It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything. Why? Call it a lack of inspiration, COVID malaise, or simply good old procrastination. Whatever, it is what it is. But as the New Year hit, and I started reflecting, coupled with hearing a sermon on gifts, I knew it was time to start writing/posting again. Why? Because I have a gift. No, not the “ego” gift of me but the gifts I have been given in my life. Starting with the gift of getting up this morning.
We all have gifts. As I said, getting up in the morning is a gift. Having my puppy who is all over me with love in the morning is a gift. The morning kiss from my wife is a gift. Smelling the air is a gift, as is the amazingly starry night in Northeast Pennsylvania. We all have gifts that we don’t look on as gifts. Especially in many cases the gift God gives to all of us equally—the gift of His only Son. And what a gift that is!
It’s really easy in these COVID days of variant after variant to overlook the simple gifts we have in life. It’s always easier to focus on what’s wrong versus what’s right in our lives. But the gift of Jesus is something we should never forget because it’s the gift that keeps on giving. It we let it.
You want a New Year’s resolution? Mine is to look at all the gifts I have been given. Not the gifts under the tree at one time of year, but the gifts I have, no matter how small, day in and day out. And the gift of Jesus is at the top of the list. It’s a gift that I have day in day out, regardless of how the day is going, my situation in life, or anything else. And it’s no small gift at that!
Happy New Year! I wish you a healthy, safe, and blessed year ahead. Keep those gifts close and treasure them!
Yes, for real. I saw Jesus. Several times. I was walking down I Street (NW) in Washington, DC and that’s where I saw Jesus. After a homeless man asked me for some help (yes, I gave him money), I realized it was Jesus. Jesus was in him just like he is in al of us. I passed a young woman rushing to work. I saw Jesus in her. And on and on I went as I walked down the block. Jesus after Jesus. I saw Jesus!
We are made in God’s image and likeness. He, His Son, and Their Spirit are woven into the fabric of our DNA. We just suppress God. We don’t realize He is here—less than a heartbeat away.
I don’t mean this to be some tricked up blog post. If you look hard enough you will see Jesus in everyone. Brown, black, white, yellow or any other variation of human. God is here. Inside of us. And how we treat one another is how we treat God.
A lot of people think with COVID-19, fires, wars, etc. that this is the “end of times.” I don’t know about that. What I do know is I’m not waiting for Jesus to come again. He’s here. We just have to open up our eyes. And when we depart this earth Jesus will be in front of us knowing whether we saw Him as we walked this earth or not.
“But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.” 2 Corinthians 4:7
Each of us is like a jar of clay. To be modeled by God for the special, unique purpose in life that He has for us. We are the vehicles to let God’s light shine through us and out to others. We are the conduits for God’s love—and God is love—to flow through us to others. We are the vessels for His joy, a joy we should be having and sharing with others.
I know this sounds like more religious mumbo-jumbo but it’s life. If we live at all with God in our life, we are the vehicles for light, love, and joy. And this world of ours can use a lot more light, love, and joy!
I want to underscore again that you and I, and everyone in between, were put on this earth for a special, unique purpose. I think life becomes fulfilling when we come to understand that purpose and live to fulfill it. And in the process share that light, love, and joy that is baked into each of us. We just need to discover it and let it flow.
Matthew 7:7 really says it much better than I can:
Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you.
It’s that simple. Great life advice. If you ask it will be given; search and you will find; just knock on the door and it will be opened. Now, this isn’t about some genie in a magic lamp. There is no rubbing the lamp and three wishes. But God will give you what you need (not necessarily what you want, but what you need), will help you find, and will open doors for you. One door might close in your life but another will certainly open.
I’m going to focus in the next few blogs on Bible verses that are really great verses to live life by. But none of those will work, like Ask, Search & Knock, if you don’t LISTEN for/to God. He’s always there. Less than a heartbeat away. You just have to get in the game and engage.
In case you haven’t noticed, it’s pretty dark out there. I just don’t mean COVID dark. It’s just dark in general. Bad things all around, in this country and beyond. There is one thing that you can do to shed some light on a darkening world. Let your light shine! And shine brightly!!!
Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:16
John said it all too well:
In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. John 1:4-5
John was talking about the coming of Jesus and His life that is the light of the world. And that light shines in the darkness and the darkness can’t overcome it. Will never overcome it.
So, let’s get down to earth. What does this all mean?
You have the light of God in you because you were made by God. That light is intended to be shone, not hidden in the darkness. So, let that light shine. How? Start with a smile. Help. Give. Lend a helping hand whenever you can. Don’t get mad. Be happy. Rub good off on others. Anything good is letting your light shine. The light of God in you. Anything bad is hiding that light in the darkness.
Look for ways today and tomorrow to let your light shine. One light after another may just start shining light on this dark world of ours.
“Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” John 8:7
I don’t think I have ever lived through a time like now when people are so quick to judge and throw stones at others, sometimes for what they said 40 years ago. Get real!!! News flash: I’ll say it right here and now that I have said stupid things, done stupid things in the past. I’ve made many, many, many (did I say “many” enough to make a point) dumb things in the past. But I have tried to grow and learn from my mistakes. But I still make some today.
