A Cup, Made Just For Me

So I’m thinking of a little boy. Sitting in a small house, early in the morning, beside a fire. As he sits, his mother brings his breakfast and begins to pour his drink, into a small, wooden cup…and he begins to smile. His smile, comes not from the drink, but of his mother’s love and the wooden cup. The cup was handmade, by Joseph, his father, who is a poor man and carpenter. It was made from a piece of scrap wood, but carved and polished with great pride, love and adoration, for the boy.

As the boy grew, he always used that cup. He carried it with him to school and used it, because it was made, just for him. With some age, however, the other kids began to pick on him because it was, after all, a child’s cup. But it was made, just for him. None of his friends would use it, though he offered; they all said it just didn’t fit their mouth…”you’re the only one who can drink from that silly cup”, they would say.

Many years later, in a garden, as a grown man, the boy prayed. He was very anxious and worried and frightened. He thought about his mother, father and friends as he prayed. With tears flowing down his face, he held that little wooden cup in his hand, thinking of how he wanted to remain with his mother and father.

But he was praying to his father in heaven, this time…pleading with him, to take away THIS CUP, which was made, just for him. This cup, only he could drink from, it only fit his lips…and he recalled the children from school, making fun of him. He thought how cruel the world was, but he loved everyone. He loved them, but he prayed, three times…PLEASE, take this cup from me!! If it is possible, PLEASE!!

After many, many tears and much prayer, his heart, filled with such great love for mankind, gave in. Father, I know it is right to ask, but nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done. This cup should not and cannot be taken away. For it was made, just for me, out of love and only I can drink from it. Fill my cup, Lord, that I may drink from it.

And the little boy set down the wooden cup, walked away from it, trading it for the one he would now have to drink from. It was quite full and it’s taste was bittersweet. But he drank it all. He finished the entire cup and said, “It is finished” as he closed his eyes, thinking of his little, wooden cup.

Aside

You Say Following Christ Is Easy?

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Responses from onlookers can be unrealistic, critical, misinformed and disingenuous, at best. Most people believe that the lives of those who follow Christ are lives of ignorance, conceit, self-absorption and/or delusional, holier-than-thou attitudes. People, often, consider it easy to follow our faith and live as we strive to live; they are misinformed and incorrect.

Folks also consider our faith to be one of giving up everything fun, becoming “boring” and having all things made off-limits or taboo; this too, is no so. Yes, there are certainly, portions of life which we may no longer partake of, but does that mean we have really “given up” anything valuable or of actual worth? I dare say, we have not. Not that such things are beneath us as we’ve become somehow superior or our royalty precludes us from stooping to the lows of mere paltry people, but that they are not blessed of God and are of the World. We are a “peculiar people” according to the Bible; Dr. Dan Hayden also wrote this explanation:

When the King James translators used the word “peculiar” in 1 Peter 2:9, identifying Christians as a “peculiar people”, this is not what they had in mind. According to A. T. Robertson, the word “peculiar” comes from the Latin word, “pecus” which means “flock”. The KJV translators were simply reflecting the idea that believers in Christ are the unique possession of God — they are His flock.

As followers, believers and children of Jesus Christ, as “Christians”, we are called to a life and held to standards which simply cannot be compromised. We are held accountable by God’s word, the commandments of God and of Jesus Christ and the convictions of the Holy Spirit. No person is excluded from these accountabilities, commandments and guidelines; many, simple decide and desire not to adhere to them. Judgment will be carried out, regardless of whether one accepts & believes or not; this is simply a fact and a rather unavoidable one at that.

What you may not understand about “Religion” is that it is not Christianity and the two have very little, if not nothing whatsoever to do with one another. According to James, this is the extent of religion and its practices and beliefs are observed as follows:

James 1:27

King James Version (KJV)

27 Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world

One might also be misinformed as to the fact that Christians can be and do have, FUN! Often, in fact! We live a life that knows many smiles, laughs and happiness. But we also know one of constant struggles, battles and discomforts. We live a life of servitude, embellished by the constant need to decrease ourselves, so that God may increase and be glorified. We live a life that requires great humility, lacking the pleasures which others find in self-acknowledgment(s), giving all honor to our Father in Heaven.

