Having Dinner with a Sinner


29 Then Levi held a great banquet for Jesus at his house, and a large crowd of tax collectors and others were eating with them. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law who belonged to their sect complained to his disciples, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and ‘sinners’?” Luke 5:29-30

These verses are one of the several examples that illustrate how Jesus made the Pharisees, the religious leaders feel uncomfortable about his actions.Tax collectors, sinners, surely not worthy of having diner with Jesus!?!

A similar, in fact even farther stretching story is found in Matthew 9

9 As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him.
10 While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and sinners came and ate with him and his disciples. 11 When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”
12 On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.13 But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

I was reminded of these stories when, glancing over some old documents in a (vain) attempt to clean up my computer I stumbled upon a little booklet with tips for religious leaders. What was I tho think of the tip that as a religious leader we should at least maintain “one friendship with a non-believing friend.”

Did I read it right? It brings us back to some very basic questions on where we stand as a Christian. Are we ok to eat with scandalous people or sinners, or unbelievers? It can not be denied that we are called to fellowship with fellow believers but that does not mean we should shut the door for the rest of the world. The safe and cleaned up bubble Christianity has become for so many may well need more dinners with tax collectors and sinners! Jesus didn’t come to please the religious crowd nor to fall out  to the social crowd. He didn’t come to hang out with the wild ones. Instead, Jesus entered the world to set the captives free, to gather what was lost.  When we look back over the Gospel of Luke, we see Jesus reaching out to men and women, young and old, powerful and forgotten, sick and demon possessed, as well as the politically connected, the traitors. What is that telling us about “loving our neighbor”?

An old friend from the Netherlands wrote me the other day to express his joy in seeing me “finally being a Christian”. It was at that moment I found out that himself  had been a Christian for all those years we were good friends without ever knowing about it. Perhaps if he would have been more clear about it, either in word or action, it would not have taken me forty five years. (Then again, was I really ready to listen at the time?) He explained to me that he was somewhat private about his faith. My suggestion is that as a Christian that is exactly what we should not be doing. You don’t need to force it on others, but that does not mean you have to be quiet about it; at least you could be open about it.

Howard E Wright states quite confrontational:

“Closet Christian,” why are you hiding out today? Are you hiding out to save your own skin? Are you afraid of what people will say if you declare your faith in the Lord Jesus Christ?
Wherever you are hiding, you need to come out and declare your faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. The world is going to eternal ruin while you hide in your church and fellowship with “the frozen chosen.” It is the same kind of thing the churches did in Germany when train loads of Jews and Christians that were taken off to gas chambers were passing by their churches. They just turned the organ up a little louder.

If all our friends are Christian, we miss the path shown to us by Christ. Who are the tax collectors and sinners of your neighborhood? Would they invite you over to their place for dinner? How do you feel about that? It seems to me that it is pretty hard to make disciples of all nations if the only people you see are “the converted.” If there is anything to be learned here it is that we do not need to make Christianity something we do in our spare time in our little Christian “members only club” we call, a church.

The statistics are clear; once the average person becomes a believer in Christ, he or she loses contact with all unbelieving friends within two years: you could  call it “pagan friend ditching.” Some do this on purpose others as a consequence of their new life or because of a misinterpretation of 2 Corinthians 6:14:

“Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?”

However Paul is not telling us to not have unbelieving friends, but not to join together with unbelievers in their practices and world view. In other words, the yoking together means to join with them in their lifestyle and belief system; to be like them. This does not mean that we can’t have unbelieving friends. In fact we should have unbelieving friends. some good reasons:

  • It’s not the healthy that need a physician (Matthew 9)
  • They keep you real, in that they will force us to know where we stand when we say things like “I was moved by the Spirit.” You may be able to get away with that amongst your club members, but what if you are asked straight forward: “what do you mean moved by the Spirit?” E.g. is there still substance behind your jargon?
  • They keep you on your toes, with great questions. So far the best suggestions and questions seem to be coming from my non believing friends. I ended up learning a lot having to come up with answers to their questions.
  • Probably the best reason is that Christ had unbelieving friends, so what is stopping us. If it was good enough for Christ, that who are we to ignore such friendships.

Jesus life challenges the Pharisee in all of us? He’s not lashing out against religion but against hypocrisy against form over substance. How are we ever going to find the lost sheep if we refuse to look beyond the flock? How are we ever going to heal the sick of we commune with healthy people only, how are we going to make disciples of all nations if we commune with followers only?

