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Emails to God – Exercise and Prayer (Matthew 5:3)

“Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Dear God, it is so difficult to understand why I cannot be more attuned to your Spirit when things are going well. Why do I too often need to suffer first before I cry out to you? I was driving to work this morning and feeling pretty good. My marriage seems to be moving in the right direction. Kids are doing okay. Work is moving ahead and seems to be going in the right direction. So I was driving along and listening to some of my favorite secular singers on my Pandora app through my phone. About halfway to work, however, I thought, why am I listening to this? Why aren’t I filling myself with Christian music and thoughts right now? So I switched Pandora over the “Rich Mullins Radio” and listened to Christian music for the last five minutes of my drive (I’m blessed to only live less than 10 minutes from work).

Now, I’m sitting here disciplining myself to spend a little bit of time in prayer. It would be the easiest thing in the world to skip today. A little like skipping my exercise last night. I know I need it. I know I need you. I know it will be good for me. I know time with you is good for me. I know it will make me healthier. I know time with you will heal my soul. I know I’ll feel better when it’s over. I know I’ll feel better after I’ve touched you. Yes, there are a lot of similarities between the discipline of regular exercise and the discipline of regular, thoughtful prayer. If I go out and exercise once a week then I won’t feel much difference, but a month of exercising will bring about a change in me. It’s the same thing with prayer. One prayer a week won’t really have much impact on my life, but a month of praying regularly will.

Father, thank you for bringing me here today. I am sorry that I often need to be poor in spirit before I end up on my knees before you. I am sorry that I still try to take control of my surroundings and the events in my life so often. But here, in this moment, I bring my life to you, I lay it at your feet, and I ask that you will please do with it and me as you will. Love through me. Parent through me. Husband through me. Lead through me. And serve through me.

 

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Emails to God – Examining Your Theology (Matthew 5:1-12)

Matthew 5:1-12

1 Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, 2 and he began to teach them.

 

He said:

3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit,

for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

4 Blessed are those who mourn,

for they will be comforted.

5 Blessed are the meek,

for they will inherit the earth.

6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,

for they will be filled.

7 Blessed are the merciful,

for they will be shown mercy.

8 Blessed are the pure in heart,

for they will see God.

9 Blessed are the peacemakers,

for they will be called children of God.

10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,

for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

11 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Dear God, this is where Jesus starts to veer from the script. I was surprised that he started out mimicking John’s message of repentance. It is almost as if he starts to get a feel for what he wants to communicate to people when he starts with this sermon. As I recall, there is nothing about repentance in this whole thing. There is a lot about being meek, be truthful, salt and light, the standard for considering yourself sin-free being a lot higher than they realized, giving to the needy, prayer and fasting, worrying, treasures in heaven, judging others, evaluating prophets, etc. In essence, this sermon seems to be about retraining their thought processes and helping them to reevaluate some of their long-held beliefs.

I am going through a process of evaluation right now. My wife is considering converting to the Catholic Church, so I am attending RCIA classes with her. Frankly, I went into it with an open mind about possibly converting if I felt you were leading me to do that. I consider the process to be kicking the tires and evaluating Catholicism in a thorough way. Well, after nearly three months of classes I am surprised at how many differences there are with most Protestant faiths. I knew there would be some, but there are more than I thought, and the ones that I knew about are actually a little bigger than I thought. The thing I have liked about it is that the classes and teachings have made me critically examine my own theology on several different issues and really think about what I believe.

The other thing that I have had to think through is how important are some of these issues to me. Do I have to agree with them to worship with them? Do I have to agree with them in order to convert? One thing I have found is that I am probably more willing to overlook our differences in opinion than they are.

Father, I want to be able to allow my faith to be challenged. I don’t want to be afraid of examining my theology because I believe it is in these times, if I do it prayerfully, that you can continue to mold me into the person you need me to be. All I ask of you is that you speak to me, hold me close to you, and help me to find your path for me at any given moment. I want to major in the majors and let someone else major in the minors. I don’t want to be distracted by details and miss the substance of who you are and what you have for me.

 
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Posted by on November 17, 2011 in Matthew

 

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