Blessed Are They That Mourn

“Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.” -Mat 5:4

Loss is a fact of life.  It seems to be a part of us from the earliest of our human experience.

There is a seemingly constant cycle of physical losses.  A newborn baby – though welcomed into a whole new world of existence – loses the quiet comfort of its mother’s womb. The toddler loses his or her “baby fat.”  Baby teeth are replaced by permanent teeth.  And so it goes . . . until we find ourselves as our human lives are winding down and we lose things like our hair and our hearing, our memory and our mobility.  We learn to try not to focus on what we’ve lost, but to celebrate what is left. Continue reading “Blessed Are They That Mourn”

Blessed Are The Poor In Spirit

Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.

Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.

Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.

Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.

Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.

Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.

Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake:

for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you,

and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.

Let’s be honest. No one aspires to be poor. No one relishes being poor. No one does a happy dance when they are out of money and go to the mailbox to find one more bill to pay. No one is happy when there are children without enough food to eat. Elders without enough money to cover the cost of their medication or their simple living expenses are not happy elders. Obligations to meet or miss can be overwhelming. However, that’s not the kind of poor Jesus was referring to in this passage. He didn’t say the blessed are the financially challenged, nor did He mean that. Being poor in spirit is a different kind of poor-ness – that isn’t about poverty. Continue reading “Blessed Are The Poor In Spirit”

A New Year

There is something about the ending of one year and the beginning of a new one that causes a pause in life’s machinery for most of us.  It provides us with just enough time for a little introspection.  This affects us in various ways – from a sigh of relief that the old year is passed, hope at the promise of a new year, a creeping dread that this year may not be much different than last, or it may be a time of anticipation and hope as exciting plans are made for the future.  Some of us may end up with just a good case of the “I’m so tired” blahs as we slide from one year to the next.

However, through the years, I have become increasingly aware of the fact that if I will approach this final holiday of the holiday season with faith and hope, it can truly make all the difference in the world.  If my evaluation of the previous year – and my anticipation for the coming year – are both filled with thanksgiving I become more and more aware of the gifts God has given me. Continue reading “A New Year”

Blessed Are…

Probably the most popular Biblical passage containing the words, “Blessed are . . .” is what we have called The Beatitudes of Jesus. However, before those nine “blessed ares” there are seven Old Testament verses that bear reference and study.

The rule of first occurrence comes to play when we look at the closing sentence of the second Psalm. “Blessed are all they that put their trust in him.” The literal meaning of the Hebrew word esher translated blessed in this first verse of reference is “how happy!” It is derived from the originating word, ashar, which is “to be straight (used in the widest sense, especially to be level, right, happy); figuratively, to go forward, be honest, proper.” So we can surmise that this term “blessed” is a continual state of mind and heart – a levelness of commitment, a levelness of honesty, a levelness of pressing forward. Continue reading “Blessed Are…”

The Promise Keeper

Christmas reminds us we serve a God who keeps His promises. What He says He will do; it will be accomplished in His time and His way. If He says it, you and I can build our faith on the fact He is a never-failing God.

We see in the Christmas story more than enough “proof” of the fact that He is a Promise Keeper. The prophecies of old were one-by-one fulfilled as the virgin brought forth a son. A child born of the tribe of Judah, a descendant of David, born in the city of David. Isaiah said his name would be “God with us” centuries before the angel appeared to Joseph in a dream and was instructed to call His name Jesus. Continue reading “The Promise Keeper”

Lessons From Lepers

“…and as they entered a village there, ten lepers stood at a distance, crying out, “Jesus, sir, have mercy on us!” He looked at them and said, “Go to the Jewish priest and show him that you are healed!” And as they were going, their leprosy disappeared. One of them came back to Jesus, shouting, “Glory to God, I’m healed!” He fell flat on the ground in front of Jesus, face downward in the dust, thanking him for what he had done…” (Luke 17:11-16, NCV).

Then there is the rest of the story.

Ten were healed. One returned to say, “Thank you.” Nine did not.   The one received something the nine did not.

Perhaps the nine were too focused on being free to remember who had given them their freedom. Maybe they were prideful and thought they deserved what they had been given. It could have been they were simply anxious to return to the lives they once had. Whatever the reason, they failed to express their thanks to the One who had healed them. And, ultimately, while we may not know the fine point details, we do know the absence of thankfulness made a difference.

The tenth leper was first blessed physically, then blessed spiritually for his thankfulness. While the others were cleansed of their leprosy, it seems this thankful one received something more when Jesus said, “…thy faith hath made thee whole.” The others received healing; this one received wholeness. Continue reading “Lessons From Lepers”

SALT AND LIGHT

Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men. Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:13-16, KJV).

