31 Days of Giving Thanks (With help from Eugene Peterson)

This is our second week of our “giving thanks journey”

leading up to Thanksgiving.

Early Monday morning Eugene Peterson

went to be with the Lord.

 

He has blessed so many of us through his writings,

particularly his paraphrase of the Bible: The Message.

My friend Luci Shaw was close to Peterson, and

shared this from his family last Monday:

.

From the Peterson family update this morning:

“The lantern that has been burning brightly on the shore of Flathead Lake all last week—a sentinel witness to the life-light of Eugene H. Peterson—was extinguished today at 6:30 am Mountain Time soon after Eugene took his final breath and commended his spirit to Christ his creator, his beautiful savior, and the forever lover of his soul.

“During the previous days, it was apparent that he was navigating the thin and sacred space between earth and heaven. We overheard him speaking to people we can only presume were welcoming him into paradise. There may have even been a time or two when he accessed his Pentecostal roots and spoke in tongues as well. Among his final words were, ‘Let’s go.’ And his joy: my, oh my; the man remained joyful right up to his blessed end, smiling frequently. In such moments it’s best for all mortal flesh to keep silence. But if you have to say something say this: ‘Holy, Holy, Holy.’

“It feels fitting that his death came on a Monday, the day of the week he always honored as a Sabbath during his years as a pastor. After a lifetime of faithful service to the church—running the race with gusto—it is reassuring to know that Eugene has now entered into the fullness of the Kingdom of God and has been embraced by eternal Sabbath.”

And this is Philip Yancey’s tribute:

Farewell, Eugene

 

Sunday: (Day 7)

1. What stands out to you from Peterson’s “parting scene” and why?

2. How does this lead you to give thanks to our great God?

3. If you had a meaningful parting scene with a loved one, share your thanks here.

Monday: A Heart of Gratitude  (Day 8)

In this short interview with Peterson, you’ll see how he was aware of how God brought certain circumstances together to help him do his work in the world. Watch, contemplate, and comment.

 

4. What stands out to you from the above and why?

5. What circumstances did God bring together for Peterson to do The Message?

 

Contemplate on the following from The Message:

How well God must like you–

you don’t hang out at Sin Saloon,

you don’t slink along Dead-End Road,

you don’t go to Smart-Mouth College.

Instead you thrill to GOD’s Word,

you chew on Scripture day and night.

You’re a tree replanted in Eden,

bearing fresh fruit every month,

Never dropping a leaf,

always in blossom.

You’re not at all like the wicked,

who are mere windblown dust–

Without defense in court,

unfit company for innocent people.

GOD charts the road you take.

The road they take is Skid Row.

(Psalm 1)

6. Contemplate the above and answer:

A. How do you see the two factors that Peterson mentioned come together in the above paraphrase of Psalm 1?

B.  Using Psalm 1, give thanks to God for something.

 

7. Think about the work God has allowed you to do to serve Him in this world. As a way of expressing thanks, how did He help you use it through His gifting of talents, circumstances, and mentors?

Tuesday-Wednesday: Hope and Gratitude = Joy! (Days 9 & 10)

Peterson’s life was characterized by joy, even in his death. I am sure that His hope and thankfulness for the promise of heaven played a part in that. My favorite passage on heaven is Isaiah 65, so I was eager to see how Peterson paraphrased this. Here are portions for you to contemplate and then, to give thanks to God for.

8. Contemplate, and then use the Word as a springboard for thanks.

“Pay close attention now:

I’m creating new heavens and a new earth.

All the earlier troubles, chaos, and pain

are things of the past, to be forgotten.

(Isaiah 65:17 MSG)

A. Comment and give thanks on the above.

Anticipate what I’m creating:

I’ll create Jerusalem as sheer joy,

create my people as pure delight.

