Archive | September, 2013

Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth

17 Sep

This is a children’s message catch line about the Bible. You talk with the kids about the faith history recorded in the Bible and then tell them it is helpful for Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth.
Psalm 101 could be seen as good instructions at any time. Saint Ignatius of Loyola had a system of self-examination. He reviewed weekly, I think sometimes even daily, how he had done in his Christian walk. Psalm 101 would be a great place to start that review. It is a list of basic ways to live right.

1-8 My theme song is God’s love and justice,
and I’m singing it right to you, God.
I’m finding my way down the road of right living,
but how long before you show up?
I’m doing the very best I can,
and I’m doing it at home, where it counts.
I refuse to take a second look
at corrupting people and degrading things.
I reject made-in-Canaan gods,
stay clear of contamination.
The crooked in heart keep their distance;
I refuse to shake hands with those who plan evil.
I put a gag on the gossip
who bad-mouths his neighbor;
I can’t stand
But I have my eye on salt-of-the-earth people—
they’re the ones I want working with me;
Men and women on the straight and narrow—
these are the ones I want at my side.
But no one who traffics in lies
gets a job with me; I have no patience with liars.
I’ve rounded up all the wicked like cattle
and herded them right out of the country.
I purged God’s city
of all who make a business of evil.

I especially like Eugene Peterson’s paraphrase of “made-in-Canaan” Gods. I wonder if we just took time at the end of each day to review how we have done living up to the psalm, what that would look like.


Put it in your head and your heart

10 Sep

This Sunday we began Sunday School at my little church. In former appointments the Sunday School attendance, especially on Rally Day was well over 100. This year there were 7 of us. It is a little bit strange, but the basic are still the same. Get together, talk about God, put God into your head and into your heart. So, for my new little Sunday School – actually we call it SMILE: Sunday Morning Intergenerational Learning Experience – we have a memory verse each week. This week it is the Great Shama: “Hear O Israel; The Lord is our God, the Lord alone. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.” Deuteronomy 6:4-5.

Our psalm of the day, #100 has been in my head and in my heart for a all time. In my early twenties I went to a Christian gathering called TAG that meet in Washington D.C.. We learned scripture songs and Psalm 100 is one of the ones that I learned. It is a simple tune and some people have even endured my singing it to them. It is a wonderful way to carry around the encouragement and praise of God all day.

As I read paraphrase of The Message, I am thinking that I learned the song in the King James Version – Yikes!! As always, I love the way Eugene Peterson put this wonderful praise psalm into words, especially the laughter part.

1-2 On your feet now—applaud God!
Bring a gift of laughter,
sing yourselves into his presence.

3 Know this: God is God, and God, God.
He made us; we didn’t make him.
We’re his people, his well-tended sheep.

4 Enter with the password: “Thank you!”
Make yourselves at home, talking praise.
Thank him. Worship him.

5 For God is sheer beauty,
all-generous in love,
loyal always and ever.

I would encourage you to memorize this psalm, or other scripture that is meaningful to you. Just think of all the stuff you put into your head each day. I know a lot of it sinks into our heart too, so here is something good to put into our lives. Think of it as eating your vegetables – it does a body good. Peace

My Pollyanna World

3 Sep

Would it be great if people didn’t lie or cheat or hack. Every time I have to change my password, add more security questions, offer more ID to the clerk, or, heaven forbid, try to get on a plane, I remember how complicated life is because someone was dishonest or looking for a way to hurt people. In my Pollyanna World people are honest and kind and do not try to get something for nothing. And, in defense of my pollyannaism, I think the scripture would agree with me.

Psalm 99 is one more praise song. It once again talks about God’s justice and praise God because of the justice the brings peace to the earth. This praise hymn focuses on the leaders of Israel who brought the justice of God to the people. So, in these days of unrest of Syria, and Egypt, and so many other places, I would encourage to pray for all the earth’s leader. Perhaps we can find ways to continue to bring a little Pollyanna to our world. (OK, if you don’t know how Pollyanna is then look it up in the ‘old movie’ section)

1-3 God rules. On your toes, everybody!
He rules from his angel throne—take notice!
God looms majestic in Zion,
He towers in splendor over all the big names.
Great and terrible your beauty: let everyone praise you!
Holy. Yes, holy.
4-5 Strong King, lover of justice,
You laid things out fair and square;
You set down the foundations in Jacob,
Foundation stones of just and right ways.
Honor God, our God; worship his rule!
Holy. Yes, holy.
6-9 Moses and Aaron were his priests,
Samuel among those who prayed to him.
They prayed to God and he answered them;
He spoke from the pillar of cloud.
And they did what he said; they kept the law he gave them.
And then God, our God, answered them
(But you were never soft on their sins).
Lift high God, our God; worship at his holy mountain.
Holy. Yes, holy is God our God.

I pray for peace in your day and just know I will be looking at the glass half full.

In the Midst of Praise

2 Sep

I have enjoyed being in the midst of praise hymns. It is where I like to spend my energy. Here’s the thing; I know that much of life is hard, and things don’t turn out the way we thought they would, or how we wanted, but I think that is life. And, if we can change something into a better reality; take the possibilities at hand and create a better life, that’s great. But, sometimes we just have to live in the midst of people who do not make good choices and people who do not say nice things and we can’t change it. SO, on those days, I think praising God is a good way to go. Praise to God is never wasted and it always makes me feel better. How about you?

So here is one more praise hymn; Psalm 98. It is an interesting psalm because it begins with the affirmation that God has set thing right and by the end of the psalm it looks forward to the time went God will sent things right. It my “Introduction to New Testament” class in seminary, the professor said this was the Apostle Paul’s understanding of the “already and not yet” of the reign of God. I often wonder what we can do to help God “set things right.”

Sing to God a brand-new song.
He’s made a world of wonders!
He rolled up his sleeves,
He set things right.
2 God made history with salvation,
He showed the world what he could do.
3 He remembered to love us, a bonus
To his dear family, Israel—indefatigable love.
The whole earth comes to attention.
Look—God’s work of salvation!
4 Shout your praises to God, everybody!
Let loose and sing! Strike up the band!
5 Round up an orchestra to play for God,
Add on a hundred-voice choir.
6 Feature trumpets and big trombones,
Fill the air with praises to King God.
7 Let the sea and its fish give a round of applause,
With everything living on earth joining in.
8 Let ocean breakers call out, “Encore!”
And mountains harmonize the finale—
9 A tribute to God when he comes,
When he comes to set the earth right.
He’ll straighten out the whole world,
He’ll put the world right, and everyone in it.

I always love the way the psalmist comes up with to praise the wonders of God. How many ways to you have to say thank you to God? I hope you find a few new ones on the holiday to celebrate good work to do.