“That clinches it—help’s coming, an answer’s on the way, everything’s going to work out.” ~King David

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“That clinches it—help’s coming, an answer’s on the way, everything’s going to work out.” ~King David

Source: Psalm 20:6 The Message (MSG)

Hope is a big deal. Faith is essential. These are important foundations in the Kingdom of God. With King David, we get a sense of how this can all come together in the new contract (aka covenant) with Jesus. David has hope an answer is on the way. David has faith everything is going to work out.

King David had seen some tough times. He might see some more. My challenges probably aren’t close to what he went through as the King of Israel sought to kill him and his men. But David had a heart after God. King David shows us the way to Jesus. Continue reading

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“Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to saving yourself, your true self.” ~Jesus

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Calling the crowd to join his disciples, he said, “Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You’re not in the driver’s seat; I am. Don’t run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I’ll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to saving yourself, your true self. What good would it do to get everything you want and lose you, the real you? What could you ever trade your soul for?

Source: Mark 8:34-37 (The Message)

Jesus is ushering in the Kingdom (aka country) of God. In the Kingdom, things are different. The Kingdom is all about the new contract Jesus has with us. One of the things that is different is the Jesus makes it clear that following him will be difficult. Don’t think so? Just ask the rich young ruler or the man who wanted a little time to go bury his father. Continue reading

“I have something hard but important to say to you.” ~Jesus

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After sunset he came with the Twelve. As they were at the supper table eating, Jesus said, “I have something hard but important to say to you: One of you is going to hand me over to the conspirators, one who at this moment is eating with me.” Stunned, they started asking, one after another, “It isn’t me, is it?”

He said, “It’s one of the Twelve, one who eats with me out of the same bowl. In one sense, it turns out that the Son of Man is entering into a way of treachery well-marked by the Scriptures—no surprises here. In another sense, the man who turns him in, turns traitor to the Son of Man—better never to have been born than do this!”

Source: Mark 14:17-21 (The Message)

When Jesus says he has something hard but important to say I am guessing it is time to pay attention. Something is going on here. I’m not sure I see it all but I can’t ignore this important message “from our sponsor”. Jesus doesn’t pull any punches. Breaking news! Continue reading

The Lost Chapter of When Helping Hurts

Well said by Agent X at Fat Beggars School of Prophets . I’m not sure why what Jesus said isn’t good enough.

Jesus said, several times, “So when you give to the poor …” Jesus didn’t tell us to worry about what they did with the money. Jesus expects us to give, directly to the poor. Period. End of discussion!

So … here is what I think Jesus now says to them. “You brood of vipers, how can you, being evil, speak what is good? For the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart. The good man brings out of his good treasure what is good; and the evil man brings out of his evil treasure what is evil.”

And more … “The scribes and the Pharisees have seated themselves in the chair of Moses; therefore all that they tell you, do and observe, but do not do according to their deeds; for they say things and do not do them. They tie up heavy burdens and lay them on men’s shoulders, but they themselves are unwilling to move them with so much as a finger.”

And again, Jesus says to them … “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the monuments of the righteous, and say, ‘If we had been living in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partners with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’ So you testify against yourselves, that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets. Fill up, then, the measure of the guilt of your fathers. You serpents, you brood of vipers, how will you escape the sentence of hell?”

So, how will they escape the sentence of hell? Jesus is clear they won’t. So very sad. Just give to the poor like Jesus said. What is so difficult about that?

Agent X is speaking the truth!

Fat Beggars School of Prophets

Those readers who have visited here very much before know how little respect I have for Corbett and Fikkert’s book When Helping Hurts.  A comment on my previous post (and my subsequent response to it (which I think I botched)) should demonstrate that I think this book is bunk, but that I do not deny there is a phenomenon that we might rightly call “When Helping Hurts”.  I do not disagree that the phenom exists, I just say that Jesus does not warn against it, nor does he avoid it.  Thus it is not a Christian concern to begin with, and certainly should not be allowed to derail the giving in which Christians feel called to engage.

This got me to thinking: Corbett and Fikkert capitalize on only one aspect of the phenom, really, and then dress it up in “Christian” rhetoric to call us to second-guess our giving…

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“Beware … ” ~Jesus

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This is a series of quotes to emphasize the seriousness of deception and our responsibility to look out for it constantly. What are we to do?  “Examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good…” (1 Thessalonians 5:21)

Matthew 7:15-23  “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. “You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. So then, you will know them by their fruits. Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?‘ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you who practice lawlessness.’” Continue reading

“It’s not going to be that way with you. Whoever wants to be great must become a servant.” ~Jesus

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“When the ten others heard about this, they lost their tempers, thoroughly disgusted with the two brothers. So Jesus got them together to settle things down. He said, “You’ve observed how godless rulers throw their weight around, how quickly a little power goes to their heads. It’s not going to be that way with you. Whoever wants to be great must become a servant. Whoever wants to be first among you must be your slave. That is what the Son of Man has done: He came to serve, not be served—and then to give away his life in exchange for the many who are held hostage.”

Source: Matthew 20:24-28

I can see my mom doing this. The mother of James and John wanted Jesus to bestow on her two sons the honor of sitting next to him in the Kingdom. Why not, I’m sure she is thinking. Somebody is going to sit there. Why not my sons? And of course Jesus had said ask and you will receive. Jesus set her straight that she didn’t know what she was asking for. Continue reading

Johnny Cash sings “Man In Black” for the first time (with intro) 

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This song brings me to tears. Reminds me of Jesus when “He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up; and as was His custom, He entered the synagogue on the Sabbath, and stood up to read. And the book of the prophet Isaiah was handed to Him. And He opened the [f]book and found the place where it was written,

The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me,
Because He anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor.
He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives,
And recovery of sight to the blind,
To set free those who are oppressed,
To proclaim the favorable year of the Lord.”

And He closed the book, gave it back to the attendant and sat down; and the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on Him. And He began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”

As Johnny sings, Jesus came for the poor and beaten down. Please listen.  It is short.

Man In Black by Johnny Cash

Continue reading

“I also know your insides are maggoty with greed and secret evil.” ~Jesus

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When he finished that talk, a Pharisee asked him to dinner. He entered his house and sat right down at the table. The Pharisee was shocked and somewhat offended when he saw that Jesus didn’t wash up before the meal. But the Master said to him, “I know you Pharisees burnish the surface of your cups and plates so they sparkle in the sun, but I also know your insides are maggoty with greed and secret evil. Stupid Pharisees! Didn’t the One who made the outside also make the inside? Turn both your pockets and your hearts inside out and give generously to the poor; then your lives will be clean, not just your dishes and your hands.

Source: Luke 11:37-41 (The Message)

This all came about because Jesus didn’t wash his hands before he ate. Seriously. This was a huge Jewish ritual from the old covenant. Jesus was focused on the new covenant and the Kingdom of God that he was ushering in. Jesus was already moving on.

Jesus knows my heart. Jesus knows what motivates me. Jesus came to get me right with God, His Father. Jesus does this by speaking the truth to us. One day, Jesus called Peter Satan. When I follow Jesus, I don’t get a break. I get challenged. Continue reading

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.” ~Jesus

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Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone?  Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!

Source: Matthew 7:7-11 (ESV)

God, my heavenly Father, is more than ready. God is not a grumpy old man who doesn’t care. God is our example of what love is all about. If it is in my best interests, God will do it.

God is in a good mood. God is like my parents. God wants the best for me. I’ve always given my kids what I could. You are the same way. This rings true and we know what it means. Continue reading

“For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders.” ~Jesus

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For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders.” ~Jesus

Source: Matthew 15:19 (NASB)

Evil is real. Evil leads to murder. Jesus is the only solution for evil. Jesus taught us to pray “deliver us from evil.” Jesus did not ask us to petition the government for better laws. Nothing wrong with that but I need to be on my knees praying for deliverance. Continue reading

“The ways of right-living people glow with light; the longer they live, the brighter they shine.” ~King Solomon

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The ways of right-living people glow with light;
    the longer they live, the brighter they shine.
But the road of wrongdoing gets darker and darker—
travelers can’t see a thing; they fall flat on their faces.

Source: Proverbs 4:18-19 (The Message)

Jesus is clear with me. He says You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.” (Matthew 5:14) Jesus makes me a light for all to see. My job is to shine the light of Jesus on everything. Jesus said it so He knows what he is doing. If I was Jesus (and be thankful I am not), I would give me that job. I think some of my wiring is loose. Continue reading

“Self-help is no help at all.” ~Jesus

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Calling the crowd to join his disciples, he said, “Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You’re not in the driver’s seat; I am. Don’t run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I’ll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to saving yourself, your true self. What good would it do to get everything you want and lose you, the real you? What could you ever trade your soul for?

Source: Mark 8:34-37 (The Message)

I love to believe something that isn’t true in the world of following Jesus. Of course it is sad. Many times I don’t even realize what I am doing. Jesus confronts me to make it real. Jesus cuts through all the cultural lies I hear and read all the time. I can’t help myself. Continue reading

“Make yourselves at home in my love.” ~Jesus

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I’ve loved you the way my Father has loved me. Make yourselves at home in my love. If you keep my commands, you’ll remain intimately at home in my love. That’s what I’ve done—kept my Father’s commands and made myself at home in his love.

Source: John 15:9-10

Jesus, the Messiah, is all about love. We all want to be at home. It was in love that God, the Father, sent his Son to the world to save us from missing God’s goal for our life (aka sin). It all starts with the love the Father shown to Jesus. Jesus has taken that love and given it to me. I know how to love because of Jesus. Ah, it is great to be home! Continue reading

“The revelation of God is whole and pulls our lives together.” ~King David

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The revelation of God is whole and pulls our lives together.
The signposts of God are clear and point out the right road.
The life-maps of God are right, showing the way to joy.
The directions of God are plain and easy on the eyes.
God’s reputation is twenty-four-carat gold, with a lifetime guarantee. The decisions of God are accurate down to the nth degree.” ~King David

Source: Psalm 19 NASB;MSG

I need to get this in my heart and soul. God has his plan together for me. Now that is some very good news.

Here is the deal. God is God. God is in control. God sees the big picture from beginning to end. The totality of God’s plan for me pulls my whole life together. It is my job to let God play that out in my life. I struggle with this because I want to be in control. God will let me but that isn’t in my best interests. Continue reading

“For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!” ~Apostle Paul

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For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with the Messiah, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him.” ~Apostle Paul

Source: Romans 8:12-17 NASB

The Apostle Paul lays out a basic premise of The Way (της οδου). We are children of God and more importantly, heirs to the new testament (aka covenant, agreement or plan). Continue reading

Enough With All The Talk | Fat Beggars School of Prophets

This is so very convicting. Please read. I am working through what I should do … not think or pray or give. Jesus calls us to action, not just praying about it.

Source: Enough With All The Talk | Fat Beggars School of Prophets

It’s September.  “Indian summer” still, but already a few days have hinted at Fall.

The Halloween store is open and banging a business now.  School is back in session.  Football season is started.  It will be Thanxgiving and Christmas before you know it.  And the Winter cold is coming.

What will we do about these homeless folx in our streets?

What WILL Jesus do?

I am glad there is a Red Cross out there.  A Salvation Army out there.  A few soup kitchens and shelters too.  But none of these are Jesus.

You are.

You are the church, the Body of Christ.  Where two or three of you gather in his name, there he is.  Why are you leaving his work to the 501c3’s?

Don’t know where to start?

Really?

Pray on it.

But really, the clock is ticking on Winter already.  If you are having a brain fart and cannot imagine what Jesus would do, then sleep in the alley behind a liquor store tonight.  Do your praying there.  Or better yet, sleep out across the street from the church house where you attend.  Pray in front of those locked church house doors on your knees in the cold.  Lay your hands on those locked church house doors as you pray and ask Jesus what he would do.

Don’t take two coats.  Just a pair of flip flops and a light blanket, and kneel in front of those locked church house doors in the cool Fall breeze of night.  Imagine this spot come November and December with ice frozen to the latch.  And pray hard.  Pray real hard.  What would Jesus do?

Jesus.  If you are Lord of this house, what will you do for the beggars, bums, and prophets sleeping out here tonight?  What will you do?

Still not hearing the answer???

Okay.  Keep praying.  PRAY HARDER!  Get on your knees.  Shiver in that blanket and ask Jesus with all your heart.  What would he do?  If he were Lord in this place with the locked church house doors with poor people sleeping around it in the freezing cold, what would he do?

Still not hearing from him?

Okay.

Your talk is cheap.

Go back home to your warm bed, watch Stephen Colbert’s monolog, and go to sleep.  You are done.

Oh… and don’t bother Jesus anymore…

Source: Enough With All The Talk | Fat Beggars School of Prophets

“Prefer my life-disciplines over chasing after money, and God-knowledge over a lucrative career.” ~King Solomon

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Prefer my life-disciplines over chasing after money,
    and God-knowledge over a lucrative career.
For Wisdom is better than all the trappings of wealth;
nothing you could wish for holds a candle to her.” ~King Solomon

Source: Proverbs 8:10-11 (The Message)

There is a lot of confusion among followers of Jesus about money, wealth, poverty, riches and what God wants for us. This isn’t intended to be an indictment about prosperity ministries but it is intended to offer caution both from King Solomon and most importantly, Jesus.

What is most important? King Solomon makes it clear that wisdom is more important than money. This from a man who was one of the wealthiest of his time. King Solomon suggest spending our time focused on wisdom and not so much on money, careers and wealth. Continue reading

“False Messiahs and false prophets will arise, and will show signs and wonders, in order to lead astray, if possible, the elect.” ~Jesus

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 And then if anyone says to you, ‘Behold, here is the Messiah’; or, ‘Behold, He is there’; do not believe him;  for false Messiahs and false prophets will arise, and will show signs and wonders, in order to lead astray, if possible, the elect.  But take heed; behold, I have told you everything in advance. ~Jesus

Source: Mark 13:21-23 (NASB)

Who should we worry about? We live in a time where there are many impressive religious leaders. The power of radio, TV and the internet bring them into our world any time we want. Miracles abound including prosperity around every corner. Apparently the poor will be no more in the Kingdom of Mammon (aka money) promoted by the modern church.

What is God’s goal? Jesus challenges us, here and in other places, to be careful. It is possible for religious leaders to pull the wool over our eyes. We should know better. Jesus has warned us.

Jesus warns us in advance. Several things to think about are:

  • How much do our religious leaders talk about Jesus and what Jesus had to say to us in the four gospels (aka Good News)?
  • Do they often proclaim, proudly, that Jesus has already come, in the flesh, and died for us, was resurrected and sits at the right hand of God?
  • Do they talk about God’s country (aka Kingdom) and Jesus being in control?
  • Do they understand the difference between the old covenant and the new covenant?

