Followers of Jesus

Followers of Jesus are from many nations. They care about each other enough to gather together in small groups on a regular basis.  They think together, discuss together, pray together, and play together in order to learn, little by little, to:

  • Love unconditionally
  • Serve God and not money
  • Humble themselves
  • Give without seeking a return
  • Empower, and not control
  • Show mercy, not revenge
  • Seek justice and freedom for all people
  • Encourage, and not discourage
  • Spread hope, and not despair
  • Believe, and not doubt

They have decided to seek to do this together in order to establish throughout the world a “revolution of love” so powerful that the division and animosity separating people and nations will be greatly eliminated or replaced by the spirit of forgiveness and reconciliation as modeled by Jesus of Nazareth.

Jesus said this can only be accomplished by the transformation of the human heart by the power of God and not man; which is causing them, step by step, to begin to:

  • Think like Jesus
  • Talk like Jesus
  • Act like Jesus
  • Love like Jesus

This then, is creating a climate throughout the world where men and women will find that the order of the day is:

  • To see the invisible 
  • To believe the incredible
  • To do the impossible

In spite of the fact that many think this is an unachievable dream, a follower of Jesus is learning to become a better citizen, not only as part of their own nation but also as a citizen of the world.  They are learning on a day to day basis what it means to “love God and to love their neighbor as themselves.” They are brothers and sisters according to the command of Jesus. 

They are learning to love and forgive their enemies. They are experiencing, in some small degree, the liberating power of “doing unto others what they would want others to do unto them.”

Governor David Beasley

2013 Gathering, Arkansas 4-H Center

Becoming Free of Guilt

According to Wikipedia, “Guilt is an emotional experience [a feeling] that occurs when a person believes or realizes—accurately or not—that they have compromised their own standards of conduct or have violated universal moral standards and bear significant responsibility for that violation.”  It is what we feel when we believe we have done something wrong.

One of the most critical distinctions in human experience is the ability to discern between true guilt and false guilt. 

True Guilt

From a Christian perspective, when we sin, the Holy Spirit convicts us and we experience true guilt (true guilt for true sin). 

  • When we repent of that sin, we are then free of it, and the Lord remembers it no more.
  • If we sin against another person and humbly ask that person for forgiveness, we are then free of that sin and the guilt that comes with it, regardless of whether that person forgives us or not.
  • If that person refuses to forgive us, then they have sinned in the eyes of the Lord.
  • Of course there may be consequences for our sin, such as being sent to prison for robbing a bank.
  • This is why Christians experience such tremendous freedom – because of this mechanism to resolve conflict, become free of sin, and therefore become free to enjoy the joy of the Lord.

False Guilt

False guilt comes from other people or from our culture.

  • Although the guilt may feel the same, it is false and has no sound basis.
  • From another person, it may be in the form of “should” – you should do this or you should not do that. 
  • Or it may be in the form of accusations or I win scenarios.  The other person may even mean well, but it is still false guilt as they try to get you to do something.
  • An example of false guilt from culture include taboos against minorities speaking out – not “staying in their place” in society.

Dealing with Guilt

  • Sometimes the best way to recognize false guilt is to step back and reflect on statements or behavioral patterns of people we interact with.
  • Questions to ask:
    • Is it really true?
    • Is the guilt based on true sin against the Lord and other people?  If so, repent quickly to get rid of it, and you will be free. 
  • If you struggle with some sin (and there are many), ask the Lord to help you deal with it.
  • To deal with a person who is projecting false guilt on you, make sure you have your spiritual armor on (Ephesians 6:10-20), and seek to respond with compassion, love and truth.  Ask the Lord how best to respond.

Political Ideologies and Truth

  • Political ideologies are important elements of culture and therefore sources of guilt.
  • Political ideologies, such as the isms (communism, socialism, capitalism, scientism, democracy, left vs. right, Democrat vs. Republican, social justice vs. classical justice, BLM, etc.) are WORLD VIEWS – a set of perspectives on how to see the world.  In many respects they are the color of glasses we wear as we encounter the world.
  • While each of them contain some truth, none of them are totally true.  And it is truth that will set us free.

