Three Verses Capture it All

In three verses in Luke is encapsulated the ultimate human struggle along with the power and mercy of Jesus Christ. In Luke 21:31-33 we have Peter relying on his own strength and power. After Jesus describes what is going to happen to Him in the next few hours, Peter declares he is willing to go to prison or even die with Jesus. Jesus responds that Satan is going to test/tempt Peter and Peter is going to fail and sin. In truth, Peter is going to lie and deny knowing Jesus three times. However, this is not the end. Peter is not forever condemned or banished. Peter will be forgiven when he repents and restored so that he can lead his brethren. Here’s something vital to understand in this situation. Pentecost had not happened so the Holy Spirit had not come to Peter. Also, Jesus had not yet risen in Glory. So Peter relies on himself and can’t overcome Satan. Peter then truly repents and is forgiven and restored by Jesus Christ. The question for you and I, who have the resources of the Holy Spirit and the Risen Jesus Christ is, who are we relying on? If, through the Holy Spirit, we abide in Christ, then Satan is defeated. However, we are imperfect, will sometimes rely on ourselves or some other worldly resource and Satan will use that weakness to attack us in temptation and we will fail. But through the mercy and grace of our Heavenly Father, when we sin, we can repent and return. Because of Christ’s sacrifice we are washed clean, forgiven and restored. We should be overwhelmed by the love and blessing of our Heavenly Father.

What Must I See to Believe?

What am I demanding to see/experience to believe? In scripture, when Stephen was being killed by the mob; he proclaimed that he looked up and saw Jesus standing at the right hand of God. One wonders, did anyone bother to look up to witness what Stephen was seeing or were they so hell bent on destruction that their eyes never left the ground? When John the Baptist saw the Spirit descending on Jesus like a dove and heard the voice of God, was anyone even noticing the One John the Baptist called the Lamb of God? Even Thomas, one of the original, beloved 12; he heard from Mary that Jesus had risen from the grave. Again, Thomas heard from his trusted brethren that they had seen Jesus. Yet Thomas declared unless he, personally saw and touched Jesus’s wounds, he would not believe. What about you and I; are we demanding 6 winning lottery numbers to believe? We must see ourselves or a loved one miraculously healed to believe? We will believe when an enemy is humiliated, destroyed and groveling at our feet? When these things happen then God will be fortunate enough to receive my belief. What are we demanding? Remember, Jesus did come to Thomas, not to destroy him for disbelief but to save him. If what we read in scripture is not enough, if we will just look with open eyes, we will see Christ and He will richly bless our seeing and believing.

It’s Time to Ask THE Question

So ask the question. It’s the start of a new day, a new week etc; so take a moment to ask THE question: Why? Why am I doing this, this moment, this day? Be truthful with yourself understanding the answer is driving your behavior. This isn’t just a rhetorical question where almost any answer will do. There is a correct answer where God is concerned. The answer for this moment and all eternity is: LOVE. Why do this (whatever)? Love is the answer. Does that answer work? Let’s take Jesus Christ as an example. Where is He now? He lives in the greatest place in all of existence; at our Heavenly Father’s Right Hand. Why is He there? How’d He get there? Jesus loves the Father so much that He perfectly carried out the Father’s plan. The Father’s loves Jesus so much that He supported and rewarded Him in fulfilling the plan. Oh and remember, that plan was not about enriching or empowering the Father. No, the perfect plan of love was about saving us, bringing about our salvation. That’s how much They love us. So why, if you’re teacher, preacher, ball player, lawyer, politician, insurance person and on an on to whatever you are doing, are you doing it? Find a way to make that answer, love. Not love of money, power or some other worldly gain; but a love of God, each other and self. The reward for that answer is eternal blessings.

Acknowledgement and Accountability

We’re out and about doing things today. And those things we are doing are going to have consequences and impacts. Naturally as human beings, we’d like to be acknowledged and/or appreciated for our efforts. Yet we live in a world that more actively responds with judgement and desire for punitive accountability. So I want you to consider an affirmative acknowledgement you receive today and in fact, everyday. The One, All Powerful, Creator God acknowledges you personally as His creation and will never disown you. Here’s how God acknowledges you and your efforts. If you do something in and through Him which is based on His leadings, He will declare: “Well done my good and faithful servant”. If however, you fall to temptation and commit sin against Him and/or another, His accountability is NOT to declare you are damned for all time. Additionally, God does not sweep the sin under the rug as if it never happened. NO, instead God says My plan is for My Son, Jesus Christ to take your sin, your accountability upon Himself and to die for it in your place. God declares you are forgiven. So if that is how we’re acknowledged and held accountable by God, how then should we be treating each other? Do we look for ways to acknowledge and appreciate those around us and their efforts? Do we primarily look at others and their actions through critical, judgmental, worldly eyes seeking retribution versus giving forgiveness if something goes awry? One final thing; God has no need, His stature, nor His power is not increased one iota by our acknowledging Him. We however, gain everything we need when we acknowledge Him. I acknowledge these posts can be long and I greatly appreciate you taking the time to make it to the end.

What Does the World Truly Need More of?

What am I striving for today? What does the world need more of? Maybe the world needs another rich entrepreneur in space. Or maybe it needs a dynamic CEO leading their company to record profits. Maybe a scientist with an amazing breakthrough. A record breaking athlete, chart topping singer or box office smashing actor; surely the world needs more of those. Yet as I look around I see people seeking revenge with hatred in their being at the smallest real or perceived slight or insult. I see “accountability” wielded like a sledgehammer to destroy some act of imperfection. Perhaps the world needs forgivers. Perhaps it needs more of those who humbly acknowledge their own imperfections and forgive others their imperfections. I look and I see those terribly damaged and distraught for lack of love. I see those so lost who believe that they will never meet anyone’s conditions for love that they decide to leave this loveless existence altogether. Maybe the world needs those who can love unconditionally. Maybe more of those who love, not seeing the damaged soul of today but the possibility of the restored, love-healed, glorious soul that can become. I look around and see such rampant divisive conflict. In organizations as small as two friends or a family up through nations, the sense that success is about beating any other competing idea, thought or action. Maybe the world could use some peacemakers. Maybe the person whose voice doesn’t raise, whose words are not harsh and accusatory, is what the world could use. Maybe a sense that for one side to win, the other side doesn’t have to lose or be completely destroyed. Lord, as we go through this and each day, give us the strength to focus on seeing through Your eyes the needs of those around us and the desire, energy and talent to do that which helps. That is what the world needs more of.

Enough is Enough?

Enough is Enough? Or, man, If I just had a little more ____________ then I’d be set! One thing seems clear as we look around, if we measure our security, our happiness, and/or our success on the basis of some worldly attainment, enough will never be enough. Now understand I’m not just referring to money, it can be any worldly measurement. Do I have enough of this or that possession, do I have enough education, do I weigh the perfect amount, do I have enough of the right style and on and on is how we can measure our “enoughs”. Even if we think we’ve attained enough, the world will convince us our enough is at risk so I need more incase I lose some enough. Jesus Christ is quite clear; true peace, joy, lasting satisfaction and love will not nor even cannot come from earthly “enoughs”. Why not? Simply because it was not the world who created us. With God as our Creator, who is over all things and with a perfect plan; He will abundantly bring our enough as we need it. God wants us to realize and live into; He is always enough, even more than enough. So let us ask ourselves; where are we looking for our enough today?

What I Do For a Living and How I Do It Can Really Matter

The other day I posted about the concept of “making of living” and the aspect that God is in primary control of how our living is made. Today, I want to approach the idea of the answer to the question: “What do we do FOR A LIVING?” I know the question is about our vocation and I don’t want to be glib. While understanding the context of the question which I often answer instructor, facilitator, sometimes author or narrator, what I wish I always thought of, tried to practice and sometimes answered is “I love”. It would be nice to say I love for a living. That is to say, what I do or at least try to do in all circumstances, what life is truly about is to do, to give love. That’s what Jesus did; even when correcting people, even while suffering, He loved. That’s where His strength came from, His peace, His joy. Through living in Him, we can do and have the same. What do you do for a living today? Do love.

Who Is Actually Making the Living?

MAKING a living? Today many will be extremely focused on “making” ‘a’ living” If we’re brutally honest, the phrase is less than accurate. For it is not some random living or someone else’s living we’re concerned with; I’m focused on making “my” or “our” living. Consequently because making my living is such a primary focus of my time, thought and effort, then I am completely justified in living into the LIFE I’VE MADE, whatever or however I judge that to be. Makes perfect sense. Except in all this living making and made living, where is God? Well because I’m making this life, I decide how much and where to include God. Hmmmm We can easily forget or overlook that God is the Creator of all. Guess what, that includes our vocation. God wants us to focus on Him and what He has created for us, especially including work. Soooo the most accurate focus is living into the life He has created for us and made in love and perfection. That is a living made and to be lived in success through a peaceful, blessed, relationship in Him.

Please Please Don’t Let This Be The End There is Hope You are Loved

Please, Please don’t make this the end. There was a man who was terribly broken. He was shunned and an outcast, hated and feared by his family, friends and entire community. He lived in the most deplorable conditions and things were so bad at times the man did things to hurt himself. Jesus Christ came to that man. Jesus Christ loved that man. Jesus Christ healed and restored that man to a greater life than the man had ever known before. There was a woman, broken by years of a debilitating illness. Not only had the world not cured her but had also taken all her money and told her there was no hope at getting better. Yet she did hope. And with the briefest touch from Jesus Christ she was cured, made completely whole; mind, body and spirit. Jesus Christ stopped and wanted her to know He loved her. If you are desperate today, feel broken, know there is hope. Know you are loved. Jesus Christ will come. Jesus Christ will restore and heal you. Don’t make it the end. Reach out. Reach out to 1 800 273 8255 National Suicide Prevention Hotline. Veterans, additionally there is also an 1 877 VET2VET (877 838 2838). There’s a crisis text number, text hello to 741741. THERE IS HOPE. YOU ARE LOVED. JESUS CHRIST, GOD HIMSELF LOVES YOU AND WILL COME! Please, Please reach out!

Wasn’t In Eden Is Not in Heaven

It wasn’t in Eden and it’s not in Heaven. It seems there is not a tremendous amount of detailed description of the garden of Eden or of Heaven in scripture. However, in what is described it seems to me that there is a thing that is not there…….money. Think of it for a moment, no money in the two places we equate with a perfect existence. That would seem to indicate that as a concept and a physical entity it only exists in this world realm. So why has it attained such an overarching focus for us? The most talented actors, athletes, the most successful business people are measured by the amount of their income. Political campaigns are often deemed viable and/or winning prior to voting primarily on the basis of the contributions received. Sadly even our churches can fall into the trap of measuring faith based on the fullness of collection plates. Christ knew about money. Christ used money to teach us. Christ was not about the destruction of money but rather relegating it to its proper minor relevance in the process of living. Think about the wondrous sunset, the loving smile or hug from a loved one or friend, the salvation from Christ, all freely given. If indeed God placed no money in Eden and finds no use for it in Heaven, what importance are we going to place on it and what is the cost of that importance in the here and now?

Power and Blessings That Come From Embracing It

Joseph and Jonah and the concept of embracing it. Our Heavenly Father gives us things to do. He is very intentional in His plans. So what are we to do with the tasks He gives us? We can be like Jonah. We can try to say no, try to run from it. We can be fearful of it. We can be bitter about it and its outcome. We can be pretty miserable about it. Orrrr we can be life Joseph. We might not understand it, but in faith we can embrace it. We can be patient with it as it unfolds. We can look to God for strength when it gets tough (family hatred, jailed for false accusation, even threats to your life). We can humbly give God the praise when we are blessed by it and its success. Like Joseph and Jonah, God may have already given us, we may be currently working through receiving or will receive someday soon something, an “it” to be accomplished. We need to embrace it in faith knowing God would not give it to us without blessing us with its execution and result.

