What a Wasted Opportunity

Re-post. Any Sherlock fans out there?


What an exhausting day.

Went on something of an adventure, then had something of a workout — physically first, then mentally.

And faithfully abiding by Murphy’s law, sleep escapes me. So here I am. On the internet in the middle of the night. Although it is the middle of the afternoon somewhere. Maybe China.

Anyway… the last episode of Sherlock series 3 airs in just over 12 hours, so for the past month or so, I’ve had the “cumber bumber wumbers” as Simon Pegg articulated so well in an interview. I’ve also infected a few people with it. For those poor victims, I won’t apologize, it’s LOVELY. But if you are concerned, don’t worry, in about 12 hours, you’ll be a mess, to put it mildly. Then it’ll linger for about a week, maybe two, and gradually fade and you’ll be alright for the next 18 months. Then the cycle repeats I’m afraid. The only way to be cured is to have the cast and crew send the show down a drain of disgrace.

But yes, all this to say… thumbs up AND brownie points if you recognize the Sherlock moment from The Sign of Three that the title of this post refers to.

I just watched a Ken Robinson talk on YouTube… If you don’t know who he is, look him up. His talks and his ideas are inspiring.

The topic was much of the same as what he always talks about, which is the need for a reform in education. What I love is that he gets his point across by getting to what he believes is the root of the problem, and that is that people who are brilliant, get told by the current educational system that they’re not.

He gives a few examples of the few cases where this hasn’t happened. Where an individual was encouraged to do something, and not just anything, and not just any way. It’s also important to note that encouragement in one case hindered the person’s success, in another’s it fuelled it, in another’s who knows where that person would be today had he been encouraged.

One person had been encouraged to pursue music all her life. And she did, without a thought. But it wasn’t until much later that she realized that though she was extremely musically talented, it wasn’t her passion, it wasn’t her element. So she became an editor. Because she’s always loved books, cramming them into her busy rehearsal schedules whenever she could. Well, all that money, all those years… “What a wasted opportunity!” echoed Benedict Cumberbatch’s voice in my head when I first heard the story.

She’s never been poorer, but also never happier.

So I thought, what if that happens to me, where I plan this whole thing and then it hits me, faaaaaar into the future what I was meant to do. Or worse, what if I never get that lightbulb moment?

So then my mind proceeded to feed my unhealthy (temporary!) addiction against my better judgement:

“You’ll have a stable life, financially, emotionally, everything will still be alright. More or less. I’d call that a result.”

“Yeah. You’ll have a miserable time at a dull job earning lots of money to sustain yourself for a few decades, doing that thing you don’t enjoy doing. What sort of result do you care about?”

Or as JM would put it…
“Staying alive. So boring! It’s just… STAYING…”

*Combo brownie points for those references.*

Another example that was presented was an Olympic gymnast who could walk on his hands as easily as he could on his feet as a child. He too, was encouraged, leading up to his athletic and successful career.

But think about it. Walking on your hands. Not exactly a practical skill in the wider part of the job market. His parents could’ve easily told him to stop, and to behave, and to do what he’s supposed to do, and walk properly on his feet, the right way round. Instead, his mom encouraged him and is in a way, responsible for his success.

So then I thought… Well, the thing that I love to do, or at least the thing that I think I live to do is a bit strange too. Not as strange as walking on my hands all the time, mind. But if I told people, they’d certainly scoff, internally if not outwardly. I would. Even I’m not totally convinced it can count as a profession. If it does, it certainly isn’t a stable one.

But I’ll tell you one thing. Having one person, just one person, believe in you, and you believe them when they say you can do it, is exhilarating. One person. That’s all the excuse you need, to keep doing what you love no matter what obstacles get thrown at you, and how many and how hard.

So thanks Mom ūüôā If ever that changes… Please just pretend that it hasn’t. Please.

The other example — and I feel I am wildly out of order, but it’s a 3 am blog, not a school paper — is when a student was being sent off to university, and the parents were told to spare him their advice.

So they did, reluctantly. And their son became a classics major. While the study of dead languages was fascinating, the parents knew that it wasn’t exactly a demand in the job market.

Later, the son came up and announced that he changed his mind about his major. He wanted to do something more useful. The parents tried to contain themselves.

He was going to be a philosophy major.

I’m sure the parents could feel the whole in their wallets tear a little wider. I wonder how much it took for them to keep holding back.

Eventually the son changed his mind again and became an art history major, and got a job. I forgot what it was, but he got a decent salary. But that’s not important. What’s important, is that he would never have gotten that job had it not been for his knowledge of the ancient languages, the intellectual skills he learned in philosophy, and his training as an art history major.

You can’t plan your life. Life is an adventure, and adventures rarely ever go exactly according to plan.

