Wednesday, April 29, 2009

3:33 When the Numbers Fell Off the Clockface

On U2's new album, in the song Unknown Caller, Bono says it's 3:33 when the numbers fell off the clock-face. I just had a pretty interesting experience...and it happened at 3:33 the morning of April 28. It was pre-dawn, the day of my Silver Anniversary...25 years of marriage to my sweetheart.

Let me preface my comments today by saying these thoughts struck me in light of some interaction on the message board related to the topic of truth. I've found that as long as things can remain in the theoretical realm, people can hold to all kinds of beliefs. But what I've discovered in life is that when people face trial, trouble or tragedy, there are few atheists "in a foxhole." When the chips are down, there just aren't many people that don't turn to "God" in a crisis.

My wife and I are trying to sustain a dog-breeding business...beautiful dogs...English Goldens. We've had our share of struggles with it. You'd think breeding would be like falling off a log, but more can go wrong than you might think. The other night, one of our dogs went into labor...and there were complications...the first two pups, wonderfully developed and gorgeous, were, sadly, stillborn. My wife decided to take our dog to an emergency vet clinic. I got my wife and the dog all loaded up and I stayed home with the children. When I went back to my guessed it...3:33 on the clock face! No joke...I wouldn't lie about this.

I spent the next hour in prayer, thinking about our circumstances, but also thinking about Unknown Caller. I was reminded that we can talk belief systems all we want, but in times of crisis, prayer is an almost universal response. Where does such a response originate? It is the common response in crisis in every culture under the sun...and for one simple reason...the God of the Universe created us for relationship with Him.

The night didn't turn out too well...5 of the 7 pups were born dead...and we have no idea why. Some would say, "See, your prayers did no good at all." I would beg to differ. The purpose of prayer to God is not that I would twist His arm to do as I please...He is no Cosmic Genie. The REAL purpose of prayer is to allow me to "shush" in the Presence of the Almighty. The real purpose of prayer, as Bono sings, is to hear God; part of the wonder and beauty of prayer is the opportunity for me to cease to speak that God might speak.

Prayer gives me the opportunity to "force quit" my anxious thoughts, my racing brain, my worry, take it all, and "move to trash." My prayers that had begun at "3:33" had brought me to a place where, regardless of the life or death of pups, I was "free to go" and to "shout for joy."

Jeremiah 33:3--Call to me and I will answer you. I’ll tell you marvelous and wondrous things that you could never figure out on your own.

One of the great joys of being a Christ-follower is that I can KNOW that I have confidence before the Creator when I pray...and it's not because I've been especially good or holy. Rather, it's because Jesus, my Redeemer, was good and holy and righteous on my behalf and shares with me His Right Standing with the Father. I can come in the Name of Jesus, in the very place of Jesus Himself, before the Father. I can know that as the Father is favorably disposed toward Jesus, He will be similarly favorable toward me because of my relationship to Christ.

So, you can debate the historicity of Christ, the accuracy of the Bible (and I'll debate with you all day long!). But in the final analysis, at 3:33, at the scene of the're going to cry out...and you're going to hope there is Someone listening...Christians know...and rest secure, leaning on the Everlasting Arms.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Getting Over Certainty

This particular blog post is the result of some discussions that have taken place in the message board forums on From what I'm reading there, I think there is a lot of confusion as to what "faith" is and its relationship to reason, logic and certainty.

There are at least 2 places on NLOTH where Bono sings about certainty. In Stand Up Comedy--I can stand up for hope, faith, love; But while I'm getting over certainty, Stop helping God across the road like a little old lady. And in Moment of Surrender--Two souls too cool to be In the realm of certainty, Even on our wedding day.

