Give us Barabbas?

This is a world filled with choices. As we have witnessed in Paris this past week, a handful of evil choices can lead to pain for literally millions. The events in Paris reminded me of the choice the people of Jerusalem made leading to the Crucifixion of our Savior. When asked which prisoner the governor should release, Jesus Christ or Barabbas, the people shouted out, “Give us Barabbas!”

The perpetrators in Paris, the terrorists who committed the atrocities of 9/11, all made a choice. Follow the in-dwelling Christ, or follow Satan. (Give us Jesus Christ, or give us Barabbas.)

Jesus said it best in Matthew 12:30, “He who is not with Me [definitely on My side] is against Me, and he who does not [definitely] gather with Me and for My side scatters.” (Amplified Bible.)

Seems fairly cut and dry. Follow Jesus Christ, or be against Him.

Following Christ is definitely deeper than attending church regularly. It is deeper than striving to be a good person. It is even deeper than reading and studying scripture. It is a connection, deep within, with Christ. whom Jesus personified while here on earth.

I believe that it is a dis-connect from Christ that is the root of all the evil in the world today and always.

Yet, Christ is not over-bearing. From scripture we learn that God is loving, kind, a friend, and constant companion. Christ is not an over-powering force in our lives.

Some people have asked me how I know, beyond a doubt, that I have a deep connection with Christ. I would answer, “Put your hands together. You need only ask.” Have faith

Wendy S.

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The Graduate

I have been studying the famous Sermon on the Mount the last couple of weeks. Today I was struck with the Lord’s Prayer and the verse “Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” (Matthew 6:10).

What a blessing this would be! To live out our lives in the true will of God, and to know, without a doubt, what that true will would be. Should this be our goal, and has anyone ever achieved that goal?

Here in the United States it is the right of every child to be educated, and the right to study to the point of graduation from high school. It is a right, and a privilege. If we work hard in school, and if we study, we will graduate. Many important concepts are revealed to us from learning to share in kindergarten, to learning about literature and the world around us in high school. Much has been revealed.

It is the same way with the will of God. At least to Christians, concepts regarding heaven and the will of God are revealed to us, almost without our even noticing. We can be walking along a path in Washington Park, and be dumb-struck by the beauty of the leaves in autumn. Or we can attend our favorite church and pay attention to the sermon surrounding scripture. Or, sometimes, a concept from God may just pop into our heads. It is all the same. If we are paying attention, we can learn, study, thrive and strive for an existence within the will of God.

Has anyone ever actually graduated from these studies, and become a living example of God’s will on earth? I would say, emphatically “yes.” That was the Disciple Peter. And we can do it, too. Want proof? Please see Matthew 16, especially verse 19.

Jesus says to Peter (continuing a discourse) “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you bind (declare to be improper and unlawful) on earth must be what is already bound in heaven; and whatever you loose (declare lawful) on earth must be what is already loosed in heaven.” (And I only got a car for my graduation! (Ha-ha, I didn’t.)

We can learn God’s will, I am certain of that, but it takes work and cooperation. Peter is waiting for us. Have faith.

Wendy S.

Matthew 16:19 is taken from the Amplified Bible.
Matthew 6:10 is taken from the book of life.

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Watch Out! Here Comes the Steamroller!

Do you remember Bazooka Bubblegum? Each piece of candy came with a little joke or riddle. As I recall, one of my favorites went like:

Question: “What did the man say when his cat was run over by a steamroller?
Answer: “He didn’t say anything. He just stood there with a long puss!”

The man’s cat was destroyed and he didn’t say anything or do anything? Was he waiting for someone else to come along and wring the neck of his canary also?

We learn from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount to “Turn the other cheek.”

We learn from the Beatitudes that “The meek will inherit the earth.” (Also from the Sermon on the Mount found in Matthew 5-7.

The Sermon on the Mount is all about strength and faith. It is about turning a defiant face from the cares of this world, and focusing on the joys and blessings of a life in fellowship with God. Jesus is our gateway!

Why “turn the other cheek?” Why to prove, defiantly, that it does not matter if a mortal strikes us. We are above striking him back. The man who struck us does not matter, compared to the comfort and joy faith in God brings. This takes tremendous strength and self-control.

From the four Gospels we learn that Jesus was spat upon and beaten as He was enduring His last hours prior to His execution. It must have taken tremendous strength, composure, and self-control to keep from striking down his accusers.
It did not matter that His accusers struck or tried to destroy Him. Jesus kept his eyes and His heart on His mission, a mission of salvation for His beloved followers.

Jesus endured all of this for our sake. Our faith is all He asks in return.

