3

Photo Credit - Graphic Stock
Photo Credit - Graphic Stock

I would lead you and bring you
Into the house of my mother, who used to instruct me;   

Song of Songs 8:2 NASB

These lines feel a little autobiographical to me.

I was introduced to the faith at home from a very young age. My parents were of the opinion that if the doors of the church were open we should be on the inside. That meant that at the very least, Sunday morning, Sunday evening and Wednesday evening. We were actually part of a few different churches through my formative years, first Plymouth Brethren, then an independent Evangelical church. After a move to Virginia, we spent some of my high school years in a Presbyterian church, and then finally back to NJ and that Evangelical church.

When the Song of Songs speaks of the maiden’s mother it’s talking about the church. In God’s plan and economy, the church is the normal agency for the nurture and training of young believers. The church is tasked with training up Christians in how to walk and grow in a life with God—discipleship. Jesus commissioned us:

Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. - Matthew 28:19-20 NASB

When I was in my mid-twenties, I encountered Jesus, and began pursuing Him with a passion and zeal that I had not previously known.

Headstrong and full of self-righteousness, I gathered up my young family and left that church, to pursue ‘deeper things.’

I did learn some deeper things in my travels. Here are two of the deeper things I learned:

The grass is in fact always greener on the other side of the fence.

There is no such thing as the perfect church.

Through some not-so-interesting circumstances, I ended up visiting my old church, the one I could call ‘my mother, who used to instruct me.’

The draw I sensed was strong, leading me to come back and bring the grown up version of Ben back to this body where I grew up. I had grown. The Father is a genius at using even our questionable choices for good outcomes in our lives.

In my life, the Lord brought me back to my mother. At the same time I brought Him back to my mother.

The Lord is faithful to nurture us, even when we kick against the method He wants to use. We have a good Father.

Ben NelsonThanks for coming by

See you again soon

Ben

===

Don’t forget to pick up a copy of my new book “Encounters with Jesus” in paperback or for your kindle reader. If you’ve already gotten it and read it, PLEASE leave an honest review on Amazon. Your review will get this book in front of more people! Thank you.

6

Thanks to Pastor J. Lillie from Lillie-put. Pastor J. is blogging all the time, and has a wealth of great writings and photography. This is his photo, which I have borrowed gratefully.

The last thing I want to bring out here is the imperative that first shows up in John 13, right after Jesus washed the disciples feet. He tells them:

John 13:34 - A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.

This phrase ‘one another’ as applied to the church shows up 39 times in 36 verses in the New Testament. I have included the full listing here. Twice in the last week, I have sat with a group of believers and read these aloud. I would recommend that you do the same. You can do it alone, but I think it is striking as you hear others read them as well.

Clearly the 25 times that love in mentioned in these verses is inescapable, but you will be surprised by what other “one anothers” you see repeated.

Don’t miss this wealth of godly treasure.

John 13:34 A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.

John 13:35 By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.

Romans 12:10 Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves.

Romans 12:16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.

Romans 13:8 Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law.

Romans 14:13 Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother’s way.

Romans 15:7 Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.

Romans 15:14 I myself am convinced, my brothers, that you yourselves are full of goodness, complete in knowledge and competent to instruct one another.

Romans 16:16 Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the churches of Christ send greetings.

1 Corinthians 1:10 I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought.

1 Corinthians 16:20 All the brothers here send you greetings. Greet one another with a holy kiss.

2 Corinthians 13:12 Greet one another with a holy kiss.

Galatians 5:13 You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love.

Ephesians 4:2 Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.

Ephesians 4:32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

Ephesians 5:19 Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord,

Ephesians 5:21 Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.

Colossians 3:13 Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.

Colossians 3:16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.

1 Thessalonians 5:11 Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.

Hebrews 3:13 But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.

Hebrews 10:24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.

Hebrews 10:25 Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another-and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

James 4:11 Brothers, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against his brother or judges him speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it.

1 Peter 1:22 Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart.

1 Peter 3:8 Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble.

1 Peter 4:9 Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.

1 Peter 5:5 Young men, in the same way be submissive to those who are older. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”

1 Peter 5:14 Greet one another with a kiss of love. Peace to all of you who are in Christ.

1 John 1:7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.

1 John 3:11 This is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another.

1 John 3:23 And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us.

1 John 4:7 Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.

1 John 4:11 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.

1 John 4:12 No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.

2 John 5 And now, dear lady, I am not writing you a new command but one we have had from the beginning. I ask that we love one another.

