Thursday, February 23, 2023

Wanting a Blessing or Wanting Jesus?


With this being the third week in a row that I'm quoting The Imitation of Christ by Thomas à Kempis, I think it's safe to say I'm being impacted by the classic.

This week's quote is a challenge for everyone who has prayed for a blessing from God. Feel free to put on some steel-toed shoes.

Jesus has many lovers of his heavenly kingdom but few bearers of his cross. Many desire to rejoice with him, but few are willing to undergo adversity for his sake. Many follow Jesus that they may eat of his bread, but few are willing to drink of the cup of his suffering. Many praise him and bless him, so long as they receive comforts from him....But those who love Jesus for Jesus' sake  -  and not for the comforts he gives to them  -  praise him in all suffering and sorrow just as they do in the greatest blessings. And if he should never give them another blessing, they would nevertheless continue to always praise him and give him thanks.

Oh, how powerful is the pure love of Jesus  -  unmixed with any material benefits or love of self! Shouldn't all those constantly seeking his blessing be called mercenaries? Don't those who are always seeking their own gain and advantage show themselves to be lovers of themselves more than lovers of Christ?

It reminds me of the Keith Green song, Asleep in the Light: "Bless me, Lord. Bless me, Lord. You know it's all I ever hear. No one aches. No one hurts, No one even sheds one tear. But He cries, He weeps, He bleeds, and He cares for your needs, and you just lay back and keep soaking it in."

Truth is...When Jesus, in Matthew 16:24, said "If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me," he wasn't talking about being nice to little old ladies and giving to the church offering. Taking up a cross meant accepting death and saying, with Paul, "I have been crucified with Christ. The life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself up for me." (Galatians 2:20)

Thursday, February 16, 2023

JC Is the WTL


If you've spent any time at all around Christians or in church services, chances are high that you've heard several references to the words of Jesus in John 14:6:

"I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me."

In The Imitation of Christ, Thomas à Kempis expands on that:

Without my way, you cannot go. Without my truth, you cannot know. And without my life, you cannot grow. I am the way which you must follow, the truth you must believe, and the life for which you must hope. I am the way never changing, the truth never failing, and the life never ending. I am the straight way, the supreme truth, and the true, blessed, and uncreated life.

Jesus Music pioneer, Keith Green, put it like this:

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Truth is...I need to spend some time flat on my face, crying out for forgiveness, and repenting from all the times I have tried going my own way, expounding my opinion instead of His truth, living life on my own power instead of being keenly aware of my dependence on Yahweh.

Thursday, February 9, 2023

Good Intentions


I am writing this on the 23rd of January, 2023. The devotional book I began reading today was purchased in late April of 2022.

That should give you an idea about why I don't make New Year's resolutions. I have wonderful intentions of doing all kinds of wonderful things, but my superpower of procrastination can overwhelm every good intention I've ever had and pave a perfectly good highway to you-know-where.

In the face of that depression-inducing truth, I have no right to be hopeful as I begin my journey through THE IMITATION OF CHRIST: Classic Devotions in Today's Language, by Thomas à Kempis (Compiled and Edited by James N. Watkins).

And yet, I feel my spirit start to stir when I read words like...

It is futile to strive for earthly things and to trust in riches that will perish. It is futile to desire honors and lift up ourselves. It is futile to desire a long life and to care little for a good life. It is futile to concentrate on the here and now and not look forward to the things which are eternal. It is futile to love temporary things and not strive toward eternal joy.

Truth is...What better resolution could I have than what is found in Ephesians 5:1-2? "Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children. Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ."

Thursday, February 2, 2023

Calvin & Hobbes Meet Back to the Future


In today's text, flock, we see Calvin reaping the misfortune of his miscalculation about how time travel affects reality...or not.

It makes me think of the movie, Back to the Future, and the disastrous consequences in the McFly household that came from a thing as simple as a sports almanac.

And THAT reminds me of a Back to the Future video game that took place in three different timeframes. In order to reach a particular desired object in 2000-whatever, you had to travel back to 1955 and plant an acorn in a particular place so in 2000-whatever there would be a tree there for you to climb.

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Truth is...I've said all this so I can ask THIS: What kind of groundwork are we laying right now in preparation for our preferred future? What seeds are we planting?

Galatians 6:7-8 (The Message)  -  Don’t be misled: No one makes a fool of God. What a person plants, he will harvest. The person who plants selfishness, ignoring the needs of others—ignoring God!—harvests a crop of weeds. All he’ll have to show for his life is weeds! But the one who plants in response to God, letting God’s Spirit do the growth work in him, harvests a crop of real life, eternal life.