RE Mental Set Failure

This past Sabbath I taught a lesson on “Taming the Tongue” to my J1 students. For the mental set, I thought I would ask the students to recall anything that another person said (preferably also present in the classroom) that for one reason or another, sticks in their mind, good or bad. The point of this exercise was to demonstrate that our words can have a deep impression, perhaps one we would never expect them to have when we are speaking them.

I thought it was a pretty good idea, but unfortunately it was an utter failure. No one could remember anything that stuck in their minds, except for inconsequential dialogue that occurred recently.

I’m hoping the reason for this is because I phrased the question poorly. In retrospect, I could’ve tried phrasing the prompt as “Think of something that anyone in this room has said that has made a lasting impression in your mind,” but I have a feeling this would’ve been ineffective as well. Does this require too much thought for J1 students? Or maybe their experiences are still too limited? Or maybe they’re too shallow and don’t give careful thought to what people are saying?…hopefully that’s not the case!

In any case, I have much to learn in becoming an effective RE teacher.

The Sweet Psalmist of Israel

Thank God, last week I was able to spend several hours after work at Pacifica church to pseudo-attend EWR (and enjoy delicious free dinners). Below is my attempt at contributing a devotional, which is something I have not done in awhile. The process of editing/peer review was refreshingly rigorous and is something that I had forgotten and have missed from EWR’s in the past. Anyways, the idea for this was something I heard from a sermon recently, and I wanted to share it.

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People are often remembered by remarkable discoveries, critical innovations, or monumental achievements because of their impact on human history and society. Those accomplishments are typically summarized in a person’s epitaph. For example, the epitaph of Thomas Jefferson reads:

HERE WAS BURIED THOMAS JEFFERSON, AUTHOR OF THE DECLARATION OF AMERICAN INDEPENDENCE, OF THE STATUTE OF VIRGINIA FOR RELIGIOUS FREEDOM, AND FATHER OF THE UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA.

If we were asked to pen an epitaph for David in the Bible, what might we include? Perhaps descriptions such as “Victor over Goliath,” “Mighty king of Israel,” or “Subduer of the Philistines.” Indeed, David had many feats and titles of worldly renown. The author of 2 Samuel, however, before recording David’s final words, decided to describe him very differently.

“Now these are the last words of David.

Thus says David the son of Jesse;

Thus says the man raised up on high,

The anointed of the God of Jacob,

And the sweet psalmist of Israel:”

— 2 Samuel 23:1

Broadly speaking, the first three descriptions summarize the stages of David’s life. The last, however, describes what David did – not as a warrior in his youth or as a king in his adulthood, but as a psalmist throughout all his days. Despite all his marvelous accomplishments, the Bible remembers David for the things people more easily overlook – his words of thanksgiving, praise, and glory to God.

How will we be remembered? Do we desire to be remembered by man for our degrees and titles, or by God for our offerings to Him?

Day to day, we may study diligently and work tirelessly in the hope that at the end of our lives we can be remembered by some small but lasting contribution to the world. Yet let us not forget that the recognition of men will pass away with the world, but the recognition of God will endure. The heart that we pour into our servitude may be long forgotten by people, but it will be forever remembered by God.

May we be remembered less for our worldly merits, and more for our life-long service to God.

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Note:

In the original Hebrew verse, the last clause literally says “the sweet/pleasant psalms of Israel.” Thus, the translators have interpreted this to mean “the sweet psalmist,” although the original literal description could be more profound and abstract. Anyhow, that is a topic for further study and meditation :)