Joy From Heaven – Good News for June 11

11 06 2010

Luke 15:3-7

Jesus addressed this parable to the Pharisees and scribes, “What man among you having a hundred sheep and losing one of them would not leave the ninety-nine in the desert and go after the lost one until he finds it?

And when he does find it, he sets it on his shoulders with great joy and, upon his arrival home, he calls together his friends and neighbors and says to them,’Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep.’

I tell you, in just the same way there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who have no need of repentance.”

The Daily Path: I was hoisted on Jesus shoulders when I accepted his invitation to return home. “Hoisted” in the sense that I felt great joy and an intense desire to draw closer to God. Others have shared with me that they had a very similar experience when they opened their hearts to God and returned to faith. I suspect that the overwhelming joy I felt was direct from the joy in heaven that Jesus speaks of in this passage.

Humble Highway Home – Good News for March 13

13 03 2010

Luke 18:9-14

Jesus addressed this parable to those who were convinced of their own righteousness and despised everyone else. “Two people went up to the temple area to pray; one was a Pharisee and the other was a tax collector. The Pharisee took up his position and spoke this prayer to himself, ‘O God, I thank you that I am not like the rest of humanity – greedy, dishonest, adulterous – or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week, and I pay tithes on my whole income.’

But the tax collector stood off at a distance and would not even raise his eyes to heaven but beat his breast and prayed, ‘O God, be merciful to me a sinner.’ I tell you, the latter went home justified, not the former; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”

The Daily Path: It’s not always easy to be humble, but I find it far easier to live in humility than in ego. If you stop and think about it, keeping that ego fed is hard work. Ego is never satisfied. It’s a burden we carry around like a steamer trunk on our back. Again, it’s not easy to do, but dumping the ego trunk brings about a lightness of being that makes the journey easier.

Tropical Garden – Good News for January 27

27 01 2010

Mark 4:1-20

On another occasion, Jesus began to teach by the sea. A very large crowd gathered around him  so that he got into a boat on the sea and sat down. And the whole crowd was beside the sea on land. And he taught them at length in parables, and in the course of his instruction he said to them:

“Hear this! A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seed fell on the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Other seed fell on rocky ground where it had little soil. It sprang up at once because the soil was not deep. And when the sun rose, it was scorched and it withered for lack of roots. Some seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it and it produced no grain. And some seed fell on rich soil and produced fruit. It came up and grew and yielded thirty, sixty, and a hundredfold.”

He added, “Whoever has ears to hear ought to hear.”

And when he was alone, those present along with the Twelve questioned him about the parables. He answered them, “The mystery of the Kingdom of God has been granted to you. But to those outside everything comes in parables, so that they may look and see but not perceive, and hear and listen but not understand, in order that they may not be converted and be forgiven.

Jesus said to them, “Do you not understand this parable? Then how will you understand any of the parables? The sower sows the word. These are the ones on the path where the word is sown. As soon as they hear, Satan comes at once and takes away the word sown in them. And these are the ones sown on rocky ground who, when they hear the word, receive it at once with joy. But they have no roots; they last only for a time. Then when tribulation or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. Those sown among thorns are another sort.
They are the people who hear the word, but worldly anxiety, the lure of riches, and the craving for other things intrude and choke the word, and it bears no fruit. But those sown on rich soil are the ones who hear the word and accept it and bear fruit thirty and sixty and a hundredfold.”

The Daily Path: When lava emerges from the depths of the earth, it’s molten hot. Nothing stands in its way. With exposure to the outer atmosphere of water and air, it starts to cool, comes to rest and begins to harden. For centuries it retains its sharp, rocky characteristics. But it’s also very porous. Millions of tiny openings wait for particles to come to rest and fill its little caverns. Eventually the lava does break down and ultimately becomes rich soil where, with some water, lush tropical gardens grow. But without the water, nothing will grow.

I recall the period in my life when Scripture had no meaningful place. My soil was all pathway made of lava rock. Despite the periodic opportunities I was presented to embrace the Word and allow it to sink in, it really had no chance to take hold. In most cases, I embraced my cravings and the hard rocky exterior. In doing so I just wouldn’t permit penetration to occur.

