Sunday, November 11, 2012

Armed and Ready

   He was armed and ready, hunkered down behind Grandpa’s old wheelbarrow by the woodshed, his brothers in secured prone positions under Mama’s lilac bush, … and just in time.  The droning of the crop duster engine grew steadily nearer.  Adjusting colander and sauce pan helmets, walkie-talkies crackled as stick rifles lifted and sling shots stretched into position. 

    One last kiss.  She resolved to smile bravely, to send him off with courage, to be strong for the children… again.  As the Chinook engines droned, he sat with head in hands, praying for their safety.  He knew she would be faithful to him.  But so many of the other guys who sat around him, consumed in their own thoughts, what of them? 

   Murky trenches, pelting sandy wind, sweltering heat, bitter cold, and waiting… waiting for orders, waiting for letters from home, waiting for rations, waiting… always waiting… and always ready.  Canvas walls offered meek attempts to shut out the constant droning of military vehicles day and night.

   Grand reunions, red carpet, medal ceremonies, flags unfurled, apple pie, warm welcomes, friends and family.  Joy, real and surreal.  Slowly the last pickup truck drove away leaving in its wake a gently receding drone in a small cloud of dust.  Everything had changed and his youth was gone.  Who was he?  What was important?  How would he lead without following orders?  Where would he go from here? 

    He sat ready with pocket watch in hand… and just in time.  He saw her through the small round window standing bravely beside the children.  He felt grit in his boots and the weight of his pack.  He smelled the stench of smoke, of filth, of wounds.  He heard rhythmic boots marching in cadence.   As the droning of the crop duster engine gradually faded and was gone, her trembling hand patted his own tenderly.  She was there to wheel his chair slowly through the day room and down the hall.

~Mrs. Arlene Eldridge

Sunday, October 7, 2012

It has been said, "We are Infinite"

“We are infinite.”

The serpent lured Eve into believing she could have it… infinite life, infinite knowledge, infinite wisdom.
“You surely will not die!”…. 
“You will be like God, knowing good and evil”… 
“When the woman saw that 
the tree was (in her own estimation) good for food, 
and that it was (from her own perspective) a delight to the eyes, 
and that the tree was 
desirable to (according to a source other than God) 
make one wise...”   ~Genesis 3:4-6

The Tower of Babel was constructed because the people believed they could have it… infinite power, infinite possibilities, infinite self-provision, infinite unity, infinite independence.
“Come, let us (not depend on God any longer, but) build for ourselves 
a (self-sustaining) city, and a tower 
whose top will reach into (God’s realm) heaven, 
and let us make for ourselves a (different godless) name”… 
“The Lord said, …”this is what they began to do, 
and now nothing which they purpose to do 
will be impossible for them.”   ~Genesis 11:4

So, what’s the big deal?  Why not proclaim we are infinite?

First, the word infinite must be defined.  

If you recall your Geometry lessons, a line segment has both a beginning point and an end point.  A line having a beginning point but without end is called a ray.  A line, in order to be infinite, must be without beginning or end.

The human race inherently ate the fruit right along with Adam & Eve, assuming the fate of a line segment.  The free gift of salvation through Jesus Christ offered to lift us, geometrically speaking, into the ray category.  But infinite is an apt description of God and God alone. 
I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end."  ~Rev. 22:13  

It is not a surprise to God, nor is it a new idea, that we strive for infinity.  In fact, He Himself gave us that desire. 
He has made everything beautiful in its time.  
Also, He has put eternity into man’s heart, 
yet so that he cannot find out 
what God has done from the beginning to the end."  
~Eccl. 3:11 

God purposely designed us void of infinity.  He knew that we would not desire eternity unless we lacked infinity.  He knew that our relationship with Him would be magnified through dependency upon Him.  He knew that we  would need direction and motivation to focus our praise and worship on Him alone.

God is infinite because He IS… and we are finite beings because He IS.
We have because of who God is.   He simply IS.  We are defined by Him.  He defines Himself.
In the same way, we love because God first loved us…  and, God IS Love.

Consequently, it is irrational to endeavor to define ourselves based on ourselves… or our aspirations of infinity.

Saturday, October 6, 2012


Google search:  inroad definition...

Noun: Progress; an advance: "make inroads in reducing spending".
An instance of something being affected, encroached on, or destroyed by something else... 

like a fork, for instance.  ~ae

Friday, October 5, 2012

to Speak ~ to be Heard

   As overwhelming and, quite frankly, stomach churning as the flow of political posting on facebook has been, I honestly believe that the recent years' increase of social media has been extremely beneficial in preparation for election time. 