I’ll take joy in Jerusalem,

take delight in my people: 

(Isaiah 65:18 MSG)

B. Comment and give thanks on the above. 

No more sounds of weeping in the city,

no cries of anguish;

No more babies dying in the cradle,

or old people who don’t enjoy a full lifetime;

one – hundredth birthdays will be considered normal —

anything less will see like a cheat.

(Isaiah 65:19-20) 

C. Comment and give thanks on the above. (When we studied this passage this last year, we learned that it isn’t that there will be death in heaven — but Isaiah was picturing a life without pain, sorrow, and death.) 

For my people will be as long-lived as trees,

my chosen ones will have satisfaction in their work.

They won’t work and have nothing come of it,

they won’t have children snatched out from under them.

(Isaiah 65:22-23)

D. Comment and give thanks for what work will be like in the new heaven and the new earth.

Before they call out, I’ll answer.

Before they’ve finished speaking, I’ll have heard.

(Isaiah 65:24)

  E. Comment and give thanks for what intimacy with the Lord will be like in the new heaven and the new earth.

Thursday-Friday: Bono and Peterson and Psalm 40 (Days 11-12)

9. Watch the above, take notes, and share what stood out to you and why.

Bono put Psalm 40 of The Message to music. Here it is:

 

10. Here is Psalm 40 from the Message divided for you. Contemplate and then give thanks to God.

1-3 I waited and waited and waited for God.
    At last he looked; finally he listened.
He lifted me out of the ditch,
    pulled me from deep mud.
He stood me up on a solid rock
    to make sure I wouldn’t slip.
He taught me how to sing the latest God-song,
    a praise-song to our God.
More and more people are seeing this:
    they enter the mystery,
    abandoning themselves to God.

A. Contemplate on the above and give thanks.

 

4-5 Blessed are you who give yourselves over to God,
    turn your backs on the world’s “sure thing,”
    ignore what the world worships;
The world’s a huge stockpile
    of God-wonders and God-thoughts.
Nothing and no one
    comes close to you!
I start talking about you, telling what I know,
    and quickly run out of words.
Neither numbers nor words
    account for you.

B. Contemplate on the above and give thanks.

 

Doing something for you, bringing something to you—
    that’s not what you’re after.
Being religious, acting pious—
    that’s not what you’re asking for.
You’ve opened my ears
    so I can listen.

7-8 So I answered, “I’m coming.
    I read in your letter what you wrote about me,
And I’m coming to the party
    you’re throwing for me.”
That’s when God’s Word entered my life,
    became part of my very being.

C. Contemplate on the above and give thanks.

 

9-10 I’ve preached you to the whole congregation,
    I’ve kept back nothing, God—you know that.
I didn’t keep the news of your ways
    a secret, didn’t keep it to myself.
I told it all, how dependable you are, how thorough.
    I didn’t hold back pieces of love and truth
For myself alone. I told it all,
    let the congregation know the whole story.

11-12 Now God, don’t hold out on me,
    don’t hold back your passion.
Your love and truth
    are all that keeps me together.
When troubles ganged up on me,
    a mob of sins past counting,
I was so swamped by guilt
    I couldn’t see my way clear.
More guilt in my heart than hair on my head,
    so heavy the guilt that my heart gave out.

13-15 Soften up, God, and intervene;
    hurry and get me some help,
So those who are trying to kidnap my soul
    will be embarrassed and lose face,
So anyone who gets a kick out of making me miserable
    will be heckled and disgraced,
So those who pray for my ruin
    will be booed and jeered without mercy.

16-17 But all who are hunting for you—
    oh, let them sing and be happy.
Let those who know what you’re all about
    tell the world you’re great and not quitting.
And me? I’m a mess. I’m nothing and have nothing:
    make something of me.
You can do it; you’ve got what it takes—
    but God, don’t put it off.

D. Contemplate on the above and give thanks.

Saturday:

One thought to ponder. Many like to read through the Bible each year. Others like to go more slowly. Contemplate reading through The Message in 2019, or praying through the psalms, using The Message, or reading through The Prophets using The Message. 

