Tag Archives: Christian

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)

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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. 

God Formed a New Ear on a Grown Woman

3 May

Maddie

Have you ever thought about the way life begins anew, with a fetus growing into a little one with hands, feet, and everything else?  It’s sort of mind-blowing, isn’t it?  Well, I discovered that God forms new creatures even outside of the womb.  The thing is, He answered prayers and sort of changed me into a new person as a result of a desperate plea for help.

If you read my last post, you know that I’ve been guilty of behaving badly when moving.  I moved this week, and my youngest daughter helped me.  She had pretty much dreaded being with me in my “moving mode.”  But instead of me getting all edgy and sharp, I was relaxed and generous and sweet and loving.  We actually enjoyed our hard work, and we worked as well together as two people possibly can.

Maddie said, on several occasions, that we were a good team and the move couldn’t have gone any more smoothly than it did.  She appreciated the Starbucks coffees I bought her and the lunch and the general willingness to bend over backwards for her because she was working like a mule for me.

But it was a miracle that I acted appropriately.  How did God do that?  I have a track record of allowing worries to affect me in high stress moves, though normally I’m a person who refuses to worry for more than a few minutes, consciously, anyway.  Faith is all about remembering that God has us in the palms of his hands.  He doesn’t cough and look away, not even for one millisecond.

I know what it is that’s bothering me during these moves.  I’ve had some really bad experiences in which movers went so far as to scare me with threatening behavior.  Don’t want to go into all that, but I ended up fearing what may happen and how I may be overcharged.

Everything in my life fits as part of God’s plan for my life.  There aren’t any particular days or events in which I need to take up the mantle of worry and stress.  Since I believe that all things are working together for my good, I can behave like a sincere follower of Jesus Christ at all times of the day and night.  And when it was that this sank in well enough to turn my behavior completely around is a mystery, like when God fashions an eyeball.

Caught between Dorothy’s Joy and a Wicked Witch’s Demise

26 Apr
Cropped screenshot of Judy Garland from the tr...

Cropped screenshot of Judy Garland from the trailer for the film The Wizard of Oz. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My spiritual high Monday, which involved an irresistible urge to pray all day long, was a day which produced an unexpected miracle  cluster.  My daughter Maddie is like the lion in the Wizard of Oz who found his courage.  She was hired for a position which represents a significant raise and promotion; she earned it by working hard far below her pay level for years.  My daughter Emily — like the scarecrow who had a brain, after all —  landed a high-paying job the same day she quit a job in which she was unmercifully used and worked much like a slave in management.  Funds I’ve been waiting for were released to me, and I got hired by a generous employer who actually believes writers should get paid well for the difficult job of writing.  It was a river of relief that seemed as simple as a snap, like when all Dorothy had to do to get her heart’s desire was to tap her slippers three times and say, “I want to go home.”

But my financial relief and physically taxing relief aren’t quite here; and, sparing the details, the pressure on me could be compared to being that wicked witch that was unfortunate enough to have a house land on her.

In moments like this, though dramatic, I think of all that Jesus suffered when he was beaten and hung on the cross.  The movie The Passion of the Christ gives a glimpse of what our Savior suffered through.  But the result of all that horrific difficulty and pain was a glorious resurrection and the opening of a stairway to heaven for all who believe in the Son of God.

Through my wincing, I believe that on the other side of this trial is an even bigger breakthrough than what my family experienced on Monday.  God is good, and He doesn’t let His children suffer without good reason.  The life of a Christian is a life of purpose which puts an anticipation of joy into every sweat drop of human suffering.  My rejoicing by faith doesn’t look like much on the outside right now; but on the inside, I’m giving God and His goodness a standing ovation.

 

 

Note to Self: A Really Big Storm is A-Comin’

21 Apr

raining sheets

After bringing the little ones to the zoo today, we all took a nap.  We were awakened by a crazy storm that dumped hail and sheets of rain while lighting up the sky with lightning and booming thunder.  Within a few minutes, the sidewalk surrounding my apartment became a small stream a few inches deep.  In the midst of it all, I put raincoats on the toddlers and pushed them in a stroller to the car so we could pick Logan up from school.  How quickly the world changed completely!

