Throwing Out/Bringing In

INTRODUCTION

We moved a lot when I was in school and as the new kid the others would exclude or treat me different. It was always hard being the new kid.

In high school there was a girl with braces on her legs and used canes to walk. She was often treated mean and cruel, not by everyone, but by too many.

Kids can be mean and cruel. Where do they learn to be like that? 

FIRST CENTURY ISRAEL

The dominant Jewish spiritual leaders were known as Pharisees. They were typically devout and dedicated men of God. But there were Pharisees who were not good men, not all of them but too many.  Some were so extreme in their views they flirted with fanaticism. They could be thought of as radical extremists, and mean. 

They were known, “To throw people out of the synagogue.” It was breaking fellowship by casting out being cast out anyone they didn’t deem suitable. Who would they throw out? Anyone who disagreed with their interpretation of Torah. The sick, diseased and defiled. Those who they pronounced as unclean and unwanted. 

Religious leaders can be mean and cruel. Where do they learn to be like that? 

AND JESUS?

Well, he was altogether different. He was passionate, devout and dedicated too. But his devotion to his message and ministry wasn’t about exclusion, but inclusion. Read this:

“Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.”

While some were busy throwing people out Jesus was busy bringing them in. He came for those who were lost, he came for the sinners: defile and rejected. 

“For the Son of Man came to seek and to save that which was lost.” 

Jesus wasn’t “soft” on sin, just soft on sinners. He taught righteous living and keeping the covenant with Yahweh. He practiced love, mercy and forgiveness. 

jesus-and-the-little-children
Not the real Jesus, but close, really very close. He practiced love, mercy and forgiveness.

IN CLOSING

Some are expert in shunning sinners and throwing them out. That’s a shame, because Jesus was expert in accepting sinners and bringing them in. 

He had compassionate towards the lost, for they were sheep without a shepherd. 

Sinners are often treated mean and cruel, not by everyone, but by too many.

Shalom

What’s Cool?

Back to the summer camp in the New Mexico Mountains that I wrote about on Monday.

HIKING

One of the fun activities for campers was to go on hikes. Once or twice each week the counselors would take their campers hiking.

I would hurry, as the Pots & Pans Washer, to get the kitchen cleaned up so I could go on the afternoon hike. 

INCREDIBLE VIEWS

The hikes always took us to a places with amazing views. Once we arrived we rested, or explored a bit, until it was time to head back to camp.

On one beautiful mountain day at a magnificent vista were some hikers who were there when we arrived. There were four of them and they were sitting at the edge of a high cliff looking at whatever there was to be seen. One of the counselors and I walked over to say hello. They seemed surprised by our presence and were not in a chatty mood. They seemed familiar to the counselor, he smiled visited for just a moment and then we walked back to our group and back to camp. 

They were interesting to see. They were relatively young, I guessed maybe in their 20’s and had long hair and were wearing things that seemed odd to me. They wore old ratty jeans, hiking books, vests and had head bands. They wore bracelets of silver and leather and they sat there at the edge of the mountain, quiet and still. 

BACK TO CAMP

As we walked along I sidled up to the counselor and asked if he knew those guys. He said, “I don’t know them personally, but I know who they are.”

It turned out that they were a rock band, and a famous one at that. Being 14 I didn’t know much about rock bands, but Milton, the counselor was very excited that he got to talk with them.

THAT NIGHT

So that night, after washing the evening meal pots and pans, I got cleaned up and ready for the devotional. The guys in the band had long hair and wore leather head bands. So, I unlaced a leather lace from one of my hiking boots and wrapped it around my head and tied it in a bow at the back. UhHuh.

I thought I looked really cool. Mind you I had a buzz cut hair style, and there wasn’t a hair on my head that any chance of falling into my eyes. I walked up to Milton and he said, “What is that on your head?” I said, “Its my hair band.” He said, “Why are you wearing it.” And I said “To keep the hair out of my eyes.” Then he said, “You look ridiculous, take that dumb thing off.”

I did. 

TO  CLOSE

I didn’t really know what cool looked like and I really wasn’t the kind of kid who looked to rock bands to imitate their look. 