 

11. What is your take-a-way this week and why?

 

 

 

 

COMMENTS (132) Post a New Comment ↓
Reply

9. Watch the above, take notes, and share what stood out to you and why.

 

The realness between all of them….Bono in our culture is a “superstar”, but there was none of that. They were just friends sharing over cups of coffee. I liked when Peterson said that his years were getting fewer, his time here short, yet he didn’t want to “escape the violence”, but wanted to do something about it through writing, preaching, and friendship. This is heartening because most of us don’t have a platform, we’re not famous, we don’t influence millions of people, but in small ways in the circles in which we move, we can make a difference with just a small act of kindness. I liked their refrigerator in the kitchen covered with pictures because I do the same! They both made the point that the psalms help us to be honest before God, to find a way of “cussing without cussing”. Bono said he is suspicious of Christians – that was interesting. I have to admit I sometimes feel the same when some that I talk to seem to have some kind of direct line to God that I don’t seem to have, as in “God told me the other day to do….”, or the reassuring platitudes when things are going terribly wrong, “Just trust Him, He has a plan….” We have to know what to do with what is ugly, painful, hurtful, tragic, and it’s not a hallelujah praise Him for this, at least not for me.

Overall, I liked the realness, the open-ness, the coming together to talk about things that matter, to share their live experiences and wisdom. I noticed how they carefully listened to one another.

    Reply

    I liked all that too, Susan. I remember in Mere Christianity Lewis said a sign of a mature Christian was his listening.

Reply

10. 

B. Contemplate on the above and give thanks.

 

We are disciples of God. We aim to please him but instead distracted with life on earth.

 

Thank You Lord for keeping me focused on the important things, namely You.

 

 

C. Contemplate on the above and give thanks

 

God doesn’t want us to just be religious; He wants relationship (as Petersen said over and I’ve again in the interview).

 

Dear Lord, oh how I want a firm relationship with You! Not up and down, not semi-focused…just continual and constant. Thank You for leaving us Your book, here on earth, to be an account of the things we need to know, to know You, as best we can.

 

D. Contemplate and give praise.

 

I am trying to find a benediction song that will resonate with the teenage girls I am dancing with each month. I keep thinking of the song, This Little Light of Mine! This scripture tells us to go into the world and share the good news. We are to not be afraid or shy about it either. He also asks God to take care of him.

 

Dear Jesus, help me today to shine the light of Your word to others.  Could you help by keeping evil people away today?  Amen.

 

 

    Reply

    May the Lord give you the right song!

Reply

 Thursday – Friday 

9.  What stood our to me from the video between Peterson and Bono was part 4…Honesty and dishonesty.

The Pslams are not pretty, they aren’t nice.  Honesty is hard in our culture.”  ~ Peterson

I’m talking about dishonesty that I find a lot of in Christian art.  Which is a shame because these are people who are vulnerable, porous and open, in a good way.  God wants the truth.  I’m suspicious of  christians because of this lack of realism.  I’d like to see more of that, in art, in life, and in music.”  ~ Bono

This is what I like about the Psalms…a heart is being poured out in complete honesty.  But the other thing I like is they usually end in praise to God.  I am struggling right now and I’m discouraged because things are moving so slowly…again, I know it will take time for our house to be repaired but there are days where I just want to shout, how long Lord, do You remember me down here and why aren’t you answering my prayers?  But, I know within my heart He is faithful…He always has been in the past and I know He will be now!  That’s what keeps me going.

    Reply

    Sharon, my ears pricked up too when Bono stated that about “dishonesty”, and a lack of realism, too. He said something like, “Why don’t they write a song about their bad marriage?” Being a Christian doesn’t mean that everything is okay, all the time, like we don’t have any feelings or get sad, angry, or depressed! I’m so sorry the progress of getting your home restored is going so slowly….through it all, you’ve been so constant in your patience (I’ve seen that in your posts). I imagine you’re so anxious to get things back in order! Prayers for  that!

