Step, Stand, & Sit – Psalm 1

It is so good to be back. Oh how we missed gathering together!

I hope and pray that our volunteers feel rested and ready to go, that you’re all in a better state of mind because of the summer. Of course we know that not everyone’s summer is restful or fun, some of you had terrible summers. I get it. For that, I am very sorry, and pray you have a better fall season. However, whatever your summer looked like, maybe you can look at Labour Day, or at September, as a reset.

I polled a few people regarding this question: what do they want to “reset” in their life this September? As you might have guessed, EXERCISE was the #1 answer.
– health plan, run, gym, 5:30 yoga, etc.
– I did get one ‘bible study’ as a response;)

We recognize that during the summer, things can get a little out of whack. Or simply put, we get out of sink, out of our routines, we’ve ceased doing the things that feed our soul or help our bodies. And then a day on the calendar kicks us in the butt and we think about hitting the reset button.

I love seasons like this, where we re-set, re-purpose, re-imagine, re-start, re-organize (my garage for example), re-focus, re-engage.

We tend ask identity questions (with actual words or deep in our hearts)
– Who do I want to be?
– What am I known for?
– What do you want to be known for in the future, and what do I do to get there?

This school year, this work season, this stage in your family’s life, this decade – who will you be, and what will you do to become the person you want to be?

– – – – – – – – –

I have Radio problems…No matter what station I left my car radio on, it often goes to 530 on the AM dial. Anyone know what station this is? Me either. Unidentified. That’s right, a non-station. Here’s the crazy or funny thing: it’s always a different station when it comes on…or it changes as you drive: Rock, Country, Classical, News, Punjabi, Gospel. From a gospel tune, to news, to ‘baby you’re all that I want’ to ‘we will rock you’. Never a clear signal I might add.

Who are you 530AM? Who are you???

So what do I do? I have to choose what station I actually want to listen to. EVERY TIME I SIT IN MY CAR. The fan 590. 680 news. JazzFM. 104.5. What’s more amazing is that I get to choose, it’s my privilege to choose. My car doesn’t choose for me. It may want to, but that’s my decision, not my VW’s decision.

What music, what voice, what information, what style, do I want in my ear that day. CLICK. My fingers, my choice.

Sounds simple, almost silly, but these are the decisions we face daily in regards to who we want to be. Will we be what others want us to be, or do we choose? Will we become what others are leaning us towards, or do we choose? What do we allow to be the voice in our ear, the voice in our heart, the influence in our mind and lives?

– – – – –

Before we took a break in August, we were walking through the Psalms. Village Songs? Remember? YES!
Who’s been reading the Psalms daily? Anyone done? Anyone started and didn’t through single digits? NO judging here!

You may have noticed that during our worship time we read Psalm 150. Very purposeful, as today we wanted to end with the bookends of the Psalms.

  • We read Psalm 150 during worship
  • We’ll talking about and teaching through Psalm 1

Psalm 1 is considered a wisdom Psalm. You’ll notice that as we read it.
It’s also what they call a didactic Psalm. A poem that instructs and was used to teach.
It seems to be placed at the right spot, #1 of 150 Psalms…it gets us started in the right direction.

Psalm 1 gets to the heart of hitting the reset button in ones life…purpose & identity.

It asks the questions: Who do you wanna be? What do you wanna be known for?

Psalm 1
Blessed is the one
who does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take
or sit in the company of mockers,
but whose delight is in the law of the Lord,
and who meditates on his law day and night.
That person is like a tree planted by streams of water,
which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither—
whatever they do prospers.
Not so the wicked!
They are like chaff
that the wind blows away.
Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.
For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous,
but the way of the wicked leads to destruction.

Read the first few verses slowly again…

Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take
or sit in the company of mockers,
but whose delight is in the law of the Lord,
and who meditates on his law day and night.
That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither…

The writer, who is unknown, is setting the stage for the rest of the Psalms. They go on to tell us what a blessed and wise person looks like.

