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Monday, August 31, 2015

Friday, August 21, 2015

I heard it said ...

Brianna read us a poem recently called "I heard it said" by Barbara Young. I have a really hard time with poems like this because they flow awkwardly in my opinion, but still I appreciate the point so here it is.

LAST NIGHT my friend -- he says he is my friend --
Came in and questioned me. "I hear it said
You have done this and that. I come to ask
Are these things true?" A glint was in his eye
Of small distrust. His words were crisp and hot.
He measured me with anger, and flung down
A little heap of facts had come to him.
"I hear it said you have done this and that."

Suppose I have? And are you not my friend?
And are you not my friend enough to say,
"If it were true, there would be reason in it.
And if I cannot know the how and why,
Still I can trust you, waiting for a word,
Or for no word, if no word ever come!"

Is friendship just a thing of afternoons,
Of pleasuring one's friend and one's dear self --
Greed for sedate approval of his pace,
Suspicion if he take one little turn
Upon the road, one flight into the air,
And has not sought you for your Yea or Nay!

No. Friendship is not so. I am my own.
And howsoever near my friend may draw
Unto my soul, there is a legend hung
Above a certain straight and narrow way
Says "Dear my friend, ye may not enter here!"

I would the time has come -- as it has not --
When men shall rise and say, "He is my friend.
He has done this? And what is that to me!
Think you I have a check upon his head,
Or cast a guiding rein across his neck?
I am his friend. And for that cause I walk
Not overclose beside him, leaving still
Space for his silences, and space for mine."

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

What Shall I Do To Inherit Eternal Life? Mark 10:17

Last week's message was a great blessing - it's posted on youtube if you'd like to watch it, or you can listen to it or download it from our website. A very simple message.

YOUTUBE What Shall I Do To Inherit Eternal Life?
WEBSITE What Shall I Do To Inherit Eternal Life?

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

The humility of learning ...

Today I read this quote from Criss Jami [and as I've said before, I do knot know who he is, I just appreciate the truth in some of the quotes from him that I've seen]: “The barrier during self-improvement is not so much that we hate learning, rather we hate being taught. To learn entails that the knowledge was achieved on one's own accord - it feels great - but to be taught often leaves a feeling of inferiority. Thus it takes a bit of determination and a lot of humility in order for one to fully develop.”  

This brought back a lot of memories and thoughts. When I first started on my walk with the Lord I was soaking up knowledge in all directions ... and then [unknowingly at the time] using that new knowledge to [unrighteously] judge and look down on others. It was not until I joined myself to the body of Christ and got under a godly mentor that I realized I was full of pride. I thought I knew it all ... but really all I knew was a bunch of ideas and even a bunch of facts but had no clue as to how to put all of that in to practice in a loving, living, real way. I strongly believe this cannot be achieved on our own.

It was so easy for me, without a godly fellowship, to sit in my home and know I knew it all. But what did I know except a bunch of dead religion until I was actually able to put my knowledge to the test? For example, it's so easy to say, "Yes, I believe Jesus when he says we are to love our neighbors and love our enemies." Or, "Yes, I believe to marry the divorced is adultery." Or to quote Christ when he said, "Blessed are the merciful for they shall obtain mercy." But to actually LIVE that out in reality? That was/is a whole different story and being tested in these areas is where our true selves and hearts are revealed.

Anyone can agree to a list or an idea, and while actions do speak louder than words, actions can also be taken the wrong way. For example, we are told to be meek, humble, etc. but how many of us would accuse Jesus of getting angry and being prideful when he quite aggressively threw the wicked men out of the temple? Of course we would never think we were capable of misunderstanding Christ!! But I'm sure those who wanted him crucified thought the same way.

Let's be careful to not base our judgments on our own emotions, feelings, suspicions, experiences or gossip but on the truth. Which brings up another quote: “Self-righteousness is much like a spiritual egocentricity. It constitutes a secular type of love that thrives under conditionality, one in which is only existent after an individual meets the adopted standards of the condemner; oppositely, unconditional love is a holy love.” 

We are called to love one another, which I believe includes being merciful and forgiving and humble enough to know that things may not always be as they seem to be. Instead of using our energies to look down on others or pick apart their lives and actions, let us use our energies to bless others, lend a helping hand, visit the elderly, help the poor, and so on.

Go out and love someone today!

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Why the shock?

A thought: we shouldn't be so shocked when the world acts like the world.

And FYI ... We recently went to Mexico to witness a beautiful wedding. You may see photos here; hear message here - English and Spanish

Monday, June 15, 2015

A Choice

The last while I've been thinking about how we have so many choices to make each day ... all within our own control, though sometimes we might think otherwise or just not think about it at all.

A few examples.

When things do not go the way we think they should go, how do we choose to react? Do we get upset? Frustrated? Do we let others know how our plans have been thrown off and we've been inconvenienced? Or do we shrug it off with a smile and thank the Lord? We can choose to be happy and thankful.