There are both, wonderful and terrible examples of Christians all over the globe. Painted in so many lights, with countless opinions, views, concepts, disagreements and misunderstandings, Christians are portrayed as the thorn in everyone’s side. Because religion and religious people have marred, if not ruined, the very name of a great people of God. Without dismissing the additional truths, fellow Christians and those professing to be such, have done their disgrace to us, seriously causing all but irreparable damage.

Lest I continue with the chasing of rabbits, may I please submit, our faith is not an easy one to aspire to. We live difficult lives. Enduring, not only the hardships placed upon everyone else in the world (taxes, education, jobs, family life, marriage, unemployment, etc.) while then having the additional requirements of keeping the commandments given us by God. This life, it is not for the faint of heart and “those who endure to the end, shall be saved” is for sure, factual. We must endure, all things, and can, by the very grace of God.

We survive and manage to live an abundant life, if we strive to honor God, acknowledge Him in all things, keep His commandments, and act with compassion, mercy and love. If you really think it is so simple and easy to do as we do, try this requirement for a while:

King James Bible
Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord:

King James Bible
If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.

You Say Following Christ Is Easy?

Tradition Or Habit

Except from Wikipedia :

A tradition is a belief or behavior passed down within a group or society with symbolic meaning or special significance with origins in the past. Common examples include holidays or impractical but socially meaningful clothes (like lawyer wigs or military officer spurs), but the idea has also been applied to social norms such as greetings. Traditions can persist and evolve for thousands of years—the word “tradition” itself derives from the Latin tradere or traderer literally meaning to transmit, to hand over, to give for safekeeping. While it is commonly assumed that traditions have ancient history, many traditions have been invented on purpose, whether that be political or cultural, over short periods of time. Certain scholarly fields, such as anthropology and biology, have adapted the term “tradition,” defining it more precisely than its conventional use in order to facilitate scholarly discourse.

The concept of tradition, as the notion of holding on to a previous time, is also found in political and philosophical discourse. For example, the political concept of traditionalism is based around it, as are strands of many world religions including traditional Catholicism. In artistic contexts, tradition is used to decide the correct display of an art form. For example, in the performance of traditional genres (such as traditional dance), adherence to guidelines dictating how an art form should be composed are given greater importance than the performer’s own preferences. A number of factors can exacerbate the loss of tradition, including industrialization, globalization, and the assimilation or marginalization of specific cultural groups. In response to this, tradition-preservation attempts have now been started in many countries around the world, focusing on aspects such as traditional languages. Tradition is usually contrasted with the goal of modernity and should be differentiated from customs, conventions, laws, norms, routines, rules and similar concepts.

Having considered this, what do you feel as though your traditional, Christian life is like? Have you observed enough traditional Sunday services and repeated them, thousands of times, have they become more of a habit than tradition? Where is this guy going with this? Traditions are wonderful and deeply-rooted portions of our life, right? Yes. But….

As we attend church, study the Bible, hear the word, we tend to grow. But so often is the case, many reach a stalemate or plateau. There comes a moment wherein, we simply lose forward momentum and the actions are nothing more than muscle memory. We continue a cycle of worship liken to brushing our teeth, making coffee or driving our car. They are so engrained as to require no effort, more from habit than tradition.

Is there anything in our relationship with God at this point, differentiating us from the world? We have grown complacently comfortable in our spiritual Snuggie. Cooled down, lukewarm and set apart from progress.

We must ever challenge ourselves to change! Breaking the bonds of normalcy, repetitive,  traditional approaches toward righteousness by understanding one shoe does not fit all. Yes, there are simple, plain truths in the Gospel; I dare not suggest we toss them out the window. What I do say is, if you have come to a point wherein your every trip to church is no different than the last or you are not witnessing, speaking and sharing that is a hint. The type of “Houston, we have a problem” smacked in the face with reality kind of hint that should keep you awake like a neon sign, flashing outside your bedroom window at night.

Never allow your traditional way of thinking, become a conventional way of learning. Push yourself, dig deep. To quote Tony Horton’s P90X motto “Decide. Commit. Succeed.” in that you must make a firm decision to challenge yourself. Commit to the task, by every means afforded you and succeed at what you set forth to do. Not excuses. No prisoners. No holds barred. Win.