As a final thought this quote from a Matthew 9 Commentary:

Jesus came to call sinners-to invite them to God’s final banquet (Mt 22:3, 14), a foretaste of which the present table fellowship with them may have represented. Jesus’ demand for mercy is so critical that it recurs in 12:7 (see also 23:23). Many of Jesus’ contemporaries who practiced sacrifice also emphasized the priority of mercy over physical sacrifice. That Jesus’ opponents agreed with his principle in theory yet invited his reprimand should force us who acknowledge his doctrine to survey our practice as well (compare Jer 2:35; 1 Jn 1:10). …

… But Jesus’ example gave me courage to continue to engage all people with the gospel, regardless of their moral background; and some of them committed their lives to Christ. Yet I have learned that some apparently worshipful and Bible-centered churches do not welcome such persons-suggesting that ultimately Jesus who ate with sinners might not truly be welcome there either.

With which sinner are you going to have diner?

Psalm 51:10 Create in Me a Pure Heart


10 Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.

When David wrote this Psalm he had gotten a reality check. The prophet Nathan confronted him with his adultery with Batsheba (See 2 Samuel 11 and 12).

David had a good look into his own heart and saw the condition it was in. And it was not a pretty sight. He was offered a clear view on the damage, devastation so you wish that had been brought about there by sin and realized that, no matter how much of a royalty he was, there was nothing he could do to change: he could not repair it, he could not adjust it, he could not reform it.

3 For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me.

4 Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you are proved right when you speak
and justified when you judge.5 Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.

6 Surely you desire truth in the inner parts; you teach me wisdom in the inmost place.

7 Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean;wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.8 Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice.

9 Hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity.

10 Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.

11 Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me.

With a soul in agony and pain David does the one thing that is left for him: he turned to God and asked Him to do what only God can do: create in David a pure heart. Recently Michael posted the question:

If you were to run into the real you, while out and about, would you recognize yourself?

I guess David would would have answered yes but I definitely do not like what I see. I guess the same applies to many of us myself included. If I could look into my own heart I would recognize this same condition. When it comes to living a sin free life I can but acknowledge that I seem to be great at screwing up, it’s like a second nature. But man, it seems like wherever you turn the temptations are waiting for you, so you may fall or at the least stumble.  Have you, like me wondered, why it is that we acknowledge his ways and commands yet at the same time we breach them so often? We can try and fix the problem ourselves but  speaking from my own experience, it did not work for me. The effects of sin are so disastrous that we simply have no remedy, or perhaps I should say, I do not have one. Sin has this nasty quality that it enslaves us and that is what Jesus saw when he said:

34Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. (John 8:34)

David recognized the depth of his need and turned to God. In essence he was praying to God:

God, I can’t fix this myself, I do not have the power to change myself, my heart is corrupted and sinful. Please do for me what I cannot do myself; create in me a pure heart, O, God.

The final and universal answer to David’s cry an the ones like that, including my own, was provided by the sacrifice of Jesus.In Paul’s letter to the Romans we read (Romans 6)

6For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin— 7because anyone who has died has been freed from sin.  8Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.

Through this miracle a new heart, a new creation is made available to each and everyone of us. Did you read verse 11 of Psalm 51? I’ll repeat it below:

11 Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me.

David understood that he could not fix his heart himself and was all too aware that he needed God and the daily guidance of God’s gift an power: the Holy Spirit. What a relief when we read Paul’s 2 Corinthians 5:

11Since, then, we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade men. What we are is plain to God, and I hope it is also plain to your conscience. 12We are not trying to commend ourselves to you again, but are giving you an opportunity to take pride in us, so that you can answer those who take pride in what is seen rather than in what is in the heart. 13If we are out of our mind, it is for the sake of God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you. 14For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. 15And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.

16So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. 17Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! 18All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 20We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. 21God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

A new heart, a new creation, and the more you consider it the more it becomes clear how much this message is true. Sure I am far from flawless, but it seems to work out better every day since through Jesus-Christ, I could be reconciled with God and guided by the Holy Spirit I get better every day. I realize that is is hard work at times, given our natural proneness to sin, I admit that sometimes the guidance of the Holy Spirit does not seem to make sense, or I just don’t seem to want to hear the truth, but in the end He always turns out to be right. What an amazing Godhead is it not?

O God of David, of Jesus, create a pure heart in me too!

Update

After finishing this post I checked my email and this came from Daily Bible Verse of 6 August:

1 John 5:3-4 – This is love for God: to obey his commands.

This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. – 1 John 5:3-4

The apostle John gives every believer a tool to gauge our love for God – how we respond to his commands. If God’s commands seem burdensome John tells us that this is a sign that our love has grown cold. The answer to this is not to do better in obeying; it is to come back to our first love. It is when our love for God is alive that we experience victory over the world and all of it’s obstacles, for the commands of God are life to our heart and strength to our souls.

