Loving One Another

Posts tagged ‘Bible’

Called Toward Wholeness


Heart made of sand

Heart made of sand

Reflecting on the rejuvenation of Lazarus.
Bemoaning the death of a dear friend this week:

Jesus, the Healer, reached out.
He felt the pain of parting.
He would gift wholeness and healing.
But first, sorrowful tears were starting.

Like Jesus, our tears fall
When we lose a loved one.
We pray for health and healing,
But it doesn’t always come.

Not the way we expect.
God’s healing takes many forms.
Peace, His shalom, may come
In ways outside our worldly norms.

Totality, completeness, God’s Will
May come with blessings and harmony,
But sometimes wholeness may not be
Available to you and me.

We all suffer from heart’s scars.
We experience hurt often times.
Blemishes, like scratched diamonds,
Can be transformed: Beauty from crimes.

Yes, God’s grace can transform us.
God values us, scratches and all.
In gratitude, we respond
Hearing and answering His healing call.

We engage in the ministry
Of extending compassionate hands.
Our lives are God’s instruments.
Hear His call. Obey His commands.

Reach out in love.

Steps to a Lovely Life


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Be aware – Be sensitive –

Be quick to admit – Ask forgiveness –

Embrace the right – Reject the wrong –

Obey God – Trust – Endure – Mature.

Eph. 4:14-16

Giving


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GIVING

As a mother gives her love
Freely, without thought of return,
We are told also to give
Without “What’s in it for me?” concern.

Tell me what makes you anxious.
Does worry to earth add a minute?
Look closely at your life;
Is anxiety frequently in it?

Do you fret too much about money?
Is your mind on your demise?
Work, leisure, politics, the unknown –
Do you fret? Is that wise?

Anxiety is a human experience.
It seems to transcend time.
There always has been earthly woes,
Poverty, illness, and crime.

Consider the bison cows and their calves.
Look at what God does.
He provides their food and beauty,
And He’ll care for you – just because.

You, too, are His prized creation.
His love and provisions are yours.
Only doubt will cause you worry.
Let His promises fill your pores.

Beyond disease, death, and decay
Are the gifts from God above.
God provides for all our needs.
Rest confidently in His love.

How do you find such perfect rest?
The answer is in God’s Word.
You gain such peace by giving.
Does that sound a bit absurd?

Reflect on Him who dwells in you.
Accept His wonderful gifts.
Go out and give your blessings.
Be lifted as He lifts.

Is the Bible Still Believable?


Have you been challenged recently by discussions about the validity of the Bible and whether or not it should/can be interpreted literally or should be open to interpretation? I have! My former pastor from our church in California, Brent Mitchell, is a man whose thought-processes and theological belief systems have my utmost respect. Even though it has been nearly nine years since we attended the church in California where he was minister, and he has since moved to Springfield, Ohio and we have moved to Montana, I still subscribe to the monthly newsletter at his new church home and read his column eagerly. This month’s article in The Beacon “From the Pastor’s Study” was so helpful to the enlightenment of this subject of the Bible’s validity, that I feel obliged to share it with my blogging friends. I hope you also find it helpful and meaningful in your Christian walk.

“From the Pastor’s Study”  Third Presbyterian Church
The Reverend Brent R. Mitchell, Pastor
1030 North Seventh Street
Springfield, IL 62702
Web Page Address: http://third-presbyterian.org/

“It has been a tough couple of decades for people who grew up with a reasoned confidence in the validity of the Bible. I am not sure when or if one single event began to erode our confidence, but it seems to me that an atmosphere of suspicion has cast a long shadow over the Word of God. Maybe it was aided and abetted by Dan Browns The Da Vinci Code. Browns imaginative historical yarn suggested to many that the Bible is not a library of books written under the guidance and inspiration of the Holy Spirit, but rather by a nefarious coterie of Vatican power-mongers and backroom political deal-makers who suppressed any doctrines that threatened to upset their power base. And when Tom Hanks (!) was cast as the lead investigator in the movie, it seemed to give Browns conspiratorial vision a kind of cultural cache. I mean, how could you not believe Tom Hanks? Hes a good guy!

