The Westminster Confession of Funk

Talking about theology, but keeping it funky

I am a husband and father and pastor of Trinity Covenant Church and teacher as St. Abraham’s Classical Christian Academy in Santa Cruz, CA.

I married my Indian Princess just before Y2K. I am an old fashioned Protestant Christian Humanist who lives where people vacation. I love music, love to surf, coach soccer for a hoard of minions, play the drums, and read actual flesh and blood books. I enjoy theology and literature and history and philosophy (if Sophie is serving beer) and Anglo-Saxon Poetry.

If I could have lunch with any three living people, I would have buffalo ribs with a butter, mushroom, cream sauce, Roxy Ray would be singing with Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings, and I’d be at table with Tom Wolfe, ?uestlove, and Adam Schlesinger (and Brad Bird, because it’s my fantasy, and no one can count in my fantasy).

If I could have dinner with any three dead people (and the TARDIS was there with its universal language translation circuit) I’d have slow smoked dry ribs with the author of Beowulf, Herodotus, Martin Bucer, and Polycarp (see the previous paragraph if you have questions about my ability to count). And Janis Joplin would be singing with Louis Armstrong and his All-Stars backed up by Parliament Funkadelic of course.

My carefully crafted internet persona is also much cooler than my actual person, but I can live with that.

Filtering by Category: Psalm 119

Shame and the Christian - Psalm 119:6

Then shall I not be ashamed, when I have respect unto all thy commandments (Ps. 119:6).

Shame is real. It is the experience that we something that we wanted hidden is revealed. It is what we feel when sins that we would rather have in the dark are brought out into the light. God knows everything. There is nothing that is hidden to him.

Nothing.

None of your sins are hidden from the eye of the Lord, which sees everything.

Everything.

Here the psalmist explains that the root of our shame is disobedience and a lack of single-hearted devotion to following after the life of God as it is laid out in the law. But the psalmist wants to not be ashamed, and he sees that one of the purposes of the law is to keep us from shame. God has not given us the law in order to shame us. He has given us his word in order to keep us from shame. When we respect and obey God’s commandments, we avoid shame.

Respecting God’s commandments means that we honor the fact that God has a right to tell us how this place works. He has the authority to define the world for us because he is the creator, not only of the world, but also the creator of us. Respecting the law is another way of saying that we believe that what God says about the world is true. It is another way of saying that we trust God’s word.

God’s word has the authority of God as the creator and sovereign king over creation. And the psalmist tells us here that, in his word, God has told us how to avoid shame. God has told us the way that he has created the world. There are mysterious things about the world.

There are things hidden and difficult to understand. Avoiding shame is not one of those things. God has plainly told us how to avoid shame. Live the life described and prescribed by the law of God. The life that is the life of the Triune God.

But we have sinned. We have done shameful things. We have lived lives that have uncovered ourselves before God and before one another. This would be the end if we had to fix ourselves. We would do no better than Adam and Eve  when they tried to hide their shame with fig leaves.

But God, who is rich in mercy, came to us in Christ Jesus. But God, who is rich in grace, sent his son to become one of us. But God, who is rich in mercy, sent his Son Jesus to die on the cross for us. But God, who is rich in mercy, allowed his son Jesus to be stripped naked, taking our shame upon himself, so that his death could be the death of our shame. And not the death of our shame only, but he has taken the shame of all those that believe in him, those near and those far, and nailed it to the tree in his body. Though we were ashamed, we are now covered in the righteousness of Christ.

Confess all that you are ashamed of, and be covered by God’s mercy.

Blessed with Obedience - Psalm 119:5

O that my ways were directed; to keep thy statutes! (Ps. 119:5)

We all have those keys that we keep because we don't remember what they go too. And it is too risky to just toss them. Because when you find the lock and go looking for the key, it will be the one that you tossed. 

For many Christian's, obedience to the law is that lonely key, that we know that we shouldn't throw out, because we are sure that it goes to something. We just can't remember what it unlocks.  But the author of the 119th psalm comes to our rescue and reminds us that obedience to the law is a key that unlocks many of the gifts and blessings that God has hidden for us in the world. But the key that unlocks, the obedience itself, is also a gift. 

The psalmist has established that God’s blessings begin by training us to keep God’s commands (vv. 1). God commands are in themselves blessings (vv. 2).  So he cries out to the Lord for the blessing of obedience.

He asks specifically that his ways be directed. He has already discussed how the ways in which the Lord lives are spelled out in God’s testimonies (vv. 3). The law of the Lord is a description of the way that God lives, and the psalmist begs that God would direct his own ways so that he would keep God’s statutes. The Psalmist wants the law to be his path.

He wants blessings, but unless the first blessing of obedience comes he will never reach the blessings that are further down the road

The life of God is true life. Those that are made in the image of God find life when their life is directed after the life of God. The law of God is like food. We cannot live without it. That is why Asaph writes “I am the Lord thy God, Which brought thee out of the land of Egypt: Open thy mouth wide, and I will fill it” (Psalm 81:10). He quotes the opening statement of the ten commandments, and then writes, now open up, because you are about to be fed.

