Tag Archives: Bible

poor in spirit

Jesus says in the introduction to his Sermon on the Mount, (Matthew 5-7) “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” This is the primary premise, and the basis of all that will follow. It is the gospel because it proclaims that those who do not deserve heaven can get in!

You may have heard that heaven is something to be earned. Many religions teach, and many people live their lives believing that we must prove ourselves to God. We may assume a kind of Darwinist view of spirituality; survival of the fittest, only the fittest, who deserve heaven, get in. Religions may teach that those who are really worthy, who pay their money, go to church and stuff like that, will enter the kindom of heaven. I’ve heard people dogmatically proclaim that there is nothing free in this life. The doctrine of karma may be like this; we get exactly what our deeds deserve. But Jesus does a reversal, he proclaims that those who do not deserve heaven can get in. This is amazing, and this is why Jesus is so radical. This is why people follow him.

This principle of Jesus means that we can come before God just as we are with no pretense. We come boldly before his throne of grace, we come to the cross for forgiveness. When we see a poor person begging beside the road they are not offering to give us something, they are asking for mercy. When we come to God we are just hitch-hikers catching a ride on Jesus. This is not my assertion or me devising an easy way, it is the rule of Jesus and the way his kingdom works. It is the way I came to God many years ago, and the way I come today.

And what is the kindom of heaven? First and most important, it is relationship with the King. Then it is being wherever he is. There is a large section on the Sermon on the Mount on my blog Ancient Path (see tab at top of page).


Serenity prayer- uncut

SERENITY

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,

 the courage to change the things I can,

 and the wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time, enjoying one moment at a time;

Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace;

Taking as Jesus did, this sinful world as it is,

Not as I would have it;

Trusting that you will make all things right if I surrender to your will;

So that I may be reasonably happy in this life,

 and supremely happy with you forever in the next.

Amen

Reinhold Niebuhr 1892-1971


O my dog!

Kind of a poem, sort of;

I tried to put my dog in a box, a cute little box,

But he would not go in, just wagged his tail, wanted to play.

I tried to put my dog in a bigger box,

Do ya know what that dog said?

Now way I won’t stay.

Tried to put my dog in a big box, as big as my house,

but he ran away, would not stay.

One day I tried to get my dog into a huge box, big as my church.

He just turned away.

I tried to put my dog into the world’s biggest box, big as the sky!

I cried and said, “Why, won’t you please stay in my box?”

He just laughed at me and said,

“You silly boy, you can’t build a box big enough for me!

And I just will not stay, no way!”

Then my dog said to me,

“Welcome to my house, There’s plenty of room for you here!

Won’t you please come in?” So I did.

Mark a 2001


It is finished!

Thoughts on the last words of Jesus.

The last words of Jesus dying upon the cross; “‘It is finished’ And he bowed his head and gave up his spirit” (John 19:30). I have never really finished anything in my life. At work I am always leaving things in a state of continual progress. Jesus had said earlier in his life that he was about his father’s work and that he had work to do from his father. The work completed is the work of our salvation, the atonement for all mankind. At this point I must put confidence in the ability of Jesus to complete that which I can never complete. Then my life becomes one of faith and confidence in the overcoming victory won by God in Christ. This is stated most profoundly in my favorite verse Galatians 2:20 “I have been crucified with Christ and it is no longer I who live but Christ lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself up for me. I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died needlessly”.


Worship, a metaphor

A sunflower in the field was gazing upon the sun. I walked up to the sunflower in the field and said in my most authoritative voice, “What are you doing just standing here gazing at the sun all day long? Can’t you get a job, or go to school? Can’t you prove yourself? What good are you?” Funny thing, the sunflower just ignored me, and kept on gazing at the sun.


As sunflowers are meant to gaze at the sun so we as people are created to have relationship with the creator. There are many voices that seem to carry a lot of authority that tell us that this is not important, but we can learn from the sunflower and maintain a steady focus on what is real. There are accusations against us that seem to carry a lot of authority but the one authority that really matters is the creator of the universe. We find acceptance with this creator through our savior Jesus. Speaking in another metaphor Jesus says, “I am the vine you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” Jesus guarantees that if we abide in him, or “gaze upon the Son”, we will bear much fruit. The fruitfulness comes out of the relationship. As a man there were many noble things that Jesus could have done with his life but look what he chose, love.

“One thing I ask of the Lord, this is what I seek:

that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life,

to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and seek him in his temple”.

Psalm 27:4


Poem-Trust

Aint gonna trust

no more

Hide my fear

deep inside

Trust

no more.

Aint gonna show

my hand.

Hide

my hand,

Play my cards,

Faces down,

show no one.

Aint gonna trust

no more,

Hide my fear,

Deep inside,

Trust

no more

No more,

Silly soft heart

Dark world,

shark world

Aint gonna trust

no more,

Hide my fear

deep inside

Trust

no more.