      Reply

      Susan…you are so sweet.  I so covet and appreciate your prayers! Thank you!!

        Dear Sharon, I pray for your encouragement & that the Lord will be so close to u during this tough time!

        Thank you so much Jenny!!

Reply

Susan just last night I was telling a friend she’s not a failure because she had lost her job. She had told me losing her job made her feel like a failure. So it thrilled me to see my words return to me through you. Yes, I’m working part-time at my hometown library (Population around 2,000) and I’m now working part-time in the mornings at our Senior Citizen Center. I officially work for the City of Slocomb, Alabama. It’s so good to be back home

    Reply

    So glad you could encourage your friend and be encouraged yourself 😊

Reply

1-3 I waited and waited and waited for God.
    At last he looked; finally he listened.
He lifted me out of the ditch,
    pulled me from deep mud.
He stood me up on a solid rock
    to make sure I wouldn’t slip.
He taught me how to sing the latest God-song,
    a praise-song to our God.
More and more people are seeing this:
    they enter the mystery,
    abandoning themselves to God.
 
A. Contemplate on the above and give thanks.
Oh Lord, thank You for looking & listening to me, for lifting me up & pulling me out of the mud! Thank You for setting me securely upon Your rock…Jesus our firm foundation. Thank You for teaching me to sing songs to You. May others see & be drawn to You.

 
4-5 Blessed are you who give yourselves over to God,
    turn your backs on the world’s “sure thing,”
    ignore what the world worships;
The world’s a huge stockpile
    of God-wonders and God-thoughts.
Nothing and no one
    comes close to you!
I start talking about you, telling what I know,
    and quickly run out of words.
Neither numbers nor words
    account for you.
 
B. Contemplate on the above and give thanks.
 

Lord, no-one & nothing comes close to You. How can mere words describe how wonderful You are? Open my eyes to see Your reality here with me, & to see Your majesty!

 

6 Doing something for you, bringing something to you—
    that’s not what you’re after.
Being religious, acting pious—
    that’s not what you’re asking for.
You’ve opened my ears
    so I can listen.

 
7-8 So I answered, “I’m coming.
    I read in your letter what you wrote about me,
And I’m coming to the party
    you’re throwing for me.”
That’s when God’s Word entered my life,
    became part of my very being.
 
C. Contemplate on the above and give thanks.
 

Father God, thank You that You don’t want me to follow a list of rules, regulations & rituals. You want my heart & my love. You have “opened my ears so I can listen”. Please help me to listen to You.

 

 

 

9-10 I’ve preached you to the whole congregation,
    I’ve kept back nothing, God—you know that.
I didn’t keep the news of your ways
    a secret, didn’t keep it to myself.
I told it all, how dependable you are, how thorough.
    I didn’t hold back pieces of love and truth
For myself alone. I told it all,
    let the congregation know the whole story.

 

11-12 Now God, don’t hold out on me,
    don’t hold back your passion.
Your love and truth
    are all that keeps me together.
When troubles ganged up on me,
    a mob of sins past counting,
I was so swamped by guilt
    I couldn’t see my way clear.
More guilt in my heart than hair on my head,
    so heavy the guilt that my heart gave out.

 

13-15 Soften up, God, and intervene;
    hurry and get me some help,
So those who are trying to kidnap my soul
    will be embarrassed and lose face,
So anyone who gets a kick out of making me miserable
    will be heckled and disgraced,
So those who pray for my ruin
    will be booed and jeered without mercy.

