Seven Day Random B&W Photo Challenge: Day Three

I saw a buddy of mine do this and thought it would be interesting. The rules are simple.

Seven days, seven B&W pictures of your life, no people, no explanations.

 

DAY THREE:

10.17.17 b&w.jpg

 

 

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Seven Day Random B&W Photo Challenge: Day One

I saw a buddy of mine do this and thought it would be interesting. The rules are simple.

Seven days, seven B&W pictures of your life, no people, no explanations.

 

DAY ONE:

10.15.17 B&W #1

I’m sitting here in the office working on some things before we have to head over to Grover for their Fall Kick Off tonight. Robin and I are singing a couple of songs. We’re doing our version of Caedmon Call’s version of Kemper Crabb’s Warrior. We’re also doing our version of Everybodyduck’s The Nails In Your Hands. I really enjoy singing with my wife and I wish I could find more opportunities to do so.

May God our Father give you grace and peace.

Something New

Okay, I am the first to admit that I am not very good when it comes to this whole blogging thing. Let me rephrase that, I am not very consistent. I believe that I am a decent writer and that when I have something to say it is worth writing. The problem I am having now is finding the time to sit down and write. I still waste more time than I should but with the Walmart job and my church responsibilities I’m not watching television or movies. I’m not really listening to music very much. I do have it playing here in the office and I do listen to CDs on my drive to work but that’s about it.

I have been working nine hours shifts (there’s an hour lunch break) on the days I go in to Walmart (today is 11 to 8) so I don’t have a lot of extra time on those days. I’m currently working three days a week but I do have a four day week coming up so I know I won’t get much done on those days. Wednesdays and Sundays are usually busy doing church stuff so there really isn’t much time to write for this. Jamie is now doing school at home and I haven’t been spending nearly enough time with her on that. The only reason I’m writing this is because I intentionally got up early so I could come in to the office and do a couple of things before I have to go in. If I had waiting until tonight this would have never gotten written. It will be close to 9:00 when I get home and I honestly won’t feel like messing around at a computer. The days I work 7 to 4 are even worse. I have to get up at 5:30 just to get ready and make the drive. I know I won’t get up earlier than that to write. So I’m trying to figure out the best way to make enough time for this.

The other thing I’m working on is a YouTube channel where I post videos (10-15 minutes) discussing the same sorts of things that I write about here. I have attempted similar things in the past (audio not video) but wasn’t very successful. I want to give it another shot and see if that will help me relaunch this thing. They would obviously compliment one another. If I can muster up something respectable I may consider investing in a decent camera and mic and boost the production values a bit. Until I consistently put out something that I’m not embarrassed by I’m not even considering that.

I do plan to continue the Beatitudes. I really do. I do plan to post those thoughts here. I really do. Be patient. More is coming. Let me revamp the way I’ve been approaching this and see if things don’t get better.

May God our Father give you grace and peace.

Those Who Mourn

Matthew 5:4

Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. (CSB)

Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. (ESV)

God blesses those who mourn, for they will be comforted. (NLT)

Blessed [forgiven, refreshed by God’s grace] are those who mourn[over their sins and repent], for they will be comforted [when the burden of sin is lifted]. (Amplified Bible)

You’re blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you. (The Message)

Once again I have posted the verse in different versions. Once again I omitted the NIV, NASB, and KJV because they are pretty much identical to the CSB and ESV. I do like the subtle difference in the NLT and appreciate the fact that it is trying to explain exactly what “blessed” means. One that I didn’t include is the Holman Christian Standard but after looking at it I think I want to. The HCSB is the predecessor to the CSB that I have started using (I GOT IT FOR FREE). It is a new translation that was first released in 2004. It has since been updated (the explanation can be found HERE) and the name shortened to CSB. I didn’t check it to begin with because I assumed (incorrectly it turns out) that it would render the passage the same.

The poor in spirit are blessed, for the kingdom of heaven is theirs. (HCSB)

Now, I admit that the difference is subtle but it is still different. The same sentiment is still found in all of them. I am starting to appreciate The Amplified Bible the more I look through it but it’s not one I could read. The in-text variations are somewhat distracting when reading but very useful if comparing versions. For that I like it. I know what I’m getting when I consult The Message but it is always interesting to see how Peterson renders things. Even though it is a paraphrase he knows the languages and isn’t throwing things out there willy-nilly.

One thing I never really addressed in the other posts is exactly what is meant by the word “blessed” in the first place. I will remind all of you reading that I am not a language scholar and I must rely on tools when addressing the original text. The word being translated as “blessed” is the Greek word makarioi which occurs twenty-six times in the New Testament. It is a form of the word makarios which is most commonly translated “happy” or “blessed”. There is another Greek word translated “happiness” (eudaimonia) but it is not used in the Bible. Being “blessed” moves beyond merely happy. The idea is that those who are “blessed” are fortunate or better off because of God’s favor. It also moves beyond the earthly sense of being blessed with material riches.

