shortbread

short, sweet, and to-the-point — by Keith Elder

Archive for the tag “self-help”

“Psalms…Up Close and Personal”

Psalms have always been special to me. Maybe because they came out of the gut of the writer—David for the most part. David and Psalms are a little like Billy Joel and “New York State of Mind” sung in Central Park, or Whitney Houston hitting the key change in, “I Will Always Love You.” Soul stuff.

Decades ago, I read that Billy Graham went through Psalms every month—all 150…five per day. That’s commitment—particularly when Psalm 119 rolls around. It may have been the original praise chorus as it goes on and on…and on. (Being a little ADD, I appreciate the short ones. 🙂 )

I tried the “five a day” approach for a while, but for me it was just too much goodness to savor at one sitting.  So I adjusted and have for many years now, read just one psalm a day—a sort of spiritual vitamin. But that one psalm a day has become the most meaningful reading I do. As my little quartz guitar tuner helps me tune my guitar to a standard “A=440” tuning, Psalms helps me tune my heart to God.

A couple of tips that, for me, have multiplied the power of Psalms.

1) Take it personally!  Read the verses as though you were the writer—not David or some ancient, at-a-safe-distance somebody else.  Yes, psalms were written about Jerusalem, or David vs. Goliath, or a monumental blunder with Bathsheba, or processing up Mount Zion to worship on holy days.  But for your devotional purposes, the psalm is all about you. Take it personally.

The second tip has to do with a sort of spiritual geography.

Assume “Jerusalem”–that all-important, center of the Hebrew universe, the Holy City–is your life, and  that “the Temple” is your heart..your soul.  “The wilderness” and “Babylon” would be those times and places you feel furthest from God–desperate times and lonely places.

And what about “the enemies”?  Well, for now, the enemies are not some invading army or an angry King Saul trying to destroy David.  For now, the enemies  are those real life forces that are out to do you in.  Fear… lust… loneliness… financial pressures… addiction… anger,… shame… grief… greed… pride… a physical malady.  The enemy may be real life attackers like terrorists or political adversaries, or perhaps, social ills such as racism or injustice.  

Has that devotional time been a little lacking of late?

Try reading Psalms “up close and personal” for thirty-days…or thirty years.  Just one-a-day. It might just be “the cure to what ails you.” 

Keith

4-11-2015

http://keithelder.com/

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“Choose Life”

It’s probably not what you think.  I’m not thinking about the big “Choose Life” you see on the bumper stickers; I’m thinking micro-choices, mini-choices.  (In no particular order….)

I choose life when I…

…choose a healthy meal or snack over the unhealthy options;

…drink more water and less soft drinks, caffeine, sugars, etc.;

…pack my gym bag the night before and go exercise first thing in the morning;

…read materials that motivate and inspire rather than bottom-feeder news;

…turn off the television and work on cool projects;

…go to bed at 10 or 11 at the latest;

…make a point of speaking to my neighbors and touching base with family;

…take time to read a psalm and sit with God a few minutes in the morning;

…help when I see a need I can fill;

…check my facebook a couple of times a day rather than twenty.

I choose life when I…

…write notes of encouragement;

…practice all along–rather than cramming for the test;

…listen more and talk less—particularly when praying;

…let go of those old ghosts of the past—the hurts, the failures, the debilitating shame;

…do my best to do my best—then move on;

…savor the beautiful, the excellent, the noble;

…ask people ahead of me on the path for their take on my situation;

…encourage those behind me on the path;

…stand up for the little guy;

…help somebody every day.

I choose life when I…

…remind myself that I am mortal, and I can’t do everything;

…downsize;

…just say no when I know I should just say no;

…remember my roots and the people who have believed in me;

…let a few trustworthy souls into what’s really going on in my heart and mind;

…stop comparing my weaknesses to other people’s strengths;

…seize the moment and savor the day;

…do unto others as I would have them do unto me  (Jesus’ idea);

…grow a moral spine and do the right thing;

…love better, deeper, wider.

I hope my list jumpstarts yours.  Choose life.

Keith   9/29/13

 

e-mail: keitheldermusic@gmail.com        website: http://keithelder.com

 

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