It Is Not About This, It’s About You

Jesus Christ doesn’t what you to know so much that I’ve got “this” as much as He wants to make it perfectly clear and for you to never doubt that I (as in Jesus Christ) have you! I have you in all My Love, Power and Strength. You see the “this” is not what Christ is concerned with. He is concerned with you. Most of the time, the “this” is worldly stuff. Jesus says I’m not going to focus on the “this” and I don’t want you to either. I am focused on you so please focus on Me. Rest assured My Power will always defeat whatever “this’s” come against you. Christ asks us: Focus on Me as I am focused on you and there will be no room to focus on or fear “this”. Jesus Christ wants you to know; as this very moment and for all eternity: I have you.

Silencing the Shrill Voice of the Enemy

Let’s take a deep breath. And then another one, deeply filling our lungs with life giving air and slowly, peacefully releasing that air to bring a state of calm. There are many, so many shrill, almost deafening voices screaming: “WE’RE UNDER ATTACK!”. The “we” they speak of can be any segment of society: a gender, a race, a political party, a religion, a marriage stance. Sometimes it’s more personal, I’m under attack, by family, friends and/or coworkers and I don’t know why. First I’m here to say that there is an attack going on and it’s against all of us no matter which segment of society we are. This enemy wants us to strike back and out mindlessly, if struck and better yet, to strike first at any perceived threat or offense. This enemy wants all love, forgiveness, patience and desire for understanding purged as contemptible weaknesses to be supplanted with desires for hate, revenge and destruction of any and all others who are different. Jesus Christ met this enemy and defeated him at every turn. Yet notice this, Christ’s followers, after His resurrection, were attacked, hated and persecuted mercilessly, yet being in Christ, they never preached revenge. They never called upon Christ’s followers to take on hate, revenge and the destruction of those who were against them. In Jesus Christ let us silence the shrill voices in our own head. Then, also in Jesus Christ, let us not be an enabler of the other shrill voices outside of us but instead, let love be the answer, forgiveness our focus and service our desire. Take a moment to breathe in a very deep breath of Jesus Christ and expel the hate of the enemy.

 

Lesson From the Backyard The Power of the Sun and the Son

Lesson from the backyard. Yesterday was cold, the temperature hovered around freezing the entire day. Then, when you walked outside, the strong wind hit you like a brick wall of cold. It made it difficult to stay outside. Yet and interesting thing, when out of the wind, the sun was so bright, the light and the heat so strong, that even with the cold temperature it was comfortable enough to be outside without even a coat on. The comfort from the sun completely overcame the discomfort of the coldness of the air. You probably know where I’m going with this but as we enter this season of Lent, it would be good for us to reflect on the power of the Son, Jesus Christ who came down to us and lives today as the Light who overcomes any and all earthly darkness and frigidness. Though here’s where the comparison ends. For you know the sun is on the outside and thus its effects are not constant. In fact the world gets in the way many hours of a day leaving us in darkness. However, the Light and Power of Jesus Christ comes from the inside and thus never leaves us and can never be blocked or diminished by earthly means. Jesus Christ said and meant it literally when He said He is the Light of the world. Let us seek out that Light, live into that Light and share that Light with the world.

Never Experience a “You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling” Moment

Have you ever been in the presence of someone who really loves you? I mean someone who loves you for just being you? It could be a parent, child or other relative, a spouse, a partner, or a close friend. Think to those moments and the incredibly uplifting power that comes from them. Think about how those moments impacted your entire being and perception. Reflect on how you so wanted to return that love and wish all could experience and live that way. Sadly within the human and earthly realm, those moments are all too fleeting. Yet our Heavenly Father wants us to know that, with Him those moments don’t have to be fleeting at all. With Him, His love is constant, never changing and unconditional. His power to uplift is never distracted by the cares or obstacles of this world. How do we tap into that never ending, all powerful, completely sustaining gift of love? One way is through prayer. Jesus taught that we should find a place of isolation and quiet to pray so that we can experience the flow of God’s love to the fullest extent possible, away from the distractions and competition of worldly matters. In those moments, God’s love washes over and through us, washing away sin, doubt, fear and frustration, replacing them with love, peace, calm and power to carry on. From those times of prayer, if we’re open to the Spirit who dwells within us, the power of God’s love does not leave us but grows within us; lifting us up, carrying us to a deeper more lasting relationship with Him and those around us. So let us not neglect prayer and the love, power and relationship it brings.

 

What it Takes to Hear “Well Done You Good and Faithful Servant”

Hear this good news; when our Heavenly Father beckons someone to come and join Him, proclaiming they have been a good and faithful servant, it is not because they are the richest, smartest, most physically attractive, strongest, have achieved some great feat, in short have reached some worldly milestone only a few can ever attain. NO, God will make this proclamation, offer this invitation, to any and everyone who faithfully follow Him and use their God given gifts to serve their fellow person and further the Kingdom of God. So let’s ask ourselves, how are we using His gifts today; are we burying them, keeping them to ourselves or are we generously sharing them with any and all in need? May you have a blessed, giving day.

Who’s Right? Judgement in an Age of Diversity

So who’s right? Are you a _____ or a_____? I’m a ______ and that means I’m this or that. Yet whatever I am, I am right and that makes you_______? Think of this current paradox; in business, schools, military, churches, all across society there is the mantra about the need to include and “celebrate” diversity. And you would think that would be especially easy today because of the almost seemingly infinite different classifications we claim for ourselves. Yet we no sooner proclaim our own classification then we start to judge all the other classifications. We seem to judge those classifications closest to ourselves more favorably and those furthest from ourselves most harshly. Enter Jesus who warns through declaring to us; do not judge. And please, please don’t miss this; Jesus doesn’t declare: Don’t judge other believers but go ahead and judge the heck out of everyone who doesn’t believe. No, it’s simple, don’t judge anyone. Why? Because we are so horribly bad at it and will never be good at it. But certainly there must be someone I’m justified in condemning, some group I’m justified in hating!? I’m no biblical scholar but I can’t find them and I see no value in looking. Jesus is clear, whether believed or not, we’re all our Heavenly Father’s creation. He loves us all even though we’re sinners so we should do the same. Leave all the judging, even the smallest to He who has the only true wisdom to do so accurately, Jesus Christ. Who, it may also be worth noting declared, He didn’t come to judge the world but to save it. So we might want to rethink our steadfast, only human justified belief, that they (whoever they might be) are worthy of our negative judgements.

The Blessing In Our Corner

One of the challenging aspects of life is that sometimes we can’t really tell who and how many are in and the power that is in our corner until we are backed into it. We like to be in control and be able to handle things. However, when the power of the world overwhelms our individual ability to respond, it can be a true, extreme blessing to see who and the power of them who come to our aid. Finally, the One we should never forget, who is always in our corner is our Heavenly Father. In faith, we can actually have an inner peace that His power is unmatched and His plan for our way forward is perfect even if we can’t see all the steps right now. So if you find yourself in that corner today, try not to solely or souly focus on the power and threats arrayed against you. Instead, rest on and be thankful for the power and those wielding it, especially from above, who are riding swiftly and in ultimate power to your rescue and restoration.

Become Divided and Be Conquered Unify in Christ and Be Victorious

Christ said it and it echoes down through the years to this very day: A divided house will not, indeed cannot stand. And today there are so many voices trying, and if we’re not extremely careful, succeeding in dividing us. But they’re so stupid, so unjust, a bully and I’m better than they are and shouldn’t have to put up with them….and them and them. Each them we target, isolates us more, makes us more vulnerable. From my days in the military we knew this; to defeat an enemy, even one of seemingly great power, the key was to divide, isolate and then defeat and conquer. Jesus got angry. Jesus felt pain. Yet Jesus never let the pain and anger divide Him from us. Jesus never stopped or stops loving. Jesus never stopped or stops forgiving. We are not Jesus. We cannot do the things of Jesus, the loving and forgiving, without committing to and joining with Him first. Don’t let any circumstances divide you from Christ, no matter how the world looks or you feel treated by it. It is in the power, His power that comes from being in unity with Him, that we can, in turn, have the power to love and forgive, thus seeking to come together as the victorious creation He means us to be.

Can You Hear the Knocking?

Do you hear the knocking? In Luke, Jesus Christ invites us to knock and the door, His Door to salvation and the Heavenly Kingdom will be opened. Yet Jesus is not one to stand idly by, for in Revelation, Christ proclaims: “Behold I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in and dine with them and they with Me”. Right now a knock is happening. You may be at home, school or work. You may be driving down the road or may be at a church conference. You may be the one doing the knocking; but if not, listen, Christ is knocking. The message is clear, there is a door that needs opening and that opening starts with a knock. So can you hear it? Are you at the door? Are you raising your hand to either knock or respond to Christ’s knocking? Please let’s get the door open to Him.

I Desperately Want to See

You don’t need a telescope, microscope or horoscope to view the way you should live. Look inside first. Look to see, if you can see Christ within you. Do you see Christ’s love and the light of Christ’s Spirit within you? If the answer is no don’t fret but take immediate action. Believe and ask and Christ will be swift and allow nothing to deter Him from coming to save you. If the answer is yes, then be thankful and go forth in the Christ’s Spirit and Light, sharing His Love to all who He places in your path.

It’s Not Just History

It’s not just history. If Jesus Christ was not as alive today as He was over 2000 years ago, then the stories of His miraculous deeds would just have historical significance. However, He is alive and He beckons you, as He did to Peter, come out of your boat, focus on Me and I will allow you to walk above any troubled water without harm. Or as with 5,000 people, Jesus Christ promises, come, sit and be taught by me and I will freely feed you. For Jesus Christ declares and fulfills that He is the Bread of Life and will meet all spiritual, mental and physical needs, even if the resources seem scarce. That Jesus Christ is alive today as He was then, His invitation to us to join Him, abide in Him with His mercy, power and grace, is just as real and alive today. Let us always be accepting of that invitation; thus, by living through the love, power and grace of Christ, see the blessed history we will make together.

In the Name of Christ, Go Be Awesome!

You were created awesome in the Name of and by the Power of Jesus Christ before you did a thing. That means by being in Jesus Christ you are meant to be awesome. Now don’t make the mistake of judging awesome by worldly measures. At times Jesus just healed one person. At times Jesus taught a few people, once just one person, a woman at a well. The world might not have judged those to be awesome events; but, to the people involved in those events, they were truly awesome indeed. So go out, being in Jesus Christ and do awesome. How will you know it’s awesome? Jesus Christ will let you know in your spirit and that’s all the proof you need. In the Name of Jesus Christ, may you have an awesome day.

How’s the View From Where You Are?

Through the eyes of………    Christ could have viewed the world through eyes of privilege, instead he chose the view of seeing all including the lowest to bring healing peace and light to them. Christ could have viewed the world through eyes of power, justice, retribution and revenge, devastatingly destroying any who spoke a word against Him. Instead, Christ viewed the world through grace, mercy and forgiveness, even to those who put Him there as He hung dying on the cross. Christ could have decided not to view the world at all seeing the decrepit state of human fallenness, leaving us to our own destruction.  Instead Christ viewed and views us in love, humbling Himself to come and be a sacrifice for our salvation, plus healing us from our ills and iniquities. So are we going to take time to see Christ? As we view Him; will we see the awe inspiring nature of His eternal majesty or see Him as just some old story? Are we going to strive to gain His vision and see others as He would have us see them, with love, forgiveness, mercy and generosity?  We must ask ourselves whose vision is the basis for our actions; is it our earthly, worldly view or His eternal All powerful view?  Here’s looking at you……….   through His eyes.

We Can Work It Out!

There seems to be a lot of “I” out there today. I am bold. I am beautiful. I can do anything. I CAN HAVE IT ALL! But have I ever stopped to ask: If I do get it all; what are you left with? Do I even care? There is a song that states “One is the loneliest number”. How does all of this “I” fit into that? Jesus Christ came to this earth and lives today to teach us how to be “we” people; about how blessed being we truly is. It starts with connecting to the Holy They; the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Once so connected, I, through They become a We that reaches out to All around me. Yes we reach out to family, friends, co-workers, but the power of We doesn’t stop there. Through the power of the Holy They, we reach out to strangers and yes, even our enemies. We are no longer about singular triumph and the destruction of others. We are about love. We are about receiving the love of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit and then spreading it as far as We can. Let us be people of the We. Where We will be loved and show love. We will be triumphant. And, in the lyrics of another song: We can work it out.

TOMORROW! TOMORROW! TOMORROW! ………. today?

There are 644 tomorrows until the next presidential election. There are 20 tomorrows until another potential government shutdown. There are two tomorrows until the coming of an arctic blast; until, until…… Today someone will give you a smile. Today some will desperately need a smile from you. Today someone will be kind to you. Today someone will desperately need your kindness. Today you will receive love. Today someone will desperately need to receive your love. However, truth be told, we will miss all of those receives and needs if our focus is on our tomorrows. God gives you and I today. God pleads with us not to waste it. God promises that He will give to us today. God wants us to share His gifts to us, with those in need around us. God also knows all tomorrows. He knows also to the extent you and I have an earthly tomorrow. And, in His perfect plan, He is the only One who controls how many of our tomorrows, He will turn into todays. Jesus taught us to let tomorrow have tomorrow; we are to be people of today. So today, which is the only day that truly matters, live like it matters. First receive from God, His blessings and love which will surely come abundantly. Then, in turn, share those blessings and love with those around you. This is the day the Lord hath made!

The Peace of Christ in the Midst of Earthly Testing

Christ says: “Peace be with you”. Yet we might answer there is little peace for world puts these arbitrary tests to us with ever changing rules and outcomes and says that’s where our value lies. Christ responds: I understand for they tried to do the same to me. Christ further states: If you belonged to the world then what the world values and these tests would matter. But don’t forget, YOU ARE MINE and I value you for you, as I created you and that’s all that matters and will not change. Take heart for I will see you through all tests. I know your true value and will bless you regardless of what earthly tests measure. The only test I have for you is that you believe that I am the true Son of God, came to earth, died for your sins and now live at the Right Hand of God. So indeed, be at peace, have my freely given, all encompassing peace. For if you pass my test of belief and I stand ready to help you with that, no earthly test matters.

Judging What’s the Intent of a Wave?

“Judge not lest we be judged”. Okay this is likely to be a little more crass than some of my other posts, so I apologize. You see I walk our dog in the morning. I also like to to send a wave and smile to folks that pass by. My hope is, perhaps, with being acknowledged and smiled at, even by a stranger, might bring some small aspect of brightness into their day. Yet my dog will also have bodily functions which I also clean up and carry with me until I can dispose of it at home. From whence comes my dilemma. For with my hand so encumbered, I can still wave but; to some, I am waving a bag of poop at them which is hardly a friendly or brightness bringing gesture. My point? I can know my intentions for an action but I can’t control another person’s reaction to that action. Thus today we may have an encounter with someone whose intention may have some ambiguity associated with it. In my judging I can choose to interpret it and react negatively to it. Or, I can choose to be open to the possibility they’re trying to be positive with the only tools (including words, time, gestures, etc.) they have available to them at the time. If that’s the case then our reaction is likely to be quite different. Finally our ultimate striving is to react as Jesus Christ would react; in love. Whether friend or enemy, positive or negative, Jesus reacted in love, grace and forgiveness. Though we are not Christ and the only way to get there is to pray that His Spirit would abide in us as we abide in Him.

 

Priorities In the New Year of 2019

Priorities. Okay so it’s 2019. This is not so much about New Year’s resolutions or changes that we think we want to make. It’s more about the why of what we do, whether old or new and how we can tell if we’re really doing what we tell ourselves we want to be doing. It’s about our priorities; what we say is important. It’s also about realizing what we “say” is important is rather meaningless when it comes to our priorities. For it’s what we “do” that really defines, in truth, what are priorities are. Thus it is not the beginning of the day which reveals our priorities; but, as we reflect at the end of the day on what we actually did in that day, that we will have defining proof of what we found most important. For example, what would Jesus find at the end of a day He had on earth. He would see that He was carrying out His Father’s plan. He would see how much He loved us through the healing, teaching, feeding, forgiving and leading He had done. In short He would find that His actions showed that He prioritized practicing what He preached. So maybe as we start this new year we’ve said we’re going to make being kinder, loving more, making time for friends and loved ones, being more generous, more forgiving, praying etc., our priorities. Do know that to the extent your priority is directly or indirectly to be more like Christ, the enemy will use the world and its evil to try and prevent that, to put many obstacles in your path. However, take heart, Christ lives and stands ready to bless, give you the power to overcome the worldly obstacles and have you be successful in fulfilling those priorities aligned with His. Starting this night, before you close your eyes to sleep, think back on what you’ve done this day and ask: Do my actions of the day match the priorities I’ve said that I intend to have? And don’t forget to pray for His power and thanks for His support. Happy New Year!

Is the Season of Giving Over?

Perhaps the glow is fading. You received much of what you wanted and gave with amazing generosity. Yet the presents are unwrapped and the process seems over. Time to return to the humdrum routine of the every day. But is the season over; is it ever truly over? The idea of a present is twofold; first, it is something we need/want and additionally there is an aspect of surprise and revealing as well. He who came as a baby and now lives as our Risen Savior stands ready to bless you today. He knows what your most pressing needs and deepest desires are and will bless you with those things that are aligned to His/our Heavenly Father’s plans for you. Often those blessings, His gifts, come in surprisingly, unexpected ways. What we must be ready to do is receive them. A gift that remains unwrapped never achieves its entire goal or purpose. Second, as we receive we should feel the motivation to give. We should give gratitude and glory to our Heavenly Father for the gift and also give the love to others which always accompanies the blessings from Jesus Christ. The season of giving and receiving is over? Don’t you believe it! Don’t you live like it is.

Be in Awe! Live in Awe!

