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Having Done In Room 1501, (week 1)

 

Room 1501 pic The first week of Joy Christian School is  behind me,  and as a 1st year school teacher, it  has been a  great learning experience for me.  What a wild  ride to have back to back classes 6  times in a  row…M-F in a row, with sophomores, juniors and  seniors.  This first week, we simply covered some overview things and talked overview of the Bible.  Who is God, Jesus, Holy Spirit and other Essential discussions of expectations and requirements.

The most dramatic moment this week for me was giving each of my, more than 100 students, a 3×5 card to write the answer to this question… “What is the Bible to you?”   I let them know they could answer that anonymously.  I wanted them to be honest…and some were brutally honest.  I rec’d answers that were full of depth What is the Bible picand personal understanding towards to the Bible.  Several answers came in…and I qoute… “It’s just another stupid book.”  The picture to the right is of the pile of cards I have the privilege to read through.  I am delighted at the answers I received.  Joy Christian School is a Mission School.

What is the meaning of a mission school?  It is a school that anybody is welcome to attend.  In Christian School World…there are two kinds of schools.  Both are great….just different.  There is a Covenant School…where you must sign a covenant saying you are a follower of Jesus Christ.   And there are Missional Christian Schools, where you can pay to attend no matter what you believe about Jesus.  I love the mission of Joy…and…below are some things I learned in ROOM 1501 this week…

The 1st thing I learned…

Teachers/Faculty do not get to spend much time together.  We might pass each other during lunch or upon arrival/exit, but very little time is possible to spend together.  Our purpose is to spend time speaking/teaching/interacting/learning with the students of the school.  Not having time to spend together, as teachers, has demonstrated another thing to me; If there are any administrative/faculty negativities going on at a school, (BTW…there is none at Joy so far!) then it means that someone or several of the teachers/faculty are going out of their way to find or to start/continue negativity. There just isn’t enough time to spend together and any time spent together is on purpose.  This is probably true with anything in life…”You will find what you are looking for.”  (neg. or pos.)  And…”you will become what you focus on.” (neg. or pos.)   I hope you choose positive.  See Philippians 4:4-8 below.

“4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”

A 2nd thing I’ve learned…

A majority of students really do want to learn.  A majority show up in your classroom and they want to be noticed and respected by the teacher.  It’s really not a student thing…it’s a human nature thing.  A student doesn’t mind having to work hard, interact in discussion, do homework, and work for a grade…IF…they feel RESPECTED & APPRECIATED.  I recognize that I am still new at this teaching thing…but…I am pretty convinced if a teacher has a classroom full of chaotic kids that won’t listen, respond, or they mentally check out…I am guessing it’s more of a teacher problem than a student problem.  (I’ll get back to you on this one…I admit I am still new at teaching in a school…I could be wrong.  Time will tell…and as I learn, I will tell.)

A 3rd thing I learned…

Every profession has its own physical/emotional/intellectual CONDITIONING necessary to function in that position well. Imagine the physical conditioning needed to be working in the garbage truck business.  Landscaping. Working the drive thru at a fast food restaurant.  Working at a cardboard box manufacturing plant.  Farming.  CEO of a large company.  Driving a UPS truck. Office desk job.  etc. etc.  Every job is hard work…but that hard work comes in many different forms.

I have learned that being a teacher is no different.  I have learned that I am not in TEACHER SHAPE…YET!  I will get there.  Wow…my back hurts.  My vocal cords are tired.  My feet ache and my emotional and intellectual assets are fatigued…and so far, I am really enjoying the challenge.

I confess that I have taken the teachers of my own children and my own personal teachers, in the school system, for granted.  I have been a preacher/pastor for the past 20 years and am now getting to compare the work load, emotional-toll road, and the physical work load of both a teacher compared to a preacher.  Due to the fact that I am still too new as a teacher to speak with full confidence about this work load comparison subject…I will let time tell all things…and in time I will tell all things I am learning.

