You have heard people say, “Love your neighbors and hate your enemies.” But I tell you to love your enemies and pray for anyone who mistreats you. Then you will be acting like your Father in heaven. He makes the sun rise on both good and bad people. And he sends rain for the ones who do right and for the ones who do wrong. If you love only those people who love you, will God reward you for this? Even tax collectors love their friends. If you greet only your friends, what’s so great about this? Don’t even unbelievers do that? But you must always act like your Father in heaven. (Matthew 5:43–48, CEV)
When you think of the word enemy, what images come to mind? Whose face do you see? Think of the circumstances that led to your present feelings about that person. Consider the relationship you have with the person today. And then compare your findings with Jesus’ words in the first book of the New Testament.
Jesus holds his followers to a different standard. You say you love the people who love you? So what? The worst people you know love their friends too. If you say you love your enemies, though—and prove it with the way you treat them—you’ve set yourself apart. And that’s exactly what Jesus wants his followers to do. To love your enemies is to work toward the best possible relationship with them and to learn to live at peace with them. The first step in that process is to stop any ongoing escalation of anger. If the rift or circumstances that soured your relationship are fresh, address them in a positive way. Own up to your culpability in the matter, and give the other person a chance to do the same.
I am looking for a number of people to read the Gospel of Mark with me. We'll start Monday, August 25 and read for 2 weeks (about a chapter per day). Your commitment is to: * Read the Bible everyday for two weeks. * Commenting on a daily question in a private Facebook group. On most days, the question will simply be: What did you learn about Jesus from this passage? This is low pressure way to get back into the God's Word and read the Bible. Will you join me? There is no cost and no book to buy. The goal is simply to create a short-term group of people reading the Bible. Two weeks. That's all. Will you join me? [[I'm sorry, our group is full! Click the home page and join my email list to stay informed about the next one]] read more
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you. Matthew 5:38-42, NIV You are going about your business when someone tosses an insult your way, and not in a joking manner, either. How do you respond? Do you give back just as good as you got? Or do you ignore the person and the insult?Not surprisingly, the Bible advocates the more challenging option. “Losing your temper is foolish; ignoring an insult is smart” (Proverbs 12:16). Responding well to an insult takes self-control. It is not easy, but it can be done. Here’s how.
Take a moment to mull it over. When someone insults you, pause for a couple of beats before you respond. Consider the person’s circumstances. Might he be having a bad day? Might he be taking out his frustrations on you?
Say a quick prayer. Send up a quick prayer to God. Ask him to give you the wisdom and understanding you need to respond to the insult in a way that pleases him.
Choose to take the high road.
If you do choose to respond to the person who insults you, get his side of the story. Find out why he insulted you. Let him know how you feel about it. Whatever you do, though, don’t get drawn into a conflict. And don’t stoop to repaying insult for insult.
It’s not often that we look to the insect world for guidance. Yet that’s exactly what Proverbs 6:6–8 encourages us to do: “You lazy people can learn by watching an anthill. Ants don’t have leaders, but they store up food during harvest season.” (CEV) Such a wise example carries four important lessons for us.
1. Harvests, literal or figurative, should not be taken for granted. The opportunity to gather provisions—to earn money or build a surplus—is not always available. That’s why it’s important to make the most of every opportunity while we can. The ant doesn’t sit out a harvest cycle to figure out what it wants to do with its life. It gathers while the gathering is good. If you have a chance to build a surplus—to do work that rewards you with pay or benefits—do it while you can, for as long as you can.
2. Fortunes can turn in an instant. If the “dot-com bubble” collapse of 2000–2001 or the “real estate bubble” collapse of 2007 taught us anything, it’s that when things seem too good to be true, financially speaking, they probably are.
3. Productivity should be a constant. The author of Ecclesiastes tells us there is a season for everything, including planting and reaping (Ecclesiastes 3:2). That suggests a continuous cycle. If you do not reap when it’s time to reap, you could be out of step with the natural rhythms of life.
4. Relying on others to do the work for you is counterproductive. Working to provide for our needs, along with the needs of our families, can give us a sense of pride, accomplishment, and purpose. The satisfaction that comes from storing up provisions—that is, from reaping the benefits of an honest day’s work—cannot be overstated. Every person who is physically capable should experience it.
