If you’ve followed my blog for a while, You know I attend church every Sunday, And I usually try to take sermon notes. As I listen, I try to record the message poetically.
Our pastor, Rev. Mary Grace Reynolds, is doing a bold sermon series. She’s asking our church congregants to send her scripture that puzzles or troubles them.
This week the scripture passage she used is from Luke 9:57-62. A weird one indeed! I’ve often thought Jesus was rather harsh with these two men who wanted to follow Him.
New International Version
The Cost of Following Jesus
57 As they were walking along the road, a man said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.”
58 Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”
59 He said to another man, “Follow me.”
But he replied, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.”
60 Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.”
61 Still another said, “I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say goodbye to my family.”
62 Jesus replied, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.”
Today’s sermon notes:
The mid-west mecca of modern architecture Is Columbus, Indiana. Ever been there? I watched the movie, “Columbus,” recently. Jinn & Casey meet and share.
Ultimately the movie is about Staying or leaving – choices we make. Casey needs to go, but doesn’t want to. Jinn convinces her to leave for her own sake.
Jesus may have been telling the men To leave for their own sake. Their situations were different, But departure was what it would take.
Jewish burial rites have many parts: Wrapping body, burial, dig up, burn, urn… In this scripture a man wants to tend to his father. Jesus prompts, “Come now and learn.”
We don’t know at what point in the rites This man’s father may have been – But it seems harsh for Jesus to tell him “Let the dead bury their dead.” Such chagrin!
Another man wants to go back to his family, But Jesus says, “Do not do an about face!” This passage is all about priorities. Jesus asks us to put Him in first place.
Love is not selfish, sinking in its talons. Love is generous – love always is kind. There often is sadness in leaving, But when God calls, listen, decide, and mind!
Don’t get stuck looking back (like Lot’s wife). You’ll become a pillar in your own tears and grief. It’s all about priorities and obedience. Hear God’s call and follow your belief!
What is it that determines your values and beliefs?
Perhaps Jesus was not being harsh with those two men after all. Perhaps, like Jinn and Casey in the movie, “Columbus,” He was telling them to leave for their own sake – even though they didn’t want to go quite yet.
Sometimes God’s perfect timing doesn’t seem perfect… … at least not at the time He jerks us out of our comfort zone! But often, looking back, we can say, “Aha! Now I see… God always knows what is best for me!”
Jesus’ words may seem harsh at first glance, But He always has our best interest at heart. I need to trust His encouragement to step out… And what better time than now to start?
See ya on the road to success tomorrow (God willing) Love, JanBeek
Today we received a thank you letter from Intermountain. We get a personalized letter from them every month. The letter provides a great source of encouragement. It motivates us to continue to give gladly because we know it is received and used meaningfully.
Our gift to Intermountain is a small donation. I have it taken out automatically from my monthly retirement income. I don’t even miss it… but I know it is pooled with other small gifts and together, they matter. Intermountain helps hundreds of children increase their mental health.
The thank you letter we receive each month lets us know our gift was received, and it tells us, “Your support, combined with the tireless efforts of our direct care staff, provides transformative outcomes in the lives of the children we serve.” Thanks! We believe it!
The academic and counseling programs at Intermountain, the recreational opportunities and clinical integrity are superb. We are encouraged to continue to support their efforts and to spread the word so others are encouraged to donate to them also. They are an excellent Montana-based 501(c) organization Check out their school, cottages, counseling, and community outreach programs at intermountain.org
How do you choose to share encouragement?
Donations are one way – but there are so many others: cards, letters, phone calls, texts, e-mails, home visits, hugs, volunteering time, you name it …
We all need encouragement, you know.
Thanks for visiting JanBeek See ya tomorrow (God willing)
Victor Salazar and Bob have stayed in touch for 50 years. How has that happened?
Victor was Bob’s wrestling student when Bob coached at Hillsdale High in San Mateo, CA. back in the 1970’s. Every year at Christmas, we exchanged Christmas cards. Victor let us know where he was each year – and his career took him to over 30 different countries! What a joy to have Vic come from Alabama to reconnect with us here in Montana! (That photo was taken last year when I first posted this blog)
I have had the fun of that kind of connection with former students, too. This is Ty Stiles and his wife with Bob & me. He was my kindergarten student in 1962! I named our first child, Ty. We never let Ty Stiles out of our sphere of contact. He was in my prayers daily. He came with his wife, Roxanne, from California to visit us a few years ago. About a year after his visit, sadly, Ty left this earth for his eternal home. My memories of him and his visit warm my heart every single day as I look at the cross he welded and sent to us shortly after his visit.