Bilbo Baggins certainly didn’t expect to be flattering a dragon that haf teeth taller than him. John didn’t expect his best friend to crash his proposal because it would be funny. I didn’t expect finding a house would be like going on a treasure hunt today. Or yesterday, rather.

Yeah we’ll make mistakes, we’ll make the wrong choices, we’ll be “wasting opportunities.” We’ll be spending and wasting time doing the things we hate when we could be doing the things we love. And plenty of good reasons for it too, don’t get me wrong. There is a reason why we’re unreasonable, there are indeed many factors that keep us from our passion and our element, all of which are often backed up by statistics and common sense in some way shape or form.

But what if all that time, money, energy, and effort in the “wrong” thing… wasn’t wasted? What if it’s okay to mess up, what if we were MEANT to mess up, in order to get to where we’re “supposed” to be?

It often does have to get worse before it gets better, doesn’t it.

The point I’m trying to make is, maybe there isn’t such thing as a wasted opportunity, unless you deliberately refuse it when you recognize one.

It’s a miracle that we were born at all, and every life story is unique, and is a tumultuous masterpiece full of adventure, waiting to be read daily. Not by others, not all the time anyway I don’t think, but by you. Every hour, ever day, every year, is the next installment of your story. You’re the only who’s reading the story, so no one knows what will happen. Except the author of course.

But who is that exactly? Is it you after all?

With God, there’s no such thing as a wasted opportunity. Actually, with God, there’s no such thing as waste. He uses everything, everything to try and get you closer to Him. He’s in control. Always has been. He’s been working all this time (except for that one day off), writing the history of the world, one life at a time.

Whatever choice you make, with anything, can be a good one. It can also be a bad one, or a very bad one in fact. But by the grace of Jesus Christ, we can come before the Father and place it in his hands. When He’s ready, He’ll open up his palm. It won’t matter whether we made a good decision or a bad decision because in the sovereign hands of the one who forged the stars, it will become the right decision.

It will almost never be an easy thing, and there are bound to be some hard earned lessons and consequences, but that’s all what makes it the right decision.

Brothers and sisters, if you believe in Christ’s resurrection, why are you afraid? Why are you worried about how your life is going to play out?

The grace found at the cross has granted us the opportunity to be free, and do whatever it takes to fulfill the purpose God has placed in your heart and your mind and your soul — to glorify Him — in the way that He has designed us to do it. Don’t waste it.

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To Thine Own Self Be True

Re-post. Shakespeare and the Bible. Related?


This above all: to thine own self be true.

Polonius to Laertes in Hamlet 1.3.78

Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.

1 Peter 4:8

A friend was telling me earlier today about prospective career plans. A popular topic of discussion among my peers, because contrary to popular belief, students don’t know what to do with their lives at the end of secondary school**(see N.B.) But I’ll refrain, that’s a different subject.

When thinking of advice to give her, I thought of the first quote, but then… something didn’t feel right¬†about it, and I was reminded of the second.

Two of my favourite inspirational quotations, by two of my favourite sources of literature. But it’s only recently that I’ve put them side by side… and how interesting they are indeed.

First, they both start with the superlative “above all.” (*cue song* #songforeverything) Basically, WHAT FOLLOWS IS REALLY REALLY REALLY IMPORTANT. IT IS THE¬†MOST IMPORTANT.

Second, the emphasis on one is¬†very¬†different from that of the other. Well, both can’t be true, can they? They can’t¬†both¬†be above all, one has to be higher, more important than the other. But which one? They both seem equally inspiring, it feels as though they should both be the best advice one could give, but at the same time (or at least to me), one ought to cancel the other too.

Okay I’ll get to the point now. “To thine own self be true.” Obviously, the emphasis is on the self. Me. But how do you be “true” to yourself? How do you do that? What does¬†that mean? What does that look like?
See, ever since I read that, it seemed like something so deep, the kind of thing where you go “ooh, yeah,¬†that’s good.” It’s also a great pick me up, but until I asked myself the above questions, I didn’t really know what it meant. This goes for a lot of things, by the way. Product of being challenged by your mentors… *ahem ahem… you know who you are.*

So¬†how do you be true to yourself?¬†Well who is yourself? That’s a huge question in itself, isn’t it? One that I will let you, dear reader, reflect on.

What does being true to yourself mean and look like?¬†Does it mean amplifying who or what you already are? Is it avoiding everything you’re not? Is it trying to make yourself better, whatever that means?

SO MANY QUESTIONS.

And they’re all about me. You? The self. This is the world’s view. The self. We are so focused on it that there are compelling arguments that altruism doesn’t exist, that every act is egotistic, self-serving. Volunteering, well, some might say that oh it’s just something to put on their CV, or at the very least, to feel like a better person. Giving gifts, it’s to get gifts in return, in some shape or form, etc.¬†(**these are all OPINIONS voiced in a philosophy class**)

So many times, you hear it’s all about success in school, in the workforce. It’s all about how much you have, in money, in the material, in the people you know, in how many people you know. You hear in the media, in¬†counselling, wherever, be bigger, better, faster, happier.

