Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Dinner With Jesus

  What would you wear if you were invited to have dinner with Jesus?  Actually, each time you gather at church that’s exactly what you’re doing, having dinner with Jesus.  Just think—the bread, the wine, the table, the tablecloth, the candles—you sitting across from Jesus on the altar.

  When we go out to dinner at a fine restaurant, we dress in our better clothes.  Shouldn’t we dress just as nicely when we come to have dinner with Jesus?  We also dress in nicer clothes when we attend special occasions such as graduations, weddings, parties, proms.  Did you ever wonder why?  It’s because our dress reflects that the occasion is special.  To attend a wedding in sneakers and sweatpants would be an insult to the bride and groom.  The way we dress shows respect for the people we are honoring.

  Is the way we dress for church the most important thing?  No, the most important thing is that we have come to worship and thank God.  Does Jesus care what we wear to church?  Jesus cares that we show Him the same honor and respect that we would show to the President of the United States or any other important person.  What would you wear if you were invited to dinner with the President?  What do you wear when you come to have dinner with Jesus?
 Bring gifts, and enter His courts; worship the Lord in holy attire.  Psalm 96:8b

A Pause In Reflections

If anyone was wondering whether I'd given up this blog, I haven't. Had an injury. Between that and summer company (I live near the beach), have found it difficult to find time to write. Hopefully by September I can get back to my regular weekly schedule.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

On Values and Principles

Every adult has values and principles which have developed in us through what we have been taught and what we have experienced. Values are those things which we hold in high esteem and are important to us. Principles, as defined by the dictionary, are "a rule or code of conduct"; "a comprehensive and fundamental law, doctrine or assumption."  Although our fundamental values and principles are formed in childhood, they continue to grow and change as long as we live.
  We usually don't sit down and think about what our values and principles are, but it's a good idea to do that from time to time. Recently I came across a listing of the foundational principles of an organization I have been following since the 70's, Focus on the Family, based in Colorado Springs, CO. Upon reading them, I found that they were an accurate description of the principles I have come to accept as valuable, and so I thought I would share them here. I have found that following these principles leads not only to peace, which is the defining theme of my blog, but to fulfillment in life.

The Value of Children
Children are a heritage from God and a blessing from His hand. Parents are therefore accountable to Him for raising, shaping and preparing children for a life of service to His kingdom and to humanity.

The Permanence of Marriage
The institution of marriage is a sacred covenant designed by God to model the love of Christ for His people and to serve both the public and private good as the basic building block of human civilization. Marriage is intended by God to be a thriving, lifelong relationship between a man and a woman through trials, sickness, financial crises and emotional stresses. Therefore, Christians are called to defend and protect God's marriage design and to minister in Christ's name to those who suffer the consequences of broken marriages.

The Pre-Eminence of Evangelism
The ultimate purpose of life is to know and glorify God and to attain eternal life through Jesus Christ, beginning within our own families and then reaching out to a suffering humanity that needs to embrace His love and sacrifice.

The Sanctity of Human Life
We believe that human life is created by God in His image. It is of inestimable worth and significance in all its dimensions, including the preborn, the aged, the mentally disabled, those deemed unattractive, the physically challenged, and every other condition in which humanness is expressed from the single-cell stage of development to natural death. Christians are therefore called to defend, protect and value all human life.

The Importance of Social Responsibility
God has ordained the social institutions of family, church and government for the benefit of mankind and as a reflection of His divine nature. Therefore, Christians are called to support these institutions, according to God's design and purpose, and to protect them against destructive social influences. Such involvement is in obedience to Christ's lordship over all creation and is required by His command to care for the well-being of all people.

The Value of Male and Female
God created humans in His image, intentionally and immutably male and female, each bringing unique and complementary qualities to sexuality and relationships. Sexuality is a glorious gift from God to be offered back to Him either in marriage for procreation, union and mutual delight, or in celibacy for undivided devotion to Christ. Christians are called to proclaim the truth and beauty of God's design and the redemption of sexual brokenness in our lives and culture through Jesus Christ.