There’s no greater joy Than to reconnect with friends From long, long ago
5 Ways to Keep Long-time Friends
Pray lovingly for them daily.
Be sure to keep them in your address book and write to them often (don’t just rely on social media)
Pick up the phone and talk to them, emptying yourself into them… it’s an investment. Be loyal and be confidential.
Let them know how much they mean to you, but don’t force the relationship. It has to be natural. Don’t insist that the relationship is forever reciprocal. Some friendships are meant to be seasonal… and the season may last years – but maybe not. You can’t control that.
Be honest and transparent with them … let them see your warts. It shows you trust them not to hurt you… and you are trustworthy in return.
Embrace Long-time Friendships Never let those precious folks go Keep them forever in your heart How long we’ll be here, we can’t know
“Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone? A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.”
Embrace Long-time Friends My heart’s covered with footprints. How about your heart?
“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”
As often happens to me, I read the first devotional this morning in Daily Guideposts, and I was inspired to choose the word for my blog today. EQUIPPED!
Then when I opened the next devotional, “All God’s Creatures,” the March/April Daily Devotions for Animal Lovers, and the word “equipped” showed up twice on that page.
What are the chances, you ask? Pretty good batting average, I’d say. There it was again:
Ephesians 2:10 (a)
“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works.”
The story in “All God’s Creatures” was about a woodpecker who was “beautifully equipped for his unique purpose in life…” as he aggravated the writer with his incessant tapping on the tree trunk outside his window.
The writer, Terry Clifton, mused that he, too, is “a result of God’s handiwork – equipped with talents and skills that have meaning and purpose for [his] life.”
What has God equipped you with? What unique gifts and talents do you possess that allow you to let God’s workmanship shine through you to fulfill His purpose in your life?
On the Daily Guideposts’ page for today Jerusha Agen wrote, “All I have to do is walk with God through each day, confident He will provide all I need to accomplish His work.”
It all sounds so theoretical, doesn’t it? About as solid as that sand in the hand. But, what scripture is telling us is that our hearts are not made to be solid.
We are not expected to look at tasks from our earthly perspective. Tasks are formed for us beforehand by our Maker in Heaven.
Don’t eliminate the second part of the Ephesians 2:10 scripture: “…which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”
Like a skilled woodworker Who sees the image inside the log, God chiseled our lives and purposes Before the world saw us.
The tasks placed before us Are designed with us in mind. Look at them with Jesus glasses And see their infinite possibilities.
Do not be overwhelmed by the world’s naysayers. Walk with God through each day Confident you are equipped.
He’s gotcha in the palm of His hand. He directs your path – and hears you. He sees your needs and equips you. Rely on Him – and step out in faith!
What tasks are you equipped to accomplish today? “If you see someone falling behind, walk beside them.”
Let love pour from your heart like sand from your hand.
I’m off for a walk in faith. Join TazE & me?
See ya tomorrow (God willing) Love to you, JanBeek
Bloganuary #17 “What’s a Super Power You’d Like to Have?”
I answered the question earlier today, interpreting it as a “Secret Power” – and those answers still stand.
But, I have had time to do my devotionals this morning – and I’ve listened to a few podcasts – and I’ve given this question greater thought.
It’s a Super Power… not just a secret power! Here’s my answer to THAT question for today:
I’d like to have the Super Power to listen with my heart – truly listen to others – and see into their heart, their intent behind their words. In Bayside Church’s devotional on-line today, Kevin Thompson spoke to this issue of listening. Here’s what he said:
“Consider the power of listening. When we hear another person, we see them, value them, place their voice above our own. We restrain ourselves to give them space to speak. Sincere listening is born of humility. It is a genuine act of love. When we fail to listen, we are elevating ourselves above others. We arrogantly assume we already know what they might say or believe they can add no value to our lives. Planning our response when someone else is talking instead of truly hearing what they have to say is a sign of pride. Refusing to see and hear other people is one of the most dehumanizing acts we can take.
“When Jesus commands that we love our neighbors, one way we should do so is to listen to them. That’s not the whole command, but it’s part of it.
“So, which neighbors are you failing to hear? Too often, our lives become echo chambers in which the only people who have our ears are those with whom we agree. People with the same experience, perspective, and understanding provide the voices that influence us. Yet love calls us to a different way. Christians should have the most diverse voices influencing us because we believe everyone is created in the image of God, every person has value and purpose, and we understand the limits to our knowledge and experience.