   Syndicated television talking heads and newspaper publishers are no longer the only voices heard across the nation. Honest, hard-working people and lazy, shiftless bums alike are given fair opportunity not only to speak but to be heard through unedited, unfiltered, raw social media.

   The ugliness of political banter will not necessarily change, but the privilege as Americans to choose our local and national leadership is a privilege not experienced by most of the world... and with it, we bear the responsibility to speak, for We the People govern our nation.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Canning Requires Deep Thought

   Exiting the grocery store, my mind was very preoccupied with plans for the afternoon's applesauce & stewed tomato canning activities and sorting out priorities.  I wheeled my grocery cart to the parking lot, opened the truck door, threw my purse across to the passenger's seat, opened the back door, shoved some stuff that was on the back seat over to make room for my groceries... and it was only as I began to place my groceries on the seat... (you know where this is going, don't you)... the creeping realization came to its full fruition:  It was not my truck!
   Oh, it gets better.  As I put my stuff back into the cart and tried to start breathing again, a guy walked up to me.  I began to apologize profusely and pointed out to him the suddenly-larger-than-life presence of my very similar truck in the next aisle over.  He finally interrupted me and, sort of sheepishly, broke the news that it wasn't his truck, either.  He just wanted to share with me the series of unfortunate events in his life and ask for gas money, which I had to explain that I would not give to him, but that I would give him some food if he needed some, to which he explained how he didn't do drugs or anything, but he just needed some gas money................
   Meanwhile, a sweet little elderly lady had approached us and waited patiently until I acknowledged her presence.  After exchanging lengthy blank stares, I burst into my profuse apologies once again, only now it was to the right person.  She was very gracious and understanding (praise God).
   Thinking this most awkward of misadventures (I do have quite a list, actually) was complete, I made it back to my truck, only to discover that my purse was still on the passenger seat of the impostor truck.  Having not one stitch of pride left to damage, I turned once again to that fateful parking spot still occupied by the poor-innocent-by-stander-vehicle where the nice lady's husband now stood beside the nice lady, both listening to the young man who, in preparation for asking them for money, first felt the need to give them his perspective on the events that had occurred, feeling quite smug, I'm sure, at being a key witness.
   The nice lady's husband eyed me suspiciously, and for good reason I must add.  I produced for him a less emotional, more factual version of my near-criminal activity and waited while he opened the truck doors to inspect its contents for status quo.  I asked if he wouldn't mind if I retrieved my purse from his front seat.  I didn't wait for his answer.  I opened the driver's door after he had closed it, reached across the console, grabbed my purse, closed the door, held up my purse for all to see, thanked them for their kindness, tossed one final plea for forgiveness, and very slowly hightailed it for my truck.
   I sure hope they're just passing through.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Boundless Creativity

“As she grows in ability and understanding, she will learn and experience freedom of expression and originality within the bounded creativity of ever-increasing limitations.” 

Have you ever had something you said a long time ago return to fester in an entirely different emotional tangent?

Originally, this thought process was stimulated by an experience with my 2 year old granddaughter.

Take my virtual hand for a moment and walk with me up the sidewalk to the large glass entrance door.  Wait while I enter the security code…  There…  Now we may go in.

Elderly people… 
Some are wheel chair bound, some are in varying stages of mental capability, some are no longer physically able to care for themselves, some have no relatives nearby, some have no relatives willing to be nearby, some have no relatives at all.
Some are simply lonely.

Ever-increasing limitations …and what about learning and experiencing “freedom of expression and originality within the bounded creativity” of these limitations?  Limitations which are anticipated with excitement in a 2 year old, are translated into dread and anxiety as the proximity of our own mortality draws increasingly near.

Aging is a stark and aggressively definitive expression of growing neediness, escalating dependency, cumulative restrictions, and narrowing possibilities, all cleverly disguised as loss of value, decreased worth, and hopelessness.

Godless societies will always associate limitations with hopelessness.

is Not in God’s Character

“Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?...
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.” 
~Psalm 139:7-10

As my skills and abilities decrease, so my accompanying expectations must be resourcefully reevaluated, creatively modified, or boldly eliminated.  Yet each defining, limiting, restricting factor does not, in and of itself, establish purpose or goodness.
“…the bounded creativity of being able to build something beautiful
based on the character your ingredients already possess...” 
~Kate Buccigross

   But we have this treasure 
in jars of clay (empty vessels) 
to show that this all-surpassing power 
is from God and not from us...” 
~II Corinthians 4:7

The One who shared the yoke when I was able will continue to share my yoke when I am not.  He will remain my source of challenges, benefits, focus, guidance, pacing, and confidence toward the task at hand.

