Category Archives: LOVE GOD LOVE NEIGHBOR,

PRAYING FOR OTHER PEOPLE.042518

Latin Teenager Praying

My relationship, my spiritual relationship, with God is based on the six great themes of the Bible: love, humility, gratitude, trust, obedience and service; all of which are founded on the underlying concept of surrender.  All the themes, one way or another, are brought to life, they’re empowered by surrender, to God and to other people.  In a supernatural way, this is the attitude of Jesus that flows through us when we surrender to Him.

When I pray, I usually begin by ‘praying through the themes’ one at a time, as they relate to me and my relationship with God.  Every time, I see something new about how I should love God; humble myself before Him; be thankful for all the ways He blesses me; renew my trust in Him as it relates to all my other relationships, my cares and my troubles; confess my failures in obedience and renew my commitment to do His will and not mine, to have His attitude and not mine; and as my act of service, to deny myself, die to myself, and follow (surrender to) Him; so He can use me for His purposes in this world today.

So I was praying for my son today, my youngest son Ian, who is a freshman in college and is going through some major, life-changing events and decisions that will affect him for the rest of his life.  It is a challenging time, but a truly exhilarating time, to be alive in his world.  He has asked me to pray for him, which I am always happy to do.  I do pray for him every day anyway.  Today, I started a new practice, of praying for Ian the way I pray for myself.  It opens all kinds of new doors for me to think about in praying for him; not just about what he should do or not do; but also about all his relationships, with God and with others, that I can meditate on and consider how God is moving and working in Ian’s life and the lives of those around him. (They may need a little prayer too!)

There’s a limited amount of time to ‘really’ pray (like this) for all the people that are close to me; so I think I’ll need to spend more of my ‘unstructured’ time (formerly known as leisure time, ha!), when I’m driving down the road, or waiting in the doctor’s office, or waiting for an appointment, praying in this way for others.  God only knows what the results might be, for them and for me.

 

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WHO DO YOU TRUST? (REALLY) 042716

Eroded beach with house, Pititinga, Natal (Brazil)

So we were talking about obedience; and we were talking about ‘building your house on the sand’ as a metaphor for ‘basing our lives on principles and practices that shift and change’.   We should touch on another aspect of this obedience.  If, as we alluded to earlier, obedience is about doing what God tells us to do; then what about the First of the Ten Commandments, “Thou shalt have no other gods before (besides) Me.”  We’re back to that question about who or what do we worship (or serve)?  Who do we really trust?  Who do we really turn to when we’re in dire straits with nowhere to turn?

Well, I’m good about saying that ultimately I trust God; not my job, nor my employer, nor my network of friends and relatives, nor my piddly bank account or my credit cards.  But do I really?  I say that; but every time I get in a bind, I’m steadily calculating where I’m going to go to stay afloat for another few days or weeks.  Funny thing is; usually something “falls out of the sky” that I was completely not expecting, so clearly that it just had to be God.  It’s happened over and over so often that I just can’t deny that God really has delivered me from evil or destruction or punishment when I didn’t deserve to be delivered.  God’s mercy.  (You know ‘mercy’: that’s when God loves you and takes care of you, even when you deserve to be punished.)

Problem is, we all have been in that position, when to our logical mind it looks like there is a logical man-made explanation for how we got out of that trap; and we don’t give the credit to God.  Somebody comes by and says, “You know that just couldn’t be God; that was your boss, or your rich uncle, or just the luck of the draw.”  And the sad thing is we let it slide and agree by omission.  We don’t say, “You may think that, but I know it was God.”  Just so you’ll know, nobody else may think a thing about it, but God didn’t miss it.  The true miracle is that God still loves me (and you) anyway.  Some people go for years, running in the bushes, worshipping those idols of ‘other stuff’ taking care of them, growing more and more calcified in their position of trusting something else besides God, acknowledging something else besides God is our real god.  (Often it’s our selves.)  The really sad part is that we’re not only worshipping idols, but we’re getting more and more used to trusting in “the house on the sand”; getting closer and closer to the time of ‘great was the fall of it”.  That’s dis-obedience and the fruits (the results) of disobedience all rolled into one.

