Here is a piece of scripture to encourage and speak to you through your day. The Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) is probably my favorite portions of scripture, and is the closest thing Jesus has to a “manifesto” during his three year ministry. Take a look at these (Beatitudes) passages and pick one out to meditate on through the rest of your day.
The Sermon on the Mount
1 Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, 2 and he began to teach them.
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.
11 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
Some of you may know that I have been working on my first book, and one of the (possible) themes of this book is the the “full life” that Jesus promises us in John 10.
7 Therefore Jesus said again, “Very truly I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. 8 All who have come before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep have not listened to them. 9 I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved.[a] They will come in and go out, and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
My question to you is this: Do you think that the “good life” or “the American dream” prevents/limits us from experiencing the full life that Jesus speaks of? Now, I am not talking about the camel through the eye of the needle, money loving/grubbing person, either. I am talking about (you and I) the general, middle class, average American, and our pursuit of comfort, safety and entertainment. (especially in plain sight of so many who have so little) Is it at all possible to live in this culture and experience the “full” life that Jesus is talking about? I feel like this may be one of the reason that Churches seem less authentic with a new generation. We say that Jesus offers a “new life” and the “full life”, but the church, in many respects, seems to suffer from the same condition as the world. Do we look any different? Is this the “full life” Jesus was talking about?
What do you think? your (constructive) comments, scripture references and thoughts are welcome!
Some of you have heard me talk about one of my favorite ministry web sites, I Am Second(iamsecond.com). I can’t say enough great things about this site and the people that share their faith story on camera. Here is the I am Second video with Bethany Hamilton.
(Taken from the I Am Second web site.) I am Second is a movement meant to inspire people of all kinds to live for God and for others. Actors. Athletes. Musicians. Business leaders. Drug addicts. Your next-door neighbor. People like you. The authentic stories on iamsecond.com provide insight into dealing with typical struggles of everyday living. These are stories that give hope to the lonely and the hurting, help from destructive lifestyles, and inspiration to the unfulfilled. You’ll discover people who’ve tried to go it alone and have failed. Find the hope, peace, and fulfillment they found. Be Second.
Please, you should go on the I am second web page (link below) and check it out, but I am warning you that you will be on this site for a while! After you go on the site you should tell others about it!
(Please read to the bottom of the post for the lion vs. baby video!)
Recently, Rachel and I noticed that some of the flowers in our garden were vanishing and, in some instances, only days after the flowers had bloomed. We suspected that we either had neighborhood teenage flower vandals or CRITTERS! Sure enough, last week, as I was washing the dinner dishes I noticed, from the view of my kitchen window, a “wrascally wrabbit” (insert Elmer Fudd voice here.—”Ssshhhhh! Be wrery, wrery quite. I’m hunting wrabbit!”) sneaking around the flower bed and munching on our lilies.
Advice from the Walmart lady: “You want me to do what?”
Don’t get me wrong, animals aren’t always to blame for my gardening woes. To be honest, I have killed plenty of flowers all by myself—either not enough water or too much water. Not enough sun or too much sun. Not enough love or too much love. But, sometimes, there are forces at work that are outside of my control, and these forces have one purpose in mind—to eat my garden (oh, and to poop everywhere). I even bought the foulest smelling “rabbit/deer be-gone” stuff which smells like rotten eggs and chunky rotten milk mixed in a bottle and left in a warm car for weeks. We bought it at Walmart and the lady behind the register tried to convince Rachel and I to just go to a local slaughterhouse and get some blood meal (dried animal blood) mix it with some whole milk and spread it around the garden. As she was talking I was thinking to myself “you want me to do what?” How does one discover that dried animal blood and milk is useful for keeping away rabbits, anyway? I’m just sayin’.
All this build up is just to say that sometimes in life there are consequences that are a direct result of my own personal (sin) negligence, selfishness, and pride. However, sometimes things happen to us, like in the case of the hungry hungry rabbits, that we had little to do with. I was aware that rabbits like to eat flowers but I didn’t do anything to encourage the rabbit to dine on my daisies, right? Now that I am more aware I can put up a fence, let my West Highland Terrier (Holly) chase them away or serve them blood-meal milk shakes.
Now, just like I have critters looking to devour my garden, the Bible says that we have a much larger adversary on the prowl, in our lives, looking to destroy.