Functioning within the limitations of obedience and dependency will allow me to join the Master in His work as it is accomplished.  In doing so, it will become increasingly more obvious that the Hands of the Creator are filled with expressions of originality and boundless creativity far beyond limitations.” 

“Come to Me, all who are weary and heaven-laden,
and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you and learn from Me,
for I am gentle and humble in heart,
and you will find rest for your soul.
For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”
~Matthew 11:28-30

Freedom is found not in the removal of a yoke, rather in the exchange of an unsuitable yoke partner for the One whose sufficiency is unsurpassed.

“Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly
beyond all that we ask or think,
according to the power that works within us, 
to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus
to all generations
forever and ever.” 
~Ephesians 3:20,21

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Valley of Shadows

In valley low and shadows deep,
my grieving heart sleeps not.
Illusive grows the will to keep
assurances once sought;
wakeful hopes dim.

In valley low and shadows deep,
my grieving soul lies down.
Refreshing calm, for though I weep
my hope in Him is sound;
thankful eyes brim.

"The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.

He maketh me to lie down in green pastures:
He leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul:

He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness
for His name's sake.

Yea, though I walk through the valley
of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil:
for Thou art with me; Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me.

Thou preparest a table before me
in the presence of mine enemies:
Thou anointest my head with oil;
my cup runneth over.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life: and I will dwell
in the house of the Lord forever.”
~Psalm 23

Saturday, April 7, 2012

In Other's Words

     Conversations are what happen when expressions of our own thoughts meet those of another.  

     A twist is added when we quote someone else.  The conversation suddenly takes on another dimension as the knowledge base, experience, fame, oratory, writing skill, or reasoning of someone entirely outside of the conversation joins in.  

     Very rarely is the person being quoted present, nor is the quoted likely to have granted permission to be quoted.  Nevertheless, the quote is plucked from its origin and placed, sometimes gently, sometimes severely, into an entirely new home.  

     Quotes cannot, and should not, be divorced from their context....  after all, context is what makes puns even more meaningful.  : )

        "           "

Saturday, March 31, 2012

A Cardboard Box

A church without forgiveness
is like a cardboard box;

very handy and useful,
able to contain a variety of things,
lightweight and versatile,
yet durable and resilient…

…until it gets wet.

“In Him we have redemption through His blood,
the forgiveness of our trespasses,
according to the riches of His grace which He lavished on us.”
~Ephesians 1:7,8

“So, as those who have been chosen of God,
holy and beloved,
put on a heart of compassion, kindness,
humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another
and forgiving each other,
 whoever has a complaint against anyone;
just as the Lord forgave you,
so also should you.”
~Colossians 3:12,13

Friday, March 30, 2012

The Painting

The ocean, the surf, the sand, the footprints, the blue sky, the distant clouds;
all were rendered to perfection,
so much so that as I allowed my imagination
to be drawn into the impressionist’s rendering,
I could almost taste the salty air and feel the gentle breeze catching at my hair.

Perhaps it was because I longed for it to be that way.

My feigned senses were abruptly snatched up into the grasp of reality.

Where were the rocks, the pieces of driftwood?
Missing were the tangled globs of seaweed, dead palm fronds,
bits of weather-worn sea glass.

Was there nothing left lying around to reveal sweet memories
of sand castles, picnic lunches, Frisbee games?

Where was the lost slipper, the half-buried wristwatch,
the makeshift homeless shelter
tucked amid the thorny mesh of bougainvillea and kiawe?

As lovely and delightfully inviting as it appeared,
the painting was unrealistic…

…like my prayers may sometimes be.

Who am I
that my life would be reduced to a painting?

Am I entitled to health, comfort, kind treatment?

Am I capable of discernment?
Must my default assumption be that my struggle or lack or failure
are indications of God’s disinterest in my personal affairs,
of His punishment for my ineptitude, or of His disappointment in me?

Are the phantom portrayals and partial glimpses
of the lives surrounding me
meant to be emulated or somehow establish a standard of measurement
with which I must compare?

When I allow my imagination
to be drawn into my own artistic rendering,
I can almost taste the salty air of an ideal life
and feel the gentle breeze of self-centered optimism catching at my hair.

Perhaps it is because I long for it to be that way.

