Take Him Down!

That’s one of my mantras for 2021. Take Him (Jesus) down from the cross. What??? Jesus was taken down over 2,000 years ago. Is this more “religious” mumbo-jumbo? No, it’s about life and changing mine for the better. Here’s my thinking.

Jesus died on the cross for our sins—yours, mine, and every living being past present, and future. My sins were up there on the cross. In fact, effectively my sins hammered in those nails at the hands of the Romans. I had a hand in putting Jesus up there. It’s my responsibility to take Him down.

OK. Let’s get practical. How do I take Jesus down from the cross? Simply by doing what He showed all of us to do—love. Every day, every step, should be a walk in love. Sure, I veer off the love path all the time. I get inpatient with people. I get mad. I look down. But I try to look back on every day and be honest when and where I messed up. I then repent. And try not to mess up the next day. I envision Jesus hanging on the cross and me taking Him down. It’s really that simple. Try, review, and repent. Constantly try to do better, be better.

Yes, this all sounds simple. But then again for the 1,000th-plus time, God means life to be simple. We are the ones who complicate it so very much.

Take Him down! Easy enough to think about, harder to execute. I know. Trust me. But we all get points for doing our best. That’s what God expects. Try.

Have a TERRIFIC weekend ahead!!!

The Lure of Greed, Power & Ego

Too much of the world operates around greed, power, and ego. Unfortunately, I see this in D.C. all the time and it reverberates out through the media across the world. Sorry to say this and be a downer but it’s true now more than ever. The devil lures with greed, power, and ego and is doing a very good job in the temptation department.

I’m thinking about this because I’m already fast-forwarding to the end of Lent. Only a few days in and I’m having dreams of diving into a big bowl of chocolate anything because I gave chocolate up for Lent. Not that I think giving up something is more important that doing positive things during Lent, but if I can’t stay away from chocolate I won’t be able to resit any temptation.

So, in thinking about the end of Lent I’m picturing the devil tempting Jesus. He first offers Him all the bread he can eat—after not eating for 40 days in the desert. He then shows Jesus all the kingdoms of the world and offers it to Him. Finally, the devil takes Jesus to the pinnacle of the temple and tells Jesus to throw Himself off because His angels will swoop in to save Jesus. Greed, power, and ego. The devil tests Jesus and fails. Jesus comes out of the desert and starts His ministry.

It’s easy to give into greed, power, and ego. They play out on big and small stages all over the place. There is one thing that stands in the way of greed, power, and ego: humility. Humility that realizes that anything we have comes from God. He gives and our path in life is to use our God-given talents to the best of our abilities. And use them for good, just as Jesus did. And just as His Spirit empowers us to do on a daily basis.

My wife teases me that I think Lent is the best time of the year. In a way it is, if we take the time to reflect. That reflection should include getting grounded in humility as Jesus did in the desert for 40 days and resisting the urges of greed, power, and ego.

Have a humble week ahead! And eat some chocolate for me!

Sow & Reap

There are more “sow” and “reap” messages in the Bible than you may think. But my favorite is what Paul wrote to the Christian community in Corinth, Greece: “whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.” (2 Corinthians 9:6) The message is pretty simple—you get back according to what you put in. And the message pertains to everything in life—relationships, work, and God.

We live in a time when people want but don’t want to put in the effort. People want quick fixes. But what you put into something is sooner or later tied to what you put into it. Invest more in a relationship and you will “reap” more. Work harder (and smarter) and you will “reap” the rewards. There are rarely quick fixes that will get you through life. They may work one once in a while, and even a few times, but they won’t get you through life. What you “sow” in life is truly what you will “reap.”

And sowing and reaping is no truer than with your relationship with God. In fact, you can’t have a relationship with God until you put something into the relationship. God is always there. But you have to be there. You won’t hear God until you take the time—real time—to hear God. You won’t “feel” God in your life until you stop to feel the “touch” of God in your life. What you “sow” with God is what you will “reap” with God. Not because God wants you to start but simply because God is here—there and everywhere. He’s already taken the first step. It’s your turn.

“Sow” a little and your “harvest” in life will “reap” a little. “Sow” a lot and you will “reap” a lot. In everything. God and everything. It’s that simple. But, then again, God means life to be so very simple. We are the ones who clutter and complicate life.

Have a SPECTACULAR week sowing and reaping!!!

Change, But Don’t Change

Well what the heck does that mean? Change, but don’t change? How does that make any sense, let alone is possible? Simple. It means always strive to be better. Everyone can improve. No one is perfect. Only God can claim perfection. But always realize who you are and the special, unique purpose that God hardwired into you. Change—strive to be better. But don’t change from what God created. Be comfortable in your own skin.

