Archive for the ‘Scripture’ Category
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One of the most important bits of knowledge that should be learned in a person’s life is the great assets found in people. As I reflect upon my life, I become acutely aware that the greatest assets in my life are the people who I have been blessed to have entered my life. Some of these individuals remain in relationship with me for long periods of time and some are only short time spans. However, there is not a one of them that has not added to my life in some way.
When I think of the blessings of life which have been afforded me by the Lord, I cannot think of any blessings which are greater than the ones of relationships with others. I often have stated that I believe that the most important thing for the Lord is relationships. I believe that we see this demonstrated strongest in the events which are recorded in Scripture regarding Jesus’ life. However, I believe that when we look at Scripture as a whole, relationships (whether they be between God and humanity or between humans) are central to the whole message of Scripture.
I am spending some time today to reflect on the great assets of people in my life. I hope that you might spend some time doing the same.
Vulcan (Star Trek) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
During my devotional time this morning, I was struck by how much emphasis Jesus puts on the value of one person (See Luke 15:1-7). Jesus tells the people a story of a shepherd that leaves behind ninety-nine sheep in search of one lost sheep. This seems to fly in the face of Spock‘s logic in the movie, Star Trek 2: The Wrath of Khan, when he states that “the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.”
This has caused me to think about how easy it is for us to forget the importance of looking at people as a group of persons. We so often lump people together and the only identity they have is a group identity. An example is how we lump people of the same ethnicity, or same social status, or same financial status. We make judgments and statements in regards to the group and assume that everyone in that group fits into what our understanding of a group as a whole. We lose the value of the person.
Today’s passage from the Bible reminded me of the value of each person. It also reminded me of my own value as an individual. There is not a person that does not have value. The choices that each person makes can impact how the person is treated and how the person interacts within society, however, the person still has value.
I am going to try to strive today and in the future to look at the value of the person. I am going to try to avoid making judgments regarding a person based on what group which she/he might be associated. I am going to strive to remind others that they have value. I am going to strive to remember that I have value.
Who will join me?
Storm Clouds (Photo credit: mcdett)
Today is one of those days when I recall this passage from the Bible:
He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.” (Psalm 46:10, NIV)
BE STILL AND KNOW THAT I AM GOD
Yesterday contained some very unexpected turns and twists for me. I went through a large range of emotions because of a lot of events of the day. In truth, I am a bit emotionally and spiritually exhausted this morning. Yet what I experienced is minor compared to the experience of a dear and close friend who was directly impacted by events.
As the dark clouds and storms roll in once again today outside, I need to hear the words of the psalm writer. I need to hear God’s voice in the thunder. I need to be still. I need to remember that God is God. I need to know that God is God.
Today, I rest in the knowledge of these words and strive to be still and experience them.
Today, I remind my dear friend and her family to remember the words in this psalm.
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Today I noticed that it was time to refill my bird feeders. As winter seems to be lingering on and as the snow fall keeps arriving on a weekly basis, I think the birds are eating at the bird feeder more frequently because their primary food sources are covered up. This led me to ponder this morning what feeds me.
I am not concerned about the physical feeding of myself; I have more than enough food and more than enough food sources. I am thinking more about what feeds my life. I believe it is important for people to reflect up this on occasion. The reason I find it important to do for myself is because if what I am doing is not feeding me, then I need to consider doing something else. This is true in my professional life, as well as, all aspects of my personal life. I think that each of us have certain activities and interests which give us energy and drive. Just like our physical bodies need the right combination of nutrients and sustenance to have the energy to get through a day, our mental bodies need the right combination of activities and stimulation to get us through the day, week, and month.
Not only do our physical and mental bodies need to be fed, our spirits need feed as well. Some of the feeding of my spirit is connected to the feeding of my mental being but I need more than just that. I need to be feed by a higher Spirit. I need that connection with the Lord. It is the Spirit of the Lord that feeds my spirit. It is through prayer, study of Scripture, worship, and being engaged in a community of faith that the Spirit feeds me.
So my question for you today is: What feeds you?
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I have recently had a few conversations about the role of the Bible. So many people have different thoughts about what the Bible means, how to read the Bible, what role the Bible should have in our faith and in our lives. Some people view it as a rule book. Others want the Bible to be a history book. Still others want the Bible to be a really neat collection of stories. So I decided today to share my understanding of the Bible and its role in our lives.
I think that the primary purpose of the Bible is to communicate this: God wants to be in relationship with us and God wants us to be in relationship with one another. Therefore, I believe that the Bible is intended to helps us understand what it means to be in relationship with God and with one another. The guiding principle behind all aspects of those relationships is love.