It seems to me that these lyrics are a blast from the past, as if revisiting the pain and longing of "I still haven't found what I'm looking for." We don't know why God moves in such mysterious ways. We don't know why Peace on Earth doesn't seem to rhyme with hope and history. We don't know why orphans and other oppressed people are just waiting for some Crumbs from our table. We don't know why the Gospel promises so much and yet at times seems to deliver so little. There is so much about the life of a Christ-follower that is filled with mystery. There is so much about daily life and our future that lies outside of the realm of certainty. There are many questions that we just can't be certain we have the answer to...and I think Bono is singing, that as he has matured, he's ok with not having all the answers, he's ok with uncertainty in some areas.

Having said all that, we must make sure we don't go too far with the lyrics. Only Bono knows for sure what he means, but I can tell you from a Biblical perspective what it would mean if Bono is singing within the bounds of the historic Christian faith. It may be easier to explain what historic Christianity would NOT say from lyrics such as are found in Stand Up Comedy and Moment of Surrender.

Historic Christianity would NOT say that "getting over certainty" means that faith is divorced from fact or history or reason. Many in the world today think faith and reason live in separate universes. Biblical, historic Christianity would say faith utilitizes reason, it doesn't operate outside of it.

I'm not sure where the idea arose that faith and logic, or faith and facts, don't mix, but it didn't originate with the Bible (Actually I DO know where the idea arose, but that would take too much time to explain...if you're interested pick up a book by Francis Schaeffer called "The God Who is There"). So many people think science uses facts and religion uses faith and the two are completely different. I completely disagree. Science uses as much faith as religion and religion better use as many facts as science!

Some might want Christians to prove with 100% certainty that Jesus lived, died and rose again. Well, that can't be done...but, neither can we prove with 100% certainty that Luther did something significant in 1517. What we CAN do is compile research so that we can say with GREAT confidence that it is highly likely that in fact, Luther did nail the 95 theses to the door in Wittenberg at the end of October in 1517, and using similar research theories we are also able to say with GREAT confidence that Jesus lived, died, rose again in the first century.

Faith is not believing in something in spite of the is trusting in something that is backed up by facts and reason. Biblical faith is not believing in spite of the lack of evidence that Jesus lived, died and rose to forgive peoples' sins. Biblical faith is putting our hope in the work of Christ for forgiveness and eternal life.

Or maybe this will help: Let's say we can use reason, logic, personal experience, history, etc to build a case for Christ, and we are able to arrive at a 95% probability that Christianity is true...some would say faith is bridging the 5% of the uncertain (though many moderns might think that evidence points to 1% certainty based on facts, so faith is a 99% blind leap in the dark of complete uncertainty). I don't believe that is what Bono is singing about in these lines.

It would be more accurate to say that evidence enables us to say with a high degree of confidence that we are certain Jesus existed and the evidence also points to His resurrection and that faith has to do with resting on His finished work for forgiveness and eternal life and has nothing at all to do with bridging a gap in the facts.

I highly doubt that Bono is singing that he is forgetting all about any evidential or reasonable foundation for faith. Just a few years ago in the book "Bono: In Conversation", Bono quotes a lot of evidence often used by CS Lewis which builds the case for Jesus as Messiah.

So, in these "getting over certainty" lines, I think Bono's still singing what he's been singing for almost 30 we look around the world, even though we know we believe You broke the bonds, And You loosed the chains, Carried the cross of my shame, Oh my shame, you know I believe it. But I still haven't found What I'm looking for. But I still haven't found What I'm looking for.

Getting over certainty means Christians allowing for mystery and holding answers to the problems of the world means not being so self-righteous that we've got it all figured out on how every single element of life works and thinking that every problem has an easy answer. Getting over certainty means that even Christ followers don't always clearly perceive the will of God or understand all He wants us to do.

But getting over certainty does NOT mean that all world-views are equally valid or that faith has no relationship to facts. One thing's for sure...we're ALL One Step Closer to Knowing.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

The Forgotten Elixir

I often pull Morning and Evening by Charles Spurgeon off the shelf for some devotional reading. I think he is much more grace-oriented than most devotional writers who fail to really point me to Christ. Many devotionals seem to exhort me to pull myself up by my own bootstraps by trying harder instead of encouraging my soul in my Redeemer.

