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press on

Yet whatever gains I had, these I have come to regard as loss because of Christ. More than that, I regard everything as loss because of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and I regard them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but one that comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God based on faith. I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the sharing of his sufferings by becoming like him in his death, if somehow I may attain the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained this or have already reached the goal; but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Beloved, I do not consider that I have made it my own; but this one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus. Let those of us then who are mature be of the same mind; and if you think differently about anything, this too God will reveal to you. Only let us hold fast to what we have attained. (Philippians 3:7-16, NRSV)

I write this blog days after Harvey has finished dropping an exorbitant amount of water on Houston and surrounding areas of Texas. And after watching a video of a friend of my wife’s spouse talk about how a wall missing in their house will mean that everything in that room is just stuff and we will count it all as lost, but at least we are all still alive and safe.

I think of the massive clean up and efforts to restore life to normal. While most of us go about our days outside of Texas as if nothing happened. Not that it isn’t reality, but we are not there, it is not our restoration. We pray for them and send funds and items to help, yet do we get it. As a parishioner told me, I get in my car and come home as any other day. We can’t fathom the loss or the hurting.

Yet all those in the wake of Harvey press on. They press on knowing they are not alone. They press on with assistance from long time friends and family and from strangers. There are efforts of many people dropping in on areas hit by Harvey and helping families clean up and remove debris and restore what they can and rebuild what can’t be fixed.

Because stuff is only that, stuff. And life is about more than stuff.

Do not think of your things as gods, but follow Jesus and help others to see that He is the prize worth pressing on towards. And in that pressing on, others will see His love too!

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shake off the dust…

Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and curing every disease and every sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” Then Jesus summoned his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to cure every disease and every sickness. These are the names of the twelve apostles: first, Simon, also known as Peter, and his brother Andrew; James son of Zebedee, and his brother John; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; Simon the Cananaean, and Judas Iscariot, the one who betrayed him. These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: “Go nowhere among the Gentiles, and enter no town of the Samaritans, but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. As you go, proclaim the good news, ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. You received without payment; give without payment. Take no gold, or silver, or copper in your belts, no bag for your journey, or two tunics, or sandals, or a staff; for laborers deserve their food. Whatever town or village you enter, find out who in it is worthy, and stay there until you leave. As you enter the house, greet it. If the house is worthy, let your peace come upon it; but if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you. If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet as you leave that house or town. Truly I tell you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town. “See, I am sending you out like sheep into the midst of wolves; so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. Beware of them, for they will hand you over to councils and flog you in their synagogues; and you will be dragged before governors and kings because of me, as a testimony to them and the Gentiles. When they hand you over, do not worry about how you are to speak or what you are to say; for what you are to say will be given to you at that time; for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death; and you will be hated by all because of my name. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next; for truly I tell you, you will not have gone through all the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes. (Matthew 9:35-10:23, NRSV)

Jesus called the disciples to go and to share His message. And the instructions were clear. Take nothing with you, receive without payment and give without payment. Only wear what you need nothing more. When you enter a town find one place and dwell there while you are in that town. Give your peace to that place and if it will not accept your peace, take it back. And if they will not listen, shake the dust off your feet so you take none of that place with you and go on to those who will listen.

Seems a little harsh, but Jesus was trying to help the disciples I think. And He was saying if people won’t listen, it is ok, and it is there lose not yours. Do not get hung up on people not being perceptive to the message of grace, just move on to those who will be.

So when you encounter those who don’t want to hear the good news, just shake off the dust and move on…

 

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