And those aren’t bad things, striving for excellence is… an excellent thing to strive for. Things start getting tricky when your mind is¬†consumed with itself. What can I do to be x, y, or z? Am I too a, b, or c? What if d, e, or f happens to me?

Again, those questions aren’t bad questions¬†to ask, but when you get so caught up in the world with respect to you, without knowing it, your mind is in a rather¬†self-centred mode. And you end up with more questions and less answers than what you started with.

Now. Let’s put that aside for a¬†moment, shall we?

Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.

1 Peter 4:8

Emphasis, is on one another. That is the most important thing: other people, and loving them. I also find it interesting that a reason follows the advice, to say¬†why¬†it’s the most important thing: love covers a multitude of sins.

Aside: In Hamlet, Polonius does say two lines later, “Thou canst not then be false to any man,” which could count as a reason I suppose, but I feel it was more to contrast the part about being true, showing that it’s important, as opposed to being an explicit argument that backs up the advice like it does in 1 Peter.

Well, why does Peter say all that? Why should love cover a multitude of sins? It’s not¬†our¬†love that covers a multitude of sins, it’s God’s. His love was, is, and always will be, the purest and most self-less. Christ died on the cross for our sins, out of love for us, and it is that¬†sacrificial and unconditional love that covers our sins.

I used to find it really difficult to comprehend how self-less God’s love is. Surely, surely, He had something in it for Him. (After all, humanly speaking, there’s¬†always a¬†little something¬†that’s in it for us, even if it’s just to feel good.)¬†Glory, victory, something. But God is the most high. He already had glory, he was already praised and worshiped by the hosts of heaven, he doesn’t need our affection. God is the most high, he doesn’t need the triumph over death to declare victory, He is eternal and alive. He could have easily defeated the darkness without coming back for us.

But he chose not to.

He chose to GIVE UP the greatness He had in heaven to come down as an infant that depended on a young woman for everything. Up there, he had the power to FORGE STARS. But he chose to come here, where he would be rejected by an innkeeper, where an entire village cried for his crucifixion, where the very creatures he brought into existence would think Him as their inferior.

For what?

Nothing. He gave everything He had, His glory, His life, His soul, and gained nothing. The glory He gets, he already had, he didn’t gain it. The victory he has over death, he already had, he didn’t gain it. There is NOTHING He could have gained that he didn’t already have. He gained nothing. But He gained us.¬†So what does that say about you?

But let’s take a look at Shakespeare again.

“Above all: to thine own self be true.” But…¬†Who are you? Where is your identity?

If you are in Christ, you are His, and He is yours. You belong to Him because He bought you with a price, and He belongs to you because He gave Himself to and for You. He loved, loves and always will love you, which is why He says to love one another. He loves you so much that He wants his love to spill over through you because He is in you. There is joy in being loved, but there is greater joy in loving others I think (parents, you know what I mean.) Our love is imperfect, impure, and can be slightly self-serving, but can you even imagine God’s perfect, self-less love? That perfect love is fixed on us. On the receiving end, it feels pretty awesome… I say pass it on mates, there’s plenty to go around ūüôā

In brief, brothers and sisters, to thine own self be true: love one another.

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N.B. The part of the brain that regulates emotion, discipline and¬†is responsible for permanently settling into what we would outwardly call maturity, is most active between 18-23… which is when we’re being bombarded with really important, potentially life-changing decisions. So bombarders: bear with us, we’re doing the best we can. From a neuroscientific perspective, we’re only just working out the kinks.

Mistaking Hunger for Fullness

I was never very good at eating healthy.

I got the family sweet tooth, and ever since my Mom’s cravings for croissants during her pregnancy I’ve loved carbs and butter.

Even knowing all the health problems I’m going to face eventually, you’d think doing everything I can to prevent or at least minimize these future problems would come easily. Or more importantly,¬†the fact that the Bible tells us to take care of our bodies… and not just for our own sake, but because we are God’s image bearers. This body is a gift. Take care of it. Steward it.

And yet I come up with any excuse, any justification to abuse it in that sense.

But I wonder if this kind of diet goes beyond delicious and destructive food. Throughout Genesis, it seems that people get into a lot of trouble because of their appetites… they are more eager for the blessing than they are for its provider.

Am I loving food more than I’m loving God? I’d like to be able to say no, but my actions seem to speak otherwise.

Sometimes I’ll skip dinner because of a big lunch. I’d still be hungry, but I’d ignore it until it went away and then I could say I’m “full.” That is, full equals not hungry. It seems I’ve bought into the lie that hunger is bankable, and this isn’t limited to the physical, but spills into the spiritual as well.

