Category Archives: Christianity

Year of Scripture – Day 175

Readings for June 24, 2019
Psalms 58-65

Psalm 58

This is pretty cut throat writing on behalf of the Psalmist as utter vengeance is wished on all those who are evil. And evil, where does it come from . . . birth. Once evil, always evil

Psalm 59

As I read through this Psalm, I can imagine David living in fear, on the run, seeking safety in the mountainous caves. “Each evening they return” he pleas as if for help, seeking safety in his time of trouble. For David, even in these darker chapters of his life, “signs of God’s great might” are revealed as God is David’s fortress and strength.

Psalm 60

If you are David, and you have experienced defeat, where do you turn? God of course! Take a look at v. 7 and following, does it sound familiar? As I read, I was reminded of St. Paul’s words to the Ephesians (6:11-17) as we are called to put on the Armor of God.

Psalm 61

Lead me to the rock
that is higher that I;
For you are my refuge,
A strong tower against the enemy!

(v. 2b – 3)

Psalm 62

Last week in my sermon I reflected on Elijah hearing God in the silence. (1 Kings 4-15a) Similar themes come up here, as our “Soul waits in silence.” True silence is hard to find, just take a moment to be still an listen . . . silent? Probably not. Yet, here we are reminded to find that inner silence sot hat we can find God.

Psalm 63

The Psalmist is desperate for a relationship with God. There is true longing for something greater . . .

My soul thirst (v. 1)
My flesh faints (v. 1)
My soul clings. (v. 6)

all for the Lord!

Psalm 64

Reading through the Psalm surprised me with words of “Shooting” and “Ambush.” Honestly these weren’t words I expected in a song of praise to God. Not words I like to hear much in life, and too often we hear them again and again. Together let us seek the peace that only Christ can give!

Psalm 65

From the dawn of creation to the depths of the sea, to the stillness of the valley . . . God created it all! Here, praise is given as God reveals power and majesty, in the gift of nature that surrounds us.

Peace,
Pastor Bailey

Readings for the next few days: 
Tuesday, June 25: Psalm 66-69 
Wednesday, June 26: Psalm 70-73
Thursday, June 27: Psalm 74-77

Year of Scripture – Day 174

Readings for Sunday, June 23, 2019
Psalms 51 – 57

Psalm 51

This Psalm is traditionally read for Ash Wednesday, and it sets the tone of lament and sorrow for the Lenten Season. However, as I read through this I paid attention to the title and introduction. “A Psalm of David, when the prophet Nathan came to him, after he had gone into Bathsheba.” Well that changes things doesn’t it. The remorse, guilt, shame, that David must have felt as he was called out on his lust and sin. (2 Samuel 12) It’s all here. Deep in lament. Steeped in sadness. Humbled in wrong doing.

Then came another realization. For years, our worship has included a song based on verse 10-12 as part of the offering. These are the words we used to sing . . .

Create in me a clean heart, O God,
And renew a right spirit within me.
Cast me not away from your presence,
And take not your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation
And uphold me, with your free spirit.

So knowing we sang those words, Sunday after Sunday, and knowing this was part of David’s lament over Bathsheba, I asked myself the question, were we supposed to be lamenting too? Is this our mini confession for not giving as God calls us to give? Are we asking for cleanliness in the midst of our sin/greed filled life? I’ll have to wrestle with this the next time it comes up to sing in worship, and ask myself, what a we singing and why.

Psalm 52

In reading through the Bible you will find that there is a tree in the beginning and one at the end of Scripture. Genesis starts with the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Revelation, ends with the tree of life. Rob Bell in his Nooma Series has a great reflection on life between the two trees. Where are we, and where is our place? Here in Psalm 52, we get a small glimpse of a possible answer as we encounter another tree, and Olive Tree. As we read, we are that tree! Sought after for its fruit. Fruit that can be pressed into oil. Oil that is sought after to give light. Light that provides a way to guide others to God. May we be blessed enough to to live as a tree amongst the trees!