It is not so much about being able to pack an auditorium and perform miracles. Miracles are important but the evil one can do them as well. It is about proclaiming the good news of Jesus. Jesus came with a mission. This passage suggests some additional criteria to evaluate a ministry. How much do you hear about the items underlined?

“And the book of the prophet Isaiah was handed to Jesus. And He opened the book and found the place where it was written,

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me,
Because He anointed Me to preach the good news to the poor.
He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives,
And recovery of sight to the blind,
To set free those who are oppressed,
To proclaim the favorable year of the Lord.”

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“Why be exploited by those who care nothing for you?” ~King Solomon

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So, my friend, listen closely;
don’t treat my words casually.
Why should you allow strangers to take advantage of you?
Why be exploited by those who care nothing for you?

It is helpful to know that some people really don’t care for me. In fact, they care nothing at all. They don’t have my best interest at heart and are hard-hearted. I need to be wise to discern that reality. I have opened myself up to it before. It is no fun, as we all know.

God has a goal and some wisdom for me. I need to listen carefully and closely. Jesus said “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; so be shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves.”

I can ignore wisdom but it will lead me to ruin and regret. I will be exploited, taken advantage of and tossed aside. I have good news. Jesus cares. Jesus cares a lot. God is in a good mood. Jesus makes me whole and restores my soul. I don’t have to take the road to ruin.

And so, it seems I have a choice. I need to be careful. I need to listen and act on what Jesus tells me. I need to be disciplined, which by the way, I don’t like. I alone am responsible. I don’t have anyone to blame but myself.

You don’t want to end your life full of regrets,
nothing but sin and bones,
Saying, “Oh, why didn’t I do what they told me?
Why did I reject a disciplined life?
Why didn’t I listen to my mentors,
or take my teachers seriously?
My life is ruined!
I haven’t one blessed thing to show for my life!”

~King Solomon

Source: Proverbs 5:7-14 (The Message)

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Wise as serpents

“Haven’t you read in your Bible that the Creator originally made man and woman for each other, male and female?” ~Jesus

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One day the Pharisees were badgering him: “Is it legal for a man to divorce his wife for any reason?” Jesus answered, “Haven’t you read in your Bible that the Creator originally made man and woman for each other, male and female? And because of this, a man leaves father and mother and is firmly bonded to his wife, becoming one flesh—no longer two bodies but one. Because God created this organic union of the two sexes, no one should desecrate his art by cutting them apart.”

Source: Matthew 19:1-6 (The Message)

Jesus is put out with the Pharisees. Jesus points them and us to the Bible. I’m afraid our church leaders are not serving us well and are deceiving God’s people by pretending something that God did (make us male and female) isn’t true. There is a lot to unpack here considering what is going on in our society and culture.

What is up with the religious leaders? I guess the same question could be asked today. The Bible is clear. Jesus is clear. We have all kind of religious leaders (and churches) today still with confusion about marriage and now transgender-ism.

What about same-sex marriage? That wasn’t the question but Jesus is adamant that marriage is between a man and a woman. There really is no other way to read this.

What about divorce? Jesus, here and in a few other places, states that divorce is only appropriate for adultery. The sexual union, created by God, can’t be undone. God’s goal for us is one of unity between a man and a woman.

What about transgender-ism? God created us male and female. Jesus states there are only two sexes. That is it.

 

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“There’s no telling who will hate you because of me.” ~Jesus

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You’ll even be turned in by parents, brothers, relatives, and friends. Some of you will be killed. There’s no telling who will hate you because of me. Even so, every detail of your body and soul—even the hairs of your head!—is in my care; nothing of you will be lost. Staying with it—that’s what is required. Stay with it to the end. You won’t be sorry; you’ll be saved.” ~Jesus

Source: Luke 21:16-19 (The Message)

Jesus tells us of a principle of how his Kingdom works. Persecution will be real because of our following Jesus. It might even be deadly. That is true even to today. Today someone died for Jesus and His mission.

Who will hate me? Jesus warns me that it could be anyone. It could be the closest member of my family. It could be everyone. If I don’t have any enemies, I am probably not living out the mission of Jesus. The clarity of the good news of Jesus brings out the anger in the Evil One.

Will I live to tell the story? In fact, I may be killed. It is happening today all over the world. Persecution of the followers of Jesus is very real. If I am living out the mission of Jesus, it could happen to me. I must be prepared for this.

Who will look out for me? Jesus will look out for me. Everything is in the care of Jesus. That, my friends, is good news.

What is required of me? I must persevere. I must stick with Jesus. Jesus will save me no matter what. That is the real deal. I can’t get discouraged. No matter what, I will get eternal live. Trillions and trillions of years is a might long time.

Consider this about what is happening today. “215 million Christians experience high levels of persecution” around the world, according to Open Doors, a human rights organization. On its recently released World Watch List 2018, which ranks the world’s 50 worst nations wherein to be Christian, 3,066 Christians were killed, 1,252 abducted, and 1,020 raped or sexually harassed on account of their faith; and 793 churches were attacked or destroyed.” Search the news here on any given day to see the latest.

 

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“Happy are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” ~Jesus

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Happy are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

Source: Matthew 5:4 (ESV)

Jesus is ushering in the Kingdom of God. I like to think of Matthew 5 to 7 as his manifesto of what the Kingdom life is all about. This is the second of what is known as the Beatitudes. The Greek word for blessed is μακάριος (transliteration – makarios) It literally means happy or more than happy.

How will I find comfort? When I mourn, I will be comforted and become more than happy. This is a promise from Jesus. This is part of the Jesus Manifesto where Jesus lays out the precepts of how to be a disciple and follower of Jesus.

What should I embrace? Jesus destroys the myth that all will be a bed of roses. I am going to mourn, I will have grief in my life and that is reality. I am going to suffer. I can reject that or I can embrace it. While this might refer to the kind of mourning related to death. The real spiritual question is whether I will mourn and change my mind (repent) about my missing God’s goal (aka sin)?

Why is godly sorrow important? The Apostle Paul elaborates on all of this very well by saying (2 Cor. 7:10) “For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death.” Godly sorrow allows me to change my mind (repent). That leads to salvation (being more than happy).

 

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His Greatest Fear Came True : The Government Stole Him

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Schizophrenia is a horrible problem. Please pray for a miracle and a breakthrough.

Jesus quoted Isaiah 61. May Jesus bring good news to the afflicted.

The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me,
Because the Lord has anointed me
To bring good news to the afflicted;
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to captives
And freedom to prisoners;
To proclaim the favorable year of the Lord
And the day of vengeance of our God;
To comfort all who mourn,

The Way Online

“Why did you do this? Now they are going to kill me” Those were my sons last words as he was escorted from his Grandma & Grandpas by the Port St. Lucie Police Force in the early morning hours of December 6th, 2017. Every fear he had imagined over the past few weeks had just came true, the government stole him.

The following week he whispered into the phone “If I disappear mom, I didn’t kill myself” still convinced that the hospital staff was trying to poison him and that any minute the government was coming to kill him. His worst nightmare happened yet again, as police officers barged into the mental health facility he had be remanded too for trying to kill himself in jail, and ripped him out of a suicide observation room.

Now he sits in Port St. Lucie Jail in a Behavioral Unit on 23-24 hour…

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“Follow me and I’ll show you how.” ~Jesus

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Calling the crowd to join his disciples, he said, “Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You’re not in the driver’s seat; I am. Don’t run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I’ll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to saving yourself, your true self. What good would it do to get everything you want and lose you, the real you? What could you ever trade your soul for?

Source: Mark 8:34-37 (The Message)

Jesus ushers in the Kingdom of God, explaining to the crowds, not just the disciples, how it works. I don’t think there was an “alter call” afterward. Jesus delivered the message and moved on. Chapters, in the New Testament, can be tricky. I suggest always peaking to see if it is “over” or continues on. In this case, it wasn’t over. In Mark 9, Jesus continues. “This isn’t pie in the sky by and by. Some of you who are standing here are going to see it happen, see the kingdom of God arrive in full force. Six days later, three of them did see it. Jesus took Peter, James, and John and led them up a high mountain.” So … think about it, the Kingdom of God has arrived and only 3 were there to see it.

Who can show me how? Jesus is the one. That is the clear message of the New Testament everywhere we read. Jesus is in charge. That must be dealt with in my life. Jesus is clear.

What is my goal? My goal is to follow Jesus. Every minute of every day. That is the job. It doesn’t change. The good news is that Jesus shows me how. I don’t have to figure it out on my own (like I really could).

The why and the how – Jesus tells me why and Jesus shows me how. I cry out, I don’t know how. Jesus says “I’ll show you.” And Jesus does.

 

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“If you love me, show it by doing what I’ve told you.” ~Jesus

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If you love me, show it by doing what I’ve told you. I will talk to the Father, and he’ll provide you another Friend so that you will always have someone with you. This Friend is the Spirit of Truth. The godless world can’t take him in because it doesn’t have eyes to see him, doesn’t know what to look for. But you know him already because he has been staying with you, and will even be in you!

Source: John 14:15-17 (The Message)

Jesus was ushering in the new covenant (aka testament, agreement or contract). His death, resurrection and ascension was right around the corner. One final piece of the puzzle is also about to be revealed. After his ascension, Jesus will send the Holy Spirit to be with us in the place of the physical Jesus. Without the Spirit we can’t enter the Kingdom of God.

What is the main thing Jesus wants? Jesus wants me to love Him by being obedient to what he has said. That is the big deal. Love is not in isolation from obedience. Love is obedience. Jesus is God and Jesus is in control. God has given Jesus all authority, both in heaven and here on earth. Jesus makes it clear his goal for me is to love.

What is the promise of God? Jesus promised me the Spirit of God. The Spirit is a friend, helper, comforter, and advocate for me to God. Jesus also said (John 3:5) “I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” The Spirit is essential to living in God’s country. I can’t enter with out the Spirit.

How will I know the Spirit of God? The Spirit of God has been with me. The Spirit of God is not a stranger. The Spirit of God is my helper and that is how I will know him. The Spirit of God is the Spirit of Truth. If what is sense is a lie and attempts to deceive me, it is not the Spirit of God.

 

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“God made my life complete when I placed all the pieces before him. When I got my act together, he gave me a fresh start.” ~King David

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God made my life complete
    when I placed all the pieces before him.
When I got my act together,
    he gave me a fresh start.

Source: Psalm 18:20-24 (The Message)

What is my role in all this? God doesn’t invade my body and make me change my mind. That isn’t how it works. I have to change my mind (aka repent). I have to give up and give him all the pieces. I have humble myself and admit that I have missed God’s goal (aka sinned). Many days I am reluctant. God is patient.

What’s wrong with a half-way job? God’s goal is that I have a complete life. I can hear my dad now. In his mind, there was nothing worse than a half-way job. And … he would let me know it if I hadn’t done it well. Not perfect but well. God wants me to have it all and live a complete life. God is God. He can do it. I can’t.

What will God do? God will make my life complete in the work of Jesus, the Messiah. Jesus has paid the price with his glorious sacrifice on the cross. Jesus is raised to a new life and sits in power at God’s right hand. I have life in that work. I am a new creation. I  have a fresh start. God is in a good mood.

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“For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.” ~Jesus

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So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets. “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.

Source: Matthew 7:12-14 (ESV)

This Jesus saying is a part of what I call the Jesus Manifesto (Matthew 5 – 7) aka the Sermon on the Mount. It eats at the religious life myth of leading a good life. Jesus warns us that it won’t be easy. Jesus is pulling no punches here. It will be hard. For example, it may be easy to not commit adultery. It will be hard not to lust. Few are actually going to find God. Most Christians won’t. I didn’t know how tough it would be. May I be one of the few. May you be one of the few.

Why wouldn’t I enter the “wide gate”? I have many choices. I can enter the wide gate. That would be the easiest. While it is crowded, many choose to go that way. It is the popular one. The opinion poles are very favorable. It is comforting to be with so many like minded travelers. WARNING: It leads to destruction.

So what about this “narrow gate” option? It is a hard life. It will always be a hard life. It isn’t easy to find as the “wide gate”. It is the only option that leads to life but it will be lonely, as very few find it. But ah, the benefit of life.

Is the “narrow gate” worth it? Yes, that is the only way to life! Jesus is “the way, the truth and the life”. May I choose Jesus and the narrow way today. This is God’s goal for me.

 

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Rest in Peace. Prince was a musical genius. He could make a guitar weep.

I don’t know why I am thinking of Prince tonight but I sure miss him. I’m sitting here in tears.

Perhaps it it is because Prince played at the Super Bowl XLI press conference, and the Super Bowl XLI Halftime Show in Miami, Florida on February 4, 2007, on a large stage shaped like his symbol. The event was carried to 140 million television viewers, his biggest ever audience. In 2015, Billboard.com ranked the performance as the greatest Super Bowl performance ever. Prince is from Minneapolis, where the game will be played tomorrow.

This clip is from Prince, Tom Petty, Steve Winwood, Jeff Lynne and others perform “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” at the 2004 Hall of Fame Inductions. It is a must watch. Also see the clip from the Super Bowl where he plays Purple Rain in a downstorm.

From one of my other blogs.

Thoughts on culture, politics and more

This is stunning.

Prince, Tom Petty, Steve Winwood, Jeff Lynne and others perform “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” at the 2004 Hall of Fame Inductions.

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Snoop Dogg Drops 5 Gospel Songs

Much thanks to  for pointing me to Snoop Dogg’s new venture,  Bible of Love.

See the Minister’s article — BEFORE YOU ‘JUDGE’ SNOOP DOGG DOING A GOSPEL ALBUM, CONSIDER THIS…

Praise the D-O-Double-G! After announcing his gospel album Bible of Love, Snoop Dogg lets loose five new songs from the project.

“Words Are Few” comes with a light-filled video, which was shot inside of a church, where Da Doggfather kneels, prays, and sings about God with B Slade and a choir by his side. “Things ain’t what they seem,” he sings. “Feeling like I’m fooling me / I know God is calling me / I’m not where I’m supposed to be.”

Source: Snoop Dogg Drops 5 Gospel Songs | Rap-Up

“You’re way off base, and here’s why: One, you don’t know your Bibles; two, you don’t know how God works.” ~Jesus

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Am I clever? I like to think I am some days. So did the Sadducess (Religious Leaders). They thought they had Jesus in a conundrum. Of course they didn’t. I don’t either although some days I try. I like to infer some great logic or theology from the Bible that just isn’t true. Jesus didn’t come to earth to establish a theology. Jesus came to usher in the new covenant and the Kingdom (aka country) of God. His death, resurrection and ascension accomplished what God’s goal was for Jesus.

