Blessed are the Poor in Spirit

“You can’t know how Great God is until you first realize how helpless you are.”

Photo Credit: ms_eyewitness Flickr via Compfight cc

Jesus says this in the opening line of the Sermon on the Mount when he said, “Blessed are the poor in Spirit.”

One time, Jesus was walking with His disciples and a group of people come up to Jesus and want their children to be “blessed”. Now, I don’t know what you have heard about this passage is found in Matthew 19, I’ve always seen pictures of Jesus placing his hands on children’s for heads, possibly making across somewhere… saying a fast prayer and then considering the children blessed, but I really have a hard time with this picture. Maybe it’s because I actually HAVE children and know that that would in no way shape or form “bless them”.

When I think of Jesus, or anyone for that matter, “blessing kids” I always picture him picking up a child, tickling them, and then throwing them up in the air as high as he possibly could. This would be that height where your stomach actually turns and you feel like you’re about to throw up in your eyes grow three times the size is normal as you are praying with all that you have that this person would actually be able to catch you before you splatter on the ground below.

Naturally, Jesus would catch them at the last minute and then throw them back up in the air again. This makes sense to me, both because the children would be blessed as well as the fact that the disciples always seem to be disturbed that Jesus would spend his time doing such things. I mean, seriously, what’s the big deal about taking a few minutes to put your hands on a few kids heads and say fast prayer… But rolling on the ground and throwing them up in the air???  I can understand why the disciples would question whether or not they have the time for this. Here’s what the passage says:

Matthew 19:13-14

13 Then people brought little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples rebuked them.

14 Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”

I love this passage. What I love about the passage the most is really what it’s saying between the lines. You see, children have nothing to offer except themselves! They don’t have a lot to bring to the table in a relationship except for their love, their acceptance, and their spirit. They don’t come trying to “teach” things. They don’t come to help you get ahead in life and they rarely come critiquing you. They basically come with empty hands. They’re just glad that you want to spend time with them!

Thorns in my life and the Power of God

…“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” -2 Cor. 12:9

I love this verse. I’ve loved this verse ever since the first time I heard it as a young child. I’ve always loved it because, even as a young child, I understood that I was broken and weak. You don’t have to live life very long before this realization becomes evident. What a great reminder that in the middle of our weaknesses, God’s Power can be made known in a real and tangible way.

A few nights ago, I was meeting with the Elders of my church for our usual time of prayer and accountability and this passage came up. Again, very timely as our church has been through many transitions over the past few years. There have been more times than one that we’ve felt weak and needed God’s Power to show up. One thing that hit me as we were studying this passage was verse 7. It’s kind of an important, and often time left out, part of this passage. It’s actually the explanation as to why “this verse is there”.

Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me.”

This verse is comforting, because we’re all broken. It’s comforting, because we all know that we’re weak. It’s comforting, because it reminds us that God is always with us and that His power is shown even more powerfully in our weakness, but it’s hardly comforting to be reminded how easily we can become conceited and feel like we can fix all of our problems.

…to keep me from being conceited,” is a big phrase.

con·ceit·ed

kənˈsēdəd/

adjective

adjective: conceited

You and I live in a place where we’re taught from young children to be self-sufficient. It’s who we are as Americans. It’s who we are as… people. It’s been a struggle from the very beginning. We have always wanted control.

One Crazy Summer

road trip

This is going to be one crazy summer for the McGinnis family. Last week was the only week all summer without a camp, mission trip, or major activity. So naturally, it became the best week for our annual Summer Vacation. Our family goes to Hilton Head just about every summer. It’s something we look forward to all year. It’s our one time to completely un-plug and just be together as a family.

Now, before you get this beautiful picture in your head of our six angels lined up on the beach standing perfectly still with smiles on their faces, just waiting for the camera to click, you need to get a slight reality check. Please understand that we have 2 teenage daughters, 2 over-active elementary aged students, and 2 preschoolers. Throw them all into a hot van for 12 hours and shake it all up… and that might look a little closer to reality.

With that being said, Aime and I work really hard at having accurate expectations of everyone. We expect our teenagers to act like teenagers and our preschoolers to act like preschoolers. It just goes a lot better when you remember that a 3 year old can’t (and won’t) sit still for longer than 2 minutes and that you’re going to get an attitude from time to time out of your teenager. When you keep a good perspective on the vacation you’re just going to have a lot more fun.

Every year vacation looks and feels a little different. Why? Each of us look and feel a little different than we did the year before. (Except for my wife who somehow has managed to look exactly the same for the last 18 years.) Although every year is a little different, there are a few things that remain the same.

 

Here are four phrases that we say every year… and mean.

“Stay with Your Beach Buddy”

This is one we picked up a couple years ago- It’s so much easier to keep up with everyone in the family when they’re together… looking out for one another. We want our kids to grow up always looking out for each other. One of our core values is Family First… and we mean it.

Gripped in Fear of the World Around Them

Christian Parenting

I just heard there was another case of the Ebola virus and this time it’s in Washington. No doubt this will send many people into a tailspin. We’ve already seen the messages on Facebook that are telling us that this is why we shouldn’t let people into our country and why we shouldn’t go there to help. After watching so many different conversations take place about things like Ebola, I think it’s about time somebody talked to these parents and help them step back from the ledge.

So what’s a parent supposed to do when they find themselves gripped in fear of the world around them?

Let me suggest four things that I think every parent should do:

Slow Down

This is one of my number one suggestion to anyone who’s carried away by their emotions. If you’re angry – slow situation down… breathe deeply… give your brain a chance to catch up. If you’re crying uncontrollably – slow everything down… breathe deeply… give your brain a chance to catch up.

If your gripped with fear? Guess what? Slow the situation down. This means quit reading 100 articles a day about your fear… maybe read just 1. Give your brain a chance to catch up with all the information. Remember that there’s always two sides to every story. Remove yourself from the circumstance. Go for a run, watch a comedy, spend time with friends. Just do something to slow it all down.

* it’s amazing to me how many times a little “self-talk” and common sense can defuse our emotions.

Philippians 4:8 “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.”

Evaluate Your Priorities

Whenever our fear is about the unknown nature of the future it’s always a good idea to take a step back and evaluate your priorities and values. What really matters? What’s the most important thing? When fear begins to creep in it’s crucial that you have an understanding of what really matters. This will allow you to keep the “main thing the main thing” in your family.

ISIS, Ebola, Persecution, and why I’m still going to Africa 

Christian Parenting

I turn on the TV and there it is every day… “bad news”… “depressing news”… “Scary news.” Several years ago I changed my pattern with the news. I stopped watching it. I know it’s probably a little careless of me, but I have to tell you. Every time I turn the news on, something bad was on trying to scare me back into my bunker I dug before Y2K. I don’t know, I guess I’ll find out everything I need to on Facebook and the radio right?

So lately, I’ve had to field a few questions on current events. Mostly, my thoughts on international travel while ISIS is out and about and don’t forget the Ebola virus traveling throughout Africa… and of coarse there’s the usual things like Christian persecution and general health concerns while traveling into poverty stricken areas. Anyway, these questions are pertaining to my upcoming trip to Ethiopia in October. So here’s how the questions come:

Aren’t you scared to travel?

Answer: Not really.

I understand that I probably should be a little nervous. You can call it either bravery or simply naiveté. But either way, I can’t help but to think that God has this one in his hand and nothing will happen that doesn’t bring him glory and work out for His good since I’m doing this out of a calling to follow His purposes.

Plus: If it gets too bad… the airlines will shut down.