Because God is never cruel, there is a reason for all things. We must know the pain of loss; because if we never knew it, we would have no compassion for others, and we would become monsters of self-regard, creatures of unalloyed self-interest. The terrible pain of loss teaches humility to our prideful kind, has the power to soften uncaring hearts, to make a better person of a good one.
"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."
|Love God, Love others...
Take time to listen
David Crowder Band
Jars of Clay
MG! The Visionary
Pedro the Lion
Red Hot Chili Peppers
Thousand Foot Krutch
|Learn, Live, Love, Laugh
Lake City Community Church Coeur d'Alene
Real Life on the Palouse Moscow/Pullman
Time Zone Boise
Agape Christian Worship Center Boise
River of Life Community Church Sioux Falls
Marysville Church of the Nazarene Marysville
| Saturday, January 1, 2011
| In the Beginning
|Genesis opens with these words: "In the beginning God..." Part of me wants to add a comma between "beginning" and "God" so that it reads "In the beginning, God..." as if to remind myself that God didn't just do something in the beginning, He is the beginning. The first thing in all of creation was the Creator.
As I search for guidance in my life, all I need to do is read those first four words of the Bible. It is there that God - the Creator - begins to tell His story. That is where He begins to show the plan for His people. In the beginning, God. God first.
The history of the nation of Israel begins with God. The creation of man
starts with the breath of Elohim. It should be obvious that the first thing in our lives is the One who gave us life. Unfortunately, in my life, I too often everywhere other than the start when I need hope.
In the gospels, Jesus provides the greatest commandment - to love God. He explained, "This is the first and greatest commandment." (Matthew 22:36-39
) I am reminded time and time again I am reminded of the message in Genesis chapter one: God first.
May my story start the same way, "In the beginning, God..."
|posted by nicholas casey @ 2:46 PM
| Monday, July 19, 2010
| Thinking God can fix everything
|My wife was pulled over last week. She was clocked doing 50 in a 35. To complicate the traffic stop our car has one tail light out, and we did not have current proof of insurance in the vehicle (our policy is current... the proof is not). Bekah drove away with a warning on the speed, a fixit ticket for the light, and a ticket for the insurance that can be negated as soon as current proof is presented to the courthouse.
I’m not that lucky. In the time that we’ve known each other, Bekah has been pulled over six times with only two tickets. I’ve been pulled over twice with one ticket. Prior to our lives together, Bekah’s story is littered with anecdotes of getting out of tickets when pulled over. In my entire driving history, I’ve been stopped eight times with a grand total of five tickets. Bekah has been pulled over many more times than me – with a wider array of driving infractions – but has received far fewer tickets.
The tail light in our car is still out of commission. So it would be logical for me to be a bit paranoid yesterday when an officer followed me on the way home from Hauser Lake.
I had passed the Prairie Falls golf course and was heading up the hill on Prairie Avenue. In my rearview mirror I noticed a police cruiser on the far side of the golf course – about a half mile behind me. Nothing to fear, but the officer caught up with me in less than a minute. I had my cruise control set to the speed limit, so the cop had to be driving at least 10 miles an hour over the limit to catch me that quickly. Now there was a slight reason to be nervous. Then he tailgated me for most of the next two miles.
Nervous is a weak adjective to describe my emotional well being at that moment in time. I was sure he would pull me over; I was waiting for him to turn on his roof-top lights.
My first instinct was to change the radio station. Maybe, if I listened to the Christian music station and concentrated on how God is really awesome, I won’t get pulled over.
Silly, right? That way of thinking is absurd, but how often do we do that? How often do we think of God as a salve or a life-saver? There’s a predominate thought that God can fix anything – that He can save us from our mistakes. But of course he can – He’s God. The ever-present, all knowing, all powerful God can do anything. Why does it sound ridiculous to say “God can prevent the inevitable”?
There’s a delicate balance between having faith that can move mountains and having a faith that is dead from a lack of action. There’s a difference that separates the person who calls on the name of the Lord and is saved, and the person how cries “Lord Lord” but is turned away. We misunderstand the complexities of a God who grants the desires of our hearts and the God who cares for our every need.
If we don’t understand these fine lines, we fall into a trap of thinking that God will only help us if we do x, y, or z. Or we falter in belief that God will prevent us from experiencing the consequence of our mistakes. Both ends of the spectrum underestimate God’s grace.
We don’t have to jump through hoops to experience his love. The radio station I was listening to had no impact on the police officers decision whether or not to pull me over. There are no special circumstances that need be met before God answers prayer. God is God and the power of his grace is bigger than we could ever define. There is nothing we could ever do, no amount of steps we could take to deserve His grace. If it was within our power to earn it, it wouldn’t be called grace.
But at the same time, God loves us enough to let us fail, to let us hurt, and to discipline us. We are under refinement and it is through trials and tribulation, through our mistakes and flaws that we grow. If we are never wounded or never experience pain, we would not ever experience or understand the depths of His grace. Without any consequence for our own stupidity, we may never see a need for God.
I wasn’t stopped or ticketed. The officer followed me for a little more than three miles before he turned onto a side street. I was able to drive home in peace without any interaction with Idaho’s State Patrol. But I also felt a little sheepish for thinking that my choice in radio station would change the outcome of my circumstances or convince God to save me from the consequences of driving with a busted tail light.
The officer could have been off duty. Or realized that I was obeying the speed limit and figured it wasn’t worth the effort to pull me over for the tail light. Or maybe he ran my plates and saw we received the fixit ticket on Friday and there wasn’t ample opportunity to fix the light by Sunday afternoon. Or it could be that God just did whatever he was going to do because he had my best interest at heart.
|posted by nicholas casey @ 5:49 PM
| Tuesday, April 20, 2010
| A time to lament
|The test results have come back and the news is not good. Nothing dampens the spirit like a dismal medical outlook. So many emotions come with that kind of news: sorrow, despair, sadness, confusion, frustration, anger. All fair responses. So what do you do when the doctor gives you bad news?
