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Commit Your Way to the Lord

daily reading plan

May 7, 2020 by Steven Lulich

“Commit your way to the Lord;
Trust in Him, and He will act.
He will bring forth your
Righteousness as the light,
And your justice as the noonday.”

Psalm 37:5-6

I have recently been a bit out of sorts. I’ve been tired, frustrated, overwhelmed, uncertain. How long will we need to stay at home? When will it be safe again? Am I going to have to teach an entire semester online in the Fall? Can I wrap up this semester successfully? Why are new and unexpected jobs still piling up? Will the kids ever sleep an entire night? Can I come through for my colleagues? Am I a man of my word? Am I self-disciplined? Am I a good father? Am I a good husband? Why am I struggling so much right now?

In God’s Hand

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May 6, 2020 by Tim O’Connor

“Into your hand I commit my spirit…” (Psalm 31:5)

The Psalms are the prayer book for the people of God. Being so familiar to ancient Israelites, the language of the Psalms frequently gets quoted by other biblical writers. David’s Psalm 31 is a favorite. Phrases from this psalm appear in Jonah and Jeremiah, and the opening three verses of Psalm 71 (possibly written by David himself, as an old man) closely follow David’s opening prayer here. The Church takes this process of re-embedding Scripture to a new level, as we see the deepest meaning of the entire Old Testament, the fulfillment of what it (sometimes dimly) points to, in the incarnation and life-giving ministry of Jesus Christ. The Church has especially taught Christians to see Christ throughout the Psalms, and to pray its prayers with an understanding that he inhabits them. That is easy to do in this case, as we read in it Christ’s final words on the cross, “into your hand I commit my spirit.”

Fearless Faith

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May 5, 2020 by Bob Whitaker

“The Lord is my light and salvation – whom shall I fear?  The Lord is the stronghold of my life – of whom shall I be afraid?”  There is an obvious answer to that question – NO ONE!  Why?  Because in Psalm 27 the writer is trusting in the protection of a sovereign God.  He is placing his faith in the one who is his Good Shepherd.  It is almost a defiant question that is quickly answered in verse 3; “Though an army besiege me, my heart will not fear; though war break out against me, even then I will be confident.”   This Psalm of David is a confident song that grows out of his real life experience.  Pursued by King Saul, he consistently trusted in God for the deliverance, confident in his Good Shepherd, resting under the shadow of the almighty.  As you read on you will find that his confidence is coupled with a petition that almost seems contrary to his security – “Do not turn me over to the desires of my foes…”  There is always a realism in the Psalms of David, confidence and concern, boldness and honest cries for help.  These are not contradictory themes which indicate a spiritual instability but instead they are a realistic trust in a wise and loving God.

David’s words might remind you of the Apostle in Romans 8, “If God is for us who can be against us…Who shall separate us from the love of Christ…In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.”  These words of David and Paul are not unrealistic pieces of poetry, pie-in-the-sky platitudes.  Instead, they are penned by men who endured significant suffering, both internal and external.  In both of these individuals you will find a common theme that transcends the ordinary and difficult circumstances of life.  In the midst of daily life their focus is on the eternal nature of God.  David says, “One thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon him in his temple.  For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his sacred tent and set me high upon a rock.”

If we took these words literally it would imply that David wanted to be a priest in the Tabernacle of God, dwelling there always.  However, we know this was not a real possibility since he was not from a priestly tribe and furthermore he was a king.  His words express a longing that is deeply spiritual, a desire to always be in the unbroken presence of God – a place of eternal safety and comfort.  Like David, the apostles, saints and martyrs embraced an otherworldly perspective that gave eternal meaning to the ordinary and often difficult circumstances of life.  No matter what happened they could rest under the shadow of the almighty.

Punk Evangelicals and Psalm 19

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May 4, 2020, by Dan Waugh

I have been a fan of punk rock for a long time. The classic punk band The Clash famously sang, “I fought the law, and the law won.” Punk is a movement based on fighting the man, resisting those in authority, pushing against the law.

Evangelicalism and Punk Rock might be cousins.

