Cure for the Guilty Conscience

Paradox of Matthew 5

“What joy of those who mourn…”

Matthew 5:4, paraphrased by Ted Kell

In Matthew 5:4, Jesus tells us that we will be blessed when we mourn. He’s not talking about the mourning that comes with a tragic event or with anxiety of tomorrow.  Nor does he refer to the despairing sorrows of the world or morbid self pity.  There’s a special kind of mourning that Jesus speaks of that brings us blessings.

It’s human nature to want to run away from something that you know you’ve done wrong.  Maybe you want to hide from it or brush it away and try to ignore it as best as you can.  But as Christians, we are called to mourn for our sins.  We mourn because we realize that we will never be perfect.

We are told in Hebrews 12:14 to “Make every effort to live in peace with all men and be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord” (NIV).  We must live a holy life to be an example for the people around us; but to be holy one must reach perfection, and it is impossible for us to live a perfect life, so we mourn because we fail our calling.  Like David when he wrote Psalm 38:17 & 18, “For I am about to fall, and my pain is ever with me. I confess my iniquity; I am troubled by my sin…” (NIV) and Isaiah in Isaiah 6:5 when he declares that ” ‘Woe to me!’ I cried. ‘I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty…” (NIV) we must recognize our sinfulness and we must mourn for it, because it’s our sins that lead to our death.

2 Corinthians 5:17 tells us that in Christ we are a new creation: “…the old has gone, the new has come!” (NIV) But when we sin, we return to our old sinful nature, and so we mourn.  We mourn because it is our sins that sends us to death, but Jesus took our place.  He was nailed on the cross for our sins.  We can never be perfect the way that He was perfect.

“Blessed is he whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered.” Psalm 32:1

In our mourning because of how sinful we are, God sees our grief and He forgives us.  We can take comfort in His forgiveness and be joyful: our sins are erased and we are made alive when we believe in Christ and accept Him as our Lord and Savior.  (Ephesians 2:1-10) Our sinful death has become a merciful resurrection.

A letter from Paul to the church in Corinth, concerning godly grief and forgiveness (2 Corinthians 2:5-11,NIV; 7:2-16, ESV):

“If anyone has caused grief, he has not so much grieved me as he has grieved all of you to some extent — not to put it too severely. The punishment inflicted on him by the majority is sufficient. Now instead, you ought to forgive and comfort him, so that he will not be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. I urge you, therefore, to reaffirm your love for him.  Another reason I wrote you was to see if you would stand the test and be obedient in everything. Anyone you forgive, I also forgive. And what I have forgiven — if there was anything to forgive — I have forgiven in the sight of Christ for your sake, in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes.  (2:5-11, NIV)

Make room in your hearts for us. We have wronged no one, we have corrupted no one, we have taken advantage of no one. I do not say this to condemn you, for I said before that you are in our hearts, to die together and to live together I am acting with great boldness towards you: I have great pride in you; I am filled with comfort. In all our affliction, I am overflowing with joy. 

For even when we came into Macedonia, our bodies had no rest, but we were afflicted at every turn — fighting without and fear within.  But God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus, and not only by his coming but also by the comfort with which he was comforted by you, as he told us of your longing, your mourning, your zeal for me, so that I rejoiced still more  For even if I made  you grieve with my letter, I do not regret it — though I did regret it, for I see that the letter grieved you, though only for a while.  As it is, I rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because you were grieved into repenting.  For you felt a godly grief, so that you suffered no loss through us.

For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.  For see what earnestness this godly grief has produced in you, but also what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what longing, what zeal, what punishment! At every point you have proved yourselves innocent in the matter. So although I wrote to you, it was not for the sake of the one who did the wrong, nor for the sake of the one who suffered the wrong, but in order that your earnestness for us might be revealed to you in the sight of God. Therefore we are comforted.  

And besides our own comfort, we rejoiced still more at the joy of Titus, because his spirit has been refreshed by you all. For whatever boasts I made to him about you, I was not put to shame. But just as everything we said to you was true, so also our boasting before Titus has proved true. And his affection for you is even greater, as he remembers the obedience of you all, how you received him with fear and trembling. I rejoice, because I have complete confidence in you.” (7:2-16, ESV)

 

7 Kinds of Falling Stars You Wish Upon

Not even Perseus could put a hold on yesterday’s show of meteors.

Mere rocks lose their way in the darkness, pulling into the atmosphere of Earth, leaving tails of fire behind their trails, but are meteors mere? Some don’t call them falling stars — they say, “They’re really not stars at all,” but then, some people don’t call sea stars by the name starfish, and yet the word is still a word, because habits die hard. Why?

It’s because we see what we see. Falling stars are stars like dreamers dream. Perseus never stops his battling Medusa, and Draco never fossilizes with the rest of the Dragon Age. It’s because we all want to see the immortal heroes. As well, wishes continue to come true because falling stars make them true. No one can change the magic, the magnificent.

In fact, dare anyone try and take away what the imagination sees, they’ll find themselves learning, that only the day Perseus lays down his sword and quits the fighting, will stars be a mere mathematical line of lights and nothing more.

The meteor shower yesterday had many kinds of falling stars. Each one is like a message in a bottle from God to you: your wish is linked to a falling star, and in turn, links to the ether endlessly, making your wish become a reality in the future. Each star has a different tone.

1. Sky TravelerShooting Star Type - Sky Traveler

2. Power Ball Shooting Star Type - Power Ball

 

3. Twinkly ArchShooting Star Type - Twinkly Arch

4. Fast StreakShooting Star Type - Fast Streak

 

5. Trick of the EyeShooting Star Type - Trick of the Eye

 

6. Child StarShooting Star Type - Child Star

 

7. Blazing FireballShooting Star Type - Blazing Fireball

 

“Whither shall I go from thy Spirit?
Or whither shall I flee from thy presence?
If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there:
If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, thou art there.
If I take the wings of the morning,
And dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea;
Even there shall thy hand lead me,
And thy right hand shall hold me.
If I say, Surely the darkness shall overwhelm me,
And the light about me shall be night;
Even the darkness hideth not from thee,
But the night shineth as the day:
The darkness and the light are both alike to thee.”

Psalm 139:7-12 (ASV)

 

Worst Problem Ever: The Labyrinth of Technology

Imagine yourself in a colossal stadium, with a ceiling that reaches the sky, but in front of you is an endless winding of walls and corners, straight paths, open paths, curvy paths, going on and on. Right when you start to get a grip on which way to go, that’s when a wall appears, it’s a dead-end, and you have to turn back, forced to back-track your steps.

That is today’s opportunist in the labyrinth of technology.

Not everyone acknowledges the problem. Some can afford the lifestyle of buying and upgrading every year; subscribing to this, subscribing to that; paying a little here, paying a little there; then the labyrinth can be walked around, not through. But for those short on cash in an extended measure of time, you see the problem.

There are also ones who confidently smile when you call them “Nerds!”, for they see no trouble in troubleshooting every malfunction a computer has; taking the computer apart when it shuts down and won’t power on; patiently working with the blue-screened-computer which expresses an apology with a giant frowny face; for those people, the problem is a puzzle for them to master. Those proudly known as nerds valiantly organize their 100 passwords in one place, keep backups of every file, and budget in cloud storage, subscriptions, better speakers, newest upgrades, and the best hardware, barely having money for anything else. Which is why I will argue, even they might acknowledge there is a problem in the labyrinth of technology.

Exactly one week after I told my readers and viewers, in a video, to be prepared to lose their technology, my most reliable hard-drive died. I don’t mean the keydrive that broke a while ago, the one that was new and barely used. That one was where our Jabber Worthy files were saved. The hard-drive I’m talking about today was our main network: we had all our files saved there, and I had a shared hard-drive between our two computers, Kat and mine. Not only was that our favorite, most reliable hard-drive, it was the one we’ve had for years, which I guess is part of the problem. It “wore out”. It’s not exactly like a teddy bear, where it keeps being cute even after it wears out…

The sort of good news is, I found out my hard-drive may be fixable within a $300-$800 range, the may be part of my sentence emphasized. But since my money is better spent on new equipment, since everything is older than my hard-drive that crashed, it could be better to count the losses as a lesson learned and pick up the pieces, finding the unorganized backups scattered across the maze of computer storages. We’ll start anew if we have to. Luckily, we are the meticulous (and paranoid?) types, and God is good, so much of the most important files are safe.

