A Legacy To Be Avoided…Revelations 3: 14- 16

 14 “And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write: The words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the origin of God’s creation: 15 “I know your works; you are neither cold nor hot. I wish that you were either cold or hot. 16 So, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I am about to spit you out of my mouth.

Did the Church at Laodicea experience the damnatio  memoriae, the condemnation of a person’s memory? What could the church had done to warrant such a punishment? Many opinions exist but of the two that garner the most support I favor that of Adolf von Harnack, a much respected German scholar. In later times, the church in Laodicea sadly fell from grace. It is his theory based on scripture from the book of Revelation referring to the letter to Laodicea, which makes sad reading… in the letter, to the church of Laodicea the risen Christ, says in that vivid phrase: ‘I am about to spit you out of my mouth’ (Revelation 3:16). So what was damnatio memoriae? It would have resulted in the church at Laodicea records being erased from all books, obliterated from all inscriptions and chiseled out of all memorials. It would be as if they never existed. The biblical equivalent of our current day cancel culture. What did they do that would merit such punishment? The answers lie within the scripture and can be an uncomfortable recognition of current attitudes.  

Laodicea was a wealthy city during the Roman period. Located on major trade routes that passed through important cities like Ephesus, Smyrna and Sardis, Laodicea also was a center of textile production and banking. Like the city it resided in the church had done well, as noted in Revelations 3:17 it was a wealthy church. Wealth has a way of corrupting our character, lessening our resolve to follow the right way and hampers good intentions for the sake of acquiring more of worldly things that cools our faith. The scripture indicates that the people had become lukewarm and that attitude was shown by their deeds. In Revelations 3:14-21 the Lord describes them as such. There are many examples of analogies to be found among the scriptures. The people of Laodicea would have picked up on this one in these verses. Those who would read John’s “Revelation” would have also. The cities drinking water came by aqueduct from a spring six miles to the south of the city and when it arrived it was lukewarm, not refreshing at all. There were hot springs near by that people bathed in, seeking to heal their bodies. Hot water can clean and purify, cold water can refresh and give life to a tired soul. Lukewarm water could do neither. Scripture tells us that the seven churches in Asia Minor each received a letter, the harshest being the one to the church at Laodicea. Their deeds or lack of drawing the Lord’s displeasure. In the eyes of Jesus, this is a dead church. This church practiced a faith of convenience being neither hot or cold. They had become comfortable in their wealth and were arrogant to others around them. 

Mark 10:23 (ESV)

23 And Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How difficult it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!”

Jesus and scripture often equates deeds as an indicator of a person’s spiritual health.

Matthew 7:16–17 (ESV)

16 You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorn  bushes, or figs from thistles? 17 So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit.

The Church at Laodicea was prosperous in material goods and its people were also. They enjoyed the fruits of their physical labour but in return they became victims of their wealth and allowed themselves to become comfortable with a semblance of the faith…  Their attitude of self-sufficiency  and lukewarm faith placed them in constant danger of the evils of this world.

Where are you and your church in this world today? Have we become so comfortable in the things of this life that our legacy will be that of the church at Laodicea? I hope and pray not. 

Join us in the Pew next week….

Life is Good

jk

….Attitude Is A Choice

 While not stepping completely out of The Pew I am figuratively at the end of the pew and I must be careful with my words and thoughts. We will have many choices to make in our lives and all will in some way be influenced by people, places and things, timing and for many of us our faith… 

 Let me introduce you to Viktor Frankl… who was an Austrian neurologist, psychiatrist, philosopher, author, and Holocaust survivor. Viktor Frankl was a practicing Jew his entire life, but he was very careful not to impose, or even be seen to be imposing, his religious conviction upon others; that was not the way he operated as a therapist, physician or man. Frankl believed that humans are motivated by something called a “will to meaning,” an overwhelming desire to find meaning in life. He argued that life can have meaning even in the most miserable of circumstances and that the motivation for living comes from finding that meaning.  According to Frankl, “We can discover this meaning in life in three different ways:

(1) by creating a work or doing a deed

(2) by experiencing something or encountering someone 

(3) by the attitude we take toward unavoidable suffering” and that “everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the last of the human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances” 

City Slickers a 1991 movie, gave us an exchange between Jack Palance and Billy Crystal that lasted a whole 1:03  and gave us a question that people have spent a life time asking and trying to answer. What is the meaning of life? Curly Washburn’s answer was… ‘just one thing, stick to that and everything will be all right’. When asked what that one thing was, Curly replied… ‘that’s what you have to figure out’.  I found it interesting that Mr. Frankl, a man of degrees has narrowed down the ways to discover the meaning of life. My friend Webster defines attitude as follows…. “a settled way of thinking or feeling about someone or something, typically one that is reflected in a person’s behavior.” We can enlarge on that somewhat by adding this….

“The definition of an attitude is a way of feeling or acting toward a person, thing or situation. Passion for a sport, dislike for a certain actor and negativity toward life in general are each an example of an attitude.”

