Sunday, March 25, 2018

What One Thing Makes for a Good Death and an Awesome Life?

I first read about it months ago.  From the moment I did, I wanted to get it. It didn’t cost much, only 99 cents.  But beyond that, I wondered how it might affect me, whether it would make a difference in the way I lived my life.    So, a few weeks ago, I got it.  I got the We Croak app on my phone.  

What does it do?  It does exactly what it says it does, it reminds you that we all croak, that we all die.   Each day at five random moments, it sends an alert that simply says this.  Don’t forget that you’re going to die.   And then you check out a quote in some way related to contemplating your mortality.   It’s based upon a saying from Bhutan that the key to happiness is to contemplate your death five times a day.

Now, to be honest, I don’t know how well the app is working.  I don’t know because in the last two weeks, life itself has sent me enough reminders of death that I hardly need the app.   Only a few weeks ago, I learned that the composer of a beautiful piece that our church choir performed on Palm Sunday, Ken Benoit, a man I count as a beloved friend, is dying.   And this week I learned that my mother is entering hospice care, and I fly off this week to see her, maybe for the last time. 

But as I contemplate death, including two deaths that are coming far too close to home, I remember my last conversation with Ken Benoit, earlier this week.   I asked him.   “Ken, are you afraid?”  He replied with a calm certainty.  “No, I’m not.  I know I’m going to a good place.”     How could Ken be so at peace, even as he faces a death that has come far too early?  How can you have that peace right now and whenever that time comes as it comes to us all?  In these words that mark the beginning of Jesus’ last week, God shows you the way.  Let’s hear what God has to say. 

Someone once said to me that when it comes to life, everyone lives on a limited lease, and we’re all subject to immediate eviction.   Yet, as much as you know that, it doesn’t mean that when death comes close that it won’t rattle you, even scare you, whether it is your death or the loss of someone you love.   So how do you find peace to face what comes to us all?   In this story from Jesus’ own last week of life, God tells you.  That peace comes when not only your life, but your death too, rests on what ultimately matters.   And in this story, Jesus shows you what that is.

For years, I thought Jesus’ parade of palms just sort of happened.   But it didn’t.   Jesus made it happen.  First, he borrowed a donkey from a village near Jerusalem where he was well-known.   And when folks saw his disciples grabbing these donkeys off the street, and the disciples told them why, Jesus knew.  It would create a buzz.   Jesus was up to something.

But Jesus didn’t stop there, then he recruited his followers from these villages around Jerusalem to go ahead and behind him as he rode up to the city.  He even let them say the words that for years he had avoided.    He let them call him, Son of David.   Everyone, including the Roman authorities, knew what that title meant.   Jesus was claiming to be the Messiah, the Anointed One who God sends to set the people free.   And it freaked Jerusalem out.  

Jesus knew it would.   Imagine if I pulled together a big motorcade, and drove into Tallahassee, with loudspeakers proclaiming, “Behold, Kennedy McGowan, the rightful Governor of Florida! Hail to the new Governor.”    That would freak Tallahassee out a little bit.   Governor Scott might even wonder who this other new bald Governor wannabe was.

But what Jesus did, went far beyond a stunt like that.   With Jesus, lots of folks had already been speculating.  Is He the one, the Messiah?   But now, Jesus was removing all doubt.  He was going public in a big way.  But Jesus didn’t stop with a parade to offend the political powers that be.  No, he went straight to the temple, and immediately offended the religious powers that be.   And as he was kicking out their religious vendors, he told them.   “I’m kicking you out of my house.”   That’s a statement that’s going to freak out a few people.    Then to put a cherry on top, he starts healing people right in the temple. 

Do you see what Jesus was doing?   Jesus is forcing the hand of the very forces that will kill him in just a few days   Jesus is engineering his own death.   Why?  He knows that’s what he ultimately has come to do.   It’s why he comes into town on a donkey and not a warhorse.   Jesus hasn’t come to take lives.   No.  Jesus has come to give up his. 