At what point does losing your life’s work develop into some form of PTSD…? After we chose career as our top importance, sacrificing a lot for talents and dreams, when can we say that our losses have become our scars?

We are blessed though. Kat got a new laptop last week, replacing her 11-year-old desktop one. The laptop arrived just in time for her to type a new and improved rules of our pirate-themed Jabber Worthy game. It’s so much better… We’re trying! Some say we never give up. They’re probably right.

Luckily, Kat and I printed out the cards to Jabber Worthy years ago and so we still have hard copies of our game and rules, but we will most likely try to give it a fresh look now that our files have been lost two different times. At one point you realize God might be trying to teach you a new thing. I pray for Him to work on our hearts and help us take the windy course to success, not the dead-end course to failure. I guess that’s why we innovate!

Computer (sneak peak Jabberworthy) 2

Fresh out of the oven!

Scrumptious Blueberry Bread Muffins

There’s nothing like cooking with fresh fruit and berries.  Here’s a recipe that Lacy and I pieced together one day after we were given the request to make blueberry muffins with the blueberries in the fridge.  It was likened to a biscuit with blueberry jelly filling.  “A blueberry surprise!” as my father expressed after tasting it.

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups all-purpose white flour
  • 1/3 cup sugar or sugar substitute (we used Splenda)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, liquid or melted
  • 2 cups fresh blueberries
  • 2 large eggs

Step 1: Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit (about 162 degrees Celsius).

Step 2: Grease a muffin tin thoroughly.  Remember, this recipe makes at least 12 muffins, so make sure to have a tin that cooks at least 12.

Step 3: In a large bowl, mix the 5 dry ingredients together. This is the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, and baking soda.

Step 4: In a medium-sized bowl, combine the remaining ingredients, which are the milk, coconut oil, blueberries, and eggs.

Step 5: Slowly pour the wet ingredients into the large bowl with the dry ingredients, stirring them together.

Step 6: Continue to stir carefully until the dry ingredients and wet ingredients are evenly balanced in the batter.  You can stop when the dry ingredients aren’t sticking to the bottom of the bowl.  Don’t stir too much.  You want to see some of the flour still dry inside the bowl.BlueberryBreadMuffins-DryBatter

Step 7: Spoon the batter into the muffin tin.  The more batter each cup has, the bigger the muffin, so keep that in mind.  If you want smaller muffins then you could make 18 to 24.

Step 8: Cook for 30-40 minutes.  Stick a toothpick into the muffin; if it comes out clean, the muffins are done.   The toothpick may appear blue from the fresh berries. This is fine.

Step 9: Cool for 5 minutes.

Step 10: Serve the muffins warm with a cup of coffee or a glass of milk.  

Something my mother always tells me, and it’s wise advise to remember:  “Always store anything with fresh fruit in it into the refrigerator.  Fresh fruits spoil easily and they last longer when they’re stored in the cold.”

 

Recipe-BlueberryBreadMuffins

God’s Kingdom is for the Empty-Hearted

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

In this week’s cassette tape study, late preacher Ted Kell tells us about the kingdom of heaven, and how we can be in God’s kingdom, starting today into eternity. It’s a glorious existence to serve the King of kings, Lord of lords, Heavenly One, and Creator. Let us define what His kingdom is, and how we go about entering into the gates.

First of all, let’s describe the difference in philosophies between the physical realm and the heavenly realm. With the physical, there’s this philosophy that if you can’t see or touch in tangible form a building or throne, there is no kingdom. People love to visit castles in England, and onion domes in Russia with their colorful tops, and the Hall of Mirrors in the Palace of Versailles, from times gone by; or like the young man who asked our current US President recently on Twitter, “It would be my honor to mow the White House lawn some weekend for you… I have been mowing my neighbors’ lawns for some time” — if there is no stepping into the threshold, no soles of one’s shoes hitting the marble floor before the throne where Abe’s statue sits in the Washington memorial; like that, if it hasn’t been experienced physically, then it can’t be marked off the bucket list, therefore it cannot be said that we ever “entered into the kingdom”.