One thing that I would add is the importance of accepting Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, being baptized, and filled with the Holy Spirit. This is actually the first and foremost principle because the others flow from it. It's the power of the Holy Spirit within us which enables us to live according to the other principles.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

The Price You Pay for the Good Life

A young woman posted a video on Facebook of her little daughter taking her first steps. But the mother wasn't there to see it. She was at work and the video was taken by the babysitter.
  How sad--to miss your child's first steps; or first word; or all the many firsts in your little one's life. To miss the cute ways preschoolers say words. To not be there to kiss the bumps and bruises or to take them to the doctor when they're injured. To not be there when they get home from school or to read and sing to them before bed. To not be there for their games and special events.
  I'm sorry if you have to work outside the home; or if you are a divorced or single parent; if you have no choice. But there are so many who do have a choice and choose work or a career over raising their children.
  I had a day care business for many years. I would estimate that about 65% of my clients did not have to work outside the home for financial reasons. They worked for a large home (of course each child must have their own room), nice cars, adult "toys", and a yearly vacation to Disney World. Those are all nice things, and we are blessed if we can afford them. But they often come with a price not paid with money -- time with our children; time with our families; time to build and nurture a good marriage.
  My husband and I raised four children. For most of that time I was able to be home when the children were home. I had the day care business in my home. Most of our cars during that time were used and we continued to use them until they were no longer worth repairing. We lived in a small three-bedroom ranch with one bath. We rarely spent vacations away from home. I clipped coupons, looked for sales, and cooked economical meals. My children's birthday parties were small house parties I planned myself with as many guests as the age of the child.
  Today most young couples would not be willing to live the way my husband and I did while raising our children. But it was worth the sacrifice. All four of our children graduated college and are good, productive citizens. All four married and three of them have children (so far). My husband and I have been complimented many times on what nice people our children are. I wouldn't trade that for anything the world has to offer.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Do Good Parents Produce Good Children?

Do good mothers and fathers produce good children? Yes and no.
  Some children who have gone astray came from very good families. I remember reading about Franklin Graham, one of the sons of the famous Rev. Bill Graham. He rebelled against his good and decent parents and went astray for some time. He later repented, turned back to God, and is now the head of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.
  Then there are some children whose parents were absent or neglectful who turned out to be good, responsible citizens. Jim Daly, President of the Focus On the Family ministry, grew up in foster homes. Dr. Ben Carson grew up poor, in a single parent home, but became a renowned neurosurgeon due to the love and nurturing of his mother and the grace of God.
  So I think that although it's more likely that good mothers and fathers will  produce good children, it's not guaranteed.  After all, we are all created by our Heavenly Father, who is perfect in every way, and yet we rebel against Him and His Will for us.
  People compliment parents when they have polite, well-behaved children, and rightly so. But it's good to remember that when children go astray, it's not necessarily the fault of their parents. And children can't blame their poor upbringing for the problems in their lives. We all have been given the gift of free will and with God's grace can become good, responsible adults despite our upbringing.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

The Answer to the Problem of Terrorism

People hope and pray for peace in the world. The Sandra Bullock movie "Miss Congeniality" poked fun at the Miss America pageant contestants always saying what they most wanted was "world peace." But as we see day after day in the news reports, our world is far from peaceful.
  The scourge of terrorism throughout the world has caused people to focus even more on the problem of evil in our world. Most people look to our governments to protect us and solve the problem. But governments don't have the answer because it's a spiritual problem. The remedy for terrorism in the world is for people to turn back to God, return to church and pray for peace.
  Yes, we need to disarm and defeat those who commit these heinous acts against innocent men, women and children. But that has to be combined with turning back to God.
  It's not that God is punishing us for our lack of faith by allowing terrorism to reign. It's that the lack of faith throughout the world has removed us from God's blessing and protection. That fact was aptly illustrated by the author Jonathan Cahn in his riveting book The Harbinger where he showed how the Islamic terrorist attack on the United States on September 11, 2001 was the result of so many Americans turning away from faith in God.
  The answer to the problem of terrorism is we have to fight for peace, work for peace, but most of all turn back to God and pray for peace. May all our churches be filled, as they were after 9-11 in the U.S., not just after a terrorist attack but each and every day.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

The Wisdom of Fr. Benedict Groeschel

The following is one of my favorite teachings from Fr. Benedict Groeschel and very appropriate after celebrating Pentecost:
“Realize more and more that the spiritual life is essentially the work of the Holy Spirit.
Our participation, although it may appear to be a very active struggle to do good—to ‘press on,’ in the words of St. Paul—is ultimately a cooperation with the Holy Spirit.
Our essential task is not to do things for God, but rather not to resist God’s trying to do good things for us.
Holiness is his work. Our task is to avoid resisting Him.
Many people waste a great deal of time and effort doing what they want on the spiritual road instead of letting the Holy Spirit lead:  they must do this, they must be there, they must learn some other things.
This is not really following Christ; it is walking beside Him and making suggestions.”
Fr. Benedict Groeschel
Priest, psychology professor, speaker, writer, servant of the poor