I Don’t Get It

Jude 1: 9-10

9But even the archangel Michael, when he was disputing with the devil about the body of Moses, did not himself dare to condemn him for slander but said, “The Lord rebuke you!”  10Yet these people slander whatever they do not understand, and the very things they do understand by instinct— as irrational animals do— will destroy them.

I DON’T GET IT

In seminary my husband had a teacher who told them while they were preaching not to refer to obscure references as illustrations because they would lose the congregation’s understanding. This scripture is a perfect illustration. No one knows what Jude is referring to. No where in the Old Testament is Michael recorded arguing with the devil over the fate if Moses’ body. There are some traditions advanced scholars have flushed out such as God hid Moses’ body to keep it from becoming an idol, but even those ideas are scarce.

We understand Jude Is making a contrast. Even Michael when doing something as important as protecting the great Moses’ body did not stoop to slander. But we feel left out because we do know about the incident to which he refers.

Now we know how many people feel when we speak “Christian -eeze.”  We understand what we mean. Perhaps people of our own denomination and church understand what we mean, but the further we get away from the church the less people know the illustrations.

To me this passage is a challenge to study and understand what the terms and illustrations (examples or references) we use originally meant so I can reword them before I use them outside the church.

Our traditions are rich. We don’t have to abandon them. But as society around us grows more secular, we will have find new ways to express our faith so we remain Christ’s representatives today, not merely yesterday’s symbols. And we need to teach people the traditions, what they mean. We need to keep teaching what the symbols mean. We need to teach the Old Testament to understand how we can expect God to relate to us today by seeing how he related to them. We cannot assume even our own children understand. These days life changes radically from one generation to the next. We all must teach by what we say and what we are.

God does not change. The way he relates to us, his love for us, his understanding of us will not ever change. I relax in he presence as I become convinced of that, but the way that relationship looks changes from society to society and generation to generation. We need not be frightened of that.

PROVE IT (If You Love Me)

Matthew 4:1
And the tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell the stones to become bread.”

So, you are wondering what this scripture has to do with love. It struck me what Satan was really saying to Jesus is, “Prove it.” That what these temptations were about.

The last time I studied this scripture, I heard a voice in my head imitating a teenage boy saying to a girl (or the other way around), “If you love me, prove it. Do just these things for or with me, and I will know you love me.”

1st Corinthians 13: 4-7
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud, It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

I don’t know about you, but I didn’t read anything about ‘prove it’ there.

It seems strange to me that when I love someone I am always seeking ways to show – to prove – that I love that person. But at the same time, I don’t ask the people who love me for continual proof that they love me. If I insist people express their love by acting certain ways or expressing certain thoughts, I am insecure in myself or the love of the other person. It’s a symptom of immature (and self- centered) self-love.

Christ was always looking for ways to show his love. Contrary to what many of us think, He doesn’t demand certain words from us before he believes we love him. He doesn’t demand certain rituals for us to show our love. What he does ask is for us to be on the outlook for ways to show our love for Christ to other people. Now isn’t that backwards?

So the actions required of us to show our love is for the other person’s benefit. Why do we feel compelled act certain ways or follow certain rituals and speak certain ways?

I think that part of showing our love is about reminding ourselves who we love and what that love requires of us in terms of commitment. How we act and the words we use are the ones that are meaningful to us.

We are often drawn to love people who use the same words and find meaning in the same symbols we do, but we cannot expect some one else to express their love for us the very same way we express our love.

But just try to imagine the rich relationships we would miss out on if we thought love and devotion could be expressed in just one way. When we spend our lives accepting the love of only people who act in our preconceived ways and use only approved phrases, we lose that richness and cheat other people out of a chance express love and let ability to feel and express love.

Finally, when we try to control how everyone else’s love is supposed to look, we only make our own hearts hard because we are continually disappointed, and we have missed the happiness that is the byproduct of allowing people to love us.

God Did it Again

I had taken a year off to work part time because both of us were working full time.

I explored part-time work.

Thought I might contract with a funeral home in OKC.

Everyone was set. They needed no one.

Plan set aside.

 

Loierrty-years  (Hand covering mouth so you won’t know how many) later

God handed me the opportunity to do that very thing.

Go figure.

I’ve just finished the one book I had to write (People of Faith in a Changing World) based on my journals

I’ve gotten health problems solved

And God took care of another dream – to regularly use my piano playing professionally.

 

I told someone just when I face reality and say to myself, “This is it. What is here is what I will be content with.”

God comes along and says, “I’m not done yet.”