One of the quotes that popped up a few days ago on my WeCroak app came from Dr. Martin Luther King.   King said.   “If a man has not found something he will die for, he isn’t fit to live.”   But King said more than just that.  He said, to quote him fully.  “There are some things so dear, some things so precious, some things so eternally true, that they are worth dying for. And I submit to you that if a man has not discovered something that he will die for, he isn’t fit to live.”

King knew, you can die for things that ultimately don’t matter, fame, money, success, popularity.  You can even die for things that make the world a worse place not a better one.   That sort of dying never leads to peace.   Fear and anxiety drive that sort of dying.   That sort of dying doesn’t free you.  It torments you.

But like Jesus, King knew, that if you have discovered what is truly worth dying for, that frees you to live.    And what did Jesus find worth dying for?  You.   If you’ve ever doubted your worth, what Jesus did this week should settle those doubts.   In Jesus, God made it clear.  You are so dear, so precious, so eternally valuable that God though you were worth dying for.   So worth it, that in Jesus, God did just that.   And a God who loves you like that; that God is worth dying for too.  And when you give your life over to this God, it doesn’t bind you to death.  It frees you to live.  

It freed Kenneth Benoit.  It freed to use his talents to write music to the glory of God, to sing it joyfully in this choir, to teach it with passion to students at Broward College.  It freed him to love and to serve.    And now it gives him a peace that passes all understanding.   That’s what happens when you offer your life up to this God who in Jesus gave up his life for you.  As Jesus said.  For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for My sake will find it.   If you’ve been holding on to your life, make today the day you let it go into his hands.   For only when you place it there, will you discover all that your life can be. 

Sunday, March 18, 2018

How Good Words Change Your Life, and Especially the Life of Kids

Special note - Today the blog is geared toward children as it was my congregation's annual Easter Egg hunt Sunday, but the words are relevant to everyone.  

Today I’m going to tell you the story of Esau and Jacob.  Jacob and Esau were twin brothers.  That means, their mommy, Rebekah, had them almost at the same time, one right after the other!   But these twins didn’t look alike!  Esau had big hairy arms and Jacob didn’t.  They didn’t act alike either.  Esau liked to hunt wild animals.  Then he’d bring what he’d hunted to his daddy Isaac to eat.  Isaac loved it!  He was always telling Esau how great he was.   But Jacob didn’t like to hunt.  He liked to cook with his mommy in the kitchen. So, he hardly ever heard his daddy, Isaac say good words to him. That made Jacob very sad. 

As Jacob and Esau grew up, the day came for their daddy, who had become very old, to deliver a blessing, super-special good words to the oldest child.  Since Esau was the oldest, he alone would get these extra special good words.  That made Jacob very sad because daddy Isaac hardly ever said good words to him.

So, Jacob and his mommy came up with a crazy plan.  They would steal the blessing from Esau.  They could do it because daddy Isaac could hardly see at all.   Jacob made a big plate of all the food his daddy liked.  He dressed in Esau's clothes Then, he put a piece of fur on his arm.  And he went in to see daddy Isaac.   Jacob said.  “Daddy, it’s Esau.  I’ve come for my blessing, my good words!  I’ve even brought you your favorite foods that I hunted for you.”   But Isaac was puzzled.   He said.   “You don’t sound like Esau, but when I touch your arm, you feel like Esau.  So, I guess you are.”    Daddy Isaac gave Jacob the special blessing.  He spoke good words over Jacob, and Jacob felt so good. 

But the good feeling didn’t last.   When Esau came and found out that Jacob had tricked daddy Isaac out of his blessing, he got so angry.   He got so angry that Jacob had to run far away to live with his cousins.    And Jacob never saw his mommy and daddy again.   But still, God watched over Jacob.   God gave him a big and beautiful family.  And he and his brother, Esau eventually made up and became friends again. 

