Acrostic Psalms: Psalm 119 {Week 8}

This week’s lesson is taught by Ashley Ploen.

“The heart cannot love what the mind does not know.” Jen Wilkin

I did not love my husband when I first knew him. It took spending time with him, getting to know him – his heart, mind, thoughts, motives, and intentions. As I began to learn these things I found someone I did not know was there, someone I admired, loved, respected, and only longed for more of – more time, more depth of knowledge and relationship. By learning him and continually learning him well, I can often anticipate his thoughts and responses. Because I take the time to learn and study him, I have a better understanding of what he would want or say. Your love for someone grows as you grow in knowledge of them.

The same is for our love of God that comes from getting to know Him in the pages of the Bible where He has made Himself most fully known to us. The Word of God allows us to learn His heart, desires, motives, and intentions. By learning Him and His word, we are learning His voice and from learning and studying His words we can better understand what He would have for our lives and the decisions we make.

What words or whose words matter? We are inundated with information, voices, and influence. Much calls for our attention, drowning truth and wisdom out if we aren’t attuned and listening for it, to it. And lesser things can disguise themselves as the good eternal things.

God’s Words are identical to His actions. When He speaks He acts (Genesis 1). His words and actions are one in the same. God’s Word reflects the character of God. We read in the Old Testament how God meet with and spoke in an audible voice then. So what about us today? Does He still speak? Absolutely. The pages of Scripture are God’s very Words for us continually today. He sent His Son Jesus to be God in flesh, to be His Word in flesh to fulfill the law, that we may know Him more fully and see ourselves more fully in light of the person of Jesus, reflecting God as His Word (John 1:1-5; Col. 1:15-17).
Rather than telling us exactly what to do in every situation, as if some specific manual for all decisions and circumstances, God gives us the Bible to tells us who He is, what He has done, is doing and what He will do.
Psalm 119 is an Acrostic Psalm and the longest chapter not only in the book of Psalms but also in the Bible. This carefully structured chapter is broken into 22 stanzas successively following the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet. Each stanza begins with the Hebrew letter and the 8 verses in each stanza begin with that corresponding letter. We loose that in the English language but whether it’s A to Z or Alepha to Taw (in Hebrew) all of human language should be used to extol the glories of God (Psalm 119:171-172).

We will be considering what the Word is, what the Word does, and what we are to do with these Words of Scripture:

We will spend this week looking at that one chapter, Psalm 119, with one theme, The Word of God:

Psalm 119: The Way of the Word
Psalm 119: The Work of the Word
Psalm 119: The Wonder of the Word
Psalm 119: The Nature of the Word
Psalm 119: The Presence of the Word

You can watch this week’s teaching video here:



Psalms of Thanksgiving {Week 7}

Everyone has a season or moments in their life that they remember. They can be small like getting your divers license, your first date, your first car or they can be big like getting married, having kids, losing kids, etc. There are some seasons that are great but for some reason we tend to remember the not so great ones. No matter what they are, they are marked moments in your life.

This is exactly what David did when he wrote Psalms. He wrote down his marked moments down for us to read, understand and learn. He wrote out his prayers for us to understand and grow in the Lord. Even in his difficult moments, he still gave praise to God, and David wrote those too! He praised God for creating the heavens and the earth. For His undying love and strength. For blessing him with what he needed. David truly sought out the Lord and the Lord blessed him for it.

Over the next week, you will read some of the Psalms of Thanksgiving that David wrote. These are just a few of many that are found in the book of Psalms. But I hope that you will get a glimpse of this God that we serve and have a greater understanding of His character and love that He has for us.

Watch this week’s teaching video here:

Womens Equipping Fall 2017 Week 7 from The Well Community Church on Vimeo.

Psalms of Confession {Week 6}

Grigori Rasputin was born in Siberia in 1869 to a poor, uneducated family. He would grow up to find great fascination with religion and spirituality and spent a lot of his adolescences and young adulthood in monasteries across the countryside. He eventually gained high honor and was invited to stay with the Imperial Family long-term after healing their son with his mystical or “spiritual” powers.

However, it wasn’t long before accusations of him being associated with the religious group called the Khylists began as well. They were known to be Christian sect who believed that in order to understand the grace of God more fully, a Christian must make a great effort to descend to the depths of their depravity. His theology insisted the more we can sin consciously, the more we can consciously know the grace and forgiveness of God.

