Tag Archives: Love your neighbor

JESUS AND THE SINNERS: 090216:

A fondue dinner with friend on a beautiful place

In Luke 5:27-32, is the story of when Jesus called Levi (Matthew), a tax collector, to be His disciple, and Levi had a big banquet at his house with Jesus as guest of honor, and invited all his friends (mostly tax collectors and sinners).  The Pharisees asked the disciples, “Why do y’all eat with sinners?”  Jesus heard what they thought, and said, “The healthy don’t need a doctor, but the sick.  I didn’t come to call those who think they’re righteous, but those who know they’re sinners.” NLT

In Matthew 9:9-13: speaking of the same episode, Matthew (yes the same as Levi), tells the story like this: Jesus said, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor, sick people do.”  Then He added, “I want you to show mercy, not offer sacrifices.  For I have not come to call those who think they’re righteous, but those who know they’re sinners.” NLT

And in Mark 2:13-17: Same story; same comments, except this time it says, “There were many of this kind [tax collectors and sinners] who followed Him.”

‘Course the real revelation in this story comes in Luke 15, where it begins with, “Tax collectors and other notorious sinners often came to listen to Jesus teach.  This made the Pharisees complain that he was associating with such sinful people – even eating with them.” Then Jesus told this story (actually 3 stories).  First He told of a man who had 100 sheep, lost one, then left the 99 to go search for that one sheep till he found it; then he had a celebration.  Just like, “There is more joy in heaven over one lost sinner who repents and turns to God, than in 99 righteous people who haven’t strayed.”

Second, Jesus talks about the woman who lost a coin: she searched high and low till she found it, then she called all the neighbors and had a party to celebrate; just like “there is joy in the presence of God’s angels when even one sinner repents.”

Third: Jesus told the story of the “Lost Son”, the one we know as the “Prodigal Son”.  We all know the story, how the younger son takes the father’s money and goes way off and wastes it on wine, women and song.  Then, when he’s feeding pigs and starving because Jews don’t each pork (or pork feed either), he “comes to himself”, and goes home to repent and become a servant in his father’s house.  But the father won’t have it.  He dresses him in velvet; puts a ring on his finger, kills the fatted calf, and has a gigantic party, because his son, who was lost, is found; the one who was dead, is come back to life.”  The story then addresses the older brother, who is unforgiving (he’s the one who is often equated with the Pharisees.

If you look back to the beginning of these episodes, the Pharisees are complaining about the sinners, and Jesus tells these stories, TO THEM.

What ‘moral’ can we draw from these passages about tax collectors and sinners on the one hand, vs the Pharisees on the other?  What does Jesus think?  If we’re disciples (students/followers) of Jesus, if we have Jesus’ Spirit living in our hearts, what are we supposed to think?  Let’s see. Continue reading

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BIBLICAL CONNECTIONS (REINFORCEMENTS).080916

Young Boy With DogHave you heard that line, “If you want to teach a dog or a kid, you’ve got to say it over and over.”  I just made that up.  But it’s true.  Whatever it is you want ’em to learn; if you say it enough, if you demonstrate it enough, it will finally soak in. You create those neural links in their heads and their bodies. You can bet on it.  I think God had that same policy in mind when He dictated the Bible to the writers.  One subject I’ve noticed lately (over and over) is about HEARING AND DOING.  I don’t know how many times my momma said it, but I finally got it, “YOU’VE GOT TO DO WHAT I SAY!”  (whether you like it or not; if you want to live long and do good.)

Jesus said it almost that loud and that strong in Matthew 7:24-26, when He said, “If you hear My words and do what I say, I’ll think you’re a wise man . . . but if you hear My words and you don’t do them, you’re a fool. . .” (my paraphrase).  And in James 1:22, God says, through James, “Be a DOER of the Word, and not just a hearer; deceiving yourselves.”  If we don’t do what Jesus says, we’re fools, and we’re lying to ourselves.  In Luke 11:27-28, a woman said, “Blessed is the woman who gave birth to you . . .” and Jesus said, “On the contrary, blessed are those who hear the Word of God and keep (guard, defend) it.”