4th thing I’ve learned…

It doesn’t matter what kind of teacher you are…The very last class of students any teacher has on a FRIDAY….is going to have to figure out some very creative ways to keep the students minds and hearts in attention to the subject at hand.  It is very obvious, during the final school hour, that the students are checked out mentally as they think about the weekend break that is about to start.

I am pretty sure, at this final hour on Fridays, the students have superpower hearing.  I think the ticking of the clock on the wall is so loud to them as it counts down to their William Wallace moment of FREEEEDOM for the weekend, they have a hard time focusing.

So, as a teacher I could be stubborn enough and self-serving enough to demand their attention and think they will listen…but in all honesty…if I were to try to speak over the “freedom clock” noise ringing in their ears….I will only sound like Charlie Brown’s teacher to my students.  It’s not their job to overpower the ticking clock.  It’s my job as a teacher to work smarter to help them not even hear the clock.  I don’t know how to do this yet…but I’ll get there!

Joy Coat of Arms

That’s what’s “Having Done in Room 1501.”

Hope you enjoyed the read.  I feel loved by you if you read this.

Thank you.

Trent

 

 

 

 


HYDRATE — WINNING FROM THE INIDE 19 (Mt. 5:38-39) “Turn the other cheek.”

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ 39 But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.”
Matthew 5:38-39
(NIV)

DRINK IT IN:
Are you one of millions who are confused by this passage? Doesn’t this passage seem to say, just be a punching bag? This Scripture verse and the next two, in my opinion, have been misunderstood for way too long. I hope after you read this, you will have total clarity on what Jesus meant and your new understanding of it will help you advance the strengths of the Kingdom of Heaven.

“Eye for an eye, and tooth for tooth.” What an easy passage. What an easy law to understand. Call me sick, but I often wish this Old Testament Law were still in affect. If you are a person of peace and innocence, you would never have to worry about this law. If something bad happened to you, it would have been very clear what to do about it. This passage would have caused anyone to strive to avoid/resist an evil person. For if evil were done to you, you could return evil back to the person and it be perfectly acceptable. I don’t know about you, but personally, I have no desire to injure someone’s eye or remove someone’s tooth…even if it happened to me first. This fact would cause me to resist an evil person. To resist an evil person is to run from them, to avoid them and completely stay away from them. To do this I would have to always be alert and in avoidance mode. It would cause me to fear evil people. I don’t necessarily fear having my tooth knocked out or eye injured, although it would be horrible, but what I don’t like about this law is that if it happens to me, I’m supposed to do the same back to the person. I would resist an evil person for fear of having to pluck out his eye or knock out his tooth. To resist an evil person is the same as resisting chocolate. To resist is to completely say no. To keep it out of my life. To resist is to not take a bite, or eat the whole chocolate bar. Resist, means to stay away from. Agree?

Enter Jesus and the New Testament times.

Jesus walks onto the scene and says, “Do NOT resist an evil person.” Don’t avoid them, don’t run from them, and do not fear them. Do not resist an evil person, is best understood when compared to this phrase; do not resist a chocolate bar.

So what is Jesus saying when He says, “Do not resist an evil person?” I think to fully understand what Jesus is saying here we have to read some other things that He said, or the Bible says.

I think I have to mention Deuteronomy 32:35(NLT) immediately. I want to preface everything I am about to write with this passage. “I will take revenge; I will pay them back.” The “I” is God, not us. Revenge is God’s business, not mankind’s. Verse 36 goes on to say, “Indeed the Lord will give justice to His people.” Another passage that is good to preface what I’m about to write is Proverbs 19:11 (NLT) “Sensible people control their temper; they earn respect by overlooking wrongs.” Alright, a couple more verses like this to reinforce the powerful message of kindness and love and respect from the Bible. Romans 12:14 (NLT) “Bless those who persecute you. Don’t curse them; pray that God will bless them.” Over and over in the Bible, we can read passages that reiterate to not return evil for evil. We will be known by our love. So, in what I’m about to write, please understand that we are to be a daily demonstration of Jesus Christ. Jesus bore the fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control on a daily basis, everyday of His life. We are to do the same. Revenge belongs to God.