Of course, I do remember moments over time when I flirted with the Word. Little particles fell into my pores. But, just as Jesus describes in this parable, the interest quickly faded, once again overcome by the allure of the world. My rock was not yet rich soil.

But here I am, seemingly centuries later. Now there is soil. In the relatively short period since my reconversion, the seed of the Word has taken root. In many ways it has sprouted and shot up like a weed in the spring. But is this flower just a weed born of shallow soil and week roots? Will the waters of His grace continue to nourish my roots so that I can grow stronger and withstand the heat of this life?

I don’t think God has gone to all the trouble of getting my attention just to allow me to wither away. But I don’t expect it will be easy. In my little microclimate of spirituality, there will be drought that follows spring. Stark winter to follow the vibrant colors of autumn. But in those times when my roots will be tested, there is a constant… the Word. And in the Word exists the hope that a lush tropical garden will eventually spring forth for the rest of my days.

Givers Win – Good News for October 19

19 10 2009

Luke 12:13-31

Someone in the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, tell my brother to share the inheritance with me.” He replied to him, “Friend, who appointed me as your judge and arbitrator?”

Then he said to the crowd, “Take care to guard against all greed, for though one may be rich, one’s life does not consist of possessions.”

Then he told them a parable. “There was a rich man whose land produced a bountiful harvest. He asked himself, ‘What shall I do, for I do not have space to store my harvest?’ And he said, ‘This is what I shall do: I shall tear down my barns and build larger ones. There I shall store all my grain and other goods and I shall say to myself, “Now as for you, you have so many good things stored up for many years, rest, eat, drink, be merry!”’

But God said to him, ‘You fool, this night your life will be demanded of you; and the things you have prepared, to whom will they belong?’ Thus will it be for the one who stores up treasure for himself but is not rich in what matters to God.”

The Daily Path: I’m no psychologist, but I know enough to understand that we go through several stages in our life. So many of us spend our youth driven to gather possessions. For some, the youthful “gatherer” stage is extended well beyond mid-life. You may have seen a popular bumper sticker that proclaims “Whoever dies with the most toys wins the game.” While still lost in my own youthful greed I have come to see that nothing could be further from the truth. Giving, not storing makes one a winner. Why am I always a late bloomer?

Room to Chat: Our Lord has blessed my mother with His healing grace. Yesterday, she returned home from hospital and is well on the road to recovery. Thank you all for your many prayers and acts of giving! I’ve been shown “the way of a giver” through your generosity and love.


Eagle Eye – Good News for March 14

14 03 2009

He saw me when I was still a long way off…

Luke 15:1-3, 11-32

Tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to listen to Jesus, but the Pharisees and scribes began to complain, saying, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.” So to them Jesus addressed this parable.

“A man had two sons, and the younger son said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of your estate that should come to me.’ So the father divided the property between them. After a few days, the younger son collected all his belongings and set off to a distant country where he squandered his inheritance on a life of dissipation. When he had freely spent everything, a severe famine struck that country, and he found himself in dire need. So he hired himself out to one of the local citizens who sent him to his farm to tend the swine. And he longed to eat his fill of the pods on which the swine fed, but nobody gave him any.

Coming to his senses he thought, ‘How many of my father’s hired workers have more than enough food to eat, but here am I, dying from hunger. I shall get up and go to my father and I shall say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I no longer deserve to be called your son; treat me as you would treat one of your hired workers.'” So he got up and went back to his father.

While he was still a long way off, his father caught sight of him, and was filled with compassion. He ran to his son, embraced him and kissed him. His son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you; I no longer deserve to be called your son.’ But his father ordered his servants, ‘Quickly, bring the finest robe and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Take the fattened calf and slaughter it. Then let us celebrate with a feast, because this son of mine was dead, and has come to life again; he was lost, and has been found.’ Then the celebration began.