I have seen services be as bland as plain, room-temperature oatmeal, on a rainy day. And weeks, months and years later, they are just as traditional as ever. Never veering from protocols, procedures and the “but we always do this at this time on this day” attitude. Order something vibrant! Something you have never had and not sure if you would ever eat or drink. Grow in spirit, in measure of faith in understanding and wisdom. The entire book of Proverbs is summed up as “Seek wisdom and knowledge” for a good reason; it requires perpetual effort and perpetual motion to attain.

Don’t let what you consider to be tradition, hinder you from new occasion, to develop a greater expectation. Never allow habit to preclude you from the daily renewal of spirit.

Thanks for you time and reading. God bless you.

History Repeats

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Firstly, some fun facts about Israel: http://israelcampusbeat.org/archives/2548/65-facts-for-israel-at-65/. A good many of these I did not know.

For quite some while now, I’ve marveled as to how the early Israelites and yes, even Jesus’ disciples, unceasingly stumbled. Mismanaging themselves, muddling, floundering, then return to righteousness before God; Israelites perplex and bewilder me.  Focusing on early peoples of early Israel, how could they possibly see the proofs and loyalty of God, while perpetually failing Him? What would seem as incredulousness in the face of credibility, are their very actions, in light of God’s pronounced presence. Yet, as often God would grant them reprieve, show pity through enduring generosity, they inevitably stubble, revert and regress.

Those of whom are familiarized with Old Testament scripture, Israel seemed doomed unto themselves. After all God consummated, even up to Elijah’s proving upon Mount Carmel, the people of Israel ebb into degeneration.

http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/tag/doomed-to-repeat-it lists some quotes from folks about repetitive history and what can be assured of those who do not observe lessons gleaned from ones past. Insanity, as I have read, is “Repeating the same actions with the expectation of a different outcome”. Has our nation become insane? Has America not learned or taken away, one useful morsel from the past? Even insomuch as setting the Bible aside, looking only at worldly events; we should well have prospered from this.

We [Americans] follow in the very footsteps of early Israel. God is, and has, for countless generations, beckoned us return. God, remaining ever tolerant and slow to anger, has allowed us to continue in our ways. But I suggest that we are being called back and called-out.

The Lord has made Himself, quite clear if we want to be candid in this matter, about His ways and His will. It is neither left to supposition or to debate as to what is expected of mankind with regard to its behavior and actions. God has granted us mercy for a time.

My personal puzzlement arrives in fashion of stupefaction. How is it, aside from the daily, gradual nudging, that we have ventured so distant? With reams, astounding volumes of historical information and insights at our disposal; we are as ignorant as a people centuries past. Basking in our arrogance, conceit, self-serving, intellectual prowess we have come to have almost a contempt for God in such a sublime manner. Most, likely do not even realize the subtlety with which we’ve fallen away.

Always, I return to his posed question, “How long will you limp between the two divisions?” How long will we debate, postulate, vacillate and finally, refuse? Have we become such stubborn, disrespectful and unmindful children? When will we honor our Father?

Church, people, multitude…will you hear my cry in the wilderness?

The “Shallow Hal” of Faith

Do you approach faith in such a superficial way? Is Sunday morning the depth of your resolve and dedication? Never wanting or desiring what is truth, to be filled with greater faith and the indwelling Spirit? How many seek only the gratification of appearance and bare-minimums of their relationships with Christ; actually believing that this is enough.

Is your faith in God nothing more than shallow interest? In the alluded-to movie, a man was transfigured from shallow lusts to seeing past his surface observations; the very same will occur to those who seek God from what is beyond first glance.

Such is the depth of God, love of Christ and measure of the Holy Spirit, that they are immeasurable! Fools count it sufficient, being contented while the wise in heart, seek knowledge. A relationship with God is unspeakably rewarding, an outward glance offers nothing more than scratching the surface. If you are not seeing the rewards, you are not digging deeply enough, plain and simple.

Seek the Lord with all your heart, not just your eyes, and you shall find Him. But you will find  He has always awaited you. God doesn’t look for you; He knows where you are and is always near you. Call upon Him, search for Him and He will draw close to you.

