Monday, January 24, 2011

Jesus is no Jedi

Today I'm linking up with Joanne Sher's blog "An Open Book" to talk about today's verse.  I think I took a different tack on this, but the question of why bad things happen has been on my mind...

Today's Monday Manna verse is: 

“And (Jesus) did not do many miracles there because of their lack of faith.”  --- Matthew 13:58

Growing up in the Star Wars era, I was fascinated by the saga of Luke Skywalker What kid wouldn’t want to be able to use the Force to defeat bullies and get a few chores done?

Then there’s that verse in the Bible where Jesus says, “...if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” (Matt. 17:20)

Whoa. Talk about a Jedi moment.  I envisioned moving mountains, like Yoda raising Luke’s X-Wing fighter from the swamps of Dagobah.  All it took was a little faith...

Well, not really. I knew better than that.

But I think we can get a bit confused about the connection between faith and miracles.  We’re tempted to believe that if we only have a little more faith something incredible will happen.  But what if the miracle doesn’t come: people die, storms ravage, cancer comes back  Does that necessarily imply a lack of faith?

Is God saying to us when life slips away, as Darth Vader did, “I find your lack of faith disturbing.”

No, absolutely not.

Throughout his earthly ministry Jesus performed many miracles, giving credit to faith:

  •  “Take heart, daughter. Your faith has healed you,”  (Matt. 9:22)
  •  When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralyzed man, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” (Mark 2:5)
  •  “Receive your sight, your faith has healed you.” (Luke 18:42)

However, Scripture also tells us that Paul prayed for a “thorn” to be removed and it wasn’t.  (2 Cor. 12)  No one would accuse Paul of having little faith.

Give thanks for miracles. They display God’s glory. They uplift the believer.  They astound the unbeliever.  And no doubt about it--the story from which today’s verse was taken is a cautionary tale.  We should guard and grow our faith through prayer and study. But we should keep in mind that there’s no mystical, “force” of faith that we need to learn to manipulate to bring about miracles.

With God, nothing is impossible. But Jesus is no Jedi.  Thank God for that.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

New Year, New Beginning

This one didn't quite show up on The Jesus Boat Blog with all my formatting.   But I love these verses, so I'm posting it here.

New Year New Beginning

Happy New Year friends and readers!  Did you begin 2011 with any New Year’s resolutions?

  • Perhaps this year you’ve decided to read through the entire Bible in a year--or elected to read it through once more...
  • Perhaps this year you resolved to choose a spiritual discipline, such as prayer or fasting, and make it a greater part of your life...
  • Perhaps this year you’ll quiet yourself and listen for God’s particular calling for your life...
  • Perhaps this is the year that you’ll visit the Holy Land or begin planning and saving for a future trip!

Whether you elected to make a list of New Year’s resolutions or treated January 1st as a day like any other, rejoice that our God is the God of new beginnings.  He welcomes the sinner who repents. (Luke 15:7) He upholds the righteous. (Ps 37:17). Through Christ, we are a new creation. (2 Cor 5:17) And, as believers, we need not fear what may happen in the coming year, for through Christ we have overcome the world. (1 John 5:4)

Whatever you do in 2011, commit yourself (and your resolutions) to the Lord. Here are some verses to start the year:

  • Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and he will establish your plans. (Prov. 16:3)
  • In their hearts humans plan their course, but the LORD establishes their steps. (Prov. 16:9)
  • Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. (Phil. 3:13-14)
  • “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jer 29:11)

Thank you for following Along the Way (and The Jesus Boat Blog, if you do). Shalom and may God bless you this year.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Clearing out the Clutter

Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal... (Matt. 6:19)

(Not my closet, but you get the picture)
Photo by Chris Scott @ stock.xchng
Well, I’m not sure about “treasures on earth”, but one of our biggest household problems is clutter.  The problem with clutter is that it’s hard to find the good stuff amid all the other stuff.

One of the things we used to do annually in the library was weed the collection.  Studies have shown that discarding books that aren’t circulating (or are out of date) helps improve the use of the rest of the collection.  Who knew?

During the past couple of months I’ve been weeding our house.  Not only have I cleared out some stuff we’re not using, I’ve found some things that we needed: a padded laptop case,  winter accessories, CD storage cases.  Now,  my house is cleaner and I didn’t need to repurchase these items at the store.

Here are some of our family tips for what we’ve been weeding so far:

Toys:  I start right after school begins in the fall (while the kids are at school).  I pull out the toys that don’t get played with and separate them into piles for consignment, donation, trash.  Last fall I made some cash for Christmas shopping by consigning toys and DVDs that they’ve outgrown.  I gave educational toys to the preschool.  So far, nobody has missed anything and between birthdays and Christmas, they have new stuff anyway.

Clothes:  Kids clothes are easy.  Once they’ve been outgrown, handed-down, and outgrown again, most of them are ready for the trash bin.  Good condition children’s clothes go to charity.  I’d already given ours away to Goodwill when I heard about Clothes To Kids and their need for warm clothes this winter.  

Likewise, my husband gathered up some good condition sweaters for the Red Cross warm clothing drive.  Clothes in poor condition went into the trash.  I did a serious weeding of my closet last year, but it’s time once again.  Good stuff to charity; bad stuff to the trashbin.

Documents:  Since I don’t like to use my shredder when the kids are around (3 guesses why),  I haven’t shredded tax documents and personal papers in many years.  Good Housekeeping recommends keeping 3 years of personal or 6 years of supporting business documents for tax returns.  The IRS has an interesting article on how long to keep tax returns.   This article provides a list of what basic records to keep.

Here are a couple good clutter-clearing websites:

25 Ideas from Good Housekeeping

Organized Home

Monday, January 10, 2011

Cleaning up in 2011

"This is the year," I keep telling myself, "This is the year we'll get it together."

What's the "it"?  Our house and garage.

After 6 years of survival cleaning and just making do--since the birth of our older son--we finally have a little more time to get ourselves organized.

We're talking:

  • 6 years of shoving stuff under the bed and in the closet
  • 6 years of throwing stuff into the garage
  • 6 years of tucking papers into file cabinets, folders, and boxes
  • 6 years of things just wandering around the house: scattering to corners, collecting in piles, languishing in drawers

Since our house is on the smallish side, 6 years of "stuff", can really add up and cramp our living space.  But this is the year to tackle some of our big organizational problems.  It's 2011 and here we go.

The first step?  Getting rid of stuff.

More on that later....

Shalom y'all!


Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Are we any different because of Christmas?

Had the new year on my mind for last week's Jesus Boat Blog post.  This was inspired by a question asked during one of the sermons of Advent and Christmas at First United Methodist St. Petersburg. (Thanks, Pastor David)

I hope to be blogging here a little more in 2011--but I will keep posting links to my Jesus Boat Blog posts as they're published.

Shalom, y'all!

Because of Christmas

This Christmas we remembered the blessed birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ. On Christmas Eve, worshippers celebrated in festive family services, joyful praise and worship, or quiet candlelight contemplation.  We gathered with family and friends or spent time serving strangers.  Now the gifts are unwrapped and the leftovers are picked over. Some have already taken down their decorations.  Many are glad the holiday is finally over.  But a question remains to be asked:

Are we any different because of Christmas?

You'll find the rest of this post at