=======

OK, how could we possibly obey even a portion of these 39 instructions if we are not sharing our lives with others?

I am not talking about going to Church on Sunday either. I am talking about living in community. Getting together with others. Sharing life, hopes, dreams, fears, successes and failures.

Each of us in Christ need to be in relationship with others who are walking out their faith. Sometimes pulling them along, and sometimes being dragged forward ourselves. No Christian has arrived at the place where he or she no longer needs the body. Christian life does not work the way it is supposed to when we walk alone.

Believe me, I have messed this up more than once in my life. Many of you reading this can probably point out specific times you have seem me do it. I have allowed rigid doctrines or personal preferences or even hurts or slights to separate me from people God was using to speak into my life.

Which one or ones jumped off the page for you today?

Ben NelsonWalk in love today!

Ben

2

Thanks to Pastor J. Lillie from Lillie-put. Pastor J. is blogging all the time, and has a wealth of great writings and photography. This is his photo, which I have borrowed gratefully.

Today I want to begin talking about the True Church. Here is a line from my Church's statement of faith:

We believe that the true Church is the Body of Jesus Christ and consists of all believers in Him. Colossians 1:18; I Corinthians 12:12-13; Ephesians 1:22-23

What is the Church?

Dictionary.com has 17 entries for the word church, 17 various uses for this simple word, so let’s be clear about what the Bible means when it speaks of the Church.

When Christ says: “I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it.”  (Matthew 16:18 NASB) what ‘church’ is He talking about?

This word church in the New Testament, or in the Greek ekklēsia, has as its core meaning “a gathering of citizens called out from their homes into some public place, an assembly.”[i] So the word is not referring to a structure or building, but rather the people the Father has called out, chosen, who have responded to His call in faith. Church refers to all those who have called upon the name of the Lord, those who are in relationship with Him.

This is apparent when you hear His amazing prayer in John 17.

I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word; that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me. - John 17:20-21 NASB

You see, Jesus’ request to the Father, just hours before His crucifixion, is that those who believe in Him through the Word passed on by His followers would be one – as ‘one’ as Jesus and the Father are ‘one’ – and that this ‘oneness’ would be a proof to the world that Jesus was sent from the Father.

For me this defines church.

There is only one Church. It’s not the Presbyterian, Methodist, Catholic, Seventh day, Mennonite, Plymouth, Baptist, Lutheran, AOG, Pentecostal, Bible or Non-denominational. The one true Church is the born again, blood bought, Spirit indwelt believers in Jesus Christ. [Tweet this]

There are a number of metaphors that the New Testament uses to explain the Church. Tomorrow we will look at the Church as the Body of Christ

Ben NelsonDon’t miss it.

See you then,

Ben


[i] "Greek Lexicon :: G1577 (NASB)." Blue Letter Bible. Sowing Circle. Web. 11 Mar, 2014. .

12

GreaterGlory

I live in and worship in a fairly diverse community of faith. Our statement of faith was written from a primarily Reformed theology point of view, and there is a core of probably a solid quarter of the congregation who would self classify as Reformed or Calvinist.

Over the years, and in fact right from the very initial incorporation of our church in 1968 or 69 there have also been some Charismatics in the mix. This number by percent was at the outset very small, and in the 70’s and 80’s there was some pretty intense disagreements between the two.

Currently I would say that Charismatics make up a solid ten percent of the mix.

I grew up in the former group and am now a part of the latter. That is to say, I believe in, and move in spiritual gifts. I have experienced supernatural gifts that were undeniable and I see these expressions of faith in my experience as wonderful demonstrations of what the Bible declares.

I have often seen God move in healing, but not by any means the majority of the times that I have prayed asking for it. Of the times I have seen God heal in apparent answer to my prayer, it has often been undeniable. I also see this line up clearly with scripture on many levels. It would be pretty difficult for someone with an argument to talk me out of what, in whom, I believe.

There have been times when each of these groups made it their main mission in life to educate and enlighten the other. The strongest of each group would pull together their most poignant and pithy arguments and try to out talk the other “side.”

