MLK2020

I have always been prone to deep thoughts. When I say deep, I don’t mean profound, but all-consuming. I live in my head and mull things over and over again, regardless of the topic. Social issues are no different.

When it comes to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. I have really changed my position over the last few years. Growing up, he was one of my favorite historical heroes. In more recent years, as I have grown in my own thinking, particularly in my religious and political ideas, I have grown apart from him to a large degree. I found myself in disagreement with much of his ideology.

 

 

This year, I find myself drawn to a specific area of his life – his life in the public eye. His public life still garners much respect from me. The way he stayed composed under extreme pressure (which may be a contributing factor as to why he didn’t stay as composed under extreme pressure behind closed doors…something I am thinking through), the vision that he held, inspired in others and maintained in the face of opposition and, lastly, the way he articulated himself, even when I disagree, I find compelling and it causes one to pause and think.

 

 

On this day, and the days leading up to this one, I find myself trying to understand why I am drawn to certain people. I am praying about what I am to learn from people God has set in my path, no matter to what degree I agree with them. I am learning to ask – in new ways – what am I supposed to learn from them?

With this in mind, I think what I am supposed to learn this year from this man at this stage in my life:

  1. How to be utterly committed to a vision for my life
  2. Staying calm and disciplined in the face of opposition
  3. Being able to articulate this vision effectively (which means I need to read and write a lot more this year…I don’t know how to make time for this, but I must figure it out!).

The last thing I really appreciate this year in grappling with this day and the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., is respecting the action he – and hundreds and thousands of others – took to inspire change. I have done a lot of thinking and talking about heavy topics to form my thoughts…time for action! Just what action needs to be taken…?

 

 

I hope you find yourselves well today. For me, it’s been a day of great confusion, and great clarity.

Published in: on 7 PMpMon, 20 Jan 2020 17:11:19 -050011Monday 2016 at 5:11 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Eternity in View

As this Sunday comes to a close – at least in my neck of the woods – I have been revisiting the great importance of vision. What is my vision for my life, family, etc.? We all know the importance of knowing our ‘Why’?

Well, as I continue to ponder on this idea over the weekend, I am reminded that the core of my vision needs to be eternity. Here’s the message I want to share today: Live like we have eternity in mind! It comes for us all…

This is one of my favorite short pieces on the importance of keeping the eternal in view. It’s by Francis Chan. It just under 5 mins. Enjoy!

 

Published in: on 7 PMpSun, 19 Jan 2020 23:33:42 -050033Sunday 2016 at 11:33 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Threads of the Divine Nature of Jesus | Week 2 | Winds & Waves

In the distance, menacing clouds arise. Upon seeing them, they scurry trying to prepare themselves, but the world around them begins to stir more and more; the clouds leap upon them rapidly. The vehement wind blows with great violence! The water around churns in anger at these disturbing touches. The sea – in it’s blind rage – takes it’s frustrations out on their small boat. The wood moans and creaks, seeking mercy under the onslaught of savage waves and ferocious gusts. Ropes shake and clamor as they smash against the sides, beams and supports. Everything dripping, both fresh and salty. This boat, containing several professional fishermen, has never seen a storm rage such as this. Danger is a foregone conclusion as at the moment death begins to sweep across the stressed boards. These fishermen know all too well.

In a last effort of hope, they realize they are missing a companion – their Leader. Ah, these disciples go looking for the one they claim and call, the Messiah; the Savior of the World. They dearly hope, but also have faith, that this title suits him well in this moment. But, where is he?! Then they find him, fast asleep! They rouse him – “We are dying!” as the boat conintues its chaotic dance across the white foam. This Teacher arises, comes out to the deck, looks at the storm, and says, “Stop!”

Immediately, the winds and the waters become quiet and calm…

 


 

In just five verses…an entire narrative; a movie being played out in front of the Disciples eyes. Here is the Word, from Luke 8.22-26:

22 One day he got into a boat with his disciples, and he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side of the lake.” So they set out, 23 and as they sailed he fell asleep. And a windstorm came down on the lake, and they were filling with water and were in danger. 24 And they went and woke him, saying, “Master, Master, we are perishing!” And he awoke and rebuked the wind and the raging waves, and they ceased, and there was a calm. 25 He said to them, “Where is your faith?” And they were afraid, and they marveled, saying to one another, “Who then is this, that he commands even winds and water, and they obey him? 26 Then they sailed to the country of the Gerasenes, which is opposite Galilee.”