Considering the Father/Child Relationship

Our HEAVENLY Father In thinking about the concept, perhaps there is value in contemplating the Heaven aspect of God the Father. You see we live in a “we can be anything, do anything” kind of messaging world. If we’re not careful, we can inflate the nature of our relationship with God. We can see it comparable with an earthly father relationship where the father may love and care, have the best of intentions but can be in error about situations and whose advice need not always be followed. As an earthly father I can sure attest to being wrong. But using that comparison to our Heavenly Father is completely erroneous. This is the Creator of all things, Knower of all things, omnipotent, omniscient. God decides what type of relationship to have with His creation and in Grace and Mercy, He has decided to have a loving paternal relationship. He feels so strongly about the value of that relationship that He sent His only begotten Son to save us and that relationship. We will never attain a level where we will rightly judge whether His guidance is correct or not, or worthy to be followed. Let us be humbly grateful as children of our Heavenly Father, for the relationship He wants and the love and blessings that come with it.

To Plan is Not a Sin

To plan is not a sin. Yes Jesus extolled us to focus on this day and not worry about tomorrow. Yet He did and taught things that He planned for the disciples to use in their future. Though as we plan, there is one question plus one realization we need foremost in out thoughts. The question is: Where is Jesus in my plan? I need to see Jesus and include Him and His influence; whether it be a job promotion, a family vacation or even this weekend’s golf round, if I want there to be a chance of true success. The realization I need to have is God’s plans are always perfect and my plans never are. Thus if the outcome of my plan is close to what I desired, praise God. If the outcome of my plan is wildly different than I envisioned, praise God. For His plan is perfect and mine wasn’t. So if taking some time to plan today, three things. First, don’t be so focused on the future that you miss God’s blessings for today. Second include Jesus Christ; His teachings and perspective in your plan. Finally, whatever the eventual out come, execute your plan in faith and thanksgiving, realizing that God who loves you perfectly also has His perfect plan for you as well.

The World Wants You to Choose

Wow there’s a whole lot going on right now, everywhere we turn. Masks, vaccines, politics, January 6th, sports; and the world is asking us to choose; to JUDGE, are you a this or a that. To pronounce a judgement; if you are or believe this then you are right, if you believe this than you’re wrong. Then from somewhere a voice echoes a commandment “Judge not lest ye be judged”. A commandment from Jesus Christ. Jesus is warning us; to go down that path of judging others with our imperfect intellect and questionalbe judgement leaves us open to the very same judgement against us that we are making against others. What to do instead? Jesus Christ is clear; LOVE! Christ tells us to leave the judging to Him and His/Our Heavenly Father who, indeed, will judge and are perfect at it. Today let us drop the stones of judgement we have in our hands before we carelessly sling them at others. Let the love of Christ guide us as we await His perfect judgement.

The One-Way Flow of Forgiveness

Something to think about. When Jesus hung on the cross, one of His last acts was to forgive and ask that His All Powerful Heavenly Father, not destroy but forgive those who were crucifying Him. Here’s what we need to understand; those Jewish leaders who had condemned Him, those Roman soldiers who were carrying out the act, in no way shape or form would have admitted that they were in any need of and/or accepted Jesus’s forgiveness. Forgiving can be hard, very hard. But we have to understand the primarily one-way nature of it. We sometimes feel we can only forgive once those who “wronged” us admit their misdeed, repent and desire our forgiveness. That’s not how Jesus Christ forgives or desires we forgive. Forgiveness is solely (and souly) in the purview and discretion of the forgiver. Forgiveness requires no prerequisite action be taken by the object of the forgiveness! Then why the heck do it!? To forgive, truly forgive is to bring peace to the soul, to shine the light of love and Christ into the darkness of divisiveness. Forgiveness allows the overcoming and removal of the destructive energies of resentment, bitterness and hatred. Finally, to forgive like Christ requires us to be in Christ. It is only through Him and His power that we can find the strength to forgive in all circumstances and bring healing to our fractured world and lives.

A Much Needed Spreader; Even Super Spreader Event

Love and faith have something greatly in common with fertilizer. Neither does any good if they just stay in their original container. But like fertilizer, if you spread faith and love around then amazing things can grow, flourish and/or be restored. One huge difference is that, unlike fertilizer, you can never spread too much love and faith around. So today, be a spreader, maybe even a super-spreader of love and faith and watch the blessed growth that comes from it.

It Doesn’t Matter. Only Love Matters!

“It” doesn’t matter. Only love matters. Note: This is a family friendly post 😀 There is a lot of “it” around these days. It may be personal; like an illness, job related, family or relationship, maybe mechanical things are breaking like a car or stuff, like I said a lot of “it”. The “it” may be societal dealing with the pandemic, race, gender, bigotry, and/or politically related. The “it” may have you stressed, angry fearful and/or depressed. Well I’m here to propose to you that: “It” doesn’t matter. Oh, you say it must be nice to be in a place where there’s no “it”. Trust me, that’s not the case. I’ve got “it” to spare. But let’s take a look at Jesus for a moment. He most certainly came in a time of and faced great “it”. He was persecuted, threatened and hated. In his times diseases like leprosy ran rampant and many more illnesses/injuries led to fatalities than today. The world He created didn’t understand or accept Him. One good friend denied even knowing Him multiple times and another betrayed Him. Did Jesus let the worldly “it” get to Him? Mind you, He didn’t wipe “it” out for Himself, “it” kept coming. But Jesus’s response was (and is) love, to be and show love. He forgave those who hated, denied and even crucified Him. On the very darkest night of His life, He protected and healed one of His attackers. He healed all who came to Him, even a hated Roman’s servant. In essence He said and lived, the world may throw “it” at you, but you don’t need to throw “it” back in return. He implored us to be like His Father who saw a world up to its mountain tops deep in “it”, not listening to or considering Him at all. Yet, instead of abandoning or destroying the world or at least the people, in love, He sent His Son to wallow in “it” along with us, to ultimately die for us, saving us so that we might be raised above and not be stuck in “it”. God comforts us by telling us that, although the world might fling much “it” at us, His love is the barrier that keeps any of “it” from sticking to us. In short, “it” happens; but, through the grace of God’s freely given love, “it” doesn’t matter. “It” will probably happen this week. Let us respond by living constantly into and by our Heavenly Father’s love, that the “it” truly will not matter. Also let’s freely share that love. Thus we will help be the proof that it is love and not “it”, that truly matters.

Is Out of My Control the Same As There Being No Control At All?

Something for us to perhaps consider. We use the phrase “it’s out of our control” and it’s accurate for us to do so. What’s not accurate is for us to conclude that because we can’t control it (whatever “it” is) then it’s uncontrollable; that there is a certain randomness to the universe. Jesus Christ is very clear we don’t serve a “let’s see what happens, whatever will be will be, roll the dice, crap shot” kind of God. God created this universe down to the molecular level. It’s not randomness at all; it’s competing wills and plans. God’s plan vs. the world’s plan. God’s plan is about justice, generosity and peace. The world’s plan is about corruption, greed and chaos. God’s plan is about truth and love. The world’s plan is about lies and hate. God’s plan is about our salvation based on the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The world’s plan is about our destruction hoping that we will reject God’s plan. Randomness? Doesn’t really happen. Things out of my control; most certainly. Yet there are greater more powerful plans and controls in play. The question for us is whose plan will we live into? Whose control do we believe has more power, has more achievability? Both plans have daily and eternal consequences; please choose carefully. Through prayer and faith, the decision is a clear one.

STBY vs SAIHFY Beware the STBY Mindset

STBY vs SAIHY Beware the STBY way of being. Jesus is quite clear. He says live for today and let the “troubles” of today be enough. He also states: “In this life you will have tribulation….” Thus unfortunate things are going to happen. Sometimes those things are through no fault of our own, sometimes we help bring those things about. The question is; when it happens to others, what’s our response? Beware the it “Stinks (or other s word) To Be You” or STBY response. That response denotes an acknowledgement of the situation only. There is nothing in the STBY response that overtly communicates a caring about or a desire to help the person recover. Conversely, it often communicates, the most you can expect from me is a tacit acknowledgment of the negative aspect of your situation. However, when unfortunate things happen to those with that mindset, they greatly desire more than just an acknowledgement; they want significant assistance, which they quite often don’t receive. STBY can be a very isolating way to be. Instead let our response be it Stinks And I’m Here For You or SAIHFY. SAIHFY starts by acknowledging the situation but then adds the support. It communicates a caring and level of relationship. It states that I’m a resource for you. A SAIHFY mindset makes reciprocal actions by others in our time of need much more likely. Today, to someone we know, there may be something unfortunate that will happen. Will our response be more STBY or SAIHFY?

The Opposite of Anger is not Passivity

Understand the opposite of anger is not passivity. We read, see and hear about a lot of anger these days; anger at the election, at the capital storming, at police shootings, at the vaccine rollout just to name a few. Indeed this has been called the “Age of Rage”. Be we need to stop and reflect; we need to look in the mirror and not act until we’ve asked AND ANSWERED these questions. When was the last time we felt really good about something we did, said, and/or thought while in a state of high anger or rage? How many times have we regretted or wished we hadn’t acted while in those states? Finally how often have our angry acts led to the outcomes we truly wished were going to happen? It would be wise to heed the warning from the Book of Proverbs: “An angry person stirs up much conflict and a hot-tempered person commits many sins”. So…..I should just sit back and take it? Heavens NO! We can be passionate without being destructive. We can be devoted to improvement without blinded by hatred. We should look to, indeed we must be willing to act to overcome these faults, injustices and problems. It is the state of our mind with which we undertake these actions which will be the primary determinant as to whether the actions will lead to a greater good for all or a downward spiraling destruction to both the target of our anger as well as ourselves.

Take a Deep Breath

Take a deep Breath. Feel Angry? Anxious? Frustrated? Despondent? Take another deep breath…..let it out slowly. Conversations are happening and will happen in the near future. Which ever “side” you may be on, what we need right now is leadership. We need you and I to be leaders. A leader stays calm instead of fomenting chaos. A leader can keep their good humor when those around are angry. A leader listens instead of demanding to be heard. A leader looks for the common good versus hoping for divisive gain. We need leaders at all levels; in families, work teams, friends groups, churches, wherever people gather. Wherever you are; be that leader. That sort of leadership will bring us to a better day.

Do We Agree To Disagree or Disagree to Disagree?

Agree to disagree? We absolutely have disagreements. Perhaps we explore them through interaction, perhaps discussion. At some point in that interaction, we may come to a realization that neither of us are going to change our position. Thus, we may decide to “agree to disagree”. But do we? Do we agree? Or, do we disagree to disagree? Agree to disagree says; on this one topic we may be at an impasse but that impasse has no effect whatsoever on any other aspect of our relationship or other interactions. Disagree to disagree says your disagreeable opinion fundamentally impacts how I see AND JUDGE you and will negatively effect some if not most future interactions; that is until you come to your senses and agree with me. Paul and Peter had a serious fundamental disagreement. Yet in Paul’s subsequent writings and discussions about giving to the believers in Jerusalem, he never disparaged Peter. Nor do we read where Peter ever demonized Paul due to their disagreement. Christ knew His disciples at times didn’t understand and even disagreed with what He was doing but Christ didn’t reject or stop loving them. It takes a certain amount of humility and unconditional, agape love that says my opinion or belief is not so self important that I can’t respect and truly love someone who thinks or believes differently. So today we’ll probably disagree with someone about something and perhaps we won’t be able to reach agreement. What we need to really ask ourselves is how do we treat that person in our next interaction? How diminished are they in our eyes because they don’t agree with me? How disagreeable do I want to be to them? Can I really afford to cast away from me all who won’t share my point of view? And OBTW should you disagree with me on this, that’s perfectly acceptable!

