Come, Entertain Me

 

CPC Flower ArrangementThe word come, when read in the Bible about Christ’s enjoining His disciples to follow Him, became their first step in living the Christian life. It is a disciple of Jesus’ first step. Jesus said, “Come, follow me.” In Mark 1:17-18 “And Jesus said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men. And they immediately left their nets and followed Him.” We do not walk with Christ without following His teachings and direction.
I anticipate worship in a Christian church to be of my Lord Jesus Christ, to ask for forgiveness of my sins, and to take in the whole Word of God. And as I leave the church doors, I fully expect the Holy Spirit to go with me and keep me strong in the faith and use what I heard and learned to navigate through the channels in life. I expect that when I am in fellowship with other believers, I will be comforted, heard, even advised and disciplined by those who know and live the Word of God. I expect that other Christians will use their experiences based upon God’s Word to uplift me and help to direct my life. I pray that I will do the same for them. I pray that I will always comfort others, listen to others, advise and help direct others based upon the leading of the Holy Spirit and the Word of God.
In a conversation with an individual a year or so ago, after a Sunday service, a comment was made to me that went something like this:
- I know I am a very quiet and non-social person, and I have been coming here for years, but I look around and always feel there are clicks/groups and there is no sense of desire by those clicks/groups to be changed by adding another person to them.-
I wonder how church can sometimes feel like another social gathering or social club. Can we come to be entertained rather than to be taught? Do we turn away from following Christ when we don’t like something we hear from the Scriptures because it is contrary to what our culture teaches us? Doesn’t everyone ask, “Is God trying to speak to me here?” “Don’t I have something to learn if I am following Jesus?” “Could I be mistaken in my beliefs?”
When we are following Christ in church we should react like those who first heard Jesus, “And they were amazed at His teaching; for He was teaching them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.” We should come to church to obey Jesus Christ, learn His truths, His ways and how to live His life. To follow Jesus is to get closer to Him, advance towards His will, and to draw near to His holiness and goodness. In doing so, we are changed and Christ changes the world through us. We come to church to worship God and to follow Him, not to be entertained or just because we have friends or family there.
I was reading an article (Entertained to Death? Is seeker-driven entertainment a viable option for Growing your Church? By Eric Barger) about how many;
“compromising leaders help propagate lukewarm “religious” followers with no sense of Godly Biblical standards who miss the awe, reverence and supernatural power of God”. “Perhaps due to shrinking attendance and growing expenses, some evangelicals have slowly adopted the notion of “giving the people what they want” as their church plan. Now seen as “old fashioned”, “outdated” and “negative” are the Biblical ideals of discipleship, doctrine, righteousness, victory over evil and the conquering of sin. At any rate, this is the underlying rational being forwarded by a number of today’s popular growth gurus. Those whose books and teaching have lead the Church away from Biblical thinking have probably done so without overtly malicious intent. Nevertheless, the popularizations of the so-called “positive gospels” have come from a non-historical basis, a mix of bad theology and a “change or die” church growth mentality.”
I have been listening and learning from my husband Earl, a God-fearing man for over 16 years. Earl & Bob BeanHe has been preaching for 29 years. Every time he steps behind the pulpit I expect to hear God speaking to me. And every time for 16 years, I hear this man being used as a vessel by God to bring His Word to me. When I come to church, I expect the music, Bible verses, confessions and offerings all to be about worshiping God, not entertaining me. I’ve delved into the Bible for years. I read it annually and continue to study it in depth. I am given great insight by God in those Words and revelations as He determines. I would be aghast if Earl were to ever “compromise” Scriptures just to satisfy some political base in the pews.
If we watch the clock or are like those participants that “didn’t get anything out of that one, preacher,” perhaps we need to seek God more than we do our lunch. Perhaps that twelve noon kickoff tailgate party with friends was going through our minds, and we missed what was meant for us. Perhaps what was preached was from God to us, but we just didn’t agree with it or like the way it was presented. Jesus never said, “Come and be entertained.” He didn’t say, “If you agree with Me, then you might want to try it.”  Psalm 95 is powerful, and I commend it for reading and devotional study – but in particular verses 6-8; “come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the Lord our Maker. For He is our God. And we are the people of His pasture and the sheep of His hand. Today, if you would hear His voice, do not harden your hearts, as at Meribah.”
Come to the house of The Lord. Come and hear His voice. Come and hear the uncompromised Word of God. Come and bow down to Jesus. Come to Him and expect no entertainment in return. But do expect forgiveness, eternal life, and a new and abundant life in Christ.

