Heaven Pt. 143: You Can’t Fix Stupid! But Jesus Can!

100_0350Psalm 14

For the choir director: A psalm of David.

Only fools say in their hearts,
    “There is no God.”
They are corrupt, and their actions are evil;
    not one of them does good!

The Lord looks down from heaven
    on the entire human race;
he looks to see if anyone is truly wise,
    if anyone seeks God.
But no, all have turned away;
    all have become corrupt.[a]
No one does good,
    not a single one!

   Growing up, I was the kid who just couldn’t seem to fit in with the crowd. I was clumsy, slow and chubby. I excelled at music and drama and academics. I had an interest in all things paranormal and worst of all I dressed funny. It seemed there was at least one thing in me everyone could dislike. Sometimes it bothered me that I wasn’t more widely accepted by my peers.

My father, always quick with the pithy sayings once told me, “Son you can always fix your issues. You’re a smart kid. Just be glad of that, because you never can fix stupid!”

I recalled that little memory more than once and would tell myself, “Yeah J, at least your not stupid.”

Then I learned it wasn’t true, at least not in God’s eyes. His standards had nothing to do with how well I played baseball or soccer, the fact I only fit into “husky” jeans, played the flute in fourth grade,  could diagram sentences or believed firmly in UFOS. His standards for considering me wise had everything to do with my level of true righteousness and even by the time I was twelve I knew I couldn’t claim anything close to the perfection He required. I came to a point where with the Psalmist I realized my sin made me a stupid fool. In fact the Bible said everyone in the whole world was in the same boat with me.

Thankfully, the Bible doesn’t end leaving us “stupid”. The story starts with the naked truth,

“2 The Lord looks down from heaven
    on the entire human race;
he looks to see if anyone is truly wise,
    if anyone seeks God.
But no, all have turned away;
    all have become corrupt.[a]
No one does good,
    not a single one!”

It continues on with God coming to help stupid people like me.

Now, you can say, ” Oh PJ don’t call yourself stupid.”

I know in our culture foolish sounds a little better than stupid, but folks, it really amounts to the same thing. We are a race that has a capacity to touch Heaven and yet, even when we are told this, our genetic predisposition is to deny that fact and to continue in sin on the broad way to an eternity of torment. If that ain’t stupid I don’t know what is.

But I digress. God helped us by sending His son Jesus to die on a cross and then by breaking the power of death as He raised that same Jesus from the dead.

I cannot claim to have the wisdom that kept me from ever sinning. But I can claim the wisdom that embraced the only plan God ever gave for saving myself. I have discovered, His grace is enough!

Y’know I never did become the cool kid with all my peers. Accepting Jesus didn’t make me “Awesome” in their eyes. But being smart enough to realize I couldn’t fix my own problems… smart enough to realize I needed Jesus, well that has made me accepted by God and I have gotta tell you that is a pretty amazing feeling.

Pray with me:

Lord I realize that my sin has made me a fool in your eyes. I confess I have lacked wisdom. I confess without your help I cannot follow the ways of wisdom or righteousness. Jesus please forgive me for every time I have failed. Forgive me and help me to change. I don’t know how to change myself. I lack the knowledge. I lack the wisdom but I know you have it for me. Help me God. My life is yours. Thank you for coming to my rescue.

Amen.

Springtime With C.cada

C.cada is our church’s artist collaborative. Our mission is

to give artists from every genre an opportunity to come together to discover, develop, and deploy their talents in ways that will better the church and the community.

About a year ago we realized we needed God’s plan to begin to widen our influence from the church to the community. We prayed.

It is a wondrously dangerous thing to ask God for things like that. In response God has given us a plan and projects to go along with it.

In September I was invited to join a committee called the Robinson Broadhurst Winchendon Enhancement Committee. Our directive was to come up with a project that would benefit the whole town. What we ended up with was a plan to acquire a 43 acre piece of waterfront property in the center of town and to build a town Makerspace.

