3 "Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
5 Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth.
6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.
7 Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
8 Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.
9 Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 5:3-10 (NIV)
Wednesday, August 31, 2011
Monday, August 29, 2011
1 As the deer pants for streams of water,
so my soul pants for you, my God.
2 My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
When can I go and meet with God?
3 My tears have been my food
day and night,
while people say to me all day long,
"Where is your God?"
4 These things I remember
as I pour out my soul:
how I used to go to the house of God
under the protection of the Mighty One[d]
with shouts of joy and praise
among the festive throng.5 Why, my soul, are you downcast?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him,
my Savior and my God.6 My soul is downcast within me;
therefore I will remember you
from the land of the Jordan,
the heights of Hermon—from Mount Mizar.
7 Deep calls to deep
in the roar of your waterfalls;
all your waves and breakers
have swept over me.8 By day the LORD directs his love,
at night his song is with me—
a prayer to the God of my life.9 I say to God my Rock,
"Why have you forgotten me?
Why must I go about mourning,
oppressed by the enemy?"
10 My bones suffer mortal agony
as my foes taunt me,
saying to me all day long,
"Where is your God?"11 Why, my soul, are you downcast?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him,
my Savior and my God.
I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. Philippians 4:12
All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Matthew 28:18
Saturday, August 27, 2011
Saturday, August 20, 2011
Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil,
for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. Psalm 23:4
I sought the LORD, and he answered me; he delivered me from
all my fears. Psalm 34:4
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools
despise wisdom and instruction. Proverbs 1:7
There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear,
because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears
is not made perfect in love. 1 John 4:18
God identifies two types of fear. Fear of God and fear of everything else.
Fear of God means a healthy respect for the consequences of going against God.
God is not against us. God is not looking to get us on a technicality. God drives
everything to goodness. But the consequences remain.
Fear of everything else can take two paths. First, give God your fears.
God is big enough to handle them. Second, do not follow your fears. They lead
to the consequences in the previous paragraph. Follow God who transforms fears.
The first "fear" (of God) brings hope. The latter "fear" shapes an ugly reality.
Today, will I let my fears shape my reality or will I enlist God to shape my reality
by domesticating my fears? Fear, trust God.
I passed by a picture of my now high school sophomore granddaughter the other day. She was about 7 in the picture. Then, another picture came to mind. That of my 2 daughters around that age doing the same thing (baking.)
I though about how smart and focused I was in creating in my 2 daughters perfect humans. Especially ones who would not embarrass me. I am sure they were not that amused in my lab experiment mentality. I often majored in the minors as in "minor in importance in the grand scheme of things."
Today, I am looser, less intense with my grandchildren. Not because I am tired (okay, sometimes, I am tired) but because I have the long view of 60+ years.
The long view gives us a depth perception we do not have in getting all caught up in the moment as if this moment would never pass or as if this moment had not already happened millions of times. I think I make better decisions and am less judgmental and less anxious with the long view.
Jesus suggested we all establish the long view. He called it The Kingdom of God.
Before you get caught up in something trendy or pressing or fleeting today, ask God to connect you with his long view. The destination is better than anything we could ask for or imagine.
Sunday, August 14, 2011
whoever listens to (wisdom) will live in safety and be at ease, without fear of harm Proverbs 1:33
Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you; love her, and she will watch over you. Proverbs 4:6
The way of fools seems right to them, but the wise listen to advice. Proverbs 12:15
Wisdom reposes in the heart of the discerning and even among fools she lets herself be known. Proverbs 14:33
To answer before listening— that is folly and shame. Proverbs 18:13
Tuesday, August 9, 2011
Talking the current economic weirdness with a friend. He would be more of a conservative type. A veteran and a business man. I was struck by where he took the conversation. He went to the topic of respect. "I think it is a shame the disrespect shown the President."
When I was a child, one of my key components of my parental schooling was to show, at all times, respect. Respect started with the recognition that I am talking to or talking of a person who God made on purpose and for whom Christ died, also on purpose.
