The Art of Begging

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Jesus looked at his followers and said,
    “You people who are poor are blessed,
      because the kingdom of God belongs to you”.

Luke 6:20, NCV

It is an astonishing thing, to have Jesus look at you.

His steady, focused gaze is transformational, He sees me, and in this huge mass of people Jesus has picked me!  It’s like He takes His ‘spiritual highlighter’ and sets me apart from everyone else.  Amazing grace!

But this really isn’t arrogance, or even wishful thinking.  We’ve been selected to be the special ones, not so much in an elite way, but in a way that glorifies only Him.  Scripture emphasizes this by stating ‘the weak are chosen’.  As I stood in this teeming crowd, I was surrounded by some very attractive and muscular people.  They preened and postured, but that wasn’t what He was looking for.  When He saw me, He stopped, and then He picked me out of the crowd.

Those who have been ‘chosen’ are definitely not superhero material.  We are the weak, and blind, and very foolish.  There is ‘zero attractiveness’.  In the classroom, we are the nerdiest of nerds.  (We are nerdisimos.)  In the spirit, we have a ‘less than zero’ rating.  In a sense, we’re not even remotely ‘the right stuff’, we are so pathetic.

Every once in a while, we find someone that seems to have figured out how to put it together.  Then often we go ahead and put our ‘mark’ on that person and then become loyal followers.  But if we extend ourselves to hear the Spirit (who by the way, is very easily heard) we find that our choice is a Saul, and not a David.  In other words, he is very close but is disqualified.

We are Christians because Jesus chose us.  We come into His presence because He left the doors open for us to squeeze in.  We enter in because Jesus has been ‘bled out’ for us.  Everything was drained when He died.  He stepped into our ‘nightmare’ to allow us to escape into the light.  Without His presence, we would decay into a dark and perpetual night.

And now He stands directly in front of us.  He looks (it seems He is always looking) and says something to us that is strange. ‘Those who are poor will become those who are very, very ‘blessed’.  Quite strange and bizarre.  Like the guy sitting on mass transit right next to you, who is talking to himself!  He simply doesn’t mesh with what is real.  He has lost touch with reality.

The kingdom is up for grabs!  Anyone can snatch it and bring home something substantial.  Poor people, those who are at the level ‘of very little account’ have been moved ahead in the line, right up to the front.  Suddenly, those in the back become envious.  This envy becomes jealousy and then rebellion.  But it changes nothing.

The ‘poor in spirit’ have just inherited the Kingdom of God.  It has become theirs and it won’t be something that can be overturned.  The ‘ultimate’ has become fully available to the ‘least’.  Those out there who are starving, will be those who get the most.

aabryscript

Bored in Heaven [Worship]

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“For God is the King of all the earth: sing ye praises with understanding.”

Psalm 47:7, KJV

Human beings are meant to worship. And specifically, to worship God. If we choose to deny this salient fact, we change nothing. Worship defines us, and who we worship is our decision. But it will happen. Our very DNA includes this proclivity.

Among believing Christians there can be an ‘oh hum’ attitude toward ‘worship’. It seems to us to be a tolerated part of our gatherings. Often worship is nothing more than a sequential chain of events that must be endured, for ‘religious reasons,’ but seldom for an authentic spiritual purposes.

The worship of heaven still worries some. It seems too intense, and a bit (shall we say) fanatical for our likings. Our standards are high, after all it will be eternal. At our very best worship is not of an ‘eternal grade’. It may be good and all– but we envision something more, a thing that engages us on an eternal level.

The fault can be with our ‘earthly’ levels of worship.

Worship leaders are doing their best to engage us. Many are busy with their own lives, with all its all consuming issues. However they can lead and direct us into worship every Sunday. They quickly learn to mollify and ‘reduce’ their approach, to the ‘lowest common denominator’ in order to please their congregations.

But worship still sizzles, and the ‘need’ to worship is embedded inherently within. If we don’t choose to worship idols, we take on the task of worshipping the real God. And that real adjustment will truly change us.

If worship is boring, you’re doing it wrong. You see boredom and worship are antithetical. They are  ‘miles’ apart. Worship must be an exclusive focus of a ‘burning heart’ not bound with the mundane occurrences of the day. If you are  an average ‘Joe, or Jane’ worship leader, you will understand this.  At times you may experience this ‘tension’ of earth and heaven. But remember, heaven begins now, and not later.

Be encouraged, boredom is not your fault. It is the “spirit of this age.” But, if I might suggest, more grace is given to those who lead us. Competing with a people fully enamored with ‘entertainment’ will be hard (but not impossible for God.)

Will you be bored in heaven? I hope not. But remember this, ‘worship practice’ starts now.

“God is not moved or impressed with our worship until our hearts are moved and impressed by Him.” 

 Kelly Sparks

aabryscript

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Paranoia for Beginners

No Escape
No Escape

A person who is paranoid has fears, such as being watched, harmed or poisoned. He or she does not trust others and is suspicious that others are “out to get” him or her.

It is normal to wonder if people are talking about you when you hear them whispering as you walk into a room. These thoughts are usually passed off and not dwelled upon for most people.