Sadly this would usually end in folks drifting further apart, rather than drawing closer to Jesus.

One place these differences manifest on a regular basis is the way we pray for one another.

Just for fun, let’s pretend someone in the congregation is sick (yep – it happens.)

Folks on the Charismatic side of the pew will start asking God to heal, right now, and begin declaring and proclaiming and the like. (and hey – I am not making fun of this, I am the one making the declarations as likely as not)

Then my brothers and sisters from the Reformed side of the pew will begin to ask the Lord for Sister sickly bring Him glory while they wait for their healing, or while they suffer with no end in sight.

We are all asking for God to be glorified. One group through healing, another through strong Christian character in the face of adversity.

It occurred to me on Sunday morning as I was hearing prayers on both side of this issue that we are leaving the “bringing glory to God” to the sick folks, the ones under the most pressure and stress, those with the greatest reason for resignation and frustration.

What I was wondering is how much are we pressing in for our lives to demonstrate the greater glory on a good day? Do we ask God daily to be glorified in the way we deal with our peachy circumstances? Do we reckon Him worthy of a bouquet of praise on days when He has not just snatched us out of the hands of the hunter?

Maybe this is super obvious to you, but it struck me today.

So today, Lord, will you help me glorify You in the stuff that is going well, and the stuff that challenges me?

Ben NelsonThanks for coming by.

Walk in the blessing He has already given today.

Ben

7

Shining through

So what does the Sabbath point to?

I realize I never really got to the Sabbath yesterday because I was so taken with the picture of circumcision. That really got me yesterday, and if you missed it, check the tail end of yesterday’s post.

Back to the Sabbath though, the passage we’ve been poking around all week – Colossians 2:16 ends with dashes in my Bible.

Therefore no one is to act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day-- - Colossians 2:16

So the next verse really needs to be included in the conversation too!

…things which are a mere shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ. - Colossians 2:17

I love it in the New Living Translation:

For these rules are only shadows of the reality yet to come. And Christ himself is that reality. - Colossians 2:17 NLT

I know some of you, in the comments have mentioned this, and it has taken me a long time to get here, but hey – I’m plodding here.

Jesus Christ is the reality – the Greek word here is body, so you could say that Jesus is the embodiment of the Sabbath. He is a living breathing Sabbath. He is rest personified. He demonstrates what it means to keep the Sabbath everyday.

And to take it one step further, as I am want to do, this word body – σῶμα – sōma – is the same word used here:

For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit. For the body is not one member, but many. - 1 Corinthians 12:12-14

If then Christ is the embodiment of the Sabbath, and we are the body – embodiment – of Christ, does it not stand to reason that our live ought to be a walking demonstration of Sabbath?

In case you are not sure the answer is an emphatic yes!

But wait Ben, it sounds like you are saying Christians should lay around doing nothing. Doesn’t rest mean no work? Didn’t God tell us to stop our labors on the Sabbath? If we live in a constant state of Sabbath, how will anything get done?

Oh – I am glad you asked, because there are some red letters that will help us with this little paradox.

Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light. - Matthew 11:28-30

Christianity is a state of working at rest.

We rest from our labors to earn a place with God.

Jesus’ work on the cross earned us that place.

We rest from our labors to earn forgiveness.

Jesus’ blood purchased forgiveness once and for all.

We take up our work in the kingdom of God.

Jesus’ yoke is easy and burden is light.

This idea of a yoke, is one of work, but not solo work, work in partnership with Jesus. Like two oxen plowing a field, it is God’s plan to link you up with Jesus, and for the two of you to do the work He ordained for you, and created you for.

So, in the same way that He has prepared heaven and a future home for every one in covenant with Him yet He calls us to be seated in heavenly places today, so it is that He has prepared a future rest for each of us that is yet to be seen, yet the cross provides a Sabbath rest for us today.

The real work of appeasing and pleasing God was completed with the words, “It is finished.” That was the violent and bloody cutting off of your sin, the once and for all burial of your transgressions, the completion of your reconciliation to the Father. All that is left for you to do today is place your faith in THAT work, that finished work.

I pray for you today, that you will stop your working to earn favor with God, and rest in the favor that Jesus bought for you.