But why did Jacob do it?   Why did he trick his father?  He had to know that was not a good thing, that his father would find out, and he would get in big trouble.    Jacob did it because everybody needs a blessing.   Everybody needs someone, even a bunch of someone’s to say good things over them.     

That’s why years later, after God had changed Jacob's name to Israel, God gave the words linked below to be the last thing the children of Israel heard when they gathered to worship God.   God wanted them to hear a blessing, a good word. For that’s what a blessing is.   It’s a good word.  And here is that good word from Numbers 6:22-27  

When God made the world, that’s what he said, again and again, literally good words.  He said.  It’s good!! Now God already knew it was good.  After all, God made it, and everything God makes is good.    No, God was saying, how happy all that goodness made him.   Like today at the picnic. You might eat some of the treats in those Easter eggs, and say.  Mmmmm, that’s good!

And when God sees you, that’s what God does.  God goes.  Ooooo, you are looking good!  God says a good word over you.   But God does more.  God also says.  I will do all I can to keep your goodness going, to make your good better and better and better.  That what it means when it says God is blessing you and keeping you.

And everyone needs good words said over them.   That’s why we’ve given everyone this bookmark for something called Faith 5.   For on this bookmark, it reminds folks to bless one another and to help others bless them too.   That means every day, you take a moment to say good words to people in your life, your children, your spouse, your brothers and sisters, your friends.   It’s important that we say good words over each other.   If I say, I’m good or smart or wonderful, it feels ok.   But when you hear someone else say that to you, it feels awesome.    

Everyone needs good words said over them, especially kids, but also even my cat.   When my cat gets hungry, I feed him.  But do you know what he does then?   He keeps meowing at me.   He wants to sit on my lap and have me pet him behind his ears and scratch him under his chin. He loves that!  Then he looks up at me, and he’s so happy. 

That’s why in the blessing, it tells you that God will shine his face upon you.   Sure, you need God’s hand to help you, to feed you, to watch over you.  But even more, you need to see God’s face, to feel God’s delight in you, to know how much God loves you.   We need that from one another too. We need hugs and kisses.   We need to hear words of love.  We need good words spoken over us.  

And God so wanted to show us God’s face that you know what God did?  God came in Jesus and God became one of us.   So, he could eat with us, and laugh with us, and hold us in his lap just like that picture here.   

In a few weeks, we’ll remember that Jesus loved us so much, he did something amazing.  He gave us the greatest gift ever, so we could see God’s face forever.   And Jesus did it just because he loved us so much.   That was the best blessing ever!   

So, say good words over each other.   Moms and dads, say good words over your children.   Say good words over your spouses and family members.   And above all hear the amazingly beautiful good words of love that God is saying to you every moment.    And remember in Jesus, those words became real like never before.   Because they did, you have God’s face forever.  All you need to do is but turn and look and receive it, receive the gracious, good word God has paid everything for you to hear.  And when you hear that it brings you something amazing.  It brings you what the Bible calls, shalom.  Shalom means joy, happiness, peace, a life, whole and complete.      

So, The Lord bless you and keep you.  The Lord make his face shine on you, and be gracious to you; The Lord turn his face toward and give you shalom.   Amen 

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Does Prayer Change Anything? Here Are Three Ways It Does

Thoughts and prayers.  Thoughts and prayers?   Why would anybody get upset about that?  But people do.   An awful event happens, like what happened in Parkland.  Then the tweets start coming, thoughts and prayers, thoughts and prayers.   And folks go ballistic.  Why?  It’s not that these people hate thoughts and prayers.   It’s that the words don’t seem sincere, at least coming from certain people.   From these people the words seem ploys to avoid action, ways to avoid uncomfortable realities.  That’s because they come from the people who could take action; who could change those realities.  And I get that.  I honestly do.   I understand why folks react that way to those words.