And it’s not just about “don’t do this and don’t do that”.  It’s about what you DO as a positive act, an act of your will.  It’s like in John 5:24, He says, “If you pay attention (heed, do) what I say, and trust Him who sent Me, you have eternal life.”  Trusting in God is not easy; but it’s the only thing that works in this life.  You have to DO IT as an act of your will.  Over and over, until it starts to feel easy (or at least easier.)  That’s the only way you’re ever going to have the peace that passes understanding is when you trust Jesus as an act of your will.

That’s what He’s talking about when He says, “If you follow God’s commands, you will live!”  See Luke 10:28.

“The Gospel is not about making bad people good, it’s about making dead people alive!” David Crowder

OASIS WEEKEND.NEWTON TEXAS.07-31-2016

Oasis_9Last weekend we went to First United Methodist Church in Newton, Texas.  The kids at John Wesley UMC, from grades 6-12, did a weekend mission trip.  We built a wheelchair ramp, and did a good deal of mowing and cleanup for several people in the community.  We had a Vacation Bible School for 49 kids. We worked in the Food Pantry (and Clothing Shop) of Newton, stocking and sorting. We had entertainment: A Youth Rally on Friday night, with live music, games, toys and free tee-shirts; and a movie for all ages on Saturday night, on the lawn in front of the Church, an animated feature called “Inside-Out”.  Popcorn, candy and drinks for all!

May not sound like such a big deal to some; but it was a big deal to us.  It was a memorable event.  We get to develop personal relationships with people in the community.  They love us, and we love them.  Everybody is happy to be nice to each other.  And the SPIRIT  is moving in Newton!  On Sunday morning, members of the church served the team breakfast, then we had church together, with the youth band leading the singing.  At the end we had a few testimonies from people in the community who were touched by the service of our kids.  No doubt, when it was over, everyone was blessed, and God was grinning!

 

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.

Talking about Talking: 030116

Happy portrait of grandparents and granddaughter“A man’s words are a mirror to his soul.” Unknown. 

“It is not what goes into a person’s mouth that defiles them.  .  . but what comes out of their mouth that defiles them.” Jesus of Nazareth, Matt 15:10; (paraphrase)

[From a letter to my kids, 1995]

“I just don’t know what to do with people that won’t talk. It’s hard for me to deal with them. People that talk a lot, which includes most everybody in my family, are easy to read. They tell you a lot about themselves.  If they’re not talking, they must be sick, or mad at somebody. 

“There is nothing more fun and pleasurable than spending an afternoon or evening solving the world’s problems with somebody who enjoys talking and listening. It helps your mental, emotional health. When necessary, it’s a legitimate and inexpensive alternative to a psychiatrist or psychologist.  Personally, I enjoy a ‘highball of an evening’, with my talking companions, but the highball is not required.  Tea, cokes, or red Koolaid will substitute nicely.

“In Ireland of old, next to the kings, the persons held in highest esteem were the bards, who were the government supported combination priests, historians, and storytellers. Some say that the oldest uninterrupted literary tradition in Europe was the orally maintained and transmitted stories of the Celtic Bards. Those folks raised talking to the level of an art, a science, almost a religion. That’s where we came from, a long and uninterrupted line of talkers. Talking is in our blood, so in choosing what you want to do in your life, find something that involves talking. You’ll enjoy it, you’ll be good at it, because you’ve got it in you.

“I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but talkers get extra attention, and they often end up being leaders, because they don’t mind telling people what they think.  It is a big responsibility, so don’t take it lightly. You have a lot of influence just because you talk, as long as you know what you’re talking about, and you have love in your heart. Always remember to use your influence for good. Really, that just sorta happens, because that love in your heart comes out.

“Talking is one of my favorite pastimes. It’s good cheap entertainment. You can do it anytime, any place. You can even talk to yourself.” 

ROLES NOT GOALS. PURPOSE.022916

stone faced            “God has a purpose for your life.  All you’ve got to do is figure out what it is.”            [This is from a letter to my ‘young-adult’ kids in 1995]  “I used to wonder what I was doing here.  Sometimes I even wondered what you were doing here.  I finally got the message.  God has a plan for my life.  Actually, I think He has a plan for every person’s life, but some folks never figure out what it is.

“When I was a kid I bought into the idea that goal setting and goal pursuing and goal orientation were the way to achieve everything I wanted in life, and happiness too!  When I was 15 I wanted $1 million by the time I was 30.  I focused a lot of attention on it.  I read the right books and tried to practice what they preached.  But somehow it never worked for me.  I guess I just didn’t want it bad enough.  I just couldn’t get motivated enough.  I had a lot of other things on my mind.  Looking back, maybe God didn’t want me to be a millionaire.

“After I got baptized in the Holy Spirit, I started seeing differently.  I decided that God had a purpose for my life, a destiny.  Somehow, I got the message that God has a role (really a bunch of roles) for me to play in my life.  In fact each of us is given a number of readymade roles to play when we’re born.  Like the role of a son or a daughter, the role of brother or sister.  Then pretty soon you get the role of student, then later employee, then girlfriend or boyfriend, then husband or wife, then father or mother, then maybe employer, or doctor or lawyer, or teacher, or preacher, or seeker or finder.  What fulfills your destiny, and God’s purpose, is for you to be the very best you can at whatever role God has given you for that time.  And what’s really neat is that this will make you happy.  Seems to me that chasing a goal is not very fulfilling, but being best in your role is very fulfilling, and with your role you fit into God’s plan perfectly.  Just remember when you can’t figure out what you’re doing here, or where you’re going, or why; focus on being that person, that character, the very best you possibly can.  You’ll be surprised how happy it will make you.

“The thing that separates the exceptional people in the world, the 2-3%, and the rest of the folks, is that the 2-3% have realized that God has a grand design for their lives.  (Here again, a lot of people call it a lifetime goal, which is OK with me.)  Many people spend all their time just living from day to day, so they never have time to fulfill that grand design.  Eating and sleeping, working and raising kids may be enough for most folks, but it’s not enough for me.  I may never amount to a hill of beans, but it won’t be because I didn’t try.  Oh, and by the way, I still think that grand design is about the role you play in your life with other people; not so much about making a million dollars, or being the President, or climbing the highest mountain, or building the biggest building, even though those are perfectly OK things to aspire to.  (Heck, if you don’t aspire to something, you’ll never amount to anything.)

“But in the end, the best way to help other people is to get in tune with God’s purpose for our lives, and focus our attention on fulfilling His grand design for us. In the meantime we will still have time to eat and sleep and play and have fun and raise kids, just like everybody else. And we may do something truly memorable.”

TAKE CARE OF ‘EM.022716

         Homeless man holding sign   “We take in strays, orphans and widderwimen.”  (see James 1:27)

            Y’all all remember Lois.  She was the old lady that used to babysit for us when Lindsey was a little baby.  She was pretty crazy, and she had a drinkin’ problem off and on during her life.  She had some pretty hard times, what with her husband dying when he was a young man, and them having a boy with Downs Syndrome. She had to raise that boy by herself.  He lived to be about 20 years old. But oh what a caring heart that lady had.  She was like a member of our family.  She went camping with us in Big Bend; and she took y’all fishing at her lake house.  She took us out there to feed the chickens and have puppies in her living room floor.  She needed us and we needed her, and God saw to it that we all got what we needed, which was mostly somebody to love us, and hug us, and answer the phone when the call came in the middle of the night.  I was glad to know her.

And there was this guy named Dave Twoomey.  I’m not sure how it happened (somehow  thru the church I think) but we ended up with his wife and two little girls living in the basement apartment while he was sitting in jail for kiting checks.  Somehow or other he finally got out after about a month and they all left; but in the meantime we fed ‘em and talked to them about Jesus; and got ‘em clothes and stuff.  I don’t think we changed their lives or anything, but something was going on.  And at the time God had blessed us with extra stuff and money; so it didn’t hurt us one bit.  We even gave him a Bible, but I think he left it there when he left.

When I first got baptized in the Spirit, I was working for Paul Campbell remodeling apartments.  He had this cabinetmaker named Jim Haynes who was a recovering alcoholic who hadn’t quite made it to recovery.  One time he didn’t show up for work for 3-4 days and Paul got me to go with him to Jim’s apartment to see about him.  He was so drunk he couldn’t even get his clothes on, so we helped him.  Continue reading