Archive | August, 2013

Praising God Again. . A great way to start the day

22 Aug

Greetings,

It always seems like a long time before I write to you again. We are in the midst of praise psalms. Sometimes it seems like they don’t change too much, but the emphasis of what is praised about God is always a little different.

Psalm 97 praises God and sets God apart from “homemade” gods. The Hebrew people lived in a world of competing cultures and gods. The psalmist wants us to know that all the other gods are puny when compared with the true God. I don’t think our world is different today; we live in a world of competing cultures and gods. Our challenge is to identify those gods and ensure we are not worshiping them with our time, talents, and resources.

So, the first half of the psalm calls on all of creation to praise God for the justice God brings to creation.

God rules: there’s something to shout over!
On the double, mainlands and islands—celebrate!
2 Bright clouds and storm clouds circle ’round him;
Right and justice anchor his rule.
3 Fire blazes out before him,
Flaming high up the craggy mountains.
4 His lightnings light up the world;
Earth, wide-eyed, trembles in fear.
5 The mountains take one look at God
And melt, melt like wax before earth’s Lord.
6 The heavens announce that he’ll set everything right,
And everyone will see it happen—glorious!
7-8 All who serve handcrafted gods will be sorry—
And they were so proud of their ragamuffin gods!
On your knees, all you gods—worship him!
And Zion, you listen and take heart!
Daughters of Zion, sing your hearts out:
God has done it all, has set everything right.

The psalmist proclamation is that God has set everything right. The nature and outpouring of God is justice. I think that is true. However, human beings who often do not listen to God, or search for God’s vision follow their own way for their own purposes. The psalmist knows this truth as well and is seeking God’s justice.

You, God, are High God of the cosmos,
Far, far higher than any of the gods.
10 God loves all who hate evil,
And those who love him he keeps safe,
Snatches them from the grip of the wicked.
11 Light-seeds are planted in the souls of God’s people,
Joy-seeds are planted in good heart-soil.
12 So, God’s people, shout praise to God,
Give thanks to our Holy God!

For those of us who follow God’s lure to justice, we embrace the way of God; to hate evil and live with fairness and caring. We can also rejoice that “light-seeds are planted” in our souls and “joy-seeds are planted in good heart-soil”.

I hope this day you will find ways to live God’s justice in God’s world.

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Yea! It’s Monday, let’s celebrate!

12 Aug

My work week is different than most other people’s. Once I am done with Sunday I am exhausted, so Monday morning has felt like a fresh breath of stress free air. A whole week to figure out what to do next.

So with psalm 96 we have a praise hymn – all the way through. Enjoy the praise and think about what you can praise God for today.

1-2 Sing God a brand-new song!
Earth and everyone in it, sing!
Sing to God—worship God!
2-3 Shout the news of his victory from sea to sea,
Take the news of his glory to the lost,
News of his wonders to one and all!
4-5 For God is great, and worth a thousand Hallelujahs.
His terrible beauty makes the gods look cheap;
Pagan gods are mere tatters and rags.
5-6 God made the heavens—
Royal splendor radiates from him,
A powerful beauty sets him apart.
7 Bravo, God, Bravo!
Everyone join in the great shout: Encore!
In awe before the beauty, in awe before the might.
8-9 Bring gifts and celebrate,
Bow before the beauty of God,
Then to your knees—everyone worship!
10 Get out the message—God Rules!
He put the world on a firm foundation;
He treats everyone fair and square.
11 Let’s hear it from Sky,
With Earth joining in,
And a huge round of applause from Sea.
12 Let Wilderness turn cartwheels,
Animals, come dance,
Put every tree of the forest in the choir—
13 An extravaganza before God as he comes,
As he comes to set everything right on earth,
Set everything right, treat everyone fair.

What if Leno’s top 10 where things to praise God for . . . what would be your list.

10. I woke up this morning. Yea

9. I have legs to walk on into this new day. Yea

8. I have a brain that works fairly well most of the time. Yea.

7. I have good work to do that sometimes makes a difference to people. Yea.

6. My work produces income that I can use to fund my life. Yea.

5. The Orioles won last night’s game. Yea.

4. Heating oil will probably be delivered today and we will once again have hot water from the tap. Yea.

3. My parents are mentally alert and enjoyable to care for almost all the time. Yea.

2. I have sons who have grown up into handsome young men. Yea.

1. I have a God who loves me, is with me each moment of my life, and will guide my life (when I listen.) Yea.

The Meaning of Life

8 Aug

Psalm 95 begins as a typical song of praise. The description of God is one that I have grown accustomed, have you? God has created all; God is the high God; so we praise God; right, right.

1-2 Come, let’s shout praises to God,
raise the roof for the Rock who saved us!
Let’s march into his presence singing praises,
lifting the rafters with our hymns!
3-5 And why? Because God is the best,
High King over all the gods.
In one hand he holds deep caves and caverns,
in the other hand grasps the high mountains.
He made Ocean—he owns it!
His hands sculpted Earth!
6-7 So come, let us worship: bow before him,
on your knees before God, who made us!
Oh yes, he’s our God,
and we’re the people he pastures, the flock he feeds.