Be in awe. Live in awe. The shepherds saw and left in awe. The wisemen came and worshiped in awe. Herod heard and feared in awe. Some have come to Christ and seen Him as an equal and all those eventually turned away, unfazed and unsaved. But those who come and experience God come to earth as Christ are awed, blessed, loved by and saved by Him. Therefore let us show the impact of our coming into the presence of the all knowing, all powerful, all loving, eternally living Jesus Christ by living in awe of His majesty and receiving from Him and then sharing His love to the world. Merry Christmas!!!

A Peace Beyond All Understanding – His Peace

May you be at peace. Be at peace?! Now I know you are delusional. For where is the peace when person is pitted against person with lies and vile names, when spouse murders spouse and sometimes children, where thieves steal brazenly from our very door steps; where is the peace? The peace comes from Him whose season we celebrate. Peace comes from His presence. For in His presence an enemy Roman soldier humbled himself and pleaded for a healing. In His presence the condemned found peaceful redemption In His presence quarreling disciples turned to love each other. Christ promises His peace to all who will believe in Him. Christ promises His permanent perfect peace which is far different, far better than the fleeting, temporary, shallow earthly peace. May it be that in Christ through the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit, you find yourself in the Perfect Peace of Christ this and every season.

Rejoice Again Rejoice

Rejoice! Rejoice! Why? What examples do we have? We have heavenly beings who have a special insight into the actions of the Heavenly Trinity. Those beings are the angels and how they rejoiced not only at the coming of Christ but also for human beings who now have salvation given to them. We also have the esteemed and the humble of humanity rejoicing. We have both the shepherds and the kingly wisemen who came to see and then rejoiced at seeing God come to earth. The earthly would declare we’re crazy to be rejoicing, with shutdowns, conflicts, hardships and drama in the world. When Jesus Christ came to earth, He did not promise to end all earthly drama. Christ promises that He has overcome the earthly tribulations and because He is our risen, living Savior; He promises us that if we live in Him we will overcome all of them as well. So may this season find you blessed and rejoicing in our raised and living Savior, Jesus Christ.

Make That Impact

In your actions this and every day, try to be that person that will bring someone else, perhaps even a stranger, to pray “Thank God, You put this person in my life”

The Gospel of John and the Christmas Story

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God”. This is how John starts his gospel concerning Jesus Christ and as such would seem to leave the Christmas story to others. Yet in a way, I read the heart of the Christmas story right here. You see John is stating that Christ was and is God with all the power of God. John then goes on to chronicle how God was on this earth as a human being; to the eyes of the world a rather ordinary human being. Just for a moment, stop and consider the humility of this act. He with all power, through which all things were created, came to earth in the meekness of His creation. To be a human He must have started out as a child, a humble baby in fact. Now He could have come down in the glory, majesty and power of the Heavenly God which is how He will be upon His return. However, to fulfill His Father’s loving plan of salvation for each of us, Christ needed to be a human which meant he felt hunger, pain, sorrow, loneliness, rejection, needing sleep, just as we do. Thus let us ask ourselves, can we be that humble? Is there some task that needs completing, some societally cast off person who needs our help; yet we find ourselves saying that the task or that person is beneath us? With the example of Christ’s humility; how is our arrogance justified? Finally, we must not attempt, on our own, to out humble Christ. We will fail. The only way to be truly humble like Christ is to abide in Christ, then ask for His help to bring about true humility. Fortunately, that is exactly why Christ, in perfect love, came to earth. That through His sacrifice, we might now be able to be in relationship with Him where we are strengthened and enabled to be more like Him in humility and love.

Celebrate the Christ Child and Live Into the Living Christ Savior

During this season when we celebrate the coming of God to earth in the person of a baby, it is vital that we remember we serve and are served by a risen, living, all powerful Savior. In need of healing; think of the physical, mental and spiritual healing Christ blessed any and all who believed on Him with. In a place of danger; consider how Christ, not only passed unscathed through hostile, murderous crowds until His time of sacrifice came, but also kept His disciples unscathed as well. A natural danger; turn to Him who quieted the wind and calmed the stormiest of seas. Have a material need; reach out to the One who turned ordinary water into extraordinary wine or who fed thousands with a few loaves and two tiny fish. In need of love; as we all are, receive from Him who, out of love for you, gave His life for your salvation, a love of immeasurable blessing. Yes indeed, celebrate the coming of the Christ Child but live into the salvation of the living Savior, Jesus Christ is now.

A Scripture Passage, An Event and A Season – How They All Fit Together

The juxtaposition of an event, a season and a scripture passage. According to scripture, upon receiving a invitation from Jesus to come follow Him, a man replied: “Lord first let me go and bury my father”, to which Jesus replied: “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God”. In the past I felt this was an overly harsh and heartless rebuke, especially coming from the Son of God. But by the blessed revealing of the Holy Spirit, I’ve come to understand that this is actually a very blessed expansion and explanation of His invitation. For in following Christ, death is defeated and though the functioning of our earthly, flesh existence may cease, through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, the life of spirit, the true life of who we are, continues without ceasing! This day we acknowledge the transition of George H.W. Bush from one level of existence to another. Yet we need to be very careful in saying he is dead. In truth the earthly vessel which housed his spirit has ceased; however, through Jesus Christ, he is still very much alive. That is what Christmas and this season is all about. Yes it is appropriate that those loved ones who had close reoccurring contact with him will mourn the loss of that contact. Yet Christ promises comfort to them which comes in part by the assurance their loved one lives and there will be a wondrous reuniting one day. Again, that is at the heart of this season. God so loves us that He came down in the form of His Son to live an earthly existence as we do. He died, taking upon our sins but then He was resurrected into a perfect existence and promises that the same can and will happen for us if we will but faithfully believe in Him. You may be mourning the loss of someone this Christmas season but please take heart in this certain knowledge. In the coming to earth of Jesus Christ, your loved one lives. Thus you are justified in continuing to love them as well as feeling the love they most certainly continue to have for you. May all have a blessed Christmas season.

From Whence Comes My Salvation?

Starting in Acts 21 we read how the Apostle Paul is in a real, mortal mess. He is over a thousand miles from where he desperately wants to be, feels called to be. Worst yet he is surrounded by those who despise him; who want to to reverse his life’s work and utterly wipe Paul of the face of the earth. The few friends Paul has in Jerusalem have virtually no power against the powerful Jewish leadership arrayed against him. A plot was hatched that would most certainly bring about Paul’s death and most likely completely destroy his work. Except Paul belongs to God. Paul is a fervent believer in and follower of Jesus Christ. So God steps in to thwart the evil. And who does God use? The Romans! Yes, the Romans who didn’t believe in God. Yes the Romans who believed that Jesus Christ was some obscure, fantastically idiotic story of a few delusional Jews. None of that mattered to God. Under God’s perfect plan, the Roman’s step in and completely quash the Jew’s attempt to destroy Paul and his work. They also give Paul passage to the place he so desperately wanted to go; Rome. What are we to make of this? You may be or feel you are in the place where Paul was. You are surrounded by haters and you are so far from where you want to be; where you feel God wants you to be. Don’t lose hope. Have faith. God can and will move heaven and earth to see His perfect plan and your blessing fulfilled. He will often bring that salvation through wholly and holy unexpected means, maybe even an enemy. Nothing is too difficult for God. As unexpected as God coming to His creation as a blessed, humble baby, later sacrificing Himself to wipe away our sins and bring about our salvation. Take heart He is with you.

Being In Relationship With God Through Prayer

Yes here we are again. A mass tragedy, a mass shooting has happened. There have been requests for prayers, statements of support in prayer and some questioning the power of prayer and why pray. However, to fully understand prayer and its power, we have to remember what it is. It is a conversation, a relationship with the All Powerful Creator God. At the heart of this relationship is the love God so wants to pour out for and on us. Would and will God pour out His love out for the victims of Pittsburgh without our prayers? Unequivocally yes. So do we really need to pray? YES! First, there is no reason to pray except that we are acknowledging the existence of God. Second there is no reason to pray with acknowledging the Power of God. And God answers. God, in that answering shares His perfection with us, He shares His power and His love. That perfection and that power blesses and empowers us to be His blessing for and to the world. So pray PLEASE Pray and not just during tragedies. Have a need? Pray. See someone in need? Pray for them now. Have something good that happened? Pray a prayer of thanksgiving. See something good happening for someone else, say a prayer of thanksgiving for their experience. Be in relationship with God and let it be started and strengthened in prayer.

We All Need to Change

Jesus Christ told those whom He taught when He was on this earth and tell us today; we need to change. In fact we all need to change. Jesus did not say the poor had it right but the rich had it wrong or the religious leaders were wrong but the regular religious worshipers were right, or even the Jews were right and the Romans wrong. So today we have a situation where, seemingly a section of society is being targeted by a bomber. Listening to both sides, they are saying we have a toxic, divisive discourse in society. Here’s the thing, at least in my opinion, each side is completely blaming the other for the toxicity. They say “we” need to change and be more civil and then they point their finger at the other side and say You have to change. I’ve heard neither side, or at least their TV media champions, acknowledge any aspect of change needed on their own side or any sense of shared responsibility for the current level of civility or lack there of. The one person who didn’t need to change was/is Jesus Christ. Why? He is perfect. Are we so sure of our position, our behavior, that we rise to that same level of perfection? Is there some aspect of change that we ALL are required to make, that there is a shared responsibility? (not for the bomber or bombs, the bomber bares that responsibility and does not get a pass) If I say you are the only one responsible and I have no reason to change and you say and believe the exact same thing about me, NOTHING will change. Is that what “we” really want?

What Emotions are You Waking Up With Today?

I truly hope you are not waking up with these emotions today; disappointment, envy and/or hatred. Why might that happen? Because there was one top prize winning lottery ticket sold in SC and it probably wasn’t yours. You may have prayed and prayed hard with a true sense of desperation. You may feel you were not listened to. You may feel God let you down or worse yet God doesn’t care about you or love you. You may feel mad at Him and envious of the one who won. If that is you in any way, please understand this; God did hear you. God does love you. A young child may desperately believe they need and ask for a loaded, real gun. But we would know it is better for that child not to give him/her that gun. Understand this, God knows best. God didn’t have you win because, regardless of your judgement and desires, He knew it would be harmful to you. Also 1.6 billion is nothing to the God of all creation. He has more than enough to insure all who call upon Him will be winners by God’s eternal standards. He will pour out His love, blessings and all material things you need. Through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, you are an ultimate winner in God’s eyes.

Be Careful What You Wish or Even Pray For

Woooweee there are some pretty big lottery jackpots out there. So here’s some questions for each of us to ponder whether we play or not. In your heart, mind, body and soul; would you, in all sincerity and truthfulness, be able to say to God and mean it: I need You as much today, even with winning the lottery then I did yesterday before I won? Could you say to God and mean it: The life you provided for me before the win, was just as good as the life you’re providing me after the win? Could you say to God and the world; I am still as poor in spirit today, after the win, then I was before? Just how much does that amount of money mean to you? Why did I include those who don’t play in these questions? Because do you envy those who play, a least the winners? Depending on the answers what might seem a blessed win could actually be a disastrous loss.

Advocacy Versus Scarcity

Advocacy versus Scarcity. This morning I came across a couple of stories of advocacy; a news article about patient advocacy and story about student advocacy about individual student’s learning desires being promoted. It brought to mind just how much the principle of advocacy is being practiced these days for so many things. Yet I thought about another concept I first learned in high school and was reinforced in some college classes and that is the law of scarcity. That law states that while the scope of human wants is unlimited, the resources with which to fulfill those wants are limited. So I got to wondering, as you and I go about our day, advocating for our individual or group wants, do we do so with any sense of this basic understanding? First, lets say I get what I want, you may be advocating for something slightly or significantly different. Do I even consider that my fulfillment leaves less for you? Do I even care? Do I contemplate that you feel as passionately about your fulfillment as I do mine? Do I even consider for a moment the impossibility of all diverse desires being able to be fulfilled? Ah, you say, but with God all things are possible. True, however, God’s knowledge and judgement are perfect. He knows we have wants that if fulfilled, would be highly damaging to us and/or those around us. Thus as we advocate for ourselves today, let us do so with a touch of humility, understanding in the human realm there is only so much to go around and others need some too. Plus in the Heavenly Father’s realm, His fulfillment is based on what’s best for us versus just acquiescing to our desires. Perhaps as the song goes: We just might find, we get what we need.

Why Do _____________things happen to ___________________people?

Why do _______________things happen to ___________people?  Now really the question often gets asked by believers and non-believers alike as:  “Why does God allow “bad” things to happen to “good” people?  While it’s a natural question, if we are honest with ourselves, it is a question from a rather worldly point of view.  For that question assumes that we are adequate judges of who is good or bad as well as having the wisdom to discern what is ultimately a good or a bad thing.  However, history shows us that we might not be the wise, discerning judges that we think we are.  There was a man Ted Bundy who was looked at as a warm, generous, kind, polite young man.  That portrait of him lasted right up to the time he was caught and convicted as one of our country’s worse, sadistic mass murderers.  Hitler was very well thought of by many, including the likes of Charles Lyndburg.  Conversely, mold was looked at as a primarily wasteful and destructive thing, but then the wonder drug penicillin was discovered from it.  A man’s encounter with Jesus Christ shows our lack of ability to judge accurately when, instead of seeing Jesus as the Messiah, the true Son of God, came to Him and called Him merely a “good” man.  Good people, who deserve good things?  Jesus is clear, we are sinners and, if simple justice was to be served, we should be found guilty for our sins and punished.  But God’s way is not our way thankfully.  For instead of punishment, God has given us His Grace.  Within that Grace is such an amazing sacrifice, the sacrifice of Jesus Christ taking all our sins upon Himself and dying for them, so that we might be forgiven and restored.  We receive God’s endless, boundless love.  Then let us be humble, not falling into the trap that when we find ourselves blessed by God, it is actually a just reward for our righteousness and not a free, undeserved gift of His Grace.  Further let us not be judgmental where when we see that some tough circumstance has come to someone else it is obviously a punishment for some wrong they have committed.  Let us more accurately see God as the architect and builder of His perfect plan for our lives.  In that building process there may be some bricks of plenty and some bricks of lean.  Whichever, the case, the Builder is perfect and with a foundation based on Jesus Christ, the building which is our lives, will withstand any and all storms which may come against it.

Who or What Do We Depend On and What Difference Does it Make? 

Jesus Christ makes it abundantly clear. We will not be spiritually successful, it will not be well with our souls as long as we are worldly dependent. How might we find ourselves dependent on the world? One way is to measure ourselves by worldly standards; I am worldly successful based on a job title, size of bank account, prestige received, power wielded, education attained, number of friends, worldly happy family are just a few of the worldly measure traps. Another way we can show our dependence is by our reliance on the world and our fear of worldly lack. I just need a few dollars more, I just need this car, I can not live without this relationship with this person, and, if I can only get this (whatever the worldly “this” is) then I will be whole. I’ll be happy because my life is complete. Jesus called many to come and follow him and many answered; okay, but wait a minute, let me take of this worldly thing, then I’ll be ready follow. Some of the reasons seemed fairly legitimate like let me bury my father first. Yet Christ warns us, the enemy will use any worldly reason, even seemingly important, legitimate ones to keep us from salvation. The minute we ask Jesus to wait for before we commit to Him is the one minute we may not have. The worldly is just an instant, the spiritual is for eternity. Don’t risk eternal life and salvation on wasted worldly determination.

What Is So Important About Today That We Should Focus On It?

Jesus Christ is very clear; today is the day that matters. Now it’s true that when Jesus preached this specifically, He was doing so in the context of why we shouldn’t worry. As such, He said that don’t worry about tomorrow’s trouble as today will have enough trouble of its own. However it is not “trouble” that Jesus and His ministry is primarily focused on. What is involved and the basis of the two greatest commandments? How did Jesus say that His followers would be recognized by the world. Why did God send Jesus to us in the first place? At the heart of all of these, the focus that God has towards us; was, is and will continue to be, LOVE. And not just any love, a deep, personal, give everything kind of love. God doesn’t want you to miss out on receiving and feeling that love, missing it because you’re focused on, consumed with and/or can only see tomorrow. You are loved today! You are loved by none other than Our Heavenly Father AND Jesus Christ AND the Holy Spirit. If they were not enough, there are followers of Them who want to love you today as well. One more important thing, there are those who are in need of your love today that might not be able to wait to receive it tomorrow. Again, you are loved today! God wants to bless you today. God wants you to be a blessing for others today. Please don’t miss out on that uplifting, healing, restorative, redeeming love, not seeing/feeling it today because you’re focused on tomorrow.

Glory Glory Glory

Glory. Let’s consider glory for a moment and the impact of it. The world seeks self glorification, that is for me, my group, my gender, my country, my, my, my……. Think for a moment what that causes. Consider the anger, frustration, hurt, hatred, war and so many other negative things that comes when we as individuals believe we have not been given the glory we’re due, someone else is getting more glory which should be coming to us, and/or worse of all, someone is attempting to steal our hard earned glory. Being God, if anyone was entitled to glory in His own right, it was Jesus Christ. Yet Jesus made it abundantly clear, He did not seek His own glory and if He had, it would have been wrong to do so. No, all Jesus did, He did to bring glory to His Heavenly Father. Jesus would have us do the same for two reasons. First, in seeking glory for the Father versus ourselves, it takes away the constant self absorption concerning our glory or lack thereof and the negative feelings accompanying that. As long as our focus is on glorifying God, that others might not be doing so is no threat to us. Secondly, unlike those consumed with attaining worldly glory, God does not horde His Glory. He has no need to. No one can either take or surpass His Glory. Instead, God freely shares His Glory with those who love and follow Him. Also, unlike earthly glory which is so extremely fleeting, God’s Glory is eternal. Thus let us shake of the chains of the pursuit of self glorification and rather focus on the liberating process of giving and receiving Glory from our Heavenly Father.