As we get past January, a lot (most?) of us leave the well-intentioned New Year’s resolutions in the rearview mirror. We were going to do this or that—diet, exercise, have more patience, etc, etc, etc. But the change for the better part falls short. That’s natural to a degree. But just because January has come and gone doesn’t mean we can’t renew our striving to change, to be better. Make what you have been given better step by step. It won’t all happen over night.

I always go back to trying to understand what God has given to me. The special, unique purpose He has for my life. That takes listening for/to God. You can’t understand God’s purpose for you if you don’t “hear” from God. And that takes finding quiet time to spend with God.

When you know your purpose in life it’s easier to change by building off of that foundation. Think house. You may repair the house or even tear it down and build a new one but the foundation always stays. That foundation in your life is the special, unique purpose God built into you. Understand it. Build off of it.

For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope. Jeremiah 29:11

Have a FANTASTIC week ahead. Change, but don’t change!

Only Love Can Drive Out Hate

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Dr. King must be shaking his head in disbelief on this day we dedicate to him and his message of peace, love, and equality. Our capitol city is literally an armed camp. In fact, you can’t even get near the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial in D.C. today. Ironic and sad.

Rather than try to unite, our politicians are pointing fingers, with some wanting to go on witch hunts. Rather than looking forward to healing, so many want to look back and further divide us. And the cable pundits who make millions and millions on stirring the pot, are stirring harder than ever.

The storming of the Capitol was a terrible crime. But it should be a wake up call to unite, not divide. If every politician were required to read the message above from Dr. King at the start of every day, our country would be a much better, stable & loving place. Only love can drive out hate.

Dr. King knew what God commanded and Jesus gave His life in commanding us to do: love. Can it really be that hard? We do a really good job listening to the devil’s call to hate rather than God’s call to love. Think about that! The only thing we love to do is hate. Sad.

I’m going to read those words of Dr. King every day this year. What a great message that only light can drive out darkness and only love can drive out hate. And Jesus is out light with a message (command) to love.

Have a peaceful day in the light!

One Step Back, Two Steps (Or More) Forward

I started 2021 with a renewed outlook on life, optimistic that sometime this year COVID-19 will be behind us. I was focused, and had some good New Year’s resolutions. Things I want to do and move my life forward. Until I managed to take a step back on a few of those resolutions.

It’s easy to be bummed when you fall back to old ways and habits or, worse, fall even further back than before. But sometimes falling back isn’t so bad if it makes you even more determined to move forward. Failure can be the best road to success. But you need to learn from your failures and keep plowing ahead.

Thomas Edison was fired from his first two jobs. He supposedly failed over 1,000 times trying to invent the light bulb. We may operate on a different stage but my point is don’t let failing or falling back get you down. Learn. Reflect. Meditate. Then, plow forward. Be determined that for every step backwards, you take at least two steps forward.

New Year’s resolutions are only as good as your determination. Be determined. Don’t let failure get you down. I’m not perfect and neither are you or anyone else. We make mistakes. The lesson in life is learning from those mistakes and always making sure that you’re moving ahead.

Remember—each one of us has a special, unique purpose in life. A purpose that is only yours. A purpose that is truly God given. Find that purpose and pursue it. Don’t let any failure get in the way.

Have an OUTSTANDING week ahead!

Stop and Let Someone Turn

The turn into our church is a left on a busy two-lane road. It never ceases to amaze me how many people don’t slow up and let me turn left. I sit there and count that at least half must be self-proclaimed “Christians” who also know I’m pulling into a church. Worse is the person who makes a right into church before letting me turn left. What’s up with that? But none of this behavior is surprising. It’s just a sign of the times that where I am going, and getting there, is more important than you and your destination.

Let’s understand that I’m no saint. I screw up all the time. And there are occasions when I’m so preoccupied with myself that I don’t slow up to let someone turn left. But I do at least make it a point when coming out of church at the one exit to stop at the other exit and let people turn left and right depending on where they are going. And don’t you know that when I slow up to let people exit that I get someone behind me honking the horn, upset that I slowed up.

You see it all the time. People don’t want to slow up and let anyone turn or get ahead of them in line. It’s as selfish as selfish gets. Contrast that with what Jesus did in giving up His life for us, the ultimate selfless act. “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (John 15:13) Jesus wasn’t talking about letting someone turn left. He was talking about fulfilling HIs command of love.

