Poems, Personal Stories, and Observations

Posts tagged ‘Jesus’

The Snare of Riches

‘And Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly, I say to you, it will be hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.”‘ (Luke 19:23)

We are sorely mistaken if we think that riches will bring us happiness. Material goods, to a point, are certainly a blessing. It is good to have nutritious food, clothes to keep you comfortable in any weather, and shelter from that same weather. Beyond that, I’m proposing here that unearned and/or unshared wealth can be a real hindrance to happiness, if it takes the place of our relationship to God.

Certainly a high position in society does not guarantee healthy or moral behavior, not to mention that all your foibles and flaws will be mercilessly criticized by the public. There are some crazy stories, going back some generations, from my own family background, that cause one to ponder.

Here are a few, half heard, half remembered (and thus probably half accurate), from my background: One relative with a high position in the (non-U.S.) government, contracted syphilis and went mad. He was in the military and presumably, while married, contracted the illness from someone other than his wife. Another VERY wealthy relative gambled away 26 houses. Still another, to impress a woman he was wooing, bought out an entire theater performance so that the two could be the only people in the theater. They did get married, but later divorced, partly due to his infidelity. The same man ran for government and promised the voters that he would provide a copious feast if he won. He won.

We have all seen unhappy rich people in the news, with broken marriages and families, and disordered lives.

If you happen to be blessed with wealth, however you obtained it, remember that all your riches, and anything you possess, ultimately comes from God. (Of course, dishonest wealth is not in God’s plan.)

There were several rich men in the Bible who were righteous. Being rich doesn’t have to be evil in itself. For example, Abraham was quite wealthy and a person of great faith. Again, recall the story of Job, who lost all his riches and most of his relatives, but did not curse God. Ultimately, God restored everything to him, and more. There were rich Christians in the New Testament who shared their wealth. The point being, that their wealth was not where they derived their value, but they derived it from Christ.

Why Do You Fear?

John 20:13-18
Why do you weep,
Oh woman, why do you weep?
Because they’ve taken my Lord,
And I don’t know where they’ve laid Him.
But, when Jesus said to her, “Mary,”
She knew Him and went rejoicing to tell others.

Luke 24:5-12
Why do you seek,
Oh women, why do you seek
The living among the dead?
He is not here, but has risen.
So they rushed back
From the tomb and
Told everyone else
What had happened.

Acts 1:11-14
Why do you gaze,
Oh men of Galilee, why do you gaze
Up to the heavens?
This Jesus will come again from heaven
In the same way that you saw Him go.
So they returned to Jerusalem
And were constantly united in prayer.

Luke 12:32
Why do you fear,
Oh little flock, why do you fear?
For it is your Father’s good pleasure
To give you the kingdom.
So let us trust and obey
The One who loves us.

All the World

All the world is filled with grief.

There is no place to find relief —

Except at the foot of Jesus’ cross.

All the world is filled with hatred.

Hardened hearts to sin have catered —

But some souls sacrifice themselves.

All the world is filled with violence,

With killing, thievery, fighting, riots —

Except when people learn to forgive.

All the world is filled with madness,

Insanity twists sense to rashness —

But reason can find a better way.

All the world must turn around

Until a better truth be found —

And hearts and minds are finally sound.

A Worthless Slave?

“So you also, when you have done all that you were ordered to do, say, ‘We are worthless slaves; we have done only what we ought to have done!’” (Luke 17:10).

In his book, “Jesus, the Master Psychologist,” Dr. Ray Guarendi comments on the above passage: “Jesus never questions the infinite value of a person … [Jesus’] counsel: When you do what is expected of you, do not expect approval.” Guarandi continues, “Don’t seek praise when acting praiseworthy. [A worthless slave] is not a worthless human being … Being a worthless servant is the path to being a worthy disciple.”

In other words, we are infinitely valuable, but it is God, not ourselves, Who provides the value. Whatever we do to serve Him is not to our credit, but is only what we would be expected to do, because He is worthy of all service.

Mood Disorder?

First, a disclaimer: I am not a psychologist, and have no psychological training except a few college classes and one five-day workshop. However, I have been in and out of counseling/therapy since age 12 or 13 (I’m now 66), sometimes with a break of many years. So, any psychological terms I use will be my understanding of what they mean, as a layperson.

My main diagnosis through all these years has been mild to moderate depression, or dysthymia. If I understand correctly, dysthymia comes under a broader category called “mood disorders”.

There are many opinions about depression, including “Just pull yourself together,” “It’s because of your sins,” “It’s a lack of faith,” “It’s from ‘stinkin’ thinking’ (irrational, untrue, or unrealistic thinking),” and “It’s a chemical imbalance in your brain.” Of course, all of these can be true, or overlapping.

I am often (not always) in a state of low-grade melancholy, for whatever reasons, as noted above. I could even add the excuse of my cultural background, which is Hungarian. My parents grew up there and then emigrated to the United States. From what I have read, melancholy is a common characteristic among Hungarians. Again, this could be for many reasons. One of my theories is that Hungary, for hundreds of years, has been overrun by foreign powers and has been constantly at their mercy (if there was any mercy). At any rate, melancholy does seem to be common among Hungarians, indeed, many eastern Europeans.

