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It seems that coronavirus has turned everything upside down. We are supposed to go to work, and now we have to stay home. For some, we are supposed to have a job to go to, and now we don’t. We are supposed to go to church today and celebrate the resurrection, but now we are at home watching a live stream of a pastor preaching to empty pews. We are supposed to have a big family dinner with friends and loved ones; now it is us four and no more. Indeed, everything seems upside down.

But take a moment to think about what happened Easter morning. Consider the empty tomb and how that has made all the difference. It turned everything upside right. Because of Christ’s resurrection, those living in darkness have seen a great light. Those who were slaves to fear are now children of God. Those who were dead in their trespasses and sins have been raised to life!

The effect of covid 19 pales in comparison to the effect of the resurrected Messiah. Covid 19 constrains us to our houses. Easter sets us free to live lives of joy and happiness no matter where we are. Covid 19 causes illness, anxiety and depression. Easter brings contentment, soul healing and a peace that passes all understanding. Covid 19 keeps us from family members, friends, neighbors and co-workers. Easter connects us to all of humanity through the power and love of the Holy Spirit. Covid 19 turns our world upside down. Easter turns our world upside right.

My wife and I see this everyday. We are part of Foundation For His Ministry’s outreach to needy children in Oaxaca, Mexico. We live in a community with 50 children and about a dozen staff members. Our lives are relatively the same now as before the coronavirus struck. We are one big family – a family in God. An Easter family, you could say. Things that were important and vital to us before the virus infected Mexico are still important to us now. Things like making disciples and making children smile. Sharing the love of God and sharing cookies. Meeting felt needs and meeting to watch movies. We still hug one another, encourage and pray for each other, and share meals together. Sure, we don’t go out into the community as often as we used to, and we are restricted from visiting friends and family members who live outside our Casa Hogar ( home for children). And we wash our hands a lot more! But overall, we are living the same Easter upside right lives that we enjoyed before. Lives free from the bondage of sin and guilt. Lives lived glorifying God and enjoying Him, still believing that He loves us and wants us to be happy.

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Who doesn’t want to be be peacefully happy? All the time. In every type of circumstance and situation. I think we all know at least one person who is always serene and smiling, no matter what they are going through. And we want to know, “What’s their secret?”

The Apostle Paul was that kind of guy. Always full of joy. Always rejoicing. He wrote the book of Philippians. In this book he tells his readers to rejoice always. He tells them this because he knows it’s possible. He is living proof. He writes this letter that is so full of joy and hope, from a prison, while in chains (1:14), and he is rejoicing. (1:18)

So Paul, what is your secret? What is the secret to living a life of peaceful happiness.

Paul writes in chapter four, “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation.”

The definition of “content” is “the state of peaceful happiness”. And there is a secret to attaining that state of mind – that state of being. It is not something that just happens to a person one day. It is something we need to learn. Something Paul needed to learn.

Paul wasn’t always peacefully happy. At one time in his life he was a religious zealot, full of anger and condemnation at all those around him who were not living up to the high standards of the Torah, the law. It was bad enough all those Jews who were lax in their obedience to God’s Holy Word, but then come the Followers of the Way, who were proclaiming the Messiah had come, and his name is Jesus.

Paul set out to destroy them and their belief in this false Messiah. Paul writes to the Philippian Christians that he had learned to be content; he had learned to be peacefully happy, and that education began on the road to Damascus, where he had a life changing encounter with Jesus, the Messiah.

The first key to unlocking the secret of a life of peaceful happiness is having a life changing encounter with Jesus. It’s usually not as dramatic as a bright, shining light and an audible voice from heaven, as Paul experienced, but it is a deep and meaningful revelation of the truth that God loves you and wants you to be happy. It’s an understanding that Jesus, the Son of God, humbled himself by coming to earth as a human baby, served humanity, died on a cross to forgive our sins, and rose to life so that we could live in right relationship with God and with our fellow human beings.

The second key to living in a state of peaceful happiness is found in Philippians chapter 2. Paul says that we should be like Jesus in his humility, in his servant attitude. He says we should do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but, in humility, should value others above ourselves. (2:3-8)

That can be mighty difficult in the competitive world that we live in. We are taught from a young age to win, to be the best, to get ahead. Our pride tells us to look down on others, climb over others, bury others. Indulging in all that” getting ahead” stuff usually leads to sad, angry lives, rather than happy, peaceful lives. Jesus says that we should “love one another as we love ourselves.” That includes valuing others above ourselves. Doing that is freeing, invigorating and enlightening.