In heaven’s philosophy, God the Creator made the whole world, and His kingdom is where His throne, and His authority, is. In Isaiah 66:1-2, we can read that God is with the hearts and minds of those who are contrite. (To be contrite means to show remorse or to have the desire for atonement.)

“Thus says the Lord: ‘Heaven is My throne, and earth is My footstool. Where is the house that you will build Me? And where is the place of My rest? For all those things My hand has made, and all those things exist,’ says the Lord. ‘But on this one I will look: On him who is poor and of a contrite spirit, and who trembles at My word.'”

Kell said, paraphrased, you’re God’s people. Ours is the kingdom. The whole earth is ours — the Alexanders think it’s theirs but it’s not, it’s God. His great victory is ours, too, because God lives in us, within us. We must empty our selves, our egos, in order to receive God’s victory.

With that mindset, we can ask ourselves, what in life can be taken away from a Christian? How does one break a man who is already broken? What’s the victory in beating a man who has already given up the physical? So it is for the kingdom inheritors who accept Jesus’s words as true, and follow His example, becoming brothers and sisters in His blood as we sacrifice our selves on the cross next to Him.

Apostle Paul described his own poor and contrite perspective in 1 Corinthians 4:1-5, as he explained his works, along with Apollos’s (another servant of Christ):

 “So look at Apollos and me as mere servants of Christ who have been put in charge of explaining God’s mysteries. Now, a person who is put in charge as a manager must be faithful. As for me, it matters very little how I might be evaluated by you or by any human authority. I don’t even trust my own judgment on this point. My conscience is clear, but that doesn’t prove I’m right. It is the Lord himself who will examine me and decide.

“So don’t make judgments about anyone ahead of time—before the Lord returns. For he will bring our darkest secrets to light and will reveal our private motives. Then God will give to each one whatever praise is due.”

It’s mysterious to fathom God’s kingdom, both physically and spiritually, and the sooner we admit the answers don’t come from ourselves, the sooner we will enter into the gates and step before His throne.

Finally, Ted Kell told of a sobering example where soldiers from World War II defined the meaning for us, what it means to lose oneself to gain the kingdom:

7 troops from the Ukrainian army bravely volunteered for a dangerous work -utmost secrecy- against the ominous Nazis who came with tanks and artillery in a complete takeover. They volunteered to conduct a Kamikaze-type journey of blowing up the enemy’s tanks. As they stood before their leader, he began selecting the troops who would carry out the mission, and they waited anxiously to find out who among them were chosen. 7 names were on the board. The leader struck out 3 of the names. Immediately, those 3 troops began to protest, as they thought that being struck out meant they weren’t chosen. “We volunteered!” they objected. “We want to go!” The leader was quick to correct the misunderstanding. “Your names weren’t struck out because you were not chosen. You are chosen. After today, you will no longer be accounted for by the army officials. You 3 cease to exist. We are not responsible for your lives.” The chosen volunteers were going to be removed from the roster- proving the extent of deadliness in their mission.

Through it all, the glory of war did not leave those Ukrainian soldiers, because they chose to sacrifice themselves in the most rewarding call of duty, with their very lives, volunteering headfirst for the suicidal course of action. They even protested when they thought their names were canceled. Likewise, we as kingdom inheritors must voluntarily lose ourselves in order to gain possession of the kingdom. Whoever is willing to lose his carnal, physical life for Jesus Christ’s sake will in return find his spiritual, immortal life. Guaranteed!

“Now when He (Jesus) asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, He answered them and said, ‘The kingdom of God does not come with observation; nor will they say ‘See here!’ or ‘See there!’ For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you.” Luke 17:20-21

 

Victims of Depression Suddenly Started Winning! /Random Thoughts

I saw a retweet on Twitter one day, months ago – and it still haunts me – from a tweeter I wouldn’t recommend following, a more-than-slightly disturbing thought. I quote Bucky Isotope (@BuckyIsotope),

“Over there sits your childhood stuffed animal slowly losing atoms to chaos. Piece by piece he says goodbye. Piece by piece you join him.”

No idea whether he meant his words as a joke or truth, but either way, the concept is horrifying to my mortal mind, who’s sitting here without answers for common questions we all have from time to time…

“Why am I here on this earth?”

“What happens after death?”