I’m not perfect. And neither are you. And neither are the politicians and self-righteous pundits flooding our cable news airwaves. We are all born in the image and likeness of God. We are children of God. But imperfect children trying (hopefully) to move towards Godly perfection. In fact, that’s what I think our earthly stay is all about. Learning and growing. Maybe not to perfection but towards it.
When I go to cast that first stone my visual is Jesus bending over and writing in the dirt and challenging anyone without sin to cast the first stone at the woman caught being unfaithful. Says it all because I am never without sin. Although there are some who very obviously think they are perfect—without sin.
Jesus is writing up on the clouds challenging those of us without sin to throw that first stone.
Be nice. It’s as simple as that. God commanded us to live in love and Jesus put an exclamation point on that same command! (“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you” John 15:12) But looking around the world today, starting here in the U.S., there is not much love. So, maybe we should start at square one by trying (hopefully!) to just be nice. That’s a start.
Think good thoughts. Smile. Help someone today. Maybe even pay forward that cup of coffee you are buying at Starbucks for the person in line behind you. Just try to be nice. It’s that simple. Maybe us being nice will influence others.
The toughest thing is being nice to someone who is not nice to you. The person who jumps a line or cuts in front of you in traffic. It’s really tough to return a scowl with a smile. But that’s what this very unhappy and angry world needs. It needs nice.
I’m trying to be nice this week and I hope you will join me. We desperately need nice right now.
I heard a comment that we are all born with emptiness and I think that’s so true. That’s why especially in these “COVID” times so many are searching to fill the emptiness but so many are failing. That’s because they are looking in all the wrong places—drugs, alcohol, sex, food, gambling, etc. All these vices and more seem fulfilling but they leave you empty. There is only one way to fill the emptiness. God. Father, Son, and Spirit.
I know that this is preaching and sounds like religious mumbo-jumbo. But it’s life. Simple life with a simple answer to fill what we all have as an inherent emptiness. God. Father, Son, and Spirit.
More people are addicted to drugs and alcohol. Gambling is as close as your iPhone. You can bet on anything these days. Virtual sex is also as close as your iPhone. And we are inundated with everything food. I could go on and on. Lots of all the wrong things, available more so than ever before. And in all this God gets pushed back and back. It’s no wonder our world is increasingly screwed up. Like the Israelites wandering in the desert for 40 years—to simply go less than a dozen miles—we are lost. Because we have lost God in our lives.
There is only one way to fill the emptiness we all are born with, whether we realize it or not. God. Father, Son, and Spirit. God is a meaningful fill that satisfies and is not fleeting. In fact, I think understanding the emptiness of life and filling it with God is what this life on earth is all about. It’s the key to an eternity of never-ending bliss.
Understand the emptiness. Open up to it. Then fill it with God. Father, Son, and Spirit.
Walked into church this morning and was greeted with the new CDC guidance: The mask can come off if you are vaccinated. In addition, there were no pews roped off. My little church in Northeast Pennsylvania was open for business once again. Normal business. Well, almost normal. You couldn’t sing. What’s up with that?
The mask has represented so much during the past year. Taken literally, it’s protection for you and the people around you to cut down on spreading airborne particles of the virus. To others, it represented just another move by the government to take away your independent liberties. I hated the mask but I wore it because I know that it protects me and others. What I really hated was only being able to look into other people’s eyes. I had to learn to smile with my eyes.
It was good to see faces again. To see smiles all around me. To hear people’s voices not muffled by the mask but clear voices. To take in whole faces.
As I wrote in a previous post, yes, Jesus would have worn a mask. He would have worn it because He would want to protect others, before Himself. Because the civil authorities required Him to wear a mask. But Jesus would have missed seeing whole faces. To seeing smiles. To hearing clear voices.
I hope in this crazy, upside-down world of ours we can start returning to “normal”—whatever “normal” is. But most of all, I hope we can smile. And see smiles. They have been covered for too long. It’s time for smiles to come out like flowers in spring. Let’s all try to spread some smiles.
I’m dating myself but I remember those WWJD wrist bands that were all the rage 20 years ago or so. I don’t think that today you will find many people—any people—wearing wrist bands touting What Would Jesus Do?. But I’ve found myself thinking about What Would Jesus Do? and trying to answer that question relative to several current events.
Would Jesus storm the U.S. Capitol or be part of a mob looting stores in U.S. cities? The answer is clear. No. Jesus would not be involved with either the “right” or the “left” destroying property or human lives. The most Jesus did in a fit of anger was to overturn the tables of the money changers outside the temple. Nothing was destroyed. Jesus simply made a statement.
Would Jesus be some pundit on TV pulling people right or left, just for the sake of making money? Again, the answer is a clear no. Although Jesus said he came to divide, that division was actually about uniting. Jesus drew people to himself so that He could be the ultimate sacrifice for our sins—past, present, and future.
Would Jesus live His life judging others? No again. Jesus clearly told us to first fix ourselves before we try to tell others what they are doing wrong. Jesus’ clear message was that we shouldn’t be judges.
I could go on and on but will stop here. It’s just so cleansing to look at your life and those around you and ask What Would Jesus Do?. I’m not talking about judging others. I’m simply asking the question of What Would Jesus Do? You don’t need a trendy wrist band that most wouldn’t be caught dead wearing today. I’m simply talking about asking what Jesus would do in all types of situations.
Have a GREAT week ahead. And ask yourself What Would Jesus Do?.