But, today I would like to share a surprising recent occurrence for me, perhaps a small miracle. The other day, I was in the typical, mildly low, mood. Sometime around 5:30 p.m., it was like someone turned on a switch. I was happy! I felt loved, and worthwhile, like God, and some people, loved me! It was inexplicable! I repeat, it was literally like a switch was turned on in my mood. No longer the negative thoughts like “Nobody likes me,” “I’m evil (or at best, worthless),” “Things are going to turn out badly,” etc. Lest this sounds frightening to anyone, let me be clear; I sometimes have these thoughts, but I don’t give in to them. They are like attacks that happen periodically. I have found ways to combat them. I am not miserable anymore, as I was in younger days. I have the hope of Jesus Christ, which is what keeps me alive and functioning and purposeful. Speculating on where they come from could be another blog post.

Like any mood change, I cannot explain what happened. I’ve even had the opposite happen. I will be in a mildly low mood and plunge into a more severe depression. Happily, this happens less and less in my life.

What can I learn from this? I believe God is trying to tell me, “Don’t rely on how you FEEL. I am with you despite any moods, feelings, or thoughts. I never leave you. Do not base your worth on how you feel, or how others treat you.” Whether I feel happy, sad, or in between, I mustn’t take that as my major reality. My major reality is that God is present and will not abandon me. THIS IS THE REALITY, not what I FEEL!

Confession

Whether you confess to a priest, a minister, a trusted friend, and/or privately to God, repentance and confession are powerful things. The Bible references confession, including “When you realize your guilt in any of these, you shall confess the sin that you have committed.” (Leviticus 5:5), “Therefore confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, so that you may be healed.” (James 5:16a), and ‘”[Jesus] … breathed on [his disciples] and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.  If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”’ (John 20:22-23). Stating our sins explicitly brings them out in the open, into the light. I believe Jesus knew that unconfessed sin was like an untreated wound; if not exposed and cleansed, it would fester.

Once, when I confessed resentment at being hurt or misunderstood, the priest advised, “Think of the hurt like a knife in your heart. You pull out the knife. Now you have a choice. You can keep dwelling on the hurt and/or stab the other person, or you can say to Jesus, “Jesus, I give you this knife and my hurt. You take it. I ask You to handle this because I cannot.”

I don’t always get such helpful advice when I confess, nor do I always have a dramatic experience as some do (for example, a radical experience of cleansing), but I trust that Jesus IS cleansing me and granting me the grace to grow in love for Him and for others.

[Perhaps I should add that wounds from others, or from our own sins, should not be ignored, but neither should we wallow in self-pity. Sometimes the wounds are so deep that we might need counseling from others, or serious therapy. But learning to let Jesus heal our wounds is a big step.]

Don’t be afraid to confess! Unlike with people at times, God will take you back, and all you confess and repent of will be forgotten in the ocean of His mercy.

When Fear Comes to Haunt You

When fear comes to haunt you,
Just say, “I am not going there.”
When fear comes to taunt you,
Just say, “Your lies I will not bear.

“The Master said, “Be not afraid,”
And on His shoulder gently laid
My trembling heart,
And said again, “Be not afraid.”

And Jesus Weeps

Fighting, conflict, violence,
Riots, mayhem, anarchists.

Someday, our world, the light will see;
But children cry, and Jesus weeps.

Those things he said; can’t let them go.
I won’t forgive; my hate will grow.

Someday, our world, the light will see;
But spouses cry, and Jesus weeps.

Can’t see beyond their shade of skin,
I’ll just dismiss their good within.

Someday, our world, the light will see;
But races cry, and Jesus weeps.

My parents were such selfish jerks,
Though they did give me many perks.

Someday, our world, the light will see;
But parents cry, and Jesus weeps.

That kid at school, he’s such a fool.
I’ll beat him up; he isn’t cool.

Someday, our world, the light will see;
But school kids cry, and Jesus weeps.

That church they go to, can it be?
My church is better; don’t they see?

Someday, our world, the light will see;
But Christians cry, and Jesus weeps.

A desperate woman doesn’t know
Abortion’s not the way to go.

Someday, our world, the light will see;
But angels cry, and Jesus weeps.

All the Difference

One life, Jesus’ life … has made all the difference.  Because of Him, we can have light instead of darkness, hope instead of despair, forgiveness instead of condemnation.

He was born in poverty, not riches. He was born without fame or popularity.  He was born to teach us how to give, not grab.

You, too, can make a difference by loving your neighbor and forgiving your enemies.

The Good Thief

One of the criminals, a thief, who was crucified with Jesus, said to him, “Jesus, remember me, when you come into your kingdom (Luke 23:42)”.  Somehow he knew Jesus’ name and that Jesus had a kingdom!

Was Jesus that famous?  Did everyone in Jerusalem know about him?  Perhaps it was because of the sign above Jesus that Pilot had ordered placed there.  The sign declared, “Jesus, King of the Jews”.

In another gospel, it states that, “And the robbers who were crucified with [Jesus] also reviled him … (Matthew 27:44).”  Either the two gospels are inconsistent, or there was a transformation in one of the thieves.  He went from reviling Jesus, to, in effect, asking his forgiveness.  He realized his sin and that he deserved punishment, whereas Jesus was innocent (Luke 23:39-41).

It is interesting to imagine how “the good thief” came to this conclusion.  He may have known something about Jesus before the time of execution.  Or, perhaps observing how Jesus bore his own suffering, he realized that Jesus was not just a man, but God also.

Tag Cloud