The April 23 Morning reading by Spurgeon is as about as spot on as anything you'll ever come across when it comes to how to deal with sin on a daily basis...he offers the True Solution, the Forgotten Elixir...the solution that is often hard to come by in today's moralistic evangelicalism. Read....and enjoy...and believe afresh in the Savior, rejoicing in your salvation!

"No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us."—Romans 8:37.

E go to Christ for forgiveness, and then too often look to the law for power to fight our sins. Paul thus rebukes us, "O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth? This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?"

Take your sins to Christ's cross, for the old man can only be crucified there: we are crucified with Him. The only weapon to fight sin with is the spear which pierced the side of Jesus. To give an illustration—you want to overcome an angry temper, how do you go to work? It is very possible you have never tried the right way of going to Jesus with it. How did I get salvation? I came to Jesus just as I was, and I trusted Him to save me. I must kill my angry temper in the same way? It is the only way in which I can ever kill it. I must go to the cross with it, and say to Jesus, "Lord, I trust Thee to deliver me from it." This is the only way to give it a death-blow.

Are you covetous? Do you feel the world entangle you? You may struggle against this evil so long as you please, but if it be your besetting sin, you will never be delivered from it in any way but by the blood of Jesus. Take it to Christ. Tell Him, "Lord, I have trusted Thee, and Thy name is Jesus, for Thou dost save Thy people from their sins; Lord, this is one of my sins; save me from it!"

Ordinances are nothing without Christ as a means of mortification. Your prayers, and your repentances, and your tears—the whole of them put together—are worth nothing apart from Him. "None but Jesus can do helpless sinners good;" or helpless saints either. You must be conquerors through Him who hath loved you, if conquerors at all. Our laurels must grow among His olives in Gethsemane.


Thursday, April 16, 2009

The First Time...All Over Again

What most of you do not know, is that I am trying to multiply my time on this Blog. The reason you all see so many posts related to U2 is because I'm simply copying and pasting Blogs I am posting on My main aim in these blogs is to reach out to the many young people, many who are unbelievers, on U2's web site. It's not that I don't care about you believers out there...but I need some form of consistent outreach in my life...and this gives me the opportunity. Hopefully, however, these blogs for unbelievers and U2 fans are able to speak to your believing soul as well. So, here's another of my posts:

When NLOTH was released, I starting drinking in the lyrics, trying to wring out every drop of meaning and spirituality I could find. Now I feel like an addict...but I've gone through all the songs on the new album. Then with Easter, I thought about Wake Up Dead Man and Until the End of the World...but I still need my fix, so it's time to go back into the past.

The First Time, off Zooropa, is clearly a Trinitarian song. Bono begins singing of the Holy Spirit, which, for some reason, he fairly consistently puts in terms of the female gender. I guess he does that because the Spirit is the "soul" partner and it is poetic for Bono to see his soul mate, the lover of his soul, in terms of a woman. "I have a lover, a lover like no other; She got soul, soul, soul, sweet soul; And she teach me how to sing." The Spirit IS, indeed, "soul, soul, soul, sweet soul." It is the role of the Spirit to teach us as our Helper (John 14:26). The Spirit also helps believers in their walk with God. The Spirit helps us in our weaknesses and even prays through us with groanings too deep for words (Romans 8:26).

"Shows me colours when there's none to see; Gives me hope when I can't believe, That for the first time I feel love." It is actually the Spirit's help inside the believer that enables us to feel love. In Romans 5:5, Paul writes that "God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us!" And in Romans 8:15, Paul writes that "you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons (and daughters), by whom we cry, "Abba! Father!"

The next verse, it seems to me, is clearly about the Second Person of the Trinity, Jesus Christ. "I have a brother, when I'm a brother in need; I spend my whole time running; He spends his running after me." He "RAN from heaven to earth to find me! Christ is the Eternal Son and through faith in Him, those who believe are made adopted son and daughters of God, making Christ our Brother. One of the most encouraging verses in all of Scripture is in Hebrews 2:11--Jesus, God become Man, came to earth to redeem His own, to deliver us from sin, satan and death, to set us apart and change us, and we read, "He is not ashamed to call them (us) brothers (and sisters)!"