Can you even imagine a man like this? What perversion of what Christ saved us from on the cross! Paul makes a note of this in the book of Romans when he says, “What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means!” The language is very strong. It is an admonition – may it NEVER be! So where then did Rasputin go wrong? How did he abuse God’s grace?

The spiritual discipline of penitence – or feeling grief over sin – was obviously lacking in Rasputin’s life. Though probably no one would agree their life, actions, or theology could compare to Rasputin, the slippery slope is undeniably there lest we pay careful attention to the disciplines of penitence, confession, and repentance.

This week we will embark on a journey inward to some fairly hard places, both with the Psalmists, and ourselves. We will likely exercise muscles we haven’t used in quite a while, or perhaps, ever, and it will be uncomfortable. BUT, the reward is absolutely unimaginable – to understand the depths of our sin and depravity leads us to the overwhelming Greatest Joy.

Psalm 32: Penitence and Confession
Psalm 38: A Psalm of David, for the memorial offering
2 Samuel 11 – 12:23: You Are That Woman
Psalm 15: The Standard
Psalm 51: White as Snow

Watch this week’s teaching video here:

Womens Equipping Fall 2017 Week 6 from The Well Community Church on Vimeo.

Imprecatory Psalms {Week 5}

Imprecatory psalms are prayer songs that exhibit an intense attitude of judgment toward the enemy. These prayers are the desperate cries of God’s people for vengeance against those who commit unspeakable atrocities against them and those places sacred to God.

Societies are growing more and more dangerous to Christians in many parts of the world. Beheadings, kidnappings of epic proportions, sacred sites being decimated and millions of people displaced from their homes are all becoming commonplace. This evil is sometimes occurring to individuals simply because they refuse to denounce Christ.   Many people express anxiety, agony and guilt over what the headlines are revealing of these atrocities on a daily basis. May we find God’s heart in our suffering and learn to entrust to Him the vengeance that is His alone.

Sin continues to be present today, and there are still enemies of the redemptive plan of God. God feels the same today toward rebellion as he did in David’s time. The Bible is not in conflict with itself over truths written in plain language in both Testaments—namely, the righteous will be rewarded, and the wicked shall be punished.

We will look at the following Psalms:

Psalm 35: A Cry of Distress
Psalm 69: A Cry of Distress
Psalm 6: Deliver Me
Psalm 12: Plea for help in evil times

Womens Equipping Fall 2017 Week 2_1 from The Well Community Church on Vimeo.

Psalms of Waiting {Week 4}

I waited patiently for the Lordhe inclined to me and heard my cry. He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the Lord. (Psalm 40:1-3)

I didn’t want to teach Psalms of waiting.  I was tired of waiting.  I was tired of waiting being my story.  I wanted Psalms of thanksgiving or praise, I wanted JOY! Yet over and over again, as I studied Psalms of waiting, one phrase kept coming up, kept repeating, an attribute of God so obvious in our times of waiting:

Steadfast love

We are able to remain steadfast in times of waiting by trusting in God’s steadfast love.

Watch this week’s teaching on how we are to wait patiently, wait humbly, and wait worshipfully here:

<p><a href=”″>Womens Equipping Fall 2017 Week 4</a> from <a href=””>The Well Community Church</a> on <a href=””>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

Psalms of Lament {Week 3}

If you’re reading the words on this page, chances are you’ve experienced pain, loss, grief, disappointment, anxiety and confusion in this life. These moments can cause us to ask questions like:

Why me?
How will I survive?
What now?

The Psalmist encountered various trials and the words written in this Old Testament book give a voice to our deepest pain and questioning.

But, here’s the thing. The Psalms were written for worship. So these laments -these intensely vulnerable and honest heart cries – were spoken in an attitude of worship meant to lift high the name of the Sovereign God. Philippians 2:12 tell us to “work out our faith with fear and trembling.” These Psalms are examples of a follower of Christ pressing on in faith, straining towards the goal of Christlikeness, allowing the Lord to complete the good work that He began. And while he is putting words to the doubt in his heart, he does so with reverence and humility.

The finished work of Jesus is the answer to all of our brokenness and when life seems more than we can bear, we’ve got to have theology, an understanding of our God’s character revealed in His word and illustrated through the life of His son, that will hold up under trial. The Psalmist knows who God is but his heart still wrestles to believe in what he cannot see. Just like the Psalmist we can be honest with the Lord when it feels like all is lost.

Listen to this week’s message by Jessica Visser on Psalm 42:

Womens Equipping Fall 2017 Week 3 from The Well Community Church on Vimeo.

