Blessed Are: the Peacemakers

We return to that hillside somewhere in Galilee. “Large crowds,” Matthew says, from cities across the region and down into Judea, followed Jesus as he taught, proclaimed, and healed (Matthew 4:23-25). As we look back into the Gospels, we call his lessons on that hillside “The Sermon on the Mount.

He began with an attention-grabbing list, an inside-out set of commandments designed to question everything the people had been taught. I imagined he paused between each one, giving it time to “sink in” before he continued. Continue reading

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A Rock, A Stone, and Some Scattered Shards

Of course, Peter was the first one to say it out loud. He always said what others only thought. Except sometimes he didn’t think before he spoke. “Act first, think about it later.” That’s how Peter rolled. But when he said this thing, everyone was still calling him Simon.

The Rock was just starting to roll. Continue reading

Brokenness and Image-Bearing

I needed to heal. It took a long time, and sometimes I still feel like a broken arm that wasn’t reset before it healed. Things don’t line up exactly like they should…or at least like they used to.

My sister broke her arm when we were young. We took her to the hospital, of course, and they reset it beautifully. But to this day, she has a knot where the bone fused back together. That spot is stronger than any other part of the bone.

The brokenness
is what God uses.

We don’t want to be broken, and when we are broken, we try so hard to get back to wholeness. We want things to return to how they were before the traumatic experience or situation that broke us. We want to stop being broken. We rush to heal, thinking God can use us more effectively if we are whole, but the brokenness is what God uses. The brokenness eventually makes us stronger and, yes, better. Continue reading

The Largess of a Not-Large Man

It was a little more than a week before Passover. Jesus was headed toward Jerusalem for the last time. He knew he was going to die, and He very bluntly told the disciples about it (Luke 18:31-34). His route took him through Jericho, on the edge of Jordan’s floodplain, before climbing a treacherous eighteen miles into the hill country and the city of Jerusalem.

The route was intentional. He had a few things to do along the way. He gave sight to a blind beggar outside Jericho (Luke 18:35-43, Mark 10:46-52) and, to the dismay of everyone around him, he enjoyed the hospitality of one short, criminally-wealthy tax collector. Continue reading

Sorry Jesus, Your Deity Slipped My Mind

“Didn’t we just do this the other day?” Most years, Christmas decorations show up in the stores, and I can’t believe it’s already that time again. Or my first-born starts talking about her birthday, and I’m like, “Wait, didn’t you just have a birthday?”

I can imagine Mary, the mother of Jesus, felt the same way about Passover. After she and Joseph returned to Nazareth from Egypt, they went to Jerusalem for the festival every year. It was a three-day walk each way, but they did it, as did almost everyone in Nazareth. Continue reading

I Am Not the Light of the World

Of Candles

12-30 2014 reflections (9)
candles (c) Carole Sparks

The electricity was out. No TV, no internet, not to mention no heat or means of cooking. I decided to read a book, so I lit a candle. Have you ever tried to read by the light of one candle? It’s almost impossible. By the time you get the book close enough to see the words clearly, you’re afraid the pages will catch fire. One candle, despite the beautiful imagery, is not very effective. Continue reading

What Real Sabbath Looks Like

Sabbathing, part 2

In part 1:

  • I confessed my Sunday struggles.
  • I eliminated some Sabbath-like activities that aren’t always purposeful. (Dare we call them Sabbath-stealers?)
  • I gave you my short, working definition for Sabbath.

Although my activities are different, my mindset on Sundays (described last week) isn’t significantly different from the other days of the week. This is where my conviction began. Continue reading