The Beatitudes in My Life

book cover

Where did this book begin?  I must first return to God’s great “reaching down” to me as a junior at Samford University. He shattered my comfortable Christian confidence with the realization that, even though I knew a lot about Jesus, I had never met Him personally.  I was overwhelmed with my spiritual poverty and eagerly opened my heart for Christ to take up residence inside. From that moment on my life was never the same. Jesus gave me the great sense of purpose for which I had long been seeking. Now I had a reason to live!

map of Bangladesh

Jesus seized my adventuresome spirit after graduation to send me to Bangladesh, on the other side of the world, for two years as a missionary journeyman with the Foreign Mission Board.  Life thereBangladesh Street Scene was like being on another planet:  the men wore “lungis” (skirts instead of pants), one ate with your hand (not a fork), and daily life reeled with extreme poverty, suffering and starvation.  Yet in this cultural catharsis, God displayed countless moments of mercy. Very wise missionary mentors, intriguing international colleagues, and cherished Bengali friendships blessed my life. God erased my fears for Him to control my future and He planted a strong missions seed in my heart. As I crossed the tarmac to board the plane home, I knew I would return to the mission field one day, but where–when–and doing what?–I had no clue.

UABAfter a year’s sojourn as auditor for the State of Tennessee, I marched into the office of Emmett Johnson, CEO of Baptist Medical Centers of Birmingham, seeking an opportunity to learn about the hospital world.  Instead of offering employment, Emmett sagely directed me down the street to the Masters of Healthcare Administration program at the University of Alabama in Birmingham, where they accepted me on the spot. I never expected to enter hospital administration so quickly, but God’s plans were ordering my steps, and I meekly yielded to His direction.

This Masters program included class work and a residency. HowNMMC would I know where to go”? God always answers, and provided an overwhelming sense of direction toward North Mississippi Medical Center in Tupelo. There I encountered a spiritual and professional environment beyond all expectations, fostered by President and CEO, Dan Wilford. My time at NMMC was the ultimate preparation for the myriad of challenges waiting on the mission field.

At the five year mark, God spoke again, “It’s time to go!” and Heswbts-logo directed me to Southwestern Theological Seminary in Texas. To a Southern boy, crossing the mighty Mississippi was akin to driving off the edge of the world. But my first week in the “wilderness” I met Jean Griffin who ten months later would become my bride and wondrous wife. At seminary a ravenous hunger for His Word took hold of my heart and mind.  Jean and I were ready to go and serve, but our adventure was only beginning!

wedding

(to be continued…later this week!)

BECOMING PREPARED FOR HEAVENLY LIVING

“And the day of one’s death is better than the day of one’s birth.”
Ecclesiastes 7:10

Jesus awaits us in Heaven

Every believer in Christ is Divinely assured of a reservation and residence in Heaven. This marvelous promise is the result of the most important decision we make in life—to accept Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord. But a deeper question we should ponder is, “How well prepared are we for ‘after-life living’?” It won’t be anything like where we now reside.

IMAGINE: Beauty beyond all human comprehension and Celestial Citydimension
A place of perfection, holiness, and peace
A kingdom centered totally on God and Christ
An eternal pastime adoring Our God
Reuniting with beloved “saints” from our earthly life
Encounters with those who you helped guide to Heaven
No ending, ever, ever, never!

And there much more to Heaven than even all this. Every aspect of Heaven is diametrically opposed to life on earth. When we leave this life, how prepared will we be for Heavenly citizenship? How much adapting will be necessary? Just “being” a believer does not fully equip us for Heaven!Heaven-Streets of gold

Christ left effective instructions to alter us for the gigantic change of Celestial Living—they are The Beatitudes. They not only make us the “who” we were meant to be, enable us to live as Jesus did upon this earth, but will “elevate” us for eternal existence in Heaven:

• No spiritual pride will contaminate us—we are impoverished saints “purchased” by Christ. Our only desire is to “show off” His cross.
• No burdens will drag us down—we have released all our mournings to our whole new Morning, and He is carrying them for us.
• No “self” is stealing our attention —Christ beams through us like a headlight to others
• We are well nourished “specimens” of Heavenly Knowledge from His mighty Word.
• Mercy empowers our mentality, Grace and forgiveness are our creed.
• Our hearts are pure and transparent before God and man.
• His peace pushes us in this world, and as we branch out from the Vine to bring others into His Kingdom
• We are prepared to suffer persecution, facing up to evil for our Lord.