The word ‘blessed’ is important here. The Psalmist is telling us that this is the kind of person they are about to describe.

Blessed isn’t necessarily happy, but wise…and discerning…and a person of peace & joy, no matter that circumstance. Blessed is someone who knows who they want to be, and takes steps toward that end. According the writer, the end goal is one who delights in and meditates on, God’s words & God’s instruction.

Two groups of three words are key…

STEP, STAND, SIT
vs
DELIGHT, MEDITATE, PLANTED

What’s the instruction?

Don’t move in the direction of the wicked
Don’t stand in the same place where sin is prevalent
Don’t sit where mocking is the main activity

The choice is ours of where we step, of where we stand, of where we sit.

It’s easy to blame others for my outcomes and consequences, but this Psalmist is saying…

  • it’s my feet that got me there
  • it’s my legs that kept me there
  • it’s my butt that sat me down

What a vivid metaphor of our choices – a stark reminder of our decisions.

Of course, then, the writer contrasts this with other actions:

DELIGHTING in God’s words
MEDITATIING on God’s ways
PLANTING ourselves by a life giving stream (God)

As this collection of poems and songs begins, the writer gives us an introduction or a foundation to all the other Psalms – CHOOSE today what kind of person you want to be, WISE or foolish, BLESSED or not blessed.


It is your choice where you step, stand, and sit.


Step towards God.

Stand in God’s presence.
Sit in God’s grace.

Let God’s words feed you, inspire you, guide you.

And…be planted be his life giving presence.

 

Not sure of your opinion of McDs coffee? I’ve been stuck drinking it twice in the last two weeks. Both times I thought the same thing: this is terrible (you can insert your own disliked drink into this story). Funny thing is that it starts bad, but you then get used to its taste. Either it gets better…or…you slowly become ok with its mediocrity. This is opposite to experiencing a BIG MAC, which starts amazing, but then, just wait, a few minutes, an hour or so, and…you start to feel horrible.

Here’s the thing: we have a choice, of what goes into our bodies. Every time. No body forces us to stand in line, to eat fast food, to purchase unhealthy meals – that’s us. It’s all on us.

The same is true in our lives. The Psalmist lays it out plainly for us. If you want to be Blessed, if you want to be a person of Joy, if you want to be strong enough to handle or embrace the uncertainties of life…then delight in God, think about his instruction, and be planted beside him.

– – – – – –

Jesus, and the NT writers are very consistent with this

“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”
(Matthew 7:24-27)

So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. (Colossians 2:6-7)

As we reset this school year, this work season, this fall season, our family season…may we be encouraged and challenged to build our lives on Jesus, plant our selves in God’s soil, dig our roots deep in this love, mercy, integrity, grace, goodness.

As you hit the reset or restart button, be purposeful of where you step, where you stand, where you sit – because where you are eventually effects who you are.

Who can you Trust? Psalm 20

We have been in Whitby for 15 years now. Wow, time flies when you’re having fun.

It feels like yesterday when we moved from Maple (2 min from Wonderland, which is not all it’s cracked up to be) to Jays Drive, Whitby. Our house sell experience was interesting.

Sold in January, moved out in April, closed the new house in August. Lived in my parents basement in between. (Good times)

Lots happened in that span…

– We had a fun experience with our house sale. NOT FUN. Long story short, the buyers tried to change the price before closing. It didn’t happen, we won, and sold.
– Our daughter Madison was born
– My dad passed
– And…we nearly lost our down payment…YA…all because of a shady investor.

This is what happened in a nut shell…
– had mutual funds with this broker, nothing fancy
– sold our home, needed a place for my down payment to sit
– left it with him in a secured investment
– when we needed it to close, he was late, and was having a hard time transferring the funds
– that was a LONG day, that turned into a second day, which moved our closing one day (don’t you worry, I charged our investor the bridge finance fee
– fortunate for us, we got the funds, closed the house, and moved to Whitby
– we found out a few months later, that very unfortunate for others, they did lose money, lots of it. (So Sad)

THEY – I – trusted him.

