Archive | June, 2013

Happy Birthday to Me

22 Jun

IMG_3966It is a great day to celebrate – well I feel that way about most days.

I am planning a great day.  I birthday meal with Mom and Dad, my brother, my sister and her husband.  And then the Orioles are playing the Blue Jays in Toronto.  I am hoping that will win for me.

O.K. so let use the occasion of marking another year past to bring you up to date on some of my life details.

For this past year I have lived with my parents in their house to help care for the challenges of growing old.  Mom’s health is about the same and Dad seems to sleep a little more.  The goods news is that even through their bodies are not young anymore, their minds and spirits are in great shape.  I see my brother, Henry, twice a week when he comes to do his laundry, keep up the lawn, and have dinner with us.  He also come for Sunday morning brunch.

Speaking of Sunday, I think I told you I have been appointed for another year to my little church in Smithsburg.  I am enjoying the work and on Sunday I will being a Bible Study on the Gospel of Mark.  One of my most fun days so far was taking a couple of youth to an Orioles game and visiting one of the oldest church’s in the Baltimore area.  (see attached photo).

I still play “Words with Friends” and always looking for a new game.  I also have wasted way too many hours on Candy Crush Saga.  A shout out to my oldest son for getting me addicted. (I am on level 176 today)

I am so grateful for God’s presence, good work to do, and love to share.

I enjoyed reading through Psalm 86 very much.  I identified with the praise part.  The psalmist is asking God’s help against an adversary; which is not my experience.  But read this psalm, paraphrase by Eugene Peterson and see where you fit.

1-7 Bend an ear, God; answer me.     I’m one miserable wretch! Keep me safe—haven’t I lived a good life?     Help your servant—I’m depending on you! You’re my God; have mercy on me.     I count on you from morning to night. Give your servant a happy life;     I put myself in your hands! You’re well-known as good and forgiving,     bighearted to all who ask for help. Pay attention, God, to my prayer;     bend down and listen to my cry for help. Every time I’m in trouble I call on you,     confident that you’ll answer.

8-10 There’s no one quite like you among the gods, O Lord, and nothing to compare with your works. All the nations you made are on their way,     ready to give honor to you, O Lord, Ready to put your beauty on display, parading your greatness, And the great things you do—     God, you’re the one, there’s no one but you!

I like the second part of the psalm because it is what I want in my life; for God to train me and keep me walking on the path.  I really like the idea of putting my heart and mind together.  Ancient wisdom called this the “single eye”.  For me it is an alignment with  of my whole self with God’s spirit.  A great place of joy.

11-17 Train me, God, to walk straight;     then I’ll follow your true path. Put me together, one heart and mind;     then, undivided, I’ll worship in joyful fear. From the bottom of my heart I thank you, dear Lord;     I’ve never kept secret what you’re up to. You’ve always been great toward me—what love!     You snatched me from the brink of disaster! God, these bullies have reared their heads!     A gang of thugs is after me—     and they don’t care a thing about you. But you, O God, are both tender and kind,     not easily angered, immense in love,     and you never, never quit. So look me in the eye and show kindness,     give your servant the strength to go on,     save your dear, dear child! Make a show of how much you love me     so the bullies who hate me will stand there slack-jawed, As you, God, gently and powerfully     put me back on my feet.

So, my prayer for you is to have a blessed day.  Eat some chocolate and think of me.  And know that I have enjoyed every moment of the last year and am looking forward to another year traveling with God.


Right Living Striding Up Ahead

5 Jun

Psalm 85 is a song of hope.  Hope that God will relent from anger and bring new life to the people.  It is common in the psalm for the people to believe that when things are going wrong in their life or in their country that it was a product of God’s anger.  In general we no longer believe that our difficulties are because God is angry, yet the way out of the difficulties is the same:  to live the a grace-filled live.

1-3 God, you smiled on your good earth!
You brought good times back to Jacob!
You lifted the cloud of guilt from your people,
you put their sins far out of sight.
You took back your sin-provoked threats,
you cooled your hot, righteous anger.

God can lift all our guilt.  The brokenness of past mistakes can be healed by God’s resurrection power.   Sometimes I wonder why we don’t let God release our guilt and heal our hearts.  Maybe we think God’s power isn’t strong enough, or the God doesn’t love us that much; but I think both of those ideas have been proven wrong.  So, all we need do is, with the psalmist, ask for God’s help.

