Tag Archives: christianity

The 12/23/13 Joy Jar

23 Dec

It is just over a day until Christmas and moi will be celebrating Christmas and reflecting upon the end of the ‘Joy Jar’ exercise. Aside from persistence, reflection, balance and of course, gratitude – the purpose of the exercise; moi learned quite a bit of values from reading the thoughts of a kaleidoscope of people and philosophies. Moi kept returning to her Christian faith and it’s aspirational values. The true message of Christmas is the Return of the Savior. The Return of the Savior is significant for Christians because each of us is a Child of God. Knowing that we belong to the Father gives each a peace that passes all understanding. Today’s deposit into the ‘Joy Jar’ is the fact moi is a Child of God.

Christianity is a love relationship between a child of god and his Maker through the Son Jesus Christ and in the power of the Holy Spirit.
Adrian Rogers

Do you see that God’s sometimes painful dealings with you are but an extension of his fatherhood? Do you understand that his rebuke only affirms your glorious position as a child of god, who loves you enough to place his disciplining hand on your life?
Charles Stanley

Be encouraged, child of god. He loves you even in the midst of your pain. He loves you even when you don’t love Him. He loves you when you feel utterly alone. He loves you with an everlasting love. Your suffering can take many things away form you, your health, your happiness, your prosperity, your popularity, your friends, your career, even your family. But there’s one thing suffering can’t take away: it can’t take away the love of God.
Ray Pritchard

It is better to be the child of god than king of the whole world.
St Aloysius Gonzaga

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that frightens us most. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and famous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of god. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that people won’t feel insecure around you. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in all of us. And when we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.
Maryanne Williamson

“God makes three requests of his children: Do the best you can, where you are, with what you have, now”
African-American Proverb

“An infinite God can give all of Himself to each of His children. He does not distribute Himself that each may have a part, but to each one He gives all of Himself as fully as if there were no others.”
A. W. Tozer

“Never allow anyone to rain on your parade and thus cast a pall of gloom and defeat on the entire day. Remember that no talent, no self-denial, no brains, no character, are required to set up in the fault-finding business. Nothing external can have any power over you unless you permit it. Your time is too precious to be sacrificed in wasted days combating the menial forces of hate, jealously, and envy. Guard your fragile life carefully. Only God can shape a flower, but any foolish child can pull it to pieces.”
Og Mandino

You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure about you. We were born to manifest the glory of God that is within us.
Marianne Williamson

The 12/22/13 Joy Jar

22 Dec

It is just a few days until Christmas and moi will be celebrating Christmas and reflecting upon the end of the ‘Joy Jar’ exercise. Aside from persistence, reflection, balance and of course, gratitude – the purpose of the exercise; moi learned quite a bit of values from reading the thoughts of a kaleidoscope of people and philosophies. Moi kept returning to her Christian faith and it’s aspirational values. The true message of Christmas is the Return of the Savior. Today’s deposit into the ‘Joy Jar’ is the expectation of eternal life.

Saving faith is an immediate relation to Christ, accepting, receiving, resting upon Him alone, for justification, sanctification, and eternal life by virtue of God’s grace.
Charles Spurgeon

I believe that nothing happens apart from divine determination and decree. We shall never be able to escape from the doctrine of divine predestination – the doctrine that God has foreordained certain people unto eternal life.
Charles Spurgeon

The reward of eternal life requires effort.
Thomas S. Monson

Each heartfelt prayer, each Church meeting attended, each worthy friend, each righteous decision, each act of service perfomed all precede that goal of eternal life.
Thomas S. Monson

As a Christian, Christ died so that we will have eternal life in Him in Heaven. What it looks like doesn’t matter, what it smells like doesn’t matter, as long as Christ is there it will be Heaven to me.
T. D. Jakes

Eternal life and the invisible world are only to be sought in God. Only within Him do all spirits dwell. He is an abyss of individuality, the only infinite plenitude.
Karl Wilhelm Friedrich Schlegel

