The Rooted Life – There’s Just No Better Way to Go! (Psalm 1)

It is not our necessary intent each week to just give a review of the sermon as a sort of transcript of what was preached, though that would not be worthless, especially in the summer months when many are travelling. (And I gave you yesterday off because of the holiday). We regularly write here a mix of ideas verbally shared along with additional thoughts.

But today I will begin with the opening illustration from Sunday, since many people afterward asked about a detail that I failed to include in the end of the story (as it was not related to my main idea, but the omission left people hanging).

It was 34 years ago, the actual date being June 13, 1982. Having just graduated from Dallas Seminary, I was still working as the minister of music in a church in Dallas. Our morning services had ended and probably about 80-90% of the people had already gone home. My oldest son Nathan was a two-month old baby, and I had seen Diana hand him to one of the sweet teenage girls in our church – who wanted to hold him.

I went around the corner and down the hall toward my church office to gather my things, when there was a sudden, horrible crashing sound of broken glass … then people screaming and running toward the area around the corner of the hallway from which I had been only a moment ago.

Before I could also run to see what was happening, someone yelled to me as I was standing in the office doorway near the only phones in the building, to call 911 and get an ambulance – saying that a car had crashed into the church and hit Jane (the girl who I had just seen holding Nathan). Hesitating a second due to that thought, I collected myself and made the call … then going down the hall to the scene.

A car went out of control when pulling up to the door, hitting two of our teen girls exiting the church, shoving them both back through the double glass doors. One of them, however, had her leg pinned against the brick doorframe. Both were quite bloody from the sheets of glass that had fallen on them, and at the scene, things looked very bad for Jane in particular.

The ambulance took her to the hospital, and I spent some moments with her father – one of our best church servants and leaders – helping him gather things and get ready to go to the hospital as well. He was amazingly calm in the storm. As I was a young man then just beginning in ministry, this fellow who was about 12-15 years older had been very kind and encouraging to me personally. And he took several moments even then to reflect upon Scriptural truths that were sustaining him in the crisis, as he did throughout the day at the hospital.

The experience was a rude introduction to “official” ministry. That evening was the occasion of my ordination by the church into the gospel ministry. The theme of the day – both for the family and for the ordination – was that we do not know what a day may bring or what calamity may come into our lives or the lives of others close to us, or in our flock as shepherds. But in any event, we need to be rooted in the Lord and in his Word for the strength and resource to meet the challenge.

(As an additional note – the girl survived with only some minimal permanent damage to her ankle. And the driver of the car was the teenage son of the Senior Pastor of the church. Several years later, in the course of time and human affairs, he married the girl he almost killed!)

(And here is the additional note that I failed to include: the girl held Nathan briefly before handing him back to Diana and then immediately walking out the door. There was some flying glass around them, but the door frame stopped the car.)

In dozens and dozens of situations of church ministry over the intervening years – including even this past week, I have visited with people in the most dire and heart-breaking of situations – at the very scenes of tragedy and death and pain and loss – and seen an unnatural strength that undergirds people of faith and trust.

However, in more than a few other circumstances and situations, I have seen the pain overwhelm people – short-term and long-term – as others are unable to endure and move on from difficulties. Sometimes it results in a sort of depression, others with anger – perhaps even at God for not doing enough. Some others react with a sort of escapism and detachment, disappearing from connection with God and his people in the church family.

What makes the difference? Those with deep roots into God’s Word and interconnection with God’s people find their way through tragedy and pain over time through the strength and nourishment their roots provide. Those who do not make it cleanly to the other side demonstrate that the few roots they had were very shallow and insufficient.

In this series we are asking you to consider your own personal roots, and looking beyond that to how you can help others be rooted and nourished (watered) in the truth.

This week we look at one of the great passages that talk about roots – Psalm 1. We all want success in life, or stated in the words of this week’s title, a “Yield.”  But that can only come if we stay rooted, even through the winds and trials of life.

The Psalm begins by talking about the blessed life … “Blessed in the one…”  This term is one that speaks of a concept of happiness, related to contentment and peacefulness – a quiet pleasure that comes from deep perspective and satisfaction.

In the past I have preached on this sermon as describing the “truly happy person.”  But this week, let us in the theme of this series make the subject of this Psalm be called “the truly rooted person.”  We are describing the fruit, the yield, of a rooted life.

We will see these six verses describe the rooted person in four ways …

  • In negative terms (1)
  • In positive terms (2)
  • In pictorial terms (3)
  • In contrastive terms (4-6)

The rooted life described in negative terms … verse 1 …

Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night

Let’s break down the first verse with these three categories …

3 Verbs… 3 Nouns … 3 People …
Walk Counsel (in step) Wicked
Stand Way Sinners
Sit Company (seat) Mockers (scoffers)

Verbs … There is an increasing involvement and commitment, from walking in a certain place to sitting down in a specific place.

Nouns … counsel = thinking / way = behaving / seat = belonging (note the progression).

People … wicked = no room for God / sinner = openly break God’s law / scoffer = mocker of God’s word and people.

So there is the progression from interest, to doing, to being fully at home in the fellowship of those who ridicule God.

A drift away from God and truth is not something that happens immediately, but is progressive over time. And a self-examination from time to time is a healthy discipline.

In any event, people who are away from God, be it from drifting or perhaps because they never really were connected, are simply not able to be truly blessed with a contented happiness even in the inevitable sorrows of life.

