The Beatitudes Versus the World

4 Jan
Jesus is considered by scholars such as Weber ...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I read the Sermon on the Mount today.  As always, it’s especially uplifting to read Matthew 5:1-26.  I may not be the most dynamic example of  a Christian, but I do seek the Lord and what He cares about.  These verses remind me that friendship with God is enmity with the world.  Must be fewer people who are friends with God making an impact because not much in the world today points to Jesus.

 

If you read the Beatitudes with worldly success in mind, it seems that nothing in those verses would look good on the resume of someone looking to get to the top of the ladder of success.  God’s ways are certainly not the same as the world’s, which is why “Jesus freaks” like myself who want God to have His way are so often perceived as an oddity.  Not a complaint…just an observation.

“14 You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. 15 No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.”

Matthew 5:14-16

New Living Translation (NLT)

Snowball Effect

3 Jan

I’ve always noticed that when I make a grand step toward God, He answers my gesture with all kinds of evidence that He noticed.  My commitment to God’s Word for this year produced a growing hunger today — but not for a grilled cheese sandwich or my favorite Doritos.  Instead, I was flooded with a hunger to delve into more of God’s Word.  I really love the Truth.  For instance, when I read a story about the Bible but the story doesn’t get the facts quite right, it bothers me a lot.  The pure Truth is a lot more interesting than altered story details produced by inattention.

Grilled Ham and Cheese Sandwich

Grilled Ham and Cheese Sandwich (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For example, I read the story of Noah to Aubrianna out of her new Bible today, and the storyteller missed one of the most interesting things about Noah’s story.  It had never rained before — ever, in the history of the world — when he built the ark in the desert.  (When reading the story in a true translation of the Bible just now, I realized that it was through prior study that I learned this.)  So, anyway, Noah was trusting God for an event that had never taken place while being laughed at by the entire population of the world.  But because Noah was trusting in God and obeying Him explicitly, He was rewarded with life, not to mention that his family repopulated the earth!

I want to be sure and mention that part of the snowball effect I experienced today was better balance and productivity.  It was a full and satisfying day, and I do mean in the non-stomach type of way (which is progress).  Practically counting the hours until the new Bible arrives.  There’s no purchase that usually ever excites me as much as a new Bible, and that’s definitely true this time.

From my reading in Matthew today (virtually the same message Noah preached as he built the ark):

From then on Jesus began to preach, “Repent of your sins and turn to God, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near.[a]”

Matthew 4:17

New Living Translation (NLT)

 

 

2013 Resolution: Balance

2 Jan

Happy New Year!  Are you excited about 2013?  I needed and found something to get really excited about, and it’s linked to my First Love.  On the way to my mailbox is a new Life Application Bible.  I’ve had one before, but I think I gave it away.  This is a wonderful study Bible — some say it’s the best.  I’ll be reading all the way through the new Bible, though it will no doubt take me more than a year.  I want to do more than read.  I want to study and meditate and write about God’s Word.

I’ve just finished reading the New Testament through in 2012.  It was great!  I read it on my phone every morning before I do any solitary other thing and will continue to do that.  BibleGateway.com has handy reading plans, and there are several you can choose from, not to mention that you can read it in your favorite Bible translation.

The Word of God reminds me that the Almighty is so powerful.  I know that God gives me the grace to accomplish balance in my life, and that’s my resolution for 2013.  I want it to become a way of life.  Common sense dictates that I should have already achieved balance a long time ago, and it should already be a habit.

But I’m talking about a balance with everything.  Food, activities, what I do with my time, etc.

It’s important to me to spend a lot of time in the Word of God because I daily watch the news and other shows, almost none of which feed my spirit.  The most important part of balance is to allow God’s Truth to have an input in my life that’s more compelling than the input the world has on my mind and heart each day.

I also need to establish daily ways to get more exercise, since I work in my den.  I’m gonna feel so much better as I do a better job of achieving balance.  And I’ll leave a few notes on Daily Pep Talk every day about something from my Bible reading.

I’m going to wait and delve into the Old Testament when the new black Bible with ivory flowers and my name imprinted arrives.  Til then, I’m reading the New Testament.

What impressed me today from Matthew 1 was that there were 14 generations dividing the major moments in the history of God’s chosen people.  God is very orderly (as well as Creative), and He has chosen a time when life as we know it will forever end on this earth.  Every day of our lives impacts eternity in a positive or negative way, and eternity isn’t all that far from any of us.

 All those listed above include fourteen generations from Abraham to David, fourteen from David to the Babylonian exile, and fourteen from the Babylonian exile to the Messiah.

Matthew 1:17
New Living Translation (NLT)

 

 

The Solution to the Problem May Be Under Your Nose

25 May

I’ve had to miss work because my fingers and hands were experiencing excruciating pain.  And all that time, my computer was capable of talk-to-type technology!  I’m using it right now. No need to spend a dime, much less the hundreds I thought it would cost.

 

I’m talking and the computer is typing by itself. Awesome! — Photo by Vera Kratochvil

The answer was right in front of me, and I was completely clueless. I think many problems in life are the same way. Being out of shape, for instance, just requires more exercise. It’s a matter of deciding to do something. You don’t have to have access to a gym to get in shape. YouTube has lots of free exercise videos. Heck, you can just walk and get your body in shape.

The Bible says not to be worried and that each day has its own troubles. It also says that God will never give us more then we can handle. He always makes a way to escape temptation. That applies to overeating as much as it does adultery, don’t you imagine?

I think most of us go through life struggling with the day’s challenges, and we forget to really enjoy life. We get into a numbing, joyless routine.  All the while, the happiness we desire is within our reach every day. I can say this because I believe that true joy is in the Lord, and He is ultimately all we need to have overflowing contentment.