Besides the physical ordinance of baptism and the laying on of hands, one must be spiritually born again to gain exaltation and eternal life.
Ezra Taft Benson

The destination is a happy life, an accomplished life that doesn’t end with death but with eternal life.
Angelo Scola

The hope of eternal life is not to be taken up upon slight grounds. It is a subject to be settled between God and your own soul; settled for eternity. A supposed hope, and nothing more, will prove your ruin.
Ellen G. White

Among the many signs of a lively faith and hope we have in eternal life, one of the surest is not being overly sad at the death of those whom we dearly love in our Lord.
Saint Ignatius

Saving faith is an immediate relation to Christ, accepting, receiving, resting upon Him alone, for justification, sanctification, and eternal life by virtue of God’s grace.
Charles Spurgeon

“If you want to get warm you must stand near the fire: if you want to be wet you must get into the water. If you want joy, power, peace, eternal life, you must get close to, or even into, the thing that has them.”
C.S. Lewis

The 12/21/13 Joy Jar

21 Dec

It is just a few days until Christmas and moi will be celebrating Christmas and reflecting upon the end of the ‘Joy Jar’ exercise. Aside from persistence, reflection, balance and of course, gratitude – the purpose of the exercise; moi learned quite a bit of values from reading the thoughts of a kaleidoscope of people and philosophies. Moi kept returning to her Christian faith and it’s aspirational values. Today’s deposit into the ‘Joy Jar’ is those aspirational Christian values.

Matt Perman wrote What Are Christian Values?

How about if we model for the world a more complete picture of Christian values, which would include things like this:
 Radical generosity. Just like Jesus, who did not merely tithe but gave everything he had (2 Corinthians 8:9).
 Love. Ditching the self-protective mindset and putting others before ourselves, making their good our aim in all things.
 Risk. Making the good of others a higher priority than our own safety, security, and comfort, and taking risks to bring benefit to them.
 Creativity. Christians are to be creative! And to be a boring Christian is a sin (that’s an implication of the term “salt” in Colossians 4:6).
 Excellence. Slack work is a form of vandalism (Proverbs 18:9). Christians are not to be clock-watchers in their work, but to do things well and with competence.
 Initiative. Taking ownership for making things better, rather than sitting around watching and complaining.
 Leadership. Instead of criticizing, leading and setting a good example.
 Humble authenticity.
 Global and multi-ethnic vision.
 Ambition. Not for our own comfort, but for the good of others.
These are all Christian values. But would the world know to name even one of these as Christian? We have a lot of work to do.
http://whatsbestnext.com/2012/08/what-are-christian-values/

“As long as you are proud you cannot know God. A proud man is always looking down on thing and people: and, of course, as long as you are looking down you cannot see something that is above you.”
C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

“I would rather make mistakes in kindness and compassion than work miracles in unkindness and hardness.”
Mother Teresa, A Gift for God: Prayers and Meditations

DISTURB US, O LORD

Sir Frances Drake: “Disturb us, Lord, when we are too well pleased with ourselves, when our dreams have come true because we have dreamed too little, when we arrive safely because we have sailed too close to the shore. Disturb us, Lord, when with the abundance of things we possess, we have lost our thirst for the waters of life; having fallen in love with life, we have ceased to dream of eternity; and in our efforts to build a new earth, we have allowed our vision of the new Heaven to dim. Disturb us, Lord, to dare more boldly, to venture on wider seas where storms will show your mastery; where losing sight of land, we shall find the stars. We ask you to push back the horizons of our hopes; and to push into the future in strength, courage, hope, and love.”
(From a sermon by Glenn Durham, Christian Heroes, 8/3/2010)

“Remember!–It is Christianity to do good always–even to those who do evil to us. It is Christianity to love our neighbours as ourself, and to do to all men as we would have them do to us. It is Christianity to be gentle, merciful and forgiving, and to keep those qualities quiet in our own hearts, and never make a boast of them or of our prayers or of our love of God, but always to show that we love Him by humbly trying to do right in everything. If we do this, and remember the life and lessons of Our Lord Jesus Christ, and try to act up to them, we may confidently hope that God will forgive us our sins and mistakes, and enable us to live and die in peace.”
Charles Dickens

The 12/02/13 Joy Jar

1 Dec

Advent began yesterday on Sunday. Share Faith has a great explanation in What is Advent?

