Red Letters–Fiery Words

Blessed

are those who read Gospel conversations,
divine pronouncements,
and follow the trail of Truth back to the nature of God.

“Greater than the Temple,”
“Lord of the Sabbath,”
His words revealed
Divine Prerogatives
and a set of priorities wholly out of step with the elite.

No Mr.-Rogers-with-a-beard,
Jesus used the sharp edge of sarcasm to slice through hypocrisy,
Scalding words to remedy a lukewarm righteousness.

And reading today, I am both warmed and singed,

rejoicing that my reward is great in heaven,
while knowing full well, in the meantime,
there are
enemies to love,
cloaks and tunics to surrender,
and a radical holiness to be lived in the unseen places,
One Spark,
One Smoldering Offering at a time.

***

Discovering what it means to be “blessed,”

Photo credit

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I link-up with a number of blogging communities on a regular basis. They are listed in the left sidebar by day of the week. I hope that you will take a moment to enjoy reading the work of some of these fine writers and thinkers. You can look for me this week at Purposeful Faith#TellHisStoryLet’s Have CoffeeFaith on FireFaith ‘n Friends and Grace & Truth.

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Filling Empty Things

Pastor and author Kyle Idleman did an informal survey via social media with just one question.

“Finish this sentence:  Jesus became real when . . .”

The hundreds of responses he received, some general (“I had no one else to turn to.”) and some specific (“My husband was killed in a car accident.”), could be wrapped up in this single response:  “I came to the end of me.”

Nowhere else in Scripture is this blessed emptiness portrayed more vividly than in Jesus’ Beatitudes, and The End of Me utilizes this passage as a launch pad for the truth that “blessings begin and fulfillment is found in the least likely place – the end of ourselves.”

Surrounded by Jews who prided themselves on measurable righteousness and embedded in a culture of Roman conquest, empiricism, and blustering ego, Jesus made the alarming statement that “taking inventory and coming up with zero . . . means we’re making progress.”  Now that I think of it, that message goes against our present-day mindset:

“We want to be made whole without having been broken.”

The problem is that we are all broken.  However, in Jesus’ upside-down kingdom, this is the pre-requisite for being comforted, inheriting the earth, and being satisfied, (Matthew 5:3-6).

Kyle’s three-sentence assessment of Western culture regarding pain is stunning:

“We do everything we can to stay away from suffering in the first place.  But when we do suffer, which is inevitable, we do everything we can to stay away from mourning.  Then, when we catch ourselves mourning, we do all in our power to make it go away.”

While we knock ourselves out trying to avoid neediness, the fact remains that, in his earthly ministry, Jesus was in the business of filling empty things:  jars of wine at the Wedding in Cana, a misspent life at a well in Samaria, a crowd of growling stomachs in a “desert place.”  What if we were to embrace the truth that our emptiness — our weakness, confusion, mourning, discouragement — “creates the space that God fills with his strength?”

The End of Me chronicles the way of the narrow gate — it leads to life!  Kyle Idleman helps his readers to see that what appears to be the end, may just be the beginning of something better, so in his unpacking of Jesus’ counterintuitive truth, I found myself smiling!  His bottom-of-the-page footnotes are incredible, and just a word of advice:  if you ever see him standing in line at a checkout counter . . . choose another line.


 

This book was provided by David C. Cook in exchange for my review.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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I link-up with these communities on a regular basis:   Looking Up,   Soli Deo Gloria Connections, Inspire Me Mondays, Good Morning Mondays, Soul Survival, Testimony Tuesday, Titus 2 Tuesday, Tell His Story, Coffee for Your Heart, Live Free Thursdays, Faith-Filled Fridays, Grace and Truth, Fellowship Friday, Still Saturday, The Weekend Brew, Sunday Stillness, Faith and Fellowship, Blessing Counters, Women with Intention, Sharing His Beauty, Monday Musings, Motivate and Rejuvenate Monday, Thought Provoking Thursday, Small Wonder, Playdates with God,  A Little R & R, Beloved Brews, SusanBMead, Faith Along the Way, Cozy Reading Spot, Reflect, Literacy Musing Mondays, Purposeful Faith, The Loft, Words with Winter, Rich Faith Rising, Encourage Me Monday, Tuesday Talk, What to Read Wednesday, Booknificent Thursday, Give Me Grace, Three-Word Wednesday, Word-filled Wednesdays, Faith ‘n Friends, Essential Things

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blessed Are You

Preparing to teach the Beatitudes, I am trying to live my way into their truth by carrying them around on 3×5 cards and struggling to understand a Kingdom in which you are pronounced “happy” :

  • If you know that you are spiritually bankrupt.
  • If your poverty of soul makes you sad.
  • If you realize that you are not the center of the universe.

This image of need and hungering stops me in my tracks and re-orients my values.  John MacArthur puts it this way:  “Jesus went into the great display window of life and changed all the price tags.”  Could it be that the positions of influence and symbols of power that we covet are not all that valuable after all?

Reading, I see that although The Twelve squandered precious moments of their last days with Jesus squabbling over who should get the corner office, Jesus demonstrated no interest in the trappings of power.

A God who valued power over all else would not choose to identify Himself with a tiny nation of tent-dwellers.

He would not take on the space-and-time limitations of a body and then show up in the midst of an era of oppression, taxation, and poverty.

He would not “see the crowds,” then “sit down and open his mouth,” with the kind of power-bashing, establishment-alienating statements that we read in His Sermon on the Mount. In fact, just reading the Beatitudes can be hazardous, because I’m looking at the Christians I know — and, most of all, I’m looking in the mirror — and I’m realizing that most of us love power and everything that goes with it more than we love dealing with our sin or hungering for more of God.  The economy of my own heart leans toward a set of pronouncements that have nothing to do with Christ’s kingdom.

Maybe that’s true for you as well. . .

faithnfriends

I’m happy and humbled to announce that this is my first post as a regular contributor at Faith ‘n Friends.  I hope that you’ll come on over to read the rest of my words about Jesus’ upside-down kingdom.

While you’re there, be sure to check out some of the other inspiring essays.  You can receive regular updates from this faith-filled community through Facebook and Twitter!


Subscribe to Living Our Days to get regular Bible studies and book reviews delivered to your inbox.  Just enter your e-mail address in the box at the top of this page.

I link-up with these communities on a regular basis:   Looking Up,   Soli Deo Gloria Connections, Inspire Me Mondays, Good Morning Mondays, Soul Survival, Testimony Tuesday, Titus 2 Tuesday, Tell His Story, Coffee for Your Heart, Live Free Thursdays, Faith-Filled Fridays, Grace and Truth, Fellowship Friday, Still Saturday, The Weekend Brew, Sunday Stillness, Faith and Fellowship, Blessing Counters, Women with Intention, Sharing His Beauty, Monday Musings, Motivate and Rejuvenate Monday, Thought Provoking Thursday, Small Wonder, A Little R & R, Beloved Brews, SusanBMead, Faith Along the Way, Cozy Reading Spot, Reflect, Literacy Musing Mondays, Purposeful Faith, The Loft, Words with Winter, Rich Faith Rising, Encourage Me Monday, Tuesday Talk, What to Read Wednesday, Booknificent Thursday, Give Me Grace, Word-filled Wednesday, Faith ‘n Friends