You can enter covenant with Jesus right now, if you have never done so. Simply come clean with Him about how you never have been able to “measure up.” It’s not like He doesn’t already know, but He wants you to own your sin, to confess it, and then to give it to Him. In confessing your sin - it is best to name it, out loud every sin you can remember. Be honest with God. Remember, He already knows, but in saying it out loud, you are putting it in Christ's tomb. Next time you look in there it will be empty! Confession breaks your old sin's hold on you. It gives you a place to point when satan tries to accuse you. "Look satan, I put it over there in that empty tomb and it is GONE!!!" [Tweet This]

Once you give Him your sin, and see that His blood on the cross paid the price for it, there is nothing between you and a wonderful relationship with your Father and mine. Simply ask Jesus to be the Lord of your life.

The Bible promises:

But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, - John 1:12

The only thing left to do is to put your faith, your trust, your life into His hands.

If you have done that while reading this post there a couple things I would ask you to do. (What more work?)

Tell somebody, someone you know if a Christian.
Plug into a local body – a good Bible believing church.
Start reading the Bible for yourself. If you don’t have a bible – go to http://www.blueletterbible.org/ or http://www.biblegateway.com/ and start reading. I suggest starting with Mark because you will get to know Jesus quickly.

Lastly, I would love you to tell me about it – either in the comments below or you can email  me: Ben@AnotherRedLetterDay.com

What a great way to start Christmas at Another Red Letter Day.

Ben NelsonThanks for reading today.

See you again soon.

Ben

Here is a related post you may enjoy: Remember to Rest

In the last installment of Another Red Letter Day we looked briefly at Jesus cleansing the temple. Today I want to ponder this answer the disciples came up with for our unspoken question of the day.

His disciples remembered that it was written, “ZEAL FOR YOUR HOUSE WILL CONSUME ME.” ~ John 2:17

Jesus sees what is going on, and something rises up on the inside of Him.

He must look like an angry young man to all those watching.

What had gotten into Him?

The disciples thought back to their Bible readings.

The quote they remembered comes from the Psalms:

For zeal for Your house has consumed me, And the reproaches of those who reproach You have fallen on me. ~ Psalm 69:9

Jesus sees the oppression of the poor and the rich lining their pockets. These oppressors are using the system God put in place to bring relief from the burden of sin, the sacrificial system, the very system Jesus Himself would fulfill, to drag God’s people deeper into debt.

This oppression not only oppressed the people of God, but drove them further from Him. Church became a place where the sheep stood a better chance of being fleeced than fed, so the sheep would just as soon stay away.

Two applications here.

One for Church leaders – We need to lift the burden of sin and oppression, not the wallets of our sheep!

But what I really wanted to touch on today was the idea that Jesus is zealous for His Father's house. I know I have made application here for the house of the Lord as the Church, but YOU my friend, if you are in covenant with Jesus, are the House of the Lord.

Jesus is zealous for you. Jesus is zealous to see you become a house of prayer, to see you as a place of blessing for those who are oppressed. Jesus is zealous to see you set free, and then for you to be a place where the works of satan are destroyed!

Can you get yourself stirred up – can you let the Zeal of the Lord’s house consume you today? Are you zealous for your own life to be used by the Master to set others free?

Stir it up today!

Don’t miss SoS tomorrow!

Ben NelsonThanks for stopping by.

See you again soon.

Ben

Pascack Bible Church PascackBible.org

As I said last week, I preached last Sunday and will preach again next Sunday, August 4th, at Pascack Bible Church, 181 Piermont Ave, Hillsdale NJ.

If you would like to listen to, or download the sermon from July 28 entitled "The Gospel According to Paul" taken from 1 Corinthians 15:1-11. You can find it here.

If you can make it this week, I would love to see you there, and meet you in person. I will be preaching on the Resurection from 1 Corinthians 15:12-34.

For info about the Church including directions, you can go to the Church Web Site - PascackBible.org.

Ben NelsonHave a great weekend.

Ben

 

Image credit Wikipedia

Let’s recap where we have come in the song so far  – or as they say on TV – Here are some things you may want to know: (you can skip this part if you want – but it might paint the picture for you)

When we started this story of romantic pursuit our maiden (the passionate believer) was in love with the Shepherd King (Jesus) from afar. Her heart cry was “Draw me, and We will run.” At that time she was an admirer. He began to fulfill her request and began to woo her, and they have begun to get to know one another.