This statement suggests that those who mourn are in this state of being blessed. We sometimes use this verse to comfort those who have lost loved ones and while God does comfort those suffering loss, this deals with mourning of a spiritual nature. It is true that the Greek word (pentheó) can express mourning over the death of someone. However, in this context it builds upon the idea of being spiritually poor and recognizing the need for a savior. That realization should lead one mourn the personal sins in his life and long for reconciliation with God. This is the moment when we one begins to grieve over his own sinfulness and the eternal consequences it brings. It is a visible grief that is difficult (if not impossible) to console.

James, the brother of Jesus puts it this way:

Therefore, submit to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be miserable and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.

James 4:7-10 (CSB)

 

As I mentioned in a previous post, the Beatitudes are a series of progressive “steps” that one takes to become a true disciple of Jesus. Admitting the need for Christ is the first step and that conviction should lead to repentance. When this happens Jesus says that one will be comforted (Greek parakaleó). This same root word can also suggest the idea of having a legal advocate which is how Jesus describes the coming Holy Spirit in John 14:16. He (the Spirit) is called the “Comforter” or the “Advocate”. When we are convicted of our sins and it breaks us, Jesus has promised that his Spirit will indeed step in for us.

Being a Christian (disciple of Christ) is more than just saying we believe what the Bible says about him. Jesus began his earthly ministry be setting the ground rules. In order to truly follow him one has to begin by confronting a holy and mighty God and recognizing that he is not worthy. That realization should break him and cause him to truly be shaken by his own sinfulness. Once that happens God steps in and leads him the rest of the way.

May God our Father give you grace and peace.

 

 

An Unintended Break

Life happens. I am working three eight hour shifts a week at Walmart. I am typically working 7 am until 4 pm and that is fine with me. Sundays and Wednesday are still super busy with church things. I have things I want to write about but I have honestly avoided a lot of the things on the internet lately. In just the last week there was a mass shooting in Las Vegas and Tom Petty died. With all the things going on in my real world and the responsibilities I have at home, at church, and at work I just haven’t felt like sitting down and opening up.

October also begins what is usually a rough stretch for me emotionally so I’m already prepping myself for that. 2017 has not gone the way I had planned but we are nearing the end and I’m still standing. God is still good even though I picked up some new bumps and bruises. I started a low-carb diet not quite a month ago and I’ve lost twenty pounds so far. I’ve still got quite a few to go but I am determined.

I still plan to jump back into my walk through the Beatitudes. Please be patient. It will come. For now I am going to leave you all with my top ten Tom Petty songs. These are either from The Heartbreakers, his solo albums, or the Traveling Wilburys. Comment and tell me what you think of my list. Did I leave off anything?

May God our Father give you grace and peace.

  1. The Waiting
  2. I Won’t Back Down
  3. You Got Lucky
  4. End Of The Line
  5. Wildflowers
  6. Free Fallin’
  7. Breakdown
  8. Don’t Come Around Here No More
  9. American Girl
  10. Into The Great Wide Open

An Apology

I didn’t intend to disappear for several days but that is the nature of life. I have started working morning shifts at Walmart (7 am until 4 pm) so that has required some readjustments with sleep and office hours. I have also been busy with family, church, and other obligations that take up time. I am still reading, studying, and pondering what the Beatitudes mean to me and I still plan to go through them here. In fact, my goal is to start back up tomorrow. I just wanted to take a moment and assure you all that I haven’t vanished again. I simply got busy.

I have been listening to Dustin Kensrue’s incredible worship album (The Water And The Blood) on my drives to and from work. I will leave you with one of my favorite songs from it. This is an acoustic version that he put up on YouTube.

 

May God our Father give you grace and peace.

The Poor In Spirit

Matthew 5:3

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for the kingdom of heaven is theirs. (CSB)

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (ESV)

God blesses those who are poor and realize their need for him, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs. (NLT)

Blessed [spiritually prosperous, happy, to be admired] are the poor in spirit [those devoid of spiritual arrogance, those who regard themselves as insignificant], for theirs is the kingdom of heaven [both now and forever]. (Amplified Bible)

You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule. (The Message)

 

I didn’t include the NIV, NASB, or KJV because they read like the ESV almost word for word. I did include the NLT because it almost always tries to explain the meaning instead of simply translating. I admit, that is not always good but it does give a slightly different take. The Amplified Bible, which I’ve never really used, attempts to put all possible meanings in the text. I like the idea behind that but it makes for difficult reading at times. Eugene Peterson’s The Message is ALWAYS off kilter (for better or worse) but it’s a paraphrase and I don’t expect it to be as literal.

In my post yesterday I mentioned the progression that many people see here in The Beatitudes. I also stated that I tend to agree with that assessment. I want to briefly list the different “stages” of this progression before discussing the first one. For lack of a better phrase I’m calling this The Kingdom Path. I may or may not have read that somewhere else but I don’t recall at the moment.