If that is what the Bible is intended to do for us, then I believe that it is best to look at the Bible as being a combination of stories, poetry, some historical facts, and many illustrations. They are all used to communicate the primary point mentioned above. This would be like when an educator is trying to help a student understand a point. They will design a lesson(s) and use various methods to communicate the point to the student in the anticipation that through these methods the student will be able to grasp and apply the point in their lives.
Therefore, I find it helpful to read a passage of the Bible and ask, “What is the point that this passage is trying to make?” Then quickly follow that with, “How does that point give more understanding to the primary point of the Bible?”
I’d be interested in how others view this approach and any other approaches others may take in their understanding of the Bible.
Esther and Mordecai (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
“…. for such a time as this”
These are the words that Mordecai shared with Queen Esther when discussing her intervention to save her Jewish brothers and sisters. For me today, these words took on a personal meaning. I started my day feeling a bit physically and emotionally exhausted. Some days and weeks are like that. I was questioning if I was adding much value to the situations and relationships in which I am engaged. But then all of that changed as I was preparing to head to the office. I received a phone call and was asked to have a conversation with an individual. Through that counseling conversation, God adjusted my perspective and reminded me of a few realities of which I had lost sight.
As a believer, I believer in a sovereign God. Simply put, God is in charge and nothing escapes the sight, knowledge, or power of God. This means as a believer, there is no such thing as chance. Random star alignments, the movement of planets, the sifting of ocean sands, or any part of creation has the power to control or manipulate life. The creation itself is such that it is because the Creator made it so. Now, I am not encouraging a debate between evolution and creationism because I do not believe that there is a debate. For me, I’m alright with the concept that evolution is a tool that God used to create. What I am trying to emphasize is that I believe God has knowledge of events and their outcomes and through that knowledge God works towards the benefit of all of creation, especially humanity. This does not eliminate free will but emphasizes the power of God since the Lord can even use the choices we make to move us towards the benefit that God desires for us.
Since as a believer, I do not believe in randomness or chance, that means that chance did not prompt the phone call that I received today and the ensuing conversation, God saw two sets of needs and brought the individuals with the needs together. I needed to get a better perspective on life and a change in my attitude. The person whom I had conversation with needed to have a listening ear, a reassurance of faith, and access to some options. My hope is that the individual was blessed in the counseling conversation as much as I felt blessed in having the conversation.
All of this brings me back to the passage in Esther. In the Lord’s view, no one is without value or purpose. We are who we are and we are located where we are because there is value in us being there. No matter what type of job we have or where that job is located, we are not there by chance but because we have a purpose in being there. Some days we can lose sight of this reality in God’s world. We may find ourselves in what appears to be mindless jobs and tasks and wonder what benefit any of it could bring. We may feel that we are overlooked and unnoticed. We may feel like a little fish in a large sea or a small cog in a huge machine. But that is not how God sees our situation. We have a purpose where we are and what we are doing, no matter how grandiose or how mundane.
What I was reminded today was that I always need to be open to what the Lord may be doing in and through me. I need to be available for the Lord to do work even if I am unaware of it, or if like today, it is fairly obvious. I need to wake up each morning and offer my prayer that the Lord may work through me this day. I need to offer my day and my life in that day to the Lord each and every day.
Remember, the Lord has put you where you need to be and doing what you need to be doing “for such a time as this.”
Brightcontrast (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Last night I attended a community meeting that gave me a clearer understanding of the power of the presence of individuals. I have been having concerns about the direction that one of our communities institutions has been choosing to follow. Many individuals in the community have shared with me specific statements and actions that one of the leaders of this institution has taken which has caused them concerned. I have experienced similar concerns myself and so I decided that I needed to be more proactive in trying to gain insights and be more present when the board of this institution met so I was dealing with facts and not hearsay. I also encouraged other individuals to attend and some of them did.
What I found interesting is the impact upon discussions and non-verbal communications that occurred when there were a number of citizens present at the meeting. I believe the presence of citizens communicated to the leaders of the institution that there were individuals who desired positive directions and decisions to be pursued for the benefit of those that the institution is designed to serve. My hope is that this would be seen as a supportive and involved group of citizens instead of an adversarial group. That being said, I do believe that it is important for the citizens to hold the leaders accountable and to ask questions that encourage informed decisions with a variety of input versus the input of one.
The other interesting discovery is that the presence of concerned citizens helped create an atmosphere of light. What I mean by that is that the actions that took place, the statements that were made, and the discussions that occurred all happened in a very public light. Again, I find this to be an important responsibility which is placed upon the citizenry. We must attend these meetings so that we hear directly what those whom we elect are discussing and taking actions upon. This way it is not gossip that drives our thoughts but truth. Some leaders do not operate well when the light is shined upon them. They prefer to operate in the dark because then they are able to retain power and pursue their own agendas.
All of these thoughts have led me back to a quote from Scripture:
New International Version (NIV)
19 This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. 20 Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. 21 But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.