Outward Appearance

The Pharisees, who loved money, heard all this and were sneering at Jesus. 15 He said to them, “You are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of others, but God knows your hearts. What people value highly is detestable in God’s sight. Luke 16:14-15

Chambord Chateau

As I walked down the gravel path, the roof of Chambord castle peaked above the trees. As I continued, it rose majestically stretching heavenward, the spires piercing the blue sky of Loire Valley. I stopped at the avenue and marveled at the 500-year-old chateau surrounded by manicured gardens and cobbled walkways. All the books and documentaries had not done justice to Chambord’s beauty. I entered the castle doors and into the foyer. Ahead of me, the heart of the chateau loomed DiVinci’s double helix staircase. I climbed the spiral stairs to the roof. Strolling through the spired towers, I marveled at the stonework, the detail, and beauty. The wind whipped my hair as my eyes scanned over the treetops across the acres of land that rolled out before me. Chambord certainly delivered on beauty and wonder. 

 As I descended the staircase, I took in each landing as I went — great empty galleries on each floor, illuminated by grand windows. Cold stone floors echoed the steps of other tourists as carved faces of wild beast watched them mill about. This magnificent chateau, with all its grandeur, was an empty shell. Never fully furnished, or inhabited, this chateau was never a home, only a part-time residence for royals. 

On my bus ride back to Paris, I thought about the empty chateau. All the external beauty, the intricate design, and gardens, yet there was nothing within — an empty stone shell. 

It is not just grand chateaus that display beauty, wealth, and project power, but many of us do it too. Often we spend time worrying about what our outside looks like to others and neglect our inside. Men may be making the judgment of the outside, but God sees the inside of a man. He looks at the heart, our motives, and our love for one another. Spend more time on the inside. Once the inside is right, it will shine on the outside. 

Typist for Jesus

Chambord

Where is Your Heart

King Tutankhamen
King Tutankhamen
“King Tut”

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:19-21

I stood before the broken and worn statue of King Tutankhamen. There was not much left of the artifact, a remnant of colorful paint clung to the sandstone, his eyes dark and piercing looked out over the excited crowd. Cameras clicked, and people murmured as I slowly circled the effigy. This was a moment I had only dreamed and never believed that I would realize. But here I was, amid relics over 3,000 years old. Amazing sculptures, gold, jewelry, and carvings all for the Egyptian king to take with him beyond this world. It was apparent that great care was taken to ensure the boy king would have all required as he passed from this realm to the next.  His tomb was decorated with scenes from life, instructions to overcome the obstacles he had to face as he journeyed through the underworld. The chambers in the tomb were filled with food, household goods, and items the king would need for his new life. All possibilities were thought of, and the tomb was filled to brimming with treasures. All that preparation, all those golden treasures and that care, yet the king left this world and could take none of it.

Unlike Tutankhamen, we have a hope that is not rooted in riches and deeds but in faith.  We do not have to concern ourselves with material goods or if our needs will be met in the next world.  Through Christ Jesus, we know that our debts are paid and our future is Heaven. Jesus tells us in the book of Matthew, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in Heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” 

If we are focused on earthly treasures and comforts, then that is where our hope will lie. King Tut’s hope of a future was the riches that filled his final resting place. Your hope is in Christ.

Typist for Jesus

Walking Through Manna

When the dew was gone, thin flakes like frost on the ground appeared on the desert floor.  When the Israelites saw it, they said to each other, “What is it?” For they did not know what it was.  Moses said to them, “It is the bread the Lord has given you to eat. Exodus 16:14-15

Have you ever prayed and over time began to wonder if you will be answered? Maybe you have been praying for days or even weeks. Perhaps you have been praying for years.  

I wonder how many answers to prayers I have missed because I was anticipating an answer that conformed to my notion of how it should be answered?

When Moses and the Israelites were in the wilderness, the people had many complaints. One complaint was that God had removed them from Egypt and their fires, where they had lots of meat and bread to sate them. After 400 hundred years of praying and anticipating freedom from captivity and slavery, they were upset with how they had been released. Somehow the grumbling of their bellies canceled out that the prayer had been answered. They were free. However, all they did was complain and whine because of the hardships they faced.  

As I was studying this week, I found myself reading the Exodus story. The Israelites named this substance, described to resemble coriander seed, manna. Manna means, “what is it?”. I can imagine the Israelites strolling through the manna. They are looking up in the trees all around the camp for the promised bread. All the while, they are walking all through the answer to their request. Manna was not the loaves of bread they had expected. Instead, the tiny seed-like substance had to be gathered, ground and made into a porridge or cakes. God provided the element they needed to prepare bread.

Often, the answer to prayer is not the baked, sliced, and packaged product we think it should be. Sometimes, it is the pieces you need to achieve the request. If God did everything for us, what would we learn? Without a doubt, God could have left loaves of bread outside every tent but in the end, what would it have accomplished? Just like children with parents that indulge and spoil, the Israelites would not have respected, obeyed, and loved God. We are the same. Sometimes the answer is not packaged, it is the needed ingredients.

Are you missing the answers to prayers because you are trying to identify them in the way you think it should be answered? Are you walking all over your manna?

In Isaiah 55:8, we are told,“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord.  