The Secret Which is Not and Should Never Be A Secret

What is the secret? So often we hear the question asked: What is the secret to…..? Often the object of the question is a happy family, good marriage, perhaps a fulfilling life. Sometimes it’s about what it takes for a successful organization like a church or school. It seems to me there is one foundational, required answer; one have to have ingredient. It is well articulated in the clip below and even more so in 1 Corinthians 13:4. Love, Love lifts us up, binds us together and brings us through any and every storm. Also and finally, it should not be or kept as a secret. Jesus Christ made sure to proclaim it as His reason for being and we should as well

Serenity (10/10) Movie CLIP – Love (2006) HD – YouTube

Solo or Symphony Which Has the Greater Impact?

Consider this; when all we do is toot our own horn or just listen to the music we make, the most we’ll hear is a solo. The problem with that is solos don’t pass the test of time. What people remember longer, what makes the greater impression are the symphonies. It is the harmonious blending of many distinct, sometimes very different voices or sounds which create the greatest, lasting impact. So yes, your instrument is important, so is mine and so is there’s. Thus today, let us strive to participate in the music of life; playing our horn with unabashed joy. But let us also find the joy and love that comes from blending our sound together with others to produce a lasting symphony of peace that all can enjoy from now to the end of time.

Being Part of the Plan is a Blessing

As we contemplate and celebrate this season, it is correct for us to focus on the gift of the Person of Jesus Christ and our Heavenly Father’s gift/plan of our redemption. Additionally, let us not forget how the Father decided to include His creation, that is us, in execution of His plan. There were vital human roles, Mary and Joseph, for example. There were significant roles, Elizabeth and Zachariah, the parents of John the Baptist. There were singular roles such as the owner of the stable who allowed its use for our Savior’s birth. There were even unknowing roles. When Caesar Augustus decreed a census which caused Mary and Joseph to travel to Bethlehem, he had no inkling that he was playing a necessary role in the fulfillment of Divine prophecy. God still uses us in His plans today. Are we searching and open for seeing how God wants to use us? Do we count it as a blessing that God includes us in the fulfillment of His perfect plans? Do we understand the Power of God which can even cause our enemies to take actions which ultimately bless us as God’s plans are revealed? As it was then it is now and always will be; God loves you individually. He has a perfect plan for you. God will allow nothing to thwart that plan. May we all see His plan and our part in it as a most blessed Christmas gift this season.

Remembering to Take the Time to be Thankful

Taking the time to be Thankful. In Luke we read about 10 lepers. Now those were desperate people in a desperate time. The nation of Israel was occupied, burdened by harsh edicts and high taxes from Rome. Even in better times, lepers would have been shunned due to nature of their affliction. Now their plight was even worse. The lepers saw Jesus passing and in their torment called out to Jesus to have mercy on them and heal them. Jesus heard them. For a leper to be considered healed and be able to return to society a priest had to declare them “clean”. So Jesus commands the 10 to “go and show yourselves to the priest”. Jesus knew that, as they walked to the priest, they would be miraculously healed; which they were. Seeing that he and all nine of his companions were healed, only one returned to give thanks to God for the healing, falling at Jesus’s feet with praise and thanksgiving. Jesus in turn asked: “Weren’t 10 healed? Where are the other nine?”. Today times are desperate; a pandemic rages around the globe. Many find their lives and lively hoods cast into disarray. Some are caught up in the division that has gripped the country. Whatever is plaguing you, in faith cry out to Jesus Christ for He is near. He will hear and pour out His love and grace on you. When that happens you might be tempted to go your way, thrilled with the positive outcome. But don’t forget Thanksgiving. Don’t forget by whose power you are transformed. In the faithful Thanksgiving we are showing others who we belong to, believe in, as well as preparing ourselves to go forth with renewed strength in the presence of Him who will never leave our side through all trials to come. Praying you have a happy and safe Thanksgiving.

To Everything There is a Season Thus Don’t Get Caught Up in the Cycles

In the Book of Ecclesiastes, the inspired Solomon declares: “To everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under Heaven,”. (Ecclesiastes 3:1) Solomon goes on to list some examples but it is not an all encompassing list. He’s reminding us that this life is full of cycles and none of these “worldly” cycles is never ending. So if we looked at today; there is a cycle of sickness and there will be a cycle of healing. There is a cycle of one type of leadership but there will be a cycle of another type. It is the way of the world. However, later in Ecclesiastes Solomon makes the point and Jesus Christ also teaches very clearly that there are some Eternal things which are not cyclical; that do not change. There is not a cycle where God is not on His throne, where He gives His power to another. There is not a cycle where God withholds His love and caring from you. There is not a season where salvation is withheld from you. Thus, our goal is to not get caught up in living in the worldly seasons as if they are the unchanging way of forever. If you are in a time of ease and earthly prosperity that is fine, but don’t put your faith in that wealth and comfort for the world can easily take it away. Conversely, if you are in a season of turbulence and tribulation understand that is not how it will be forever; peace and calm will come. Instead, our goal should be to live in to the boundless, never changing, ever present Love of our Heavenly Father, whose mercy, power and grace will turn any season/cycle into a harvest of blessings from His love and for His Name’s sake. OBTW, if you’ve not heard it before, the Ecclesiastes passage makes a great oldies song titled Turn Turn Turn.

How Can We Love in a World So Full of Hate?

How can you and I be expected to or hope to walk around with love in our hearts when there is so much hate out there and some of it directed toward us? That hate comes from all over; entire countries, seemingly millions within our own country, our own community and even from our own family and closest friends. That is the now and eternal question. The answer lies in remembering that God loves our world so much that He sent Jesus and Jesus loves us so much He came down to save us even though practically the entire world had rejected them. Jesus’s community hated Him so much that they not only wanted Him dead but took actual actions to kill Him. Yet, on the cross Jesus loved them enough to forgive them. On the very night He was betrayed by one of His very close companions, knowing it was going to happen, Jesus loved Judas enough to wash His feet. Here’s the thing, we’re not Jesus Christ. That means on our own we can’t love like Jesus does. We have to first be in Christ to then have the love of Christ for ourselves and for others. How do you and I walk around today with love in our hearts for all? First, we walk in and with Jesus Christ and allow the love of Christ to flow in and through us to all we interact with.

In Times Like These Where Can I Turn?

There was a man who was troubled. His life was so full of anguish that he was totally shunned. His anguish caused him to hurt others as well as himself. Jesus came to him. In the presence of Jesus, this man was healed. His anguish fleeing, He became whole and even a teacher to others. (Matthew 8) This woman was hurting, physically and spiritually. Having suffered for so long, banking on the world’s remedies, her pain remained. She sought Jesus out and with the briefest of His touch, she was restored whole and praised by our Savior for her faith. (Matthew 9) Two witnesses were completing their God given task. For days the bore witness, were humble and righteous and the world hated them and wished/acted to destroy them. Yet God stood with them and gave them power and protection and the world could not harm them. (Revelation 11) These past hours and days, I have heard and read many anguished cries. I have heard and read about those who feel abandoned by friends and their country, they feel sick and weary in their very being. They even feel at risk for their very safety and life. In the world they find no relief or comfort. With words or ideas of the world I have no comfort to share. However, the world is not the only or even best place to turn. Ask and Jesus Christ will come to you. His power will protect you against any and all the world can bring against you. Christ will heal your body, mind and spirit. Also, Jesus will never abandon you or forsake you for some other way or cause. His promise is sure. His promise is eternal. Ask and Christ will come, in fact even now, He is right here waiting for you to turn to Him. Don’t delay. There is nothing He won’t do, including dying to save you, to bring you into His peace.

What Are My Post Election Plans?

So what are you and I waking up to? What are our plans if we know enough results to have plans? Are we joyous? Are we depressed? Are we planning our gloating parties? Are we planning our revenge or subversion plots? Orrrr Are we remembering that Jesus proclaimed: “Blessed are the peacemakers!”? Are we remembering, Jesus’s warning about becoming angry is a pathway to ruin? Are we remembering that no true power has changed with whatever result we’ve had? There is One True Power and that has, is now and will always in the future, rest with our Heavenly Father. Salvation will not come nor will not be thwarted by the election results. Be calm and confident today because God’s Power reigns supreme. No matter what, we are loved by the most High just as we are. Being that we are accepted, just as we are by Christ and our Heavenly Father, can we not strive to do the same with others; even those who might have voted a different way? Let us pray for peace, for calm, for love. Let us pray thanksgiving for the love that comes from our Heavenly Father, as well a pray for the power to spread that love to all regardless of the political sign in their yard.

I Predict ……..But Should I Really Be Predicting?

I predict……..nothing good seems to be the mantra of our world today. So I’m flipping around news channels, looking through online media and social media, even listening to the bloggersphere and something becomes startling clear. We predict. We predict A LOT! Additionally the vast majority of our predictions concern dire, catastrophic, disastrous outcomes, both short and long term. We will lose all our rights no matter which candidate wins according to their predictions about the other. Doesn’t matter because of the asteroid predicted to hit today (hey its 2020 after all 🙃). COVID and climate change predictions, I even heard predictions about a hurricane that is moving into Central America; however, Some, A FEW computer predictions SUGGEST it could later turn toward us. WOW! We are bombarded by this, from every corner at almost all times. Is it any wonder that we hear about, not predictions, but actual current levels of increased stress and self destructive behavior including, tragically, suicide? It’s as if we look at and live into these predictions not as some vague potential possibilities, but as definite, disastrous, certain facts. Jesus is clear. It’s not about predicting positive things and/or rosy outcomes. No, it’s about being humble enough not to predict in the first place. It’s about being humble enough to live into where we have some modicum of control, today. Also, being humble and faithful enough to realize there is One who is greater and does have control over all future days, regardless of our predictions; Our Heavenly Father. Let’s minimize the trust and faith we put in other’s, human predictions. Let’s not add to the cacophony of predictions by interjection our own. There are blessings and love coming to you today from our Heavenly Father. Yes the world will try to bring challenges and problems today as well. I believe through Christ; you, today will triumph over the world. As for tomorrow? Well I’ll leave that to Him who doesn’t need any predictions but already knows.

What Should Our Response Be to the Election Results?

This is an apolitical or universally political post; it applies to all. If you read in some leaning toward one position/candidate; that is your perception, not my intent. I write this today so we might contemplate our reaction ahead of next week’s (or how ever long it takes) results. First, there is only One Savior and that doesn’t change next week. Jesus is clear in Mark 10:18, there is only one who is good and that is God. The winner next week never has been, isn’t nor will ever become a or your savior. DO NOT put that expectation/responsibility/faith on them. Additionally, how should we respond to the other side whether we win or not; take up arms, plan our revenge? In some other post we can consider the wisdom of, but what if you see the opposing side as your enemy. Jesus, our true Savior, our Ultimate Commander; warns us, there is only one appropriate response. LOVE! Really? Yes, Jesus teaches us; we are to love our enemies. Can we be ready to do that? Finally, your side loses. You look out and perhaps find yourself despondent, fearful and depressed. Why? Next week God will be on His throne just as He is today. Both and Old Testament are crystal clear; evil doesn’t win. Evil will never be triumphant. So if you’ve put your faith in anything/one other than God; stop and return your faith to the One and Only One who truly deserves it. Take a deep breath; pray for peace and may the Spirit of God and His peace and joy guide and sustain you through this time. Also, if you haven’t done so, vote.

