Friday, August 24, 2018
Scratching the Surface of the Psalms - 19
Scratching the Surface of the Psalms
“WWJD by the Book”
When I was a younger undershepherd, I’d stay away from the tables filled with geezers at church potlucks because they’re always talking about their aches and pains and pills and meds and the like.
Lately, I’ve been sitting down with ‘em to compare notes.
While still assuming more kinship to Peter Pan than geezers and like Jimi Hendrix, Skynyrd, AC/DC, Cheap Trick, Mountain, and the Stones a lot more than Lawrence Welk, Perry Como, Barry Manilow, Bobby Goldsboro, and elevator musicians like The Association and Abba, I’m starting to face the inevitable; though I’m with Karry Wenger and will never trade in my bike for a trike because a bike is a bike and a trike is a trike and…
Of course, I’m still haunted by Dave Bell saying to Karry and me as we scorned some trikers who were bikers riding down Main Street in Deadwood, South Dakota in 2010, “Hey, that’s your future!”
What’s really starting to get to me is agreeing with my dad so often about so many things; including aches and pains and…
Actually, I’ve always paid attention to my dad even when pretending otherwise.
He’s very smart with a lotta wisdom.
My dad says, “If you’re not a liberal, you have no heart; and if you’re not a conservative, you have no brain.”
I’m reminded of Charles Krauthammer who often confessed to being “a liberal mugged by reality.”
My dad also says, “Conservatives don’t like to see anything happen for the first time; and when you look into the eyes of a liberal with two feet planted firmly in the air, you can’t tell if they’re having a vision of God or didn’t make it to the restroom in time.”
He also taught me to “tell people to go to hell in a way that they’re looking forward to the trip.”
Here’s the greatest counsel that he ever gave me about leadership: “The best leaders encourage people to think it was their idea!”
As you can see from that sampling, my dad has always been about balance.
He got it from Jesus who said we’re supposed to be tough-minded and tenderhearted: “Wise as a serpent and gentle as a dove.”
Getting back to that first quote about liberals having hearts and conservatives having brains – both needed for balanced character so rare in Springfield, D.C., and even too many churches – my dad sometimes has put it this way, “Young people think you have no heart unless you’re liberal and old people think you have no brain unless you’re conservative.”
My youngest Matthew comes to mind.
He’s a junior at Coe College; and when asked recently what he wants to do with his life, he said matter-of-factly, “I want to change the world.”
He gets the idealism of thinking he can change the world from his mom and the realism of knowing the world must be changed from his dad.
As we mature, our idealism is tempered by reality.
Read that Krauthammer quote again.
This is especially true for Christians who know the world needs changing for the better in the name of Jesus by the book and know our Lord and Savior expects us to do our best to change it; or as Paul put it, “Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.”
Christians know the perfect pattern is Jesus and perfect prescriptions are in Holy Scripture for that amelioration.
While I’m not a Trekkie, I saw a clip from Star
Trek: The Next Generation that caught my attention.
The captain meets Mark Twain and says, “I wish I had more time. I have so many questions to ask you.”
The mythical Twain replies, “Just read my books. Everything you need to know about me is in there.”
Catch the drift?
God has given all that we need to know about Him as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in the book called the Bible.
God has given all that we need to know about following Him in the Bible.
What would Jesus do?
It’s all right there in the book!
Here’s the short course.
Ten Commandments for honoring God and helping people in Exodus 20.
Red letters in the New Testament.
If you want to know what it means to follow Jesus, just read ‘em.
That’s what David was trying to get across in Psalm 19.
Just read the book.
If we want to know who God is and what He has done for us and what He expects from us as our grateful response for who He is and what He has done for us, we just read the book and then enflesh His ethics.
Psalm 19 can be broken down into three parts.
Verses 1-6 are about God revealing Himself in creation: “The heavens and earth declare the glory of God!”
Verses 7-11 focus on the purely perfect prescriptions of Holy Scripture for honoring God and helping people which is honoring God: “The law of the Lord is perfect, converting and reviving the soul. The testimony of the Lord is trustworthy, making us wise. The statutes of the Lord are right, making us glad. The commandment of the Lord is radiant, enlightening us. The fear of the Lord is clean and pure, enduring forever. The judgments of God are reliable, true, and altogether righteous.”
I really like how Peterson paraphrases those verses so practically: “The revelation of God is whole and pulls our lives together. The signposts of God are clear and point out the right road. The life maps of God are right, showing the way to joy. The directions of God are plain and easy on the eyes.”
Verse 11 emphasizes the utility of Holy Scripture: “There is great reward in keeping God’s Word in Holy Scripture…God’s Word warns us of danger and directs us to hidden treasure. Otherwise, how will we find our way?”
Verses 12-14 are our WWJD prayer to be Jesus people by the book: “Cleanse me…Keep me from stupid sins…May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable to You, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.”
It’s all there in the book!
Getting back to our maturing youthfulness of wanting to change the world and starting with ourselves, I was never that good at math in college; but I have always remembered one equation as a metaphor for the family of faith that loves Jesus and wants to say what He would say and do what He would do as gratitude for our confident living in the assurance of eternal life: “The whole is equal to the sum of its parts.”
If we do our part and join heads and hearts and guts with others doing their parts to follow Jesus by the book, life will get better on earth as it is in heaven.
The perfect pattern for doing our part is Jesus – the enfleshed Word.
The perfect prescriptions for doing our part are in the Bible – the explained Word.
When all of the parts are following Jesus by the book, life is a whole lot better.
Blessings and Love!
Shatter the sound of silence!
Wake up! Look up! Stand up! Speak up! Act up for Jesus!
Salt! Shine! Leavenate!