Mark Peterson

And Then It Is Winter

THIS IS RIGHT ON THE NOSE. …….READ IT SLOWLY… I DON’T KNOW WHO WROTE IT, BUT I AM GUESSING IT WAS A SENIOR!!! I FIRST STARTED READING THIS EMAIL & WAS READING FAST UNTIL I REACHED THE THIRD SENTENCE.

 I STOPPED AND STARTED OVER READING SLOWER AND THINKING ABOUT EVERY WORD THIS EMAIL IS VERY THOUGHT-PROVOKING.MAKES YOU STOP AND THINK.  

AND THEN IT IS WINTER You know. . . time has a way of moving quickly and catching you unaware of the passing years.  It seems just yesterday that I was young, just married and embarking on my new life with my mate.

Yet in a way, it seems like eons ago, and I wonder where all the years went.  I know that I lived them all. I have glimpses of how it was back then and of all my hopes and dreams.  But, here it is… the winter of my life and it catches me by surprise…How did I get here so fast? Where did the years go and where did my youth go? 

I remember well seeing older people through the years and thinking that those older people were years away from me and that winter was so far off that I could not fathom it or imagine fully what it would be like. 

But, here it is…my friends are retired and getting grey…they move slower and I see an older person now. Some are in better and some worse shape than me…but, I see the great change….Not like the ones that I remember who were young and vibrant…but, like me, their age is beginning to show and we are now those older folks that we used to see and never thought we’d be. 

Each day now, I find that just getting a shower is a real target for the day! And taking a nap is not a treat anymore… it’s mandatory!  Cause if I don’t on my own free will… I just fall asleep where I sit! 

And so…now I enter into this new season of my life unprepared for all the aches and pains and the loss of strength and ability to go and do things that I wish I had done but never did!  But, at least I know, that though the winter has come, and I’m not sure how long it will last…this I know, that when it’s over on this earth…it’s NOT over.

A new adventure will begin! Yes, I have regrets. There are things I wish I hadn’t done…things I should have done, but indeed, there are many things I’m happy to have done.  It’s all in a lifetime. So, if you’re not in your winter yet…let me remind you, that it will be here faster than you think.

So, whatever you would like to accomplish in your life please do it quickly!

Don’t put things off too long! Life goes by quickly.

So, do what you can today, as you can never be sure whether this is your winter or not!

 You have no promise that you will see all the seasons of your life…so, live for today and say all the things that you want your loved ones to remember…and hope that they appreciate and love you for all the things that you have done for them in all the years past! “Life” is a gift to you.

The way you live your life is your gift to those who come after. Make it a fantastic one.

LIVE IT WELL! ENJOY TODAY! DO SOMETHING FUN! BE HAPPY! HAVE A GREAT DAY! REMEMBER:…. “It is health that is real wealth and not pieces of gold and silver.

“LIVE HAPPY IN THIS YEAR AND EVERY YEAR! LASTLY, CONSIDER THE FOLLOWING: TODAY IS THE OLDEST YOU’VE EVER BEEN, YET THE YOUNGEST YOU’LL EVER BE SO – ENJOY THIS DAY WHILE IT LASTS.

~Your kids are becoming you…….~Going out is good… Coming home is better! ~You forget names…. But it’s OK because other people forgot they even knew you!!!

~You realize you’re never going to be really good at anything…. especially golf.. 

~The things you used to care to do, you no longer care to do, but you really do care that you don’t care to do them anymore.

 ~You sleep better on a lounge chair with the TV blaring than in bed. It’s called “pre-sleep”.

~You miss the days when everything worked with just an “ON” and “OFF” switch.

~You tend to use more 4 letter words … “what?”…”when?”… “what?”. ??? 

~Now that you can afford expensive jewelry, it’s not safe to wear it anywhere. 

~You notice everything they sell in stores is “sleeveless”?!!!