In the verses following the familiar blesseds of the Beatitudes, Jesus instructs us that we are to be both salt and light in a world that needs to be seasoned with His presence and power, in darkness that must be dispelled by His light in us.

He has empowered us to exert influence in our world. The question is – will we? We are often very clear on the call to be separate from the world, to be distinctly different from the world not just outwardly but inwardly. Sometimes I fear, though, that we have adopted a survival mentality rather than realizing that He has called us to change our world! Continue reading “SALT AND LIGHT”

Fathers’ Day 2015

According to Webster’s Dictionary A father is, in the simplest form, the “male parent” or “a man who has begotten a child.” Reality tells us it takes a little more than just the biology to make a real father. In celebration of Father’s Day, as I did for Mother’s Day, I share with you here a random collection of quotes regarding this month’s holiday celebration of Dads!

Clarence B. Kelland said, “He didn’t tell me how to live; He lived, and let me watch him do it.

Ruth Renkel said, “Sometimes the poorest man leaves his children the richest inheritance.

William Shakespeare wrote, “It is a wise father who knows his own child.

Mark Twain is credited with this astute observation: “When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years.

Sigmund Freud said, “I cannot think of any need in childhood as strong as the need for a father’s love and protection.

For rarely are sons similar to their fathers: most are worse, and a few are better than their fathers,” is found in the writings of Homer.

General Douglas MacArthur said, “By profession I am a soldier, and take pride in the fact. But I am prouder – infinitely prouder – to be a father. A soldier destroys in order to build; the father only builds, never destroys. The one has the potentiality of death; the other embodies creation and life. And while the hordes of death are mighty, the battalions of life are mightier still. It is my hope that my son, when I am gone, will remember me not from the battle field but in the home repeating with him our simple daily prayer, ‘Our Father who art in Heaven.‘”

The story is told of a father who stood outside the doorway of his young son’s bedroom as bedtime prayers were spoken. He overheard his son say, “Dear God, make me the kind of man my Daddy is...” Later that night the father knelt beside his own bed and prayed: “Dear God, make me the kind of man my son needs me to be.

Have You Seen Him?

Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance. So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!”So Peter and the other disciple started for the tomb. Both were running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent over and looked in at the strips of linen lying there but did not go in. Then Simon Peter, who was behind him, arrived and went into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there,as well as the burial cloth that had been around Jesus’ head. The cloth was folded up by itself, separate from the linen. Finally the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and believed. (They still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead.) Then the disciples went back to their homes, but Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot. They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?” “They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him.” At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus. “Woman,” he said, “why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?” Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.” Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher).Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet returned to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am returning to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.'”Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: “I have seen the Lord!” And she told them that he had said these things to her. (John 20:1-18)

Friday was the darkest day anyone had ever lived through. As he cried, “It is finished!” there was darkness at noonday, earthquakes, and tremblings. All hope seemed lost as even though he saved others, Himself He did not save. They hadn’t yet realized that the real message was in that very fact – because He did not save Himself He could save them. Saturday passed in a haze of despair and despondency. What were they to do? Where were they to go? The disciples were scattered. The sick He had healed probably wondered if their illnesses would return. Saturday is the longest day. He was in the tomb and it appeared nothing was happening. If they only knew… Continue reading “Have You Seen Him?”

Decaf

It seems our world is obsessed with coffee. Even McDonald’s has added the McCafe’ menu of iced coffees and lattes and all the other fancy names for coffee with something done to it. Sometimes it’s hard to find just a good ol’ cup of coffee – no extra flavors, not shots or pumps of anything added.

Living in Louisiana, I admittedly have a taste for strong dark coffee. When I want a cup of coffee, I do want coffee . . . not lightly colored brown water. I don’t want it flavored to taste like pecans or cupcakes. I want it to taste like coffee. I don’t want it decaffeinated or even “half-caf” status. One cup of full flavored – fully caffeinated – undiluted coffee coming up! My wife and I drink coffee together in the morning, before starting our day. Many times in the afternoon, when we are both home, we will sit down for another cup. I like mine stronger than she likes it. What could have been a problem was solved by the addition of a second coffee maker.

So what does my coffee drinking have to do with God? Let’s go back to that “caffeinated” discussion. Several months ago I read an excerpt from a book in a popular Christian publication. I admit I have not read the book, so this is neither a recommendation for or against it. It was the review – that was an excerpt from it – that got my attention. The author, Owen Strachan, talked about the difference between the time when we are 100% sold out, committed to the Kingdom. We are working and diligently doing our best for His cause. It’s those times when we are “full strength” at work in our world. Then, there are those times when it seems we’re a little weaker, a little less potent, we’ve crossed over into “decaf faith.” Continue reading “Decaf”