Sin, like humanity’s first, is a delicious and destructive fruit enjoyed in rebellion.

There’s no prayer quota in number nor in length. There’s no Bible reading quota in number nor in length. By His grace, we have a¬†relationship, not a scoreboard with God. Christ did all the work for us on the cross. Because of this, praying in the morning doesn’t justify ignoring God the rest of the day. Doing a week of comparatively intensive mission or ministry doesn’t justify laziness during a spiritually dry season.

Sometimes I’ll snack while I work late, or get the munchies when I’m watching TV. I feel the hunger, but I apply a temporary fix.¬†In the same way, how often have I opted for the world’s way when God’s way would have satisfied. How long before I faint of hunger, how long before I get sick of the rubbish I keep stuffing myself with?

We are always hungry and thirsty for the Lord, but will I let the world convince me I’m full?

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Jobs

Re-post. This was such a great encouragement. I think “what do you want to do in the future,” is among every young adult’s most annoying opening questions.


I think I’ve had a million answers to the question, “what do you want to be when you grow up?” which is not the best place to be at my age. And then I came across this:

Don’t listen to lies grown-ups tell. Here’s one: ‘You can do anything you set your mind to.’ Sorry. You can’t. Have you watched American Idol? But you can do anything God wants you to. His script for your life is¬†better than anything you will ever write. So talk to Him about it. Trust Him. And find that one thing you love to do. (emphasis added)

Phil Callaway

“But you can do anything God wants you to.” Just adding my little disclaimer that our sin always mucks this up, but I think what he means is¬†that if you know God has prepared, called and placed you here for whatever vocation, go.

As a writer and aspiring screenwriter, those bolded letters remind me that in the cut throat world of entertainment, I must rely on Him and Him alone, and give thanks and glory to Him alone. Every good story and every great opportunity has been and will be from the author of life and the perfecter of our faith. I need to keep reminding myself that I don’t need to go on a quest to “live the dream” in order to live a more exciting life… I’m already in the middle of an adventure and a battle that He has laid out for me.

Spoiler alert: God wins.

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Hell is Other People

Re-post.


“Hell is other people.”

I first heard this quotation in philosophy class as an introduction to writer, philosopher and atheist Jean-Paul Sartre.

At first I thought it was amusing, and if you’re an introvert like me, I thought there was truth in it. Some might even go parading these four words as their mantra, proud of preferring solitude over gathering, staying aloof and aloft over getting involved in a social environment.

But this statement is one of life’s many great lies.

We were built for community, made for fellowship with one another. God Himself is a community, a trinity.

How do I know this?

When you were a kid, why were timeouts so bad? Being away from all the fun with the other kids, you were forced to stay inside, to watch, to be alone and away from your friends.

When you were a teenager playing sports, why were penalty boxes, red cards, benches, the worst place to be? You didn’t contribute to the team, they played on without you while you sat by yourself, waiting. Waiting to get back in, staring at the clock.

When you are an adult, why is jail a punishment? Being away from society, confined in solitude, with minimal human contact. Why is exile and deportation a severe consequence?

Rejection from a group (rejection in general actually), fear of it, and fear of it happening again, is why. We may not admit it, or we may ignore it, or harden ourselves against it, but these are soul shattering experiences that we love to bury. It could be under wit, or drugs, alcohol, lust, unhealthy relationships, anything to keep our minds off it.

We long to belong, to be with other people, to share the life we’ve been given. We always have.

Genesis 1:27 ESV
So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.

Male and female he created THEM.

1 John 1:3 says “that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ.”

The Bible, though written across hundreds of years, by dozens of authors, in different media of litterature, featuring thousands of people including prophets, kings, servants, the wicked, the righteous, shepherds, warriors, peacekeepers, and radicals… All tell and point to one person and one story. Jesus Christ, and His burning desire to reconcile and fellowship with His wayward and unfaithful people.

HOWEVER, this is not to say that solitude in itself is a bad thing. I’m an introvert, I like my alone time (how else would I have blog material???). Having time away from the craziness of life and resting is in fact essential for growth, especially spiritual growth. Private meditation, prayer, whatever it is you do, fills your cup again to be poured out. Even Jesus did it.

Matthew 26:36 ESV
Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples, ‚ÄúSit here, while I go over there and pray.‚ÄĚ

He also commands us to do the same.

Matthew 6:6 ESV
But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

But even in those instances, you are not alone, because God, who is ever present is WITH YOU. Which I believe is really encouraging.

Solitude, true solitude, is when and where even God is not. Hell, eternal separation from that which is holy.

Someone, I believe it was C.S. Lewis in his book The Great Divorce, depicted one version (not necessarily biblical) of Hell as a huge expanse of darkness, where every individual was millions of miles away from the closest person in any direction.