As you complete the Beatitudes Quest, not only has your heart, soul, and mind been transformed, your impact for Christ has been magnified in this world. You now anxiously await Heavenly living. Not much change will be required of you from this world to the next. Although we will be changed “in the twinkling of an eye” your Heavenly mindset has already been established on earth!
“Precious in the sight of God is the death of one of His godly ones.”

Ecclesiastes 9:10

Light to Heaven

A WELL EQUIPPED SAINT
My spiritual pride is now crucified,
I’m totally immersed in the Creator of this universe.
Lord, my burdens I release to You,
to carry them all and see me through.
My devotion to self is now on the back seat,
You drive me, Lord, my life is Your treat.
I want to know You as never before—
as my King, My Lord, and life’s open Door.
Mercy reigns in me through your incomparable grace,
may others in me see only Your face.
Purge my heart and keep me pure.
Direct me to others to offer Your only Cure.
Help me promote Your peace on this earth,
A difference maker bringing others Your second birth.
And when persecution raises its dark, ugly head,
Lord, I’m living in You, I’ll never be dead!
Just welcomed into Heaven from this world of strife,
where Jesus will reveal His beautiful tapestry of my life.

Jesus welcomes us to heaven

Listen to this amazing Heavenly Homecoming song by Casting Crowns, “Already There”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qrOotpSKOX0

Jesus Lived the Beatitudes on Earth

Beatitudes -3 Jesus was the great “I AM” and CenterPeace of every Beatitude and while on earth He lived out each one to its fullest extent.  He left us the Beatitudes so we can live as He did upon this earth!  

The poor in spirit  Our Lord, Jesus Christ, stepped out of eternity, His heavenly home, and Celestial Kingdom to become mere mortal for us.  He relinquished all His rightful riches to become totally destitute for us.  His poverty bought us eternal life.

Jesus wept-1

Those who mourn   Our Savior poured out compassion on every person who crossed His path. He released His incomparable consolation upon them and assumed the weight of their burdens.  “He wept” with Mary and Martha for Lazarus, even though He knew His friend was about to “awake”. Jesus was spiritually sensitive to all suffering surrounding Him. He empowers us to do the same.

The meek   Jesus’ pilgrimage on earth was not at all about Him.  “My food and drink is to do the will of my Father.”  Jesus constantly “turned His cheek” to never be distracted from The Perfect Plan.  In the garden Jesus submitted His will wholly to the Father. “Not my will, but Thine be done.” Jesus’ meekness brought glory to God and an eternal inheritance to us.  Our meekness will usher many into His kingdom.

Those who hunger and thirst after righteousness   Jesus is the Bread of Life.  He fed the Word daily to His disciples and the multitudes that followed Him.  Jesus dispensed heavenly wisdom wherever He went.  Our obedience in love defines who we are and declares His Message to others.

Adulterous woman

The merciful   Jesus was mercy incarnate, incredibly redeeming lives of the lost—the adulterous woman about to be stoned, the lepers exiled from humanity, and Peter after denying His Lord. In the midst of His merciless execution Jesus’s mercy exploded, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do!”  His mercy floods through us and rules our relationships—just as Jesus lived on earth.

The pure in heart   Jesus’ power was purity and the transparency of an open and inviting Heart.  Jesus was precisely the Person people saw.  He perceived the heart of each onlooker and loved them all the way.  Jesus, intimately connected with His Father,  saw the world through His Father’s eyes.  We are to live in a single and transparent heartbeat with Our Savior and Lord.

Jesus baptized

The peacemakers   Jesus as a peacemaker broke all the norms of His day, whether conversing with the Samaritan women at the well or extending forgiveness to the repentant thief on the cross beside Him.  Jesus perpetually reached out to reconcile others to Him and they now surround Him in heaven.  His Spirit launches us into peacemaking missions every single day.