Lucky or Planned? How to Feel Upon Waking Up This Morning

Am I lucky? With so many health risks happening today with dire consequences, I’ve seen a lot out there about the idea suggested in saying: “If I wake up today, I should feel lucky”. Lucky? Lucky to be alive? While being alive is a positive thing I absolutely grant, is it really based on a mere strike of good fortune or a random set of circumstances? I believe that I, and you as well, are meant to have awakened this morning. Our Heavenly Father has a grand plan which is so detailed as to encompass every individual, that’s you and I, each day. Think if it, the God of all creation wants and causes you to be alive today. Being a God of love, that means that you will be loved today, at least by Him, which is not very least. He cares enough about you to include you in His plan. How should we react to being alive in and for His plan today? We should live into His plan today. Living into God and His plan means living into unconditional love, service to others, both receiving from Him as well as being a blessing to others. Some day, according to God’s perfect plan, our sleeping and waking will cease as we transition to our eternal life with Him in His Kingdom. But today, I’m more than lucky, I’m planned to be here by God and I am thankful for that. OBTW you’re planned to be alive today by God as well and I’m thankful for that too.

WIIF? How to Consider the “M” in WIIFM

WIFF? Many of you probably recognize this as the partial acronym for What’s In It For… and I purposely replaced the last letter with a ? because I think there can be a huge concern with that letter. For as you know, that “M” stands for Me. I need to admit, as an instructor of leadership and motivational processes/concepts, I very well could be a significant part of the problem. For I’ve taught that humans need and good leaders provide a WIIFM for things that are being asked to be accomplished. The challenge is that the larger the “M” becomes for the individual, the more self centered and consumed they may become. The M can get so significant that I won’t comply with your orders Mr. Authority because there is no WIIFM. Wear a mask? Socially distance? Shut down or limit my establishment, limit in person schools? Those are all anti-WIIFMs so how dare you tell me that I have to do that! Perchance it would be good for little “m”, me to remember that there is an ultimate “M”E for all of us in Jesus Christ (I know you’re thinking there’s no spellcheck that allows “me” in Jesus Christ 😁) When Jesus tells us in John: “For apart from Me, you can do nothing”; that is the ultimate M and the ultimate WIIFM. What’s that “M” all about? It’s about selfless service, giving, forgiving, righteousness and most importantly, love. What’s in it for me(us); joy, a peace that surpasses all understanding, along with salvation and countless other personal and societal blessings. Today we may find ourselves asking WIIFM multiple times. Let’s take a moment to ask ourselves about the size of and who is represented by the “M” in our answer.

Take, Exchange or Give; What Should Our Actions Be?

Take, Exchange or Give? It would seem that there are three types, if not people then at least interactions. There are the takers, the barterers or the givers. The takers take, seeking whatever gain they can get from most interactions. Sometimes they take with the specific intention of gain and sometimes it is without any contemplation concerning their actions. The barterers will give but only with the clearly stated and agreed to understanding that there will be an equal exchange of “gifts/actions” of equal value. Then there are the givers. They see or hear about a need and freely give to meet that need; whether it is money, time and/or even love, with little to no thought of anything in return. It is easy to see the type Jesus Christ is. For He gave up, for a time, His perfect existence in heaven to come down to earth and give everything, including His Life for us and our salvation. His gift was freely given. He would like us to follow His example. Yet the world floods us with messages about go out and TAKE all you can from this life. So the question is, as we go forth, which will we be? Will we look to take and gain from every situation, everyone we meet, oblivious to their needs? Will we base our action of giving on a guaranteed or at least expected “gift” of substance and/or glory/recognition in return? Or will we go forth, at least open to if not actively seeking those in need and meet those needs without thoughts of reward or glory in return? Finally Jesus makes one more promise. Our Heavenly Father sees our giving and it is more blessed by Him to give than take.

Jesus Christ is Emphatic and Clear What Our Response to Tragic News Should be About Another Human Being Whether Friend or Foe.

What would Jesus Christ expect of us in this moment? Jesus Christ tells us exceedingly clearly what our mindset and actions should be. Whether we are an avid supporter or vehement despiser, Christ is clear; we should be praying, we should be loving! In one of His most powerful sermons/teachings, the sermon on the mount, Christ instructs us: “But I tell you love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you”, Matthew 5-44. There you have it, like or dislike, prayer and love are the answer, the only answer. Christ has spoken. Thus, let us pray, thus let us love and allow the Power of Christ and our Almighty Father in Heaven to rain down and rein over us and through us to this fractured world.

Is Winner vs. Loser the Proper Perspective Concerning Our Interactions?

Question for today: If I change my mind, does that make me a loser? Or asked in another way: If I can get you to change your mind on something, did I beat you? Am I the winner? Let’s consider our interactions with others; strangers, friends, colleagues, family members, etc.; how often are they zero sum games? Those would be interactions where I must win by getting you to see my way but I can’t/won’t even entertain your point of view except to argue against it. If that is our primary approach to things; if we believe and behave in that way and believe others have the same approach, then of course our interactions are going to be contentious if not outright knock down drag out. How did we get here? I don’t worry about what’s best, most accurate as long as I’m able to say I won? Can’t we start by humbly asking ourselves is it really “my” idea? Didn’t some aspect of the idea come from someone else? If that’s the case; isn’t it possible that the addition of another perspective might make the idea even better? Or are we stuck with; I want you to openly consider my point of view but in doing so risk being seen as a loser, which is something I will not do concerning your point of view? Sounds fractured, frustrating and disastrous to me. If that’s where we are or where we’re headed, Lord please turn us around. Consider your interactions today; are you hoping to make someone a loser? Are you so sure that perspective is a sustainable winning run in the long run?

The Need for the Power of Christ – An Analogy of a Coffee Maker

If you’ll indulge me as I use a flawed analogy to make my point. There’s this dark elixir that some of us enjoy, even swear by (or swear at if it’s absent) called coffee. Now whether it’s produced at home or purchased from an establishment, it will ultimately come from some sort of a coffee maker. Now let’s say (here’s the bearing with me part) that a particular coffee maker believes it is the best, most productive coffee maker there is. Regardless of that belief the coffee maker can do nothing until it’s connected to some type of power source. Without the flow of electricity going to it, the value of the coffee maker is greatly diminished. You and I aren’t coffee makers, I know. As I type we’re out being and doing and perhaps believing we’re doing great things. So here’s the thing, Jesus Christ tells us explicitly: “Apart from Me you can do nothing”. Thus in all our doing, being, thinking and producing, if the power we’re relying on comes from somewhere else other than from Christ, if we’re not connected to Him, it is for nothing. Oh the world might rate it great, fantastic, even wondrous, but it won’t last. How do we know if we’re using power derived from Jesus Christ? The power will come and be used in service, justice, righteousness and most importantly, love. That power lasts forever. Today let’s be plugged into Christ, letting His Power flow to us and through us to bless a world so in need of it. (OBTW the analogy works for tea too).

A New School Year Prayer

It has been, is and will be that time of year for school to start in some fashion thus: Our Most Gracious Heavenly Father, You have stated and we proclaim, You are the Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End. Yet we also believe You are the God of all things in between. Thus we pray for You to be with us at the beginning, throughout this school year until its end, protecting body mind and spirit. Give Your Angels charge to surround all associated with the schools and accompanying homes that the scourge of COVID 19 will not stricken staff, parents/care givers nor the darling children themselves. Bless all participants whether faculty, guardians or students with a common mind and mindset toward openness to learning and cooperation regardless of the mode of instruction or place of learning. Pour out upon all Your Spirit of patience, grace, forgiveness and most importantly love, that all might see the efforts of all as a blessed offering of the gift of learning. That instead of stress and division this would be a time of togetherness and fellowship in name of educating our blessed children in Your Holy Name. In the Name of Jesus Christ we pray. Amen.

A Child of God….But for How Long? 

A child of God…but for how long? In the Gospels, Jesus is clear when He declares that whoever does not receive the Kingdom as a child, will not enter it. That is, like a child, we must be humble and acknowledge, have faith in and love our Father in Heaven. We must acknowledge that He is greater and rely on Him. Okay, you might ask, but when do we become an adult of God? For here in the world we may love and respect our parents; but there’s also a time when we “progress” and consider ourselves their equal. We may respect that they have an opinion or advice but we feel competent enough to reject their advice for our own plan. We may no longer rely on them anymore and in fact, they may come to rely on us. Jesus makes it clear, there is not a similar progression in our relationship with the Father. When Jesus laments over Jerusalem, saying how often he wanted to protect them as a mother gathers and protects her chicks, He is showing that we are always to be children of God. Should we come to a place in our faith journey where we say; “God I hear you but I’m wise and experienced enough to know a different way so that’s what I’m going to do. Or we tell God: “Thanks but no thanks, I got this and don’t need your help anymore”. We will find ourselves in a place of great peril and destruction. We may tell ourselves that we’d never say those things to God; but are we living in a way that states those very things? Rejoice, for there is never a time that we are not a child of God. Rejoice that our Heavenly Father never wants us to leave His presence and strike out on our own, relying only on ourselves. Jesus Christ proclaims that there is eternal peace, joy and blessings in becoming and staying a child of God. Let us rejoice as brothers and sisters of equality, living in the eternal Light of our Heavenly Father’s love.

What’s in Our Hands?

Many to most believers know the story of the judgmental crowd. How they brought a woman caught in the act of adultery and wanted to see if Jesus would condemn her to death in which case they were more than ready to cast the stones of judgement against her. Yet Jesus didn’t condemn her but called out those who brought her before Him for their faithless act. For they didn’t care about the sin as much as they hoped to trap Jesus in act which would bring about His downfall. They were willing to take a life for their petty agenda. Yet understand this; Jesus was not condoning or excusing adultery. He was clear it is a sin which should not happen. One wonders what happened to the stone throwers after this incident? Did they learn anything? Were their hearts changed or were they just as quick to grab a stone, make an erroneous judgement the next time an offense became known. Today, let us look down at our right and left hands: are they holding stones of judgement, self-righteousness, anger and intolerance? Do we hope and even pray that “those people” get punished for what they are doing and heap thoughts and words of condemnation upon them? As we kneel to pray for their destruction, do we feel the pain and realization of our own sins which we are kneeling upon and should be poking our consciousness and spirit to the Jesus Christ way of mercy and forgiveness? We have no right and it is not right to fill our hands with stones of judgement. Instead let us empty our hands so that we can reach out in love to hold and guide the hands of the hurting to the Grace and Love of Jesus Christ and Heavenly Father.

My Plan was  a Success Thank God! My Plan wasn’t a Success Thank God?