We may be black sheep in the family at times, but Jesus is not ashamed to call us kin. We may run away, but He always runs after us. This is where the song enters into some of the parables, particularly in Luke 15 where we read about the Lost Sheep, the Lost Coin and the Lost Sons. In Luke 15 the Man, Jesus, who loses one sheep, leaves the 99 to go after the ONE that is lost UNTIL He finds it!

"I feel myself goin' down; I just call and he comes around. But for the first time I feel love." Jesus tell us clearly in John 14:13-14, and other places as well, "Ask Me for anything in My Name, and I will do it." Here is also where we can see the precursors to ATYCLB's cover art and the gate changed to J-333. This is also were we hear on NLOTH, 333 on the clock face in Unknown Caller...Jeremiah 33:3, God's license plate: "Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known."

Then, finally, we come to the Father..."My father is a rich man, he wears a rich man's cloak." In Luke 15 and the Parable of the Lost Sons, the father welcomes back the prodigal, he has the best cloak brought and put upon his son that was lost and is now found...Amazing Grace...Let me in the Sound, the sweet sound!!

He gave me the keys to his kingdom (coming), Gave me a cup of gold. Jesus said that He gives the Church the keys to the Kingdom in Matthew 16:19. Jesus also tells parables where He gives talents to His servants and asks them to be good stewards of His riches...this relates to living out a life of love and kindness in the world.

Then we come to the disturbing lines in the song...He said "I have many mansions, And there are many rooms to see." Clearly a reference to John 14:2 where Jesus says His Father has a House with many rooms. Bono then sings as the prodigal son (whether the younger rebel or the dutiful self-righteous one, we don't know) and sings "But I left by the back door, And I threw away the key...And I threw away the key."

Bono has said that this isn't true of his own faith (though in small ways it IS true of every follower of Christ from time to time). But it does present the listener with a choice: we may have walked away; or we may never have entered...but is it possible that this Triune God of Love would let me in...or let me back in? The answer is well as Biblical...Jesus says "whoever comes to Me I will never cast out." Come on home! And for the first'll feel love...or maybe you feel love for the first time...all over again!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Good Friday and GRACE

U2 has a song on its album "All That You Can't Leave Behind. It has ALWAYS been one of my lyrical favorites...but I especially like to listen to it and think about the words on a day like today. It's Good Friday...the Day Christ why would we call it GOOD?! Because on this day GRACE is truly revealed as GRACE.

"Grace, she takes the blame." That is what Jesus did today...He took the blame for all our wrongs. Any time there is true forgiveness, there must be an absorption of wrong. When I wrong my wife and she forgives me, she absorbs my wrongdoing against her. Whenever we forgive another, we absorb some of the wrong against us. Christ took the blame, He absorbed our wrong...on Good Friday.

"She covers the shame, removes the stain." People who say they don't believe in God need to be able to explain where shame comes from. Not sociological shame, but real, personal shame. At some point, completely apart from societal norms, we feel truly guilty and real shame at the deepest part of our being. We feel guilt and shame because we truly are guilty...real moral guilt before a Personal God who is there...and Christ, on Good Friday, by taking the blame, covers the shame and removes the stain!

Like a murderer who has the blood of his victim all over his hands, we have the stains of sin on our hands as we try to approach God...and it is a stain we KNOW in our innermost being. Christ removes the stain... ironically the stain remover is His own blood...His own blood shed on Good Friday.

"Grace, she travels outside of karma." Karma is the religious idea that we get what we deserve in life. If we do good, we receive blessing; if we do evil, bad things happen. I love what Bono says in the book "In Conversation." He says he's holding out for grace; if the principle of the universe actually were karma, he'd be in real trouble because he admits he done some really stupid have we all!