Do I know the Bible (Scripture)? Not as well as I should or want to that is clear. Also, the more I immerse myself in what Jesus said, the more spiritual relativism I see. Is it okay to like what the Bible says until it says something I don’t like? Can I then manipulate what it says to my own satisfaction? Or worse, perhaps I should just disagree and move on with what I want it to do regardless. Yikes! This is dangerous.

What is more important, Theology or what Jesus says? In this case, the Sadducees were focused on the theology of the resurrection, which they didn’t believe in. Jesus knows the truth because he is the truth and he knows what it is like in heaven. Jesus also knew the Old Testament. So when you are the Son of God and you know the scripture, that is known as the trump card.

Do I know how God works? Not well enough. Several things have become clearer about how God works. I am focusing more and more on:

  • God is God – God is in control. I am not.
  • God is Good – God is in a good mood. God sent Jesus because he loves me.
  • God is Great – Nothing is impossible with God.
  • God has a goal for me – I need to focus, exclusively, on what God wants me to do.

Some Sadducees, the party that denies any possibility of resurrection, came up and asked, “Teacher, Moses wrote that if a man dies and leaves a wife but no child, his brother is obligated to marry the widow and have children. Well, there once were seven brothers. The first took a wife. He died childless. The second married her. He died, and still no child. The same with the third. All seven took their turn, but no child. Finally the wife died. When they are raised at the resurrection, whose wife is she? All seven were her husband.”

Jesus said, “You’re way off base, and here’s why: One, you don’t know your Bibles; two, you don’t know how God works. After the dead are raised up, we’re past the marriage business. As it is with angels now, all our ecstasies and intimacies then will be with God. And regarding the dead, whether or not they are raised, don’t you ever read the Bible? How God at the bush said to Moses, ‘I am—not was—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? The living God is God of the living, not the dead. You’re way, way off base.”

Source: Mark 12:18-27 (The Message)

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Bible – The Holy Scripture

“Don’t just go shopping for a god. Gods are not for sale.” ~King David

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Don’t just go shopping for a god.
Gods are not for sale.
I swear I’ll never treat god-names
like brand-names.

Source: Psalm 16:4 (The Message)

God is God. There is only one God. That God is Yahweh, the heavenly Father of Jesus, our Messiah. Consider this. In Psalm 100:3 David says “Know this: God is God, and God, God. He made us; we didn’t make him. We’re his people, his well-tended sheep.” This is a big deal and one of the major themes of our life with Jesus. It all starts with “Our Father, who is in Heaven, Holy is your name”. It continues with “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”

If I don’t like God, can I just go shop for another God? Our culture seems to be moving in that direction. All God’s are the same aren’t they? Shouldn’t we respect Allah after all? Jesus said “Don’t you ever read the Bible? How God at the bush said to Moses, ‘I am—not was—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? The living God is God of the living, not the dead.” (Mark 12)

Gods are not for sale. God is God. Don’t like the one I have, can’t I just switch like I would switch from one brand of phone to another? Can I upgrade? Isn’t there a newer version ready yet? No I can’t.

 

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February 1, 1960 — A movement for justice started at Woolworth’s in Greensboro, N.C.

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Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cummin, and you have neglected the weightier provisions of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness; but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others. You blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel!

Matthew 23:22-24 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

I used to love to go to Woolworth’s in Atlanta. It was always a special treat. Growing up in the south in the 1960’s was a challenge as desegregation kicked in. Anyone remember Lester Maddox? A populist Democrat, Maddox came to prominence as a staunch segregationist when he refused to serve black customers in his Atlanta restaurant, in defiance of the Civil Rights Act in 1964. In shame, I remember his ax handle.

The segregated south was a classic example of straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel. In God’s Kingdom, justice will be done. Mercy is important. Faithfulness to human dignity may take time but it is God’s way. These cannot be neglected.

The History Channel: “On February 1, 1960, the four students sat down at the lunch counter at the Woolworth’s in downtown Greensboro, where the official policy was to refuse service to anyone but whites. Denied service, the four young men refused to give up their seats. Police arrived on the scene, but were unable to take action due to the lack of provocation.

“By that time, [Ralph Johns] had already alerted the local media, who had arrived in full force to cover the events on television. The Greensboro Four stayed put until the store closed, then returned the next day with more students from local colleges. By February 5, some 300 students had joined the protest at Woolworth’s, paralyzing the lunch counter and other local businesses. …

By the end of March the movement had spread to 55 cities in 13 states. Though many were arrested for trespassing, disorderly conduct or disturbing the peace, national media coverage of the sit-ins brought increasing attention to the civil rights movement.

“In response to the success of the sit-in movement, dining facilities across the South were being integrated by the summer of 1960. At the end of July, when many local college students were on summer vacation, the Greensboro Woolworth’s quietly integrated its lunch counter. Four black Woolworth’s employees—Geneva Tisdale, Susie Morrison, Anetha Jones and Charles Best—were the first to be served.

Greensboro Sit-in Movement, North Carolina, Civil Rights

“This cup is the new covenant written in my blood, blood poured out for you.” ~Jesus

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Jesus did the same with the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant written in my blood, blood poured out for you.

Source: Luke 22:20 (The Message)

Jesus ushered in a new covenant (aka testament, agreement or contract). Jesus did it through the blood he shed for us on the cross. It completely blew out of the water the old covenant (aka testament, agreement or contract). This is a big deal and 2,000 years later we probably miss what this meant. The Jewish people and the disciples of Jesus knew what it meant.

Hebrews 8 gives us more insight into the new covenant. It is important to recognize that there were problems with the first covenant. How could God do that I wonder. Remember when Jesus said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart Moses permitted you to divorce your wives; but from the beginning it has not been this way.”

For if that first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no occasion sought for a second.

Here is more, indicating the transformation that was occurring at the time was making the old covenant obsolete.

When He said, “A new covenant,” He has made the first obsolete. But whatever is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to disappear.

Not too much later, at the Council of Jerusalem (Acts 15), we learn that the new covenant opened up the way for non-Jews to participate as fully adopted children as followers of Jesus.  It was agreed, with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, that nothing was required of the Gentile converts except faith in the Messiah; they were not bound by the Law of Moses. However, the council directed the Gentile Christians to abstain from certain things that were particularly offensive to their Jewish brethren – food sacrificed to idols, blood, meat of strangled animals and sexual immorality.

So Paul was confident to say to the non-Jews (Acts 13):

Therefore let it be known to you, brethren, that through Jesus forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you, and through Jesus everyone who believes is freed from all things, from which you could not be freed through the Law of Moses.

The good news of the new covenant is that it ties together most of what we read in the New Testament (aka covenant). It is up to us to understand as much about this as we can as a framework for how to follow Jesus.

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“If your hand or your foot gets in the way of God, chop it off and throw it away.” ~Jesus

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How far must I go in following Jesus? I need to do whatever it takes. Nothing is more important than the child-like faith in Jesus. Nothing. Not a thing.

Isn’t what Jesus is saying extreme? No, Jesus means it. Nothing can get in the way of honestly following Jesus. I may have to sacrifice a lot to be the servant of Jesus. Jesus challenges me to get rid of anything that gets in the way. This is one of the great themes of Jesus and his manifesto. God is God. Period.

What is the consequence of not taking Jesus seriously? This isn’t pleasant, but Jesus is clear. My lack of sacrifice will lead me to the fire of Hell. I don’t think Jesus is using a metaphor here. Jesus is clear and Jesus is serious. Am I?

At about the same time, the disciples came to Jesus asking, “Who gets the highest rank in God’s kingdom?”

For an answer Jesus called over a child, whom he stood in the middle of the room, and said, “I’m telling you, once and for all, that unless you return to square one and start over like children, you’re not even going to get a look at the kingdom, let alone get in. Whoever becomes simple and elemental again, like this child, will rank high in God’s kingdom. What’s more, when you receive the childlike on my account, it’s the same as receiving me.

“But if you give them a hard time, bullying or taking advantage of their simple trust, you’ll soon wish you hadn’t. You’d be better off dropped in the middle of the lake with a millstone around your neck. Doom to the world for giving these God-believing children a hard time! Hard times are inevitable, but you don’t have to make it worse—and it’s doomsday to you if you do.

“If your hand or your foot gets in the way of God, chop it off and throw it away. You’re better off maimed or lame and alive than the proud owners of two hands and two feet, godless in a furnace of eternal fire. And if your eye distracts you from God, pull it out and throw it away. You’re better off one-eyed and alive than exercising your twenty-twenty vision from inside the fire of hell.

“Watch that you don’t treat a single one of these childlike believers arrogantly. You realize, don’t you, that their personal angels are constantly in touch with my Father in heaven?

Source: Matthew 18:1-4 (The Message)

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“Dear friend, when you extend hospitality to Christian brothers and sisters, even when they are strangers, you make the faith visible.” ~Apostle John

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John nails it, as always. John knows it is all about love. How many times does he remind me? Constantly.

How do I make faith visible? By loving the followers of Jesus, even if I don’t know them. How am I doing on the kindness-meter? Perhaps I should do a daily assessment and track progress.

I need to find some followers of Jesus who need a meal and a place to stay. I need to be on the look out for how I can grow in hospitality. I need to hold myself accountable. Here is a quick list of ideas:

  • How can I support missionaries?
  • Can I provide a place for missionaries to stay when are on R & R back home?
  • What about the student learning to preach the message of Jesus?
  • Can I pay for room and board for a student or put them up in my house?
  • Can I pay for the travel of a minister to special conference?
  • Can I provide a place for a minister to stay when they travel to my home town for a conference?

Dear friend, when you extend hospitality to Christian brothers and sisters, even when they are strangers, you make the faith visible. They’ve made a full report back to the church here, a message about your love. It’s good work you’re doing, helping these travelers on their way, hospitality worthy of God himself! They set out under the banner of the Name, and get no help from unbelievers. So they deserve any support we can give them. In providing meals and a bed, we become their companions in spreading the Truth.

Source: 3 John 1:5-8

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“Why, then, do you think this was written?” ~Jesus

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Jesus was constantly getting under the skin of the religious leaders and scholars. At the conclusion of the story Jesus tells, they wanted to stone him.

Why this level of hate of Jesus by the religious leaders? Jesus saw what was in their heart, pointed it out clearly, and wouldn’t back down. They were constantly being embarrassed and the people loved Jesus.

What does this mean for me? I must be careful not to have the heart of the religious leaders. God is God. He will give his kingdom (country) to whomever he wants to. My commitment to Jesus, regardless of the consequences to me, must be unwavering. I can’t be saying, Jesus would never do that. Jesus is in complete control and will do what he sees is necessary for justice.

“What do you think the owner of the vineyard will do? Jesus is clear he is going to take the vineyard away (from the religious leaders) and give it to someone else. This is serious stuff. Have our churches today become complacent? Will Jesus give his vineyard to someone else? It can happen.

Jesus asks “Why, then, do you think this was written?” I must be prepared to answer. Jesus wants an answer. It isn’t sufficient to say Jesus isn’t serious. Jesus is dead serious. I must be careful in what I listen to from the religious leaders. Jesus is the source of all truth. Jesus is the way to God, not the church.

Jesus told another story to the people: “A man planted a vineyard. He handed it over to farmhands and went off on a trip. He was gone a long time. In time he sent a servant back to the farmhands to collect the profits, but they beat him up and sent him off empty-handed. He decided to try again and sent another servant. That one they beat black-and-blue, and sent him off empty-handed. He tried a third time. They worked that servant over from head to foot and dumped him in the street.

“Then the owner of the vineyard said, ‘I know what I’ll do: I’ll send my beloved son. They’re bound to respect my son.’

“But when the farmhands saw him coming, they quickly put their heads together. ‘This is our chance—this is the heir! Let’s kill him and have it all to ourselves.’ They killed him and threw him over the fence.

“What do you think the owner of the vineyard will do? Right. He’ll come and clean house. Then he’ll assign the care of the vineyard to others.”

Those who were listening said, “Oh, no! He’d never do that!”

 But Jesus didn’t back down. “Why, then, do you think this was written:

That stone the masons threw out—
It’s now the cornerstone!?

“Anyone falling over that stone will break every bone in his body; if the stone falls on anyone, it will be a total smashup.”

The religion scholars and high priests wanted to lynch him on the spot, but they were intimidated by public opinion. They knew the story was about them.

Source: Luke 20:9-19 (The Message)

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“Don’t run from suffering; embrace it.” ~Jesus

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Calling the crowd to join his disciples, he said, “Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You’re not in the driver’s seat; I am. Don’t run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I’ll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to saving yourself, your true self. What good would it do to get everything you want and lose you, the real you? What could you ever trade your soul for?

Source: Mark 8:34-37 (The Message)

God has a goal in mind for me. God’s goal includes suffering. God’s goal includes victory. It isn’t either/or. It is yes/and.

How should I approach suffering? Jesus challenges me to embrace it and make it my own. There is a learning lesson in suffering. I see, in a mirror, my character. How do I react? Is it spiritually mature? What can I do to love more?

Jesus is my model. Jesus is in the lead. Jesus embraced his suffering to fulfill God’s goal. Why should I think I am immune?

 

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“If you understand what I’m telling you, act like it—and live a happy (blessed) life.” ~Jesus

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What is God’s goal for me? My job is to be a servant of God. That is it. There is nothing else to it. Jesus made that clear in his example of how he lived his life. Jesus was only here to do what God had in mind. Here is the problem. I like to be served and not be a servant. I love a great meal and the wonderful service of an amazing restaurant. So … I’ve got a problem, don’t I.

What is the outcome if I act on what Jesus commanded? I will live a blessed, more than happy, life. [Note: the Greek word translates better as happy rather than blessed] I will have that life in the here and now. God-Service leads to happiness. I haven’t always understood this. As I gain more experience, it is becoming a reality.

What is the challenge? I need to understand why to serve. I need to get it. I need to change my mind (aka repent). Do I? I must admit that some days I don’t. I go right along with my life, not caring what it is that God has in mind for me right now. Today is the day I can focus on the God-servant way of life. Jesus challenges me to.

After he had finished washing their feet, he took his robe, put it back on, and went back to his place at the table.

Then he said, “Do you understand what I have done to you? You address me as ‘Teacher’ and ‘Master,’ and rightly so. That is what I am. So if I, the Master and Teacher, washed your feet, you must now wash each other’s feet. I’ve laid down a pattern for you. What I’ve done, you do. I’m only pointing out the obvious. A servant is not ranked above his master; an employee doesn’t give orders to the employer. If you understand what I’m telling you, act like it—and live a happy (blessed) life.

Source: John 13:11-17 (The Message)

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“If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” ~Jesus

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So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, “If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” They answered Him, “We are Abraham’s descendants and have never yet been enslaved to anyone; how is it that You say, ‘You will become free’?”

Source: John 8:31-33 NASB – The Truth Will Make You Free – So Jesus – Bible Gateway

There is a special arrogance that believes I am not enslaved … to anyone. It is special because it is flat out wrong. It is a lie and it comes from the evil one.

