Words set the culture – Psalm 12

Leaders always set the ‘tone’ whether they intend to or not!

Organisational culture or, what I want to describe as, the ‘atmosphere of a country’ is inevitably set by the way in which the leaders of an organisation or country behave and speak. There have been a number of things in the news recently that underline this observation. The ‘Google Walk Out’ is an example of what can happen when organisational culture goes wrong. The response from from Sundar Pichai has received a mixed reception and there is a suggested alternative response written and Continue reading “Words set the culture – Psalm 12”

Responding positively to ‘trick or treat’

The temptation on a day like Halloween is too go into ‘grumpy old man’ mode and mutter about ‘demanding with menaces’. But does that really demonstrate the love of God to the children and (hopefully the parents) who will come knocking at my door this evening? I think not!

So what might the answer be? For me at least it has been prompted today by ‘be a source of life because I am the source of life says the Lord’ (my interpretation of ‘be holy for I am holy says the Lord’).

Being grumpy is not going to communicate life!

My plan then is to go and buy a large tub of Heroes or similar sweets and give them out to children and families that call at my door and, also offer to pray blessing on them.

It is a very simple approach but every Christian is called to be a priest (bridge builder) and help the people around them find and experience God’s love.

So let’s take the opportunity to be a source of life and blessing to the people who knock on the door.

Psalm 11 – When the rug is pulled out from underneath you!

Just over 30 years ago I was working for a small publishing company and had poured my ‘heart and soul’ into the relaunch of a magazine. Not only was I an employee of the company, I was also one of three shareholders. Then, without notice, the two other shareholders decided that ‘my’ project should be taken over by another company with which they were associated.

I was devastated. I literally cried, the grief was overwhelming, what could I do?

I think that David must have felt something similar when Continue reading “Psalm 11 – When the rug is pulled out from underneath you!”

Psalms 9 and 10 – Confidence in God in the midst of grief and confusion. A Prayer for help!

Where is God in all this? Is an inescapable question for people with faith. It was posed in an article in the Guardian in early January 2005 following the Boxing Day Tsunami of 20041. The responses according to the tsunami, according to the article, included; Christians stressed God’s presence with the suffering, Hindus reconciled themselves to fate, the Chief Rabbi composed a prayer and the Archbishop of Canterbury wrote an article for the Sunday Telegraph.”2

But, whether the question, in our time, is asked about a natural disaster, a car crash, or a mass shooting, it’s not a new one. The writer of Psalm 10 posed the same question when Continue reading “Psalms 9 and 10 – Confidence in God in the midst of grief and confusion. A Prayer for help!”

Psalm 8 The Prayer of a ‘Stargazer’

Psalm 8 is the first psalm of ‘praise’ in the book of Psalms. We have had laments and two psalms of introduction but the prayer expressed in Psalm 8 is an awestruck ‘WOW’. God is great, just look at all he has made!

In the context of the Ancient Near East, the ‘wow God is creator’ is an important contrast with the attitude of people living around Israel. They Continue reading “Psalm 8 The Prayer of a ‘Stargazer’”

Psalm 7 The prayer of a hunted man

The vivid start of this psalm expresses the extreme vulnerability David felt and, his sense of ‘there is nowhere else to go!’

David knew what it was like to fight a lion. He tells Saul, in 1 Samuel 17:34-37, he has rescued lambs from both bears and lions while tending his father’s flocks. The ‘ripping and tearing apart’ (Ps7:2) are something that he can visualise very clearly.

Somehow David has escaped his pursuer and seems to be peering out from Continue reading “Psalm 7 The prayer of a hunted man”

The prayer of an exhausted man!

Psalm 6

How many times have you heard a church leader say, from the pulpit, “I’m really struggling?”

It seems that Christian leaders feel they cannot ‘let the side down’. They need to be strong and not show any weakness. They tell themselves there are good ‘rational reasons’ for such thinking!

The truth, however, from the point of view of scripture, is that as leaders, we are still part of ‘the body’ and the body of Christ builds itself up from Continue reading “The prayer of an exhausted man!”

Psalm 5 – change the band!

The music has changed! Psalm 4 was ‘with stringed instruments’ and now we have a psalm, depending on the translation, with ‘pipes’,’flutes’ or ‘on wind instruments’! But even if we have a ‘new band’, the message is very similar. David wants God to listen and restates his confidence and expectation.

David is also very ‘open’ he does not want to hide anything from Continue reading “Psalm 5 – change the band!”

Psalm 4 – Prayer – shopping list or conversation?

There is a rather trite saying that I have heard when people talk about how God answers prayer, or indeed if God answers prayer. They say “God answers with, yes, no or wait a while!” The idea of prayer presented in this framework is a shopping list that needs approval!

I have found this very unsatisfactory. It is not the picture of prayer that Jesus presents to his disciples in the Lord’s prayer nor what he demonstrates when he is heard praying in the Continue reading “Psalm 4 – Prayer – shopping list or conversation?”

Psalm 3, a prayer when it seems everything is against you!

The heading in the version of the Bible I used to read this psalm says, it was written when David was running away from Jerusalem after his 3rd son Absalom had rebelled and proclaimed himself king.
To make matters worse Ahithophel, one of David’s closest advisors, joined the plot.

It’s not difficult to imagine what David must have felt like, and it’s no wonder that he prayed ‘So many people have turned against me’.
If you have ever been betrayed, undermined or abandoned by family, friends or colleagues, then this psalm probably reflects some of the Continue reading “Psalm 3, a prayer when it seems everything is against you!”