Disagreement was fine. Even anger, if not cultivated was fine as long as these were honestly expressed directly to the person. After all, that was the respectful thing to do. A person of value deserved respect. It was disrespectful to guess at people's motives (unless they expressed them.) It was disrespectful to call people names. It was disrespectful to paint a person with the broad paintbrush of generalities.
It was respectful to give people the benefit of the doubt and ask questions. It was respectful to listen without working on my rebuttal. It was respectful to withhold judgment until all the facts were in. It was respectful to honor another person's culture – ethnic, socioeconomic, religious or political. Respect demands we know our own motives and keep some of them in check.
The past few weeks contained a number of leaders and others engaging in the art of disrespect towards God's children. God is sad. Christ asks us to raise the bar.
How will you fuel respect today?
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves
Monday, August 8, 2011
I am a "Both/And" Christian. "Both/And" Person for that matter. Jesus was both Human and God. The Kingdom of God is now and later. I am good and bad, often at the same time. Life is wheat and weeds. I love and hate a number of people and things at the same moment. The Astros management comes to mind right now. I am a mixture of good and evil that Jesus thought was worth redeeming even though I haven't got my act together.
I have watched recent events in the Church and the U.S. and see a polarizing "Either/Or" zeitgeist emerging. Radical Conservatives or Radical Liberals claim the orthodox position in both church and culture. Conservatives claim the Truth with a capital "T." Liberals claim "Love" with a capital "L."
Hell is what ensues when poles insist on claiming the whole reality and a lock on what is right. Those who do not occupy the proper pole get to dwell in a hellish reality, which is perpetual battle with no real resolution.
Sinners (I think that covers all of us) must be open to being wrong or, at least, trainable, even if they claim to hold the truth. Lovers must be open the fact that only God can cure all ills and that some "cures" that look loving are crippling. It does not mean we do not try, either.
I prayed for my Congressman and my Senators today and wrote them all (kindly) to work together with all those who are Americans with varying opinions and to do so in the spirit of humility. I did mention that there are those who, through no fault of their own, do not have the perk of gridlocking bluster they and I who are rich have. Jesus would not ignore those people was mere bystanders. God has a special place for the overlooked and ignored. So should we.
Pray and write from your faith today.
Monday, August 1, 2011
While out with my grandsons, I noticed the sea of faces. Faces on ads, video and posters that expressed either
Overt sexuality – I'm desirable because I am beautiful and, unlike you, I get to be airbrushed
Over the top happiness caused by acquiring something – I'm happy because the world is cooperating…for now
A hip version of ennui – I'm bored, humor me or pity me, your choice
Sentimentality – I am frozen in a moment that most likely never really existed
In the breathing population, I meet all of these. We all seem to find at least one of these poses as appealing. These four worship the god of control. In other words, they seek to control or maintain control of their lives and the lives of others. If God is in the picture, she either has not delivered as commanded or is there for insurance in case of loss of control. These four poses are the poses of, ultimately, unhappy and unfulfilled people. People with a hole they cannot fill, yet aches. We are drawn to them. The ad people know this. We want to worship at their altar as well.
Oh, and I meet one more type of person.
The fifth person is one I also see and wish I would see more often. I wish I saw it more in myself. It is the person who has suffered the loss of control and gave up and turned things over to God. Suffering at some point seems to be the key. This is not a passive person. Rather, it is a person who has come to realize that control is an illusion and that God is reaching out to those who have little to no control. This fifth person is content with his life under varied circumstances but seldom content with the world as it is, broken. This person understands the motto, "die to live," which was Jesus' motto. This is a liberated person. God is less a god of test-passing and parking-spaces-close-to-the-store and more a God who works in the medium of suffering.
I pray that you find yourself liberated this day. I pray you let God help you make something out of suffering's nothing. I pray that God helps you with the steps of liberation, starting with control.
Whoever tries to keep their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life will preserve it. Luke 17:33