So, I plan to x next week. From what I can tell from the Bible, making plans is not a sin. In fact, there are several references in the book of Proverbs concerning the wise process for making plans. What Jesus warns us about is to what extent do we rely, worry, become frustrated or question our faith based on the timing and/or execution of our plans. When Jesus references a hair on our head or a single sparrow, He is revealing both the detail of as well as the infinite perfect wisdom contained in our Heavenly Father’s plan for each of us. So I have this plan for next week. I’ve prayed about it and want it to happen as I’ve set it out. Yet what if today, some aspect of weather, coronavirus, some key person or circumstance seems to be thwarting or at the very least jeopardizing the fulfillment of the plan; do I start to worry? Do I become frustrated and fixated on that future plan ignoring the day in front of me and the blessings it holds? Next week, the plan happens very close to how I wanted it to; thank God. Next week the plan doesn’t happen at all; thank God? YES, especially THANK GOD! It wasn’t supposed to happen, at least not then or perhaps ever. Let us be humble, realizing no human devised plan, no matter how inspired or prayed over is perfect. Let us also be awe inspired and grateful that not only is God’s plan perfect but His execution of His plan is perfect as well. So plan. Go plan and commit those plans to God. Then, be at peace knowing the outcome is in His Hands and those same Hands will never fail you or cease from holding you.

The Lesson for Today’s Time In the Story of the Prodigal

The prodigal situation. You have the younger son who rejects the life of his father and leaves home. However, he does not leave empty handed. No, the younger son believes he is entitled to a share from the father which he demands. The father grants the son’s request and off the the son goes. The older son stays. To a certain extent he stays faithful and obedient, at least on the outside, to the father. It is clear that the father loves them both. It is clear the father loves them both equally. Our human/worldly concept of fairness says the father is wrong. The father is requiring no accountability of the younger son upon the son’s return. Earthly father’s might well have required the son to be a servant to prove his worthiness to return to the status of a full fledged family member. Yes, but wasn’t the older son misused? What does the father say? The father replies to the older son’s complaint that he knows the son has stayed faithful and: EVERYTHING I HAVE IS YOURS! One wonders if the reason the older son never had the celebration with his friends he wanted was he simply never asked for it? Additionally could it be the older brother had lost love for his younger brother? Had the other brother become so judgmental toward his younger sibling that he felt no desire for mercy or compassion for his brother or even considered him a part of the family? Today we may not have a great famine but the worldwide pandemic and other strife seem comparable. First know, whatever your circumstances, our Heavenly Father still loves you. Should you find yourself in a place where you’ve turned away from the Father and gone your own way, He desperately desires for you to turn back to Him. He longs to coming running to you with immeasurable mercy, forgiveness and countless blessings. If you’re in relationship with the Father today, do you understand that He has pledged that all He has is yours, not even withholding His Son, to bless and keep you. Ensure that you are asking Him and understand the lengths He will go for you. Finally, how are you, who are in relationship with the Father, considering others who are not? Are you judging them? Are you feeling superior, more righteous, more deserving of reward than them? Or are you loving them, whether that love is returned or not? Are you praying for them, hoping they may become a part of the Family of God? In these and all time remember this; the Father’s love for all never runs out. (See Luke 15:11-32 for the parable of the prodigal son).

Love, the Need and Solution for This and All Times

So I don’t know if I need to through all of this but here goes; a worldwide pandemic that won’t stop, a global economic meltdown with no end or very far end in sight, wars putting millions at risk of starvation, discrimination tragically costing horrendous numbers of innocent lives and social unrest. Sufficiently bummed and/or stressed now? Where do we turn? Where is any light? The edge of the cliff seems already behind and above us as we plummet down to our destruction? There is an answer and it is as it has always been……love. People of all types came against Jesus Christ and His followers with the most vile language, threats and attempts at physical violence. A god of vengeance, a god of only power, a god of arrogance or human justice would have crushed those people. The God of love, loved them, forgave them and saved them, just as He has and will continue to do for us today. Love is the answer. Love always triumphs, regardless of circumstances or times. Jesus Christ tells us if we abide in Him then we will be able to triumphantly love as He does. These times will pass. Love, however, will never pass away.

 

The True Blessing of Father’s Day

A Father’s Day reflection. Oh for these many years that I’ve been a father, Father’s day has been a day of true reflection and celebration, However, it is not the celebration of me in the position of father, but the celebration is of the blessing and privilege I have to be able to have the experience of being a father. Thus a group celebration starting with she with whom it has been an honor, joy and blessing to share the title of parent; my wife. Then to the two who have provided such nonstop joy, love, fun and inspiration, my daughter and son. Of course such humble thanksgiving to our Father in Heaven by which this and all blessings come. “May you have children who act just the same way to you as you have to me”, used to be a tongue in cheek curse that a parent would speak to their child. However, for me, I can think of no greater blessing or wish for my children or any potential parent that they be blessed with children who act now and have always acted as the children I have been blessed with. Hoping however you celebrate it, you are having a blessed Father’s Day

The Lesson In a Sunset, The Ultimate Beauty in the Blended Whole

So last night I witnessed the most spectacular sunset. I wish I had a camera that could’ve adequately captured its majesty for I would have posted it. As I gazed and pondered the scene, it occurred to me that the most astonishing aspect of the vista was the mixing together of almost countless colors and shades of colors. As well, there were so many different textures of clouds at so many different altitudes. And above all was the backdrop of the sky. As I took in the spectacle, I realized what made the vision so utterly amazing was the mixing together of the contrasting hues and textures. Were you to take away one shade, one texture, delete a high or low cloud, obscure the sky in some way, would cause the scene to be incalculably diminished. Thus I wondered would it be possible for us to come to a place where our society can be so beautiful? Can we come to a place where we see the diminishment of any of us as a disastrous diminishment of all us us? Can we see that it is in the harmonious blending together that not only our individual beauty, but all beauty is elevated to its most admirable extent? Finally I would be remiss to leave out the sun. For it was the sun’s rays which provided the illumination for last night’s great event. In a similar, yet grander way, the Son, Jesus Christ is sending illuminating shafts of love to bring light to even our darkest places. May we find some way to come together in love, His love, to allow all of us to shine with God’s intended light.

Appropriate Perhaps Even Righteous Anger? What Does Jesus Christ Say

Anger, Appropriate anger, Righteous anger, Without anger nothing gets noticed or changes. Anger seems to be a hot topic these days to the point that some have called our time, the Age of Rage. There is the talk of the need for anger. There is talk that anger is good and necessary as long as it is appropriately channeled. Along with and/or perhaps in contrast to some of these thoughts, I’d point out what Jesus Christ warned about anger. For Christ warned that when we become angry we are libel for judgement. He continued along that theme that as we become more personally angry with another person, the more likely it will lead to our destruction. Wait! You respond: Did not Christ get angry? Yes, on rare occasions both Christ and our Heavenly Father are described as being angry. However, we can not lose sight of the fact that they are God and we are not. They triumphed over the enemy who is expert at using anger to achieve evil purposes. We can not triumph over that enemy without relying on God and His power. Our anger so often leads to destruction that we would have never wished or planned for had we been in any other state. Yes our anger leads to the wanton destruction and theft of property (yeah, point that out some demand somewhat smugly). Yet out anger also leads to speeding a car into a peaceful crowd representing something we don’t agree with or chasing down and ultimately killing an innocent human being, a fellow creation of God, who just happens to look different than us because we are angry because we believe they are getting away with something or resisting us! (Oh wait that would never be me…..”There but for the Grace of God, go I). Jesus wants us to know that anger is anger. When unleashed it can destroy relationships and families all the way up to costing countless millions of lives as it sparks senseless wars. Human anger is a worldly process that needs to be avoided and overcome. To truly, sustainably accomplish that, we must call upon and rely on the Prince of Peace to come and rule in us. We need to pray that WE not enter into anger as much as we pray for others to turn from their anger. Channel anger? Let’s turn instead to the channel of love which triumphs over anger and brings blessed peace to us in the first place.

We Shall Overcome!

To triumph, be triumphant. How we long to triumph today, whether it is over the physical threat of a natural pandemic or the human scourge of bigotry, hatred and divisiveness. We can look to the One who overcame both. For Jesus Christ was triumphant over the greatest physical calamity of all; death. Plus, He overcame the intense hatred and bigotry rained down on Him by outsiders as well as those closest to Him. How’d He do it? Jesus listened. Jesus always listened to others; whether it was His close followers or those who were coming against Him. Jesus spoke out. When He saw the poor and downtrodden being abused or a person being wronged in a rush to judgement; Jesus spoke out against it. Jesus forgave. Time and time again up to His last few breaths, Jesus forgave. Jesus was not too arrogant to ask for help. In the garden, when He doubted His ability to go on, He went to the Father for the Father’s help. Jesus always loved. Jesus knew and knows love triumphs over all. To try and follow Jesus in His ways we must understand we are not Jesus. We are not God on earth. Thus we must call to God our Father to help us be like His Son. Then, only then will we have the triumphant power that Jesus did. For Jesus Christ, Himself promised: Ask and it will be given to you.

 

Can “Coming Together” Become a New Norm?

“Coming together” There is this idea, a process, (maybe a myth?) about how and when we “come together” as a society. When we’re attacked, when a natural disaster happens, when a national tragedy (mass shooting, space disaster), when there’s a pandemic; we hear, read and maybe experience this “coming together, this selfless caring about others, who are no longer “others” but become ours. We laud one generation as greatest in the way they came together during a great depression and went on to fight and win a world war. Yet stop a moment and please, please consider this: That we consider those times of coming together so important, so impactful is that we spend the vast majority of our existence willfully being apart! It takes some stupendous, often horrible circumstance to force us out of our isolation to “come together”. God cries. But that’s just human nature is the reply. And I agree, it is worldly, solely human nature to be apart, to care primarily about me, mine and only those who can positively impact me. I have no time for others. God cries. Remember Jesus was very clear when He asked: How will they know you are mine? His answer: “That you love one another”. Note that He didn’t say, JUST one another, as if one another had some geographic, familial or belief component or restriction to it. We are all “one another”. We are now seeing calls and actions for us to get “back” to “normal”. Is that normal going to be back to our living and being apart? God will cry.

The Lesson of Good Friday

The lesson of Good Friday is that no matter how dark and evil it may seem in the world, our Heavenly Father’s Plan is never thwarted, His love is never extinguished and His Light will always shine. May you have a blessed, safe and sane Good Friday

This is a Cycle That Can See a Blessed and Triumphant End

As we contemplate these days ahead, both from a theologically historical perspective and at the present moment perspective, we see a cycle. That is a cycle of triumph, then tragedy, then a greater triumph. Historically, the first triumph was Jesus’s entry into Jerusalem. To His disciples this seemed the greatest triumph for it seemed no one, not the Jewish leadership nor the Roman might, could stand against Jesus. Swiftly came the tragedy. Jesus was betrayed by His own, tortured, condemned and then executed for a crime He did not commit. This Sunday we celebrate the even greater triumph over death and the coronation of the King of Kings as Jesus Christ was resurrected. In these times for many, up until a few months ago, there seemed either a triumph or at least a triumphant trajectory. The economy was booming, lowest unemployment, wages on the rise, wars drawing down. Then, seemingly out of nowhere and with such a worldwide devastating swiftness, the Corona-virus pandemic. Two things to understand. First, the cycle will continue in that we will triumph over this scourge, by the Grace of God. The second thing to understand, is that the first triumph was mostly a false one, a worldly one. Even for the disciples, they were thinking in terms of earthly power, glory and domination, not about love and sacrifice. In the same way our earlier triumph was more about wealth than the well being of all, especially the poor and those left behind. We seemed more about picking losers and winners versus love for all and forgiveness. Thus let us look to the triumph to come. Are we going “back” to the ways of personal gain, getting even and letting the hurting take care of themselves? One of the greatest benefits of Jesus Christ’s resurrection is the gift of the Holy Spirit. Through the Spirit, let us now declare we will live into the greater triumph of love, mercy, forgiveness and generosity that will shine as a legacy to overcoming this current tragedy. Pray you stay safe (and at home) and well this Holy Week.