A person who is paranoid, however, does dwells upon suspicious thoughts. He or she goes out of their way to prove their suspicions even though no evidence exists to confirm their thoughts. It’s very hard to reason or speak what is real. Paranoia is usually found in small degrees in almost every mental illness.

Symptoms

  • Use and/or withdrawal of certain drugs, such as marijuana, crack cocaine and angel dust (PCP)
  • Alcohol withdrawal
  • Deafness or problems with hearing
  • Illnesses that affect the central nervous system, such as Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias, a stroke, a brain tumor
  • Mental illnesses, such as bipolar disorder or schizophrenia
  • Paranoid personality disorder, (PPD)

How to Recognize Paranoia

A person with paranoia may also:

  • Appear cold and aloof
  • Be withdrawn and anxious in social situations
  • Act stubborn and combative
  • Appear “on guard” at all times, out of fear of being harmed

A paranoid person also:

  • Complains about his or her health and often feels vulnerable and inferior to others
  • Holds grudges easily
  • Displays bitterness and resentment toward others
  • May be easily drawn into religious cults or other groups with strict beliefs
  • Can have delusions of being persecuted

Treatment

Treatment for paranoia depends on its cause. If it is a symptom of another condition, treatment for the condition will often take care of or lessen the paranoia. Paranoid personality disorder is treated with counseling, support therapy and often with medication. Treatment for this disorder is not easy, though, due to the nature of paranoia. Persons who are paranoid often do not trust others including doctors, therapists or family members trying to help them get treatment. It is likely that you will need to intervene, patiently and gently.  Paranoia treatment requires a huge commitment.

What You Can Do for a Friend or Relative

The most important thing you can do is to encourage your friend or relative to get professional help. Be aware that you may need to make the initial appointment with a professional. You may also need to take them to the appointment and stay with them. Be supportive. Paranoia requires patience, understanding, love and encouragement of the person’s loved ones and friends.

Be aware of the types of medication your friend or relative takes and when they should take it. You should also alert their physician or psychiatrist to any side effects that you notice when they do or do not take their medication.  If I may, I would suggest a film for you to watch, “A Beautiful Mind“.  This may give you insight into what you are dealing with.

Further Resources

Cleveland Clinic PPD Intoduction Site http://my.clevelandclinic.org/disorders/personality_disorders/hic_paranoid_personality_disorder.aspx

Suite 101 PPD Site http://personalitydisorders.suite101.com/article.cfm/paranoid_personality_disorder

Just a Father Looking For His Son

 

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“So he returned home to his father. And while he was still a long way off, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him.”

Luke 15:20, NLT

The actions of the prodigal are worth considering.  At a specific moment of time he stood up, looked around, and then decided to return home.  But he is no longer a ‘rich man’s son’, the pig-pen crushed that idea.  Truly, the devastated prodigal still has a small spark left– his set belief in his father, and it is that which gives him propulsion to go home.

The trip is a long one, lots of walking, and it’s hard, but then, he is seen! Please understand, the love of God is a searching/seeking kind of l,ove.  It simply will not shut down, or go away over time. It is never shut-off. It is a 24/7/365 kind of love.

Think of it like high intensity radar that sweeps over extreme distances, it is always seeking,  and it won’t be denied.  The Father is always seeking for His sons and daughters.  He intends to find them, at last. You can think of it in another way. It’s like having a warrant for your arrest, (in a good way.) It will never expire, and it will find you. You will always be a ‘wanted’ man, or woman. Always!

The compassion of the Father is an aggressive and reaching kind of mercy

He reaches out and penetrates through a whole lot of sin.  But as I read this, and think, there seems to be a lot momentum coming from the Father. He is far from passive, or ‘ho-hum’ toward His son. He is fully into reclaiming His lost sons and daughters.

Sin disfigures
Sin disfigures

The Father recognizes His prodigal son.  Gross sin has a way that disfigures a person’s countenance. Look at the wino or meth addict on the street. The boy who abruptly left home is not the son who returns.  There has been damage done.  His face has changed.  The Father understands this, and yes, it has been terribly hard and brutal.

The Father shows a delightful compassion for His son.  We see Him running.  He drives Himself to chase down the Prodigal.  He could have easily step back and just waited for the Prodigal to prove himself.  But we see a ‘running love’.  He has a real ‘running love’ for His son, and that is worth considering.

Notice dear “broken believer,” that all the actions are the Fathers.  The Father is doing everything.  He runs at the Prodigal, He embraces him and He kisses him.  We see a Father that will do anything for His prodigal son.  On the other hand, the prodigal brings nothing but himself.  He simply receives from his Father.

This parable is the greatest of all.  It show’s the deep love the Father has for prodigals like us. It gives us the reality of the spiritual in the physical.

It very well could be that the Church will falter and be confused over the presence of the prodigal at the door.  When we see love like the Fathers, lavished on silly fools, we can grow skeptical.  If the Church can keep pace, and accept the actions of the Father toward ‘prodigals’ of all backgrounds, we will be doing His will in the world.

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