However…
Nowhere in Scripture are we taught that Christians are to be a walking mat. We are not told to take another beating. I think Matthew 5:38-39 has been taught incorrectly way too much and thus has been misunderstood for a long time. Read the passage again from Jesus, “But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.”

At its simplest reading, it seems to read as if Jesus is telling us to stay around evil people and if they beat us, turn the other cheek, ignore it, and take another beating from the other side. If you are a Christian wife, just stick around your evil husband as he beats you and take another one for the Gipper, because you might save the soul of your husband someday….just cover the bruises with make up! (I wish there were a font for cynicism and sarcasm.)

Many people think that we are supposed to act just like Jesus as He was being crucified. I agree that we should, if we are being crucified. When was the last time you witnessed a Christian being crucified? Are you in danger of being crucified today? If you are, then please behave just like Jesus. He didn’t resist the evil that was happening to Him. He forgave while He was on the cross. He took the beating…over…and over…and over….and over. Please understand something here. This is what Jesus was born for. He was born to be the sacrificial lamb that was slaughtered so that all of mankind’s sins could be forgiven. This is not something you can duplicate or replicate. We can replicate Jesus’ forgiveness. We can replicate His love for others. We can replicate His holy behavior. However, what happened to Jesus on the cross and the fact that He allowed it to happen to Him, is not a standard of how we should live our lives as we live amongst evil in a dark world. Jesus is not asking you to lay down your cross and be crucified for the sins of the evil person you are not resisting. Only Jesus was required to lay down His cross and lay down on it for the Father. Jesus is asking you TAKE UP your cross and carry it. He laid down His Cross and was mutilated and annihilated on it. You are to TAKE UP your cross and carry it. Let me explain how this is different and how Matthew 5:38-39 should empower you to hold your head high and walk right into the mix of darkness and evil and continue to shine like a bright light.

What does Jesus really mean when He says things like, “Don’t resist an evil person”…and…”if you get struck, turn the other cheek?”

Please be patient with, me as I preface what I’m about to write, with two more very important teachings of Scripture, especially for this specific passage, and thus be able to fully understand what Jesus means by this turn the other cheek stuff.

The first passage is one Jesus spoke and is recorded in Matthew 10:16.(NLT) I wrote about this specific passage in HYDRATE — WINNING FROM THE INSIDE 14 (Mt.5:25-26) “Before Court.” I will write more about it when I get to this exact teaching of Jesus as I follow the order of Jesus’ teaching in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.

The passage Jesus spoke says this, “Be as shrewd as snakes and harmless as doves.” Jesus told us to behave this way when we are around evil.

The second passage is one that Paul wrote in Romans 12:21. (NLT) “Don’t let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good.”

Can you see how it could be seen as a contradiction when you compare Romans 12:21 with Jesus’ total submission and passivity on the cross? He just let them kill Him. He was conquered by evil. (Some could argue that He knew He would be raised from the dead in 3 days and nights. I think that is a fair argument, but, the reality is that Jesus’ purpose was to be killed so as to pay for all the sins we’ve committed. Nothing we do or should do can be compared to that, ever.) Jesus came to earth to be conquered and killed. Thank God that He rose from the grave, but when His heart beat its last and we see the water and blood come out of his chest when the Roman guard pierces him with a spear….Jesus was officially conquered. Dead.

So, how do we measure and compare these two passages; “Don’t let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good,’ and “be as shrewd as a snake and harmless as a dove,” with “Don’t resist an evil person, if someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek?” It seems that some actions of Christians that are backed up with this passage seem to tell us to be conquered by evil. But Jesus is really saying…do not let evil conquer you. In fact, conquer evil! I love that. Conquer evil by doing good.

These three passages seem to cause contradiction. We know that the Bible does not have any contradictions. If the Bible doesn’t have any contradictions, but we understand this as a contradiction, then the Bible is not wrong, our understanding of the passage is wrong.

