Faith, Hope, & Love

Life, faith, surviving depression, Soulmates, relationships


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Back to the Basics: Week 2: Those who Mourn

Back to the Basics: Week 2: Those who Mourn

Matthew 5:4 (NIV)

4 Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.

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This week’s study ties into what we looked at last week with the poor in spirit. Today we look at those who mourn. Mourning is visible grief that is deeply felt.  But not everyone grieves in an outward manner, some people hold onto their grief so that others don’t see how much they are hurting. I firmly believe that depression is an inward form of mourning and grief.  Depression for some can be seen by some as an inability to do anything, inability to think clearly. I have lived through this kind of depression twice, and it’s not pretty and it’s completely incapacitating. With this in mind we can definitely assume that those who are poor in spirit are in deep mourning for something or someone. Many of us have lost loved ones, parents, grandparents, or children; but, this can also be intangibles like a job, health, relationships, or freedoms, anything that can be lost or taken away.

The promise here is clear – comfort.  Jesus promises these precious, hurting ones comfort beyond what anyone can imagine.

The Greek word used here is ‘parakaleo’ which has a vast variety of meaning from a calling to oneself, to address or speak to, exhortation, entreaty,  comfort, instruction, encourage, strengthen by consolation  and encouraging.  Vines, also lists praying.

From my point of view, this means community involvement in the recovery and comfort of those who mourn.  The church has been called to be the ‘hands and feet’ of Jesus/God/the Divine. Comfort is what we do for those who are hurting regardless of why they are living with deep grief.  We are not called to judge the person who is grieving, we are not called to make them feel blame for their grief.  We are to come alongside, put our arms around the hurting person, pray with them, listen to them, or just be there. I believe that this is the highest calling a believer can be a part of no matter who they may be, anyone can give comfort; even, in the midst of their own hurt.

So, be a comfort to those who are mourning in your life.

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Back to the Basics: Week One: The Poor in Spirit

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For the next several weeks or months I am going to be taking a closer look at the meat behind what Jesus taught the people of his time and his disciples.  Specifically, how we as His people should live and treat God, ourselves and other people.  I have been saying that all believers need to get back to the basics of what Jesus and the disciples taught.  Jesus intended His disciples to set the example on how to live a life of love to all people and creation.

This week’s Scripture is Matthew 5:3, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

Let’s begin by looking at the state of the person Jesus is talking about, ‘the poor in spirit.’ This is the Greek word “ptōchos,”which carries the meaning of being reduced to beggary, begging, asking alms, destitute of wealth, influence, position, honor, helpless, powerless to accomplish an end, needy, to lacking in anything/everything. (My emphasis) Thayer’s Greek Lexicon says ptōchos means, “to be thoroughly frightened, to cower down or hide one’s self in fear, often involving the idea of roving around in wretchedness.”  A few weeks ago I used this passage to explain the difference between being ‘needy’ and being ‘lonely,’ and said that there  is something lacking that makes them feel deprived of the basic needs of joy.  I also looked at the Hebrew word for ‘needy’ which adds meaning to what it means to be poor in spirit by adding the words feeble, oppressed, dried up, and failure. The Greek word used here is:  “pneuma,” which means the breath of life, or soul.  Edgar Cayce would call it the sentient part of an entity.  It’s what makes us human, the vital principle by which the body is animated. Self.  The people we are talking about are people who have been brought so low in self as to be totally lacking in hope and joy.   We all know people like this; they are the ones who always have something seriously bad going on in their lives with no relief.  They are the ones we so cruelly say, ‘suck the air out of a room.’ We avoid these people like they are contagious and may cause us to be despairing as well. So, what is it that Jesus promised these hurting people?

Jesus promises these precious, hurting ones the Kingdom of Heaven; or, the blessings of Heaven which are beyond what anyone can imagine here on earth – even when we try to visualize heaven we fall short of the reality of what it really is.

So, what is the lesson here for us? I believe Jesus said this to help us to cope with these tragically hurting people to be there to remind them that God has an infinite blessing for them that are beyond anything they can imagine.  We need to remind them that life is short and their struggles are not going to be endless but that the blessings they will experience in Heaven are endless and full of hope and joy beyond imagination.


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Pastor Appreciation Month: But do we really appreciate all they do for us?