Light of life

lift me up

Help me trust

Don’t need

this pain.


Individuality

In America where we prize our individuality like a medal of honor, we seem to actually under value it. We often even abuse it, going along with an endless chain of fads, conforming in many ways to the draining expectations of our peers. How many of our career choices, financial choices, other major life choices are made through ignorant submission to the values of others.

Social norms are part of every society as a gift for the preservation and safety of people. Whether you believe these social values came through social evolution or as a gift from our Creator, either way they can help protect society. So I am not really against the basic frameworks of society, it’s how we get along without destroying each other. However, the freedom of individuality is also an incredible gift, and I believe from God.

In many cultures the pressure for conformity is immense compared to our western culture. In Japan they have a proverb; “the nail that sticks up, must be hit down”. This is their sentiment about non-conformity. This is how society is kept in order, through social obligation.

But in our Western culture, wherever there is a Bible heritage, we shake hands with each other as equals and bow only to God. Our first allegiance is to God and second to society. We can allow God to direct our life above the demands of society. This is an incredible heritage and an incredibly under rated gift!


2 quotes on risk and courage

Still the last, sad memory hovers round and sometimes drifts across like floating mist, cutting of sunshine and chilling the remembrance of happier times. There have been joys too great to be described in words and there have been griefs upon which I have not dred to dwell; and with these in mind I say climb if you will but remember that courage and strength are not without prudence and that a momentary negligence may destroy the happiness of a lifetime. Do nothing in haste; look well to each step; and from the beginning think what may be the end.

Edward Whymper

This writing obtained from the ranger station at Jenny Lake, Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming.

“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal… lock it up safe in the coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket… it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable… The only place outside Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers and perturbations of love is Hell.”

C S Lewis


Truth Bleeds

On the on-academic aspect of truth for us western, platonic, hyper rational ists.

TRUTH BLEEDS

I looked on the mountain for truth

in the cracks, on the peaks.

I looked in schools and books

until my head hurt.

I cried like a poet seeking truth.

A taste, a nibble,

aroma of truth

is all I could find, damn my mind.

Then wisdom spoke

to me, she cried,

she felt, she loved,

she healed, and she gave birth.

She bowed her head and surrendered

her life on the bloody tree

for me.


Sex, culture, morality

Often atheists will rant against the oppressive Christian morals inflicted upon our society. This reveals an ignorance of other cultures historically and currently. Many ancient cultures especially in Asia are very conservative morally and politically. Possibly the ancient cultures have learned through experience what America is playing around with like an adolescent. In Korea about 85% of all people, male and female are virgin when they marry. They learned that sex is a powerful force and is not to be toyed with.

Often humanists and atheists claim, “I don’t need a bible or god to help me be a good person” Well ok then please follow through on this! Please don’t use lack of religion as excuse to rebel against those values that really do preserve society. Looking over history we do in fact see that families really are the backbone of any society. Any evolutionist should see this plainly. And Christians often promote this polarizing effect when they claim to have sole ownership of family values. Many family values are aligned with Christianity but not exclusively. Looking again over history and other cultures we observe that most cultures embrace something similar to the Biblical 10 commandments. Most cultures teach things like; respect your parents, don’t steal, don’t murder, don’t have sex with another person’s spouse. But the Bible does add uniqueness saying, “Don’t make idols or have other gods”. My point is that as a society we may have a long way to grow in our maturity towards sexual purity.

A friend asked once, “Why does the Bible forbid fornication, sex outside of marriage?” I answered that I didn’t know why but accepted God’s authority on the issue. Over the years having time to struggle personally with the issue and when I was reading some psychology books on boundaries I came to some personal conclusions. I realize now that boundaries are a basic issue of healthy relationships and of personal mental health. The first basic boundary is physical, don’t touch another’s body without permission, don’t hit or abuse. That same boundary principle applies to mental and social issues. In sex we move profoundly into another’s physical and mental space. But unless this is rape we do it by mutual consent, right? So is this a violation of boundaries. Yes, I believe so. If people are not aware of or choose to ignore the potential damage, the boundaries are still defiled.  They don’t make condoms for the heart!

Applying boundaries is just the negative aspect of purity. What in the positive sense do we have to look to for fulfillment? We have as an ideal the goal of a lifetime commitment, a covenant, with a friend and lover. Again the ancient cultures show us the beautiful picture of elderly couples caring for each other through their whole lives. We have the positive image of a relationship of safety, safe to expose ourselves to each other because we have created an atmosphere of safety by our commitment to each other.

And finally we have the opportunity to honor our Creator by showing respect for an aspect of life that is given to us as a special gift. Even in the movie “Avatar” by James Cameron there is recognition that mating is a sacred bond before their deity. This is returning to some very ancient roots of our society. Jeremiah the prophet of Israel declares, “Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls”.