The Blessing Of and the Need To Know and Be Known

To know and be known. In several different lessons and parables, Jesus Christ stresses the importance of this concept. Jesus warns us it is not enough to speak words of Christ, to “declare” we are Christians, to have a cross on my key chain or a bible on my table. Christ is clear what is important is whether we live in a manner where He and His/Our Heavenly Father actually make a difference in our daily lives. Do we know of the Father’s love, mercy, grace, forgiveness, generosity, salvation and blessings. Plus, through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, does that knowledge transfer into action? Do we live as though God and His principles actually matter, actually impact our lives? Christ is unambiguous, there are those who will define for themselves what is good and righteous, generous and merciful, forgiving and loving. Having defined those things for themselves or using worldly definitions, they will attempt to live a “good” life. They may even succeed by their limited definition. Sadly though, they will come to Christ expecting eternal rest in the Kingdom and Christ will turn them away; saying: “Depart I never knew you”. Christ wants to be in a personal relationship with each of us. Being in that relationship requires that we know about Him and are known by Him. It is through that relationship that we humble ourselves to want Christ’s ways and Christ’s decisions to be our ways and our decisions. Thus going through this day we need to look at ourselves; asking the question, does our knowing Christ make any difference in what we do, think and feel? Will Christ welcomingly know us by how we attempt to live? Do we live in the desire to have Christ declare: “Come on in, I know you”?

Blessed Are The Meek and Self Esteem; How Do They Fit Together

Esteem and blessed are the meek; how do these two concepts fit together? “Blessed are the meek” is the third beatitude taught by Christ. Toward the end of last century and continuing on into this century, we’ve seemed to hear the virtues extolled more vehemently concerning gaining a “healthy” or having a strong sense of self esteem, especially starting in childhood. Some themes that seem to be entailed in this are: that I matter, what I say matters, I have the right to think the way I want to and further more, act upon what I think. Now to the extent, for children, that this self esteem equips them to not except abuse, speak out about being abused and that we listen to them is a valuable thing. Yet we must be careful whether child or adult that the concept of self esteem does not morph into a sense of SELFISH esteem. That is to say that who I am, what I think, what I do becomes of paramount importance making be the arbiter of what is right and righteous. Let’s remember the humility of Jesus Christ. He washed His disciples feet. He endured the insults and lies of others without it causing Him to doubt Himself or what He was doing or lashing out at His tormentors. Remember the power of Jesus in the storm and what He did to the fig tree. Jesus could have easily and terribly destroyed anyone uttering a syllable against, yet He chose to remain meek. Let us remember that when God created you, He called it good. God loves you and sent His Son, Jesus Christ to die for you. However, also remember He did the same things for me and all others. The world sets us against each other in its judging of who is worthy of the greatest earthly esteem and shunning most others. Christ teaches us there is only One whom we should esteem as greatest, Our Heavenly Father and the rest we should treat equally. Should we find we are esteeming ourselves this day, is that at the sake of our esteem for others? In esteeming He who is worthy of all our praise and esteem, let us reject esteeming ourselves more than we should.

Hope, Belief and Hope Fulfilled

Hope. Hope fulfilled. The blind men hoped to see again and believed Jesus could restore their sight and their hope was fulfilled. The lame men hoped to walk again and believed Jesus could restore their legs and their hope was fulfilled. The woman hoped that her condition of 12 years could be healed and believed Jesus could bring it about. Just one touch of His cloak and her hope was fulfilled. The Jewish Leadership hoped for the coming Messiah. They did not believe that Jesus was the Son of God. They died never seeing their hope fulfilled. What are you hoping for this day? Going beyond what the world might hope for, what deep fulfilling hope has God placed in your heart? Do you realize that there is Someone who can fulfill that hope; bring that God led thing to fruition? Believe in and on Jesus Christ. Come just as you are today. You don’t have to go to church first or read through the entire bible. No, Jesus Christ asks, almost pleads: Come as you are, hungry, perhaps broken, in need great or small and BELIEVE. Christ asks you to Believe that He loves you and stands ready and able to fulfill your God given hope and restore you to the triumphant life in Christ you were created to have today and for all eternity. Hope! Hope in and on Jesus Christ!

There is Only One Place Where Righteous Anger is Right

Wow, there is a lot of anger out there. There seems to be a feeling on all sides that to rise to this level of anger is justified by the circumstances at hand. Maybe it would be wise to take a step back and see/read what the Word has to say about anger. First, the only aspect of “righteous anger” alluded to in scripture is God being angry. Jesus goes as far as to warn us that our becoming angry can lead us down the pathway to hell. We are told that anger is something not to hold onto; that, should it happen, to quickly deal with it and put it away, to not let the sun go down while we are still angry. We are warned that continuous anger is an opening for the enemy to come into our lives. We must go back to the truth that, though we may be different with different ideas, we are equal and equally created in the eyes of God. And while we may be disappointed at different actions of an individual or group, God has not delegated the right of judgement and anger from Himself to us. And just because someone is angry with us does not justify a response in kind. We do have a resource to help us deal with and get past our anger. We are freely given the Holy Spirit, who is more powerful than our spirit, who dwells within us and who can overcome and overwhelm the anger we might have. Let us call upon Him at those times that we feel anger welling up within us or has burst open from us, to calm our thoughts and quench the flames that threaten to consume us. Let us grasp hold of the truth that while anger leads to destructive defeat, love truly conquers all.

What is Truth?

“What is truth?” A question hotly debated these days, especially on this day. In the previous quoted question; a man, Pontius Pilate is asking this of God, Jesus Christ. The man’s truth was he had power over Jesus. The man’s truth was the man and his government were the ultimate power. In three days God proved what the real truth was. For Christ rose from the grave showing His ultimate power over all things including death. The truth is, upon rising from the grave, Christ did not lash out at His accusers and torturers, He had already forgiven them. The truth is Christ tells us the greatest thing we can do is love. The truth is Christ asks us not to judge, not to condemn, not to hate. The truth is Christ promises to be with us, helping us, protecting us, saving us, loving us, each moment for all eternity. The world’s truth, especially lately is couched in anger, accusation, judgement, borders on hatred and seems to change wildly based on the whim of the day. What is truth? Or perhaps another question is which truth are we going to live into; the world’s truth or the truth of Jesus Christ?

Jesus Christ is Seeking Out All Who are Hurting, Burdened and Heavy Laden 

You find yourself in a situation, maybe a dark place, perhaps it’s physical, mental, spiritual or a combination of some or all. It could have been going on for a while, maybe 38 years. You ask: Does anyone see me? Does anyone care? You watch as others receive help and healing using a process that is so close to you but just out of your reach. Does anyone see me? Does anyone care? You find yourself in the same place each day, doing the same thing, with ever diminishing hope. Does anyone see me? Does anyone care? Enter Jesus Christ, He asks you do you want to be well? You answer based on the history of the worldly process where you desperately hope for a way out but can’t see any solution working for you. Christ responds: “I’m all you need” and heals you, not only restoring you but surpassing your greatest expectations. Can that really happen? Read Chapter 5 in the Gospel of John concerning the healing at the pool. But this is not some one time thing. Jesus searched for this man after healing him to assure the man that Jesus was still with him and that the man needed to stay in Jesus Christ to continue to be well. Jesus Christ is searching for the hurting today. He will go to the ends of the earth, He even went to the cross, to find, heal and restore all, including you and I. So if you’re hurting, cry out and reach up to Him. If you’re not raise up a shout of praise and thanksgiving for His blessings. Either way, let us be in Him, where He wants us to be and where we are created to be,

Difference and Divisiveness Are Not The Same Thing

Difference is not the same as divisiveness. The world would have our differences, divide us; different nationalities, different ethnicity, different genders, different body types, different parts of the country, different generations, different political affiliations, different economic levels, different academic achievements, different faiths. In as many different ways as we can be different, the world would have us judge between those differences as to who’s better and who’s worse. Jesus Christ knew His disciples were different. He didn’t try to make them all identical copies of each other. However, Jesus knew the damning, damaging power, of division. That is why one of His very last acts on this earth before His crucifixion was to pray for His disciples. What did He pray for? Jesus prayed that His Heavenly Father would guard them as they pursued their life in Christ. To guard them against the Evil One and the hatred and divisions he can bring. Jesus asked that they and all who would come after them, which includes you and I, be of one mind and one heart. He prayed that one mind and heart would be the same heart and mind that Christ and God share. We can be different. We were created different/unique. Yet we can be together and not divided as The Father and Son are different but are of One mind. and heart. That is a mind of grace and a heart of love for all no matter how different. May we follow Jesus Christ’s example and call on God’s loving protection and power. That through Him we might live into the universal Oneness, mind and heart we were created to be.

The Bright Path Forward

The blessed words below were written by the Apostle Paul to the believers in Rome, yet the call out to each of us today and lay out the bright path forward to all who are waiting.  In some cases those who are waiting are in time of strife or despondency.  Yet these words are comfort for us all allowing us to build our faith in hope in Jesus Christ.  Paul writes:  “because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently. In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” May you find comfort through the Holy Spirit, in the light of Jesus Christ as you journey the path of God’s perfect purpose for you, this day.

To and Day, Using the Light of the Son to Guide Our Path Today

“To” A preposition used to express motion or direction toward a point, person or place.  “Day” The interval of light between two successive nights; the time between sunrise and sunset.  With a spouse who’s a teacher, she would rightly point out that the word “today” is a noun.  Yet if we look closer at, take time to contemplate its constituent parts, we see it is significantly about motion.  Thus where “toward” are you moving this period of light? In what direction have you chosen to point as you move toward some person, place or thing?  Is your choice of destination truly worth your efforts? What light are using to guide your journey; only the light of the sun, or primarily the light of the Son.  One of those lights, the sun, will fade leaving you and I in darkness that may confuse our direction and hinder our motions.  However, the other light, the Son’s light, will never cease, never fail to guide us, never fail to protect us from the enemies of the Light, hiding in darkness. May your motion be guided by His light this and every day leading you to the blessed destination He has in store.

What Should We Be Focusing On In Responding to the Storms in Life

Storms are powerful. Sometimes we want to focus on the damage and potential damage of the storm as the message. Yet there is something more powerful, God’s love and its manifestation in the love we show one another during the storm and its aftermath. For it is during those times of catastrophe  that we don’t ask or care about; who did you vote for, what color is your skin, what gender do you date, how much money do you have or virtually any other category. No, what we care about is do you need help, I’m here to lend a hand. And sometimes I’ll come hundreds of miles if not further to lend it. God maybe asking us, why does it take a storm to show that unconditional love.  Finally, people are going through storms all over this day, maybe some right next to you and I.  The geographic scope of the storm maybe less but the intensity of their storm may match the most powerful category 5 storm ever measured.  If that is you, know God loves you and has all the resources available to bring you through it. Can we be cognoscente of their storms and reach out to them in the same unconditional loving, selfless way?

We’ve Been Shown and Told In So Many Ways, It is All We Need

God tells us it is at the heart of the two greatest commandments. Jesus told us it was why God sent Him to us because how He feels about us. Paul tells us it is greater than faith and hope. The Beatles told us it’s all we need.  The singer Jackie DeShannon told us it’s what the world needs now.  What I’m talking about, of course, is love. So yes we need love. Now understand it is not that God needs to love us more.  The amount of His love as shown in His mercy, grace, forgiveness, healing, blessings and so much more is beyond measure. His love is especially shown by the gift of the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus Christ for us.  So what I (and perhaps we) need is to be more open to receiving it, actually looking for it and upon receiving it, I need to be focused and diligent in sharing it.  In the present situation with the storm, it is not as if it doesn’t exist or that I should ignore it.  What God’s love means is that I don’t need to fear it, knowing that His love will see us through it. Then I need to spread that love and message of comfort to others.  For God truly loves us all. And that is all we truly need.

Words of Comfort in any Storm

From the Word of God:  “Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble and He brought them out of their distress. He calmed the storm to a whisper and the waves of the sea were hushed” (Psalm 107). “You have been a refuge…a shelter from the storm” Isiah 25:4  “Be still and know that I am the Lord….the Lord of hosts is with us”  Psalm 46.  Our Heavenly Father is on His throne and His Power is absolute, His love is abundant, sufficient and everlasting.  May we seek shelter, find comfort and feel peace in Him.

Effective Preparation for All of Life’s Storms

We are told about and are watching a storm that is coming. There is wisdom in heeding the information and making plans. Yet there is also wisdom in including the spiritual and making it a priority in those plans. When the disciples faced a ranging storm, it would be good to remember Who it was that had and still has the ultimate power to see us through and quiet the most powerful of storms. It can be comforting, in the face of uncertainty, to remember Christ’s pronouncement that should we be wise and lay our life’s and faith’s foundation on Him, that though storms may beat against us, His foundation will see us through. As we prepare for the storm, Christ would also have us not just look to ourselves as far as being safe and prepared is concerned, but what about our neighbors.  Is there someone due to age or some other condition who needs some help to be and feel safe? In the rush and possible anxiety of the preparations let us remember prayer. The world has recently been more dismissive of and scoffing at the power of prayer. Yet Christ not only taught about, but also took the time to practice a focused, robust prayer life, especially during His darkest time in the Garden of Gethsemane.  Storms will pass and I pray that the power of God protects, sustains and brings calm and peace to you whatever storm you may be facing.

Why and How Harmony Works

From Paul in the letter to the Romans we read these wonderful exhortations about how to live together in peace. “Therefore let us stop passing judgement on each other”.  “Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification”. “Accept one another then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God”. The amazing thing about musical harmony is it is different voices doing slightly different things yet having the focus and desire to blend so well together that the result of their blending is far superior to any of their individual results. May it be that we have the same desire and focus to bring harmony to the lives of those around us resulting in bringing about that which is so much greater than we could achieve on our own.

When Being Down & Out is a Good Thing

Down and out is not necessarily a bad thing. Please understand I’m not speaking of the perils of depression or mental illness. No, I’m speaking of down time and a place out, away from chaos. There were big cities and chaotic times when Jesus walked the earth. He would go there when the plan called for it.  Yet He didn’t stay there. He always found the time to get out of those places for some down time. Today we are bombarded by and seem slightly addicted to the energy and adrenaline that comes from never ending chaos and its associated drama.  Our interactions are relegated to sound bites and our communication to a minimally measured number of characters. When Jesus’s disciples came back from an arduous mission of teaching and healing, Jesus knew they needed rest for restoration and led them away to a secluded area. To get out today may mean a walk around the block and to find that down time is an experience away from these intrusive electronic devices (the irony is not lost on me that I’m using one for this note). To find a time to be down and a place to be out, away from the chaos is to be in a place where we more readily feel the Holy Spirit wash over and through us, testifying to God’s messages of love, peace and salvation. Let us strive to find that time of down and that place of out where we can feel lifted up to and be in the presence of our Heavenly Father.

From Our Shoulders to His Hands

As you face this day with its tasks, requests and perhaps burdens the world is going to tell you, press upon you, demand of you that you feel it’s all yours. The world says you and you alone are responsible, that you bare the yoke of all success and potential failure singularly on your shoulders. Jesus Christ stands ready to relieve you of and asks you to take those cares, burdens and perhaps fears off your shoulders and place them and you in His hands. He easily has the strength to carry them and you. He tells us that the only yoke we should carry is His which is gentle and will bring rest. Will Jesus Christ really do that for us? Remember to look at His hands, He has the scars to prove just how far He’ll go and how much love He has for you and I.

Labor of Love or Love of Labor

As we celebrate Labor Day today let us consider the difference between labors of love and love of labor.  Love of labor you ask; can and does that really happen?  Yes, what we love is what we tend to focus on: sometimes to the exclusion of almost everything else.  Do I put my work ahead of my family and friends? To what extent is my primary energy reserved for my daily occupation leaving just leftovers for anyone or anything else? Is my sense of value dependent on my level of success in my business or trade? If the answer to any or all of these is yes; how is that impacting my overall life?  Conversely, do we work at love? Whether with family, with friends, and/or at my place of work is my focus on bringing love into that interaction? Jesus’s labors were and continue to be all about love. Even when Jesus was being critical of others, out of love He wanted them to change their self or other destructive ways and come into the blessed Kingdom life. Finally, notice Jesus wasn’t about loving preaching, teaching, feeding or healing.  He loved those who received those actions.  It was not that He loved what He did as much as He loved who He did it for, with and Who sent Him. May it be we labor in love in the manner of Christ.

What and Why, Which Question We Decide to Live By Truly Matters

What and Why; two extremely important questions. Seemingly we’re becoming an ever more “what” focused society. What did I win, what is my success level, what do I look like, what are they saying about me, what is my bank account level, what is my prestige in the world and many more whats.  These kind of whats are focused primarily on outcomes with an ever lessening concern about how they’re achieved.  Jesus Christ sees it differently.  Christ lives (and do so when on the earth), teaches and wants us to live lives where why is the predominant question. Jesus knows “why” is the foundation of good and evil. Let’s take giving to the poor for an example.  Let’s say a rich person gives an exorbitant amount of money to the poor.  Furthermore, let’s say the why behind the gift was to bring glory and fame to him or herself or to create a tax write off. In a “what” dominated society we’d ask what difference does it make, the poor are being helped.  Christ indeed loves the poor and wants them helped, but Christ also loves the rich person. Christ understands that those who want to rely on themselves, bring glory primarily to themselves are putting their souls in eternal jeopardy.  The why is what truly matters for salvation. Thus let us be people of the right whys; the why of love, of generosity, of mercy, of selflessness and service, of forbearance and  forgiveness, humility and most importantly of faith in the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  Finally, Christ promises us this, when the why is right our Heavenly Father has the power and stands ready to bring about an abundantly blessed what.

