Monday, February 28, 2011
Friday, February 25, 2011
Matthew 6:24-34 (Amplified Bible)
24 No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will stand by and be devoted to the one and despise and be against the other. You cannot serve God and mammon (deceitful riches, money, possessions, or whatever is trusted in).
- Am I my second master?
- Do I serve God by serving His people and His creation for their intrinsic or their utilitarian value?
25 Therefore I tell you, stop being perpetually uneasy (anxious and worried) about your life, what you shall eat or what you shall drink; or about your body, what you shall put on. Is not life greater [in quality] than food, and the body [far above and more excellent] than clothing?
- If life is no more than personal survival, is it worth living?
- What if it is the lives of others that I worry about? Is this saying I shouldn't feed the hungry physical food?
26 Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father keeps feeding them. Are you not worth much more than they?
- Does anything else in Creation worry?
- What does it mean to be made in His image?
27 And who of you by worrying and being anxious can add one unit of measure (cubit) to his stature or to the span of his life?
- Am I the sum of my worries?
- Does the stress of worry threaten to shorten my life?
28 And why should you be anxious about clothes? Consider the lilies of the field and learn thoroughly how they grow; they neither toil nor spin.
- We often think of Creation's beauty as God's gift to us. Is the lily's beauty a natural characteristic and byproduct of functionality, or is it an artifice.
- Do I worry about the designer's label and the status statement of my clothes?
29 Yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his magnificence (excellence, dignity, and grace) was not arrayed like one of these. [I Kings 10:4-7.]
- What do I say about God's image if I'm all about the bling and gilding the lily?
- Do I see beauty only in the sublime, or do I see it also in the subtle?
30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and green and tomorrow is tossed into the furnace, will He not much more surely clothe you, O you of little faith?
- God graces splendor upon the shooting star, do I enjoy the short time I have?
- I am eternal like God. Isn't sustainable splendor greater, or do I envy beauty's grand gesture?
31 Therefore do not worry and be anxious, saying, What are we going to have to eat? or, What are we going to have to drink? or, What are we going to have to wear?
- Am I distracted by worry?
- Am I stuck in a what-if loop?
32 For the Gentiles (heathen) wish for and crave and diligently seek all these things, and your heavenly Father knows well that you need them all.
- Who knows best what I need?
- Do I try to overcome by ignoring my needs as a human animal, or by prioritizing them?
33 But seek aim at (and strive after) first of all His kingdom and His righteousness (His way of doing and being right), and then all these things taken together will be given you besides.
- Do I become like God because of how I act? Or,
- Do I act the way I do because I am like God?
34 So do not worry or be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will have worries and anxieties of its own. Sufficient for each day is its own trouble.
- If I prejudge tomorrow and imbue it with worries in advance, have I created an unavoidable self-fulfilling prophesy?
- If I am predisposed to react in a predetermined way in response to a perceived pending threat, am I less able to react nimbly to the actual threat?
Wednesday, February 23, 2011
Pastor Paul to his congregation in Corinth, Greece:
Think of Apostles as Christ's servants; as stewards of God's Way. A steward can only be effective if he is trustworthy. Yet, how you judge my worthiness is a microscopic thing! No court of the land can rule on my worthiness of God's trust. I am not even fit to find myself worthy or not.
I try imperfectly to live my life perfectly. I'm not consciously aware of anything unworthy about myself. Yet, I know a revealed truth: I am not acquitted by my feebly fallible acts! I can neither tell you or think to myself that I am worthy, or that I am unworthy; only my Lord knows me well enough.
So hear me my sisters and brothers - stop pronouncing judgments against others or for yourselves before the ripeness of time; the full fruition of Christ's return. He will bring pure light and new vision, revealing the hidden purpose of each heart. Only then will we know real commendation or condemnation.
(Adapted from 1 Corinthians 4:1-5)
Monday, February 21, 2011
Saturday, February 19, 2011
Thursday, February 17, 2011
Wednesday, February 16, 2011
Monday, February 14, 2011
Saturday, February 12, 2011
Look at what I've done for you today: I've placed in front of you
Life and Good
Death and Evil.