There is a deeply religious element inside every element that pulls us toward the idea of karma...this is why grace is so hard to grasp. Everything in life seems to be based on personal performance, deservedness and merit. If you want anything out of life, we're told, you need to EARN it...but Christ turned the universe "right-side-up" when He absorbed our wrongs when we had done everything in our power to forfeit any expectation of such mercy...and this happened on Good Friday.

"Grace finds beauty in everything." When we comprehend grace, we must do something with it...grace demands a response...we can simply say, "Oh, isn't that nice" and just move on. We can say, "Aw, come on, you don't really believe that stuff, do you?" (which Assayas basically says to Bono in the interview recorded in "In Conversation). Or, we can embrace it...accept it...receive it. It is there for the taking, but we need to receive it.

If we DO receive the promise of grace, Good Friday means everything! Good Friday becomes the means of the GREAT EXCHANGE...all of our sin is transferred to the Person of Christ on the cross, and all the shame, all the guilt, all the condemnation is absorbed by Him. All of the Father's anger, wrath, justice is poured out upon Him instead of us! There is no more anger of God against the person who hopes in grace! For the person who looks to the cross of Good Friday, all sins, past, present and even future, are already forgiven!

But there's more...."Grace finds beauty in everything." Christ did not merely absorb our wrong, He lived a perfectly obedient life on our behalf...that is GRACE too! He obeyed every command of God FOR us...and He then transfers His perfect standing with God TO we hope in GRACE, God sees us AS IF we had obeyed God as fully as Jesus did! This is the GIFT of righteousness that Scripture talks about. So, for the one who hopes in grace, God finds beauty in us...the beauty of Christ would that change your prayer life if you believed that? How would that change your approach toward God in worship if you REALLY believed that? That is why Good Friday is GOOD! But there's still more...

"Grace MAKES beauty out of ugly things." Two ugly things come to mind...the ugly things that still lurk deep within our lives...ugly thoughts toward ourselves and others; ugly thoughts about doing bad things; and even ugly things we still do...or we can be ugly by NOT doing beautiful things we could and should do. Secondly, there are also ugly things that HAPPEN to us in this broken world.

Grace makes us more and more beautiful on a daily basis as we look to Christ in faith. Grace CHANGES us...grace isn't merely the message of God's unconditional love...its also the message of God's transforming power! As CS Lewis said, through Christ and the Work of Good Friday, death itself is working backwards for those who hope in grace...death is being conquered by grace deep within us. We have hope of being different tomorrow than we are today because grace makes beauty out of ugly things.

But grace also makes beauty out of the ugly things that happe in our lives as well. Grace, she's always at work. "When she walks on the street, you can hear the strings." Because of the work of Christ on Good Friday, all our hurts, pains, suffering, injustices are being worked to bring about something beautiful...I write that not tritely, as some religious platitude, but as something profoundly true! Grace is at work all around us all the time...Think about it...can you imagine anything more ugly than the most beautiful Human in history tortured, mocked and crucified? Yet look what grace was doing in that ugly thing...making the most beautiful thing in the universe...grace, undeserved favor for needy, broken people filled with shame and covered with stains...THAT is why it is called GOOD FRIDAY!! Listen for the strings today!!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Conditional Love??

For my devotions during this Holy Week, I'm reading the Upper Room Discourse in the Gospel of John. In John 15:10 there is a somewhat disturbing verse (at least it's disturbing for a performance junkie like me).

"IF you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love." Yikes! This verse terrifies those with a sensitive conscience or those who are performance-oriented. It's overwhelming to consider that God's love for me rests upon me or is turned away from me based on my keeping His commandments! Who keeps God's Commandments perfectly? How do I know, then, if I'm keeping enough of the commandments that will enable me to abide in His love? Again I say, "Yikes!"