In fact, when Parkland happened, I more than understood.  I became one of them.  When I heard thoughts and prayers, the words rang hollow.   I prayed.  But when it came to praying with others, I couldn’t do it.   In the face of those lives lost, of those traumatized children and families, such prayers felt useless. 

I’m ok with how I felt.  Sometimes, you feel what you feel.   That’s not the question.   The question is, were my feelings telling me the truth?  Just because you feel, doesn’t mean the feelings are telling you the truth.  When it comes to prayer, especially in the face of senseless violence, does it do anything?   Do prayers have the power to change something like that?    In these words, God tells you.  So, let’s hear what God has to say. 

Does prayer actually change things?   If so, how does prayer do it?  In these words, from James, the brother of Jesus, God tells you.   Before prayers changes anything, it first changes you.  Then it changes your community.  And yes, then, it does change the world.

How does it change you?  To understand how it changes you, you need to see what James has been talking about before he gets to prayer.   All through this letter, James has been ranting against injustice, how the rich get richer, and the poor get poorer.   Yet even as James rants, in his closing words he tells people.  Be patient.  Trust in the end, God will act.   And right before these words on prayer, he tells them, above all things don’t do this.  Don’t swear oaths.  Isn’t that a little weird?   Why does James get so worked up about that?   It’s because in oaths people use words to manipulate, to get what they want from God and others.   “I swear by heaven and earth, God, if you don’t do this thing, I’ll stop believing.”   Or, “I swear on a stack of Bibles, I won’t do it again, honey.”   At the worst, swear words even carry a certain violence to them.  And James knows.   Words that carry violence often lead to violence.  

So instead James says to people, when trouble hits, don’t swear, pray.  James gets more explicit than that really.   Literally James say this: Is anyone among you suffering from evil?  Then pray.   Heck, that covers everyone.  Who hasn’t suffered evil?   In fact, right now, everyone here is probably suffering from evil in one way or another.   Maybe, you’re paying a price for someone who did you wrong.   Or it could be anything really.  Evil is simply something that isn’t what God intends.  And since God intends fullness of life, anything that doesn’t bring you that fullness qualifies. 

So, whatever the evil is, when you bring it to God, what does God do?   God gives you a little glimpse of God’s perspective.  And that changes something.  It changes you. 

When someone does me wrong, and I bring it to God, God does two irritating things.  First, God points out ways I might have contributed, even in a small way, to the evil happening. I realize.  I have some responsibility, even if it is small.   But then God gives me perspective on that other person, to their frailties and pain.  When I start praying, I can’t pray just for revenge.  I have to pray for change, change for the situation, change in the person or maybe institution that did me wrong, and yes, change in me too. 

For the same reason, when good things happen, James tells you to pray too.   If you sing songs of praise, you’re not singing songs of praise to yourself.  You’re singing them to God.  And when you do that, that gives you perspective.   You can’t act as if you alone created whatever good thing happened.   God moved through lots of people and events to bring that about.  It’s not all about you.  

But in prayer, God doesn’t only change you.  God changes your community.  That’s why, James tells you that when you are sick, don’t keep it to yourself.     In the same way, when you mess up, don’t keep it to yourself either.   Bring it to someone.  

James doesn’t just tell you to do this because it helps to have people pray for you, though it does.  James tells you to do this because when you do it, it creates a community. 

Many years ago, for four months, I traveled the world studying churches doing extraordinary things.   On one of those trips, I ended up sitting in a men’s group that was part of a church in Chicago.   As the time for prayer came, one of the guys shared this.  He said.  “You guys know that I got married a year or so ago.   Well, at my job, I work with this other physician’s assistant.  We get along great.  I really like working with her.  That’s the problem.  I like working with her too much.  I’m scared if I don’t watch it, I could blow up my marriage.”  When he asked for that prayer, he was getting help for a real issue sure.  But more than that, he was creating a community.  He was saying.  I trust the people in this room enough to share honestly what’s going on with me, even the parts that aren’t so pretty.  And his honesty freed others to risk doing the same.