Today’s commentary by:
Dave Whitehead, Senior Pastor, GraceNYC.org

This was simply too applicable not to share.

1 John 5:3-4 – This is love for God: to obey his commands.

This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. – 1 John 5:3-4

The apostle John gives every believer a tool to gauge our love for God – how we respond to his commands. If God’s commands seem burdensome John tells us that this is a sign that our love has grown cold. The answer to this is not to do better in obeying; it is to come back to our first love. It is when our love for God is alive that we experience victory over the world and all of it’s obstacles, for the commands of God are life to our heart and strength to our souls.

John 1: 1-18 on pulling it all together


1In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2He was with God in the beginning.

3Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4In him was life, and that life was the light of men. 5The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.

6There came a man who was sent from God; his name was John. 7He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all men might believe. 8He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light. 9The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world.

10He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. 11He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. 12Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— 13children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.

14The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

15John testifies concerning him. He cries out, saying, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’ ” 16From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another. 17For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only,who is at the Father’s side, has made him known.

What shall I say? Perhaps it is best to be quiet an sit back in awe about this beautiful caption of the Old and the New Testament in a few sentences. For those that ever doubted whether or not the Old Testament was still valid or useful: here’s your answer from the Apostle John.

It is a clear indication of how the Old and New Testament are all part of the one story of the world and that we need both the Old and the New Testament to get a good grasp of the bigger picture of man and its place in creation.

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BGEA: The Justice of God


Modern man does not like to think of God in terms of wrath, anger and judgment. He likes to make God according to his own ideas and give God the characteristics he wants Him to possess. Man tries to remake God to conform to his own wishful thinking, so that he can make himself comfortable in his sins.

This modern god has the attributes of love, mercy and forgiveness, but is without justice. Man doesn’t want to be judged and punished for sin. He “reconstructs” God along the lines of tolerance, all-embracing love and universal goodwill.

In this picture of God, there are no laws that demand absolute obedience and no standards to which man must adhere. For example, more than 900 clergymen and students gathered some time ago at Harvard Divinity School to ponder the so-called “new morality” and its significance for the church.

One professor of divinity said that premarital sex between engaged couples was all right, that God would “understand.” A professor at another theological school thought that no sexual relationship should be absolutely condemned by the church. Thus many church leaders continue to reconstruct God according to the secular and humanistic trends of our times.

However, this kind of god would make a preposterous world. It would be chaotic, irresponsible, self-destroying. It would be impossible to live with certainty in that kind of world. To have meaning, life must be based upon law and a lawgiver.

The Psalmist said: “The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple; the statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes” (Psalm 19:7-8).

The Bible warns that “evil men do not understand justice” (Proverbs 28:5).

Read the rest via BGEA: The Justice of God.

Preacher arrested in UK for calling homosexual conduct sinful :: Catholic News Agency (CNA)


London, England, May 4, 2010 / 08:36 am (CNA/EWTN News).- In a case which has disturbed religious freedom advocates, a preacher in the English town of Workington was reportedly arrested for describing homosexual conduct as a sin after a public sermon. A Baptist from Workington, the 42-year-old Dale McAlpine was preaching in the town on April 20. He said he never spoke about homosexuality during his public sermon, which was delivered from the top of a stepladder, the Telegraph reports.

McAlpine said that he later quietly listed homosexual practice among a number of sins referred to in 1 Corinthians during a debate with a woman passerby.

She was then approached by a Police Community Support Officer (PCSO), who spoke with her briefly.

The officer approached McAlpine and identified himself as a homosexual who was a Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender liaison officer. He said a complaint had been made against the Baptist.

According to McAlpine, the PCSO warned him not to say homosexual conduct is sinful because it would be a crime. The preacher told the officer that it is not a crime to describe same-sex practice as a sin.

Police officers later arrived on the scene during another of McAlpine’s sermons. They arrested him and charged him with causing “harassment, alarm or distress” contrary to Section 5 of the Public Order Act. They claim he made the alleged offending remark in a voice loud enough to be overheard by others.

According to the Telegraph, the act was introduced in 1986 to tackle violent rioters and football hooligans. Its use against a preacher has caused concerns among Christians that it is being used to curb religious free speech.

Read there rest at  Preacher arrested in UK for calling homosexual conduct sinful :: Catholic News Agency (CNA).

