Archive for the ‘Matthew’ Tag

The ONLY Cure For My Half-Hearted Worship!

worship1

Part 1a: 25min

“https://trinityandhumanity.files.wordpress.com/2018/10/2018-04-08-the-only-cure-for-my-half-hearted-worship-part1a-malachi1-4-tah.mp3”

Part 1b: 29min

“https://trinityandhumanity.files.wordpress.com/2018/10/2018-04-08-the-only-cure-for-my-half-hearted-worship-part1b-malachi1-4-tah.mp3”

Full Message:

“https://trinityandhumanity.files.wordpress.com/2018/10/2018-04-08-the-only-cure-for-my-half-hearted-worship-full-message-malachi1-4-tah.mp3”


Main Passages: Malachi 1:6-143:7-124:1-6


“Malachi, the final book in the Old Testament, speaks extensively about God’s people and how they should worship Him, or perhaps more specifically, how they shouldn’t worship Him. While the people Malachi wrote to may have been free from pagan idolatry or heretical doctrine, their worship had grown stale and lifeless. The word delivered to Malachi was a wake-up call to a people who were halfhearted in worship, and Malachi’s message resonates with us still today. ” The Gospel Project

Theological Theme:

True worship magnifies God [Father, Son, and Spirit]’s great worth and brings blessing to the worshiper.

Christ Connection:

After Malachi, the prophetic word of God went silent for four hundred years. But Malachi prophesied about a messenger who would prepare the way for the Messiah to bring God’s kingdom. Centuries later, John the Baptist arrived as the messenger who prepared the way for Jesus. The last word of the Old Testament is “curse,” a reminder of the consequence of our sin. But in the New Testament, one of the first words we hear from Jesus is “blessing.” The One who bears our curse is the One who brings us blessing.

Missional Application:

God, through His Holy Spirit, calls us to take worship seriously, to magnify His great worth so that all people everywhere will know His name.

While many reduce worship to an event or the singing of worship songs, worship is first and foremost something of the heart and extends to all areas of life. The aim and focus of worship is God, giving Him the exact due of praise and adoration that He deserves. Worship should be carried out not only at a personal level within a Christian’s life but also in joining with other Christians in the corporate act of worship and stewarding our gifts for the glory of God. Corporate worship serves to edify and strengthen other Christians, but it also serves as a witness to non-believers of the greatness of God.

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“Worship is giving to God the best He has given us, and He makes it His and ours for ever.” Oswald Chambers

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Dying And Rising With Jesus Christ!

jesus cross

Part 1a: 27min

“https://trinityandhumanity.files.wordpress.com/2018/10/2018-04-01-dying-and-rising-with-jesus-christ-our-savior-part1a-matt-16-13-28-tah.mp3”

Part 1b: 26min

“https://trinityandhumanity.files.wordpress.com/2018/10/2018-04-01-dying-and-rising-with-jesus-christ-our-savior-part1b-matt-16-13-28-tah.mp3”

Full Message:

“https://trinityandhumanity.files.wordpress.com/2018/10/2018-04-01-dying-and-rising-with-jesus-christ-our-savior-full-message-matt-16-13-28-tah.mp3”


Main Passage: Matthew 16:13-28


“The central confession of the Christian faith is that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of the living God. When Jesus asked His disciples about His identity, He challenged their understanding of the Messiah and pointed forward to His death and resurrection. As Christians, we confess that Jesus is the Son of God who died for us and rose again. By faith, we are united with Jesus our Messiah, and therefore, we are called to take up our cross and follow Him, no matter the cost.” – The Gospel Project

Theological Theme:

The Church of God – Father, Son, and Spirit is built upon the confession that Jesus is the Messiah who suffered, died, and rose again.

Christ Connection:

Peter understood Jesus’ identity as the long-awaited Messiah for Israel, but he misunderstood what being Messiah would mean. Rather than conquering Israel’s enemies through violence, Jesus conquered sin, death, and Satan through His suffering on the cross and resurrection from the dead. Christians confess that Jesus is the Messiah, and united to Him by the Holy Spirit, we take up our cross and follow where He leads.