And I command you today: Love God, your God. Walk in his ways. Keep his commandments, regulations, and rules so that you will live, really live, live exuberantly, blessed by God, your God, in the land you are about to enter and possess.
But I warn you: If you have a change of heart, refuse to listen obediently, and willfully go off to serve and worship other gods, you will most certainly die. You won't last long in the land that you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess.
I call Heaven and Earth to witness against you today: I place before you Life and Death, Blessing and Curse. Choose life so that you and your children will live. And love God, your God, listening obediently to him, firmly embracing him. Oh yes, He is life itself, a long life settled on the soil that God, your God, promised to give your ancestors, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
(Deuteronomy 30:15-20; The Message)
Is life a simple choice?
Is the promised land Israel or the Kingdom?
What does it mean to me that God gives me a choice?
Is it one up-front choice or an ongoing one?
Why does God care what I choose?
If you choose, you can keep the commandments,
and to act faithfully is a matter of your own choice.
He has placed before you fire and water;
stretch out your hand for whichever you choose.
Before each person are life and death,
and whichever one chooses will be given.
For great is the wisdom of the Lord;
he is mighty in power and sees everything;
his eyes are on those who fear him,
and he knows every human action.
He has not commanded anyone to be wicked,
and he has not given anyone permission to sin.
(Sirach 15:15-20; NRSV)
Friday, February 11, 2011
Wednesday, February 9, 2011
So my brothers and sisters, I couldn't talk to you as though we were all People of the Spirit, but instead we spoke as People of the Flesh - as infants. Infants in our Christ-likeness. Now you see why I couldn't feed you solid food, why I only gave you milk. You didn't have the teeth for harder fare. Even now, you still have your baby-teeth...
For you are still all about the Flesh. As long as you are jealous of each other, you're babies. As long as you quarrel with each other - babies. Like babies, you react instinctually according to the needs of the Flesh.
Whenever someone says that they "belong" to Paul, or to Apollos, to Wesley, to Calvin, whomever, aren't we just showing the simple faith of babies? Don't we belong to God instead of some fallible mortal? Who then were these saints through whom you came to believe, but servants assigned to you by God?
If then I planted seeds, didn't others water them and tend the sprouts in their tenderness? Yet even then, none of us MADE them grow! Only God can do that. The planters and the tenders have a common purpose. Each will be evaluated by their care-taking efforts - not by the size of the harvest.
For these servants are God's field-hands working together, and all of humanity is His field.
(Retelling of 1 Corinthians 3:1-9)
Tuesday, February 8, 2011
Although I pray for the Ochoa family, he really made it hard for me not to laugh at his karma:
DELANO, California (AP) A man who was at an illegal cockfight in central California died after being stabbed in the leg by a bird that had a knife attached to its own limb, officials confirmed Monday.
Jose Luis Ochoa, 35, of Lamont, California, was declared dead at a hospital about two hours after he was injured in neighboring Tulare County on Jan. 30, the Kern County coroner said. An autopsy concluded Ochoa died of an accidental "sharp force injury" to his right calf. Sheriff's spokesman Ray Pruitt said it was unclear if a delay in seeking medical attention contributed to Ochoa's death. "I have never seen this type of incident," Sgt. Martin King, a 24-year veteran of the sheriff's department, told the Bakersfield Californian.
Ochoa and the other spectators fled when authorities arrived at the scene of the fight, King told the newspaper. Deputies found five dead roosters and other evidence of cockfighting at the location, he said. No arrests were made at the cockfight. Cockfighting is a sport, illegal in the United States, in which specially bred roosters are put into a ring and encouraged to fight until one is incapacitated or killed. According to Kern County Superior Court records, Ochoa paid $370 in fines last year after pleading no contest to one count of owning or training an animal for fighting, according to the newspaper. Attending or organizing a cockfight, or training an animal to participate in one, are all misdemeanors under California law, although a second offense is a felony.
Information from: The Bakersfield Californian, http://www.bakersfield.com/