In case somebody didn’t get it; trusting in something else besides God to take care of you is not only 1] building your house on the sand (basing your life on shifting, shaky stuff); but it’s also  2] worshipping idols; serving other gods than the One True God.  That’s disobedience of the first order.   That’s the exact definition of what Jesus was talking about when he said, “Everyone who hears My words, and does NOT do them is like a foolish man . . .” Only an idiot would do that.  I guess if you want you can join me as a ‘recovering’ idiot.  You know, like members of AA talk about being a ‘recovering alcoholic’.  We never completely grow out of it.  We have to get up every morning, turn ourselves over to God and say, “One more time Lord, I’m turning myself over to You; I’m dying to myself so You can live Your eternal life in me.  I love You.”  From Out o’th’ Bushes, © 2016, by Tex Tonroy

CONSISTENCY.040516

Open Your Heart Concept

“Consistency is the crutch of small minds.”  Tex (from a letter to my kids)

Some people said Jesus was inconsistent because He said people should abide by the law one time, and the next time He said people should be led by the Spirit, and be merciful to lawbreakers. Even in the Old Testament, God said He’d rather have someone with an obedient heart than sacrifice, even though sacrifice was according to the law.

Over and over in the Bible, it says that God looks at the heart.  Somehow or other it should be the way we look at it too.  I’m sure people ought to do what they say they will, but you don’t have to do the same way ever time. Different situations require different responses.

And this isn’t situation ethics either.  It is just realizing that we ascribe to a higher law, which is layman’s terms is being true to God and the people that God puts you with, above being true to man’s law or any dogmatic principle.  (How do you know which is is right?  If you’re seeking God, you’ll know.)  Like it says in the Bible, “This is the first and great commandment, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, . . . And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.”  This is the fulfillment of all of the law and all of the prophets.  If you love God, you will keep His commandments; if you love your neighbor, you’ll treat him right.

My experience has been that if you abide by these two commandments, you won’t always appear consistent to the world, but you will usually do the right thing, and you will be consistent to God and in your heart.

DO JUSTLY, LOVE MERCY, WALK HUMBLY.030416

Natur Wald“What does the Lord require of you?  Do justly, love mercy and walk humbly with your God.” Micah 6:8                                 [From a letter to my kids]

            To “do justly” means to treat other people like you’d like to be treated. (Matt 7:12) To be fair, to take care of folks.  To do what you say you will.  Like my Daddy says, “A man’s word is as good as his bond.”   “He … swears to his own hurt and does not change;” Psalm 15:4.

            To “love mercy” means that you realize that the only way to live long and do good is to have God’s mercy on a regular basis, and you realize that to get mercy you have to give mercy.  You realize that mercy is better than judgment, any day.  If you have to choose between punishing somebody or letting them loose and forgetting about it; LET THEM LOOSE.  “Vengeance is mine, says the Lord, I will repay.” (Rom 12:19)  “Blessed, (happy) are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.” Matt 5:7.  The second great commandment originates in Leviticus 19:18, where it says, “You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord.”  Mercy means to forgive and forget.

            To “walk humbly with your God.”  That means that you realize that God is everything, and without God you are nothing.  In Romans 12:3, “Don’t think more highly of yourself than you ought to think.” [paraphrase]  You’re no better that the least of these.  “He who would be great, first let him serve.” Mark 10:43. “The last shall be first, and the first shall be last.” Matt 20:16.

            “God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty;” 1 Corin. 1:27.  Just remember that it’s not your power, but the power of God within you, and you’ll do just fine.

VICTORY IN JESUS.112015

FulmineHad a flash of light this morning when I was thinking about how to have “Victory in Jesus”.  You can write this down in your book.  The way to have victory in Jesus to is to do everything you do with, for or about God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit, WITH ALL YOUR HEART! You probably already know that I use six themes to organize my thoughts about the Bible; for instance:

1] LOVE: Deut 6:5 says, “You shall love the Lord your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind.” Jesus said, “This is the first and great commandment.”

