Stop Striving (Original Song)

Happy Lord’s Day!

I hope you enjoy this simple song based on Psalms 130 -131. It’s been a good reminder for me during these turbulent times.

Oh my soul stop striving
Oh my soul keep quiet and calm
Oh my soul stay watching
He has promised morning will come

My heart is not lifted high
My eyes turn away from pride
There are things too great, mysteries deep
God has hidden them from me

My soul is a little child
My want has been satisfied
I am leaning on tender arms
of God, my father and mother

And my heart hopes only in the Lord
My hands raise praises with the people of my God
From now until forevermore
From now until forever more

Out of the depths I cry
Lord, hear me and come nigh
If you counted sin, who could stand?
Yet we find your fearsome forgiveness

And my heart hopes only in the Lord
My hands raise praises with the people of my God
From now until forevermore
From now until forever more

Oh my soul stop striving
Oh my soul keep quiet and calm
Oh my soul stay watching
He has promised morning will come

Thanks to Ross King Music for the recording!

Gold Star Double-Portion Friday

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.  (Philippians 4:8)

From the Book Stack:

Praying Backwards by Brian Chapell.  Having adult children has greatly motivated my prayer life!  I still have many questions about how to pray, and what kinds of answers to expect.  This book has been very helpful so far.

From the Link List:

Interesting and literary contemplation of Christian death:  https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/a-daring-and-beautiful-duel-over-death

Kevin DeYoung on the gospel:  https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/kevin-deyoung/christianity-is-about-saving-sinners/; related:  https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/christless-gospel-spineless-christians/

The gospel in the Psalms:  https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/seeing-christ-shape-psalms/

Help for the struggle against lust:  https://www.desiringgod.org/interviews/escape-the-worlds-infatuation-with-sex

More DeYoung, this time on men and women:  https://www.crossway.org/articles/5-patterns-of-biblical-manhood-and-womanhood/; more:  https://www.crossway.org/articles/feminine-beauty-and-masculine-strength/

Have more babies!  https://samueldjames.substack.com/p/evangelicals-and-the-global-population

Dennis Prager:  https://townhall.com/columnists/dennisprager/2021/03/30/the-american-civil-war-is-over-judeochristian-values-n2587090

Simonetta Carr:  https://tabletalkmagazine.com/posts/recovering-wisdom/

I love the connections Peter Leithart finds in Scripture:  https://www.firstthings.com/web-exclusives/2021/04/new-world-from-water

That time I went into stealth mode and discussed the gender pay gap with a friendly liberal:  https://moneywithmegumi.com/staging/1066/the-gender-pay-gap-with-laura-fleming/

Tragedy:  https://thefederalist.com/2021/04/07/activists-deliberately-amplified-transgenderism-to-americas-gullible-kids-and-few-are-protecting-them/

FOR MORE INFORMATION…

For my books, see: I Will Meditate on Your Precepts (Psalm 119) and The Passion of Job

For my articles, see: The Federalist,  The Gospel Coalition,  and Servants of Grace

Finally, if you like fantasy, please support my son, author Zeppy Cheng at his Amazon page and at Dingbat Publishing.

Gold Star Identifying-as-Friday

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.  (Philippians 4:8)

From the Book Stack:

I am happy to announce publication of The Lesser One by Zeppy Cheng (my son).  In this fast-paced fantasy, main character Markus Red struggles against monsters and his own unpredictable powers.  Thanks to Dingbat Publishing for giving Zeppy his first break!   If you are looking for light fiction — without all the explicit sex and gratuitous profanity — give Dingbat a try.

From the Link List:

I have been enjoying the Dillehays (Justin and Tilly), who both speak with a refreshing clarity:  https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/mystery-christian-obedience/.  I am about halfway through Tilly’s book, Broken Bread.  Contains a lot of practical wisdom for those of us with “food issues” of various kinds.

For a robust theology of suffering, read the Psalms:  https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/will-you-praise-him-while-you-wait

Peter Leithart on the imprecatory Psalms:  https://www.firstthings.com/web-exclusives/2021/03/sing-the-mean-psalms

Marvin Olasky’s conversion story, a great one:  https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/while-i-was-still-a-marxist. If you haven’t read Olasky’s classic, The Tragedy of American Compassion, you should do so right away!

The end of feminism is extinction:  https://thefederalist.com/2021/03/18/report-americans-obsession-with-careers-is-contributing-to-our-dangerous-lack-of-babies/

FOR MORE INFORMATION…

For my books, see: I Will Meditate on Your Precepts (Psalm 119) and The Passion of Job

For my articles, see: The Federalist,  The Gospel Coalition,  and Servants of Grace

Finally, if you like fantasy, please support my son, author Zeppy Cheng at his Amazon page and at Dingbat Publishing.

