Blessing Those Who Mistreat Us

Romans 12:14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.

I love Romans chapter 12.  Our Lord through the Apostle Paul provides us such great instruction, inspiration and encouragement for godly living in this chapter.  This verse in general has been one of my memory verses this week.  Any time I set about memorizing a verse I always want to make sure that I have a good grasp of what the Lord is trying to convey to me in His word.  There are a couple of interesting things about the verbs Paul uses in this verse.  First of all, that verb “Bless” that Paul uses is the Greek word eulogo.   It comes from the same root word that we use for our word eulogy.  It means to praise or celebrate with praises.  We all know that nobody goes to a funeral and stands up and speaks ill of the one who has passed.  Nope, that would not be cool.   When someone passes on, we eulogize them.   We remember the good things and speak well of them.  That is the same attitude we should have of those who persecute us.  If somebody has mistreated us or done us wrong, it is not enough to just mind our tongues and not say anything bad about them.  The Lord says we are to bless them; we are to speak kind of them and say nice things.  We are to “praise” them.   You and I are to remember that they have been created in the image of God Almighty and despite their ill-treatment of us; God still has a plan and a purpose for their life.

We also need to notice that the verbs Paul uses here represent continuous, ongoing actions.  Rather than constantly reminisce in a bitter fashion about how they have mistreated us and are still mistreating us, we are to continually and constantly speak well of those who continually and constantly persecute, pester and irritate us.  We should always actively do our best to be at peace with them.  And above all things, we should pray for them, hoping that they will receive from the Lord the same grace and mercy that the Lord has extended to us.

Posted in Christianity, enduring mistreatment, faith, good advice, keeping your mouth shut, Relationships | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

It’s Been So Long Since I Have Prayed

I was practicing the guitar earlier today and trying to put together just the right chords to a song I wrote a long time ago.  Funny, but I don’t think there are any chords to capture what my voice does sometimes when I sing.  And I think that is okay because I am not sure that anyone really wants to duplicate those things.  At any rate, here is a simple reflection on the Grace and Mercy of Our Lord.  No matter how long it has been since you have prayed, He is ready to listen.

It’s Been So Long

It’s been so long since I closed my eyes to pray Lord,
I’ve done so much wrong that I don’t quite know what to say Lord,
But if you hear me,
Please draw near me,
I feel so alone and I need to come home
And this time I’m ready to stay Lord.

I thought I was tough and I thought I was enough
And I thought I could live without Ya,
Just left on my own,
Without a care I was gone,
And for a while I never even thought about Ya,
Then my world fell apart, broke my will and my heart
And now I wonder how I could ever doubt Ya,

So if you hear me,
Please draw near me,
I feel so alone and I need to come home
And this time I’m ready to stay Lord.

Yes, it’s been so long since I closed my eyes to pray Lord,
I’ve done so much wrong that I don’t quite know what to say Lord,
But I know you hear me,
And You’ve drawn near me,
I’m no longer alone; I know I’m home,
And this time I’m ready to stay Lord.

Posted in faith, God, prayer, religion | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

When You Have a Need

Haley Shopping 11.01.14

I was walking through the store with my youngest granddaughter Haley when I heard, “Pawpaw, you got pockets?  You got money in you pockets?  I need money.”  Haley just turned three and she and her older sister get money from time to time. Most of it they save in their piggy banks but some they get to spend on goodies at the store.  While Haley may still be a little fuzzy on the difference between what she “needs” and what she “wants” she is clear on where to go to get her needs met.  When you have needs, you need to go to someone who is able and willing to meet your needs.

Do you know where to go with your needs?  Do you know where to turn in times of doubt, discouragement or distress?  The Bible says in Hebrews 4:16 “Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”

All of us have needs and at times we can be desperate to have them met.  Jesus said in Matthew 6:33 that our Heavenly Father knows all the things we need and if we seek His kingdom and His righteousness, He will provide all these things to us.  Draw near to the Lord and His throne of grace.  He is able and willing and He loves to meet all of our needs.  He has pockets that never run out of goodness, mercy and love.

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The Best and Worst

Goliad 1  Goliad 2  Goliad 3 Goliad 4

We had a wonderful time on our day trip to Goliad. We went to Goliad state park and checked out Mission Espiritu Santu, which translated means, the Holy Spirit mission. It was a mission complex built by the Spaniards as they sought to introduce Christianity to the region in 1749. Further down the street is Presidio La Bahia. It is a fort that was built a few years after the mission; its goal was not only to protect the mission but to protect Spain’s colonization efforts and secure the Texas coastline. The mission and the fort are both beautiful places to visit. They both boast magnificent chapels, stunning architecture and awesome artifacts. The cathedral ceilings and the mosaic lined walls of the chapels that make for such good acoustics truly do showcase some of the highlights of the good that man can accomplish.