Let’s correct our misunderstanding.

I wish I could stand before you right now and demonstrate this passage to you instead of try to explain it through writing. But here is my best effort.

If you look really carefully at Matthew 5:38-39, you will notice that Jesus is very specific about which cheek you get struck on. It is specifically written, “If someone strikes you on the RIGHT cheek.” If Jesus wanted us to just keep getting struck and to be a walking mat for an evil person, then He would have very simply stated, If someone strikes you, turn the other cheek. He didn’t say this. He said, “If someone strikes you on the RIGHT cheek, turn to them the other (left) cheek.”

This paints a very clear picture for us, especially when we understand some basic Hebrew/Jewish culture practices that coincide with this passage.

I have had the privilege of traveling to the Holy Lands many times and my plan is to go back every 2 years, taking a group of 50 or less each time. If you are ever interested, please contact me and I’ll get your name on the list for the next trip. When I travel to this incredible place I always make it a point to find an elderly person who is has always been Jewish and I speak with them about ideas I have about the Bible. I am convinced, that having a strong understanding of ancient Hebrew culture, is the best way to understand what Jesus taught in the Scriptures. I am shocked at how Christians think of Jesus and try to understand what Jesus taught by using their own cultures to understand it. Many Christians are guilty of thinking that Jesus’ teachings are based off of the the culture they live in today. For instance, I think many Christians that live in America think that Jesus is white skinned and thinks with western culture presuppositions. However, Jesus was raised in a Jewish home, where He would have learned the Jewish Culture and followed it very seriously. Jesus’ skin would have been a dark olive tone and He would have been what the average Jewish man looked like in that day. Did you know that the average Jewish man in Jesus’ time was 5’4″ tall? The Old Testament says that there was nothing about Jesus’ physical appearance that made Him stand out from the average person. That’s all beside the point I want to teach here. My point, in all of what I just wrote, is that having an understanding of the Jewish Culture is the best way to understand what Jesus meant when He taught. I can, pretty confidently say, that if there is a passage in Scripture that is causing you confusion, then the confusion would probably end if you understood what is confusing you through a Jewish Culture and a Jewish understanding. The rest of this post is teaching Matthew 5:38-39 through the understanding of the Jewish culture and understanding of this passage.

Here are the details.

In the Jewish Culture your Right Hand is the hand of power, control and protection. Think with me about some things that Scripture records. The Bible references the Right hand of God. Jesus is seated at the right hand of the Father. The right hand of fellowship. The strong right hand of God. Right hand of God’s protection. I would guess that the creation of the word RIGHTeous is a derivative of the word Right. You get the idea? Should I say sorry to all the South-paws” out there!? LOL

Now, understanding the powerful right hand of God and how important this is to the Jewish people, here is something I learned from an elderly person in Jerusalem during one of my trips.

The people in the Bible times had a very different life than the ones we live. For a fun example, think with me about sewer systems and using the toilet. There are ancient toilets that still remain to this day and it is fun to see how they would have used the toilet back in those days. (I love weird stuff like that) What I’m about to write is not written to be weird or gross, but to help us all understand this teaching about turning the other cheek. In Jesus’ day, toilet paper was nonexistent, unlike in America today. Even today, my trips to South America and Africa have shown that toilet paper is still not readily available to a majority of the population around the world. So, in Jesus time, how did the people clean themselves after going to the bathroom? The farm boy in me wants to ask it like it is. How did they wipe their butts in Jesus’ day? In the Jewish culture, as long as someone wasn’t very poor, they would carry with them a stick with a natural sponge attached to it. This cleaning instrument would be kept under their robe at all times unless it was being used in the toilet room. After going to the bathroom, the person would use his LEFT hand to grip the cleaning instrument, dip it in the clean water in front of them and then clean themselves. I say all this to say that the left hand, in the Hebrew culture, was considered an unclean hand…for reasons you should now understand. It was considered very inappropriate and gross to use your left hand for anything that entailed public interaction. The left hand was for personal use only. Whether or not you think that is right or wrong is not the point. The point is…a Jewish person in Jesus’ time didn’t touch other people with his left hand in any way…ever.