~What used to be freckles are now liver spots. 

~Everybody whispers. ~You have 3 sizes of clothes in your closet…. 2 of which you will never wear. 

~But Old is good in some things: Old Songs, Old movies, and best of all, OLD FRIENDS!!

Stay well, “OLD FRIEND!” Send this on to other “Old Friends!” and let them laugh in AGREEMENT!!!  It’s Not What You Gather, But What You Scatter That Tells What Kind of Life You Have Lived.

A Great Story About Relationships

During the waning years of the depression in a small Idaho community, I used to stop by Mr Miller’s roadside stand for farm fresh produce as the season made it available. Food and money were still extremely scarce and bartering was used extensively.

One day Mr. Miller was bagging some early potatoes for me. I noticed a small boy, delicate of bone and feature, ragged but clean, hungrily apprising a basket of freshly picked green peas.

I paid for my potatoes but was also drawn to the display of fresh green peas. I am a pushover for creamed peas and new potatoes. Pondering the peas, I couldn’t help overhearing the conversation between Mr. Miller and the ragged boy next to me.

“Hello Barry, how are you today?”

“H’lo, Mr. Miller. Fine, thank ya. Jus’ admirin’ them peas … sure look good.”

“They are good, Barry. How’s your Ma?”

“Fine. Gittin’ stronger alla’ time.”

“Good. Anything I can help you with?”

“No, Sir. Jus’ admirin’ them peas.”

“Would you like to take some home?”

“No, Sir. Got nuthin’ to pay for ’em with.”

“Well, what have you to trade me for some of those peas?”

“All I got’s my prize marble here.”

“Is that right? Let me see it.”

“Here ’tis. She’s a dandy.”

“I can see that.  Hmmmmm, only thing is this one is blue and I sort of go for red. Do you have a red one like this at home?”

“Not zackley … but almost.”

“Tell you what. Take this sack of peas home with you and next trip this way let me look at that red marble.”

”Sure will. Thanks Mr. Miller.”

Mrs. Miller, who had been standing nearby, came over to help me. With a smile she said, “There are two other boys like him our community, all three are in very poor circumstances. Jim just loves to bargain with them for peas, apples, tomatoes, or whatever. When they come back with their red marbles, and they always do, he decides he doesn’t like red after all and he sends them home with a bag of produce for a green marble or an orange one, perhaps.”

I left the stand smiling to myself, impressed with this man. A short time later I moved to Colorado but I never forgot the story of this man, the boys, and their bartering.

Several years went by, each more rapid that the previous one. Just recently I had occasion to visit some old friends in that Idaho community and while I was there learned that Mr. Miller had died. They were having his viewing that evening and knowing my friends wanted to go, I agreed to accompany them.

Upon arrival at the mortuary we fell into line to meet the relatives of the deceased and to offer whatever words of comfort we could. Ahead of us in line were three young men. One was in an army uniform and the other two wore nice haircuts, dark suits and white shirts … all very professional looking.

They approached Mrs. Miller, standing composed and smiling by her husband’s casket. Each of the young men hugged her, kissed her on the cheek, spoke briefly with her and moved on to the casket. Her misty light blue eyes followed them as, one by one, each young man stopped briefly and placed his own warm hand over the cold pale hand in the casket.

Each left the mortuary awkwardly, wiping his eyes.

Our turn came to meet Mrs. Miller. I told her who I was and mentioned the story she had told me about the marbles. With her eyes glistening, she took my hand and led me to the casket.

“Those three young men who just left were the boys I told you about They just told me how they appreciated the things Jim “traded” them. Now, at last, when Jim could not change his mind about color or size … they came to pay their debt.”

“We’ve never had a great deal of the wealth of this world,” she confided, “but right now, Jim would consider himself the richest man in Idaho.”

With loving gentleness she lifted the lifeless fingers of her deceased husband. Resting underneath were three exquisitely shined red marbles.

Moral: We will not be remembered by our words, but by our kind deeds.