Gold Star Friday (procrastinator’s edition)

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.  (Philippians 4:8)

From the Book Stack:

He Came In With It by Miriam Feldman.  Feldman tells the story of her son’s diagnosis with schizophrenia, and the chaos unleashed on her family over the following decade.  It is a very raw and moving account.  I don’t know how Feldman and her husband made it through without Jesus.  When I look at my own son and think about how far God has brought us, I feel very thankful and humbled.

From the Link List:

C’mon guys, let’s get back to church:  https://www.9marks.org/article/not-gathering-with-the-church-hurts-you-spiritually/

How to share Christ with those who identify as LGBTQ https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/podcasts/tgc-podcast/sexual-challenges-your-church-response/

Christopher Ash answers a question I have often wondered about the Psalms:  https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/according-to-my-righteousness

On Biblical womanhood:  https://northamanglican.com/review-of-icons-of-christ-plausibility-structures/; related, ordinary faithfulness by women:  https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/the-hidden-ministry-of-homemaking

Greg Morse plays Screwtape:  https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/trapped-for-all-eternity

Critical theory craziness at elite prep schools:  https://www.city-journal.org/the-miseducation-of-americas-elites; related:  https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2021/04/private-schools-are-indefensible/618078/.  I was a scholarship student at Phillips Exeter Academy before attending Harvard College (also on scholarship).  I had a great time and appreciate the doors my education has opened for me.  Of course, these institutions promoted a significant leftist agenda when I was there in the 90s — William F. Buckley documented similar trends in the 40s!  But you could still get a decent education.  I don’t think that is true any longer.  I would not want my children to attempt the experiment.

FOR MORE INFORMATION…

For my books, see: I Will Meditate on Your Precepts (Psalm 119) and The Passion of Job

For my articles, see: The Federalist,  The Gospel Coalition,  and Servants of Grace

Finally, if you like fantasy, please support my son, author Zeppy Cheng at his Amazon page.  He has a new book coming out (soon!!) with Dingbat Publishing, which is very exciting.

Gold Star Friday (Double Portion)

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.  (Philippians 4:8)

Movie Night:

Here are a couple thought-provoking, PG-13 movies to consider for date night.

Words on Bathroom Walls:  A sympathetic, and fairly realistic, portrayal of a teen with schizophrenia.  The step-father and the priest were similarly realistic and sympathetic.  We enjoyed this movie. Two caveats:  (1) the timeline of disease was severely condensed, I assume for dramatic purposes.  It takes years to exhaust medical options and receive a diagnosis of treatment-resistant schizophrenia, not months.  (2) the priest, although sympathetic, did not offer the full gospel. 

Mud with Matthew McConaughey.  A lament for broken families, and a tribute to the power of friendship.  Sometimes funny, sometimes mysterious, sometimes sad.

I’m Your Woman.  A leisurely-paced crime drama, set in the 1970s, involving a mob wife and a baby.  Gripping, and also sad.

Great Interviews with Great People:

Ryan T. Anderson: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/federalist-radio-hour/id983782306?i=1000510538662 (author of banned book “When Harry Became Sally”)

Dr. Samuel Gregg: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/federalist-radio-hour/id983782306?i=1000511353646 (discussion of free markets and family-friendly government policy)

Allan C. Carlson: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/canon-calls/id1468028842?i=1000510290884 (premier authority on family-friendly government policy)

Sye Ten Bruggencate: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/canon-calls/id1468028842?i=1000505765156 (presuppositional apologetics)

Jeremiah Roberts: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/aliens-bethel-and-the-weird-jeremiah-roberts/id1468028842?i=1000508297492 (New Age influences;  I am also reading his book The Second Coming of the New Age, which is a good apologetics resource).

Link List:

Simonetta Carr defends common response to fall of Christian leaders (such as Ravi Zacharias):  https://www.reformation21.org/blog/there-but-for-the-grace-of-god-go-i

Why Christ’s ascension is an important (but neglected) event:  https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/reviews/ascension-patrick-schreiner/

Carl Trueman on transgender issues in the church:  https://www.firstthings.com/web-exclusives/2021/03/a-new-pastoral-problem

Peter Leithart pushes back against COVID lockdowns:  https://fb.watch/42hz7DaTji/

The church is bigger than the current generation.  I wish our churches still had attached graveyards.  Perhaps more families could afford burial rather than cremation: https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/communion-dead-saints-hebrews-12/

As an attorney, I appreciate the reminder that we are not just “thinking things” – by James K.A. Smith:  https://www.christiancentury.org/article/how-my-mind-has-changed/i-m-philosopher-we-can-t-think-our-way-out-mess

Excellent discussion of a tricky passage:  https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/head-coverings-1-corinthians-11/

Excellent, long-form article on Scripture and slavery.  https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/slavery-old-and-new

Helpful structural guide to the book of Acts:  https://www.knowableword.com/2021/02/26/acts-the-worlds-salvation-cannot-be-stopped/

FOR MORE INFORMATION…

For my books, see: I Will Meditate on Your Precepts (Psalm 119) and The Passion of Job

For my articles, see: The Federalist,  The Gospel Coalition,  and Servants of Grace

Finally, if you like fantasy, please support my son, author Zeppy Cheng at his Amazon page.  He has a new book coming out (at some point!) with Dingbat Publishing, which is very exciting.