Prior to the Nativity Celebration of Christmas Day, Advent refers to the holy season of the Christian church which celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ. It begins on the Fourth Sunday before Christmas and ends on the 25th of December. As the commencement of the Christian year, the Advent Season holds a special place in the Christian tradition.
The History of Advent
The word “advent” comes from the Latin term for “coming,” and refers to the first and second Comings of Jesus Christ, in the senses of Savior and Judge, respectively. The first authoritative mention of Advent appears in the Synod of Lerida (AD 524), and the season has been recognized since as the beginning of the western ecclesiastical (church) year. The celebration originally began as a period of fasting, similar to Lent. Although the practice of abstention was later relaxed, Advent retains the spirit of atonement and penitence.
Advent Wreaths and Calendars
In western cultures, the four Sundays of Advent are often celebrated with Advent wreaths decorated with four candles. Made from evergreens, the circular wreaths symbolize eternal life and the endless nature of God’s love. Three of the candles are purple or blue while the fourth is typically rose-colored or pink.
One candle is lit each Sunday of the season. The rose-colored candle is lit on the third Sunday, which is considered to be a more festive day than the others. On Christmas Day, a fifth candle (known as the “Christ Candle” and often white in color) is lit in the center of the wreath, or may replace it altogether.
Advent calendars are also popular during the season. About 25 small compartments are created, often through the use of multiple sheets of cardboard or through sewn pockets. These are filled with seasonal messages, religious pictures, small chocolates, stories, or toys, depending upon the particular calendar.
Advent Traditions and Customs around the World
There are many ways Advent is celebrated. In English history, poor women would carry “Advent images” — two dolls dressed as Christ and the Virgin Mary. Upon showing these images to passersby, the women would be gifted with small amounts of money or trinkets. Failing to donate was considered bad luck.
In Normandy, children under 12 were sent through farmers’ fields with torches, setting fire to straw to drive off vermin. Italy supported the tradition of bagpipe players entering into Rome during the last days of the season. They played music before shrines of the Blessed Virgin, just as shepherds played pipes at the manger to honor the Messiah’s coming.
The Season of Advent remains one of the most important times of the Christian year. It celebrates the blessing of the birth of Christ, and reminds the faithful of his eventual return.
“A prison cell, in which one waits, hopes – and is completely dependent on the fact that the door of freedom has to be opened from the outside, is not a bad picture of Advent”
Dietrich Bonhoeffer quotes (German Lutheran Pastor and Theologian. His involvement in a plot to overthrow Adolf Hitler led to his imprisonment and execution. 1906-1945) http://www.sharefaith.com/guide/Christian-Holidays/advent_season.html

Today’s deposit into the ‘Joy Jar’ is the Advent Season.

Healthy Spirituality has some great insights about Advent:

“Advent, like its cousin Lent, is a season for prayer and reformation of our hearts. Since it comes at winter time, fire is a fitting sign to help us celebrate Advent…If Christ is to come more fully into our lives this Christmas, if God is to become really incarnate for us, then fire will have to be present in our prayer. Our worship and devotion will have to stoke the kind of fire in our souls that can truly change our hearts. Ours is a great responsibility not to waste this Advent time.”
Edward Hays, A Pilgrim’s Almanac

“The season of Advent means there is something on the horizon the likes of which we have never seen before… .What is possible is to not see it, to miss it, to turn just as it brushes past you. And you begin to grasp what it was you missed, like Moses in the cleft of the rock, watching God’s [back] fade in the distance. So stay. Sit. Linger. Tarry. Ponder. Wait. Behold. Wonder. There will be time enough for running. For rushing. For worrying. For pushing. For now, stay. Wait. Something is on the horizon.”
Jan L. Richardson, Night Visions: Searching the Shadows of Advent and Christmas