The third key that opens the door to a lifestyle of peaceful happiness is thinking. Think, think, think. Paul admonishes the Philippians, and all believers, in chapter four to Think about whatever is true. Think about whatever is noble. Think about whatever is right. Think about whatever is pure. Think about what is lovely. Think about whatever is admirable, excellent or praiseworthy. When we think about these things, the God of peace and the peace of God will be with us (4:7-9)

This is an important key. If we primarily think good, happy, peaceful thoughts, we will live good, happy peaceful lives.

This is also a difficult key, because in our world we are conciously and unconciously thinking negative thoughts, or unproductive thoughts. We think alot about family, our job, our financial situation. Sometimes we think about politics and the news. With social media we think more and more about what other people think about us. We are bombarded by advertisements that try to get us to think that we will really be happy if we buy what they are selling.

Paul tells us that thinking good thoughts is the secret to peaceful happiness. That can be hard work, and not necessarily fun or exciting. It’s a learning process. Paul says twice that he had to learn it.

If someone wants to be a doctor, they have to spend a lot of time learning medicine. If someone wants to be a lawyer, they need years of studying law. To be a great chef, you go to a culinary academy and recieve instruction in cooking and baking. It takes a lot of time to be good at anything. Same with living a life of peaceful happiness. We need time, alone time in silence, normally, to think about things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy.

So, as I read Paul and his letter to the Philippians, I see three main keys to enjoying a lasting state of peaceful happiness:

  1. Encountering Jesus and establishing an intimate relationship with him and our heavenly Father.
  2. Having a humble attitude like Christ had when he came to earth and lived and died among us. In humility, valuing others above ourselves. As C.S. Lewis said, “Humility is not thinking less of ourselves, but thinking of ourselves less.” Think about God and others more.
  3. Take time to think about the good things of God, His Word, His creation and His love. Those things that are right, true, pure, noble and excellent.

When we consider the situations, circumstances, and difficulties of our lives, we can ask ourselves, “Am I truly peacefully happy, deep down inside?” If the answer is no, then perhaps we should look at the three keys above and make some changes in our lives, knowing that God will help us because he loves us and wants us to be happy.

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Have you experienced complete joy lately? Full joy? Today is Memorial Day. Maybe you are hoping for a day full of happiness with a big barbecue with friends and family or a day at the lake relaxing and playing with the kids.

Jesus tells us how to get and keep complete joy in John 15. It is simple. “Keep my commands” he says. Ok, maybe not so simple, especially when Jesus elaborates and declares in verse 17, “This is my command: Love one each other.”

Well, that explains why there is so little joy in the world. There is an extreme lack of loving one another. We are so busy loving ourselves that we don’t do a lot of loving one another and so we don’t experience a whole lot of joy, not to mention complete joy.

Complete joy. We all like the sound of that. Not partial joy. Not a little taste of happiness and pleasure (which is one definition of joy), but an unending feast of complete joy. We all have different ideas about how that might be attained and how we might possibly keep it. Most of our ideas are wrong.

Jesus describes what love looks like in the parable of the Good Samaritan. Love is sometimes extreme inconvenience and interruption. Sometimes it’s costly and dirty. It is always helping someone in need. Sometimes it’s someone we don’t agree with and don’t really like. Love isn’t liking someone. Love is helping someone who really needs help.

That kinda love sounds kinda crazy. Sounds a bit difficult, or a lot difficult. It is, but it is well worth the complete joy that comes with it, or after it. What Jesus endured on the cross while suffering shame, pain and rejection, didn’t give him a lot of joy. But Hebrews tells us that he endured the cross for the joy that was set before him. Sometimes we have to endure a lot in loving others so that we can experience the complete joy that Jesus is talking about it John 15.

I came to Mexico 14 years ago to help needy children. Children that have been abused, abandoned, neglected, rejected and left to die on the roadside of life. I work with a group of like minded Christians who are cooperating with God and Foundation For His Ministry in making this world a better place by helping the poorest of the poor in Oaxaca, Mexico. It’s not always easy. We don’t always get along or agree on the best way to help the least of these in this part of the world. We fail in some way everyday, but because of the grace and mercy of God we can experience complete joy. I have never been happier in my life.

Jesus promises complete joy, full happiness, when we love each other as Jesus loves us. Sometimes it hurts. Many times it can be unpleasant, but in the end it is worth it. Take a chance on that kind of love, and see what happens.

