To Begin My Day…

To You, oh Lord,
I place my trust.
To You, oh Lord,
I cast my eyes.
Hold me tight in the midst of the storm;
In the midst of enemies who claim victory.
Wield Your sword to defend me;
Your mighty arm is powerful.
Hedge me in on all sides;
Oh Lord, You are my fortress.
May I not fall into despair;
May I always see You.
To You, oh Lord,
I place my trust.
To You, oh Lord,
I give my praise.

The Pastor -|—

Make music to the Lord

Psalm 92:1-5
It is good to praise the Lord
and make music to your name, O Most High,
2     to proclaim your love in the morning
and your faithfulness at night,
3     to the music of the ten-stringed lyre
and the melody of the harp.
4     For you make me glad by your deeds, O Lord;
I sing for joy at the works of your hands.
5     How great are your works, O Lord,
how profound your thoughts!

Today I am heading to LifeLight; a Christian music festival in Worthing, SD (south of Sioux Falls).  It is the largest FREE, outdoor, Christian music festival in the country.  There is 100+ bands and 6 stages.  And did I mention that it is FREE?

Lot’s of great music.
Lot’s of great food.
Lot’s of great worship.

I look forward to this event every year (always Labor Day weekend).  We set up camp in front of the main stage and sit there all day.  Today (Saturday) and Sunday will be spent there (with a trip back to Jackson for Sunday morning worship).   And considering that the fall season is upon us; Wednesday Night Live, Release time and confirmation starting soon, this festival is always a great way to kick off a new program year. It seems to jump start things for me.

So as I was reading my Bible today I came across Psalm  92 which spoke about my excitement of this weekend.   But these verses are not just about the upcoming weekend, but about our lives.

Our God is an awesome God and worthy of praise and worship.

Worship is not a duty.
Worship is not something to cross off your list.
Worship is not something you HAVE to do.

Worship should be your JOY; something you GET to do ~ not something that just happens on Sunday, but part of the other 6 days of your week.

So remember to take some time and make some music unto the Lord.  Or in my case…I will make a joyful noise 🙂

Either way ~ PRAISE BE TO GOD!

-edh -|—

Monday morning check in

Greetings on this lovely Monday morning!

Finally…
After long last I finally got my yard done.  I have been staring at my long grass and abundant leaves for a couple weeks now wondering when I was going to get some nice weather and time to clean up my yard.  I never seemed to get those two parts of the equation at the same time.  Well…Sunday was a beautiful day and I barely had enough time.  I borrowed a riding lawn mower with a bagger and finished the yard.  I looks great and I feel much better.  The problem is I think I cut my grass way too short.  That could be a problem later.  Oh well…my yard looks nice so I am going to enjoy it for the time being.

A visit
I had one of those nice visits yesterday.  While I was on the lawn mower I saw someone pulling into the church parking lot…obviously looking for me.  I stopped to chat.  It turned out that he just wanted to explain to me why he hasn’t been in church the last few weeks.  It turned out to be medical reasons.  He is doing fine but it got me thinking:  I wish more people felt this sense of duty to be in worship; not because they HAD to be there, but because they wanted to be there to praise God.  Also:  I wish more people felt this calling to talk to people who have been absent and check in with them, "We’ve missed you in worship recently".  Wouldn’t that be nice?

Disturbing movie
I am usually not one to pass on email forwards or pay much attention to them, but I thought this was worthy to pass on to you.  There is a movie coming out that everyone needs to be aware of, especially if you work with children or care about children at all.  The movie is called The Golden Compass.  This movie is based on a series of children’s books with anti-religious themes.  Actually, the author talks about killing God.  The worry is that children will enjoy the movie so much that they will want to read the book series.  Please follow the above link to learn more so we can collectively protect our children.  This is indeed very disturbing.

Web site
Thank you for the comments I received for the new web site we are working on for Salem (www.salemjackson.org).  The site is still a work in progress but it is coming along quite nicely.  If you think of any other suggestions please let me know.  As a visitor what information would you like to see.  What needs to be improved or communicated more effectively?