Missional Application:

God through His Holy Spirit calls us to take up our cross and follow Jesus, to die to ourselves so that we may live.

“Just because you are acquainted with someone does not mean you really know that person. Such was the case with Jesus. He was popular with the crowds, but they had an insufficient view of His identity. They were acquainted with Him, but they did not truly know Him.”

“Who you say Jesus is will determine everything about how you follow Him.” –David Platt

“Jesus narrowed the discussion to Himself in a more personal way: “Who do you say that I am?” Peter spoke up and identified Jesus as the Messiah, the Son of the living God. The title Messiah, or Christ, comes from the Hebrew word for “anointed.” It referred to God’s servant who would deliver the people from their oppressors and bring about a golden age for Israel, in fulfillment of Old Testament promises.”

“Peter had learned that Christ is the Son of God. But he had not learned of the mystery of the cross and the resurrection.”  –John Chrysostom

“The Gospel writers help us understand the significance of Jesus’ death and resurrection in light of who He is. From the beginning of the Gospel of Matthew, the reader understands the significance of Jesus’ life and ministry (Matt. 1:1,18; 2:4). But the disciples did not have the privilege of seeing Jesus from the same vantage point. The Gospel writers help us walk step by step with the disciples as they grow in their understanding of Jesus as the Messiah and what that messianic identity meant.”

“The foundation of the Christian faith is an event—the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The foundation of the Christian life is a confession of the truth of Jesus’ identity and work. We confess the truthfulness and significance of Jesus—who He is and what He has done. He is the Messiah, the Son of the living God who gave Himself for our sins and was raised again to new life. This confession of faith is the foundation of our identity as Christians.” – The Gospel Project

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Rich People Entering the Kingdom

Why does Jesus say that it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God?

First of all, let’s dispense with the idea that there is some way to explain away Jesus’ statement in Matt. 19:23-24. The excuses that say the “eye of a needle” was a gate in Jerusalem, and other such historical/grammatical claptrap, are just an effort to explain away another saying of Jesus that runs against the grain of our culture.

Second of all, let’s focus on who Jesus is as the union of the Trinity and humanity. In Jesus the selfless, sharing life of the Trinity has entered into permanent relationship with humanity and humanity has been adopted into the selfless, sharing life of the Trinity (Eph. 1:5.)

So, rich and poor, all of us are one new humanity in Christ (Eph. 2:15).

When Jesus says “enter the Kingdom” he doesn’t mean “get yourselves adopted as children of the Father and make atonement for your sins.” Jesus himself is humanity’s adoption and the atonement for our sins. We don’t make ourselves into children of the Father, Jesus has made us all forgiven children of the Father (Rom 5:18, Col. 1:20).

Entering the Kingdom means thinking and acting like who we really are: the children of the Father in Jesus.

To enter the Kingdom is stop believing that you aren’t a child of the Father, included in Jesus, and to begin believing that you are included. To enter the Kingdom is to stop living a life of selfishness and isolation and begin to live in harmony with the selfless sharing of the Trinitarian Life in which Jesus has included you.

And that’s where it gets tough for us when we are rich.

Money gives us the power to isolate ourselves from people and community. Money gives us the power to live according to our own desires without having to let the selflessness of the Holy Spirit flow through us in relationship with others. In short, money gives us the power to perpetuate the self-delusion that we are little gods who are not included in the Triune Life and do not need the communion that the Father, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit share with each other and with the whole creation.

Here are a few examples:

  • A rich person who doesn’t like sharing a public beach with crowds of people can buy his own beach (or island), just for him and his fellow rich people. He doesn’t have to learn to share his life with his community.
  • A rich person can move from relationship to relationship, dating, marrying, and divorcing, as he wants to because he can afford all the costs that come with serial polygamy. He doesn’t have to learn to live in committed relationship even when it isn’t going well.
  • A rich person who doesn’t like sharing a flight with a hundred other passengers can rent or buy a private jet. He doesn’t have to learn to reduce his impact on the environment by sharing transportation.

