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year with jesus

Jesus’ Gifts

“Then he led them out as far as Bethany, and, lifting up his hands, he blessed them. 51 While he was blessing them, he withdrew from them and was carried up into heaven.”

Luke [24:50]-51

On the fortieth day of Pentecost and after the resurrection, Jesus had gathered the believers. He blessed them and rose back to heaven, leaving behind an earthly legacy of great gifts for humankind. Through his birth, earthly mission and the resurrection he gave us many things. He absorbed our sins and redeemed the believers of humankind. He revealed God’s values to all that would hear and listen. Values centered on, “Loving God and our neighbor.” He taught that we follow the laws of God through our heart. He cured many and showed the importance of our faith in our own healing. His very presence was proof of a very present and loving God. A God that offers a life of hope through the risen Christ.

Points of Reflection

  • List three gifts that Jesus has given you.
  • How do you feel Jesus’ presence in your life?
  • What legacy and gifts would you like to give to humankind?

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year with jesus

The Holy Spirit

“Hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.”

Romans 5:5

The Holy Spirit lives within our hearts. It both shows us God’s love and helps us with our lives. The Holy Spirit’s very essence is part of our being, an inheritance from God. Through our hopes and dreams, the Spirit is both part of and an advocator for their fulfillment. Understanding the Holy Spirit is a vital part of understanding Pentecost. On the fiftieth day after the resurrection, the Holy Spirit descended for all. The Spirit is our direct line to God, the single element that resides within us that is also part of God. In our lives, when our heart talks to us, we are hearing God. The Spirit within our heart knows the right and just course in our lives. Our task is to nurture and rely on this gift from God.

Points of Reflection

  • How do you feel the Holy Spirit within yourself?
  • How often do you call upon the Holy Spirit to help you with life?
  • When you pray or read the Bible, do you call upon the Holy Spirit for guidance?

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year with jesus

Jesus Asks Us to Follow Him

“As he walked by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea—for they were fishermen. 19 And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fish for people.” 20 Immediately they left their nets and followed him.”

Matthew [4:18]-20

When Jesus calls us to follow him, it means a giving up of those illusionary things that we believe gives us a purposeful life. However, in following Jesus we begin to create a purposeful life that is not illusionary. We give up things that bind us and create a false want. We give up a chasing of material things that only temporarily soothe us. We acquire a different perspective on what is important. When we follow Jesus the ways of the world dim, replaced by the truer life of being a disciple. Fear of scarcity is replaced with hope, love, and faith.

Points of Reflection

  • What limits us from following Jesus completely?
  • What changes could we make in our lives that free us to follow?
  • What is our most important possession?

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year with jesus

“Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight.”

Luke [24:31]

After the resurrection, Jesus walked to Emmaus with two disciples. Along the way, neither recognized Jesus but listened to his story. When they arrived in Emmaus, they sat down for a meal, and the risen Jesus prayed. Upon hearing the prayer, the two immediately recognized that Jesus had been with them. Jesus vanishes from their sight, but they are left as believers in the power of Jesus and the resurrection. Our lives are the same, as we journey on our way to our life’s Emmaus, we will also be visited by Jesus. Who will tell us his story? Upon our recognition, he will vanish from our earthly senses and reside in our hearts. No longer will we rely on believing in what we see, but believing in the power of the unseen.

Points of Reflection

  • Why is it hard for us to recognize Jesus?
  • What does “Faith in the unseen” mean to you?
  • Name instances in your life where Jesus was with you, but you recognized his presence after the fact.

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year with jesus

“Love never ends. But as for prophecies, they will come to an end; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will come to an end.”

1 Corinthians 13:8

The very essence of all that lies in the Gospel and Jesus’ mission on earth was to love. It is the one trait and gift from God to which we all can excel. A message that Jesus not only stated but walked. He cured the sick, uplifted the poor in spirit, and gave us a new life. Simply stated, all Jesus asks of us is to “Love our God, Love our neighbor.” We may be gifted orators, have great knowledge and ability to see worldly things, but all this will is momentary and all that will be left is our capacity to love.  Money, power, and fame are fleeting, but love is everlasting. During our barest moments, it is love that reconciles our existence.

Blessings, until next time,
Bruce L. Hartman

 

Points of Reflection

  • During this week, how did you show love to your neighbor?
  • Why is love the most important attribute of our Christian faith?
  • List three ways this week you showed love to God and your neighbor?

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he is risen

“Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.”

–LUKE [22:42]

THE EASTER STORY AND ETHICS

Late at night in an ancient Judean garden, a man in his early thirties asked, “Are you sure this is the only way?” It was the third time that evening the young man had returned to the garden, each time with the same request: “Are you sure?” He was met by silence, but the answer was clear. The fullness of his humanity exposed, he was sweating to the point of bleeding. “Not my will but yours,” he reluctantly assented. He knew what lay ahead. Betrayal by his friends and humiliation in front of his community. An agonizing beating that would tear the skin from his back. A trek carrying his cross to a hill. Death by crucifixion. All this he and he alone had to undergo in order to connect humanity with God. In fact, he was creating a flower for humankind called Easter. (From the preface in Jesus & CO.)

“By doing “God’s will” Jesus created Easter.”

Today’s verse reveals the answer to the critical question that had to be answered before Jesus could create the Easter story. A question of “What ought He to do?” In His answer, He puts aside His human desire to avoid the pain that would follow by giving in to “what he ought to do.” He knew the struggle that would follow by agreeing to God’s way. In His humanness, Jesus desired a different way. After much prayer and thought, He gave in to God’s will and marched forward. By doing “God’s will” Jesus created Easter.]

