Back in the Box

I’ve been reading through the letters of John, asking God to show me a phrase or verse from each chapter that’s particularly meaningful to my life right now (this is called lectio divina). What popped out in chapter 2 of 1 John is this:

“… the world is passing away along with its desires …” 1 John 2:17a

Years ago I heard a story told by James Dobson. He talked about playing monopoly with his family — he was winning, and he got really excited as he accumulated more and more money and property. At the end of the game, everybody else got up to go to bed and he was left to clean up. All that cash, all those buildings, all those “things of the world” that he was so pumped up about …. they all just went back in the box. The “rush” he experienced from acquiring them didn’t last very long.

Since my husband retired, I’ve been putting a lot of things back in the box (in my case, the box is the trash!). We’re cleaning out a storage locker, sorting through files and pictures, and in many cases wondering, why did I keep this? Why do I have hundreds of pictures of places I’ve visited? Often I don’t remember where they were taken! Why do I have file folders of notes and papers I wrote in college? Will my children care about these? Why am I holding onto books I read 20 years ago, even if they were really meaningful to me at the time? Wouldn’t it be better to pass them on?

The things of the world are temporary, and that doesn’t just apply to money and buildings. Even the things we read, the knowledge we accumulate, the things we create — none of this will survive for very long once we’re gone. So …

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world–the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and the pride in possessions–is not from the Father but if from the world.” 1 John 2:`5-16

Love what lasts — God and His Word.

“The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever.” Isaiah 40:8

For more about Lectio Divina see:

Philippians Chapter 1 — What Stands Out

And He Said This Plainly

Learning to Pray by James Martin, SJ–Book Review

New Month/No Theme

Can you believe it’s October already, and summer (my favorite season) is officially over?

I’ve had so many ideas running around in my head recently, that I couldn’t decide on a theme, so this will be another “no theme” month. I’ll be posting some book reviews, some music and maybe some movie reviews. I’ve started a lectio divina study of the letters of John, so look for my take on those. Our congregational Bible study for this fall will be on the attributes of God, which should be interesting food for thought and writing.

In addition, God always manages to surprise me. Who knows what He has in store this month for me and for you. Stay tuned, and we’ll find out as the month progresses! I’d love to hear your thoughts and comments!

We Never Saw Anything Like This!

If Chapter 1 of Mark gave me a sense of urgency.  Chapter 2 gives a sense of awe and wonder.  In this prayerful reading, I notice that Jesus heals people.  He can even heal leprosy, which was incurable at that time, and reverse paralysis, something we can’t do today.  He forgives sins.  He turns the usual ideas of holiness upside down by associating with sinners, and neglecting to fast.  People were rightly amazed.  They glorified God, saying:

“We never saw anything like this!” Mark 2:12b

So, I wonder, why aren’t we equally surprised?  Why don’t our hearts pound, when we read about the miracles Jesus performed?  Maybe we’re too used to all the biblical stories about Jesus, so they cease to astound us.  My husband has a film clip he once showed the teenagers at church,  in which a youngster being interviewed reported, “Jesus was just a regular guy who could do miracles.”  Our young people laughed, of course, but isn’t that the way we all think sometimes?  Or maybe we even believe His miracles were invented by His followers, or exaggerated.  It’s too much to wrap our minds around, so we find a way to just ignore or minimize it.

We shouldn’t do this.  We should let ourselves dwell on the fact that Jesus wasn’t a regular guy.  Although He was human in all ways, and could identify with us, He was and is more.  More than a good example to follow;  more than a great teacher;  more than an important historic figure who started a new religion.  Jesus was and is God.  He can do what no other man or woman could do.  He can not only heal us, He can save us.  He is the alpha and omega, the answer to all of our questions and all of all problems.  We’ve never seen anything like this!