Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Church Talk 101: What Does It Mean to Be Blessed?

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled...  (Matthew 5:3-6)

So, what does the word "blessed" mean?

Some Bible translators use the word "happy" here instead of "blessed," though the two words are not perfectly synonymous.  A person can be happy without being blessed, and a person can be blessed without being happy.  One difference between a blessing and simple happiness is

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Sermon on the Mount Part 4: Persecuted Peacemakers

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.  
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 
Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.   
Matthew 5:10-12

Ready to review the process again?  If you want to be truly blessed, the first thing you must do is make a commitment to follow Christ -- not merely believe in Him, but follow Him (Matthew 5:1-2).  Then, comparing your spiritual state to His, recognize your spiritual poverty (Matthew 5:3).  Not only is the world a corrupt, fallen mess, but so are you -- mourn that fact.  When your heart is broken, Christ Himself will come alongside you and fill you with His strength (Matthew 5:4).

Now that you have the power to change things for the better, submit that power to God's authority and control; don't try to play God, but do what Jesus did and allow God to work His will through you (Matthew 5:5).  Seeing Him in action should

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Sermon on the Mount Part 3: Mercy

Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.   (Matthew 5:7-8)

Before tackling these verses, let's review the first few steps of the blessing-process again (Matthew 5:1-6).  First, make the commitment to follow Jesus.  Then, take a moment to compare yourself with him and admit that you are spiritually bankrupt.  Allow that fact to break your heart so that Jesus can come alongside you and fill you with his strength. Submit to his authority; let him be the one to decide how that new-found strength should be used.  Under God's guidance, practice righteousness until you not only develop a taste for it, but also thirst for it to the point that it becomes your biggest craving (even more than chocolate).  Jesus has promised

Monday, May 16, 2011

Sermon on the Mount Part 2: Hungry

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
                                                                                             (Matthew 5:3-6 NIV)

In Part 1, we looked at how the Beatitudes outline the process for living a blessed life.  The first step is to recognize that we must come to Jesus admitting that, compared with him, we are spiritually bankrupt. In short, we have nothing to offer him.

This realization should evoke in us an emotional response, and I'm not talking about joy.  Who wants to admit to being poor?  If we've been kidding ourselves that we have it all together ("I'm okay, you're okay") or that we will be able to improve with just a little more effort, and then we suddenly realize that we are NOT okay... I don't know about you, but

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Sermon on the Mount Part 1: Poor in Spirit

Now when he saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him and he began to teach them, saying: "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 5:1-3 NIV).
These words open the message that has come to be known as the Sermon on the Mount. In this sermon, which spans three entire chapters of the gospel of Matthew, Jesus spells out what it means to live as his disciple.

Jesus made a point throughout his earthly ministry of meeting people where they were...he traveled to Samaria to speak to a social outcast, he dined with tax collectors, he taught while sitting in a fishing boat. Yet in this episode of his life

Saturday, May 14, 2011

LifePointe Ministries

LifePointe Ministries - LifePointe

As part of reDEEfining my life this year, I am stepping out in faith on a new career path.  After nearly twenty years as a school teacher, I've retired and taken a position on the staff of a brand-new church "plant."  My first task as a Plant Team member with LifePointe Ministries has been to use my writing skills to help communicate the pastor's vision.  Please check out our website!

The career change has been a real roller-coaster, by the way. 

Thursday, May 5, 2011

What's the Point?

He's a real nowhere man, 
Sitting in his Nowhere Land, 
Making all his nowhere plans for nobody. 
Doesn't have a point of view, 
Knows not where he's going to, 
Isn't he a bit like you and me?....                 
                   ("Nowhere Man," the Beatles, 1965)

I still remember what it was like to hate God and to hate the very idea of church.  That hatred began as a small seed of doubt when I was about eleven years old.  I was not raised in a Christian home, but I didn't realize that at the time, probably because I spent so much time in church.  My mom had bought me one of those Bible Story sets that you see all the time in doctors' waiting rooms (right next to the Highlights magazines) and I had read it all the way through ten or twelve times by then.  I remember having some questions, like "Where did Cain's wife come from?"  My mom couldn't answer the questions, but that didn't bother me because

Monday, May 2, 2011

Am I the Only One?

I open facebook this morning and am bombarded with: "Hallelujah, praise God, Osama bin Laden is dead, that sick twisted man, what a great day...."  And the first thought to run through my mind is, "Jesus wept."

Amidst the rejoicing that our team has scored a point in this war (and I am glad of that) let us not forget a few things:

God created man in His image.  ALL men.  Even Osama bin Laden.
God does not desire that any man should perish.  Not even Osama bin Laden.
Somewhere, the people who loved Osama bin Laden are weeping.
Satan is not among those who weep for Osama bin Laden...he is rejoicing that he managed to pull one of God's image-bearers into the Pit.

So today, I will choose to weep with my Father rather than rejoice with Satan.
Am I the only one?