Tag Archives: spirituality

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).

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Boundaries, love, sacrifice

Personal boundaries are essential to all relationships; our relationship with our spouse, friends, co-workers, job, possessions, school, government, church and our God. Boundaries define the limits of our expectations, rights and responsibilities. Boundaries are necessary in relationships like skin is to our body. If I meet someone who claims to not have boundaries, who claims to have no rights and always shares everything, I run! Boundaries are an essential part of relationships.

Many popular psychology books have written on this topic but this topic is really ancient. In the Bible when God says, “You shall not,” this is a boundary. The concept of boundaries has received some bad press because of books that fail to teach the balance of self-care with self-sacrifice. And Christians may not appreciate teaching on boundaries because it seems opposed to Biblical emphasis on selfless sacrificial love. If we begin our study of boundaries with an understanding of God’s character and with common sense understanding of nature, we will see that God does have boundaries when he gives commands and that self-care is basic to all biological life.

Self-sacrifice and sacrificial giving is also an essential element of God’s character and of nature. We see sacrifice as an essential part of our physical world in many ways; every human child born into this world is born with the sacrifice of a woman who carried and gave birth to that child. When I watch birds care for their chicks there is an incredible amount of sacrifice involved to continually feed those hungry mouths. When a human parent goes to work every day to provide for his children there is sacrifice. We also see deep within our Creator the character of self-sacrifice, “For God so loved the world that he gave…” (John 3:16). Boundaries are compatible with both self-care and self-sacrifice.

Boundaries actually help to establish the balance between self-care and self-sacrifice because when we truly care for ourselves in a healthy way, then our giving is intentional. Many of us who grew up in families where boundaries were violated will spend a lifetime trying to learn healthy love. The first boundary is a physical one; do not touch me without my permission, and do not touch others without their permission. I believe sexual purity and physical boundaries are healthy. Emotional boundaries are less easy to define but very important. We must learn the difference between our own problems and those of others. In advising Christians how to love Paul says in Galatians, “Bear one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ…But each should also bear his own load” (6:2,5). This is a great balance passage teaching us what healthy love is.

Jesus as an example of balanced healthy love said, “No man takes away my life, but I lay it down of my own choice.” When our lives are being consumed by the demands of life we grow resentful. When others make demands upon us we grow resentful, we resist and we rebel. But when we truly love, we may choose to sacrifice. Most of the great things in life require self-sacrifice.


prey or pray?

“People are to be prayed upon, not preyed upon”

“We tend to use people and love things. But the rightful design is that we should use things, and love people”


2 prayers

Lord I thank you that so for today I haven’t lost my temper at anyone, offended anyone, haven’t lusted or taken advantage of anyone, haven’t been jealous or resentful; but soon I will have to get out of bed and face the day, then I really really need your help!!! 🙂

It is from a Franciscan Benediction…

May God bless you with discomfort at easy answers, half truths, and superficial relationships, so that you may live deep within your heart.

May God bless you with anger at injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people, so that you may work for justice, freedom and peace.

May God bless you with tears to shed for those who suffer from pain, rejection, starvation, and war, so that you may reach out your hand to comfort them and to turn their pain in to joy.

And may God bless you with enough foolishness to believe that you can make a difference in this world, so that you can do what others claim cannot be done.



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