“I put this idea in your head a long time ago so when the opportunity came,

You would be ready to accept.”

Same thing happened when my husband had the opportunity to

Move from the pastorate into chaplaincy.

 

It tells me God is a living, active spirit in my world.

It tells me God doesn’t play with my life.

It tells me God is the author of my dreams as well as gives me abilities,

And just because the dream doesn’t happen now, doesn’t mean they never will.

It tells me I will always have something to contribute

No matter what else changes in life.

 

I rejoice as I realize God can and will continue to use me.

I am here, God, take who I am

The abilities you have given me,

For the comfort of others.

May I never tire of service,

May I always rejoice in serving.

Review of People of Faith In A Changing World

Review People of Faith in a Changing World

By David Ramous

https://offsetinnocence.wordpress.com/author/offsetinnocence

I love devotionals (hence why I’m writing a whole series of them). A good devotional is like ahealthy snack The author has to really understand what they want to say and then communicate the truth in a short, digestible means – one that is also powerful and true.

This book does that extremely well.

Now, this book is not a short one. It’s300+ pages with literally hundreds of devotions ranging across all of Scripture. The author writes clearly, and I felt recharges as I brought this book with me on my recent trip to Georgia.

The book contains both honesty and variety. I never got bored, and there was a nice mix of stories, poetry, deep theology and much more.

Anyone looking for a large anthology of devotions should definitely check this book out.

Thank you to David Ramos for the kind words. I have been following David’s blog and he has written a book of devotionals called Climbing with Abraham. I have ordered it and read most of it. See a review on my page ‘Book I read’.  It is worth your time.

People of Hope

I Corinthians 13:10

13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love

Squeezed between faith and charity is that little word, hope.

I have come to believe the shape of the world today is because so many people no longer have hope. People (with the exception of those who kill to obtain a place in heaven) who fall into addiction and are incited into violence because they think that’s all there is. There is no future, and they might as well as live for today’s pleasures. And then there’s the anger that grows into hate that becomes disdain for society and life. I wonder if it starts with people rebelling against feeling hopeless and helpless.

I do understand in this world of complexities, that might be just bit simple. But it holds up in a lot of instances. Many insightful people in the secular world are looking for ways to give these disenfranchised young people hope so they can find their way out of their present nothingness.

Hope:

That life can be different

That I don’t have to repeat the mistakes of my parents.

That I can be a person of consequence.

That I might be lovable and loved.

That I might make a difference because of being here.

When that hope is pinned upon help from governmental agencies, education, important people I know, family, money, marriage or career, hopes can get smashed very quickly. Many people despair, thinking life cannot be different.  Help can be found in all the agencies we have in place, and people’s lives have been changed by them.

But even after we have received the help we need, there still are times of strong support and times when everything seems to desert us at once. Where is our hope when the hard times return?

Hope.

My hope is in the Lord.

Easy words.

But stronger words never spoken.

Because I have prayed and asked for guidance and wisdom, I have hope:

That I can make wise decisions

About where I put myself

The people I let influence me

The career I follow

The way I spend money

The choice of spouse I make,

How I relate to people around me.

All those things affect the way I end up living my life and the benefits I reap because God makes me into a better person. And when I fail, I find forgiveness and hope that I can start again.

God doesn’t run out of his funds of love or strength or grace or opportunities like people, careers or agencies we put our hope in run short of resources. It is the steadfastness, the all powerfulness, the love that we place our hope in.

And because God never fails, our hope never wavers.

So I Pray: God of hope, give me the wisdom to live my life in a way that reflects the hope I have placed in you. Help me be a representative of what hope can give people the courage to try. By my example, help people understand that in God’s hope there is the possibility of a different life.

People of Faith in a Changing World

BookCoverPreview POFCWPeople of Faith in a Changing World. New From Jo Bower

“Much of what I know today will not be so tomorrow….” This quote from a devotion in “People of Faith in a Changing World” reflects the uncertainty of our world. Jo Bower has kept a journal through the changes in her life, and shares some 200 devotions based on those journals.

Encouragement, God’s faithfulness, growth, unity, asking ‘why,’ balance, change and overcoming are all themes readers will encounter in “People of Faith in a Changing World.” Seasonal Devotions are also part of this collection.

This book is available at Amazon.com, Kindle, and you local bookstore can order from Ingram Distributors.

Message from the author: It is my pleasure to share the book I’ve been writing my whole life. The I hope you glean as much from the devotions as I have in the living of them in God’s presence. Enjoy them and blessings to all.