COMMENT

I wonder hat is next in the UK, also keeping in mind the coverage by Investigate Magazine last year on the developments in the UK. Can we soon expect the Bible to be blacklisted in the UK, because it contains material that may not be politically correct or disturbing to some members of society? Or will the UK have it’s own cleaned up and compliant version of the Bible?

If the reported facts did not indicate otherwise one would think this is a very bad joke.

Book Review: Timothy J Keller, The Reason For God. Belief in an Age of Scepticism


Most recently I had the pleasure to read the book The Reason for God, by Timothy Keller, pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Manhattan New York.

The Reason for God is written for sceptics as well as believers alike. It responds to the the writings of popular authors like Christopher Hitchens, Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris.  What I thought was especially attractive about the book was the currency. Many introductions to Christian belief were written longer ago and do not address what today’s skeptics are concerned about. The timing of the book is impeccable as it arrived in a time frame where both skepticism and conversion appear to be on the rise. More importantly the discussion is being polarized by popular fundamentalists of both camps.

Going over some apologetic notes that will probably be part of another post I noted that perhaps a lot of these books (and similar to what happens with many Christians in general) are focusing on fellow believers and not so much on the group that really deserves serious and respectful attention: the skeptics.All too often other (apologetic) books merely gloss over the important questions or come up with answers that may be convincing to the average believer but do not seriously address the questions by skeptics.

The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Scepticism

The Reason for God:
Belief in an Age of Scepticism,
Buy here>>>

Keller does not distinguish between believers and unbelievers. Instead he talks of believers and skeptics. His theory: we all believe something. And rightfully so I guess as the questions or concerns discussed by Keller are more than once similarly difficult for people that do consider themselves to be a Christian.

“If you come to recognize the beliefs on which your doubts about Christianity are based, and if you seek as much proof for those beliefs as you seek from Christians for theirs—you will discover that your doubts are not so solid as they first appeared.”

The first seven chapters of the book cover seven of the most common objections and doubts about Christianity and discerns the alternate beliefs underlying each of them. This section is titled “The Leap of Doubt” and answers these seven common critiques:

  1. There can’t be just one true religion
  2. A good God could not allow suffering
  3. Christianity is a straitjacket
  4. The church is responsible for so much injustice
  5. A loving God would not send people to hell
  6. Science has disproved Christianity
  7. You can’t take the Bible literally

In the second half of the book, titled “The Reasons for Faith,” he discusses seven reasons to believe in the claims of the Christian faith.

  1. The clues of God
  2. The knowledge of God
  3. The problem of sin
  4. Religion and the gospel
  5. The (true) story of the cross
  6. The reality of the resurrection
  7. The Dance of God

This book places Keller’s apparent influence C.S. Lewis into this day and age and I could not help but thinking how in some respects the experience of reading Keller’s book was similar to reading for instance Mere Christianity.
Mere Christianity

Mere Christianity,
buy here>>>

Publishers Weekly has advises that this is a book for “skeptics and the believers who love them.” Believers will rejoice in this book that carefully and patiently answers the most important objections of their skeptical friends with integrity and grace and Biblically consistent way. Skeptics will see that even their skepticism may well be based on some kind of faith. They are challenged to discern those underlying beliefs. A GREAT READ. It is most certainly one of the most compelling and at the same time highly accessible apologetic books I have read so far, and one that mist certainly addresses the right crowd.

The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Scepticism

The Reason for God:
Belief in an Age of Scepticism,
Buy here>>>

But perhaps even better: why not let the author explain about the book himself.

An extensive chapter by chapter summary of the book can be found at the Set ‘n’ Service blog here >>>

Also highly recommended is the next video in which Keller visits Google’s Mountain View, CA, headquarters to discuss his book. This event took place on March 5, 2008, as part of the Authors@Google series.

I think that by now you should have enough reason to get the book for yourself. Follow the link below to order online. I am sure you will enjoy it as much as I did.

The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Scepticism

The Reason for God:
Belief in an Age of Scepticism,
Buy here>>>

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Further Thoughts on Temptation: Mike and John exhange further thoughts


In reply to the post Thoughts on Temptation, Mike wrote the following beautiful comment:

Michael Pokocky’s said:

My heart beats differently each breath I take.
And in each breath there is either thought or creation.
When aligned with the love of God our breath becomes the source of our creative power to over come all temptation.
For in that breath is God’s voice the only voice that we should be listening to.
Satan comes into our breath through thought because he is incapable of being the breath of God itself.
Through thought, the sub human illusion that our thoughts are ours, Satan speaks and we listen unfortunately.
And it is in thought that we become dysfunctional on every level.
Better to leave thought well enough alone and hug a tree for the tree will say nothing to confuse you and it is part of the universal essence of God in everything.

