The Most Important Passage in the Bible?

What would you consider to be the most important passage in the Bible? John 3:16? Of course, our faith is predicated upon that verse. But, going back hundreds of years before Jesus visited with us on Earth, God spoke to the prophet Jeremiah, offering to takes God’s love a leap further. (Back to the future!)

God’s covenant with His chosen people indicated that if the people followed the precepts of God, they would be blessed. If they refused to follow God’s rule, then bad things would happen. Again and again, God’s people turned away from God and the laws that would save them from punishment.

The prophet Jeremiah warned that if the people did not repent and turn back to God, they would be taken away from Jerusalem and the cities of Judah and Israel and into exile. Those who would be left behind in Jerusalem would suffer the most agonizing misfortune. All of this punishment was meant to refine the people, and in the end make them stronger in their faith and able to live harmoniously with God and mankind alike, forsaking all false gods including their harmful superstitions.

Smack in the middle of Jeremiah’s prophesying doom and gloom, we find Jeremiah 31:31-34.

Here Jeremiah prophesies about a New Covenant. After His people have been refined, God’s laws would actually be written on the hearts of His people. They would no longer have to wonder about doing the right thing, they would have God right there, inside their hearts to guide them.

Jesus took this New Covenant one step further as He instituted the sacrament of Holy Communion. At Communion we symbolically take the Body and Blood of Christ into our beings, to nourish our hearts, and to nourish our souls, and to experience God in our beings. Have faith.

Wendy S.

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It’s Like Existential, MAN!

Not long before my time a subculture of our society known as the Beatniks thrived. Sometime during the 1950’s to early 60’s marked their era. One might find the stereotypical beatnik frequenting a basement coffee shop in a big city with barefoot, leotard-clad waitresses serving up espresso. There might be a stage where folk singers trilled the pains and joys of society, and there were often deep and contemplative poetry and prose readings accompanied by bongo drums. This vision of beatniks fits the Old Testament book of Ecclesiastes to a “T”.

The book of Ecclesiastes is deep, but offers a surprisingly simple message:

– We may be cradled as infants in the arms of our parents, but
This will not last. We will all die and the cradling will be forgotten.
– We may make childhood friends and enjoy their company, but
This will not last. We will all die and our friends will be forgotten.
– We may attend school and become studious pupils, but
This will not last. We will all die and our studies will be forgotten.
– We may finish school. We may get married. We may raise a family, but
All this, too, will be forgotten. We will die.

I guess the bottom line in the book of Ecclesiastes is to enjoy what life has to offer, and follow the precepts and guidance of God to our grave. The blessing of relationship with God is the only thing we will take with us.

Have faith.

Wendy S.

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Living on Borrowed Time

Imagine a world where:

– Each and every child is welcomed into the world with a warm and loving embrace.
– Imagine a world where husbands and wives learn to appreciate each special gift they bring to the marriage and neither one tries to lord it over the other.
– Imagine a world where the only wars are just skirmishes.
– Imagine a world where parents understand when a son or daughter must spread their wings and are tolerant of adolescence with all its pain and difficulties.
– Imagine no stealing.
– Imagine no lying.
– Imagine no terrorism.
– Imagine a world where each individual contributes to society and does not take advantage of a welfare system.

All of this would be approaching the Utopia Jesus meant for our globe. We are certainly not going to accomplish all this by sacrificing a bull.

I have been studying the Christian Bible Old Testament for some time now. Personally, I believe the people living during that historical time, the time of Moses and the Prophets, got it wrong.

The covenant between God and mankind centered on blessings as long as the Israelite population followed the precepts and laws of God. In the Old Testament books of Leviticus and Deuteronomy we may read of many, many rules and regulations. What happened? What went wrong?

Then, as now, mankind seems to be searching outside themselves for these rules and laws instead of looking inside and meeting God within our souls. Then, as now, people did not seem to know how to access God’s personal will for the individual.

By looking inside, we all would learn how to follow God’s rules and precepts. These rules and precepts may change a little as mankind progresses, evolves and is better able to comprehend God’s will, which is for our better good.

By learning to look inside, meeting God there, every human would be able to move toward living a Utopian existence. We are living on borrowed time. Have faith.

Wendy S.

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A Second Epiphany?

Most Christians are aware of the Epiphany, the encounter of the Magi with the infant Jesus. We know that the Epiphany signaled the revelation to the world of the birth of our Savior, who was to eventually lead us away from sin and toward the peace and joy of relationship with our Father in Heaven.

There were many revelations of the Word of God to follow. Teachings, healings, sharings. But there was a second Epiphany, where Jesus was confirmed the Savior of the world. This is the story of the Transfiguration. (Luke 9:28-36)

Peter, John and James, known to be the inner circle, accompanied Jesus up the mountain. (Three Magi? Three disciples?) Jesus went off to pray, and the three disciples grew tired and fell asleep.

