Sunday, January 18, 2015

Slipping and Sliding

Psalm 15:1-5--"Lord, who may go and find refuge and shelter in your tabernacle up on your holy hill? Anyone who leads a blameless life and is truly sincere. Anyone who refuses to slander others, does not listen to gossip, never harms his neighbor, speaks out against sin, criticizes those committing it, commends the faithful followers of the Lord, keeps a promise even it if ruins him, does not crush his debtors with high interest rates, and refuses to testify against the innocent despite the bribes offered against him--such a man shall stand firm forever."

As I write this, we're experiencing one of those blessed respites from the deep-freeze of January. Sunshine, temperatures in the 50s--no slipping and sliding out there for awhile, and I know you're as happy with that as I am.

The Bible verses listed above give  a different view of slipping and sliding. These words are expectations of all of us to live a truly Godly life.  I don't know about you, but I've been doing some major slipping and sliding. As I read these words this morning, I felt pretty lowly. I know I've fallen short time and again--you, too, perhaps? Worse yet, how would we treat a person who was able to keep close to these words? It sounds, well, heavenly to be around this type of person, but the world in which we currently live has slipped and slid so much morally and ethically these days to the point where a person faithfully practicing these charges might seem  more the politically-incorrect pariah than a good person.

If we live a truly Christ-filled life, we have been warned by Christ himself that we will not be the life of party...or likely  even invited to the party. It's not a popular view to speak out against secularly-accepted but Biblically disapproved ways of living.  And just as we've all experienced some slipping and sliding on cold, icy January days, we know just how difficult it can be to walk steadily and securely without taking a tumble. It's the same with our words and actions. We need to "brace" ourselves with our faith and looking to others with similar resolve  to share support.

Peace be with you. 

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Faith--What Else Do We Have? What More Do We Need?

Matthew 8: 5-13--"When Jesus arrived in Capernaum, a Roman army captain came and pled with him to come to his home and heal his servant boy who was in bed paralyzed and wracked with pain. 'Yes,' Jesus said, 'I will come and heal him.' Then the officer said, 'Sir, I am not worthy to have you in my home; {and it isn't necessary to come}. If you will only stand here and say, 'Be healed,' my servant will get well! I know, because I am under the authority of the superior officers and I have authority over my soldiers, and I say to one, 'Go,' and he goes, and to another, 'Come,' and he comes, and to my slave boy 'Do this or that,' and he does it. And I know you have authority to tell his sickness to go--and it will go!' Jesus stood there amazed! Turning to the crowd he said, 'I haven't seen faith like this in all the land of Israel! And I tell you this, that many Gentiles {like this Roman officer}, shall come from all over the world and sit down in the Kingdom of Heaven with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. And many an Israelite--those for whom the Kingdom was prepared--shall be cast into outer darkness, into the place of weeping and torment.' Then Jesus said to the Roman officer, 'Go on home. What you have believed has happened!' And the boy was healed that same hour!"

The above account is one of my favorite reports of Christ's journey while on Earth amongst the people of Israel. Here we have a Roman soldier, a very unlikely candidate to tolerate this trouble-causer Jesus, much less to actually come to him for help in his time of great need. Greater yet, this was a show of true and undeniable FAITH that Christ would heal the servant boy when the child wasn't even in Christ's midst, but rather back at the Roman soldier's home. This was a beautiful example of true faith from a soldier who thought and acted as a true soldier; one who understood the practicality of authority. He also clearly understood something that Christ's contemporaries failed to see--Christ was the ultimate authority.

How much smoother our lives would be if we lived with the belief system of this Roman soldier. If only we faithfully followed the sacred prayer, "Thy will be done." Truly, what else do we have in this life that is so trustworthy? More importantly, what more do we truly need?

This week, let's give ourselves a break and know that we don't need to be in charge. We need only to trust. And pray. And believe.

Peace be with you.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

New Year, New Insights

Happy New Year! This is that fun period of time when we're in the "infancy" stage of a new year. We pretty much are given a blank slate; the possibilities we are told on TV commercials, ads online and in paper media, are endless.

Crazily, within about a week of this heady excitement we're back into many of our old habits--good and not so good.

 This year I propose a challenge to all --including myself.

 Read your Bible. That's it. Just read.

 Several years ago, I discovered a good perpetual calendar-type Bible with an Old Testament, New Testament, Psalms, and Proverbs section set for each day. The Bible is pretty dog-eared and, for the most part, I've switched to a Kindle version so I can read on the road or on the treadmill. Needless to say, over the years that I read through these sacred texts, I have learned a great deal...but oh, how much more I have to learn. And I'll continue to re-read and re-read for as many years as I'm given.

 Every  day I read, I learn something new that I've never noticed before--no other book will ever give me this  challenge. For example, even though I've read the story of Genesis so very many times, just the other  day I learned that the animals that were herded onto the ark were more in number than I always though. There were actually seven pairs of some animals--those for food and sacrifices. Makes sense. But then I also read that with several of the birds there were seven pairs as well. All the times I've read this...all the Sunday School lessons I sat through...all the discussions of pairs!

 Interesting. I'm sure the Biblical scholars have wrung their hands over this over the years...I'm going to just believe that God had this under control.

 Another segment in Genesis that had me doing a double take was when  I read  that God stated that the newly-created man and woman were like "us"…"us". Was God speaking to an angel? A cherub? It doesn't really matter to me who it was...I just find it fascinating--and it makes me happy to know that God had someone far more matured than these new and mistake-ridden human children to discuss their foibles with and doing some thinking out loud.

 So, if you're looking for some good, riveting reading in 2015, pick up a Bible. If you've not read one for awhile, give it another try. Ah, the blessings you will receive!