Psalm 53

I’ve recently been watching a series on Netflix called “Hill House.” Its a bit of a horror drama, and a good escape from all things church. In the last few episodes the house is described as evil. Evil enough to eat and consume everything, everyone who lives in it. Those lines came to light as I read Psalm 53, verse 4:

Have they no knowledge, those evildoers
who eat up my people as they eat bread,
and do not call upon God?

Its a similar image. Evil befits evil, and it grows and grows, consuming everything. Yet, in the end, God will put all terror to shame and deliver his faithful people.

Psalm 54

This is one of those that speaks well for itself:

I will give thanks to your name, O Lord for it is good.
For he has delivered me from every trouble,
And my eye has looked in triumph on my enemies.

(verses 6b-7)

Psalm 55

Can you sense the longing. Can you tell that something isn’t right? Like Job, here is a constant plea for help, because torment is all around. Torment comes, not in enemies or adversaries (v. 12). No, Torment comes from ones friends. This is what happens when friendship goes wrong. So where do we turn to find a true friend? God! It reminds me of another great hymn . . . “what a friend we have in Jesus!” May you remember that Jesus is the one true friend who will never betray you!

Psalm 56

When fear and evil seems to be lurking in every corner, where do we turn? God!

When I am afraid, I put my trust in you!
(verse. 3)

Psalm 57

Take note as you read this Psalm the image of “wings.” In verse 1, we are hiding under the protection of them. In the final verse, they are lifting us up to the heights of heaven. Here is the reminder, in darker times, we find shelter in the comfort of God, who reassures us, and lifts us up, so that we might soar to the heights of heaven.

Peace,
Pastor Bailey

Readings for the next few days: 
Monday, June 24: Psalm 58-65
Tuesday, June 25: Psalm 66-69
Wednesday, June 26: Psalm 70-73

Year of Scripture – Day 173

Reading for Saturday, June 22, 2019
Psalms 46 – 50

Psalm 46

This by far is one of my favorite Psalms. I remember singing it in the church choir growing up. It was a great arrangement, in which you could sense the power of the strength of God and the peaceful tranquility that also comes out of the dwelling in the city of God. Check out the video below to sense the power of these words, put to song.

Psalm 47

Can you sense the joy? Do you want to get up, clap you hands and shout for joy? These words should inspire just that, as we “sing praise.” Five times those words are used in just a few verses. Together, let us “Sing praise” to our God!

Sing praises to God, sing praises;
   sing praises to our King, sing praises. 
For God is the king of all the earth;
   sing praises with a psalm. 

(verses 6 & 7)

Psalm 48

“Zion.” We haven’t heard or seen this title much in our reading through our Year of Scripture. Yet here, the Psalmist refers to “Mount Zion.” In case you haven’t put two and two together, it is another name for Jerusalem. I remember growing up as a kid at Zion Lutheran Church in Sandusky, Ohio, listening to the Bible being read during worship and hearing the words “Zion” come from the readers lips. Granted it was an old building, and a congregation steeped in tradition, and I was young, but I can’t tell you how many times I was amazed that God’s word spoke direct about our congregation.

Zion, mighty on a hill
Zion, be glad
Zion, walk about it, count its towers

That was my church . . . or so I thought. Even as a kid, I was disappointed to see that Zion refereed to Jerusalem, and not the congregation that helped to form my faith!

Psalm 49

I will admit these words were slightly confusing, as I approached the final few verses. Are the rich to be praised and comfortable in their wealth? If you are reading the NRSV as I often do, you might sense what I am referring to. So I paged over to the NIV and then to the Message, and got a very different feeling. Here’s what I’m referring to: (verses 16-18)

NRSV:
Do not be afraid when some become rich,
when the wealth of their houses increases.
For when they die they will carry nothing away;
their wealth will not go down after them.
Though in their lifetime they count themselves happy—
for you are praised when you do well for yourself—
they will go to the company of their ancestors,
who will never again see the light.

NIV:
Do not be overawed when others grow rich,
    when the splendor of their houses increases;
 for they will take nothing with them when they die,
    their splendor will not descend with them.
Though while they live they count themselves blessed—
    and people praise you when you prosper—
they will join those who have gone before them,
    who will never again see the light of life.