Fear and the Blessed Third Response to It

Fear.  Fear and the way we choose to respond to it.  First, we seem to be ever increasingly bombarded with messages of fear large and small.  We’re going to get really sick, there’s a threat of getting shot everywhere we go, this person is going to take all my rights away, my house will soon be under water, I;m not good looking or hip enough, I’ll never have enough money, even if I order a package it will be stolen off my front porch and so many more are the messages we receive constantly. The world tells us there are two responses to fear, to fly or fight. However, both of those processes can be fear inducing in themselves while being executed. Jesus Christ offers a third, most blessed response:  PEACE! His peace that surpasses all understanding. You see it’s not that a raging storm wasn’t happening to the boat, but Jesus was more powerful than the storm.  The people were blind, lame and even dead, but Jesus was more powerful than their physical condition when he healed them.  People made threats and tried to harm Jesus and His disciples and Jesus walked right past them.  It is literally the Gospel truth that Jesus Christ declares He has not lost one single person given to Him by the Father (besides Judas to fulfill salvation). Jesus Christ is not about to allow that record to be broken by losing you or I. Today the world will try to scare us.  It will try to use fear to drive a wedge between Jesus Christ and us as well as between each other.  But the peace of Jesus Christ is stronger.  Let us choose the third option of His peace in response.

Judging What Constitutes Birds of a Feather and Its Inherent Dangers

So I was out on my morning jaunt with my puppy dog when I happened to look up and spy an eagle, who frequents our area, perched in a tree. As I gazed at him/her admiringly, the Spirit gave me a thought. You see we have vultures in our area too (we are avian blessed) and, being only able to see the eagle’s silhouette in the morning sun, how similar the eagle and the vulture look perched in a tree. Additionally, while  an eagle certainly looks majestic soaring in the sky, is a vulture any less so? Yet if I call you an, or compared you to an eagle, you would probably believe I meant that positively.  If I called you a vulture, you might not take it so kindly.  The difference; simply what they eat.  We take one characteristic and make a holistic value judgment based on it. If we’re not careful we do the same thing with each other. A strange hair style or color, a piercing or tattoo can cause us to completely shun someone who otherwise might become our closest friend. Worse yet, we let the color of someone’s skin or the arrangement of their body parts determine in our judgment their value and worthiness.  Jesus was correct to warn us against the dangers of our judging. Bottom line is we stink at it. Thus let’s today strive to avoid our judging, instead living into the equality of our creation. Let us leave the judging to He who, in His perfect grace and mercy as the Creator of all things, is uniquely equipped and qualified to judge, forgive and restore.

The Aim That Our Gain Would Be Blessed

It is quite possible, even probable that you and I will gain today.  While that sounds good; the balance of things presupposes that we may lose something in the gaining as well. For example, we may gain fame and notoriety today.  However, if that gain comes from stepping on or stabbing our coworkers and/or friends in the back, we may lose needed friendship and allies. We may gain wealth.  Yet if we had to break rules or laws to obtain it we may lose our self respect or even our freedom. We may gain the world and lose our souls. But not all loss is bad.  We may gain an appreciation for exercise and lose some pounds. 😀 We may gain a knowledge of God’s power and desire to use it for our good and lose our fear of life and the future.  We may gain the understanding of the total love Christ has for us without judgment and lose our self centered, judgmental ways. Thus what is going to be the aim of our gain today? Will it be a short term, worldly, ultimately losing gain? Or will it be a life fulfilling, today enhancing, eternal gain? I pray you gain a properly prosperous day this day.

You Are Needed and Through Jesus Christ You Have What is Needed to Help

Understand this, you are needed. You can and will do good. You have what is needed. When on earth, Jesus Christ realized He was not going to physically get to all the towns and villages he wanted to.  So He sent pairs of messengers to preach the Good News of God’s Kingdom and heal their sick.  These were not messengers steeped in great learning and intellect. but they were messengers who had and spoke faith. Jesus Christ needs you and I today to be His messengers to those discouraged, downtrodden and feeling abandoned in this world. And like the messengers of old, we don’t need to be scholars or feel inordinately wise.  We just need to have faith that Jesus Christ will provide. Finally, if today you are one who finds yourself in need, in a dark place; reach up and out to Christ.  He will come. He will send a message and messenger of hope, healing and restoration no matter your circumstances.  Whether giver or receiver, you matter to Him.

When Life’s Tests Come, the Answer for a Passing Grade is God

With the most important test it’s not cheating to already have the answer.  With, and in our faith journey, there will be tests.  When Abraham was called by God to go to the promised land, he went having faith God was with him. But he was so scared of being murdered by a king who desired his beautiful wife that he told the king his wife was his sister.  Does that sound like faith? Jonah, when called by God, tried to runaway as far as he could.  Does that sound like faith? Yet with these two and so many other faith examples in the bible, they didn’t turn from God, eventually called out to God and were forgiven and restored by God. There was another man who had some belief in that he believed in eternal life given by God.  He was also rich. So he came to Jesus, not as the Messiah but just as a good man. He asked Jesus a question and when he didn’t get the answer he wanted, he turned his back on Jesus, actually rejecting God on earth and walked away. He failed. Yes our tests may get messy with missteps, fears and even tears, but as long as we understand that the answer to the test is God and through His Grace and our faith, call out to Him, He will see to it that we pass and  pass through all of life’s tests.

A Back to School Prayer

Our Most Gracious Heavenly Father, we praise You that You have created us with the faculties to be able to learn. We pray therefore during this time, when so many of Your human creation are returning to that process of learning. We pray that You would send Your angels to surround the schools, buses, athletic fields, homes: wherever instruction is taking place to protect all lives and thwart any evil devised against them. Pour out a spirit of curiosity and respect upon the learners of all ages that they would yearn to learn and have a respect for their teachers, other students and themselves. Pour out Your Spirit of strength, patience and mercy on all teachers lifting them up and testifying to them of Your great pleasure in their service and sacrifices even if they aren’t recognized by others. Pour out a spirit of support and teamwork on all education staff allowing for a giving spirit of mutual support. Pour out a spirit of peace and patience on parents and guardians that they would see themselves as a willing, necessary, positive partner in the education process. We pray that as various subjects are taught and life fulfilling experiences happen, that You would daily bless all and keep all in Your loving arms. That all learning might lead to a closer walk with You, we pray in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen

Looking Forward In Our Lives Through the Eyes of Christ

Here’s a challenging truth that for some, just because they feel they have nothing to look forward to does not keep them from continuing to look forward.  Unfortunately, when they do so, they see only darkness and despair which can lead to negative and even tragic consequences.  That is why we pray for all of us that Jesus Christ would pour out His Spirit upon us washing away any dark foreboding fears with His Light of hope and love.  As His precious blood has cleansed us of our sins, let It fill us with His promise of internal and eternal peace and victory. In Him may we go forth reaching out to those who despair and feel lost showing them through our love that there is a positive path forward and that they are never so lost, never in a place so dark that the Person of Jesus Christ will not find them and His love will not save, heal and sustain them.

What We Focus On Matters!  Focus on the Good News

Is it any wonder?  I was going to use the word “enjoy” but think actually important is a more accurate term as in; I think it is important to keep abreast of current events, “news” if you will.  So, virtually regardless of the media or channel what greets me?  Murder, not just local occurrences but one from 2000 miles away, corrupt and inept politicians and government, disasters from around the globe, negativity and despair scream out from every venue.  Now please understand this isn’t about going around with rose colored glasses or sticking my head in the sand.  This is about our proclivity or desire to seek out the negative and focus on the chaos and drama.  It’s a daily, most of the day occurrence.  Is it any wonder we have the levels of stress, anxiety, mistrust, addiction and hopelessness in our society.  Understand, cures are happening, amazing generosity takes place, great things are being achieved and beauty abounds. Finally, there is the greatest of good news for us every day that lasts for eternity. Jesus Christ’s coming was proclaimed, rightly so, as good news of great joy.  He declared that His preaching was delivering the good news of the Kingdom of God which we can all freely partake in. The news of love, mercy, forgiveness, peace, strength to resist and defeat evil and the promise of eternal life.  If we’re not careful, we reflect in our lives and behavior what we watch and focus on. It may not be easy in this world but let us focus on the good news of Jesus Christ and witness how that changes our outlook.

Learning a Most Valuable Lesson

Oh to learn as Paul did as he wrote in Philippians:  “I know what it is to be in need and I know what it is to have plenty.  I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation”.  The truth is we will all go through many situations in our life and our path is not always straight.  That we will know times of plenty and times of lean is not necessarily a function of a mistake or reward in our life.  It may be based on the Perfect Plan which is designed to perfect our faith and bring us closer to Christ.  Finally, Paul tells us who he gives the credit to and who he relies on for his learning and subsequent living.  For Paul declares:  “I can do all things through Christ who give me strength”.  Let us, like Paul, look to Christ to find our strength to learn and strength to be content in all things.

The Wisdom of Asking For and the Promise of Receiving Help

From the first chapter of the Book of Nahum we read:  “God is good, a hiding place in tough times.  He recognizes anyone looking for help, no matter how desperate the trouble”.  The world’s message is often, if in trouble, true strength is getting out of it yourself; often by any means necessary. It is weak to ask for help and much admired are they who do it alone; do it their way.  God declares to us, in a way pleads with us that going it alone is not His way.  To leave us solely or worse yet souly to our own devices is to abandon the True, All Wise, All Powerful Help and Love that are the only things which will completely heal, restore and sustain us.  Let us then humble ourselves this day and ask for His help.  Knowing that the God of all Goodness has promised He will recognize all who do so and not be slow to come to our aid.

Connections; Real Personal Connections Truly Matter

Jesus Christ has always been about making connections and not just with Himself.  When He healed the man who lived alone among the tombs, Jesus connected him back with the town he came from.  When Jesus went to the home of the hated tax collector Zacchaues, Jesus’ presence caused Zacchaues to repent of his sins, repaying fourfold anyone he had cheated and giving half of his possessions back to the poor allowing him to reconnect to his community. The truth is we are all sorely in need of real connections. We have recently witnessed several tragic instances of violence and death perpetrated against others and themselves, by people who felt little to no meaningful connection to others. Thus let us strive to be connected to He who is much greater than ourselves; allowing that connection to strengthen our resolve to connect to those around us, especially the downtrodden, neglected and outcast of our society.

Why the Treasure We Choose Matters

When Jesus warns us not to store up earthly treasures He also tell us why; those treasures never last. Yet Jesus Christ, like His Father is not anti-treasure. There is Kingdom treasure and the best part of that treasure is, besides being eternally available, it allows us to be truly wealthy and peaceful on earth as well. Things rust, crack and tear; bank accounts diminish and that which seems precious tarnishes and fades. Thus is how it goes with earthly treasures. Yet love grows when used, generosity often leads to more generosity, mercy and forgiveness lead to more peace and togetherness. Thus are the benefits of Kingdom treasures. Finally Christ is very clear; while we are focusing on the Kingdom treasures, our Heavenly Father knows we need earthly things and will provide abundantly. Let us focus our hearts on the True Lasting Kingdom Treasure, freely provided by our Heavenly Father.

The True Victory That is the Moral Victory

Jesus Christ asks us: What good is it to gain the whole world but lose your soul? This comes to mind for me because of hearing about and how we use the phrase or concept: to have a moral victory. So often that phrase is used to describe an outcome that was less than desired but either close or the effort was laudable. People will often say “at least they had” or “at least they can claim” a moral victory. The problem with that sentiment is that somehow a “moral” victory is of lesser value than an outright victory. It’s only results that matter without any thought to values. Jesus Christ would both remind and warn us that any victory that does not uplift and strengthen the soul or worse yet damages or diminishes the soul is actually a defeat and a potentially catastrophic defeat at that! Let us elevate the concept that the only true victory that exists is one based on morals regardless of how the world might judge it. With that mindset we align ourselves with our Savior and the victorious blessings He has planned for us.

Choose Living Over Just Existing

To experience life, true life requires a certain openness to it. On the other hand, to exist during life can be accomplished while be completely closed to it. The openness requires a certain humility and vulnerability that allows life to penetrate into our deepest being, our soul. It is in that openness that love can enter and rein, that peace can be experienced and embraced and the beauty of God’s grand creation will be witnessed. To be closed is to forego any blessing while trying to insure no hurt can enter or be felt. We can close ourselves off through outside means like alcohol, drugs, abandonment or other means of escape. Likewise we can close ourselves of internally through indifference and even hate. To openly live does contain risks. Therefore, it is up to us to decide if the rewards received for living outweigh the “feeling” of safety we may receive through just existing. I pray you choose living, embracing the light and love of our Creator, having faith also in His protective redeeming power.

What Might Jesus Christ’s Take Be On All This Drama

As we seem, at the very least so fixated on drama and seeking the dramatic, such that we seem to reward and celebrate those producing drama, it might be worthy to think about how undramatic Jesus Christ was.

– He could have spoke curses, but instead spoke forgiveness and blessings

– He could have brought vengeance and reprisals, but instead brought healing and forgiveness

– He might have demanded self glory, personal fame and constant tribute, but instead gave mercy, was humble and longed to serve

– He could have brought war, but instead preached peace

– He could have been all about the self, but instead He was all about us, the others

Perhaps like and through Him, we might desire less drama and move our focus from the dramatic?

There Is No Sin in Asking for Help!  In Fact Jesus Christ Praised It!

Hmm Today we seem if not carried away with, at least focused on the achievement and the power of the individual. The self-made person is celebrated. Even in a team, the highest paid person is the most important. I am encouraged the follow “my” dreams. There’s seemingly an underpinning of this mantra in the entrepreneurial spirit. For the entrepreneur gets to be their own boss, make their own decisions, set their own schedule. Are their any unintended consequences to this focus? Could it be that one consequence is admitting the need for help or actually asking for help is an action that is looked upon or deemed an action of weakness or failure? Is the seemingly unprecedented rise in the number of suicides across the societal spectrum, be an indication? Might the addiction epidemic be an indication of trying to find refuge from the physical, mental and spiritual pains on our own? Let’s look at who Jesus Christ praised, at what acts He celebrated. Over and over again Jesus Christ praised and celebrated acts of faith. Most often those were acts when people who came forward and asked for help. A woman with decades of suffering from an incurable disease, a group or men trying to get help for their crippled friend, even someone who should have been a sworn enemy, a Roman Centurion with a critically ill servant, were all examples of faithful people who asked for help and were praised and helped by Christ. We hear today about the stigma concerning mental illness; yet perhaps there’s a greater, more insidious stigma which involves admitting the need and asking for help in general. That to do that is to admit to and be branded as a failure. It is true that in the Book of Acts; Paul states the Lord said it is more blessed to give than to receive. Yet note Jesus Christ did not say the receivers are somehow not blessed or that asking for help was a sin! Jesus implores us to humble ourselves and to ask, to rely on the One who has conquered all, even death. That in seeing the power of receiving His help, we may be generous and nonjudgmental in giving ours.

You Are Loved!  Have a Blessed Memorial Day

You are loved. I’ve posted before of the love you have from our Heavenly Father, His Son our Savior, Jesus Christ and the great comforter, the Holy Spirit. Yet on this day, being Memorial Day, understand that you are and have been loved by so many more. For Jesus Christ proclaimed that no greater love has one person that they would lay down their life for another. So understand this, they may not have known you by name, but those brave men and women in the military who died in the service, loved you. They loved you as a citizen of this country making you worthy of giving their last full measure of devotion. Also understand this, there are still many, who out of love, are putting their lives in extreme danger, facing that same ultimate sacrifice. So being so extremely loved, by the Triune God and by our brother and sister citizens in military service who have sacrificed all for us, let our response be to spread that love to all, showing the world that their sacrifice is honored and acted. Have a blessed Memorial Day.

Receive the Power of Their Love and be at Peace

We humans do things for a wide variety of reasons.  At times we act out of fear, frustration, pride, selfishness, arrogance or even hate, among others.  Now it is also true that we act out of caring, humility, bravery, generosity, selflessness and yes, love. Unfortunately with human actions, you may be facing or receiving all of these is some form today.  However, there is from One place, three Entities where, this and every day, the only thing we receive is Their love. For these Three have only one overriding motivation; whether our Heavenly Father, His Son our Savior Jesus Christ or the Holy Spirit, and that motivation is love.  You and I are individually, equally and unconditionally loved.  There is no “good cop/bad” interaction here, only “loving cop”. We may need correcting, we may need to be guided, even sometimes forcefully so, to a new path; yet They always blessedly do it for our good and out of love for us. So which is stronger?  The hatred filled, lying, dark powers of this world wanted and attempted to silence and destroy God’s plan for our salvation and His Son using every power at their disposal.  Instead, God’s love triumphed as Jesus Christ took on every sin, in love He willingly sacrificed Himself, dying in our place.  Then, in overwhelming power, He rose again and continues to live and love each of us this and every day for all eternity. Receive, in faithful belief in They who give it, that love this day with the peace and the power it provides.  That love will thwart every evil this world might attempt to bring against you.

Being Led Away From Temptation

“Lead us not into temptation”, “And do not bring us into temptation”, “And keep us from being tempted”; you might recognize these, based on the translation of the bible that you read as a section of the Lord’s prayer dealing with temptation.  I think that it is worthy to note that Jesus, Himself was tempted.  In fact some translations say he was “led” into the wilderness and then was tempted.  However, Jesus being God, He did not yield to the temptations and sin.  So note what He wants us to pray and have happen because of our petition. He does not have us pray; keep us from yielding to temptation, or let us be triumphant over our temptations.  No, Jesus Christ understands the dangerous power of temptation leading to sin and thus we should pray to be led away from any temptation.  So what might lead us TO temptation; perhaps that TV show, that second or subsequent, beer, wine or other, what about that internet site, or reading and responding to those postings, or, or, or….  I do know there are times and places where I don’t feel tempted; taking a walk in God’s wonderful nature, reading God’s word and/or the writing of some of his saints, being in the cherished fellowship of my dear wife, children and/or other family members and focusing on them.  There seem to be three key concepts here. First, temptation is not something to be willfully entered into and then to be conquered, it is to be avoided. Second, we are often led into temptation so we must be careful who or what we are following.  Finally, this is part of a prayer, probably one of the most famous and recited prayers, straight from our Savior’s mouth.  It is a request for help from none other than our Father in Heaven to lead us away from temptation.  That means it is not something we are meant to accomplish on our own.  Dear Heavenly Father, may it be You, in Your great mercy, will lead us and keep us from being tempted this day.

Why A Child of God Instead of An Adult of God

There is a reason that the phrase is being a “child of God” versus an “adult of God”. When Christ talks about becoming an example of a person who will enter God’s Kingdom; He doesn’t pull an adult, not even John or Peter over to say: “be like this”. No, Jesus pulled a child over. Why? For one a child tends to have a natural faith in their parents/father. They’re very much inclined to believe what their parents tell them, often without question. Additionally, when a parent/father reaches down, offering their hand, the child’s natural inclination is to accept the hand and the safe relationship the hand represents. The danger comes if the child rejects the hand dashes off on their own. Furthermore, a child is also more often than not receptive to and wants to hear that the parent/father loves them with their natural response that they love the parent/father in return. Finally a loving, faithful, in relationship child, is obedient to the parent/father. In the human world, often those childlike characteristics diminish with the earthly parents as the child grows up and in some respects understandably so. For earthly parents aren’t perfect, but our Heavenly Father is. Human children may grow to become equal to or even surpass their earthly parents/fathers. However we will never be equal to, let alone surpass our Heavenly Father. Thus let us ask ourselves when we look at or others see our behavior: do we/they see someone who would be characterized as a child of God?

In Prayer Focusing More on Value of Who it is With

Jesus Christ prayed. And in His prayers, Jesus practiced what He preached/taught, for He went to quiet, secluded places where His praying would be between His Heavenly Father and Himself. A few examples we have of prayers Jesus actually prayed were the prayers for His disciples and the rest of us at the end of His last supper and the prayer in the garden of Gethsemane. Yet one gets the sense in scripture that in Jesus prayer practice that it was something He truly felt he needed, truly wanted to do versus some compulsory, ritualistic practice commanded from above. Jesus Christ truly valued prayer. Today I find myself, as maybe others do, having to “make time” to pray; fitting it in as a “one of many” things to get accomplished. I’ve looked at things like praying at the same time each day until it becomes a “habit”. Okay, but isn’t a habit something which becomes habitual, which we do without much thought or intent behind it? I wonder when Jesus prayed, was it more about the what of the action/practice or the Who with which the practice connected? If a consistent, prioritized prayer life is a challenge then perhaps the focus needs to shift from the act to the Primary Actor, who is God. God welcomes us, urges us to connect with Him regularly. Through that connection God promises us, insight, strength, peace and most importantly, the outpouring of blessed love. Let us cling to and make that connection an ever present priority in our lives, reaping His light and love that comes from it.

Jesus Christ’s Warning About Gain Becoming Tragic Loss

Call it a warning, an admonition or maybe even a plea, one of the most powerful, straight to the heart of life and its purpose, sort of statements Jesus Christ made on this earth is when He asked: “What good will it be to gain the whole world but lose your own soul?”. I believe it is crucial that we look at the context of this question.  For we might think He was asking this to Pontius Pilot before the crucifixion, the Pharisees or some wealthy person.  However, in Matthew 16:26 we see that He was asking this to Peter who was definitely not rich or powerful at least in any earthly measurement. So why ask this to Peter? Because Peter had just gotten finished trying to rebuke Jesus for Jesus saying that He was going to be crucified. Let that sink in for a moment….a mere mortal man, one of many who were created, was attempting to tell God, the Creator of all things; HE WAS WRONG!  Jesus, while harshly but still in love, admonished Peter so all the disciples could see, hear and learn this great truth. For the sake of our souls we must know that we are not even close to being equal to, let alone wiser than God.  To think in Peter’s way is to think in the ways of the enemy. The world may even reward that thinking but our soul is imperil and in danger of being lost for all eternity. The lesson for us to understand, the self-reflection this should drive is first to understand anyone at any station of life can find themselves in this peril.  Additionally to what extent do we think, act and/or even pray and worship like we are coequal with, know more, or are wiser than God? When we look at today’s plan or our life’s plan do we see God as just one among many resources we can tap as we see fit, maybe somewhere down the list as a “Sunday” thing as we decide our own definition of success? Jesus Christ is unequivocally clear in where we should see ourselves in the “who’s wisest” pecking order and what our humble, reverent relationship with our Heavenly Father should be. We would be wise to understand that the world doesn’t last and can’t truly love.  It would be tragically sad to give up our soul for it.  Through God’s Great Grace, Mercy, Hope and Love, I pray that will never happen.

War Versus Peace and the Victory Through Christ

War and Peace, not only a classic novel but also an apt description of our earthly existence or perhaps even more accurate war versus peace.  The war this note focuses on is not the catastrophic geopolitical kind but the equally catastrophic interpersonal kind which in today’s parlance we call “drama”. We seem to be addicted to drama in this world.  We seem to celebrate it in our fiction and our media, consuming it show after show and story after story, even going so far as to calls those who really practice it drama “kings” and “queens”.  If drama remained there it would have little overall impact; but sadly we’ve allowed drama to infiltrate every aspect of society from our work, government, to schools, plus our families and yes, even our churches. There are an ever increasing number of resources; books, seminars, classes, meditations, etc. about how to deal with this “drama”. Jesus Christ knew and knows about this “drama” as He experienced first hand while on this earth. Christ even warned, not only His disciples, but all of us in turn that in this world we will face tribulations (drama).  Then He gives us a great comforting statement/promise:  but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.  How is this a statement/promise of comfort versus a bragging self-glorification? Because Jesus Christ invites us, almost pleads with us to abide in Him so that He can share His power.  He warms us, if we choose to be “of” this world living by worldly standards, loving as the world loves, judging as the world judges we will never escape the drama and find true peace. The only way to find true, lasting Peace is to be “of” Christ, that is to abide in Him. Only then, through His grace, can we overcome the drama of the world, loving unconditionally, leaving the judging to God and entering into an eternal peace that surpasses all understanding.  Not only do we have the promise of experiencing this peace for ourselves but we can be an example of this peace for a defeated by drama, weary world.  War/Drama versus Peace, where is it we want to be?

Where We See Only Endings, God Sees Blessed Continuation

 Where we can see only failed endings, God sees and can bring about, blessed continuation. In 1 Kings 17, we read of a widow in a city. This widow had a son and where she lived, the city had been racked by years of severe drought and a crushing famine. Using all her meager resources, she had tried to eke out a life; but as we meet her, she is, she thinks, at the end. Enter a man sent from God, the Prophet Elijah. God sent Elijah to this city and this widow, stating that she would provide food for Elijah. However, when Elijah meets her and asks for some food, she responds that she has only the barest handful of flower and little oil with which she is going to cook a small cake to feed to her son and herself and then they will die. She was certain, even with all her efforts and plans to the contrary, she was at the end. Elijah though tells her this is not the end. Trust in God and you will have plenty for yourself, your son and me and you will not starve to death. In faith, the widow complied and found the blessing just as Elijah had promised, So today, we may find ourselves at our wits end. We may have tried everything we can think of and turned to every earthly resource for guidance. We may feel completely dejected and alone thinking we are at an or the end. However, take heart and call upon God, being open to the All Powerful resource capable of overcoming any and all earthly obstacles. Jesus Christ asked many times: Do you believe in Me and My power and then proclaimed: As you believe may it be done unto you. Finally do not try to hem God in by trying to prescribe how He must bring about the successful blessing. Rather, faithfully be open to His processes, maybe feeding a stranger that will bring about His blessed continuance
 

Who is the Best and What do We do About it?

There seems to be a societal focus, almost an obsession to be known as “the best”.  Mind you this is not as much about self improvement as it is about worldly acknowledgement. To be known as “the best” invariably means I have to be better than you.  Unfortunately, this drives a culture of constant competition, conflict and self promotion/absorption. Jesus Christ didn’t see it that way, who’s the best disciple? Wrong, who’s humble and will serve the most.  I want to be king or a powerful, entitled ruler; then you will only have an earthly, temporary reward and even that will be filled with strife. I need to best my enemy.  No, you/we need to love our enemies.  You see Jesus Christ knew/knows there has always been only One True Best, both on earth and in heaven and that is God, our Heavenly Father. Jesus Christ does want us to strive to be better, but that is in a better, closer, more loving relationship with the One Best.  Thus let us throw off the confining, isolating and exhaustive pursuit of earthly, personal glory, instead following the One True Best, who promises to make us better than we could ever make ourselves, in His perfect way, now and for all eternity.

Whether Physical, Mental and/or Spiritual, Christ is the Cure for Whatever Ails Us

Let’s take a look at healing through Christ. Quite often when we think healing we focus on the physical, let the operation be successful, heal the disease, let me recover from the injury and it is accurate for us to think this way. Jesus Christ has all the power necessary and has proven His willingness to use it to heal us physically. But let’s take the healing of Matthew as another example of healing. Matthew was a tax collector and before meeting Jesus, he was also a greedy, thief and a cheat in his tax collecting duties. While Matthew may have been whole physically, it is easy to see he had a malady of the mind and spirit in his life. Yet in just one meeting, just by being in the presence of and being open to Jesus’ power, Matthew’s mind and spirit were healed. He went from a greedy, lying, stealing, fearing person to a repentant, generous, loving person. Thus we can be confident that whatever ails us today, Jesus Christ has and is the cure. He calls to us, beckons to us, will make housecalls to us, to ask for His healing power. And best of all, Jesus Christ charges nothing to us for His healing of us. All He asks is that we believe He can heal us. So come on, physical, mental and/or spiritual; what’s ailing you today? Come to Jesus Christ and be certain of healing.

Is Fear Truly the Only Thing to Fear?

“Fear” in our world today is a complex and, at times, contradictory concept. On the one hand we see fear as a debilitating emotion that keeps us from reaching out, or attempting something; that keeps us from following dreams in the face of some perceived opposition or fighting for justice. Yet we want to insure that we are so totally fearful of the impact of nuclear weapons that we never use them, that the devastation on the mind and body of illicit drugs like methamphetamines and heroine is so fear invoking that they’re never attempted. Then there’s God. God exists. The bible is also clear; that everything else exists is because God exists and created it. Finally, the bible states some other things unequivocally; the first of the 10 commandments and Jesus Christ’s proclamation of the greatest commandment states that God should be first in our lives. The wise Solomon states that fearing God is the foundation of wisdom. Yet that concept seems to be fading, not only in the world but sadly even in our faith communities. We don’t want to conceive that there might be some aspect of fearfulness in a relationship with our Heavenly Father. Is He loving? Absolutely. Forgiving? No doubt. Merciful to the point of long suffering? Completely. Yet He does exist and He did create us. Nothing can be hid from Him. He knows and tells us what is best for us and wants us to understand; that to disregard His counsel, to live as if our will and desires are equal to His, or worst of all, to live as if He doesn’t even exist has hugely negative, devastating consequences for us that we should greatly fear. Thus let us be fearful enough, knowing God will allow us to travel the many godless paths leading to our current and eternal ruin, that we, in faith, love and yes appropriate fear, keep traveling the One path of Christ, that leads to the Father.

Is Getting Angry Really the Solution?

Is anger the solution? Is becoming angry the way to fix our problems? You name it mass shootings/gun control, immigration, taxes, politics, abuse; anger seems to be the preferred communication method and attitude. There is even a sense that it is the anger that finally drives success and thwarts the “other side”. I believe we would be very wise to heed Jesus Christ’s very clear, unequivocal warning about anger and becoming angry. “But I say, if you are even angry with someone, you are subject to judgement! If you call someone an idiot, you are in danger of being brought before the court. And if you curse someone you are in danger of the fires of hell.” (Matthew 5:22) Jesus does not mince words here. He, being God, is very clear. Is anger successful? No, and here’s why. First, it is extremely damaging to the body, bringing on high levels of stress that negatively impact many of the body’s systems. Second, anger is not sustainable. Because it takes so much energy, it can’t be sustained over time and often morphs into dejection and depression. Why also Christ’s warning? Anger leads down the path to hate and even greater conflict. Behavior that is manifested from anger is difficult to walk back from and the damage is long lasting. Finally and most frightening, if anger works, if it is the solution then we should use it more and more; the angrier the better.  Is that the world we really want to live in?  Let us be very careful about the words we choose, the posts we put out the thoughts we have about those we disagree with, even vehemently, Let us object and disagree with conviction yet leaving out the convection.  Let us rule over and control our emotions instead of allowing them control over us.  And if you disagree, I truly hope this doesn’t tick anyone off.

A “Cost”, “Value” Analysis

Jesus Christ discusses and wants us to understand there is a “cost” when we decide to follow Christ, that there are responsibilities and changes. Yet throughout His life, Jesus Christ spoke of, lived out, and sacrificed His life for the “payment” we receive for following Christ and that is His and Our Heavenly Father’s unconditional, never ceasing love. What we need to understand in a culture of almost constant fun and enjoyment is that we can find deep love and fulfillment in listening to and being there for a grieving person though it may not be “fun”. It probably doesn’t top the list of enjoyment to visit someone in jail, a sick person in a hospital, or clean and repair a stranger’s storm ravaged home. Yet there is deep, fulfilling and uplifting love in each of these services and many others that uplifts the provider as much, if not more so than the receiver. Let us not be fearful of, neither turned away by considering the cost of following, but be more so focused on the overwhelmingly greater sustaining value we receive in the Love of Christ and our Heavenly Father and in service to Them.

An Observation:  Just How Perfect Am I and My Ideas?

An observation, it is amazing to me, on so many vital, impactful, necessary topics; we are so quick about and so definitely certain about what will not work. Because we are so completely sure of our determination, we will not listen to or simply listen to refute any idea not exactly aligned with our own. Thus so much vital time and mental energy is spent attempting to destroy a different idea and those promoting it. In fact the terminology we use promotes this process as we call the idea a conflicting or opposing idea engendering the sense that the other idea must be beaten down, must lose. Thus I think about trying to get things done, whether it be building a bookcase, taking a trip, teaching a class just for a few examples. To complete those and virtually any other task I undertake, I have to rely on other’s ideas and inputs to be successful. I have to absolutely admit to my imperfection and the limitations of my intellect to successfully accomplish my goals. Can we find the humility to listen, not just to refute or destroy, but listen with the openness to seek value? How different would our discussions/posts sound, how different, sustainable, plus quickly derived would our solutions be if we were open to modifying our perspectives? Just an observations

Now More Than Ever Love is What We Need.  Love is the Answer. Love is the Way Forward.

Jesus tells us it started and starts with love, that is why our Heavenly Father sent Him. In the middle, Jesus told us it about love, love the Father and love each other. At the end, Jesus said it is about love, no greater love is there than to sacrifice and to be followers of Christ is to love each other. This morning we may be angry, we might be distraught, we may feel frustration building up wanting to lash out. This morning we we may feel that love has lost, love is weak and we should try something else. Christ tells us, Christ pleads with us, Christ lived out, that love is more necessary now than ever. Love heals where hate and anger destroys. Hate pulls the trigger on the innocent, love stands up to protect the innocent. Evil hopes today we will turn our backs on love.  God knows and has sacrificed His Only Son to save us and show the ultimate power of love. Finally God does not just demand you love and stand ready to punish you if you don’t. You are not alone. God is right next to you, loving you first and only after loving you first, also willing to show you how to love others.

In the Beginning and the End

We read in the Gospel of John:  “In the beginning was the Word…”  Later as Jesus is in the world he several times declares:…”My time has not come…Jesus tells us it started and starts with love, that is why our Heavenly Father sent Him. In the middle, Jesus told us it about love, love the Father and love each other. At the end, Jesus said it is about love, no greater love is there than to sacrifice and to be followers of Christ is to love each other. This morning we may be angry, we might be distraught, we may feel frustration building up wanting to lash out. This morning we we may feel that love has lost, love is weak and we should try something else. Christ tells us, Christ pleads with us, Christ lived out, that love is more necessary now than ever. Love heals where hate and anger destroys. Hate pulls the trigger on the innocent, love stands up to protect the innocent. Evil hopes today we will turn our backs on love.  God knows and has sacrificed His Only Son to save us and show the ultimate power of love. Finally God does not just demand you love and stand ready to punish you if you don’t. You are not alone. God is right next to you, loving you first and only after loving you first, also willing to show you how to love others..”  Finally, on the cross, Jesus Christ declares:  “it is finished!”  You see I don’t control, nor do I believe any human controls the time of their own beginning nor knows the time of their end.  However, just because I don’t know it, doesn’t mean it is not known. Christ knows it and He knows it is part of the Father’s perfect plan. Since I don’t know and can’t discern the beginning and the end what does Christ want me to know?  LOVE! His and the Father’s love. That I and yes you as well are loved, individually and unconditionally. That we are saved. That this terrestrial life will one day cease but that is not the end to life or love. Even now we are a part of eternity so let us willingly accept the love and humbly submit ourselves to the One who knows and controls the beginnings and endings and wants to be a constant blessing to the in-betweens.

Confession and Our Contemporary World

Confession good for the soul? There seemingly has been a lot of confessing and “I’m sorrys” going on out there lately, yet here’s some of what I’ve heard being said:  “I’m sorry, I did wrong but it was consensual, I was wrong but I was just doing what everyone else was doing to win, I was wrong but they made me so mad I had to do something, I was wrong but I didn’t really do the things they are saying about me, I was wrong but………”. Now please understand, I’m not the judge or arbiter of what is or is not a confession. So turning to John the Baptist we hear him warn that saying sorry is not enough when he declares: “prove by the way you live that you have repented of your sins and turned to God”. Thus, that we add the clarifying “but” and what comes after it may give us some insight about do we really think change is necessary and do we really plan to do it.  The gospels are clear, at least to me, that I am a sinner and I am in need of confession and repentance. By the Grace and freely given sacrifice of Jesus Christ my sins are forgiven.  Yet the free and blessed life comes when I confess my sins and decide to no longer live into them.  Let us be careful with our “but” that we’re not trying to have our forgiveness (the cake) and continue in that same sin at the same time (eating it too).