The Psalmist cries out to the Lord for the blessing of being able to follow after God, knowing what he has already told us. God’s pattern is to bless us with obedience. Whereas disobedience to God’s law is death-shaped, obedience is itself life-shaped. But then, through the obedience, more blessings come. So he is praying, Lord bless me with a way of living that leads to more blessings.

He is embracing the way of God, which is the way of building blessings over time. Everyone is either moving towards the fullness of blessings, or a fullness of cursing. Pleading for the blessing of obedience is pleading to be put on the path that leads to the fullness of blessings, all of the way into the resurrection.

Too often, we look to get the blessings directly without first looking for the gift of obedience. But God’s blessings are given in history, and the key that unlocks the blessings of the earth is obedience to God’s law. It is still all grace, we still have to say thank you for all of it as a gift, because the obedience was given as a gift in the first place, but one of the primary ways that the Lord God pours his blessings upon us is by means of obedience. So look to leave behind your sin, and ask the Lord that he would direct your ways to keep his statutes. 


Living the Good Life - Psalm 119:4

Thou hast commanded us to keep thy precepts diligently (Ps. 119:4).

God tells us how to live our life. This is a verse that the Devil has a problem with. There are precepts, principles, and instructions that God wants us to obey. And when we are being honest this verse that is difficult for us too. God’s commands and precepts are not just advice that we can take or leave. We are required to follow. We are required to submit. We are required to obey.

There is an ultimate chain of command. God has reserved his right, as our creator, to tell us what to do. God is the one that defines for us what is right and what is wrong.

There are three errors that are easy to slip into:

The first is to flatly disobey. God says do not get drunk, you get sloshed. God says do not steal. You stuff your pockets at the mall and run away. Straight forward disobedience is a sin, and the answer is straight forward repentance. Turning away from our sin and doing what we are told. Agreeing with God that we have sinned, asking for forgiveness, and then responding to God’s forgiveness with obedience.

The second is to see that there is a chain of command, that God gives commands, and then assume that whatever you believe is right and wrong is therefore a command from God. Because, of course, God wants us to do what is right. He has commanded us to do what is right. Therefore whatever I think is right and wrong must be a command from God. But God has commanded us, and it is his commands that are binding. Not what you think his commands are, or what you think would have also have been a good idea.

This is one of the sins that Jesus went after most often, the sin of treating your own commands as if they have the force and authority of God’s commands.

They do not.

We study the scriptures and discover God’s commands, and it is those commands that are binding.

And lastly, we see that God has given us commands, and so we grit our teeth, and obey, even though we think God’s commands are a heavy burden. We obey with a bad attitude. Or we obey and then act like we are martyrs because we are being kept back from something better by God’s commands. We obey the fourth verse of Ps. 119 while not believing the first three verses.

It is a blessing to be on the path of the Lord. It is a blessing to be able to walk in the law of the Lord (1). It is a blessing to be able to keep God’s testimonies. It is a blessing when our whole heart is trained on Jesus (2). Because when we know the Law, and are blessed by God with the ability to keep it, we are actually living the good life (3).

The law is not keeping us from the good life. The law is not an obstacle course that we have to get through before we can start living the good life. The law is a dissected description of the good life because it is a dissected description of the life of our Trinitarian God. The law is God saying, “Follow Me.”

God gives us commands because he wants us to know how to live. The law is only restrictive the way the string on a kite is restrictive. It is the restriction on the kite that makes it able to capture the wind.

But we have disobeyed. We have treated God’s law like a punishment. God commands us to stay out of the cage of sin. And we respond like some scrimpy and stingy god is abusing us. But God is not stingy or tight-fisted at all. Instead, he is merciful and generous. Confess your sin and taste his forgiving grace.

The shape of a blessed life - Psalm 119:3

They also do no iniquity: they walk in his ways (Ps. 119:3).

As the psalmist continues (v. 1, v. 2) to explain what a blessed life looks like, the psalmist writes that a blessed person does no iniquity. Being given over to sin is the opposite of a blessing. Sin is death. Sin is the opposite of life. Turning to sin is to turn away from living. One of the central ways that God blesses us is by changing our desires. He turns our hearts away from sin and towards righteousness. When we are under the blessing of God, our desires for sin begin to be undone. God is changing our desires so that we no longer find ourselves slaves to sin, no longer slaves to death. Instead we are slaves to life, slaves to righteousness.

Doing right is in itself a blessing. Doing right is a description of living. Real living. But notice what else it is. Those that are blessed, do not sin. They walk in God’s ways. They follow after God. The opposite of sin is to walk in God’s ways. Those that do not sin are the ones that do the kind of things that God does. They follow after God and imitate him. They do what He would do.

The law is a description of life because it is a description of the living God. The law is the ‘come follow me’ discipleship of the Old Testament. God gives us the law so that we can be like him. He tells us what he is like, He tells us the shape of his life, by giving us the law. That is why the scriptures are called the word of God, and when Jesus comes he is called the Word dwelling among us. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. . . 14And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.” (John 1:1, 14).

