It was Sunday morning, and we were at church listening to a guest speaker. I appreciate that our pastor brings in speakers from other churches; one person can’t possibly cover every topic with excellence. However, in this case, the speaker was preaching popular psychology rather than Biblical truth. And I was getting agitated.
I tried to pinpoint exactly what the speaker was saying that was bothering me. I finally realized—instead of being centered on loving Jesus, the sermon was all about loving ourselves. And while I’m sure some people put themselves down, the solution isn’t to focus more on ourselves, but rather to get our eyes off ourselves and onto the God who loves us unconditionally.
As I may have mentioned once or twice, part of my job includes editing books and articles. As a result, I edit everything. Even when I don’t want to be editing, I find it very difficult to turn off my editing brain. I’ve learned not to correct my friends, and usually I can manage to seal my lips even for Pete, but that doesn’t stop me from thinking, “No, that’s wrong. Why can’t people (spell correctly / use correct grammar / use the right words)!?!?!?! Unfortunately, that tendency even carries over into church. Yeah, I know.
There are a number of worship songs I struggle through merely because of the wording. The music is lovely. The meaning is Biblical. The song expresses my heart. But I get hung up on the grammar or the word choices.
I’ve been highly distracted for the past two weeks. Our daughters and granddaughters have been visiting, and I’ve been playing games, taking photos, cooking meals, and hugging—lots of hugging. What I haven’t been doing is writing blog posts. In fact, I totally missed last Friday, in spite of my best intentions. Instead of writing, taking time away from family that we don’t get to see nearly as often as we’d like, I thought I would cheat a bit.
The following is one of the very first posts I ever wrote for this blog. Yes, it’s listed in the archives, but if you’re like me, you rarely—if ever—hunt back through the old posts for something to read. I think my point is just as important today as it was when I wrote it almost ten years ago. I hope you agree.
We’re all familiar with the Ten Commandments—honor your father and mother, don’t worship idols, don’t steal, keep the Sabbath, etc. God gave us the ten commandments, and we would be smart to obey them. But what about the commandments Jesus gave us? We’re familiar with His teachings, but were there things He commanded us to do, or not do?
[Thanks to my husband for setting my mind on this track!]
There are certain “spiritual” practices that most Christians would agree are a Good Idea—practices such as reading the Bible, praying, and fellowshipping with other believers. If you stop and consider, you might add additional items to this list—meditating on God and His word, practicing hospitality, generosity (aka giving), and fasting. We often aren’t aware that those among us are fasting, but I’m sure they are. Jesus assumed his followers would fast; it just isn’t something that we’re supposed to notice. Continue reading
Passover begins this evening. It seems especially significant that this year, Passover begins on Good Friday. After all, they both celebrate the same thing.
The very idea that Passover is still celebrated now, in 2018, amazes me. Over thousands of years (with minor exceptions, such as during the years leading up to King Josiah), the Jews have celebrated the Passover. Whether in Israel and Judea, or even when spread to the corners of the earth, they’ve faithfully reenacted God’s sacrifice and salvation year after year after year.
I love this quote from a book I once read: “Those who walk the narrow path are more likely to fall off the edge!” It popped back into my head last week as I was rereading Paul’s letter to the Colossians.
In Colossians 2:16-23, Paul discusses the spiritual futility of rigidly following human rules, such avoiding certain foods, or celebrating special religious holidays—not that we can or cannot do these things (I avoid sugar, for example), but that we can’t earn our way to heaven, or even become more holy, by doing them. He ends his comments with this surprising conclusion:
Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence.