How Do You Respond? by Ps Michael Podhaczky

We can tell a lot about people by watching how they respond in certain situations. In fact, others can tell a lot about us by watching how we respond in certain circumstances. They can pick up on things like attitude, frame of mind and maybe even our motives.

Whether we realise it or not, our attitude, frame of mind and motives are always on display to God. There is a story that Jesus told at the end of His Kingdom teaching in Matthew chapters 5-7 that brings this out. In Matt 7:24-29, Jesus speaks of two houses and two responses; then Matthew says,
28 “When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at His teaching, 29 for He taught with real authority—quite unlike their teachers of religious law” (Matt 7:28-29 NLT).
What does it mean, “Jesus taught with real authority—quite unlike their teachers of religious law”?  Typically, scribes taught by quoting what earlier rabbis had previously said. However, when Jesus taught, it was direct and authoritatively citing and reinterpreting Scripture. For example, He used the phrase “You have heard that our ancestors were told, but I say…” or something similar throughout Matt 5-7.

In Matt 4:25 it says, “Great crowds followed Him from Galilee, and from the 10 Towns, Jerusalem, Judea, and from east of the Jordan.” Then chapter 5:1 began by saying, “And seeing the multitudes, He went up on the mountainside…” Jesus did not use the traditional rabbinic teaching methods; rather, He used a thought-provoking approach of Kingdom teaching to draw out a response from the listeners to agree or disagree with Him.

The message is still relevant today; it is still thought-provoking and seeks a response from you, the listener, to agree or disagree with Jesus. Our frame of mind and even our motives still tell us today about ourselves. Remember, these are always on display to God, as He wants us to grow and become His Christ-like children.

Pause in His presence for a moment and think this over

"Really?" by Ps Michael Podhaczky
Really? It seems that wherever we look social media is alight with one person or another having a go at someone else, for some reason. This is not new; humans have always had opinions and fought to make them number one in the social scheme of things. But now many have a huge public platform to push their opinions. 

For example, “Fake news. Social media outrage. Political polarization. Ideological bullying. These are just a few of the centralizing characteristics of our current social climate… 
It should not surprise us, then, that our collective cultural head is spinning as we simultaneously attempt to hold together a persistent insistence on ideological tolerance and a call for radical justice outrage… social bullying and bigotry”1

Really, we need to act like this? Why, what is going on with us humans? Well that’s just it; we are self-centred, self-righteous and overflowing with pride. We all need to take a chill pill and pause before we fly into action with our ninja fingers on the keyboard. Namely, when first hearing anything that’s against our opinions, we need to think and consider the one we may hurt if we give them a social hacking.

 We may need to ask ourselves questions like: 
• Do we have all the facts? 
• Have both sides had a chance to speak? 
• Is this a matter worth my time or and the pain that I might cause? 
• Am I inspired by a desire to glorify God with my response? Or, am I jumping on a bandwagon of outrage because it seems like the thing to do?
• Am I truly seeking to better the society in which I live if I engage in lightning fast animal reactions to each and every politically polarising social media story that streams across my computer? 

So, instead of getting outraged by others options let us commit to making wisdom great again. We can start to do so by asking God for grace to put in practice the great wisdom principle of the Saviour, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you (Lk 6:1 NLT).”2

Or as it has been said in the Message version, “Here is a simple rule of thumb for behaviour: Ask yourself what you want people to do for you; then grab the initiative and do it for them! If you only love the lovable, do you expect a pat on the back? Run-of-the-mill sinners do that. If you only help those who help you, do you expect a medal? Garden-variety sinners do that. If you only give for what you hope to get out of it, do you think that’s charity? The stingiest of pawnbrokers does that” (Lk 6:31-34 The Message (MSG). 

Pause in His presence for a moment and think this over… 

1 “Let’s Make Wisdom Great Again.” (24th January 2019). 
2 “Let’s Make Wisdom Great Again.” (24th January 2019).
Who’s at the Centre? Part Four

So, this idea of ‘Centring’ is something that any Christ-follower can do. We do not need an education, a position or a title. We might need an example (although we do have Jesus), but we may also need a person to walk with us as we work out the best way to do this. In reality, however, any Christ-follower can be skillful at centring others.

Let me ask you a shocking question, and see how you wouldanswer?
“How would you kill your neighbour?”
That is, “Have you got someone in your sights to take down?”
Hmm, these are very important questions relating to ‘Who’s at the centre?’ Now we could use a weapon or something that we find at hand. However, there is something that is far more effective to kill your neighbour.

The best weapon to kill your neighbour with is love! This is exactly what we are to do wherever we have been placed. Jesus said that is what He did, and that His followers are to do the same.
34 “So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. 35 Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are My followers” (Jn 13:34-35 NLT).
Previously Jesus had already acknowledged the summary commandments of the Old Testament, Matt 22:37-40. But here He goes one further by givinga new commandment to do as He has done.

So, the challenge is not to kill your neighbour with a weapon and especially with your tongue (Jas 3:1-12), but with love. How do we go about doing this to those around us? Just like Jesus did by ‘Centring’ others and loving them. That is, seeking their highest good, regardless of whether they return this love or not.

Pause in His presence for a moment and think this over

Who’s at the Centre? Part 3 by Ps Michael Podhaczky

In the previous blog, we were introduced to what may be called ‘Centring.’ Namely, bringing into focus, or highlighting the fact that others need to be at the centre of our thoughts and actions and not our self. Continuing on centringas a Kingdom of God lifestyle, I would like to ask a question. “What is conceivably the best illustration of centring that we could inspire us?”

For me, it would have to be when Jesus humbled Himself and washed the disciple’s feet (John 13). He chose the place of a servant and served them. Do not forget that also included washing Judas’ feet,
4 “So He got up from the table, took off His robe, wrapped a towel around His waist, 5 and poured water into a basin. Then He began to wash the disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel He had around Him… 12 After washing their feet, He put on His robe again and sat down and asked, ‘Do you understand what I was doing?’  14 And since I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash each other’s feet” (Jn 13:4-5,12,14 NLT).
Wow, what a powerful image and example of the Kingdom of God. Jesus was centring the disciples as He served them, and showed them how it is done.

Jesus said that His followers were to wash the feet of others. What would this look like for us today? How can we take the focus off ourselves, humble ourselves and serve those around us? Can we do this despite the cost and what others might say about us?

Pause in His presence for a moment and think this over

Who’s at the Centre? Part 2 by Ps Michael Podhaczky

As was said in the last blog, there are different ways we can live our life, but in most cases, we are at the centre of them. Yes, we need to be kind to ourselves. However, we need also deliberately to put others at the centre of our focus. This is something that Paul told the local Philippian church to do when he said,
“Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too” (Phil 2:4 NLT)

Now, if we are honest, sometimes this can be hard to do. We can all have this struggle to serve others and place them at the centre. This could be called ‘Centring,’ that is, bringing into focus, or highlighting the fact that someone else is at the centre of our thoughts and actions and not our self. It is an intentional choice to put others first above ourselves. It is taking ourselves out of the centre and put someone else in the centre. It is similar to
“The action or process of placing something in the middle of something else.”[1]

Paul had this to say about Jesus the King of kings, the Almighty God who placed others at the centre,
5You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had7 He gave up His divine privileges; He took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being.” (Phil 2:5,7 NLT).
That is He came centring those around Him as He livedout what the Kingdom of God life looked like to the world. Do we really have the same attitude that Jesus had? One way to test this is to ask those around us how we are doing in this area.

Pause in His presence for a moment and think this over

Who’s at the Centre? Part 1 by Ps Michael Podhaczky

There are different ways we can live our life. However, I would dare say in most cases that we are at the centre. That is, we are the focus; it is all about us and our rights. This is the way that most of humanity lives. We are taking care of business for ourselves, our family, home, business and friends etc. But is this the most righteous way to live?

I will be provocative and say: it is not. This is especially the case if we are Christ-followers. Why are we at the centre of our thinking and living a lot of the time? Yes, we have been given new life with all of its blessings and gifts. It is true thatwe benefit from this, but it is not all about us. The blessings and gifts are, in fact, for those around us. They are to be used as we seek first His righteousness, His kingdom and do His will as it is done in Heaven. We are to do this here where we have been placed.

As His children, we are here to reach out to those around us in His love and share the Good News. Those around us need to be the centre of our focus and efforts. This was the way that Jesus lived out the Kingdom of God life. For example, He said,
“For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give His life as a ransom for many” (Mk 10:45 NLT).

If this was Jesus’ focus, and we are His followers, what makes us think that we are excused from putting others at the centre of our life here while we are still living? We need to lift our eyes off ourselves and our own and see others at the centre. We need to serve others and give our lives accordingly. This is the most righteous way to live.

Pause in His presence for a moment and think this over