Ok, next I found myself reading this…

The four basic types of attitudes and behaviors that are positive, negative and neutral.

  • Positive Attitude: This is one type of attitude in organizational behaviour. …
  • Negative Attitude: A negative attitude is something that every person should avoid. …
  • Neutral Attitude: …
  • Sikken Attitude:

“The silken attitude was new to me, so I dug a little deeper and found this….People with a sikken attitude demonstrate a negative state of mind. They try to destroy the image of every element that reflects into their mind. However, you may consider it as a type of much more aggressive negative attitude.”

If we accept that attitude is a choice, I would then ask you to consider that a biblical attitude is one that should be added to that list. The bible has much to say about attitude, the one that resonates the most with me is from Philippians 4: 8-9…

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you. “

 On the other hand the Bible is full of folks who are in need of an attitude adjustment. Some sins of  attitude include, a false pride, unjust anger, bitter envy, malicious hatred. When attitude becomes a verb, a negative one…it always brings with its actions hurt, pain and the lessening of value of the people, places and things it is directed at. We can unpack and pull up scripture and still miss the point. Curly said it in a simple and short conversation… I believe it starts with the attitude you have toward doing one thing and doing it well. Live a Godly life, lifting up Jesus Christ and the good news of the salvation for all who believe and call on his name and those who are in need of God’s love. Remember, a biblical attitude is one of affirmation, not one of condemnation. You can start doing just that by remembering this 

Romans 12:2

“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

What does God say is the purpose of life? In one sense, you are always living in God’s purposeGod is God and He works all things, including your life, according to his purposes. … Psalm 57:2 says, “I cry out to God Most High, to God who fulfills his purpose for me.” This is key in understanding God’s purpose for your life.(What Is God’s Purpose for Your Life And How to Find It … https://www.cornerstone.edu › blog-post › what-is-gods-p..)

“When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.

Walking with Jesus will give you the answer to the question of the meaning of life… Your life. Apply what Curly said…‘just one thing, stick to that and everything will be all right’. 

Yes, attitude is a choice. Hear what God has told you…Micah 6: 8

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.

    And what does the Lord require of you?

To act justly and to love mercy

    and to walk humbly with your God.

Life is Good

jk

The Woman, The Well, A Revelation

Last week behind the words we found these facts.

  • there was a history between the Jews and the Samaritans
  • Whether  to worship God in the Temple in Jerusalem or on Mt Gerizim
  • We are there for the beginning of a new stage in Jesus’ ministry
  • It was the sixth hour of the day, rather late for her to come for water she would need for house hold chores
  • the reason of going through Galilee to get to Jerusalem
  • The possibility of a theological point
  • The woman had no idea who she was talking to.

This week we will read of the conversation between Jesus and the woman, the arrival of the disciples and her departure then Jesus’s conversation with the disciples and finally the reaction of the town people. 

When we get to verses 5-6 there is a detailed description of the location of this conversation between Jesus and this woman. The location of the well and whose well it is provides a reference to the   importance of patriarchal  traditions. These traditions will have an influence on their conversation. (Patriarchal -having a system that relates to a society or government controlled by men.) 

Reading carefully we note that Jesus arrives at the well in the heat of the day (about the sixth hour NIV) He is tired from his journey and is in need of water. There are some things here we can glean that add a richness to this story and as always history adds in part of our understanding scripture. There will be thirteen exchanges between the two of them. There are two sections to these exchanges, each one introduced by a request or command from Jesus. The first being vv. 7-15 “give me a drink” the second occurring in vv. 16-26 “go call your husband”. As we continue to read this remarkable story the walls continue to figuratively  fall. The social conventions of the day forbid a Jewish man to initiate a conversation with an unknown woman. It was also not proper to engage in a public conversation with a woman. Jews did not invite contact with Samaritans. There was no social intercourse between them. We also see that as in other conversations there were times Jesus refused to answer the question directly, he lets her answer the question for herself…”if you knew”. She hears only the words living water. The concept of such a thing was not within her reasoning…again, she does not know who she is talking to. She is thinking, this man who cannot acquire water for himself now offers me running water. As readers of this story we must realize the reasoning of her thoughts. We know about the living water but she only knows and understands the literal meaning. We do not want to confuse but the woman sees no visible means available to Jesus to draw the water and she challenges Jesus by simply asking “you are not greater than Jacob, are you?” You have nothing to use to draw the water from the well and only a miracle similar to the one traditionally to Jacob at Haran could produce the water he needed. Jesus responds by asserting to her that Jacob’s gift may have been miraculous and abundant but it would not quench her thirst permanently.  In these two verses vv. 13-14 Jesus says that his water will become a spring in her gushing up to eternal life. Her response indicates that she has once again missed the point entirely….

 Consider these verses….

27 Just then his disciples came. They were astonished that he was speaking with a woman, but no one said, “What do you want?” or, “Why are you speaking with her?” 28 Then the woman left her water jar and went back to the city. She said to the people, 29 “Come and see a man who told me everything I have ever done! He cannot be the Messiah, can he?” 30 They left the city and were on their way to him.