When that sort of honesty happens, it changes a community.  It makes it more real, more intimate, more powerful.   The folks who created, Faith 5, the 5 family practices you can find on the link and that are the focus of this series, knew that.   It’s why these practices begin each night with sharing your high point and low point of the day, and then later with bringing those things to God in prayer.   When a family does that, night after night or week after week, it builds intimacy, a deeper connection in that family than before.  

But as powerful as how prayer changes you, how it changes families and communities, James knows.  Prayer’s power goes far beyond that.   Prayer doesn’t only change people, it changes the course of nations.   That’s why he brings up Elijah.  When Elijah prayed for the rain to stop, it  changed the direction of a nation.  It defeated the agenda of an unjust and evil leader named Ahab, who was exploiting the people.   And James makes it clear.  If God could do that then, God could do it now. 

In fact, God did not so long ago.   He did it in 2003.

In Liberia, 18 years ago, slaughters like what happened in Parkland were happening every day.   In a nation torn by civil war, the government and rebels massacred entire villages.  They kidnapped boys and made them killers.   They kidnapped girls and made them slaves.   In two years in a country of only 4.5 million, 200,000 people died.   To put that in perspective 200,000 people had died in a place with the same combined population as Dade and Broward counties. 

But in the third year of that war, 2003, something happened.  A Lutheran women’s leader, Leymah Gbowee, called together hundreds of Christian women to pray for peace.  At one of those meetings, a Muslim, Asatu Bah Kenneth, said that she would bring Muslim women to join in praying too.
On April 1, this group of Christian and Muslim women dressed in white and gathered to pray for peace at the fish market in the center of the capital city, Monrovia.  They picked that place because the country’s president, Charles Taylor, could see it from his house. Every day, his motorcade passed the women. Before the week was over 2,500 women had gathered there to pray. 

Those prayer led to some pretty interesting actions.  They agreed to not have relations with their partners until the war ended.  (That’s some leverage!) Then, creating a joint statement calling for peace, they marched through the streets of Monrovia and demanded a meeting with President Taylor. And they got it.  On April 23, the women visited Taylor. Gbowee presented him with the statement onstage while the women sat in the audience, holding hands and praying.  And Taylor agreed to peace talks.

Next the group targeted the rebels.   They found out their leaders were meeting in Sierra Leone.  So, the women traveled there.  And they refused to stop sitting in front of their hotel until they agreed to peace talks too. 

On June 4th, those talks began in Ghana.  And the women showed up there too, to sing and pray.  It wasn’t easy.  During the negotiations, an international court indicted Taylor for war crimes. He fled back home.   War broke out in Monrovia even as the peace talks continued.   And in the midst of it all the Liberian women continued to pray in Ghana and at the fish market.

But by July 21, the women in Ghana had had enough.  They surrounded the building where the negotiations were taking place and they refused to let the delegates leave until a settlement was made.  When guards came to arrest them, their leader, Leymah Gbowee threatened to take her clothes off.  And the guards backed off.   Finally, the Ghanaian President, the chief mediator, agreed to meet with the women if they would stop surrounding the building.  The women agreed, but only if they would be allowed surround it again if the meeting didn’t go well.

Three weeks later, on August 11, the negotiators announced the terms for peace.  That very day Taylor resigned, and went into exile in Nigeria.  The Liberian women returned home and held a march of victory.

And over the next two years, these women aided the government in getting democratic elections. They registered voters.  They set up polling stations.  And on November 23, 2005, the Liberian people elected their country’s first female president, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.  And in 2011, Sirleaf and Gbowee received the Nobel Peace Prize.  And you can see the inspiring documentary that tells their story, and if you have Amazon Prime it's even free

When these women prayed, it changed them.  They discovered through their prayers that they had more power than they ever imagined.    It changed their community, breaking down the barriers between Moslems and Christians as they prayed together for peace.   And in their prayers, they stopped a war; they sent a dictator to exile; and helped elect the first woman President of their country.  That’s not bad, huh?