What is obvious in the passage is certainly Jesus just did something amazing! How many people do you know that would (1) soundly and peacefully sleep through a storm that is on the brink of killing you while you are on a boat, and (2) he commanded – and was obeyed by – the winds and the water. Amazing!

However, for this series, as you well know, we are looking into things that show Jesus to be both eternal and divine. Do the claims that he is God hold true and what does this passage show in regards to this issue. Something quite amazing actually.

In order to see this, we have to remember something important Jesus said. In John 5.19, “So Jesus said to them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise.'”

With this in mind, let us turn our attention to the Psalms. In Psalm 65, we see something truly remarkable. Here, in verses 5-8 we read:

“5 By awesome deeds you answer us with righteousness, O God of our salvation, the hope of all the ends of the earth and of the farthest seas; 6 the one who by his strength established the mountains, being girded with might; 7 who stills the roaring of the seas, the roaring of their waves, the tumult of the peoples, 8 so that those who dwell at the ends of the earth are in awe at your signs. You make the going out of the morning and the evening to shout for joy.”

Jesus, thousands of years after this passage was written, under impectable circumstances to carry this out, literally does “what he saw his Father doing.” What’s more, he does acts that are clearly contributed, according to the Psalm, only to God…

Below, I am going to show each verse again, but color code the connections.

I hope you enjoyed this second installment and look forward to meeting you here next week. Shabbat Shalom.

 


 

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

 

Luke 8.22-26 & Psalm 65-5-8 (ESV):

22 One day he got into a boat with his disciples, and he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side of the lake.” So they set out, 23 and as they sailed he fell asleep. And a windstorm came down on the lake, and they were filling with water and were in danger. 24 And they went and woke him, saying, “Master, Master, we are perishing!” And he awoke and rebuked the wind and the raging waves, and they ceased, and there was a calm. 25 He said to them, “Where is your faith?” And they were afraid, and they marveled, saying to one another, “Who then is this, that he commands even winds and water, and they obey him?”
26 Then they sailed to the country of the Gerasenes, which is opposite Galilee.

“5 By awesome deeds you answer us with righteousness, O God of our salvation, the hope of all the ends of the earth and of the farthest seas; 6 the one who by his strength established the mountains, being girded with might; 7 who stills the roaring of the seas, the roaring of their waves, the tumult of the peoples, 8 so that those who dwell at the ends of the earth are in awe at your signs. You make the going out of the morning and the evening to shout for joy.”

 

Published in: on 7 AMpSat, 18 Jan 2020 11:00:46 -050000Saturday 2016 at 11:00 am  Comments (1)  
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7-Word Story | Silver Linings

Frustrations abound,

 

 

Path uncertain;

 

 

Clear blessings around!

 

Published in: on 7 AMpFri, 17 Jan 2020 09:32:10 -050032Friday 2016 at 9:32 am  Leave a Comment  
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Life in a Death Landscape | Poetry Writing Prompt

 

Image

Photo by David Adams

 

This is a writing prompt picture today! Feel free to join! Please copy the picture, but be sure to share the photographer’s link – used by permission. Let’s push his art as well as ours.

Although these ladies are really busy with their own writing, I do want to tag two blogging friends on this one as I would enjoy seeing what they come up with. So, if you’re up to it, Ritu and Cassa, let’s see what you got! Here is my rendition:

 


 

I can be so negative at times,
Pesimissim seeping through the pores
Coming from toxicity in my bones
Old sores and deep wounds.

The soil is covered in death,
Soggy and dank,
Landscape of brown –
Wilting and withering.

The scent of mildew and decay
As I wallow in hurts,
Frustrations,
Failures galore; dashed dreams.

“Son, step back.”
What? I thought I heard a whisper,
But I’m here alone.
Alone … alone …

“Son, look again.”
I’m I going crazy?!
Are these broken leaves,
Stripped of life, talking to me?

