Sermon on the Mount Series · Thoughts

Wait. Is summer almost over?

Well, it’s been awhile. It’s not that I haven’t been studying God’s word or knitting, just that I haven’t been writing here. If you look for my posts and were missing them, I would ask that you pray for me when you notice I’m not posting. I know the last few weeks I’ve been struggling with some family things, and just finding the thoughts and words that God wants me to share here. Prayer always helps.

How’s your summer been? As a substitute teacher, summer is when I have space. I used to go to the pool in that space. However, the pool we were members of for 15 years, closed last year. So this summer the space has been spent doing other things. I have spent a lot of time with my daughter this summer. At 23 I am enjoying friendship with her. We have had multiple zoo visits and dog walks this summer, along with some hard things that had to be done. I finished editing the Bible quiz questions for this coming year. We will be studying James and Romans, and I am now looking for teams to join us. I have also been doing a lot of reading and study on Romans for another project. I have read some books (a biography of Eugene Peterson, A Burning in my Bones by Winn Collier, and Somebody’s Daughter by Ashley Ford were highlights) and listened to some podcasts (The Holy Post always has me thinking). Plus the Olympics are on, which is always entertaining.

As far as knitting goes, I have made a wrap using Hedgehog Skinny Singles (the bottom picture is while it was drying). And I am working on a lacy vest. I’ll post a pic when it’s done. I’m close! The other pictures are from pattern websites. I finished the pink sweater on the left in variegated gray yarn with Manos del Uruguay Fino yarn. I have started the blue sweater in grey Shibui yarns. I am making a longer version of the short sweater in the crazy purple yarn from Baah!. I know all of the yarn brands go over most of your heads, but if you knit, it’s important.

As summer ends, I am considering a long-term teaching job again. This time I would be teaching science. I enjoy the unscheduled-ness of summer, but since last year had so much time that was unscheduled, a schedule is starting to sound good. But I haven’t bit the bullet yet and agreed.

We are finishing up the Sermon on the Mount at Avalon. We have been covering verses from Matthew 7 that talk about how we judge others’ specks while we have planks in our eyes. Not throwing our pearls before swine. (Big question: what is sacred? Your time? Your money? What?) Asking, seeking and knocking. Those are action verbs. We do something. We ask. We seek. We knock. And then we receive, find, and have the door opened. It doesn’t just happen. There is an expectation that we are looking for God if we want to find Him. The golden rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. This sums up the law and the prophets according to Jesus. All of these sermons had great points, and you can check them out at avalonmc.com. But I didn’t write blog posts those weeks. I am writing this week, so what was last week’s sermon?

Rick Dugan came and talked about the narrow and the wide gates. The narrow gate has a hard road. It isn’t easy like the wide gate’s road. We are fighting against the current of the culture when we take the narrow road. But (and it’s a big but) , it’s worth it! The narrow gate and the hard road lead to LIFE! Life instead of destruction. The passage doesn’t say eternal life, though that’s part of it. it just says LIFE. We can have LIFE now.

I think we can live our days without true LIFE pretty easily. It’s easy to fall into a routine of the daily grind and miss the LIFE that Jesus wants to give us. In John 10:10 Jesus says, “I came that they may have LIFE and have it to the FULL!” Not boring, but as some versions say ABUNDANT LIFE.

I don’t know about you, but it’s hard to see the abundant life that Jesus offers sometimes. I wonder if that’s because we look at what’s going on around us. We start to look at the hard road. At the rocks. Or we look at the people on the easy road and wonder why our road doesn’t look like that. We stop looking at the destination, where we are headed and drift into the other lane. Jesus says it isn’t easy, it’s hard. We need to focus on the destination of LIFE and take our eyes off of the other things.

The Olympics are happening right now, and one of the sports I have seen is rowing. The canoe sprints seem to be a new event. If you watch them, the paddlers are completely focused on where they are going and paddling with all their might to get there. They are on their knees in the boat, almost standing as they pull for the finish line. If they decided to stop paddling and look around, they could drift anywhere on that river. But they are focused on the destination. And they are pulling with everything they’ve got. That should be us. We should be focused on Jesus, who is the life, and seeking with all our might to get there.

Laurence Vincent-Lapointe, of Canada, competes during the canoe sprint women’s C-1 200m semi-finals at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Thursday, Aug. 5, 2021, in Tokyo, Japan. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

The Chosen (a multi-episode, multi-season show about Jesus) has a new line of clothing with the saying, “Binge Jesus”. There is the obvious idea that you should watch the show. (I recommend it unlike most other Jesus films I’ve seen. They have an app where you can watch it for free.) But also just binge Jesus. Read what he has to say in the Bible. Focus on Jesus. Watch Jesus. Live for Jesus. Talk to Jesus. Seek Jesus. Because if you ask, seek, and knock, he’ll answer. You will find. And the door will be opened to you.

I don’t think I’ve wasted my summer by any means. But I’ve probably drifted some days. Let this be my encouragement to not just you, but myself as well. Don’t let your life drift away. Take the narrow gate and the hard road. Focus on the destination of life and the person of Jesus. If we truly lived that way, others would want to join us.

May you be blessed by God’s word today and have a great rest of the summer.

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