Yeast of the Pharisee ( by Carley Evans )


Nothing is more unjust, however common, than to charge with hypocrisy him that expresses zeal for those virtues which he neglects to practice; since he may be sincerely convinced of the advantages of conquering his passions, without having yet obtained the victory, as a man may be confident of the advantages of a voyage, or a journey, without having courage or industry to undertake it, and may honestly recommend to others, those attempts which he neglects himself.  — Samuel Johnson

Jesus warns “against the yeast of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.” (Luke 12:1, NIV) Jesus says the Pharisees pretend to love God. He says they “take away the key to knowledge” (Luke 11:52) and “load people down with burdens they can hardly carry.” (Luke 11:46) Then, Jesus reminds,”What is said in the dark will be heard in the daylight, and what is whispered in the ear in the inner rooms will be proclaimed from the roofs.” (Luke 12:3)

Jesus assures that “whoever acknowledges [Him] before men” — whether publicly or privately — “the Son of Man will also acknowledge him before the angels of God. But he who disowns [Jesus] before men” — whether privately or publicly — “will be disowned before the angels of God.” (Luke 12:8-9)

Jesus tells we who are Christians not to worry about “what [we] will say, for the Holy Spirit will teach [us] at that time what [we] should say.” (Luke 12:11-12) That time may be public or private, during accusation or conversation.

Hypocrisy is not failing to practice our beliefs; it is pretending to believe.

Heavenly Father, help us to acknowledge Jesus Christ always as Lord and Savior, Healer and Coming King. In Your Son’s Name, amen.

Mom Wants Sons to be Greatest ( by Carley Evans )


A mother wants the best for her child. She sees her child’s flaws, but she relishes her child’s abilities above and beyond those minor problems. Sometimes a mother does more than her children expect her to do, pushing ahead in an effort to be supportive or of assistance.

The mother of the sons of Zebedee finds Jesus. She kneels at His feet, and points to her two sons. Jesus asks, “What is it you want?” She says to Him that she wants one of her sons to sit at His left hand while the other son sits at His right hand “in [His] kingdom.” (Matthew 20:21)

This mother intervenes for her children. She asks the Lord, the Son of God, for special treatment for her two sons. Jesus does not speak to her; instead He turns to her sons, first telling them they have no idea what is being expected of them by their mother. He then asks, “Can you drink the cup I Am going to drink?” (Matthew 20:22) Each man says that he can. Likely neither wants to disappoint a loving mother. Jesus acknowledges that they are indeed going to drink of His cup, but that the two places “belong to those for whom they are prepared by My Father.” (Matthew 20:23)

Nothing more is said of the sons of Zebedee in regards to their response to this. Nothing more is said of their mother. However, when hearing of the request, the other ten disciples “are indignant with the two brothers.” (Matthew 20:24) Jesus calls everyone together and tells them about rulers and high officials lording over others with authority. Jesus says, “Not so with you.” (Matthew 20:26)

Jesus tells His disciples the secret to greatness is being a servant, even a slave to others. He reveals His own greatness is due to His willingness to serve rather than be served, and “to give His life as a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:28)

The mother of the sons of Zebedee does not know what she is asking.

Father God, help us to set aside our ambitions and serve one another in love. In Jesus’ Name, amen.

 

Not Going to Lie ( by Carley Evans )


Paul says, “I am not ashamed of the gospel.” I agree. I am not ashamed of the good news of Jesus Christ crucified for sinners.

And, I am not going to lie — I know a lot of sinners. First and foremost, I know myself. I also know heterosexuals who engage in sexual activity outside the boundaries of marriage; I know homosexuals who do the same. I know people who drink alcohol to excess; I know people who drink in moderation; I know people who refrain from drink completely — they are all sinners. I know people who love violent movies, filled with action. I know people who never go to the movies — actually I haven’t met many people who never go to the movies. I know people who read all sorts of books and magazines; I know people who burn all sorts of books and magazines; I know people who don’t read at all  — they are all sinners.

Guess what? I love them all. Know why? Because Jesus died for me, the worst of the sinners I know. If He loves me, then I love those whom He loves.

