The Gaping Hole in the Modern Missions Movement {part 2}

by Jonathan Trotter on April 4, 2016

psalms.t41a

Thanks for joining us for Part 2! If you missed yesterday’s post, you can read it here.

Here are some resources for filling in the gaping whole. This is pretty much the opposite of an exhaustive list, so please feel free to share any books, music, videos, etc. that have helped you dive into the Psalms, either personally, organizationally, or congregationally.

Just put the titles or links in the comment section below. Also, if you have developed any resources for using the Psalms in your context, please feel free to share them with the community here. Thanks so much!

 

A note for those working in a Muslim context
I serve in a Buddhist/animist context, which maybe explains why I have not studied Islam to any depth. Therefore, please consider this a request for info and certainly not didactic.

Recently, a friend serving in a Muslim context told me, “My Muslim friends are VERY resistant to studying Jesus or the New Testament in general; but the Psalms are much less threatening.”  He went on to explain that in his context, the word used in the Bible for the Psalms is the word for poetry, which his friends absolutely love. He went on to say that many of his friends had been through tremendous suffering and things they considered extremely shameful. We discussed the possibility of beginning with Poetry. Specifically, the Poetry that discusses pain and shame and points to Jesus. Martin Luther referred to the Psalms as “the little Bible,” so maybe it would be a good place to start!

Would something like that work in your context? Perhaps you’re doing this already. In any case, I’d love to hear your ideas and experiences!

Now, on to some quotes!

 

The Case for the Psalms: Why They are Essential, N.T. Wright

“The celebration is wild and uninhibited; the misery is deep and horrible. One moment we are chanting, perhaps clapping our hands in time, even stamping our feet. . . . The next moment we have tears running down our cheeks, and we want the earth to open and swallow us.”

“The Psalms not only insist that we are called to live at the intersection of God’s space and our space, of heaven and earth, to be (in other words) Temple people. They call us to live at the intersection of sacred space, the Temple and the holy land that surrounds it, and the rest of human space, the world where idolatry and injustice still wreak their misery.”

“The Psalms are among the oldest poems in the world, and they still rank with any poetry in any culture, ancient or modern, from anywhere in the world. They are full of power and passion, horrendous misery and unrestrained jubilation, tender sensitivity and powerful hope. Anyone at all whose heart is open to new dimensions of human experience, anyone who loves good writing, anyone who wants a window into the bright lights and dark corners of the human soul – anyone open to the beautiful expression of a larger vision of reality should react to these poems like someone who hasn’t had a good meal for a week or two. It’s all here.”

“The Psalms are the steady, sustained subcurrent of healthy Christian living.”

“Scripture is not simply a reference book to which we turn to look up correct answers – though it’s full of those when we need them. Scripture is, at its heart, the great story that we sing in order not just to learn it with our heads but to become part of it through and through, the story that in turn becomes part of us.”

“If the Psalms provide a sense of sacred space, that space is where celebration and sorrow are held together within the powerful love and presence of the one God.” 

 

The Psalms: the Prayer Book of the Bible, Dietrich Bonhoeffer

“Whenever the Psalter is abandoned, an incomparable treasure vanishes from the Christian church.”

 “The Psalter impregnated the life of early Christianity.”

 “That can be very painful, to want to speak with God and not to be able to.” [Bonhoeffer saw this moment as the best time to pray the Psalms.]

“There is in the Psalms no quick and easy resignation to suffering. There is always struggle, anxiety, doubt. God’s righteousness which allows the pious to be met by misfortune but the godless to escape free, even God’s good and gracious will, is undermined. His behavior is too difficult to grasp. But even in the deepest hopelessness God alone remains the one addressed. . . . He sets out to do battle against God for God.”

“If I am guilty, why does God not forgive me? If I am not guilty, why does he not bring my misery to an end and thus demonstrate my innocence to my enemies? There are no theoretical answers in the Psalms to all these questions. As there are none in the New Testament. The only real answer is Jesus Christ.”

 

Billy Graham

“I used to read five psalms every day – that teaches me how to get along with God. Then I read a chapter of Proverbs every day and that teaches me how to get along with my fellow man.” 

 

Martin Luther

The Psalter promises Christ’s death and resurrection so clearly – and pictures his kingdom and the condition and nature of all Christendom – that it might well be called a little Bible. In it is comprehended most beautifully and briefly everything that is in the entire Bible.”

