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HYDRATE — WINNING FROM THE INSIDE 2 (Mt.5:4) “Mourn”

“Those who mourn are blessed, for they will be comforted.”
Matthew 5:4 (HCSB)

DRINK IT IN:

Have you ever truly mourned? It usually takes the loss of something in our lives to cause us to mourn. So, it’s fair for me to say that EVERYBODY at one point or another has mourned, right? I do not think this is what Jesus was talking about when He said, “Those who mourn are blessed.” If that is the case, Jesus would have just said…”Blessed is Everybody!” Because everybody, sooner or later mourns. So what did Jesus mean when He said, “Those who mourn are blessed?”
Put on your thinking caps with me here.

Remember that BLESSED, in this instance, does not mean happy. It means, ACCEPTED. This passage could be translated, “God accepts into Heaven those who mourn…for they will be comforted.” The hard truth in this teaching of Jesus is the fact that God LOVES everyone, but He only ACCEPTS into Heaven those who have accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior into their personal lives AND mourn. Big difference.

So what does Jesus mean in this passage? “Those who Mourn will be blessed, for they will be comforted.”

I think the best way to fully grasp what Jesus meant here, is to understand what I like to call, origins. In order to understand the origins of God, then we need to reexamine the very beginning of time. We do this by asking this question…what did God intend for mankind from the very beginning? When I say beginning, I mean, Adam and Eve. The Beginning! What did God intend for the world to be like? Let’s go to the beginning.

And so, God created Adam. He put Adam in charge over everything on the planet to manage and steward. Adam got to spend “face-time” with The Father, Son and Holy Spirit. God’s intent from the very beginning is for mankind to be up-close and personal with God all the time! Adam got to do some pretty cool things under the leadership of God. Adam actually got to name all the animals. I like to have fun thinking about how Adam started naming all the animals…one by one he got started on naming the animals with great creativity and energy. This early and energetic start allowed Adam to come up with names like, Hippopotamus, Duck-billed platypus, Giraffe, Elephant, Tyrannosaurus, Barracuda, Flamingo, Orangutang, Alligator, chimpanzee, and salamander. My opinion…about this naming task that Adam was given to do…it began to tire him, and much like any person, his patience grew thin as he looked down the long line of animals yet to be named. So instead of being creative, because creativity takes a lot of energy, Adam turned into, “Mr. Obvious.” He started naming the animals based off what they obviously did or at least what they looked like. Hummingbird, Road Runner, Grasshopper, Jellyfish, Red Deer, Stinkbug, and Woodpecker. So as the day wore on, and it is obvious that Adam got tired and grouchy and names began to shorten and we ended up with dog, pig, cat, rat, yak, Bee, Ant, Ox and in a grouchy last minute decision he named one an Ass! LOL

But…as the story moves forward…Adam, after naming all the creatures is still alone. God said at this moment, “Its not good for man to be alone!” And so he put Adam to sleep and in a miraculous move of creation, God creates someone just like Adam, but “better.” This new “creature” is a total compliment to Adam and is very similar but also different. She has “curves” that he doesn’t have. He is immediately very “impressed” and says out-loud to God…”WO–Man!” And God said…that works! Let’s call her Woman!

Sorry. Can we get back to the point please?

What I’m really trying to point out here is this. God was with Adam and Eve, face to face! Adam and Eve had no shame or embarrassment of any kind. There was no competition, no comparisons, no jealousy, no revenge, no hurt, no anger, etc. Animals and people were not afraid of each other. Perfect Community. No, greed, weeds, dirty deeds, or plastic surgeries.

God meant for it all to be perfect. Perfect community. Perfect relationships. Perfect life! That was God’s intent for the origin.

AND THEN CAME SIN. Freedom of choice turned selfish. Deception grew, jealousy and scarcity began to breed. Hurt…anger…murder…revenge. People taking advantage of each other. Sharing began to dissipate. Greed. In the lost face-time and community with God, people began to “re-group.” Racism formed, superiority complexes, gangs formed, cliques. Instead of share and love it became take and separate. Instead of give and share, it turned to keep and protect. Instead of work together, it became monopolize and dominate.

Every year that has passed since that first sin, it grows worse. Nearly 2000 years ago, the Apostle Paul warned of what times would be like as it grows closer to Jesus returning to break this world’s curse. Paul wrote in the letter of the Bible called 2 Timothy 2:3-4, “For a time is coming when people will no longer listen to sound and wholesome teaching. They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever their itching ears want to hear. They will reject the truth and chase after myths.”

As Christians, we understand what God intended our lives to be, starting with creation. We also know what has happened to our world. We understand that each of us have contributed to the problem. All this causes us to MOURN. We long for the day that Jesus will return and make all things new. He will RE-new all things to the original intent when He returns. Until then, we watch the 10 O’clock News and it causes us to Mourn. We see infants born with unbelievable mal-formities and we see the curse of sin growing through disease and disorders of every kind…and it causes us to MOURN. We see a child being bullied because he is different, and it causes us to MOURN. We study our history and read about people who, under the name of Christianity, marched forth to rape, kill and murder muslims in the Crusades of old…and it causes us to MOURN. We see Muslims Extremists fly airplanes into buildings…and it causes us to MOURN. Lying, cheating, stealing, sexual deviation, and every other form of self-serving action…growing, and growing out of control and it all causes true understanders of the origins of God to MOURN.