4-7 Help us again, God of our help;
don’t hold a grudge against us forever.
You aren’t going to keep this up, are you?
scowling and angry, year after year?
Why not help us make a fresh start—a resurrection life?
Then your people will laugh and sing!
Show us how much you love us, God!
Give us the salvation we need!

Of course, we need to keep our relationship with God open and honest to receive the fresh start God has for us.  For many years now I have believed that each new sun rise is a new beginning with God.  I can leave behind mistakes and brokenness and, with God’s help, find a plan to live better in God’s presence in that new day.  For me it is a gift of hope that can bring me joy each day.  All I need do is remember how much God loves me.

8-9 I can’t wait to hear what he’ll say.
God’s about to pronounce his people well,
The holy people he loves so much,
so they’ll never again live like fools.
See how close his salvation is to those who fear him?
Our country is home base for Glory!

What do you think, can we not live like fools again.  Can we choose to live with kindness, justice, peace, integrity and grace?  Speaking and acting how we believe God would want us to act.  For me that is the goal.  Certainly, I don’t think I have ever made it through a whole day this way, but that is the star I shoot for with my life.

10-13 Love and Truth meet in the street,
Right Living and Whole Living embrace and kiss!
Truth sprouts green from the ground,
Right Living pours down from the skies!
Oh yes! God gives Goodness and Beauty;
our land responds with Bounty and Blessing.
Right Living strides out before him,
and clears a path for his passage.

The reward is the God-filled life.  A place where love and truth meet in the street.  Right living and whole living embrace and kiss!  I think we ought to give it a shot.

Peace and blessing be with you on this wonderful journey of life.

The beauty of God’s dwelling

4 Jun

As hard as Psalm 83 was to write about, Psalm 84 is that easy.  It is a beautiful psalm of praise about the dwelling place of God.    What I like most about the psalm is the movement throughout the poem from the building where God dwells to the lives of God’s people where God also dwells.

1-2 What a beautiful home, God-of-the-Angel-Armies!
I’ve always longed to live in a place like this,
Always dreamed of a room in your house,
where I could sing for joy to God-alive!

As much as the buildings of our churches can be a drain on its ministry, I like the image in verses 3 and 4.  I think our churches should be as this description of the temple in Jerusalem, as resting place where sparrows and swallows can make their nest.  I think the church should be a place of actually sanctuary.  Where people find peace and rest and recharge themselves to grasp the vision God has for the faith community.  Isn’t that a great image, a place where the birds are singing and we are worshiping.

3-4 Birds find nooks and crannies in your house,
sparrows and swallows make nests there.
They lay their eggs and raise their young,
singing their songs in the place where we worship.
God-of-the-Angel-Armies! King! God!
How blessed they are to live and sing there!

And now, the best part of a wonderful psalm.  I love and try to live this image of God-traveled roads.  How often we forget that God is traveling within us.  I truly believe that any time can be more of a blessing to us and others if we will remember that God is present there.  I know this is a time when many people are gearing up for vacations.  I wonder what our daily lives would be like if we were more aware of the leading of God through those days.  Could each of those days be more of what we seek on vacation: adventure, peace, blessing, newness and wonder??  Anyway, it would be cheaper and less of a pain to get where we are going.

Here’s to seeing God in full view.  Here’s to enjoying the journey with God, maybe even in those God-dwelling places we call church.  Enjoy the rest of the psalm.

5-7 And how blessed all those in whom you live,
whose lives become roads you travel;
They wind through lonesome valleys, come upon brooks,
discover cool springs and pools brimming with rain!
God-traveled, these roads curve up the mountain, and
at the last turn—Zion! God in full view!

8-9 God-of-the-Angel-Armies, listen:
O God of Jacob, open your ears—I’m praying!
Look at our shields, glistening in the sun,
our faces, shining with your gracious anointing.

10-12 One day spent in your house, this beautiful place of worship,
beats thousands spent on Greek island beaches.
I’d rather scrub floors in the house of my God
than be honored as a guest in the palace of sin.
All sunshine and sovereign is God,
generous in gifts and glory.
He doesn’t scrimp with his traveling companions.
It’s smooth sailing all the way with God-of-the-Angel-Armies.