Life is not measured by the breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.

Today ……… I wish you a day of ordinary miracles ……… A fresh pot of coffee you didn’t make yourself …….. An unexpected phone call from an old friend ……… Green stoplights on your way to work ……..The fastest line at the grocery store …….. A good sing-along song on the
> >radio ……… Your keys right where you left them.
They say it takes a minute to find a special person, An hour to appreciate them, A day to love them, But an entire life to forget them.

Send this to the people you’ll never forget.

If you don’t send it to anyone, it means you are in too much of a hurry.

100 Questions Jesus Asked and You Ought to Answer

Msgr. Charles Pope • February 10, 2012 

One of the bigger mistakes people make in reading Scripture is that they read it as a spectator. For them Scripture is a collection of stories and events that took place thousands of years ago. True enough, we are reading historical accounts.

But, truth be told these ancient stories are our stories. We are in the narrative. You are Abraham, Sarah, Moses, Deborah, Jeremiah, Ruth, Peter, Paul, Magdalene, Mother Mary, and, if you are prepared to accept it, you are also Jesus. As the narrative we read unfolds, we are in the story. We cannot simply watch what others say or do or answer. For what Peter and Magdalene and others did, we do. Peter denied and ran. So do we. Magdalene loved and never gave up, should should we. Magdalene had a sinful past and a promising future, so do we. Peter was passionate and had a temper so do we. But Peter also loved the Lord and ultimately gave his life for the Lord. So can we. Jesus suffered and died but rose again and ascended to glory. So have we and so will we.

The scriptures are our own story. We are in it. To read scripture as a mere spectator looking on is to miss the keynote. Scripture is our story.

In the light of this keynote there emerges another very important and powerful key to unlocking the text. The key is simply this: Answer the Question! Among the many things Jesus did, he asked a lot of questions! And whenever you read the Gospels and Jesus asks a question, answer it! Do not wait to see what Peter or Magdalene, or the Pharisees or the crowd say for an answer. You answer the question, in your own words. This brings Scripture powerfully alive.

So twenty years ago Bishop John Marshall, Bishop of Burlington VT., and later Springfield Mass compiled a book: But Who Do You Say That I Am? In the book he collected and listed all the questions Jesus asked in the Gospels. And he encourages us to answer the question. Bishop Marshall, in listing the question, gives extra verses for context and adds brief commentaries. However, I would like to list just the raw questions.

I will give the verse reference so you can look it up. But, unless you really think it necessary, avoid looking it up at first. Just let the question meet you where you are right now. The question may mean something for you that is very different that its original context. But that is OK. Just pick a question, read it, consider it and answer it, by talking to the Lord.

Read the list slowly, perhaps over days or weeks, often taking just one question at a time. I have attached a PDF version of the List here: 100 Questions that Jesus asked and YOU must answer. Again, ponder each question. Answer each question prayerfully and reflectively. This is not the complete list of questions but it is surely food for thought. Now, answer the questions:

100 Questions that Jesus asked and YOU must answer:

  1. And if you greet your brethren only, what is unusual about that? Do not the unbelievers do the same? (Matt 5:47)
  2. Can any of you by worrying add a single moment to your lifespan? Matt 6:27
  3. Why are you anxious about clothes? Matt 6:28
  4. Why do you notice the splinter in your brother’s eye yet fail to perceive the wooden beam in your own eye? (Matt 7:2)
  5. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? (Matt 7:16)
  6. Why are you terrified? (Matt 8:26)
  7. Why do you harbor evil thoughts? (Matt 9:4)
  8. Can the wedding guests mourn so long as the Bridegroom is with them? (Matt 9:15)
  9. Do you believe I can do this? (Matt 9:28)
  10. What did you go out to the desert to see? (Matt 11:8)
  11. To what shall I compare this generation? (Matt 11:6)
  12. Which of you who has a sheep that falls into a pit on the Sabbath will not take hold of it and lift it out? (Matt 12:11)
  13. How can anyone enter a strong man’s house and take hold of his possessions unless he first ties up the strong man? (Matt 12:29)
  14. You brood of vipers! How can you say god things when you are evil? (Matt 12:34)
  15. Who is my mother? Who are my brothers? (Matt 12:48)
  16. Why did you doubt? (Matt 14:31)
  17. And why do you break the commandments of God for the sake of your tradition? (Matt 15:3)
  18. How many loaves do you have? (Matt 15:34)
  19. Do you not yet understand? (Matt 16:8)
  20. Who do people say the Son of Man is? (Matt 16:13)
  21. But who do you say that I am? (Matt 16:15)
  22. What profit would there be for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life and what can one give in exchange for his life? (Matt 16:26)
  23. O faithless and perverse generation how long must I endure you? (Matt 17:17)
  24. Why do you ask me about what is good? (Matt 19:16)
  25. Can you drink the cup that I am going to drink? (Matt 20:22)
  26. What do you want me to do for you? (Matt 20:32)
  27. Did you never read the scriptures? (Matt 21:42)
  28. Why are you testing me? (Matt 22:18)
  29. Blind fools, which is greater, the gold or the temple that makes the gold sacred….the gift of the altar that makes the gift sacred? (Matt 23:17-19)
  30. How are you to avoid being sentenced to hell? (Matt 23:33)
  31. Why do you make trouble for the woman? (Matt 26:10)
  32. Could you not watch for me one brief hour? (Matt 26:40)
  33. Do you think I cannot call upon my Father and he will not provide me at this moment with more than 12 legions of angels? (Matt 26:53)
  34. Have you come out as against a robber with swords and clubs to seize me? (Matt 26:53)
  35. My God, My God, Why have you forsaken me? (Matt 27:46)
  36. Why are you thinking such things in your heart? (Mark 2:8)
  37. Is a lamp brought to be put under a basket or under a bed rather than on a lamp stand? (Mark 4:21)
  38. Who has touched my clothes? (Mark 5:30)
  39. Why this commotion and weeping? (Mark 5:39)
  40. Are even you likewise without understanding? (Mark 7:18)
  41. Why does this generation seek a sign? (Mark 8:12)
  42. Do you not yet understand or comprehend? Are your hearts hardened? Do you have eyes and still not see? Ears and not hear? (Mark 8:17-18)
  43. How many wicker baskets full of leftover fragments did you pick up? (Mark 8:19)
  44. [To the Blind man] Do you see anything? (Mark 8:23)
  45. What were arguing about on the way? (Mark 9:33)
  46. Salt is good, but what if salt becomes flat? (Mark 9:50)
  47. What did Moses command you? (Mark 10:3)
  48. Do you see these great buildings? They will all be thrown down. (Mark 13:2)
  49. Simon, are you asleep? (Mark 14:37)
  50. Why were you looking for me? (Luke 2:49)
  51. What are you thinking in your hearts? (Luke 5:22)
  52. Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord’ and not do what I command? (Luke 6:46)
  53. Where is your faith (Luke 8:25)
  54. What is your name? (Luke 8:30)
  55. Who touched me? (Luke 8:45)
  56. Will you be exalted to heaven? (Luke 10:15)
  57. What is written in the law? How do you read it? (Luke 10:26)
  58. Which of these three in your opinion was neighbor to the robber’s victim? (Luke 10:36)
  59. Did not the maker of the outside also make the inside? (Luke 11:40)
  60. Friend, who appointed me as your judge and arbiter? (Luke 12:14)
  61. If even the smallest things are beyond your control, why are you anxious about the rest? (Luke 12:26)
  62. Why do you not judge for yourself what is right? (Luke 12:57)
  63. What king, marching into battle would not first sit down and decide whether with ten thousand troops he can successfully oppose another king marching upon him with twenty thousand troops? (Luke 14:31)
  64. If therefore you are not trustworthy with worldly wealth, who will trust you with true wealth? (Luke 16:11)
  65. Has none but this foreigner returned to give thanks to God? (Luke 17:18)
  66. Will not God then secure the rights of his chosen ones who call out to him day and night? (Luke 18:7)
  67. But when the Son of Man comes, will he find any faith on earth? (Luke 18:8)
  68. For who is greater, the one seated a table or the one who serves? (Luke 22:27)
  69. Why are you sleeping? (Luke 22:46)
  70. For if these things are done when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry? (Luke 23:31)
  71. What are you discussing as you walk along? (Luke 24:17)
  72. Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and then enter his glory? (Luke 24:26)
  73. Have you anything here to eat? (Luke 24:41)
  74. What are you looking for? (John 1:38)
  75. How does this concern of your affect me? (John 2:4)
  76. You are a teacher in Israel and you do not understand this? (John 3: 10)
  77. If I tell you about earthly things and you will not believe, how will you believe when I tell you of heavenly things? (John 3: 12)
  78. Do you want to be well? (John 5:6)
  79. How is it that you seek praise from one another and not seek the praise that comes from God? (John 5:44)
  80. If you do not believe Moses’ writings how will you believe me? (John 5:47)
  81. Where can we buy enough food for them to eat? (John 6:5)
  82. Does this (teaching of the Eucharist) shock you? (John 6:61)
  83. Do you also want to leave me? (John 6:67)
  84. Why are you trying to kill me? (John 7:19)
  85. Woman where are they, has no one condemned you? (John 8:10)
  86. Why do you not understand what I am saying? (John 8:43)
  87. Can any of you charge me with sin? (John 8:46)
  88. If I am telling you the truth, why do you not believe me? (John 8:46)
  89. Are there not twelve hours in a day? (John 11:9)
  90. Do you believe this? (John 11:26)
  91. Do you realize what I have done for you? (John 13:12)
  92. Have I been with you for so long and still you do not know me? (John 14:9)
  93. Whom are you looking for? (John 18:4)
  94. Shall I not drink the cup the Father gave me? (John 18:11)
  95. If I have spoken rightly, why did you strike me? (John 18:23)
  96. Do you say [what you say about me] on your own or have others been telling you about me? (John 18:34)
  97. Have you come to believe because you have seen me? (John 20:29)
  98. Do you love me? (John 21:16)
  99. What if I want John to remain until I come? (John 21:22)
  100. What concern is it of yours? (John 21:22)

