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This is a topic that can provoke thought for those who are TRULY seeking truth. Anything taught to me is because the teacher wants me to learn it in the way it is being taught. It is up to me to discern the factual matter from the slant of the teacher.
via GMO Blog
Nearly twenty-four hours ago we were notified of the death of Osama bin Laden. Last night I watched the broadcast of the President’s speech and my initial reaction was a sense of relief, or “Finally”. I didn’t have political or religious feelings on the matter, just a sense of completion.
Today I have heard political arguments over why or why not which people should get or should not get what credit. I have heard and read many thoughts of thanks to our military. I have heard many reports of young people, those whose age was in the single digits on 9/11, celebrating like it was the millennium New Year. And to my sorrow, I have read comments from religious individuals that were very aggressive in reference to bin Laden and his final destination. Some included cussing that I never envisioned from certain individuals. I have even heard them parse their feelings and comments between patriotism and religion as if the compartmentalizing of the statements would leave no impact upon their Christian testimony.
The politicization of the subject is not at all surprising. In fact, it is unfortunately expected. For professing Christians to “let their hair down” as it were, and openly rejoice and celebrate over the death of a person is something that I find a bit disturbing. The outward expression is a reflection of what is in the heart. Perhaps we need to pause, repent and pray.
I am not proclaiming my own innocence in such matters. I am a sinner saved by grace just as any person who places their full trust in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ for the redemption of our souls. As I said, I had a sense of completion and satisfaction. Where is the line that gets crossed from happiness for a job completed to the overt rejoicing over the death of an enemy? I believe that the answer is somewhat individual to each person as we each explore our motives before God.
The death of any person is a serious matter before God and so it should be for us. I believe that the eternal destination of bin Laden should be a matter of disturbance to the Christian, not a celebration, assuming there was no conversion to Christianity prior to his death. This event is an opportunity for the peacemaker within us to shine, or at the very least, to not get caught up in the hoopla. It would be all too easy to alienate those around us. I am not saying that we should not discuss the matter. However, a certain amount of restraint may be the better part of wisdom.
Waking early morn
Feeling nature’s call
Before the alarm
Roam the hall
In one hour
Alarm to sound
Dilemma upon me
More time unfound
In the dark
Down the stair
Before the sun
Burden I bear
Four three zero
Decision to make
Return to slumber
For day awake
Alarm one hour
Immediate sleep must
Struggle to wake
Difficult to adjust
Nap needed later
No time allotted
What to do
Mind all knotted
Alarm now buzzing
Dark silence torn
Though very groggy
Day now born
Weary by evening
Day cut short
Energy now gone
Sleep only resort
As we celebrate the resurrection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, it is good to consider the story of the week from the triumphant entry of Palm Sunday through Easter Sunday. Expectations of people were raised in hopes of a new kingdom and the overthrow of the Romans to become outcries for a crucifixion only a week later. A Man professing to be Messiah is put to death and after three days miraculously rises to life. A close follower commits an act of betrayal that was so devastating that he took his own life. Another close follower denies association with Jesus and after being crushed by guilt is restored to a position of leadership. Political leaders do the wrong thing, condemning an innocent Man, in hopes of quelling civil unrest. Religious leaders do the wrong thing, falsely accusing an innocent man, in hopes of retaining their own stature and power. Spiritual warfare rages in the ultimate good vs. evil showdown. The whole story is fulfillment of prophecies that were hundreds and thousands of years old.
If I were most brilliant, what then? Would I be so wrapped up in myself that I would be unaware of my many shortcomings? Would it be a bad thing to be unaware of my many shortcomings? I would most certainly think more highly of myself than I ought.
If I were most wealthy, what then? Would I be so enamored by my possessions that I would fail to see my true needs? Would my possessions come to own me rather than I them? I would most certainly think myself self-sufficient.
If I were most popular, what then? Would I be so arrogant that I would become my own idol? Would I see myself as my own god, as well as for others to look upon? I would most certainly be self-absorbed.
If I were most handsome and desirable, what then? Would my time be spent with many others in self-satisfaction to the ruin of their souls and mine? Would my desires override all logic and reason? I would most certainly move toward self-destruction.
If I were most articulate, what then? Would my words flow for my own ears to hear? Would I look down upon those of lesser elocution? I would most certainly think myself praiseworthy.
If I were most muscular, what then? Would I worship my creation and me as creator? Would every waking hour be consumed in admiration and refinement? I would most certainly think myself a wonder to gaze upon.