It’s a good idea to just open our eyes to what is already in our hands and be thankful that it’s enough for this moment.  There’s probably more in hand than we realize.

 

 

Deeply Moved by the Music

24 May

Every time my heart has a question or a complaint that I’ve repented of, God always answers.  Seriously, in the decades that I’ve been a born-again Christian, the Creator has consistently revealed His presence.

I’ve struggled recently because I moved and had to move again.  Home is the most important place to me, as only God understands.  And I murmur about living in a big city when I long to live in the mountains encompassed by nature, a longing which makes my earthly dad seem near.  Well, through American Idol of all things, God has reached into my heart and given me unforgettable assurance that I’m in the right place and God will change my attitude so that I embrace my place.

Phillip Phillips

 

Phillip Phillips, our new American Idol, sang his single “Home” last night, and pretty much everyone who heard it was blown away, based on the crowd’s roar and reviews, etc.  And for me listening to it was a spiritual experience, which seemed strange at first.

But then I became familiar with the words.  The song was like a conversation with God in which He took my hand and leaned in close to whisper powerful words of reassurance.  The words of the song follow (I don’t know yet who the writer is):

Home

Hold on to me as you go

As we roll down this unfamiliar road

And although this wave is stringing us along

Just know you’re not alone.

Cuz I’m going to make this place your home.

Settle down.  It’ll all be clear.

Don’t pay no mind to the demons —

They fill you with fear.

The trouble, it might drag you down.

You get lost; you can always be found

Just know you’re not alone.

Cuz I’m going to make this place your home.

I’m gonna make this place your home.

Grace-Filled Moments, Like Manna From Heaven

23 May

My daughter Maddie initiated a new morning ritual today, and what a slice of heaven.  She comes over each day with SirCalvin, my youngest grandchild, who I babysit; and then I bring her to work a bit later.  Today our new tradition started in which we sing a worship song with the kids, read a scripture passage, and pray.  Logan prayed a sweet prayer this morning, asking God to help him be a good student next year in 3rd grade and also asking God to bless his awesome 2nd-grade teacher to have a great class next year.

Yesterday my oldest daughter, Nikki, sent me information about an inexpensive talk-to-type product.  I’ve already ordered it, and it will make it possible for me to write without having to use my arthritic fingers.  The cost was under $30!  Based on reviews, it’s bound to be an excellent tool that works very well.  That seems like a miracle blessing to me.

And last week I let go of a job that didn’t pay enough but supplied steady income, when I could press through to complete the work (lately I couldn’t).  I’m so thankful that God replaced what was lost with good pay and plenty of hours.  I wrote my first piece for this employer today, and he was pleased.  God is so good, to supply my needs like this. Oh, and to top it off, this person is literally a top nutritional expert.  I trust that everything I learn will sink in and help me form new personal eating and health habits.

And the loved one I mentioned in Sunday’s post, the one at the bottom of the barrel – I heard from her and she’s climbing her way back up.  Potentially good signs of progress are there.

One of the best moments of the day was after I told Maddie that I was worried I alienated my reading audience with yesterday’s blog post.  She hadn’t read it yet, but I told her about my analogy.  Maddie told me that not to say it was to be guilty of the thing I was writing about – not doing something Jesus-related because of fear of rejection.  Also said she needed the motivation to be bold in her faith, which my blog supplies.

It’s like there’s a pin prick of a hole in heaven, and it’s directly over me.  All this outpouring of grace is even more fun than catching snowflakes on my tongue.

A Car Wreck and Possibly Alienating Coordinating Analogy

22 May

Just as the toddlers got settled in the basket outside our car at Kroger, we heard a car crash nearby.  Looking in the direction of the noise, I witnessed an SUV crash into a white car parked on the far end of the parking lot and then skid around before finally stopping.  I pushed the kids in that direction to get the license plate of the car that was making all the trouble, in case the person decided to hit and run.  The guy whose car got smashed up walked up and was wondering why the heck his new car was crushed in on one side.  I gave him my card as a witness.  Some lady had sped through the parking lot and a truck hit her before the part of the crash that I saw.

Corcovado jesus

Corcovado jesus (Photo credit: @Doug88888)

I don’t know what was going on with that lady, but what struck me was that the car that was way off on the end of the lot, supposedly safe from being dinged by other car doors, is the one that got badly damaged.  It got me to thinking about how all of our plans to “play it safe” are subject to fail.  And there’s one area where I’ve noticed all my Christian life that people play it safe, and that’s in choosing not to get overly enthusiastic about Jesus.

If you think about it, usually only preachers and missionaries live sacrificially and are sincerely head-over-heels for Jesus.  Not many everyday Christians can be accused of being more excited about Jesus than anything else.  Truth is, the overall “church in America” has more of the world in it than it does devotion to Jesus Christ.

Never will forget the deacon at a Baptist church who spoke up one Wednesday night at church during a Bible discussion.  He outright and unashamedly admitted that he chooses to please man rather than God.  As a person who has been lopsided about maintaining a God-focus, I can say it really does create friction in relationships.  The easy-going road that invites everyone to roll out their welcome mats is not the one which follows hard after God.

The way I see it is that people like that deacon play it safe like that white car at the end of the parking lot.  But in the end, they’re the ones that weren’t as wise as they thought.  There will be great reward in heaven for people who live for the things above rather than the things below.  And there will be great loss of reward for those who didn’t; talk about an inconvenient truth!  Even more inconvenient that having to deal with all the hassle of a wrecked vehicle.

Here’s my disclaimer: This post may sound a bit like I’m feeling spiritually superior, but I don’t mean to.  I’m so far from a perfect Christian it’s ridiculous, but no one who knows me can deny that I have a heart after God and obviously not after the world.