“You keep us waiting. You, the God of all time, Want us to wait. For the right time in which to discover Who we are, where we are to go, Who will be with us, and what we must do. So thank you … for the waiting time.”
John Bell, quoted in The Westminster Collection of Christian Prayers, compiled by Dorothy M. Stewart

“Christmas is fast approaching. And now that Christ has aroused our seasonal expectations, he’ll soon fulfill them all!”
St. Augustine, Sermon 51

“God is coming! God is coming! All the element we swim in, this existence, Echoes ahead the advent. God is coming! Can’t you feel it?”
Walter Wangerin, Jr., from “The Signs of the Times,” in The Manger Is Empty

“How can God stoop lower than to come and dwell with a poor humble soul? Which is more than if he had said, such a one should dwell with him; for a beggar to live at court is not so much as the king to dwell with him in his cottage.”
William Gurnall

“Advent: the time to listen for footsteps – you can’t hear footsteps when
you’re running yourself.”
Bill McKibben

“This Advent we look to the Wise Men to teach us where to focus our attention. We set our sights on things above, where God is. We draw closer to Jesus… When our Advent journey ends, and we reach the place where Jesus resides in Bethlehem, may we, like the Wise Men, fall on our knees and adore him as our true and only King.”
Mark Zimmermann in Our Advent Journey

“One of the essential paradoxes of Advent: that while we wait for God, we are with God all along ,that while we need to be reassured of God’s arrival, or the arrival of our homecoming, we are already at home. While we wait, we have to trust, to have faith, but it is God’s grace that gives us that faith. As with all spiritual knowledge, two things are true, and equally true, at once. The mind can’t grasp paradox; it is the knowledge of the soul.”
Michelle Blake, The Tentmaker

“Christmas has lost its meaning for us because we have lost the spirit of expectancy. We cannot prepare for an observance. We must prepare for an experience.”
Handel Brown

http://www.healthyspirituality.org/2009/12/advent-15-inspirational-quotes-about.html

The 11/26/13 Joy Jar

26 Nov

Moi knows who she IS. She is a conservative Christian who follows a Jewish carpenter named Jesus. Jonathan Mizrahi wrote on his blog, Hanukkah and Thanksgiving:

A once in eternity overlap:
Next year features an anomaly for American Jews – The first day of Hanukkah coincides with Thanksgiving, on 11/28/2013 (meaning the first night of Hanukkah is actually the night before Thanksgiving). I was curious how often this happens. It turns out that it has never happened before…and it will never happen again.
(Correction: it happened once before, in 1888: see addendum below.)

Thanksgiving is set as the fourth Thursday in November, meaning the latest it can be is 11/28. 11/28 is also the earliest Hanukkah can be. The Jewish calendar repeats on a 19 year cycle, and Thanksgiving repeats on a 7 year cycle. You would therefore expect them to coincide roughly every 19×7 = 133 years. Looking back, this is approximately correct – the last time it would have happened is 1861. However, Thanksgiving was only formally established by President Lincoln in 1863. So, it has never happened before. Why won’t it ever happen again?

The reason is because the Jewish calendar is very slowly getting out of sync with the solar calendar, at a rate of 4 days per 1000 years (not bad for a many centuries old calendar!) This means that while presently Hanukkah can be as early as 11/28, over the years the calendar will drift forward, such that the earliest Hanukkah can be is 11/29. The last time Hanukkah falls on 11/28 is 2146 (which happens to be a Monday). Therefore, 2013 is the only time Hanukkah will ever overlap with Thanksgiving. You can see the start date of Hanukkah as a function of time in the attached plots. In the long timescale plot, the drift forward is clear.