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Rejoice – verb – feel or show great joy or delight

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I have been reading Deuteronomy lately. Three times in chapter 12 the Israelites are instructed to rejoice. Two of these instances hearken back to my last post. Moses relays God’s instructions to the people that when they take control of the Promised Land they are to gather in a place that God will designate and offer sacrifices and offerings and rejoice. They are to celebrate God and his rich blessings that he had given them.

The third instance of “rejoice” in the chapter occurs in verse 18. Moses tells everyone that they are to rejoice before the Lord their God in everything that they put their hand to. This reminded me of what Paul said in his letter to the Philippians, “Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say rejoice!” ( Philippians 4:4)

Moses told the people to rejoice in everything they put their hands to, and Paul tells people in the church emphatically to rejoice in the Lord always. After meditating on these words I decided, at least for one day, to be intentional about rejoicing in the Lord.

I get up pretty early most mornings, and when I went outside to begin my workday, it was still dark, and the sky was filled with stars. I rejoiced in this beautiful sight and gave thanks to God for his marvelous creation. All those stars! God didn’t have to make all those stars, but he did because he loves us and wants us to be happy. He wants us to rejoice, to feel great joy and delight.

I’m the gardener at the home for needy children here in Oaxaca, Mexico. One of my jobs is to water the soccer field. I turned on the sprinkler and rejoiced that we have water that keeps the field green and the kids have a wonderful place to play their favorite sport.

My wife, Anita, is the kitchen supervisor and was making breakfast that morning. Walking into the kitchen I rejoiced in the dedicated wife that God has given me, and that we could work together in ministry. Helping her make quesadillas I rejoiced that the children and staff would have a healthy, nutritious meal to start their day. I thought of Jesus words, ” I was hungry and you gave me something to eat…When you have done it to the least of these, you have done it to me.” I wondered what the children would have had for breakfast, if anything, if it wasn’t for this home for needy children.

Afterwards I drove some of the teenage girls to their school in Oaxaca city. I rejoiced that they could go to a private Christian school and get a quality education that would prepare them for whatever career they might choose. I rejoiced that God chose me to be a part of their lives, to make a difference in who they are and what they would become.

And so went the day, rejoicing intentionally in the Lord and all that I put my hands to. I realized that no matter what we do, we have three choices in how we emotionally react. We can complain about what we see wrong or negative in our situations. That makes us angry or depressed. We can react indifferently which makes us apathetic. Or we can rejoice, which makes us alive to God’s presence and his blessings. This makes us happy, and after all, God does love us and wants us to be happy.

Most of the day the rejoicing thing went great because all my situations were pleasant ones. That changed toward the end of my day.

After work I took my daughters, Sally and Kelly, to their piano class. While they learn tunes on the keyboard, I teach the piano teachers daughter English. It’s a barter deal where no money exchanges hands and everyone is happy. I rejoiced that my girls enjoy learning the piano and I could bless the music teacher and her daughter with English skills.

When we finished we went to a little piece of property that Anita’s dad had given us. We are in the process of building a tiny house and have planted a few fruit trees that needed to be watered. I rejoiced at the thought of these blessings as well.

What we encountered upon reaching the property was not a blessing. Some mischievous young truant, or so I guess, had crawled under our fence, had climbed to the top of a shed where we keep a water tank, and had broken off the water valve, unleashing a thousand liters of water. How could I rejoice now?

I felt violated that someone had come onto our property and distressed over the waste of our water by some random act of vandalism. While I stared in disbelief, my daughters kept asking me “Why?”. ” Why, Daddy, would someone do this? “

I told them that this is how a lot of people act in the “real” world. I explained to them that they live in a Christian community and go to a Christian school, and while Christians aren’t perfect, they normally try to live by the standard of love, and that is what they are used to. People in the world who are not Christians, many times just live by the moment and if it makes them happy to cause pain to others and destroy things, they just do it.

After saying these words I found cause to rejoice. I told the girls that we needed to pray. So we prayed and rejoiced at the work God had done in our lives and was continuing to do. We thanked God that nothing worse had happened and prayed for the person who had done this, that he might see the light and come to know the love of God and find his joy in Jesus and not in random acts of violence.

We got back in the car and drove home. Most of the anger and frustration had left me, replaced by the “peace that passes all understanding.” Some disappointment remained, but it helped me to think of Paul’s words to the Roman church, “All things work together for good to those who love God and are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28). And in this I rejoiced.

 

dissappointment

 

I know President Trump. I know my wife, Anita. I know them both, but in different ways. I know facts about President Trump. I know Anita personally and intimately.

