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CORE 52 - Chapter 18: Play-dough and Purpose

Today is the first entry in the ECC Staff Blog page.  The purpose of our blog is to further the connection between our church staff and the ECC faith community. We want to use this to share our thoughts, pass along teaching, engage in conversation, encourage accountability and foster deeper discipleship.  For the time being, these weekly blogs will focus on our journey through CORE 52 by Mark Moore. We began this journey early in September and are now approaching the half way point of the year.  May these weekly thoughts (each Tuesday) help you as you continue to study God’s Word and take advantage of the many resources we have to enhance and clarify our studies.

Chapter 18 – Blessedness
Matthew 5:3 -12
When I was younger, I remember my mom would often make “homemade play-dough.”  I don’t remember all the ingredients, but for some reason I remember it having, “cream of tartar” and some type of peppermint oil. In my young mind, I could never figure out how tartar sauce could somehow be changed into play-dough but that’s a topic for another blog on another day.

The homemade play-dough was always just as good as the store bought stuff, and it smelled a whole lot better, too (I won’t share any comments on taste).  Like most young children, I would take that play-dough and form it into many different shapes like snakes and pizzas and rocks and the extremely popular ball shape.  It was quite malleable and would easily conform to whatever shape my tiny little hands would form it into. When we were done playing with it, we would store it in a Tupperware bin and save it for another day. Sometimes we would play with it for several days in a row, while other times it would be quite some time before opening it up again.  

I distinctly remember one time getting the play-dough out to use, and the container had been inadvertently left open, which was fine by me because getting those lids off the Tupperware bin was the hardest part.  When I grabbed the play-dough and tried to mold it and roll it out into a snake, it did not budge. It had dried out and had become rock hard. Apparently, homemade play-dough (or any play-dough for that matter) and fresh air do not mix! It was no longer any good to play with because I could not shape it or form it into the way I wanted.  The only thing it was good for was to force it down the drain and clog up the garbage disposal (just kidding, I never did that!).

After reading today’s essay from Mark Moore on the Beatitudes, Jesus’ great teaching from the Sermon on the Mount, several things left an impression on me:
1. “Many who are wealthy, popular, and powerful only magnify their misery.” In other words, you can’t buy happiness.
2. The Beatitudes weren’t all that new.  Being reminded of all the Old Testaments references of these same great teachings of Jesus reaffirmed by belief of the unchanging character of God.  He is the same today as He was yesterday and will be tomorrow.
3. How shocking it would have been for those listening to hear Jesus compare himself to the Law and to God.  Mr. Moore said, “Moses received the law; Jesus is the law.”
4. My favorite word from this passage is in Matthew 7:28 when it describes the people who heard these teachings of Jesus as “amazed.” Some translations will say “astonished.”  Jesus had taken everything they thought they knew and turned it upside down. It wasn’t about collecting awards, possessions or positions of power; it was about how to know God and His commandments – through Jesus.
But more than anything, the thought that made the biggest impact on me for this week was the last sentence of the essay: “Here’s the secret: happiness comes with having a higher purpose, not possessions or protection.”

When we submit ourselves and our desires and our dreams to the law and will of Christ, that’s when we have freedom, that’s when we have happiness. When we allow ourselves to be molded freely into whatever shape the Lord sees fit for us to be in, that’s when we find joy and bring the most glory to God. That's when we find our purpose.

My hope is that we may all avoid turning into immovable rocks (like dried up play-dough!) that are no longer able to be molded into usable and meaningful shapes, but rather we continue to allow God to mold us, shape us, roll us out, ball us up and even flatten us out when necessary with the ultimate goal of being a part of God’s upside-down Kingdom where possession and power don't matter and humility and obedience birth blessing.

Be good, be God’s,
Pete Ramsey