Those persecuted for righteousness sake   Jesus’ persecution permeated every plane of His existence: betrayed by His very own, attacked with unjust accusations, lashed as a common criminal, pierced with thorns, punctured with spikes and a spear, parched with thirst, racked with pain, ranted by Satan, and abandoned by His Father.  Yet He endured it all to secure our salvation.  Persecution cannot detour nor defraud us, as His followers—it is the evil we must bear for eternal purposes, just as did He!

 _64857147_jesus-(ferdinand-kingsley)-On the cross every Beatitude was personified in Christ

His human poverty emptied out in blood, His mourning was multiplied, His meekness was magnified, the Bread of Heaven was broken, His mercy reigned, His pure heart absorbed the evilness of our sin, He made Peace between God and man, and He was persecuted for our un-righteousness.

 The Beatitudes empower us to live as Jesus did upon the earth and to faithfully to follow His example.  He is our reason for living and we must let Him live fully in us and allow Him to make us the who He created us to be.

Jesus is the CenterPeace of the Beatitudes

JESUS is theCenter Peace-2

of the

Beatitudes

I am- 2 reveals the central essence of any being.  Jesus proclaimed incredibly powerful and promise filled  “I AM” statements while here on earth.  They reveal the myriad of life changing miracles He seeks to instill in our lives.  Jesus is the “I AM” of each Beatitude, empowering each one to become real in us.

hands, cross, Holy SpiritBlessed are the poor in spiritWe are merely destitute spiritual beggars before our majestic and perfect God.  Jesus offers His cross to each of us to claim and carry.  I AM  the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and no one comes to the Father except through Me.  Take up the cross of Christ. It is our lone spiritual asset and the only True passageWay into Life in the Beatitudes.

Blessed are those who mourn…Life on earth is draped with heavyspring water burdens that weaken and weary, leaving us parched and paralyzed.  Jesus declares, “I AM” rivers of living water for all who thirst, and whoever drinks of Me will never thirst again.  Jesus is the everlasting spring of comfort and consolation welling up in us.  He yearns to carry our burdens and refresh us with continually replenishing peace and consolation.

Jesus is the truthBlessed are the meek… Our “self” seeks to deceive and defraud us of our true spiritual inheritance.  “I AM” the truth and the truth shall set you free—free from our selfish “self” to let Jesus  grow within and glow through us for the entire world to see. Jesus becomes the mighty ME in our meekness and me-less-ness.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after Jeus breadrighteousness… Our insatiable appetite to know God is abundantly satisfied in Christ.  “I AM”the bread of life come down from heaven and all who partake of Him will never falter for filling from His Word.

resurrectionBlessed are the merciful… God’s mercy allows us to be remade. “I AM” the resurrection and the life and whoever believes in Me shall never die. Mercy gives grace, crucifies our past, sparks a new eternity, and fills us with passion to forgive as Christ to all in our path.

Blessed are the pure in heart… A pure heart stands stark-consuming firenaked before God. “I AM” the light of the world, and when Jesus directs His holy light into the entrails of our open hearts, all sin is revealed and any spiritual interference cries out to be eliminated—WHEN, we let Him cleanse us before God and before our fellow man.  Pure relationships  display a dazzling witness on earth for Him.

fruitBlessed are the peacemakers… When mercy and purity generate all our actions and reactions His peace reaches through us to others.  “I AM” the vine and you are the branches, without Me you can do nothing.  Jesus empowered peacemaking produces branches heavy laden with fruit for His kingdom.

Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake… Effective peacemaking produces persecution.  “I AM” life, and you will never die. Jesus promises to a life totally surrendered to Him.  We are the headlights of His light in this obscure and wayward world.  His light within is our consuming fire.  The persecuted attract attention as Satan attempts to extinguish our Light, but these efforts are futile because our Light is lit for eternity.

light of the world

 The Beatitudes unleash Jesus’ great “I am’s” in us. “He is”—we aren’t. He will bless and use us in wondrous ways we can never imagine.  Let the Beatitudes BE in you. Take up the Beatitudes Quest today. Come BE totally with Him!accross the bridge

Listen to “Center”, by Charlie Hall–it is this message in song.