Silver Linings

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May 1, 2020 by Matt Wooden

Psalm 1

Stories of silver linings emerging from the quarantine have sprung up from so many sources. Among the “silverest” for our family has been the increased time out-of-doors. We have been especially thankful that the state parks have remained open and that we have had opportunities to visit our closest park, McCormick’s Creek, with much greater frequency than usual.

Early in Indiana’s state park years, Richard Lieber and his Conservation Department worked tirelessly to draw people to the newly formed state parks, of which McCormick’s Creek was the first in 1916. The earliest trail maps bear a statement from the Division of Lands and Waters called “The Intelligent Use of Leisure.” It reads:

“This trail map is given to you with the compliments of the state of Indiana through its Department of Conservation in the hope that it will direct your attention to the primary purpose for which the state park system has been established.

These recreational areas are parts of ‘original America,’ preserving for posterity typical primitive landscapes of scenic grandeur and rugged beauty.

Along the quiet trails through these reservations it is to be expected that the average citizen will find release from the tension of his over-crowded daily existence; that the contact with nature will re-focus with a clearer lens his perspective on life values and that he may here take counsel with himself to the end that his strength and confidence is renewed.”

I can’t read those initial words of hope for the state park system without thinking of the initial chorus of the book of Psalms. We hear for the first time what will be a consistent refrain of the psalmists: a charge to consider the activity of the natural world, created by the language and still persistently pouring forth the language of our God. Psalm 1 puts two natural images in front of us: a fruit-bearing tree planted by a flowing stream and the empty chaff of wheat blown by the wind. We are asked to consider which we most resemble: elements of God’s creation that are simultaneously being nourished and nourishing others or dead, spent shells of what was designed to be fruitful.

Interestingly, the second-growth woodlands that cover McCormick’s Creek State Park have sprouted over the past century from the chaff of the fields of the settlers’ farms. Just yesterday, my family walked alone through those woods, finding by the flowing creek a newly-born tulip poplar tree bearing just two small leaves. As Richard Lieber would have hoped, it made me consider my perspective and as the psalmist commands, it reminded me of the blessing of those whose delight is in the language of the Lord: the blessing of ever new life rising from the dead.

In this season, I hope that you too might be drawn to “scenic grandeur and rugged beauty” not only for their own sake, but primarily to be drawn into the images that spoke to the psalmists and draw our hearts to their maker and ours.

Behold the Man

daily reading plan

April 30, 2020 by Steven Lulich

So Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. Pilate said to them, “Behold the man!” John 19:5

A number of years ago I came across this little chestnut, scribbled (of all places) across the door of a public restroom stall:

Nietzsche:  God is dead.

God:  Nietzsche is dead.

Deliver Him

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April 29, 2020 by Tim O’Connor

“Deliver me, O LORD, from evil men…” (Psalm 140:1)

Come to think of it, King David of Israel’s journey of faith was really not much like that of a college professor in a small Indiana city. Plucked as a shepherd boy, made an aide to the king, then chased by the now-murderous king while hiding out in caves, David survives to become king himself– only to learn that the life of a king isn’t all that it is cracked up to be.

Longing for Community

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April 28, 2020 by Bob Whitaker

The thing I have missed most during this quarantine period is going to church.  But as I write this sentence it seems odd because I still go to church every day.  About four staff members are at ECC each day sending emails, connecting with people, having Zoom meetings, writing devotionals, preparing a “virtual devotional” online, planning a virtual worship service for Sunday morning. 

In the Valley

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April 27, 2020 by Dan Waugh

Psalm 121:1 “I lift up my eyes to the mountains— where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth”

I think we have all read these words, probably even sung them before. Take a moment to ask yourself a question that may seem quite obvious. If I’m lifting my eyes up to the mountains, where am I? Well, not on the mountain top, of course.


daily reading plan

April 24, 2020 by Melissa Hullinger

The reading for today included Psalms 116-119:33.  I ask for the reader’s leniency, though, because something beautiful is happening in this passage, starting with a few Psalms earlier, so I want to include a portion of yesterday’s reading again today.