My feigned senses must be abruptly snatched up
into the grasp of God’s Truth;
that is…

to desire Jesus,
to trust in His perfect love for me,
to relinquish every holding, every title and tenure,
to count all things as loss in view of Jesus…

“But whatever things were gain to me,
those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. 
More than that,
I count all things to be loss
in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord,
for whom I have suffered the loss of all things,
and count them but rubbish
so that I may gain Christ,
and may be found in Him,
not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law,
but that which is through faith in Christ,
the righteousness which comes from God
on the basis of faith…” 
~Philippians 3:7-9

As the realities of life
are placed in the presence of the true reality, that is Jesus,
there are no illusions of hopelessness….

…and there is rest.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Take Courage

   If Paul Harvey were to have given an account of Paul’s journey to Rome, it may have gone something like this…

“…the Lord stood at his side and said,
‘Take courage;
for as you have solemnly witnessed to My cause at Jerusalem,
so you must witness at Rome also.’”
~Acts 23:11

“There we found some brethren,
and were invited to stay with them for seven days;
and thus we came to Rome. 
And the brethren… (came) to meet us;
and when Paul saw them,
he thanked God and took courage.” 
~Acts 28:14,15

   And so it was that Paul travelled to Rome where, surrounded by friends, he shared the Gospel and lived happily ever after.

   But God did more than just speak to Paul; He stood by his side.  What crisis would Paul have encountered that he would have needed such a measure of courage as God would provide?

   Thus began a series of predicaments, each one intense enough to require a significant amount of courage to endure…  Stay tuned as we take a closer look at… the rest… of the story…

Courage in the Face of a Death Threat:
Bright and early the very next morning, 40 Jews vowed together to refuse food or drink until Paul was dead. (23:12-15)

Courage in the Face of a Narrow Escape:
Paul’s nephew overheard their plot.  He ran and told Paul, who instructed a centurion to inform the commander, who arranged an escort of 200 soldiers by night to bring Paul, along with an official letter, directly to Caesarea. (23:16-35)

Courage in the Face of False Accusations:
The Jewish high priest and elders brought accusations against Paul in the court of Felix, the governor.  (24:1-9)

Courage in the Face of Exposing the Accusers’ Motivation:
Paul spoke in his own defense, identifying the point of contention between the Sadducees and the Pharisees. (24:10-21)

Courage in the Face of a Lengthy Imprisonment & Manipulation:
Paul remained in custody for 2 years, often summoned by Governor Felix to discuss the Gospel. As a glimmer of hope turned to fear in the realization that his life and career would be affected, Felix attempted to manipulate for an opportunity to accuse Paul of bribery. (24:22-27)

Courage in the Face of Publicly Dividing Religion from True Faith:
As soon as Festus, the next governor, took his seat on the tribunal, the Jews brought accusations against Paul with renewed vigor.  Festus wanted to do the Jews a favor and allow them to assume the judgment process.  But Paul, as a Roman citizen, appealed to the highest court of appeal, which had the potential of identifying Christianity as different from Judaism. (25:1-12)

Courage in the Face of Waiting:
Paul’s case continued to gnaw at Festus’ mind.  As he relayed his experience with Paul and the Jews, the curiosity of King Agrippa was piqued. (25:13-22)

Courage in the Face of Addressing the King:
King Agrippa made a showy appearance, requesting a firsthand account of Paul’s defense.  (25:23 – 26:1)

Courage in the Face of Boldly Presenting the Gospel of Salvation:
Paul presented his defense before King Agrippa by way of relaying a testimony of his life experience before, during, and after his initial encounter with Jesus, all the while clearly presenting the Gospel.  Paul boldly invited the King and all who were present to become Christians. (26:1-32)

Courage in the Face of Relationship to Authority:
Paul, along with a group of prisoners, was placed under a centurion’s charge for the journey to Rome by ship.  Due to inclement weather, the voyage became increasingly dangerous.  Meanwhile, Paul and the centurion developed a relationship of mutual respect and trust. (27:1-13)

Courage in the Face of Fear:
A typhoon overwhelmed the sea with such severity, that those aboard abandoned all hope of being saved.  After an angel stood before Paul assuring him that no life would be lost, he relayed the message to his shipmates, instructing them to ‘keep up your courage’.  In the face of fearing for their lives, the 276 men made faith decisions, trusting on the hope Paul presented. (27:14-38)

Courage in the Face of Destruction:
Protocol required that the prisoners be killed in case escape was imminent.  But the centurion overruled in favor of Paul’s faith.  The ship struck a reef and began breaking into pieces, but every man made it safely to shore. (27:39-44)