Peter writes a lot about knowing and knowledge in his second letter, the first chapter.

Verse 2- Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.

Verse 3- His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.

Verse 5- For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge;

Verse 8- For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, he will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

German, French, Spanish and Greek have at least two words for knowledge; for the different types of knowledge. English has one word, so sometimes we misunderstand what the Bible is trying to tell us when it talks about knowledge. In this information age in which we live, when we think of knowledge we generally think of facts. When my daughters ask me a question in which they want a fact, and I don’t know the answer, I tell them to ask Mr. Google. He knows all the facts. All the information.

Reading 2 Peter 1, and seeing the word knowledge used five time in the first 8 verses, I immediately thought of facts and information. I thought that the more facts and information I have about God the more grace and peace I will have. The more theology books I read, the more power I will have for godly living. That’s not what Peter is talking about here.

He is using the Greek word for personal, intimate knowledge of God. This kind of knowledge of God initially comes to someone when the Spirit opens the spiritual eyes of a person and that persons heart is flooded with the love of God. It continues to grow as one dives into God’s Word, spends time with God’s people and participates in God’s activities. This is heart knowledge as opposed to head knowledge.

Anita grew up in a small town called Mitla, in Mexico. She went to the local Catholic church as most people in her town did. She and her family had some head knowledge of God, but not heart knowledge. They knew facts about God and a lot of his rules, but not much of his love. They worked for local missionaries who were doing Bible translation, whose lives were full of joy, peace and contentment, something Anita’s family lacked mightily. The missionaries regularly shared with Anita and her mom about the great love of God – how he loved them and wanted them to be happy. Finally the eyes of their hearts were enlightened, and they entered into a personal relationship with God. Their head knowledge was transformed into heart knowledge. They began to enjoy a life of peace and happiness that they had never known.

In verses 2, 3, and 8 Peter is referring to this kind of knowledge. In verse 5, Peter uses a different Greek word for knowledge, that signifies head knowledge of facts and information. He tells his readers that they need to make every effort to add to their goodness, knowledge. It’s vitally important that followers of Jesus get head knowledge of the Bible; get facts and figures and information about the major themes and doctrines of the Bible. The different cultures the scriptures were written in and the languages and genres that make up God’s Word. When we prayerfully meditate on this head knowledge, it slowly but surely makes its way to our heart, transforms our desires and deepens our relationship with The God who loves us and wants us to be happy.

The book of Proverbs, in the Bible, is all about getting wisdom and wisdomknowledge.The good life, the happy life, consists of growing in wisdom and knowledge and reaping the benefits of those traits. Proverbs compares and contrasts those who seek wisdom and knowledge and those who reject wisdom and knowledge. The Wise and the Fools.

Chapters 1-9 consist of teaching about the importance of wisdom and knowledge and how to get them. In my pattern of Bible reading, I read a chapter of Proverbs every Saturday morning. Yesterday I read about the Wicked Men and Wayward Women.

Verses 12-15 say, “Wisdom will save you from the ways of wicked men, from men whose words are perverse, who have left straight paths to walk in dark ways, who delight in doing wrong and rejoice in the perverseness of evil, whose paths are crooked and who are devious in their ways.”

Verses 16-19 follow with these words, “Wisdom will save you also from the adulterous woman, from the wayward woman with her seductive words, who has left the partner of her youth, and ignored the the covenant she made before God. Surely her house leads down to death, and her paths to the spirits of the dead. None who go to her return or attain the paths of life.”

Verse 22 summarizes what happens to wicked men and wayward women, “the wicked will be cut off from the land, and the unfaithful will be torn from it.”

I see the results of wicked men and wayward women everyday here at the Home For Needy Children in Oaxaca, Mexico. Wicked men and wayward women don’t care much for their children. They are abused, neglected and often abandoned, and many end up in special homes for children. Verse 14 mentions that the wicked men delight in doing wrong. Almost all of the children here at the mission have no contact with their fathers. Their fathers delight in making children, and disappear sometime after conception or birth when they discover that raising children is not so delightful.

Everyone wants delight. Everyone wants pleasure. Everyone wants joy. Everyone wants to rejoice. Everyone seeks these things. The book of Proverbs is all about these things. The wise find their joy and delight in God and following Him and His ways. The wise find pleasure in helping the poor and oppressed. They are generous to the downcast and fatherless; with the widow and orphan. The wicked – not so much.