 The law is a description of Jesus before he comes because the law is a description of the life of God, and Jesus is the full revelation of God. If you want to be like God, then follow the law. If you want to know what God is like, look at Jesus. He is the most alive. He always does what was right. In fact, because he had never sinned, that when he was crucified, he was so alive that he came back from the dead. Death could not hold that much life without bursting at the seams. The grave could not hold someone so full of the delight of living. The strength of the life of Jesus was too much for the grave.

David, prophetically describing the mockers surrounding Jesus while he was being crucified wrote, All they that see me laugh me to scorn: They shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying, He trusted on the Lord that he would deliver him: Let him deliver him, seeing he delighted in him.” (Psalm 22:7–8). And as the Chief Priests and scribes and Pharisees mocked the naked and hanging Jesus, one of them shouted out, “He trusted in God; let him deliver him now, if he will have him: for he said, I am the Son of God.” (Matthew 27:43). Jesus delighted in God and called himself the Son of God. And as the Son of God, he walked without sin because he was born of God (1 John 3:9; 5:18). He walked in the way of God because well-loved sons delight in their Father. “Then said Jesus unto them, When ye have lifted up the Son of man, then shall ye know that I am he, and that I do nothing of myself; but as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things. And he that sent me is with me: the Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please him.” (John 8:28–29).

So when Jesus was raised from the dead, life was vindicated, living in the way of God was vindicated, and living without sin was vindicated.

irish blessing.jpg

Saying Thank You For Your Obedience - Psalm 119:2

Blessed are they that keep his testimonies, and that seek him with the whole heart (Ps. 119:2).

Here we have a description of someone who is blessed. Those that keep God's testimony are those that are blessed. Those that seek God with their whole heart are blessed people. These two things are descriptions of a blessing. You are really a blessed person, God has been very kind to you, if you find yourself keeping God's testimonies and seeking God with your whole heart. Even our obedience is something to say ‘thank you’ for.

God's testimonies are a description of a blessed life. God's law is where we find a description of a life full of blessings. And keeping of God's testimonies, obeying God’s law, is the way that we find God’s blessings. God has hidden many wonderful blessings in the world, and the treasure map that he has given us to hunt out those blessings is his law. Obeying the law keeps the piano strings of our life in tune so that we can produce beautiful music. The God who made the piano understands how to tune it. So when God wants to bless us, he begins by blessing us with obedience, because so many other blessings are hidden in little cupboard doors that obedience opens.

Christianity is not a Gnostic mystery religion full of secret and invisible blessings. The God of the Bible gave us the Bible in order to be clear about where the blessing were. And a blessed is shaped like obeying God's law.

A blessed life is also marked by an undivided heart. Blessed are they that are seeking God with their whole heart. A divided heart is a heavy burden. Paul calls us to live our lives unto the Lord with our whole heart. Simplicity of heart, single-heartedness, where our whole heart is focused on serving Christ is a blessing that we should be seeking and saying thank you for when it is given us.

“So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart” (Act 2:46). “For our boasting is this: the testimony of our conscience that we conducted ourselves in the world in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom but by the grace of God, and more abundantly toward you” (2 Cor. 1:12).But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ” (2 Cor. 11:3).

Following Jesus is not generally complicated. It is a matter of not letting our devotion get divided between Jesus and anything else. Blessings are obedience shaped. Obedience to God's law is what it looks like to seek God with your whole heart. Since Jesus said, “If you love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15) a heart that is focused upon Jesus will keep his commandments. And when we obey, we can then say thank you for that gift of obedience.

Walking in the Law - Ps. 119:1

Blessed are the undefiled in the way, who walk in the law of the Lord (Ps. 119:1).

The one who is blessed by the Lord walks in his law. Notice that it does not say that the one who walks in the law of the will be blessed. The scriptures do say that in other places, but here it goes back even deeper. Before the blessings that come from obedience, comes the blessing of obedience. The obedience itself is a gift.

God's grace precedes our obedience, and then our obedience flows out that grace, and then blessings come to us through the obedience itself. Walking in the Law of the Lord is here evidence of someone being blessed. They are a blessed person who finds themselves walking in the law of the Lord; who find themselves in the way, on the path

But why is walking in the law of the Lord a blessing? We tend to think of following the law of the Lord as something that is restrictive. We want to do one thing, but we have to do another because God has gone and made it illegal. But the law is given to us as a description of living. This is what real life looks like. The Ten Commandments are not given to us to keep us from living. They are given to us to keep us from not living

A love and desire for the knowledge of the scriptures should drive us to learn the scriptures. We should be making it to church to hear and learn what God has done and said. We should be reading the scriptures, both to ourselves and to our families. And we should look for creative ways to redeem our time. Audiobooks and recorded sermons while we drive or do laundry are wonderful ways to learn what it looks like to walk in the Law of the Lord.

The law is full of signs that say, "Lookout! There is a pothole here, and a cliff there. Death lurks deep in this swamp. Stay out!" Blessed is the one who is still in the way, on the road. When God tells you to not do something, trust him. He loves you and wants you to have life and to have it more abundantly. Sin is death. Blessed is the man who is walking in the law of the Lord.