But you must endure beyond mild interest, shallow inhibitions and narrow-minded reservations. Jesus is open to you remaining at your door. He knocks and awaits, that He might enter in, dwell and remain with you. This is NOT a figurative suggestion, it is a factual statement. Jesus stands outside the door of your temple, wishes to enter and reside remaining therein.

If you will look inside the Bible, not judging by its plain-looking cover, you will find the depths of beauty, truly within. It is like an outwardly  unattractive person in the eyes of the shallow man or woman…what has it that I want? But if you will humble yourself to learn the truths of its interior, you will know love and fulfillment liken to nothing you have ever shared.

The Gospel is beautiful! Will you remain shallow and refuse it upon face-value and lack of attraction to it? Or will you be man or woman enough to surpass your shallowness?

The reward is beyond your belief…just outside of your sight, in what is called, faith.

Enduring Our Loss – Keeping Our Hope

So often, it’s been said of me, that I should’ve been born in another time. People often suggest a time, perhaps, like the early 1900’s; I tend to agree.

Upon reflection, my meager length of life has provided such an awe. Greatly, has our nation and its peoples changed; I do not say progressed. Once, we were a people of good cheer, kindness, morals, ethics. Consideration for others was simply a way of life; there was a natural, instinctual, respect for one another.

Such disdain, dissatisfaction…an utter reproach toward the manner in which our once, great nation, has run itself into the reef. We are taking on water and seemingly, in desperate fear of the possibilities of hopelessness.

Hard times come with realization – priorities change, understanding unfolds – what we must do now, what we have done in order to achieve this situation, etc. Eventually, it will come down to survival, hinged upon absolute necessity.

What hopelessness might await our people? Will there come a time wherein, we fully, insightfully and with humility, measure our failure before the Lord? As a nation, as a people, merely as children of our beloved Creator, we will find ourselves before Him. Either in wrath, pleading for mercy or in awe, thankful for additional grace…we will certainly come to an ends.

Gratitude affords me hope, in that, we have solemn promise from the Lord. If we seek Him with all our heart, we shall find Him. God is not hidden from us, and He has not yet turned His back upon us. God is able to have patience, for a time. Nevertheless, God awaits us to present ourselves before Him, not the other way around.

For the people that will continue to walk in God’s ways, remaining in God’s will, we shall know His grace, mercy and love. People who refuse Him, will assuredly know His wrath. Yes, believers shall see times of severe difficulty, but we shall face it with perfect clarity that God loves us and provides a means, a way and an end.

Prayer is a byproduct of faith, which comes from patience. Without faith, we cannot speak prayers to the Father; it would be completely futile and senseless. We must have the genuine faith He exists, that He is the only, true God, as well as hope that our promises shall be rewarded us for our good, faithfulness.

What I hope to convey and trust to assure, is that we shall never be completely without hope. We, His children, shall never be cut off from Him, cannot be removed from His will or cast out. Salvation is secured, hope is constant, faith is required.

Look always unto the Father, seek Him in all your way. Let there be no questions, debates or confusions about a complete certainty; God answers when we speak to Him. God ALWAYS listens and inclines His ear to us.

How is defeat an option? Why do you not CLAIM the very same empowerment you are given as every king, disciple, apostle, priest, servant, etc. in the Bible??? You HAVE been given the same Holy Spirit, granted by the same God, by the complete authority of Jesus Christ. You are, after all….ALL those things; each title above is also yours!

Let me share with you a simple thought which seems to evade many people while praying. NEVER simply ask something from God or conclude with “if it be Your will”. I tell you this because ALL things are granted when we ask and it IS HIS WILL that we should be given what we need.

Do not doubt or give questions to God. Why try to cause God to debate His promise, for He will not! He will honor His word to you, always. Has anyone read the book of James? Hebrews? The majority of the Bible? Receive what you ask for, without doubt!!

If you woke up tomorrow, as a king or queen…would you act differently? If you knew you now had such an important position and responsibility, would you not step up to the expectations? My point?  If you truly understood what was expected of you, what you were capable of and the position you now hold – you were, after all, reborn and baptized, right – why would you continue to live as a servant to denial?  We are kings! We are “new creatures” with awesome abilities! Do not deny your heritage, position or the empowerment of your faith. Go forth and DO what you have been given, by your “re-birth rights” to do!