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Mark 8:34 happens to be one of my favorite Bible verses. This verse popped up at me before I was even a Christian while working on my adventure blog ‘The Adventurist”. A few years ago I wrote an article about a man who decided to take this verse literally. He built a large wooden cross and decided to carry it around the world. He would walk with this life-sized cross and preach to those that would listen. I am not sure that this was completely what was in mind when this verse was written, but God has still used this man to spread his word through the use of a single verse from the Bible.
This past week I put up an update on Facebook that simply said:
What does this mean?? “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” Mark 8:34
This has lead to an in-depth study and discussion on this very intriguing verse. We were all in agreement that “he must deny himself” means that we have to walk away from our own selfishness in order to follow Christ. What does it mean to “take up his cross”?
Someone very close to me once said that meditation was anti-Christian. Their thoughts on this was that meditation is generally associated with far eastern cultures, namely Buddhism. We all know that Buddhist monks can spend years meditating, trying to gain their eternal enlightenment. I can see why people generally associate meditating with anti-Christian thoughts. Did you know that the Bible also speaks of meditating?
My curiosity got the best of me today and I decided to do some research on Christians and meditation. This all started out on a blog post about something called “The Daily Examen” that I read on the Healthy Spirituality blog. (This blog has been added to my blogroll.)
The Daily Examen is a technique of prayerful reflection on the events of the day in order to detect God’s presence and discern his direction for us. The Examen is an ancient practice in the Church that can help us see God’s hand at work in our whole experience. (from Ignatian Spirituality)
Basically, this is a concept used to meditate on God about your daily life. This religious activity was developed by St. Ignatius Loyola as a means to get very close with God, while sharing all of your highs and lows pertaining to a 24 hour period. After reading about “The Daily Examen”, I began to wonder if meditating was actually against Christian beliefs. I know that there are Catholic monks in the world, but I do not have a clue as to what their spiritual walk is like and if they meditate or not.
I am writing this post to remind myself of a few things that my family done over the course of this past week. Halloween week is always hard when you have little ones in the family. We decided to take the ‘safe’ route this year and participate in some of the activities that our community has to offer. This basically meant that in today’s society we don’t trust the act of door-to-door trick or treating. I know I am not alone on this. Craig Ferguson, the late night talk show host, went on to add that it is strange that for 364 days of the year we teach and tell our kids not to take candy from strangers–but then that last day, we let them do it as much as they want. I found that funny and ironic.
This year we visited our community’s annual Halloween Health Fair. I know this doesn’t sound very exciting to most, but it was still fun for us and completely free. Our children were able to play lots of games, received free healthy snacks and prizes, and even got to play on a very large inflatable slide. They also enjoyed being able to see all the other children’s costumes. I tried to get them to follow me in to the Healthy Halloween haunted house, but it didn’t quite work out this year. Maybe next year.
After the excitement of the Healthy Halloween fair, Cassie and I were able to follow it up by putting on the preschool “Harvest” party. This is a new concept, but a good one for a church sponsored preschool. We were a few of the parents that provided snacks, games, and crafts for the children to enjoy. We also done all of the planning. The one thing we learned for the upcoming Christmas party–MORE CRAFTS! The kids loved them and so did the parents. The kids all got to dress up and had fun spending the day playing and crafting. They also really enjoyed the ‘mud pudding’ and attacking me with their spider rings. Just imagine a big football pile-up involving myself and 13 preschoolers. It was fun, but they almost got the best of me!
Sunday was our last ‘Halloween’ activity. We took the girls to our local car museum’s ‘Trunk or Treat.’ This basically involved walking around the three floors of antique vehicles and visiting some of the scary folks passing out candy to the children. They also had a game room for the girls, face painting, and tattoos! The girls really seemed to have a good time this year and never even asked when we were going to go door-to-door!
The first and the third things mentioned should become yearly rituals for our family. They are nice, safe, and fun. Ugh. I hate to say this, but CHRISTMAS is on the horizon!!
This is the beginning to a very simple prayer that I learned as a child. It went something like this: “God is good. God is great. Thank-you Lord for this plate. Amen.” We use to start every meal with this simple prayer. I bring up this old memory because it was brought up to me just the other day. Cassie and I were sitting around the dinner table. We were getting ready to chow down. Elizabeth, the middle child, spoke up and said that we needed to pray before we eat. She is five. Her prayer was a little different, but not much. She said: “God is good. God is great. Thank-you lord for this dinner. Amen.”
