Through the Eye of a Needle

Father, being officially diagnosed with diabetes recently has been an adjustment. Thank You for a caring wife who is by my side to help me along through this part of my journey. Thank You for the tools given to me in order to help manage everything. And thank You for the blessing of tenacity to stick to what needs to be done. All praise goes to You!

Matthew 19:23-26 (<<click to read the passage)

Most people I know are pretty self-sufficient. Some have more than others but most basic needs are met. We are very blessed. But can those blessings, if we are not careful, become a detriment – especially a detriment when it comes to our relationship with God?

Self-sufficiency and dependence are on separate ends of the spectrum. Is it possible to truly give our all to God if a good portion of our energy and efforts are making sure that we take care of meeting our own needs? Those mindsets seem to be diametrically opposed.

After speaking with the rich young man,

Jesus said to His disciples, “I assure you and most solemnly say to you, it is difficult for a rich man [who clings to possessions and status as security] to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man [who places his faith in wealth and status] to enter the kingdom of God.” AMP

A footnote in the Amplified Bible states, “These declarations of Jesus directly contradicted the teaching of the Pharisees that God bestows wealth on those He loves and chooses.”

So understandably the disciples “were completely astonished and bewildered” so much so that they exclaimed, “Then who can be saved [from the wrath of God]?”

How in the world can any of us make it? We may not consider ourselves well off but we are taken care of pretty well – and we lay claim, quite often, to taking credit for it! So are we really in any different position that the rich young man? Was he doomed? Are we doomed?

Jesus answers that question,

“With people [as far as it depends on them] it is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

Lord Jesus, thank You for Your mercy and compassion. You know we are weak and frail, especially when it comes to our spiritual health. Help us to count our blessings but to give credit where credit is due and to trust You for our salvation…not ourselves.

Aug 19th, 2018, Sun, 6:27 am

Not Even for a Nanosecond

All the credit goes to You, Father, for a very productive day. Thank you for good company and safe travel as we went to encourage dear friends at the passing of a loved one. I am listening to what You have for me this evening.

Mark 10:17-22 (<<click the green)

As I read through this story in Matthew last night, I remembered an additional recollection of another Gospel writer. Here it is in context.

“Teacher,” the man replied, “I’ve obeyed all these commandments since I was young.”

Looking at the man, Jesus felt genuine love for him. “There is still one thing you haven’t done,” he told him. “Go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”  v.21-22

Did you catch the extra detail? Looking at the man, Jesus felt genuine love for him.

Now you know that Jesus knew how the young man was going to respond to his command. But did Jesus for one nanosecond (that’s one billionth of a second – I had to look it up!) hold back his love? Not on your life! It was genuine love – not pretend love, or conditional love but genuine love!

It is truly difficult for us to understand, but Jesus loves us – me and you and every other individual in the world – with genuine and unconditional love. He loves me just as much as He loves the person who has never loved Him in return. He loves us regardless of how much we love Him. He yearns for our love for Him but that does not in the least deter Him from loving us – His passion and death on the cross proved that.

Lord Jesus, may I continually be reminded of Your unfailing love for me. And in turn, may I continually be reminded of the love I have for others – how can I do anything else!

Aug 16th, 2018, Thurs, 9:18 pm

Check Lists

I have to admit, Father, that Wednesday’s are rough. Getting up at 4:00 am to be at work by 6:00 I just can’t seem to get up any earlier to write. After a very full day, I would ask that You would help me to give my full attention to You. Help me to hear what You would have for me, so I may be challenged and grow to be more like you. Amen.

Matthew 19:16-30 (<<click the green)

Most of us would agree that, at least in American culture, we are defined quite often by what we do. We label ourselves with monikers connected to where we go to school, what we do for a living or to whom we are related. Some of us rightfully take pride in how far down the road of accomplishment we have traveled. For many, it has taken many, many hours of hard work.

Honestly, just about any of us could stand in the place of this young man interacting with Jesus. It’s easy for us to ask this simple question, “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?”

Our lives are all about doing. Jesus replied, “…if you want to receive eternal life, keep the commandments.” And again, for the most part, we too could check off that box. We’re basically good people, right? We’ve never killed anyone or had an affair or stolen anything of significance.