So, were my feelings telling me the truth?  No.  Prayer has power. 

After all, when you pray, you never pray alone.   As James puts it, the prayers of a righteous person is powerful and effective.  And, Jesus, the ultimate righteous one is always there praying with you.   And as you pray, Jesus will change you.   And as you get honest and ask prayer from others, Jesus will change your family, your church, your community.   And in those changes, Jesus will lead you in ways that will change the world.  

So, what do you need pray to God about today?  What do you need to share in prayer with others?  What ways will God lead you through your prayers to change the world.   Let us pray. 



Sunday, March 4, 2018

What Keeps Your Feet on the Ground When So Many Are Losing Their Footing?

I avoid it as much as I can.   It used to be because when I went there, 15 minutes disappeared before I knew it.  But now, I avoid it because I don’t know what I’m going to find.   Inevitably someone, somewhere will be having a fight about something.   And usually the fight has gotten ugly.  All of that depresses me.   In the past, people used Facebook to show off their holidays; brag on their kids or grandkids; maybe show you a cute cat video.   Now, many use it just to have fights.

I don’t simply see it on Facebook alone.  I see it on the road, in the stores, on the sidewalks.  No matter how much money people have or how many things they can watch on TV or the internet, so many seem so unhappy about everything.   It’s led millions to get addicted to painkillers, so much so that their overdose deaths have lowered life expectancy for everyone.  That hasn’t happened in 25 years.  You have children afraid to go to school because someone might shoot them.   It feels as if people have lost their footing.  And, it feels that way because clearly lots of people have. 

In the midst of a world like that, how do you keep your feet on the ground?  How do you not let your life get highjacked by all the things that can twist it up?  In these words, God shows you the way.   Let’s listen and hear what God has to say.   

How do you keep your footing when so many things are happening that can easily push you off?  How do you stay rooted in what really matters, even know what really matters?   In these words, God points you what will always keep your feet on the ground, this book   But, here’s the problem.  Lots of people have no idea how this book does this.  So how does it?  The Bible does two main things.   It orients you and it confronts you.

But before we get to that, let’s ask an even more pertinent question.  Why should you pay attention to the Bible at all?  

Why should anyone take time to regularly read an ancient text, most of it well over 3,000 years old?  Yes, it’s been around a long time.  That counts for something.   But no one is guiding their life with stories about the Egyptian gods, and those stories are older.     And sure, the Bible counts as great literature.   But just because you appreciate Shakespeare, doesn’t mean you base your life on it.   So why focus on this book?

In the first sentence we read, you find the answer.  The writer exclaims.  “Oh, how I love your law!”  He’s not just talking about the ten commandments.  He’s talking about the whole book.  He calls it law, because all of it has that authority.  And when you think law, don’t think about law like the speed limit.   No, think about law, as in the law of gravity.   The film-maker Cecil B.DeMille put it well.  “You don’t break the ten commandments.  You break yourself against the ten commandments.”

After all, whose law is this?  This is the law of God, the creator of reality itself.   When you pay attention this book, it’s reality you are paying attention to because the creator of reality inspired it.   Here, God speaks to you.  God speaks to you very, very personally.    So, what is God saying?  

When I was growing up, one of my youth leaders, described the Bible as like the owner’s manual to your car.   It contained the manufacturer’s instructions so to speak.   I appreciate his intent.  But he still got it wrong.  The Bible hardly even gives you practical tips like an owner’s manual will.  
Don’t think of the Bible like that.   Think of the Bible as a compass.  Do you notice in just the few verses that we read all the allusions to a journey?   Three times in just nine verses, the writer talks about feet or a path, including the most well-known verse.  “Your word is a lamp to my feet, and a light to my path.”          