“The fundamental question of Christian ethics is “What ought we to do?”

In our own lives we are often confronted with the question, “What ought we to do?” Certainly in our lives this we will not be confronted with a situation that is as dramatic as Jesus’s in the garden. But in every day we all have to answer the fundamental question of Christian ethics of “What ought we to do?” Sometimes the question arises hourly, perhaps even minute by minute.

The Easter story is one of salvation and freedom, but hidden in Jesus’s struggle in the garden is the very essence and answer of what it takes to be an ethical Christian. While the answer seems simple, follow Gods will, it is hard to always comply. We are often beset by the temptation to walk away or ignore the right path. We may become offended by our neighbor or face a task that will require us to suffer short term pain. But when we model Jesus’s behavior in the garden we reach higher places. We walk the harder road that is shorter. We put out fires with the “living water” and not gasoline.

This Easter, let us all consider the question that Jesus dealt with in the garden, “What ought we to do?”

 

Blessings, until next time,
Bruce L. Hartman

 

PARTING THOUGHTS

How often do we think about, “What ought we to do?”

What problem arose this day that had to be resolved?

This is my Father’s World, to Share

We have crossed over into the northern part of the trail.  We are excited to be in more familiar lands. Looking forward to the many places we have visited in the past. We have now been in nine states and walked well over the eleven hundred mile mark. We have also found a new sense of joy and an added purpose to this walk, to share this world with others.

Friends and family who have expressed a desire to see and experience what we have seen. To try out the climbs and cross milestones with us. To see the changing states and walk by the mile markers of each one hundred mile marker.

Into this world, we invite them to hear the birds singing praise, dine with other hikers and experience God’s creation in person. While this sharing will slow our progress, it also provides us with a new and added reason to walk. To share “Our Father’s World.” It is the joy in their eyes we will see. For them a new sense of nature. It reminds me of a song I often played on my piano, “This is my Father’s World.” Whose lyrics are:

This is my Father’s world
And to my listening ears
All nature sings, and round me rings
The music of the spheres

This is my Father’s world
The birds their carols praise
The morning light, the lily white
Declare their maker’s praise

This is what we see and feel every day. It is now our turn to share. From old friends to daughters and grandchildren to brothers and sisters. A special joy will be felt when we see my parents and walk a few steps with them. Sure we will have to adjust our schedule, but it also provides us with a chance to share. Other hikers we have gotten to know will march forward on their glorious journey of discovery, while we share.

We will share and be glad we did.

When Myron Avery helped create the Appalachian Trail, he wanted to create an accessible place for people to visit, even if it is only a few miles. A place that is pure in its expression of the beauty that is nature. A place that all, young and old can see. We now have this chance to share in this dream. A journey not measured by marching many miles, but a journey of experience. Exposure to a place that changes our perspective of what is important.

We look forward to being with, Bern, Taylor, Kenny, Doug, Chrissi, Luke, Ashley, Roger, Ann, Bob, Dot, Jimmy, Penny, Greg, Betsy, Spencer, Nevin, Anna, and Eva. These are the people we hope to see. They won’t slow us down, but give us a chance to share.

Our first companions were Chrissi and Kenny.

Connie’s twin sister and her husband. It was a treat to have Kenny, a professional pastor, say our morning prayer. We taught them how to climb a mountain without stopping for a rest. With a steady pace that was within their ability, by using short steady steps. In this day they covered a variety of terrain that is similar to our typical day. They got to experience the wonder of majestic views. They were with us when we crossed the 900-mile mark. We had lunch on a rocky outcrop that provided views of the Shenandoah’s. At the end of the day, we were proud of what they had accomplished and glad to have shared.

The picture today is one of Kenny and Chrissi, at the outcrop where we had lunch.

Below is a picture of Luke walking with Papa Bruce.

Luke, my grandson, and Ashley my daughter have also come to visit as well. In this visit, we were able to walk a few miles on the trail to a rock outcrop with views of the Shenandoah valley. A visit where Luke reached beyond his fear of heights to see this glorious view and show his dad by FaceTime his achievement. Moments which we get to share that reshape our journey.

 

 

 

 

Below is a picture of Bern and Connie.

Our most recent visitor was Bern, a long and dear friend. Bern walked with us in Maryland and West Virginia, near Harpers Ferry.  Bern was with us for the start of the rocks that are strewn across the paths on the northern part of the trail. In two days Bern covered 18 miles of tough terrain, climbed a 1300 peak and was there for the walk into Harpers Ferry while crossing the Shenandoah River footbridge. An amazing feat on Bern’s part.

This is not a typical event on the trail.

It is hard for visitors to maintain the same pace of hikers who have walked many days. But sharing is now part of our journey. One we will enjoy, helping others share in what we have seen. Our hiked morphed long ago into one of experiencing the trail and not just walking the miles. We met people much earlier in the hike who told us they wished they had experienced more in their thru-hikes. They wished they had stopped a few more times to see more than just the miles. Some have returned, like Magellan, who hiked the trail in 2016. He told me this second journey was not about time tables or the miles. Later this summer he will join his son in Maine to climb Mount Katahdin.

We welcome our visitors and thank them for helping create a wonderful experience. This trail is for all to hike and experience. These are visits to “Our Father’s World.” Moments that immerse people into the glory of creation.

Blessings, until next time,
Bruce L. Hartman