Verses 39-42 are a fitting end to the story of the woman at the well, pay close attention to verses 41 – 42.

39 Many Samaritans from that city believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I have ever done.” 40 So when the Samaritans came to him, they asked him to stay with them; and he stayed there two days. 41 And many more believed because of his word. 42 They said to the woman, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is truly the Savior of the world.”

It is hard to know when to back away from the keyboard there is so much here that a surface read  misses. 

-Jesus challenges and breaks down boundaries.. the boundaries between chosen people and rejected people, male and female

Jesus offers the Samaritan woman the gift of God v.10 and revealed His identity to her vv.25-26 

25 The woman said, “I know that Messiah” (called Christ) “is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.”

26 Then Jesus declared, “I, the one speaking to you—I am he.”

-read carefully because this hate of other people and nations is ever present today. Across the Middle East, Africa, Asia and Europe

-She is the first person to whom he boldly makes known His identity. Here in this verse 26 is the Revelation we wrote of earlier. 

-the despised Samaritans get to spend two days with the “Savior of the world.

There is more but for now may we all have that Samaritan experience. May we be the one to whom the good news comes in unexpected places and at unexpected times.

Life is Good

jk 

Jesus’ Ministry…Added Direction…The Woman At The Well …John 4

We all know of the parable found in the Book of Luke, 10: 25-37, about a traveler who is stripped of clothing, beaten, and left half dead alongside the road. First a Jewish priest and then a Levite comes by, but both avoid the man. Finally, a Samaritan happens upon the traveler and offers comfort and needed help. There is a history between the Jews and the Samaritans that adds cause and reason to the story of this encounter of Jesus and this woman. It is my belief that to really read the Bible we must get past what I will call a surface read. Each word, sentence and paragraph builds on those before, building a foundation of thought and reason. That’s my way as a layman to get into the word and it works for me. Get past the surface and behind the words and seek the meaning and message of our Lord and Savior. In my own small way I will try to do this as we read this story of Jesus and the Samaritan woman. 

A New Stage…

We read in the Book of John, Chapter 4 Jesus’ ministry enters a new stage. Jesus was a Jew and up until this time in the ministry he had always been confined to traditional Judaism, that which reckoned outsiders and enemies as a threat to the precepts of Judaism and viewed the Samaritans as such. The nearest event to have caused this intense dislike occurred about 200 BCE. The dispute that caused these hard feelings between the Jews and the Samaritans was about the correct location of the cultic center. The Samaritans had built a shrine on Mt. Gerizim during the Persian period and claimed that the shrine was the proper place to worship, not in the Temple in Jerusalem. The Temple was destroyed in 128 BCE but the hostility between the Samaritans and the Jews continued. So…let’s continue. As Jesus travels through Samaria he comes to a town called Sychar. It is here that Jacob’s well was located and here he encounters the woman late in the day who had come to draw water. As we read on we come to know why she came so late in the day a good example of a surface read  is found here. If we remember this little fact later we can arrive at the possibility she came late to avoid others because of her reputation in the village. Just a quick pass over and we might miss this foundational block of our story. Jesus’ ministry was always the salvation of all of people. I am sure this is not Jesus’ first break from the traditional practices of Judaism. Here at this moment His actions and intentions are made clear as to this salvation Jesus speaks of… It is for ALL. We must not let ourselves let this moment pass. Two things here are pivotal. He speaks directly to a Samaritan, who happens to be a woman who has come to draw water from the well. This is someone who stands in marked contrast to all that has preceded in the Gospel so far. Jesus had spoken with Nicodemus, a male of high standing in the Jewish religious establishment. But now Jesus speaks with a Samaritan woman, an unnamed female of an enemy people. 

The next surface read is found in verses 4: 4-6  and asks the question. Was the choice to go through Samaria geographical or did it have some theological reasoning also, that would support it? Was Galilee the quickest and best? There is scripture to indicate that there was some theological value included in this decision. 

Look at verses John 3:14…14 – 15 Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up,[15 that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.”V 30: He must become greater; I must become less.”  V 9: 4…As long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work. 

These verses do add a theological consideration in answering this question. There is the very real possibility that Jesus believed that his calling was to go among those whom social and behavior paths was deemed unacceptable to God’s plan and will. To bring them to salvation, they would need to hear the word of God.  Our last point for this week will be is something we might go by at first. These next verses 4: 5,6,7 are reminiscent of some old testament images and do in some way add to the narrative of these verses.  In both the stories, Elijah and the widow of Sidon, (1 Kgs 17: 10-11) and of this encounter at that well tell of women being interrupted while engaged in housework by a gesture of hospitality. The parallel here suggests the image of Jesus as a prophet and this will become an observation that plays a part in their conversation.

