Priorities (Matthew 6:19-34)

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Jesus continues the Sermon on the Mount by talking about priorities.

  • Where your treasures are there your heart will be also.
  • You cannot serve two masters.  You will end up loving one and hating the other.
  • Don’t be anxious about your life.  Anxiety and worry will not solve any problems.

I am guilty of putting energy into low priority issues, while ignoring high priority things.  This happens when I am more concerned about what other  people will think about me than I am about achieving my goals.

The best way to determine if I am truly focusing on my priorities is to compare them to my schedule.  Then I will know if I am really focusing on what is important to me.

Do you have the same problem?  What techniques do you use to keep your priories in their proper place?

Whole Living in a Broken World

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Charles Davis is a local minister and author.  I meet him last year at the Southern Author’s Expo in Huntsville, Alabama.  I was intrigued by the title of his book “Whole Living in a Broken World,” so I bought a copy.  I finally got around to reading it this week.

According to Charles Davis, the problems in churches are:

  1.  Most “members” never attend
  2. Personal transformation is rare
  3. Biblical illiteracy is rampit
  4. A lot of members who attend don’t want to participate

These problems have lead to the broken world we live in today.  The solutions that will allow for whole living are:

  1.  Know and experience God as He is
  2. Understand the grace of God
  3. The Holy Spirit is central to the spirit life of believers
  4. Avoid sins that prevent whole living
  5. Exercise faith through worship, service, Bible study, prayer, fasting, thankfulness, generosity, and church attendance

I did enjoy reading the book and found it beneficial.  Also, there is a lot of good advice in this book.

There is one thing I found a bit odd.  The author excessively quoted other biblical scholars and theologians.  Almost every paragraph had a quote in it and every principle was backed by numerous quotes.

I have nothing against using quotes and often do so in my own writing.  However, when it is so pervasive it feels like the author was unable to support his ideas without the help of others or like the author was totally reliant on what other writers had to say about each subject.

Believe in God

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Where did we come from?  Why are we here?  How did the universe and everything in it come to be in existance?  Is there a God that created all of this?

When I ponder these questions, I often consider how the universe seems to be in harmony:    planets moving in an ordered fashion, the process of birth and death, the geometric designs and patterns found through out the world, and all the beauty that surrounds us.  I also think about the chaos of the universe:  natural disasters, disease, and evil.

In some ways, believing in God is understandable.  How could creation exist if there was never a creator?  How can we have so much order and common patterns if there were no intelligent designer?

However, that leads to another question.  If everything needs a creator and if nothing can just happen or exist without something causing it to exist, then how can God be everlasting?  Where did God come from?

God is an all powerful being and he created the rules, so maybe the rules don’t apply to God.  Still I am left with more questions than answers.

I also think about what I learned in my science classes.  As far as I understand, our universe started with an explosion.

The big bang theory tells us the universe is expanding.  At some point, the elements and conditions were perfect for this explosion that started this expansion of the universe.

Where did those elements come from?   What caused the heat and pressure to reach such levels that an explosion occurred and started this expansion process?

When I consider what science has to say about our origin, I am left feeling confused and with more questions than answers.

Maybe the two are not exclusive.  Maybe God was responsible for the explosion and that is how God created the universe.

I will probably never truly understand the origin of life or have all my questions answered. I guess this is were faith enters the equation.

Feeling Nostalgic and Sad

When I was a teenager, Madison Square Mall was the best place to hang out with friends.  It was the largest mall in the Huntsville area.  It also had all sorts of cool stores and restaurants.

One of my favorite memories, involves me and my cousins hanging out on the second floor next to the railing that overlooked a water fountain on the first floor.  We were talking with a friend and just being goofy.

The friend was wearing a clip-on tie, because he had an interview with one of the stores.  My cousin Kay didn’t know it was a clip-on, so when she grabbed his tie it popped off and went flying over the railing.  The tie landed in the water fountain below us.

The young man was really upset, because he had borrowed his father’s tie clip and he didn’t want to lose it.

My cousin Dee and I came up with a plan to fix the problem.  We went down stairs, took off our shoes, and climbed into the water fountain to get the tie.

A security guard approached us and demanded to know what we were doing in the fountain.  I tried to explain the situation, but that just made him even angrier at us.

Dee and I were escorted out of the mall and warned not to return.

Over the years, new malls and shopping centers have come to Huntsville, Alabama.  Unfortunately, Madison Square never changed or made any significant improvements.  They still have a lot of the 80’s colors and decretive styles through out the building.

People drifted to the more modern malls that are better able to meet their needs and Madison Square Mall continued to deteriorate.

Madison Squire Mall recently closed and all the stores have now relocated.  The local news (WHNT.com)  was showing pictures of the empty mall and talking about future plans for the building and the land.  Looking at the pictures made me feel nostalgic and a bit sad.

What is an Artist?

I just finished the art history class at Kahn Academy.  During the first lesson, the instructor defined an artist as, “someone who is particularly insightful about their own cultural moment.”

I find that definition to be a bit restrictive.  I think an artist is someone who expresses themselves in a creative way or someone who has a unique perspective on the world around them and shares that perspective with other people.

I have a tendency to find beauty in the mundane and my favorite form of expression is photography.  As you can see, I will take photos of random flowers, animals, and even bugs.

I don’t think my photography says anything about my “cultural moment.”  I think it just reflects on how much beauty is in the world and my attempt to share that beauty with others.

 

Arguments for God

Saint Thomas Aquinas developed five arguments for the existence of God, which I have summarized:

  1.  The Unmoved Mover – The ever changing universe must have something that moves it or that directs the change.  God is that mover.
  2. The First Cause – Everything is caused by something and nothing can cause itself to exist.  God is the first cause.
  3. The Argument from Contingency – Everything is perishable and considering all the variables working against the world, everything should be extinct.  God is the imperishable being that allows perishable existence to continue.
  4. The Argument from Degree – We are able to see the world in degrees of goodness, truth, and nobility.  There must be a standard by which to judge goodness and that standard is God.
  5. The Argument from Design – Unintelligent objects behave in regular and predictable patterns.  Their behavior must be set or designed.  God is the designer.

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