Now the older son had been out in the field and, on his way back, as he neared the house, he heard the sound of music and dancing. He called one of the servants and asked what this might mean. The servant said to him, ‘Your brother has returned
and your father has slaughtered the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’ He became angry, and when he refused to enter the house, his father came out and pleaded with him. He said to his father in reply, ‘Look, all these years I served you and not once did I disobey your orders; yet you never gave me even a young goat to feast on with my friends. But when your son returns who swallowed up your property with prostitutes, for him you slaughter the fattened calf.’ He said to him, ‘My son, you are here with me always; everything I have is yours. But now we must celebrate and rejoice, because your brother was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found.'”

The Daily Path: I find it interesting that the parable of the Prodigal Son always resonated with me ever since hearing it for the first time as a young boy. Back then I didn’t know that it would become such a central theme in my later life. As I re-read the tale this morning, this passage stands out:

While he was still a long way off, his father caught sight of him, and was filled with compassion.

About five years ago, I was still a very long way away from returning fully to God. But something was stirring inside me. I didn’t realize it at the time but I was searching for God. I can recall an important milestone on this quest. I was channel surfing and stopped on KQED, my local PBS television station. Dr. Wayne Dyer was giving one of his televised lectures on spirituality. This one focused on connecting to “source” (God). For some reason I couldn’t turn away. What started as a quick stop turned into perhaps the most important three-hours of my life. In those moments, God used Dr. Dyer to begin reconnecting with me. 

As I look back it’s now clear to me that this was the beginning of my active spiritual journey. Like the father in Jesus’ parable, God saw me way off in the distance. Knowing that at long last I wanted to return home, HE ran down the road to meet me. There is no question in my mind that all God needed was an opening in my heart, the smallest reason despite all that I had squandered, and He was off to begin escorting me home. 

Room to Chat: Are you heading home, too? Take a moment and reflect on the milestones of your own journey. Sometimes we don’t see them for what they are. You may have found this blog by random chance… or was it? God has an eagle eye and sees us when we can’t even see ourselves.

My Inheritance – Good News for March 13

13 03 2009

I risk losing my inheritance…

Matthew 21:33-43, 45-46

Jesus said to the chief priests and the elders of the people, “Hear another parable. There was a landowner who planted a vineyard, put a hedge around it, dug a wine press in it, and built a tower. Then he leased it to tenants and went on a journey. When vintage time drew near, he sent his servants to the tenants to obtain his produce. But the tenants seized the servants and one they beat, another they killed, and a third they stoned.

Again he sent other servants, more numerous than the first ones, but they treated them in the same way. Finally, he sent his son to them, thinking, ‘They will respect my son.’ But when the tenants saw the son, they said to one another, ‘This is the heir. Come, let us kill him and acquire his inheritance.’ They seized him, threw him out of the vineyard, and killed him. What will the owner of the vineyard do to those tenants when he comes?” They answered him, He will put those wretched men to a wretched death and lease his vineyard to other tenants who will give him the produce at the proper times.”

Jesus said to them, “Did you never read in the Scriptures,

The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; by the Lord has this been done, and it is wonderful in our eyes.

Therefore, I say to you, the Kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people that will produce its fruit.” 

When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard his parables, they knew that he was speaking about them. And although they were attempting to arrest him, they feared the crowds, for they regarded him as a prophet.

The Daily Path: “Those who fail to learn the lessons of history are doomed to repeat them.” George Santayana

Would we fail again in recognizing the stranger at our door as Christ? I don’t think it’s a question of “would we?” We do. All the time. I constantly fail to see Christ even though I know Him. I do this when I get angry. In hoarding my abundance. When I deny assistance to someone in need when the power to do so is well within my capability.

I see that the Son of God is here, right now. We’re not waiting for His return. He’s in all of us. Unfortunately, I’m a lousy student. I continue to forget my lessons, and in doing so I risk losing my inheritance as one of our Lord’s heirs.

Room to Chat: Friday the 13th has a bad rap. Let’s flip the expectation. Here in my little blogdom I declare today a day of good fortune. Keep Christ close and see His goodness in many things.