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God’s Review of My Spiritual Performance 2013-2014

JIPC Welcome Center

JIPC Welcome Center

I sit here on vacation, on New Year’s Eve 2013, reviewing the life I have led this past year.

Recently, I put in a request for a review of my work as a Controller of a company of which I have been employed for the past 14 years.  It had been three years since my last performance and salary review.  I put together a summation of some of the important issues that I have handled including expense cuts, employee relations, business deals, and the monetary gains that I have accomplished for them.  I highlighted all the good that I felt I had done and the plans that I have for the future.  Needless to say, I did NOT include anything that I felt was a underachievement or loss experienced by the company due to my performance.

The purpose of a review is usually to give some feedback and to plan for what training one might need, what skill areas to develop further, and how one might be better utilized in the workplace.  It is also to evaluate how one’s relationships with the supervisor/boss and fellow employees are going.

Not only do we expect to be rewarded in our work by salary consideration, but we’ve had reviews and expected rewards throughout our entire lives.  Look back to your education, report cards and graduation achievements as well as sports banquets and trophies.

Yet how often do we review how we’ve performed in the past in our Christian life and what goals we have for the future in our spiritual life?

Jesus stated:  “And I tell you this, you must give an account on judgment day for every idle word you speak”(Matthew 12:36, NLT).

Paul stated: “For we must all stand before Christ to be judged. We will each receive whatever we deserve for the good or evil we have done in this earthly body” (2 Corinthians 5:10, NLT).

And Jeremiah stated: “But I, the Lord, search all hearts and examine secret motives. I give all people their due rewards, according to what their actions deserve” (Jeremiah 17:10, NLT).

So what kind of relationship do I have with THE BOSS?  How am I doing with the plans that God has for me?  Have I met the goals that He has set for me over the past year?  Is there additional training that I need to go through in 2014?  Have I earned any other praise or rewards from God in addition to the free gift of eternal life?

I pretty much deserved what I received in my work performance review this year.  I did receive a raise! But in my Christian life, I believe that I have failed far more than I should have in the work the Lord gave me to do.  I succeeded in my career BECAUSE I put that first over the past six months due to circumstances.  But in so doing, I have put some of God’s work on a back-burner.  I feel like I haven’t put forth enough effort in personal relationships with my fellow parishioners that I normally do.  And I have felt the conviction of the Holy Spirit within me – knowing I have failed in fully utilizing the gift of hospitality, which God has given me.  I have grieved the Holy Spirit; I feel it in my poor soul.

And yet, I have accomplished some things in my 2013 Christian walk.  I have read His Word daily and read the Bible in its entirety.  I have participated in small group Bible study and Christian fellowship.  I have ministered to Earl as my husband and my pastor as well as to those within the church who have had pastoral needs.  I have visited those hospitalized and in hospice.  I have fed the hungry at the Charleston Shelter and volunteered my time at the James Island Outreach Food Bank and remained a board member.  I became the liaison on the Charleston-Atlantic Presbytery Presbyterian Women’s  Team.

Yesterday, I went with Earl to visit a woman named Libba whom we dearly love from our previous church.  Her husband Floyd passed away in recent weeks.  He was one of the members of the pastor nominating committee that brought Earl to that church in 2006.  He was a dear man, full of the Spirit and a determined follower of the Lord.  Our visit with Libba brought tears to both Earl’s and my eyes.  These are the kind of ministries that I know God wants me to do more.  These personal visits with the elderly are what bring a smile to my soul and bring joy deep within me from the Holy Spirit.

Visiting Parishioners

Visiting Parishioners

I have reviewed my Christian performance for 2013, and I have made plans for 2014.  The elderly are my passion.  Spending more time with people and offering them the love of Jesus is my New Year’s resolution.  I believe my relationship with God will grow a little deeper and a lot stronger as I bend my will even more to His will.  And on that glorious judgment day, I pray that I will hear, “Well done, My good and faithful servant.”To each of you –  Happy New Year and may your life be full of the work of the Holy Spirit and the blessings from our God on High!