There Is A Lesson From the Past Concerning Handling the Fear of Today

It may do us well to remember during this situation and during this time of year back to a group that was also experiencing real fear. Yes the group was much smaller but their anxiety was just as fierce. In such a short period of time, basically a week, their life had been turned upside down. They had suffered a great loss. They were holed up, afraid for their very safety if they ventured out. They worried about what type of future there might be for them or even if there was going to be a future. Yet this fearful time for them was short lived. After dying, Jesus rose from the dead and returned to his fearful disciples. His first words to them were words of comfort and love: “Peace be with you”. Jesus Christ is speaking those words to us today in the midst of this crises and accompanying fear: “Peace be with you”. Remember, Christ promises we will do greater things than He did if we abide and trust in Him. That small group, trusting in Christ and through the Holy Spirit, overcame their fear and went on to spread a movement that has spread and transformed the entire world. Through Christ we will come through this and will indeed go on to even greater things. Thus, Peace be with you. May Christ’s Peace rain and reign down on you, uplifting you and comforting you. Then take that peace and share it now in the appropriately safe way until the day comes when we will again clasp hands together in personal fellowship in the Name of Jesus Christ.

Often Our Fears Come From Our Questionably Accurate Predictions of the Future 

It’s not so much the uncertainty concerning tomorrow that causes our fear and anxiety, it is as much our certainty concerning our predictions of the future that drives our fears. Numbers will go up, supplies will go down and we know that means x………. and x is bad, disastrous, catastrophic. And it’s not just in today’s situation, more and more we predict and call “fact” that which will happen tomorrow, next week, next year and the end of the century. I’m not sure with our history of predictions and their dubious accuracy, where we get our arrogance from. Jesus Christ is very clear, we have today. And yes there will be troubles that will come our way today. And those troubles will be enough to tackle without adding a future’s worth of predicted troubles onto it. God owns the future. God also owns today. God will grant what we need to triumph over any trouble today. He will also richly love and bless us today. Doesn’t that make today enough? I pray you have a blessed, focused on day, today and will allow God to have your tomorrow.

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Pray  Be It a Request or Thanksgiving   Pray

Are you ill; pray for healing. Then say a prayer of thanksgiving for those who are well. Are you well; say a prayer of thanksgiving. Then say a prayer of healing for those who are ill. Are you scared or anxious, pray to God for His Spirit of peace. Are you calm, pray thanksgiving for His peace and pray for it to spread. Pray, knowing that whatever need or thanks you’re praying for; you, in truth are acknowledging and declaring belief in the One True Sovereign God. No political leader can do these things, no CEO. No sports legend or entertainment superstar can carry you through these times. You are loved and the One who will see you through these and all times, longs to hear from you and be in relationship with you. God is listening. God is loving you. And God is the same regardless of the times or circumstances.

Be Wary of Engaging in the Chase

Chasing? Chasing Rabbits? Chasing can be hard work. “Chasing rabbits” adds a whole new dimension of exhaustion to the equation. Why? Because there is no straight line to follow, no predictable path to chasing rabbits. Just when you think you are closing in on your goal, it zigs a completely unforeseen way and then zags in a totally opposite direction. The world wants you chasing rabbits. The world wants you exhausting your energy in empty pursuits whose aims and characteristics seem to change in a moments notice. The world dangles some ever elusive prize and calls out; come chase it. What do we hear from Christ? Come unto me and I will give you rest. Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled. In Psalm 46 God declares: Be still and know that I am God. The Lord Almighty is with us. And understand, God is not out there saying: Chase after Me for I am allusive. No, He says I am coming to you. I am sending my Son to you. Let us then ask ourselves today: What are we chasing after, is it worldly things? At the end of the day do we find our day’s pursuits have left us exhausted, frustrated, discouraged and/or bitter? Through Jesus Christ, our Heavenly Father told the story of a father running to meet his son returning from a period of foolishly chasing worldly rabbits. God used that story as a promise to us that He will indeed run to us, forgive us, provide for us, comfort us, protect us and most importantly love us each day for the rest of eternity. Let us stop all the “chasing” and instead, let us be found in the Lord.

How Does Faith Work in the Information Age?

We live in the information age. What’s the impact? Well for one, how we approach decisions. Before making a change big or small we are more likely to research or at least search , can you say “Google it”. We may think: “show me the data, what are the facts, prove it to me” , then I’ll act. So let’s say you or I feel God is calling us to do something, make a change, step out in some way. Do we respond; “okay show my Your facts that this will work, what’s the data that this is good for me, I need to see the proof”……..FIRST! Seems only prudent, right? Let’s do some research. Did Abraham have a laid out time line or itinerary before he answered the call to move to the promised land? Did Moses have a checklist of miracles to be performed prior to returning to Egypt? Did Ruth have a full biography of Boaz, her future husband, before she left for a foreign land with her also widowed mother-in-law? Except for Matthew, most of the disciples came to Jesus before He had performed His first miracle. Did they have the facts? No! Our research shows they acted in and on faith. That’s a challenge we may struggle with in this information age. For to act on faith without a basis in proof or facts is often looked at as naive, ignorant, foolish and/or just plain crazy. So here’s the question: What are we missing out on while we try to substantiate with our own wisdom, our own logic, our own research, a calling we receive from God? We see from the interaction of Jesus with the rich man, Jesus invited/called the man to join and follow Him, but the man did not have the faith to do so and turned and left. Jesus let him leave. If and when we receive that calling, let us “research” in prayer and in the spirit. Let us have faith that God will testify to our heart and fortify our spirit to lead us in the blessing of His calling. Let our faith in Jesus Christ be the overarching “information” we rely on.

The Difference in Life Between Being Filled and Empty The Lesson From a Toy Balloon

Think of a balloon. Picture a balloon before being filled with air; basically it’s a lump of rubber with little utility. Sure, it has potential but as long as the balloon remains unfilled, its potential remains unrealized. But, fill the balloon with air then its possibilities expand (yes pun intended) greatly. Let go of the end and it becomes a jet powered projectile zooming at great speed and height. Some balloons can be transformed through imagination to amazing shapes, becoming animals, crowns or swords. Leave it filled with air and it becomes a nearly lighter than air, floating apparition, gliding effortlessly from hand to hand. Once filled, the balloons potential becomes realized, propelling it far beyond its unfilled state. So what the heck does that have to do with us? Without being filled with love, we face the prospect of drastically unfulfilled potential, going through our days feeling like of lump of existence instead of a living, thriving being. Yet when we open ourselves to be filled with love our potential to live blessed lives and be blessings to others expands and increases exponentially. By the very process of filling, our emptiness is forced out and replaced by the powerful, uplifting force of love. Through love, we can become so many different things helping ourselves and others in the transition. What is the source of that spirit filling, life lifting love; our Heavenly Father. Through the gift of the Holy Spirit, God Himself and His love can dwell in us if we will but ask. May you be filled with love this day expanding your being to heights, places and blessings you didn’t know or only dreamed possible.

 

Turning to Christ First Will Give Us the Power to Turn the Other Cheek When Attacked

While it’s never been easy and I say that personally as well, it seems we live in a time where a desire of Christ, dare I say a commandment of Christ’s has become virtually non-existent; to turn the other cheek if and when assailed by another. It’s not only between nations, but throughout our media, places of work, our homes, at times our places of worship and even among our precious young children in school, no perceived slight goes unanswered, no insult unresponded to, no punch, countered. One reason this is so prevalent is that the world rewards the get-even behavior of the person who throws shade back or “owns” another on social media, who belittles the challenger or has the “power” to crush all opponents. To turn the other cheek is the behavior of the weak, spineless and the loser. Jesus Christ weak and spineless? Jesus Christ a loser? Was there no power in calming the storm, feeding the 5,000, calmly walking through the angry crowd without responding and the many other miracles He performed? No reward? Who is it Who sits at the Right Hand of God the Father Almighty? Whose Name is above all names? Jesus Christ! But it was easy for Him, you say, He is God. EXACTLY Don’t try to rely on your own strength of character to respond appropriately to an attack; turn first for help to the One with the power, Jesus Christ. He will give you the strength to respond in mercy and grace. In doing so also remember whose child you are, God reminds us there is a vengeance and it is His. In His perfect timing He will respond and that response cannot be withstood. Sometime soon, someone will unfairly slight you, taunt you or attack you. It will seem unfair but God may be using you to teach the lesson of mercy to a world so much in need of that learning. Understand as we turn the other cheek away from vengeance, we are actually turning our entire being toward God. He will respond to us in blessing.

Blessed Are The Peacemakers Let Us Strive For That Blessing

Jesus Christ predicted, He warned us there would be wars and rumors of wars. Such is a world we live in . Yet He reminded us that we should not be discouraged or grow faint. For Jesus proclaims that His Father and through Him our Heavenly Father remains on His throne. His power is in no way diminished. Remember another powerful declaration of Christ: Blessed are the peacemakers for they will be called the children of God. What do peacemakers do? For one thing they can call upon God in prayer. But what good is that when it seems fewer people believe? We are all God’s creation and under His power whether He is believed in or not. The Pharaohs did not believe in God yet He hardened one of their hearts to show His power through Moses. Decades earlier God softened the heart of a different Pharaoh toward a foreigner, making Joseph the second most powerful person in Egypt and over all the Egyptians to save His people in a famine. Pray for God’s power to rain and reign down upon any and all leaders contemplating war. And do what Christ would have His followers do, pray for our enemies. Pray that God will have mercy on them and even bless them that they may turn from their evil plans. Also remember Christ’s warning concerning the destruction that anger and hate lead to. Man-made war is a disastrous and unnatural state. Whether in the scale of a family or between nations, the cost is always terribly expensive. Strive for peace and as a child of God may you find and spread His peace today.

Christmas Season is Coming to an End? To Be Replaced by What?

It’s January 2nd and you know what that means. It’s over. The Christmas Season is over. As we pack up the decorations, it is over for another year. Over? Really? To be replaced by what? You see there are natural seasons whose coming and going we have no control over. We can’t control the rotation of the earth, nor the tilting of its axis. Spring, summer, winter and fall will come and go. But Christmas isn’t a season tied to a natural process of the earth. If Christmas is a “season” then it’s governed by a Higher power. And what are some of the hallmarks/trademarks associated with the Christmas season; giving, generosity, humility, joy, peace, togetherness, harmony, forgiveness, service and love? So if we say the season is over do we go “back” to self-centeredness, stinginess, grudge-bearing, pride, divisiveness, anger and hate? I so hope not. Thus I implore us, don’t think of Christmas as a season that comes and goes, a period of changed, improved behavior which is not sustainable. If we are to think of it as a season then let us be like the character Scrooge, though skipping all his earlier evil behavior and be as he was described at the end of the story; a person who kept Christmas in his heart the year round. Yes, it is fine to limit the length of a celebration to a specific period of time; the tree can come down, the manger scene delicately packed away. However, the underlying reason for the celebration and its accompanied behavior need never end. Christmas season over? Jesus Christ did not just reside on earth 12 days. He lived on this earth until He willingly sacrificed Himself for us and our salvation, then rose again and lives to this very day. Jesus Christ is the blessed reason for a season that never ends. May you have a blessed and happy January 2nd.

