October 24th, 2006

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Psalm 15

Tuesday, October 24th, 2006

This brief psalm provides very practical and brief statements about the elements of a life that pleases God.
1. walk straight
2. act right
3. tell the truth
4. don’t hurt your neighbor
5. don’t blame your neighbor
6. despise the despicable
7. keep your word even when it costs you
8. make an honest living
9. never take a bribe.

Not a complete list, sure, but if one follows the list, then most interpersonal conflicts can be either avoided or settled. Spend some time reflecting upon the list, looking at your everyday life, and note needed changes.  This will need to be an on going exercise for most of us, certainly for me.

Psalm 16

Tuesday, October 24th, 2006

Peterson’s translation begins, “Keep me safe, O God, I’ve run for dear life to you. I say to God, ‘Be my Lord!’ Without you nothing makes sense. . .My choice is you, God, first and only.  And now I find I’m your choice.”

It appears to me that this is the correct order. Unfortunately, in contemporary American Christianity there seems to be a tendency to reverse things.  This to say that we need to initiate the quest for God’s forgiveness.  I am not the center of all things.  God is. He is lord, not me.  Like David, I need to be grateful that God will take me and make me his own. God must not be cast as being grateful that I have selected him.

The 16th Psalm ends with these words. “Ever since You took my hand, I\’m on the right way.”  True, but like most children I have pulled away from time to time, explored on my own, and strayed.  Thanks be to God that he has not given up on me.

Psalm 14

Tuesday, October 24th, 2006

The past couple of days I have been reading Bill O’Reilly’s new book, CULTURAL WARRIOR. Then I got to reading Eugene Peterson’s translation of Psalms 14 and concluded that it was very descriptive of the self O’Reilly presents in his book.  Not that O\’Reilly would deny the existence of God, it is just that his God is not all that holy, just or bright.  And O’Reilly’s language seems to be “poison gas” as the Psalms declares about many folk in David’s day.

He oversimplifies things by dividing Americans into the Traditionalists and the Secular Progressives. Personally, I was not comfortable with either group. Among many others he placed Bill Moyers in the SPs.  Progressive, yes, but not Secular.  Moyers’ thought is informed by the Bible. I would say the same for Cynthia Tucker of the Atlanta newspapers whom O’Reilly puts with the SPs also.

On page 206 O’Reilly lists the 10 tenets of his code for culture warriors.  The fourth is “Understand and respect Judeo-Christian philosophy.” He fails to do so, personally, and his whole structure crumbles for this reader.

Back to Psalm 14. David warns that our leaders should not treat “people like a fast-food meal over which they’re too busy to pray.”  David adds, “Do you think you can mess with the dreams of the poor? You can’t, for God makes their dreams come true.”

I wish I could get my money back.  The O’Reilly book was a waste.