We make choices everyday about what we are going to do to make us happy, to fill us with delight. Many think making money will make them happy. Money in the bank for security and money in the wallet to spend. Others, like the wayward woman, think ultimate pleasure is found in using their bodies in ways contrary to God’s Word and His ways. Sure, there is some measure of happiness and pleasure to be found in these things, but it is a fleeting happiness, and short lived pleasure. Usually the pleasures that the wicked men and wayward women encounter not only don’t last very long, but are ultimately harmful, painful and cause suffering for them and those around them.

Some of my favorite people in the world are those who come to this ministry in Southern Mexico to help for awhile. Some come with church groups for a week or so. Others come with family members and stay for a little bit longer periods of time. Some come by themselves and stay for months. All of these people have a joy that will never fade away, because, by giving of themselves and their time, talents and treasure to help the “least of these”; the poorest of the poor in this country, they are filled with a joy that will never fade away. Many of the visitors and volunteers that come to help the children say before they leave that they came to be a blessing to others and discovered that they had been blessed beyond belief by their time here helping others.

Psalm one presents us with two paths that we can choose to go down. The first is the path of the wicked which leads to destruction. The second is the path of the LORD, which leads to lasting delight and prosperity. God, help us to choose Your path and to meditate on your word, which you gave to us because you love us and want us to be happy.

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eternal-pleasures

Enjoying those eternal pleasures!!!

A few days ago in our morning devotions at the home for needy children where my wife and I serve, a lady named Mireya talked about the recent death of her mother.  Her mother had been battling diabetes for many years.  Not a pleasant struggle to have to endure.  And then, to make matters worse, she was involved in a terrible auto accident that broke bones, inflicted bruises; internal and external, and left her in a coma for some days.  She finally came out of the coma, which was a great relief for her family, but never really recovered, and ended up dying a couple weeks ago.car crash

Mireya talked of her mother’s walk with God and the tremendous impact her faith had on her family, friends, and even the hospital staff who cried at her passing.

At about the same time of Mireya’s mother’s accident, another tragic auto collision occurred.  This time to a lady named Leticia who had faithfully served at the mission in previous years with her husband Edgar.  She was hit by a big truck driven by a drunk man.  In the car with her were her two daughters, son, and sister in law.  They all suffered a variety of bone fractures, contusions and bruises.  The worst off was the sister in law who had both of her legs broken.

My wife, Anita, and I, went to visit Leticia recently, and she recounted for us the injuries and physical pain they all went through.  Almost as bad as the physical pain, was, and is, is the psychological ordeal they are going through.  The drunk man who crashed into Leticia was questioned by police and released.  The police never filed a report and there is no evidence that they were ever on the scene.  Leticia’s son took a picture of the drunk man and his license plate, which allowed them to find out where he lived.  Evidently this man is a man of some means, as it seems he paid the police off and has hired a number of lawyers to defend him in case any one tries to make him pay.  Edgar went to find the man in order to talk to him about the situation.  He was no where to be found, and so Edgar talked to a few neighbors, telling them what happened and why he wanted to speak with the guy.  He gave them his cell phone number.  That evening he received a call from a relative of the drunk driver who cursed Edgar out.

What is the import of these two stories?  I always say that God loves us and wants us to be happy.  These are not very happy stories.  The members of these families are strong, faithful Christians involved in ministry.  It would be natural to ask God the question “Why”?  In fact, Mireya confessed to asking that question.  God answered her question.  It’s not important to know what the answer was.  It is important to know that our God who loves us and wants us to happy, always answers that question.  Sometimes he gives the answer in a still small voice that brings us great satisfaction.  Sometimes he answers that question through circumstances that follow, or with wise council from trusted friends or family members.  Sometimes he answers with the response that Jesus gave John the Baptist or to Peter, which was, “What I do now you cannot understand, but in time you will.”

The New Testament writers James and Peter wrote about going through times of suffering, and both of them said that we should rejoice and be filled with joy because God uses the hard times of pain and confusion to bring about spiritual growth and greater intimacy with the Father.

 Consider it  pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.  James 1:2,3

           For a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.  These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith – of greater worth than gold, which perishes – may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.   1Peter1:6,7

The Old Testament prophet Habakkuk wrote about difficult times ahead for the chosen people of God.  Times of distress and want; hunger and pain. This prophet also declared “though the fig tree does not bud, and there are no grapes on the vine, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen or cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Savior (Habakuk 3:17,18).”

So whether we suffer a car crash, emotional or physical crash, financial or familial crash, we can be sure that while we go through the pain, God is with us to strengthen us and encourage us, and when we come out the other end, we can rejoice and consider it pure joy that our faith is real and God is glorified.