Its almost maddening to simply read the paragraph we just read above. Its really out of control. How long will Jesus wait?

If you want to read a passage in scripture, only 11 verses long, that perfectly talks about what I mean by, “Blessed are those who mourn for they will be comforted,” then read Ezekiel Chapter 9 in the Old Testament. Notice what happens to those who are in the city who are “mourning.” How do the angels know which ones are mourning? It says they are the ones, “weeping and sighing because of all the detestable sins that are happening in their city.” The Lord commands the angels to put a mark on these people’s heads. Go and read what happens to the people who DO NOT have the “mark.” What happens to the people with the “mark?” (Grab a Bible and read it.)

There is something deeply inspiring about this story of Ezekiel 9. The “Mark” that is given to those who are “MOURNING” is written on their foreheads. The people with the mark written on their foreheads are promised that they will be saved/comforted while everybody else is annihilated. The cool part of this story is the actual “mark.” The mark is the Hebrew alphabet letter called the Tav. The Tav…in Ezekiel’s time…when drawn on the foreheads of the people who were mourning…is this. Here is the “Tav” as it was written on the foreheads of the people in Ezekiel’s time. Today we know this symbol to be the sign of the CROSS!! This story happened nearly 600 years before Jesus dies on the cross. The sign of the cross that was written on the people’s heads, because they were mourning, “saves” them and comforts them from the wrath. (Do you see the prophecy in this story?)

So…eventually Jesus shows up on the scene and teaches about those who mourn and how they will be blessed. The people who mourn today, do it because they know what the world SHOULD be if it weren’t for sin. Those who mourn have a deep desire to live in the “God intended world.” Those who mourn understand this. Those who mourn will be comforted. Those who mourn will be the ones accepted into God’s Kingdom of Heaven where they will live just as physically as we do today, but in a renewed world. The world renewed as God had originally planned it to be. That is something worth mourning for!

“Blessed are those who Mourn, for they will be comforted.”

SWEAT IT OUT:
As you dwell on the depth of this one sentence that Jesus said, I hope you will focus on what ultimately has caused those who do mourn, to mourn. It is sin. So in this short devotion, I hope you will do some practical things to help you be in a better “up-close and personal” relationship with God, right now. We don’t have to wait until Heaven to have some up close and personal time with God. Your relationship with God won’t fully be what you would like it to be until eternity in the Kingdom of Heaven begins. Don’t forget, though, that God wants us to bring some Heaven to earth right now. If He didn’t, He would not have taught us to pray, “Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done ON EARTH…AS it is in Heaven! So here are a few things to do, to bring a taste of Heaven to earth right now.

First of all…are there any sins that you are continually practicing that are causing you extra pain and regret in your life? 1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, He (God) is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
Are you being Greedy, arrogant, rude, selfish, drunk, sexual deviation, continual overeating, jealous, revengeful, judgmental, etc? If so, confess them and stop committing them.

You should be mourning this world right now, and wishing it were what it is supposed to be. So why don’t you contribute to the “what it is supposed to be?” There are a lot of people who suffer extra because of this “fallen” world. Jesus tells us what to do for these people. Feed them, clothe them, visit them, give water to the thirsty, care for the orphan, etc. Join a local church that is actively doing these things and participate yourself. Find somebody in your circle of influence who is struggling because of our world’s condition. Help them in anyway they need help.

If you have secrets in your life…those secrets are the beginning to sin and destruction. Admit the truth and accept the consequences and be free in the eyes of God. Forgiveness is real. Its not easy, but it is real.

Something to think about…Do you MOURN the current status of our earthly condition? If you do not…are you okay with that? Have you become hardened and cynical and sarcastic? I struggle with having a hard heart sometimes and also with sarcasm and cynicism. Those are not traits we should be proud of. Practice what Philippians 4:4-8 says. “Rejoice in the Lord always. Think about those things that are lovely, admirable and worthy of praise. Then the God of peace will be with you.” This world SHOULD make you mourn. If you do not, something is not right with you and your walk with Christ. Until Jesus returns there should be at least a little mourning going on in your life…an ache for what life is supposed to be.

The world we live in right now…was not meant to be this way. Someday Jesus will return to restore it to its intended condition. Make sure you are ready. What a world its going to be! I am hoping to see you there and spend eternity with you. If you don’t know for sure that you are going to spend eternity in the Kingdom of Heaven, then we need to talk. Contact me and we’ll get this all straightened out. It will be more than worth it.

“Those who Mourn are blessed, for they will be comforted.”


African Monday…

What a day.  It was this time last week that I was packing for this trip and today takes me through the halfway mark.  The way this trip has been organized is perfect.  It seems that every other day is an emotional roller coaster.  That was yesterday.  So today was a day of physical strain.  I am wiped out.  