 

Happy New Year! May This Be For All A Year of Our Lord 2020

Happy New Year!! Let us strive to live into this YEAR OF OUR LORD 2020! How do we do that? First and foremost, love. We become a receptacle of our Savior Jesus Christ’s love. We truly receive it and embrace it. Then, upon its reception, we return it. We return it first to our Heavenly Father in every respect of our being. Next, we share it. We spread His love as far and wide as we can, including those who no one else loves, the difficult to love, those who won’t return it to us, even our enemies. And we share it as we’ve received it; unconditionally. In the YEAR OF OUR LORD 2020 we look to our Lord to receive true blessings, forsaking the false blessings promised by worldly pursuits. In the YEAR OF OUR LORD 2020, we are filled with eternal thanksgiving, never ceasing in our praise of God’s bountiful grace. Finally, in the YEAR OF OUR LORD 2020, let’s remember it is not my Lord but our Lord. Let us not make a false lord in our image that we then serve and demand others to accept. Let us be humble and understand we are created in the image of the One True God who is love and not hate and we must be likewise. Therefore, ask for Him and He will come and be with you to provide His blessings, His joy, His peace, His forgiveness and His love in this His Year of 2020 and all eternity to come. Again Happy New Year!

 

Using the Promises of the Past to Live into the Blessed Promise of the New Year

The new year is imminently upon us and with it comes the plethora of renewal messages: You can start anew, The slate is clean, A new year a new you, and the oft repeated phrase, “the promise of the new year”. And while I have no issues with those messages and concepts per se, I think it is vital that we remember and securely hold on to some promises of the past. You are loved. You have been loved since the day you were born. You will continue to be loved in 2020. Jesus Christ, our Heavenly Father and the Holy Spirit, each know you personally and love you personally, regardless of your circumstances. You are forgiven. No matter what the sin ever committed, Jesus Christ has taken that sin upon Himself, paid the price for that sin and raised you up, forgiven and pardoned. You are never alone. No matter how isolated you are or feel, Jesus Christ is right there with you. In fact, the Holy Spirit is sent to actually enter into you and exist with you, guiding you, loving you at all times. These promises are old, older than you’ve been alive. Yet they are just as real, just as powerful as the day they were uttered. So yes, there is promise in the new and new year, AND there is peace contentment, confidence and joy in the ever constant promises of the past. Let us live into both promises to live into the blessed lives we are meant to have. May you have a happy and blessed New Year.

Handling the Pressure of Events and Changes

Events and pressure. Things are going to happen. Small and large possessions; some very expensive, are going to break, often at the most inopportune time. Illnesses will happen, some very debilitating with long recovery periods. People and circumstances will add significantly to your already very taxed workload. Not all events are unpleasant. You may meet your significant other. You may welcome a new family member into your world. You’ll get that promotion or advancement. Whatever the change, it will more than likely result in some amount of pressure. Realize in some cases pressure is necessary. You can’t fly to your dream vacation if the plane’s engines don’t generate the appropriate amount of pressure. Electricity is not generated if there is not enough wind pressure to turn the turbine. Yet when the changes happen to you, the world and its leader may make every attempt to drive the pressure up within and upon you to disastrously damaging levels. That level can lead to depression, desperation, addiction among other destructive ends. How do we fight succumbing to that pressure? Don’t forget Whose coming we are celebrating this season. Talk about pressure; feeding 5000+ people with five loaves and two fish, healing thousands of sick including restoring sight to the blind and ability to walk to the lame, oh and did I forget to mention bringing salvation to the entire world for all time, now that’s pressure! Yet that’s exactly what Jesus Christ accomplished without screaming and yelling, calling down fire upon His enemies or demanding instant obedience under immediate pain of death. Jesus Christ was the epitome of grace, confidence and calm in seemingly pressure packed situations. He also told us how He did it and what we can follow. First, Jesus knew there was a plan and He didn’t have to come up with it. Over and over Jesus proclaimed He was carrying out His Father’s plan, who is also our same Heavenly Father. Jesus knew the plan was perfect and no earthly power could thwart it. Secondly, Jesus knew He had been given the power to accomplish the plan. Finally, Jesus knew He was not alone, His Father was right there with Him. Sure, you say, that’s nice, but Jesus Christ was God and I’m not. EXACTLY! That is why Jesus came, lived, died and was resurrected; for you! He knows you and I can’t handle the pressure alone so He invites us to come and be in Him. Jesus Christ is the ultimate pressure reliever. All we need to do is believe in, have faith in and love Him. Oh, and when we stumble (which we will), turn away, fail and sin; the world will judge, condemn and shame us. Jesus Christ replies, no pressure, no pressure if you will only return to me, for I’ve already taken your sin and its punishment upon Myself. So come back and be at peace. Thus, as this year transitions in to the next understand, things will happen, changes will come. Some will be from God supplying just enough pressure to move us along His plan. Some things will be generated by the evil of this world. In all, be in Christ and He will keep the pressure in complete check and provide to you and I a peace which surpasses all understanding. Prayers for peace and blessings from now and throughout 2020.

 

The Power and the Value of “The Gift”

What makes for a great present? The day has passed. The gifts have been exchanged and opened. Now we move forward with the gifts we’ve received. Yet which gifts were impactful? Which gifts will make a difference? Are all the same? Well, the saying is true, it truly is the thought that counts. That’s why a rather misshapen, strangely painted bowl can be worth more than any solid gold, diamond encrusted article when made by the loving hands, given in complete, loving sincerity and with the largest smile of one of our children. Likewise the gifts we tend to remember and favor are those that actually get used. It is not the gift that gathers dust in the closet or hides under the bed that impacts our consciousness and our world; it is the gift we touch and touches us daily for which we find a greater level of value. So what was yesterday all about? The gift of Jesus Christ. How do we see that gift? Is the gift of Christ even now being put away on a shelf or some far away corner of our lives to be dusted off 365 days from now? Well for one there is no greater thought, no greater love than our Heavenly Father has for us. The thought and love behind the gift of Christ is none other than our complete and total salvation, from the day we entered this life through all eternity. Is the gift of Jesus Christ meant to actually be used now? Yes! A thousand times Yes! The gift of Christ is meant to be used every moment of every day to bring peace, joy, healing and love to us and those around us. But where is the instruction manual, the FAQ section? We have one, it’s called the Bible. And if something doesn’t seem right, who and how do I call? You can go to the source Himself, 24/7-365, our Heavenly Father, in prayer. Jesus Christ is a gift. We didn’t earn or deserve Him. He came by the Grace and Plan of God. All we need to do is accept the gift of Jesus Christ. Then yes, oh please yes, go out and use the Gift. You can’t wear It our or break It. But you can change the world, both your personal and the greater world around you. May all your days after Christmas be blessed.

“God Knows That……”   Yes He Does!

God knows…… There’s a phrase, a part of a sentence that starts, God knows……; as in God knows it’s been a tough year, God knows I need the promotion or God knows being sick stinks. It’s as if to communicate, nobody else may know or no one else knows the depth of degree of my need, but God does. This phrase is often flippantly or haphazardly thrown around but the amazing thing is; God truly does know. He knows because He has experienced it. God so loves you that He left perfection and came to dwell in and with imperfection. God, in the person of Jesus Christ knows pain, frustration, hunger weariness, despair, loneliness and sadness, among others because He experienced them. He also knows joy, peace, elation, friendship and of course love as He experienced those as well. He even knows temptation. So today, if you’re experiencing the triumph of the mountain top, God knows it. He wants you to know that He put you there. But if you’re experiencing the dark valley of despair, fear, loneliness and/or pain God knows it and can relate to it. For He felt such despair in the Garden of Gethsemane and the aloneness of the cross. If being in the valley is connected to sin, God knows that. Not that God experienced the act of actually sinning Himself, but He has taken your sin upon Himself and you are now and forever more, forgiven. God knows and will lead you out of and lift you up from the valley. God knows…..you. God knows you individually. God cares for you individually. God loves you individually. He can relate. And God knows if that isn’t a reason for celebration than what is? Praying you have a most blessed Christmas Eve and a very Merry Christmas.

Being Careful Not to Miss the Blessing of Today Due to Focusing on the Blessing of the Past

I’m a huge fan of history. I definitely believe it can teach us much as well as we can bring much folly down upon ourselves and those around us if we disregard the lessons history teaches. However, we can also make the mistake of missing out on the all powerful present resource because we relegate it to a relic of the past. I’m speaking of the real, life affirming power of Jesus Christ. It is right and proper to celebrate the event of our Savior being brought forth on this earth in human form by a blessed virgin giving birth. Later in the calendar it is again right and proper to reverently pay homage and celebrate the Savior’s sacrificial death and resurrection. Yet if we fall into the trap of primarily focusing on the birth, earthly life, death and resurrection of our Savior; as truly momentous as those past events were, we may miss the true meaning and impact, the purpose of those blessed events. For our Savior is not now a baby or an innocent Sacrifice hanging on a cross. Our Savior is not just solely or souly a historic figure. Our Savior, Jesus Christ, lives! His is not a figure like Abraham Lincoln who we can study about, let their past words and deeds influence us; but sadly never be able to interact with. Instead we must focus on Jesus Christ as a living, loving Savior who we can have an immediate and intimate relationship with. With that focus, He will be as impactful today, if not more so, than he was when He walked this earth some two millennia ago. Indeed how wonderful Christ laying in the manger is. Though how much more impactful and relevant is He today as He stands at the Right Hand of our Heavenly Father, interceding for us, Loving us and Leading us. Jesus Christ is historical, yet He is not just history. Let us celebrate the baby Jesus while we focus and live into the present, living Savior. May you have a very merry and blessed Christmas.

Be Open to It, Joy Will Come

You may have  to cut and paste the above link for it to run; techy I am not :).
This came from a flash mob performance in Spain in 2012. What struck me as I watched this, besides the beauty of the music, was the reactions from both the onlookers and the performers. For the onlookers, what started as bemused curiosity became spontaneous enjoyment and yes joy. For the musicians and vocalists there was also a sense of pure joy at the being in that moment of performing, donating their God given talent to any and all who wished to experience it. It is only befitting that the piece being performed is popularly known as Ode to Joy. Another thought crossed my mind as well. I’m sure there were those who crossed the square who completely missed the offering. There would be some who would have loved the music but the press of the day, the weight of the world on their shoulders, perhaps a lack of curiosity, the urgency and pace of time or some other self-absorption blocked them from noticing the blessing happening just within their reach. Today, slow down. Today, be curious. Today, be open to the blessing. It may not be a flash mob or music, maybe it’s a sunrise/sunset, a beautiful nature scene, the joyous laughter of a child or the warm touch of a loved one. God wants you to have joy. He may very well move heaven and earth to bring it to you. However, He won’t force you to partake in it. That is our responsibility. Please be open to your Ode to Joy experience today, whatever your circumstances might be. God can and will deliver it.

Being Noticed and Noticing Others

Getting noticed. It seems this world and we who inhabit it are often obsessed with the desire to simply be noticed. We build computer platforms for getting it, we create TV programs and entire channels to see it. We come up with words to describe it like “going viral”. And all too often we’ll do almost anything, even if it’s self-destructive, to achieve it. Ironically the same world that so rewards getting noticed also builds processes and circumstances that so hinder us or try to separate us from noticing any of those around us. We build devices that so capture our immediate attention that we become oblivious to any and all adjacent to us. Maybe we should take a moment to consider the example of Jesus Christ. For Jesus noticed. He noticed the big, like 5000+ people in danger of falling faint from hunger or an entire world in need of salvation. Yet He also noted the individual; like the poor woman who gave such a little total amount but in reality gave all she had. Or Jesus noticed the blind beggar everyone else just passed by. Likewise let us strive to notice, truly notice someone today. It could be anyone, a family member, coworker, a neighbor would be good and/or perhaps someone not quite so familiar, maybe we could take notice of someone not quite so familiar someone that society has over looked, discarded. Also, today if you are noticed, be grateful. Too often we clamber for an ever increasing number of likes, follows or shares. One person genuinely noticing is special. Finally and most importantly God notices you today. Jesus Christ knows you today. Their noticing of you is more important than any of the world’s. They notice you because they love you and will bless you. Who will you be noticing today?