And these examples just focus on our lifestyle in North America, Europe, and Australia. In comparison to the world at large even those we call “poor” in North America are actually “rich.” For example, if I rewrote the last statement in the context of the whole world I might say:

  • A rich person who doesn’t like sharing a ride with a hundred other bus passengers can buy his own car. He doesn’t have to learn to reduce his impact on the environment by sharing transportation.

So, money gives us the power to withdraw from community, control relationships to our own selfish ends, and use more than our fair share of natural resources. Therefore the more money we have (the more rich we are) the more we are able to live isolated, selfish lives.

When you think about it that way, we are all “rich” to some extent. No matter the size of our bank accounts we have all used money to control others, isolate ourselves, and make ourselves into little gods in our own little worlds.

And that’s the problem: the Kingdom of (God) the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is not a place where persons live in an isolated, selfish way.

The disciples realized that we are all “rich” in some ways and they asked Jesus “who then can be saved?” And Jesus took that moment to remind them that we are not saving ourselves, the Father is saving us, through the Son, in the power of the Holy Spirit (Matt. 19:25-26.)

Because the Trinity is saving us when we could not save ourselves, we rich people will one day find ourselves in a new heaven and new earth where we can’t buy isolation, control, and power. And Jesus says that will be hard for us. Notice, Jesus doesn’t say we rich people can’t enter the Kingdom, he just says it will be hard. It will be hard because we will have to be purged of our selfishness and our unwillingness to live in relationship and community with the Trinity and with humanity.

It’s not that we rich people won’t enter the Kingdom, it’s that our entrance will be hard.

Like a camel being dragged through the eye of the needle we will enter the Kingdom of God braying, neighing, twisting, and contorting. That’s how much our Father loves us! He’s going to have his children with him forever even if we have to come to him the hard way, kicking and spitting like camels.

~ Jonathan Stepp

You Thought I Was Pro-Family? Ha!

A Trinitarian Christ-centered paraphrase of Matthew 10.1-39

(10.1-25) This is it, guys.  This is what you’ve trained for.   You twelve guys have been with me all this time, and now I’m going to send you out to fly solo for the first time.  Stay focused.  Go to the Israelite towns first.  We’ll go to the Gentiles in phase two, but it’s not time for that yet.  Tell people the good news, that the Empire of Love has arrived. And don’t just tell them.  SHOW them what the power of love can do.  Don’t pack a bag; don’t even bring money.  I want you to experience what it feels like to eat from Papa’s hand, day in, day out.  If a town welcomes you and listens to you, great.  But if they run you out of town, don’t stress about it.  It’s not your fault.  Their rejection will say more about them than about you.  When the Catastrophe hits, they will think Sodom and Gomorrah got off easy. Remember, the rich and powerful will hate you, just like they’ve hated me.  They will arrest you and beat you.  Do the job in one city; when they kick you out, go to the next city.  When the Catastrophe hits this generation (when the Son of Man comes to rule at the Father’s right hand), you Twelve will not have gotten to all of the cities in Israel yet.

(26) So yes, there are fearsome things going on.  But believe me when I tell you they are not worthy of your fear.   Your mission is to tell the truth, and truth is what these little Hitlers fear above all else.  Truth is the only weapon you will have, and it is the only weapon you will need. (27) Speak it fearlessly. (28) Do not fear death.  Men with guns can kill you, but they cannot defeat you.  They cannot destroy you.  Only your Father in heaven can do that.  He is the only one worthy of your love or your fear. (29) Remember, Papa’s good will is inescapable.  No tiny incident can happen outside of it, not even a little bird falling out of its nest. (30) Papa knows each hair on your head, (31) so don’t be afraid.   You are at LEAST as well taken-care-of as a sparrow.

(32) When the Catastrophe hits, my enemies in Israel will experience the consequences of their actions, as is the destiny of all enemies of humanity.  My Papa and I will not violate anyone by separating them from the results of their decisions.  Because he is a good Papa, he never plays favorites with his kids.  On that day, those who are willing to follow me openly will follow me to safety.  (33) Those who are too ashamed to follow me to safety will remain in danger.