God on Vacation !

Taking God on Vacation

Earl and I went on a glorious vacation for almost three weeks in June 2013.  We had a wonderful time just being together and seeing 12 of our country’s national parks.

As many pastor families know, taking a vacation is extremely important and necessary.  But usually a pastor’s vacation still consists of phone calls, emails, and texts to and from members of his or her church.  There can even be some stress from not knowing how their flock is doing.  How are those doing who are sick, hospitalized, jobless or depressed?  Will they need spiritual help from the pastor while he or she is off taking a long, 2 week vacation?

In Genesis 2:2, we are very familiar with the creation account that after creating for six days, God rested on the seventh.  But of course this isn’t to suggest that God was tired or needed to rest.  In fact, God never rests.  John 5:17 represents the Father as continually working to preserve and to redeem the created world through His Son. The text in Genesis simply means that God ceased from His creating and dedicated the seventh day as a sacred day for all of us to worship Him, honor Him, and to rest ourselves.   

So while we took 2 weeks to rest out of 52, and vacationed across this glorious country of ours, putting 7,000 miles on the car, entering 17 states (some a couple times) and spending 19 days away from home, we brought God on vacation with us.  Each day we praised God for this absolutely stunning and geographically diverse land that we call our country.  We are very blessed to call this beautiful land our home, and we intend to take the time to eventually explore all our national parks. 

Continental Divide

Continental Divide

So each day, Earl and I praised and worshiped God by reading scripture and contemplating what it was that God was saying to us through the scriptures.  We each have adopted a reading plan to read our Bibles every year.  Then when I took my Bible out while he was driving and told him that I was going to read my daily reading, Earl asked me to read that he wouldn’t miss his daily reading.  Each day we talked about the scriptures that I had read, and Earl even had me write down some ideas that he felt God had given him to preach.  It’s amazing how God can take a few minutes during your vacation and inspire you.  With His beauty all around us, and His Word permeating our ears, we felt the presence of God with us on vacation.  God doesn’t need a vacation and never takes one.  We do need a vacation, but never away from God.  God is always at work – focusing all His efforts on the preservation and redemption of His world.  And He uses each of us where we are, whether at home, at work or even while on vacation, to accomplish His will.

Never take a vacation from God while you are on vacation!

Rocky Mtn National Park

Rocky Mtn National Park

Big Bison

Big Bison

Earl - Mt. Rushmore

Earl – Mt. Rushmore

Don’t Look Back !

Earl - Sea of Galilee

Earl – Sea of Galilee

Lately I have had a preoccupation with Lot’s wife.  The Bible doesn’t mention her name, though some Jewish traditions indicate that her name was Edith (Adith or Ado).  But I can’t help but wonder, why after being told by the messengers of God, “Escape for your life!  Do not look behind you, ………” (Genesis 19:17), did she still look back?

Reading in Genesis before this event, you get the basic idea of why God was angry with Sodom and Gomorrah.  The cities as God states in Genesis 18:20 states, “And the Lord said, “The outcry of Sodom and Gomorrah is indeed great, and their sin is exceedingly grave.”  Due to their unrepentant sins, God’s patience was tested to the point where He could not look upon the evil – thus He determined to end the evil by destroying it.

Lot lived there along with his wife and two daughters.  The messengers of God came to Lot’s house and spent the night, but not without the sins of the city affecting Lot’s family and his guests.  Lot pleaded with the men of the city to not act wickedly.  They had demanded to have sexual relations with his guests.  As Lot contended with the men at his door, the men of God reached out to bring Lot back into the house, and they struck the men of the city with blindness.

So Lot, his wife, and two daughters were escorted out of the city and were headed for Zoar.  Once there, God rained down brimstone and fire from heaven and in verse 26 “But his wife, from behind him, looked back; and she became a pillar of salt.”  The more I thought about this story, the more I realized that the same directive from God is given to every Christian.  Don’t look back. 