I felt that last night. That twinge of grief is inescapable. To posses the ability to avoid such burdened emotions, you’d have to be less than human. Even Jesus – who was more than human – reached into the depths of melancholy when on the cross he cried out “My God, my god, why have you forsaken me.” (Mark 15:34)
Yet, amidst the natural bent toward misery, my heart sang. There was one song that kept running through my head like a tape loop stuck on replay: “Joy unspeakable that won’t go away – And just enough strength to live for today – So I never have to worry what tomorrow will bring.” (Desperation Band – Counting on God)
How is it possible for me to sing of joy while experience heart rending sorrow? To be honest – I don’t know. It is not by my power. My first inclination would have been to dive into despair as deep as I could go and wallow in it, not to sing songs of praise.
This untamable praise is not without precedent. We see it with Jeremiah. He watched his home and the city he loved crumble and suffer destruction. “My heart is broken” He told us. “D’you want to know why I’m sad? I’ll tell you why I’m sad. In fact, I’ll give you a list. I’m tormented and distressed, my home town is deserted and my friends and peers have been killed or taken into forced labor. I have been rejected, abandoned, and deprived. I am broken, hungry, and bitter.” For two and a half chapters, Jeremiah tells us everything that is wrong with life. (1st half of the book of Lamentations) Then he says something that exceeds human capability. He tells us the one thing that gives him hope: “Because of God’s love, we are not consumed. His compassion is new every morning. Great is His faithfulness. God is good.” (Lamentations 3:21-25)
The same thing happens when Paul and his partner Silas are wrongfully accused, beaten, and thrown in prison. Bound by stocks and kept under guard, they begin to sing songs of praise. (Acts 16:16-25)
Before Jesus was arrested, he prayed – knowing what he was about to endure – “I want your will, not mine.” (Luke 22:42) And in his final breath, Jesus speaks in worship, “unto you I commit my spirit.” (Luke 23:46)
What possessed me that my mind was filled with praise in the process of mourning? What is this crazy reckless abandon inside of me bursting with unspeakable joy while suffering undesirable grief? To be honest, it is a power beyond myself. It is an proclivity that defies my natural tendencies.
There is a time to lament. There are situations and events were sorrow is an appropriate response. To deny that would be absurd. I am not proposing we all be shiny happy people in the face of infinite sadness. My hope is that you see that God is bigger than your pain. It is the power of God that speaks beyond my own capabilities. When all else fails, when hope seems lost, it is through Him that I can still say “how great is our God.”
|posted by nicholas casey @ 10:42 PM
| Friday, April 16, 2010
| Just wait until you meet him
|Step into my time machine. It’s November 1st 2012. The presidential elections are a few days away, and your best friend approaches you with some exciting news.
“I’ve just met the next President of the United States,” he tells you.
“You met Obama?” You ask.
Confusion hits you like a punch from Mike Tyson (before he went crazy). You friend sees the question inside your eyes and offers an explanation.
“You have to meet this guy. He has a plan to ensure every child receives quality education, improve foreign relations, offer basic health care to every American, eliminate our national debt, lower unemployment, and reduce taxes.”
“Who is he?” You ask. It sounds too good to be true.
“This guy from Athol.”
“Athol?” It can’t be right. “You met some stranger from Athol and you think he’s going to be President?”
You friend nods his head. “I do.”
“Is his name on the ballot?”
“Any political experience? Is he the mayor? A senator? Is he in the state legislature?
“A volunteer fireman?”
“Where did you find him?”
“He works at the Cydco up there. Talked to him when I stopped to get some fuel.”
“He’s unelectable. How is he going to become the next President?”
Your friend smiles and answers, “Because everyone will vote for him. Just wait until you meet him.”
If you really had this conversation, you’d have your doubts. Your skeptical outlook would be justified. There is no logical way that a gas station employee from a podunk town with no experience in public service could be elected to the highest political office in America. It’s just not possible.
That’s probably what Nathanael was thinking when his friend Philip said, “I met the Messiah.” (John 1:44-45)
Jesus found Philip and offered him the opportunity to be one of his followers. Philip accepted, but there was something he had to take care of first. He had to tell his best friend. Nathanael needed to know.
“Nate – we found him. It’s the one we’ve read about. The person who is going to rule Israel and overthrow the Romans. He’s here now. And he’s offered to lead us into victory!”
“Really? Who is it?”
“This dude from Nazareth. Joe’s son Jesus.”
Just like you’d be unconvinced of the possibility of a nobody from a backwoods town becoming President, Nathanael had the same suspicions.
“Nazareth? Really? That podunk town? What good has ever come from there?” (John 1:46)
Nathanael had a good reason to doubt Philip’s story. Nazareth was a small town. They only had one synagogue. The good priests were in Bigger cities, so the education that Jesus would have received there probably was not the best. No experience, a carpenter’s son, and Philip is asking him to believe that this Rabbi from a town that most would rather avoid is really the Messiah. This stranger is the one the prophets and the book of law had predicted would save them? Inconceivable.
Philips answer? “Just wait until you meet him.” (John 1:46)
And that’s all it took. All Nathanael had to do was meet him. Jesus proved himself and surprised Nathanael. The real Jesus isn’t who Nathanael anticipated. God, on earth. And not what Nathanael expected to come from Nazareth.
God often isn’t who we expect him to be. Our understanding and expectations of God don’t always match. He’s full of wonder and surprises. But we sometimes have doubts.
If He’s really God, can’t He save Darfur? Could He tell me why my Grandpa has cancer? Is He going to help me win the lottery? Why did He create mosquitoes? Will He end poverty in America? Or the AIDS epidemic in Africa? Or human trafficking in South east Asia? Why doesn’t He eliminate those that deny His existence?
There’s no way that He could be who He says he is.
The answer? “Just wait until you meet him.”
Did Jesus explain away Nathanial’s doubts? Did he give off a long list of good things that have come from Nazareth? Did he say “look at what I can do” and perform a song and dance number? No.
When Nathanael met Jesus, Jesus said “I know you. I saw you before Philip found you.” (John 1:48)
That was enough. Nathanael might have still wondered how Jesus made it out of Nazareth. He might have still had questions about how Jesus was able to perform his miracles. But he believed that Jesus was the Messiah – just because Jesus knew him.
Doubts are natural. To question is to understand. But we may not get our questions answered.
We don’t believe in God because he’s our winning lottery ticket. We don’t believe in God because he fixed all of the problems in our lives or ended human suffering.
