Saturday, August 27, 2011

Getting life right?

Conservative Christians cast their disapproving glances my way. Even the liberal ones also seem to disdain me? Republicans, democrats, LGBT activists, both pro-lifers and pro choice, just about anyone with an "agenda", (other than unconditional love), hmm, maybe I'm starting to get life right? I love you world, I truly do.

Those "agendas" are just more idols disguised as justice and righteousness. No, I won't worship your idols. But, my love for you will/must surpass any disagreement we may have. Yes, I choose to love and defend you regardless the cost.

My "reputation" means nothing aside from my reflecting the love and grace of the One I owe my life to.

Regardless of my puny personal opinions and my beliefs, may my gay & lesbian friends know I love them above all and at all cost. My prolifers & prochoicers, war-mongers & peace-mongers, atheists, agnostics and more.

Hate me, curse me they may, but . . . Father I will love and forgive them as You have done me.

May my eulogy simply say, "In the end . . . his life was hidden in Christ."

Only by Grace, Da Moose

Searching for the "true" Jesus and His apprentices -

Matthew 5

The Message (MSG)

You're Blessed
1-2 When Jesus saw his ministry drawing huge crowds, he climbed a hillside. Those who were apprenticed to him, the committed, climbed with him. Arriving at a quiet place, he sat down and taught his climbing companions. This is what he said:

3"You're blessed when you're at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule.

4"You're blessed when you feel you've lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you.

5"You're blessed when you're content with just who you are—no more, no less. That's the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can't be bought.

6"You're blessed when you've worked up a good appetite for God. He's food and drink in the best meal you'll ever eat.

7"You're blessed when you care. At the moment of being 'care-full,' you find yourselves cared for.

8"You're blessed when you get your inside world—your mind and heart—put right. Then you can see God in the outside world.

9"You're blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That's when you discover who you really are, and your place in God's family.

10"You're blessed when your commitment to God provokes persecution. The persecution drives you even deeper into God's kingdom.

11-12"Not only that—count yourselves blessed every time people put you down or throw you out or speak lies about you to discredit me. What it means is that the truth is too close for comfort and they are uncomfortable. You can be glad when that happens—give a cheer, even!—for though they don't like it, I do! And all heaven applauds. And know that you are in good company. My prophets and witnesses have always gotten into this kind of trouble.
Salt and Light
13"Let me tell you why you are here. You're here to be salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavors of this earth. If you lose your saltiness, how will people taste godliness? You've lost your usefulness and will end up in the garbage.

14-16"Here's another way to put it: You're here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We're going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don't think I'm going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I'm putting you on a light stand. Now that I've put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you'll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.
Completing God's Law
17-18"Don't suppose for a minute that I have come to demolish the Scriptures— either God's Law or the Prophets. I'm not here to demolish but to complete. I am going to put it all together, pull it all together in a vast panorama. God's Law is more real and lasting than the stars in the sky and the ground at your feet. Long after stars burn out and earth wears out, God's Law will be alive and working.

19-20"Trivialize even the smallest item in God's Law and you will only have trivialized yourself. But take it seriously, show the way for others, and you will find honor in the kingdom. Unless you do far better than the Pharisees in the matters of right living, you won't know the first thing about entering the kingdom.
21-22"You're familiar with the command to the ancients, 'Do not murder.' I'm telling you that anyone who is so much as angry with a brother or sister is guilty of murder. Carelessly call a brother 'idiot!' and you just might find yourself hauled into court. Thoughtlessly yell 'stupid!' at a sister and you are on the brink of hellfire. The simple moral fact is that words kill.

23-24"This is how I want you to conduct yourself in these matters. If you enter your place of worship and, about to make an offering, you suddenly remember a grudge a friend has against you, abandon your offering, leave immediately, go to this friend and make things right. Then and only then, come back and work things out with God.

25-26"Or say you're out on the street and an old enemy accosts you. Don't lose a minute. Make the first move; make things right with him. After all, if you leave the first move to him, knowing his track record, you're likely to end up in court, maybe even jail. If that happens, you won't get out without a stiff fine.
Adultery and Divorce
27-28"You know the next commandment pretty well, too: 'Don't go to bed with another's spouse.' But don't think you've preserved your virtue simply by staying out of bed. Your heart can be corrupted by lust even quicker than your body. Those leering looks you think nobody notices—they also corrupt.

29-30"Let's not pretend this is easier than it really is. If you want to live a morally pure life, here's what you have to do: You have to blind your right eye the moment you catch it in a lustful leer. You have to choose to live one-eyed or else be dumped on a moral trash pile. And you have to chop off your right hand the moment you notice it raised threateningly. Better a bloody stump than your entire being discarded for good in the dump.