Yet, God’s people have not listened in the past. They have not praised God, but have grumbled. And before we say, “O, those ungrateful people of the past”, think about what you have grumbled about lately. If you have not complained about anything lately, great. Yet, I catch myself grumbling too much. . . why don’t people show up for church in the summer. . , why can’t I lose weight like when I was younger. . , why does life turn out so differently than expected. . . I can identify with grumblers. So, this psalm is for me.

7-11 Drop everything and listen, listen as he speaks:
“Don’t turn a deaf ear as in the Bitter Uprising,
As on the day of the Wilderness Test,
when your ancestors turned and put me to the test.
For forty years they watched me at work among them,
as over and over they tried my patience.
And I was provoked—oh, was I provoked!
‘Can’t they keep their minds on God for five minutes?
Do they simply refuse to walk down my road?’
Exasperated, I exploded,
‘They’ll never get where they’re headed,
never be able to sit down and rest.’”

The psalm says, to find rest we must stop grumbling, embrace the moment and praise God. Let’s imagine that’s the only reason God created us. . . so we could praise God. Here’s today’s challenge. To praise God not just by saying thank you to God for a new day, or our health, or our wealth, or our intelligence, or a free country to live in, but praising God by the gentleness with which we speak to another, by the caring way we use our resources, by the way we use the creative power we have to make beautiful. Imagine each choice that we make today reflected a praise to the living God who has created all things and joins with us in the praising of the present moment. How would that change the choices we make today?? I think I might try it.

Lazy days of Summer; that’s me

6 Aug

Hello friends, I can’t believe how long it has been since I have blogged. Life remains much the same for me. My little church is doing fine, although people also take a vacation from church, so I don’t see as many people as in the Spring. Mom and Dad’s health is about the same, moving slow and that moving often comes with some pain.
Me. . . I am the same; happy to be in church, happy when the Orioles win, happy to eat ice cream. happy when I have a scrabble game with friends. Yea, not much changes with me,

The Psalm are also much the same. Psalm 94 (that’s how far we have gotten), is a song asking for justice for the psalmist and a clear delineation between the God’s people and bad people.

1-2 God, put an end to evil;
avenging God, show your colors!
Judge of the earth, take your stand;
throw the book at the arrogant.
3-4 God, the wicked get away with murder—
how long will you let this go on?
They brag and boast
and crow about their crimes!

5-7 They walk all over your people, God,
exploit and abuse your precious people.
They take out anyone who gets in their way;
if they can’t use them, they kill them.
They think, “God isn’t looking,
Jacob’s God is out to lunch.”

There are many people in this world who believe “God isn’t looking”. But what I see is that the evil they concoct only comes back to ruin there lives. To kill them from the inside out.

I like the images in this next section of the psalm, particularly how it is paraphrased by Eugene Peterson.

Well, think again, you idiots,
fools—how long before you get smart?
Do you think Ear-Maker doesn’t hear,
Eye-Shaper doesn’t see?
Do you think the trainer of nations doesn’t correct,
the teacher of Adam doesn’t know?
God knows, all right—
knows your stupidity,
sees your shallowness.

So, do we think that the one who made our ears doesn’t hear? I think so often we do. We act is if God is not in our moments and our lives. That somehow God who created the very fabric of our being isn’t there. Isn’t that crazy.

Well, like the psalmist says, those who will be aware of our Creator; instructed by the Teacher of all, will find peace.

How blessed the man you train, God,
the woman you instruct in your Word,
Providing a circle of quiet within the clamor of evil,
while a jail is being built for the wicked.
God will never walk away from his people,
never desert his precious people.
Rest assured that justice is on its way
and every good heart put right.

16-19 Who stood up for me against the wicked?
Who took my side against evil workers?
If God hadn’t been there for me,
I never would have made it.
The minute I said, “I’m slipping, I’m falling,”
your love, God, took hold and held me fast.
When I was upset and beside myself,
you calmed me down and cheered me up.

This is the calm center I find each day. If I start to be upset about “what isn’t” I look to God “who is”. How often to be focus on what isn’t fair in our lives, what isn’t the way we want it to be, what isn’t how it should have turned out. I find that is a dead end road lined with sadness. So, I focus on what is; I know the most important thing that is, is God. That will ‘calm me down and cheer me up’

20-23 Can Misrule have anything in common with you?
Can Troublemaker pretend to be on your side?
They ganged up on good people,
plotted behind the backs of the innocent.
But God became my hideout,
God was my high mountain retreat,
Then boomeranged their evil back on them:
for their evil ways he wiped them out,
our God cleaned them out for good.

So, as I said before, those who seek evil will find it being lived out in their lives. It will eat them up from the inside – boomerange back on them. For those of us trying to live the Way of Christ, there are no less trouble, but a lot more peace. I hope you seek and find God’s peace today.