A sensitive conscience is often similarly troubled when reading some of the Psalms of David:

Psalm 7:8--"Judge me, O LORD, according to MY righteousness" (are you kidding me??!!)
Psalm 18:20, 24--"The LORD has rewarded me according to MY righteousness."
Psalm 18:23--"I was blameless before Him"
Paul says much the same thing BEFORE his conversion: Phil 3:6--"as to righteousness under the law, blameless."

It seems to me that we must understand John 15:10 in a covenant of grace context. The Jewish sense of righteousness, blamelessness and even obedience or keeping of the commandments wasn't simply related to external behaviors and ethical morality. Obviously righteousness can not mean sinlessness, and neither can blamelessness mean perfection.

It seems to me that we must understand "keeping the commandments" in a holistic sense of spiritual faith as well as ethical a word, "keeping the commandments" is a lifestyle of "Waltzing"...the 3 Step Dance with Christ of Repent! Believe! Fight!

To keep Christ's commands is not just obeying His ethical injunctions...though it does include that. It also includes repenting of failures and hoping continually in forgiving mercy and grace. It also means trusting in the finished work of Christ to impart righteousness as well as trusting in imputed righteousness. To obey the commandments means to live a life of repentance and faith as well as to fight for a holy life, depending upon the Holy Spirit of Grace.

Don't make the mistake of equating "keeping the commandments" with mere morality. We abide in God's love because through faith in Christ we live in vital union with Christ. We are clothed in His righteousness and THAT must be our ground of confidence of abiding in God's love. We experience the reality of that love as we "keep His commands," and that involves Waltzing, not perfection. Otherwise you would need to file down God's law and minimize His holiness to live with a sense of His love abiding upon you. Be confident in Christ's righteousness! Not only for assurance of eternal life, but for the abiding sense of the Father's love upon you as well!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

That was Jesus, This is Judas

Yeah, I know you're tired of hearing it...but I'm gonna see U2 in Dublin in July. In preparation, I've been enjoying past concert DVD's. On the Elevation 2001: Live from Boston DVD, after U2 sings "Beautiful Day," Bono says, "Thank you, Jesus!" Then walks around near Larry and says, "This is Judas." Then they sing, "Until the End of the World." Since it is Holy Week, the song is very relevant.

The song is a one-way conversation between Judas and Jesus, Judas being the speaker. Judas talks about being down in the hold...the place reserved for him until the Judgment. He is talking about the last time he and Jesus were together...the Last Supper...the low-lit room. They were eating the Passover Feast, drinking the various cups of wine that told the story of the Passover and the Exodus.

Jesus was about to be the ultimate fulfillment of the Exodus story...He was about the shed the Red Sea of His own blood so that those who would place their trust in Him would be delivered forever out of the bondage of Egypt (sin and death). He was the Passover Lamb, slain so that the angel of eternal death would not come near those who believe.

Judas didn't believe it. Do we?

Judas agreed to betray Jesus for 30 pieces of silver...a detail prophesied hundreds of years before the event, recorded in Scripture. The lyrics remind us of how dangerous it is to just float through life..."you miss too much if you stop to think." Many people are so afraid of missing out on what life has to offer, they look at deep thinking concerning the claims of Christ or the spiritual life as a waste of time...or unfulfilling...just like Judas. The world says you miss too much if you stop to think; the Gospel says you miss everything if you fail to stop to think.

Judas loved the element of surprise and he led the priests and leaders to the Garden where Jesus was praying...and Judas betrayed Jesus with a kiss. It broke the heart of Jesus...It broke His heart because Jesus, who practiced what He preached, loved His enemies. The lyrics have Judas saying Jesus acted like the betrayal was the End of the World... Jesus knew that for Himself it was not...but for Judas, sadly, it was.

The lyrics, in agreement with Scripture, tell us Judas was filled with remorse, with regret...he was overcome with sorrow...yet Judas made a huge mistake...bigger than the betrayal...he didn't put his hope in the mercy of Christ. In his remorse, absent of faith, he gave in to hopelessness and took his own life, hanging himself.

