Out Of Poverty

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Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a fraction of a penny.  Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.”  (Mark 12:41–44, NIV 1984).

As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.  (Isaiah 55:10–11, NIV 1984).

May the words of my [musings] and the meditation of my heart [that went into them] be pleasing in your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.  (Psalm 19:14, NIV 1984).

My Musings – I started my musings on August 12, 2017.  Yesterday total “hits/views,” went over 20,000.  During this time, I have written nearly 1000 (995) musings, with hits/views from 83 different countries.  These statistics are modest when compared to those of many of the blog sites I read or follow.  Yet, I am thankful for those who take the time to “stop by.”

Since the beginning of my musings, I have attempted to “speak the truth in love” and “spread everywhere the fragrance 0f the knowledge of Him.” I have tried to avoid political issues, unless they affected Biblical values (not 100% successful, I suppose).

I suppose that my “offerings” through my musings are not much more than “two very small copper coins, worth only a fraction of a penny,”  (although the Scriptures I share are priceless).  My musings do not come from a mind of Spiritual “wealth,” but “I try to “put in everything—all [I have] to [feed] on,” with a hope they “will accomplish what [He] desires and achieve the purpose for which [He sends] it.”  Above all that they “be pleasing in your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.

My Advice – Dig deeper and further into my blogs.  “Receive [my musings] with [some] eagerness [but] examine the Scriptures every day to see if what [I blog is] true.” (Acts 17:11, NIV 1984).  God’s blessings to you.  To the extent you find my musings a blessing, I am grateful and humbled.

 

 

Even to Our Old Age

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Remember your Creator in the days of your youth, before the days of trouble come and the years approach when you will say, “I find no pleasure in them.”  (Ecclesiastes 12:1, NIV 1984).

Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you.  (Isaiah 46:4, NIV 1984).

You must teach what is in accord with sound doctrine. Teach the older men to be temperate, worthy of respect, self-controlled, and sound in faith, in love and in endurance. Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good.  (Titus 2:1–3, NIV 1984).

For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time has come for my departure. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.  (2 Timothy 4:6–8, NIV 1984).

My Musings – “Life’s just much too hard today,” I hear ev’ry mother say.  The pursuit of happiness just seems a bore. What a drag it is getting old. — Mother’s Little Helper, Rolling Stones.

The first Thursday of each month, members or my High School (Class of 1973), get together.  I work an hour away from home, so I don’t get to attend very often.  I was able to make it this past Thursday though.  There are not many that still live in the area. After 47 years, many have left rural America.  This time there were only six of us.

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(We’re not old, we’re merely the groovy Woodstock generation that has seasoned a bit — far out!)

It’s kind of funny (but really nice) how time has a way of drawing people together who share a common bond.  Even getting hugs from those you barely knew “way back then,” if you knew them at all.  I think (memory is not what it used to be) there were 273 in my graduating class, so it was hard to get to know them all.  Then there were the cliques, which I suspect every High School has. The walls of inclusion/exclusion no longer exist after all these years (which is really nice too), being replaced by that common bond.

Some of us bowled a few games, some (including me) just watched.  But it was the conversation that always makes for a good evening.  There was some reminiscing, as there always is.  But a lot of the evening’s conversation was about who had retired, who was still working and when they planned to retire.  Another topic was about who was recovering from (or facing) joint replacement, and other ailments of aging. And of course, who had grandchildren and how many. Before 8:00 p.m. it was time to head home.  “Can I stay up one more hour mom” has been replaced with “I’m heading to bed early dear.”

Rewind 47 years and imagine a very dissimilar conversation in the High School commons, a few short months before graduation.  In your own special clique, of course.  The conversation most likely (did I mention the memory is not what it used to be?) included topics like — what the future might hold, the job or college plans we had made, who might marry who, and how many kids we would have.  There was no mention of ailments of any kind.  Eighteen year-olds think they are invincible.  We were still optimistic about the future, despite having lived through three assassinations (JFK, RFK and MLK), race riots, and a war (Vietnam) that divided the nation and generations. Who would blame us if that optimism became a little jaded over the years as we lived through two more assassination attempts (Ford and Reagan), a Presidential resignation (Nixon), two impeachments (Clinton and Trump), a resurgence in racism, September 11, 2001, a seemingly unending war on terror, and the great recession?

Well that’s the context for this Sunday’s “amusing.”  Life may be much harder today, but we lived in a fairly privileged country and time.  But remember, our parents lived through the great depression, a World War, and most of the same things we did, while working to building that privileged time for us.  Nevertheless, for some, the pursuit of happiness may have become a bore, or worse, seemingly unachievable.  But life and getting older need not be a “drag,” even when “the days of trouble come and the years approach” that you are tempted to say, “I find no pleasure in them.”  How can that be?