The storm reminds me of the very first rain storm, which was when Noah had finished building an ark and had loaded two of every creature on board.  Everything changed as it rained for 40 days and 40 nights, killing every living, breathing thing that wasn’t on the ark.  A similar event is due to come someday, when the rapture occurs.  Believers will go up and things on earth will get very volatile after that.

Ultimately, the earth’s purposes will be finished and all of humanity will either go to heaven or hell.  And this very thing is what our existence on earth is about.  It’s so easy to forget that, what with the world offering so many engaging distractions.

What would happen if we lived every day with a stark awareness that an eternal tempest of judgment is coming upon everyone who rejects Jesus Christ?  I don’t know about you, but I believe it would help to nudge me out of my complacency and find creative new ways to share the Good News that Jesus died on the cross to pay the price for our sins.  And we can pass from this tumultuous journey called life into a place of eternal peace and joy.  There, we’ll probably never have to slog around in soggy shoes.

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“And as it was in the days of Noah, so it will be also in the days of the Son of Man.”  Luke 17:26

Saturated in Garbage, Not Glory

20 Apr

Heart of Gold by Robin Lee Hatcher

Today I had a rare break from the children, and I took the opportunity to read a very well-written book.  Robin Lee Hatcher is one of my favorite Christian romance authors; I read a new book of hers called Heart of Gold, which I checked out from the library.  I devoured it within a few short hours.  Anyway, the preacher in the book reminded me of an important principle in Christianity which I call saturation.

Why do you suppose preachers are paid to preach and visit really sick people and, at least in the old days, not much else?  It’s because they need to spend as many waking hours as possible in the Bible so that they can pass the revelation they receive from God onto the congregation.

But here’s the catch.  All Christians are called to live like preachers.  We’re all supposed to saturate ourselves in the Word of God.  I have most definitely not been doing that for a while.  For most of my Christian life I can honestly say that I did saturate myself in the Word of God, prayer, and seeking the Lord.  But raising young ones as a grandmother has been the thing that shifted my focus.

I’ve written a lot here on the blog about being crabby.  That’s not even my normal nature as a non-Christian.  I’ve always mostly been just an all-around sweet and bubbly person.  I guess what’s happened is that I’ve got too much of the world getting on the inside of me and not enough of the spiritual things of God.

The idea of being alone with God and focusing wholeheartedly on His Word excites me as much as anything the world has to offer.  I’ve been depriving myself of what’s best in life, and as of today I’ve thoroughly realized it.  This is one rut I’m particularly excited to pull out of.

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“…you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”  1 Peter 2:5 NKJ

Don’t Pry the Clutter From My Cold, Dead Hands

14 Apr
office supply barrette

office supply barrette (Photo credit: jamelah)

Gifts come in all forms, and one gift I want to leave my children is a lack of clutter to deal with when I change my residence to heaven.  I’ve been working on getting rid of stuff for years now.  It’s most difficult for me to let go of anything related to writing or office supplies.  I discovered today that I also hang onto the children’s toys.  They have boxes of things to play with, yet all they usually want to play with is their DS.  I’ve put the multiple pieces of various toys together.  But what I really need to do is donate more than the one box I’ve got ready to give away right now.

When I move (again!) soon, my goal is to have gotten rid of the approximately 10 or 12 boxes that were in a storage unit.  Now everything will be in one apartment while at the same time not crowding us out of our closets.  Amen.

Why is it so dang hard for me to let go of these little things that, put together, add up to boxes of clutter?  I absolutely love feng shui, the minimal environment that promotes inner peace (I don’t pay attention to the parts of feng shui that could be considered a form of worship of other gods.)

In my clutter devotional called Devotional for Clutterers by Melody Carlson, today I read the thing that I believe most about this entire struggle.  Carlson says, “As we become more orderly and less cluttered, we focus less on surviving and more on actual living.”

The Lord is good and is helping me through a lot.  But He doesn’t mind that in the midst of it all, I’m asking Him to help me eliminate all the clutter I possibly can before we move into our new home.  Nothing is too hard for God!

I just know I’ll sleep more peacefully knowing that when I ultimately fall asleep for the last time, my children can deal with their grief without having to deal with my clutter.

In case you’re wondering why I’ve got my own death on my mind, it’s because I secretly wonder if moving twice in one month is going to kill me!  lol