We believe because we are known.
When we come to God, he tells us, “I know you. I saw you in your back yard playing with your kids. I saw you visiting a loved one at the hospital. I saw you sitting in your office wondering how you were going to get enough money to buy a new car. I saw you in line at McDonalds ordering chicken nuggets with extra sweet & sour sauce. I saw you lying in bed questioning the choices you’ve made in life. I know you.”
We still have our reservations, our questions, our doubts and hurts. But we are known and loved.
Just wait until you meet him.
|posted by nicholas casey @ 7:05 AM
| Wednesday, January 13, 2010
| Broken Guitar Strings
|There are six strings on most guitars. In a standard tuning, plucking a string will produce one of five notes: e, a, d, g, or b. The last string is also an e – only a couple octaves higher. That string is the thinnest string and is most prone to snap.
Breaking that high e string is not a fun activity while playing. I’ve had one strike my cheek, leaving a small welt. The g and b strings are also a thinner gauge and easy to break if you’re not being careful. From there the low e, a, and d strings are thicker and more difficult to break.
When a string is severed, the player loses the capability to make music the same way that they would under normal circumstances. Some chords would come across flat or hollow; others sound atrocious. Great guitarists can be creative enough to work around the missing string, but most will continue doing what they’re doing as if nothing happened.
Strings snap for various reasons. They wear out, or they could be stretched the wrong way while tuning. And sometimes it’s a result of playing style or intense strumming.
Our church’s worship pastor broke the g string on his guitar a while back. His facial expressions betrayed the unplanned event, and there was instantly a noticeable difference in the sound of the song he was plying.
Several years ago, my roommate Drew had a run of bad luck with guitar strings. The first string to break was the d string on his guitar. Broken d strings are not common. He borrowed Tommy’s guitar and proceeded to break the d string… again. Then he borrowed Shawn’s guitar, breaking yet another d string. He finally finished the night with my guitar (graciously returning it with all strings intact).
What are the broken strings in our lives? Divorce or broken relationships? Addiction and substance abuse? Unemployment? Financial troubles? Cancer? There are so many things that can go wrong in our lives; it’s easy to wonder how our lives became so broken.
The causes of brokenness can be divided into two categories: a product of happenstance or the result of our own doings.
It could be like our worship pastor. Nothing you are doing wrong. It is just a matter of circumstance. It was bound to happen. There are conditions that are beyond your control. They just happen, and your heart strings are broken.
It could be like my old roommate. You’re doing something wrong. And it’s not just a mistake; you keep doing the same thing the same way with the same result. You do nothing to fix what’s broken. You’re stuck in this circle where you’re heart strings are busted yet you have direct control over how it happens.
We all fall into one of those two categories. Everyone makes mistakes. And bad things happen.
Yet there is a danger in our tendencies to lean toward one or the other. We risk further failures in the assumption that all of our brokenness is of only one cause.
If we assume that everything that goes wrong in our lives is a result of random happenings and that it is all beyond our control, we become a victim. We do nothing to resolve our damaged lives. We might say that God will save us, but only as a matter of faith without deed. As nothing is resolved, we continue to carry a weight of disappointment, hurt, and hopelessness. We may begin to believe that God hates us or blame him for all our problems.
On the other extreme, we could act as if we are in control of every aspect of our lives. Since we are the direct cause of every wrong in our lives, we are solely responsible for the reparations. Our egos thrive when times are good, but we crash in failure. Our need for control excludes the possibility of a power greater than ours. We lose any need for God.
We either view God as the villainous cause or our woe, or powerless to help. We fail in our refusal to do anything or our demands to do everything.
We lack balance.
Bad things will happen. We know that. From natural disasters to the crumbling economy, from our own pride to our mistakes; we live in a fallen world.
I’m not proposing a cure all method to insulate you against a broken world. There is no way to prevent your heart strings from breaking. Just like guitar strings. My friend Steve washes his hands before playing the guitar, and polishes the strings after he’s done. Another friend of mine replaces his strings weekly. Neither method works 100% of the time. Strings still break and need replaced.
The question should be how we fix our strings. Do we take the time to discover the cause of all the achy parts? When things fail, we need to honestly examine the root cause. Was there something you could have done to prevent whatever happened? Then change your ways. Correct your actions. Was it completely beyond your control? Then rely on God to fix what went wrong.
And in all things learn from your experiences.
|posted by nicholas casey @ 8:51 PM
| Thursday, September 11, 2008
| Culture and God's will
|Wise advice is often found in unique places. For those involved in ministry and church leadership, we are often pointed to the books First & Second Timothy on instruction on how to lead and minister.
But, like I said, advice is found in uncommon places.
1 Chronicles 12 outlines the men who joined David's army while he was exiled from King Saul, and others who joined to help turn Saul's Kingdom over into David's hands. Of the thousands who joined David, most of them were described as brave warriors, or armed and prepared for battle. All of them except one group... the men of Issachar. The men of Issachar were described as those "who understood the times and knew what Israel should do—200 chiefs, with all their relatives under their command." (1 Chronicles 12:32, NIV)
They understood the times - their culture. And they knew what Israel should do; in other words, they knew God's will.
Today's church needs warriors - people who will stand up and fight for God. But among those brave few, we need leaders. Leaders who understand our culture and knows God's will.
|posted by nicholas casey @ 11:20 AM
| Monday, November 26, 2007
| The genealogies of Jesus, and the differences between them
|Sorry for the poor syntax. This was a quick response to a student confused by the differences between the gospels of Matthew and Luke. Some people view these differences as glaring contradictions that completely invalidate the the gospels. I believe such off handed dismisal of the Bible is completely ignorant. As CS Lewis once wrote "When you are arguing against Him you are arguing against the very power that makes you able to argue at all."
Read my response, let me know what you think. Thanks.
* * * * * *
The differences in Jesus’ genealogy begin after David. Matthew follows David’s son Solomon
while Luke follows David’s son Nathan
. First, understand that Solomon became King after David – not Nathan. Jewish royalty was a passed through birth. If your daddy wasn
’t king then you would never be a king. All of Israel’s kings were descendants of David. In fact, when you read through the genealogy in Matthew it follows the list of kings from David until the time of exile into Babylon. (After the exile, there were no more kings. Zerubbabel
served as a governor, but Israel was soon conquered and placed under rule of the Roman Empire.)
