Tag Archives: Psalms

BBC Radio Solent Daily Thought: Tuesday

Earlier this year I enjoyed a three-month sabbatical: a break from the pressure of a daily diary with space to think and be a bit more creative.

For a number of years, I have been a published hymn-writer and it’s not always easy to marry writing with the usual work of being a church leader but the sabbatical was a real blessing because those creative juices began to flow again.

I have a picture that I treasure from that time. It’s of a bench in the corner of our garden where I used to sit in the sunshine with my Bible, my songwriting notebook, a commentary on the Psalms and a cup of tea – of course!

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Sometimes, because I had time and space, I sat there for ages and wrote nothing. Sometimes I managed to work out a troublesome rhyme or half a verse. Sometimes I simple fell asleep!! But, because the church had given me the gift of time all of that was OK.

One of the Psalms – possibly the oldest songbook in the world – says: Truly my soul finds rest in God.

I know that not everyone has the luxury of three months’ paid leave and I don’t treat it lightly. However, finding a little soul space in your week is a really valuable discipline for all of us: a moment of rest in a frantic world where we always seem to be hurrying from one thing to the next.

Now I’m back in work I need to remind myself to do the same … now, what’s the next thing in my diary? Oh yes, must rush …

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A Word in Time: Thursday

This is my Bible Study in today’s A Word in Time series on the Methodist Church website. You can join in an online discussion there too if you like.

Acts 2:14, 22-35

14 But Peter, standing with the eleven, raised his voice and addressed them: ‘Men of Judea and all who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and listen to what I say.

22 ‘You that are Israelites, listen to what I have to say: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with deeds of power, wonders, and signs that God did through him among you, as you yourselves know— 23this man, handed over to you according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of those outside the law. 24But God raised him up, having freed him from death,because it was impossible for him to be held in its power. 25For David says concerning him,
“I saw the Lord always before me,
for he is at my right hand so that I will not be shaken;
26 therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced;
moreover, my flesh will live in hope.
27 For you will not abandon my soul to Hades,
or let your Holy One experience corruption.
28 You have made known to me the ways of life;
you will make me full of gladness with your presence.”

29 ‘Fellow Israelites, I may say to you confidently of our ancestor David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day.30Since he was a prophet, he knew that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would put one of his descendants on his throne. 31Foreseeing this, David spoke of the resurrection of the Messiah, saying,
“He was not abandoned to Hades,
nor did his flesh experience corruption.”
32This Jesus God raised up, and of that all of us are witnesses. 33Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you both see and hear. 34For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he himself says,
“The Lord said to my Lord,
‘Sit at my right hand,
35   until I make your enemies your footstool.’ ”


“This Jesus God raised up, and of that all of us are witnesses.” (v. 32)

Background

The picture of Peter we get in the Gospels is of a man who wanted to match up to the example of Jesus but kept missing the mark. In his enthusiasm to speak he didn’t always think. His passion to walk with his master led him often to put both feet in it.

But significantly it put him in the front row.

The picture we get in Acts is a completely different one. Set on fire by the Holy Spirit, Peter is now a confident advocate of a new reality: “this Jesus … raised up”.

The way he begins his address, generally understood as the first Christian sermon, is in itself a testament to the change brought about by the coming of the Holy Spirit: “Peter, standing with the eleven, raised his voice and addressed them: ‘Men of Judea and all who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and listen to what I say” (v. 14).

If we follow Luke’s narrative, Peter had been waiting in the room barely an hour ago for the promise of Jesus to be fulfilled (Acts 1:8) and now he is addressing a mass of people in the Jewish nation’s greatest city. He is not just appealing for their attention, he is commanding it.

If his manner is bold, then the content is staggering. Peter tells them that their hero king, David, is nothing more than a mouldering pile of bones in a grave (verse 29), but he and the disciples have been witnesses to something far greater.

He knew that to prove his case he needed witnesses – his own testimony would not be enough. He calls Scripture to his defence, indeed the very King David he has dismissed as a dead corpse: not as a king but as their greatest Psalmist – using Psalms 16:8-11 (in verses 25-28) and Psalm 110:1 (in verses 34-35).

Peter tells them that what they were witnessing had been God’s plan from the start, King David had been in on it and the disciples were witness.

To Ponder

  • How can the Church tread the fine line between boldness and arrogance when preaching the resurrection of Jesus?
  • The change in Peter and the disciples was evidence of the Spirit’s coming. How do people see the change in your life?

On the radio: music and medals

This week I’m doing the early morning Daily Thought on BBC Radio Solent’s breakfast show, hosted by Julian Clegg. Each day from Tuesday to Friday at about 6.50am I get 90 seconds to catch the listeners’ attention. Here are the first two.

Music in heaven (Tuesday morning)

It began to dawn on me recently that I really am getting old. Our oldest grandchild had a party for his 13th birthday and my job was to be the bouncer – not so much keeping people out as making sure that his friends were safely inside the hall.

Everything was fine and the evening was a great success. The pizzas went down well, the volume level was constantly at 11 and the music … well, the music was just unknown.

I used to pride myself on knowing my music. I’m still pretty handy with the Solent Secret Sound and do OK in music rounds if we’re at a quiz night … but I only knew two tunes during the entire evening and sadly, one of those was Gangnam Style.

It made me wonder about the music in heaven.

After all, the parade of composers and instrumentalists we have lost just in the last couple of years would give us an event to rival the greatest festival and it would go on for days. Just imagine Beethoven and Bowie comparing notes before going on stage with John Lennon and Nat King Cole.

I’m pretty sure God loves good music and I’m confident too that God doesn’t make the distinction we do between sacred and secular.

The oldest recorded book of songs is the Psalms. In Psalm 96 it says:

Sing to the Lord a new song;
sing to the Lord, all the earth.
Sing to the Lord, praise his name;
proclaim his salvation day after day.

It’s a call to lift up your voice and sing – whatever is in your heart. That’s a good way to start the day. Just sing. Have a great day as part of the heavenly choir.

 

Missing out and why you shouldn’t (Wednesday morning)

For a number of years before becoming a church minister I worked in newspapers and spent some time as a sports writer in East London.

I used to talk to decathlon hero Daley Thompson every week at the point when he was winning Olympic and World titles. In the summer of 1978 I predicted in the paper that he would win gold at the Commonwealth Games in Canada and then went on holiday to Cornwall.

We stayed up into the early hours of the morning to watch Daley in action on a TV with dreadful reception – it was long before satellite TV – and saw through the fuzzy lines the prediction come true. The next day I read in the paper how Daley, as calm as ever, had received his gold medal, made a phone call and then spent the afternoon reading a book.

When I got back to work after the holiday my editor called me across and said: “You had a phone call while you were away. Daley Thompson rang from Canada with the exclusive story about his gold medal win but wouldn’t talk to anyone else.” I’d missed the biggest story of my career!

Now when Jesus was on the earth, he frequently reminded people that there was an opportunity they didn’t want to miss. The line he used was that the Kingdom of God was near at hand: the opportunity to live in a close relationship with God every day.

As a church leader, I’m glad that’s not an exclusive thing, but available to everyone. Knowing God’s presence in my life has helped me cope with difficulties and not get carried away when things go well.

Mind you, it doesn’t mean I remember everything – I need a diary for that!