The Blessing of Poverty

The keys to happiness delivered by Jesus contain the paradox of a blessing in poverty.

And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him: And he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying, Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. — Matthew 5:1-3

This beatitude encourages an inner quality of sacrificial humility.

The disciples literally gave up their source of income to follow Jesus Christ. Peter, James, John, Andrew all forsook their fishing business. Matthew forsook his tax collecting. They literally impoverished themselves for the sake of the Gospel. Although Christ does not require an oath of poverty, He has given us a promise of blessing when we suffer for His sake. Suffering yields spiritual reward in this life.

girls on green shirt holding a silver round bowl

This beatitude celebrates the inner quality of poverty.

Not poverty of possessions or finances, but the lack of pride in one’s spirit. God’s concern for the humble is their spirit, not their bank balance. Those with plenty often struggle with God’s existence. The poor usually do not. They are the ones who glean off God’s goodness.

God wants to help the down trodden of society by reviving their heart.

That is why the poor in spirit are the ones given this promise for blessing. This spirit is one of repentance, not greed. Money is not what God requires: He asks for a good spirit from your heart.

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revision of original published 17 March 2009

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The Blessing of Mourning

Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted. Matthew 5:4

Pain hurts. Most people avoid pain at all costs; however, pain is a part of life. Learning to deal with pain is a mark of maturity. God has promised blessings for those who mourn  among which is the blessing of comfort.

Our Lord promises comfort to those who boldly lament and are not ashamed of their grief. Sorrow is a painful aspect of human existence. This Beatitude encourages Christ’s disciples to deal with it, not avoid it.

Those who try to run from pain’s reality do so at a cost. Indeed, most people do not realize the extravagant expense of avoiding pain. Those who refuse to deal with something in their life causing pain are only putting off the inevitable and intensifying the sorrow.

Remember this: if you avoid the pain, you are also avoiding the comfort.

  • Your broken heartedness will be comforted.
  • Your ashes associated with death and mourning will be exchanged for beauty just as the ancient patriarch Job.
  • Your black garments worn to mourn the loss of someone beloved will be exchanged for one of praise.
  • Your heavy, burdensome clothing of sacrifice will be exchanged for something much lighter, for Christ has proclaimed His yoke is easy and His burden is light.

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Read 10 full length studies on the Beatitudes in my latest publication: Beauty from the Mountain.

Beauty from the Mountaing Cover

Don’t Kill the Messenger

No one loves the messenger who brings bad news.” (Sophocles)

Character assassination in politics has become a normal way to take out competition. Truthfulness of accusations are no longer a concern. The focus is on winning and winning alone. The end justifies the means. It also underscores the difference between so-called success and genuine success. True success is ethical.

Sophocles_pushkin

Thomas came to me absolutely shattered. He confided in me of a terrible situation where his career was about to be destroyed. As I listened to his story, identifying the elements of chaos, it was especially heartbreaking. You see, Thomas was a church elder. He was asked to deliver the results of a polling of church members. And the organization splintered after the message was delivered. 

The church was organized with a plurality of leadership responsibilities. Thomas was the “face” of the organization. He was the one who stood up before the congregation each week and delivered a sermon. Other leaders held different responsibilities. One was in charge of finances, another marketing, and so on. 

This organization had a chairman of the elders. His primary function was to coordinate leadership meetings and ensure their decisions were executed. Yet as Thomas’ narrative unfolded, it became clear the chairman desired more than just coordinate. 

At that time the church did not have its own worship facility. They rented out venues and operated a successful outreach to its community. However, it was no secret the chairman believed it was time for a building program. 

Thomas had been delivering a series of sermons on responsibility to the community. He was approached by key lay persons and several of the other elders. They asked him if he would deliver a message to the chairman that they believed their monies would be better spent at that time on the community work. 

When Thomas delivered the message, the chairman began to blame Thomas for the people’s decision. He accused Thomas of using the public speaking platform to undermine his authority. He then warned Thomas, “You will see how you were wrong to tell me this.” 

Thomas didn’t fully appreciate the warning. By the time he was seeking my counsel, the chairman had released a smear campaign against my client. Unsubstantiated allegations of inappropriate funding were delivered in a letter addressed to leaders across that denomination. Even though Thomas had nothing to do with handling the finances and was only one vote on the executive committee, no outsider was made aware of those details. His character was slandered. 