Why is all of that Jewish history important? It was important to the original audience of the gospels. Matthew was written for a primarily Jewish audience. Prophesy had stated that the messiah would be king. Jews of Jesus’ day were expecting a messiah who would be born into royalty and lead the Jews in a revolution to overthrow the government. They weren
’t expecting a goofy looking vagrant born to a poor carpenter. Matthew was using the line of David through Solomon to show Jesus as the legal ancestor to royal lineage.
Why Luke follows the line of David through Nathan isn
’t as widely agreed upon. Some say that both lines reflect Joseph’s (Jesus’ dad's) heritage. While Matthew follows Joseph’s royal lineage, Luke follows Joseph’s human lineage. That theory never made sense to me since both halves are human – not to mention Matthew and Luke record different fathers for Joseph. It wasn
’t possible for Joseph to have two daddies unless one of them was a father-in-law.
Which brings us to the second theory (more popular and makes the most sense to me). Matthew follows Jesus’ royal heritage through Joseph. Joseph was only Jesus’ adopted father, so his human lineage is traced through his mother, Mary – and that is what is recorded in Luke. Luke doesn
’t mention Mary, but in ancient Middle Eastern culture it was not acceptable to mention a woman with out a man present. So, Heli
(in Luke) was really Mary’s dad. Since Mary and Joseph were married, they were considered one flesh and that culture considered her to be a part of him. So, it was socially acceptable to refer to Joseph as son of Heli
, even though Heli
was only Joseph’s father through marriage.
This second reason for the difference makes sense due to understanding Luke’s audience. First, Luke was a highly educated doctor. Due to his background, most scholars believe that Luke was not from Palestine, but from somewhere else in the Roman empire (some believe he was from Alexandra). He wrote his gospel and the book of Acts as a two part series detailing Jesus’ life and the beginnings of the Christian church. The books were addressed to someone named Theophilus
. We don’t know who Theophilus
was; the name means “friend of God,” so it could be anybody, but many believe that he was a leader in the Roman government due to Luke calling him “most excellent Theophilus
.” Most agree that Theophilus
(and most of Luke’s intended audience) were Gentiles (non-Jews).
The Jews cared about a messiah born of royal heritage; so Matthew followed Jesus’ royal family tree. But the Gentiles didn
’t care if Jesus was heir to the Jewish throne. What they cared about was his human qualities – that he was God born of man. Therefore, Luke followed Jesus’ human lineage through his mother, Mary.
|posted by nicholas casey @ 12:21 AM
| Friday, June 15, 2007
| All about Love
|For the last few weeks, my boss has been challenging us to inspire our employees to greatness. How can we inspire those that work for us to be great? This urging to accomplish bigger and better things is a lofty goal that drives many people today.
In the early churches, I believe that Paul was trying to inspire trying to inspire the Corinthians to greatness when he wrote about love. There are many great things that can be done. Paul lists them off - we can speak in many different languages; we can see the future; we can possess amazing faith, knowledge, and understanding; we can give and give till there is nothing left for us to give. These are all great things, but Paul makes one thing clear; without love, all great things are utterly meaningless.
We discussed this inspiration for greatness during a recent staff meeting. We gave the usual ideas of pep talks and encouraging words. But, one of my coworkers said had a different perspective. She said, "Greatness is not the end result. It is a process. It is a means to an end."
Any one who has parented a child understands this concept. When a child is learning to walk you praise every step, but as they grow older there is no greatness in walking; there are new things to learn and explorer. As a child grows, parents must find new things to praise there child in greatness.
Everyone who has been a manager or a supervisor understands this concept. Successfully logging into a computer system might be great for a new employee, but after logging in everyday loses its greatness after a few days. What is great for a new employee is common for a tenured employee. Supervisors must find new great things for each individual employee. Anything that is done well could be done better.
Paul understood this concept when writing to the Corinthians. He understood this process to greatness is incomplete, and that we should always aspire to do greater things. 'We know in part and we prophesy in part, but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.' (1 Cor 13:9-12)
Love is our measure of greatness. Paul has shown us the most excellent way. As we aspire to greatness, we should also inspire others to greatness. Of all great things - faith, hope, and love - the greatest we can ever attain is love. It is all about love.
|posted by nicholas casey @ 12:19 PM
| Monday, April 23, 2007
| Strength in Hard Times
|It is easy to have faith that your needs will be met in times of prosperity. It is easy to acknowledge God’s blessings when success is all around you. Surely, this is (eventually) the life that God intends for us when He said “I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you.” (Jeremiah 29:11) Yet, many people impose their idea of prosperity onto God. They equate financial security to God’s love and acceptance; as if God only loves those who are successful.
That is no testament of true character. How can one fully appreciate God’s goodness with out ever experiencing a need to long for His grace? God’s promise in Jeremiah was not a birthright, it was a promise made to hurting people in need of hope. It was – and still is – a response to those who seek God in desperation.
What happens when we experience hard times? Doe we, like Jeremiah, cry out to God? “Heal me, O Lord, and I will be healed; save me and I will be saved.” (Jeremiah 17:14) Do we have that kind of faith?
What do we do when our health is failing? When we fall victim to corporate reorganization? When our car breaks down? When we have to decide which is more important: buy food or pay rent? What do we do when it seems nothing is happening in our favor? Do we treat God like he is our first love, or last resort?
The truest act of faith is found in our reaction to trials and tribulations. Where we find strength during hard times is a display of our inner-most character. The secret of joy is finding peace through any difficulty, when prosperity seems improbable. Far too often, I fear we delay our yearning for God until prosperity is restored. We tell ourselves “I will praise God when…” failing to realize we need God now, more than ever. We need to take a different approach.
The prophet, Habakkuk, gave us a fine example of this hope. “Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior. The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to go on the heights.” (Habakkuk 3:17-19) Even when all else fails, hope in God – find strength in Him.
God’s strength is most apparent when we rely on him to carry us through tough times. The apostle Paul writes of God’s promises, “He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2Corinthians 12:9-10) This is the joy we find in God’s strength; that we rely on him through good times and bad.