The Truth to Seek That Will Truly Bring us Freedom

Freedom! Freedom is a word that is bandied about so often today. It is a word that represents a concept so fundamentally important that people are willing to fight for it. A concept so dear that many brave men and women put their lives on the line and have made the ultimate sacrifice to defend. Yet Jesus Christ combines that extremely important word/concept with an equally important word/concept: TRUTH! This is recorded in John’s Gospel when Jesus declares: “Then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free”. How ironic it is later in John, that the human being who condemns Christ to death first asks him: “What is truth?”, So I wonder, are we open to truly asking that same question today: “What is truth?” Or do we believe we are all knowing, all wise, that we can come up with our own truth, based on our own opinions and perceptions and there can be no other truth except that which we agree with? Do we ever ponder if the truth that we are holding onto so tightly allows us the feeling of freedom we seek? What is truth, real freeing truth? Jesus Christ makes it clear that truth doesn’t come from, doesn’t originate with who’s the loudest, who happens to be in power at the time. Having more money doesn’t buy truth. Some worldly title, fame or prestige doesn’t endow a person with truth. Truth is not derived from hate, selfishness, greed or manipulation. The foundations of truth are love for all, serving others, generosity of spirit, gratitude and seeking that which is best for all. Is that a truth we can handle? Is that a truth that can provide the freedom from the seemingly endless conflicts, division, fear and hatred that so plagues our earthly existence? Let us be seeking that truth, the real truth of how we are to live in peace, with justice and love for all that will set us free indeed.

We Would Be Wise to Define the Game Before We Worry About the Rules

Before we get too all consumed with learning the rules to go by, we must first determine what “game” we’re going to be playing!  I put “game” in quotation marks because this isn’t about just a game but about the true essence of our very lives.  There is the “golden rule” of the world. That rule states that they who own the most gold make the rules.  If playing that game, living that life, the more gold we can acquire the better. Jesus Christ saw this type of living and rules that accompanied it during His time on earth. The world felt if you were rich, healthy, powerful, successful then you were blessed and more righteous, closer to God than others.  Then along comes Jesus with His message; blessed are the poor, if you are sick or disabled that is not a punishment for being a greater sinner.  Beware of even having the desire to obtain great worldly power for it so often leads to corruption.  And finally, love and faith are the most valuable, powerful commodities of all.  Those same differences that Jesus saw in society when He walk the earth, to a great extent still exist today. Thus we must decide first how we want to frame or “play” our game of life before we decide on the rules that will govern how we play. A life in Jesus Christ can’t be won by playing by the worldly rules. Perhaps it is bad to use so many sports analogies but what the hey. We’d be wise to remember that our time here is just a few short innings, quarters, periods, laps etc. of the total game. Let us insure we don’t doom our victory by playing by the wrong set of rules.

The Power of God and the Destruction That Comes From Not Following Him

I would encourage you to read Jeremiah Chapter 50. As you do, understand it is a testament to the Power of God, His ability to use His Creation to bring about His plan and the dire consequences that happen by not following Him. For God allowed the Babylonian Kingdom to become strong solely so it could carry out His plan.  But they didn’t understand from where their increase and power came from and didn’t turn to believe in God and stop their wickedness and in Chapter 50 we learn of their approaching doom and destruction. Likewise Jesus Christ tells us clearly He is the Truth, the Light and the Pathway to God. Christ implores us not to chase after some other person, organization, country or especially religion or version of religion just because they seem worldly successful or powerful in the moment. Both Old and New Testaments are clear concerning the blessings that come from faithfully following the plan of God and the destruction that comes from either devising our own plan, trying to modify His plan to suit ourselves or following someone else’s plan instead of God’s because that person seems successful in the near term.

Jesus Christ’s Words for Joyful Abundant Life Are Out There.  Are We Listening? 

First comes the hearing, which requires we are listening. Often quoted is the house built on rock versus sand scripture with an emphasis on the building. Yet Jesus starts the lesson with the power and importance of His words and hearing them. In John Chapter 6, Jesus stresses that anyone who is listening to the Father will come to and believe in the Son.  The question for us is:  Are we listening?  This has to be a purposeful, focused listening. For there is much noise and so many voices and channels that the world and the enemy throw at us to confuse us or attempt to drown out the Word of the Lord. So what should we focus on? First we have Christ’s own words in the Bible. In addition we have the blessing of the God, Himself promised resource to speak to us and guide us; who is the Holy Spirit. To the extent those resources are the foundation of teaching, our churches are another source. All of these are the only resources we need.  However, again, we must be focused. Don’t expect overwhelming volume and/or over zealous words.  Remember that Jesus rarely raised His voice and was not known for shouting down or talking over His detractors. He didn’t need to. The power of His Father given words silenced all His adversaries. There are some who are reading this that say that I’m leaving out the doing and yes doing is important. But there is a suggestion that one gender always wants to do without first reading the instructions leading to mixed if not bad results. It’s the same (although not gender based) here. For if we think about doing on the basis of our own thoughts and intellect or some other worldly foundation and neglect the instruction of Jesus Christ then our doing will only result in our ruin.  Thus it all starts with listening.  Jesus Christ is asking:  “Can you hear me now?”.

Paul Made it to Rome

Paul made it to Rome. We should understand that Paul eventually made it to Rome.  What the Book of Acts and Paul’s letter to the Roman believers clearly communicates to us is that Paul really wanted to visit Rome. Paul wanted to visit and support the Roman believers in Jesus Christ. Paul’s communication also reveals that Paul felt led, felt he was called to visit Rome. But when Paul wrote the letter to the Romans he also makes clear that he believes the reason he had not been able to make it to Rome yet was God’s plan. While God’s plan did not keep Paul from feeling frustrated, Paul didn’t allow his frustration to stop him from carrying out God’s plan or question the value of his faith in Jesus Christ or in God. What can we learn from this? First, today, you or I may feel strongly led to do something, accomplish something and that we’ve received that as a calling from God.  Through prayer, study and the revelation of the Holy Spirit, we may be right. But also today, something happens that seems to thwart that plan, thus we find ourselves frustrated, maybe even disheartened. We must resist the temptation to doubt God and His power. We must not conclude that the world can negate or is more powerful than God. Instead let us be open to not understanding the specifics of God’s plan while still having faith in it. Let us be open to God’s leading that we’re fulfilling our purpose as Paul did in starting and supporting new faith communities although they were far from Rome. Also let us not give up. Let us not be quick to dismiss the leading the Holy Spirit has given us.  Paul didn’t. And again, don’t forget, in the fullness and perfection of God’s plan, Paul made it to Rome.

It May Be Past Christmas But Do You Still Feel the Love of Jesus Christ?

Do you still feel it? I know it’s been a couple of weeks since Christmas. I know we may have slipped back into our routines. I know the weather may have been colder and nastier lately. And yes the news continues to be filled with dire and disappointing things. But do you still feel the love of Christmas; the love of Christ?  You see Christ came in love, He lived in love, He sacrificed Himself and was resurrected in love.  Finally Jesus Christ continues to live and offer His love to us this very day.  He did not mean for His love to only be felt at a certain time of year, around some certain event.  It is for each day, each hour.  Thus, if you don’t feel HIs love then seek His love.  Seek His love through prayer and the Word. If you do feel His love then please share it.  Share it with a world so intensely in need of Christ’s love; don’t keep it to yourself.  May the light of Christ’s love shine on you this day.

Finding the Peace of Christ

Obtaining the peace of Christ. I unfortunately am a media, mainly TV complainer, sometimes yeller and that’s not a good thing. Most often it happens when I’m watching the news and some story comes on and/or the anchor makes some comment that I find outrageous or flawed (based on my opinion) then I can feel my frustration and blood pressure rise until, like a boiling tea kettle, I have to spout off. However, lately I’ve been wondering if that is the response I, and/or more importantly Christ, think I should have. You see Christ was faced with some of the most outrageous claims and acts imaginable. They wanted to stone a woman to death just to test Him. They called His healing bad and spread the word that He was a prince of the devil. Plus of course, there was His crucifixion. Yet Jesus Christ never let it cause Him to lose control. It never robbed Him of His peace. It wasn’t that He didn’t care or that He just ignored them. No, Jesus would definitely rebuke them and silence their silly utterances; He just didn’t fly into a rage to do it. But Jesus was God on earth and I and you aren’t. Yet look at how Paul, Peter and James handled disputes both internal and external. Through the Holy Spirit and relying on Christ, they were very bold in their speech and confronting evil without becoming hysterical, abusive or to use some more contemporary vernacular, “wigging out”. Christ stated that He was giving us His peace. He went on to explain that His peace was nothing like the world’s peace. World and worldly peace often comes from hearing or seeing things I/we agree with and/or totally ignoring that with which we don’t agree. Christ implores us to not turn our backs on or neglect the hurting or suffering of the world. Nevertheless, Jesus Christ beckons us to come, abide and rest in Him were we can see the world through His eyes, a world in need of peace and love where we can be ambassadors of those feelings by first letting Him reign in us. Let my (and perhaps our) yelling cease.

Can I/We Help?  The Lesson of Peter on His Way to the Temple

Can I/we help? In Acts we read how Peter, who had recently received the Holy Spirit was heading to the Temple for the evening prayer meeting. Suddenly a paralyzed beggar cried out for some money.  Peter stopped and advised the man that he had no money (which was true and not just a dodge to get passed the man). However, Peter told the man he would do what he could for the man and in the name of Jesus Christ healed the man of his paralysis. What can we learn and apply with this account? First is to understand we have our tasks, our responsibilities and plans. If we are not careful, we can become so focused on ourselves and our own plans that we pass right by those in need, never hearing their cries for help or worse yet purposely avoiding them so that we don’t get sidetracked. Second we need to understand we may not possess the thing the person in need is specifically asking for; the money, the job, the way to find their soulmate, etc. So what we need to rely on is what Christ wants us to provide which is the most important thing.  Maybe it’s an aspect of time, maybe it’s some aspect of using the God given talent we have, maybe it’s unconditional love; whatever it is, if we focus on Christ we will receive the necessary intervention or help to give. Finally, when we help, to understand it is not to bring glory to ourselves.  We are accomplishing the mission Christ has given us so that we can glorify our Father in Heaven. As we plan, strategize, ponder and dream about what 2018 holds, let us not be so internally focused that we miss the tremendous blessings that come from blessing and helping others in the Name of Christ.

Do We See An Opportunity or a Burden

An opportunity or a burden? Many who read this may have spent and/or continue to spend your recent time sequestered in your residence due to the snow and bitterly cold temperatures. For some this might be a singular isolation, for others you have others like family with you. So the question is, do you feel trapped, imprisoned by the circumstances, perhaps frustrated and angry? Or do you see this as a blessing for you, a time to slow down, an opportunity to commune in an unexpected but welcome way. From the bible when Joseph was imprisoned, he used his God given talent to interpret dreams for those around him. When Paul was shipwrecked that didn’t stop him from spreading the word of Christ. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m in no way trying to say your situation is comparable to a prison or a shipwreck 😃.
But couldn’t this be a time to play a game, have a conversation, try out that new recipe or find a way to have a deeper communion with those around you? Even if you happen to be in a singular situation, perhaps there’s that letter you’ve been meaning to write or dust off the ole bible and dive in. You may not have chosen this to happen but can you find the blessings in it? God loves you and wants you to seek and find Him and His blessings whatever the circumstances; for indeed they are there. Prayers for safety and warmth.

The Danger of and Damage From the Harsh Voice

In Proverbs 12 we read: ” Fools have short fuses and explode all too quickly”, and “Rash language cuts and maims…”  Also in Proverbs 13: “Arrogant know-it-alls stir up discord but wise men and women listen to each other’s counsel”. Yet so often today, the first and the loudest are the ones that get all the attention. Almost everywhere you look there are “experts” so sure of their own correctness that they will listen to no one else and ridicule any and all different opinions. Also today it’s not just mastering our tongues that is necessary but our fingers as well. How often do we quickly lash out on social media or forward some harsh post we’ve read, insulting and belittling some opinion different than our own? Let us not be dividers and haters in our haste to be heard among or above the cacophony of harsh voices out there.  Instead let us, in genuine humility, listen to the voices of others searching for whatever wisdom or insight they may contain. Let us be leery of having predominantly self made wisdom as it is often a fantasy of arrogance that, like a house of cards, provides precious little shelter and is easily destroyed. Let us start with God and the wisdom He imparts through the Holy Spirit as well as the blessings of wisdom that God intends to impart to us through those He places in our lives. Then let us strive to share that wisdom to the uplifting of those around us.

Warding Off The Dangerous Cold From Within

It is most certainly cold outside.  In fact it is a cold that one might describe as “bone chilling”. It is a cold that can do real damage if we don’t take the time to protect ourselves. Yet the cold from the outside is not the most damaging sort of cold. Jesus Christ warns us concerning what comes from the inside, what comes from the heart and if what comes from the inside is cold and dark then we and those around us are in even greater peril indeed. To ward off the cold from the outside, we take time to learn how cold it is, wear layers of clothing and take shelter from the cold. Likewise to ward off the inner cold we must learn how to bring warmth to our heart and soul through the love of our Father Almighty in Heaven. Let us build layers against the cold of this world through prayer and reading of the word. Finally, let us enter into the grace filled, freely provided shelter of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ where the power and light of His love will eternally banish away the dangerous life robbing chill of this world, filling us instead with enough warmth of His love to not only sustain us but plenty left over to share with this warmth starved world.

Preparing for the Storm

A storm is brewing and predictions have it being a significant one. What do we normally do? We prepare. Perhaps we go to the store and stock up on supplies and/or maybe we secure loose items to keep them from blowing around. Why do we do those things and how does it make us feel concerning the impending storm? To a great extent it minimizes and helps to alleviate the fear and lowers our anxiety toward the approaching storm. We do that in the physical world but what about our spiritual storms? What about our personal storms of the mind and the soul? Sometimes we feel them approaching, sometimes they seem to spring up instantaneously from nowhere. If we’re not careful we can find ourselves holding on for dear life, lost in the fear and trepidation of the seemingly never ending tempest. If you find yourself either in one of those storms or it seems to be approaching from the horizon, take heart.  For Jesus Christ says there is a way to prepare and there is a safe port where we can weather any and all spiritual storms. The port is called the Love of Jesus Christ and it will shelter you from and defeat the fiercest of storms. We can prepare to enter that safe harbor through prayer and study of His Word. Yet if you are in the middle of a raging storm do not give up hope; for Jesus Christ is using the searchlight of His Love, searching and seeking you and it will penetrate the darkest of gloom to lead you to salvation. The cost to enter His port? Only faith, only the steadfast belief that His is the Son of God who loves you and has all the power to save you. Prayers for safety, warmth and blessing to all who are facing the physical, mental and spiritual storms of life.

Out of Any and All Circumstances, Let the Blessings Flow

Imagine you’re suddenly faced with over 5,000 men, women and even children who are in danger of real harm due to no food and you have very meager resources, then a blessing happens. Or you’re on a boat when a sudden storm surges up that threatens to swamp you and toss you into the raging seas, then a blessing happens. Perhaps you’ve been dealing with a chronic condition that no earthly resource can find a way to deal with, then a blessing happens. Here’s the thing, I pray for many blessings for you in 2018 and while I feel confident in the outcome of that prayer I have no clue what shape or circumstances will bring those blessings to fruition. In each of the above examples, the situation started out rather dire, rather unblessing–like, but then Jesus Christ stepped in and the blessings happened. Whatever our circumstances, let us turn to Christ and have the same experience of His blessed intervention in our lives.

Happy New Year in the Year of Our Lord 2018

We would be correct and blessed to consider and proclaim this the Year of our Lord 2018.  For our Lord owns the time; each year, month, week, day, hour and down to the second. His perfect plan will dictate just how many of those units will be granted us. It is up to each of us to decide our focus in how we plan to live out those gifts. Let us strive to live them out in love, generosity of spirit, abiding in the Lord and aligning to His will. In that way we shall truly reap the bountiful blessings to those around us.

Feelings and Knowledge

So here’s a paradoxically ironic answer I find myself using sometimes when someone asks me how I feel about something; I’ll answer: I don’t KNOW! The paradox is that I respond to a question about feeling with an answer concerning knowledge. To focus on the feeling aspect, that is the spiritual nature of things can be a challenge in our data driven, prove it to me, information age. Yet if we take note of how Jesus Christ phrased things we get a greater discernment concerning what He found to be of greater value. For Jesus often asked: Do you believe that I can do this or where is your FAITH? The greatest commandment is not to learn about God or come to know Him, it is to love Him. Thus let us not be too quick to dismiss or devalue feelings versus information and’or knowledge. Let us be humbly open, in faith, to God’s communication with us where He gives us a feeling about what is right and His Will. Let us strive to FEEL the love of God and return that love to Him and share it with all whether we know them or not.

A Continuing Focus on Giving and Expressing Gratitude

Yesterday, being Christmas is often a time focused on the giving as well as expressing gratitude for the receiving of gifts.  Then, sometimes that focus starts to wane for several reasons. First our focus may transition to using the gifts where we might find ourselves so caught up in the using we neglect the appreciation.  Also, as the Day recedes further away, the cares, busyness and worries of the world can creep back in robbing us of the focus and joy of giving and expressing gratitude. Yet let us surely know this and bring it forth into the forefront of our spirit and consciousness that today, the gift of Jesus Christ is as certain, active and important as it was yesterday. Thus let us stay focused on using that gift to shine His Light and Love into our lives, banishing all worldly fears and cares away, then continuing the utilization of that Gift of Christ to generously spread His Light and Love into all the world. Finally, let us not neglect expressions of gratitude to our Heavenly Father for the free gift of Grace and Salvation which is Jesus Christ.

MERRY CHRISTMAS

Hallelujah Our Savior has come. Love and light came down and dwelt among us. Evil, fear, darkness and death have been forever vanquished. MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!!

Thankful for God’s Gift of the People in Our Lives

In a few hours many of us will participate in that wonderful tradition of exchanging presents. What I’d like to acknowledge is the presents that God has so generously blessed us with being the wonderful people He has determined to bring into our lives down through the years. Starting with our Savior Jesus Christ, our Heavenly Father has determined the circumstances which have brought so many awesome people into our lives at just the needed time. Sometimes the people may stay for just a brief moment. At other times the people bless us for nearly our entire lives. So first, thank you God and second thank you to those wonderful loving persons who, by the Grace of God, have so generously shared themselves making my life so immeasurably brighter and so much more worth the living. Merry Christmas Eve.