 

16-17 But all who are hunting for you—
    oh, let them sing and be happy.
Let those who know what you’re all about
    tell the world you’re great and not quitting.
And me? I’m a mess. I’m nothing and have nothing:
    make something of me.
You can do it; you’ve got what it takes—
    but God, don’t put it off.
D. Contemplate on the above and give thanks:

Dear Father God, I’ve sung to You & about You fearlessly in church, but I have been fearful of man’s rejection & ridicule in the world. Please forgive  me timidity & make me bold for You. “I’m a mess” & I’m nothing without You. “make something of me” for Your Glory, by the power of You Spirit within me. I rejoice in Your patience & loving kindness & all You have planned for me. Amen!  :)

I think I would like to try praying thro the Psalms in Message translation :)

 

Reply

I would like to read through The Message and will start with psalms.  The exercise of giving thanks each day really has strengthened me physically and emotionally. I read through some of my students’ entries in their thankfulness sheet and one entry was ” I am thankful for my mistakes.” Another said  “I am thankful for people who have brought joy to my life”.

    Reply

    Love how you are doing this with your students, Bing.

Reply

I’m posting this late, but today was the first chance I had to watch/listen to the videos.  I loved them both & took lots of notes.  E. Peterson was very Christ-like in his thinking, and his walk in life.  I’m sure he was an excellent pastor, and much loved by his congregation.  I also loved the relaxed, informal sit-down conversation with Bono, @ the table with cups of coffee & sharing thoughts, that was so good.  Bono’s comments re honesty/ dishonesty, wishing the Christian community was more transparent & authentic really hit me (b/c he’s right)—I copied that down verbatim.   He’s very articulate– good thought-provoking comments.

    Reply

    :-)

Reply

10. Here is Psalm 40 from The Message divided for you. Contemplate and then give thanks to God.

 

A. Contemplate on the above and give thanks.

 

He lifted me out of the ditch, pulled me from deep mud.

He stood me up on a solid rock to make sure I wouldn’t slip.

Thank You, Lord, for reaching down to save me, to pull me out of sinking quicksand. I was dead in my sins and trespasses against You, and there was no way I could make my way up to You. You reached down from on high and took hold of me, You have set my feet upon a solid rock, the solid rock of Your Son, Jesus Christ.

 

B. Contemplate on the above and give thanks.

 

The world’s a huge stockpile of God-wonders and God-thoughts.

Nothing and no one comes close to You!

Lord, it is true, our world though fallen and broken is still full of the wonder of You, and I could endlessly ponder You. Thank You for making Yourself evident in Creation, in its beauty and majesty and wonder, even in the miniscule things, too.

 

C. Contemplate on the above and give thanks.

 

I read in your letter what You wrote about me….that’s when God’s word entered my life,

became part of my very being.

Lord, thank You for your love letter to me, the Bible. Even though it tells me how awful I really am, it also tells me how much You love me and how You gave yourself for me. I pray that Your word will become part of my very being, every day.

 

D. Contemplate on the above and give thanks.

 

I’ve preached You to the whole congregation, I’ve kept back nothing, God – You know that…

I told it all, let the congregation know the whole story.

Lord, I thank You for the life and work of Eugene Peterson, for his simplicity and humility, and truly living out the freedom of self-forgetfulness. I thank You that he was inspired to paraphrase the Bible so that people who may never have wanted to read it did, and maybe understood it for the first time. I pray that You will comfort his family in their loss, because he will be missed.

 

And me? I’m a mess. I’m nothing and have nothing: make something of me.

Lord, hear my prayer. Fill the empty places in my soul with You.

Reply

http://www.pbs.org/wnet/religionandethics/2011/08/12/may-13-2011-eugene-peterson/8806/

 

I watched this interview with Eugene Peterson this weekend. So reveals more of his heart. He has interesting thoughts on “mega-churches” and talks about his belief that no church should have over about 500 members. I think that would be so wonderful, if all churches could have a pastor that could know and interact and have relationships with their “flock” as he did.

He says in this, “I’m not really interested in what’s true. I want to know if I can live it out. I want to test it out.” (In response to that a lot of language in the church/religion has to do with trying to figure out what is true). I think he went straight to the heart of the matter – can I live it out?

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