“Will I die young or old, and… does it matter because either way I still die.”

In addition, to quote someone else, Hector Berlioz said,

“Time is a great teacher, but unfortunately it kills all its students.”

Supposed to be funny, yet for people prone to depression, they’re weird and depressing thoughts! In fact, time itself is ultimately depressing and to be honest, I personally don’t know how anyone stays sane when their naturalistic, mortal life is the focus, and not the spiritual, immortal life.

Here, I want to tell you something good: you see, if you change your depth of field (like the way you do in the lens of a camera) and get with Christ, you can be unafraid of all this. Time. Death. Separation anxiety. All this kinda stuff. Nothing about the scientific definition of decay and decomposition, or anything else, has to be depressing anymore! Because there is a verse in the Bible, one singular quote that can fit in a tweet if you get the right version, which I can bet was made to combat that very thought Bucky’s tweet made me (and maybe you, too) think.

“The world is passing away. And everything that people want in the world is passing away. But the person who does what God wants lives forever.” 1 John 2:17 (ICB)

I don’t know if I can get this point across enthusiastically enough, so let me just get it straight to you: the world may be losing atoms to chaos, and our stuffed animals and all of life’s stuff may be saying goodbye with our bodies and desires, but if we do what God wants, we will live beyond the world’s chaos. Sure, the chaos may be slowly sucking our particles into a vortex of ruin, but there is an immortal presence we have, a forever existence, known as our souls, which can follow Jesus Christ into eternity.

…And that’s the moment when I’m like, all victims of depression everywhere suddenly started winning!

Because like, if you’ve got Christ, you can say when you hear dry comments and jokes that turn into depressing thoughts for you later,

“Who cares! I’m beyond that.”

No matter what the problem is, whether it’s about dying, or lying, or bodily pain, or sickness, or bullies and hate speech, or climate change, or college, or breakups, or whatever! You can say, “I don’t care” and mean it! That stuff can roll of your back like it’s no big deal!

I’m not talking about not caring to the point where you don’t work your hardest to live, laugh, and love. What I’m talking about and who I am talking to is victims of depression where like, you care too much, or the questions circulate in your head all day, or some tweet makes you crazy because of who-knows-what-reason, just, it does. Because.

Jesus is the greatest cure for depression we’ll ever find, the best pick-me-up if you’re down and out, or whatever you want to call it – point blank he’s freedom. He makes you free. He loves you and he will overcome for you.

So… the world can have its problems. Meanwhile, we can have Jesus… you with me?

“…Peace. I don’t leave you the way you’re used to being left—feeling abandoned, bereft. So don’t be upset. Don’t be distraught.” -Jesus (John 14:27, The Message)

The Bridge

Update: Snapmade! We Approve

I’m thrilled to write that Snapmade has exceeded my expectations, and proudly I will say it’s worth giving the site a chance, designers and customers both. Kat and I will try to help their business grow by creating a store, and a line of products.

Originally, I had my concerns that the business wasn’t legit, for several reasons:

  1. Maintenance problems halted me from navigating the website, which is an indication the server is slow, unresponsive, or the coding is wrong.
  2.  The site claimed to accept PayPal payments, but until a purchase is made, from start to finish, I don’t assume anything’s true. I had to make a purchase before promoting my store.
  3. Snapmade’s site has been up and running since 2001 which means they’ve had a lot of time to work out site kinks, yet they still do what amateurs do, like the funky customer reviews (my red flag went up), and broken links which take you to error pages in Chinese. I have no bias against Chinese manufacturers, in fact I love them, but the problems my English-speaking customers may have is worth noticing.
  4. Snapmade has no known credibility. There are only a few people who are Snapmade designers, as can be seen from their website – it’s full of empty pages, upon empty pages, where they simply have no products from a lack of designers.

On the contrary, the simple facts Snapmade had a guest checkout and such cheaper prices “ruffled my feathers” as the saying says. It made me interested enough to give them a chance. Their products are manufactured and shipped from China, so they take two weeks to be delivered to the door after the online purchase is made, which is fast considering the journey.