Another way to put that, is if two people managed to walk directly toward each other, and maintain a straight line, they could walk for eternity and never meet.

Could you imagine that? You can’t see, it’s cold, it’s mostly silent except for the distant calls and cries of your neighbours. You have no one to talk to, your thoughts louder than anything else. You wait, you walk, with only your hopes and fears exaggerated by your imagination for company.

I imagine Gollum went through something similar.

But if everyone is so far, it must be a pretty big place right? And yet Lewis also describes it as so infinitely small compared to reality and heaven. I think at one point, the residents of his allegory to Hell felt shrunken and minuscule next to those of the “heavenly” counterpart. They were so close, and yet so far.

So close and yet so far. That’s the tie breaker a split second after the buzzer, the split second on the clock between gold and silver, the half mark away from 100%, the single percentile from top in class, from the really big scholarship, the last minute decision that took your big break away.

People, are complicated, and frankly sometimes a pain to be around. But without them, what would we do? What would we become? How would we function? We are in each other’s lives for a reason, maybe even multiple ones.

So.

Hell is other people? The exact opposite is true.

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Easter

Re-post. I wrote this post shortly after my time with TCMT13. Yes, I went back. One of the things that we did frequently was have communion together, and these are my thoughts on it.

Also, easter marks my baptism anniversary… this was my first year. :’)


Another year on TCMusic… way too much happened to retell in a post or ten, but it was amazing and memorable and the team is my second family ūüôā

On easter Sunday as I was standing there with a broken cracker in my hand for communion, I was reminded of what we’d say to each other on the tcmusic team when we did communion:

The body of Christ broken for you, the blood of Christ shed for you.

And that first statement alone hit me with every word.

Let’s break it down.

THE BODY.
Whenever we speak of Christ’s suffering, it’s usually on the cross, but it started long before that. Christ is fully human, fully God. He had a body, a mortal, fragile body. But this didn’t simply happen, he had to be born just like the rest of us. He was clothed in majesty and glory with angels and cherubim singing his praises forever. He was living greater than any king or celebrity could ever imagine. But he gave it all away. He gave it ALL up. He became a baby, who couldn’t talk, couldn’t walk, couldn’t dress himself, feed himself, he was UTTERLY helpless. From having everything to nothing, not even the power or strength to hold his head up. And from that moment on, he had to suffer through everything we have to suffer through in life, and more. As a child he got scolded by his parents. As a man he was tempted, and he was both praised and mocked. He was betrayed and denied by his friends, he was popular but hated. And then he was tortured. From sweating blood, to thorns in his skull, to shredding his skin off, to being forced to walk however many miles or km, bearing the weight of the cross… he suffered, in his human body, and I haven’t even gotten to the crucifixion yet. How it must have burned to choose to keep suffering when he could have spared himself of the pain. Christ had a body, just like ours. He knows our pain, he knows our suffering, he went through it and beyond what most of us could even imagine. Because all of the above is JUST the physical.

OF CHRIST
Christ. A name so carelessly tossed around. So meaningless to many who speak it. But who is Christ? He is the Son of God. The messiah, the one who gave it all away in obedience to the Father, and who loved this world and its people enough to be willing to suffer for our sake. Suffer physically yes, but suffer so much more spiritually. He had to absorb the wrath of the Father, the wrath meant for us. Christ’s ‘loss’ when he left heaven all the way up until he was nailed to that cross is nothing compared to the wrath of God. Utterly scorned, abandoned, by your own father.

IS BROKEN
So let’s back track a bit. The body (fully human, fully God) of Christ (the second person of the trinity) is broken.
What?
Christ, who had a perfect body who cannot get sick, get weaker or stronger, now has a fragile human body. And it’s been broken. Torn. Shredded. Tortured. It’s not only broken it’s massacred, murdered.

FOR YOU.
When I got to this part, I was ready to sit down. All that. All that Christ gave up. All that Christ suffered. All that he let happen and stopped from happening, was not for his own glorification. It was not to get attention. It was his purpose here. He did all of that… FOR YOU. Yes, you, on the other side of the screen. He suffered, so that you wouldn’t have to. So all that happened to Christ, was for YOU. Why? He loves you. Not this greco-roman idea of love, but true, biblical love. Where the head or the authority, just takes the gloves off, and ‘volunteer as tribute’ if you will and says I’m first, if anything bad must happen.

This is love.

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The Beatitudes

Re-post. This is my take away from a great sermon at a NYCBC coffeehouse (where I also got to catch up with fellowship friends and TC family. It was so refreshing.)


Now when he saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, and he began to teach them, saying:

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek for they will inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Matthew 5:1-11

That’s a lot of scripture. I’m always amazed at the richness of literature in the bible ūüôā Anyway.