Back to Jesus’ teaching about someone striking you on the right cheek. Question. If you know you do not use your left hand for public use at anytime, and at the same time you are going to strike somebody on the right cheek, what hand do you use, and how would that hand have to be angled to strike that right cheek accordingly? I have added a picture of me below to help you visualize and imitate this striking the right cheek stuff! Go for it. Strike away…just remember its really not me, don’t break your computer!

In the picture above, my right cheek is more readily available to be slapped. So, go ahead and slap my right cheek with your right hand. If you are like me, then when you imitated a slapping or striking pattern to strike my RIGHT cheek, it was awkward. UNLESS…you used the back side of your right hand. Try it again, but this time “back-hand” my right cheek? It works! Note this…when you struck “me” with the back side of your right hand, you actually gave me what is called a “smite.”

Now, back to Matthew 5:38-39. The actual word should not be translated strike, but SMITE. The word smite has many definitions linked to it. You can look it up yourself and see that there are many ways to smite somebody. To smite someone is another way of saying you are going to kill them, punch them, ridicule them, etc. Smite is not a word we use in our culture so much today, so most of the translations we have in our Bibles today use the word, strike, slap or other terms that are more culturally relevant. The use of these words may be more relevant to our current cultures, but they also make it very easy to misunderstand what Jesus is actually trying to say in this passage.

In one of my conversations with an elderly woman in Jerusalem, when I asked her about this passage, she explained to me that to be struck with the back of the right hand (smite) is the ultimate form of ridicule and discrimination. In the Jewish culture, when someone took the back of their right hand and gave you a smite across your right cheek, it was their way of saying they are above you and better than you. To receive a smite across the face was very demeaning and embarrassing. (I imagine a snobby person with their black leather gloves in their right hand, looking down over their designer glasses and smiting me with the gloves across my right cheek and face…very demeaning.) Do you get the idea?

So, go back to my picture above. Imagine, after you have given me a “smite” across my right cheek with the back of your right hand…and I did not “resist” you, but instead simply stood my ground with you and turned my left cheek to you, as if to say, “go ahead and smite my left cheek.”

Now, try something. Go ahead, and do the motion of giving me a smite, with the back of your right hand delivered to my OTHER (Left) cheek? You can’t do it without looking like an idiot. This fact, in your indignant anger, would force you, at this point, to do one of two things. One, you would walk away and yourself be humbled as I stood my ground against you. Or two, it would cause you to use your open right hand or with a closed fist to slap or punch me and therefore admit you are my equal.(More on this in a moment.) The whole point of a smite, is to show the person you are giving the smite to, that you are better than they are. So, if you struck me with your open right hand or closed fist, how would that make you admit that we are equals? Where do you think the sport of boxing comes from? In our boxing world when two men or women enter the competitive ring, you never see a lightweight going toe to toe with a heavy weight. No, always light weight vs. lightweight, or middleweight vs. middleweight. From the beginning of competitive boxing, two equals always got in the ring to determine who could outbox who. Boxing is with a closed fist for punching or in some cases open handed slaps between two equals. The elderly lady, I visited with in Jerusalem, told me that in the Hebrew culture, to slap or punch somebody is to admit that you are an equal with the person you are fighting. Smiting/back handing is a way to demonstrate dominance over the one being struck.

So, back to my picture above. If after your gave me a smite on the right cheek, I then turn the other cheek (left cheek) as if to say, “go ahead, try it again!” By doing this, I actually put you in a predicament of several factors. First, I am NOT resisting you, like Jesus commands in the passage. I am actually standing up to you. I am also obeying what Jesus said about being sly as a snake and innocent as a dove. If I turn my left cheek to you after you gave me a smite on my right cheek, I am strategically setting you up to admit that you are my equal, when your whole point of the smite was to demean me and demonstrate to the witnesses watching, that you think you are better than me. And third, I also obey the scripture of Romans 12:21 that says, conquer evil by doing good.