Courage in the Face of Ascribed Power:
Safely ashore on the island of Malta, the kind natives kindled a fire to offer warmth.  As Paul added wood to the fire, a deadly snake latched onto his hand.  The superstitious natives immediately assumed him a murder until he shook the viper off without being harmed, altering their view of him from a murderer to a god. (28:1-6)

Courage in the Face of Temporary Relief:
Paul extended to the natives of Malta the hope of the Gospel through healing prayer and healing. (28:7-10)

Courage in the Face of Preparing to Take Courage:
After 3 months, they again set sail toward Rome. (28:11-14)

   From the moment God instructed Paul to ‘take courage’ until it is recorded that he ‘took courage’, Paul’s life was turned upside down.  Each of these various experiences heightened the potential for Paul to become discouraged. 

·        Paul’s hope was firmly established by God.

·        Pauls actions were based on God’s promise.

·        Paul’s strength to endure was sourced
in complete dependency upon God.

·        Paul’s authority to lead those around him
was attributed to God’s blessing.

   But the first mention of Paul actually taking courage was not until he was in Rome surrounded by the brethren who rushed to meet him.


   Did he attribute God’s appointed courage for God’s purpose?

   Was the courage which God had prepared for him a precise portion of courage uniquely designed for Paul to face a particular task?

   Could it be that he remembered why the Lord sent him to Rome in the first place?
“…the Lord stood at his side and said,
‘Take courage;
for as you have solemnly witnessed to My cause at Jerusalem,
so you must witness at Rome also.’” ~Acts 23:11

   Did God’s gifts of courage which he received throughout the journey prepare Paul to accept the courage to face God’s purpose for him in Rome?

Does God offer courage to me for specific purposes?

Courage to Face Temptation: 
I Cor. 10:13

Courage to Speak and to Serve: 
I Peter 4:11;  II Thes. 2:16,17

Courage to Grow Together in Faith: 
Acts 16:5

Courage to Stand in the Wake of God’s Power Over Enemies: 
Deut. 31:1-6;  I John 4:4

Courage to Face Catastrophic Calamity
          Psalm 46:1-5

Courage to Pray with Thankfulness: 
Phil. 4:6

Courage to Encounter Trials: 
James 1:2-4,12

Courage to Be Perfected in Love: 
I John 4:16-18

Courage to Walk:
          Psalm 37:23,24;  Psalm 41:12

“Wait for the Lord;
Be strong and let your heart take courage;
Yes, wait for the Lord.”
~Psalm 27:14

…and now you know… the rest… of the story…  Good day!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Hidden Treasure ~ Cinquain

secretive, untouchable
whispering, probing, penetrating
defying death, securing life

“Thy Word have I hid in mine heart, 
that I might not sin against Thee.” 
~Psalm 119:11

Thursday, March 22, 2012

In Control

“Jesus entered Jerusalem and came into the temple;
and after looking around at everything,
He left for Bethany with the twelve, since it was already late. 

“On the next day… they came to Jerusalem. 
And He entered the temple and began to drive out
 those who were buying and selling in the temple,
and overturned the tables of the money changers
and the seats of those who were selling doves…
…And He began to teach and say to them,
‘Is it not written,
“My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations”?  
But you have made it a robbers’ den.

“… The chief priests and the scribes heard this,
and began seeking how to destroy Him;
for they were afraid of Him,
 for the whole crowd was astonished at His teaching.”
~Mark 11:15-18

Lost Temper?
Out of Control?

Here are Jesus’ actions:
1.    He walked around the day before and checked out the situation in the Temple, perhaps to gather information, or maybe to simple allow His presence to be witnessed as calm and composed.
2.    After walking several miles away to Bethany and sleeping overnight, He went back to the Temple the next day.
3.    He got physical, but not with people; only stuff.
4.    He remained there, seizing the moment to teach God’s truth to all who were present.
5.    He identified Himself as God; “My house…”
6.    He declared God’s purpose for the “house of prayer”, as was spelled out Isaiah 56; “…for all the nations”, not for Jews alone.

What were the people’s reactions?
1.    The crowds were captivated by what Jesus said.
2.    The Jews, who held positions of leadership and authority “were afraid of Him”. 

Typically, a fit of rage indicates lack of self-control and establishes in any observer’s mind that the angry person is not to be completely trusted; a hot potato, a loose cannon. 
People who lack self-control don’t usually stick around; they leave.
It is simply a matter of time before word spreads and the person displaying rash behavior is written off as ill-mannered.  Thus pegged with this identity, any future threat the person poses causes him either to be under cautious scrutinization, to be avoided, or to be dealt with by brute strength or legal action.