When she first begins to get to know Him she realizes that she is a mess. She says “Don’t even look at me – I am filthy on the outside, but because of your attentions I am becoming lovely inside. On the outside I feel like a nasty old desert tent, but on the inside, I feel I am adorned with curtains from the Kings palace. (1:5)

In Verse 6 of the first chapter she confesses that, in order to live out her deep desire to please her new love, she got right to work. I think of this as working in the Church, joining committees, going to meetings, you know the drill.

She got so busy with the work of the Church that she neglected her personal relationship with her Lover, and she began to feel like a failure:

They made me caretaker of the vineyards,
But I have not taken care of my own vineyard. ~ Song of Songs 1:6

Now she has spent time with Him. She pulled back from ministry and began to spend large amounts of time in worship, in personal connection with Jesus, just loving on Him. It’s been a warm and cozy time in her Christian walk.

Then we enter into a season of change. She awakes from her place of worship and see He is not in the room, but rather He is out in ministry, in life, “Climbing on the mountains, Leaping on the hills!” and calling her to join Him in ministry.

This is a frightening prospect for her. She likes her little cocoon of personal closeness to Him. But He reassures her with His declaration of how much He loves her and how beautiful she is.

This is where we come in today:

Catch the foxes for us,
The little foxes that are ruining the vineyards,
While our vineyards are in blossom. ~ Song of Songs 2:15

We find her second self-assessment in the Song, and she is not where she was. She has grown.

Her garden (her spiritual life) is no longer unkempt as it was in 1:6. It has blossoms and is beginning to bear fruit.

Is this the fruit of the Spirit? : “…love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23) These are beginning to show great progress in her life. No longer is she “dark but lovely.” Those around her are beginning to reckon her alive in Christ.

However there are little foxes.

The problem with these foxes is that they sneak around and just as the fruit is nearing maturity, they grab it and spoil the personal harvest she has been walking toward.

They are not the big animals who come in and destroy the vines and trample the vineyard, but just take these vines that are ready to bear fruit, and make them unfruitful.

Our girl is sensing the conviction of the Holy Spirit in her life. It is being stirred up by His call on her to get out of her comfort zone and move out in ministry, and she is afraid. Every time she take a step forward there is a little slipping going on. She is making HUGE progress in her Christian walk, but can’t seem to get fruit on the table.

And it is the little things, the things that are hard to give up.

Do you have little foxes that the Lord is pointing out to you even as you connect with this picture? Are there things that, just as you take a huge step forward in your patience pop up and challenge you and you lose your cool? Then you think, ‘that didn’t look much like Jesus at all.’

Or perhaps there is some little thing you hold on to, that when you were first started pressing into the Lord and intimacy, it did not hinder your massive growth, but now you find you have gotten stuck – plateaued so to speak.

Are you holding on to a liberty that turns out to be a little fox in disguise?

This is true in any area of our lives.

In the past few years I have tried to bring two huge areas in my life into control. I am talking about my natural life here. And it was in getting rid of the little foxes that I found victory.

I am talking about my finances and my weight.

A financial fox might be going to the ATM and then not paying attention to where the money goes. At the end of the month I would see that all the money was gone, but I had nothing to show for it.

And as for my weight – well – my life was beset with foxes all around, donuts, candy bars, 3rds at every meal.

So it is with your spiritual garden. Solomon calls them foxes, Jesus calls them thorns:

And others are the ones on whom seed was sown among the thorns; these are the ones who have heard the word, and the worries of the world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful. ~ Mark 4:18-19

What I love here is that she does not shrug her shoulders and give up, she asks Him for help. Remember this wonderful promise:

For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and may find grace to help in time of need. ~ Hebrews 4:15-16

If you sense the Spirit poking around at some little foxes, don’t be afraid to ask for help, and He will come along side you, and together you can clear out the garden, and enjoy the fruit you have labored for.

Well – I have gone way too long today, and for this I apologize. I suppose I could have broken into two posts. Perhaps you will forgive me and read it over two days.

I am really loving this Song!

Ben NelsonI hope it is helping.

See you soon.

Ben

Muth and Fath on their wedding day.
Muth and Fath on their wedding day.