C.cada has been asked to supply mentors for the Makerspace project and to begin Makerspace programs in advance of the acquisition that will be eventually be housed on the property. How is that for widening influence?
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One of our local hospitals has invited a group of our artists to come and paint their pediatric play room ( a makerspace project). These pictures are promotional mock-ups done by one of our artists for the play room project.
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We were also welcomed to host a 250th anniversary art show in town On June 14th which is Charter Day for Winchendon (another makerspace project). So far response seems  good. We have two musical groups coming and my goal is to hang 100 pieces out doors.

http://artistdayapart.com/winchendon-250th-anniversary-art-contest/

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Meanwhile two of our writers are working on pieces for a contest with Rose Hall Media.

http://rosehallmedia.com/2014/03/31/a-writing-contest-submit-short-creative-prose-works-of-symbolic-nature/

What I am discovering is that God has no shortage of things for us to do to help in the building of His kingdom. If we will just seek Him for the opportunities they will come in His time in His way.

What is God leading you into just now?

 

Lament For A Dying World

crying eye      In my mind’s eye I am standing once again in my grandfather’s kitchen delivering him the news about my grandmother’s terminal cancer. His watery blue eyes fill with tears but he sets his jaw with that grim New England resolution I have grown up with.

He lifts his chin proudly refusing to let the tears escape, “Well we have had 61 wonderful years together.”

Despite his assertions of thankfulness I know something in my grandfather dies that day. That is the point he loses the will to live. That is the moment where life becomes a rash clinging to his mortal skin, a plague to be cured so he can rejoin my grandmother on the other side.

In this world one out of one dies.  Death is ever-present in the midst of life. As Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 15 it is the final enemy, man’s nemesis. Because of this plague on the world we all know lament and raise it up from one end of the globe to another on a daily basis. Somewhere right now someone is weeping over some soul cast forth from the Earth into eternity on this day we call Good Friday.

I can see a hill with three crosses. Two criminals hang beside him, one  to his right and one to his left and there on the middle cross, struggling for every breath, hangs the Darling of Heaven, God with skin on, Jesus.

He gasps one last time and cries out “Into Your hands I commit my Spirit.”

Immortality meets finality. The whole world laments. The clouds weep darkness and the earth trembles in terror as God dies. But in this world it is a rule as certain as death, God changes everything He touches. And when He touches death it is changed from enemy to entryway for those who believe on the Lord Jesus to be rescued.   

     For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. John 3:16

     For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. John 3:17

    But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: John 1:12     

In my memory I am sitting at my grandmother’s side as she prepares to breathe her last. I sing her to Heaven with her favorite hymns, “In the Garden” and “How Great Thou Art”. It is 4:30 A.M. and the hospital smells of antiseptic as death creeps in to take her. But because of the cross death can do no more than release her from cancer’s shackles. Because of the cross 61 years of happy marriage are not forever marred because of death’s pall. Because of the cross my grandfather can hope in a better future even as his own life wanes alongside hers.

We can raise a lament for this dying world. It is sad. Today is a day to recognize the awful power of this enemy called death. But it is also a day to recognize that long ago on a hill called Golgotha God and death had a showdown and there in that time and space God’s touch forever made a slave of this thing that enslaved us. Jesus died on Friday but hang on church Sunday’s on the way!

Pray with me today:

     Jesus I thank you for Your cross. I thank you that You met death and won! I thank You that Your power has turned death from an enemy into an entryway. I believe in You Jesus and receive Your death on the cross as my access into Heaven. I know I could never do enough good works to enter Heaven on my own but You have made a way by dying for me by taking the punishment for my sin. I love You Lord and dedicate my life to You this day. Amen.        

 

 

 

 

Get Wisdom (Proverbs 4:5-7)

A word on wisdom

Growing Up, God, and Being Busy

5 Get wisdom, get understanding;
    do not forget my words or turn away from them.
Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you;
    love her, and she will watch over you.
The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom.
    Though it cost all you have, get understanding.

~Prov 4:5-7 NIV

The book of Proverbs has a lot to say about wisdom, and rightfully so seeing it was written by the wisest man in history, King Solomon. The first eye-opening thing I notice about the passage above is that Solomon writes to “get wisdom” instead of “be wise”. To me, this shows that wisdom is something you attain and earn, not something you are born with. Being unwise is not part of who someone is, no matter how often they choose to make unwise decisions. It is up to each of us to develop wisdom.

Another distinction Solomon shares…

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Windows On My World

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As I race through Holy Week I wanted to take a few moments and give you a glimpse through the window into my world using Cee’s Share Your World forum.