“Imagine the difference love/listening could make in our world. Where authentic listening takes place marriages flourish. In a world of political divisions, what if the church modeled listening and loving people with whom we disagree politically. In a society divided among socioeconomic and racial divides, what could the church offer if we went out of our way to know, hear, understand, and love those with different backgrounds, upbringings, and experiences than we have?
WHAT WOULD HAPPEN IF WE LOVED OUR NEIGHBORS—EVERY NEIGHBOR?
“The fantastic news of faith is that the God of Heaven has given us access to His ear at any moment. He invites us to speak to Him on an ongoing basis. This changes how we use our tongues. But it also changes how we use our ears. Receiving God’s invitation to hear from us, we begin to extend our ears to those to whom we otherwise might not listen. We seek to value them, learn from them, and be in a relationship with a diverse community.
Who is a neighbor you are not currently listening to? Start listening with your heart today.”
It actually doesn’t take a Super Power to listen with your heart … but to see inside the speaker’s heart to their intent … well, that might take a special gift from God – ya think?
Sending love ❤️ and prayers for your health and happiness. It’s so good to be home!
I just returned from my annual physical. In spite of a residual cough from this RSV, my dear doctor tells me I am no longer contagious – and I’ve been given a clean bill of health. Hooray! Bob’s feeling good, too. Thanks for your loving prayers!
Thank you for visiting JanBeek today.
See ya tomorrow(God willing)
Oh, and tell me – what’s a Super Power you’d like to have?
I was off-line as we traveled safely home yesterday. Thank you for your prayers! God heard. God answered. The weather conditions (except for one little patch of dense fog just before Twin Falls – out of Jackpot) and the roads were clear and perfect. We are happy to be home!
The Bloganuary prompt yesterday asked us to consider a “Life Lesson” worth remembering. I cannot do more justice to this question than to share with you this blog from “Written Word.” It’s perfect!
My response to her was to be sure that heart is filled with the voice of the Holy Spirit. Following such advice will always lead to satisfaction. God bless you!
Keeping up with the daily prompts from Bolganuary can be difficult when traveling. I hope you don’t mind that I borrowed from a fellow blogger today. Have a wonderful Sunday! ❤
Unable to post pictures here, I abandoned WP during these past three weeks and used FB to share our travels with friends. It’s been a magical time in England and Switzerland. If you, my WP friends, wish to travel vicariously with us, do click on my FB link and have a look… you can travel backward with us all the way to London and then to Downton where we were privileged to spend three days with blogging friend, Derrick Knight and his wife, Jackie. When I get home to Montana Thursday, I will resume my “Embrace” series.
Do you have a hard head? Have you ever tested it out?
I tested out the strength of my skull yesterday!
Not on purpose, of course.
I was walking to the back of the car to push the button that closes the hatchback. Friends approached from my right, so I turned to greet them as I kept walking. Little did I know Bob had pushed the button and the hatchback door was on its way down. I walked right into it! Ouch!!!
I heard a loud crack when it hit. A softer head would have split open and (as head wounds go) it would have bled profusely! But, I have a hard head, my friends! The blood stayed inside and created a black and blue goose egg!
Speaking of friends, Bob drove me home. My head was throbbing like crazy! I called our neighbor/friend, Janet, who is a nurse. She came right over. Ice packs, pain killers, Hugs and consolation… then alternating heat & ice. Just what the doctor would have ordered!
As if the care of a friend wasn’t enough, I was blessed with a very concerned, loving TazE. She never comes and crawls in my lap, but yesterday she wouldn’t leave my lap (except to get up every now and then, look me in the eye, kiss my cheeks and chin, and then crawl back into my lap). Aren’t animals amazing? So intuitive! She knew “Mama” was hurting… and she was there for me until the neighbors all arrived to make sure everything was OK and to pamper and feed me. Then TazE was content to go back to her own bed!
This morning, after a shower and a couple of pain pills, I was smiling once again… feeling no pain… and grateful that the swelling had gone down and the bruising had not traveled too far into my face.
Ah, my friends, EMBRACE HARD HEADS! They come in handy at a time like this!
Oh, and by the way, watch in the direction you’re walking today, okay? Hah! No point in testing how hard-headed you are!!
It helps to comb my hair over the bruise. You can hardly notice it, right?