My mom (we call her Muth) is the best. She is 88 now and still going strong. She is always thinking of others. She is one of the friendliest people I know. She can make friends in any circumstances. She is always positive. In 55 years I have never seen her in a bad mood. Sure I have seen her sad, and a time or two in my childhood I got her a bit hot under the collar, but all in all, she always lived with a positive outlook. As you can see in the photo, she has a great sense of humor too.

For instance, she was always having folks over for dinner. I can hardly remember a Sunday Afternoon Meal when we did not have some guest at the table with us. Even for "family" type meals like Thanksgiving and Easter there was company for dinner. But she had this apron she would wear when company was around. It said in big bold letters, "Who invited all these tacky people?" Oh Muth...

Her most striking characteristic by far though is her servant’s heart. She was always involved in things at church, but then she would just do things that no one was even aware of.

One example of this was the metal folding chairs at church. Our church was built in the late 60’s so we have hundreds of folding chairs for our “Fellowship Hall” where we hold dinners, or meetings, or what ever.

Muth at my daughter's wedding, Aug 2011
Muth at my daughter's wedding, Aug 2011

These are not the most comfortable chairs in the world, and after about 15 years the padding and naugahyde covers were getting warn down, and beat up.

My mother would take 4 of these chairs home every so often and she bought up bolts and bolts of replacement naugahyde and stacks and stacks of foam rubber. 4 by 4 these chairs were transformed from the cheap wood grain cover they were purchased with to a hefty brown or gray.

She would then sneak them back into the church, and TAA DAA, new chairs. To this day every one of these cushioned fabric chairs bears the mark of my mom, and aside from the fact that I brag on her, no one has any idea what happened.

The last phrase in this encounter with Jesus makes me think of her.

And He touched her hand, and the fever left her; and she arose, and waited on Him. ~ Matthew 8:15

Yep – that’s my mom.

When I grow up, I want to be just like my mom.

That’s it for today.

It doesBen me good to think about Muth.

See you again soon.

Ben

 

photo credit: Thomas Hawk via photopin cc
photo credit: Thomas Hawk via photopin cc

I have heard dozens of jokes that start out – So a guy dies and goes to heaven, and St. Peter ask him…

We all know these are jokes, but they stem from a deep-seated understanding when we are talking about heaven; not everyone get’s in.

I have met people in a few different categories regarding their own heaven readiness.

Some consider themselves too cool for heaven – “I am going to hell with all my friends and we will party for eternity.”

Then there are those who say – “all roads lead to heaven. I can follow any spiritual leader – Buddha, Mohammed, Krishna.”

Others believe they have not done anything so heinous it deserves eternal flames – “I don’t do anything that hurts anyone else, I am sure I will be OK when I get to heaven. Hell is for pedophiles and evil dictators, not for suburban soccer moms and guys with great lawns.”

Still others figure that their regular attendance in Church, and busyness doing Church stuff will surely get them in – “I am in Church every Sunday, not like the Joneses, they never darken the door of a church except Christmas and Easter, weddings and funerals.”

Some take a balanced approach, a sort of pass/fail life standard  - “My good deeds out weigh my bad deeds, so the scale is definitely in my favor”

Another group looks back at a point in time – “I prayed a prayer when I was in VBS and my leader told me I was going to heaven.”

Jesus said:

Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven; but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.’ ~ Matthew 7:21-23

I want to spend a couple days (or however long it takes) digging into these strong red letters.

Let’s start with who Jesus is not talking to.

Jesus’ is not talking to that first group I mentioned – those who are planning on hell. They are not the ones standing at the pearly gates expecting to get in.

Likewise He is not addressing folks who follow Buddha, or Mohammed, or Krishna.

He is talking about people who call Him (Jesus) ‘Lord.’ We know from many other things Jesus said, that He (Jesus) is the only way to the Father.

But even among those who recognize that Jesus is the way there are vast numbers who have not given their lives to Him. He is not addressing this SMO crowd. (My dad’s term for folks who only showed their face in church on Sundays – AKA Sunday Morning Only.)

So who is Jesus talking about? Who is it that will hear those most horrifying of all words "Depart from me?"

BenDon’t miss tomorrow!

I will share my own story of standing at that gate and hearing those words.

Ben