Gold Star Friday

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.  (Philippians 4:8)

From the link list:

We have been snowed in and looks like I spent a lot of time reading online.  Probably too much time… 

For those who celebrated Ash Wednesday this week, Peter Leithart:  https://www.firstthings.com/web-exclusives/2019/03/season-of-ashes

On ordinary faithfulness:  https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/trevin-wax/significance-in-insignificance/; which includes the daily fight against sin:  https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/forsake-your-favorite-excuse

On Christian Marriage:  https://rpmministries.org/2021/02/valentines-day-gospel-centered-marriages/; and threats to Christian marriage:  https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/reviews/christian-marriage-regnerus/

The Ravi Zacharias sex scandal is awful.  At the same time, some of the outrage reporting smacks more of virtue signaling than true sorrow over the sins of a Christian leader.   I think Randy Alcorn takes the right approach here:  https://www.epm.org/blog/2021/Feb/12/ravi-zacharias-sexual-abuse

Understanding world views:  https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/reviews/universe-next-door-worldview-sire/; see also https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/trevin-wax/the-problem-with-the-unencumbered-spiritual-self/

The relationship between worldview and art:  https://thefederalist.com/2021/02/16/the-classics-survived-university-witch-hunts-before-and-will-do-it-again/; see also https://thefederalist.com/2021/02/16/bill-de-blasio-is-now-producing-terrible-art/

The peril of empty platitudes https://www.theepochtimes.com/growing-up-in-a-culture-of-empty-cheers_3682645.html; and of social media more generally: https://gentlereformation.com/2021/02/12/igeneration-and-identity/   

Fight COVID cruelty by returning to church:  https://ftc.co/resource-library/blog-entries/i-long-to-see-you-a-pastoral-plea-for-valuing-in-person-gatherings/.  And pray for Canadian Pastor James Coates:  https://www.christianitytoday.com/news/2021/february/canada-pastor-jail-arrest-gracelife-church-covid-order.html; and don’t be afraid of dying:  https://voice.dts.edu/tablepodcast/embracing-our-mortality/

In case you think “COVID cruelty” is too harsh of a term:  https://thefederalist.com/2021/02/15/covid-rules-force-us-to-trade-substance-for-sterility-and-will-change-our-culture-forever/; related:  https://thefederalist.com/2021/02/16/government-lockdowns-not-the-virus-booted-millions-of-women-from-the-workforce/; more:  https://amgreatness.com/2021/02/16/the-pandemic-is-over/; more https://fee.org/articles/the-new-york-times-finally-discovers-unintended-consequences/

And finally, Critical Race Craziness:  https://thefederalist.com/2021/02/16/democrats-demands-for-equity-are-really-a-demand-to-amp-up-government-discrimination/; more:  https://thefederalist.com/2021/02/16/when-progressives-say-whiteness-they-mean-white-people/; and more:  https://thefederalist.com/2021/02/16/new-york-school-principal-urges-parents-to-become-white-abolitionists-with-propaganda-graphic/

FOR MORE INFORMATION…

For my books, see: I Will Meditate on Your Precepts (Psalm 119) and The Passion of Job

For my articles, see: The Federalist,  The Gospel Coalition,  and Servants of Grace.  Finally, if you like fantasy, please support my son, author Zeppy Cheng at his Amazon page.  He has a new book coming out (at some point!) with Dingbat Publishing, which is very exciting.

Finale (Taw Year 2) — plus original song

Psalm 119:170: “Let my plea come before you; deliver me according to your word.”

And so we come once more to the end of Psalm 119.  This final stanza captures the posture of a faithful believer: on our knees, humbly looking to God for deliverance, in obedience to his word.  And we pray in confidence, knowing God will hear and act.

Thanks to all who have joined me in kicking off 2021 with Psalm 119.  I am passionate about this Psalm, because it has transformed (and continues to transform) my perspective on God and his word.  As believers we are called to saturate our hearts and minds with Scripture, taking every thought captive and making it obedient to Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5).  I can testify that praying through Psalm 119 will bring all the blessings our psalmist has experienced: greater understanding, joy, and a closer relationship with Christ. 