We all know of the parable found in the Book of Luke, 10: 25-37, about a traveler who is stripped of clothing, beaten, and left half dead alongside the road. First a Jewish priest and then a Levite comes by, but both avoid the man. Finally, a Samaritan happens upon the traveler and offers comfort and needed help. There is a history between the Jews and the Samaritans that adds cause and reason to the story of this encounter of Jesus and this woman. It is my belief that to really read the Bible we must get past what I will call a surface read. Each word, sentence and paragraph builds on those before, building a foundation of thought and reason. That’s my way as a layman to get into the word and it works for me. Get past the surface and behind the words and seek the meaning and message of our Lord and Savior. In my own small way I will try to do this as we read this story of Jesus and the Samaritan woman. 

A New Stage…

We read in the Book of John, Chapter 4 Jesus’ ministry enters a new stage. Jesus was a Jew and up until this time in the ministry he had always been confined to traditional Judaism, that which reckoned outsiders and enemies as a threat to the precepts of Judaism and viewed the Samaritans as such. The nearest event to have caused this intense dislike occurred about 200 BCE. The dispute that caused these hard feelings between the Jews and the Samaritans was about the correct location of the cultic center. The Samaritans had built a shrine on Mt. Gerizim during the Persian period and claimed that the shrine was the proper place to worship, not in the Temple in Jerusalem. The Temple was destroyed in 128 BCE but the hostility between the Samaritans and the Jews continued. So…let’s continue. As Jesus travels through Samaria he comes to a town called Sychar. It is here that Jacob’s well was located and here he encounters the woman late in the day who had come to draw water. As we read on we come to know why she came so late in the day a good example of a surface read  is found here. If we remember this little fact later we can arrive at the possibility she came late to avoid others because of her reputation in the village. Just a quick pass over and we might miss this foundational block of our story. Jesus’ ministry was always the salvation of all of people. I am sure this is not his first break from the traditional practices of Judaism. Here at this moment His actions and intentions are made clear as to this salvation Jesus speaks of… It is for ALL. We must not let ourselves pass this moment pass. Two things here are pivotal. He speaks directly to a Samaritan, who happens to be a woman who has come to draw water from the well. This is someone who stands in marked contract to all that has preceded in the Gospel so far. Jesus had spoken with Nicodemus, a male of high standing in the Jewish religious establishment. But now Jesus speaks with a Samaritan woman, an unnamed female of an enemy people. 

The next surface read is found in verses 4: 4-6  and asks the question. Was the choice to go through Samaria geographical or did it have some theological reasoning also, that would support it?Was Galilee the quickest and best? There is scripture to indicate that there was some theological value included in this decision. 

Look at verses John 3:14…14 – 15 Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up,[15 that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.”V 30: He must become greater; I must become less.”  V 9: 4…As long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work. 

These verses do add a theological consideration in answering this question. There is the very real possibility that Jesus believed that his calling was to go among those whom social and behavior paths was deemed unacceptable to God’s plan and will. To bring them to salvation, they would need to hear the word of God.  Our last point for this week will be is something of we might not read at first. This Samaritan woman had no idea who she was talking to. These next verses 4: 5,6,7 are reminiscent of some old testament images and do in some way add to the narrative of these verses.  In both the stories, Elijah and the widow of Sidon, (1 Kgs 17: 10-11) and of this encounter at that well tell of women being interrupted while engaged in housework by a gesture of hospitality. The parallel here suggests the image of Jesus as a prophet and this will become an observation that plays a part in their conversation. So, beyond the words, what have we found?

  • there was a history between the Jews and the Samaritans
  • Where to worship God  in the Temple in Jerusalem or on Mt Gerizim
  • We are there for the beginning of a new stage in Jesus’ ministry
  • It was the sixth hour of the day, rather late for her to come for water she would need for house hold chores
  • the reason of going through Galilee to get to Jerusalem
  • The possibility of a theological point
  • The woman had no idea who she was talking about

I will stop here this week, next week we will read the conversation between Jesus and the woman, the arrival of the disciples and her departure then Jesus’s conversation with the disciples and finally the reaction of the town people. I enjoy being back in the word and hope you have enjoyed your visit to The Pew. Meet you here next week.

Life is Good

jk

The “Christian Woke”

A new word or at least a new slant on the meaning of an old word when it is used in the context of  US Slang, Woke, the simple definition as in Webster’s means to be aware. To know what is going on around you…people, places and things. The first use of the word as an adjective was in 1972. Here is a recent up-grade to that word from Webster’s dictionary.

chiefly US slang

: aware of and actively attentive to important facts and issues (especially issues of racial and social justice)

So a simple meaning would be, being aware. But let’s not stop there.

The Urban Dictionary, which published its original definition two years prior to the official dictionary, defines it as “being woke means being aware… knowing what’s going on in the community (related to racism and social injustice)”. In other words, it means to be awake to sensitive social issues, such as racism.Jan 21, 2021

Being Woke calls fore people to be Aware of Social justice and Racism. I am disturbed not by what is written here but more disturbed by what is not included in this latest social and cultural interest and lifting up the state of being Woke is the fact that being Woke to God’s word and will is a necessary component. As I wrote earlier…the simple Webster’s meaning is to be Aware.

