Journeys & Writings of Paul

Sunday, July 22, 2012


My life has been marked by the generosity of others.

I recognize that everything that I have been entrusted with thus far in my life I could have never have achieved without the love, support, and generous giving from an amazing base of supporters who have believed in my over the years.

I acknowledge this and yet still I put my hope not in government, not in family, not in friends, not in money, wealth, resources, but in the Lord. I say in my heart as the psalmist wrote, 
"I lift up my eyes to the mountains—where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD, maker of heaven and earth." -Psalm 121:1-2
Thinking about all the opportunities I have been afforded and how I have been a recipient many gracious gifts over the years, my heart overflows with gratitude. I only hope that I am able to be a blessing to others in the same way that I have been so amply blessed.

This verse has been the one running through my brain like a broken record as this gratitude has been deeply resonating with me:
"This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for one another. If any one of you has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in you? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue, but with actions and in truth." -1 John 3:16-18
My friends joke about me having only one facial expression: a huge smile. Whether I'm happy, excited, sad, mad, injured, what you'll likely see is a smile. I smile when I frown, when I cry, even when I'm seriously injured (see photo below); I have come to realize that this can be a huge source of confusion. Though admittedly I sometimes use my smile to mask my sadness, fear, anxiety, or anger, I would say 96% of the time my facial expression is a true reflection of what my heart is feeling, even if the circumstance and my face don't match according to what it "should be". What my heart feels is joy from God, whose generosity I am most deeply grateful for above all else!

Photo credit: Anna? I smiled the entire night that I busted my head open, though I was in some serious pain and extremely sick.

Monday, July 9, 2012

The kingdom of heaven is like

I woke up with the parable of the pearl of great value in my mind one day last week. I got up and read the passage, which got me thinking. This blog post is a product of my pensive mood as I have been chewing on this. It's still raw, so be gentle with me.

The kingdom of heaven. Or as Jo-Ann Brant would be proud of me perhaps to have learned from her class, the reign of heaven/reign of God.

The kingdom of heaven is like…

There is such depth to Scripture. So the kingdom of heaven could mean: the literal place of heaven, the kingdom of God on earth, the presence of God, the value of a relationship with God, or perhaps elements of salvation, justification, sanctification, mercy, grace; or all these things wrapped up in one? Yes. And I don’t know. This is what Jesus says in a parable:
“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.
Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.”
-Matthew 13:44-46

The kingdom of heaven appears to you, comes upon you. When you find it and realize that there is nothing else like it, nothing else worthy of investing in, then you will sell all of your possessions literal and figurative so that you may obtain it.

The kingdom of heaven is sought out. There is nothing in this life worth living for. Not wealth, not fame, nothing. When you discover that heaven is the only thing of value in life, it is the treasure that you have always been looking for, you will be compelled to sell everything to have it.

Ironically, for the greatest and most valuable gift available, there are not enough resources that you could ever obtain to trade in for it. Thanks be to God for his son Jesus, the savior of the world, standing in the place as the pure payment so that I may receive the greatest gift without cost.

This makes me think of the following first few verses in Isaiah 55: “Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come buy wine and milk without money and without cost.”

And finally from Matthew 6:21, “for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."

I have been thinking a lot lately about where my heart is and what motives lie within; my mind is swirling with thoughts, my own mingled with memorized snipits of Scripture.