This is Harper’s second week of preschool. He’s there from 8-2:30 M-F so on my day off, Monday, I have some time to just sit and do whatever I want…forgot about that kind of time! Olivia had a sub class early so I’ve been sitting on the front porch listening to the cicadas sing and reading a bit.
Welcome with open arms fellow believers who don’t see things the way you do. And don’t jump all over them every time they do or say something you don’t agree with—even when it seems that they are strong on opinions but weak in the faith department. Remember, they have their own history to deal with. Treat them gently.
Our 🎶🎶 for today is “Better” by Pat Barrett.
Readings for today…Psalms 45, 47, 48, Joshua 8:1-22, Romans 14:1-12, Matthew 26:47-56
What is God? It is only a subject that has inspired some of the finest writing in the history of Western civilization—and yet the first two pages of Google results for the question are comprised almost entirely of Sweet’N Low evangelical proselytizing to the unconverted. (The first link the Google algorithm served me was from the Texas ministry, Life, Hope & Truth.) The Google search for God gets nowhere near Augustine, Maimonides, Spinoza, Luther, Russell, or Dawkins. Billy Graham is the closest that Google can manage to an important theologian or philosopher. For all its power and influence, it seems that Google can’t really be bothered to care about the quality of knowledge it dispenses. It is our primary portal to the world, but has no opinion about what it offers, even when that knowledge it offers is aggressively, offensively vapid.
And this ending…
And when an adolescent asks us about God? We can at least answer in the negative, by holding up our phones and saying, “It’s not this.”
We started off Monday with my encouragement that we consider what it means to serve one another. I wanted to get practical on that admonition by exploring Jesus’s “Sermon on the Mount” from Matthew 5-7. This is the blueprint, the epitome of how we are to live our lives as believers – as followers of Jesus. Even more so as members of a team called to lead His people in worship. Let’s look at how the Sermon on the Mount teaches us to serve and love one another.
Let’s start with the Beatitudes. An introduction of sorts to Jesus’s sermon:
“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. Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children 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.
Eugene Peterson, who wrote “The Message” translation of the Bible says he wanted to use the word “lucky” instead of blessed because it connected more to our contemporary understanding of the Greek word in this passage. His publisher wouldn’t go for it in the end, but you get the idea. These are preposterous statements in the eyes of the world. Our culture rewards the powerful, the winners. #Winning is a thing, right?
But Jesus says to count yourself blessed, outright lucky – to have won the jackpot if you are poor in spirt or meek. You are highly favored if you mourn or hunger or thirst or if you’re persecuted for righteousness or even insulted because of Jesus. Peterson translates that last bit like this:
“You can be glad when that happens—give a cheer, even!—for though they don’t like it, I do! And all heaven applauds.”
If we’re going to serve one another on our worship team, in our church body, in our families, jobs, schools we must learn to recognize and see what heaven applauds. Maybe get our minds out of Facebook likes and Twitter mentions and learn to value what God values.
The Beatitudes is a pretty good place to start. Count yourself lucky if you make that list.
I’m on my back from a family reunion in South Alabama. It’s rainy in Atlanta so I’m delayed a little while.It was a great trip and I’m so glad I was able to come for the reunion and my grandfather’s surprise 80th birthday celebration.
One of my favorite moments was when my grandmother told me her favorite part of the chicken when she was growing up was the feet. She said she doen’t eat them anymore because they’re too dirty. When her Mom cleaned them she know they were clean.
She also told me how she was the worst of her brothers and sisters (10 in all) at ringing a chicken’s neck. “It would just drop to the ground, get up, and walk off.”