Now, this isn’t a really popular topic today, but Paul warns us that life is more than what can be seen and heard and that there is an enemy (not of flesh and blood, but of principalities—Ephesians 6:12) and he (even though he has already been defeated—Romans 16) is looking for a victim. Like I said before this is NOT a very popular topic these days to talk about “the devil”. C.S. Lewis writes in one of my all time favorite books, the Screwtape Letters, “One of Satan’s best tricks in the Twentieth Century, is to make people believe he doesn’t exist”. Don’t get me wrong, our culture has no shortage on believing in the “bad“. We believe in “bad timing” and “bad things” (Mayhem—Like in the all state commercials-I love those commercials!) but we don’t believe that God has an “enemy” anymore?
1 Peter 5:8
8 Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 9 Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.
This video really helps remind me about the scenario we find ourselves in, and that Paul reminds us of. I will say, however, that the parents of this kid aren’t going to win any “parent of the year” awards, either.
Paul says we have 3 responsibilities to battle the devil.
1. Be alert- Don’t fall asleep in the belief that there is a battle going on, and you’re in it!
2. Be Sober-Take seriously the surroundings and circumstances that can lead to destruction?
3. Resist- We must stand against the things trip us up-(with God’s help)
Question: Why is it so hard for the world, and us, to believe in the devil these days?
Well, if you’re a Barista in Northern Virginia you spell it:
R A I C H U L
Now, I am not the world’s greatest speller—but Raichul? Really? Rai-Chul? Really? It’s little things like this that only confirm the fears, held by many Americans, that we are certainly not getting any smarter as a country. My response, however, is that problems like this, and many others, could be solved if we only READ OUR BIBLES!
Rachel is one of the most important woman in the Bible, and, like my Rachel, she is described as “stunningly beautiful.” (Genesis 29 The Message) So beautiful, in fact, that Jacob was willing to work for 7 years (turns out to be much longer) to get Rachel’s hand in marriage. My favorite part of the story, however, is what Jacob does the very first time he sets eyes on her. Click the link below if you want to read the beginning of Jacob and Rachel’s story.
Do people ever misspell your name? How? (I get “Berry” a lot) Who are you named after? What’s your favorite part of the Jacob and Rachel story? ( I would love to get a little summary of the story in the comments section!) Do you have a word you always misspell? I have the hardest time with “tomorrow”—don’t know why.
Ok, I have a question and I need your opinion on this topic!
Phones in Church?
I was sitting in church a few weeks ago and I didn’t have my Bible with me, so I looked it up the relevant morning passage on my IPhone (instead of using the pew Bible I might add.) I have several great Bible IPhone apps that I use (all the time) when I don’t have a Bible on me or when I need to look up a passage by keyword or topic. Anyway, while I was quietly reading the Scripture one of my friends, who was in the balcony and could see me on my phone, texted me, in fun, to “get off my phone in Church.” I tried to explain to her later that I was using my Bible App, but I don’t think she bought that as an excuse.
OK, Here is my question. Is it EVER OK to use your smartphone in church to read your Bible? Is it my responsibility to not look like I am on my phone even when I am using my IPhone for good and not evil? Or, is it the responsibility of the other person to not judge me and think that I have the best intentions? Have you ever used your phone in church or in a meeting, for good purposes, and felt bad about it? I think this problem is going to get worse (especially in church) before it gets better. Agree or not? Do you think the opinions on the topic will divide along generational lines?
Here is an excerpt from a letter to Abagail Adams, from her husband John Adams, describing how our newly found independence should be celebrated and remembered.
“The second day of July, 1776, will be the most memorable epoch in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more.”
Question: 235 years later how are we doing?
Pomp and Parade? Check!
Shows? Sports? Guns? Well? The picnic we went to had games and sports, but was a little light on the gun play. But, we’ll give it a “Check.”
Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations? Well, what we lack in bells and bonfires we make up in Illuminations! Check!
Acts of Devotion to God? Well? Not so much.
Not only is the 4th a completely secular holiday many Americans have forgotten, or never knew, why we celebrate the 4th of July it in the first place! A study by maristpoll.com, released this week, found that only 58% of Americans could name the correct date the we established out Independence, and 1 in 4 Americans didn’t know who we gained our independence from.
So, amongst the fireworks and barbecue today, take a minute to learn a new fact about how we gained our independence, (assuming you already knew the two I just sighted) thank someone who has served in our military, (Thanks to Tony B., Theresa J.,) and then say a prayer of thanks to God that we live in such a blessed nation.