While taking in the sights and the sounds and contemplating all of the art and the architecture, I learned more of the story of Presidio La Bahia. I learned of the Texian Commander James Fannin and how he and his men lost the Battle of Coleto. After a lengthy time of being surrounded by the Mexican army and unable to defend their position, no longer able to tend to their wounded, they surrendered. They were taken to Presidio La Bahia and kept prisoner there until the order came from Santa Anna that they were to be executed. Three hundred and forty two men who had surrendered were executed. It ultimately proved to be the turning point in the war for Texas independence as the rallying cry now became “Remember the Alamo, Remember Goliad!”

Places of history often offer us a view of the both the heights and the depths that man can reach. We have been gifted to accomplish such artistry and architecture and yet we are also capable of such acrimony and acts of violence. As I reflected on such things today, I was reminded of the promise that we have in God’s word that we will not always have to deal with such wide swings of human emotions and behaviors. One day there will be a new heaven and a new earth we are told in Revelation 21 and we are promised in verse 4:
4 And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.

What a promise…no more death, no more sorrow, no more pain and no more tears. Former things will be passed away and all things will become new. As we look forward to that day we should follow the advice of Hebrews 3:13. We must “encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called ‘Today,’ so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.” Each of us should prayerfully do our best to live with a godly perspective. We should do our best to love and forgive each other as we have been loved and forgiven. We should never forget that we have been gifted to accomplish great and beautiful things and we must not let ourselves fall prey to the dark forces that would seek to have us tear one another down rather than build one another up. Until next time stay strong in the faith.

Posted in Christianity, faith, freedom, Goliad day trip, Hebrews 3:3, Hebrewss 3:13, Revelation 21:4 | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

He Loves to Give and Bless

I love the great relationship that my wife Marta has with our granddaughters. She gets to spend a lot of time with them and take them to the park, the mall, and they do all sorts of fun things. I know that both she and the girls are blessed by the time they spend together. She is a great nana. She loves to bless the girls with things they like. A couple of weeks ago at the mall, after she bought the girls some cute T-shirts, she treated Avery and Haley to a cookie. Avery took a big bite out of her M&M chocolate chip cookie, smiled and said, “I love going to the mall with you Nana.” A few days later she was visiting the girls at their house. Avery called her nana into her bedroom and said, “When I go to bed at night my mommy turns off my lamp and it’s a little too dark for me when I wake up at night.” It seems that her night light had burned out and she had been using her lamp to compensate for its loss. Avery would turn on the lamp when she went to bed and later on, her mom would turn it off. Like any good Nana, Marta assured Avery that it was okay, she was safe and that she had nothing to worry about. Even though she calmed Avery’s fears you better believe that within a few days she had bought Avery a good night light to replace the one in her room that had burned out. I love seeing the good gifts that my wife gives to the girls – gifts which are not only things that will bring them joy but also things which will meet their needs. I am also glad that my granddaughters recognize that they are loved and that they can go tell their nana what is on their mind and anything that may be troubling them. We should have the same confidence in the Lord.

Think about how much you love your kids, grandkids and your spouse. Think about how you love to bless them and take care of them. Now multiply that by one hundred or one thousand or even the biggest number you can think of. You still haven’t approached the level of the loving or giving of our God. In Matthew chapter 7, Jesus is in the midst of His Sermon on the Mount. He has taught on the Lord’s Prayer, not worrying, the Golden Rule, and many other wonderful teachings and then He shares how God’s ability to give and love so greatly surpasses ours. He says in verse 11 “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!”

The Lord knows how to give. The Lord knows all of the things you need and all the things that will truly bless you. He knows all of the things that you may be doing to compensate for the night lights that are burned out in your room so that you can try to make it through the night. The Lord is ready, willing and able to bless you and meet all of your needs. As Simon Peter said in 1 Peter 5:7, the Lord wants you to “cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.” But in order for the Lord to meet all of your needs, for Him to take your anxiety and provide you the glorious blessings that only He can, you must come to Him. You must enter the “narrow gate” spoken of in Matthew 7:13-14. You must be reconciled unto God the Father through a relationship with Christ as your Lord and Savior. He is the narrow gate. Yes, God the Father knows how to give. And He has given us His Son. Receive Him. I promise that you will love walking with Him. I promise that you will be blessed by your relationship with Him…in the hereafter and in the here and now. He will help you live and love well. Until next time keep the faith.

Posted in 1 Peter 5:7, Christianity, faith, God, good gifts, grandchildren, Matthew 7:11 | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Pressing On – Learning How to Play the Guitar

I bought a guitar about 7 months ago.  Prior to that, I had never owned a musical instrument.  I was praying about what the Lord would have me to do this year and I believe this was something that was on the list.  Music has always been something that has interested me and now seemed like a good time to explore that interest.  I told Marta and before you know it she helped me pick out one much nicer than I would have bought for myself.  She has always been good to me like that.