At a glance, in verses 3-10, the words that pop out are POOR, MOURN, MEEK, HUNGER, THIRST, MERCIFUL, PURE, PEACEMAKERS, PERSECUTED.

In other words, at a glance, it seems like this passage is saying, I can only have God’s blessing if:
1. I’m poor
2. Someone close to me died
3. I’m a pushover
4. I’m trying to be perfect
5. I’m a pure hearted do-gooder 24/7
6. I’m a pacifist
7. I’m always getting beat up (verbally and/or physically)

It seems kinda rough if I have to go through all that just to get God’s blessing. If he’s so loving, why do I have to be poor? Why can’t I stand up for something? Why does someone have to die? I’m not perfect, why should I try? Why should I get beat up?

So, that’s just at a glance, what does it REALLY mean?

Blessed are the POOR IN SPIRIT, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

The speaker was looking at this passage, and for this verse in particular, he told us a story:

There was a king who was old, and had no successor. So he announced that the child who can impress him will be his successor. In the town square, every child was given a pot and a seed, and they were told to grow a beautiful flower for the king. Of course, all the parents were excited and wanted their child to become king or queen. A little orphan boy also received a pot and a seed, and he watered his seed, made sure it had lots of sunshine, but as the weeks went by, nothing grew.

Nothing came out of that soil. As he looked at other houses when he went out, he saw giant, magnificent flowers in the windows, and he became discouraged. Soon, it was time for each child to show the king what they had grown. Of course, as everyone was gathered, all the parents were so excited, hoping that their child will become king or queen. But the little orphan boy, with just his pot of dirt, was ashamed, especially with all these wonderful flowers there, so he hid behind one of the pillars.

So one by one, the children brought their flowers to the king, and when the last one was done, the king asked if there was anyone else. Then one of the guards at the back spotted the orphan boy and brought him from behind the pillar. When the king saw his pot of dirt, he asked what happened. The orphan boy told him that he tried to take care of his seed, made sure it was watered and had enough light, but nothing grew.

The king then announced that this orphan boy will be his successor. The children were meh, and you can imagine the parents were in uproar. All the other kids worked hard caring for their plants, and look how pretty those plants became… this kid has nothing. The king then told everyone that was there that he planted dead seeds in every pot. All these plants are not the ones he gave the children.

The poor in spirit, doesn’t mean depressed, it means humility. Acknowledging the fact that we have absolutely NOTHING of worth to offer to God, let alone impress him. Some people think of God as a comedian, and we are the audience, and no one laughs.

I believe it’s the other way around. God is the judge, and we’re on stage, auditioning, showing every thing we’ve got under God’s scrutiny, hoping that we’ll get that big break. Except, our best is not good enough.
Some of you might think sarcastically, “well that’s encouraging…” and you’re right, it isn’t, but let’s look at the other Beatitudes.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
 
Mourning here, doesn’t mean mourning someone who died, or being sad in general. In context, mourning, is the mourning of our poverty of spirit. We want to be rich in spirit, closer with God, understanding who He is and why He does what He does.
So, our best is not good enough, which is not at all encouraging at all until Jesus comes into the picture. In this whole audition analogy, Jesus is like your golden ticket. Where, it doesn’t matter how good or bad you are, you get in. Not only that, you get to CHOOSE whether you want the golden ticket or not. Haha, if you have Jesus, if you have that golden ticket, it’s like you have one of those VIP passes ūüôā
And that’s what it means when it says they will be comforted. If you acknowledge that you have nothing to impress the judge, and you opt for the golden ticket, you got no worries, you’re comforted that you don’t have to impress the judge to get in. You still have to perform, but you have that safety net of already being in. At that point, the purpose of performing is not to get in, it’s to get better and clean up your act.
Now that I think about it, it’s all kinda backwards, but in a good way.
Normally, you practice, then you perform, then you get in if you’re good enough.
But in this case, you get in, then you practice to get good enough.
So what’s your act?
Blessed are the meek for they will inherit the earth.
 
Meek DOES NOT EQUAL weak.
Yes it means humility, it means turning the other cheek, it means sacrifice, but those things don’t make a person weak. In fact, it takes more strength to be meek than not.
David was meek before Goliath, his little sling humbled before Goliath’s might sword. But he won. (1 Samuel 17)
Esther was meek before Xerxes, king of Persia, when she came before him to save her and her people (the Jews) from genocide. The Jews were delivered, and the mind behind the plot was hanged on his own gallows. (Esther 7)
Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were meek when they allowed the king Nebuchadnezzar’s guards to take them to the furnace to be burned alive for worshipping God instead of the king’s gods and idols. They survived the furnace. (Daniel 3)
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
 
To hunger and thirst for righteousness, obviously implies that we don’t have it (going back to the “our best is not good enough”).
It means longing for it, preferring it as well as pursuing it.
Romans 3:10 says, “There is no one righteous, not even one.” So we can never be completely perfect and righteous in God’s eyes, but that’s no reason to not try to come close ūüôā
Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
What does showing mercy look like? What does it mean?
It means not holding someone’s faults against them, and it means NOT giving them a punishment or treatment they deserve.
So being merciful… why should we?
Because of God’s mercy, we are not treated as our sins deserve (hell is an option not a destination). If we’ve been forgiven, what right do we have to not show mercy to someone who’s wronged us?
(See Matthew 18:21-34)
Blessed are the pure in heart for they will see God.
 