Lots of bloggers go to “Cee-Land” to share bits and pieces of their lives through Share Your World; So if you want to grab a hold of the tail of the blogosphere and discover tons of other fun bloggers pop on over to Cee’s blog when you are done here.

http://ceenphotography.com/2014/04/14/share-your-world-2014-week-15/

 

Here are this week’s questions to self-discovery:

For your blog do you basically use Windows or Mac, laptop, desktop, pad, or phone?

For writing my blog I use my desk top Windows almost exclusively. when reading and commenting I am generally on my Kindle.

 

As a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

As a boy I wanted to be a naturalist. But from eighth grade on I was pretty certain I wanted to be a pastor and a writer. I am one of those few fortunate given the privilege to realize his dreams. I love my life.

Did you grow up in a small or big town? Did you like it?

I grew up in a small town called Winchendon. My Grandad, my Dad and my Mom were all involved heavily in civic organizations and town politics. My folks owned a restaurant that was sort of the hub for local gossip and I started working there when I was fourteen. My graduating class was 72 kids. I absolutely loved the small town experience  and wouldn’t have traded it for the world.

How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you are? 

About 80. I’ve been called an old soul, but I think I’m pretty spry for an eighty year old.

Bonus question:  What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up?

I am so grateful for the opportunity to teach our church’s membership class and to host our town’s community garden planning meeting. I am so looking forward to Good friday,  Easter and to celebrating my daughter’s 24th birthday! Oh and I am looking forward to the spring snow melting away. Here is what I woke up to this morning.

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Beautiful but soooooo wrong!

 

 

Shoot & Quote: Whole

This post was created for Ese’s Shoot & Quote Challenge.

Like most things I have been creating lately this is more conceptual than realistic but it seems to be the space I am in right now.

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The light of the body is the eye: therefore when thine eye is single, thy whole body also is full of light; but when thine eyeis evil, thy body also is full of darkness. Luke 11:34

Find more whole shots & quotes at Ese’s blog

http://esengasvoice.wordpress.com/2014/04/12/ese-s-weekly-shootquote-challenge-whole/

It’s a Win-Win!

You have got to read and listen to this!

DebBe Still and Listen

When a loved one is dying of cancer or any other illness for that matter how many of us find it difficult to praise God in and through the whole process? I think many of us would agree that praising God is not the first thing on our minds when walking down that road. Believe me I know the heart wrenching pain of seeing someone you love suffer. You see my brother Mike died of melanoma cancer which metastasized to his lungs eleven years ago and it was painful to see him go through so much. I remember it, like it was yesterday. Hospice came in and made him as comfortable as possible. Most of our immediate family was there at his side the whole weekend before he died. My son Tom was only four months old at the time and I can still see Mike’s smile as he looked…

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Soylent Green Is People

OK so maybe nobody who missed the seventies sci-fi scene (that’s how it was spelled then) will get this reference unless of course you happened to see the equally arcane scyfy movie from 2012 (that’s how they spell it now) Cloud Atlas; But the line kept coming to mind as I walked through Keukenhof Gardens last year.

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It was forty-five degrees and raining. Still people chose to show up with no coats. So Keukenhof staff were handing out these green rain ponchos. The hood of this very economical rain gear came down just below the eye line; So people were walking around half blind trying to look at flowers ,cutting each other off at every turn.

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After three hours of nearly being trampled upon by the men and women in green, my sister and I began warning each other of oncoming danger with the buzz words “Soylent green is people!” We’d laugh hysterically and that made getting stepped on almost all right.

When I came back to the states and downloaded my pictures I thought maybe I should just delete these but they make me laugh every time I see them. I haven’t the heart to let the joke go.

To see other odd ball photos go to:

http://ceenphotography.com/2014/04/13/cees-odd-ball-photo-challenge-week-7/

Sunday Stills: Witloaf

This week’s Sunday Stills challenge is all about international cuisine. 

As soon as I saw the theme I knew  the picture I was going to post.100_2163This is witloaf (pronounced Vit-loaf). It’s  chicken wrapped in bacon on a bed of endive and baked in a cheese crust smothered with a special red sauce. YUMMMMY! But what I remember about the meal beyond the great taste was the wonderful company. Thanks to Willem and Mirjam Jackson for the memories!

To discover other international dishes go to:

http://sundaystills.wordpress.com/2014/04/13/sunday-stills-the-next-challenge-international-food/