The Message:
So don’t be impressed with those who get rich
    and pile up fame and fortune.
They can’t take it with them;
    fame and fortune all get left behind.
Just when they think they’ve arrived
    and folks praise them because they’ve made good,
They enter the family burial plot
    where they’ll never see sunshine again.

Did you sense it too? The comfort of being rich found in the NRSV, to the the cautionary not of being rich in the other two. While we live with many blessings, I think the Psalmist wanted to warn all of us, that our true treasure should be found in God, and not in our material wealth.

Psalm 50

In a world were we often speak ill of one another, I I found these words quite fitting for our own time and place:

You give your mouth free rein for evil, and your tongue frames deceit.
You sit and speak against your kin; you slander your own mother’s child.
These things you have done and I have been silent;
you thought that I was one just like yourself.
But now I rebuke you, and lay the charge before you.
Mark this, then, you who forget God,
or I will tear you apart, and there will be no one to deliver.

verses 19 – 22

Again and again, we need that kind reminder. Think before you speak, and when you speak, speak with the tenderness and compassion of our God!

Peace,
Pastor Bailey

Readings for the next few days: 
Sunday, June 23: Psalm 51-57
Monday, June 24: Psalm 58-65
Tuesday, June 25: Psalm 66-69

Year of Scripture – Day 172

Readings for Friday, June 21, 2019
Psalms 40 – 45

Today was our final day at camp. Instead of a day of service, we were allowed a “camp day” to play and explore the grounds of Lutheran Memorial Camp. Togther we took on kayaking, volleyball, time at the pool, and closing chapel in the woods. All it all it was a great week, and I am super proud of our youth! Thanks to all who help financially make this trip possible, and to everyone who kept us in their prayers as we traveled. After dropping our youth off, I went back to my normal routine of reading and and reflecting on our text for the Year of Scripture. Unfortunately for you, that means it back to just me and my thoughts as we continue to read together.

Psalm 40

“Sacrifice and offering you do not desire,
but you have given me an open ear.
Burnt offering and sin offering,
you have not required.”

verse 6

How many days did it take for us to read through Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy? As we read, nearly every day had some reference to making a sacrifice to God. A grain offering, a fellowship offering, a sin offering, and on the list could go. Yet here the Psalmist speaks unusual words, “Sacrifice and offering you do not desire.” Wow! If God doesn’t desire offerings, what does God desire? The only thing we can give . . . an open generous heart ready to praise God with all our being!

Psalm 41

In Matthew 26:11, Jesus states, “You will always have the poor with you,” and here we are reminded of the poor. “Happy are those who consider the poor.” Not only are we blessed in our care and compassion to those who are living on the margins of life, those who receive the care we offer, are blessed as well!

Psalm 42

This Psalm begins the second “Book” of Psalms. As you are reading, the first verse might sound familiar. It’s a hymn that we sing from time to time in worship. “As the deer, comes to the water, so my soul belongs to you.”

For more information on how Psalms in structured in various “books” take a look at this video from Thebibleproject.com

Psalm 43

Here is a plea for help. Can you sense it in these words. In not so many words, you hear the Psalmist crying out: lead me, guide me, protect me. Even in the longing, there is still praise, trust and hope, knowing that God will indeed provide.

Psalm 44

As I read though Psalm 44, I divided into four distinct pleas. Pleas that seemed to be stating a case, as if in self defense of what we or God is doing in life.

verses 1 – 8: Look what I have done, as I trust in the Lord.
verses 9-16: Look at what God has put us through in the presence of our enemies.
verses 17-22: Even though we feel abandoned, we have not forgotten you, O Lord.
verses 23-26: Why God? Why!

Psalm 45

We all know the text from 1 Corinthians chapter 13. “Love is patient, love is kind . . .” We hear it at nearly every wedding, as it provides a model of how we ought to live in love. As we read Psalm 45, I can’t help but wonder if this was an used as a similar reading in weddings of the Isaelites, as it speaks of the relationship of marriage.

Then of course, comes the question. Who is the bride? Who is the groom? Who is it that the Psalmist is referring to? Is it you or me? Is it God or the king? Could it be all of the above? Just as 1 Corinthians could easily speak of our love for one another, or God’s love for us, so too can Psalm 45 do the same.