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suffering

The staff at Cristo Por Su Mundo (Christ for the World), a home for needy children here in Oaxaca, Mexico, which is part of FoundationFor His Ministry, recently began a five day study of what it means for Christians to live in community.  I felt like this was an important topic for us to delve into, since we are a faith community with almost two dozen staff members and sixty children, and we had never had an in-depth study of what the Bible or Christian leaders have to say about this important topic.

A book that has heavily influenced my perspective on Christian community, is called Life Together,  by Dietrich Bonhoeffer.  I took the first devotional/teaching session to present Bonhoeffer’s ideas of what living in community is all about.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a German theologian, professor and pastor when Hitler was in power.  He was ultimately executed by Hitler for his anti Hitler activities.  He was head of a Christian community in Germany for awhile and wrote his little book Life Together to help other Christians who lived in community or who were considering the idea.
In our first devotional study time I handed out two pages of quotes from Life Together.  Here are some of my favorites:

The goal of Christian community – Meeting one another as bringers of the message of salvation.

Be thankful – Enter into common life not as demanders but as thankful recipients.

Jesus Christ alone is our unity – Through him alone do we have access to one another, joy in one another, and fellowship with one another.

Priorities – It is more important for us to know what God did to Israel, to his son Jesus Christ, than to seek what God intends for us today.

Learning – Only in fellowship do we learn to be rightly alone and only in aloneness do we learn to live rightly in the fellowship; both begin with the call of Christ.

Meditation – The period of personal meditation is to be devoted to the scriptures, private prayer, and intercession.  If you seek God alone, you will gain happiness.

Meekness – He who would learn to serve must first learn to think little of himself.

Helpfulness – We must allow ourselves to be interrupted by God.  God will be constantly canceling our plans by sending us people with needs that we can meet.

Jill, the assistant administrator of the children’s home also spoke about living in community.  She looked at community from a theological point of view.  She used the book called Community 101 as her guiding light.  This book talked about how community began with God, the Trinity, three in one, the first community.  Then God created Adam, and God declared that it was not good that man was alone.  Man was created to live in community, and God created Eve, from one of Adams ribs.  Thus the first human community.

Satan hates all things that God creates as good and beautiful, and seeks to destroy them, especially community.  His first attack was against community.  An essential element of community between God and man, and mankind living in community, is trust.  Satan attacks community by attacking trust.  He convinced Eve that God could not be trusted, and thus destroyed the perfect community that man had with God, and in the process, the community Adam and Eve had.  Satan continues to try and destroy Christian community, and those living in community must be ever vigilant regarding their thoughts, words and actions, lest the Evil One drive a wedge between its members.

Below are some quotes from Community 101:

Primacy of oneness – God is  eternally one.  When he created us in his image, he created oneness.

God’s gift of oneness – God’s supreme achievement was not the creation of solitary man, but the creation of human community.

Centrality of oneness – The quality of human communities depends on our willingness to be dependent on God.

Commitment to community – For a church to develop and maintain oneness is not a take-it-or-leave-it option.  It is a priority and a mandate.  We need to be constantly reminded of our true identity as a community of oneness.

God calls us to have a “personal relationship” with Him.  But that is not the end all and be all of what it means to  be a Christian.  God brings us into right relationship with Him, so that we can be part of the “called out ones”; the church; the community of faith; the  body of Christ.  God created community because He loves us and wants us to be happy.  I know that is true for me.  Although I have gone to church most of my life, and been a member of different churches, and done church for most of 50 years, I have not experienced such joy and happiness and fulfillment since I became part of this Christian community in Mexico called Cristo Por Su Mundo.  Instead of “doing” church, we are “being” the church that God called His followers to be.

Thinking on this, I am reminded of the breakfast illustration of ham and eggs.  In the making of this breakfast the chicken was involved, but the pig was committed.  Most Christians are involved in a Christian community, living at the fringes of what God truly intends for His disciples.  I think God wants all His children to take the plunge, and commit to living in community.  That is the way He wired us in order to truly glorify Him by enjoying Him.

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There are many things which a person can do alone, but being a Christian is not one of them. As the Christian life is, above all things, a state of union with Christ, and of union of his followers with one another, love of the brethren is inseparable from love of God. Resentment toward any human being cannot exist in the same heart with love to God. The personal relationship to Christ can only be realized when one has “come to himself” as a member of His Body, the Christian fellowship.

William T. Ham

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