 

Further Resources

The Songs of Jesus: A Year of Daily Devotions in the Psalms, Tim Keller

Songs from the Heart: Emotions in the Psalms, a fantastic article by Richard Vincent

Here’s one way to combine the Psalms with Discovery Bible Studies and inner healing ministries. You can read more on this method here.

The Psalms: A Reentry Handbook, by Robynn Bliss

A devotional journey through Psalm 13, developed for a two-hour quiet retreat for overseas workers in Cambodia: Finding a song in Psalm 13

A wonderful song (and story) from Psalm 84

Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals (online edition)

Out of the Pit and Back Again, (a reflection on Psalm 40), by Jennifer May

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Please feel free to share more resources below. Thanks!

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About Jonathan Trotter

Jonathan is a missionary in Southeast Asia, where he provides pastoral counseling at a local counseling center. He also serves as one of the pastors at an international church. Before moving to the field with his wife of sixteen years and their four kids, he served as a youth pastor in the Midwest for ten years. He enjoys walking with people towards Jesus and eating imported Twizzlers. | www.trotters41.com | facebook: trotters41 | twitter: @trotters41
  • Richelle Wright

    I’ve not done this continually – day in/day out – but have done more or less consistently over the last 15 years, and I love it. I read the Psalms – as you described: the date +30 until you run out of Psalms. But I also read the corresponding Proverb. One month I’ll read the Psalms first, then the Proverb… the next month I’ll switch. I’ve never yet failed to close my Bible less than blown away – Psalms speaks to my heart, Proverbs speaks to my head – and the two not only complement each other but enhance the other.

    I also cycle in the books of Job, Ecclesiastes and Song of Solomon from time to time… and Job has become one of my favorite books of the Bible just because of Job’s very raw wrestling with God and the things his companions were saying.

    • Yeah, bouncing back and forth between Psalms and Proverbs provides a tremendously rounded view of things. Thanks for adding that, Richelle!

  • A reader on Facebook wrote: “Shane and Shane ‘Psalms’ is my constant soundtrack right now. Look it up if you haven’t already.” Another reader commented on part 1: “If you are looking for some good musical versions of the Psalms, Sandra McCracken has a great album called Psalms.”

  • Two resources that repeatedly capture the hearts of retreatants here at Spa for the Soul: The Paraclete Psalter, and Phyllis Tickle’s Divine Hours series. The Paraclete Psalter is simply that, a psalter developed by an Anglican (I think) monastic order for their communal worship. The four week cycle includes all the psalms, and some are repeated several times. It is broken in readings for the hours: morning, noon, evening and bedtime. We use occasionally for communal worship, but it is also available for guests to use on their own. Tickle’s books are based on The Book of Common Prayer, a communal prayer book of wonderfully sound prayers and scripture readings, but is abbreviated and structured for today’s life and for individual use. The Psalms are at the core. As I said, our retreatants again and again express how these resources help them to find direction in their own prayers and solid footing for the journey. For myself, I’ve used both for seasons of my personal prayer. We live some distance from other believers and any form of corporate worship other than what happens at our house. For me, these psalms sources and prayer patterns have brought me into an experience of the corporate worship with that whole great cloud of witnesses, returned me to the starting point for prayer which is praise and worship, helped me to celebrate afresh the majesty of creation, and drawn me repeatedly and deeply into the assurance that God knows my frame and is prepared to meet me deeply and even to take me further into both the heights and the depths of this temporal journey. Thanks for these articles. You are certainly “on to something.”

  • The Passion Translation of Psalms, called Poetry on Fire, by Dr Brian Simmons captures the raw emotion and beauty of the psalms really well. It’s brought them to life for me.

    • Thanks for the comment, Claire! I’ve heard of Poetry on Fire but haven’t had a chance to check it out yet…

  • Another reader shared this: C.S. Lewis wrote the following in his book Reflections on the Psalms, “This is not a work of scholarship…I write for the unlearned about things in which I am unlearned myself…In this book, then, I write as one amateur to another, talking about difficulties I have met or lights I have gained, when reading the Psalms….”

  • Brian Glunt

    I have found listening to the ministry of The Sons of Korah to be a way to appreciate the beauty of the Psalms in musical form.

    http://www.sonsofkorah.com

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