God can make us anything. The powers to create and destroy are His. He dares us to dream big dreams; that we can do all things through Christ and His strength. We must allow ourselves to be lumps of mud in the hands of the Artist who can change us into something beautiful. Give Him our dreams, our desires, and He will shape us into a masterpiece. For in Him we find hope, and through Him we find strength for hard times.
|posted by nicholas casey @ 11:40 AM
| Thursday, December 21, 2006
| The Real Reason for the Season
|It seems the Christmas advertising season starts two days earlier than it did the year before. That is two extra days a year of hearing songs about Frosty, Rudolph, mistletoe, and holly. Two extra days of red, green, and white decorations, and Salvation Army bells ringing across the nation. Two extra days for all of the seasonal Santas to find their red suits. Two more days for hearing about peace, joy, and the good news of Jesus’ birth, along with the complaints “it isn’t even Thanksgiving yet. And two more days of panic for dieticians and procrastinators.
Christmas is my wife’s favorite holiday. She loves the deep sense of family traditions, and the budding philanthropist within her finds no deeper satisfaction than giving gifts to her closest friends, family, and to the occasional stranger in need. She longs all year for the apple pie, laughter, winter snow, the smell of evergreen, and most importantly, the curious excitement that comes with the celebration of Christmas.
Yet, somehow, in all of the commercial endeavors, the difficulty finding parking spaces at the mall, and the inescapable business of the holidays, we miss the real reason for the season. We get caught up in the worry of buying presents in time, and picking the perfect wrapping paper. We occupy ourselves with lists; food lists, wish lists, mailing lists. We bury ourselves in traditions; the nativity scene, Christmas Eve church services, carols, gift exchanges. What is this for? What is Christmas about?
The Christmas story is a familiar and, for some of us, treasured story. But to really grasp what God intends for us during holiday season, we have to dig deeper. We must look beyond the shepherds, the manger, the gifts of the magi, and the inn with no room. We discover the reason for Christmas before Joseph and Mary even travel to Bethlehem.
Of all the people involved, I think Mary’s reaction best describes what Christmas is about. In the first chapter of Luke, we read about Mary’s encounter with an angel. She has been told that she was with child and would give birth to a son.
In verse 38, Mary says “I am the Lord’s servant, may it be to me as you have said.” Mary was not asked a simple favor, but given a daunting task and a lifetime of unanswered questions. Yet her bold response echoes the greatest gift we could ever give to our God.
I am your servant, do as You will. Such an act of faith can not be possible with out an assurance. In verse 37, the angel eased Mary’s confusion and fears “Nothing is impossible with God.”
The holiday season is not always the easiest time of year. For many, it lacks joy. The stress of the holidays overshadows the joy of Christmas. But God does not intend for us to suffer through the most wonderful time of the year. When you are facing the first holiday after losing someone close to you, or your first Christmas away from home; when you are stranded at an airport because of a blizzard; when you are panicking about whether or not you will blow your diet, or mail out Christmas cards in time; remember, with God all things are possible. It is up to us to reply, “I am Yours, may you do as you have promised.”
And what has God promised us. “For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11) “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5) “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.” (Luke 2:14)
|posted by nicholas casey @ 4:48 PM
| Tuesday, November 21, 2006
| Far From God part 2: Trapped (A Study of Psalm 107)
|It is a great prank. At first it looks like a simple tube made from bamboo or nylon. Encouraged by a friend who is in on the joke, an unsuspecting individual inserts a finger into each end with ease. Realizing there is no logical reason to having two fingers shoved in opposite ends of a child’s toy, the person tries to remove their fingers. But as the fingers are pulled apart, the tube tightens, and someone has fallen prey to a Chinese finger trap.
The best traps are easy to get into, but difficult to get out of. Most traps are self inflicted; no one would accidentally find their fingers stuck inside a Chinese finger trap. We fall into our own traps. We may stumble into those traps, but it is our decisions that lead us there. Just like a hunted animal steps into a hidden trap, we could have avoided the snare if only we had have taken a different path.
Some sat in the darkness and the deepest gloom
Prisoners suffering in iron chains
Imprisonment holds such vivid imagery, dirty, cold, walls made of concrete and iron bars. It is dark and gloomy, there is a foul smell; hope and comfort is forgotten. Most prisons today are far move livable, but this is still the image we have in our mind’s eye. It is an image that reflects how many of us feel. You do not have to be incarcerated to feel like a prisoner. Often, the worst prisons are inside us.
There are many things that hold us captive: failure, dead end jobs, bankruptcies, abuse, self-esteem, fear, grief, and so much more. None of these pitfalls are planned or hoped for. However, they are a direct result of choices we make. They could have been avoided.
The psalmist tells us how we fall into our traps.
For they had rebelled against the words of God
And despised the counsel of the Most High
So he subjected them to bitter labor
They stumbled, and there was no one to help
Everyone makes mistake. Error is natural, but I do not believe this is what the psalmist is talking about. We trap ourselves with deliberate defiance. Honest mistakes have consequences, but are easy to overcome. Intentional disobedience carries severe discipline. The wrong choices seem easier, but all we do is dig a deeper hole.
But this dire consequence is not the end of the road. God does not want us to be enslaved by our own attitudes and actions. God’s desire for us is to find freedom through Him.
He brought them out of darkness and the deepest gloom
And broke away their chains
For he breaks down gates of bronze
And cuts through bars of iron
(Psalm 107:14 & 16)
We may fall into our own traps, but God is our way out. If we call on God, He will rescue us.
The funny thing about Chinese finger traps… they can be easy to get out of, if you know how.
|posted by nicholas casey @ 5:32 PM
| Sunday, October 15, 2006
| Far From God part 1: Lost (A Study of Psalm 107)
|Shortly after moving to the Coeur d'Alene area, my father-in-law got me hooked on what would become one of the most talked about shows on television: LOST. Each week I watch as 48 survivors from a mysterious plane crash search for food, clean water, shelter, and (most importantly) a way home.
I have found myself emotionally attached to these characters, stranded on a desert island, far from the cities they once knew. They are hungry, thirsty, and constantly in distress. The producers and script writers cleverly leave you hanging at the end of each episode, weave in new twists, and ask four questions for every one answered. In essence the viewer feels as lost as the fictional survivors of flight 815.
