Dentists and Pearls

March 17, 2011

Scripture: Matthew 7:1-6

I dread going to the dentist.  It is not the stylings of Celine Dion in the waiting room, the metal scrapers or even the screams of the children in other rooms.  It is the judgments towards my personal hygiene I receive.

“You need to floss more . . . drink less coffee . . . go to the dentist more . . . etc.”

I understand it is a dentist’s job, but the problem is, the only thing I want to hear them say is, “No cavities today!  Great Job, Mr. Tomeo!”  I don’t need a lecture.

I wonder if the same reason I don’t want to go to the dentist is the reason many people don’t want to go to church?

Jesus, in the Sermon on the Mount, just got done teaching us how to entrust ourselves to God (don’t worry, don’t store up treasures in heaven, etc.), now he teaches us how to entrust others to God.  Essentially, he says:

  1. God’s job is to judge (make eternal decisions about peoples’ souls); let God be God (v. 1-2).
  2. Only when your desire to be God is gone, can you help someone get rid of his or hers. (v. 3-5)
  3. Some people cannot appreciate the pearls (truth) you have, so don’t throw any to them (v. 6).

How are you making eternal assumptions about people in your life?  What planks need to be removed from your eye so that you can help others remove their specks?  Where are you throwing pearls to people who have no idea what to do with them?


In a world where Christian practices have a tendency to become repetitive and redundant, Nora Gallagher writes The Sacred Meal.  In this work, she details her journey of practicing the Holy Meal and recounts her significant experiences at the Table.  She encourages the reader to look past the ordinariness of the bread and wine and past the doctrinal squabbles that have a tendency to overshadow the sacred.  She invites the reader to be fully present (with all our sins, with all our questions, with all our doubts, with all our victories) at the Eucharist of Christ so that we will be free to experience the glorious mysteries that surround it and use our experiences at the Altar to propel our work for the kingdom.

I found Gallagher’s work to be both insightful and challenging.  I appreciate that she does not dwell on the various doctrines that people hold for Communion and focused more on what it means to experience and remember Christ.  It is a simple read as it is mainly biographical and does not rely on big theological words to get her point across.  She simply presents her three-step approach to Communion (the waiting, the receiving and the afterward) and attempts to persuade the reader that communion is not something that can be mastered, but a place we should return to often so that we can exercise our Spiritual muscles and have experiences of the Holy in our world.

I would recommend to anyone who has ever come to the Table of Christ in a passive manner or who has interest in Christian practices that you take a look at Gallagher’s work as it is a practical and extremely readable guide to an event that we participate in often, but might not think deeply through often enough.

Thank you to Book Sneeze for giving me a chance to review this book.  These opinons are my own.

The Right Questions

March 8, 2011

Matthew 6:25-34

What shall we eat?  What shall we drink?  What shall we wear?

“The world’s trinity of cares” (C.H. Spurgeon, The Gospel of the Kingdom).  All three of them address our most essential needs on earth and all of them have the effect of turning us into animals who exist simply to survive.

Jesus steps into this world and brings a message that we are more than animals, more than grass; actually, we are “blessed.”

What Jesus is saying goes much deeper than, “Don’t worry about things.”  He is saying, “You are free from a life where your purpose is merely to continue living.  I have blessed you and am sustaining you so that you can be freed to pursue a life in the kingdom of heaven which begins when you come to the end of yourself and start your life with me (or, when you are poor in spirit).”

Central to this teaching of Jesus is that we are called to ask different questions as citizens of heaven than would, otherwise, fill our minds as citizens of this world:

  • They ask, “What shall we eat?”  We ask, “What shall we do to bring heaven to people?”
  • They ask, “What shall we drink?”  We ask, “Whom shall we love so that we may display the light of Christ in the darkness?”
  • They ask, “What shall we wear?”  We ask, “What shall we give so that we can be the vessel that God will use to fulfill his promise of nourishment to someone else?”

Let us be people who are wise enough to ask the right questions.

“Farewell Rob Bell?”

March 7, 2011

If you follow the Christian culture at all, I am sure you have seen this video or read something similar to this (a blog post which has made the insinuation that author and pastor, Rob Bell, has come out of the universalist closet and claimed there is no such thing as hell).  Several people have asked me my thoughts, here are a few of them:

  1. He is trying to sell a book – Rob Bell is a superior marketer.  I am pretty sure that at least some of this is ginned up controversy to sell more books (he is currently number 13 on Amazon and his book is not even out yet).  I will reserve my full judgment until I read it.
  2. God is bigger – God is bigger than anyone’s bad theology.  Man’s wisdom is foolishness to God; I know that I have built some of my boxes to put God in too small.  God is bigger than Rob Bell and I trust God’s influence in this world over Rob Bell’s.
  3. God is indescribable – Bell is doing what any of us can do.  He is trying to put words to an indescribable God.  Of course his words are gonna fall short.  When people start worshipping their words about God and not God, that is when they get into trouble.
  4. True victims – The true victims of this book teaser (remember, the actual book has not come out yet) are not the unsuspecting non-Christians who have read the pieces or seen this video.  Whatever Rob Bell writes, it is a shame what this book teaser has made some other Christian leaders say about a man who simply has opinions.



March 3, 2011

Scripture: Matthew 6:19-24

The allure of accumulating much in this world is strong, but Jesus warns us against such a posture in this week’s passage, telling us to store up, for ourselves, treasures in heaven.  He goes on to compare our eyes to lamps and declaring that we cannot serve both God and money (Matthew 6:22-24).

Significant thoughts:

  1. Present – In context, Jesus is not talking of heaven on clouds with harps and expensive streets.  He is speaking of heaven in the present tense throughout the Sermon on the Mount.  When he says that we should store up for ourselves treasures in heaven, he is saying we should be rich in love and deeds, which further the kingdom of heaven here and now.
  2. Light – Just as we are to be lamps illuminating the kingdom of heaven on earth (Bring the flava, bring the gleam), the eye is the lamp to our bodies.  This is Jesus’ practical way of saying, “Point your eyes in a direction that will further your desire, not for things of this world (which rust), but for things of God (faith, hope, love, etc.).
  3. Rust – If your only desire is to accumulate lots of things that rust, it will blind you to ways in which you can bring heaven here.  Therefore, if you are desire is only gold and silver, you are considered an enemy to God.

The Apostle Paul, talking to Timothy about wealth (I Timothy 6:10-11) calls him to, “. . . flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness.”  Where have you pointed your eyes lately that has caused you to seek after possessions (which rust)?  In what ways do you need to flee wealth and pursue heavenly treasures?

Let us be people who seek after heaven with our eyes and not after hell with our wallets.