Wednesday, October 28, 2015

God bless who?

Chapter 4 of The Divine Conspiracy talks about the beatitudes from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5).   Willard has his own interpretation of what Jesus was trying to get across which has generated some controversy both in my little circle and outside it.   After reading the chapter again, I wrote this prayer that expresses how I feel. 

Blessed are those who do not yet know God, for the joy of knowing Him is close at hand.
Blessed are the poor, for they have full access to the riches of the Kingdom of God.
Blessed are those who mourn, for God can comfort them.
Blessed are the meek, for God can give them courage.
Blessed are those who know God and are trying to follow Him, for He can show them the way.
Blessed are those who are mocked because of their faith, for God will ensure they can endure the ridicule.
Blessed are the oppressed, for they can find hope in God.
Blessed are the incarcerated, for their sins have been measured and can be forgiven.
Blessed are the thieves, the child molesters and the murderers for their salvation can bring great glory to God.
Blessed are those who would seem to have everything, but don’t, for God can show me that He is all I need.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Smartest man ever

Chapter 3 of The Divine Conspiracy wraps up the first section of the book dealing with WHY we should want to be disciples of Christ. Many Christians and non-Christians agree that Jesus must have been a great guy – really nice.  But Willard drives home the point that Jesus wasn’t just a nice guy, He was also the smartest person that ever lived. His ability to teach and lead so effectively is only made possible because He is God.  He joined us on Earth for a short time to show us and tell us how to live in His world.  It shouldn’t be a surprise that 2000 years later, a lot of people are still trying.  Now the rubber is going to hit the road in the next section of the book as Willard helps us understand HOW we might be able to try a little harder.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Sleeping beauty

Last weekend I had the chance to spend some time with my new granddaughter, Caroline. Her mom and grandmother had been up with her quite a bit through the night.  I was up early, so I got to be in charge for a couple of hours that morning.   At first, I found myself being frustrated trying to be productive while I was holding her.  I was fixing coffee, messing with my phone, etc. Thankfully, I finally recognized that the chance for the two of us to be alone together was a special opportunity.   I sat on the sofa and just stared at her sleeping in my arms.  I listened to every small breath and took in every feature of her face.  I felt the warmth of her small body. I couldn’t imagine loving anything more.  And then it hit me. My love for my granddaughter pales in comparison with God’s love for me and the rest of his children. I think He deserves a little more of my  love.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Just Forgiven?

Our connect group made it through chapter 2 of the Divine Conspiracy this week.  This chapter started with a look at the familiar bumper sticker: : “Christians aren’t perfect, just forgiven.”  While both parts of that statement may be true, the overall message is “don’t expect Christians to act any differently than anyone else”.  Willard then takes some time talking about the religious right and the religious left.  The  extreme right with the mantra of  a saving grace that will get us into heaven no matter what we do, and the extreme left taking a position that religion is all about what we can do to improve society and remove social ills.   Again, while neither of these approaches are inherently bad, Willard claims that neither reflect the centrality of the message that Jesus proclaimed while He was here.   And that was that Jesus came to us as a teacher to show us how to get closer to a heaven on earth.  This is what Willard will be focusing on for the remainder of the book.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Kingdom Thinking

Dallas Willard closes out chapter 1 of Divine Conspiracy talking about kingdoms.   We each have rule over our own kingdom, which Willard defines as “the range of our effective will.”   Many people feel as if they have control over nothing and others think they are in charge of a lot more than they actually are.  For believers, God gave all the people control over  the living things on earth in Genesis 1, and He has prepared an individualized kingdom for each one of us.  As He sees that we can be trusted with small things, He has promised to give us more things to be responsible for.  He wants us to be stewards of all the riches that are available in the kingdom where He has invited us to live with him – both now and after we leave our earthly kingdoms.