When it comes to life, many of us find ourselves just as lost. With out direction or aim, our fates unknown, we lose hope. The psalmist writes of four things that separate us from God, and this purposeless state is the first to be addressed. First because all of us, without God, are lost.
Some wandered the desert wastelands,
finding no way to a city where they could settle.
They were hungry and thirsty,
and their lives ebbed away.
It is in this state of wandering that we hunger and thirst the most. We find no satisfaction without knowing shelter.
Have you ever been lost? A friend of mine recently returned from a hunting trip where he had been separated from the rest of his party. They had hiked up different sides of the mountain and by the time they noticed, he and the guys he was with were too far away to communicate. No reply on the radios, shouting and whistles went unreturned. This is the point that most of us panic. We get desperate and finally ask for help. Search and rescue is called in and several hours later, parties are united.
In this desperation we cry out to God. We should have called on Him sooner, but now we are in too deep to make it out without him. How does He rescue the lost? How is that chasm between us, the lost, and God closed.
He led them by a straight way
to a city where they could settle.
for He satisfies the thirsty
and fills the hungry with good things.
(Psalms 107:7 & 107:9)
It is here we find solace. We don't have to wander aimlessly. God will lead us. If we trust in His guidance we will be satisfied. In Him we will never hunger and we will never thirst.
You most likely are not reading this post from a desert island. I am beginning to doubt that Locke, Eko, and Hurley will ever make it off of their Island in LOST, but we a hope that they don't possess. God has given us this promise:
I will search for the lost and bring back the strays. I will bind up the injured and strengthen the weak. (Ezekiel 34:16)
|posted by nicholas casey @ 5:49 PM
| Thursday, October 12, 2006
| Historical Accuracy
|Fact: writings from ancient cultures were passed down through oral traditions before being written on paper. This is true of all cultures on all continents. Let's do some comparisons. The earliest gospel was written about 70 AD and the latest about 90 AD, all four with in a lifetime of the events of Jesus’ time. Do you believe the stories of Jesus to be true?
How about Alexander the Great? Do you believe he existed? Do you think that the stories we have of him are accurate? Most scholars do, but the earliest biographies of Alexander were written during Jesus’ lifetime... 400 years after Alexander the Great had died.
If the the story of Alexander could be kept accurate after a span of 400 years, so could the story of Jesus. And it only took 30-40 years for that story to be written.
People of the ancient world differ from modern man in the way we write. They only wrote if there was reason to preserve that story.
As for the Old Testament. The Dead Sea scrolls have helped to prove that the content of the Old Testament has gone unchanged in 2000 years.
There is corroboration outside of the Bible to support its accuracy. Ancient Jewish writings from Jesus’ time talked about His miracles and called Jesus a sorcerer who led Israel astray. Why would they call the miracles of Jesus a magic trick if He hadn't done what the Bible says he did?
Fact: we don't have an original copy of the New Testament. We don't have the original copy of ANY document written during ancient times. The Bible you know today (in all its versions) is translated from a copy of a copy. The same is true of other ancient writings like Homer's Iliad or the Dialogs of Plato. Experts believe the Iliad and Plato's Dialogs to be accurate in content, why not the Bible? They were both written the same way, and most of the New Testament was written in the same language.
When all of these texts are examined for authenticity, what experts look at is how many copies exist and their age. When multiple copies of the same thing exists, they are cross checked to see if they say the same thing. Again, let's do some comparisons.
The earliest copies of the New Testament that we have today dates back to a couple generations after Jesus’ time; written in several languages like Greek, Latin, and Coptic. Most other ancient texts have a difference of 500 - 1000 years between the original and the earliest surviving copy and often only in one or two languages.
The 'Annals of Imperial Rome' was written by an early Roman historian in 116 AD. There is only one existing copy which wasn't written till 850 AD.
Josephus was a Jewish historian and contemporary of Jesus. There are only nine copies in Greek of his writing 'The Jewish War' all copied 900-1100 years after the original.
The Iliad was originally written in 800 BC. The earliest manuscript dates between 200 AD & 300 AD and less than 650 copies still exist. There are more remaining copies of the Iliad than any other ancient text, except for one... the Bible.
There are more than five thousand existing Greek copies of the New Testament. In addition to Greek, there are over eight thousand manuscripts in Latin, and another eight thousand in Slavic, Ethiopic, and Armenian. The grand total of all biblical manuscripts totals close to twenty-four thousand.
Some of the earliest were copied about 200 AD. When those copies were discovered and dated in 1930, a funny thing happened. They said the same thing as other copies that have been discovered and they said the same thing as what people were reading in their own Bibles. The very earliest copy is a small portion of the gospel of John; it dates back to somewhere between 98 AD to 150 AD.
Fact: there are variations in those early copies. Those variations are very minor; most of it is misspelling or changing the order of words. But there is a major difference between English and Greek. In English if I say 'A hand pats back' you know that the subject of that sentence is HAND. Instead if I said 'A back pats hand' you might think that BACK is the subject and sentence makes no sense. But in the Greek language, word order didn't matter. The subject was known by how the words were inflected. If I spoke Greek, I could say 'pats back A hand' and my audience would know by inflection that the hand is the one patting the back. Even with the variations, modern translation of the Bible is more accurate than of any other ancient text. Some scholars say the Bible has been preserved in a state that is about 99% pure.
The differences between translations are words. Syntax. If you read them they say the same thing. Is the fact that the King James Version says "fellows" in Hebrews 1:9 while the NIV says "companions" and the RSV says "comrades" really such a big deal?
For further study, I worecommendmend reading The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel. That is where I received most of this information.
|posted by nicholas casey @ 7:37 PM
| Monday, September 11, 2006
| Yet This I Call to Mind
|Five year ago, along with most of the nation, I watched as the devestation in New York City unfolded. Like many others my first thought was, "pray for America."
Why is it that the same force that leads some to kneel in prayer will drive others to blow up buildings?
2500 years ago, the prophet Jeremiah overlooked the fallen city of Jeruselem after it had been destroyed by Babylonian armies. "The Lord has done what He planned...He has overthrown you without pity, He has let the enemy gloat over you." (Lam. 2:17) So much of Jeremiah's lament sounds familiar today.
