The Amazing Blessings of Living a Spiritually Rich Life

Monday morning ushers in the beginning of another work week. With a full week of activity ahead, Sweet T and I are looking forward to celebrating my Mom’s 80th birthday this coming weekend. In the decade since my Dad passed, we’ve watched my Mom grow deeper in her spiritual walk and grow closer to God. This has been a true blessing to us and all the people who know her. My Mom is a social butterfly; always kind, always generous. She’s deeply loved by her friends, many of whom she’s know for decades. She’s never met a stranger and she’s always willing to help someone.  Mom is a great example of what it means to live the Bible you read. She does that every day in the way she treats other people and goes about her daily routines. She’s got an incredibly bubbly spirit despite not always having the easiest of lives. Mom often reminds me of the popular pericope “The Widow’s Mite” found in the Synoptic Gospels of Mark and Luke.


The Widow’s Mite (Gospel of Mark)

41 And he sat down opposite the treasury and watched the people putting money into the offering box. Many rich people put in large sums. 42 And a poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which make a penny. 43 And he called his disciples to him and said to them, Truly, I say to you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the offering box. 44 For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.

Mark 12:41-44 (ESV)

My Monday Morning Cup

The Widow’s Mite (Gospel of Luke)

1 Jesus looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the offering box. 2 He also saw a poor widow put in two small copper coins. 3 He said, “I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put in more than all of them. 4 For they all offered their gifts out of their wealth. But she, out of her poverty, put in everything she had to live on.”

Luke 21:1-4 (NET)

The story is a lesson in poverty and prosperity based on the weights and measures of God’s economic scale. The widow, while physically poor, was rich spiritually. In contrast, the scribes, dressed in their long robes of pride, were rich physically but stood before the widow spiritually bankrupt. They had everything and gave only that which cost them nothing. She had nothing yet gave God her all.

There is more to walking the walking then simply talking the talk. Actions have always spoken louder than words. James, the half-brother of Jesus, makes it clear that our belief is expressed through our deeds. What we do, in other words, reflects what comes to our mind when we think of God.


14 What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, Go in peace, be warmed and filled, without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? 17 So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.

James 2:14-17 (ESV)

Me and MomSweet T and MomIMG_3236

My Mom will readily tell you that she doesn’t understand all the things of God. She has often said she doesn’t know her Bible as well as she would like. Yet, her actions show how deeply God’s truth is engrained in her. Her faith is self-evident in how she greets each day and every person she meets. Sweet T and I are thankful that the Lord has blessed us with her and grateful that she continues to be a blessing to others.

One of Mom’s gifts that she readily shares with others is her art. As long as I can remember, my Mom has always done artwork, particularly molding and sculpting original pieces from clay. This has provided her with the opportunity to spend quiet time with God and to share her love of art with others through the pieces she produces. Her artists circle consists of an eclectic blend of friends, each with their own unique talents.

Original Clay Pieces made by Mom © Karin I. Bantau

Mom models living a spiritually rich life. When we put God first, good things happen.

How about you? Do you feel spiritually rich today? I pray you do.

P.S. If you see Mom this week be sure to give her a birthday hug. Be sure to tell those you love that you love them. Better yet, do something that shows them how much they mean to you. None of us are promised tomorrow. Amen.

God is good all the time. All the time God is good!

Be Blessed and be a blessing.

#Spiritual Growth #More of Him Less of Me #Blessings

Exodus, Bob Marley, & Reggae

On June 3, 1977, Island Records released Bob Marley & the Wailers ninth studio LP “Exodus” and being both a music lover and the nostalgic sort, I’ve been revisiting this great album via my Spotify streaming service.

How we listen to music—mp3 versus vinyl—certainly has changed dramatically since 1977, a critical year in music, back before the world had seen it’s first MTV video. In general, 1977 was a wild year marked by the crazy events of the Summer of ’77.  While lots has happened in the 40 years since the sounds of Marley’s remarkable record first broke the audio barrier, great music is still great music.

Lyrics from “One Love”

One love, one heart
Let’s get together and feel all right
As it was in the beginning (One love)
So shall it be in the end (One heart)
Alright, “Give thanks and praise to the Lord and I will feel all right.”
“Let’s get together and feel all right.”

Copyright with Lyrics © Kobalt Music Publishing Ltd., Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Universal Music Publishing Group, Warner/Chappell Music, Inc..Written by BOB MARLEY, NEVILLE ORIL LIVINGSTON.

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With cuts featuring song titles like “Natural Mystic,” “Guiltiness,” “The Heathen,” “Exodus” and “One Love” it evident that Bob Marley & the Wailers 9th record covers soulful themes and flows from deep spiritual roots. The album incorporates elements of blues, soul, funk, and British rock.