Even though you hear about these things all the time, we never thought that this person was capable of doing what he did. He broke trust with loyal clients, old time friends, and even family.

– – – – – – –

Trust is beautiful…until it’s broken.
Trust is comforting…until it crumbles.
Trust is settling…until it collapses.
Trust is reliable…until it’s not.

Who did YOU trust…that disappointed?
Who did YOU trust in…that failed you?
(people, government, tech, cars, systems, stuff, jobs, leaders)

In Psalm 20, we land on a verse that so emphatically challenges us to be thoughtful and careful of who and where we put our trust.

 

Before we land there, let’s read through this Psalm.

 

 

Psalm 20:1-5
May the Lord answer you when you are in distress;
may the name of the God of Jacob protect you.
May he send you help from the sanctuary
and grant you support from Zion.
May he remember all your sacrifices
and accept your burnt offerings.
May he give you the desire of your heart
and make all your plans succeed.
May we shout for joy over your victory
and lift up our banners in the name of our God.
May the Lord grant all your requests.

After reading this a few times, I noticed that David is praying for someone else, not himself. Biblical Scholars call this a royal Psalm; one that is about and for the King. But which king?

– The current King who David might be praying for?
– Himself, who will one day be King?
– Or looking way into the future, the Messiah, who he knows will be THE KING?

I find it comforting knowing that David, takes time, to pray for a leader, but more than that, for another – for others.

Many of the psalms are personal prayers.
– God help me
– God save me
– God deliver me

But here, for the king, or even if it’s for his people, his community, David is praying for others.

It’s verse 7, which we’ll get to, got me to this Psalm, but verses 1-5 got my attention too. These words, this prayer, made me think:
– Who am I praying for?
– Do I use all of my journal space for me, or are there a few lines dedicated to others, those I lead, and those who lead me, those I do life with?

We learn something about all of us in this Psalm
– we get distressed
– we need help
– we desire to do well
– we need to acknowledge where we’re lacking

We also learn about God in this Psalm
– He answers us
– He helps, supports, remembers, gives, …
– His name means something, it carry’s weight, it has power attached to it.

Most importantly, we learn that we can TRUST him. We can trust God.

Now this I know:
The Lord gives victory to his anointed.
He answers him from his heavenly sanctuary
with the victorious power of his right hand.
Some trust in chariots and some in horses,
but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.

They are brought to their knees and fall,
but we rise up and stand firm.

Some may trust in horses…
Some may trust in chariots…

BUT we
         TRUST
                  in
         the NAME of the LORD our GOD

What a plain and simple and important thought we have in this Psalm…

Don’t worry about what SOME do…
Don’t focus on what SOME trust in…

What things, after some reflection, do you, or did you, put too much trust in?

Fill the blank… Some may trust in _________? I may have trusted in _________?

In Deuteronomy 17:16, we read these instructive words,
The king, moreover, must not acquire great numbers of horses for himself or make the people return to Egypt to get more of them, for the Lord has told you, “You are not to go back that way again.”

God is saying to Israel, ‘don’t be like the people you left’, ‘don’t be like the people who enslaved you’, ‘don’t count what you have and put your trust in it, trust me, God’.

We read these very familiar words in Proverbs 3,
Trust in the Lord with all your heart
    and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
    and he will make your paths straight.

– – – – – – – –

We posted this image in our story yesterday. The US dollar, the (apparent) envy of the economic world, has these words on it. (In God we Trust)

This was first put on coins in 1863. It was put into their law in 1956, Dwight Eisenhower, signed it into law. Why? I hope it was to show that they trusted in something other than money?

The thing with trust is…you can say you trust something or someone, but your actions are the proof at the end of the day. The US dollar is a perfect example of this. (ask me later why I think this).

The question for us today is this…

What will we put our absolute trust in?