“Get out of the mud, come up
And look with new eyes!”
Oh, Father, it’s your voice I hear,
But how do I come up there?

“Worship me. Look upon me.
Declare my goodness; majesty!”
Father, forgive my foolishness,
Thank you for your mercy great!

There is none like you
And you are the one my soul craves!
“Ah, see, look down son!”
What, there is green!
There is fruitfulness and life!

“Yes son! What you think is decay,
Is just fertilizer for what I am growing now –
The dank and murky water, springs of life –
Stop wallowing and see the goodness I make
From the darkest of days!”

© Joshua Curtis, 2020

Published in: on 7 AMpThu, 16 Jan 2020 10:35:39 -050035Thursday 2016 at 10:35 am  Comments (9)  
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I Beg Your Pardon!

Work was long yesterday… It took a lot out of me, but I learned a lot and it ended on a high note, so that was appreciated.

 

 

When I get home, I try to relax a bit. I love hearing the sound of my children’s voices. The one problem is, for some reason they are under the impression they are at a concert and are continuously trying to over talk the cacophony of melodic tones. Well, it turns out that I am not wealthy enough to have a band playing live in our home at all hours of the day. “Hey guys, your faces are not that far from each other. Quiet down please.” A command they almost always oblige … for 12 1/2 seconds.

 

 

Ah, but we make it through dinner and have nice conversation over a delicious meal my wonderful wife put together. Blessed times! After dinner, my eldest daughter – some of you may remember her poetic debut on my blog last Spring – came over to me and was showing me cards she made after school. She is very artistic and made some cool looking cards.

On one of the cards, she had a white space surrounded by color. She went on to explain that she got the white space by putting tape down, coloring over it and then removing the tape. And this is where I made my fatal move – the asking of a question obvious.

“How do you get the tape off without ripping the paper?” The question seemed to take her little mind by surprise. She was taken aback momentarily and was uttered speechless for at least three solid seconds.

 

 

Then, the fire back, the quip, the answer that should have been most obvious. “You just have to have skills!”

 

 

Pow! I think: “Well now, excuse me ma’am for asking such a question. I beg your pardon!” As I sit and wallow in the shredding of my foolish question while sitting at table, laugher roars from the sink as my wife – so gracious and supportive – could not contain the bluntness and truth of this beautiful little girl’s realistic response.

 

 

And as I chuckle, this little one starts cracking up as well as she tries to justify her position. Oh, no justification necessary! You better get it girl!

 

Image may contain: 5 people, including KC Matthews and PhyllisandChris White, people smiling, people sitting and indoor

© Joshua Curtis, 2020
(Yeah, that one, standing up between us…)

 

Aren’t kids great?!

I hope you all are having a good week.

Published in: on 7 AMpWed, 15 Jan 2020 06:42:30 -050042Wednesday 2016 at 6:42 am  Comments (4)  
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Glory

Here’s another old poem for you.

 

Glory

 

Have a great Tuesday!

Published in: on 7 AMpTue, 14 Jan 2020 07:01:22 -050001Tuesday 2016 at 7:01 am  Leave a Comment  
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Food for Your Week’s Grind

As we’re on our grind this week, let’s keep in mind a few things:

  • When we do our work, let’s work hard, but do it right:

If you don’t have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?”

  • Let us be wise in who and what we spend our time around:

A man’s character always takes its hue, more or less, from the form and color of things about him.”

  • Let us not be frustrated in falling short, but rather fully embrace each failure:

Failures, repeated failures, are finger posts on the road to achievement. One fails forward toward success.”

Image result for C.S. Lewis

– C.S. Lewis, picture from http://www.cslewis.org

  • In the face of difficulty, let’s allow our character to shine bright:

Great necessities call out great virtues.”

  • Let us remember to choose love, because it’s primarily a decision and not an emotion:

“Love is an act of the will, accompanied by emotion and leads to action on behalf of the object.”

See the source image

– Voddie Baucham, picture from https://answersingenesis.org

Let’s have a great week grinders and a creative and productive week writers!

Published in: on 7 AMpMon, 13 Jan 2020 09:09:43 -050009Monday 2016 at 9:09 am  Comments (1)  
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Tapestry

This home you’ve given me – such beauty!
No! You know you don’t deserve this place!
The designs, furnishings and décor of tapestry!
Remember who you are – you cannot embrace.