When someone treats us in a way that is not loving, do we grow angry and bitter? Do we start thinking of all the ways that person has hurt us? Maybe we look for faults in them? Or do we love them in return? We can choose to be loving and merciful even in the midst of the most terrible situations.

Being grateful is a choice. We can focus on all the things that [we think] have gone wrong in the day or we can focus on all of the things that have gone right. We can focus on all of the things [we think] others have done wrong to us, or we can focus on loving them and blessing them.

Jesus said all of the law can be summed up in two commandments: Love God and love your neighbor. If this really is our heart, there will be no room for bitterness, mercilessness, anger, ungratefulness, and so on. If you find these things popping up in your mind, CHOOSE to give them to the Lord and ask for help and strength to truly love. Know that these things are not pleasing to him and he would love nothing more than to help you overcome them!

Choose to be happy. Choose to be thankful. Choose to be loving and merciful. Choose to overcome evil with good. The opposites are simply bondage, and Christ has set us free!!

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

The destructiveness of gossip

Do a topical study in the bible on the word "gossip" (and its many synonyms); you will be busy for a long time as the bible has much to say about this subject and its many faces. Once the 'gossip fire' has been sparked it's impossible to stop it or repair all of the damage that has been done by it. I recently read a short story likening gossip to opening up a feather pillow outside on a windy day ... the feathers go in every direction. Trying to collect ALL of the feathers again is like a person repenting of the "gossip fire" they kindled. You might be able to collect some feathers but you will never know where or how far many of the feathers traveled and they can never be recovered.

I don't know who Morgan Blake is but I appreciate what he wrote - it's called "Who Am I?"
I am more deadly than the screaming shell of the cannon. 
I win without killing. 
I tear down homes, break hearts, and wreck lives. 
I travel on the wings of the wind. 
No innocence is strong enough to intimidate me, no purity pure enough to daunt me. 
I have no regard for truth, no respect for justice, no mercy for the defenseless. 
My victims are as numerous as the sands of the sea and often as innocent. 
I never forget and seldom forgive. 
My name is Gossip. 

Really it all just comes down to loving one another and treating others as you would have them treat you.

Here are a few more thoughts on gossip ...

The other day I was watching a BBC Word documentary on Homeopathy. In Homeopathy you take one part of the poison, allergen, or whatever, and mix it with 99 parts water. It is then shaken up quite vigorously and now this new solution becomes the 1 part in 99 parts water for the next solution. This is done several times (30 I think) until what you have left is the equivalent to 1 part original mixed with more water than will fit into this WHOLE ENTIRE WORLD. Not a trace of the original molecules can be detected nor do they exist.

Now think of gossip. This is a pretty rough comparison but bear with me here. Gossip is like taking one part truth (or one part you THINK is truth) and mixing it with 99 parts of your interpretation of that truth, suspicions, biases, ignorance, etc. Now you share this 'truth' with someone else. This new 'truth' is then mixed with 99 parts of the next person's interpretation of that truth, suspicions, ignorance, etc. Now that next person shares this 'truth' with someone else. And it continues, on and on, becoming more and more distorted.

I have no idea who Criss Jami is but I found several quotes from him when looking up quotes about gossip. His quotes ring so true I thought I'd share them here.

“Just because something isn't a lie does not mean that it isn't deceptive. A liar knows that he is a liar, but one who speaks mere portions of truth in order to deceive is a craftsman of destruction.”  

“Grudges are for those who insist that they are owed something; forgiveness, however, is for those who are substantial enough to move on.”  

“To share your weakness is to make yourself vulnerable; to make yourself vulnerable is to show your strength.”   (and I'd like to add that we are totally opening ourselves up to gossip when we are honest enough to share our weaknesses)

“The only thing more frustrating than slanderers is those foolish enough to listen to them.”  

“What man ever openly apologizes for slander? It is not so much a feeling of slander as it is that of a massive lie, a misdeed not only to the slandered but also to those manipulated in the process. He has made them all, every one, his enemies, thereupon he is so overwhelmed with guilt that he will deny it until his grave.”  

“The motive behind criticism often determines its validity. Those who care criticize where necessary. Those who envy criticize the moment they think that they have found a weak spot.”  

“A rumor is a social cancer: it is difficult to contain and it rots the brains of the masses. However, the real danger is that so many people find rumors enjoyable. That part causes the infection. And in such cases when a rumor is only partially made of truth, it is difficult to pinpoint exactly where the information may have gone wrong. It is passed on and on until some brave soul questions its validity; that brave soul refuses to bite the apple and let the apple eat him. Forced to start from scratch for the sake of purity and truth, that brave soul, figuratively speaking, fully amputates the information in order to protect his personal judgment. In other words, his ignorance is to be valued more than the lie believed to be true.”  

“Popular culture is a place where pity is called compassion, flattery is called love, propaganda is called knowledge, tension is called peace, gossip is called news, and auto-tune is called singing.”  

And one from Mother Teresa - “If you judge people, you have no time to love them.”