Saturday, March 26, 2011

The book of Matthew

Hippos: South-west view

I've been reading the Gospels to get ready for my trip to Israel in about a month - I can't believe it is so soon!  I started with Matthew..which seemed logical.  I don't know how many times I've read it, but this time seems more alive than ever. During Matthew 13, I can close my eyes and smell the fresh air, feel the wind in my face, and most of all I can see Jesus' eyes and his tone - how He interacts with  people, how he truly wanted them to get the message of who God was. 

There are so many things that "hit home" with me this time.  One of them is how he talks to the pharisees.  When I was a kid, I could never relate to it.  To me they were bad people, and it didn't occur to me that they were SPIRITUAL.  Jesus didn't get mad at the people who didn't know better, or ignorant.  He got mad at the people who acted like they had it all together, and imposed their rules on others.  They showed that they really didn't know who God was!

 Matthew 6:1
"Be especially careful when you are trying to be good so that you don't make a performance out of it. It might be good theater, but the God who made you won't be applauding. 2-4"When you do something for someone else, don't call attention to yourself. You've seen them in action, I'm sure—'playactors' I call them— treating prayer meeting and street corner alike as a stage, acting compassionate as long as someone is watching, playing to the crowds. They get applause, true, but that's all they get. 

I never really realized till a couple years ago that there are still "Pharisees" today!  I realized when a friend who moved to Edmonton came to our church and I sat with her and her boyfriend and his friends who went to a different church.  Pastor Dennis what preaching a mean sermon, and the whole time these guys were talking and whispering to each other..."oh ya well what about this?"  I was so mad by the end of the service.  It was just rude and no sense of honor and respect for God's house.  I found out later that they were attending a seminary. 

Whenever I read something about the Pharisees, I was brought back to that day.

Matthew 12
1-2 One Sabbath, Jesus was strolling with his disciples through a field of ripe grain. Hungry, the disciples were pulling off the heads of grain and munching on them. Some Pharisees reported them to Jesus: "Your disciples are breaking the Sabbath rules!"
 3-5Jesus said, "Really? Didn't you ever read what David and his companions did when they were hungry, how they entered the sanctuary and ate fresh bread off the altar, bread that no one but priests were allowed to eat? And didn't you ever read in God's Law that priests carrying out their Temple duties break Sabbath rules all the time and it's not held against them?
 6-8"There is far more at stake here than religion. If you had any idea what this Scripture meant—'I prefer a flexible heart to an inflexible ritual'—you wouldn't be nitpicking like this. The Son of Man is no lackey to the Sabbath; he's in charge."
 9-10When Jesus left the field, he entered their meeting place. There was a man there with a crippled hand. They said to Jesus, "Is it legal to heal on the Sabbath?" They were baiting him.
 11-14He replied, "Is there a person here who, finding one of your lambs fallen into a ravine, wouldn't, even though it was a Sabbath, pull it out? Surely kindness to people is as legal as kindness to animals!" Then he said to the man, "Hold out your hand." He held it out and it was healed. The Pharisees walked out furious, sputtering about how they were going to ruin Jesus.

I also loved how he put them in their place.  They would try to come at him with stabbing question, well He did just the same!

Matthew 15
1-2 After that, Pharisees and religion scholars came to Jesus all the way from Jerusalem, criticizing, "Why do your disciples play fast and loose with the rules?"
 3-9But Jesus put it right back on them. "Why do you use your rules to play fast and loose with God's commands? God clearly says, 'Respect your father and mother,' and, 'Anyone denouncing father or mother should be killed.' But you weasel around that by saying, 'Whoever wants to, can say to father and mother, What I owed to you I've given to God.' That can hardly be called respecting a parent. You cancel God's command by your rules. Frauds! Isaiah's prophecy of you hit the bull's-eye:

   These people make a big show of saying the right thing,
      but their heart isn't in it.
   They act like they're worshiping me,
      but they don't mean it.
   They just use me as a cover
      for teaching whatever suits their fancy."

 10-11He then called the crowd together and said, "Listen, and take this to heart. It's not what you swallow that pollutes your life, but what you vomit up."
 12Later his disciples came and told him, "Did you know how upset the Pharisees were when they heard what you said?"
 13-14Jesus shrugged it off. "Every tree that wasn't planted by my Father in heaven will be pulled up by its roots. Forget them. They are blind men leading blind men. When a blind man leads a blind man, they both end up in the ditch."
 15Peter said, "I don't get it. Put it in plain language."
 16-20Jesus replied, "You, too? Are you being willfully stupid? Don't you know that anything that is swallowed works its way through the intestines and is finally defecated? But what comes out of the mouth gets its start in the heart. It's from the heart that we vomit up evil arguments, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, lies, and cussing. That's what pollutes. Eating or not eating certain foods, washing or not washing your hands—that's neither here nor there."