God is telling you.  I am speaking to you here, to keep you from getting lost, to keep your feet where they need to be. 

When my dad was learning how to fly a plane, his instructor early on taught him a valuable lesson.   They flew into this huge cloud, and as they went through it, the instructor asked him.  “So, tell me.  Are we flying right side up or are we flying upside down?”   My dad looked at him wondering; why had he asked such a ridiculous question?  Of course, they were flying right side up.  That was obvious.   Except they weren’t.   In the few seconds they were in that cloud, the plane had turned upside down, and my father had not noticed it.   How did the instructor know?  He looked at the instruments.   He said to my dad. “Your eyes will fool you, but the instruments will always tell you the truth.”  

Many years ago, I remembered that when John F. Kennedy Jr. died flying to his family home in Martha’s Vineyard.  No engine malfunctioned.  No lightning struck that plane.    JFK Jr. had not yet learned to read his instruments.  So, as he flew, he got confused by what he saw.   He thought he was flying up.  Instead he flew his plane directly into the ocean.    

In the world in which we live, all sorts of things will throw you off course, have the power to crash your life.    But when you come to the Bible, it has the power that those instruments had in my father’s plane.  Here, God keeps you oriented, keeps your feet literally on the ground. 

And God isn’t giving you a huge spotlight to guide your steps.  God is giving you a lamp.   Growing up, I went to church camp in Tennessee.  At night, I would take the trail back to my cabin.  It didn’t matter how often I had walked that trail, without a flashlight, I’d either get lost or stumble over a root I had forgotten was there.   If you don’t keep coming back here, you’ll find yourself off the path before you know it.

And even if you do come here, you still can miss the path.  So, what does God do then?  God confronts you.   

A few weeks ago, I was talking to my wife about the challenges our church is facing.  She said to me.  “You can’t figure this out on your own.  You need to talk to someone ahead of you, who has insights you don’t have.”    I was offended.  But after I got over my offense, I had to admit.  She had a point.   The next day, I booked lunch with a pastor in Miami to learn how he had led his church to growth. 

I did not like what my wife said to me, but I needed to hear it.  At an elders’ meeting this week, an elder raised a concern about my work that I didn’t appreciate.   But, afterwards, when we talked further, I first told him that I appreciated his comment.   Then I caught myself.  I said, “No, I didn’t appreciate it, and that’s why I needed to hear it even more.”

If you don’t appreciate what the Bible has to tell you, don’t dismiss it.  It’s often the thing you need to hear the most.   And if you think, “Well, we’ve advanced far beyond that thinking.”   Realize this.  You don’t know what you think you know.   Do you realize half of the things your grandparents believed or knew, people now see as not only wrong, but often offensive?   And a hundred years from now, folks will be thinking the same thing about a lot of things you think you know.    When the Bible confronts you, listen to it.  Wrestle with it.  Pray over it.  But whatever you do, don’t ever dismiss it. 
Don’t ever dismiss it, because what you read here, didn’t stay here.   When you read this psalm all the way through, you might notice something disturbing.  It’s almost like the writer doesn’t just study the law.  He worships it.   What is going on?   Maybe he is sensing that this word will become more than the written page, that this word will come to life.  Or as the gospel of John puts it, “the word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth.” 

You don’t dismiss this word, because this word became flesh.  After all, what do you use words for?  You use them to communicate.   And God far more than words to communicate his love to you.  God became one of us.  In Jesus God died for us, went through agony for you.  Why?   He did it to bring you home.  He did it so that so that even when your feet left the path, you would never be so lost that God could not find you.   And when God came in Jesus, he listened to these words.   He guided his life by them.  And he fulfilled them on that cross.

So, listen to these words.  Read them.  Study them. Meditate on them.   Let them guide you.  Let them confront you.    If you ever wonder why you can trust them, look at this God who made them flesh and out of love laid that flesh down for you.   If you can’t trust a love like that, what can you trust.