Eventually, I learned that my identity, values, and choices needed to be influenced by better sources, beginning with my relationship to God of holiness and righteousness. My life didn’t need to reflect whatever was popular at the moment. It wasn’t from the world that I needed to base my life, but on things eternal.

Besides, I needed to put the lace back in the boot for the next hike.

Shalom

You Never Know!

SAD, LONELY & DISCONNECTED

The first time I ever felt alone and disconnected happened the summer between my freshman and sophomore year, I was fourteen. I had been “hired” to work at a camp in the New Mexico Mountains for eight weeks as part of the kitchen staff, not the cooking part, but the cleaning. I washed the pots and pans. I was, “The Pot Washer.” 

The lonely part happened when dad dropped me off. He stayed long enough to see me settled in my log cabin room, a space about 10′ x 10′ with no windows. There was a saggy bed, a rickety dresser that came over with Noah, and a wooden chair. Welcome home!

Dad gave me a hug, said to work hard and behave myself, then he drove off. I stood watching until I couldn’t see his car, then went into my room and started crying. It was an emotion I was unprepared to have.

The tears ran down my face for a few minutes when suddenly I heard a knock. I dried my eyes, opened the door and to my great surprise there were two girls, college girls. They were there to be counselors, and like me, for the whole summer. They were friendly, fun and super cute. There were more counselors too, for the boys and girls cabins.

I was the only high school kid on the staff. For eight glorious weeks I hung out with a dozen college students, it was the best summer ever. 

On the last day my brother arrived to take me home and the tears streamed again. Not because I felt sad, alone and disconnected but because I didn’t want to leave!

images

A FEW THOUGHTS

  1. If I knew how sad I was going to be when dropped off I wouldn’t have gone. 
  2. If I knew how small, sparse, and lonely my room was I wouldn’t have gone. 
  3. If I knew how grimy and greasy those pots would be, I wouldn’t have gone.
  4. If I knew how much fun I was going have I would have hitched hiked to go.

IN CLOSING

We never know what’s around the corner, it’s because we can’t see it. From the worst situations can come the best experiences. From that which we suffer can come surprising blessings of happiness. Keep the faith because, you never know! 

Hey, I think I hear someone knocking on the door!

 

 

 

The New Year’s New You

The mess has been cleaned up. The confetti, streamers and hats have been dumped into America’s landfills. The calendar has turned. 

Happy New Year

DIFFERENT? 

It’s January and about a week’s gone by since we put up the new calendar. I’t’s on the refrigerator and it has pictures of cats, and it’s cute if you like that sort of thing and several in my family do, and me, well, let’s move on. 

fullsizer
Not one of the cats in the calendar, but close, really very close.

I can’t say the New Year has made much difference. Maybe it’s just me. I wasn’t jumping up and down about 2018 being over and I wasn’t bouncing about the new year starting. The new year hasn’t made me new, I’m just a week older.

However, a few thoughts I had:

  • it’s 11 months and two weeks until Christmas
  • it’s eight months until the new college football season
  • it’s four months until my birthday
  • it’s one month until my next Holy Land Tour
  • it’s tomorrow that I have breakfast at a Waffle House

I know, my life is seems terribly exciting. But it’s not all glamor and games.

The new year will bring some good things.

  • more progress for the gospel with the people of Cuba
  • more homeless families will find a home
  • more hot food will be served to the hungry
  • more souls will come to know the love of God
  • more lives will be forever changed

FOR YOU

Whatever you do with New Years and however it affects you just know that the God of all grace cares for you. His plan for your life remains steadfast and authentic. 

Some say that God is good. Some say God is good all the time. Life can be good, but defintely not all the time. 

ManWalkingThroughDarkTunnel
Will there be light at the end of your tunnels?

IN CLOSING

Sometimes there are days when life is good, really good, and you rise up to the highest peaks of Mt Victory! But sometimes there are days when life isn’t so good and you drop down into the valley of despair. When those days come try to keep your chin up, decide not give up, and keep looking up, because on your hardest days God is still there, he still cares and he’s still good.

Shalom