But now, I can proudly tell you! My trust for them has grown after seeing the jewelry I ordered. Look, aren’t they just gorgeous? The quality of the items, the chain, the pendents, and the design printed:

 

First Product Display July 2017 (IMG_2549, smaller)
The only thing I can see that some customers may not like, is the glossy look the design has when the light shines on it, but indoors it isn’t noticeable. It looks like the above picture.

When my package came, it came about 3 days after my Zazzle order arrived, which is fine. I ordered from Zazzle and from Snapmade the same night, to compare the shipping schedule. Ha, it’s funny, after it arrived I asked Kat, “is it old-fashioned to be OK with a package taking 2 weeks to arrive?” She bluntly said “Yes” and that was the end of that. Ha, ha. Yeah, I’m old-fashioned…. but you have got to give the big wide globe some slack! The little parcel soars and rides across 7000+ miles to get to where I am! It’s not like we have teleportation …yet! Ha, ha.

But it got me thinking. If the owners of Snapmade need anything to succeed, it is designers, which is what I know about them, because as Sannly Huang on Facebook asked me, at the beginning of this year, can I join them (me, a designer) to help their business grow. So… if what they need is designers, why wait? My talents are meant to help, not be hoarded. Let me seize this day and start trying the best I can to help this year be the year Snapmade finds success. If it doesn’t work out, that’s part of being compassionate and helpful; I can move on like I have before. No pain, no gain.

So we have started, but that’s all right now. If you’re interested in seeing it, our shop is titled “ChicAmi” and we only have a few products. So far, the shop looks kind of basic, the design, and a little lacking. However, I promise the charm bracelet is a steal (great quality for low price!), and the rose necklace is a romantic addition to your indoor formal attire. You can see that for yourself (from the pictures)! Plus, the star bracelet makes a good friendship gift. Their prices are affordable, and I get way more royalty than I do on Zazzle for my work, which is the upside for me.

The three products shown above are the only I’ve bought so far; if you want to buy them, too, please head over to the store at this link -http://www.snapmade.com/mystore/ChicAmi – and if you can, use the Microsoft Edge browser, or ask the support chat for help if you have any questions, because the store is a bit sensitive which browser you use. I used Chrome at first and had to ask the friendly customer support why I couldn’t load my order. The chat answered responsively, and was a cheerful service which I recommend.

So… yay! That means Snapmade gets our stamp of approval!!!

Stamp of Approval

 

Poor in Spirit, Rich in Blessings

What comes to your mind when you hear the word “poor”?  Homeless? Moneyless? No jacket or socks to keep the chill off your skin?  Sure not the meaning that comes from Matthew 5:3.

In the Old Testament, the word poor was used for the Israelites when they were sent out into the wilderness.  They had refused to trust that God would deliver a nation of giants to them and gift them with the giants’ rich land, even though it was the land God had promised their forefathers.

In Hebrew, the word poor is “ani”, which is translated as afflicted or destitute of worldly (physical) goods.  If you’re poor then you have absolutely no power.

In New Testament Greek, the word poor is “penes”, which comes from the word “ponos”, or pain and anguish.  So when Jesus tells us that the kingdom of God belongs to the poor in spirit, He is talking about people who are suffering and in pain.

Being poor in spirit is the root of the beatitudes; it’s the attitude that all the other beatitudes are built on. The principle of spiritual poverty is humility: to be aware of our sinfulness and our need for God’s mercy. As human, we should know that we cannot escape our sins. We try to do good. We help people when we see trouble. We try to tell the truth and we try to live righteous lives. But we fail every time.  No matter how perfect we become we are still in a spiritual debt that we can never repay.

But then something amazing happened: Jesus was rich, but He became poor for our sakes. He was born into a poor family.  His parents gave two turtle doves for Him when He was born (Luke 2:22-24). This is the sacrifice reserved for the poor. Jesus was later supported by the women who He had healed as He went and preached (Luke 8:2-3). He also took the food that he ate from wild trees in the streets (Mark 11:12-14).

The truth is, Jesus gave up his rich life to live a life that would eventually turn so many people against him that they placed him on a cross.  He became our sacrificial lamb. He bought us so that we can reach the kingdom of heaven with His perfection.

God doesn’t despise the person who is broken spirited. All we have to do is ask Him for strength.