We cannot anticipate what form the answer will be by relying on our own thoughts, but we must pray for discernment and grace to recognize the answer when it is given. 

Typist for Jesus

You Have A Future And a Home

 For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come. Hebrews 13:14

This past week, I have seen several people on a particular corner on a major artery in my city. I have donated to these people a few times over the last few weeks. A couple of times this week, my attention was captured by a sign they had switched out holding. “It read: Jesus was homeless too.”

That sign lodged in my brain. I disagree, Jesus was not homeless, and neither are we.

Jesus, like us, was sent to this world to fulfill a mission. (John 3:17) This world, these problems, sickness, worries, heartaches, riches, and fame are temporal and are never meant to last. However, what you do in your time whether it is 30 or 80 years does last. It last in the people you touch and how your actions inspired them to continue. The Bible tells us that we are “strangers before you and sojourners, as all our fathers were. Our days on the earth are like a shadow, and there is no abiding.”

1 Chronicles 29:15.

You have a future, and it is not this earth or the things in this world. Your home is in heaven. Jesus tells us, “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.” John 14:3

Sometimes and I am very guilty of it, we focus on this problem, this election, this paycheck, this bill, and so on. These problems are temporary, and life has many ebbs and flows, but heaven is real, waiting, and forever.

You have a home with Jesus

Typist for Jesus

Breaking Bread

And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. Hebrews 10:14-25

Recently, my office moved to another location and joined with another department. It has been a difficult transition. The previous tenants had been laid off, leaving only 12 employees in the building. It had been a sad and challenging transition for everyone involved. Now my department and 10 others were coming to take over the building and move into offices that had belonged to co-workers. The building had been closed except for one corner for over three months. Moving in made us feel awkward. The team left behind suddenly was surrounded by new people, a sea of new faces. I can imagine that this was stressful on the team seeing new people in old colleague’s offices and cubicles. There was a palatable discomfort throughout the building.  

One team member from the new tenants called a little meeting and invited the team that we had moved in on. Her proposal, a potluck for the entire building. It was well-received. 

On an ordinary Tuesday, the entire building came together to break bread. The front office was filled with voices and laughter. A cornucopia of food lined the tables along the wall filling the office building with a mouthwatering aroma.  

It was amazing to see how sitting down to a meal, and talking to one another removed the fog of tension. That one person that stepped forward and made the gesture to pull everyone together at a table has made a difference to not just one or two but a whole community. An office is a community, each department bringing their expertise, knowledge, ideas, and thoughts to achieve a common goal. 

Throughout the Bible, we see examples where food and the dinner table have been the center of forming relationships, enjoyment, and communication. In the biblical book of Luke, there are ten references to Jesus and meals. I am going to look at three of those meals.

Jesus dined with enemies. No one was considered an enemy more than the tax collectors, yet Jesus ate with them and invited one to join with him and the disciples. (Luke 5:27-32) That would be like you or me having lunch with a local loan shark.

Jesus welcomed the unwelcomed (Luke 7:36-50) While in a “business meeting” with Simon the Pharisee, an uninvited guest showed up. (enter stage left the “sinful woman” 7:37) Jesus stopped the conversation to receive the woman. He knew her heart, she was seeking forgiveness. Simon was aghast. However, Jesus always stopped and ministered to those he encountered. Schedules and etiquette did not stand in his way.

Jesus used the simple meal to put the disciples and the men from Emmaus at ease. When the men that Jesus met on the road to Emmaus got back to the disciples to tell them that they had seen a ghost, Jesus appeared. (That was a room filled with confusion and fear) They had seen Jesus die on the cross, yet here he stood. What better way to prove he was real and not a ghost than to sit down and eat. But it was much more than just proof, he set them at ease by doing something they had done together for years, share meals. (Luke 24:36-43)

Though these stories have specific lessons to be learned, Jesus shared his meals chiefly to enjoy the fellowship. By spending time at the table, relationships were formed, walls were broken down, and communication was opened. 

Typist for Jesus

Heart Construction

“Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. Ezekiel 36:26

Since I have moved across town, my commute has changed. My route passes through the center of construction. Everyday traffic slows to a 35 mile an hour crawl funneled between orange and white barrels. Concrete walls are erected and removed overnight. It can be quite vexing at times. As our city grows, adjustments have to be made to accommodate. With people relocating to our town and our million visitors each year, we have to undergo some structure changes. No one enjoys the stop and goes of road construction. The dust, uneven payment, and disinterested stares of workers seemingly on a perpetual break. Traffic cones and flashing lights funneling commuters through the bottlenecks.
Just typing this description has raised my blood pressure.
In many ways, our journeys through life are much the same. We encounter detours, closed roads, and reduction of speed along our way. It is equally vexing and challenging. To grow in our journey with Jesus, we have to be open to change. Our hearts and attitudes need occasional upheavals to encourage growth, faith, and strength. We have to embrace the changes and focus on the ultimate outcome.
Once the construction is completed, traffic will move smoothly through the city. Extended lanes will give this significant artery ease. The barrels will eventually disappear, the dust will settle, and traffic will return to normal. In fact, it will be better.
If you are dealing with some heart and life construction, take heart. Focus not on the current state but look forward to the eventual outcome. You are undergoing these upheavals and changes so that Jesus can grow you. Growth cannot be accomplished without change.

Typist for Jesus