What makes me mad is that they were the ones to took Jesus to be killed.  I know that it was all in the grand plan, but they still had a choice.....  I was reading the end of Matthew and it was interesting to note that even the High Priest had reduced himself at moment of Jesus' crucifixion.  

After they had finished nailing him to the cross and were waiting for him to die, they whiled away the time by throwing dice for his clothes. Above his head they had posted the criminal charge against him: this is jesus, the king of the jews. Along with him, they also crucified two criminals, one to his right, the other to his left. People passing along the road jeered, shaking their heads in mock lament: "You bragged that you could tear down the Temple and then rebuild it in three days—so show us your stuff! Save yourself! If you're really God's Son, come down from that cross!"
 41-44The high priests, along with the religion scholars and leaders, were right there mixing it up with the rest of them, having a great time poking fun at him: "He saved others—he can't save himself! King of Israel, is he?  

But I think the best part so far that I read was when Mary and Mary (just imagine if the other mary - jesus' mother was there, it would have been mary, mary and mary..haha.  sorry) were just leaving the tomb after seeing the angel totally roll the huge boulder that was the door to Jesus' tomb.  So they are running to Galilee to the place that Jesus told the disciples before he died that he would meet them and....

They ran to tell the disciples. Then Jesus met them, stopping them in their tracks. "Good morning!" he said. They fell to their knees, embraced his feet, and worshiped him. Jesus said, "You're holding on to me for dear life! Don't be frightened like that. Go tell my brothers that they are to go to Galilee, and that I'll meet them there."

To me, that Good Morning sounds really chipper and happy, almost like He has a bit of mischief in His eyes.  Almost like He was trying to scare them, while they are so focused on running back to the disciples!  

There was alot more that I got out of it, but I felt that I needed to share about the Pharisees.  I don't know why, but it REALLY bothers me when people are all so "I love Jesus..and he's the best thing that EVAR happened to me" and then they betray Him with their actions.  To me, don't call yourself anything if your going to act that way.  Not only to do you disgrace the saints who gave their lives for our freedom of religion - to actually READ a bible, but also for name of the One who died for us.  I hope that people can tell that there is something different about me, and desire to live their life according to "Kingdom Principles".  

To find out what i mean by Kingdom Principles...start with matthew

Friday, March 18, 2011

Irish dreams....sigh.

Have I mentioned that I have started a savings account to finally go to Ireland one day?  yep...$50.  Brian said I should save up at least $10,000 and my cousin Michelle (who lived there for 6 weeks) suggested that I stay for at LEAST three weeks.  Well, I am the queen of thrifty and I already have some fun FREE stuff to do.  In Dublin, I found out that they have free walking tours - I like walking.  And I found some accomodations in Dublin for under $100/night and they don't look too bad too.  I think one of them is a holiday inn.  I figure if I save up $50 a month I'll have enough money to go for my 40th birthday. 
Who would I go with?  Well, Brian said that he would love to take me, and my mom said that she would love to come too - after hearing me babble about everything that I've read (and after we watched P.S. I Love You)  The only thing that I'm worried about is that it is not going to live up to the fantasy that I've built in my head. 
I remember the first time we (brian and I) traveled back to Ontario for the first time after we were married.  I think we had been married 3 years, and I missed it so much.  I longed to be there more than anything, and that all my bible school friends would still be there.  Sadly, everyone had moved away, except I got to see my good friend kim - she lived in the apartment under me.  I was disappointed that I couldn't spend more time doing the things that I had spent countless time daydreaming about.  Anyways, my expectations were so unrealistic that it was destined for disaster.  I am going back to Ontario this june - all by myself.  I'm taking pictures for my niece's wedding- (I have a niece that is old enough to get married! - wierd!)  I don't think of her as a niece though.  I'm looking forward to having time to myself, and doing what I want.  I'm going to visit my brother and take lots of pictures of my nephews.  I'm sure that my diet is going to go completely out the window, because my brother knows how to cook ...AND all the best places to eat.  I'm looking forward to being with  my sister (in law).  She is so wonderful and one of my favorite people.

So back to Ireland.  I'm not planning too much...just little things.  I found a B&B that I want to stay at in Wicklow Co. and I for sure want to do some hiking.  Other than that, I think that I leave the rest to plan 5 years from now.  That way I don't manage to disappoint myself again.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Who says God doesn't have a sense of humor!


A friend of mine just posted this on facebook.  The Happy Face Spider!  It lives in the Hawaiian Rain Forest. To find out more just click on the page.