(34) I have not come to bring peace – at least not the kind of peace YOU’RE thinking of.  Real peace comes at the cost of truth, and the truth is a sword that divides people according to who accepts it and who doesn’t. (35) Because I am bringing the truth out into the open, it will be “son against father, daughter against mother. (36) A man’s enemies will be those who live in his house.”  (37) …What, you thought I was pro-family?  Ha!  Sure, I love family togetherness, but I what I love even more is ruthless honesty.  Your family and friends may or may not be willing to join you in facing Reality, and your journey into truth may have to partly be a journey away from them.  I am the Truth, and Truth is thicker than blood.  Be clear about your choice. (38) Truth kills before it heals.  If you’re not willing to face the pain, you’re not willing to follow me. (39) Those who seek after their vision of ‘the good life’ will miss out on life that is truly good.  Life that is really good is found only by those who crucify their ambitions and seek after MY vision instead.

~ John Stonecypher

In this Generation

A Trinitarian Christ-centered paraphrase of Matthew 24.15-16, 29-51

(15) Watch for the sign of Daniel: The abomination standing inside the Temple. (16) When you see that, get out of town.  Head for the hills.  Literally. Run for your life…(29b) Kings will fall.  Society will break down. Thrones will fail. The powers will be shaken to their foundations. (30) When this prophecy comes to pass, everyone will see me vindicated over my enemies.  They will see that I am what Daniel prophesied — the true Son of Man, now come to heaven to sit at the right hand of the Ancient of Days.  They will weep.  My enemies in Israel will see what Egypt saw (Isa 19.1) — The Son of Man riding his cloud-chariot of war, coming to bring their dark schemes to utter annihilation.  (31) His messengers will spread out to all corners of the earth, and their proclamation will gather Papa’s children to his arms.

(32) When you see buds on the fig trees. you know summer’s almost here. (33) Likewise, when you guys see these signs, you know my coming is about to arrive. (34) Of the people alive right now, some of them will live to see this happen. This will be the proof for the whole world that I am a true prophet. (35) My word is reliable in ways unlike anything you have ever seen.  The fulfillment of this word will be my vindication.

(36) Your generation will see this day, but none of us knows the timing any more precisely than that.  Not you, not even me or the angels.  Only Papa knows.  (37) On the day the Son of man is vindicated and his enemies are destroyed, it will be like the day of Noah’s flood. (38)  People were going on with their everyday lives right up until the day Noah boarded his boat. (39) It was completely unexpected when the flood came and took them to their destruction.  It will be just like that on the day when the Son of Man comes to the throne in heaven and begins to exercise his rule over the world. (40) It will be unpredictable, this flood of violence that is coming.  Two men will be working in the field, and the flood will take one but not the other.  (41) Two women will be working in the kitchen; one will be swept away and the other will be left.

(42) Here’s the point: Stay awake, because you will not see it coming if you’re not paying attention to the sign I told you about. (43) If a thief told you when he was going to break into your house, you would stay awake and protect your house. (44) In the same way, you need to stay awake and watch for the sign.  For that day will come when you’re least expecting it.

(45) Think of it like this: The master chose one servant to be in charge of the other servants, to take care of them and keep them fed.  He blessed one servant so that the other servants would be blessed through him.  (46) How wonderful for that servant if the master were to arrive on the scene to see him faithfully doing his job! (47) The master would promote him on the spot. (48) But what is the master to do when he finds the servant (49) abusing those he was meant to bless, growing fat while the other servants starve? (50) When that servant least expects it, the master will arrive on the scene to right those wrongs.  (51) He will fully expose the wicked servant as his enemy.  The bitter truth will be told, the truth by which both the oppressor and the oppressed will be set free.

~ John Stonecypher

[Much of Jesus’ preaching revolves around an event prophesied in Daniel — The coming of the Son of Man.  For anyone interested in good study material on the topic, I recommend N.T. Wright’s book SURPRISED BY HOPE.]

