Stumbling Through Life

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Please, God – Don’t strike me with lightning! I’m just trying to figure this world out. Sometimes I think and say things that are stupid. But sometimes, too, You tell me things that are so meaningful that I simply have to write them down. This blog is nothing more than a diary of some of these thoughts.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Advent - More Than a Time to Shop

Today is the first day of advent. From the Latin word adventus meaning "coming," it's a time of expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of the Nativity of Jesus at Christmas.

I hope we can all come a little closer to the real meaning of Christmas. Decorations, carols, candy and trees are all fine, but not if they take over completely; and definitely not if Christmas becomes the season of stress and debt! Maybe we can spend a little less $$$ on shiny things and toys, and think about our loved ones in a new light. In addition to buying lots of things for people who already have things, let's share time with and for them. Then we can share some of God's bounty with people who are really in need.

I've linked to one organization, Advent Conspiracy, that promotes a new and different way to celebrate:

Peace, Love, Sharing

Friday, November 26, 2010

A Lamp to my Feet

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path. Psalm 119:105

Have you ever gone for a walk on a very dark night? Be careful when you do; you might stub your toe. You could fall and hurt yourself. And if you don't have a light, you will end up going well out of your way.

Life is dark. Lots of the time it's hard to know where we're going. There are many distractions to lead us out of our way; money, people, disappointments. I'll be honest. For me, it's hard even to walk in a straight line! My life is a full of zig-zags and backtracks, off and on God's road. Sometimes I can't see which way to go, and I've been a Christian for a long time!

What gets me off-track? Doubt, (usually caused when I listen to politically charged Christians with whom I disagree.) Money, (or rather, lack of it.) My own desires (I can get pretty distracted.) In other words, I'm not looking at Jesus; I'm looking at the world.

We expect God to be a floodlight. And because He’s not, we're disappointed in Him, or we assume that He simply doesn't exist. But He is a light to our feet… we can see just far enough to step forward without tripping, and no more. That's all He's offered us, so wishing for more, (or worse - pretending), doesn't help.

Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. Matthew 7:13

So where is this gate? There's even a lot of argument among Christians about exactly where that road is! Do I need to be baptized? Do I need to follow the Latin mass? Personally, I believe that all I need to do is to love Jesus and to keep trudging along. I believe that the path is pretty easy to see... if I'm looking at Jesus.

Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. 1 Corinthians 13:12

I think God gives us each a flashlight. We can see, but only a few steps ahead. If we keep our light aimed at Jesus - not at the world - we'll make it.
The question is – do you have your flashlight? Does it have fresh batteries? Is it pointed in the right direction? (Here's a hint - spend time reading the Bible, and pray. Prayer includes listening.)

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." John 8:12

If you do this, you'll be fine.
Peace, Love, Light

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Why Jesus Broke the Law

Jesus purposely broke the laws of his day. (By laws, I mean religious statutes.) Why?

At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the Sabbath. His disciples were hungry and began to pick some heads of grain and eat them. When the Pharisees saw this, they said to him, “Look! Your disciples are doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath.” He answered, “Haven’t you read what David did when he and his companions were hungry? He entered the house of God, and he and his companions ate the consecrated bread—which was not lawful for them to do, but only for the priests. Or haven’t you read in the Law that the priests on Sabbath duty in the temple desecrate the Sabbath and yet are innocent? I tell you that something greater than the temple is here. If you had known what these words mean, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the innocent. For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.”
Going on from that place, he went into their synagogue, and a man with a shriveled hand was there. Looking for a reason to bring charges against Jesus, they asked him, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?”
He said to them, “If any of you has a sheep and it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will you not take hold of it and lift it out? How much more valuable is a person than a sheep! Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.”
Then he said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” So he stretched it out and it was completely restored, just as sound as the other. But the Pharisees went out and plotted how they might kill Jesus.
Matthew 12 1-13

Why did He do this?
First, He was showing us that He's God. As God, He could do as he pleased. This drove the Pharisees crazy!
I also think he meant to show us that we have a bad habit of making the LAWS more important than the PEOPLE they’re meant for. He didn't break laws haphazardly or selfishly. He always did something good. He fed and healed, and saved. Isn't that MORE IMPORTANT than the laws themselves?
Are the laws still important? Some are, I think. Some don't fit our society, and some are just plain unnecessary.

Take leprosy, for instance. (Leviticus 13:4) Nowadays it’s called Hansen’s disease, it’s treatable, and - to my knowledge - no one follows the biblical statutes of keeping people with leprosy separated from the general population. To me, some laws were clearly meant for the time they were written.

Or how about this favorite? Do not cut the hair at the sides of your head or clip off the edges of your beard. Leviticus 19:27 I just don't get it. I know there are Orthodox Jews who abide by this law, but I don't see the point of it, and I've never attempted to learn more.

So, are Biblical laws aplicable to us? I believe some are. The ten commandments still make great sense to me, and the "Golden rule" (Matthew 7:12, Luke 6:31) pretty much sums everything else up neatly. "Do to others as you would have them do to you."

Hmmm... If we just attempted to follow this rule more closely, maybe the others would fall into place.
Maybe sometimes it’s left to us to decide. We have the Holy Spirit to guide us now. Maybe, as with Jesus, we're capable of knowing when a law is fitting and when it's best to break it for the greater good. Not alone, of course, but with God's guidance. We need to spend time in prayer and we need to gain wisdom through studying the Bible.

Peace, Love, and Wisdom

Sunday, November 7, 2010

"Yes, but..."

These words are right from Jesus' mouth. He was talking to a large group of people "who had come to hear him and to be healed of their diseases."

Luke 6:27 "But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you."

Ouch! This is extreme! Do you do everything Jesus asks of you? (I know I don't!) How does this fit in with your life? Your philosophy? Your political views?

Once I was approached by a homeless lady who admired my coat. When I smiled and walked away, she got huffy. Did Jesus want me to give it to her? I may never know.

As for turning the other cheek... Yeah, right. like that's gonna happen.

So why did he say it? Apparently he wants us to willingly give more than what's asked of us. Did he really mean it? If you read this and you even think "Yes, but..." maybe you're doin' it wrong.

Peace, Love, Give