“But it is good for me to draw near unto God: I have made the Lord Jehovah my refuge, that I may tell of all thy works.”  Psalms 73:28 (ASV)

Ted Said Happiness Is Our Identity, Not Our Goal

I don’t think my readers have to guess I’m a Bible geek. It’s always been that way since I can remember, partly due to the influence of teachers and scholars whom I’ve never met. I only heard them, and heard about them, thanks to the power of audio recording, word of mouth, and probably The Great Commission. All my life, Dad has always harped on Sunset preachers Edward Wharton, Jim McGuiggan, Richard Baggett, and Ted Kell, among others.

A few weeks ago, in the garage we found an old box of Bible courses from Sunset Preaching School, now known as Sunset International Bible Institute. That’s where my father was schooled. This particular Sunday, I listened to a dusty old tape which had a lecture on it from the late Ted Kell; he stated that it was the year 1974, so it’s been more than 40 years ago. Wow… I still shake my head in amazement that he was talking about subjects so relatable. It’s like he was talking about today! Except I think the world is even worse since he talked. (Maybe I’m just a millennial, aka Snowflake, aka Woman of Generation Why? as they call it…)

Ted Kell’s lecture was about the Beatitudes. Since I talked about Matthew 5 in our last study, I was extremely curious to know more. I listened closely. Here’s a summary of what I learned from him thus far:

The Beatitudes is part of the Sermon on the Mount. It is Jesus Christ’s longest sermon ever recorded. People from all over Palestine came to listen to Jesus teach, and ever since that time up until present day, it has continued to be the most popular part of his ministry; yet it is the least applied.

If the Sermon on the Mount is the essence of the Bible, then the Beatitudes is the ESSENCE of the essence. More specifically, the Beatitudes is where you go to find the principles of God’s laws, the very seed in which all the other verses of the New Testament grow from. These verses, which are Matthew 5:1-12, are also the answer to finding joy and godly fulfillment.

People are miserable today, Kell said; newspapers made the claim that anxiety and depression plagued the Post-Activism Era. People gave up on their dreams, dropped out of college, and committed suicide. (As it still is today. While I write, my thoughts drift to the recent suicide of Chester Pennington, vocalist of Linkin Park.) However, healing and prevention and freedom are found in Jesus Christ, only in him. You must apply his words to your life to get relief.

In the Beatitudes, Jesus speaks to the multitude. He was first walking in a plain with a crowd of thousands of followers, when he saw how huge the crowds were, and decided to climb a mountainside and sit down, to teach. In Bible times, it was custom for the teacher to sit down before he began teaching. You can see that in Luke 4:20—Jesus was reading from the scroll with the prophet’s words, in the synagogue, fulfilling the very words as he read them, and then he sat down and said, “While you heard me reading these words just now, they were coming true!”

Jesus amazed the crowds at the synagogue, and he amazed the crowds at the Sermon on the Mount both. The Bible tells us that, in Matthew 7:28-29:

When Jesus finished speaking, the people were amazed at his teaching. He did not teach like their teachers of the law. He taught like someone who has authority.” (ERV)

The question still remains as to how, then, should we apply The Beatitudes? None of Jesus’s teachings come naturally to the human disposition. Everything he says runs counter to human nature. So we cannot be a natural peacemaker, or a natural poor spirit. Transformation of character is only possible when a Christian actively seeks Christ.

To review our knowledge, allow me to explain the vernacular usage of “the world” or “worldly people”, before we go any further. I have a friend who seemed to relate the Christian’s use of “the world” to a sort of anti-globalism stance, or some kind of pro-xenophobia agenda. No, no. Let’s define “the world”, and the difference between “the worldly” and “the righteous”:

The righteous is the flock, the sheep, in which Jesus is the Shepherd. The world are those who reject His teachings. Please refer to the picture below, to see a list of traits, taken from the Beatitudes, and then the antonyms, which can be applied to the worldly person.

righteousVsWorldly

“ Don’t be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what is the good, well-pleasing, and perfect will of God.” Romans 12:2  (WEB)

Beatitude comes from a Latin word, beatus, that means “blessed”. There are a lot of beatitudes in the Bible, not just in Matthew 5. You can especially find them in Psalms. For example,

“Blessed is he who considers the poor. Yahweh will deliver him in the day of evil.” Psalm 4:11

“Blessed are those whose strength is in you; who have set their hearts on a pilgrimage.” Psalm 84:5

The Beatitudes aren’t so much commands as they are praises, praising those who are all these things: poor-spirited, mournful, gentle, thirsty for what’s right, full of mercy, pure-hearted, makers of peace, and persecuted for God.