When the Son Comes to Rule at Papa’s Right Hand

A Christ-centered, Trinitarian paraphrase of Matthew 24.1-31

(1) The disciples were all like “Oooooo” and “Aaahhhh” about how grand the temple was. (2) Jesus said: “Don’t be so easily impressed by this big pile of rocks.  It’s going down; the whole thing—KABLOOEY!

(3) Later as they were hanging out on the hill, they asked him: “When is that going to happen?  How will we know that you’ve come to the Father?  How will we know that this present evil age has ended and that the Age of the Messiah has begun?

(4) Jesus answered: “Don’t let anybody trick you. (5) Lots of people are going to say “Look at me! I’m the Messiah!”  Lots of people will fall for it, but my coming will not be like that.

(6) Don’t freak out when wars happen; in the time before the end of this evil age, such things are par for the course. (7) Wars, famines, earthquakes (8) are just how it begins. (9) Before this age ends, you Twelve will be hated, betrayed, tortured, and killed because of me.

(10) Many will lose sight of the gospel.  They will betray and hate one another. (11) They will fall for get-religious-quick schemes. (12) They will live without healthy boundaries, and they will experience the consequences — cold and frightened hearts. (13) But not you guys.  Stick with me, and you will be safe from those perils. (14) You will spread the good news — that I am your king and defender — all over the place.  Then this age will end, and the new age will begin.

(15) Watch for the sign of Daniel: The abomination standing inside the Temple. (16) When you see that, get out of town.  Head for the hills.  Literally. Run into the mountains and hide.  Don’t waste a single second.  (17) Don’t run back into your house (18) to get your stuff. There will not even be time for that.  Just RUN. (19) It will be hard for those who are pregnant or have little kids.  (20) It will be even harder if it happens in winter, or on a Sabbath when people are crammed into the Temple courts. Pray that it will not be so. (21) Because that is where it will start — a massacre the likes of which you have never seen. (22) Without Papa’s intervention, absolutely everyone there would die. (23) But he will intervene.  He will intervene for you guys, the ones chosen to witness to what you have seen.

(23) Don’t fall for false messiahs. (24) There will be lots of them, complete with fancy tricks.  But you know me.  Don’t fall for it. (25) Don’t forget I told you this. (26) Don’t follow them to look for me hiding in a cave or basement. (27) You don’t need anyone to tell you where lightning is, because it brightens up the whole sky.  Likewise, you won’t need anyone to tell you the Son of Man has come to begin exercising his rule over all things.  When the destruction I have prophesied comes to pass, everyone will see it. (28) A hovering flock of vultures is visible to everyone.  No one needs to be told about the corpse on the ground beneath them.

(29) In the wake of all this carnage, everything will fall to pieces. Chaos galore!  Kings will fall.  Society will break down. Thrones will fail. The powers will be shaken to their foundations. (30) When this prophecy comes to pass, everyone will see me vindicated over my enemies.  They will see that I truly am what Daniel prophesied — the true Son of Man, now come to heaven to rule at the right hand of the Ancient of Days.  They will weep.  My enemies in Israel will see what Egypt saw [Isa 19.1] — The Son of Man making war on them from above, bringing their dark schemes to utter annihilation.  (31) His messengers will spread out to all corners of the earth, and their proclamation will gather Papa’s children to his arms.

~ John Stonecypher

The $#*% that’s About to Hit the Fan

A Christ-centered, Trinitarian paraphrase of Matthew 7:15-27

(15) Beware pious predators who come to exploit your fear and shame in order to lead you down the easy wide road of religion.  They are wolves disguised as sheep, but there is no reason for you to fall for their tricks. (16) You will know them not so much by listening to their words but by attending to the fruit they produce.  If a plant produces grapes, you know it’s not a thistle. (17) Ask yourself: Is the fruit of the Spirit being produced here? – Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, goodness, and self-control?  If yes, then you know it’s a healthy tree, a prophet of truth.  If no, then you know it’s a sick tree, a prophet of lies.  It’s as simple as that.  (18) It’s impossible for bad fruit to come off a good tree, or for good fruit to come off a bad tree. (19) The time is coming, and it’s very soon, when the bad trees will be consumed in flames. (20) Keep watch for them, and don’t eat their fruit.