I need to stand up straight and take the truth. Jesus is the truth and the truth of Jesus is absolute. Truth has a spine. Truth gets me in trouble. Truth may get me killed. Jesus stared in the face of evil and defeated it. Jesus defeated it for me. That is the truth.

I need to stand up, wash my face and greet the day with Jesus. I must continue in the word of Jesus. I must be disciplined and be a disciple. I must not wimp out. I must abandon my snowflake ways.

Jesus is the truth. I must know Jesus. Jesus will give me a spine and set me free. I will be free from a relative life to an absolute life of love and kindness.

In truth, Jesus warns me that I am going to suffer. In spite of my suffering, the truth is that I should be grateful. God is good and in a good mood. The truth is that the suffering is for my own good. I am challenged by Jesus to drink it in. I am challenged by Jesus to love the suffering. Seriously? Yes, seriously.

The evil one has come to harass and bully me. Jesus whispers in my ear that I don’t have to take, not at all. That is the absolute truth. If I wimp out, I will not be happy.

Responsibility has been abdicated by way too many followers of Jesus. That is where Jesus lets me know that there is an opportunity lurking. The opportunity is the absolute truth. The opportunity is persistence. The opportunity is to get up again tomorrow and fight the good fight for absolute truth.

Some days I wake up in a sweat. I am afraid the fear won’t go away. I am reminded, by the Apostle John, “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love.”

More from Jesus on truth

John 3:21 “But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God.”

John 4:23 “But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers.”

John 8:44 “You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”

John 14:6 “Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.”

John 18:37 Therefore Pilate said to Him, “So You are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say correctly that I am a king. For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.”

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“I’m not trying to get my way in the world’s way. I’m trying to get your way, your Word’s way.” ~King David

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Who’s way should I seek? King David knows it is God’s way and not his way. Jesus challenges me to put Jesus in charge. God has made Jesus the ruler of God’s country (aka Kingdom). My goal is to do what Jesus wants me to. Some days I just don’t want to. Some days that isn’t my priority. God is gracious and kind to me. Jesus has sent the Power of the Holy Spirit to help me. Now that is some good news.

What is wrong with my way? God is God. God is the only one who knows the plan from start to finish. God is Great. Nothing is impossible with God. Out of nothing God created the universe. I am in no position to questions God’s plan.

What about failure? I must stay on God’s trail. I must not give up. God is in a good mood and His plan will all come together. There is a plan. God is the planner. My job is to stay on the trail and not wander off.

I’m not trying to get my way
    in the world’s way.
I’m trying to get your way,
    your Word’s way.
I’m staying on your trail;
    I’m putting one foot
In front of the other.
    I’m not giving up.

Source: Psalm 17:4-5 (The Message)

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“Keep a sharp eye out for the yeast of Religious Leaders.” ~Jesus

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It is only one slight difference in an ingredient in breads. A tortilla or cracker is remarkable different from San Francisco sour dough bread. The difference is yeast.

Jesus is challenging me to understand that this is a spiritual issue, not a physical issue. I am to keep a sharp eye for the yeast of Religious Leaders. It doesn’t take much yeast for it to cause bread to rise. The result is remarkably different. So it was with the doctrines of the Religious Leaders. They are insinuating, artful, plausible. They conceal the real tendency of their doctrines; they instill them secretly into the mind, until they pervaded all my faculties like leaven.

I am responsible for knowing and evaluating whether the teaching of Religious Leaders has yeast in it or not. No one else can do it for me. I can see the difference. Is it a tortilla or sour dough bread? Jesus said “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.”

On their way to the other side of the lake, the disciples discovered they had forgotten to bring along bread. In the meantime, Jesus said to them, “Keep a sharp eye out for the yeast of Religious Leaders (aka Pharisee-Sadducee).”

Thinking he was scolding them for forgetting bread, they discussed in whispers what to do. Jesus knew what they were doing and said, “Why all these worried whispers about forgetting the bread? Runt believers! Haven’t you caught on yet? Don’t you remember the five loaves of bread and the five thousand people, and how many baskets of fragments you picked up? Or the seven loaves that fed four thousand, and how many baskets of leftovers you collected? Haven’t you realized yet that bread isn’t the problem? The problem is yeast, the Religious Leader’s (aka Pharisee-Sadducee) yeast.” Then they got it: that he wasn’t concerned about eating, but teaching—the Religious Leaders (aka Pharisee-Sadducee) kind of teaching.

Source: Matthew 16:5-12

Image result for jesus unleavened bread Matthew 16

“This happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life.” ~Jesus

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Who missed God’s goal? Somebody did something to cause this and it will help me if i can blame them. That can be the assumption. I am wounded. I am hurt. I suffer. I want to blame someone. Surely someone messed up. Who, we ask?

God has something He wants to do. But Jesus doesn’t allow this kind of thinking about who caused something or who’s fault it is. He brought healing and salvation into our fallen world. He loves us. He is good. He doesn’t do evil.

God clearly wants to demonstrate His power. Jesus made it clear that God wants to do that through us. Will we accept the challenge?

When Jesus and the disciples were on the road one day, they came upon a man who had been blind since birth. “Rabbi, who missed God’s goal [sinned], this man or his parents?” they asked him. “Neither this man nor his parents messed up,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life.” And with that, Jesus spat on the ground, made some mud to place on the man’s eyes, and healed him. (John 9:1-7)

Here are the key ideas:

  • God wants to demonstrate His power through us
  • God is in a good mood and wants to do amazing things for our benefit
  • Sickness is not a result of our missing God’s goal (sinning

“Don’t you know anything? Can’t you see that it’s to our advantage that one man dies for the people rather than the whole nation be destroyed?” ~Caiaphas, the Chief Priest

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God is God. God can do anything he wants. The religious leaders were trying to figure out how to do Jesus in. The Chief Priest that year, Caiaphas, brought them up short.

God had a plan. Caiaphas didn’t want to say what he said. Caiaphas didn’t know he was going to say that. God chose him and used him to help complete his plan. Jesus would die. That was God’s plan. The religious leaders would now carry it out because of what God had Caiaphas say. It all fit together.

There were many dots to connect. Some were small and some were great. God would connect them all. Jesus would obey his Father, every step of the way.

God wants to use me. How many times have I said something and then thought, where did that come from? I know I am not that wise or bright. God is God. Jesus can, and will, use me to get his good news message out. God is an amazing mood.

Then one of them—it was Caiaphas, the designated Chief Priest that year—spoke up, “Don’t you know anything? Can’t you see that it’s to our advantage that one man dies for the people rather than the whole nation be destroyed?” He didn’t say this of his own accord, but as Chief Priest that year he unwittingly prophesied that Jesus was about to die sacrificially for the nation, and not only for the nation but so that all God’s exile-scattered children might be gathered together into one people.

From that day on, they plotted to kill him. So Jesus no longer went out in public among the Jews. He withdrew into the country bordering the desert to a town called Ephraim and secluded himself there with his disciples.

Source: John 11:49-52 (The Message)

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Jesus connects the dots

60,091,248 abortions later on the anniversary of Roe vs. Wade (January 22, 1973)

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From one of my other blogs that should be of interest here.

Thoughts on culture, politics and more

Abortion was legalized in the United States when the Supreme Court issued its decision on January 22, 1973, with a 7-to-2 majority vote in favor of Roe. Justices Burger, Douglas, and Stewart filed concurring opinions, and Justice White filed a dissenting opinion in which Justice Rehnquist joined.

Since that time 60,091,248 abortions have been conducted in the United States.(according to http://www.numberofabortions.com ). This is a staggering number of children deprived of an opportunity to live. Why?

Please read the excerpt below from Dr. Richard Selzer’s book ‘Mortal Lessons: Notes On The Art Of Surgery.’

“Our garbage is collected early in the morning. Sometimes the bang of the cans and the grind of the city trucks awaken us before our time. We are resentful, mutter into our pillows, then go back to sleep. On the morning of August 6th, the people of Woodside Avenue do just that. When at…

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“Long enough, God — you’ve ignored me long enough.” ~King David

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King David knows he can speak honestly with God. King David is clear about his despair. He feels like God has turned his back on the King and all David can see is the back of God’s head. I can speak honestly with God. There are times I’m in despair. God knows it. Why should I try to hid it? Best to “fess up”.

King David embodies Thanks-Living. Even in his despair, the King throws himself into God’s arms. The King celebrates being rescued by God, even though he hasn’t been rescued yet. I am challenged to live a life of “Thanks-Living”. Am I seeing what God is doing today or focused on what he isn’t doing?

Jesus challenges me to thank God and see what God is doing, not what He is not. God has answered my prayers. God has healed me. God has delivered me from the evil one. God is in a good mood and I know it.

Long enough, God—
    you’ve ignored me long enough.
I’ve looked at the back of your head
    long enough. Long enough
I’ve carried this ton of trouble,
    lived with a stomach full of pain.
Long enough my arrogant enemies
    have looked down their noses at me.

Take a good look at me, God, my God;
    I want to look life in the eye,
So no enemy can get the best of me
    or laugh when I fall on my face.

I’ve thrown myself headlong into your arms—
    I’m celebrating your rescue.
I’m singing at the top of my lungs,
    I’m so full of answered prayers.

Source: Psalm 13

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“This isn’t pie in the sky by and by.” ~Jesus

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How many times have I thought, this is all about heaven? A lot I am thinking. I am reminded of how my dad would point out about someone that “they were so heavenly minded they were no earthly good”. The only day I have is today. I may not see tomorrow.

God is God. Today is the day I have a chance to demonstrate Jesus is in control. As Jesus said “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”

Jesus challenges me think about the here and now. This is not pie in the sky by and by. Jesus is in control now. His death, resurrection, ascension and deliver of the Holy Spirit in power has established the Kingdom. His teaching us how to pray confirmed that Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” It is all about what God wants right now. 

The Country of God (aka the Kingdom) is a reality now. Jesus said ““The kingdom of God doesn’t come by counting the days on the calendar. Nor when someone says, ‘Look here!’ or, ‘There it is!’ And why? Because God’s kingdom is already among you.” (Luke 17)

Then he drove it home by saying, “This isn’t pie in the sky by and by. Some of you who are standing here are going to see it happen, see the kingdom of God arrive in full force.”

Source: Mark 9:1

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“The kingdom of God doesn’t come by counting the days on the calendar.” ~Jesus

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When will God’s country (aka the kingdom) come? That was and is the big question. The Messiah (the Anointed One) would usher it in.

It has already happened, Jesus declared. Jesus is the Son of God and the Messiah. Jesus came to us over 2,000 years ago. He established God’s country. I am a citizen of God’s country right now. Nothing to look forward to from that point of view.

Of course, many have not applied for citizenship yet. God’s goal for me is to spread the good news (aka Gospel) to every one I can.  There is much work to be done.

Jesus, grilled by the Pharisees on when the kingdom of God would come, answered, “The kingdom of God doesn’t come by counting the days on the calendar. Nor when someone says, ‘Look here!’ or, ‘There it is!’ And why? Because God’s kingdom is already among you.”

Source: Luke 17:20-21

Jesus is King

“Then I won’t answer your question either.” ~Jesus

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Jesus is clear. Jesus doesn’t have to answer my questions. That is shocking to me. I deserve to have my questions answered. How dare Jesus not answer them. Even more clear is that Jesus knows who is in charge and is confident that He is about doing the work of God. That rattles us all, I think.

Jesus gets to ask the questions of me. I must answer them. I don’t get to be the know it all lecturing Jesus. If I think I am a “religious leader” I am off to a bad start. I am not in control. Jesus has been given all authority by His heavenly Father. Jesus is in control. That is the starting point for everything.

Is “I don’t know” a good answer? Not in the world of Jesus it isn’t. Jesus knows I know the answer. My job is to be honest and “fess up”. Jesus is waiting for an answer.

Then when they were back in Jerusalem once again, as they were walking through the Temple, the high priests, religion scholars, and leaders came up and demanded, “Show us your credentials. Who authorized you to speak and act like this?”

Jesus responded, “First let me ask you a question. Answer my question and then I’ll present my credentials. About the baptism of John—who authorized it: heaven or humans? Tell me.”

They were on the spot, and knew it. They pulled back into a huddle and whispered, “If we say ‘heaven,’ he’ll ask us why we didn’t believe John; if we say ‘humans,’ we’ll be up against it with the people because they all hold John up as a prophet.” They decided to concede that round to Jesus. “We don’t know,” they said.

Jesus replied, “Then I won’t answer your question either.”

Source: Mark 11:27-33 (The Message)

Jesus asks a question

“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?'”  ~Martin Luther King, Jr.

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It is all about service and being a servant. It is not about me and what I get out of it.

Martin Luther King, Jr. focus was to bring equal opportunity for African Americans. It was all about service to him.

Jesus was all about service at a different level. Jesus gave his life as a sacrifice to pay the price for our not meeting God’s goal (aka sin). Jesus set the example for all of us.

How will I answer the question today. What am I doing for others?

Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?'”  ~Martin Luther King, Jr.

“But don’t resent God’s discipline; don’t sulk under his loving correction. It’s the child he loves that God corrects; a father’s delight is behind all this.” ~King Solomon

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God has a goal for me. Primarily God wants me to grow up and not be a child my whole life. Growing up requires discipline from a father. God is in a good mood and disciplines me for a reason. It is out of true love. So, what is the goal of discipline? “All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness. (Hebrews 12:11)”

Is discipline the same as punishment? The short answer is no. Discipline is a method of teaching a child self-control, confidence, and responsibility. The key to discipline is teaching a child what behavior is okay and what behavior is not okay. … Punishment is quite different from disciplinePunishment may be physical as in spanking, hitting, or causing pain. The focus of punishment is always past tense: “First you did this, then you did this, and now you have to pay the price.” In His mercy, God wiped away all eternal, spiritual implications of our pasts; He doesn’t treat His children according to the rules of punishment.

Discipline is future-focused, always pointing toward future acts. It has nothing to do with retribution and everything to do with redemption. Whereas the purpose of punishment is to inflict a penalty for an offense, the purpose of discipline is to train for correction and maturity. Whereas the origin of punishment is the frustration of the parent, the origin of discipline is a high motivation for the welfare of the child. And whereas the result of punishment is fear and shame, the result of discipline is security. Discipline always holds the child’s best interests, not the parent’s anger, in the forefront. It is never out of control.

God’s goal is for me to love discipline. Now that is tough to do but the more I am disciplined, the more I know and grow. Consider Proverbs 12:1 “Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, But he who hates reproof is stupid.”