I mean, do your homework and research…when it comes to investing, your health, your purchases, your relationships, make good decisions. Due diligence is important when it comes to these things. You want to feel comfortable about moving forward with your savings, your investments, your friendships, your important life decisions. But in the end, don’t put your absolute trust in anything or anyone else but GOD.

As David so plainly encourages us to ask…
Will we be the people who trust in ________ or will we trust in the name of the Lord our God?

Village Songs : Psalm 61

Have you ever turned a corner in your life and been totally surprised by what you found? There are wonderful stories about this, where people have walked into blessings beyond their wildest dreams: finances, relationships, a new job, etc. There are other stories that aren’t so wonderful. These are the corners you turn and find a job loss, a broken relationship, an illness, etc.

Our family has turned the corner to find one of these such things. It’s not fun, at all, but…I told someone this week that even though we had no clue what was around the corner, God was both turning the corner with us, and already there to meet us.

– – – – – – – –

How do we pray during these kinds of seasons?

How do we talk to God when things become chaotic and out of control?

What’s our plan for when we feel very far away from God?

Enter stage left…the Psalms.

The Psalms are…
– the prayer book for a community of people
– words to use when your own words are hard to say or hard to find
– liturgy in good and bad seasons
– some kind of consistency when life is far from consistent

Some have called the Psalms the great Hymnbook of the Bible.
They are among the oldest poems in the world.
They can be, for those who want them to be, a window into the bright lights and the dark corners of the soul.
Often times, they point beyond present realities, while still hitting home so deeply; like a good and well written song, they say more than the author may have even intended them to say.

NTW said this about the Psalms:
“It seems wisest to think of the Psalms, in their present forms, being collected and shaped in the time of the Exile in Babylon (6th Century BC). When paradoxically, the people who found it unthinkable to sing the Lord’s songs in a strange land may have found that actually singing those songs (and writing some new ones) was one of the few things that kept them sane and gave them hope.”

What’s he trying to say?

The Psalms are poems and songs that do more than you think they can do, touch deeper than you think you needed, say more than you even knew you needed to hear.

For the next few weeks this summer, we’ll dive into a few of these songs/poems and see what they say, how they impact us, and what God does with and through them.

We’re calling this series, Village Songs, because these are songs for and from a community. Our hope is that 1) we understand what they have to say on the surface, and 2) they spur us on to sing our own songs to God – our own raw, real and redemptive songs to God.

– – – – – – – –

For today, I’d like us to briefly look at Psalm 61.

King David wrote this song. We’re not sure the context or the setting, but we know one thing for sure, it was written from a deep love for God that came out of great adversity and struggle.

It has two running themes in it…
– A prayer for protection (from God)
– A declaration of confidence (in God)

Let’s read it and see where we land:

Hear my cry, O God;
listen to my prayer.
From the ends of the earth I call to you,
I call as my heart grows faint;
lead me to the rock that is higher than I.
For you have been my refuge,
a strong tower against the foe.
I long to dwell in your tent forever
and take refuge in the shelter of your wings.
For you, God, have heard my vows;
you have given me the heritage of those who fear your name.
Increase the days of the king’s life,
his years for many generations.
May he be enthroned in God’s presence forever;
appoint your love and faithfulness to protect him.
Then I will ever sing in praise of your name
and fulfill my vows day after day.

We can split this Psalm up in 3 ways with 3 words:

ASK
AKNOWLEDGE
ARRIVE

ASK…

We read words like this…

Hear me / Listen to me / Lead me / I long for you

David is pouring his heart out. We don’t know exactly why, but we know he is struggling.

The words ‘from the ends of the earth’ are a metaphor for distance – the distance between him and God.

  • Think of some metaphors you use that aren’t true, but reflect the truth about how you’re feeling.
    • Life is like a roller coaster
    • My home feels like a prison (said many 14 year old girls)
    • The DVP is always a parking lot (ok, this might be real)
    • He/She is a walking dictionary

All of these aren’t real, but they’re real to you.