(21) As you watch for the coming of that day, remember: Saying I’m your king is not the same thing as living under my saving rule.  You will experience the Triune life only to the extent that you share in my obedience to Papa. (22) When the fire of catastrophe hits this generation, many will call out my name, saying “My king, my king, we have performed so many cool religious tricks for you!  Shouldn’t that exempt us from experiencing the awful consequences of our awful behavior? (23) Then I will say: “Look, buddy, whatever kind of privileged relationship you think you have with me, you DON’T. Your actions and their consequences are YOUR business, not mine.  If you don’t like the results of your behavior, you might consider behaving in some other way.  It’s your choice, not mine. Look me up someday when you’re ready to stop playing this game.”

(24) Everyone who, instead of playing games, thinks and lives in accordance with the truth, is like the guy who built his house on a solid foundation. (25) The hurricane came and pounded that house, but the house survived because it had been built on something real, solid, and enduring. (26) But those who do not hear and believe and act on what I’m saying, they are like the guy who built his house on sand. (27) The hurricane came and pounded that house.  It washed all the sand away, and the house collapsed – not one stone left on another.  This is not a game.

~ John Stonecypher

Listen Up, Posers

A Christ-centered Trinitarian paraphrase of Matthew 7.1-14

Beware the temptation to manipulate others by acting like you are better than them. (2) When you do, you’re just teaching people how they should treat you. (3) While you’re busy offering “helpful advice” to your neighbor on how to get the speck of sawdust out of his eye, (4) you have a whole log stuck in your own eye. (5) Listen, poser… Go deal with your log.  Once you become a clear-sighted person, your neighbor might even ask you for help with his speck.  Until then, mind your own business.  (6) When he asks for help, that means he’s ready to receive help.  But until then, even good advice is as useful to him as a Bible is to a dog.  Pearls are useless and annoying to pigs.  So too are pearls of wisdom to people who haven’t asked for them.

(7) After all, that’s how free, distinct-but-not-separate persons relate – We ASK things of one another; we make REQUESTS. You know how it works:  You ask somebody for something, and then they give it to you.  You knock on the door, and then someone opens it. (8) This is not rocket science.  If you want something, ask for it.  If you want to find something, look for it.  If you want a door opened, knock on it.  We relate to our Papa in the same way.  (9) Think about your own kids.  When your kid asks for a snack, do you give him a rock? (10) Or if he asks for a cheeseburger, do you give him a snake?  Of course not!  (11) You’re not exactly a star in the sainthood department, but even YOU know how to give good things to your kids.  How much more will your Papa, who sits in the driver’s seat of the universe, give to his kids the good things they ask him for! (12) In all your dealings with people, treat them this way, the way you yourself want to be treated.  That is Scripture’s wisdom in a nutshell.

(13) There is only one Triune life of love, but there are a thousand ways to avoid it, to participate less than fully in it.  These paths are easy; that’s why most people take them.  The destruction that is coming on this generation will be the result of the easy paths they choose. (14) There is only one path that escapes that destruction, and it is hard, very hard.  It is the way of peace and truth and forgiveness, the way of the Triune life in this world.  Only a few are walking that road.  Be one of them.

~ John Stonecypher

Insider Trading, The Jesus Way

A Trinitarian, Christ-Centered Interpretation of Matthew 6:19-34

(19) I have an insider investment tip for you:  Your 401(k) isn’t as solid as you think; it’s tied up in assets that have no future, so get out now.  (20) Earth, Inc. is getting taken over by New Creation Corp.  It’s a done deal, but most people don’t know about it yet.  In the end, New Creation will be the only stock worth owning anyway, and it’s 100% guaranteed against depreciation and theft. It’s time to start dealing in the currency of the future – Love.