How do I know that God loves me so very much? Consider Proverbs 13:24 “He who withholds his rod hates his son, But he who loves him disciplines him diligently.” It is in fact proof that I am a child of God when God disciplines me. “It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? (Hebrews 12:5)”

But don’t, dear friend, resent God’s discipline;
don’t sulk under his loving correction.
It’s the child he loves that God corrects;
a father’s delight is behind all this.

Source: Proverbs 3:12 (The Message)

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“What a generation! No sense of God! No focus to your lives! How many times do I have to go over these things?” ~Jesus

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Jesus is teaching us. He has given us the power of his Holy Spirit. What a gift. What a God we serve.

I don’t always succeed as a I learn how Jesus works. I forget to focus on what God wants me to do at that moment. I proceed thinking that what worked in the past is what will work now. That isn’t the way of Jesus.

Yelling at demons doesn’t always get their attention. Just because that is how I did it last time doesn’t mean anything. Jesus always checks with God first. Jesus healed lots of blind people. Never once did Jesus heal the “same way”. There is no formula. It is only about what God wants in that moment.

There is much to focus on and to learn. God’s goal for me is to be open today to what Jesus is challenging me to do. Jesus gets angry when I don’t pay attention. Jesus expects that I will focus and have a true sense of God.

So what makes a difference? That is what the disciples wanted to know when they could get Jesus alone. Jesus said to them, “Because of the littleness of your faith; for in simple truth I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you.” Answer: It is all about faith!

At the bottom of the mountain, they were met by a crowd of waiting people. As they approached, a man came out of the crowd and fell to his knees begging, “Master, have mercy on my son. He goes out of his mind and suffers terribly, falling into seizures. Frequently he is pitched into the fire, other times into the river. I brought him to your disciples, but they could do nothing for him.”

Jesus said, “What a generation! No sense of God! No focus to your lives! How many times do I have to go over these things? How much longer do I have to put up with this? Bring the boy here.” He ordered the afflicting demon out—and it was out, gone. From that moment on the boy was well.

Source: Matthew 17:14-18

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Jesus heals demon possessed boy

120 Things Jesus Said That You Wish He Hadn’t

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Here is a great list from Gospelutionary. Be blessed.

Gospelutionary

Have you ever wondered what Jesus actually taught his disciples (aka REAL Christians) about how to live our lives? Well, here’s a list of 120 teachings! Comment if you can think of any more!

Principal Teachings

1. Love God above all. (Matthew 22:37-39)

2. Love your neighbor as yourself. (Matthew 22:37-39)

3. Treat others as you wish to be treated. (Luke 6:31)

4. Imitate the Good Samaritan. (Luke 10:37)

God & Jesus

5. Repent. (Matthew 4:17)

6. Believe the Gospel. (Mark 1:15)

7. Have faith in God. (Mark 11:22)

8. Fear God. (Luke 12:5)

9. Worship and serve God only. (Matthew 4:10)

10. Don’t put God to the test. (Matthew 4:7)

11. Trust in Jesus as we trust in God. (John 14:1)

12. Come to me and drink. (John 7:37)

13. Come to me those who are overworked and tired. (Matthew 11:28)

14. Take up my yoke and work for…

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“There is no need to dismiss them.” ~Jesus

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Jesus knows that nothing is impossible with God. It is in his heart, he believes it, he thinks about it all the time and he acts on it. God is great.

Jesus challenges me to know God’s greatness. I need to get it in my core. I don’t get to take a pass on this part of God’s country (aka Kingdom). God is great. When Jesus challenges me to produce a miracle, how do I react? Am I up to the challenges of Jesus?

In God’s country, there is always more than enough and food is left over. God is in a good mood and provides more than I need. I can count on Jesus.

When Jesus got the news, he slipped away by boat to an out-of-the-way place by himself. But unsuccessfully—someone saw him and the word got around. Soon a lot of people from the nearby villages walked around the lake to where he was. When he saw them coming, he was overcome with pity and healed their sick.

Toward evening the disciples approached him. “We’re out in the country and it’s getting late. Dismiss the people so they can go to the villages and get some supper.”

But Jesus said, “There is no need to dismiss them. You give them supper.”

“All we have are five loaves of bread and two fish,” they said.

Jesus said, “Bring them here.” Then he had the people sit on the grass. He took the five loaves and two fish, lifted his face to heaven in prayer, blessed, broke, and gave the bread to the disciples. The disciples then gave the food to the congregation. They all ate their fill. They gathered twelve baskets of leftovers. About five thousand were fed.

Source: Matthew 14:13-21

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“I have a dream today.” ~Martin Luther King, Jr.

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I was 9 years old during the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom on August 28, 1963. I was living in Atlanta, Georgia. The deep south was clearly a racist world at that time. It wouldn’t stay that way. Change was on the way.

So on Martin Luther King day, we celebrate Dr. King’s vision and the speech he gave that galvanized our country.

Martin Luther King “I Have a Dream” Speech

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Martin Luther King, Jr.

I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.

Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity.

But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languishing in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. So we have come here today to dramatize a shameful condition.

In a sense we have come to our nation’s capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked “insufficient funds.” But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. So we have come to cash this check — a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice. We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quick sands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God’s children.

It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering summer of the Negro’s legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. Those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. There will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.

But there is something that I must say to my people who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice. In the process of gaining our rightful place we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.

We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force. The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. They have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We cannot walk alone.

As we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead. We cannot turn back. There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, “When will you be satisfied?” We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. We can never be satisfied, as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as the Negro’s basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their selfhood and robbed of their dignity by signs stating “For Whites Only”. We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.

I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail cells. Some of you have come from areas where your quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive.

Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to South Carolina, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed. Let us not wallow in the valley of despair.
I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.”

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.
I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification; one day right there in Alabama, little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.

This is our hope. This is the faith that I go back to the South with. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

This will be the day when all of God’s children will be able to sing with a new meaning, “My country, ’tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim’s pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring.”

And if America is to be a great nation this must become true. So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania!

Let freedom ring from the snowcapped Rockies of Colorado!

Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California!

But not only that; let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia!

Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee!

Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi. From every mountainside, let freedom ring.

And when this happens, when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, “Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”

“Today is my day to be a guest in your home.” ~Jesus

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Jesus and God the Father are in a good mood. They want to be a guest in my house. They want to be with me. They want to show me the way to love. They have given me power, by the Holy Spirit, to be delivered from my prison.

Zacchaeus became free that day. Jesus freed him. Zacchaeus became free from the opinion of others who are indignant and grumpy about what Jesus chooses to do. Zacchaeus became free from the shame of his past. Zacchaeus became free to tell the story of what Jesus had done in his life.

Zacchaeus was a well known crook. On the scale of things in Israel, he was the lowest. Zacchaeus was a tax collector. But … he desperately wanted to see Jesus. Jesus could see in his heart and knew of his desperation.

Jesus sees my heart. That is some good news. I am the lowest of the low but I desperately want to see and know Jesus. I am stunned at what Jesus does for me. I stumble but Jesus picks me up. Jesus does not care about any of that. Jesus came to restore me and he has done that.

Stunningly good news. Jesus is happy to be a guest in my house. Jesus really wants to be here. My job is to let Jesus in.

Then Jesus entered and walked through Jericho. There was a man there, his name Zacchaeus, the head tax man and quite rich. He wanted desperately to see Jesus, but the crowd was in his way—he was a short man and couldn’t see over the crowd. So he ran on ahead and climbed up in a sycamore tree so he could see Jesus when he came by.

When Jesus got to the tree, he looked up and said, “Zacchaeus, hurry down. Today is my day to be a guest in your home.” Zacchaeus scrambled out of the tree, hardly believing his good luck, delighted to take Jesus home with him. Everyone who saw the incident was indignant and grumped, “What business does he have getting cozy with this crook?”

Zacchaeus just stood there, a little stunned. He stammered apologetically, “Master, I give away half my income to the poor—and if I’m caught cheating, I pay four times the damages.”

Jesus said, “Today is salvation day in this home! Here he is: Zacchaeus, son of Abraham! For the Son of Man came to find and restore the lost.”

Source: Luke 19:1-10 (The Message)

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“When you make a mistake, admit it. If you don’t, you only make matters worse.” ~Ward Cleaver

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I am a great fan of “Leave it to Beaver”. Leave It to Beaver ran for six full 39-week seasons (234 episodes). The series had its debut on CBS on October 4, 1957. The following season, it moved to ABC, where it stayed until completing its run on June 20, 1963.

It is interesting that several adult candidates auditioned for the role of Beaver’s father, Ward, but they finally signed Hugh Beaumont, an actor and Methodist lay minister who had worked with Mathers in a religious film.

Ward was the every-man of the 1960’s dad. Education, occupation, marriage and family are presented in Leave It to Beaver as requisites for a happy and productive life. We have come a long way since then.

Ward always has practical advice like:

When you make a mistake, admit it. If you don’t, you only make matters worse. ~Ward Cleaver

That was a theme of the early 1960’s as I grew up. That was the role of dads in my neighborhood. They all seemed to see it the same way and gave each other permission to help correct us when we weren’t home.

America had more of a shared culture as the Depression Dads returned home from WWII, married, had families and built communities around the church. They also had shared values like “When you make a mistake, admit it. If you don’t, you only make matters worse.”

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Ward Cleaver from Leave it Beaver

 

“You’re not in the driver’s seat; I am.” ~Jesus

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There is a realization I need to come to daily and it is a tough one.

I am not in control. I am not in the drivers seat and I really like the control that comes by driving. Having acted on letting Jesus be in control yesterday and not today isn’t very helpful. Every day I have to know it and live it.

God is God. God has given over control of everything to Jesus. I am to be a faithful servant, finding out what Jesus wants me to do and then doing it.

God has a goal for me. I may not know what God’s goal for me is for a year from now. That is a problem because I love to plan. I can know for today, for right now. If nothing else, I can talk with God (aka pray) and thank him for the long list of things he is doing for me, my family and my country.

I can find out how Jesus wants me to love my boss. We are in a meeting and he is droning on about the same old same old. What does love look like in that meeting?

There is a long list of people I will interact with today. Jesus is in the drivers seat. What should I do to support his message of love? While it became a little overused in some circles, it still is all about “What would Jesus do?”

“You’re not in the driver’s seat; I am.” ~Jesus

Source: Mark 8:34-37 (The Message)

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7 ‘CHURCHY’ CLICHES THAT WE SHOULD BE CAREFUL OF HOW WE SAY (In Case You Missed It)…

Great insight from Minister Aldrict Johnson … well worth the read.

BE BLESSTIFIED!

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If you’ve been in church or been around church people any amount of time, you’ve heard them…

You hear them in church, in songs and in everyday language.

‘Churchy’ clichés.

Those familiar sayings, sometimes one liners, that may not be the same in every church culture, but every church culture has them.

Of course there are many ‘churchy’ sayings that are biblical and encourage us, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But, some aren’t really biblical, and are even sometimes mistaken for scripture.

It’s those that we have to either avoid, or be VERY careful of how we say it, or of our attitude towards it.

Here are 7 ‘CHURCHY’ clichés that we need to be careful of how we say.

  1. GOD HAS NEVER FAILED ME YET (Avoid)…

This one is so NOT biblical, and it’s one word that messes it up…”YET”. It’s true that God has and will never…

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“What am I going to say? ‘Father, get me out of this’? No, this is why I came in the first place. I’ll say, ‘Father, put your glory on display.” ~Jesus

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Jesus was on a mission. It would be a painful and horrible death. Jesus knew what would happen. Jesus was going to see it through all the way to the end. God had given Jesus a goal.

Jesus was joyful for what God was going to do through him. Jesus asked to go through the pain and suffering for our salvation. Jesus was intent.

Did God stay silent? Not at all. God spoke. God is God and God has the final word. God has glorified Jesus through his obedient act of sacrifice. God raised him from the dead and Jesus, living eternally, now sits at God’s right hand.

“Right now I am storm-tossed. What am I going to say? ‘Father, get me out of this’? No, this is why I came in the first place. I’ll say, ‘Father, put your glory on display.’”

A voice came out of the sky: “I have glorified it, and I’ll glorify it again.”

Source: John 12:27-28

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Glorify Jesus

“Whoever wants to be great must become a servant. Whoever wants to be first among you must be your slave.” ~Jesus

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Jesus is clear about what is important. It is not about being a leader. It is not about who sits in authority at the right hand of Jesus. It is not even about being a servant leader. Jesus never talks about that.

Jesus only came to serve us and sacrifice for us. It is God that put Jesus in charge of God’s country (aka Kingdom). Jesus simply did what his Father wanted him to do.

Jesus is unequivocal. It is only about being a servant or slave. That is my only role. That is God’s goal for me. There is nothing else.

When the other ten heard of this conversation, they lost their tempers with James and John. Jesus got them together to settle things down. “You’ve observed how godless rulers throw their weight around,” he said, “and when people get a little power how quickly it goes to their heads. It’s not going to be that way with you. Whoever wants to be great must become a servant. Whoever wants to be first among you must be your slave. That is what the Son of Man has done: He came to serve, not to be served—and then to give away his life in exchange for many who are held hostage.”

Source: Mark 10:41-45

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Jesus, the perfect servant

“Judge not, that you be not judged.” ~Jesus

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Should I judge others? Jesus is clear. I have plenty of my own issues. I should look in the mirror and focus on how I miss God’s goal (aka sin). And, there is plenty to focus on there. The list is quite long.

How about if I just judge less? The issue isn’t about judging less. The issue is not assuming a role that isn’t mine. Jesus challenges me to not judge at all. I clearly have a problem with this. I think I know a lot. I see “right and wrong”. Why not judge? I have been given some level of authority in life.

Who is the Judge? Jesus has been given the role of Judge by his Heavenly Father. I can serve other roles but Judge is not one of them. Jesus said For the Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son, that all may honor the Son, just as they honor the Father.” God is God. God is in charge. Jesus has given me the standards of how I should live. There is plenty there to focus on starting with Judge not.

Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.

Source: Matthew 7:1-5 (ESV)

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“How long? Not long, because “no lie can live forever.” ~Martin Luther King, Jr.

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Quotes, thoughts and musings

Martin Luther King, Jr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. addressed the crowd at the end of the Selma to Montgomery march. Here is part of what he said. Great question. “How long will it take?”

I know you are asking today, “How long will it take?”  Somebody’s asking, “How long will prejudice blind the visions of men, darken their understanding, and drive bright-eyed wisdom from her sacred throne?” Somebody’s asking, “When will wounded justice, lying prostrate on the streets of Selma and Birmingham and communities all over the South, be lifted from this dust of shame to reign supreme among the children of men?” Somebody’s asking, “When will the radiant star of hope be plunged against the nocturnal bosom of this lonely night,  plucked from weary souls with chains of fear and the manacles of death? How long will justice be crucified,  and truth bear it?” 