Nice discourse on temptation John, and I thoroughly am enjoying participating along with you on your journey of discovery.

Update

Part of this email response was transformed into a beautiful blog post at Michael’s Redroom blog on 25 January 2010. Check out the post including picture here http://www.redroom.com/blog/michaelwpokocky/journal-entry-250110-michael-pokocky

My reply

Hi Mike,

I am so happy that you are there journeying along with me, discovering every day. You sure have a way with words my friend.

I think that both God and Satan are able to give us great creative powers, great inspiration. In the end it is what we think when and after we created. It is all in all pretty simple: we create because He created.

8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—
9 not by works, so that no one can boast.
10 For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
(Ephesians 2: 8-10)

I guess we can both safely admit that while we have been using our gifts, have been responding to our inspirations, have been creating, it has been all too easy to let our thoughts and emotions wander off towards pride instead of gratitude. And the more I see of the world around me the more it seems that that is the norm. I guess when you were speaking of a vertigo coming up many years ago that is exactly where you end up seeing how our giving in to temptations has led to the shit the world is in. Look at all the serious problems the world is facing and most of them can be brought back to our own involvement therein as flawed humans: pride, greed, lust for power, to name just a few have lead to nothing but trouble, depleted natural resources, economic collapses, water shortages, pollution, crime, corruption and well the list goes on. All the progress in the world did not lead to a substantial improvement in the basic human condition: on an individual level as well a a collective level. We know because we have been there and I think it is fair to say because we still end up there every now and then, but we get better and better at not falling for that trap.

Through thought, the sub human illusion that our thoughts are ours, Satan speaks and we listen unfortunately.

And it is in thought that we become dysfunctional on every level.

Satan appeals to our human weaknesses, our “desires of the flesh” and that is where we start making mistakes if we are not alert to that. What makes things even more complicated is that from a human perspective it may not appear at all that we are in fact “dysfunctional on every level.” In secular terms we may well be highly successful, fitting right in or be highly functional. It is when you are completely honest with yourself and God that you will need to admit that you may well have fallen for those temptations and sinned in biblical terms. And like so many you find yourself to be all filled with yourself, a self-promoter, self-centered as if anything incredible you did was actually you. Place that in a world where this is the norm and it may easily take you years and years to find this out. No matter how you look at it, you are faced with a world and will inevitably relate to a world around us in which we take part. No matter what your calling is you will end up in an environment in which you have to deal with ideas and ideals that are steeped with selfishness and greed, where you will inevitably work alongside and relate to people with lifestyles and thought patterns that are not biblical, a primarily fallen world. Humbleness and gratitude does not seem to be part of the normal human condition any longer. Self-centered and self-serving  thinking and acting appears to be the norm.

I think it is impossible “to leave thought well enough alone.” In fact I don’t think there is a biblical command that we should, for our own good stop thinking. However, and I can only speak for myself here, with rebirth, a transformation in thinking takes place. One in which love becomes the central element providing us new insights and wisdom under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. We were not created with a mind for nothing. In my opinion God wants us to use it as fully as we are able to but IN THE RIGHT KIND OF WAY, in a biblical sense. Would it not make a lot of difference if at all times we try to view things from His perspective as well? That would infer allowing yourself to have the mind of Christ instead of conforming to the prevalent worldview because that is easier.

13 For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live,
14 because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.
15 For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.”
16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.
(Romans 8: 13-16)

To be secular, or better yet ‘of the flesh’-minded as  I understand this quote actually means being death, but to be spiritually minded means life and peace. Rick Warren refers to this by speaking of a difference between existing and living.  A rock exists but is not living.

“…hug a tree for the tree will say nothing to confuse you and it is part of the universal essence of God in everything.”

In could not have said it more beautiful. Perhaps in reply Philippians 4:8:

8Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

Thanks again Mike, you are turning out to be a fantastic travel mate. I keep on thinking about all those times we talked about walking the road to Santiago the Compostella or another pilgrimage path together. In a symbolic sense it seems like we are actually doing that. I don’t know about you but I am thoroughly enjoying the company on this journey. I guess this is a fitting image to close off: Christ and two pilgrims on the road to Emmaus by Jan van Amstel (based on the story in Luke 24:13-35).

Source: Milwaukee Art Museum

For those who don’t have the pleasure to know Mike. Learn more about Mike at Redroom, where writers are.

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