 

Verse 3 – The Poor in Spirit

Verse 4 – Those Who Mourn

Verse 5 – The Humble

Verse 6 – Those Who Hunger and Thirst for Righteousness

Verse 7 – The Merciful

Verse 8 – The Pure in Heart

Verse 9 – The Peacemakers

Verse 10 – Those Persecuted for Righteousness’ Sake

 

The starting point is recognizing your position before a holy God. Isaiah’s encounter in the throne room (Isaiah 6) comes to mind. After a confrontation with angelic beings Isaiah is absolutely shaken. He recognizes his sinfulness and declares that he is “ruined” because of it. One of the seraphim touches his lips with a hot coal and pronounces him forgiven. He is then given his charge to go and proclaim the word of God. After finding himself before God Almighty, Isaiah is about as poor in spirit as one can be.

Another passage that comes to mind is the parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector found in Luke 18:9-14. In this particular story Jesus describes the difference between the attitudes and prayers of the two men. The Pharisee is devoted to observing every aspect of the Law and even though he isn’t capable of doing so (no one is), he considers himself righteous and better off than others. When standing to pray to God he only boasts about himself. The tax collector, on the other hand, doesn’t even dare enter the temple completely. He stands off in the shadows beating his chest in anguish and begging for mercy. Jesus says that he (the tax collector) is the one who leaves the temple justified.

It’s about attitude. It’s about recognizing that without Christ we are sinners, lost and alone with no hope. The great thing is that Jesus loves us even when we are in that state. Romans 5:8 tells us that while we were still sinners. Christ died for us. All we have to do is recognize that one simple fact. We have to understand that there is nothing we can do to save ourselves. It doesn’t matter how many righteous deeds we do. Until we admit that we are nothing without Christ, he cannot change our hearts and minds.

The good news (Gospel) is that he is faithful even when we aren’t. When we take this first step we begin the path that leads to eternal life in the very presence of God Almighty. The “kingdom” Jesus is talking about isn’t an earthly one although we can become a part of it and benefit from it while we are still here. It is ultimately fulfilled when Christ returns but those of us who are part of the Church live the kingdom life every single day. It’s what we were created to do.

Where are you this morning? Have you recognized the truth that you are spiritually bankrupt before God? Do you believe that He will fix that and give you riches unimaginable? Perhaps you have known this for a long time but have gotten off track. You’ve taken your eyes of Christ and that old way of thinking is sneaking back up on. I know I’ve been in both places. One of the reasons I decided to do this study is to give myself a spiritual audit. I need to open up the ledger books and see if I’ve fallen back into that prideful, selfish mindset. I pray that you do as well.

May God our Father give you grace and peace.

Be Blessed: Some Background Stuff

The Beatitudes, as Matthew 5:3-13 is commonly called, are a series of statements Jesus makes at the start of what is referred to as the Sermon on the Mount. This particular section of Matthew’s Gospel includes all of chapters 5 through 7. It is sandwiched between Jesus calling his first disciples and the account of several miraculous healings. Many suggest that the Beatitudes are an introduction to the teachings that follow. Jesus is describing what life is like in the kingdom of heaven versus life under the law. Much of what he says is steeped in the Old Testament. He never does away with the requirements of the Law (5:17-20) but actually expands how they are to be understood and lived out.

Several of the things Jesus says here would have been deemed shocking to the original audience given their view of the Law and the way in which the Pharisees guarded it with an iron fist. The Law, which was meant to show people how to live holy lives, had been transformed into an oppressive and manipulative system that the religious leaders took full advantage of. Here we Jesus show that living in the “spirit of the Law” is better than mindlessly and meticulously trying to follow. Actions are important but attitudes are just as (if not more) important.

Once again, Jesus isn’t creating a new religion or a new Law to follow but showing what God intended when He gave it in the first place. Many see a natural progression as you work through the eight (nine depending upon how you count verses 11 and 12) statements. I tend to agree but that is probably because the professors I have studied under made that distinction. In my own studies I confess that I automatically see the progression as I read. I liken it to the progression found in Psalm 1:1 (CSB).

How happy is the one who does not
walk in the advice of the wicked
or stand in the pathway with sinners
or sit in the company of mockers!

It is interesting to note that many English translations render this as “Blessed is the one” so it is a sort of Beatitude itself. When looking at Matthew 5:3-12 as a sort of “how to” guide (for lack of a better analogy) to be a part of the kingdom one realizes that is is outlining what it means to truly be a disciple of Jesus. It pretty much sets the stage for everything he’s going to say and do during his ministry on earth. I am looking forward to dissecting these one at a time and seeing what personal applications can be made.

May God our Father give you grace and peace.

Be Blessed

I am working on a series of “articles” on the Beatitudes. I don’t know how long they will be or how long it will take for me to complete them. To get myself in the right frame of mind I just want to quote that section from Matthew today. Hopefully I can do some background information tomorrow.

 

When he saw the crowds, he went up on the mountain, and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. Then he began to teach them, saying:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for the kingdom of heaven is theirs.
Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the humble,
for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called sons of God.
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for the kingdom of heaven is theirs.

11 “You are blessed when they insult you and persecute you and falsely say every kind of evil against you because of me. 12 Be glad and rejoice, because your reward is great in heaven. For that is how they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

Matthew 5:1-12 (CSB)

 

May God our Father give you grace and peace.