I have been learning the guitar by making use of free lessons and videos that I have found online.  And I have been diligent about practicing…up to an hour most days.  My progress has been slow but steady.  I feel like have been taking itty, bitty, baby steps most days….moving an inch or two each day.  The progress seems barely noticeable until I look back and consider how far I have come over a longer period of time, like say a month or two.  First, I had to learn and memorize one or two chords; but before I knew it, it was three or four.  Then I had to learn how strum the guitar.  Strumming “Down – Down – Down – Up – Down – Up” 300 times in a row is not as easy as it sounds!  It is especially not easy when you try to do it with a cool rhythm – without saying it out loud.  It did not take me long to realize that “I got NO rhythm!”  And when you first try to strum and change chords at the same time – your fingers feel like fat little pretzels.  They just don’t work!  It reminded me of trying to rub your stomach and pat your head at the same time – it just feels so unnatural and everything falls apart before too long.  When you first try to change from one chord to another you always end up stopping in the middle of the song and everything you play sounds like some bad rendition of “Freeze Frame.”

You practice and practice changing chords without messing up the strumming pattern and about the time you start to get better then you try to add singing to the mix.  That adds a whole new dynamic to the process and the result for me was not good.  I couldn’t do it and I’m sober and yet Keith Richards did it all those years in his state of mind?  Wow!  That man must be a musical genius!  But playing the guitar has always been on my bucket list and it is something that I prayed about so I have not given up.  Despite all my mistakes, plucking the wrong strings, strumming out of time, and the sore fingers, I have pressed on.  I have asked the Lord to help me to stick with it and to help me keep making progress.  He has helped me keep taking baby steps.  He is a good and gracious God.  While those baby steps not have moved me any closer to Nashville or Carnegie Hall, they have helped me get to the point where I can play some songs that I enjoy.  I can play Amazing Grace, Just As I am, Fly Away, Jesus Loves Me, As the Deer Pants for the Water, and a couple of other songs.  The Lord has helped me to work on the songs that have worked on me through the years.  Yes, He has been good to me.  As David said in Psalm 9:1 “I will praise You, O LORD, with my whole heart; I will tell of all Your marvelous works. 2 I will be glad and rejoice in You; I will sing praise to Your name, O Most High.”  Yes, I will continue to practice and sing praises to His Name.

I hope that you know that the Lord longs to be good to you too.  I hope that you know that even if you could say today that you are not where you want to be and that you feel like you are constantly making mistakes, plucking the wrong strings, and strumming out of time you can still count on the Lord to help you.  You can call upon Him, lean on Him and place your faith and trust in Him.  Christ stands ready to forgive you of your sins and as Paul said in Philippians 3:13-14 to help you forget the things that lay behind and “press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”  The Lord is faithful.  The Lord is worthy of our praise.  Even if you have made some mistakes; don’t give up.  Press on and praise Him.

Posted in Christianity, Don't give up, faith, God, Learning the Guitar, Philippians 3:13 | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Walking with the Master

DOG 2

We have a new puppy and in his youthful exuberance he is still learning so much.  One of the things he is still learning is how to go on a walk. Sure, he knows how to run around, chase butterflies, and tug on his leash but we want him to learn to walk in submission next to his master.

We tried to take him on some walks with one of our other dogs but that dog, though much older still has plenty of learning of his own to do.  He charges toward other dogs, tugs on his leash constantly and in general acts a fool.  We finally decided we better keep them separated for the time being so the younger pup doesn’t pick up the bad habits of the older one.  I think that is exactly the idea the Lord is trying to convey to us in 1 Corinthians 15:33 where He has Paul remind us, “Do not be deceived: Bad company corrupts good morals.”

Paul was encouraging the Corinthians to remember that Christ had died for their sins and they should do their best to live a life that would bring honor and glory to Him.  Who we hang out with impacts our ability to do just that.  The influence of others can cause us to have negative thought patterns and can lead us to engage in unhealthy behaviors.  They can cause us to exercise our flesh rather than our faith and before you know it we are tugging against the leash, leaving our Master’s side, acting aggressively toward those who do not deserve it and spoiling a perfectly pleasant walk.  Having tugged at the leash myself several times in my life, I can testify that it is true.  Bad company can and will corrupt good morals.  We are better off walking without certain people because the walk is so much sweeter and so much more pleasant when we walk in submission next to our Master.

Until next time, stay strong in the faith.

 

Posted in 1 Corinthians 15:33, Christianity, faith, God, Hanging out with the wrong people, what does the bible say about friends | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment