We have lots of places to take those who visit us. We make sure we stop at the Concord Bridge where the first shots were fired during the Revolutionary War. Close by is the home of Louisa May Alcott and Nathaniel Hawthorne. There is a wonderful old abandoned railroad tunnel. I am going to add this old store to our tour. It has to be savored as long as it lasts. If you come to visit we will take you there.
Isn't it interesting what we value and want to show visitors? In 2 Kings we read the story of Hezekiah who showed to Babylonian visitors all his material wealth. The story doesn't end well. I need to learn from this and make sure I also show all my visitors the love of Jesus. Now that will end well.
Recent years have seen an uptick in religiously inspired violence. We have always seen patriotically inspired violence but with the addition of religion we face a new human crisis. Into the mix goes hate speech and the flames are fanned. People who hold different views than we become not just traitors but heretics who must be silenced at all costs. Somewhere along the way the ideals of faith that inspire us to be better people vanish without our being aware. Unwittingly, we become zealots who so often are but puppets for unsavory types who use our passion for their gains and to the destruction of the good we used to possess.
Our email boxes become repositories of hate materials disguised as religious or patriotic materials and we are duped into forwarding them on to our friends and relatives not even asking ourselves the question, "Would Jesus forward this?" "Does this represent the best that I want to be?" Hate crimes begin with hate speech, and hate speech is hate speech even if it is just a "funny" cartoon or an editorial that encouraged an inflamed soul to kill for Jesus. If we are part of the chain we share the guilt.
God has given the 21st century citizen marvelous electronic tools with which to spread the gospel. Let us use them to proliferate the joy of salvation.
I remembered this unfortunate educational experience when reading that world class athletics that run the 400 meter race often vomit during training. I had a preacher friend who told me he used to vomit each Sabbath morning before going into the pulpit. The stress to be excellent was that horrendous.
In Hebrews 1 we read that we are in a race. We are racing toward character building. We are racing toward Christ-likeness. We are racing to improve our morality and our understanding of true goodness. What we are not racing for is salvation. The reason being is salvation is a gift. Romans 6:23. The quest is to excel in righteousness.
You're nobody 'til somebody loves you. You’re nobody 'til somebody cares. You may be king, you may possess the world and it's gold. But gold won't bring you happiness when you're growing old. The world still is the same, you never change it, As sure as the stars shine above; You're nobody 'til somebody loves you, so find yourself somebody to love.
The world still is the same, you never change it, As sure as the stars shine above; You're nobody 'til somebody loves you, So find yourself somebody, find yourself somebody, Find yourself somebody to love.
A psychologist must have written this song. If you are interested who actually did write it put the name Larry Stock in Google.
Human beings need to be loved. It’s why we keep dogs. They love us with unconditional love. God made us in His image. Man was not made to live alone. God is a lover. He cares. He blesses. He wants us to prosper. That’s the reason He gave us the Ten Commandments. He wants us to stop doing things that will make us unlovable to ourselves and others. In Ephesians 3 Paul tells us God’s love is beyond understanding. It might be joyous to try and measure its width and depth but we will never totally get it.
I really like the last two lines of the song. Find yourself somebody to love. Fill your life with friendship and rejoice in making God happy because He sees you happy. Parents love it when their children are doing well. God is the ultimate parent.
Of a few such men we know, Martin Luther, Thomas More, Wycliffe and others. I am tempted to say the world has only seen these few but Hebrews 12:1 tells us God has a cloud of greats. When I drive up my hill into fog, a low cloud, I see tens of millions droplets of water. What joy will come to those who chose integrity over position, power or reputation. To tell the truth, to cheat no one, to harm no one but perhaps self by taking such a stand has to be in the face of threats, loss of loves, loss of honor, loss of life itself has to be monumental in the course of one’s life. What more could compensate than the words written above by Milton.
Milton’s words reflect Jesus’ words in Matthew 25 when the master commended his servant for faithful service. Wouldn’t it be grand to hear “Well done”? Paul expected it for each of us. In Romans 8:37 Paul assures us we are more than conquerors in Christ. With Jesus’ help we can and shall join the cloud in Hebrews 12. What could be more meaningful in life than to stand approved before God? The judgment of worlds means nothing when we have that privilege.
Alas, life does not always work the way we plan. Arriving at the ferry we discovered it was broken and would not be repaired for days. The closest ferry was 95 miles north. We were so close and now we added 190 miles of bumps and ruts. (No potholes. No pavement.) We had eight more hours of dirt to go, if we were lucky. It’s amazing what we can do when we are young. Today I would have turned around and gone home. Even then we most likely would have, had we known what was ahead; a broken transmission, a night in a refugee camp, a tow by a bus into a town to awaken a drunken Chinaman to repair the car. Oh, did I mention the cobra?
Life is an adventure filled with wonders. How grand it is to re-experience all this only in memory. But how often in life do we almost complete a goal only to find more challenges ahead. The important thing is not to quit. “Quit” is another English word that can sometimes mean the opposite. “Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong.” “Quit” meaning to be resolved. I Corinthians 16:13.
