Archive | April 2015

A World Transformed invites reader to pilgrimage 

Maps are made for two purposes: For those traveling to find their way and to stir the dreams of those who have not yet started on a journey. Lisa Deam’s book handily serves both purposes for Christians attempting to make sense of our lives and God’s direction in our lives.

“A World Transformed” is a very accessible book that requires no previous interest in ancient maps in order to speak to the reader. Richly illustrated, the book gives the history of the Hereford, Ebstorf and the Psalter maps. Deam, however, is not content simply to knock the dust off the maps. She invites the reader to walk the maps emotionally and spiritually. Using antidote and example of our modern world, the author draws us back always to the very purpose of the maps; namely, back to Jesus himself.

I am not given to think of maps as having anything to do with Christian discplines or devotion.  It would be easy to dismiss maps — let alone ancient maps of medieval times– as simply physical navigation tools. In reading “A World Transformed” I feel as though I have jumped in to my father’s old Ford 500 and then to discover treasures in the glove compartment: Old paper maps that had his pencil tracings and an occasional note or pin hole. 

 I do believe that “A World Transformed ” is a treasure waiting for the church and the individual to discover. It illustrates that our spiritual journey is as ancient as these maps and as contemporary as geosynchronous orbital satellites.

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A World Transformed is available at  Amazon

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Echo App gives your prayer life a prayer

I do a few things well as a Christian but prayer is not one of them. I fight laziness, disbelief, busyness and forgetfulness. These are the four horsemen of my slow-to-pray apocalypse. And usually they win.

The Echo app for iPhone is a great, simple to use app that has helped me to reign in these wild horses and get down to the simple beauty of simply praying. Without complicated bells and whistles, Echo allows me to record each prayer separately and then provide a decription line.

It sports a reminder feature that sends a push notification at the day, weekly, monthly or annual interval I choose. I therefore remember to pray for friend Becky each 18th day of the month, as her mom passed away December 18.

Throughout the day I have push notifications and I take that minute to pray. This is one way in which our important joy, privilege and duty is brought to me. Kudos to Echo and Clover Sites for this great app that helps me to look up after looking down at my phone.

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The Arguing Sport

To some, it is a sport. Some train and perform this with the gusto of a trained athlete competing in the games to win a metal and the love of their countrymen. The sport? Arguing.

I am tired of this sport as both a spectator and as a participant. I really believe with all my heart God is calling his people to defend the faith but not to enter verbal battles among mere men. 2 Timothy 2:23-24 says “Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful”

We love to argue. We love the battle. Armed with truth, we become the verbal smell of death in heated conversations. God’s word in Ephesians 6 reminds that our warfare is not against people. Our armor is spiritual and our war is likewise. Next time you are tempted to fight verbally just for the fun of it remember that you have bigger and better battles that start on your knees.

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Excerpt From: Zondervan. “NIV Holy Bible, New Testament (Red Letter Edition).” Zondervan, 2010-08-12. iBooks. 

Rebuilt after rebellion 

Caught!  

No one likes to have their sins exposed. No one relishes looking foolish before their peers. When King David got caught in his adultery/murder plot against Uriah in 2 Samuel 11-12 it was ugly. And David was not quick to confess his guilt. The delay crushed him.

 

 In the middle of Psalm 51, which is his passionate plea for forgiveness, David has a small request: “…Grant me a willing spirit…”  (V.  12)

When we affront God with our rebellion, too often we repent but still have that stubborn spirit alive and well within us. David knew that not only wasn’t the sin right but also that he wasn’t right deep inside. He desired not only to be clean of the sin but also reconstructed from the inside out. 

The psalm ends with the realization that God’s desire is not found in us being religious after our rebellion (v 16). Yet he delights in a heart restored and yeilded to him. The request to be granted a willing spirit is something God delights in.

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Give Up What You Will Lose

“The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!”

Mark 1:15

In God’s economy, so little to lose, so much to gain.

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Excerpt From: Zondervan. “NIV Holy Bible, New Testament (Red Letter Edition).” Zondervan, 2010-08-12. iBooks. 

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When God isn’t religious enough

God isn’t “religious enough.” Ever think about that? If God were suddenly to appear, would we expect him to be and act religious in the way many of his followers act religIous?

Would he disappointed us? Would we turn away because he didn’t live up to our expectations?

Matthew 11:16-19 has Jesus speaking to his generation. Yet our generation is just the same in that we really have some strange opinions of what God should be like. And if God did show up, we wouldn’t be satisfied with who he is.

Jesus said : “To what can I compare this generation? They are like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling out to others:

‘We played the pipe for you,

and you did not dance;

we sang a dirge,

and you did not mourn.’

For John [the Baptist] came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon.’  The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’ But wisdom is proved right by her deeds.”

Jesus refers to himself as the “Son of Man,” so human that his behavior turned off the holier-than-thou crowd. Yet behind that party facade was a savior who rescues people like you and I who have trouble acting or looking spiritual most days.

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Excerpt From: Zondervan. “NIV Holy Bible, New Testament (Red Letter Edition).” Zondervan, 2010-08-12. iBooks. 

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What not to do when following 

What do I mean when I say “I follow Jesus”? For those alive two thousand years ago in Israel, following might have had a very physical and visible component: The leaving of home and occupations, the journey in the literal sandal-prints of this Nazarene. 

In our modern world, following Jesus is not necessarily a physical journey like it was for the original apostles but it’s not a shallow formality like following a celebrity on Twitter or friending someone on Facebook.

Mark 8:34 has the words of Jesus about following him. “Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.”

While each person’s journey of following Jesus probably will look different; there is something in Jesus’ words that give an idea of what following Jesus is NOT. Following Jesus means that I can no longer follow my own path. It was in following my own ways that got me into the condition of needing a savior in the first place. Following Jesus means that I deny my own so-called brilliant ideas about God, life and eternity. It is to take Jesus at his word and to detect his sandal-prints in our modern world.

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Excerpt From: Zondervan. “NIV Holy Bible, New Testament (Red Letter Edition).” Zondervan, 2010-08-12. iBooks. 

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Easter 2015

And throughout the world we sing. 

People of different languages. People of different skin color. Some are poor and some are rich. Old and young. We have different backgrounds, different nationalities and cultures. Different struggles, addictions and prejudices we have been and are being cured of. 

We are not one because we are alike. We are one because of a love that One has for us. A love that penetrates our differences.

We are the chuch; the people of Jesus. And this is our day because it is His day of victory. Easter.

Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. -Ephesians 4:3-6

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Excerpt From: Zondervan. “NIV Holy Bible, New Testament (Red Letter Edition).” Zondervan, 2010-08-12. iBooks. 

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Waiting and obeying

Of all the activities of man, two are the most difficult. Waiting and obedience. It goes against our nature. Not only do we, as people, want what we want (disobedience) we also want it now (hurry).

I read of the women who attended to Jesus after his crucifixion. In the midst of their darkest hour, they had both the ability to wait and obey. 

“The women who had come with Jesus from Galilee followed Joseph and saw the tomb and how his body was laid in it. Then they went home and prepared spices and perfumes. But they rested on the Sabbath in obedience to the commandment.” Luke 23:55-56 

Lord, grant me what they had that I too might be among the first to see You in Your resurrected glory.

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Excerpt From: Zondervan. “NIV Holy Bible, New Testament (Red Letter Edition).” Zondervan, 2010-08-12. iBooks. 

This material may be protected by copyright.