If I were myself, what then? What then? Naked and cold this world was entered and from where comes hope of a dissimilar exit? Is it in the doings and accumulations during time on this orb? Is there some abstract value to be placed upon each head? Is success in a democratic vote, a measure to be obtained or the dreaded grade on a curve? I would certainly want to be my own judge.
To go through life and hang precariously close to the cliff of low self-esteem while trying to muster up the confidence to fulfill the opportunities that lay ahead is excruciating on a good day. Self-sufficiency is a concept that is far from being grasped. Popularity is fleeting at best and at times a curse as true value is seldom realized. Outward appearances serve only flattery from the lips of the person to whom the eye belongs. To struggle to grasp concepts and attach to them words that would convey some deep meaning is hardly fluency at its finest. A body being built beyond sufficient and efficient operation is time spent erecting a memorial to nothing.
What then has this world to offer with its lack of perpetuity? It has little to offer in the now much less of eternal value. The world made from nothing holds that exact value as the One who created everything is the only value that counts. Value in His love is the only value worth reaching for, whether it is with Him or in those that know Him. Relationship is the only object worthy of pursuit and that only when viewed within proper constraints. Pride, arrogance and self-sufficiency are dissuaders all from reaching out to court the highest opportunity of eternal significance. Humility and meekness are scoffed at, yet they are the only avenue of achievement. The paradigm requires the shift, demanded for success.
What if I were His, what then? What then? Would I care more about me than He? Would I care more about me than thee? Me would need to die daily, painful though it may be. He and thee must ascend in symmetry to the descent of me. It is the only exertion of energy that returns at a higher level than when it left. Is there any guarantee of success? I would most certainly fail from time to time, but find love in the striving. Contentment is the earnest for the eternal joy that will be obtained.
Matthew 16:25-27 (King James Version)
“For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for My sake shall find it. For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? For the Son of Man shall come in the glory of His Father with His angels; and then He shall reward every man according to his works.”
April 9, 2011
The story of The Prodigal Son found in the Gospel According to Luke is well known to most people. The parable is one of the Bible stories that have been heard so often that we can breeze over it and all too easily miss many of the lessons it has for us. I am sure that most of us can give the basic overview of the story if we think about it. A man has two sons. One son stays home and does what he thinks is the right thing to do while the other demands his inheritance and goes off to live in the world. He squanders the money on a party lifestyle and ends up feeding swine. He realizes that his father’s servants are better off than he is and eventually humbles himself enough to go back home and ask to be a hired hand. His father wouldn’t hear of it and called for a robe, shoes and a ring for the wayward son. The father had the fatted calf slaughtered and a feast was held for the son that had returned home. The older brother was upset that after he had done everything the father had asked, the father held a feast to honor the younger brother who had run off.
So my question today is, which brother are you? Which brother am I?
One aspect of this parable is often overlooked when it is used as an illustration of forgiveness and redemption. Who was Jesus talking to? The story itself is found in Luke 15:11-32, but we need to back up to verse 1.
Luke 15:1-3 (King James Version)
1Then drew near unto him all the publicans and sinners for to hear him.
2And the Pharisees and scribes murmured, saying, “This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them.”
3And he spake this parable unto them, saying,
Verses 4 through 7 tell the story of the lost sheep and the shepherd leaving the ninety-nine to find the one that is lost. Verses 8 through 10 tell the story of the woman who had ten pieces of silver and searched the house for the one that was lost. Then is the story of the prodigal son.
The thing that each of these stories has in common is finding the lost and rejoicing with celebration. What about the ninety-nine sheep, the nine coins and the older brother? Are they not worthy of celebration?
The stories had a message for the Pharisees and scribes who were murmuring about the behavior of Jesus. They saw themselves as righteous, doing the correct thing by being set apart while they saw Jesus mingling with sinners, even eating with them. Jesus clearly was not one of them. We see another example of this in the Gospel According to Matthew.
Matthew 9:10-11 (King James Version)
10And it came to pass, as Jesus sat at meat in the house, behold, many publicans and sinners came and sat down with him and his disciples.
11And when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto his disciples, “Why eateth your Master with publicans and sinners?”
Again it appears that the Pharisees are not included in the meal but rather observing the behavior of Jesus. Jesus answers them directly in the following verses.
12But when Jesus heard that, he said unto them, “They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick.
13But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”
The self-righteous Pharisees were often judgmental and Jesus called them on it. They focused mainly on the outward appearance or the ceremonial aspects of the law but they often missed the internal and moral or eternal principles. I find it interesting that in verse 13 Jesus says, “But go ye and learn what that meaneth.” The Pharisees thought that they were whole and not in need of a physician. Salvation cannot come to the self-righteous because they see no need for it. The sinner who is aware of sin and unworthiness is the one who can receive the gift of salvation.