Of course, if the Jewish calendar is never modified in any way, then it will slowly move forward through the Gregorian calendar, until it loops all the way back to where it is now. So, Hanukkah will again fall on Thursday, 11/28…in the year 79811. http://jonathanmizrahi.blogspot.com/2013/01/hanukkah-and-thanksgiving-once-in.html

Many Christians acknowledge the Jewish roots of their faith. The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews has a great explanation of Hanukkah:

The Importance of Hanukkah
I once had a Christian pastor friend who said he thinks that Hanukkah is really a critical holiday for Christians, too. Why, I asked — I knew about the reference in John chapter 10, but nothing more. He said that if the Jewish Maccabees had not risen up against their oppressors, then secularism and paganism would have controlled the Jewish people. And if it would have controlled the Jewish people, Jesus would not have been able to be born as a Jew, to live a Jewish life, to see the Temple, and have the Bible. Judaism would have been wiped out.
He’s right that Hanukkah is a very important holiday. There is an attempt in every generation to rid the world of the Jewish people. And if not, there are those who want to accommodate and negotiate and be flexible. Then there are those who say they can do that sometimes, but there are times when you must draw a line in the sand. When they try to take away my faith I cannot accommodate, I cannot adjust, and I cannot compromise. The Maccabees drew that line in the sand, and they triumphed. If not for their triumph, Judaism would have been gotten rid of by those authorities, and Jesus the Jew would not have been around 165 years later… http://www.ifcj.org/site/PageNavigator/eng/inside/hanukkah

Today’s deposit into the ‘Joy Jar’ is a recognition of the Jewish roots of moi’s faith.

Kindle the taper like the steadfast star
Ablaze on evening’s forehead o’er the earth,
And add each night a lustre till afar
An eightfold splendor shine above thy hearth.
Emma Lazarus, “The Feast of Lights”

Blessed is the match consumed in kindling flame
Blessed is the flame that burns in the secret fastness of the heart
Hannah Senesh

To me every hour of the light and dark is a miracle,
Every cubic inch of space is a miracle.
Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass

The miracle, of course, was not that the oil for the sacred light –
in a little cruse – lasted as long as they say;
but that the courage of the Maccabees lasted to this day:
let that nourish my flickering spirit.
Charles Reznikoff, “Meditations on the Fall and Winter Holidays”

Just as a candle cannot burn without fire, men cannot live without a spiritual life.
Buddha

We have focused on the miracle-thing and I think we often overlook the message of Hanukkah. To me, the core of the holiday is the cleaning of the temple…. The accomplishment was in restoring the temple to the purpose for which it was built. Now think of the temple as a symbol. Perhaps it represents my life. The world has tried to use me for its own (perhaps good, but none-the-less extrinsic) purposes. But now I can rededicate myself to my own original purpose.
Ralph Levy, “Hanukkah – Another View”

Let the straight flower bespeak its purpose in straightness – to seek the light.
Let the crooked flower bespeak its purpose in crookedness – to seek the light.
Let the crookedness and straightness bespeak the light.
Allen Ginsberg, “Psalm III”

I ask not for a lighter burden, but for broader shoulders.
Jewish Proverb

Better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.
Chinese Proverb

Even our misfortunes are a part of our belongings.
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry,

The darkness of the whole world cannot swallow the glowing of a candle.
Robert Altinger

The 09/23/13 Joy Jar

23 Sep

The great King David was not only a great king, but a poet. Chabad.org writes in King David and the Psalms:

Not as a great warrior or mighty king did David win the everlasting love of our people, and indeed of all peoples on earth, but as the author of the Book of Psalms (Tehillim), the sweetest poetry of Israel.
King David was a link in the continued transmission of the Torah, being the spiritual successor to the prophet Samuel. He surrounded himself with a group of prophets and scholars and together they studied the Torah. He thought nothing of the comforts of life that his regal palace could offer him, and unlike other kings he would rise before the sun to pray and chant psalms of praise to G-d, the King of all kings.
The Psalms are hymns of praise to the Almighty G-d, Creator of the Universe. They speak of G-d’s greatness, His goodness and mercy; His power and justice. David pours out his heart in these Psalms and avows his sincerest and purest trust in G-d alone. Many of the Psalms are prayers and supplications to G-d which king David prayed in times of trouble. Some psalms contain good advice, showing the way of true happiness through virtue and the fulfillment of G-d’s commandments.
Thus the Psalms reflect all the varied incidents that can happen in life, both to the individual and to the whole Jewish nation. Indeed, in the history of David — his exile, persecution, struggles, and eventual triumph — the Jewish people, collectively and individually, find an example and prophecy of their own life. No wonder the Book of Psalms has throughout the ages served as a boundless source of inspiration, courage, and hope. http://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/2050/jewish/King-David-and-the-Psalms.htm

One of the best loved Psalms is 91:

Psalm 91
1 Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.[a]
2 I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.”
3 Surely he will save you
from the fowler’s snare
and from the deadly pestilence.
4 He will cover you with his feathers,
and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
5 You will not fear the terror of night,
nor the arrow that flies by day,
6 nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness,
nor the plague that destroys at midday.
7 A thousand may fall at your side,
ten thousand at your right hand,
but it will not come near you.
8 You will only observe with your eyes
and see the punishment of the wicked.
9 If you say, “The LORD is my refuge,”
and you make the Most High your dwelling,
10 no harm will overtake you,
no disaster will come near your tent.
11 For he will command his angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways;
12 they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
13 You will tread on the lion and the cobra;
you will trample the great lion and the serpent.

Today’s deposit into the ‘Joy Jar’ is Psalm 91.

The Treasury of David by Charles H. Spurgeon
Psalm 91
TITLE. This Psalm is without a title, and we have no means of ascertaining either the name of its writer, or the date of its composition, with certainly. The Jewish doctors consider that when the author’s name is not mentioned we may assign the Psalm to the last named writer; and, if so, this is another Psalm of Moses, the man of God. Many expressions here used are similar to those of Moses in Deuteronomy, and the internal evidence, from the peculiar idioms, would point towards him as the composer. The continued lives of Joshua and Caleb, who followed the Lord fully, make remarkably apt illustrations of this Psalm, for they, as a reward for abiding in continued nearness to the Lord, lived on “amongst the dead, amid their graves.” For these reasons it is by no means improbable that this Psalm may have been written by Moses, but we dare not dogmatize. If David’s pen was used in giving us this matchless ode, we cannot believe as some do that he this commemorated the plague which devastated Jerusalem on account of his numbering the people. For him, then, to sing of himself as seeing “the reward of the wicked” would be clean contrary to his declaration, “I have sinned, but these sheep, what have they done?”; and the absence of any allusion to the sacrifice upon Zion could not be in any way accounted for, since David’s repentance would inevitably have led him to dwell upon the atoning sacrifice and the sprinkling of blood by the hyssop.
In the whole collection there is not a more cheering Psalm, its tone is elevated and sustained throughout, faith is at its best, and speaks nobly. A German physician was wont to speak of it as the best preservative in times of cholera, and in truth, it is a heavenly medicine against plague and pest. He who can live in its spirit will be fearless, even if once again London should become a lazar-house, and the grave be gorged with carcases. http://www.spurgeon.org/treasury/ps091.htm

A man with convictions finds an answer for everything. Convictions are the best form of protection against the living truth.
Max Frisch

The 02/14/13 Joy Jar

13 Feb

Many are focused on Valentine Day. Will they get flowers, jewelery, and/or candy. Will there be a romantic evening or day. The greeting card companies, jewelers, and chocolatiers promote the holiday, as they should. It is good to show affection for those one loves. Shouldn’t that same, love, affection, and respect be shown every day? There is nothing wrong with an extra special day, but shouldn’t there be a baseline? Today’s deposit in the ‘Joy Jar’ is 1 Corinthians 13:4-7, the truest expression of love.

1 Corinthians 13:4-7

New International Version (NIV)

4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.