So as the young man replied, we too could ask, “What else must I do?”

And Jesus’ answer turned his (and our) world on its head. Yes, Jesus told him to do something, but it really boils down to who the young man was – it wasn’t about doing, it was about being.

Life is not about checking all the boxes. Go to church –check. Be kind – check. Read my Bible – check. Pray before I eat – check. Throw a little something in the offering plate– check. Love others – check. Love my mom – check. We can do all those things but if we are not living our lives being in an honest, open relationship with God, it is all to no avail.

Lord Jesus, help our doing to be an outcome of our being. Amen.

Aug 15th, 2018, Wed, 9:21 pm

Thump to the Head

Father, we all are back at it today. Help us to be grateful for our time together and to cherish that as we move forward. May we be a soothing balm to those around us. May our lights shine brightly in the darkness. Amen.

Matthew 19:13-15 (<<click the green)

When I was in high school a popular commercial of the time had an actor eating or drinking something that wasn’t necessarily healthy, then they would thump themselves in the head with the palm of their hand and exclaim, “Wow, I could have had a V8!” Of course, V8 Juice is still around and the idea was that there was a much better alternative to the choice they had made.

In today’s passage, I think the disciples probably thump themselves in the head thinking, “I should have known better!”

Parents had “brought their children to Jesus so he could lay hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples scolded the parents for bothering [Jesus].” It hadn’t been but a few days since Jesus had brought a child to stand among them telling them, “I tell you the truth, unless you turn from your sins and become like little children, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven. So anyone who becomes as humble as this little child is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven.” (Matthew 18:3-4)

Definitely a thump on the head moment!

Lord, Your words have lost nothing in the 2000+ years since you proclaimed them. How many times do I thump myself in the head and think, “I should have known better!” I am so indebted to You for Your long-suffering love towards me. (Long-suffering communicates so much more than patient!) How often do I hear Your word loud and clear and in short order run contrary to it and have to thump myself in the head? May more and more of Your teachings be absorbed into my mindset. May I live out Your precepts each day. Amen.

Aug 14th, 2018, Tues, 7:33 am

Changed

Father, I am so grateful for the time we had to spend with Massey. Thank You for providing each of us with time off for our regular routines so that we savor the moments together! Thank You for loving us the way You do so that we are able to love each other.

*********

I haven’t touched on it for quite a while but a little over three years ago I came to a point in my life where I knew it was time to go deep if you will. I cannot tell you when I accepted Christ as my Savior; I just know that it was at a young age. So I’ve had a relationship with Christ for probably close to 50 years. I had struggled with that relationship – not that Christ wasn’t extending the entirety of himself to me – but that I, even despite great efforts at times on my part, never seemed to get much below the surface.

I knew that He wanted an intimate relationship with me but though I had even served in many areas of full-time Christian ministry, in many ways I felt as if I barely knew Him. I knew of Him…but I really didn’t know him.

Back to three years ago…a surface relationship was no longer going to cut it! So I set out to specifically take time to spend one-on-one with Jesus. For me, it was early morning and in order to stay focused I journaled. I wrote an opening prayer to my Father and then read a passage of Scripture – at that point I was reading through the Epistles of the New Testament – and then I would ask the Lord to speak to me, to open my heart and mind to what would have me to glean from His Word…and He did.

It was hit and miss at the beginning but eventually, I went for days without missing a single opportunity to come together…and our relationship flourished!

After a time, my son, Massey, encouraged me to share my writings on a more public level and shortly thereafter More than Useless came together. I decided on that “label” because even with all I had taken part in through ministry, I felt unworthy…I felt on many levels that I was useless. But my time with Jesus changed it all!

Ephesians 1:4 came to mean a great deal to me.

Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes.

I am chosen! You are chosen! Before anything that we know even came into existence we were loved and chosen! As I said, my time with Jesus changed my whole mindset.

I recently came across a song with which many who enjoy Contemporary Christian music will be familiar. It is entitled, “You Say” and is sung by a young lady by the name of Lauren Daigle. In this song, she proclaims that regardless of how we may feel about ourselves, all that makes any real difference is what You say…for what You, Lord, have to say about is what really matters! Amen.

Aug 13th, 2018, Mon, 9:14 pm

Doing it right for once.