Jesus tells us we must love each other. He does not expect us to like each other. I doubt if Jesus liked Herod the night Herod had Jesus beaten. Sometimes we err in confusing liking and loving. Loving is wanting the best for you and wanting the best for your family. Liking is wanting to spend time with you. I have never understood Will Rogers’s famous line that he never met a man he didn’t like. He was so much more eclectic than I. I wish I were like him. (That’s a different use of the word “like.” No wonder English is difficult.)
Jesus’ comfort level with everyone has always intrigued me. He was comfortable with the lowest of the low and seemed equally comfortable with the wealthy. He was a common man. He was a man who labored with His hands. He was royalty. I really wish I were like Him!
What amazed me is he still took my money. At least I could have gotten a “freebie.” However I think there is a limit to life’s freebies and I already got the one I wanted and needed. I got John 3:16 because I believe. Now that I have said that I do have to explain that just because it was free to me it was certainly not free to God and to the universe. They watched the horrible ordeal as it moved from Gethsemane to the courts and finally to Golgotha. At some point most of them stopped watching. Who could watch such a scene? I had a tough enough time watching Mel Gibson’s movie and I knew it was pretend. What must it have been like when it was real? No, it wasn’t free.
Yet for me it is free. I have never been asked to sacrifice anything that was not in my best interest to shed. God is like that. If it’s good for us He wants us to keep it. This is definitely good for us.
I am, of course, talking about our Bible. It is the story of redemption. It is the story of God reaching out to man. It is the story of God becoming a man so we would know the truth. God is not a capricious, temperamental being who acts on whims. He is consistently steady in His resolve to redeem us. Never a day goes by when He is disinterested in our progress toward infinity. We are the apple of His eye. We are His children. We are princes and princesses of the universe.
Ever since Eden, Lucifer has tried his worst to discredit God. Lucifer inspired people to do horrible things and convinced them it was God who was the source of their inspiration. Ignorant people then claimed they did it because God wanted them to do it. Finally God came here to set the record straight. The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. The Word said, “If you have seen me you have seen the Father.” The secret was no secret.
Walking back to my classroom I looked over the faces of thirty-four students waiting for me to interrupt their tunes and texting as I asked them to turn off all their electronic gear. Their faces are as deceptive as that tranquil hillside. Without the marker no one would ever know about the hill’s violent night. Unless my students tell me, I have no idea what their lives are all about. They range in ages from 18 to 40. Each has a story. Some are stories of a happy home and others could most likely tell tales that would raise the hair on our necks. Sometimes they fill me with exasperation but I try to not say what my impulses want to say. I have already made the mistake of saying things in jest only to have them break into tears. That is crushing to me and to them.
I am not surprised that Jesus told us not to judge others. We cannot make accurate assessments because we have not been where they have been nor have we shared their joys and their pains.
What I did not understand as a child was one’s needed sense of worth and esteem. One of life’s very important needs is to be able to look in a mirror and have respect for the person we see. If one has never really worked and has consistently lived off the labor of others one cannot, in all honesty, feel the same about themselves as can the person who has toiled and been productive.
God made us in His image. He is extremely productive. He is a creator. He desires for us to be fruitful and to multiply the labor of our hands and minds. Paul certainly understood this when he wrote in Ephesians 2:10, “We are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” As His sons and daughters we will be most happy when we are like Him.
It is easy to pass error about with our electronic tools. It happens with regularity and even checking with Snopes does not always guarantee accuracy. Eyewitness accounts do not necessarily make things true because each of us, despite our complete confidence in our own intelligence, sees things through our biases and prejudices. Whether we like it or not, or are willing to admit it, each of us sees what we want to see and are blind to concepts, events and facts that do not fit what we want to be true. Just talk to teachers about parental reactions to negative information about their children. Too often Jimmy can do no wrong.
Unfortunately, this is also true regarding our religious experiences. When we read Scriptures we are inclined not to notice passages that conflict with our “truth.” And when they are brought to our attention we spin them so there is no conflict. We spin before we change. God certainly has His work cut out for Him when it comes to teaching us something new. Yet there are new things for us to learn. Pray that God would open our minds to what He wants us to know. His light shines more and more as we grow. Let’s let it happen. See Proverbs 4:18.
My computer does not like the word “joyed.” It thinks it is not a word. However, it likes “overjoyed.” But not “underjoyed.” If we can have one form, why can we not have all three? I want to say heaven is joyed when we succeed at small victories in life. Overjoyed is saved for the big ones. If we are overjoyed all the time the relativity of it vanishes.
I was intrigued by the relationship between the little girl and her father. There was no hesitation on her part to keep asking and there was no hesitation on his part to keep supplying her with dollars. Sometimes when I fail I am hesitant to ask God for another chance. I need to remember this little girl. Jesus said, “If we as humans know how to give good gifts to our children, how much more does our heavenly Father know how to supply us with good things.” Matthew 7:11. God is so pleased when we succeed. He is not nearly as disheartened by our failures as He is by our giving up. During the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona Derek Redmond fell to the ground with a torn hamstring. Without hesitation his father rushed down from the stands and helped him across the finish line.