Do you get this?
After you smite me on the right cheek, I then turn to you my left cheek…in this moment, now answer the following questions…
In my position in front of you and with my left facial cheek exposed towards you…
Am I seen as a person of timidity?
Am I seen as a person of revenge?
Am I seen as a person who is weak?
Am I seen as a person who is just asking for another beating?
Am I seen as a person of patient endurance?
Am I seen as a person of strategy?
Am I seen as a person of strength?
Am I inspiring to those who are watching?

You see, when I turn that other cheek, the person who wants to strike me again is forced to make a decision. Slap me or punch me and demonstrate that you are my equal. I would be okay with that! Or walk away and demonstrate to the witnesses that they just got outsmarted, outwitted and outplayed.

You CONQUERED evil, by DOING good!

And, the whole time, they remained holy, pure, and an inspiration of what it means to be a follower of Jesus!

There’s more. The next verse following this turn the other cheek passage…does the same thing but in a court setting and while facing a lawsuit. If you like what you just read about turning the other cheek, the next two posts are of the same nature but about being taken to court, or being forced to carry something for someone.

As you go out and about in the world and undoubtedly will be confronted by different kind of evil remember to
Conquer evil by doing good!
Turn the other cheek and watch them squirm!

You will be known as a follower of Jesus Christ, and as having incredible patient strength, and self control!
That’s living like Jesus.


HYDRATE — WINNING FROM THE INSIDE 10 (Mt.5:14-16) “Light”


“You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.”
Matthew 5:14-16

DRINK IT IN:
Have you ever seen light run from Darkness? Have you ever seen a strip of darkness piercing through the middle of a light room? No Way. But, we know what it looks like to be in a dark room and see a glance of light streaming through the darkness. This “sword” of light always strikes a gleam of hope in my heart. It always provides a touch of comfort. It lets me know that in the middle of darkness there is something on the outside that is piercing the darkness.

In this simple teaching, Jesus is using some common sense word pictures to make people think about how He created us to be. Let me rewrite Jesus’ teaching in a way that I think Jesus meant it to literally be.
“You–My followers–are the light of the world. You are to be like a city on a hill that cannot be hidden. Don’t become a Christian and be secretive about it. Instead, SHINE ON, and give light to everyone in the world. Yes, you as Christians, let your light shine before the whole world, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.”

I love how Jesus just “rubs in” what is supposed to be the brightness and greatness of a Christian. He is saying that we as Christians GLOW. We should glow and it makes no sense to give our lives to Him and then hide it.

My fear in this kind of talk from Jesus is that it will empower the wacko. Nowhere does Jesus say in this passage that you should shout out negative, hurtful, hateful things from across the street at people who are far from Him. In fact that would cause Kingdom damage. That would push people farther from God. That would actually be contributing to darkness. Peter wrote in the Bible, that we are always supposed to be ready to give an answer for the hope that we have, but we should do it with gentleness and respect. So…Don’t be a wacko. Be light. Be love. Be peace. Be patience. Be joy. Be kindness. Be goodness. Be faithfulness. Be gentleness. Be self-control. Be respectful. Be like Jesus. Be light!

SWEAT IT OUT:
Are you being secretive, in any way or form, about being a follower of Jesus?
If you are, what are you afraid of?

Think of somebody today that is “stuck in a dark room” of sin/shame/evil/hopelessness/depression/loneliness/etc. Be a piercing streak of light in their life and help them smile and shine. Give them a taste of Heaven today by being the light that Jesus referred to.

If you behave this way. If you put the high-beams of your faith on for all the world to experience…they WILL give PRAISE to THE FATHER IN HEAVEN.

What a blindingly halogenic 🙂 objective for today…
Did you notice the word halogenic has the word halo in it?
SHINE ON.


