Let Your Light Shine!!!

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.

Have a TREMENDOUS day shining your light!

Throwing the First Stone

“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.

Have a GREAT week!!!

Nice

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.

Have an AMAZING, and NICE, week ahead!!!

Filling the Emptiness

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.

Have an AMAZING fulfilled week ahead!

The Mask Comes Off

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.

Have a GREAT week ahead. And smile!!!

What Would Jesus Do?

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?.

Cleaning The Closets

We moved. After 25 years in the same house and 35 years in Connecticut we have moved. Well, kind of moved. It’s complicated. We are going to end up in North Carolina but for the next nine months we are living in Pennsylvania. Why am I boring you with these details? Because moving entails cleaning a lot of “stuff” out of your closets. It makes you think about all you have and all that others don’t have. It’s humbling.

There is another aspect of moving that makes you think. It’s actually gratifying looking at your completely empty house for the last time. We donated a lot of our clothes, furniture, and other possessions to two good charities. You feel good slimming down and making good use of things that others can better use. I found out it feels good to clean a closet and even better to clear out a house. You lighten up, you free up.

This move has made me think about cleaning out the “closets” in my life. Not physical closets but the mental ones where we tend to accumulate emotions, life scars, things we don’t want to deal with, etc. It has to be as liberating to clean out the life “closets” as the real closets in our former house. Maybe more difficult to clean but I can tell you those real closets were no picnic—they had a lot of stuff in them!

I could go on and on about moving and how it has made me reflect on life. It’s tough but refreshing. It’s closing one chapter in the book of life and opening up a new one. Lighter, stronger, and ready for new surroundings.

Have an AMAZING weekend!!! Do some cleaning.

Divided We Are Falling: From Judges to Scotland

The United States is falling, I hate to say. Falling and failing. Why? First, we are pushing God out of our lives. And pushing hard. We just don’t want to separate church (God) from state (our lives), we simply want to leave God far behind. We have other gods to worship (greed and ego). Second, we don’t see the commonality in us. We see black, yellow, red, left, right, Christian, Jew, Muslim, etc, etc, etc. God sees us as all the same, individually and equally. We see each other as different. Love should abound but hate—and I mean HATE—rules.

We should be taking lessons from the past, starting with the Bible, but we know better. I know this sounds bleak (hint: Because it is VERY bleak!!!) but the reason I’m writing and doing my part is because change can happen, but it happens one person at a time. And change needs to happen! And fast!

Just last week I wrote about the lessons from the exodus of the Israelites wandering the desert for 40 years for a journey that should have taken 12 days at the most. Wandering, leaving God in the desert dust, complaining, and worshipping false gods along the way. Bad things happened. The Israelites were lost. No one was happy. Well, fast forward to the period when the Israelites had judges—rulers who were not really kings but rulers. Read the book of Judges in the Bible to see how well that period went. Once again, the judges did some pretty bad things and the people were once again lost. Bad things happened. God didn’t forget the Israelites; they forgot Him.

Really fast forward to Scotland, which has this history of warring and divided clans. There were periods (William Wallace, etc) when Scotland kind of, sort of united but the constant friction from the clans didn’t keep Scotland united against England over time. There’s a reason the saying goes, United We Stand, Divided We Fall.” Or as Jesus said, “If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand.” (Mark 3:25)

I really don’t know if we will learn. Our country is more fundamentally divided that any time in modern-day history than I can remember. But as I wrote last week, and write here again today, the future lies in God—or not. United and with God we stand. Separate from Him we are divided and will fall.

What am I doing? Keeping God in my life. Trying to be a uniter, rather than a divider. Smiling. Reaching out. Helping. Trying. Following the Secrets to Life.

Doing my part. Please do yours!

It’s All About God (Repeat: It’s All About God)

Take a look around this country and the world. Storming the U.S. Capitol. Asian hate. Rioting and looting Portland. Crazy conspiracy theories. Black Lives Matter. Blue Lives Matter. Shootings. Russian tampering in U.S. elections. Congressional partisanship like never before. North Korea. China. Myanmar. Miami beach spring break. Masks. No masks. Everything COVID-19. And on, and on, and on. Where is God in this? MIA. Why? Because we don’t want God in our lives. Pure and simple.

Regardless of COVID-19 resulting in more people turning to God, the world is absolutely moving toward secularization, which means away from God. I sound like a broken record —even to myself—but look no further than the exodus story in the Bible to see how this ends. Repeatedly, the Israelites turned away from God in their 40 years of aimlessly wandering in the desert. And bad things happened all along the way. There is a reason this story is in the Bible. Because it is now our story. The people of this world, starting with the United States, are aimlessly wandering in this desert of a world, which ironically is becoming more of a desert. And as we turn further away from God bad things happen.

No, I don’t think that COVID-19 was thrust upon us by God as punishment for turning away from Him. COVID-19 is just another one of the millions of viruses on this planet, but one we let get ignited because we simply don’t have out act together. Bad things happen because we let them happen as we increasingly don’t look to God for answers.

We should be a people with a vision of where we are going; namely our own Promised Land. We should be looking to lift each other up, to not let anyone go hungry or without. We should be good stewards of this earth and looking out to the stars. We should be looking to God for direction and answers, not trying to cut Him out of our lives.

I’m not some doom and gloom guy. I’m someone who constantly looks at the good and believes in the best. But as we turn our backs on God more bad “stuff” will happen. It’s that simple. Like the Israelites in the desert we will moan and groan and be unhappy. And bad things will happen. It’s as clear as day.

I for one will do everything I can to make this world a better place. Change happens one person at a time. I’m certainly no saint. In fact, because I think I know the answers, but screw up all the time, I may be the world’s greatest sinner. But I try. And I constantly turn back to God for direction and answers, God. The only answer in life.

It’s simply all about God!!!

I hope you have an AMAZING week ahead. Look for God in your life. He will make all the difference in your life!

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!!!