If the Lord wills it and I live, I look forward to Psalm 119 for January 2022.  Meanwhile, I hope you enjoy the below song, “My Cry Flies to You,” based on this final stanza (Taw).  Ross King was kind enough to put together the simple acoustical arrangement.  May this be our prayer no matter what the rest of 2021 brings.

My Cry Flies to You, by Laura Baxter (performed by Ross King), based on Psalm 119 Taw

Plunder (Sin & Shin Year 2)

Psalm 119:162:  “I rejoice at your word like one who finds great spoil.”

For 8 seasons now, Rick and Marty Lagina have been searching for treasure on Oak Island.  Despite throwing enormous amounts of time, money, and technology at the problem, the Lagina brothers have not been super successful.  A metal spike here, a coin or two there.  In contrast, our psalmist says, “I’ve found it!  I’ve found the pirate’s booty!”

We know that the word of God is highly desirable, giving life, wisdom, joy, light.  “More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb.”  (Psalm 19:7-11).  The psalmist is very happy with the treasure he has found. And yet the word chosen by the psalmist, “spoil,” implies something more than just good stuff.  It implies a battle, and a victory:  the spoils of war. 

The battle is off-screen, and so is the victory.  And it does not appear our psalmist is the hero. In fact, princes are still picking on him (Psalm 119:161).  So why does he laugh as if he is plundering the enemy?  In faith, the psalmist looked toward the time when our greatest battle, over sin and death, would be won. (Isaiah 59:16-17, 1 Corinthians 15:56-57).  Christ is the warrior who plundered the devil (Luke 11:22), and it is God’s word that reveals Christ to us.

Prayer:  God, don’t ever let us become bored with your word.  Help us see and savor Christ, who defeats our enemies.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

For further study, see Psalm 119 for January 2020, as well as my devotional on Psalm 119. 

Gold Star Friday

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.  (Philippians 4:8)

From the link list:

Marriage has a higher meaning:  https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/your-spouse-should-complete-you

But marriage is also very practical:  https://thefederalist.com/2021/02/10/why-every-child-deserves-married-parents-and-a-society-who-helps-them-get-that/

Read More Bible:  https://www.kimberlywagner.org/2021/02/09/the-bored-with-reading-the-bible-antidote/

So many admonitions in the Bible require wisdom in application to particular circumstances:  https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/avoid-contentious-people/

When we are broken over our sin, God is near:  https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/seek-a-broken-heart-for-sin

Beautiful version of Psalm 1 by Poor Bishop Hooper:  https://youtu.be/DuxCMSk25EM

Are you sharing the good news or a lie?  Anne Kennedy:  https://standfirminfaith.com/say-it-again/

The lie behind abortion:  https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/trevin-wax/when-expressive-individualism-kills/

Africa is way ahead of us:  https://thefederalist.com/2021/02/10/africans-plead-with-joe-biden-to-stop-paying-their-countries-to-kill-children/

COVID-craziness is COVID-cruelty:  https://amgreatness.com/2021/02/11/the-callous-covid-cruelty-of-our-ruling-class/

FOR MORE INFORMATION…

For my books, see: I Will Meditate on Your Precepts (Psalm 119) and The Passion of Job

For my articles, see: The Federalist,  The Gospel Coalition,  and Servants of Grace

Finally, if you like fantasy, please support my son, author Zeppy Cheng at his Amazon page.  He has a new book coming out (at some point!) with Dingbat Publishing, which is very exciting.

No Spare Change (Resh Year 2)

Psalm 119:154:  “Plead my cause and redeem me; give me life according to your promise!”

Coming out of the supermarket, you see a man shuffling toward you.  His clothes are multi-layered and stained.  His smell is not great.  He asks, “Can you help me?”  You feel a pang of compassion (or is it guilt?) and pull out a couple dollars.  He nods his thanks and turns away, while you breathe a sigh of relief.

This is not our psalmist.  He may be stinky all right, but he is not asking God for spare change.  The psalmist is making a big, bold request for help that is personal and costly.  “I need you to be my advocate, my champion.  I am in bondage, and I need you to buy me out.”  This is the midnight proposal that Ruth made to Boaz, poor widow to wealthy farmer:  “Spread your wings over your servant, for you are a redeemer.”  (Ruth 3:9).  And this is the challenge that Christ accepted, spilling his own blood to pay our redemption from sin (Hebrews 9:12).

Salvation is not a one-time handout, it is a relationship.  We belong to a Redeemer who loves us and cares for us.  Jesus is the good Shepherd who lays down his life for his sheep (John 10:14-15).  We hear his voice, we follow his word, and we cling to the promise that he will give us abundant life (John 10:3-4, 10). 

Prayer:  Thank you for redeeming me, at great expense.  The life that you have given according to your promise, let me live according to your promise.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

For further study, see Psalm 119 for January 2020, as well as my devotional on Psalm 119.