Part 1: Get Up
Psalm 118:24; Psalm 5:1-3
Mark 1:35; Galatians 6:7
Pastor Morris Brown
Sunday, April 15, 2018
When I was a kid my dad told me a joke that went something like this. He said, “I drank ten cokes today. Do you know what happened?”
I’d said, “No, what?”
He’d said, “I burped 7Up!”
Now, I didn’t think it was all that funny! And obviously, you don’t either. But, it gets us to the title of the worship series we’re begin today. It’s called “UP.” And what we’re going to do in this series is think about seven UP’s our faith says can make an incredible difference in our lives, and the lives of people around us, if we’ll apply them. We’re going to talk about why our faith says it’s important to: Listen Up, Stand Up, Lift Up, Grow Up, Fire Up and Slow Up!
Today, however, we begin with a message called “Get Up!” That’s because the way we “get up” in the morning can affect our entire day. Now I know for some people it’s hard to “get up.” For example, I love the story about the mother who was having trouble getting her son to get up out of bed for church one Sunday morning.
“Mom,” the son cried, “give me one reason why I should get up?”
His mother said, “I’ll give you three! First, it’s Sunday. Second, you’re forty years old. And third, you’re the pastor of the church!”
Seriously, even if it’s hard to “get up” how we “get up” each day can make an incredible difference in how our day goes.
So, what does our faith have to say about how we “get up” in the morning? What wisdom does our faith offer that can help us “get up” and approach our day in a way that will enable us to live our lives effectively? I think it says some really important things and they’re contained in this morning’s scripture.
For example, if we want to “get up” in a way that helps us live effectively, scripture tells us that we need to engage in some kind of spiritual PRACTICE.
In Psalm 5:3, the psalmist says, “Lord, every morning you hear my voice. I tell you what I need, and then I wait for your answer with great expectation.”
Mark’s gospel says, “Jesus got up early in the morning, went out to a lonely place and prayed.”
To begin our day with a spiritual practice through which we invite God to fill us with energy, ask God to guide our decisions and our actions and listen for God’s instruction has been a part of our faith tradition for thousands of years. Why? It makes a difference in the quality of our day! One author says, “How we begin the day is important. It sets the mood for everything that happens. So, if we want to have a good day, we’d be wise to begin with some kind of spiritual practice. A practice that grounds us, centers us and puts our day into God’s hands.”
I’m reminded of one woman who did this by beginning each day with a prayer. She’d say, “Dear Lord, so far I’ve done all right today. I haven’t gossiped. I haven’t lost my temper. I haven’t been greedy, grumpy, selfish, or overindulgent. But in a minute, I’m gonna to get out of bed. And when I do, I’m gonna need your help!”
Seriously, if we want to “get up” in a way that helps us live effectively we need to engage in some kind of spiritual practice. We may want to read a passage of scripture or devotional thought and reflect on it. We may want to take a morning walk and let God speak to us through the beauty of the natural world. We may want to spend some time journaling, doing yoga or tai chi. We may simply want to sit in silence and breathe in God’s presence. Whatever spiritual practice we choose, we must understand that beginning our day with God will give us the resources we need to face the things that will come our way.
Second, if we want to “get up” in a way that helps us live effectively we need to decide to live in the PRESENT.
We learn this from Psalm 118. Here, the psalmist begins the day saying, “This is the day that the Lord has made! I will rejoice and be glad in it!”
It is interesting to note what the psalmist doesn’t say, “This is the day that the Lord has made! Let us remember yesterday and feel guilty about it!” And the psalmist doesn’t say, “This is the day that the Lord has made, let us worry about tomorrow!” The psalmist says, “THIS is the day the Lord has made! Let us rejoice and be glad in IT!”
In other words, if we want to “get up” in a way that helps us live effectively, the psalmist reminds us that we need to view each day is a gift. We need to let go of the past, stop fretting about the future and begin each day with the understanding that it is a fresh start; a clean slate and we are going to live in the moment!
But, the psalmist is not the only spiritual teacher that understood this. Jesus knew it. He said, “Don’t worry about tomorrow. Tomorrow will have enough worries of its own.”
Lao Tzu, who lived 500 years before Jesus, knew it. He said, “If you are depressed, you’re living in the past. If you’re worried, you’re living in the future. But, if you’re at peace, you’re living in the present.” Why do the great spiritual teachers remind us to focus on the present? Because they know that when we begin our day feeling guilty about yesterday or worrying too much about tomorrow it’s destructive.
I love the story of the little girl who was in Sunday school on Sunday. Her teacher was telling the bible story about Lot and his wife fled the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. “As they ran away,” the teacher said, “Lot’s wife looked back! And when she did, the bible says ‘She turned into a pillar of salt!’”
“Oh, that’s nothing!” one little girl responded, “On the way to church this morning, my brother and I were fighting in the back seat of the car. And when my mamma ‘looked back’ she turned into a telephone pole!”
Listen if we want to live effectively we must not turn to the past or the future. Instead we must “get up” each morning and decide to live in the present. For the truth is, the present is all we have!
Third, if we want to “get up” in a way that helps us live effectively we need to do something PHYSICAL.