Pure in heart isn’t just being righteous. It is devoting your heart to one thing, and one thing only: God. Naturally, if God is at the centre of our every priority, we’ll see God in the consequences of our actions, in the actions themselves, and in Heaven.
It’s not easy, there are a lot of “pretty things” to distract us in the world, and a lot of things that we have to have faith in to be pure hearted… so let’s see how that works out:
If everyone put God at the centre of every priority, children would obey their parents, parents would love their children, wives would respect their husbands, husbands would love their wives, there’d be no sexual immortality and STDs, everyone would serve everyone else (so no wars or starving countries), there wouldn’t be any greed (so no rich getting richer, poor getting poorer business), etc.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.
 
In the bible, there are two kinds of people: Jews and Gentiles. So anyone who’s not a Jew is obviously a Gentile. Now, these two groups did NOT mix at all, and they resented one another.
So when Christ died on the cross and paid for the sins of both Jew and Gentile, both were reconciled to God, and to each other (but not everyone liked that idea… see pharisees and sadducees XP). In this way, He is THE peacemaker, between the people, and God.
So being a peacemaker in this context is not just stopping war, it’s sharing in Christ’s mission: bringing people to God and developing a relationship.
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
 
This part is not fun. It’s beyond our comfort zone, and it’s frankly terrifying. But when I think of what Christ went through… we get to share in His suffering, and therefore His reward. Also note, how Christ brings this whole sermon full circle. The first Beatitude ends with “for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” and the last Beatitude ends with the same thing ūüėÄ
Anyway, persecuted because of righteousness:
Christ was arrested, whipped, flogged, beaten, spat upon, wore a crown with 2-3 inch thorns driven in his skull, mocked, pulled until his arm was dislocated, and nailed to a cross. Before that, he was insulted and lied about too. And that’s just in the physical. Spiritually, God’s wrath crushed Him.
Him, instead of us.
1100

Undeserving

Re-post. Amazing Grace.


In the world’s eyes, I’m a pretty good person. I’m nice, I don’t swear or do drugs or alcohol, I get good grades, hang out with the right crowd, etc. etc.

But in God’s eyes, I am a wretch. I am a criminal, disobedient to the law: God’s law.
Have I lied? Yes.
Have I stolen something, regardless of its value? Yes.
The Bible says that he who lusts is an adulterer at heart. Have I looked lustfully upon someone? Yes.
The Bible also says he who hates his brother is a murderer at heart. Have I hated someone? Yes.
Have I committed blasphemy by using God’s name nonchalantly? Yes.
Have I dishonoured my parents? Yes.
Am I a hypocrite? Yes.
So what does that make me?

A lying, thieving, adulterous, murderous, blasphemous, dishonouring hypocrite at heart.

And that’s only 6 of the 10 commandments that we’ve gone through, let alone the rest in the Bible.

We have fallen to sin, and we deserve God’s wrath. Because of sin, we’re all constantly on the Highway to Hell: eternal separation from God. So many times I feel like saying,¬†“I let you down so times, but I can’t ever tell you this. There’s no forgiving it.”

I can’t speak for everyone else, but I sin daily. Daily.¬†I am undeserving of many things, after the things I’ve done, the things I’ve said, the things I’ve thought. But most of all, I’m undeserving of His Grace.

The other day in band, we played just a simple scale, and played it like it was nothing more. My teacher said do it again, and make some music. So we did.

“What the freak was that??” he said. I thought we did something wrong and another smack down was on the way, but he continued on to say how undeserving he is to be able to say one phrase and BAM we go from brutal to brilliant in a matter of 30 seconds or less. In his admirable humility and modesty he went on to say how unworthy and not good enough of a teacher he is, and that it’s all us, and we should focus like that all the time, etc. but that’s beside the point.

WE ARE UNDESERVING!!! It is not by OUR works that we are saved. People don’t go from brutal to brilliant, sinful to saved, because of what THEY THEMSELVES have done. It is not by prayer, by church attendance, by confessing, by having a good personality, by being/doing good, by not doing bad, NOT BY DOING that we are saved. None of that.

