Stuck in the Desert?

The Israelites were beyond stuck in the desert. Their 11-mile journey to the Promised Land took 40 years. Yes, 40 years. Maybe God was exaggerating a bit here in the Bible but His point is well taken—the Israelites aimlessly wandered the desert for a long time. They had no direction. Worse, they had no purpose. They were a people lost.

That’s how I feel about al of us today, and at times myself included. We have lost a focus on God. He’s not an important part of our lives. We complain. We are lost. We have little to no purpose. Where are we even headed? Wars, mass shootings, pandemics, and the list goes on.

I’m not trying to be Debbie Downer here. I’m just saying that like the Israelites we are lost, wandering the deserts in our lives. God gave us the Bible and the accounting of the Israelites lost in the desert for 40 years for a reason. For now.

God gave each one of us a unique, special purpose in life. Do you know yours? I think I have a fix on mine but it gets cloudy at times. Like today. But that’s when I get in touch with God and get my bearings. If each one of us finds our way then all of us start moving to the Promised Land.

Too much “religious” mumbo-jumbo? Here’s what I’m saying. Find your direction in life. How? Ask God. It’s that simple. Ask and listen. You won’t hear if you don’t take the time to listen. That’s why I say that LISTEN is the first Secret to Life. God will tell you if you just ask and LISTEN. If more of us find our way we can start leading others. But it all starts with God. If I have learned one thing in life it’s that I can’t do it without God. He’s sets the course. I walk but God leads.

So, take some time to ask and LISTEN. Really LISTEN. Then you can move on to the other Secrets to Life.

Sound too easy? That’s because it is!

Get out of the desert today! The Promised Land in your life awaits.

Don’t Trip Over Your Pride

If there is one big stumbling block in my life it’s my pride. I try to keep it in the far back seat but the ego and everything that comes with pride often tries to come front and center. And then I stumble right over that pride.

There are two ways to look at life. One, is to put everything on yourself. You have gotten you where you are in life. You have the life you have because of you. Completely ego-centric. The other way is to understand that everything you have is from the grace of God. As Paul came to understand, “by the grace of God I am what I am.” (1 Corinthians 15:10)

I work really hard. I know that the hard work has paid off and gotten me to where I am today. But that hard work is all possible by the grace of God. I know that I am what I am because of His grace shining down on me. It’s me working but it’s God pointing the direction.

Yet, although I have Paul’s words etched into my memory, I trip up all the time. I get more concerned about outward appearance than inward heart. I get more concerned about what others think than what God knows. Ego trumps humility. I want to be served rather than serve.

Yet, I try to come back to and stay grounded in Paul’s words. God’s grace. That is what has gotten me here. And when I forget that it never fails that I stumble. Or on occasion take a hard fall.

Open up your eyes to what you do and what God gives. You may well be doing the work but it’s God who points the way, keeps us on course, and makes sure we are nourished.

Have a FANTASTIC week ahead and stay the course. The humble course where pride finds no foothold!

Where is the World Headed?

I don’t know. But as I have written time and time again, I feel like we are the wandering tribe of Israelites in the desert looking for the Promised Land. We bicker and complain, with no vision or direction of where we are going. With the world on the verge of WWIII, we seem lost. We are lost.

To me, for me, God is light. When I walk away from Him, or even turn my back on Him, my world is a dark place. When I get back on course, I see the light.

I think God is my Promised Land. When he’s in my life, everything is light and clear. When not, dark and uncertain. This is all easier said than done because it’s easy to lose God, even though He is always less than a heart beat away. It’s easy to question God, even question His existence, when people are being brutalized, as they are in Ukraine. That’s why we are all struggling because we put God aside, or even push Him aside. You see death and destruction and it’s tough to think there is a God. How could He let this happen?

The evil forces in this world—call them devils, demons, whatever—want each of us to turn our backs on God. To question Him, to question if He is even real. That’s how they win when we get lost in the darkness in life. Just like the Israelites wandering years and years ago.

I’m doing my best to keep my eyes fixed on God. His way is the light, away from the darkness. I’m going to do my best to help shed some of that light on a world that is increasingly dark. A smile, a helping hand, a good act, a donation, whatever. It starts small but it grows.

Change happens one person at a time. Change with me. Listen for and to God. It’s one of the fundamental Secrets to Life. He will lead the way. Just let Him!

Have an EXCEPTIONAL day!!!

Anti-Semitism is Anti-Christian

I have news for you. Jesus is a Jew. He has always been a Jew and always will be Jewish. Jesus is as “Jewish” as anyone you know; even more so. He was born a Jew and lived a Jewish life. If you call yourself a “Christian” you are simply a follower of Jesus the Christ. You are following someone who is and always will be Jewish. So, anyone who is anti-Semitic simply can’t be a follower of Jesus and, therefore, a Christian. In fact, if you’re anti-Semitic you are anti-Christian. You’re anti-Jesus.

As Jesus said, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.” (Matthew 5:17) Jesus came not to overthrow his Jewish heritage and beliefs but to “fulfill” them.

As a Christian, I believe in Jesus and what He teaches, which is based on His Jewish beliefs. I believe He is the Messiah, who has come and will come again at the end of time. My beliefs are not fundamentally different than my Jewish friends. They just believe that the Messiah has not yet come. I believe He has come and will come again.

I can never be culturally Jewish because I was not born culturally Jewish, as was Jesus. But I try to live and breathe what has become known as the Judeo-Christian faith.

I heard a story on the news this morning about the rise of anti-Semitism in this country. I don’t know who those anti-Semites are but I know they are not followers of Jesus Christ. They are not Christians. You can’t be an anti-Semite and follow Jesus the Jew who is the Christ. It’s that simple.

Enjoy your week ahead following Jesus!

Be the Vehicle!

For light. For love. For joy.

“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.

Have a SPECTACULAR week and let it flow!

Ask, Search & Knock

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.

Ask, Search & Knock. Try it!

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!!!