Are You the Always Getting the Tough Assignments Person?  Take Heart, God Will Bless You Through Them!

So you’re one of those “they give you the particularly hard or tough things because you can handle it” kind of person. It’s not just your impression, they actually tell you: “I’m giving you this tough task, this problem worker or student, this broken process to fix because you’re the one, maybe the only one who can handle it”. And…..you’re tired! You’re weary of being that person. You’re perhaps thinking: “Thanks for nothing!”, “Stop doing this!”. If so, take heart. First God has clearly stated “the one entrusted with much, much more will be asked.” Though at times it may not seem it, God has given you much to sustain you and bring you successfully through. No one else had been asked to do what Jesus was tasked to do; heal the sick, teach the good news, refute the evil, and take upon His shoulders, for all time, the sins of the world and be the one necessary sacrifice for all salvation. Yet even though Jesus is the One and only God come in flesh, the begotten true Son of God, our Heavenly Father did not leave Jesus alone in His task. For the Father gave Jesus the plan. The Father gave Jesus help, like John the Baptist, His disciples, Elijah and Moses on the mountain and the Father’s very presence in times of prayer. Thus, you too are not expected to take on these difficult tasks alone. The world may not provide any assistance and worse yet may be a real hinderance. However, God stands ready to provide all the wisdom, courage, strength, resources and support you need to be successful. Let’s say you’re not “that person” but see that person struggling. You may be the God-sent resource to help them out. To God, you are much and with much He will bless you.

And We Will Soar on Wings Like Eagles

So I was joyfully watching an eagle soar over our neighborhood, at first admiring the eagle and its presence for this marvelous spectacle. Then I noticed something that profoundly changed my perspective. As the eagle majestically soared, it barely, almost imperceptibly moved its wings. It came to me that it was not the mighty power of the beats of those tremendous wings which were holding it aloft but the eagle was using the power of the wind. It was the power of the God delivered wind that allowed the eagle to mount its lofty heights. Indeed the eagle was completely reliant on and trusting in that wind to sustain its locomotion. You and I may find ourselves desiring or even planning to mount the skies of our lives like a magnificent, triumphant eagle. Yet will we learn the lesson that the eagle teaches and not try to rely on our own limited strength, disregarding the blessed hope and support that our Heavenly Father stands ever ready to freely supply? Or will we truly soar to unimaginably towering heights trusting in and relying upon God’s always uplifting support of love to carry us ever up and forward?

The Only Distance Between God and Us is the Distance We Put There

Here’s something that I think might be worthy of some contemplation leading to a deeper understanding as we go through our days. The only distance between God and each of us is the distance we place there. For God created us in love to be in a constant relationship with Him. Jesus Christ came, died for us, was resurrected and lives as our Savior and pathway to the Father. It is the Father’s plan carried out by Christ, that Christ would send the Holy Spirit to reside in us at every moment. Sadly, we can go through this day seemingly acknowledging none of those things and live a life very distant from the blessed life God has intended. Don’t let the enemy and his world of distractions create any space between you and the Loving, Living, Grace filled presence of God.

A Favorite Song or a Race, How Are We Living Our Lives? 

Are our lives more like a race or a favorite song? Huh, you ask? I don’t see the connection or the comparable difference. It seems today we are ever more fixated on the end of things. Who will be the bachelor (ette) pick? Who will get voted off the island? Who wins the championship is all that matters. How much money will I get when I sell my stock? In every endeavor, will I win or come out on top, is the overriding concern. “Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing”, may be a great slogan to motivate a sports team (although I’m not sure about that), but it seems a potentially and particularly hellacious way to live a life. For one thing, winners are only crowned at the end of an event. Thus, the more we prize the acknowledged future win, the less we are sure of the value of our effort on even given day leading up to that end. The more we focus on that uncertain future worldly victory, the more we find our daily lives filled with anxiety, stress and doubt. So what does that have to do with music or a your favorite song? Think about your favorite song for a moment. Whether R&B, country, rock, classical or the polka; whatever genre, it doesn’t matter if the world declares it is a #1, it is your song and you love it. As it plays, you are swept up in its melody and carried away by its lyrics if it has any. And most importantly, the last thing you want is for it to be over. The true joy is being in the midst of it. Jesus Christ knew, from the beginning, when His mission and life on earth was over when He declared, “It is finished”. However, many other times he also declared, “My time has not come”, that is to say my life and mission are not over. Yet in each day He never failed to love, lead, teach, heal, to live. He did not let His goal of His future final victory, distract Him from living and giving His fullest and fully experiencing each day. So are we living a race where some worldly gain, accolade, fame and/or fortune is our reason for being? Or is our life today part of a movement, a measure, a piece of a melody that is composing a song of life we are able to call our own and cherish in the midst of it? God has all the instruments, talent and inspiration that we will ever need and is ready to freely give them to us. Together with Him let our life’s composition commence.

Do We Truly Know What We Are Asking?

Do we know what we are asking? Let’s take a look at two “asks” from the bible. The disciples are seeing Jesus walk on water. They are scared thinking they are seeing a ghostly apparition but Jesus urges them not to fear as He is the same flesh and body person they left back on the shore. Peter is not convinced and asks Jesus to let him walk on water out to Jesus. Jesus grants Peter’s petition. Another time, the disciples are walking with Jesus to Jerusalem for the last time. Privately John and James ask Jesus to grant their request to sit, one of them on His right hand and the other on His left, in seats of power. Jesus’s initial response was to warn them that they did not fully understand the impact of what they were asking for. James and John were thinking about glory but Jesus knew the excruciating path of sacrifice built into the granting their request. Peter was initially thrilled at being able to walk on water but then the unprecedented and threatening nature of his request being granted overwhelmed Peter causing fear and his starting to sink. The point? Jesus tells us in the gospel of John that we can ask for anything in His name and quite often we take Him up on that promise. However, we are ill equipped to see the true nature of and all the, including future, ramifications of our request. Thus we would be wise to ask and faithfully believe like Jesus did in the garden: Father please do this for me but not my will but Thy will be done. The Father’s will, like His plan is perfect. When our petitions are in alignment with His will, we experience the petitions fulfilled. However, when God knows better, He will give us peace in letting us know we truly do not know all the impacts, perils and even destruction that would come from His fulfilling our petition, at least the way we asked it. Both responses are blessings and both are given by Him in love. Let us receive and perceive His response as a blessing.

P vs. p Power, Its True Nature and Who Really Has It?

P vs. p In this case the “P,p” that I’m referring to is power and the thoughts of measuring the strength of it. Somewhere a little over 2000 years ago, it would seem that the most dominant “P” was wielded by the Romans through their empire. They were so powerful they could order a census of their entire empire and force their subjects to stop all they were doing and return to their place of birth to be counted. Yet they didn’t realize their “P” was actually a rather minuscule “p”, which was part of God’s “P” to bring our Savior Jesus Christ into this world in the place and manner prescribed by prophecy. Some 33 years later, another Roman, Pontius Pilate would claim to have the ultimate power, that of life and death, over Jesus. Pilate was shocked and somewhat fearful to hear that he had no power as a Roman, but the only power that he had came from the Power of God whether he believed in Him or not. What does that have to do with today? So many things and people are claiming to have vast “P”, power. Countries who can split the atom claim to have massive, supreme power. Political parties and politicians proclaim that Power rests with them. Wealthy people claim that their accumulated money is the source of great Power. Some even claim that their physical strength or beauty give them great Power. Today, you may feel overwhelmed by other’s power and feel particularly powerless yourself. If that’s the case, understand this; the only true and everlasting “P” ower still resides in the living Jesus Christ, by our Heavenly Father, through the Holy Spirit. There is no true lasting power in the machinations of this world and those who rely on them will see their schemes and plans end in futility. Thus let us turn to and constantly rely on the true Power of God Almighty letting the Power of HIs Light and Love, fill us and shine through us to the darkened, Power starved world.

Have To or Get To ?

“Get to” or “Have to” This is connected in a way to the previous “Life is…..” post. So as you go through this day, how many activities do you “have to” do versus activities you “get to” do? For the purpose of this post, “have to” activities are those which you feel required to do but if you had your choice you wouldn’t be doing them and would be doing something else. On the other hand “get to” activities are those you do and want to be doing as well. Now understand I don’t think this is an academic question. We hear about a world where people feel they are under ever increasing pressure leading to high levels of stress, addictions and unfortunately suicides. It seems that people feel bombarded with “have to” things keeping them from ever being able to obtain the opportunity for any “get to” activities. Do we ever stop to think that our perspective is the thing that might need changing versus the activity? This week, in the midst of the hottest, most humid stretch of days so far this summer our air conditioning system broke. So I knew I would “have to” call a repair person and would “have to” pay him; which I did. Yet in the midst of my sweating it occurred to many how many places there are where it’s even hotter and more uncomfortable and where air conditioning is only a dream of a luxury they will never come to close to being obtained. The truth is I “get to” have my air conditioning fixed because I’m blessed to have it in the first place; same activity two vastly different perspectives and feelings. Some are reading this and saying this is a load of rose colored glasses, polyanna garbage or even more colorful language. This is a “have to” world so just accept it. Well I don’t choose to look to the world for my perspective. Jesus was very clear, He did not “have to” come to our world. No, He said it over and over again, it was His privilege to “get to” carry out His Father’s plan for our salvation. He was glad to “get to” heal the broken, bring peace to the troubled and be good news to the entire world for all time. Where did that perspective take Him. Jesus Christ now “gets to” sit at the Right Hand of our Heavenly Father being placed above all things. I would say His perspective worked and works. I’m blessed to “get to” share these messages and pray you see and are able to participate in many blessed “get to” activities this day.

Life is ………… What?

Life is…. Now by the very nature of the fact that you’re reading this, you’re alive. Yet we seem to be unique in the animal kingdom in that we not only have the choice to do something like read a post but furthermore have the ability to judge the merit of the choice we made. We are not just about survival behaviors but can traverse beyond those needs to a more profound existence. That is, if we choose to. So life is……what? Is life simply a process of survival to be accomplished daily, ending in sleep to be repeated again day after day? Is life a cosmic opportunity with which we have the freedom to live completely as we see fit? Is life a thrust upon experience of responsibility requiring a never ending quest for personal and societal improvement? Is life a gift, meant by the Giver to primarily forge a loving, living relationships with Him and each other? What’s the answer? What should the answer be? Well, don’t ask me? In fact I would be wary of relying on any other human being claiming to have that answer for you and how you should live. Thus first, do you ever stop in this break neck paced world to ever ask yourself that question; let alone take the additional time to contemplate its answer? Do you understand that how you see and value life is a principle determinate of the actions you will take? For me, it can be a struggle at times to see life as a gift, which I believe it is meant to be. But that is not a function of lack from the Creator God who lovingly gives my life to me. It is from my loss of focus on His answer of what life is. So I hope you will take the time to finish your sentence; Life is…….. I hope you find love and peace in your answer. However, especially if the answer is difficult to come by or you find the answer disquieting or discomforting or should the answer be any other than life is a gift, I encourage you to be open to turning to the Great and Loving Giver of Life, our Heavenly Father, who will reveal His blessed loving ending to that most important statement: Life is…….