Because David truly and deeply feels far from God…he has the confidence to ask him…

Hear me GOD
Listen to me GOD

As a kid I used to try and get my mom’s attention by moving her chin towards me. It was probably rude, but I just wanted my mom to look at me when I was talking to her. Guess who does that to me now? My daughter.

Lead me…to the ROCK that is HIGHER than I.

If we can just get to this point in our lives at every moment and every turn.

  • God you’re the ROCK
  • God you’re stronger
  • God I’m lower
  • God you’re higher

These are song lyrics you can sing no matter what year it is, what era, what culture, what circumstance – they ring true forever.

ACKNOWLEDGE…

The Psalmist moves from the question to the reason why he’s asking God this question.

YOU have been
YOU have heard
YOU have given

Sometimes…especially when praying, you have to look back in order to move forward.

David is reminding God…but really he’s reminding himself…that God was and is his refuge, his strength, his shelter…that God has heard his vows and promises…and that God has given him a story to be part of (heritage).

Let me tell you, that when I pray these days, as much as I’m asking God to do a miracle, I’m reminding ourselves that He’s already done so much in my life.

Why? 2 reasons:
– So we can believe that God can do it.
– So we’re reminded that God’s always been with us and always will.

ARRIVE…

Our prayers and songs all have to land somewhere.

David shows us, in 61, and elsewhere, that his songs always end with praise and a resettling of his faith in God.

TAKE HOME…

The point of this series is more for application than it is for knowledge.

Our hope is that we can learn to use the Psalms as a prayer book this summer…and long after that.

Will you take up this challenge with me?

Read the Psalms for the next 90 days.
6 days a week
2 psalms a day
By the end of the summer (Sept 21) we would have read through the Psalms together.

Who’s in?

As we do that, may we be led to the ROCK who is higher than I.

– – – – – – – – –

Reading Plan example for week one…

Day 1: Morning – Psalm 1   Evening – Psalm 2
Day 2: Morning – Psalm 3   Evening – Psalm 4
Day 3: Morning – Psalm 5   Evening – Psalm 6
Day 4: Morning – Psalm 7   Evening – Psalm 8
Day 5: Morning – Psalm 9   Evening – Psalm 10
Day 6: Morning – Psalm 11   Evening – Psalm 12
Day 7: BREAK

Continue this pattern through out the summer until you reach September 21 or Psalm 150.

Father’s Day Interview

Wow, if you missed Father’s Day at The Village, you really did miss something special.

Thalita Murray sat down with two dads, Jason Penny and James Boyle for a conversation about being a Dad, following Jesus, and how those two things may coincide.

She asked some important questions. We’ve listed them below for you to think through them on your own. Instead of trying to recap all their responses, we’ve simply summarized some of their thoughts.

1. What was your initial experience into parenthood like?
2. How did fatherhood impact your faith journey? Your general world view?
3. Is there a piece of scripture that speaks to you and your fatherhood journey?
4. Have you had a father figure in your life who is/was special to you?
5. What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received pertaining to being a parent? If you haven’t received any, what’s YOUR best piece of advice?
If there was a competition on how one gets into parenting, James kind of won this battle. Jason accepted his loss) His story is very unique as it involves adoption and losing his first wife all within a matter of four months. He and Dawn had adopted Isaac from Ethiopia. Four months later, Dawn passed away. This left James as a widow and single dad.
Fast forward a couple of years when James and Joanne marry and blend two families, now with three kids between them, they have a surprise of their lives and have a forth child together. Wild.
That’s quite a story to walk through and learn through. But that’s not to say that Jason’s more traditional route to parenting comes without challenges. All parenting does. Don’t we know it.
He says his experience was…“Crazy. Like most people I figured as a relatively competent adult I could figure out this parenting thing. I knew it would be hard but I thought it couldn’t be that hard. I was wrong. It was very very hard. They’re just so tiny and they’re like little time bombs that can’t speak English and you just have to figure it out. I used to have very specific ideas in mind about the right way to parent and now I just say, you know your own kid best so just follow your instincts. It’s like the 10, 000 idea. You’ve put the time in, so you know what works and what doesn’t.”
Some more things we heard from James were…
– It’s not easy to blend families. It’s always a work in progress. He’s trying his best, failing at times, hopefully getting better as time goes on.
– James was honest about his struggles as dad, and how he fights being too direct and is working on being patient.
– The scripture he’s held onto has been Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, he will make your paths straight.” James acknowledged that he needs Jesus in his life to be a better dad and husband.