For one, we have a Creator who wants to “rescue” us, “carry” us and “sustain” us “even to [our] old age and gray hairs.”  And, like our parents before us, we have much to offer those who follow us in terms of being “temperate, worthy of respect, self-controlled, sound in faith, and reverence,” that comes with getting a little grayer  and a bit more wrinkled.  And if you are younger, “remember your Creator in the days of your youth, before the days of trouble come.

My Advice – The day will dawn and “the time [will] come for [our] departure.”  Live your life in such a way that you can say “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day.” All of this is possible if you have (or will) put your faith in Jesus Christ.  Even if you did not “remember your Creator in the days of your youth,” you can now.

If you read this far, thanks for putting up with a little nostalgia and sentimentality from me.  Despite the “days of trouble” that came for me and my family (see my “Family Album” blog series), we are so glad we placed our trust in our “Creator in the days of [our] youth.” It made those days a lot easier as He rescued us, carried us and sustained us as we have “longed for his appearing.”  I sense He could be coming soon.

 

 

Everything You Could Not Be

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Therefore, my brothers, I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you. Through him everyone who believes is justified from everything you could not be justified from by the law of Moses.”  (Acts 13:38–39, NIV 1984).

So the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith.”  (Galatians 3:24, NIV 1984).

My Musings – I think we can all relate to the above comic.  Thinking (insisting) that we can do it ourselves only to find our efforts are not up to the task. In the sake of salvation, we never will be able to do it for ourselves.  We will never be up to the task.  The ultimate purpose of the law is to show us that we cannot do it for ourselves.  That we never will be able to do it for ourselves.  But it also has the purpose of leading us to the one that can provide it for us.

My Advice – Salvation is free but it was not cheap.  Salvation is free, but we could never earn enough “points” through the law to buy it for ourselves.  Let the law lead you to grace.

Yes I Will, No I Won’t

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As they were walking along the road, a man said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” Jesus replied, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” He said to another man, “Follow me.” But the man replied, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.” Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” Still another said, “I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say good-by to my family.” Jesus replied, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.”  (Luke 9:57–62, NIV 1984).

“What do you think? There was a man who had two sons. He went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work today in the vineyard.’ “ ‘I will not,’ he answered, but later he changed his mind and went. “Then the father went to the other son and said the same thing. He answered, ‘I will, sir,’ but he did not go. “Which of the two did what his father wanted?”  (Matthew 21:28–31, NIV 1984).

My Musings – Truthfully, I think I have been all three over the years – having other priorities, breaking commitments, and giving in.  How much better if our priorities are His priorities, our commitment (faithfulness) to Him is unbreakable, and that our devotion to Him was out of love and wanting to please Him rather than reluctantly, out of compulsion or guilt.

What if:

On His final trip to Jerusalem (putting “His hand to the plow“), Jesus turned back?

When facing (“I will Sir“) the cross “He did not go?”

Refused (“I will not“) the way of the cross, “but later he changed his mind and went?”  Would His initial disobedience have disqualified Him as a sacrifice without blemish?

My Advice – Because of God’s grace and mercy, we can be forgiven when we look back to our former way of life, when we initially say no, and when we break faith when we said I will.  But there is a fourth alternative: “to obey is better than sacrifice.”

See No Shadow, Fear No Evil

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Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” (Psalm 23:4, NIV 1984).

Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: Death has been swallowed up in victory.   Where, O death, is your victory?  Where, O death, is your sting?  The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”  (1 Corinthians 15:51–57, NIV 1984).

My Musings – Groundhog Day is a popular tradition celebrated in Canada and the United States on February 2nd. It derives from the Pennsylvania Dutch superstition that if a groundhog emerging from its burrow on this day sees its shadow due to clear weather, it will retreat to its den and winter will persist for six more weeks, and if it does not see its shadow because of cloudiness, spring will arrive early. While the tradition remains popular in modern times, studies have found no consistent correlation [you think?] between a groundhog seeing its shadow or not and the subsequent arrival time of spring-like weather. (Wikipedia).  This year, March 20th is the Spring (Northern Hemisphere) equinox.  Shadow or no, that’s seven weeks (and I apologize for dragging our Northern neighbors into this).