In this day and time words and things can be hijacked to meet a need or serve an agenda. In 1984 another term popped up and joined those buzz words which are used to get our attention. Spin Doctor, the definition of which is….a person (such as a political aide) responsible for ensuring that others interpret an event from a particular point of view. I believe that interpreting an event from a particular point of view is now fashionable in this agenda, social justice, culture-driven world we live in. The Woke and Canceled led society of the day is woefully misguided. Dealing with the cancel culture at this writing is best left for another time. It is in itself a whole other blog. So join me for a few as we look to the state of Christian Woke.

 From a  Christian Perspective

Remember the saying God’s got this, well He has and for a long time. In the birth, ministry, crucifixion and the resurrection of Jesus Christ…those of the faith have been Woke for a long time. Here are some thoughts from gotquestions.org

-as Christians we must be aware that racism in the USA has brought shame upon our nation and at certain times in our history has resulted in terrible violence.

-we must be aware that the very principles of civil rights, respect for others and equal justice cannot ensure these very things. No law can change what’s in our hearts. As Christians we know that change, an awareness of Christ and God’s will in our life can and will change what’s in a person’s heart. Real Justice can happen only when we are justified in Christ. “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” in the way taught by Christ (Mark 12:31).  

awareness that reconciliation in the church, our lives and others occurs when we put Christ first, the love of God and our duties to the faith. When that happens we set aside racial categories and ethnicity and see others through God’s eyes.We are all children of God, part of the family of God… “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28).

2 Corinthians 4: 4

In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 

Real change and real answers to the problems of racism, injustice, other societal evils are found in God’s Word and in the peace He gives. (This is a direct quote from the article in gotquestions.org)

The faith and the gospel of Jesus Christ have been woke for well over 2000 years, more accurately  since God the Creator said… “let there be light”. Perhaps we of the faith have been napping and have forgotten the need to be Woke, or as I prefer The Christian Perspective….AWARE of our Lord’s commands.

1 Corinthians 16:13-14

13 Be watchful, stand firm in your faith, be courageous, be strong. 14 Let all that you do be done in love. 

Simple enough…To be Woke you must be Aware. The solutions needed will not be found in the streets or the destruction of other people or things. Be Aware of God and his will, the answers lie there.

Life is Good

jk

God’s Justice…Equally Applied, Divinely Given

This weeks blog is a reprint of the May 30, 2020 blog. I felt compelled to write something as the death of George Floyd and trial has consumed our nation for almost a year now. May all those this has affected find peace and closure and do so with the peace, mercy and grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.

No Justice, No Peace, once again we hear  the Battle Cry of those who would use an injustice to others to further their evil actions. This is the cry of the looters and arsonists and those sometimes referred to as Social Justice Warriors. This week the Pew enters into an area we try to avoid but the state of the union and the lack of Godly behavior beckons us to this weeks blog topic. Now we are going to get into a web of conflicting opinions but in this day and time that is the new norm. What is Justice? How is justice distributed and applied in a fair way?  It is reasonable to expect that Justice and the laws that define it should be fair, equal and balanced for everyone. Let’s look at some varying degrees of justice.Sometime there are decisions made that elicit a response of the cliche, “ It’s all about the principles involved here.” There is always the expectation of consideration of the morals involved in a fair and just dealing between two competing claims. Are they linked to fairness, entitlement and equality? Many view justice as an exercise of three main principles. Are they allocated in such a manner that they fairly allow an equality that meet the needs of those involved? If you are still with me you may have noticed that there is a great deal of repetition and more questions than answers and clarity of thought. Justice is important to almost everyone but it is a fact that it means different things to different groups. The best way I can explain this is that those who strive for social justice are looking to make sure all people have equal economic, political, and social opportunities regardless of race, gender, or religion. The other side of justice is the legal application of the law to a situation. Justice is never black and white and justice applied without moral principles, compassion, and in support of those weaker than others is usually agenda driven and does not build the confidence of people. Justice is not an easy thing to define and even harder to apply fairly. 

I will conclude this weeks blog by asserting that the only real and true justice is God’s Justice and for most all of us it is even harder to understand. From a Christian concept justice is to each what is due. The Christian view of justice encompasses all moral, political, and philosophical concepts which can be supported by a belief in and a profession of faith of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We find Biblical references to the word justice to be simply “make it right”. The God we serve is a just and loving God and we are called to be just and loving in our judgements of others. 

“Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne; steadfast love and faithfulness go before you.” (Psalm 89:14). 

“`Do not pervert justice; do not show partiality to the poor or favoritism to the great, but judge your neighbor fairly. “`Do not go about spreading slander among your people. “`Do not do anything that endangers your neighbor’s life. I am the LORD. (Leviticus 19:15)

There is no justice in this world without God. This is difficult to understand but I do believe that George Floyd did not receive justice in this world. I do believe that what is being done in his name does him even more injustice. 