Some more things we hear from Jason were…

– Having kids that now ask questions like “Why can’t I see God?” and “Where is Heaven?” have really thrown him for an unexpected loop. He likes to have clear answers for his kids because he knows those are the answers he resonates with. But often he might have to say, “I’m not sure about that, but I do know that Jesus loves us and cares about us so much that he’ll never leave us.” And their ability, and possibly innocence, inspires him because they just believe.
– The scripture he holds to is…Mark 10:13-16. Here we see Jesus receiving children and saying “Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs. Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it.” And for him this is a reminder of how he ought to approach Jesus; with imagination, implicit belief, the lack of intellectual pride, a sense of living in the moment and a special adaption to receiving. Watching his kids grow up in church and learn about Jesus has reshaped how he wants to approach his own faith journey.
– Jason says that his relationship with his wife must be a priority. It can only help his relationship with his kids. And his kids must learn from he and his wife about what it means to love and respect your spouse.

As you can see, there was lots to take home. This is only a snippet. Remember this, we are all ‘becoming’ something: Fathers, Mothers, Husbands, Wives, Friends, Singles, and of course, followers of Jesus. We’re not yet where we should or can be, but hopefully we’re a little further ahead than when we started.

Last thing about a day for Fathers & Mothers: It’s really a day to celebrate INFLUENCE. We all can have a good influence in others, especially those younger than we are. If you’re a parent, this may be obvious, but don’t think that you have to be a parent to be a person of influence. Follow God’s lead in your life and be present to those he leads you to. It’s amazing what kind of ‘influence’ you can have on others.

Happy ‘INFLUENTIAL PERSON’ Day!

The Middle : slow down and invite Jesus to be in the middle

This week we finished up our series, The Middle. We did so with some video teaching from Mark Comer’s talk at The Meeting House (taken from their Jesus People series).

If you missed it, you’ll wanna watch it. If you were there, you may wanna watch it again. (video below)

Here are a few things that resonated so well:

As we observe the ways of Jesus, his life, his ministry, his relationships, we notice something very interesting – Jesus was never in a hurry. If we want to know him more, if we want him in the middle of our lives, and if we want to be in the middle of his love and mission, we too must slow down.

As we walked through this series, we encouraged our community to invite God to be in the middle of our confusion & crapp-i-ness, in the middle of our interruptions, and in the middle of our sickness. For that to happen, we must always be inviting Jesus to be in the middle of our lives, our hearts, and our relationships.

Some things Mark Comer said are worth reflecting on:

  • Ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life (a Dallas Willard quote).
  • We either believe the lie that money and stuff makes us happy or we don’t.
  • What are you doing to slow down?
    • shut off your phone for extended periods?
    • stop at stop signs?
    • don’t rush to the shortest line at the grocery store?
    • sit down for more than five minutes to have a meal?
    • breath deeply a few times a day?
  • Slowing down, along with solitude, sabbath and simplicity, are key disciplines to following Jesus.
  • When we fill every single space we have with our phone, the TV, a google search, a text, a glance at the news, etc, we are closing up portals that used to be open for prayer or awareness. So many missed opportunities to be with God or with others, simply because we fill up our space and time.
  • For some reason, we always feel like we have no time – like we’re in a hurry. This is a problem.

Make sure to set aside a few minutes, to breath, think, pray, and invite Jesus to be in the Middle of your life and heart. It is never time lost, but rather, time invested.