Adoption Update #1


“How’s the adoption going?  Where are you at in the process?”

“Any news on a baby?”

“How long before you get your baby?”

I’ve heard these questions over and over the past few months and my answer consistently has been:

“We’re waiting.”

“Nope, still waiting.”

“Not sure, we’re still waiting.”

Waiting.  We were waiting for 6 weeks for DMV to mail one form to our agency so they could continue processing our paperwork.  We waited over 3 months for them to process the paperwork we turned in back in May.  Waiting and waiting to get a phone call that said, “we want to schedule your home study!”

Thankfully we got that phone call last week and our home study is scheduled for next Thursday 9/14!  I realized I haven’t shared much about the adoption process, where we’re at, and what’s next here on this blog.  So a little background:

  1.  In April we picked an agency for our adoption: Family Connections Christian Adoptions.
  2. In May we did our preliminary interview and paperwork.
  3. After the preliminary interview, they gave us a gigantic stack of paperwork where you pretty much write about every detail of your life.  I mean EVERY detail.  We also had to get physicals, STD tests, bloodwork (testing our cholesterol and other things!), meet with a therapist, turn in financial information, car insurance, and a million other things.  We turned all of that in the last week of May.
  4. In June, July, and August we waited.  Silence.  Nothing.  Waiting for the agency to process our paperwork.  Waiting to get assigned a social worker to get to our home study.
  5. Finally in September, our individual interviews were scheduled and home study is on the calendar!
  6. After home study, they approve us (should take about a month) and once we’re approved, we turn in our album to show to potential birth moms in hopes of being matched.

We are doing a “Domestic Infant Adoption”.  Different from foster-to-adopt in which parental rights have already been terminated, a domestic infant adoption is getting matched with a birth mom who has chosen life and will be looking for a family to parent her child.  We will, Lord willing, be matched with a mom making this incredibly difficult and courageous decision and walk with her the final weeks/months of her pregnancy until she hands over the baby to us, the forever family.

We learned that with unwanted pregnancies:

50% mothers will choose to parent

48-49% will choose abortion

1% will choose adoption

Only one percent choose adoption.  During our orientation, the director told us “African American males are the least desirable of all children.”

I’ll let that sink it.  That is a real statistic and a direct quote.  Even among Christians, African American males are less likely to be adopted.

Santino and I knew in that moment, that we wanted to carry our pro-life ethic all the way out and adopt an African American male.  We wanted this baby boy to know he is desired and wanted by us!

So friends, we are days away from our home study being complete.  A month or so away from being a approved.  After that, we will begin the search for our baby.  We will have our adoption profile ready to be shown to potential birth moms, in hopes of being matched.  We have no idea how long this will take.  It could be quick, it could take months.

We know we’re excited and eager to meet our baby!  So many have asked how you can help and how you can pray.

  1. Pray for our birth mom.  I think about her daily.  I wonder where she is?  How far along is she?  Is she safe?  Is she scared?  Does she know she’s pregnant yet?  Pray for her. Imagine the weight of having to make a decision like this, being handed a bunch of books of people you don’t know and having to decide which couple should raise your child.  Imagine the fear, imagine the pain, imagine the courage.  Pray for her.
  2. Pray our birth mom would be led to our agency!  And quick 😉
  3. Pray for us.  We are so excited!  We just want to hold our baby.  We can’t really see past much more than that right now.  Pray we have endurance and perseverance.  There is a lot of risk involved in this type of adoption (we could walk with a birth mom for months, give a lot of money, and she could change her mind the day she gives birth and we lose everything).  We are trying to be excited and hopeful, not walk in fear or worry, but be grounded and realistic at the same time.
  4. We are not actively fundraising.  Thankfully going back to Fresno Unified part time has provided for this adoption.  However, we know some of you feel called to give, called to partner with us and help bring our baby home.  So if you feel led to give, you can give 2 places:

City Without Orphans.  This agency helps so many local adoptive families in some way, and they have been an incredible source of encouragement and wisdom for us! Give here: City Without Orphans 

Danisi Adoption Fund.  We created an account at Adopt Together that goes directly to the cost of our adoption.  Again, we aren’t in need, but if you want to give, you can do so here: Danisi Adoption Fund

We have been so grateful to each of you asking, praying, and offering to help during this process.  I have a room full of baby items that some of you have already donated!  It really feels like an entire community is adopting this baby and we are so thankful.  I’ll keep posting updates and more of our story here, so check back soon.  Until then, pray Baby Danisi home!