Likewise, the three stories in Luke are directed in one aspect to the Pharisees. Let’s look at the older son.
We see in verse 11 that the man had two sons and for the sake of this parable I think we can assume that there were only the two. Verses 12 through 24 tell the story of the younger son as he left and returned home. Verses 25 through 27 introduce us to the older son, the second half of the story.
Luke 15:25-27 (King James Version)
25Now his elder son was in the field: and as he came and drew nigh to the house, he heard musick and dancing.
26And he called one of the servants, and asked what these things meant.
27And he said unto him, “Thy brother is come; and thy father hath killed the fatted calf, because he hath received him safe and sound.”
The older son had been doing that which he believed was required, in a sense fulfilling the letter of the law. He was the son that stayed home and did the works that his father required. He was unaware of what had happened until he neared the house. However, this son apparently did not share the heart of his father as we see in the following verses.
Luke 15:28-30 (King James Version)
28And he was angry, and would not go in: therefore came his father out, and intreated him.
29And he answering said to his father, “Lo, these many years do I serve thee, neither transgressed I at any time thy commandment: and yet thou never gavest me a kid, that I might make merry with my friends:
30But as soon as this thy son was come, which hath devoured thy living with harlots, thou hast killed for him the fatted calf.”
The older son was angry and refused to participate in the celebration. He did not have the love for his brother that would allow him to rejoice in the safe return and joyful reunion with the father. The father was aware of the issue and went out to the son and tried to persuade him to join the reunion and party. The older son continued to resist and reiterated his self-righteousness saying, “neither transgressed I at any time thy commandment.” Even if this son was perfectly obedient, he was lacking in love and compassion. This is the picture we see of the Pharisee time and again in Scripture. They were proud to adhere to the letter of the law but they fell short when it came to loving the less fortunate in society. Those who needed compassion and mercy were outcasts in their eyes.
Another issue we see here is their sense of entitlement. Not unlike our society today, they believed that they were entitled to receive the reward because they saw themselves as good. The problem then as now is that seeing ourselves the way that we want to see ourselves is not necessarily the way that God sees us. It is only when we see ourselves as God sees us that we will know the truth of our need for salvation. It is in that truth that we are able to receive the gift of salvation. A sinner with a broken and contrite heart will know that he or she is unworthy but needy of the salvation that is offered by the sacrifice of the cross.
The older son then goes into the comparison game and further establishes his self-righteousness. The story concludes with the father still trying to convince the son that the celebration is a good and worthy thing.
Luke 15:31-32 (King James Version)
31And he said unto him, “Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine.
32It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad: for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found.”
Like the Pharisees in the Gospels, we never see the older son enter into the celebration. They depended on their works, their behavior, to gain their reward. They would not let go of that mindset and move to a heart of compassion and care for those around them. They would not humble themselves and confess their need for a Savior. Religion can do this and over many years of serving the law it is hard to let go and see the simplicity of the Gospel.
So which son are we and which son do we want to be? The older son was dependent upon himself, his behavior, his works and his own righteousness. The younger son was broken, humbled and dependent upon the mercies of the father. He knew that he was undeserving and his relationship with his father was restored.
We are all sinners and Scripture states that we all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. We have gone off to live the way that we wanted to live. God came to earth in the form of man, Jesus Christ. He paid a debt that he did not owe. He paid our debt that we could not pay. He left the majesty of heaven, came to earth and offered Himself as the perfect sacrifice to spare us the punishment for our sin. For those who believe on Christ and confess their sinfulness with a humble and contrite heart, there is forgiveness. Jesus came to restore our relationship with God. While some will accept this, sadly others will continue to rely on their self-righteousness, their own works and their religion.
Which brother are you?
The Wife, To BooBoo From Sarge
With warm eyes and bright smile,
You captured my eye with soft style.
With bright eyes and warm smile,
You captured my heart without trial.
With tender touch and gentle care,
Your love goes with me everywhere.
With gentle touch and tender care,
Your company I will forever share.
With loving soul and caring heart,
Your compassionate acts set you apart.
With caring soul and loving heart,
Your godly reflection will not depart.
With caring eyes and inviting smile,
You draw me near all the while.
With inviting eyes and caring smile,
You keep me close mile after mile.
As wife, lover, mother and friend,
Your love toward me shows no end.
As Margaret, Suzy, Maggs or BooBoo,
My love is dedicated unending to you.
Happy Birthday Suzy! I Love you!