31-32"Remember the Scripture that says, 'Whoever divorces his wife, let him do it legally, giving her divorce papers and her legal rights'? Too many of you are using that as a cover for selfishness and whim, pretending to be righteous just because you are 'legal.' Please, no more pretending. If you divorce your wife, you're responsible for making her an adulteress (unless she has already made herself that by sexual promiscuity). And if you marry such a divorced adulteress, you're automatically an adulterer yourself. You can't use legal cover to mask a moral failure.
Empty Promises
33-37"And don't say anything you don't mean. This counsel is embedded deep in our traditions. You only make things worse when you lay down a smoke screen of pious talk, saying, 'I'll pray for you,' and never doing it, or saying, 'God be with you,' and not meaning it. You don't make your words true by embellishing them with religious lace. In making your speech sound more religious, it becomes less true. Just say 'yes' and 'no.' When you manipulate words to get your own way, you go wrong.
Love Your Enemies
38-42"Here's another old saying that deserves a second look: 'Eye for eye, tooth for tooth.' Is that going to get us anywhere? Here's what I propose: 'Don't hit back at all.' If someone strikes you, stand there and take it. If someone drags you into court and sues for the shirt off your back, giftwrap your best coat and make a present of it. And if someone takes unfair advantage of you, use the occasion to practice the servant life. No more tit-for-tat stuff. Live generously.

43-47"You're familiar with the old written law, 'Love your friend,' and its unwritten companion, 'Hate your enemy.' I'm challenging that. I'm telling you to love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer, for then you are working out of your true selves, your God-created selves. This is what God does. He gives his best—the sun to warm and the rain to nourish—to everyone, regardless: the good and bad, the nice and nasty. If all you do is love the lovable, do you expect a bonus? Anybody can do that. If you simply say hello to those who greet you, do you expect a medal? Any run-of-the-mill sinner does that.

48"In a word, what I'm saying is, Grow up. You're kingdom subjects. Now live like it. Live out your God-created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you."

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Bringing Creation Care Home

It’s as easy as 1, 2, 3 and teaches the kids too.

1. Use only manual or electric yard work equipment. (It’s good exercise also.)
2. No chemical herbicides or pesticides. (Instead nurture your mantids, ladybugs and lizards.)
3. Plant for habitat and creatures. (You’ll reap the benefits of beauty, AND entertainment.)

Practice conservation every day around home. There are many simple ways to do it and your utility companies are glad to help; energy saving light bulbs, water conservation devices, and more.

For motivation and inspiration here’s an excerpt from The Jesus Storybook Bible, by Sally Lloyd-Jones:

“Jesus knew that God would always love and watch over the world he had made – everything in it – birds, flowers, trees, animals, everything! And, most of all, his children. Even though people had forgotten, the birds and flowers hadn’t forgotten – they still knew their song. It was the song all of God’s creation had sung to Him from the very beginning. It was the song people’s hearts were made to sing: ‘God made us. He loves us. He is very pleased with us.’ It was why Jesus had come into the world: to sing them that wonderful song; to sing it not only with his voice, but with His whole life – so that God’s children could remember it and join in and sing it too.”

Sometimes returning to elementary Sunday school roots (as teacher and student), is a really good thing! Practice creation care, and then sing along with all Creation!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

The JOY?! of sharing in Christ's suffering . . .

As I am forced to lie low with a cold, I have time more time for prayer . . . the deep, Spirit-led kind. God reminds me that when I surrendered my life to His Son, He (The Father) sent the Holy Spirit (as promised) to teach and guide me. This is one of the profound mysteries of the Holy Trinity working (dancing) in unity as a beautiful relationship to grow us and at the same time renew the Kingdom ("make all things new"). I don't begin to feign understanding of this mystery, but sometimes the Spirit reveals things to me ("openings" as George Fox called them.) Today, I marvel at how the Holy Spirit enables us to pray out of compassion and with "suffering" for others and Creation. Filled with the Spirit and the compassion of Christ, we enter into the "groans" of Creations itself for the land and people; in poverty, in starvation, in death and dying, in tyranny and so much more that is a sign of brokenness in this world. We partner intimately with the Holy Trinity, Father, Son & Spirit in prayers that emanate from our guts . . . no words, just groans from deep inside. It is a most blessed "calling", this prayer. But God does not leave us there, He prompts us to do practical things; whether donations to causes or direct labor in the Kingdom . . . and of course, He takes our small (and seemingly insignificant) offerings and magnifies them for His Glory and the welfare of His Kingdom, which is here now, and yet also coming. This is life, to be yoked with Christ and share in His sufferings . . . there is an indescribable JOY in this that the "world" cannot understand or fathom in the least, but it is JOY unsurpassed, even heavenly. Out of darkness into Light, come Lord Jesus.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Eternal Perspective

Eternal Perspective: an attitude of heart and mind, even spirit, that enables us to face each day without fear. To face even death without fear. It also enables us to share our stories of salvation without shame or guilt, because it assures us that we are totally forgiven and loved by God. That He has washed us clean, white as snow, and forgotten any transgressions (sins). It enables us, empowers us, to be an encouragement to others who might otherwise become mired down in their own quilt and shame. It allows us to be vulnerable and available, filled with compassion and mercy.
Coming soon; Part II, how do we get E.P.???