A Terrible Sense of Direction ( by Carley Evans )


Here in NYC in Central Park, I realize — quite palpably — my terrible sense of direction. Can’t see the sun; have no idea which way is east, west, north, south. Discover that although I can read a compass, I don’t readily trust a compass. Having read about the strong tendency to literally walk in circles when lost, I almost stand still.

I’m certainly glad my life compass is a person, not a thing. I’m relieved my path does not depend upon my terrible sense of direction. Rather, my guide is God, the Holy Spirit and my compass is His Word.

Thank You, Lord that I do not need to depend upon my own understanding. In Jesus’ Name, amen.

At 51 Park Place ( by Carley Evans )


I ride the subway downtown Manhattan to see the 9/11 Memorial site — I’ve looked forward to this for several weeks now. Coming out of the tunnel into the daylight, a man – a tour guide – confronts me with a smile. “Have you come for the memorial?” When I say I have indeed, he tells me what I should already know – “You have to have a ticket. The wait for tickets is like two to three weeks.” I laugh. Yep, that’s how naive I am. To think I can just walk right up to the 9/11 Memorial site. Ah well.

The other place I am hoping to see has no long lines and only a few visitors. A controversial place it is: the new mosque is actually an old city structure being renovated, not built from the ground up. Before I see it, I think it is a new building. It’s not. Prayers are taking place in the unfinished basement — I am not allowed to see that area. But the restrooms are adjacent and I see the socked feet of men in the other room, and I hear the intoned chants. I say to my daughter after laughing loudly at the handwritten signs “female” and “male” with big red arrows drawn below the titles, “Oh, they’re praying.” Then I whisper from that point on.

That it is a work in progress becomes apparent as my daughter pulls a shard of glass from the bottom of her converse shoe — the broken glass is all over the floor outside the restroom.

Upstairs, beautiful photographs of children adorn the large white walls. These children represent all the nations of the world, but each lives somewhere in the 5 boroughs of New York City. The child has to have been born in the nation she or he represents, or her parents must be from that nation. I find the baby representing Estonia. My children are Estonian-American. Such a lovely moment. We look at children from all over the world, delighted.

A man approaches me. He asks me if he may ask me some questions about the center on camera. I agree. He asks me if I believe different religions are capable of co-existing peacefully in the world today. And I say, “I don’t know. I really don’t know given the climate we live in. But, I hope so. I really do. I really hope so.”

Now, why do I say this when I genuinely believe the only way to God is through Jesus Christ our Lord? The answer is simple — just because someone does not believe as I do, I have no right to hate them. Hatred is self-destroying as well as other-destroying.

God is Love. In Him is no darkness at all.

Lost Post ( by Carley Evans )


I started a post yesterday entitled, “When Disappointment Becomes Anger” and promptly lost it when almost ready to publish the end result. I find that fact ironic – is that the correct term? Perhaps because I was writing about disappointment becoming anger, and anger becoming rage; I found I wasn’t angry. I was disappointed momentarily. Then, I thought perhaps the words were not helpful, not right, not to be published. God has a way of being in control of all things, you know. So, why be angry? Disappointed, yes. Angry, no.

Thank You, Lord that at all times Your purposes win over mine. In Jesus’ Name, I praise You.

Someone Explain ( by Carley Evans )


Outside in the rain just now, I wondered again why on the internet, Christians easily ‘speak’ of Jesus without any qualms? Yet, why it is that when I go to church, sit in the pew or on the modern conference chair, speak to those around me, later stand in the foyer [or lobby if it is a theatre-church] — why is it that no one speaks about the most important person in my life — Jesus.? Instead the conversation drifts to the movie seen last night, or the neighbor who plays that horrid loud music, or the boss that doesn’t understand, or the child who resists everything just to resist everything? Conversation? Actually, most of the time the talk is more akin to gossip. Why is it, if we are going to speak of Jesus at church, we have to join a ‘life group?’

How is it we claim that Jesus is the most important person in our lives, but we never talk of Him?