I come to say…

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“Tune your ears to the world of Wisdom; set your heart on a life of Understanding.” ~King Solomon

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There is an amazing world out there filled with Wisdom. It is the wonderful world of Jesus. Jesus provides me with great Wisdom. Jesus provides me a life of understanding. God is in a stunning mood. Will I see what God is doing today?

God’s goal for me is to steep myself in God’s word and in particular, a deep understanding of what Jesus had to say. There is so much there. There is a lifetime (or more) of Wisdom.

Jesus challenges me to listen. My choice is whether to do it or not. I choose to listen. I choose to set my heart on understanding.

Good friend, take to heart what I’m telling you;
    collect my counsels and guard them with your life.
Tune your ears to the world of Wisdom;
    set your heart on a life of Understanding.

Source: Proverbs 2:1 (The Message)

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Wisdom – Proverbs 2:1

“Listen carefully.” ~Jesus

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Jesus challenges me to listen. Frequently he commands that if I have ears then I should be able to hear. Not only should I listen but I should listen carefully.

Jesus knew what would happen. Jesus would suffer. Jesus would die. Jesus would rise again.

Am I listening? His disciples couldn’t make any sense out of what Jesus was saying. It was not the first time. Jesus talks with me. Many days, I must admit, I can’t figure it out. Jesus is clear. Jesus doesn’t mince his words. I think I just need to take him at his word and stop the non believing.

For example, Jesus is clear that I will suffer. I get upset that I am and question God. I can choose to see what God isn’t doing or what God is doing. God is in a good mood. All that I am going through is for my benefit. I need to get with God’s goal for me.

Then Jesus took the Twelve off to the side and said, “Listen carefully. We’re on our way up to Jerusalem. Everything written in the Prophets about the Son of Man will take place. He will be handed over to the Romans, jeered at, made sport of, and spit on. Then, after giving him the third degree, they will kill him. In three days he will rise, alive.” But they didn’t get it, could make neither heads nor tails of what he was talking about.

Source: Luke 18:31-34

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Listen to God

“Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead.” ~Jesus

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Jesus is clear about what it takes to follow him (i.e. be a Christian). There is no ambiguity here at all. I have to do it.

I have to change my mind (aka repent) about who is in charge. Jesus is in charge. A follower of Jesus commits to letting Jesus lead. God is God. I am not. This is the “main thing about the main thing”. Everything starts here.

So where is Jesus going to lead me? Jesus leads me to the cross. Suffering is ahead of me. I have to sacrifice what I think God would do to let Jesus be in control. This is not easy stuff for me. I don’t want to suffer. I really don’t.

Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead.” ~Jesus

Source: Mark 8:34-37 (The Message)

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Jesus on Leadership

I am compelled, by Jesus our Master, to drop everything that takes me away from talking and writing about the good news of life of salvation

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I am compelled, by Jesus our Master, to drop everything that takes me away from talking and writing about the good news of life of salvation. We share this in common. We live it together.

It is such an amazing gift from Jesus. I don’t deserve it but I have to fight for it. There are those, and they are many, who don’t believe it is a gift. They have slyly infiltrated the ranks of the followers of Jesus, pretending to be Christians but putting Jesus in charge is not what they are about. Not by any means.

They believe a lie that is an insidious spiritual relativism. They seek, through kindness to all kinds of Christians and churches, to lead us astray.

Do they tell us that Jesus is the Messiah, the Master, the one who is in control? Is that the message? Is that the filter that is used for life? No, many times it is not.

God is God. God has put Jesus in charge. We must follow, faithfully follow, the radical way of Jesus. His manifesto is our life blood. We are obsessed by it. We must commit to it in a radical way. It will offend others but our intent is out of pure love for Jesus. Jesus warns us we will be persecuted for proclaiming his pure message.

Jesus is in charge and that is the truth that sets us all free. That is the test for the good news message.

I am compelled to drop everything that takes me away from that good news.

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“Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.” ~Jesus

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How much of what I do “for Jesus” is done to be seen by others? Probably too much. Jesus is clear that will get me nowhere. It could be a simple thing but they tend to be insidious. What about that gift to charity and I check the box to list my name? What about our public offering time in church designed to shame the non-givers?

Where will that get me? Nowhere.

Should I practice righteousness? Yes, Jesus says “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.” (Matthew 5:6) It is a question of motivation. Is my righteousness to be right with God or right in front of others? There is a huge distinction here that Jesus draws for me. It is important and I need to pay attention to it. My reward in heaven is contingent on it.

“Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.

“Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward.But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

Source: Matthew 6:1-4 (ESV)

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Matthew 6:1 – Righteousness

‘TWEEN GOD AND ME – Coat

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Great lesson on obedience from Oneta Hayes. May I be as faithful as she is in hearing God’s voice on giving to the homeless and those in need.

Sweet aroma

coat

“Ooh, she looks cold,” I thought as I drove past the girl sitting on the bus bench at La Quinta Motel.  “Yes,” I heard in my head, “Go back and give her your coat.”  I kept driving.  The words stuck.  I drove on about four blocks, then turned around.  “Okay, I’ll go back,” I might have sounded grouchy.  Now what?  “Give her your coat.”

What set up this situation I was in?  The morning had gone as usual.  Got ready for work.  Went to the closet, put on my coat for the day.  I chose my best coat.  I liked it because it was a pretty color, sort of champagne, with flared back and furry stuff around the neck and down the front.  Cost more than I generally paid for a coat so I didn’t wear it to work very often.

Off to work I go.  I want to have…

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“God, who gets invited to dinner at your place? How do we get on your guest list?” ~King David

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King David asks God a great question. David talks with God all the time and he asks God a lot of questions. Do I want to have dinner with God? Is that my desire today? What will it take to get invited? All great questions.

David gets an answer from God. It is great to ask the question. Am I open to the answer? Do I hear what God has to say to me? I hear but many times I miss the goal that God has in mind for me.

Jesus simplified it for me. Love! That is it. Love God and love everyone else I know. the goal is clear. The good news is that God is in a great mood. When I miss the goal, Jesus picks me up, sets me straight on what happened and sends me on my way. God’s gift is to make me whole.

Questions are great. Answers from God are better. God has a goal for me. My job is to listen and then act.

I want to have dinner with God.

Psalm 15 The Message (MSG)

God, who gets invited
    to dinner at your place?
How do we get on your guest list?

“Walk straight,
    act right,
        tell the truth.

“Don’t hurt your friend,
    don’t blame your neighbor;
        despise the despicable.

“Keep your word even when it costs you,
    make an honest living,
        never take a bribe.

“You’ll never get
blacklisted
if you live like this.”

Source: Psalm 15:1-5

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“Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you.” ~Jesus

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It is a challenge. I see the homeless. Do I give them some money? Won’t they just use it to buy drugs or booze? Why don’t they have a job, I think. I feel justified in not giving.

Jesus says ‘Yes’ it is your duty to give. It isn’t my job to judge why they are begging. God’s goal for me is to give. That is all I need to know.

What does Jesus think? This may run afoul of the “official stances” of the homeless social services organizations. They have great reasons for their logic. That isn’t Jesus challenges us to do. I am going to follow Jesus.

38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ 39 But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. 40 And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic,[h] let him have your cloak as well. 41 And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles.42 Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you.

Source: Matthew 5:38-42 (ESV)

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Homeless

 

“Are you being willfully stupid?” ~Jesus

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Jesus is clear. Jesus doesn’t pull any punches. Yet, I say “I don’t get it.”

Really? I don’t get it? I say that to Jesus? Of course I do. I say “Why is this happening to me?” — meaning I don’t get it. It takes a lot of different forms but the essence of what I’m saying is “I don’t get it.”

How does Jesus react to that? Oops! “Are you being willfully stupid?” Not only is Jesus clear, he is direct with me. I don’t get to skate off having pretending I don’t know what is going on. Jesus won’t let me get away with that. All I can do is admit that I am.

What does Jesus do? Jesus, politely and kindly, explains it to me. God’s goal for me is to understand, even when I like to pretend I don’t get it.

Peter said, “I don’t get it. Put it in plain language.”

Jesus replied, “You, too? Are you being willfully stupid? Don’t you know that anything that is swallowed works its way through the intestines and is finally defecated? But what comes out of the mouth gets its start in the heart. It’s from the heart that we vomit up evil arguments, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, lies, and cussing. That’s what pollutes. Eating or not eating certain foods, washing or not washing your hands—that’s neither here nor there.”

Source: Matthew 15:15-20

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“Happy are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” ~Jesus

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Happy (aka Blessed) are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” ~Jesus

Source: Matthew 5:3 (English Standard Version)

What does it mean to be “poor in spirit”? Poor in spirit means that you feel you have no moral riches and are in need.  You feel you need a ‘spiritual’ life. ‘Poor’ (πτωχός) used in this verse means ‘reduced to being a beggar’. Am I begging for a rich spiritual life? First I need to recognize I need what I don’t have. To be ‘poor in spirit’ is to acknowledge my spiritual poverty, indeed my spiritual bankruptcy, before God. For I have missed God’s goal (aka sin), under the holy wrath of God, and deserving nothing but the judgment of God. I have nothing to offer, nothing to plead, nothing with which to buy the favour of heaven.

But the tax collector, standing some distance away, was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven, but was beating his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, the sinner! (aka missing God’s goal)

This makes sense and we can confirm its meaning by comparing other statements of Jesus, for he often said the same things in many ways. One good match that seems to bring light to the phrase is:

When the teachers of the law who were Pharisees saw him eating with the sinners and tax collectors, they asked his disciples: “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?” On hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” (NIV Mark 2:16-17)

When I feel I am missing God’s goal (aka sin) or ‘morally sick’ and I cry out to Jesus to be saved, I am ‘poor in spirit’ then I can inherit God’s kingdom. If I am self righteous, morally confidant and rich, these Jesus can not save me.

This makes sense that Jesus would make this the first be-attitude of a disciple because it is by being poor in spirit or ‘reduced to being a beggar’. That I actually ‘begin’ the my discipleship with this explains why it is the first be-attitude. It also fits and explains the second attitude of mourning which is the other side of the same coin. It naturally follows for me, as a disciple, once recognizing my poverty due to missing God’s goal, l mourn on account of it.

God will make me happy, or ‘bless’ me with inexpressible spiritual riches and joy. This is the core message of the good news that Jesus brings to us all.

 

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Happy in Jesus

Resolution: Be More Dog

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I think this makes for a great new year’s resolution!

“Be more dog:
When loved ones come home, run to greet them;
Never pass the opportunity for a joy ride. Allow the experience of wind and fresh air in your face to be pure ecstasy, rather than an inconvenience;
Take naps;
Stretch before rising;
Run, romp, and play daily;
Thrive on attention, and let people touch you;
Avoid biting when a simple growl will do;
On warm days, stop to lie on your back in the grass;
On hot days, drink lots of water and lie down under a tree;
When you’re happy, dance around and wag your entire body;
Delight in the joy of a long walk;
Be loyal;
Never pretend to be something you’re not;
If what you want lies buried, dig until you find it;
When someone is having a bad day, be silent, sit close by, and nuzzle them gently.
Be more dog.”

Source: Be More Dog | Faith Unlocked

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New Year’s Resolution: I will live the radical life Jesus called me to live

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I have made lots of New Year’s resolutions in the past. Most of them, in hindsight, seem pretty frivolous and very self centered.

This year I resolve to do something out of the ordinary. I commit to living a super-ordinary life in Jesus. I will live the radical life Jesus called me to live.Radical Sayings of Jesus

It was Henry David Thoreau who wrote, “Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them.” I don’t admire Thoreau as a theologian, but I think he largely got it right in this quote describing the normal human condition and maybe the condition of lots of Christians.

I believe that most of us, including myself, get bogged down in the routines of life. I have nothing against routines, except when they become my master. Much can be said about the righteousness of living a careful, responsible life before God. But, this is not at issue for me in this resolution.

My fear is that the life Jesus lived and died to give us (“I came that they may have life and have it to the full.” John 10:10) can get lost in the devotion to safety, health and routine. I’m not advocating going out today to partake in some “extreme” thrill sport. I’m simply encouraging myself to do something outside of my normal routine, to experience life outside the lines I’ve drawn, to provide myself with the opportunity to “sing my song” and be bold in Jesus. Jesus challenges me leave ordinary behind and live a super-ordinary life in Him. Today is the day. Now is the time.

God is ready to do amazing things. His Holy Spirit is in me and that is the same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead. I can live an extra-ordinary life in Him.

How? Maybe it’s as simple as, at the prompting of God, taking the long way home from the store or work to gain a new perspective on the world right around me that otherwise goes unnoticed. Maybe Jesus wants to perform a miracle in someones life I don’t normally see. Maybe He wants me to be the Good Samaritan.

God’s goal for me will be reveled by Him to me TODAY.

“Pay close attention, friend, to what your father tells you; never forget what you learned at your mother’s knee.” ~King Solomon

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It seems basic but I know grown adults who don’t pay a bit of attention said growing up or have to say now. It is sad. It is not the way God intends it to be.

God’s goal is for me to pay attention to the wisdom my parents imparted to me. My parents have passed on now but I can still hear certain things they told me. My favorite from my dad is leave things better than I found them.

I can hear my dad (Everett Wiley Wilson) now. I’m playing baseball. Normally I am catching but today I am playing left field (or “left out” as my dad would call it). There is always plenty of time on your hands in left field. Not much action.

My dad is the coach. He wanders down the line and asks me to pick up rocks in between pitches and throw them off the field. “Why” I say in my best indignant tone of voice. If I had thought about it I would have known what his answer would be. It wasn’t the first time he said it. It wouldn’t be his last.

“Leave things better than you found them”, he says. And so … I picked up rocks and threw them off the field. I left things better than I found them. I was no worse for the wear.

That is the way my dad lived his life. It was important to him. It was almost a holy obligation. We weren’t here to take from others. We are here to serve. We must leave things better than we found them. This meant in the simple things in life. Playing baseball. Walking through a room. Work. It doesn’t matter.

Pay close attention, friend, to what your father tells you;
never forget what you learned at your mother’s knee.

Source: Proverbs 1:8-9

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Breaking the Code v. 6

Great overview on peace from my friend Bill. As the Apostle Paul said “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:7

May the peace of Jesus be yours in 2018! Happy New Year.

4th Quarter Musings

In many instances in the Bible, grace (see Breaking the Code 3) and peace are linked Related imagetogether. The fact that these two are so often linked together ties also with the passage from Philippians 4:7 “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”

The Philippians 4 passage is given in the context of our anxieties, our anxious tensions, our inner turmoil and lack of peace. The preceding sentence reads, “The Lord is at hand, do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” The Lord is near, so, do not be anxious about anything. When the Lord is near, our anxieties fade and we can have peace in any situation.