Jesus, who had it all in Heaven, angels praising Him and worshipping saying holy, holy, came down to Earth and listened to His own creation call out, “CRUCIFY HIM! CRUCIFY HIM!” He was not afraid of what MEN would do to him, he was not afraid of the roman nails or the criminal death on a tree that he would die. He was afraid of the cup of God’s wrath (that was meant for us) poured out on Him. The wrath incurred by the sins of AN ENTIRE PEOPLE across time, poured out on a single person. The pain in the physical? Just a paper cut compared to the pain and suffering Jesus endured in the spiritual. All for what?

YOU. AND. ME.

Imagine one man standing by a dam 1000km wide and 1000 km tall, holding back more water than the 7 seas contain, and then suddenly that dam was taken away, and the water exploded out, right where that one man stood. That’s the size of God’s Wrath. But why does God even have a wrath if He’s supposed to be loving? God is just, and sin must be punished. But God is loving, merciful and gracious, because of what Christ did.

Even after we sin daily, even after all the displeasing things we’ve done to God, after all the times we’ve disappointed Him, He chooses to forgive us, because Christ has paid the price.

For all have sinned, and fall short of the Glory of God.

Romans 3:23

For the wages of sin is death.

Romans 6:23

But God demonstrates His love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Romans 5:8

While we were still sinners. We can’t save ourselves. We’ve done unforgivable things and yet, WE ARE FORGIVEN if we accept Jesus Christ as our personal Lord and Saviour to advocate for us.

I know I keep referring to this song, but it’s always just so fitting:

Because a sinless saviour died
My sinful should is counted free
For God the just is satisfied
To look on Him and pardon me.

I forgot who said it, but, “preach the Gospel at all times, use words when necessary.”

1100

Time Bank

Re-post. The value of time.


Know God and make Him known. Glorify him with every breath you have because we live on borrowed time…

I came across another really cool analogy (author unknown):

Imagine that you had won the following prize in a contest:
Each morning your bank would deposit $86,400.00 in your private account for your use. However, this prize has rules, just as any game has certain rules.

The first set of rules would be:
1. Everything that you didn’t spend during each day¬†would be taken away from you.
2. You may not simply transfer money into some other account.
3. You may only spend it.

Each morning upon awakening, the bank opens your account with another $86,400.00 for that day.

The second set of rules:
1. The bank can end the game without warning; at any¬†time it can say, “it’s over, the game is over!”
2. It can close the account and you will not receive a new one.

What would you personally do?¬†You would buy anything and everything you wanted, right?¬†Not only for yourself, but for all people you love, right?¬†Even for people you don’t know, because you couldn’t possibly spend it all on yourself, right?
You would try to spend every cent, and use it all, right?

ACTUALLY, this GAME is REALITY!

Each of us is in possession of such a magical bank. We just¬†can’t seem to see it.

The MAGICAL BANK is TIME!

Each morning we awaken to receive 86,400 seconds as a gift of life, and when we go to sleep at night, any remaining time
is NOT credited to us.¬†What we haven’t lived up that day is forever lost.¬†Yesterday is forever gone. Each morning the account is refilled, but the bank can dissolve your account at any time….WITHOUT WARNING.

SO, what will YOU do with your 86,400 seconds?¬†Aren’t they worth so much more than the same amount¬†in dollars?

1100

Quiet Strength

Quick character sketch.


Physical description: He could disappear behind a streetlamp, he was so skinny. It was like his cells made him all long bones and forgot about the muscle. Boyish face, long nose, he looked good in a uniform. But those hard eyes were born for the military. You could tell he was strong despite his lanky heights, everybody kept their distance. Everything about him was rigid, his posture, his blinking, his silence. He tightened his jaw whenever he swallowed. There was a darkness about him… sadness? Remorse? His stillness betrayed the speed of his thoughts.

Inner Conflict: He isn’t the archetypal brute soldier, nor is he the zero-to-hero. He’s worked hard to get where he is, and his experiences were more than what he expected them to be. He knows what it’s like to be the victim and the bully. He knows his strength and the only way he can control his emotion is to bottle it up, leading to a complex, well-guarded inner life.

Scene: SOLDIER comes home, back from his tour. His WIFE is so happy to see him, but he doesn’t say much. She comes back with their newborn son; it’s the first time he’s laid eyes on the baby. He refuses to hold him. Ashamed of what he’s done to children abroad, he’s afraid of what he might do to his own son.

<a rel=”license” href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/”><img alt=”Creative Commons Licence” style=”border-width:0″ src=”https://i.creativecommons.org/l/by/4.0/88×31.png&#8221; /></a><br /><span xmlns:dct=”http://purl.org/dc/terms/&#8221; property=”dct:title”>Quiet Strength</span> by <span xmlns:cc=”http://creativecommons.org/ns#&#8221; property=”cc:attributionName”>Melissa Chong</span> is licensed under a <a rel=”license” href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/”>Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License</a>.