Iraqi press called 9/11 our punishment from God. But I believe God was with those who escaped before the buildings fell. He was with those who sacrifice their lives to save people trapped inside the towers, and with the thousands of volunteers involved with the recovery efforts with those who escaped before the buildings fell. And much like those firefighters and rescue workers, Jeremiah had many of the same thoughts. Why?
I can imagine hearing a New York resident saying the same words spoken in Lamentations while overlooking ground zero, "I have been deprived of peace...My splendor is gone...I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall. I remember them
and my soul is downcast with in me." (Lam. 3:15-16)
We will always remember what happened that September morning. Those images of plane crashes and collapsing buildings will always be a part of our memories. But life must go on. And if we continue in faith, we will be stronger and more confident in our victory than ever before. "Though He slay me, yet will I hope in Him...Indeed, this will turn out for my deliverence." (Job 13:15-16)
So how do we cope? How did Jeremiah cope with the destruction of the city he loved? "Yet this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning. Great is Your faithfulness." (Lam. 3:21-23)
Despite the attacks on the world trade center and the pentagon, despite the war and continuing attacks around the world, we have hope. We are still one nation under God. His love never fails.
|posted by nicholas casey @ 12:32 PM
| Thursday, September 7, 2006
| What I Know and What I Don’t Know
|The difference between what I know and what I don’t know is growing. The more I learn, the more there is to learn. The more that I understand, the more there is yet to be understood.
When I was younger I knew that if I dialed a phone number and someone answered we could talk to each other. I didn’t know how my voice was transmitted to the person I called or how their voice was sent back to me. It didn’t matter, what mattered is that I could use the phone to talk to some one far away.
Now I know that if I call my parents in Seattle there is more involved than just a couple of tin cans on a string.
When I dial their number a signal is sent from my telephone through a wire to a phone jack. Wiring inside the walls connects the jack to a box attached to the outside of my house. From there, my call is connected to the network that services my neighborhood. This is through a wire buried underground or an aerial wire suspended from the house to a terminal. Sometimes that terminal is on the ground and sometimes it’s attached to a telephone pole. The terminal connects my call to a local network and through an interface that services my neighborhood and several others. It is then sent through a larger network to an office operated by my telephone service provider. Inside the office, my call is routed through a distribution network; this is where my local line ends. Distrtibution leads into a switch that determines what office my calls need to be routed to, and then sends it to that office via a transmitter. Transmition could be done through a copper wire, fiber optics, or radio waves. Because my parents do not live in the same calling area (crazy geographical areas made up by the FCC that bear only minor relation to area codes and state lines) my call is then sent to a transmitter inside yet another office operated by my phone company. That office also contains a switch and a second transmitter that sends my call to my provider’s long distance office where it is received by a transmitter sent through a switch and another transmitter to the long distance carrier’s offices in my parents’ area.
From there the call travels in reverse order to my parents’ phone. Though a transmitter / switch / transmitter in the long distance office to the offices that connect the long distance network to the local network and another transmitter / switch / transmitter combination. It is sent to a transmitter inside the offices of their telephone provider, through a final switch and into distribution network that begins their local lines. Then, though the various networks and interfaces my call arrives in their neighborhood. It is sent through either a buried or aerial wire to the box on the side of their house, through internal wiring and a jack, where at last… my parents phone rings. Hopefully, they answer.
Before, there was only one thing that I did not know: how a phone call got from point A to point B. Now I know that one thing but by learning that one thing there is much more that I do not know.
I don’t know how my phone converts my voice into an electronic signal. Or how that signal is changed from an analog signal in copper wiring to a radio wave or digital on fiber optics. I don’t understand how the supercomputers inside the switches know where to direct my call, or why my call is sent through so many different switches. And I don’t know how that call is completed in less than a second.
The same rings true with ever other aspect of learning, in or out of a classroom environment. Music, history, science, careers, family, medicine, electronics, media, communication… the more you know, the more there is to be known.
The same is true of God. Your relationship with Him is an art of discovery. To know God is not about knowing every detail of His existence, but a continued search for things unknown.
Paul writes about the mysteries of God in many of his letters. In Ephesians he writes “With all wisdom and understanding, he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ.” He continues in Colossians, “My goal is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.”
It’s amazing to think that everything there is to know, all wisdom and knowledge, is hidden in Christ. It is there in Him for us to grasp hold of. But we have to know Christ Jesus to get it. You may know who Jesus is, but that doesn’t mean you know him. You can only know Jesus… truly know Him the same way you would get to know anyone else, by spending time with him. Learn from Him. There is always more to discover.
Learning is an ongoing process. It should be a lifelong quest. In ‘How Much I Don’t Know’ Scott Silletta writes “If You just keep opening doors, I promise that I’ll keep testing the locks.” We should always be exploring what life has to offer, opening every door… or at least trying. God opens a lot of doors in our lives; each of them leads to more. We should always make the most of the opportunities He gives us.
|posted by nicholas casey @ 7:07 PM
| Friday, August 25, 2006
| train song
|There is a song I've been listening to while in route to and from work. It is one of those songs that once you hear it, it is impossible to forget. Train Song by this guy from Texas named Listener. There is a lot I could say about this powerful song, but... I'd rather let you read it and ponder. If you want to hear it, there is a live version on Listener's myspace page and it is also the song on my myspace profile.