May you rest in peace George Floyd, in God you will have your justice.

Life is Good

jk

“I Believe”…

In 1953 Jane Froman requested a song to cheer people up in the wake of the Korean War. The original song was written by Ervin Drake, Irvin Graham, Jimmy Shirl and Al Stillman. Jane Froman introduced the song on her TV show that year. It became the first hit song ever introduced on TV. Many of you who are old enough will remember that Frankie Lane also did well with this song and you might be surprised to know that Elvis Presley also sang this song.

“I Believe”

I believe for every drop of rain that falls

A flower grows

I believe that somewhere in the darkest night

A candle glows

I believe for everyone who goes astray, someone will come

To show the way

I believe, I believe

I believe above a storm the smallest prayer

Can still be heard

I believe that someone in the great somewhere

Hears every word

Everytime I hear a new born baby cry,

Or touch a leaf or see the sky

Then I know why, I believe

Everytime I hear a new born baby cry,

Or touch a leaf or see the sky

Then I know why, I believe

I don’t think it would be a stretch to reach back to an old saying among the older generation of my day… “Lord knows” and I think that fits the next sentence. Lord knows we need to believe better days are coming. When we truly believe we have an unshakeable faith that our God is alive. To have a faith that believes we must embrace the fact that God is interested in us and what we do with each day He has given us. Without this faith and belief  it will be impossible to please Him.

Hebrews 11: 6

And without faith it is impossible to please God, for whoever would approach him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. 

Believe and Faith are very similar words but scripture does place a burden on believing first.

John 8:24

 unless you believe that I am who I claim to be, you will die in your sins.

2 Corinthians 4:13

 But having the same spirit of faith, according to what is written, “I believed, therefore I spoke,” we also believe, therefore we also speak,

1 John 3:23

 This is His commandment, that we believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, just as He commanded us.

Romans 10:11

For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes in Him will not be disappointed.”

John 14:1

 “Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me.

When we believe we fuel the fires of our faith…

Hebrews 11:1

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

Believing having faith requires other actions… 

Romans 10:9

because if you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 

Believe, have Faith and Proclaim the Good News to all “who have ears.”

Seems like I have wandered into a forest of songs, so here is another one. It is from South Pacific…Music written by Richard Rogers, lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II.

Happy talk, keep talking happy talk,

Talk about things you’d like to do,

You gotta have a dream, if you don’t have a dream,

How you gonna have a dream come true?

Believing fuels our Faith, which allows us to hope and have a Dream. Take time for some Happy Talk and remember this…

Philippians 4: 8

Finally, beloved,[e] whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. 

It has been a long and uncertain year and Covid 19 continues to make demands on how we go about our every day life. In Jesus Christ there is certainty for a better day and all we have to do is Believe.

Life is Good

jk 

Pentecost… Christianity On Steroids…

Acts 1:1–5 

My Dear Theophilus, I have already given you an account of all the things that Jesus began to do and to teach, right up to the day when he was taken up to heaven, after he had, through the Holy Spirit, given his instructions to the apostles whom he had chosen. In the days that followed his sufferings, he also showed himself living to them by many proofs, for he was seen by them on various occasions throughout a period of forty days; and he spoke to them about the kingdom of God. While he was staying with them, he told them not to go away from Jerusalem but to wait for the Father’s promise, ‘which’, he said, ‘I told you about; for I told you that John baptized with water but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit before many days have passed’. 

Without Pentecost the Christian Church could not have become the foundation of the hopes and promises of God spoken to us by His son Jesus Christ. Pentecost is important to Christians because it is at the very heart of of the God given gift that sustains and strengthens the faith and leads us to our salvation. Pentecost comes from a Jewish harvest festival called Shavuot. The festival of Pentecost commemorates the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles and other followers of Jesus Christ while they were in Jerusalem. In the Christian tradition, this event represents the birth of the early church. 

Pentecost represented the beginning of a new age where the Holy Spirit made salvation available to the Gentiles. Those Jews that had accepted the resurrection as that of the Son of God, Jesus Christ but still held that conforming to Jewish Law was still necessary. Pentecost changed that. It was the beginning of a new age where the Holy Spirit made salvation available to the Gentiles. The symbols of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost are Flames, wind, the breath of God and a Dove. There are seven other things that are associated with the coming of the Holy Spirit. They are: wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord. The Holy Spirit’s function is vital in both resisting the temptation to sin and also the conviction of sin, once it has been committed.

 It is Christian teaching that Christ physically departed from Earth by rising into Heaven, in the presence of eleven of his apostles. According to the New Testament narrative, the Ascension occurred forty days after the resurrection. It was thenTen days from the Ascension to Pentecost. During those forty days prior to His ascension Jesus appeared to the Apostles and shared the”Good News” that He died on the Cross and as promised risen, all to save us from sin. 

