Thinking Out Loud

December 30, 2016

The Sermon on the Mount as Many Live It

Filed under: bible, Christianity — Tags: , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 7:37 am

Exactly four years ago to the day, we ran an item on the blog which had appeared a few days earlier, December 22, 2012 on the Huffington Post blog. It was a retelling of the story of The Good Samaritan by James Martin, a Catholic Priest and author of The Jesuit Guide to Almost Everything.

I was looking back at the original article at Huffington and noticed it was one of three such retold Bible passages which first appeared at The National Catholic Review. As I looked at the next one, which spoofs The Sermon on the Mount, it was clear why I’d run the one I did. Perhaps I lacked the courage to run this one.

But this year I realized that what follows is probably closer to the way we live our lives — yes, even Christians — and is a fairly good representation of how some people wish those chapters in Matthew actually were printed…

james-martinThe New Sermon on the Mount

1. When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying: 2. “Blessed are those who know how to defend themselves, for they will be secure. Blessed are those who arm themselves, for they will not be sorry. Blessed are those with one club, for they will be safe. 3. How much more blessed are those with two clubs, for they will be able to win a fight with those with one club. 4. Let the one who has two clubs buy four, and the one who has four buy ten. Let them increase clubs a hundredfold and a thousandfold.”

“But woe to you with no clubs, for you are asking for trouble. Woe to you who don’t arm yourselves heavily, for you’re just begging for people to steal your stuff. And I say, woe to you peacemakers, for you are wasting your time.” 5. The disciples were amazed. “Lord,” said Nathaniel, “Did you just say ‘Woe to the peacemakers?’ The last time you spoke on the Mount, you said they were blessed.” 6. “I changed my mind,” said Jesus. “Trying to make peace is impossible. Consider the world around you. Look at the beasts of the field. Do they not fight? Do they not tear each other apart with their sharp teeth? 7. It’s super dangerous. Do you think anyone can make peace? It’s a waste of time.” 8. The disciple whom Jesus loved said, “Lord, did you not tell us to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us?” 9. “I’m re-evaluating that too,” said Jesus. 10. The crowd began to murmur.

“Quiet!” said Jesus, rebuking them with a word. “Look,” said Jesus, “talking about peace and nonviolence is fine until someone asks for your cloak, which is exactly what happened to me yesterday. 11. A beggar tried to take my cloak.” The disciples waited on his word.

“Do you know what I did when he tried to take my cloak?” said Jesus. 13. James answered, “Lord, did you give him your cloak and some food as well?” “Are you kidding?” said Jesus, who was angry. “How long must I be with you? I beat him with my club. 14. That will teach people to try to take my clothes. That cloak cost five talents.” The disciples were filled with confusion and wondered what sort of teaching this was. 15. “Lord, how can we accept this teaching? It seems a violent way to live.” they said. “What about turning the other cheek?” Jesus looked at them with pity. 16. “Accept it or not,” he said. “All I can say is: Don’t be a wimp.”

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October 18, 2015

No Fear in Death

Filed under: Christianity, Faith — Tags: , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 8:42 am

Today we have a guest post by Rick Apperson. Well, Rick doesn’t actually know that yet, but we’ve known each other a long time (in blog years) and have shared content before. Rick blogs at Just a Thought and is a husband, father, Salvation Army pastor and author of Killed by the Church, Resurrected by Christ. You could keep going here, or you could send Rick some link love by clicking here to read.

No Fear in Death

I was preaching on heaven and hell recently.  As I spoke to the congregation, I said, “We are all going to die.  In fact every breath we take is one step closer to the end.”

I was taken aback when just then a man in the service began having a seizure.  He was OK and later that week he joked about how he had that seizure at that point in the message.  He was scared in the moment but later saw the humor in it.

Google the term “fear of death” and you will get 160,000,000 results.

160 Million!

Coping, overcoming, medical labels…there is a ton of stuff on the topic.  I get the sense that quite a few people out there must be afraid of dying.  I know that over the years I’ve been one of them.

As a kid I was afraid of the dark, afraid of death and at times afraid of my own shadow!  My fear of death was not so much the death itself but the possible pain involved in getting there.  I was afraid of the suffering and misery, the long goodbye that is often associated with death. Even after I became a believer in Jesus Christ, I was worried about death.  I have had panic attacks sitting in doctors offices, heart palpitation while getting x-rays and near nervous breakdowns waiting for test results.

I admit it.  I’ve been weak at times.

I know the Bible talks about fear. I quoted 2 Timothy 1:7 and Philippians 4:6-7 until I was blue in the face.  No matter what I did, fear would only be tamped down but for a moment.

I found Proverbs 12: 25 to be true. “Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad.”  I was being weighed down by my anxiety.

Yet today, I can testify that that fear is rapidly diminishing.  I have grown more comfortable in my own mortality. Through prayer and God speaking through a friend and brother, I have been healed of that anxiety.  I know I am going to die and I am ok with it.  My eternal destination is one I long for more than dread.

My son CJ and I had a conversations about heaven recently and listening to his child like faith, I found myself longing for the day I can spend eternity with no more pain, no more suffering, no more tears.

I get excited because I am literally dying to meet Jesus!

I came across this quote while reading a Civil War history book today:

“Captain, my religious belief teaches me to feel as safe in battle as in bed. God has fixed the time for my death. I do not concern myself about that, but to always be ready, no matter when it may overtake me. That is the way all men should live, and then all would be equally brave.” – General “Stonewall” Jackson.

“O DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR VICTORY? O DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR STING?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law; but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 15:55-57)

Victory in Jesus!

August 27, 2011

Need a Rescue?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 10:53 am

When Jesus’ teaching began to go a little deeper, and his many followers realized that staying with him wasn’t going to be a constant free potluck dinner, the scriptures record that some of them decided to go rabbi-shopping elsewhere.  Jesus turned to his core group and asked them, “Are you going to leave as well?” and Peter says, “Where else can we go?”

60On hearing it, many of his disciples said, “This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?”

 61 Aware that his disciples were grumbling about this, Jesus said to them, “Does this offend you? 62 Then what if you see the Son of Man ascend to where he was before! 63 The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you—they are full of the Spirit and life. 64 Yet there are some of you who do not believe.” For Jesus had known from the beginning which of them did not believe and who would betray him. 65 He went on to say, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled them.”

 66 From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.

   67 “You do not want to leave too, do you?” Jesus asked the Twelve.

 68 Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. 69 We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.”

It’s easy to think Peter was just choosing among several lousy options and saying, ‘Oh well… this will have to do… nothing better is going to come along….;’ and in so doing we miss the power of verse 69:

69 We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.”

Last night we spent some time with some people for whom the summer has brought their person version of what Paul Young would call “a great sadness.”  Maybe you’re dealing with something similar. For them, and for you, I want to share a song that has been on my heart all week.


You are the source of life
And I can’t be left behind
No one else will do
And I will take hold of You

‘Cause I need You Jesus
To come to my rescue
Where else can I go
There’s no other name
By which I am saved
Capture me with grace
I will follow You

My heart is Yours for life
I need Your hand in mine
No one else will do
I put my trust in You

I will follow You
This world has nothing for me
I will follow You
This world has nothing for me

I need You Jesus
To come to my rescue…

© 2003 Vertical Worship Songs (Admin. by Integrity Music, Inc.)
Jared Anderson

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