Peace,
Pastor Bailey

Readings for the next few days: 
Saturday, June 22: Psalm 46-50
Sunday, June 23: Psalm 51-57
Monday, June 24: Psalm 58-65

Year of Scripture – Day 171

Today, our mission Trip Youth took on some projects as Camp Mowana, as sister camp of Lutheran Memorial Camp. Together we helped to spruce up the property (indoors and out) as they get ready to welcome their summer campers in the weeks to come. Fortunately, for us, it was our first day with out rain. Or so we thought! The morning was beautiful, then as we were finishing up our projects, the heavens opened. We were soaked! Guess that means fresh mud for tomorrow.

As evening settled in, we returned to our Year of Scripture text and I let the youth decide how they wanted to dig deeper into God’s word. In the end, we have an interesting variety as we look at today’s text.

Today’s Readings:
Thursday, June 20: Psalms 36 – 39

Psalm 36

This trio of youth decided to take on a bit of acting. There interpretation of the Psalm essentially said:

Evil is bad!
Evil people will not survive!
Good people will be rewarded and climb to the top
Of the mountain of God!

(And they yodeled all the way!!)

Yodeling to the top of the mountain of God!

Psalm 37

Because of it’s length, I took this one on and we shared some discussion. Three key words appear repeatedly in this Psalm: fret, wicked, and righteousness. All in all a simple summary of this Psalm, might sound something like:

Do not fret over the wicked
For with God you are righteous.

I then asked the youth to ponder those three key words. Here’s what they came up with:

What do we fret over?
Fire, School, being safe, ticks, robbers/murders, illness/death, the unknown, strangers, test, getting caught when we do things bad, one even said they have nothing to worry over!

Who in our word is “wicked”?
People like Hitler, those who start wars, terrorists, murders, school shooters, ticks, wiccans, devil worshipers.

Who in our word is “righteous”?
God, Jesus, Holy Spirit, Pastors, teachers, people who do good, people who use their popularity for the betterment of others, ourselves (for doing mission work)

Psalm 38

This trio took to the drawing board to explain the Psalm. Here’s what they had to share:

Save our Soul, O God, Please!

Psalm 39

Our last trio shared with us the cycle of life as reflected on by the Psalmist. Their words of encouragement came with the reminder that “Life is short, make the best of it by following God.” This of course, included the highlight of the day, as one of the youth gave birth. You had to see it to laugh along with it, but for now enjoy the photo!

Giving birth is no fun!

Peace,
Pastor Bailey

Readings for the next few days: 
Friday, June 21: Psalm 40-45
Saturday, June 22: Psalm 46-50
Sunday, June 23: Psalm 51-57
Monday, June 24: Psalm 58-65

Year of Scripture – Day 170

Again, I am blessed to have so many youth interested in being the hands and feet of Christ willing to work and serve in the world God made. Today took us to Hemlock Falls near Mansfield, Ohio where we learned about Garlic Mustard. It’s an invasive species that was brought to the United States in the 1800’s as a spice. Unfortunately, it has spread beyond garden cultivation, and is taking over many woodland areas. Because it is foreign to our area, there aren’t any animals or insect that depend on it as food, so it grows with no known predators, and it grows quickly. Thus, chocking off the “good” species of plants that nature depends on. So, we started pulling, and pulling, and pulling. What a task! We even had our first tick in the group and it has all the girls constantly checking or reapplying their bug spray. What a hoot! My personal highlight – I got the van stuck in the mud on their trails. The youth had the task of pushing me out. I’ll tell you it was extremely tempting to floor it and coat them all, but I was nice and together we had success getting back on the road.

OUr evening Devotions took us bake to the Psalms where I gave the youth the task of “acting” the Psalms out. I’m going to work on getting some videos uploaded when I get back to the office. It was great! Here’s a recap of what they had to share:

Today’s Reading:
Wednesday, June 19: Psalms 32 – 35

Psalm 32

Rejoicing in the Lord!

Three of our ladies “danced” for the Lord, as they retold the Psalm:

Oh, God you have wiped away our sings (with a giant swoosh)
I have groaned (with a huge moan) in them.
I will admit the to you
And rejoice because you have taken them away!