HYDRATE — WINNING FROM THE INSIDE 6 (Mt.5:8) “The Pure”

The pure in heart are blessed, for they will see God.
Matthew 5:8

DRINK IT IN:
Do you want to SEE God?

Can you imagine seeing God? I have so many questions for Him. I have so many ideas of what God looks like. Again, I have so many questions. To see God, would change so many things wouldn’t it? Or am I just speaking for myself?

Some people say, “Seeing is believing.” Well…I believe and I have not “seen” God. I think my faith is strong now and I haven’t seen God. I wonder how much stronger my faith would be if I actually saw God? I wish God would just show up and let me see Him. I’m guessing you wish that too. I wonder if I would fall flat on my face in fear if God showed up, physically. Bottom line though…Is…I WANT to see God.

Jesus tells, in this passage I am referencing today, how I can see God. He says, BE PURE. Jesus gets even more specific. He says, ‘Pure In Heart.” The pure in heart will see God. Let’s face it, the heart is where everything comes from. Now scientifically some would argue that everything starts in the brain. I’m okay with that. But are you positively-absolutely-for sure that everything starts in the brain. I like to think that the heart is where something spiritual resides and medicine and science will never be able to explain it. 1 Corinthians chapter 1 talks about how all the wisdom/knowledge of the world will never be able to explain how God works. God actually calls all that knowledge, foolishness.

So…I say…everything starts in the heart. Want an example? If you have what is typically called a “foul-mouth, potty-mouth, or simply a bad-mouth,” I don’t think you do…I think you have a foul-heart, potty-heart or simply a bad-heart.” Jesus actually backs that thought up by saying in Matthew 15:18, “But the words you speak come from the heart–that’s what defiles you.” I don’t want to go into detail on this now, because this is a teaching coming up soon in this Hydrate Series.

But, there it is. Jesus says, what comes out of your mouth actually originated in your heart.

BLESSED ARE THE PURE IN HEART FOR THEY WILL SEE GOD! And so…I am working on “The Pure Heart” thing.

I wish there was this great formula or a 3 point sermon for Purifying Hearts. There is not. Well…I’m sure there’s a 3 point sermon about it…but it will be laughable. Some people say naively, “Just read the Bible more and your heart will become more and more pure. I want to believe that, but that would be like saying, “You want to have a really sharp sword, just read the manual on how to sharpen swords more often and it’ll get sharper!” In my not so humble opinion, purifying your heart is like sharpening a sword, purifying gold or having a perfect diamond.

Swords get sharper when they go through heat, and friction.
Gold becomes more pure when it goes through the smelter, over and over and the impurities slowly get burned out.
Diamonds are in their most desirable state after they have been cut and polished.

So…How do I get a pure heart?

First, give your life, your thoughts, your actions, your words, your mind, your ideas, your everything to Jesus Christ as Lord of your life. Read and study what Jesus commands of us and practice living it all daily. Then…LIVE ON! Now…Introducing…LIFE! It will come at you hard and it doesn’t care if you make it or not. Life will work you over and spit you out. This is called refining, smelting, cutting, polishing. So, its gut check time.

Did you ever wonder why Jesus’ brother in the book of James writes, “Consider it pure joy when you go through trials and suffering.” (James 1) Was James nuts? Or…did James understand how purity happens? Trials and Suffering are friction. Trials and suffering are smelters. Trials and suffering are where you get cut and polished. The book of Job chapter 23 verse 10, it is written, “I shall come out as GOLD after He tries me.”