Then came a succession of books from the agnostic professor Bart Ehrman Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why, The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture: The Effect of Early Christological Controversies on the Text of the New Testament, and Lost Scriptures: Books that Did Not Make It Into the New Testament. You get the drift. According to Ehrman, the Bible was cobbled together by a cabal of power-elite theologians and politicians who effectively created their own self-serving version of Jesus and suppressed or changed what didnt serve their purposes. Barnes & Noble loves this guy. They should. He sells a lot of books that give cultured despisers of religion new and morally censorious reasons for disdaining organized religion.Then, of course, the atheists have cornered their share of the market as well with Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion, Christopher Hitchens, God Is Not Great, and John Loftus, Why I Became an Atheist: A Former Preacher Rejects Christianity.

Add to all that the fact that we have entered the post-modern era, which roundly rejects what is called the meta-narrative in short, any overarching universal truth claim like those of the Bible, for instance. Put it all together, and even mature Christians begin to feel like it might be wrong or intellectually indefensible, even some form of intolerance, to believe that the Bible we read is reliably the Word of God.

If you resonate with any of these concerns, I have found three books that strike me as balanced, fair, and nuanced responses to this current cultural drift. Dealing most directly with the issues raised above is Craig Blombergs, Can We Still Believe the Bible?: An Evangelical Engagement with Contemporary Questions. Blombergs approach is both thorough and respectful. He doesnt flail 

against the authors Ive mentioned. He takes their assertions seriously and dismantles their arguments with historical and literary facts. As a result, I found this book to be incredibly helpful in helping me understand and respond to these controversies.

A second book I found to be very helpful is E. Randolph Richards and Brandon J. OBriens, Misreading Scripture with Western Eyes: Removing Cultural Blinders to Better Understand the Bible. This book serves to remind us that we almost certainly do not read the Bible as objectively as we think we do. Every culture lives with a host of assumptions about what is important; what is the right thing to do; and who is really running the show a thousand different learned cultural assumptions that may not be shared by the people inspired to write the Word of God. If we are not careful, we will read our assumptions into the text and thereby miss the point. I think you would find in this book a valuable and stimulating corrective to this problem.

Finally, if, like me, you find yourself wondering what might be the best modern English translation of the Bible (including the King James Version), you might be fascinated to read Dave Brunns, One Bible, Many Versions: Are All Translations Created Equal? Brunn has spent his life as a Bible translator, and he gives hundreds of examples of how every major translation of the Bible has made hundreds (if not thousands) of careful choices about how to translate certain words and phrases that other goodtranslations translate differently. You come away with a greater confidence in all the translations and recognize that you neednt be slavishly tied to any one version. All are drawn from thousands of solid manuscripts.

~ Pastor Brent”

 

Thank you, Brent Mitchell, for these book recommendations and for your insightfulness. I will go to Amazon.com or Barnes & Noble and order the three resources today. You have inspired me to learn more and to be better equipped for the discussion the next time this topic emerges. Is the Bible Still Believable? Should it or can it be interpreted literally? Can we take into consideration the genre of each book, the context of the message, the people to whom it was intended, our own cultural assumptions, and still keep the validity of the Bible intact? With the help of Blomberg, Richards, O’Brien and Brunn, I will read on and continue to learn. I hope my blogging friends also will find this list of recommended books helpful.

 

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The Gospel Acco…


The Gospel According to You

The Gospel According to You

 

There’s a sweet old story translated for man,
     But writ in the long, long ago –
The Gospel according to Mark, Luke and John –
     Of Christ and His mission below.

Men read and admire the gospel of Christ,
     With its love so unfailing and true;
But what do they say, and what do they think
     Of the gospel according to you?

‘Tis a wonderful story, that gospel of love,
     As it shines in the Christ-life divine;
And oh that its truth might be told again
     In the story of your life and mine.

Unselfishness mirrors in every scene;
     Love blossoms on every sod;
And back from its vision the heart comes to tell
     The wonderful goodness of God.