Personal stewardship update
I finally reached the 20 pound mark in my weight loss.  I had been stuck at 17 to 18 pounds for a while.  I still have another 10 pounds to go to reach my first goal.  I hope to reach that by the end of the year, but with Thanksgiving and Christmas approaching, that might be difficult.

Thank you (as always) for stopping by.  God bless you today and everyday as you live out the promises given to you in baptism.

-edh-

"…weeping may last for the night, but joy comes with the morning…" (Psalm 30)

Sunday morning prayer – 11/04/07

Today is All Saints Sunday.  Today we remember those who have gone before.  Those who have set an example for us to follow.  Those who have taught us life lessons, taught us the faith; and showed God’s love through their actions, words and deeds.  But most importantly, we celebrate, worship and praise the one who made us saints, Jesus Christ – without whom we would have no hope.  Remember, celebrate and laugh, for this life is just the beginning.

Let us pray…
Tender and merciful God, we have mourned the death of many loved ones; ones who have gone prematurely and those who have passed after great suffering and/or struggling.  And in a lot of cases we still mourn and shed tears over their absence in our lives.  These saints have taught us many lessons about life and about faith.  They showed your love through their words and deeds.  They set an example for us to follow.  But in the midst of this mourning there is joy.  In the midst of the tears there is laughter.  In the midst of the pain there is hope.  Through Jesus Christ we have been given the promise of New Life through the forgiveness of our sins.  And because of this…this life is just the beginning.  Thank, O God, that because of Jesus, weeping only lasts the night, but joy comes in the morning (reference to Psalm 30).  Through Christ’s name we pray…Amen.

God bless you this day and always.

-edh-

Text study – Psalm 146

Psalm 146 is the Psalm assigned for this Sunday (18th Sunday after Pentecost).  It is a Psalm praising God for being in control.  And I for one am glad GOD is in control because as we all know things hardly ever go as we plan.  The Psalms reads as follows:

Praise the LORD!

Praise the LORD, O my soul.
   I will praise the LORD as long as I live;
   I will sing praises to my God all my life long.

Do not put your trust in princes,
    in mortals, in whom there is no help.
(emphasis mine)
When their breath departs, they return to the earth;
   on that very day their plans perish.

Happy are those whose help is the God of Jacob,
   whose hope is in the LORD their God,
(emphasis mine)
who made heaven and earth,
   the sea, and all that is in them;
   who keeps faith forever;
who executes justice for the oppressed;
   who gives food to the hungry.
The LORD sets the prisoners free;
   the LORD opens the eyes of the blind.
The LORD lifts up those who are bowed down;
   the LORD loves the righteous.

The LORD watches over the strangers;
   he upholds the orphan and the widow,
   but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin.

The LORD will reign forever,
   your God, O Zion, for all generations.

Praise the LORD!
(Citation: Psalm 146, NIV)

Maybe you have hear this phrase: "We make plans and God laughs".  I think there is a lot of truth in that statement.  Does that mean we shouldn’t make plans in life?  No way!  Making plans is fine…the troubles comes when we put our faith in such plans and them alone – when we put our faith in this world alone.

How many times have we made grand plans for something and have things "fall apart".  We stress and worry.  We fret and maybe blow up at someone.  We say something we regret and why?  All because OUR plans did not work out.  We get angry because we have lost control.

But then…in the end…everything works out…and sometimes for the better…and…in a way you never thought possible. 

GOD is in control!

In those moments I think back and hear a chuckle coming from God’s direction.  "If only they knew.  If only they would trust me".

Do not put your trust in princes,
    in mortals, in whom there is no help.

But…

Happy are those whose help is the God of Jacob,
   whose hope is in the LORD their God…

There is a great song by contemporary Christian artist, Twila Paris, and currently re-recorded by Avalon titled, God is in Control.  I more than really enjoy that song but I love that title.  God IS in control.  And when our trust is put in God, then we can rejoice in no matter how our best laid plans work out.  Because when God is involved, then it HAS to be great, awesome and perfect.  And I for one am all for that.

