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Death March

Psalm 1 is only six short verses, but it’s packed with powerful implications. This doorway to the book of Psalms holds out a fork in the road and issues a call to choose the way you’ll proceed. But before you choose your path, this Psalm gives you a clear picture of what the consequences of that choice will be.

Choice: Blessing or Destruction

It starts off with a topic near and dear to all our hearts—blessing. Our culture is looking for the key to happiness and ways to have “Your best life—now!” But sadly, the culture is not promoting what will bring true and lasting happiness and blessing. Being blessed is a good thing and this Psalm is about to uncover for the reader the secret to experiencing the best that there is.

“How blessed is the man . . .”

Before he lets us in on what we need to do to get that blessed life, the writer first gives some warnings. He lets us know that we can miss out by taking the wrong fork in the road. He starts out with 3 major “NOTs.”

You’ll be blessed if you do NOT:  

“Walk in the counsel of the wicked”
“Stand in the path of sinners”
“Sit in the seat of scoffers!”    

Do you see a progression here?

First you’re walking, then you’re standing and hanging out, finally you just pull up a seat and settle in because you’re comfortable.

I call this the march of death.

Things start off with just a “walk”—listening to the counsel of the “wicked;” making decisions based on the influence of the “wicked.”

“Whew!” You might be thinking, “This lets me off the hook . . . I’m not hanging out with any ‘wicked’ people. I’m safe on that count!”

Ummmm . . . not so fast.

Let’s consider who the “wicked” might be.

The Wicked
The “wicked” would include the Hitlers, the bin Laden’s, or the Saddam Husseins . . . but it also includes all who promote a godless worldview or deny Scripture’s authority over our lives. It includes all who function independently of God. So that widens the circle a bit.

The “wicked” could include the friendly checker at the grocery store who is kind to children but makes her life choices independent of God. It might be your parent, a friend, your favorite aunt. It could definitely include much you’re hearing in the continual barrage of media voices.

What “counsel” are you getting from your facebook friends, your favorite talk show, or that humorous celebrity? What about that book your friends are reading? What kind of “wisdom” is it spreading?

This way to Blessing
This Psalm is laying out the choice of two paths: one is a path of blessing, the other a path of destruction. It is warning about the kinds of influences we allow in our lives and the counsel we receive. James gives a similar warning about the two kinds of wisdom we can follow: earthly and demonic wisdom or God’s wisdom.

The progression here is a subtle descent. First you’re just casually “walking;” you’re checking out the latest gossip magazine or surfing the net, soaking up a few popular sitcoms, getting marital advice from a foolish source, or having fun with an “innocent” facebook flirtation. But all the while you’re “walking” through enemy territory; territory that is devoid of God-filled wisdom.

Warning: You’re soaking up empty philosophies that starve your soul and mess with your thinking. And soaking up wrong thinking eventually affects your choices. You are “walking in the counsel of the wicked.” 

You move into a “gray zone” where you lose discernment for right and wrong. 

You’ve joined the crowd, hanging out with a new way of thinking and living. You stay in that gray zone long enough and things you thought you’d never do, lines you thought you’d never cross, are justified and become your “new normal.”

Now you’re no longer “walking” but you’ve progressed to “standing in the path of sinners.”

You do things wrong for so long that they seem to be right.  

Without a major U-turn occurrence, you’ll not just be hanging with the ungodly, but eventually you’ll be joining the ranks of the “scoffers”—ridiculing those who are taking stands for righteousness. Those “legalistic folks” become the brunt of your jokes.

Chilling Words
The Psalm closes with these chilling words: “the way of the wicked will perish.”  Let that sink in. When it’s talking about perishing . . . it means an eternal tormented separation from God and all that is good. Those who stand at the fork and choose to take this path are on a death march—headed straight for destruction.

Tomorrow we’ll look at what the other path offers, but today consider what path you are on. You may be a long way from doing any “scoffing” but have you wandered into the gray zone? 

Have you gone off course a bit in the counsel you’re listening to? How about your friends? Might they need a compassionate warning if they’re on a death march headed for eternal destruction?

4 Comments

  • Jeanne

    I like the way you pointed out the progression of sin – First you’re walking, then you’re standing and hanging out, finally you just pull up a seat and settle in because you’re comfortable.

  • Tambra Lucas

    Thank you Kim,
    For your post today just confirming in my heart the very thing I have been instilling in Trendon’s life, If your not living and honoring God with your life, with your words and with your actions, you are not honoring God and headed for destruction. Pay close attention to the friends you make, they can influence you in the wrong way and pull you away from God.
    I know he must think I am so strict sometimes, but I am not any more strict with him than I was with Jarrid or Jen, well maybe a little.

    Just recently, he has this girl texting him and is friends with him on facebook. I told him if she wants to be your friend she must be mine too. Do you think this is being to tough?? He understood was very humble about it and said ok but it took her a few days to accept me as a friend. She probably thought your grandmother wants to friend me? Weird… You can really see what kind of friends they are if you check out their facebook. I don’t want to invade his privacy but I also do not want to be oblivious to schemes of the enemy over my children or grandchildren. I feel he is desperate for friends. So they could have a huge influence if I do not pay close attention.
    Some friends I have told him to delete because they are in the path of sinners. But this one always seemed to be a good girl, and goes to church. Today for the first time this friend she posted how she was working with the kids at VBS at her church on facebook, a few minutes later she was upset and used a curse word on facebook. My first reaction was, I wanted to message her , and say “What kind of witness are you, Putting things like this on facebook and claiming to be a Christian?”. I was a little upset because here was the only friend he had left.
    What do I do now??
    But I held my fingers back an called Trendon in to tell him. And told him to try and encourage her that we are to honor God with our lives as Christians and this kind of talk is not representing Him with the honor He deserves, and he agreed, but I know it’s hard he’s a good kid but he needs friends. I have thought about not letting him get on facebook , but he has no friends since he is homeschooled, his cousin no longer comes to our church, they go somewhere else because they want more youth activity and he was his only bud and we have no youth at our church. We tried taking him to Cross Gate on Wed nights and that was good, but now we cannot since we are going to our church and practicing on Wed nights.
    So here he is left out again with no friends. So I have been allowing him to have friends on facebook under my supervision. I so wish we had a youth group. He seems to be getting distant and a little depressed. We have tried doing things with him, but we are older, you know you that story (being grandparents raising our grandson) . He’s 15 and I think he has handled it way better than I would have at 15. Can you tell me? What would you do??

  • Kimberly Wagner

    Hey, Friend, lots of good questions here, since you asked so many specific things, I think it might be best to answer these personally instead of on the blog, but I’ll throw out just a few thoughts.

    I do encourage you to stay connected with Trendon’s friends on Facebook and any other way you can. I have a friend (with a houseful of kids) who tells her children that there is no such thing as an invasion of privacy when it comes to parents and their children 🙂 There shouldn’t be anything hidden.

    Not having friends at church is tough, really tough. My children have both experienced that at different points and I know how hard on them that can be. You asked what I would do . . . well, what I did do was this: I started praying with my children for God to provide them with some good friends (and he did, even moved one all the way here from another state) and I encouraged them to invite friends with them to church and to our house.

    It would be awesome if Trendon could start bringing friends to church with him every week, and develop a youth group that way. I’m joining you on this, I’ll be specifically praying for God to bring some good friends into Trendon’s life, that he can develop some godly relationships, and that he will find his greatest joy in growing in his relationship with Christ, recognizing how very much he is loved and valued by God.

    Blessings, precious friend ~