What Would You Do – Danny Wuerffel

Daniel Carl Wuerffel (born May 27, 1974) is a former college and professional American football quarterback who won the 1996 Heisman Trophy and the 1996 national football championship while playing college football for the University of Florida. Wuerffel was a prolific passer in coach Steve Spurrier‘s offense. He led the nation in touchdown passes in 1995 and 1996, and set numerous school and conference records. Wuerffel was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2013.

After graduating from Florida, Wuerffel was drafted by the New Orleans Saints of the National Football League (NFL). He spent six years in the league with four teams, and also played a season in NFL Europe, where he led the Rhein Fire to a league championship and was named MVP of World Bowl 2000.

In the 1996 national collegiate championship against Florida State, in the last minutes of the fourth quarter, Wuerffel threw an incredible pass that won the game and the championship.  Immediately after the game, the news media thrust a mike in his face and asked him what it was like to throw that pass and win the national championship game. 

Without missing a beat, Wuerffel replied that he gives all the glory to his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for all that he is able to do.  The news media immediately switched to another announcer, but it was too late.  Danny Wuerffel’s witness to the Lord was broadcast on national television.

While few people have Danny Wuerffel’s talents with the football, all of us have God-given gifts and talents.  You may never have an opportunity to speak before a nation-wide television audience.  But there will be other critical moments when all eyes are on you, and you have a brief opportunity to tell what is most important in your life – who is on the throne of your life. 

Will you be a Danny Wuerffel and witness to the sovereign, living God of the universe, or will you give credit to your colleagues or to yourself?  You will have an opportunity to proclaim on whose team you serve.