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Aside from being a parent, being a pastor is the most difficult job anyone can have.  It means being on call for all our crises 24/7, having a ready shoulder to cry on, having a message straight from God to build us up or provide unwanted discipline when necessary, teaching us how to be closer to the Lord,  preparing us for meeting our Creator and everything in between.  Yet, many pastors are hog-tied to what their congregations think is how they should go, they get corrected when they present something different than the status quo, they get in trouble for bringing new believers into our congregations when the new believers don’t measure up to our preconceived ideas of a believer. Has anyone really asked their pastors where they believe God wants to take their congregations?  Are we binding them to the ritual and religion of our denominations or are we allowing our pastors to bring our congregations into the present?

Like I said last week, America wants God back in our country; so that, we can again proudly say that the United States is “One Nation Under God.” How can we as believers say that when we don’t allow the Holy Spirit free reign in the lives of our pastors, not to mention ourselves?   The other thing I mentioned last week was that we need to go back to the basics of what Jesus taught the disciples.

Jesus told his disciples to go out and make disciples of all nations – even, to the end of the world.  We have a hymn that we sing, “Come Just As You Are,” but we ignore the meaning.  Every person is unique, and has their own perspective of God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit, God uses this uniqueness to touch others with the same perspective.  I am not saying that we should allow license to reign with our freedom; all children need boundaries.  I am saying that we need to celebrate uniqueness in each other and learn to welcome everyone into the Family of God.

I have had several opportunities to see our lack of love and acceptance over the years and it is embarrassing.  One time in particular, I was having lunch with a friend; and, a guy came into the restaurant, who definitely had his own style, and all my friend could do is laugh and criticize this beautiful man living in a freedom that he didn’t have.  And how about the homeless individual who dares to enter our church on Sunday morning wearing the only thing he/she has.  Does anyone welcome them with a hug of love? Not likely.  What about the single mom struggling with raising her children and has voiced her wish for stand-in fathers for their children – especially, their sons. I can say that for the most part that wish goes unfulfilled more than you think.

So, how does this all tie in to unbinding our pastors, and allowing the Spirit free reign in our churches?  First, if we allow our pastors to call us on our unlovingness – we need to get back to Jesus’ original design for His church to be a place of love and acceptance for everyone. Second, we get back to truly worshipping in Spirit and Truth, the kind of praise and worship Jesus said God wants.  Lastly, we become partners and fellow ministers with our pastors – Giving Them A Breather to renew their strength.


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No One True Way – Freedom of Worship – Freedom to Believe Without Fear

I want to get back to the basics for those who truly want to make a difference in our world today. All we have to do is turn on the news, watch current television, or Facebook to know that there is a need to go back to the basics of what Jesus taught his disciples. People are crying out for change, but they don’t truly believe that it’s possible. It’s as if the whole world is going to “hell in a hand basket” and no one is willing to stand up alone to make a change. In truth, one person can’t make a significant difference, when many stand together it is possible. I can’t count how many times I see on my Facebook news feed how people in America truly want to go back to the truth of “One Nation Under God.” People want to be able to believe and worship God in their own unique way. People came to America so they would be able to escape the restrictions of worship that had been placed on them by the “Old World”. They wanted a place to be able to worship as they were led without fear of reprisal.

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One of my favorite authors, Mercedes Lackey, has created a world where there is a country called “Valdemar,” where the main motto or belief is that there is “No One True Way.” It is a country that celebrates freedom with responsibility. That everyone does their own part to make it better. Valdemar is not land, it is an ideal that is held by its people. This quote from “Brightly Burning” (Valdemar #8) says it best, “There’s no such thing as ‘one, true way’; the only answers worth having are the ones you find for yourself; leave the world better than you found it. Love, freedom, and the chance to do some good – they’re the things worth living and dying for, and if you aren’t willing to die for the things worth living for, you might as well turn in your membership in the human race.”

America has people from every culture, race, creed, and sexual orientation in order to live together in peace and harmony we need to be tolerant of our differences and respect one others’ personal faith choices. Learn the depths of love and understanding, and take the time to learn from each other. Our goal should be to let our lives and actions testify to the worth and effect of our personal faith, and celebrate the differences; let differences enhance our own experience of the Divine.

I pray that one day our great nation will become more like Valdemar.