Understanding The Context of the Promise

Context is extremely important. Jesus Christ does specifically state in the Gospel of John: “You can ask for anything in my name and I will do it……”. I imagine that statements like that might have led to times of frustration, confusion and maybe even doubt. So there’s the context within which that statement was made. First we should not neglect the rest of the verse “….so the Son can bring glory to the Father”. You see Jesus was speaking to His Disciples when He made that statement. He was speaking to a group of believers whom He trusted knew that the things they would be asking for would be intending to bring Glory to the Father and fulfill His plan. Yes that could include asking for money or success but whatever it is being asked for is truly to glorify the name of our Heavenly Father. When Jesus was born of a virgin, healed, fed thousands, walked on water, rose on the third day, He did so in obedience to and to fulfill God’s loving, plan. Thus let us seek to do those things which glorify our Father in heaven, then let us humbly, yet with confidence ask of Jesus Christ and receive His blessed response.

Let Us Make Room and Take Time to Read What God Writes in Us

In the book of Hebrews we read of the new covenant that our Heavenly Father has made through the blessed coming, sacrifice and resurrection of Jesus Christ. “This is the covenant I will make with them after that time, says the Lord. I will put my laws in their hearts and I will write them on their minds. Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more.” Let us insure that we have left room, in fact that we have reserved the most important, vital, always in front of us space, open to allow God to write His love and laws in our hearts and minds. Finally, let us also take the time to read what God has so blessedly and generously taken the time to write to and in us.

Take Heart, Believe and Be Comforted For All Things Are Possible With God

God’s messenger, the Angel Gabriel stated it: “For nothing is impossible with God”. Jesus Christ proclaimed it: “but with God all things are possible”. You are a creation of God, unique and uniquely made. You are not massed produced, just a mere one among billions. In a blessing virtually inconceivable in its scope, you are personally known by, personally loved by God. So believe in God and do what Jesus Christ implores us all to do. First love God but also call out to God, in the name of Jesus Christ. Do not fear or be downcast or discouraged by the worldly large, the worldly threatening, the worldly overwhelming. God is more powerful than any and all of that. But with all that power, all that wisdom, in need of nothing from us; we have asked down through the millennia, who am I Lord and wondered if God would take notice of us or care for us. Really, isn’t He just sitting back and watching us stumble through our lives, making mistake after mistake and reaping the consequences? Jesus Christ testifies truthfully to answer that very question for each and every one of us when he states unequivocally: ” For God so loved the world that He gave His One and Only Son that everyone who believe in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world but save the world through Him”. Believe in God. Believe in Jesus Christ. In the name of Jesus Christ, ask of God and watch that which the world calls impossible be accomplished through His love.

Created versus Human Nature

So let us contemplate nature this morning. Now understand I’m not talking about the “outdoors” kind of nature but about “human” versus “created” kinds of nature. You see we often hear that it is “only human nature” to be in fear, to hate our enemies, to put ourselves first, to love only those who love us in return and only believe that which we can prove with our own intellect. Sometimes we even give ourselves a pass for our destructive nature saying: “What do you expect, I’m only HUMAN”. However, there is another nature, a nature that God our Creator, created us to have. That nature loves unconditionally, forgives unceasingly, gives generously, appreciates continuously and believes in God unquestionably. How do we obtain that created nature? He is the reason for the season. You see one of the reasons Jesus Christ came to earth, taking human form was to show us about that perfect nature. He also taught us that there is only one way to that nature; Jesus Christ is the way. Our own striving, talents, power, knowledge or intellect won’t get us there. No, Jesus is very plain when He tells us; greater things than I have done, you will do if you abide in Me, but also, apart from Me, you can do nothing. Then let us be willing to be in Christ. Let us be willing to humbly open ourselves to abide in Christ and receive the gift of the created nature that our Creator so longs to bless us with.

When’s the Last Time You Contemplated Your Soul?

Today let us consider the soul. Now if I asked you if you had a soul your answer might go something like: “Duh, of course I have a soul”. But you see we live in a culture that is more focused around the mind and the body. Our contemplation of thought is most often centered around experience and knowledge. We can easily become consumed with concerns about the body, its health, girth, and/or sense of attractiveness. How important is the soul and its spiritual aspect? When Jesus was speaking to Nicodemus concerning the requirement to be “born again” to enter the kingdom of God, as chronicled in the Gospel of John, Nicodemus responds to Jesus in confusion and derision because Nicodemus is only thinking in terms of the physical. Jesus responds to him by saying “We speak of what we know…..”. Nicodemus did not consider the spiritual nature of Christ’s words and thus totally missed the lesson. If we disregard the value of the soul and the spirituality that comes with it, we can fall into the same trap. How do we avoid that? First we need to recognize the awesome value of the soul. Then we can nourish it by prayer and reading about it and its spiritual nature in God’s word. May we truly understand that the soul is the primary conduit by which God interacts with us and it also the place where the truest deepest love resides and the place where so many blessings flow from.

We Have Been Prayed for by God!!!!

A little while back I posted how Jesus Christ prayed. What you may not be aware of is that, recorded in the Gospel of John, one of Jesus Christ’s last accomplishments on this earth, something He wanted to make sure happened before being arrested and carried away; was to pray personally for you and I. He would only pray again in the garden. Let that sink in. God Himself, in the person of the Son, knowing the Father like no one else, used some of His last moments to pray for you to His Father. And oh what a prayer! Jesus, being perfect, perfectly knew and knows what we need. He prayed that you and I, right now and for all eternity might be in Him and He in us. He prayed that we might know the Father, through and as the Son knows the Father and thus share in His glory. He prayed that the same love that the Father has for His Only Begotten Son would also be in us. Oh let it be that our response to that prayer be a joyous, faithful, confident AMEN!!!! Let us be filled with the Father’s love allowing it to drive out the fear, worry, anger, frustration, pride and empty striving of this world. Jesus Christ prayed for you and be confident that our Heavenly Father heard and will gladly, mercifully, and lovingly answer that prayer.

We, Like Mary May Find Ourselves Pondering

In the Gospel of Luke we read where Mary had things happen like the visit from the shepherds and the prophetic declarations of Simeon and Anna when they brought the child Jesus to the temple the first time and that she “kept and pondered them in her heart”. From the beginning when the Angel Gabriel came to tell her about becoming the Mother of Jesus, Mary did not fully understand the hows and the whys. There’s a very great lesson for us through her. For her lack of understanding, in no way shape or form, hindered her faithful compliance with and aligning her will with our Heavenly Father’s Will and Perfect Plan. In use of the word ponder it seems clear she wanted to understand. However, her lack of understanding did not effect her behavior and we don’t know to what extent she ever achieved clarity of understanding, yet she never turned away from Jesus throughout His entire life. Thus, yes, we might find ourselves pondering and there appears to be no sin in doing so. The stumbling block happens when we rely on our own understanding or are hesitant or maybe even refusing to follow our Heavenly Father, to humbly submit and align ourselves to His Will until we come to some sort of clear understanding. Faith requires we follow Jesus Christ to receive His Power and Strength whether we understand or not.

The Example of Christ In Looking to the Different Among Us

We live in a time where we so often find ourselves in being around our friends, watching certain information channels, on our social media, with family members we listen to and even leaders we’re willing to give the time of day to, that our “we” is a collective group of “I”. That is, the groups that influence me, that I look to for examples and all wisdom are reflections of me and my thoughts. We would be wise to consider the example of Jesus Christ. For Christ praised and found value in the faith of a societal hated Roman. One of Jesus’ most oft repeated and cited lessons is The Good Samaritan” where a Samaritan, in that day, was a hated, vilified enemy. Christ listened to and praised tax collectors who repented and others who society rejected out of hand. Jesus Christ first looked to find value in those around Him and yes He did criticize some. Even then notice how and why He did it. He criticized based on actually observed behavior, not arbitrarily on someone’s class, nationality or physical characteristic. One more difference, Jesus Christ was and is perfect. As Creator, He could see into His creation’s heart. We have no such perfection. Thus let us look to others, different in thought and situation to find greater wisdom. Let us avoid the temptation to discard and even hate the different, out of hand. Jesus Christ came to save the world, not just me.

It’s Not Just That Jesus Christ Came, but How and Why He Came That Matters

Jesus Christ came down to and for us! God could have sent Him to judge us. God could have sent Him to arrive in the Spirit and form of Power as He was (and is today) in His existence in heaven. Instead, our Heavenly Father chose to send Jesus in the Spirit of Love, Mercy and Forgiveness and humbly in the human body of a baby. Jesus Christ could have come to be served as our Creator. However, Jesus came to serve, to teach us how to have abundant life and then He sacrificed Himself, that we might be saved. So let us be saved. Let us embrace the love and loving Savior, living into His power of love and receiving the innumerable, immeasurable blessings He and our Heavenly Father desire to pour out upon us and then share that love and those blessings with this love starved world.. A happy and blessed Monday to you all.

Living Into All the Gifts Which Come From Jesus Christ

As we enter into this season where gifts are given and received and we contemplate what to do with the gifts we receive, it would be wise for us to understand the nature of the gift of Jesus Christ. For while the gift of salvation and eternal life with our Heavenly Father is an amazing gift indeed, Jesus Christ also came and has given the power to live into Him and receive His blessings each day. Through His life, teachings and sacrifice, plus the subsequent gift of the Holy Spirit we receive the gift of power to overcome the temptations of this world and rise into a life of love, peace and fulfillment that cannot be obtained in and by this world alone. Thus let us receive and use those gifts to live into the blessed life we are created to live as well as sharing those gifts with a world so in need of receiving them.

Jesus Christ Doesn’t Compare

We hear and it is important to be cognoscente that this time of year can be mentally and spiritually tough and depressing for some. Often times that seems to be impacted by the act of comparison. That is to say a person looks around and sees others celebrating, others filled with joy and hope, others enjoying the company of friends and loved ones and then compares their life to the others and finds it lacking and becomes depressed. I think it is important that we realize that Jesus, the One whose coming we celebrate did not compare. Jesus never said He came for the rich, the famous, the good looking, the popular, the successful or even the lovable. No Jesus came for us all. He seemed especially drawn to those who felt outcast and lost. Jesus in fact warned us against comparing ourselves to others and/or coveting others’ things or lives. Jesus Christ loves each of us. We are never alone or abandoned by Him. All we have to do to receive His restorative, regenerative, rejuvenating love is to simply accept it. In whatever state we find ourselves in this season, let us resist the temptation to compare ourselves to another, instead humbly living into the gift, equally given to all of Jesus Christ.

Jesus Prayed

Jesus Christ prayed! Not just once in the garden. Let that sink in a moment. God Himself, becoming flesh, living on this earth, knew that He needed to have a deep intimate communication with His Father in heaven so He prayed consistently and constantly. He prayed so often and derived such benefit from it that His disciples noticed it and wanted to be taught how to truly pray. Now if God the Son finds prayer such a necessary, fulfilling and sustaining action, if our Savior made sure to take time to make prayer a priority, then how can we the Father’s creation approach prayer as a haphazard ritual, with questionable value to be practiced in times of great stress or dire need and at other times neglected because we can’t make the time to get around to it? This is not about feeling guilty about not praying, but about perceiving the true nature, value and power of prayer so that it becomes a cherished part of our existence. It is about connecting to and receiving the all powerful, restorative love that our Heavenly Father wants to share as we connect to Him in prayer. And oh by the way, if we’re not sure what to pray, Jesus Christ gave us the perfect way to start: “Our Father who art in heaven hallowed by thy name……….

The Blessings Inherent in Living Into the First and Greatest Commandment

When God instructs us that the first and greatest commandment is to love Him with all our heart, mind, body and soul, we must understand the commandment is not about Him needing our love. Truly it is completely the other way around. You see our Heavenly Father understands that to truly, deeply love someone, you must have a deep trust and faith in that person leading to a intimate and sustaining relationship. The more and closer we can attain that relationship with our Heavenly Father, the more open we become to receiving His blessings and living into His joy and peace. The deeper our love for the Father, the more His will supplants the cares, fears, and tribulations of this world. In loving our Heavenly Father, we unleash in ourselves through Him that power that moves mountains and is mighty to save. Yes truly it is we who gain everything when we learn to love our Heavenly Father first.

The Blessed and Uplifting Lessons Contained in the Story of the Prodigal Son

The story of the prodigal son is among the most informative and uplifting lessons in the bible. First, it tells of the mercy of our Heavenly Father in that we can return and will be restored. It is however extremely important to understand, how we return is critical. For the prodigal son was sincerely, truly repentant. He knew he had done wrong and confessed that to the Father. I’m not sure how the Father’s reaction might have been different if the son had not humbled himself and confessed his sin. Second we need to guard against being like the older son and not accepting that the Father can show love and mercy to one who repents and returns. The older brother never left the loving presence of the Father. The Father always cared for and did not let the older brother experience the famine and devastation that had gripped the land and so impacted the younger son. The Father loved them both equally. Let us not let the our pride, fear or the world keep us from humbly confessing and returning to our Heavenly Father. Let us also not let our pride and judgement keep us from loving and being truly happy for those who come or return to the Father’s grace, knowing it is not our work, but the Father’s love and grace which sustains us each day. Either way, may we feel our Heavenly Father’s protective love and mercy freely poured out for us this day

Jesus Christ Exhorts Us to Choose For This Day

Yesterday’s thought was on deciding to choose, today’s thought is about choosing for today. You see both in teaching us to pray; Jesus teaches us to pray for this day’s bread and later He specifically exhorts us to focus on today. Yet all too often we find ourselves either making decisions or choices primarily focusing on (and or worrying about) tomorrow or putting off making a choice until we see what tomorrow and then tomorrow and then tomorrow will bring. Jesus Christ is clear; today is what we have and tomorrow is known about and promised to no one except God Almighty. Therefore, don’t put off the choice to love, don’t be so certain about tomorrow that you’ll get around to doing your good deed then. Be wary of I don’t have the time today to pray or read the bible; that’s a Sunday thing. Let us choose to live and make decisions about this day and how to make it better through our service being mindful of the truth that this is really the only day we can definitively impact

Let’s Use Our God Given Ability to Choose

Choose! Decide to choose! Today, make a choice. Chose what, you ask? While a truly important question, I also believe it is vital that you and I understand that we can and should choose. You see there’s a narrative going around today that we can’t choose; because of our genes, because of a need for a job or a promotion, because of some outside factor, I was forced to do x or y, I HAD NO CHOICE! Yet when you look at our God given faculties like thought and reason, you think about our unique ability to change and adapt the environment around us, we see that our ability to choose is a fundamental attribute of our very being. So understand we can and should choose. I pray we choose wisely. I believe that prayer and study of the word can help in a choice of love, caring and justice. Also understand that ceding our power and ability to choose is a choice in and of itself. But the world rarely has our best interests in mind in any of the choices it makes. So I encourage you to use your power of choice and to do so for the greater good. And oh by the way, I thank all of those who choose to read this post today.

May You Have a Happy, Blessed Thanksgiving

If you are traveling this holiday, I pray for safe travels as well as you find your destination one where you are thankful to be there and the ones you visit are truly thankful to have you there. And if you may not be physically traveling may you spiritually and mentally travel to a place of thanksgiving, peace and tranquility where your body, mind and soul feast on the love from God and the blessings He so graciously and abundantly provides for us. May you have a blessed Thanksgiving.

Rising Above Earthly Levels Through the Powerful Level of God’s Love

Seems like lately, each day we’re hearing about, maybe even bombarded with some NEW level of X, a new level of something and that new thing and associated level is more often than not, negative; a new low. Well here’s something that is not a new level, it is at the same extreme level and has been that way since the day you and I were born and in fact has been at this same level since the beginning of time. That is our Heavenly Father’s extreme, powerful, redemptive, restorative, healing, protective, all encompassing, freely given, personal Love for each of us. Let us not let the world’s levels distract us or cause us despair in that God’s level of love will lift us above all earthly levels. In this we can truly rejoice and be thankful.

Let Us Be Thankful Gifts

Thank you! For what you ask? For you. You are a gift created by God. Thus let us go out today as gifts, giving of ourselves the love of Jesus Christ that has been freely given to us that we might be shining gifts to this need filled world.

Merry Christmas and the War on It?

Merry Christmas! Okay, I know it may seem a tad early and I want to give Thanksgiving its due. However, I’ve been seeing things on TV and social media about saying “Merry Christmas” and the “war” on Christmas and Christ and thought I’d humbly interject my “two cents” worth. First understand this, a war on Christ is nothing new. Since the beginning of time, the enemy has been against Christ and actively waging a battle to defeat Him. And from the beginning of time the enemy has lost, repeatedly been utterly defeated, especially at the cross where our eternal salvation was won by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. However, for those of us who might be tempted to shout Merry Christmas as an “in your face” kind of declaration of superiority, I would remind of the humility of Jesus Christ. One of the many problems the leaders of Jesus’ time had with Him was that He was so meek. The Messiah should be kicking the Roman tails out of Israel and setting scores with anyone over the millennia who had done the Jewish people wrong. But this self proclaimed Messiah, Jesus Christ was living and preaching service and turn the other cheek and blessed are the poor. Worst yet he was eating with sinners and healing Roman servants. Thus, we, His very creation came to be at war with Him. Yes, Merry Christmas. But Christ would not want us shouting His Name at non-believers in some righteous indignation. He would want us to sincerely pray for them, help them even if there is little to no chance they will help us or pray for us in return. That is what Jesus Christ came into this love starved world to do. To share His redeeming, restoring love to all. May you have a very Merry Christmas season as you and I spread the joy of Christ as much as we can.