Here we see a huge lesson in Grace: God can handle our betrayals...if we let Him...Judas didn't let Him. There is a huge difference between remorse and repentance. Repentance is sorrow for betrayal, but leads to fresh hope in mercy and grace. Remorse is simply regret, sorrow, and only leads to hopelessness and despair...and death.

Peter denied the Lord; he, like Judas, was filled with sorrow...but Peter didn't allow his sorrow to lead him to despair...he hoped in the Lord's mercy and went on to live a joyful, hopeful, fruitful life. For Judas, it was too late. Even the end of the world holds no hope for Judas...not because he was the betrayer, but because he failed to hope in the Red Sea of the Blood of Christ to deliver him from his bondage.

I am more like Judas than I care to admit, even as a pastor--we are ALL betrayers of Jesus through how we live each day--what we do or fail to do; what we say or fail to say; I am also more like Peter than I care to admit--We are ALL like Peter--deniers of Jesus throughout the hours of the day. I don't want to wait until the End of the World...I want to experience forgiveness of guilt, removal of shame, disappearance of self-condemnation here and now...and THAT is what Good Friday and Easter are all about...

no matter what we've done or where we've been, mercy and grace are free for the long as we don't wait until the end of the world.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Songs of Ascent

Rolling Stone has written that U2's follow up album to No Line on the Horizon will be called Songs of Ascent. Songs of Ascent are a group of Psalms in the Bible, Psalms 120-134 to be exact. They are Psalms that focus on going to Jerusalem to worship God. Jerusalem has often been called "The City on a Hill" because it is about 2500 feet above sea level (around 750 meters). So, to go to the Temple to worship the God of Heaven would involve people going up, or ascending steps, thus the title of these worship Psalms...Psalms of Ascent...Songs of Ascent. The Christian interpretation of these Psalms sees Israel, Zion, Mount Zion and Jerusalem as applying to Christ-followers.

Even though the Songs of Ascent are all worship Psalms, the types of Psalms are very diverse. Some are cries and songs from an individual, others are the corporate cries of the Church. Some are shouts of confidence, others are cries of sadness and repentance. Some are songs of celebration, others songs of thanksgiving and still others songs of cries for wisdom in confusing and frustrating situations.

Here are some of the classic verses from this section of Scripture: These are from the English Standard Version...Bono tends to like Eugene Petersen's "The Message" translation.

Ps 120:1--In my distress I called to the LORD and He answered me.

Ps 121:1-8--I will lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the LORD who made heaven and earth. He will not let your foot be moved; He who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, He who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. The LORD is your keeper; the LORD is your shade on your right hand. The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night. The LORD will keep you from all evil; He will keep your life. The LORD will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore!

Ps 122:1--I was glad when they said to me, "Let us go to the House of the LORD!"

Ps 124:8--Our help is in the Name of the LORD who made heaven and earth.

Ps 127--Unless the LORD builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain. It is vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for He gives to His beloved sleep.

Ps 128--Blessed is everyone who fears the LORD, who walks in His ways!

Ps 130--Out of the depths I cry to You, O LORD! O Lord, hear my voice! Let Your ears be attentive to the voice of my pleas for mercy! If You, O LORD, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? But with You there is forgiveness, that You may be feared...O Israel, hope in the LORD! For with the LORD there is steadfast love and with Him is plentiful redemption.

Ps 131--O LORD, my heart is not lifted up; my eyes are not raised too high. I do not occupy myself with things too great and too marvelous for me. But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother, like a weaned child is my soul within me. O Israel, hope in the LORD from this time forth and forevermore.

Ps 132:8--Arise, O LORD, and go to Your resting place, You and the ark of Your might. Let Your priests be clothed with righteousness, and let Your saints shout for joy!

Ps 133--Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity!

Ps 134--Come, bless the LORD, all you servants of the LORD, who stand by night in the House of the LORD! Lift up your hands to the Holy Place and bless the LORD! May the LORD bless you from Zion, He who made heaven and earth.

Wonder what will be on the new album???