There have been times in my life where I have looked back on the decisions that I had made, and I’ve cried out to God, repeatedly.  I’ve sat crying, beating myself up for years over the decisions that not only affected me, but others around me – others that I love and adore.  One such time was the decision to divorce my first husband.  Though it wasn’t working for us as husband and wife, my children were put in a horrible position.  My one time decision has affected the decisions that they have been making for 17 years.  I see it, I sense it, and I’ve been told by them that it has.  That hurts!   It’s raw!  It’s life.  We ALL make decisions, but once made, we have to reconcile ourselves with God and ask Him and Him alone, where do I go from here?

My son - Craig

My son – Craig

Throughout the New Testament, we are told not to look back.  Luke 9:62 Jesus states “No one, after putting his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.”  In Philippians 3:13, “Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet, but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead.”  And look at Hebrews 10:39 “But we are not of those who shrink back to destruction, but of those who have faith to the preserving of the soul.” And finally,  Peter 2:21-22 “For it would be better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn away from the holy commandment delivered to them.  It has happened to them according to the true proverb, ‘A dog returns to its own vomit,’ and ‘a sow, after washing, returns to wallowing in the mire,’”

God pulls us out of our old lifestyle and forgives us and offers us a new life.  He pulls us out of a life that perhaps was controlled by other things that we were sucked into – not knowing how to get out.  The amazing thing is, God has a plan for us.  What He asks is simple.  Don’t look back.

Don’t look back on that sinful past, that sinful lifestyle, those sinful friends, and those bad decisions.  Don’t look back on mistakes made, decisions that affected not only you, but others.   Don’t look back on the pleasures of sin, but rather look forward to the promises of a new future with God.  You can’t be useful to the Lord today if you’re still feeling guilty about the past.  God uses those past hurts, failures, and mistakes to strengthen us to become the people He wants us to be today.

My Daughter - Maddie

My Daughter – Maddie

My decision and my cry to God eventually brought a new life to me.  I have not looked back since.  God gave me the great gift of forgiveness, which not only was granted from Him, but also from my children.  He gave me one of the greatest of gifts – Earl.  He is my spiritual leader even as my husband.  I will follow him anywhere because I believe God directs Earl, and Earl always responds with trust in Him.   I have to believe that perhaps Lot’s wife was looking back with regret, for having to lose a lifestyle that she enjoyed.  Why else would God turn her to a pillar of salt?  Perhaps she had no remorse.  Perhaps she had not asked for forgiveness.  Perhaps she had turned away from God’s call in her life.  God told Abraham that He would save anyone found righteous in the two cities.  I believe that out of all those people, only three were righteous in God’s eyes.

50…..And Still Counting

50th Birthday Cake

50th Birthday Cake

“Aging is not ‘lost youth’ but a new stage of opportunity and strength.”
Betty Friedan

I turn 50 this coming April 15.  I am more excited than a child at Christmas.  My family thinks that I may have a screw or two loose in my head.  But I say it’s a 35 year goal finally come to pass.

That’s right, I have been wanting to hit the big 5-0 since I was 15 years old.  I’ve never looked at aging as something to grieve.  Now that 50 is so near, I now wonder expectantly, “well what’s after that?” 

I do not agree with much of what Betty Frieden has to say, but I have to agree with the above quote.  I’ve never looked at aging as lost youth.  I’ve always looked at it as experience gained – a sense of wisdom attained – an opportunity to learn and better other people’s lives.  At 50, I am hoping to love more richly, deeply, and more compassionately.  I’ve found that being a Christian makes all those worthy goals mine because those were Christ’s attributes.  Because of Him, I can move forward in life with confidence and assurance.

I have found that aging is addressed with favorable tones in the Scriptures.  The first promise in Exodus 20:1, “Honor your father and your mother so that you may have a long life in the land that the Lord your God is giving you”.  Whew, I sure am glad that I put my parents’ opinions of me in the forefront.  I still do to this day. 

Mom and Dad

Mom and Dad

In Deuteronomy 5:33 “Follow the whole instruction the Lord your God has commanded you, so that you may live, prosper, and have a long life in the land you will possess.”  The Lord shows favor to those who live a moral life.  One who takes the Word of God and absorbs His teaching and lives a life based on those teachings will be blessed with long life.  See also 1 Kings 3:14 “If you walk in My ways and keep My statutes and commandments just as your father David did, I will give you a long life.”