The chairman soon resigned. It took several months for the organization to regain its momentum. However, it took several years to repair the relationship between the two men. 

When you reach a level of success that holds great responsibility, it will take ethics to sustain that success. 

Challenge: Ethics is an expression of respect for others. Do I view myself as above the rules for social order? 

Morality as per Sylvester & Tweety

Years ago, I was asked to prepare teenagers for their university education. The assignment was part of a series to help those who grew up with a Christian faith. Public education has an inbuilt bias to preserve its Religion of Secularism.

I recently came upon these notes researching for a book I am writing about Ethics. I thought I would share these with you even though they are dated. Trying to reason with bright teenagers about morality was a seemingly impossible task! Nevertheless, the sessions were valuable for both teens and me. Hope they can add value to your journey.

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Note #3 – Sylvester the Cat and Tweety Bird.

Sylvester the cat wants to eat Tweety Bird. Just as he is about to put the little yellow morsel into his mouth, up pops two miniatures of Sylvester himself. One is angelic and the other a demonic image of himself. Each sits on the opposite shoulder and whispers their counsel into Sylvester’s ears.

Is this just a cartoon feature? How about neo-Platonic morality developed by Augustine and encouraged later by later thinkers known as absolutists!

You may be surprised to learn preaching what is moral has not been limited to the church pulpit. There are several systems of principles that have been developed over time. These systems are the practical application to particular beliefs. Your university education will expose you to diverse beliefs.

Man Angel on Shoulder

The science of moral philosophy is known as ethics. The terms ethics and morality are synonymous. They both are derived from words which mean customs and indicate how people are to behave within a given Society.

Ethics is derived from the Greek term, ethika, a derivative itself from ethos, emphasizing character with customs.

Morals is the equable derivative of the Latin term, mores. Mores has been transported into English to mean rules related to the conduct, manners and behavior of people to others.

Sylvester and Tweety as Food

As a branch of philosophy, ethics belongs to the normative sciences. Normative has to do with what is the norm of human conduct. This type of science differs from the formal sciences like mathematics and the empirical sciences such as social sciences. Normative science takes place when psychology scrutinizes the social conditions involved in developing moral principles.

Ethics as a disciple is a collection of “doctrines” which govern social manners. The use of the term “doctrine” is very familiar to you as a Christian. It is the same term used by non-Christians in philosophical discussions. In Western Civilization, these doctrines have been debated since the 6th century BC. Philosophers still strive to articulate what is good and right.

When you begin your university training, you will find yourself inside the chambers where morals are still under debate. That is why it is important you understand ethical principles and how they relate to your Christian values.

Posts in this series:

Morality is Virtue

Years ago, I was asked to prepare teenagers for their university education. The assignment was part of a series to help those who grew up with a Christian faith. Public education has an inbuilt bias to preserve its Religion of Secularism.

I recently came upon these notes researching for a book I am writing about Ethics. I thought I would share these with you even though they are dated. Trying to reason with bright teenagers about morality was a seemingly impossible task! Nevertheless, the sessions were valuable for both teens and me. Hope they can add value to your journey.

aristotle.jpg

Note #2 – Laws serve to represent Society’s morals. They are given with the assumption citizens are capable of obeying and upholding them.

When morality is viewed as a code of behavior, it implies each person is virtuous or, in the least, capable of exercising virtue. That means behavior codes assume you can respect the rules of “right” in relation to social customs.

As a Christian, you may view moral codes as divine law and not human law. You need to recognize that both divine and human law agree that a person who follows the rules of the school; obeys the law of the land; adheres to the creed of a church, et al; such behavior is classified as virtuous.

In plainer language: there are just some actions you know are right thing to do whether or not they come from the Church, the University or your future Employer.

doorhold

Previously, it was considered right and proper for a man to hold the door open for a lady. Today no such social expectation is preached. What was virtuous in Western Civilization previously many not be regarded as such today.

So, how does a Christian know what to do when? Is it proper to conform Society’s standards of morality?

Morality is a code of behavior. What does that mean?

  • Certain actions are accepted as “good”
  • Performing those actions are “virtuous”
  • Virtuous behavior is acceptable “deportment”
  • Right deportment are actions that conform to Divine Law.

At the end of the day, no matter the standards of Society, the Divine Code propagates a superior virtue. Exercise the “mores” of Society only when there is no clear contradiction to the Divine Code.

Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men. Acts 5:29

What is the Divine Code? Traditionally, it is known as the 10 Commandments. They form the basis of 603 additional laws issued through Moses. However, Jesus summarized them into 3 (Matthew 22:36-40):

  • Love your Self
  • Love your Neighbor
  • Love your Creator

Morality Is A Behavior Code

Years ago, I was asked to prepare teenagers for their university education. The assignment was part of a series to help those who grew up with a Christian faith. Public education has an inbuilt bias to preserve its Religion of Secularism.

I recently came upon these notes researching for a book I am writing about Ethics. I thought I would share these with you even though they are dated. Trying to reason with bright teenagers about morality was a seemingly impossible task! Nevertheless, the sessions were valuable for both teens and me. Hope they can add value to your journey.

aristotle.jpg

Note #1 – Morality has become associated as a code of behavior. The philosophers believed a certain conduct would lead to happiness.

The early church taught, “godliness with contentment is great gain” (1 Timothy 6:6). The pursuit of happiness is not the deportment of Christianity; but rather the pursuit of godly living—living in a way that is God-like. It is not the arrogant pursuit of being gods as Adam and Eve erred (Genesis 3:5) but a contentment to live as God directs in accordance to His word.

From the very beginning, God has been interested in His creation doing what He says to bring them the greater benefit (Genesis 3:11). Philosophy can rob you of God’s blessings if you are not careful (Colossians 2:8). Nonetheless, there is an agreed precept between philosophy and Biblical Christianity: your contentment in life can be found when following a code of behavior.

The Bible assumes you are capable of moral actions. There are certain actions which you are bound to perform. The obligations performed as a social duty are, definition, acts of morality. Each Society adjust the rules, but one fact remains: morality is associated with you keeping accepted rules.

Waiter

For instance, most people do not tip in a restaurant here in New Zealand. It is considered immoral for an employer to not provide servers with full wages. With the provision, tipping is not a necessary part of the server’s wages. However, in the United States, it is customary to tip a server regardless of any wages being received. The respective customs reflect differing moral standards for its Society.

At university, you will be given guide-lines and expectations for your behavior. Jump up and down all you want about your individual rights! It won’t make a difference. Whenever individuals join together, there must be agreement on a set of rules. Otherwise, chaos results and there will be no order for your educational environment.

How my life was rebuilt after it fell apart

In 2012, I was at the end of my Hope. Something tragic was inevitable. By the grace of God, I survived the despair. I found Hope!

FINDING HOPE is a personal record of my life experience. Being faced with no reason to go forward, I learned two valuable lessons. The first lesson was the power of choice. The second was his discovery of nine techniques. These techniques were used to rebuild my life. I have preserved them in plain, easy-to-read language.

It has taken 6 years for me to find enough courage to publish my story. Honestly, it does not go into gory details; but it does detail enough so that you know I was in despair.

My life did fall apart.

Thankfully, it was rebuilt.

My desire is to encourage those who, like me, are searching for Hope. Of course you should seek professional care! Yet doctors can only prescribe medications, therapists can only guide you through your healing process. Only YOU can help yourself.

Professional care is a must and yet that takes up only 3-5 hours of your week. What do you do with the leftover 162 hours?

That is where I pray my story will help you.

Read the e-book for FREE at Kindle Unlimited

What happens when Hope seems lost?

Despair takes over.

Lost relationships. Lost body image. Lost social standing. You become destitute. You wander internally. You begin to lose your way in life. The perplexity alters your thinking.

You despair even in life.

Those of you that have been there know exactly what I mean. You can tell I have been there.

Hope is such an emotive word.

Hope expresses a desire for some good to take place in your life. There is a slight expectation of obtaining that desire. That feeling of possibility stirs us to action.

Hope is a mature attitude. It is not a childish dream for the unattainable. True Hope is rooted in something of substance, even if it is not apparent at the moment. That attitude drives us to action.

Hope Cover 2018

Available in paperback and ebook from amazon.com. Click the image below to order your copy.

If you buy the paperback from amazon.com, you can receive the e-book for free!

  • It is not a long read because when you are in despair, it is hard to concentrate for long periods of time.
  • It is written in simple language because the brain can only process so much during despair.
  • It is not expensive because this is about me helping others, not making a living from their grief.

Read more about it on its page, and if you are interested, please check it out further at amazon.com.

I truly hope it is a help.

Peaceful blessings,

Tim