First of all, last night after I had finished blogging such a long post and went to my room, brushed my teeth and went to bed.  However…I started to get complacent and used a little water from the bathroom sink faucet to brush my teeth.  Didn’t think about it until 3 am when the stomach starts telling me that something abnormal is growing in it!  I got up…took a “cipro” which is a stomach and intestine antibiotic…spent the next 3 hours in the bathroom…(you don’t need details do you?!)  So its needless to say…if you can do the math…that I got a total of about 2 hours sleep last night.  After a couple of hours the Cipro did its job and I am totally fine now!

So we got up early and headed to what is called “The Rock”…it is a towering moutain that really only takes about 30 minutes to get to the top because it is straight up.  Many places they have permanently fastened ladders to the mountain because of the extreme slope.  The view from the top overlooking the African plains is breathtaking.   I also was completely inspired to lose about 20 pounds off my bod.  I am starting now.  Eat less for dinner!  Repeat at Breakfast and Lunch too.  Hopefully that works.  
If you want to see images of “The Rock” Just google The Rock in Torroro Uganda.  

Once we got back down the mountain we grabbed a late breakfast and had an all group meeting to get the rest of the day planned.  There were several options and so today I chose to keep it physical.  I went to a local village school and simply helped clean and paint a new building that was just built to expand the villages school.  Sounds pretty simple, but you mustn’t forget that when we “Muzungo’s” show up…you get 50 little kids swarming around you wanting to touch you and play with you.   They are fascinated by the hair on my arms.  I saw two 8 month olds today who had never seen a white man.  They screamed in utter terror.  The mothers just laughed and try to calm their infants.  Of course I had to try to get the infants to relax by smiling and approaching them again…but it didn’t work.  Complete terror.  Oh well.  

That’s what I did all day…painted and took breaks to play with the kids of the Jubba Village in Uganda Africa.  

I am in Africa!  I really have fallen in love this mystical place and even more so its people.  On the way home we stopped in the city square of Torroro.  It is a very busy place.  Some of the group stayed on the bus, the medical team with us went into a pharmacy warehouse and bought some medications for helping some African people and I took the few moments we had to wander down to the local market store and buy an Orange Fanta!   It is quite a strange feeling to be walking about hundreds of people and be the only white one!  I loved it.  The people in Africa love to greet you.  Little children will come up to you to shake your hand and when you do shake it, they go to their knees as a sign of respect and kindness.  Its strange, but its their culture.  

I wonder how I can get my wife Kelli to do that!?  LOL

Well…I’m back at the hotel and I’m going to try to catch up on some lost sleep from last night.  This trip will soon be over…and I know that Africa will forever be in my blood.  I so want to return as soon as I can and bring some of my family with me to experience what is such a remarkable and mysterious place. 

Trent


My Trip To Africa!

I’m waiting at Sky Harbor Airport to head to Portland and then to Amsterdam and then to Entebbe Uganda! I have 20 plus hours of flying ahead of me. The lady behind the counter with Delta got me an exit seat to Portland and I pray for the same as I fly the 10 hour flight to Amsterdam.
I am excited about the trip. I am curious what set of emotions I will experience as I arrive in such a mysterious and mystical place. Will I be disgusted at the unjustifiable poverty I find in Africa? Will I be frustrated at what is a lack of gratefulness and thankfulness of the quality of life we have in America. I wish I could pack up the whole “Occupy whatever town” in America and drop them in a 3rd world country so they could learn to count their blessings instead of cry out with entitlement mentalities.

I am asking God on this trip to make it clear to me if I am to dedicate the rest of my life to missions work or if I am to step back into a Lead Pastor Role of the Church. When did we ever separate the words Missions and Church? What a travesty. They are the same thing!

Anyway…time to go check in and get “comfy” on the plane. I ask for your prayers that I may return home with an expanded mind and experience in life.

I am honored that you are reading this post and the future ones to come. You matter to me and I want the very best for your life. Stay tuned!


The Journey…

The following poem is called “The Journey” by Mary Oliver. I can absolutely relate with her as God has led me to make the decision to merge as one church with CCV. The reactions and realities that have happened since the decision are perfectly spelled out in this poem. I hope it inspires you to think deeply about your journey and what you MUST do.

THE JOURNEY
One day you knew what you had to do and began
Though the voices around you kept shouting their bad advice
Though the whole house began to tremble
And you felt the old tug at your ankles
“Mend my life,” each voice cried, “Mend my life”

But you didn’t stop – you knew what you had to do
Though the wind pried with its stiff fingers at the very foundations
Though their melancholy was terrible
It was already late enough, and a wild night
And the road full of fallen branches and stones

But little by little, as you left their voices behind
The stars began to burn through the sheets of clouds
And there was a new voice, which you slowly recognized as your own
That kept you company as you strode deeper and deeper into the world
Determined to do the only thing you could do
Determined to save the only life you could save.

Journey On,
Trent