In the Bible, those who are aged are perceived as being wise, resourceful and valuable.  What they have, they are supposed to share for the good of everyone.  We are to offer to our children, our fellow brothers and sisters and all of society, our very experiences and give them wise counsel to help them avoid our pitfalls.

Most all who know me, know that I am drawn to the silver foxes who came before me.  I adore being around those who have lived life longer than I have.  I love to listen to the stories of their youth and the experiences of their lives.  The history that they’ve lived can truly help develop the future decisions of those that they bless with their knowledge.  The elderly are to be respected and cared for, and they deserve kindness.  We all have a responsibility to the generation that came before us whether they are family members, church members or neighbors.

Aging is a positive part of life.  We are to accept the blessings and responsibilities of aging with gratitude.

Competing with Your Spouse – The Chili Cook-off

Earl and I rarely, if ever, compete against each other. 

Our church had a Renewal Weekend, and part of the program was a Chili Cook-Off.  Earl and I entered the competition.  It took Earl about two weeks to realize that he would be competing with me, I, on the other hand was aware of it the moment I entered our names.

I planned, made lists, bought my ingredients.  Earl ordered his secret ingredient from Kansas City, MO.  We then realized that Earl might have to go out of town the day before the competition and try to get back in time for the renewal services.  I got a devil-may-care attitude going.  “Honey, what to do?  You’ve got to enter your chili because you’ve signed up.”   “Oh, and don’t forget they made announcements on Sunday that you and I would be entering.”  “Did I mention that they brought it to everyone’s attention again during Wednesday Night Live dinner?”

Competition is not necessarily a bad thing.  According to the Bible, competition is a vital component of success.  However, left unchecked, competition can also lead to cheating and failure.  According to 2 Timothy 2:5 “And also if anyone competes as an athlete, he does not win the prize unless he competes according to the rules.”

Did I mention that I was beginning to feel guilty as I saw him get closer to failure?  On the Thursday prior to the cook-off, I called Earl knowing he was under a lot of heavy stress, meetings and pressures, and so I asked him if he wanted me to get his ingredients.  I even offered to make it for him if he would tell me how he made his chili.  I would be happy to follow his instructions to the letter and make sure his chili got to the cook-off for him.

Jesus Christ’s message to his followers was that they should attempt to help others whom they disagree with rather than to make them even more helpless (Luke 9:51-56). Thus, by focusing on caring for others rather than on competing with them, believers can maintain their own integrity while being of service to those in need.

I care for Earl, and I wanted him to enter his chili.  What harm does it do for me to help him out?  It’s still a competition, played by the rules.  Funny thing was, he then told me that he did not need to go out of town and that he would have time to do his own work on his chili.  So let the games begin!

By the way neither one of us won the contest, and I chose the double crock pot before he could do so.  His chili turned out a little dry because he didn’t have enough room for the liquid in his single crock pot.  Was that cheating or just competing?

Be the One in Ten Christians that have…

The rest of the sentence is, read the Bible!  The Church as a whole, is biblically illiterate.  Ouch, that hurts!

Different research shows slightly different results to the question, “What percent of Christians have read the whole Bible?”  But nevertheless the Spiritual blood of Christians in America is anemic.  Only 1-3 in 10 professed Christians, have ever read the Bible in its entirety.  That means that although every person’s opinion is valid and important, not every Christian’s opinion is informed by the word of God.  Only about 10%-30% even know what God says. 

God expects more of us.  Paul told the young Timothy, “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable to teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.”  (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

Hasn’t God given us His word that we might understand Him a little better than we would otherwise?  Every other year, I read the Bible in full.  I can honestly say there are a couple books – Numbers being one- that are very dry and extremely difficult to get through.  But this should not discourage us from reading this wonderful set of love letters that God has so graciously bestowed upon us.  I have read the Bible in a number of different ways: cover to cover, New Testament then Old Testament, and the use of Robert Roberts one year study, which offers a reading of the Old Testament and two readings of the New Testament in a year.  This year I have chosen The One Year Bible for Women using the New Living Translation.  It breaks the Bible up so you are reading Old and New Testaments along with Psalms and Proverbs each day.  I haven’t quite figured out the “for women” part of the title yet, perhaps it’s the pink accents.

God has a voice; He has chosen to speak to us in a most personal way.  He has given us a book full of wisdom and love along with guides for the ways we should live our lives.  If we don’t dive in and seek His truths, we will never know.  We will never be able to discuss Christ and His fullness to others that may be seeking Him.

As a pastor’s wife that has read her Bible numerous times, I still have difficulty understanding some of its messages.  But each time I read it, God enlightens me to new insights that He has for me to learn.  He has also given me a great source for learning – my pastor.  Christians are blessed to be offered free counseling by their pastors.  Our pastors are there to help spiritually guide us and to preach and teach those parts that may be difficult to understand.  God has put our pastors in place for this purpose among others.  So don’t be afraid to seek out your pastor to help you.

This year, why not make a New Years’ resolution to read your Bible in full?  Let’s get the percentage of Bible readers up and be able to live as per 2 Timothy 2:15.  “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, handling accurately the Word of Truth.”

 

I Need My Pastor….

“Earl, I need to talk to my pastor.”

Whereas my husband is a counselor to many when it comes to spiritual, life and relational issues, does anyone wonder who the pastor’s wife goes to for such help?  Most people would probably recommend some independent, Christian counselor.  Is it possible for a spouse to be your pastor and counselor?

October is Pastor Appreciation Month, a.k.a Clergy Appreciation Month.  With a few clicks of the mouse and very little research, I found that Pastors have been unofficially” recognized the second Sunday each October since around 1992.  Funny thing, we have been officially celebrating Groundhog Day since February 2, 1887!   Is it possible that we are more apt to put our focus upon a rodent who supposedly predicts the future over our Pastors who help us to find a personal relationship with our Creator and encourage us and help us to grow in our faith in Jesus Christ?  I’m just saying…

I see very few churches that even recognize the month let alone a day for Pastor appreciation.  Ever since I have known Earl, whenever someone mentions Pastor Appreciation Month, he quickly tries to refocus it into an employee appreciation month.  But my husband, without fail, will be there for everyone else with just the ring of the phone or a knock on the door.  His ministry is to preach the Word of Christ to all who will listen and to witness to those who cross his path.  He will hear your joy; celebrating with you, and he will comfort you in pain; crying with you in grief.  He will preach the Bible to the very foundation of what it stands for, and he will not be ashamed of it.

There are many times I have looked at my pastor husband and said “I need my pastor”.  It is astounding how quickly, as I watch his face, he transforms into my pastor.  That’s right!  As a member of the congregation for which he serves, I too claim Earl as my pastor and sometimes, even my counselor.  And Earl knows enough to understand that his wife needs a pastor too.  Not many people think about that fact.  But I do.

I love Earl – My husband.  I appreciate and respect Earl – My pastor.

I want to reach out and let my pastor know how much I appreciate him.  He has counseled me, he has strengthened me in my spiritual journey, and he has educated me in spiritual discernment and theology.  He has pointed out to me God’s Holy Word during times of trials, and he has prayed for me and prayed for me and prayed for me.

Hebrews 13:7 (NASB)

“Remember those who led you, who spoke the word of God to you; and considering the result of their conduct, imitate their faith.”

What has your pastor done for you?  More than a groundhog, I feel sure.  I’m just saying…

Blessings and peace…..Laura

Our Son – Birru Maran

Reach out and touch another human being with your heart and soul….how hard could it be?

Earl and I have sponsored a Compassion International child named Birru Maran from India for the past 6 years, he is 9 years old now and his birthday is July 4th, 2002.  I carry a picture of Birru in my Bible as a bookmark and pray for this dear, sweet boy.

Each year we exchange with him several letters and birthday and Christmas cards.  We send him pictures of us and little stickers that kids like and anything else we can find that lay flat in an envelope.

Recently we received the following letter, and I want to share it the way he expressed himself.

“Dear loving Parents,  Yours son Birru Maran is writing with thanks.  I am safe here, and I hope that you are also safe there.  I received letter from you.  I read the letter and felt so happy.  Sometimes I look into sky and says Hello.  We also celebrate Thanks giving festival here every year.  I am learning verses daily in the Project, and growing in the way of God.  Now we are in March month.  It is summer season.  Now I am preparing for my annual examinations.  I praying daily for you.  Yours loving son,  Birru Maran”

This young boy brought me to tears.  One small act of compassion has brought new life in Christ to this young one in India.  We have brought him love, and he in return, gives us his love. 

I have seen pictures of our son Birru when he was but a skinny malnourished child to now a child with a young boy face and a healthy and vaccinated body – from a son who drew pictures of his favorite animals to a young lad who writes that he loves us and is growing in the way of God.

Jesus Christ is the very picture of compassion.  He always reacted to the children with compassion and love.  And He defended them strongly by warning, “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe to stumble, it would be better for him if, with a heavy millstone hung around his neck, he had been cast into the sea.”  Matthew 18:6

All the little children of the world are God’s children, and each child should be loved and held and taught about Jesus.  We are but their caretakers while here on earth and that responsibility that God has given us is to be taken with all seriousness.  The gift of children is a gift to treasure. 

“Behold, children are a gift of the LORD, the fruit of the womb is a reward.” Psalm 127:3

Our children are all grown up, happy and healthy, and they all believe in Jesus Christ.  We have grandchildren that we pray will someday know our Savior too.  But being able to do so now, we touch another child with our hearts in a depressed area of India with his parents and siblings who also are hearing the Word through our son, Birru.

Message of the Beatitudes – Three – Meek

“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.”

  I am not meek, but I am working towards it. 

Most people would not admit to working on becoming a meek person.  We are usually offended when referred to as having too meek a personality or character.  Why?  From all that our culture values, to be meek is to be mild-mannered, spineless, weak, submissive, subservient, passive and even in-effective.  Meek people get trampled. 

Maybe we do not understand what being meek is really all about from Jesus’ perspective. 

Being meek is the middle ground between excessive anger and being completely dispassionate and passive.  Anger is not a sin, nor is it necessarily bad.  The bible says that we are to be angry, but sin not.  Anger can be a great motivator.  It can help us to get charged about God’s righteousness and justice.

Everyone gets angry. But anger is often a selfish response to the world and other people.  If we were left up to our own devices and decisions, everything would be going our way.  So what is it that make us angry?  We may feel anger when we lose control – when things don’t go as we planned and we begin to feel powerless to change them.  We can feel anger when other people’s decision’s adversely affect our lives without our consent.

Jesus was meek.  But Jesus also became angry.  But his anger was a righteous anger for the down-trodden and the oppressed.  His heart burned when people called by His name ignored “the least of these, my brethren.”  He promises judgment for those who truly hurt children and cause them to stumble.  His soul reacted when He saw his Father’s temple being used for profit instead of the worship of God.  James 1:19-20 “This you know, my beloved brethren.  But let everyone be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger; for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God.” Note that when Jesus became angry, His anger was focused on those that caused suffering to others and on the disrespect shown towards God and His worship.  Jesus’ anger was never about Himself.

The meek are not easily provoked to anger; they patiently bear and put up with injuries and affronts;  they carry themselves courteously and affably to all; they have the best thoughts towards others; they do not envy the gifts and graces of other people, and they are willing to be instructed and admonished.  Meekness is patience during the midst of injuries.  Meekness produces peace.  It is proof of true greatness of soul.  It comes from a heart too great to be mowed down by insults.  It even prays for those who tear down.  He that is constantly ruffled, and raises a storm of passion when wronged, is at the mercy of every mortal that chooses to disturb him.

The meek are those who quietly submit to God; who can bear insult; are silent, or return a soft answer; who, in their patience, keep possession of their own souls.  To be meek is one who controls his strength and uses it appropriately.

You cannot achieve meekness without first achieving humbleness.  We submit ourselves to God and know that we can do all things through Him.  We humble ourselves into servant-hood…to love, to have compassion, to serve those around us, even those who are against us.  To be meek is to be wise….

So, what keeps us from being meek?  Ego.  

Besides the meek inheriting the earth, the bible refers to other blessings for those who are meek.  “The meek shall be satisfied.” “The meek He will guide and teach.” “The meek will become wise.” “The meek will be filled with fresh joy.”

So, what’s not to like about being meek?

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