Psalm 33

God, the mighty warrior

Our three guys took on the mighty acts of God. Like mighty warriors they retold the strength of God posing as sumo wrestlers. It was an absolute laugh, and I had the joy of trying to narrate, take photos, and notes at the same time. What a hoot!

Psalm 34

Go away, God’s followed are dumb!

Our other three ladies took on Psalm 34 with an action/drama skit that retold the Psalm in this way:

Voice 1: God’s followers are dumb. Why do I want to be one of them. (Stubs their toe and seeks help).
Voice 2: Believe in Jesus and God will help save you.
Voice 1: Go away. (Pushing voice 2 off scene)
Angel’s Voice: Non believers should be condemned to hell! (The angel flys in to shove voice 1 to the neither world)
Angel’s voice: (to voice 2). God will save you for believing in him!

Psalm 35

By that point we were laughing so hard we left this to read on our own. I hope you do the same.

I’ll do my best to recap this with videos if I can figure that out when I get back. Super proud of what our youth are doing, as we continue to worship, work, learn about and serve God!

Peace,
Pastor Bailey

Readings for the next few days: 
Thursday, June 20: Psalm 36-39 
Friday, June 21: Psalm 40-45
Saturday, June 22: Psalm 46-50
Sunday, June 23: Psalm 51-57
Monday, June 24: Psalm 58-65

Year of Scripture – Day 169

Super proud of our youth again today. Our adventure/service took us to the Ohio Bird Sanctuary just outside of Mansfield, Ohio. Our task was to weed a butterfly garden. Can’t say any of us knew the difference between the “good” plants and “bad” plants. Either way we made a huge difference in pulling something “green” from the butterfly garden. We also had the joy of feeding some injured birds in one of their enclosed walk though cages. What a blessing. Our evening took us to the rock wall. Most of our youth were brave enough to take on the 30 foot wall and zip line. Way to go! We closed our day in small groups where they were asked to read the Psalm together and then share their thoughts. This is what they had to say:

Today’s readings:
Psalm 26-31

Psalm 26

The youth’s interpretation:
We should stay true to God and not go along with the crowed. We should continually ask for God’s protection, and God will continue to give it to us.

Psalm 27

The youth’s interpretation:
God will always be there for us. God will always take care of us. God continually gives us courage and confidence to make us stronger.

Psalm 28

The youth’s interpretation:
Hear me God, because I’ve done good! I don’t want to be (an I”m not) like those who have done bad.

Psalm 29

The youth’s interpretation:
These words summarize the great things God does for us. We should all try to follow in God’s footsteps.

Psalm 30

The youth’s interpretation:
No matter how bad things my be . . . joy will come to you . . . because God is with you.

Psalm 31

The youth’s interpretation:
We love, trust, and follow you. Please save us from those evil people.

My Thoughts:

I didn’t make too many notes as the youth were trying to dig in to God’s word themselves. But a few things are note worthy in the last three Psalms. Psalm 29 calls on the name of the Lord and reveals the power of God’s voice. What would you hear if you heard God calling? How does God speak? What does God sound like. Is it mighty and loud, or soft and compassionate? Listen as God is still speaking . . .

There is one verse in Psalm 30 that speaks well to me, verse 5:

For is anger is but for a moment;
his favor is for a lifetime
.

What a great summary of the love and mindset of God. Does God get upset when we do something wrong? Sure. Yet, thanks be to God, that moment of disappointment only last for a moment! For we then quickly return to the loving embrace of a compassionate parent.

As you read through Psalm 31, one verse should sound familiar. Check out verse 5. These are Jesus final words from the cross. Isn’t it reassuring to know Jesus knew the scriptures! Even at that, the rest of the Psalm speaks of anguish and suffering. Certainly as Jesus spoke these final words to us, he knew first hand the anguish and pain of the cross as he died for you and me.

Peace,
Pastor Bailey

Readings for the next few days: 
Wednesday, June 19: Psalm 32-35 
Thursday, June 20: Psalm 36-39 
Friday, June 21: Psalm 40-45
Saturday, June 22: Psalm 46-50
Sunday, June 23: Psalm 51-57
Monday, June 24: Psalm 58-65