Blessed Are: Poor in Spirit

Here's our first guest post on seeking the beatitudes in the Old Testament!
I know you're going to be blessed by these thoughts from Rachel Schmoyer.

Recently my church was a host to four homeless families through the Family Promise program. Thirteen churches in our area take turns housing families in the evening and overnight. The day program helps the families find jobs and places to live.

On my way to volunteering at the church one evening, I found myself thinking, “I’m so glad I know how to handle money so that I’m not homeless like these people.”

The Holy Spirit convicted me right away. Was it really because of me that we are not homeless? Continue reading

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Jesus Had a “Martha Moment”

Jesus spent most of his days preaching, teaching, and healing. In the moment we see here, He had sent His disciples off for a little two-by-two trial run, so He was managing the crowds by Himself. Just as the disciples returned, Jesus also heard that John the Baptist—His cousin and precursor—had been beheaded. It’s easy to see why Jesus wanted some time away from the crowds.

When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place. Matthew 14:13a

Because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, [Jesus] said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place.  –Mark 6:31-32

Jesus wanted to get away…to spend some time with the Father. As a leader, He needed to debrief his team. As a bereaved cousin, He needed to grieve for John. Jesus wanted some time at the feet of God, like the time His friend, Mary, would spend at His feet a little later (Luke 10:38-42).

He didn’t get that quiet time. Continue reading

When It Doesn’t Feel Like Work

I recently began working outside our home. For the previous four years, I poured my days (what was left after washing dishes and buying groceries, which are both part of a vicious but necessary cycle, now that I think about it.) into writing and all the obligations surrounding it (e.g. social media). But what I loved—what I always wanted to be doing—was opening the Word of God and writing about it. That part never felt like work. It still doesn’t.

There are big chunks of my new
job that don’t feel like work.

But now, I go to an office most days, and I’m trying to adjust my life to this new normal while I try not to lose the writing. This struggle for adjustment is why, for the first time since September 2015, my blog posts are sometimes late. There are big chunks of my new job that don’t feel like work, just like when I wrote from home. And some parts of my new job that are work feel like the work of helping someone move:  hard but rewarding. (Maybe for you, it’s gardening or baking.) God has equipped and trained me for this new job, and I know He has placed me there for this time. Continue reading

Ten Commandments Turned Inside Out

When John was thrown in prison, Jesus backed away from Jerusalem, choosing to live in Galilee. At the same time, though, He took up John’s declaration: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near” (Matthew 3:2, 4:17). As he taught, proclaimed, and healed the sick (Matthew 4:23), people started to follow Him. Before long, the crowd grew so large that Jesus had to climb a little way up the side of a mountain so everyone could hear him.

He sat down, drew His disciples to the front row, and began to teach the people. I imagine He scanned the crowd, praying silently, and took a deep breath before He began. (With no amplification, He would have needed to project His voice, and that takes some lung power.) Continue reading

What God Gives Generously

At no time of year is God’s generosity more evident than Christmas and the New Year. He gave His Son, an event we’ve commemorated for over 2000 years now, and He has just given us another year of life and blessings. It is fitting, therefore, to also consider some of God’s other generously-given gifts as we close out this year of focus on generosity. (Conclusion coming next week.)

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.  –James 1:17 Continue reading

He Will Be Called: Prince of Peace

Five days until Christmas (as I write this), and the to-do list is getting longer rather than shorter. This happens every year. I have grand schemes of all the things I’ll bake, all the gifts I’ll make by hand, and the traditions on which we’ll follow-through. And every year, I do less than the year before. “Lacking” had become the theme of my Christmas. With my sense of lacking comes discontent: all the thoughts of how I should be better, how we should be doing more God-ish stuff and less simply surviving, how I should be making better memories for my children than rushing to finish the laundry so we can pack for trips to the grandparents. There’s little we can call “peaceful” in these days. (Although a teenager who likes to wrap presents does help.)

When the people of Judah lost their king to the Babylonian conquerors, they also lost their queen, along with all the princes and princesses. There were no literal princes in their courts, and no peace in their hearts. I imagine shalom, that ubiquitous Hebrew word for peace which means far more than “absence of war,” felt foreign to those trudging, defeated masses making their way toward Babylon. Continue reading