Carry Him in Your Pack

Carry  Him in Your Pack

When we talk about spiritual gifts, we can easily get the wrong impression.  The emphasis seems to be on the word “spiritual” – distinguishing it from normal gifts, such as being a talented musician or mechanic.   

Surprisingly, the Greek word for “spiritual” is not even present in the term.  Instead, if you translate it literally, it comes out like “grace gift.”  The emphasis is not that the gift is “spiritual” or “miraculous,” but that it is a gift of God’s grace to us.   

When God gives us grace, he is giving us something we haven’t earned.  We don’t get it because we deserve it. It’s just a gift.  When God washes us clean from our sin, it’s a gift.  When he promises us eternal joy in heaven, it’s a gift.   

A Work of Beauty

A Work of Beauty

Some of Jean-Baptiste-Simeon Chardin’s paintings now hang in the Louve in Paris.  His still life’s of common objects around the house are so stunning that Marcel Proust observed, “Until I saw Chardin’s paintings I never realized how much beauty lay around in my parents’ house, in the half-cleared table, in the corner of the tablecloth left awry, in the knife beside the empty oyster-shell.”   

A talented artist helps us to see things better.  A great artist helps us see beauty. Our lives are enriched as we learn to see the beauty of things around us.   

Peter talks about the beauty of godliness. He says our real beauty should not come from lipstick or botox. (Okay, he doesn’t exactly say that, but let’s allow a little room for creative paraphrasing.) Peter wants us to recognize the deeper beauty of a gentle spirit.  

We Shall Stand Victorious

We Shall Stand Victorious

Scientists performed an experiment where they placed a rat in a tub of water.   In about an hour the rat would drown.   Then the scientists would place another rat in a tub of water, but would pluck it up out of the water every few minutes.  The researchers found that the rats who were periodically picked up out of the water would swim in the water for over 24 hours.   

What made the difference?  No, it was not the rest that the second group of rats received from being picked up.  The difference was that the first group of rats were given no hope of rescue while the second group had the hope that they would be eventually rescued. 

 

Hope is an act of faith.  

Imitators

Imitators

Michael Hodgin writes of a missionary served in West Africa where his two young kids grew up.  When it came time for them to return home, their mother did not want them to look conspicuous, so she ordered “western” clothing for them to wear.   

The first leg of their flight home took them to Paris.  As the family walked along, the parents realized that everyone was staring at them.  When they turned around they discovered why.  Their children were carrying their suitcases on their heads. 

What could be more natural?  Children learn by imitation.  That is why play is so vital for them.  By pretending to be a fireman or a mom they are learning to grow up.    

 

This principle, however, is not only true for children, but adults as well.

Once You've Heard Their Story

Once You've Heard Their Story

In 1873, Karl Asmis, a young German forester was deputized by the local postmaster to deliver an important letter. The envelope contained a large sum of money.  

The letter was never delivered. Karl reported that, while walking through the woods to deliver the letter, he shot a rabbit. He figured the easiest way to carry both would be to tie the envelope around the rabbit's neck and sling the rabbit over his shoulder.  

But, Karl claimed, the rabbit wasn't dead; only stunned. It squirmed out of his grasp and hopped into the forest with the envelope around its neck.  

An imaginative story, but no one was buying it. Karl was shunned by everyone in town.  

Not About Us

Not About Us

You’ve heard of the Pharisees in Jesus’ day.  Have you also heard of the Am ha aretz?   The Pharisee’s need to feel loved meant they had to be better than others.  But, for them to be superior, somebody had to be inferior.  And so, they called the “common” people, who were not as religious as they were, the Am ha Aretz, which literally means “the earthy people.”   

A pious Pharisee would not invite “common people” to dinner, would not converse with them in the street, and did their best to keep their shadow from touching them.   The Pharisees were very religious, very moral – because they felt they must, somehow, earn God’s love and approval.  

But their pathetic need for approval turned cruel.  They viewed those who were physically sick or deformed as cursed by God for their sin.   Thus, they banned them from entrance to the temple.  If you were blind or lame, for example, you could not go to the temple to pray or worship or offer a sacrifice.   You were classed as one rejected by God. 

 

Is it any surprise that the Pharisees were outraged at Jesus’ behavior?  He gravitated to the sick, the weak, the sinful, and showed them compassion.  He touched lepers and other people considered “unclean.”  He ate with tax collectors and whores. Jesus said that it was not the healthy who needed a doctor, but the sick.  And, like a caring physician, he had come to help those who are weak and helpless.