The 23rd Psalm is one that calms the soul. The Lord is my Shepherd, I…

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“Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead.” ~~Jesus

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What does it mean to be a part of God’s country (aka the Kingdom of God)? It is hard for us to understand the role of a King. It means that Jesus is in complete charge. It means what He says goes. This is tough. We need to get it.

We live in a world where all we hear is that we should be leaders. In business, that is all the rage. I don’t see much about following. Wonder why? Where are all the articles and books on how to be a great follower.

The cross is a cruel way to die but Jesus wants us take up our death daily and live His resurrection life.

God’s goal for us is to submit to Him and learn how to live  His way. Jesus demands that we let Him lead the way. Jesus is in charge of God’s country. No if and or buts about that. It is done. God has made it happen. I have to get over myself and what I want.

This is core. Jesus leads. I follow.

Jesus challenges me to know and act like he is in charge. Why? Because Jesus, the Messiah, is in charge.

Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead.” ~~Jesus (Luke 9:23 The Message) 

OR “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me.” (NASB)

Here are the key ideas:

  • Jesus want us to follow Him and let Him lead the way
  • We must deny what is important to us
  • We should die to ourselves daily and live His resurrected life

“Put aside for a moment what you hear me say about myself and just take the evidence of the actions that are right before your eyes.” ~Jesus

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Jesus performs amazing miracles. The power of God is in him in a mighty way. Right before this, he raised Lazarus from the dead. The blind see, the lame walk, the demon possessed are made whole. On and on it goes.

Jesus challenges me to not just listen to what he says about himself but to balance that with the evidence of what he does. The lame still walk. The blind still see. The power of Jesus through the Holy Spirit in us creates the evidence.

Jesus is the Son of God. That is the point here. Jesus is in charge of God’s country (aka Kingdom). Jesus not only said it but he proved it. The final act of his Resurrection and Ascension to heaven are our ultimate proof.

Jesus said, “I’m only quoting your inspired Scriptures, where God said, ‘I tell you—you are gods.’ If God called your ancestors ‘gods’—and Scripture doesn’t lie—why do you yell, ‘Blasphemer! Blasphemer!’ at the unique One the Father consecrated and sent into the world, just because I said, ‘I am the Son of God’? If I don’t do the things my Father does, well and good; don’t believe me. But if I am doing them, put aside for a moment what you hear me say about myself and just take the evidence of the actions that are right before your eyes. Then perhaps things will come together for you, and you’ll see that not only are we doing the same thing, we are the same—Father and Son. He is in me; I am in him.”

Source: John 10:34-38

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Panic over money is greed’s cousin. Am I content with what I have?

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Godliness with ContentmentPanic over money is greed’s cousin. I have panicked. I don’t know what to do.

Am I content with what I have? Do I have enough to eat and clothes? Is there a good roof over my head? Absolutely yes. I have more than enough.

When I panic over something I have lost, I have stared greed in the face. Panic shows that I am not content with what I have. The panic I show these days is not healthy. I must learn to be content with my riches in heaven.

God’s goal for me is clear. His desire for me is godliness.

That is what matters for eternity. What “I have” in terms of riches is of no value to God.

Godliness is the mission. All else pales in comparison. What will I leave this world with? Not money. Only my love of God matters.

I am eviction, I am CPS, I am the check that didn’t come. I am diabetic amputation. I am cancer.

From one of my other blogs. A tale of poverty.

Thoughts on culture, politics and more

This is an interesting tale. What do you do when the check doesn’t come and your rent is due? What do you do when it happens 6 months in a row and you now stand in eviction court? What do you say?

Poverty is real and it has real consequences. What will we say when it happens to us? What will we do?

It is way to easy to judge the poor. Get a job we say.

Jesus says ‘Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited…

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“Do you see anything?” ~Jesus

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It is a great question. Jesus knows how to ask them. I am not always prepared to answer.

Jesus has healed me. Jesus has given me sight. Do I see?

At first it is all fuzzy. Jesus touches me again. Now I see perfectly.

Sometimes it takes a couple of shots at it. Surely not a problem on Jesus side of things. Nothing is impossible with God. Jesus is the perfect healer.

They arrived at Bethsaida. Some people brought a sightless man and begged Jesus to give him a healing touch. Taking him by the hand, he led him out of the village. He put spit in the man’s eyes, laid hands on him, and asked, “Do you see anything?”

He looked up. “I see men. They look like walking trees.” So Jesus laid hands on his eyes again. The man looked hard and realized that he had recovered perfect sight, saw everything in bright, twenty-twenty focus. Jesus sent him straight home, telling him, “Don’t enter the village.”

Source: Mark 8:22-26

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“You make me want to vomit.” ~Jesus

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Jesus is always clear and direct. I can count on that. Jesus isn’t going to sugar coat the message he has for me.

In the book of Revelation, Jesus confronts the 7 churches. Jesus also confronts me. Is what he finds to his liking? Jesus will be direct. There isn’t time for messing around.

Jesus challenges me to be hot or cold for him. I’m guessing the right approach is to be hot. Am I stagnant or am I on fire for Jesus?

This is telling. Jesus demonstrates his love by prodding and correcting. Jesus knows what is at stake. Jesus corrects me so that I will become a conqueror and be able to sit with him at the head table.

Write to Laodicea, to the Angel of the church. God’s Yes, the Faithful and Accurate Witness, the First of God’s creation, says:

“I know you inside and out, and find little to my liking. You’re not cold, you’re not hot—far better to be either cold or hot! You’re stale. You’re stagnant. You make me want to vomit. You brag, ‘I’m rich, I’ve got it made, I need nothing from anyone,’ oblivious that in fact you’re a pitiful, blind beggar, threadbare and homeless.

“Here’s what I want you to do: Buy your gold from me, gold that’s been through the refiner’s fire. Then you’ll be rich. Buy your clothes from me, clothes designed in Heaven. You’ve gone around half-naked long enough. And buy medicine for your eyes from me so you can see, really see.

“The people I love, I call to account—prod and correct and guide so that they’ll live at their best. Up on your feet, then! About face! Run after God!

“Look at me. I stand at the door. I knock. If you hear me call and open the door, I’ll come right in and sit down to supper with you. Conquerors will sit alongside me at the head table, just as I, having conquered, took the place of honor at the side of my Father. That’s my gift to the conquerors!

“Are your ears awake? Listen. Listen to the Wind Words, the Spirit blowing through the churches.”

Source: Revelation 3:14-22

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“Where is the Messiah supposed to be born?” ~Herod

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Follow this.

This is not what we envision on Christmas. Christmas has become all about “what did I get for Christmas?” Notice how no one asks “What did you give for Christmas?”

What will I give to Jesus, the Messiah?

The wise and the rich saw His star and were overjoyed.

They sought Him out.

When they found Him, they were overwhelmed. They fell to the ground and worshiped Him. They recognized that this child was their master. They saw that God was with us.

They opened their treasure and gave Him gifts.

He was just a child. He had done “nothing” yet. What is up with that? Well … they were truly wise.

Wise men still seek Him.

May I follow they steps of the wise men!!

After Jesus was born in Bethlehem village, Judah territory— this was during Herod’s kingship—a band of scholars arrived in Jerusalem from the East. They asked around, “Where can we find and pay homage to the newborn King of the Jews? We observed a star in the eastern sky that signaled his birth. We’re on pilgrimage to worship him.”

When word of their inquiry got to Herod, he was terrified—and not Herod alone, but most of Jerusalem as well. Herod lost no time. He gathered all the high priests and religion scholars in the city together and asked, “Where is the Messiah supposed to be born?”

They told him, “Bethlehem, Judah territory. The prophet Micah wrote it plainly:

It’s you, Bethlehem, in Judah’s land,
    no longer bringing up the rear.
From you will come the leader
    who will shepherd-rule my people, my Israel.”

Herod then arranged a secret meeting with the scholars from the East. Pretending to be as devout as they were, he got them to tell him exactly when the birth-announcement star appeared. Then he told them the prophecy about Bethlehem, and said, “Go find this child. Leave no stone unturned. As soon as you find him, send word and I’ll join you at once in your worship.”

Instructed by the king, they set off. Then the star appeared again, the same star they had seen in the eastern skies. It led them on until it hovered over the place of the child. They could hardly contain themselves: They were in the right place! They had arrived at the right time!

They entered the house and saw the child in the arms of Mary, his mother. Overcome, they kneeled and worshiped him. Then they opened their luggage and presented gifts: gold, frankincense, myrrh. Matthew 2:1-11 (The Message Bible)

“The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.'” ~King David

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It may not be said out loud but a mark of a foolish person is that in their heart, they feel like there is no God. There are very few people who say out loud there is no God. There are a lot of us who in our heart of hearts doubts that God is and our ruin comes from that core belief.

God is God. God is. God exists. Knowing that makes all the difference in that I have established the core of faith that leads me forward. It is the start and in this case it is a binary decision we need to make in our heart. God is and God is God OR “There is no God”. Which is it?

Once I know that God is and God is God, I now know God (and his son Jesus) is in charge. God is AND God is in charge. I am not.

From those foundations of faith, I can now believe that God is Great and nothing is impossible with God.

Much more comes but the main thing is the main thing and knowing in my heart that God is the start of everything.

The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.”
    They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds;
    there is none who does good.

Source: Psalm 14:1

God is God

“What’s this I hear about you? You’re fired.” ~Jesus

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Jesus tells the story of the unethical manager. He gets fired for his misdeeds. He is a schemer and figures out a way to get back into every ones good graces. Whether you are ethical or unethical, getting fired is no fun.

Jesus challenges me. “I want you to be smart in the same way—but for what is right—using every adversity to stimulate you to creative survival, to concentrate your attention on the bare essentials, so you’ll live, really live, and not complacently just get by on good behavior.”

Jesus wants me to really live. Jesus wants me to learn that adversity can be used in a creative way for survival. Now this is tough. It is hard for me. Adversity really sucks. But adversity is God’s way.

I need to embrace adversity. Adversity is my friend. Adversity teaches me how to really trust God. When I don’t see a way out, that is my challenge, not God’s. Nothing is impossible with God.

Jesus makes it clear that I can’t serve God and money. And that is that! And that is clear. Jesus leaves no room for me to wiggle.

Jesus said to his disciples, “There was once a rich man who had a manager. He got reports that the manager had been taking advantage of his position by running up huge personal expenses. So he called him in and said, ‘What’s this I hear about you? You’re fired. And I want a complete audit of your books.

“The manager said to himself, ‘What am I going to do? I’ve lost my job as manager. I’m not strong enough for a laboring job, and I’m too proud to beg. . . . Ah, I’ve got a plan. Here’s what I’ll do . . . then when I’m turned out into the street, people will take me into their houses.’

“Then he went at it. One after another, he called in the people who were in debt to his master. He said to the first, ‘How much do you owe my master?’ “He replied, ‘A hundred jugs of olive oil.’ “The manager said, ‘Here, take your bill, sit down here—quick now—write fifty.’ “To the next he said, ‘And you, what do you owe?’ “He answered, ‘A hundred sacks of wheat.’ “He said, ‘Take your bill, write in eighty.’

“Now here’s a surprise: The master praised the crooked manager! And why? Because he knew how to look after himself. Streetwise people are smarter in this regard than law-abiding citizens. They are on constant alert, looking for angles, surviving by their wits. I want you to be smart in the same way—but for what is right—using every adversity to stimulate you to creative survival, to concentrate your attention on the bare essentials, so you’ll live, really live, and not complacently just get by on good behavior.”

Source: Luke 16:1-9

Hardships often prepare ordinary people for an extraordinary destiny

“Hold out your hand.” ~~Jesus

Quotes, thoughts and musings

Heartfelt experience with Jesus Heartfelt experience with Jesus

What will Jesus do? One day Jesus went church where he found a man with a crippled hand. The religious leaders had their eyes on Jesus to see if he would heal him, hoping to catch him go against the tradition of the church. As with most churches, they didn’t pray for people to be healed. Not in public and not in the church.

Jesus said to the man with the crippled hand, “Stand here where we can see you.” You can see it coming now. Jesus is going to openly challenge them all. He is going to do it publicly and clearly.

Jesus wants to know something. So He asked everyone in the church: “What kind of action suits Sunday the best? Doing good or doing evil? Helping people or leaving them helpless?”

What kind of answer did He get? No one said a word…

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“I told you, but you don’t believe.” ~Jesus

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Jesus is very clear and very direct. Jesus doesn’t leave me guessing. Jesus is the Messiah, the anointed one of God and God’s very son. Jesus is straight with me.

Jesus actions are clear. In addition to what Jesus has said, his actions support who Jesus is. The life of Jesus, the miracles, his death, resurrection and ascension to sit at the right hand of God … they all point to Jesus being the Messiah. God is God. Jesus is the son of God. All of that is clear.

I have to own my believe or un-believe. I can’t blame Jesus or God for anything. They have been clear in what they have said and what they have done. I choose to believe Jesus. Jesus has told me and I believe.

They were celebrating Hanukkah just then in Jerusalem. It was winter. Jesus was strolling in the Temple across Solomon’s Porch. The Jews, circling him, said, “How long are you going to keep us guessing? If you’re the Messiah, tell us straight out.”

Jesus answered, “I told you, but you don’t believe. Everything I have done has been authorized by my Father, actions that speak louder than words. You don’t believe because you’re not my sheep. My sheep recognize my voice. I know them, and they follow me. I give them real and eternal life. They are protected from the Destroyer for good. No one can steal them from out of my hand. The Father who put them under my care is so much greater than the Destroyer and Thief. No one could ever get them away from him. I and the Father are one heart and mind.”

Source: John 10:22-30

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“Speak up for the people who have no voice, for the rights of all the down-and-outers. Speak out for justice!  Stand up for the poor and destitute!” ~King Lemuel

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Jesus challenges me to speak up for others. There are those who have no voice. There are those who are down and out. God has a goal for me. It is not to be quiet. It is to speak up.

Jesus challenges me to speak out for justice. Justice cries out to be done. God is a God of love and God is a God of justice. Jesus will be the judge. Justice will be done.

Jesus challenges me to stand up for the poor and destitute. If I don’t stand up for the poor, who will? As much as I’ve helped the poor, I’ve helped Jesus. Jesus is clear on that. I am clear on it as well.

Jesus said “I was hungry and you fed me, I was thirsty and you gave me a drink, was homeless and you gave me a room, I was shivering and you gave me clothes, I was sick and you stopped to visit, I was in prison and you came to me. Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me— you did it to me.’” (Matthew 25)

“Speak up for the people who have no voice,
    for the rights of all the down-and-outers.
Speak out for justice!
    Stand up for the poor and destitute!” ~King Lemuel

Source: Proverbs 31:8-9

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The Digital Ministry: Are our discipleship experiences intentional?

