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Saturday, March 26, 2011

Be Thou My Version

I was sitting behind a worship leader during a service and I could see her notes about what the praise band would be singing next. On the paper, she had written, "Be Thou My Version." I chuckled but then wondered if this was some new contemporary song that I hadn't heard of yet and frankly couldn't quite imagine where it was going in its message. But then as the service continued, sure enough! The song they sang was an upbeat, modernized version of "Be Thou My Vision."

I've contemplated this Freudian slip of the hand and as I read Acts 16:6-10. Paul and Timothy had a plan to "turn west into Asia province, but the Holy Spirit blocked that route." So they proceeded to go another way, "but the Spirit of Jesus wouldn't let them go there either." They ventured yet on another route until finally Paul had a dream where a Macedonian was beckoning them to "come over to Macedonia and help us!" It says that "the dream gave Paul his map."

While it's important to plan--Paul did it regularly--it's also important to know when what we are doing is our version of God's vision.

I'm impressed by this story that Paul's version wasn't as big as God's vision. By going to Macedonia, Paul's world and therefore the church's witness and outreach was significantly enlarged.

Are our versions small and sometimes even self-centered, asking what we want to do instead of what God is calling us to do?

Are our versions limited to our own and people like us instead of reaching out to God's people everywhere?

Are our versions tight-fisted instead of generous in helping others?

Are our versions reflections of what we've done before and how we've done it instead of rethinking and imagining what God can do through us in new ways?

How has God given you a new song to sing? Changing it from "Be Thou My Version" to "Be Thou My Vision?"



Laura B. said...

I remember attending a workshop for Sunday school teachers led by Gerhardt Frost, a writer and professor at Luther Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota.

He stressed the importance of careful preparation of material and any supplies needed. He reminded us to prayerfully study our lessons ahead of time. We should be totally prepared.

Then, when we entered the classroom, he said we should be totally prepared to do none of it. Yes! In the midst of all of our plans, we needed to leave room for the Holy Spirit to take the lead, to take control.

Jesus said, "I only do what I see the Father doing." Can we be so focused on God's heart that we are sensitive to His spirit in any and every situation? Can we hear that still small voice inviting us to step outside of our outline--even the list of worship songs that may have been prayerfully arrived at ahead of time?

One day the Lord gave me a little line of song as I walked along the edge of a woods on a sunny fall day in a break from my desk job. I noted the shadows of branches and dried Queen Anne's Lace on my skirt, arms, and hands. Suddenly, He dropped a tune and words into my spirit. "Lord, cast Your shadow on me, that I might be the background of YOUR tapesty."

Brent Olson said...

We all draw inspiration from different sources. On this topic, mine comes from "Doonesbury."

Back a few decades, during the first round of high fuel prices, truckers were trying to lead strikes to raise their profile and get their concerns addressed. In a Doonesbury story line Mark, the aging protester/hippy happens upon one such protest and is aghast at how bad the truckers are at protesting. He steps in and trains them in a proper protest and at one point he says, "Protests need to be intellecually planned but organically executed."

I took that to mean that you need to plan carefully, with a calm, practical mind, but once things start to happen, you just gotta go with it.

It's still the way I try to live my life.

Robert2 said...

Each of us has a version of God’s vision. In meditation, worship and bible study we try to clarify it. We test our version daily as we go forth into the world. Our version will expand and become more focused as we journey, we will learn to be patient much faster in time. As United Methodists what is our version of God’s vision? What are the values in our version that distinguish us from other Christian Churches?
I was raised in a household that didn’t attend church except when my Great Aunt Maggie, on my mother’s side, would come to visit at Christmas. One Christmas when I was about five or six my aunt gave me a little plaster scroll that hung on the wall that said “God Is Love!” I not sure of my aunts motivation in giving me this, she had a practice of recycling things people gave her. I don’t know what became of that plaster scroll, but I do remember the message.
As a six year old boy that had three uncles on my father’s side that spent their Christmas military leave at our house, my Christmases tended to be very rewarding. My folks gave me clothing and one special toy. My uncles had been raised during the depression in rural Minnesota by a widowed father with limited income. Electric Trains, Erector Sets, Lincoln Logs, Radios, were the gifts they gave me. These were the gifts they never had as children, my uncles and I all played with and shared the toys they gave me at Christmas. We connected, it was a lifelong connection based on our love of being together. In later years I gave them the toys and we shared and played with them together as always with Love. Or should I say with “God” for “God is Love”. My Great Aunt told me this was true, she got it from the book. In one version “The Book” says: the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. In this version Love is one of nine.
Another version says the fruit of the Spirit is love: (with a colon) joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Meaning Love is complete when joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control, come together to form a life style
Joy -is to embrace the glory of all God’s creation.
Peace-to not let the clatter of life keep you from joyfully living life.
Patience-is give God’s love time and space to grow within you so it can be shared and given to others.
Kindness-is treating others as God wants you to be treated.
Goodness-is wanting and working for everyone to share the blessing of God.
Faithfulness-is trusting in the plan God reveals to us for our journey.
Gentleness-Is to tread softly as you journey through life.
Self control- to practice living in the frame work of God’s love.
The second version sets the standard a little higher, less wiggle room.
God reveals to us
Matt 22:37-40
"'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments."
Maybe there isn’t any wiggle room!

Robert Kutter said...

I encounter too many people who not only have a small vision of God but also a very narrow vision. Helping them expand that vision is difficult. A lifetime education of a small and narrow vision of God limits one's ability to live the gift of life abundantly and fully.

Lausten North said...

I spend as much time as I can tolerate seeking out the opinion of those who are opposite of my own. I read books by people from other political parties and people with beliefs different than mine. It keeps me honest and helps me keep conversations civil when I meet those people in person.