Acts which many consider to be the second chapter of his book Luke one of the four gospels, which told the story of Jesus’ early life now writes in Acts the second volume of a story without and end. In book of Acts and the day of Pentecost we are assured that the immortality and power of Jesus goes on in his church… It is through those events on that day of Pentecost when the Church was empowered by the Holy Spirit to do the tasks Jesus commanded us to do, that Christianity has endured and has been infused with the brave heart of faith. The Comforter that they waited on has given the disciples and those in that room the courage and strength needed…‘And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age’ (Matthew 28:20). Keep the FaithPentecost … The beginning that has no end.

Life is Good

jk

Resurrection……The Sweet Mystery

I like William Barclay’s thoughts and while they do help me to understand more, I still love the Sweet Mystery of the Resurrection. As Holy Week begins our minds go back to Jerusalem and the triumphed entry of our Lord into the City. Now begins to unfold a series of events that will eventually led to his crucifixion, and resurrection; the sweet mystery of all believers. If we take away the resurrection, the thought and belief that there is a life to come, somehow this life loses its value. If we believe that this is the only world, then things of this world will be all that matter. 

 1st Corinthians 15: 35-49, is my favorite scripture about our resurrection. Jesus the son of the living God rose from the dead…” ascended into Heaven to sit on the right hand of God the Father Almighty” Jesus told his disciples if you believe in me and you will have eternal life. When Paul wrote these verses there were those who said “Granted that there is a resurrection of the body, with what kind of a body do people rise again?” Paul’s answer has three basic principles:

(1)He takes the analogy of a seed. The seed is put in the ground and dies, but in due course it rises again; and does so with a very different kind of body from that with which it was sown.Our body changed by death, back to dust, changed by resurrection, risen to life but it is still we who exist.

 (2)In the world, even as we know it, there are different kinds of bodies; each differes in their creation body. God gives to each those things it will need in this life.  If that is so, it is only reasonable to expect that he will give us a body fitted for the resurrection life.

(3) This next principle is in my mind the foundation of all that is to come to those who accept Jesus and seek forgiveness of their sins. It is the promise on which our hope is anchored. In Genesis 2: 7, Adam, the first man is made by God from the dust of the earth. God had a plan and Jesus was in every way the incarnation of the very Spirit of God. We learn from the scriptures that we are one with Adam. We also will share his sin, return to dust when we die because we have his body in this life. Those who follow the new life, the good way, are one with Christ shall share his life and his being. Yes, we will have a physical body to begin with. But on that glorious day we shall have a spiritual body.

Paul shares four contrasts about our future state. 

(1)The present body is corruptible, it will perish and decay; the future body will be incorruptible, it will not perish. 

(2)The present body is in dishonour; the future body will be in glory. 

(3)The present body is in weakness; the future body will be in power. 

(4)The present body is a natural body; the future body will be a spiritual body.

In the life to come, we will be such that the Spirit can truly fill us, as can never happen here, and theSpirit can truly use us, as is never possible now. Then we will be able to present the perfect worship, the perfect service, the perfect love that now can only be a vision and a dream.

Life is Good

jk

It’s Personal….

I have for a while now wanted to step out of the Pew for just a few paragraphs. It is the goal of this blog to find ways to share God’s commandments and the covenants God has made with his people and the scriptures that brings them to us and to do so from a layman’s point of view. 

This year has brought massive changes to the world we live in, the entire globe, whatever part of the world you live in has not been spared the massive burden of this virus. This virus does not respect life as to where you live, race, ethnicity, age or social status.To clear up what might be confusing to some, race is a reference to observable characteristics  as well as skin color. Ethnicity encompasses cultural factors such as nationality, tribal affiliation, religion, language and traditions of a particular group. The things that we have worked so hard to learn to respect change daily with the winds of social and cultural agendas. The word of God remains the same as to its intent and the commandment given by Jesus to all Christians, we are to love each other as He has loved us., remains as pertianit to day as then. Things have slowed down a bit and for many of us and it was not a choice we made. I cannot speak for others but for me it has provided a time of reflection, not all of it good. 

This pause has given me time to evaluate the state of my faith.My faith is a personal thing”…How many times have you heard or said that very thing? Is it ok to simply say my faith is a personal thing? Christians aren’t perfect by any means and their behavior often influences how non-believers see us and the Church. It may well be a personal thing but people are watching us to determine if our actions point to our faith. Another way to say that is do we walk the walk?  Two words, what would be their core meaning? Personal and the other word faith. First 

Personal…

 : of, relating to, or affecting a particular person : private, individual personal …

Definition of Faith  :allegiance to duty or a person :fidelity to one’s promises  :sincerity of intentions acted in good faith :belief and trust in and loyalty to God . (Both definitions  Merriam-Webster)

The Greeks loved to debate, not to discuss or reason but to seek justification for a principal or stated belief. Justification is another whole blog. For now I will rely on scripture to point me to what is the truth of God’s word.

Hebrews 11
1  Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. 2 This is what the ancients were commended for. We have a list of people who relied on their faith in God and were blessed for it.

