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!!!

The Chosen

If you haven’t watched The Chosen, I can’t recommend it enough. It’s the story of Jesus’s brief three year ministry as seen through His disciples—the chosen. It balances sticking to the Bible and seeing the disciples as human beings, infighting, jockeying for position, flawed as we humans are flawed. And with Jesus we see the same type of balance—He’s a guy you would like to hang out with while at the same time He is clearly God.

I wish that an audience beyond Christians would watch The Chosen. Especially my Jewish friends would see that Jesus and His disciples were clearly Jewish, in all respects. In fact, in a wake up call to many (most?), Jesus was as Jewish as Jewish gets. He certainly wasn’t Christian. When we follow Jesus Christ, we are Christians. But we are clearly following a Jew. The Chosen brings the Jewishness home.

I hope The Chosen runs through a scheduled seven seasons. That’s all driven by people like me—and hopefully you—paying it forward for others to see.

Watch and enjoy!!!

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!

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!!!

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.

Would Jesus Wear a Mask?

Of course he would! Why? First, for the same reason He said to pay taxes to the government (Rome). “Give, then, to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s…” Matthew 22:21 If the government said to wear a mask in public, Jesus would wear a mask for that simple reason. Second, and more importantly, Jesus would want to show everyone that wearing a mask was the right thing to do in showing concern for others. I don’t know if the human part of Jesus could get COVID-19 or even spread it to others. But Jesus would show others that out of concern for each other wearing a mask is the right thing to do. Jesus was all about concern for others and healing them. Wearing a mask is the show of concern for others that Jesus would follow.

We just had a 30-hour adventure driving from Connecticut to Tennessee and back to pick up our new puppy. Yes, here’s a picture of Rip (a Portuguese Water Dog).

It was quite the driving adventure, especially when it came to the “mask” issue. In Connecticut, at least in our neck of the woods, everyone—and I mean everyone—wears a mask. In fact, if you see someone wearing a mask but falling down below their nose, it’s a strange sight. It’s unthinkable to not wear a mask. Anyway, that was not the case in parts of Virginia, West Virginia, and Tennessee that we passed through. You can imagine that traveling with an eight-week old puppy requires a lot of pit stops. So, we had a lot of different mask observations.

It’s not just the younger people who think they are invincible not wearing masks, it’s older people as well. In fact, we stopped to get gas and walk Rip at a station with a small convenience store. I was taken aback by two older women working in the store with no masks in sight. They were nice enough checking me out but no sign of masks.

You may not care about yourself, but care about others in wearing a mask, wherever you live. If you’re a Christian—a follower of Jesus Christ—wear a mask because Jesus would be wearing one. For the simple reason of Jesus showing all that we need to look to others before we look to ourselves. Wearing a mask is not a sign of weakness. It’s a sign of compassion. A sign of loving. And remember that simple commandment Jesus left us with before He died for us. “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.” John 15:12

Wear a mask! Jesus would. So, if you’re a follower of Jesus—a Christian—wear a mask. It’s about others. Not you.

Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Philippians 2:4

Have an AMAZING weekend and an even better week ahead!!!

Christian in Three Simple Words

What’s the definition of a “Christian” in three simple words? Love, God, neighbor. What? Listen to what Jesus said:

“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:36-40

Simple. The keywords are Love, God, and neighbor. So, if Jesus the Christ said it, the definition of a Christian—a follower of Jesus the Christ—is that simple. Love, God, neighbor.

It you think this is too simple think again. As I write over and over again, God means life to be so very simple. There should be nothing complicated about it. But we complicate life. Life is like a new closet that starts out as empty but we start storing junk in. After a while the clean (simple) closet is filled with junk (complications).

Love, God, neighbor. Wow! I’m watching an election season that has nothing about love, God, or neighbor in it. Just the opposite! But that’s the state of the world right now. There’s simply not a lot of love, little God, and even less care about our neighbors. That can only mean there are not many true—I mean really true—Christians out there. Sad but true.

My priorities for this week are love, God, and neighbor. Yours?

Have a FANTASTIC week walking in love with God and your neighbors!!!

Church or State?

The gospel reading at Mass this weekend was the encounter Jesus had with the Pharisees who tried to trip Him up about whether it was lawful to pay taxes to Caesar/Rome (Matthew 22). I have to admit that when the deacon started giving the homily I shut down because I had no idea what he was saying. He was up in the clouds somewhere and I wanted to know how this applies to everyday, real life. There is so much talk about the separation of church and state, especially during the Amy Coney Barrett Supreme Court confirmation hearings, that it’s an old story with timely implications. So, here are my thoughts.

The Pharisees knew they had Jesus in a no-win situation. If Jesus said pay taxes, he loses His followers who were oppressed by Rome. If Jesus says no to taxes, Rome comes down on Him. So, Jesus gets them with the answer of give to Rome what is Rome’s and to God what is God’s. Gotcha!

More people today want to completely separate “church” from “state.” “Religion” is something that belongs in a church or in a quiet place in your home. The two should never meet. Period end of statement. In fact, some pundits and TV types have criticized Judge Barrett because of her strong Catholic faith. Some want a Supreme Court judge with no faith in God.

I think what Jesus was saying was pretty simple. We’re in this world so live in it. But God created this world so live for Him. “Religion” is not something for the weekends or a quiet spot. Living your faith, whatever faith that is, is about how to live life. The “state” should never dictate what “religion” you practice, which includes how you live your life. If you really, really live what you believe, “church” and “state” are really inseparable. There are matters of “state” and matters of “God.” Jesus said be mindful of both but he didn’t say to separate them.

I don’t live two separate lives. I live one life. I live in the world with all the things of the world around me. But I try my best to live in the world as God wants me to live in the world.

Have an OUTSTANDING week!!!