2] HUMILITY: Being humble, not proud, is another key to developing your relationship with God; in Proverbs 3:34, Solomon says, “God scorns the scorners, but gives grace to the humble” (this is echoed (quoted) in James 4, and in 1 Peter 5); Jesus said, “Blessed are the meek, the humble, for they shall inherit the earth.”

3] GRATITUDE: In 1 Thessalonians 5:18, Paul says, “Give thanks in all things, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you!”  (‘In all things’ sounds like ‘with all you heart’)  In Romans 8:28, Paul says,  “God makes all things work together for good to those who love the Lord . . .”

4] TRUST: In Proverbs 3:5-6, Solomon says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart., and lean not to your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths.”

5] OBEDIENCE: In Philippians 2:5-8, Paul talks about Jesus.  He says, “Let Jesus’ attitude be in you.”  He says that even though Jesus is God, He gave up His heavenly position; He humbled himself and became a man; then He humbled Himself even more and surrendered Himself to be arrested, and beaten, and ridiculed, and spat upon; and He was obedient [to His purpose and to His calling] unto death, even death on a cross.  I don’t know about you, but for me, the degree and the depth of Jesus’ commitment qualifies as with all your heart.  And Paul says, “Let Jesus’ attitude be in (me and) you.”

6] SERVICE: Maybe it’s just me, but being a disciple of Jesus Christ is the best example of service you can do.  In Luke 9:23, Jesus says, “if anyone wants to be My disciple (My student, My follower), let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.” (‘Take up his cross’ means, as it says in Galatians 2:20, “I am crucified with Christ”, “I’m dead.”)  It means to “die to your sinful nature”. (daily).  ‘To die’ may not be with all your heart, but it’s plenty close.

With all your heart may not be the only way God wants us to do and be, but it’s certainly high on the list.  For me, with all your heart expresses the passion that comes with having the Spirit of Jesus, the Spirit of the Lord God Almighty, living in your own personal heart.

SPEAKING SPANISH IS AN ACT OF LOVE.110815

smiley fashion designer holding tailors scissors and looking at cameraSo I went to the fabric store with my wife yesterday.  I’m telling you, my wife knows more about fabric and fabric stores than most of the people who work there.  She is buds with almost all the little ladies that work in the fabric stores in our area; on a first-name basis, if you know what I mean.  My job was to hold her place in line at the cutting table while she picked out the material and the pattern she needed.  So mostly I just get to watch and listen; maybe put in a little side-bar or two.

There were two ladies working the cutting tables, measuring and cutting the material.  At my table was a grandmother and her late teen granddaughter buying bright picture-pattern fleece material.  The cutting lady was showing them how to do some complicated sewing maneuver.  I said, “This is a great store.  You can buy material and get free sewing lessons.”  We all laughed.  The grandma said, “We need all the help we can get.”

At the other table was a family of Hispanic ladies, an ‘older’ lady (not as old as me, but older than the others), two younger ladies and two or three children.  Continue reading

PRAYER AND MEDITATION.102915

Young man holding Bible and praying by windowIt’s sad to say, but a lot of people think prayer is solely about asking for stuff, especially in an emergency.  Even sadder is that a lot of them only pray in an emergency.  Makes for a strained relationship with God, if the only time you talk to Him is when you need something, especially only when you are in dire straits.  I’ve heard a lot of parents say that it makes them sad that their college age kids, or even young adult children, only call them when they need money.  Sounds like the kids don’t really care about having a real relationship with their parents.

But you know, God’s not like that.  He really wants to have a close, personal, dare I say intimate relationship with you.  He already knows all about you anyway.  He’s been looking at your heart.  Why shouldn’t you really let Him in and begin to develop a relationship with Him where you know a lot more about Him.  Get intimately acquainted with God.  For my money, that’s what prayer is, and should be about.

Oh, about meditation.  Continue reading