Shadow or no, uncertain days lay ahead.  In the U.S., it’s a looming contentious election in the wake of an impeachment and acquittal (presumably).  In the U.K., good or bad, Brexit has arrived at long last.  In China (and now other countries), fears about the coronavirus continue to increase.  Global warming is a leading concern of most nations (except maybe the U.S., at least officially?).  And how long before a rogue nation or group unleashes a dirty bomb or something even worse?  All combined, merely the tip of the proverbial iceberg. No matter how you spin it, the shadows are lengthening.  Perhaps, like the groundhog, we’d all like to crawl back into some burrow and forget about it until “spring” arrives.

We need not fear these uncertainties or evils.  If we are in Christ, one of these days (seems like its getting sooner and sooner), we’re “outa here.” Either by walking “through the valley of the shadow of death,” or “in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet!”  If we are in Christ, we have more to look forward to than we have to dread.

My Advice – Jesus said, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.” (John 14:1–4, NIV 1984).  Have you trusted in Him?  There is no fearing the shadows when you do.  Do you want to know the way?

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Want to know the way? See my blog series “The Born Again Experience.

Are We Dead Yet?

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You must teach what is in accord with sound doctrine. Teach the older men to be temperate, worthy of respect, self-controlled, and sound in faith, in love and in endurance. Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God. Similarly, encourage the young men to be self-controlled. In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us.”  (Titus 2:1–8, NIV 1984).

Other People’s Musings – “Nobody grows old by merely living a number of years. People grow old only by deserting their ideals. Years may wrinkle the skin, but to give up interest wrinkles the soul. Worry, doubt, self-distrust, fear and despair … these are the long, long years that bow the head and turn the growing spirit back to dust.  Whatever your years, there is in every being’s heart the love of wonder, the undaunted challenge of events, the unfailing, childlike appetite for ‘what next,’ and the joy and the game of life.  You are as young as your faith, as old as your,  doubt; as young as your self-confidence, as old as your fear; as young as your hope, as old as your despair.”  (Douglas MacArthur).

My Musings – “Whatever your years,” you’re not dead yet.  Continue to learn.  Continue to grow.  There is much that the older generation can (in humility) teach those that are younger. But it is also true, that those who older can learn from the younger generation.  We have a tendency to retreat into our own self-defined groups of people that we feel comfortable with.  But comfort tends to quench the “love of wonder the undaunted challenge of events, the unfailing, childlike appetite for ‘what next,’ and the joy and the game of life.”

My Advice – Actually Mac’s. “You are as young as your faith, as old as your, doubt; as young as your self-confidence, as old as your fear; as young as your hope, as old as your despair.”  What ever your years, get in the game.  You’re not dead yet.

 

What He Said Was Important

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Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”  (Matthew 11:28–30, NIV 1984).

My Musings – How does one move from “weary and burdened” to “easy and light?”  By being “gentle and humble.”  By being imitators of Christ.  In Jesus’ day, the Jews were looking for a political or militant solution to their years of bondage.  Their early excitement over Jesus (“could this be the Messiah“) gave way to disillusionment and hostility, as gentleness and humility did not quite meet their expectations of a deliverer.   They preferred ruthless and pompous.

They failed to understand just what kind of bondage the Messiah came to deliver us from.  They were seeking “peace in our time.”  Christ came to offer peace for all time.  They were seeking deliverance “at all costs.”  Jesus offered peace that demanded the greatest cost.  They were seeking liberty in the land.  Jesus was offering liberation of the heart.  They wanted vengeance.  Jesus offered forgiveness.  They wanted unconditional surrender.  Jesus offered unmerited grace.  They wanted independence.  Jesus offered relationship.  They wanted a manifesto.  Jesus offered their names written in the Lamb’s book of life.   They wanted rebellion, Jesus required surrender.

My Advice – So what have we learned in 2000 years?  Will we as the Church advance the Kingdom of God through pollical activism or by proclamation of the Gospel?  Through force or faith?  Harshness or gentleness?  Arrogance or humility?  By becoming 21st century Pharisees or by modeling ourselves after 1st century believers?  By engaging in crusades or by taking up our cross?  Let’s learn from Him.  “You have heard it said, but I say to you …”  Our country’s and the world’s problems will not be solved from the outside in, only from the inside out.  It’s the heart not the head.  It’s the eternal, not the temporal.  It’s the narrow path, not the broad path.  It’s the Great Commission, not the great omission.  The time is short.  The harvest is great.  The workers are few.  Let’s get on with it.

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Want to become a Christian? See my blog series “The Born Again Experience.”
Want a closer walk with Christ? See my blog series “Got Spiritual Milk?”