So, why were the rulers afraid?
Were they afraid for themselves, that they might lose control of power or position? 
Did they recognize His true authority and become aware of their inability to validate their own?
Were they afraid for ruin of their financial benefits gained by requiring the Gentiles to perform costly rituals which were established by tradition? (Matt. 15:1-3, Mark 7:1-6)
Were they afraid that the Gentile population would infiltrate and dilute their sacred Jewish traditions?
Were they afraid of the possibility that this Jesus, who claimed to be God, might actually be God?
Did the Spirit of God cause them to be afraid in His presence?

Ultimately, it doesn’t matter why they were afraid.
It is, however, quite obvious
that Jesus’ actions that day in the Temple were resolutely
On Purpose
a dramatic teaching moment,
specifically timed,
and designed to communicate the Truth of God
to all who were present,
paving the way for God’s mercy.

“Oh, the depth of the riches
both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! 
How unsearchable are His judgments
and unfathomable His ways! 
For who has known the mind of the Lord,
or who became His counselor?” 
~Romans 11:33,34

Our anger is often as a result of our being out of control. 
Jesus’ anger is always in God’s control.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Aurora Borealis

Solar flares leap forth
stirring the skies to dance and play
in colorful display.

Jesus, You are Light
awakening our hearts to joy
in every new employ.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Jesus felt a love for him...

   “As He was setting out on a journey, a man ran up to Him and knelt before Him, and asked Him, ‘Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?’ 
   “And Jesus said to him, ‘Why do you call Me good?  No one is good except God alone.  You know the commandments, Do Not Murder, Do Not Commit Adultery, Do Not Steal, Do Not Bear False Witness, Do Not Defraud, Honor Your Father and Mother.’ 
   “And he said to Him, ‘Teacher, I have kept all these things from my youth up.’ 
   “Looking at him, Jesus felt a love for him and said to him, ‘One thing you lack:  go and sell all you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.’ 
   “But at these words he was saddened, and he went away grieving, for he was one who owned much property.”
~Mark 10:17-22

What did you feel when you read this story?
…because the man walked away in low spirits?

…because it shouldn't be that hard to give stuff up?

…because mega-property holders shouldn’t be so tightfisted?

…because the concept of doing good is unclear?

…because of Jesus’ response?

Jesus’ reply to this man’s eager question was fourfold:

1.     He asked a question about Himself.
2.     He clarified with a statement which identified Himself as God.
3.     He correctly defined the term ‘good’ from God’s perspective.
4.     He validated God’s commandments.

The man was sincere, consistent in his actions of obedience to the law. 

A loose interpretation may present the man’s question as follows: 
‘O.k. Lord, I checked all the boxes. 
So far, so good. 
Now, what do I do next to accomplish the goal?’
Eager?  Yes. 
Sincere?  Yes. 
Obedient?  Yes. 
Desire to do good for Jesus?  Yes. 

So what went wrong?

The man’s external conformity to the law collided head on with his need for inner obedience to the Person of Jesus, which can only be satisfied by God’s undeserved gift of mercy and grace.

Did Jesus scold Him?  No.
Did He shame him by exposing his failure to understand?  No.
Did Jesus command everyone to give up all of their possessions?  No.
Does self-denial earn heavenly treasure?  No.

“Jesus felt a love for him”

… and in this genuinely tender expression of love, Jesus touched upon one hindrance, one cause of division, one obstacle that kept the man from placing his trust in Him.

His instructions to the man were simple: 
The command to “Go”; obedience to act, with a promise of reward,
the command to “Come, follow Me”; obedience of relationship with Him.

Jesus discussed this concept with His disciples at great length, telling them just how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God… like a camel going through the eye of a needle.  It was a very disheartening conversation, indeed.  Jesus was basically telling them, ‘You can’t do it.  It’s impossible.’

So there they were, between a rock and a hard place, with no end in sight… they hit a wall.  They had heard the conversation between the rich man and Jesus, yet they were amazed, they were astonished, they were at a loss of understanding for what to do next… just like the rich man. 

How did they feel?  …sad?  …annoyed?  …outraged?  …confused?  …curious?

In desperation, they cried,
“Then who CAN be saved?”

“Looking at them, Jesus said,
‘With people it is impossible, but not with God;
for all things are possible with God.”
~Mark 10:27

Jesus felt a love for them.

Jesus feels a love for me.