You’re writing each day a letter to me;
     Take care that the writing is true;
‘Tis the only gospel that some men will read –
     The gospel according to you.

 

No poet was given credit for authoring this beautiful poem. It was on a clipping in the same page in the “Dictionary of the Holy Bible” where “Be Still, And Know” was found –  An 1859 edition that had belonged to my husband’s maternal grandfather. On the back of this clipping was an article dated June 4, 1926. Another treasure, indeed!

May your life and mine be a credit and a beacon that shines bright the love of the Gospel. Let our God be praised!

Amen?

Ennis, Montana


Our little town of Ennis, Montana has in it some of the most interesting people in the world. There are less than 1000 residents in the city limits. Another 1000 (perhaps) live in the surrounding area of Madison County.

They come from all over the United States and from every background imaginable. I am constantly amazed as I get to know people at what their previous (or other) life involved (involves).

Many of them are part-time residents who come here to hunt, fish, golf, hike, ski, or take a break and enjoy the gorgeous scenery seasonally. It’s a relaxing, slow-paced place; a little like stepping back fifty years in time.

People here are friendly, inclusive, and welcoming. A typical first question is, “Where are you from?” Montana natives are far outnumbered – hard to come by! A treasured rarity! But because they welcome us “transplants” with open arms, strangers aren’t strangers for long.

There are more than 50 service organizations in Madison County. Each of them, from the Woman’s Club (👍yup, spelled singular on purpose) to the Lion’s Club, the Aquatic Club to the History Association, the various churches (7 of them) to the Friends of the Library and the Madison County Writers’ Group, all are anxious to help people find a way to serve, to connect, to feel a sense of purpose and belonging.

In his daily devotional, Rick Warren (author of The Purpose Driven Life) wrote today, “… being a member means being a vital organ in a body, an indispensable, interconnected part… ” Quoting from Romans 12:4-5, he reminded us, “We are created for community. Don’t just come, belong!”

It’s such a privilege to BELONG to a community where folks are encouraged and welcomed and valued. You might think such a place only existed in “The Good Old Days.” Guess again. Come to Ennis, Montana! It’s a place where The Wild West still is. The deer and the antelope roam. And the sky is not cloudy all day!

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Don’t just come. BELONG!

Love on Valentine’s Day


Love is on fire today. Love is in the air. It’s Valentine’s Day, a day dedicated to LOVE. Love has so many meanings in the English language. Other languages use different words to describe family love, love of God, sweetheart love, love of food or objects, etc. The English word LOVE covers them all – and then some! As a result we can sometimes overuse this four-letter word and in the process dilute its power. Valentine’s Day is a good time to take stock of our use of it. Examine what we truly love and how we express it. Define it in a way that gives it the most power and influence in your life and in the lives of those you truly LOVE. Reread 1 Corinthians 13:4–8a and 1Timothy 1:5. Think about the meaning of Romans 13:10 and Luke 6:32. Contemplate what it means to “let everything be done in love,” as the Bible instructs us in 1 Corinthians 16: 14. Then, decide what you will DO today to demonstrate the love that is in your heart. Try to list at least ten things.

As for me, I…
1) … reached out to my children to say, “I love you.”
2) … am serving with love at the reception desk at our local hospital.
3) … made a special trip to visit a friend and thanked her for helping me with my plants and my home while I was away this past couple months.
4) … will write some thank you cards to the people who extended their hospitality to us while we were traveling.
5) … will hug my neighbors and share an evening meal with them tonight.
6) … spent time in my sancutary this morning, praying for family and friends who are hurting and in need of healing, reading my Bible and devotionals, and praising God for His many blessings.
7) … will write a letter to my grandson who has just entered the Navy and is in boot camp.
8) … demonstrated “love your neighbor as yourself” by taking care of myself – I made healthy meal choices, kept an appointment with my doctor, and I worked out at the fitness center.
9) … mailed a package to a friend in Switzerland.
10) … wrote this blog to reach out in love to each of you.

Tell me about your Valentine’s Day Love list! Are you on fire with love today? Remember, as Bob Goff said, “Love Does.” Don’t just say love or think love – go do it!!

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