John 20: 29 Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.

Faith is very important to me, biblically and personally and yes I do make a distinction between the two. I believe that a biblical  based faith can endure even the hardest of times through God’s grace and the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Sometimes relying on our own faith, most often one of convenience,  we can lose the power of the covenant between us and our Lord.  Some things make no sense but do rest on my mind or as the old folks used to say… give me cause to ponder. This virus has prevented me from shaking another man’s hand. With all that’s going on in the world, how could I find room in my day to be concerned about such a thing! But…

“For centuries the handshake has been a traditional social custom signifying mutual respect in business and social settings between both men and women. … But overall, the handshake has always held its place as the signal that you mean business, you promise what you say is true and you respect the other person’s presence.)Mar 4, 2018

(wcfcourier.com) 

There are people that judge the measure of a man by his handshake…ponder on that for a while. I will have to go on record as believing a handshake beats the fist pump. 

I abhor  the common practice of deception in order to advance an agenda, simply put, lying. Some would like to say, well it is not so much a Lie but more like an innocent deception. Deception refers to the act—big or small, cruel or kind—of  encouraging people to believe information that is not true. Lying is a common form of deception—stating something known to be untrue with the intent to deceive.”  

I could go on and on but to what end would that take me. This time in our lives is one that requires us to hold fast to our God, family and faith. Yes, I consider these things to be personal. I will wrap this up with a well intentioned piece of advice.

Philippians 4  

 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

 

Hope to see you back in the Pew next week.

Life is Good

Jk 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I have for a while now wanted to step out of the Pew for just a few paragraphs. It is the goal of this blog to find ways to share God’s commandments and the covenants he has made with his people through the holy scriptures that brings them to us and to do so from a layman’s point of view. 

This past year has brought massive changes to the world we live in, the entire globe, whatever part of the world you live in has not been spared the massive burden of this virus. This virus does not respect life as to where you live, race, ethnicity, age or social status.To clear up what might be confusing to some, race is a reference to observable characteristics  as well as skin color. Ethnicity encompasses cultural factors such as nationality, tribal affiliation, religion, language and traditions of a particular group. The things that we have worked so hard to learn to respect have always been the commandment given by Jesus to all Christians from the very start of his ministry here on this earth and I believe will be put before us on the Lords Day. We are to love each other as He has loved us. That one still leaves a lot of work to be done by all of us. Things have slowed down a bit and for many of us and it was not a choice we made. I cannot speak for others but for me it has provided a time of reflection, not all of it good. 

This pause has given me time to evaluate the state of my faith.My faith is a personal thing”…How many times have you heard or said that very thing? Is it ok to simply say my faith is a personal thing? Christians aren’t perfect by any means and their behavior often influences how non-believers see us and the Church. It may well be a personal thing but people are watching us to determine if our actions point to our faith. Another way to say that is do we walk the walk?  Two words, what would be their core meaning? Personal and the other word faith. First 

Personal…

 : of, relating to, or affecting a particular person : private, individual personal …

Definition of Faith  :allegiance to duty or a person :fidelity to one’s promises  :sincerity of intentions acted in good faith :belief and trust in and loyalty to God . (Both definitions  Merriam-Webster)

The Greeks loved to debate, not to discuss or reason but to seek justification for a principal or stated belief. Justification is another whole blog. For now I will rely on scripture to point me to what is the truth of God’s word.

Hebrews 11
1  Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. 2 This is what the ancients were commended for. We have a list of people who relied on their faith in God and were blessed for it.

John 20: 29 Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.

Faith is very important to me, biblically and personally and yes I do make a distinction between the two. I believe that a biblical  based faith can endure even the hardest of times through God’s grace and the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Sometimes relying on our own faith, most often one of convenience,  we can lose the power of the covenant between us and our Lord.  Some things make no sense but do rest on my mind or as the old folks used to say… give me cause to ponder. This covid thing has prevented me from shaking another mans hand. With all that’s  going on in the world I find room in my day to be concerned about such a thing! But…

“For centuries the handshake has been a traditional social custom signifying mutual respect in business and social settings between both men and women. … But overall, the handshake has always held its place as the signal that you mean business, you promise what you say is true and you respect the other person’s presence.)Mar 4, 2018

(wcfcourier.com) 

There are people that judge the measure of a man by his handshake…ponder on that for a while. I will have to go on record as believing a handshake beats the fist pump. 

I abhor  the common practice of deception in order to advance an agenda, simply put, lying. Some would like to say, well it is not so much a Lie, but more like an innocent deception. Deception refers to the act—big or small, cruel or kind—of  encouraging people to believe information that is not true. Lying is a common form of deception—stating something known to be untrue with the intent to deceive.”  

I could go on and on but to what end would that take me. This time in our lives is one that requires us to hold fast to our God, family and faith. Yes, I consider these things to be personal. I will wrap this up with a well intentioned piece of advice.

Philippians 4  

 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

 

Hope to see you back in the Pew next week.

Life is Good

Jk