So go ahead…make plans…prepare for the future.  But remember…GOD is in control!

Praise the Lord!

-edh-

Psalm “4”

Being the president and treasurer of the Jackson County Ministerial I am faced with many decisions on whether people traveling through genuinely need help when they ask for it.  You see…Jackson is located on I-90 and US Hwy 71 so it is a high traffic town.  People hitchhiking often stop in Jackson looking for help.  Some people really do need help and some are just trying to travel cross country on someone else’s nickle.  I hate being suspicious of people when they ask for help.  I want to give people the benefit of the doubt but I also want to be a good steward of the resources placed in my charge.  Some days I just want to give up my treasurer office and let someone else deal with it.  Then I have days when I know that we, the Jackson Ministerial, are helping someone (like today).

This Psalm, my fourth installment, is a reflection on the struggle I face.  I know I am not perfect, so I ask God everyday for the strength and wisdom to know when aid is truly needed.  Being the treasurer of the ministerial is a curse but also a blessing.  Here’s Psalm "4":

Psalm "4"
Your Spirit blows through, in and around my life;
     how can I possibly ignore you?

You remind me of your presence in a stiff breeze that liters a beautiful yard;
     you upset my surroundings – you mess up my status quo.
I survey the "damage" and wonder what to do next;
     I wonder why you have disturbed me so.
I sit and fume not realizing the haunting reality around me;
    the wonders of your awesome love and faithfulness.
So I walk around and clean up the "mess";
     only to discover something else – something precious.
The "mess" I once considered a nuisance is a reminder to my complacent heart;
     a reminder that I am needed in this world.
     Your creation and your children need me.

Your Spirit blows through, in and around my life;
     how can I possibly ignore you?

A person walks along the road;
     but I am too busy.
One of Your children call;
     but I am suspicious.
A fellow servant needs help;
     but I am unavailable.
You knock at the door;
     and I cringe.

I am ashamed…

The "messes" you bring in our lives are not "messes";
     they are precious reminders to be who we were created to be.
We are caretakers.
We are servants.
We are called.

I can’t ignore you – I won’t ignore you.
I am needed.

Your Spirit blows through, in and around my life;
     how can I possibly ignore you?

I can’t ignore you – I won’t ignore you.
I am needed.

Oh God, "I believe, help my unbelief"
-edh-

Psalm “3”

This is a psalm I wrote yesterday afternoon.  I am teaching a Psalms class and trying to encourage my students to write their own psalm.  It’s due on May 30 so we’ll see if they actually do it.  This psalm is the third one I have written.  The first one was in seminary for a Psalms class I took – that was a lament psalm.  My second one was a praise psalm written a couple weeks ago.  This psalm was written as a reflection of my alone time outside at 6am yesterday morning (actually I was fertilizing my lawn – it’s amazing when, where and how inspiration can come).  So here you go…I hope you enjoy this.

Psalm "3"
God, you are an awesome God.
     Your wonders never cease.

You give life to the lifeless,
     you bring color to that which was once brown.
I lay down at night unexpecting,
     but wake up in the morning surprised.
You sprinkle creation with nourishment,
     nourishment that seems to come from no where.
Creation drinks in your wonderful gift,
     it cannot get enough.

Hours pass by and your mercies never cease.
     Signs of your faithfulness still surround me.
I gaze upon your creation and I am overwhelmed.
     I can hardly take in the love that I see.
The grass is as alive as a young child,
     a child in a candy store.
The trees reach for you as an infant,
     an infant reaching for her mother’s touch.

O God, your morning gift has been well received,
     and I thank you, but even my thanks seems so small.

O God, you are an awesome God.
     Your mercies never cease.

I realize that the Psalms are songs that were sung first and then written down, so I am doing things a little backwards.  But they did come from the life experiences of the people.  I am not sure what got into me because I don’t normally write things like this, but it was kind of fun.  And I may do it again sometime.

"Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good.  His love endures forever." (Psalm 136:1)

-edh-