So warm and clean; built for a king.
A king?! No, stick to what you know!
It’s a glorious gift I can hardly fathom.
Because it’s not for you – it’s all show!

But He calls me to this place – it’s mine.
Isn’t better to stay where you feel at home,
But he has graciously given us much more,
No! You need to make your own shalom!

Father, this home is so wonderful,
Come back to the comfort of the dark.
Thank you for being so merciful and kind,
NO! Don’t do it! It’s too glorious; too stark!

But, look at …
Stop talking now! It’s built with light,
Furnished in such beauty, full of majesty
Look at your wretched and filthy plight,

You don’t deserve something with such tapestry,
Furnishings built for kings, a place so warm,
You sinner! You don’t deserve his grace!
Come back home and prepare for this storm –

It’s funny you thought you could live in that place!
Take my embrace! Yes this place is dark and dank,
But it’s our home. Remember your place; your rank.
Remember your vile thoughts? My how they stank!
Still denying and setting your hopes? I’ll be more frank!

Remember when …
No, stop! You’ve said enough…much of it is true,
I don’t deserve it; my heart is sick like the flu,
I shouldn’t long for such glory, but stay here with you.

But, like always you miss the point that’s so clear,
And you don’t see or perceive what’s reality,
Open your eyes to the beauty; dissolve that fear,
What you keep thinking is that all of this is about me!

Look at the King – the glorious One who gives the gift,
It’s Him you need to again clearly see and bend your knee,
It’s about his faithfulness and promises – He’s done the work –
The sin in me – you – I flee and trust His word; His guarantee!

My King – may all these voices be silenced inside of me,
Please forgive me of my sins I continue to choose,
All of you – here at your feet – is all I want to see,
In your home, full of peace, arrayed in such beauty!

Published in: on 7 AMpSun, 12 Jan 2020 08:14:29 -050014Sunday 2016 at 8:14 am  Leave a Comment  
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Threads of the Divine Nature of Jesus | Week 1 | The Eternal Ladder

Isaac was tricked! With the help of his mother, Jacob slid quietly into the room, arrayed in a disguise to make his father think that Jacob was actually his brother. The result? Jacob received his brother’s blessing – the blessing of the firstborn. This is after Jacob already tricked his twin brother into selling his birthright. He’s at it again, as Isaac’s wrinkled hand reaches out with dimmed eyes, but words full of life. Esau had enough! He wanted to kill his brother. Will this be a retelling of Cain and Abel? Not if Rebekah can help it!

She sends Jacob away until Esau can calm his fury. Jacob receives another blessing from his father with instructions on getting a proper wife for himself and he sets out. He comes “to a certain place” between Beersheba and Heran as the sun is setting. He sets up camp for the night and lays his head down on a rock.

Genesis 28.10-11, “10 Jacob left Beersheba and went toward Haran. 11 And he came to a certain place and stayed there that night, because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones of the place, he put it under his head and lay down in that place to sleep.” Yet, according to Hebrew tradition, this was the most special “certain place” in all of the earth. This is the exact location of where the Temple – and specifically, the Holy of Holies – would stand in the future. Thus, what happens next may not be too much of a surprise. He has a most vivid dream of the Heaven’s opening, seeing magnificently angelic beings, and the Lord of Hosts beaming down upon the Earth.

 

Genesis 28.12-17: 12 And he dreamed, and behold, there was a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven. And behold, the angels of God were ascending and descending on it! 13 And behold, the Lord stood above it and said, “I am the Lord, the God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac. The land on which you lie I will give to you and to your offspring. 14 Your offspring shall be like the dust of the earth, and you shall spread abroad to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south, and in you and your offspring shall all the families of the earth be blessed. 15 Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land. For I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.” 16 Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it.” 17 And he was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.”

 

What a view! What a promise! Jacob saw the Stairway to Heaven, and Led Zeppelin had nothing to do with it! He saw the access point, or the way, in which the angels come into our realm and return back to Heaven; how they came to us and back to the feet of the Lord of lords. He saw God, and God used this channel to communicate a message directly to Jacob. Talk about a moment in one’s life that’s impactful!