The songs for the album were penned and created after an assassination attempt was made on Marley and his wife Rita in December of 1976, causing Marley to leave his lifelong home of Jamaica to spend exile in London. The mid-to-late 1970s were a turbulent political time in Jamaica and the title track “Exodus” was written by Marley in response to what was happening in his homeland.

The album is pure reggae and is exemplified by funky grooves and political overtones. It’s Martin Luther King Jr’s “I Have A Dream” speech or Lincoln’s “Gettysburg Address” with a reggae vibe and groovy beat.

Reggae is a Caribbean blend of musical elements culling from rhythm and blues, jazz, mento, calypso, African and Latin American music.

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What Makes Reggae Different?

Reggae is played in 4/4 time due to its symmetrical rhythmic pattern making it nearly impossible to do in other time signatures. Reggae mixes offbeat rhythms and staccato chords to create a unique sound.  Popular music typically center on beat One, also called the “downbeat”. By accenting the 2nd and 4th beats in each bar combined with the drum’s emphasis on the 3rd beat creates an infectious, groovy vibe.

The Wailers are a band of self-taught musicians that united their talents in 1963. The founding members included Hubert Winston McIntosh (Peter Tosh), Neville Livingston (Bunny Wailer) and Robert Nesta Marley (Bob Marley). The original members parted ways in 1976. Despite the breakup, Marley continued to make music under the “Bob Marley & the Wailers” name. “Exodus” was the first LP to feature the new Wailers lineup consisting of brothers Carlton(drums) and Aston Barrett (bass), Al Anderson, Earl “Chinna” Smith, Donald Kingsley, and Junior Marvin rotating out on lead guitar, Tyron Downie and Earl “Wya” Lindo on keyboards, and Alvin Patterson on percussion. The new band also featured the “I Threes” — Judy Mowatt, Marcia Griffiths, and Rita Marley— singing backup vocals.

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By the end of the 20th Century, Bob Marley and the Wailers “Exodus” was frequently featured among the lists compiling the “Greatest Albums of the Century.” In 1999, Time Magazine named “Exodus” the best record of the 20th Century.

So do yourself a favor and expand your musical horizons by checking out “Exodus,” by Bob Marley and the Wailers.



The War Between Pride and Humility

When pride comes, then comes disgrace,
but with humility comes wisdom.

Proverbs 11:2 NIV

Like others I know, I teeter between pride and humility. My ancestral roots wander back to Prussia, a once proud nation that lies in state vanquished into history and banished from the Earth. You might say I was born with an extra dose of Pride. My father was a proud man. He taught me to walk with confidence, chest out, head held high, and to act with pride. To my earthly father, pride was a virtue. Not so with my heavenly Father. My heavenly Father, our God, disdains pride. That is seen numerous times throughout Scripture.

emperor-wilhelm-i-2295375_1920 editTo learn more about Prussia watch this short video.

But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.” James 4:6 NIV

To fear the LORD is to hate evil; I hate pride and arrogance, evil behavior and perverse speech. Proverbs 8:13 NIV

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Instead of exalting Pride, the Lord values Humility. Being more godly is to walk with greater humility. This has never been easy but seems especially challenging in our celebrity-driven, consumerism culture.

We hear things like “The man who dies with the most toys wins.” (Book of Otis 1:1)

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The Word of God exalts humility above pride.

Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Ephesians 4:2 NIV

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves. Philippians 2:3 NIV  

Do you struggle with pride over humility? I know I do. Almost daily.

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 5:3

So how do we grow in humility and decrease in pride?

Humility is poverty in spirit, tempering our vain desire for personal greatness and directing us to a love for God and our fellow neighbors. Humility demands we submit ourselves to God in all circumstances and in every situation. All circumstances. Every situation. Even when we do not particularly care for the circumstances we find ourselves facing or the want to be in the situation we find ourselves in.

Humility does not mean we have a low self-opinion, but a lowly spirit, recognizing we are God’s creation and therefore we have value but not seeking to exalt ourselves above God or others. Growing in humility cultivates peace in our daily living and in our outlook. Being humble, we worry less, we trust more.

We can nurture our spirit of humility by being thankful, recognizing the efforts and needs of others before shining the spotlight on us, and remaining self-aware and truthful with ourselves. Growing in humility is no easy task. Not at first. You’ll never get to the point where you can take pride in your humility, although you may be tempted to on occasion.

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Being honest with ourselves means that we must take accurate daily inventory of our day, recognizing where we have stepped on others or wronged our neighbor and quickly make amends to repair any harm that may have occurred as a result of our prideful actions. Through our personal inventory, we aim to keep our list short, and recognize our strengths and our weaknesses and grow in our dependence on God to help supply what we need to overcome pride and flourish in humility.

Walking by faith and not by sight is a daily journey that demands constant attention. Diminishing our pride takes times. Our spirit of humility requires regular watering and intentional care to yield the fruits of our labor. Without humility, we will continue to fall short of the glory of God because pride overruns the most profoundly spiritual of men.