(21) By the way, your investment portfolio perfectly reveals what you actually believe in. (22) Your whole body lives according to whatever it is you fix your eye upon, whatever it is that fills your vision.  If your eye is healthy and clear, fixed on the things that matter, you get filled up with truth, and you live according to reality. (23) But if you fill your vision instead with a bunch of products you want to purchase, it blocks out the light, and you live in the dark. (24) I know what you’re thinking.  You’re thinking about ‘balancing’ your devotion to Papa and to Mammon.  You can forget that idea right now.  There’s no such thing as a person who makes sacrifices at both altars.  You have to choose.  Pick your god and quit waffling.

(25) The secret is this: Just chill out.  Really.  Don’t even stress about the necessities of life, like food and clothing.  To worry is to be out-of-touch with the real world.  (26) Birds know this.  They don’t even have jobs; they just enjoy feasting every day from Papa’s own hand.  Can you imagine the possibility that he cares for you at least that much? (27) Worrying – even about the basics of life – is a complete waste of time.  (28) Flowers know this.  Do you see them raising and shearing sheep, spinning yarn and weaving clothes for themselves? (29) Yet not even the most super of supermodels is so well-dressed. (30) Flowers live for a day, and Papa clothes them wondrously for that whole day. Can you imagine the possibility that he just might take such good care of you?  Can you look outside your blindness, see with my eyes and glimpse the truth?

(31) So again I say, chill out about things like food and drink and clothing. (32) Those who worry about such things don’t know the first thing about reality.  What’s real is the simple fact that YOUR DAD is in the driver’s seat of the world, and he’s well aware of your needs.  (33) Take all that energy you used to spend worrying, and spend it on New Creation instead.  Share in my work of setting the world right by earthing the Triune life within it.  And along the way, you and me, we’ll dress like flowers and eat like birds. (34) We will face today’s challenges today and tomorrow’s challenges tomorrow.

~ John Stonecypher

Healthy Habits for Living Loved: #1 – Secrecy

A Trinitarian Paraphrase of Matthew 6:1-16

(6.1) As you live out the Triune goodness in your life, beware the temptation to use it to impress people.  If love is a means to some other end, it is not love. (2) If ulterior motives are intruding into your attempts at love, try exercising the discipline of secrecy. For example, when you give to the poor, don’t publicize it. If you do it for publicity, publicity is all you’ll get.  You want more than that; you want to share in the Triune life of self-giving love. (3) So when you give to the poor, be sneaky about it.  Try to make it so nobody knows but you and Papa. (4) As this practice of secrecy kills off your ulterior motives, you will become more able to experience the joy of giving.

(5) If you want to impress people with your spiritual skills, just find a stage and perform a prayer on it.  It really works, if that is indeed what you want.  (6) But you want something more—real sharing in the eternal Triune conversation.  If your desire to impress people is poisoning your prayer life, try praying in private behind a closed door, where those ulterior motives won’t get in the way.  (7) And remember, our relationship with Papa is not magic.  There are no magic words or phrases that you need to use in order to make it ‘work.’  Long prayers are no better than short ones, and vice versa. (8) Don’t be like that.  Papa knows what you need even before you ask.

(9) You want me to teach you how to pray?  It’s REALLY complicated.  Watch this:

Hi, Papa.  We’re so happy you’re the one who’s running things.  You are wonderful to us; nothing compares to you. (10) More than anything else, we long for the day when the whole world will know you fully and happily work at your side. (11) But in the meantime, take care of our needs today. (12) Help us to share in your cheerful love for us and for everyone, despite the bad choices we will all make today. (13) Help us to respond wisely to today’s little trials, so that they won’t grow into big trials for tomorrow.  Help us to not believe lies today.

(14) Papa’s forgiveness is a funny thing: we receive it by giving it away to others. (15) When you refuse to give forgiveness to others, you are refusing to receive it from Papa. Not a real shrewd move.

(16) Anyway, back to the thing about secrecy… When you fast, don’t advertise what you’re doing.  That will work if you want to build a reputation as a ‘spiritual person,’ but that’s all you’ll get. (17) Instead, try being an undercover faster.  Wash your face and do your hair, (18) so it won’t be obvious you’re fasting.  The secrecy will kill off your ulterior motives, so that they won’t get in the way as you learn to live on Something other than bread alone.

~ John Stonecypher

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