Yet, what in the world does this have to do with Jesus? Jesus who came into the world thousands of years after this event. Jesus of the New Testament. Jesus who is never mentioned in this story at all – how could he since he was born so much later, right? In fact, on the surface, this story really doesn’t have anything to do with Jesus! However, what if I told you that Jesus was actually a central character in this story? You think that’s crazy right? “Obviously, this guy can’t read very well – it doesn’t mention Jesus at all!” I know, and yet…it does. How do we know? Because Jesus tells us it does!

Let’s move forward a few thousand years into the future. There’s a Rabbi walking around Israel who is ready to start his teaching ministry and is gathering some other young men to be his disciples. As he’s walking around, some disciples of another prophet ask if they can go follow this Rabbi instead and this prophet gives his blessing. These two hustle to follow this man. The next day, they are walking through a town and this Rabbi tells a man named Philip to follow him and Philip runs and tells his friend Nathanael to come with him and follow this Rabbi too. Philip also tells him they have found the Messiah. Nathanael is suspicious, but comes along to what all the fuss is about.

When Nathanael meets this Rabbi, he is blown away. Jesus tells Nathanael what he was doing while alone before Philip found him – prophetic! Nathanael declares – “You are the Son of God!” Jesus tells Nathanael, “You ain’t seen nothin’ yet!” (This is my translation, by the way.) He tells Nathanael something very intriguing… “Truly, truly, I say to you, you will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.” Here’s the entire exchange:

 

John 1.43-end: 35 The next day again John was standing with two of his disciples, 36 and he looked at Jesus as he walked by and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God!” 37 The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus. 38 Jesus turned and saw them following and said to them, “What are you seeking?” And they said to him, “Rabbi” (which means Teacher), “where are you staying?” 39 He said to them, “Come and you will see.” So they came and saw where he was staying, and they stayed with him that day, for it was about the tenth hour. 40 One of the two who heard John speak and followed Jesus was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. 41 He first found his own brother Simon and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which means Christ). 42 He brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon the son of John. You shall be called Cephas” (which means Peter).

43 The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, “Follow me.” 44 Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. 45 Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found him of whom Moses in the Law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” 46 Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.” 47 Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him and said of him, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit!” 48 Nathanael said to him, “How do you know me?” Jesus answered him, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.” 49 Nathanael answered him, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” 50 Jesus answered him, “Because I said to you, ‘I saw you under the fig tree,’ do you believe? You will see greater things than these.” 51 And he said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.

What is going on here? Jesus is declaring exactly who he is! He is telling them that he was the central – quiet – character in Jacob’s story. He is the avenue between Heaven and earth. He is the one whom angels use come and go in and out of our realm. He is the One whom the Father looks along to communicate with his children. He is the eternal connection. No mere mortal could ever claim to be the avenue in which angels come in and out of this world! He is the eternal access for us to ascend to the Father. Here, he is showing them that he is eternal and that he was there with Jacob and led him to the Father. He showed Jacob he has authority over the angels of Heaven. He gave Jacob the vision that he is the “ladder, staircase; way” to the Father. Later, Jesus tells his disciples directly and clearly that he is way. “Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’” (John 14.6)

According to Christians, Jesus is the way to God. We claim that Jesus is the only path to get to God. Why do we make this claim? Simple: it’s the claim that Jesus makes himself. However, with this story in view, we see that Jesus didn’t just say he was the way at one moment in history, but rather showed that he is the eternal access point to the Father. He is the Stairway to Heaven. He is the ladder that will lift us up to the glories of the Father’s throne, if we allow him to do so. However, if this is the case, we must also realize that it is an assent we cannot make on our own. We assume that we can make the assent ourselves or that there are other “ladders” to lead us to the Promised Land. This simply is not the case. We need divine help from the eternal One!

 


 

I hope you all enjoyed this first installment of “Threads of the Divine Nature of Jesus”. Please leave your thoughts on these passages. Hope you join next week for installment two – it may be a stormy ride…

Blessings,
Joshua

 

Published in: on 7 AMpSat, 11 Jan 2020 09:30:18 -050030Saturday 2016 at 9:30 am  Comments (3)  
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