So, how are your roots? Where are your roots? Like the car commercial from that dealership in Frederick says about the “Fitz-Way” … there’s just no better way to go. That’s true of faith and life; there is no successful way other than being rooted in the Lord.

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About Randy Buchman

I live in Western Maryland, and among my too many pursuits and hobbies, I regularly feed multiple hungry blogs. I played college baseball, coached championship cross country teams at Williamsport (MD) High School, and have been a sportswriter for various publications and online venues. My main profession is as the lead pastor of a church in Hagerstown called Tri-State Fellowship. And I'm active in Civil War history and work/serve at Antietam National Battlefield with the Antietam Battlefield Guides organization. Occasionally I sleep.

2 thoughts on “The Rooted Life – There’s Just No Better Way to Go! (Psalm 1)

  1. Ecclesiastes 4:8-12 contains a line — “A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”

    Just as people can be helpful during times of crisis, people can also be God’s instruments to teach, strengthen and encourage others in spiritual things. At one point in the last sermon you mentioned interconnected roots help trees to stand stronger together.

    I didn’t intend to write this (nor did I think of this till just now) but reflecting on what you have written and taught about the importance of the people in the church supporting each other, it just occurred to me that we need to be rooted in Christ rather than in people, or a denomination or a tradition of men.

    The apostle Paul asked, “What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe– as the Lord has assigned to each his task.” (1 Cor. 3:5 NIV) (Or we servants might be described as “worms” as in your last blog post.)

    Matthew 24:8-13 says, “…many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other,
    and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people.
    Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold,
    but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.” (Matt. 24:10-13 NIV)

    If we rely on fallible human beings and they crumble or are purported to crumble — then we too will fall. We don’t know if this time of severe testing mentioned in Matthew 24 (or a similar time of severe testing) will take place in our lifetime and cause many to fall away, but if our root is in Jesus we will be much better able to handle the crisis.

    Note this scripture. Paul talked about how he wanted the people he preached to to be connected with the spirit, not the techniques that he used in preaching. He wrote, (reference NIV 1 Corinthians 2:1-5) “And so it was with me, brothers and sisters. When I came to you, I did not come with eloquence or human wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God.
    For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.
    I came to you in weakness with great fear and trembling.
    My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power,
    so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power.
    We could argue therefore that Paul wanted people “rooted” in “God’s power.”

    So Randy, to use the lingo you encouraged in your prior blog, from one “worm” to another, let’s both strive to keep God’s plan and purpose first and foremost in our lives.

    Not all those who serve God do so out of pure motives. Jesus warned, “”Watch out for the teachers of the law. They like to walk around in flowing robes and be greeted with respect in the marketplaces, and have the most important seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at banquets. They devour widows’ houses and for a show make lengthy prayers. These men will be punished most severely.” (Mark 12:38-40 NIV) Paul in Acts chapter twenty gave a farewell address to the elders of Ephesus church. This included a warning about troubles that would afflict his church after his departure. He was convinced “savage wolves” would enter the church.

    Here is another reason to be rooted. We are in a marathon. We need to be well-trained and well-prepared. The future days will have their own troubles. We might be so beset by troubles in the future that it might be difficult to get grounded in the heat of the moment. Political passions may run high in the future, perhaps anger and fury will infect national discourse. Each side maybe claiming “you are either for us or against us” and if we haven’t internalized the “peaceable wisdom that comes from above” (James 3:17-18) we may be swept away with the increase of hatreds as political polarization may rise to a new level. It may be hard to not have our love grow cold.

    This may be the time to hoard up spiritual wealth. Like squirrels hiding nuts for the winter, we need too to be hiding God’s word in our heart as suggested in Psalm 119:11.

    There is a value in learning scripture. There is also value in having a spiritual mind that sees wisdom and God’s working everywhere. For example, I was incredibly strengthened by learning from history. Two men who were “down and out,” relative business failures, met re-acquainted with each other while on their separate travels through a city down south. One guy was named Tecumseh Sherman and another Ulysses Grant. They recognized each other from their days in the military and reflected on their failures as they talked for a few minutes before going on.. Their military careers had not given them the means to live respectable lives. They both felt like failures. In any case their training paid off in a few years as they went from losers to heroes.

    For whatever reason, this was a faith lesson for me – to not give up. Jesus too saw and taught lessons from his experience as a carpenter. He explained how to build a house that would not fall down. The lesson was for us to do the same. We can’t wait for the rains to come and the floods to rise to make our house solid. We need to be doing that now by building our lives on the teaching of the Lord Jesus. Eventually there will be some sort of fiery trial that will test all that we have built. What we have built with — will then be revealed.

    Oil needs to be set aside now for the lanterns. The bridegroom will come later.

    My phone just reminded me to “add minutes.” Possibly we need to reinvest in our relationship with Jesus and make sure that we are loyal. We may find ourselves disconnected if we don’t.

    My car needs an emissions inspection. The code light says there is a problem with the EGR valve system. I could probably push an analogy here too. Part of my car problem might be that I only drive around town and never give it a workout. Carbon builds up in the EGR valve, for it doesn’t get hot enough to clear out, (or something like that). Maybe as Christians we need to be hot Christians (not lukewarm) and stay zealous or we get rusty and lose sight of what we are here for.

    In any case Paul and Jesus and others used analogies to describe how we need to serve God. As we are connected to Jesus we too might even learn from what is around us about how to serve God more effectively.

    Man, this comment reminds me that my basement foundation needs work. Sad things you reflect on as you make comments on blog sites. You can tell how I like writing more than handyman work.

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