I was alone and my train was late that night
I saw a crumpled man blinded by the life that he treated himself to
Crippled from the nights receiving endless beatings that even a house couldn’t endure
Palm raised skyward, his meager belongings collected on the floor
Singing songs to no one about nothing, but crying because they mean so much
It’s these babblings that keep his life going, keep the nickels flowing deep into his cup
There we both were framed in awkward silence, and I was in his living room invading his trust
He finally said to me that he had one last cigarette to smoke and it was time to give it up
But he laughed and added he wasn’t sure which to give up his life or the habit
He said it’s my habits that made my fingers weak, when my chances came I couldn’t grab it
But it’s my life that made it hard and when my opportunities were there for free I chose my habits
I half smiled and offered the most empathetic nod that I could conjure up and said
I hear you brother I’ve got problems too but words won’t fill your cup
I’ve got responsibilities to face and they’re woven tight to my dreams
I’ve got more bills to pay than I have time and I’m starting to rip at the seems
I’ve got a plan and I know that if I stick to it I can accomplish happiness
I’ve got goals that beat my will and lately it’s been hard to accept the challenge
And he said: man, that’s God talking to you, and I don’t know why you can’t see
You’re so blind that you can’t spare to make change because all your focus is on “ME”
All wrapped up in your own skin that you can’t help set an old man free
I’ve been in your shoes before it feels like it was yesterday if not at all
My existence has been a blink and for the life of me I can’t remember what I saw
That made so much sense to me even though I convinced myself that he was totally insane
I bent over and lit his cigarette and told him to mind his own business
Because I was just waiting for my train
He said I’ve been waiting here forever just dying in my skin
And the only reason you’re living life is because you’re curious what’ll happen in the end
That might be true but why should I pay my hard earned attention to vagabond doctrine
If you’ve got so much knowledge to give why not treat yourself to what you’re offering
You probably have lived a hard life, and I apologize
But I have my own problems that you couldn’t understand just like a lot of guys
Now here’s a couple bucks, go buy yourself whatever makes you happy
Even though I’ve promised myself to never pay for you to make my city look trashy
He refused my money and sat there singing songs of love and hate
I crammed the change in my pocket, called him a lunatic and went on with my wait
As I stood there hovering near his tiny frame I could feel his eyes judging me sadly
It’s as if he had to convince me that my life was on the wrong track and I needed it badly
I said hey old man your cigarettes are all smoked up it’s time for you to leave
He looked at the trail of ash on his shirt and smiled as if it gave him some sort of relief
He propped himself up, collected his life and got prepared to become one with the night
He turned around and wished me luck with all my plans, and said something about learning to walk before I ran
Before I knew it he was out of my sight, and I had all ready forgotten his reasoning
I could hear my train coming and home was on my mind not his cryptic meanings
Another traveler was on the platform and for some reason he was running towards me
All I could see was his eyes, but it’s his words that will always stick with me
Through his heavy breaths he asked if I had just spent time with the old man
I nodded in affirmation and tried to calm him so he could tell me why he ran
He said: man, that was God talking to you, how could you not see
That was God talking right to your face trying to hand you the keys
He was right here and I can’t understand why you chose to make him leave
He just died in my arms right outside the station and said you were his only friend
He begged me to tell you about his life, make you see the light, give you a chance again
I cringed at the reality that was facing me
I told the man I had no time for this and on my way I had to be
Right about that time my train pulled up and I made my escape
I sat in the empty plastic seat and held tight to my fate
That was decades ago, and now I sit singing on my own platform
My belongings stowed tightly in my bags, handing out my sad, sad songs
And I say it’s my habits that make my fingers weak, when my chances come I can’t grab them
But it’s my life that makes it hard and when my opportunities are there for free I choose my habits
I have no responsibilities and as a result I no longer need my dreams
I don’t have any bills to pay, it’s like I’m free but I’m really in captivity
I don’t have any plans except to just sit here and try and weather the storm
I wish I had goals but if I had those then I wouldn’t be here warning you on my platform
Singing train songs
|posted by nicholas casey @ 2:44 PM
| Tuesday, July 4, 2006
| On Prosperity Preaching
|Prov 11:25 "A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed." I don't think that God wants us all to live in poverty. And I don't believe that God doesn't want us to be wealthy. What matters is what you do with what God has given you. If you are financially well off, fine. But what do you do your money? If you dress in Gucci and Prada, drive a $50, 000 whip with two other cars in the driveway for occasional use, wear enough ice that you sparkle 24/7, and there are rooms in your house that are never used while your neighbor can barely pay rent... There's something wrong with you. If you get all that nice stuff, you help your neighbor, and your heart is in the right place... I don't see anything wrong with that.
Prov 11:28 "Whoever trusts in his riches will fall." Money is nice, but it can and will disappear in a heartbeat. When the money goes, then what? Can you have faith in a god who will take care of your needs by blessing you with nothing but earthly riches when your financial stability is ripped away? I'd rather trust in a God of miracles who loves me and will provide for my needs even when there's less than a dollar in my checking account.
Isaiah 3:16-24 "The LORD says, 'The women of Zion are haughty, walking along with outstretched necks, flirting with their eyes, tripping along with mincing steps, with ornaments jingling on their ankles. Therefore the Lord will bring sores on the heads of the women of Zion; the LORD will make their scalps bald.' In that day the Lord will snatch away their finery: the bangles and headbands and crescent necklaces, the earrings and bracelets and veils, the headdresses and ankle chains and sashes, the perfume bottles and charms, the signet rings and nose rings, the fine robes and the capes and cloaks, the purses and mirrors, and the linen garments and tiaras and shawls. Instead of fragrance there will be a stench; instead of a sash, a rope; instead of well-dressed hair, baldness; instead of fine clothing, sackcloth: instead of beauty, branding." The women (and even the men) in Isaiah's time were more proud of their appearance than they were of anything else, and God punished them.... severely. The threads, the bling, status... it is all worthless without reliance on God.
Matt 6:26 "Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?" God values us more than the rest of creation, yet he still cares for and feeds birds and beasts, creatures with no sense of prosperity. Matt 6:30 "God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you." This is one of the key verses for prosperity teaching, yet it doesn't say that God will dress you in nice clothes, just that you will be clothed better than plant life. The passage continues (verse 33) "But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well." The focus should be on God, then God will take care of the rest.
The book of Amos was written during a prosperous time for Israel. The book condemns the wealthy nation for prosperity leads to sin: neglect of God's Word, idolatry, pagan worship, greed, corrupted leadership and oppression of the poor.
Then there's the words of Jesus in Matt 19:21 & 23. "If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven... I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven." Again, It's not what you have but what you do with what you have. For the rich young ruler in Matthew 19, the cost of what Jesus asked was too much, the material things were of greater (although temporary) worth.
Two more final thoughts. 1 Tim 6:10 "For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs." Self explanatory.
Matt 6:19-21 "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." Do you really want your heart focused on earthly things of no eternal value?
God will take care of me and my family, that is all I ask for.
|posted by nicholas casey @ 5:30 PM