When the three disciples woke up, much to their astonishment the face of Jesus had been transformed, and even His clothing became brilliant. Jesus was seen talking with Moses and the prophet Elijah. Peter, in his dumbstruck awe, offered to prepare three sacred tents for Jesus, Moses and Elijah.

Then, the magnificent presence of God was made apparent, in a cloudy mist. God revealed Jesus as His Beloved Son and the Chosen One. God instructed the disciples to listen to Jesus.

This was a watershed moment. In essence, God was apparently saying to the disciples, and through them to the world, that while the respect for Moses and the later arriving Elijah were to be remembered and revered, here comes Jesus. Jesus. The Messiah, the Chosen one, the Beloved Son of God—new wisdom for a weary world. New light on the scriptures, and a new avenue for salvation. (Actually, a superhighway to salvation.)

Peter and John and James were instructed not to tell anyone at that time. I can only understand that to mean not before the world would be ready to hear of this new Epiphany.

During this time of the year for graduations, I can only equate the Transfiguration story as Jesus’ graduation. I am sure he passed all His tests with flying colors. Have faith.

Wendy S.

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Practice Makes Perfect?

Back in the 1980’s I wanted to work in a legal office, so I went to the local community college to study transcription, Gregg Shorthand. It took two years and literally hundreds of hours of practice, but eventually I was fit to walk into a lawyer’s office and take dictation. It is the same with following Christ.

Today I re-read the book of James in the Christian Bible New Testament. James was the brother (half) of Jesus. He wrote that letter approximately 50 years after the birth of Jesus.

James had the advantage of growing up with Jesus as his Big Brother. He must have known his Brother’s ideals very well. I can imagine that Jesus would be quite a huge influence on James and anyone else whom Jesus was related to.

The book of James talks about maturing in Christ–growing up in the community of believers and what that state would look and feel like. The book of James talks about using what we learn from Jesus and building on it. It talks about “walking the Christian walk.”

James talks about not only listening to the words of Jesus, but putting our faith into practice. He does not say that our works here on Earth will earn us a place in Heaven. He implies that our good works emanate from our education and practice of our faith in Christ. James is all about living on Earth in community with our brothers and sisters– in peace.

Rome was not built in a day. I could not take dictation the first day of class. An individual does not learn to drive through osmosis. It all takes time and effort, with the desired outcome arriving in increments.

To this day I use my Gregg Shorthand as I sit down at lunch break at work to jot down my blog posts. Gregg Shorthand and Christianity are not a destination, but a journey. Have faith.

Wendy S.

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Is THAT all there is?

Picture ten-year-old Melisa on Christmas morning. She rushes downstairs to open her presents. She watches as her sister opens an Easy Bake Oven, a Cabbage Patch Doll, and a sparkly party dress. She sees her brother with an electronic game, a huge set of Legos, and a GI Joe. What does she get? A pair of grey flannel pajamas.

Just as she tearfully declares, “Is THAT all there is?” from behind the kitchen door her father wheels a brand new bicycle just for her! Metallic pink with a banana seat and streamers flowing from the handlebars!

For some Christians this is the way it is. Christ arrives on Christmas morning, is long-suffering during His years in ministry and healing, submits to a disgraceful torture and death, and comes back to life. A well-known story that should be joyful, but many feel let down because they are not experiencing a true relationship with Christ.

Just like Melisa, many Christians do not understand that there is more—much more! Our Father in Heaven is ready and willing to wheel that new bicycle out of the kitchen just as soon as we are ready. But, guess what? If we want to experience our salvation to the fullest, there is a “price” to pay.

To enjoy her new bike Melisa must learn to ride and pedal that bike. She must take instruction from her father and exert strength and energy to get going. Once she learns to ride, she is on her way!

It is the same with Christianity. We all were like Melisa at one time, with our pair of grey flannel pajamas, not realizing a brand new vehicle was on the way. Each of us has had to exert energy and strength to learn about Jesus and to exercise our ability to live in faith with Jesus Christ, our Lord. Through our ability to walk in faith, we are able to understand our place in the world including our relationships with others. Once we really start pedaling, we can get somewhere!

All who read the Holy Bible know that Jesus spoke to His contemporaries through parables. Each and every parable Jesus spoke has relevance in our world today!

One thing most of these parable have in common is that the stories are about people taking ACTION! Not passive or dormant but cooperating with their need for salvation.

Think about it:

1 The Good Samaritan was about caring and healing. (Luke 10:25-37)
2 The woman kneading yeast into flour. (Matthew 13:33)
3 The woman and the lost coin. (Luke 15:8-10)
4 The story about the day laborers. (Matthew 20:1-16)

The Gospels are loaded with stories of people taking action. That bicycle is not going to pedal itself! Have faith.

Wendy S.

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