Several centuries ago, a Japanese emperor commissioned an artist to paint a bird. A number of months passed, then several years, and still no painting was brought to the palace. Finally the emperor became so exasperated that he went to the artist’s home to demand an explanation. Instead of making excuses, the artist placed a blank canvas on the easel. In less than an hour, he completed a painting that was to become a brilliant masterpiece. When the emperor asked the reason for the delay, the artist showed him armloads of drawings of feathers, wings, heads, and feet. Then he explained that all of this research and study had been necessary before he could complete the painting.
The word is preparation. One of the primary reasons for failure is lack of preparation. Are we preparing to succeed or setting ourselves up for failure? As in the story above, a person who is prepared for a task can easily accomplish it, but the unprepared flounder and fail.
When we go to church, our task is to worship God. Worship means to honor, respect or encounter. We cannot do any of these things unless we are prepared. Come to worship prepared to interact with God. He will pour out His blessings to you.
What do I love when I love God?
—– Augustine of Hippo
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Child psychologists tell us that children not only need, but want rules. “They require set limits to ensure them of the security and sense of control needed for proper development.”
Adolescents balk at rules. They seem to go all out to prove the old saying that, “Rules are meant to be broken.” They, too, are desperately groping for a boundary of comfort and safety, however.
Adults are generally regarded as “rule setters.” We use our wisdom and life experience to make those rules we feel are important for our children’s well-being.
I don’t know about you, but when I am exhausted by life’s demands or find myself out of resources to deal with a difficult situation, I long for a set of rules for the game of life. I would enjoy giving up the gut-wrenching decisions and judgment calls of life, for a set of rules that would free me of the awesome responsibility of the moment.
If you have ever wanted someone to tell you what to do and relieve you of your burden of responsibility – GREAT NEWS! Romans 12:9-21 gives us ten rules for a successful life:
1. Love sincerely.
2. Hate evil.
3. Honor others.
4. Have joy, hope, and patience.
7. Be good to your enemies.
8. Get along.
9. Don’t be conceited.
10. Don’t get back.
Paul wrote these words to a group of beleaguered and persecuted Christians in the huge pagan city of Rome almost 2,000 years ago. The payoff for following the rules for those first century Christians is exactly the same for us today and is found in verse 21. “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” Be assured of this promise – good overcomes evil – always!
- Evil/Health (christianheinitz.wordpress.com)
Anicius Manlius Severinus Boethius, commonly called Boethius, was a philosopher of the early 6th century. He is venerated by the Roman Catholic Church as a martyr and saint. Boethius was both a Christian and a Hellenist, a truly rare combination. His passion in life was a closer relationship between the empires of Rome and Constantinople, and for that passion, he was jailed and executed. I share this prayer of Boethius.
Bless me in this life with but peace of my Conscience, command of my affections, the love of Thy self and my dearest friends, and I shall be happy enough to pity Ceasar. These are, O LORD, the humble desires of my most reasonable ambition, and all I dare call happiness on earth; wherein I set no rule or limit to Thy Hand or Providence. Dispose of me according to the wisdom of Thy pleasure: Thy will be done, though in my own undoing.
One person armed with the Gospel of peace can change the world. Telemachus did. Who was Telemachus? He was a monk who lived in the 5th century, and his story is a story of courage. He felt God saying to him, “Go to Rome.” Since he was in a cloistered monastery, he put his possessions in a sack and set out for Rome. When he arrived in the city, people were thronging in the streets. He asked why all the excitement and discovered it was the day the gladiators would be fighting in the coliseum, the day of the games, the circus. He thought to himself, “Four centuries after Christ and they are still killing each other, for enjoyment?” When Telemachus ran to the coliseum and heard the gladiators saying, “Hail to Caesar, we die for Caesar” and he thought, “this isn’t right.” Jumping over the railing he went out into the middle of the field, got between two gladiators, and tried to stop them. The crowd became enraged and stoned the peacemaker to death.
Perhaps this is a legend, or perhaps it is history. I do not claim that I can verify this story, but I will say that the truth within speaks loudly to each of us. All too often, we sit idly by and allow so much evil to go on around us. The moral of this story is very simple: when you see injustice or wrong doing, do something. Just imagine for a moment what the world we be like if we took upon ourselves the spirit of Telemachus. The hungry would be fed, the unloved would be loved, the neglected would be treated with regard, and all this would be done by Christians and not the government. Utopia, you say. Maybe, but do something today.
- Obedience to Change History (k2association.wordpress.com)
English: Roman Centurion (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Bible shows us a very real person. He can be found in the book of Luke 23:47&48. Rome had many burly, manly men. They had been hardened by war and the type of depravity that came with it. There was a Roman centurion in charge of Jesus following his arrest. His behavior can serve as an inspiration about being real.
My assumption is that he was like all other centurions of his day. He had proven himself in battle. His loyalty to Caesar was unquestioned. The Centurion was a man to be looked up to and modeled. All these things, as good as they are, do not make you a real person. The Centurion did, however, possess some qualities that made him real and worthy of being a role model for us today.
1.The real person Listens.
The Centurion walked with Jesus as he carried his cross up to Calvary. He heard those who ridiculed him . He saw those who worshipped him. He heard it all.
2. The real person Acknowledges.
When all was said and done, the Centurion looked up at Jesus on the cross and said, “ This was truly the son of God .”
3. The real person Feels
I believe the Centurion felt the pain of Jesus as he went through torture, public humiliation, and finally a very painful death. Throughout all of this he became increasingly empathetic with Jesus.
4. The real person Takes Risks.
When the Centurion acknowledged Jesus as the Son of God, he opened himself up to criticism from all sorts of places. The Romans could say that he was not worshipping the gods of Rome. The Jews could say he was just crazy. It didn’t matter, because he was real.
Let’s all try to be as real as the Roman Centurion. I don’t know about you, but I like real people.
- Light bulb moments (irenefrances.wordpress.com)