It is funny how something so simple can be a huge SIGN for what we need to do. With those simple words, she refreshed my memory of things that I remembered doing as a child. I mentioned that my family is ‘new’ to the Christian faith in a previous post. Elizabeth busted out this simple little message and totally took my breathe away. She is 5. She took the initiative to stop everyone from what they were doing, straightened her back, and said those words. She didn’t care who was listening. She just wanted to thank God for what lay before us. I think many of us could learn a lesson here. Sometimes the simplest of things can provide the most reward.
Elizabeth was thankful for her food. We are thankful that now our family will be praying before each and every meal. She planted a seed that will be growing for years to come. Tonight she made all of us proud. Thank-you Lizabee for letting God work wonders through you and opening up the eyes of all of us! Praise God!
I have been contemplating the start of a weekly Bible study for about a month now. I have really felt led by God to do this. I grew up in a christian family (my father is a preacher) and have recently renewed my own faith. Cassie is absolutely new to all of this and feels a bit intimidated or inadequate. She is a new believer and probably feels the way most new believers do. “Where do I begin?”
I thought a good way to introduce her to some of the concepts and beliefs of Christianity would be to start a Bible study with her. The question then became “Will she do this with me?” and “What kind of Bible study do we need?”
While walking through our local Salvation Army last week. I felt some books just jumping out at me. One of these books was “A Handbook for Christian Maturity” by Bill Bright. I thought that this would be a simple read-through book on how to expand my personal faith. When I got the book home and finally flipped through it, I discovered that this book was exactly the type of thing I was looking for.
I purchased an antique copy of Pinocchio, the children’s classic story that was later made into a classic Walt Disney film, at our local library today for $1.00. I brought it home and started doing some research on the book. Here are a few things that I found out about this particular book, and Pinocchio in general.
The book was published in 1940 by Rand McNally & Company out of Chicago, Illinois. Coincidentally, this is the same year that the Walt Disney classic animated film was also released. The book is one of a series of books that Rand McNally & Company released as part of the “Windermere Series” of children’s classics. This series was published, and I am just guessing from similar books that I have read about today, from 1916 to 1940. This would be one of the later books of that series.
Brief Moments of Happiness is now a proud member of the Christian Bloggers Network on Facebook. We now join over 1,000 christian bloggers (wow!) from all over the world who are trying to spread the message of Jesus Christ and the life we lead. This could open up some opportunities to some great content, collaborations, and introductions to some really great Christian Bloggers. I have added a badge to the right sidebar to express this new membership. If you are a Christian blogger, I urge you to please do the same. I am excited about this opportunity and look forward to working with this great Facebook group in the future.
It was absolutely fantastic to see the Chilean mine workers being rescued this past week. Thirty-three of them had spent a total of 70 days trapped inside the Chilean coal mine 2,000 feet below the surface. Many people were asking how they all survived in those conditions for so long. One thing that quickly became evident during this past week’s rescue was how much faith, hope, and love played a role in their survival. These men were physically rescued by an army of individuals working 24 hours a day. Spiritually, they were rescued by One.
The CNN Belief blog, a blog reporting on faith roles happening in today’s news, has posted a great article about the absolute faith these miner’s shared. The trapped Chilean coal miners would hold two prayer services a day. They also had access to audio versions of the JESUS film and The New Testament. The T-shirts the rescued Chilean coal miner’s came out wearing featured emblems for The Jesus Film Project, a ministry of Campus Crusade for Christ International. The shirts featured a front logo stating “Gracias Senor” or “Thank-You, Lord” and on the back was printed Psalms 95:4. The shirts were a gift from Campus Crusade for Christ, Chile.
One of my favorite passages from The Bible revolves around Mathew 7:7-8:
“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.”
We are told to ask, seek, and knock, for those things that we need. When we accepted Christ in our hearts as Lord and Savior–we had to SEEK a different way of life, KNOCK on Heaven’s door hoping that Christ would answer, and then ASK him for total forgiveness of our sins and for a new way of life. These aren’t merely words to inspire. These are words that hold certain truths not only in Christ, but in everyday life.