Our supreme concern — to be like Jesus

A Sojourner's Heartsong

rembrandt-van-rijn-public-domainRembrandt van Rijn, a resident of seventeenth century Amsterdam, was a prolific and popular artist. Art historian Marilyn Stokstad ranks him as one of the great artists of all times. He also ran an enormous workshop, where many apprentices learned to imitate his style.

He may have excelled more as a teacher than a painter. His pupils so effectively imitated him that scholars find it difficult to define his body work. Pieces formerly attributed to him are being reassigned to his students.

This is the idea behind Jesus’ words in Matthew 10:25, where He says, “It is enough for the student to be like his teacher…”  The Greek word mathētēs, which is translated student, can correctly be translated: student, pupil, apprentice, follower, learner or disciple. Something more than impartation and absorption of information is indicated. It speaks of a closeness of relationship through which the learner so completely knows…

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Facing life’s challenges

A Sojourner's Heartsong

open-bibleWe encounter change in our world every day. We are changing too. Amidst so much shifting — so much change — we often find ourselves groping for something solid to hold on to, some solid place upon which we can stand. Three passages immediately come to mind.

The first has to do with the many daily choices we make which result in changes in our life’s direction. The words of Jesus give great insight. At the conclusion of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said, “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. the rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not…

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Crosswalks

A Sojourner's Heartsong

crosswalkThe indicators are everywhere. You can’t miss them. Crossing guards are in place. Yellow busses with flashing strobe lights mounted on top are everywhere. The back to school sections at most stores have been picked clean. Only a few shoppers looking for last-minute bargains enter the stores. School is back in session!

One indicator speaks as loudly as the others combined, though it has no voice. In fact, if this was the only observable sign, we would correctly deduce a new school year was getting underway. What is this sign? What is this self-sufficient indicator that about 50 million school-age-children are once again expanding their minds through the exercise of learning? If you drive the roads near a neighborhood school, you have seen this indicator. The crosswalks are freshly painted!

Interestingly, this happens every year. I’ve observed this taking place across our nation, too. In the weeks just before school begins the paint crews are everywhere. The freshly…

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W O R D S

A Sojourner's Heartsong

A word is said emily dickinsonSet a guard over my mouth, O LORD; keep watch over the
door of my lips. Let not my heart be drawn to what is evil,
to take part in wicked deeds with men who are evil; let me
not eat of their delicacies. —Psalm 141:3-4 NIV

Talking is something that most of us do very well. Thus, we should carefully consider Proverbs 10:19, which reads: “When words are many, sin is not absent, but he who holds his tongue is wise.” Since it is so easy to become ensnared in sin when we talk too much, we should be ever so cautious in what we say.

A commonly used word in older Bible translations for one who cannot restrain his tongue is “talebearer.” One source defines a talebearer as “a person who spreads gossip that is likely to cause trouble or harm.” Indeed, the tongue is a restless evil…

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Who are you becoming?

A Sojourner's Heartsong

imageIn “A Confession” the famed Russian author/philosopher Count Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy (1828–1910) once observed that “a man could live for ten or twenty years without once remembering that he is living among Christians and is himself reckoned a member of the orthodox Christian Church.” These words were first published in 1884, but, in my view, they could have been taken from today’s news.

Tolstoy subsequently describes a personal lapse from faith. He stated that what occurred in his life was common for people of his level of education. He said it happened as follows:

…a man lives like everybody else, on the basis of principles not merely having nothing in common with religious doctrine, but generally opposed to it; religious doctrine does not play a part in life, in intercourse with others it is never encountered, and in a man’s own life he never has to reckon with it. Religious…

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It’s not supposed be be a secret

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Six Months Left — How would you live?

A Sojourner's Heartsong

imageWhat is your life? You are a mist
that appears for a little while and
Then vanishes. —James 4:14 NIV

Although her daughter told me she would call, I really was not prepared for the conversation when the telephone rang. The dialogue was pleasant, though there was very little small talk. You see, the woman, whom I had never met, was inviting me to become part of her life in a very personal way. She had inoperable cancer, and had been given six months to live. She wanted me to help her set her house in order and make plans for her funeral.

She was a brave soul and a true light. It was a blessing to get to know her. She left me many fond memories. In fact, I’m still amazed at how she embraced the horrible news of her impending death as an opportunity that few people have…

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