On January 1, 2022 I took up a challenge to write out 6 Psalms a month, writing out the entire book of 150 pslams in just about 2 years. I worked a little ahead and finished the challenge a couple of weeks ago. I can attest that it was an amazing experience. It just took about five minutes each morning, but slowed me down and allowed me to meditate and study what I writing. I discovered I didn’t always understand the Psalm, so sometimes I would look up commentaries or different translations. I discovered so many rich and deep themes I had just glanced over in the past. I also would write out praise, confession, thanksgiving and supplication from my verses each day and I saw just how much more powerful were the poetic descriptions of God’s attributes than were the summaries naming which attribute the verses contained. I noticed that often Psalms near one another shared a theme. I have come to love the Psalms so much more. It was such transformative experience that I am doing it again. There are 2461 verses in the Psalms. This time my plan is write out 4 verses a day and complete writing out the book in two years, with grace to miss a day here and there.
I also would look up Psalms sometimes in Ray’s commentaries or even using online resources, especially the trustworthy Matthew Henry commentary. I tried to read through a couple of books on the Psalms. Commentaries can be a bit dry. I have found one book that I am loving though. It talks a lot about the connection between Psalms and the themes of the five books of the Psalms, something that has been particularly fascinating to me over these two years. It is called “Learning to Love the Psalms” by Robert Godfrey. It makes a great companion and I am looking forward to reading it along side my Psalms as I am starting back at Psalm one.
Here is a page from my notebook, Psalm 146. You may notice that it is in Spanish. That is because I do my Bible reading (and writing) in Spanish since our ministry is done in a Spanish context.
Life in this fallen world can be painful and confusing. Explanations of why rarely satisfy. The psalms look straight at the evil in the world and challenge us to worship God even when we don’t understand and to keep our eyes fixed on Him. They express all of our emotions, our anger, our sadness, They describe the greatness of our all powerful God and they are filled with testimony of Jesus Christ.
What do grocery stores, armored cars, ATM machines and my back patio all have in common? Theft.
Over the course of 2018 we have seen a rise in crime. There were at least three attacks by gangs of armed criminals on armored vehicles transporting money. That is quite an undertaking as each armored truck has two armed men with a car full of armed men following behind. Unfortunately, they were taken by surprise and some of the guards were shot. If my memory serves me well, I do believe that the men recovered, though I imagine that there must be lingering effects from their wounds. Two of the robberies were within five blocks of our home. The first was at a bank on the corner and another took place in the parking lot at the mall – both within broad daylight. Even more striking, the third robbery took place very close to the Uruguayan seat of government – the Palacio Legislativo (Legisltative Palace)!
One of the most tragic crimes took place at a grocery store a few miles away where two men entered a supermarket, robbed it and then shot and killed one of the employees on the way out. The victim was a young mother. Later, the shooter was found by police which ended up in him being shot and killed. A friend of mine had met this young man years ago – an example of what a small world Uruguay can be at times.
Very recently, I have been seeing news of ATM machines being blown to bits so that criminals can steal the cash. Some ATM’s are even equipped with an anti-theft ink system which sprays the money with ink so that it will be recognized – making it hard to spend. Sadly, sometimes the ATM machine is the only one in a small town and it can be difficult for the retired folks living there to withdraw money if the banks decide not to install a new one.
One day last month I woke up and went to the kitchen like normal to turn on the burner so that I could cook up some fried eggs. Eggs are my favorite breakfast. But to my surprise, the flame would not start. I thought that was odd and I eventually had the idea of checking the propane tank just outside the kitchen in the back patio. It was missing. Not only was it missing, but the valve and another empty propane tank were gone. Someone had climbed our roof, descended into our back patio and carried out two propane tanks! They are not easy to lift either! I filed a police report, but nothing much came of it.
As we heard news of these various crimes, we prayed – asking the Lord to be at work. Begging God to change the hearts of the criminals. Praying for healing, comfort and peace for the victims and Continue reading The Rise in Crime→
Our missionary teammates departed for furlough and left us their car to use until they return in 11 months. After having lived 13 months without a car, this gives us a chance to see what life is like for those in Uruguay who have a car. It also adds certain responsibilities like driving safely in a place where the rules seem crazy at times as well as taking care of regular maintenance like purchasing new tires. This was the task that I set out to do, not realizing at first that I would once again be in a taxi talking with the driver about the things of God.
It was a crazy morning. I had to arrive at the garage early to drop off the car, catch a taxi back home, pick up Michele, take her in a taxi to the hospital for a pregnancy checkup and then drop Michele home via taxi and take same taxi to the garage to pick up the car! Thankfully everything worked out smoothly and now we have four new tires and assurance that our baby’s heart continues to beat normally!
One unexpected encounter was with the first taxi driver, though God is sovereign and nothing is a surprise for him. As usually happens around here, people want to know why we are living as foreigners in a foreign land. I told him that I am a pastor and we are working here with the Church. This is the point where I get to share about what kind of church it is and where and when we meet (in case the driver wants to visit). After sharing that, I asked him if he went to church. His answer was not surprising, knowing that Uruguay is the most secular nation in the Americas: he does not attend church and has no interest in doing so.
“Really?” I said, “Do you believe in God?” That started a conversation which lasted all the way home about God and what is historically known as the problem of evil. The problem is usually put two ways: Continue reading God and the Problem of Evil→