On Monday, July 21th 2014 we continue our second video Bible study in the Summer Bible Study Series sponsored by TheBiblePeople. These July and August sessions will cover: * Part I: Who is God? (Missed it? Watch it here) * Part II: Who is Jesus? (July 21, 12pm EST) * Part III: Who am I? (August 5, 12pm EST) Together we will explore these topics from a conservative, Christian exploration of the Bible. PART II: WHO IS JESUS? This upcoming video study will be broadcast on July 21, 12pm (New York). Reserve your place by clicking here. Then press the REMIND ME button toward the top of the page. PART III: WHO AM I? What does the Bible say about you and me? You're probably going to be surprised. The third part of our summer Bible Study Series will explore what the Bible says about those who put their faith in Jesus Christ.
Even if you live by a moral code, you will face challenges to your convictions. Temptation found Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. It found Jesus in the wilderness. And it will find you—likely when you’re at your most vulnerable point. You might as well heed this advice from Proverbs and prepare yourself to face temptation:
“Obey the teaching of your parents—always keep it in mind and never forget it. Their teaching will guide you when you walk, protect you when you sleep, and talk to you when you are awake. The Law of the Lord is a lamp, and its teachings shine brightly. Correction and self-control will lead you through life” (Proverbs 6:20–23, CEV).
As the author of Proverbs 6 recommended, meditating on the principles that form the core of who you are and who you should be is a great first step in resisting temptation. For the ancient Israelites, those core guiding principles were found in Scripture. A great many people still find the practice of reflection to be a helpful tool.
Here are some other useful strategies: 1. Recognize where you are vulnerable. 2. Practice your escape routes. 3 .Enlist the assistance of others. 4. Celebrate your victories, but not too much. 5. Learn from your failures.
On Monday, July 7th 2014 we began the first in a new Summer Bible Study Series.
These July and August sessions will cover: * Part I: Who is God? * Part II: Who is Jesus? (July 21, 12pm EST) * Part III: Who am I? (August 4, 12pm EST)
Together we will explore these topics from a conservative, Christian exploration of the Bible. Watch WHO IS GOD? PART II: WHO IS JESUS?
This video study will be broadcast on July 21, 12pm (New York). Reserve your place by clicking here. Then press the REMIND ME button toward the top of the page.
Someone I greatly admire once said, "You cannot change the world, but you can change one person's world." Today I'm going to share an opportunity for you to change someone's world and also get a free book out of it. No catch. WHAT IS KIVA? In the last two years, I've become a big fan of Kiva. This organization helps organize microloans for people around the world. At $25/each, you can research the loan you'd like to offer and then share it to an entrepreneur who will use it to grow his or her own business. You know what I love about it? It works. Kiva has 98% repayment rate, which means these men and women are serious about using your loan to build their business and provide for their families long term. Kiva is running an amazing promotion through 6/30. If you join during this weekend, they'll give YOU a $25 credit you can use to make a loan to someone else. Free. No catch. They're betting that if you make your first loan, you'll become as hooked on them as I have. You have to join by 6/30 and you need to join using this link. When you join, you'll receive a $25 credit to use. They will also add a $25 credit to my account so I can make another loan as well. (No, I don't gain anything personally from this.) Is this a Christian organization? No. But it offers a chance to help extend the Kingdom of God in a tangible way by helping someone in need. In a real way, you can bring peace to someone else by extending a gift that will improve their life. And while it's not a Christian organization, you'll find there are some loans for people who love God, love Jesus, and love the Bible. You might choose to select one of those for your first, free loan.
And a Free Book for You I believe in this cause so much, I'm going to give a free copy of The Bible: 50 Ways It Can Change Your Life to the first 100 people who sign up and make their first loan through this link. This is at my expense but it is worth it to see you become involved. I hope I have to buy and pay shipping on 100 of these books!
Send me a message through Facebook when you've completed your loan and we'll make arrangements. To receive the free book, you must sign up and complete your first loan by June 30. (Also, your shipping address must be within the USA or Canada. Outside of these two countries, I would be happy to share a free book with you if you are able to pick up the cost of international shipping, which is $10-15 in many cases).
I'd love to have you join me in this important cause. Thanks for considering it!read more
What does it take to stop you? What is the kryptonite to your Superman? What, besides death, could halt your forward momentum in this world? Knowing the answer to this question could mean the difference between a life well-lived and one spent wondering what might have been.
The apostle Paul understood the importance of endurance. You can almost hear the pleading encouragement in his words to the Galatian church: “Don’t get tired of helping others. You will be rewarded when the time is right, if you don’t give up” (Galatians 6:9). In order to live well, you need to be unstoppable in helping others. You will get tired; you might even want to quit at times and only focus on your own needs. Be aware of your vulnerabilities, and figure out how to keep your involvement fresh and interesting. A little preventive maintenance now will go a long way toward keeping you viable later. Caring for the needs of others can be demanding, but it can also be immensely rewarding—both now and for eternity