What Does It Mean To Be Living the Dream

We hear and read a lot today about the virtue of living my dream, never give up on my dream, the secret to happiness is fulfilling my dream. Let’s think about that for a moment. If we contemplate a dream in its basic form, that is the dream that happens when we’re asleep, it is a very singular thing. No matter how close we are to someone, when we’re asleep we don’t have mutual or shared dreams. Now I know that the life dreams that we speak of are not the sleeping kind. But are we so certain that the singular nature of fulfillment of our life dreams doesn’t still have that primarily singular component to it? For example, I may dream of having a “close and loving” family which would require others to be a part of; however, am I still using primarily my definition of what “loving and caring” means to decide what fulfillment is? How flexible is my dream to allowing others to influence the definition of success or fulfillment? Is it possible to have a group dream and if so how do we go about defining and then living into it? I do find it interesting that Jesus Christ didn’t teach or even talk about living into or that ultimate fulfillment of life was centered around living out our personal dreams. In fact, He spoke more of denying oneself as it applied and applies to personal ambition in favor of service to others. Let us take care not to let the message of today sway us to a path of primarily self centered desires and behaviors. Love would have us care about others’ dreams, successes and fulfillment as much as our own.

A Vitally Important Response to Hate

8 people die and 13 injured in New York and a disgruntled parent forces his way into a California elementary school, attacks a 70 year old first grade teacher and holds her hostage while terrorizing little children. Being so close in time to Las Vegas and other horrific instances of terror and violence we must guard ourselves from becoming numb to these and just passing them off as just a natural part of our lives with a shrug of our shoulders. We should not resign ourselves and accept this deplorable hate as the new normal in our society. What extraordinary response is required to combat this extreme level of hate? We need an even greater commitment to love! I know there are some who consider that answer weak. We need to strike out in righteous hate and greater violence against the scourge in our society they would advocate. But Christ would not have us respond so. He would and does tell us that love is the greater strength. He would instruct us; yes, to hug our family and friends and tell them of our love for them. However, He would not want us to stop there. So often these people feel they are outcasts from and hated by the world they are forced to live in. Christ would have us actively seek the hurting and isolated. He wants us to interject His love and hope into their world combating Satan’s message of only hate and despair. The vigilance we need goes beyond just observing that something or someone seems off and telling the authorities but also if we see the hurting and hated, how can we bring them love. That is the very reason Christ came to earth, to show His love and sacrifice to you and me and to all His creation and the power of that love. May God Bless you with His love this and every day.

Faith in this Information Age

I believe there’s a real challenge to the concept of faith in this Information Age. You see the process goes something like this; information leads to knowledge, knowledge leads to conclusion based on “facts/evidence”. conclusion leads to proof, and proof leads to belief. Thus, in the world, I am taught to and rewarded for only believing, that is having faith in, those things that I can, or someone else has, or at least believes can be proven. But here’s the thing, over and over again, Jesus Christ, in the healing/curing/miracle process asked; do you BELIEVE I can do this or stated your faith has made you whole. Jesus did not ask do you KNOW or can you prove that I can do this. It is clear, Our Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit; Their perfect plans for us, Their spiritual interactions with us, Their methodology of being, is far beyond our capacity to understand, let alone prove with our comparably very little knowledge and grasp. They All know this, thus they don’t demand that we rise to some level of proven understanding of Them. They simply ask that we believe, that we have faith in Them. May each of us humble ourselves, setting aside our deterministic tendencies to fully, faithfully live into the grace and love our Heavenly Father, through His Son Jesus Christ, with the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Amen

God’s Promise to Those Who Help the Needy

“Then the righteous answered: ‘Lord when did we see you hungry and feed you or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in or needing clothes and clothe you?’ The King will reply,’I tell you the truth, whenever you did it for one of the least of these, you did it for Me.'” Matthew 26:37-40 I know that we are all very busy plus the world fills our eyes with so many things on so many devices that it can very east to overlook those in need. Yet God, Himself promises that as we see and then help those in need, we will be seen by God and rewarded

He Who Has the Power Over All Our Storms

Jesus slept! After a long day of preaching and healing, as a human being, Jesus needed rest. So Jesus got into a boat and went to sleep and a storm blew up and raged on, still Jesus slept. Now there are two ways to sleep through a storm. On the one hand, you can try being in denial that there is no storm. However, with that method the storm will rage on bringing whatever destruction that it may. Or you continue sleeping understanding that the storm has no power over you, that it is inconsequential compared to the power you have. The disciples could not sleep for they had no power over the storm. But upon being awakened by them, Jesus showed them His Christ, God on earth power by effortlessly calming the raging torrent. But it wasn’t just natural storms Jesus Christ had and has supreme power over. He came up against a man in the midst of a physical, mental and spiritual storm of evil and anguish. A storm so violent that it drove the man out to live among some tombs, often naked. A storm so raging that the man injured all who came within his sphere, including himself. A storm so powerful, none could control or subdue the man regardless of the number or implements brought against him. Jesus did not shy away from this storm either. Jesus faced this storm calmly, head on and as Christ quelled the storm in the man with a simple command, leaving the man calm and at peace. So today or someday we will all face storms be they natural or of human making. We will be in denial if we believe either they don’t exist or, in and of ourselves, from within, we have the ultimate power over them. But there is One who has proven He does have that ultimate power and Jesus Christ promises us He will bring His all power to bear to calm our storms and bring us His peace. In faith and love let us never hesitate to humbly, thankfully make that call.

Seeing the Connections Makes All the Difference

Good morning. Don’t you wish reading this burned as many calories as doing push-ups? So don’t misunderstand, this message is not about weight or exercise primarily, it’s about seeing connections. A recent report by the CDC on the state of weight in the US has led to some pretty dire rhetoric and actions like suing diet soft drink companies. What I don’t hear being discussed much, especially concerning adults is a thoughtful discussion about connections. Here’s what I mean, every new instance when we don’t physically move or limit our movement, adds calories that would have been burned by movement. Think about that a moment, let it sink in. Look around and consider, in your lifetime, what technology has come about that requires less action? Can we say TV remote? We don’t get up to look something up, we sit and google it or let spellcheck make the correction. I don’t have to go shop with the internet at my fingertips and if I do want old fashioned groceries, I don’t have to go up and down the aisles because one major chain will do that for me and I just drive up and pick them up. Again, I’m not being “anti” any of that. But understand every time we skip movement we add those calories. Many of these conveniences were designed to give us “extra time”. Thus we must ask ourselves, what are we doing with that time? If we’re using it in a seated, sedentary condition, we need to understand that impact, make that connection. If we’ll make that connection, have that understanding we’ll be less apt to blame others and take action. I know, these posts normally have a more overt spiritual aspect by this point but please understand, Jesus ministry was all about this; No not weight or exercise but making connections. Rarely did He start out or only focus on actions. No, instead, He focused on the heart, soul and faith that led to those actions. He made the connection. The more we attempt to follow and think like Jesus Christ, the clearer these life connections will become and the more we’ll be open to the blessings that come with the Jesus Christ connected life. Now get up and go out and do something!

Beating Ourselves as We Attempt to Beat the System

We have to be careful about our thoughts and intentions that lead to our actions and the impact of those actions. Let;s take “beating the system” for example. When we spend significant amounts of time, research, energy and effort in trying to find ways to take advantage of a loophole in a system, that is to make the system give us maximum personal gain regardless of whether the system was designed to work that way or not, we have to understand the ramification of those actions. First, understand that most of our systems (from family, to traffic, to education, business etc.) are designed to give a measure of improvement or positive outcome to all the components of the system. When I/we attempt and/or succeed in manipulating the system in a way not intended to get maximum benefit for me, the rest of the system will suffer. Often we don’t want to widely publicly disclose our process for beating the system, even if legal, because we realize if everyone did it, the system would collapse. I have to decide, am I willing part of the system or not, The challenge is that “beating the system” is far more sexy and rewarded in today’s society than working within the system to improve it for all. Bottom line, looking in the mirror, am I more comfortable seeing a selfish man willing to put an entire system at risk just for my personal gain or a person with the strength and grit to use my energy to improve the system, understanding that improvement will still benefit me as well.

Using Forgiveness As a Tool For Moving Forward

So I heard something unfortunately interesting on a news story this morning. Some incident had happened with a child at a school that the parent thought was very wrong. As part of her response, she very emotionally declared: “We need an apology so we can have closure and move on”. This is not a judgement about her or anyone else but I believe the sentiment she expressed is extremely prevalent in our society today. I may have been legitimately wronged, thus I am owed an apology and I will stand my ground, will not move an inch, until I get my satisfaction. What this means is there’s a lot of stuck people out there and if we’re not careful we can get stuck in that morass of hurt and indignation as well. Jesus Christ does not want our hearts to be in a sense of unrelenting pain and darkness. He doesn’t want us to shift our focus, to freely give our power over to someone or something else about whether we can move on, move forward and progress in our lives. Imagine for a moment what Christ’s eternal existence would be like if He had not forgiven those who who persecuted and crucified Him. Imagine millennia of bitterness, frustration and anger awaiting for an apology that would never come. It is not easy and we all want to hear those words spoken sincerely: “I am sorry, I apologize”. Yet by the example of Christ, through praying and relying on Him, if we can truly, sincerely forgive, regardless of whether the apology comes or not, then the sticky mud of hurt and anger dries up under the light of love becoming a path always forward, always upward toward our truly desired destination.

Contemplating the “Self” in Esteem

So here’s a ponder-able for today; does, and if so to what extent, does focusing on building my or helping someone else to build their self esteem cause me or them to esteem others less? Is there any danger as I look to build my feelings of value, worth and importance or trying to do that for someone else, especially a child, that I might be sending the message you’re more valuable, more worthwhile and important than most everyone else? Perhaps we might feel that it is healthy to believe of ourselves, we’re the most worthy, valuable and important because if we don’t who will? What is true is that you are esteemed by God for he created you as a distinct individual. You are esteemed by Jesus Christ because He sacrificed His very life for your individual salvation. Yet, They would also want you to realize that the same holds true for me. They do not look at Their esteem for us or how we should esteem ourselves and each other as a zero-sum proposition; that is the more I esteem myself, naturally I have to esteem you and other less and vice-versa. Are we now at a place or can we achieve getting to a place where we can see an equal amount of esteem in others as we see in ourselves?

Defining Love in a Way That Truly Matters

Let’s be careful with each other today because our world is in the process of redefining many things, one of the most concerning is love. Jesus Christ first lived and also defined love, chiefly in terms of serving others, being there for others, even laying down our lives for others out of love. Today we live in a world that defines love as something we can make by a simple, today more increasing trivial physical act that seems to be as much about self esteem and self gratification as anything else. There is an ever growing mantra that the most important love is about what our career is in “loving” what you do. Standing your ground is celebrated much more than going the extra mile for someone else, especially with no concern about reward in the end. It seems ironic that as both the population grows and the places where it is centered become even more dense, requiring an ever greater reliance on each other for a civilized existence, that our definition of love is becoming more self centered and our caring less common place. The reason that seeming acts of random kindness go “viral” these days with millions of shares and likes is that they are increasingly rare. To avoid falling into this trap we must realize that we are not the originators of nor ultimate definers of true, sustaining, unconditional love. That love is a gift from Our Heavenly Father. We can only share that love to the extent we are first in relationship to receive that love. Fortunately all it takes to be a recipient of His immeasurable love is to ask. Please let us strive to live into that relationship, receive the love and then through it, share the one true love that will actually help. Today my thought is not so much that we would take care but a request that we give care.

Two Tools for Success From Jesus Christ

So it’s Monday morning and you are or have made your plans for the day and perhaps the week. At some point you’re going to or have already taken an inventory of the things needed for your successful execution of your plan. That inventory may include tangible things like a computer program, training or specific tool. It probably also includes intangible things like your attitude or having “enough” time. It is my sincere hope that these two things are smack dab on the top of your list; love and hope. Now understand that not all love and hope are equal or beneficial. Love of money, prestige, power or fame is a love that is draining instead of sustaining and often leads to self and other destruction. Likewise, the hope not to get caught cheating, or the hope the other person competing for a promotion screws up or that you can help them screw up and then bring it to everyone’s attention is hardly a hope that will find your spirit uplifted. No, the love that sustains is the love of others that is equal to and sometimes even greater than the love of yourself. It is a love that combines with a hope that today you can make a positive difference in someone’s life. That you hope you can show an uplifting love to family, friends, coworkers and maybe even a stranger. That you will see a selfless love and unbridled hope for better as foundational tools to be applied to all you do this day and every day. In love, this is my hope for you.

Power in Prayer?

There’s an interesting backlash happening concerning prayer these days, especially after tragedies. It is probably understandable form the worldly perspective because calls for people to be praying have been so much more prevalent these days. Please pray for the storm victims from Harvey, Irma and Maria or please pray for the shooting victims in Las Vegas, Alexandria or some other place.  Much of backlash is around the idea that prayer has little to no impact, it is a useless endeavor and somehow those who are praying are delusional in thinking they are helping.  For those who would have those opinions and doubt the power of prayer, I would humbly ask them to listen to Steve Scalise’s return to Congress address.  Steve being someone who prayed and also felt the power of countless prayers prayed for him.  Don’t give me prayer, give me action, the critics demand.  But prayer in this case is not a noun but a verb; it is action.  What we need to remember and the world will not understand is the faith required and the power unleashed when prayer is used.  Those who advocate ceasing prayer for some other action are seeking human based, worldly solutions. Those who pray as the first action often don’t stop with prayer.  However, they (we) realize that prayer is about finding the only true solution that will last.  That is the solution that comes from our loving Heavenly Father who stands ready to bless, sustain and restore all who will come faithfully to Him and ask.

The Importance of Finding the Answers to Both What and Why?

What and Why? Philosophers, theologians, every day people have grappled with question; What is life? Though I think there is also a vital question that we might ponder to find an answer for: Why is life? Or perhaps is there a Why for my life? Am I interested in even exploring to discover that I might have or generate a Why for my life? We are created, not just to what but also to why. Why truly matters. Why is about the impact your life can have. Christ would tell us the why is inextricably connected to love; love for the Father and also equal love for His creation which means both me and all the people around me. How about it; do you have a why for your life this day?

Two Blessed Promises for Us Today

“Blessed are those who mourn for they will comforted”. “In the world you will have tribulation but take heart I have overcame the world.” Both of these proclamations were made by our Lord, Jesus Christ. What He’s telling us, reassuring us about, is that it is, on the one hand, completely appropriate to mourn and when we do will be comforted. Yet also for us to understand that this is a world where tribulations are going to happen, period; but not to live in those tribulations, not to be in constant despair or feel there is no hope. In fact one translation has Christ stating, “be of good cheer” because the world and its tribulations are not the highest power. In proclaiming that He, Jesus Christ has overcome the world, He isn’t bragging or praising Himself, but Christ is promising that through Him, we can and will overcome as well. That is the two part promise we can cling to today. To the extent we are in mourning, we will find comfort. Additionally, don’t let the hurricanes, riots, mass shootings leave you bereft of hope, plus be leery of putting your faith in the world for solutions. It is Christ who will bring us over and through the world’s tribulations, large and small, to a place of peace and yes, even joy in Him.

Evil Tries, Hates and Yet Will Lose Because Jesus Christ Loves and is Always Victorious

The enemy wants us to lose hope this morning, he wants us to fear. He wants us to believe that hate is the strongest, that he can divide us and that there is no God. Make no mistake, he is powerful and we can fall under his message of doom, hopelessness and evil if we’re not careful. But there is One who is all powerful, more powerful than the enemy. There is One who promises comfort to all who mourn. There is One who created us, who promises never to abandon us and be right beside us in our darkest hour. One who died for us so that our sins are forgiven and that even with the enemy doing his worst he can do; we are promised eternal rest with God our Heavenly Father. Pray for Las Vegas and do not judge it by its earthly nickname. Pray for the injured, the families of the lost and all those shaken by this evil event. Know the power of Jesus Christ as he comes to escort those who are transitioning from this life to their eternal rest. And LOVE! DON’T STOP LOVING! EXPAND YOUR LOVE! AND CALL UPON JESUS CHRIST! CHRIST defeated the enemy on the cross and will bring us victory with Him as well.

How Will All Know Whose We Are?

Jesus Christ makes this declaration as one of the last things He told His disciples: “By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you love one another”. Let that sink in for a moment……not that His disciples would provide miraculous healing, or feed countless thousands or start churches that over the millennia would come to number billions of members, all of which they did; but those were not the measures, those were not the tests. The true mark, insuring that they passed the test, the true sign that they were Christ’s was (and remains today) that they loved one another! Yet sadly love, except as the world would label sex, is so often an afterthought. If a thought at all. How can I love someone who says this, voted for that person, won’t stand for this but stands for that? Besides, I’m too tired, too stressed, I don’t have time for all that soft nonsense. So let’s reflect on love today. If we find our answers start more with what we love than who we love let us turn that around. If who we love is limited to only those who look, think, believe and act like us let us broaden that scope. The power to truly accomplish this does not come from or reside in us. It comes as a free gift of grace from He who died to save all of us; no matter our look, political philosophy, national origin or other divisive categories we want to use, Jesus Christ. Christ who loves us all and longs to give us the power to do the same if we will but look to Him in love and faith and ask for it. Let them know whose we are by our love.

The Understanding of Being Both Important and Humble

The interesting juxtaposition of importance and humility is something we must consider in our lives. First we were created by God and He, Himself deemed that creation very good. If that doesn’t make us important enough, then how about God, in the person of His Son Jesus Christ, giving up the perfection of heaven to come down to the imperfection of this world solely and souly to sacrifice Himself to save us from our own evil sins. Certainly that makes us the most important, self reliant, rightly self absorbed, justifiably self proud objects in the entire universe. Yet, the truth is, we were created to act in humility, to believe, love and yes OBEY; to subjugate our will to God’s will and love all His fellow created beings as we love ourselves. Vital importance and total humility rolled all into one. How do we accomplish that? Pray for it. The only way to truly combine the two is to pray for the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, that then allows us to abide in Jesus Christ to live the humbly important, blessed lives we were created to live.