Sounds simple enough, right? NOT! Whoever said that Christianity is a crutch for the weak, is a clueless-wonder to what Jesus really asks of His followers. A person who says that Christianity is a crutch, is a person who has obviously been hurt deeply by somebody who declares themselves to be a Christian and continues to let that “christian” cause them to stumble. I won’t apologize for that person. If you think that Christianity is for the weak, then I want to tell you to stop using people as your example. Stop following people. Start following Jesus. He’s not weak. He’s not a Hypocrite. Quit putting so much reliance on how others treat you, become responsible for your own study of truth and make a decision. People will always get in the way. If someone in your life keeps getting in the way of your heart being pure, then remove yourself from the person. Quit following that person. Quit blaming that person. Here’s our tough reality. The people who were supposed to be following Jesus are the ones who actually killed Jesus on the cross. Now, don’t forget…Jesus chose to go to the Cross. If Jesus didn’t want to die for you, He would have walked from the cross and nobody could have stopped Him. But…the ones who were supposed to follow Jesus were the ones who drove the nails that fastened Jesus onto the cross. Quit following people. Quit letting people cause you to stumble. Toughen up, follow Jesus and quit using people as your scapegoat as to why you don’t want to face the truth. I have personally found that most people who think Christianity is a crutch for the weak, have never even read the Holy Bible. Read it first…then…we’ll chat.

Since I am mentioning imperfect people getting in our way of us following Jesus. I’m choosing to do a Confession time. I have, many times in my life, found some very real and dark corners in my heart. All you need to have happen, to discover these dark corners of your heart, is a little hurt. Or a lot of hurt. That hurt turns into anger and before you know it, you have thoughts coming from your “heart” that would make a criminal sweat. Or am I just speaking for myself here? I’ll just try to speak for myself. I’m pretty sure…I could be a sniper. I think I could put a bullet through an enemies head and not lose one ounce of sleep over it. So many people think that all pastors are just lovey, dovey wonderful and kind, nearly perfect people. You know what I think about that? I think…NOPE!
The men and women God used to lead His people back in the Bible times were a rough and tumble bunch. One of Jesus’ Apostles was from an order of people that are called the Sicari. They were known as a group of assassins. I don’t have time to go into that detail, but just google it. Peter, tried to kill a man with his sword when the group showed up to arrest Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. Judas was just bad in so many ways. Let’s go way back. Elijah killed 800 prophets of Baal back in his day, and God took Elijah straight to Heaven without having him die first. There are a lot of “not-so-goody-twoshoes” kind of people that God used and uses to lead His people. I admit that I can be one of those…in my heart.

Now…I know…I know…I feel you wanting to preach to me right now. The fruit of the spirit is Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, and Self-Control. You don’t have to preach to me about how much love I’m supposed to have for all people. I agree. I love all people. I wouldn’t be a pastor if I didn’t love people. I am just tempted…at times…to be a sniper! LOL

The POINT?

SWEAT IT OUT:

Purity of heart. It seems that some people are just born with a pure heart. Its not true…people are not born with pure hearts. I have personally found that people who have pure hearts are people who have payed a large price of pain for that pure heart. It always seems like the pure in heart are gentle and kind and loving. I have found, when I asked those who are pure in heart about their life story, that their story is one that breaks my heart. These people, with refined, smelted, and polished pure hearts, now look back on their lives and can thank God….NOT FOR THE PAIN…but thank God that He helped them THROUGH THE PAIN. These people have now, “Come out PURE AS GOLD.”

Do you really want a pure heart?
Knowing how much pain is involved in getting a pure heart…I’m tempted to say no.
But if I don’t have a pure heart, then I know that I will never see God.
I want to see God.
So I will pray this prayer to God. Maybe you would pray it with me right now too? “Lord…I want to have a pure heart. But…Lord….PLEASE…as you turn up the heat on my life to refine me, smelt me, sharpen me and make me PURE…PLEASE DO NOT TAKE YOUR HAND OFF OF THE THERMOSTAT.” In Jesus name, AMEN.

I will end this post now…and as you step out today to continue your refining, smelting, sharpening, polishing and PURIFYING…take great confidence in 1 Corinthians 10:13, which says, “The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, He will show you a way out so that you can endure!”

I love that passage. So…bring life on! Whatever it takes for you and me to see God…bring it on! Right?
And when we have lived our lives through this life process of purifying our hearts…then…with pure hearts… you and I will go together into the presence of Almighty God.
And SEE HIM…yes…SEE GOD.
What a cool day that is going to be.

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.”


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.”


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