The Beatitudes are also steps. You won’t mourn until you are poor in spirit, and you won’t be meek until you are mourning your emptiness. Once you’re meek, you will hunger and thirst for righteousness. That’s why this applies to all people, regardless of nation, heritage, origin, race, color, or language.

“Blessed” comes from the Greek Word, makarios, which is defined by BibleHub as “blessed, happy.” Ted Kell explains blessedness as a divine blessing only from the Lord, not from any other source. To quote 1 Timothy 6:15, “I command you before God, who gives life to all things, and before Christ Jesus, who before Pontius Pilate testified the good confession, that you keep the commandment without spot, blameless, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ; which in its own times he will show, who is the blessed and only Ruler, the King of Kings, and Lord of lords…” Lord Jesus is blessed, and he shares his blessings with us, if we follow his teachings. What’s awesome about that is, the generic story behind gods and goddesses is that they live it up and enjoy life, but God sent Jesus so that we can be blessed and happy ourselves. Only God has blessedness, and so only in God can we find real happiness.

Conjointly, happiness from God is independent of circumstance. The word “happiness” can be misleading because it comes from the same word roots as happenstance, which means it occurs from an accident or lucky break or chance encounter, but God’s happiness is different than that. It does not come from random happenstances. It comes from faith in Jesus Christ, and joy in the works we partake in on His behalf. Therefore, that’s why I say that in conclusion, the key phrase to summarize Ted Kell’s first sermon tape on the Beatitudes is this: Happiness is our identity, not our goal.

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” –Jesus (John 10:10)

“I will rejoice greatly in the LORD, My soul will exult in my God; For He has clothed me with garments of salvation, He has wrapped me with a robe of righteousness, As a bridegroom decks himself with a garland, And as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.” Isaiah 61:10

I want to end with a fable:

In a quaint cottage set in medieval England, there once was a woman named Beatrice. Her name means bringer of joy, or one who brings blessings. From a young age, she strove to represent that; she strove to be what her name was. She married an average man. He was hardworking and sensitive, a good listener, and a light sleeper.

Beatrice did everything to bring blessings to her husband and her neighbors. She made them plum pudding on holidays, sewed them scarves on their birthdays, and kept the house clean and comfortable for visits. When her husband was sick with a cough, she made him the tastiest soup. If a cat came for milk, she always set a bowl out, warm and fresh.

As months and years went by, Beatrice grew weary of being the bringer of joy. She sometimes got sad at how much work it was, but she never stopped.

Soon, she bore twins. It was a happy event, but then again, she was forced to learn how to forgive, after the twins turned into obstinate brothers that always fussed.

As the years progressed, she began to notice her husband becoming restless. At night, he would toss and turn, and some nights he would stay out late. It left Beatrice alone to raise her sons, and sometimes the neighbors criticized the lack of authority in the house.

One day, Beatrice asked her husband why he had been distant. His answer surprised her.

“I toss and turn because I hear you crying in the kitchen. I stay out late because I want to make enough to buy you jewels. You never ask for anything but you give everything. If you yelled at me, I would feel more human. If you hated me, it would be more natural, yet you never do. You are the purest person I have ever known.”

“But, my husband,” she said, “I don’t need jewels. I love you and want you to come home so you can be with your sons.”

“Ah! See? Still, you consider not yourself. How, Beatrice? How? How do you bless me so much? Tell me your secret.”

Beatrice took a moment of silence, and her head was bowed, as she thought about his question. Finally, she answered simply but surely. “What’s in a name unless you live to make it true? I live to own up to who I am, and I live to make the blessings new, every day. For I am a bringer of blessings, not one who brought or one who will bring. I must bring today, and every day, to keep my name with meaning.”

Moral: Beatrice the name also derives from beatus, the same word Beatitudes derives from. Like Beatrice lived to see her namesake be real, we need to live up to our namesake: Christian.

“They will know we are Christians by our love.” -Peter Scholtes