Tag Archives: beatitudes

We Are One Month In to 2022 – The Word of the Month

January is coming to an end. And what a January. As I evaluate the first part of 2022, the key word I see is ‘warfare’. 

The obvious connection is Physical War: Ukraine. Europe is on a very dangerous precipice overlooking a dark valley.  But not just Ukraine. China and Taiwan, Iran and Israel, North Korea and everyone … Border Wars: Texas and the southern border, Canada and the truckers and the Prime Minister, Europe, Asia, everywhere … Political Wars: reds vs. blues, moderates vs. progressives … Economic Wars: where so many battle for limited resources, the have vs the have nots … Cop Wars: shootings by cops and of cops, DAs vs the Blue … Culture Wars: the woke (like Hollywood and the media and activists) trying to change those with traditional values, schools taking on parents, urban taking on rural … and so on. 

Warfare.

People battle on social media. People battle in the homes. People battle in the schools, the town hall, and the marketplace. Youtube banning those they disagree with. FaceBook has a jail. Artists refusing to share public forums with those they don’t like. Even Christian platforms are being filled with disharmony and antagonistic verbiage. 

Warfare is more than guns and planes. It’s hearts and minds and attitudes and words. It’s damaging to countries, homes, relationships, lives. Some may think they are victorious and over-comers; but in the end, the cost is high.

Maybe that’s why Jesus challenged us all with His upside-down way of looking at life. The Beatitudes are a topsy turvy way of living. 

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

Matthew 5:9 (esv)

As we move deeper into 2022, maybe the second month can change. What would it be like if we took the word ‘peacemaker’ as our mantra? A month where we take on the characteristics of our Savior. He is the Prince of Peace – the one who brings peace on earth – the one who reconciles the world to Him. He brings peace with God … and … peace of God. WOW!

Maybe if we saw people … as those who are broken, just like we ourselves are broken … as those who are hurting, just like we hurt and need our wounds bound … as those who have a slanted view of a fallen world, like we without Christ have a slanted view of this fallen world.

If we saw people, people whom God loves, people whom Jesus came to die for, people who need Him … Maybe we wouldn’t talk warfare, we would talk peace making.

So …

You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’  But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you

Push for Peace – love them the way God loves them, sacrificially

Pray for Peace – global and personal and, even, for your enemies

Put Bridges Up for Peace – prioritize building bridges and not walls

Put God First – if you do this, warfare may truly be replaced by peacemaking

What a February that would be. What a world that would be!

What will you do in February? What will you do today?

Worship — A Lesson That Is Disgusting

Children’s Message are my jam. I rock when hanging with my little peeps. And often, the big kids (aka adults ) get more out of that 5 minute message than they do out of my regular sermon. This Sunday was no different.

A messed up cookie cup

They gathered and I showed them up front what their snack was going to be … one of those cups of cookies. They could choose … Oreos, Chip Ahoys, or Keebler’s Fudge Stripes. Me, Fudge Stripes. I love the way elves make cookies.

But, there was a twist. I used one of the cups for the lesson. I opened it up and began the total devastation of a good product. I apologize to all elves everywhere. I adorned my latex gloves and began.

I mixed up the cookies with some pretty stanky stuff . I started with a rotten banana … smushed a tad in there, even a bit of the dark, smooshy peel. I added a bit of picante sauce … for flavor and aroma. Then, I cracked a raw egg and put it in the cup, including the shell. Stirred it well. Wait, one more item. I grabbed a Kleenex and blew my nose. Yep, I boogered the bits. You may think all this is funny – but it’s snot. (LOL … they loved this Dad joke)

After a great joy of yucks, uughs, nasty … I taught them the word “disgusting”. I put the lid back on and started the point I wanted to make. The cup looked normal, but the inside was disgusting. Jesus had some tough words for people who only made the outside of the cup clean and didn’t clean the inside.

Jesus knows our hearts , and our hearts are messy. Yes, cleaning the outside is important … living for Him, dong the right things, helping each other, etc. But it is important to clean inside too … and He will help us. He cleans our hearts. He cleans us form the inside out!

After a bit more explaining, I think most of them got it. Others just wanted their cookies (but they wanted cookies that hadn’t been opened … a bit wary of what I was giving them I guess). It all went with the beatitude of the day …

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

How’s your heart? Disgusting? He is the cure and the cleaner. He has a full time job cleaning mine.


An Additional Lesson

This was told me after the service. One girl snitched and said a young boy took two cookie cups. When she told him he shouldn’t (why is it girls are better at rules than boys?), he looked at her and said Jesus needs to work twice as hard on his inside out. So, he was taking two.

If that’s how it’s done, I probably need a family size bag.

I Waterboarded a Corn Husker

I dunked his head all the way under. I had to lift him by his belt to get him submerged. I felt some struggle, maybe more than I expected. And I had to leave him there long enough to get my point across.

He was leaving our little community within 24 hours. He had grown up in this community where his siblings, parents, grandparents, and scores of cousins still remain. He was headed off to Nebraska to continue his education at the University of Nebraska. So, he was an obvious candidate for my sermon illustration.

Why would I do this? Maybe I am a bit sadistic, but I think it’s more that I really wanted to get the point across. And it is an important point.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.

Do we really hunger and thirst? I mean a thirst that overwrites every other desire. A desire that is obsessive and compulsive. We say we want to live for God, want to live right, and want to get to know Him more. But does our life show it?

So, I challenged them by showing what a real desire out of desperation looks like. A desire for air. I took my young padawan and had him kneel before the bucket of water, testing the temperature. I then took his head, pushed it under, even had to lift him by his belt to get his head all the way under. I was so into it, I didn’t hear his grandmother yell “He’s waterboarding my grandson.” I didn’t see him tap out from the hand on the opposite side. I did feel him struggle and kick a bit, but I saw no bubbles.

But when I lifted his head out, the gasp for air was evident. And the point was made.

It was over in less then 10 seconds.

The point was made – the desperate desire for air. True desperation. And then the challenge was given … are we that desperate in our living for God? Do we really hunger and thirst for righteousness?

I don’t know how to stress this enough. Too often we don’t really hunger and thirst for righteousness. So today, maybe just a little, we can deepen our hunger – realize the thirst. Today … live for Him in a way you haven’t in a while. Today … hunger and thirst a little bit more.

I dunked his head all the way under. I had to lift him by his belt to get him submerged. I felt some struggle, maybe more than I expected. And I had to leave him there long enough to get my point across.

And I got my point across.