This world can seem like a treacherous place indeed. But if we keep the faith, as we learn in Matthew 5 – 7, we are delivered from the hands of our enemies and into the awaiting bosom of our Father in Heaven. Have faith.

Wendy S.

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What do you do when you hear a gorilla talking?

Growing up, my father didn’t say too much. Yet he was sage, always in a humorous way. He had a favorite riddle that he would always ask:

“What do you do when you hear a gorilla talking?”
Answer: “Watch yourself at all times!”

I would take that a giant leap further:

“What do you do when you hear God talking?”
Answer: Same as the above answer.

The Disciple Thomas seemed to say it best. “Unless I see in His hands the marks made by the nails and put my finger into the nail prints, and put my hand into His side, I will never believe [it]. John 20:25 (Amplified Bible.) Of course, Jesus obliged him in John 20:27.

The point is, many cult leaders and unscrupulous so-called evangelists have claimed that God is talking to them. Well, who am I to say? Perhaps each of us has a turn to hear the voice of God.

Of course, as we read in the Old Testament, God spoke clearly to the early Patriarchs and also to the Old Testament prophets. But where does that leave the rest of us?

Many of my writer friends and artists write, paint, sculpt and compose what is in their heart. Artists, above all others understand inspiration coming from deep within.

I believe God can speak to each of us through inspirational thought. We can actively or passively understand and act upon these inspirations, even to the extent of listening inspirationally to the lyrics of some songs.

Also, many of us receive intuitive flashes from time to time. Such as, “Something tells me I should call so-and-so. “ Or, “ Something tells me I should take an alternate route home from work.”

Where the real danger in believing God is talking to us on a regular basis comes in are those instances where an individual expresses hatred, or control for others. And, this kind of miss-guidance occurs more often than I would like to think.

God is in charge of this “Messianic Mystery.” I would say “Doubt, doubt, doubt.” Just like our friend, the Disciple Thomas.

My father was a sage, and so is our Father in Heaven. Have faith.

Wendy S.

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Turns out you CAN take it with you!

When you think of great wealth, who comes to mind? Bill Gates? Martha Stewart? Donald Trump? And then again, some of us don’t have two nickels to rub together.

I have a philosophy that goes, “If I have even one dollar left over after I pay my bills, then I am in the same category as the afore-mentioned. I have enough.”

Jesus also has a saying, “Do not store up treasures on earth, where moths and rust destroy, and where robbers break in and steal. But store up treasures in heaven, where moths and rust do not destroy, and where robbers cannot break in and steal. For where your treasure is, so your heart will be also.”

If this is the case, then many of us are indeed very wealthy; and this wealth is for keeps! Our souls live now and into eternity, and the wealth we store up in the Kingdom of God we probably take to our graves and with us into Heaven. Our spiritual growth is a fortune we CAN take with us!

I cannot over-state how richly I have been blessed in my walk with God. But these blessings did not come without a price. In the course of my life I have lost relationships and I have seen reversal of fortune in the process of becoming the individual I am today. I have grown with Christ. Each and every day I tap into the spiritual riches I have come to experience in Christ.

No, by earthly standards I am not as wealthy as Oprah Winfrey, yet I would put my fortune next to hers, and it is definitely not lacking. I would not see myself as having any less than she has.

The acceptance, the love, and the re-assurance I experience through my walk with Jesus is the treasure I know beyond a doubt that I will bring with me into my eternal life.

And to top it off, I will leave a legacy with my children that may help them in their Christian walk. Have faith!

Wendy S.

P.S. The scripture used is paraphrased from Matthew 6:19-21.

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Better and Better?

Today I hurried home from work to watch the NFL football game. My favorite team, the Green Bay Packers, won, but it wasn’t exactly poetry in motion.

The Packers were wearing their “throw-back” uniforms, similar to the ones the early teams would have worn. As the game progressed, I also, had a “throw-back” moment.

I recalled the 1980’s, remembering how popular New Age affirmations were in that decade. In particular, I remembered the one that went like, “Every day in every way, I am getting better. Better and better.” I didn’t understand the affirmation during the 1980’s, but today I was inspired.

Like salvation, during the ‘80’s, I was waiting for something to drop out of the sky and into my lap. Something that would make me and everything better. Better and better.

Well, a little like the game of football, we need to be in the game to make something happen. We need to have logical goals. We need to work on those goals with all our strength. We need to catch each and every forward pass that God throws our way to achieve those goals. That is what will make everything better. Better and better! And, we need to keep our eyes on Jesus Christ. This is salvation in motion!

Jesus keeps us grounded. A little like Aaron Rodgers, (a very little bit like him) we need to anticipate His next move. Jesus is with us, in Spirit, every day in every way, helping to make us better. Better and better. Have faith!

Wendy S.

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