I’m not a good Christian driver. I drive too fast, get angry with people hanging in the left-hand lane, and sometime stare down people driving too slow as I pass them. But I’m trying to change that. Why? Because it should not be all about me but all about others. I should be the servant, not the one served. It’s simply everything Jesus taught us. It starts with slowing down to let people turn left. Letting someone ahead of me in line. Just simply looking out, not in—at you, not me. It’s about you. Not me.

Hope you have a SPECTACULAR week!!! Slow down and let some turn left.

When Will We Look at Each Other as God Looks at Us?

Yesterday was a very dark day in this country. I spend a lot of time on Capitol Hill, in the six House and Senate office buildings and in the Capitol. I respect everything on “The Hill” because it deserves respect, regardless of politics and differences of opinions. But yesterday The Hill was disrespected like I have never seen in my lifetime and, hopefully, will never see again. It was disrespected by a gang of vandals and by the President of the United States himself. And that’s not a political statement. It’s simply the sad fact. Unfortunately, underlying that disrespect, and the way that Washington, D.C. was disrespected earlier this year by another group of vandals, is a fundamental disrespect of each other. When will we start looking at each other as God looks at us?

How does God look at us? First, God doesn’t look outward at skin color, gender, and anything else on the outside. God looks inside. “The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7). God doesn’t care what political party you belong to, what cause you follow, or any other differences. He looks at each one of us equally and loves us unconditionally, regardless of what we do. God looks at us in terms of similarities—all different but all the same.

As I have written more times than I can possibly count, God commands us to love. To do one simple thing. Love. He went to the length of sending His only Son to deliver that message body and soul to us. To give up Jesus’ life in the ultimate sacrifice of love.

It’s time to heal as a country, as a world, as a people. It’s so very clear how God looks at us and how he wants us to look at and treat each other—with love. But we don’t do that. We do anything to divide and not unite. We are an angry country—an angry world—that not even a pandemic has been able to unite. Maybe, just maybe, the terrible scenes from yesterday will help some of us start looking for answers. And start looking at each other as God looks at us!

Please help today! Go out of your way to smile at someone, pay something forward, lend someone a hand—just be nice, when nice is not what you want to be. Try to look through God’s eyes.

Thank you!

Puppy Lessons

Sometimes I don’t know what we were thinking. Empty nesters on the “older” side of life and here we are with a new puppy. In fact, we drove 30 hours round trip to pick up Rip, a Portuguese Water Dog, who certainly is a “rip.” If you forget what a puppy is like, especially a working dog full of vim and vigor, it’s about testing authority, getting into trouble, peeing in the house, and just being a puppy. But that puppy is dependent on you for everything. To keep him/her safe and fed. Without you, a puppy is lost.

I know it’s crazy but I’ve been reflecting on my relationship with our new puppy and my relationship with God. I test His authority all the time. In fact, I test His bounds of authority. It’s all about me, as Rip is all about him. I screw up all the time. But I know God looks into my face and just smiles. God has a warm heart just like I have for Rip, no matter what he does. The difference is God doesn’t get mad at me, He just continues to love me unconditionally, no matter what I do.

Putting myself in the paws (BIG paws) of a puppy may be a strange way of looking at my relationship with God. But it works for me. I am totally dependent on God for life and daily sustenance. Without God I am lost. God is everything to me—or should be everything to me—as Rip is to me, especially when he needs me, is hungry, and needs some attention.

A puppy keeps you young at heart! And a big smile on your face. You may get upset at times when the toilet paper gets unraveled all throughout the house but the look in those puppy eyes heals all anger. I’m no puppy, although I may act like one at times, but there is a lot to learn from my puppy and reflecting on my relationship with God. I’m simply lost without Him!

Have a WONDERFUL week heading into Christmas!!! Blessings and peace as we celebrate the birth of our Savior!

It’s NEVER Too Late!

It’s never too late to course correct your life, to do something different, be someone different. Don’t ever say you wasted any portion of your life, regardless of how old you are. Look at Jesus. As best we know, He lived an obscure, quiet life as a carpenter. Then, for three years at the end of His life He had His ministry. He died around 33 years old, which by today’s standards sounds like a babe in the woods. Until you realize that the average age expectancy back then was around 35 years old. By today’s standard, Jesus was an old man!

So, it’s never too late to change. To be a different person, do something different. Sure, I often think I should have done this or that differently, walked down a different path in life. But I’m here now and making the best of where life has led me. Or where I have led life.

If you give up it’s you giving up. I know there are different situations and obstacles that make life changes difficult and at times seemingly impossible. But you’ll never change, or course correct, unless you set your mind on change. You can do it. Jesus showed by example. Easy for Him to do it. Sure. But there’s a reason why Jesus is a living model for us on how to live life.

It’s NEVER too late! Start TODAY!!!

Have an AMAZING week ahead!