for the Lord.

Previously, David shared where he wants to go, to dwell with the Lord, every day.  He then shares how he believes it will be to dwell with the Lord, and the results it will have, lifting him above his enemies.  But, he comes back to the reality of the struggle to get to the dwelling place.
The last words, “Wait for the Lord”, are the key to how he will get to the place of dwelling, gazing, and being wrapped up in the Lord.  The Biblical idea of waiting is focusing on and being at the service of someone else, like a waiter or waitress in a restaurant.  It is active and on alert.
When we wait on the Lord, we have faith in Him and are focused on him.  Waiting on the Lord is the first step to dwelling with the Lord.  And dwelling with the Lord leads to praising and worshiping the Lord with shouts, singing, and music.
And dwelling with the Lord is the key to spiritual warfare as a life style.  We come up above the enemy through dwelling with the Lord and that results in praise and worship.
If you are being threatened or intimidated and being incited to fear by the enemy, the way of salvation from the enemy and all their unpleasantness is dwelling with the Lord: stepping into the place of gazing upon Him.  Tucking your self into the Lord, and being wrapped up into the Lord.

We have been born into warfare and worship.  This is the way and how of Christ to live: practicing God’s presence for living, for worshiping, and for victory in warfare.

Longing For God

As a deer longs for streams of water, so I long for You, God.
-Psalm 42:1

Do you long for God?  I believe that a fundamental activity in the believer’s life is longing for God.  And we only stop longing for God when we have drank from God.

If we have not drank from God and are not longing for a drink of God, then I believe something is wrong, because I believe longing for God is a fundamental activity in the believer’s life.  Just as a deer can not survive without water, so we also can not live without God.

If you say you have God, I would say, show me your longing.  A fundamental activity in the believer’s life is longing for God, seeking God, and being with, in, and all wrapped up in God.  If you are keenly in the place of strong longing for God, crying for God, with painful desire for God; and you wonder if something is wrong with you, the answer is no, you are not wrong, but right.

Longing for God is good and you may very well feel immense pain in your longing and even sadness and grief, as one distraught.  All around you, it seems that everyone is doing ok with their various lives, but you are in tremendous emotional pain and part of your picture is that you have an issue with God:  You have this overwhelming desire for God, and this is a massive blessing.

If you are one of the blessed ones, who has a broken heart for God; it really does not matter what else you have in your life, in all those dimensions that we measure life.  You just want God.  If that is you, then you are right on target, on point, on the best path.

You are a blessed one if you have a devastating immobilizing desire for God.  Life is in black and white, nothing looks good, nothing tastes good, because you are hungry for God.  Nothing sounds good, because you want to hear God’s voice.  Nothing feels good, there are no creature comforts for you without God.

When will God come to me?  When will I find God?  When can I see God?  These are the thoughts you are preoccupied with.

When you don’t have what you want, you are naturally sad.  It is the same with God.

I said that I believe longing for God is a fundamental of the life of the believer.  We need God, we need and desire to be with God, to be in God’s presence.  That is fundamental and normal.

To be a believer and to not desire God or to be with God or in God’s presence is antithetical to the Christian life.  To not have a longing for God is at odds with being a Christian.  Not desiring God’s presence or not pursuing God is inconsistent and incompatible with Christ.

Yet, God loves his people who do not seek him.  Many believers do not realize that this place of intimacy with God, pursuing God, and the hunger that goes with that is their birthright.  The truth is that each of us are as close to God as we choose to be.

Longing for more of God or strongly desiring God is the warp and woof of being a Christian.  Not finding God does not mean you are a failure, but that you have an appetite for God.  Hunger and thirst, with the sadness that you do not have what you are looking for, is a blessed place to be in.

Your unfulfilled desires say something very good about you. To be hungry for God yet unfilled is better than to be filled with something else and not hungry for God.  It is actually tragic to be not be hungry for God, because you are filled up with something else or just don’t have an appetite for God.

The presence of God is the fundamental principal on which the Christian life is based.  If you do not have or care to have the presence of God, then you do not have Christ.  Because the crux of being a Christian is being in Christ.

Being in Christ is not like an add-on, but a take-over; a complete renovation of a life.  Being a Christian is not like a club or a party, but a life: Christ’s life in my life is a Christian life.  Christ takes me into God: into Father.

I now live through Christ and have his desires taking over my desires.  It has always been this way for believers.  Believers in God desire God.

Let’s pray.

My Life is Written on The Palms of Your Hands

Look, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands; your walls are continually before Me.

Your eyes saw me when I was formless; all my days were written in Your book and planned before a single one of them began. God, how difficult Your thoughts are for me to comprehend; how vast their sum is! If I counted them, they would outnumber the grains of sand; when I wake up, I am still with You.

-Isaiah 49:16, Psalm 139:16-18
Do you know that God has you?  God is very cognizant as to what you are going through.  God knows all about you and your life.
Do you know that God cares about you?  God cares about us as individuals.  God knows about the trial or trouble, the joy or jubilation that you are living in right now.
God knows if you are bored, frustrated, depressed, or suicidal.  God is intimately acquainted with each one of our lives and each one of us as unique individuals that he has created.  God knows and God cares.
The Bible reminds us of this fact, and I am glad it does, because I think that we tend to forget.  We forget that God knows and God cares.  He is all-knowing and forever caring.
My life is written on the palms of Your hands.
Yes, God knows and cares.  I need to be reminded of this.  I need to remember.
Everything that I experience, God experiences with me.  I am with God, even when I don’t remember that God is with me.  God intimately knows my life.
When I experience disappointment, regret, emptiness, or frustration about my life; God is there with me.  “You were here and I did not know it”, or, “There you are, with me… Oh, you are here.”  Now that I realize you are here, I can live differently, by your love.
God believes in me.  Will I believe in God?  Yes I will.
Whatever challenge we face, God is with us.  Don’t forget to realize that God is with you in what ever you are going through.  God is the essential ingredient in our lives.
We at not left alone or just known from a distance.  But God is with us in our lives.  God counsels us, advocates for us, comforts us, empowers us, teaches us, and encourages us; all of the time.
Like the psalmist says, when you wake up, there God is, with you.  We always want to be awakened to the awareness that God is with us.  This is such good news, and we need to get it, to know it, and to live in it.
The only life I can live is the life lived by the faithfulness of God.  If things are dreary, look for God’s faithfulness towards you.  God is faithful, so I need to find it, count it, and walk in it.
He knows.  Since I know he knows and sees and is with me, I want to be with him.  I will lean into God in my life.
I will lean into God’s grace, God’s presence; knowing He knows and He cares.  He has good gifts and plans for me, and the greatest good thing or gift is knowing Father’s love.
Yep, it is enough and the rest is all gravy, as they say.

Blog at

Up ↑