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What does the future of your ministry look like? Is it focused on the good news (Gospel) of Jesus AND design? Why should it?

The premise of this article is all about being intentional about the experiences Jesus’ disciples are having. Jesus had an end game in mind. The way he discipled wasn’t random. It didn’t “just happen”.Intentional Discipleship

How many programs and services do you have? How many channels (Web, Social, Mobile, Call Center, Direct Mail, etc.) are you focused on? Do they all have a unified design and experience?

Good News (Gospel) + Design = Intentional disciple experiences

We are clear about the Good News (Gospel) of Jesus. Are we clear about our design? So you are thinking, what does Jesus care about “design” for? I am thinking Jesus spent a lot of time on “intentional design”. Why did he create so many parables? Why did he want a donkey to ride into Jerusalem on? Jesus is intentional.

If not, we aren’t ready to be the digital ministry of the future. If we aren’t ready to be a digital ministry, we aren’t ready for the future. If we aren’t ready for the future, will we be relevant 5 to 10 years from now? Tough questions I know but worth considering.

This may be very new for you. God is intentional that we need to be open. Consider this:

Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?” ~God

Source: Isaiah 43:18-21 TNIV Bible

So here are a couple more of intriguing questions:

  • How do we ensure that Jesus’ disciples are having an amazing experience with Jesus?
  • Why make disciples cope with the ordinary? Isn’t Jesus all about the extraordinary?
  • Why aren’t disciples more engaged with both our mission and revenue opportunities?

Our focus and day to day work should be about creating “discipleship experiences” in this new age of the connected disciple. What is going on in the rest of the digital world isn’t lost on Jesus’ disciples. They are evaluating our ministry based on those experiences. We can bury our head in the sand. That will only get the message of Jesus left behind.

Disciples expect more from ministries than ever before. So our mission, programs and services have a level of expectation that our ministry may not be aware of. The support of Jesus’ disciples, contributors, members and volunteers have is not necessarily drive by our mission. It is driven by their experience of the ministry and the relationships they have with us. Does God expect us to reach the world? Has He given us the tools (think digital) to do it? Are they being fully utilized in our ministry?

Here is the harsh reality. Jesus’ disciples not only expect better experiences with your ministry, they believe that God wants them to have them. Will we be intentional in delivering on those expectations? Are we ready to get left behind with stagnant growth if we don’t deliver those disciple experiences? We may not be ready for that but it may already be happening. I encourage you to please think about it. It is a good question to ponder.

There is a unique opportunity to create amazing and positive experiences at our services, on the web, on the phone (do you have a call center?), on smart phones and in our direct mail pieces. Are all of those unified? Is the experience amazing?

That amazing or ordinary (or perhaps even bad) experience will be how our ministry is measured in terms of engagement or even our fundraising success. Do we know how Jesus’ disciples feel about the experience they are having with your ministry? If we don’t know, why don’t we? Are we being intentional about that experience they just had with at the service? Is it consistent with the experience they want on your web site?

Here are the key ideas:

  • Design intentional discipleship experiences
  • Listen to disciples to hear what kind of experience they are having
  • Serve others by delivering the amazing

“If you’re not welcomed, not listened to, quietly withdraw. Don’t make a scene. Shrug your shoulders and be on your way.” ~Jesus

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Jesus warns me that I may not always be welcomed. The message of good news might not be listened to.

Jesus challenges me to not make a big scene, not to argue, not to make a fuss. Jesus says I should move on. It’s OK.

Jesus urges me to remember that the harvest is plentiful. I need to keep moving. There are others who are ready to receive the good news. There are others who are ready to receive God’s power and be healed.

Jesus called the Twelve to him, and sent them out in pairs. He gave them authority and power to deal with the evil opposition. He sent them off with these instructions:

“Don’t think you need a lot of extra equipment for this. You are the equipment. No special appeals for funds. Keep it simple.

“And no luxury inns. Get a modest place and be content there until you leave.

“If you’re not welcomed, not listened to, quietly withdraw. Don’t make a scene. Shrug your shoulders and be on your way.”

Then they were on the road. They preached with joyful urgency that life can be radically different; right and left they sent the demons packing; they brought wellness to the sick, anointing their bodies, healing their spirits.

Source: Mark 6:7-13

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“You’ve been given insight into God’s kingdom. You know how it works. Not everybody has this gift, this insight; it hasn’t been given to them.” ~Jesus

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Jesus wants me to hear his message of good news (aka the gospel). Jesus does everything he can to create readiness in my heart. I must have a ready heart. I must want to hear. I must be receptive.

Jesus gives me insight in God’s country (aka God’s kingdom). Jesus is in charge and there are no elections. I am a citizen. I know how things work in God’s country. God is God.

God’s goal for me is to spread the good news. God is in a good mood. God is ready to welcome into His country. Not everyone has the insight I have been given. I need to spread the word.

The disciples came up to Jesus and asked, “Why do you tell stories?”

Jesus replied, “You’ve been given insight into God’s kingdom. You know how it works. Not everybody has this gift, this insight; it hasn’t been given to them. Whenever someone has a ready heart for this, the insights and understandings flow freely. But if there is no readiness, any trace of receptivity soon disappears. That’s why I tell stories: to create readiness, to nudge the people toward receptive insight. In their present state they can stare till doomsday and not see it, listen till they’re blue in the face and not get it.

Source: Matthew 13:10-15

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Jesus – Good News

“The book of the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah, the son of David, the son of Abraham.” ~Matthew

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This Jewish man turns to Jesus the Messiah and explains why in a way you never heard before! 

The book of the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah, the son of David, the son of Abraham. ~Matthew

Learn what this means to this Jewish man and his father.

So all the generations from Abraham to David were fourteen generations, and from David to the deportation to Babylon fourteen generations, and from the deportation to Babylon to the Messiah fourteen generations. ~Matthew

Jesus Messiah

“Count on it—that’s the kind of party God’s angels throw every time one lost soul turns to God.” ~Jesus

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Jesus is clear about why he came and what his mission is. God sent him for those of us who are lost.

I was clearly lost. Jesus came for me. There is a celebration for that. It was none of my doing. Jesus is the one who came and found me.

God is in a good mood. Jesus is looking for those of us who are lost. Our mission is to do the same. The angels want to celebrate. They want to throw a big party.

Where are the lost? Lets go find them. Now is the time. Today is the day. Get out the lamp and look everywhere. We can’t be satisfied until our mission is complete.

“Or imagine a woman who has ten coins and loses one. Won’t she light a lamp and scour the house, looking in every nook and cranny until she finds it? And when she finds it you can be sure she’ll call her friends and neighbors: ‘Celebrate with me! I found my lost coin!’ Count on it—that’s the kind of party God’s angels throw every time one lost soul turns to God.”

Source: Luke 15:8-10

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“When we were with you, we made it quite clear that there was trouble ahead.” ~Apostle Paul

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Being a part of the world of Thanks-Living means we know about trouble ahead but are thankful none the less. Trouble is coming my way. I know it. I have been warned.

More than warned however, Jesus is preparing me to be joyful and persevere. That carries with it a risk but Jesus is faithful. God’s goal for me is believe and endure. It is all about faith. I must believe that God is in a good mood and it is all going to work out according to God’s plan, not mine.

And so … I get up each morning expecting a stunning day in paradise. And, it is.  God is in a good mood.

Not that the troubles should come as any surprise to you. You’ve always known that we’re in for this kind of thing. It’s part of our calling. When we were with you, we made it quite clear that there was trouble ahead. And now that it’s happened, you know what it’s like. That’s why I couldn’t quit worrying; I had to know for myself how you were doing in the faith. I didn’t want the Tempter getting to you and tearing down everything we had built up together.

Source: 1 Thessalonians 3:3-5

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“Do you believe in the Son of Man?” ~Jesus

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I am blind. Jesus opens my eyes and I see. Jesus has a question for me. “Do I believe in the Son of Man?”, Jesus asks. Hey, I was blind and now I see. Of course I believe.

The religious leaders think they can see. They don’t recognize they are blind. Jesus clarifies it for them. Since they think they can see, they are blind. Jesus is the only way to the truth. Jesus is the only way my lack of sight is healed and my eyes are opened. My religious thinking won’t get me there. Only Jesus can.

Jesus holds me accountable on this point. Do I think I am blind or do I think I see (and know) everything about God? Am I willing to let Jesus open my eyes? God is in a good mood. God wants me to see.

May it be so. May I submit to Jesus and start to see.

Jesus heard that they had thrown him out, and went and found him. He asked him, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?”

The man said, “Point him out to me, sir, so that I can believe in him.”

Jesus said, “You’re looking right at him. Don’t you recognize my voice?”

“Master, I believe,” the man said, and worshiped him.

Jesus then said, “I came into the world to bring everything into the clear light of day, making all the distinctions clear, so that those who have never seen will see, and those who have made a great pretense of seeing will be exposed as blind.”

Some Pharisees overheard him and said, “Does that mean you’re calling us blind?”

Jesus said, “If you were really blind, you would be blameless, but since you claim to see everything so well, you’re accountable for every fault and failure.”

Source: John 9:35-41

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“If you’re dumb enough to call attention to yourself by offending people and making rude gestures, don’t be surprised if someone bloodies your nose.” ~Agur Ben Yakeh

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There is wisdom and there is stupidity. God is kind enough to alert me to both.

Putting others down and being a rude bully is intended to draw attention to me. If I am so insecure that the only way I think I can look good is to put others down is the height of stupidity.

I don’t like to think I act that way. I need to be careful. It is too easy to fall into the trap, particularly in our new world of technology and social media.

The Apostle Paul advises “Make a clean break with all cutting, backbiting, profane talk. Be gentle with one another, sensitive. Forgive one another as quickly and thoroughly as God in the Messiah forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:31)

If you’re dumb enough to call attention to yourself
    by offending people and making rude gestures,
Don’t be surprised if someone bloodies your nose.
    Churned milk turns into butter;
    riled emotions turn into fist fights.

Source: Proverbs 30:32-33

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“Listen. What do you make of this?” ~Jesus

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Jesus has lots of questions for me. Jesus wants to know what I think and where I am on my journey.

My answers to Jesus’ questions show me (and Him) a lot. I must be open to the feedback Jesus gives me. God’s goal for me is to listen to Jesus.

So … what do I make of this story he told? The key is am I listening? Have I opened my ears to hear?

It starts with Jesus giving me insight. It has nothing to do with my intelligence or wit. It isn’t about my wisdom. It is all about what Jesus reveals to me. Starting there allows me to hear.

“Listen. What do you make of this? A farmer planted seed. As he scattered the seed, some of it fell on the road and birds ate it. Some fell in the gravel; it sprouted quickly but didn’t put down roots, so when the sun came up it withered just as quickly. Some fell in the weeds; as it came up, it was strangled among the weeds and nothing came of it. Some fell on good earth and came up with a flourish, producing a harvest exceeding his wildest dreams.”

 “Are you listening to this? Really listening?”

Source: Mark 4:3-9

Listen to God

“Am I so decrepit that I can’t deliver?” ~God

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God is not decrepit. That may not be obvious but it is the BIG reality. He has not forgotten how to help. He is always powerful. Nothing is impossible with Him at all. God is great.

God is actively looking for us. He is at the door and He is knocking. He is calling us and we don’t even hear the phone.

God is in a good mood. Sometimes it feels like He has forgotten me. That is my reality but it is not His reality.

God is not decrepit. He can do anything.

There it is and that is all there is to that.

So why didn’t anyone come when I knocked? Why didn’t anyone answer when I called? Do you think I’ve forgotten how to help? Am I so decrepit that I can’t deliver? I’m as powerful as ever, and can reverse what I once did: I can dry up the sea with a word, turn river water into desert sand, And leave the fish stinking in the sun, stranded on dry land . . . Turn all the lights out in the sky and pull down the curtain. 

Source: Isaiah 50

Here are the key ideas:

  • God is seeking us
  • God is all powerful
  • God wants us to answer and come to Him

“You’re looking for proof, but you’re looking for the wrong kind.” ~Jesus

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I want proof but I am not prepared to believe it. Jesus gives me proof.

I get to decide whether to accept the proof or not. God is not going to force me. It is my decision to believe or not. I have to curb my lust for miracles and accept that God is God.

The religious leaders are bold in demanding proof from the Son of God. Jesus is wise in responding. Jesus knows who is in charge and what kind of proof will be given. Jesus is at peace where this is all heading. Jesus is focused on God’s goal.

Jesus challenges me to focus as well. Jesus knows that justice is going to prevail. There will be a day of judgement.

Later a few religion scholars and Pharisees got on him. “Teacher, we want to see your credentials. Give us some hard evidence that God is in this. How about a miracle?”

Jesus said, “You’re looking for proof, but you’re looking for the wrong kind. All you want is something to titillate your curiosity, satisfy your lust for miracles. The only proof you’re going to get is what looks like the absence of proof: Jonah-evidence. Like Jonah, three days and nights in the fish’s belly, the Son of Man will be gone three days and nights in a deep grave.

“On Judgment Day, the Ninevites will stand up and give evidence that will condemn this generation, because when Jonah preached to them they changed their lives. A far greater preacher than Jonah is here, and you squabble about ‘proofs.’ On Judgment Day, the Queen of Sheba will come forward and bring evidence that will condemn this generation, because she traveled from a far corner of the earth to listen to wise Solomon. Wisdom far greater than Solomon’s is right in front of you, and you quibble over ‘evidence.’

Source: Matthew 12:38-42

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“In his Son, Jesus, he personally took on the human condition, entered the disordered mess of struggling humanity in order to set it right once and for all.” ~Apostle Paul

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It was God’s plan not to mess around any longer. God decided he would end the “I’ve missed God’s goal for my life” (aka sinning) problem once and for all. The law was never intended to make us whole. God is God. God made the decision on how this had to be handled. My opinion matters not a bit in any of this.

Jesus personally made a huge sacrifice, in so many different ways. Jesus entered our messy world. Jesus decided to deal directly with us as we are struggling. Jesus agreed with his Father to become the living sacrifice that solved the “sin problem” once and for all.

Jesus challenges me to accept that my redemption is a gift. There is nothing I can do to be made right with God. Jesus has done it all. Jesus is the Messiah, the anointed one of God, sent to sacrifice himself like a lamb in the Old Covenant (aka Testament).

God went for the jugular when he sent his own Son. He didn’t deal with the problem as something remote and unimportant. In his Son, Jesus, he personally took on the human condition, entered the disordered mess of struggling humanity in order to set it right once and for all. The law code, weakened as it always was by fractured human nature, could never have done that.

The law always ended up being used as a Band-Aid on sin instead of a deep healing of it. And now what the law code asked for but we couldn’t deliver is accomplished as we, instead of redoubling our own efforts, simply embrace what the Spirit is doing in us.

Source: Romans 8:3-4

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