Did you notice that in this morning’s gospel lesson? It didn’t say Jesus got up in the morning and “knelt” beside his bed to pray? It said Jesus got up in early in the morning and “went out” to a lonely place to pray. And how did he get there? He walked!
I don’t think it’s too much of a stretch to say that Jesus began his day by engaging in some kind of physical activity. And the truth is, if we want to “get up” in a way that helps us live effectively we need to begin the day by doing something physical as well – something to wake our body up!
Some of you tell me that you’ve seen my wife Pam and I walking our dogs around Brown Bark Park each morning. Now, I have to admit there are times when I complain to Pam about having to get up and do this – especially on cold or rainy mornings. I’ll look at Pam and say, “Why do we have to walk these dogs?!”
Pam always says, “Morris, these dogs are a gift! If you didn’t have them you’d still be lying in bed. They get you moving! And when you start your day by moving, it makes it a better day! So, get out there – and walk!”
You know, Pam is absolutely right! When I start my day by walking the dogs, it makes it a better day! Physicians tell us that’s because physical exercise at the beginning of the day releases endorphins in our brains. And when endorphins are released we feel better - physically, emotionally and mentally! So, if we want to “get up” in a way that helps us live effectively each day we need to try and do something physical.
Fourth, if we want to “get up” in a way that helps us live effectively we need to approach each day with a POSITIVE attitude.
“This is the day that the Lord has made! Let us rejoice and be glad in it!” Do you hear the psalmist’s tone? The psalmist approaches his day with joy, with gladness, with a positive attitude! If we are going to live effectively we need to do that too! So how do we put on a positive attitude?
(1) First, we need to begin the day with positive expectations. In other words, we need to “get up” each day with the expectation that even in the most difficult circumstances of our day, something good will happen!
I was thinking about this last Sunday when I was watching The Masters. If you watched it, you know that Patrick Reed started the final round with the 3-stroke lead. He maintained his lead pretty well, until he got the to the 11th hole, which is an incredibly difficult hole. Unfortunately, he ended up making a bogey on the hole. This opened the door for Jordan Spieth and Rickie Fowler to catch him. But instead of getting down about the bad shot he made on the 11th hole or hang his head about making a bogey, in an interview Reed said he “decided to maintain a positive mindset and approach the 12th hole expecting that good things would happen.”
And guess what? They did! He ended up making an incredible birdie putt, which immediately enabled him to get the lost shot back and eventually win the tournament! Here’s the point, to approach each day with a positive attitude we must have a positive mindset. We must expect that at some point in our day good things will happen!
(2) To have a positive attitude, however, we also need go into each day with a positive outlook. In other words, we need to determine that throughout our day we are going to seek and focus on the good! We are going to find something we can rejoice over or be glad about. For as Jesus said, “If we seek, we shall find!”
We need to be like the little boy who brought his report card home to his mother. When she looked at it she saw that his grades were absolutely terrible. Turning to the little boy, the mother said, “Son is there anything in this report card that’s positive?”
“Yes,” the little boy joyfully said, “it proves I don’t cheat in school!”
To “get up” in a way that helps us live effectively, we need to approach each day with a positive attitude! That means we must commit to having a positive mindset – the expectation that good things will happen. And we need to commit to having a positive outlook – to look for and the focus on the good in every situation!
Finally, if we want to “get up” in a way that helps us live effectively we need to determine that we will do something kind for another PERSON.
I love the way the famous basketball coach John Wooden put it. He said, “You can’t have a good day without doing something kind for someone else!”
I believe that’s true! Jesus said, “Treat others the way you want to be treated.”
As the 4th century monk St. Basil said, “Those who plant kindness in the lives of others gather love.”
As Galatians 6:7 says, “Do not be deceived, we reap what we sow.”
What that all means is there is reciprocity in the universe. When we sow kindness, goodness, love into the lives of others. We tend to reap kindness, goodness and love from them. But, if we sow anger, negativity and selfishness into the lives of others? Well, we tend to reap anger, negativity and selfishness from them!
Some of you may have heard of the Irish rock star, Bono. For more than thirty years his band U2 has produced hit song after hit song. They have also been incredibly active trying to use their fame and financial resources to make a positive difference in the world. They’ve raised money to fight world hunger. They’ve met with world leaders to speak out against poverty. And they’ve done free concerts to raise awareness and funds to promote human rights.
In an interview Bono was asked why he was so adamant about doing what he could to help others. Bono said, “When Jesus told us to ‘Love our neighbor’ I don’t think he was making a suggestion. I think he was giving us the path to world peace. So, each day I am determined to commit to at least one act of kindness toward somebody else. That’s because I know that my acts of kindness, as small as they may be, have the power to affect my life, their life, the entire universe - for good.”
Bono is right! If you and I want to “get up” in a way that will help us live our lives effectively, we need begin each day determined to commit at least one act of kindness toward another person. For doing this will not only have a positive impact on our day and their day. It will have a positive impact on the entire universe!
So, do we want to live effectively each day? Our faith says we can do it, if we’ll “get up” – by engaging in a spiritual PRACTICE, deciding to live in the PRESENT, doing something PHYSICAL, having a POSITIVE attitude, and determining that we’ll find a way to do something kind for at least one other PERSON.