A Virus Far Worse Than Any Novel Coronavirus

Hate. It’s a “virus” that is spreading all around the globe. I certainly see it spreading in this country (the United States; which are far from united!). And hate is spreading faster than any novel coronavirus. It’s being spread by a lot of so-called “christians” (the lower case “c” isn’t a typo). “So-called” because you’re certainly not a true Christian (meaning, follower of Jesus Christ) if you hate; in fact, you’re not a true Christian if you don’t actively love. ACTIVELY!!!

This is all too simple and clear. In facing His death—a gruesome death suffered for all of us in the supreme act of love—Jesus gave us one little, simple, clear command: love.

My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. John 15:12

What part of that command don’t we understand? Yet, with about a third of the world made up of Christians, hate is spreading faster than any coronavirus. In this country, the name calling, destruction, and violence is unspeakable. Why? Because we have lost the ability to love and have found the ability to hate. We like hating.

Worried about the coronavirus and getting COVID-19? Sure. But I’m even more worried about giving in to hate. That’s why I’m determined to do just the opposite. To find love. To love. To find the face of Jesus in every face I look at, regardless of who the person is. To love.

I hope you help to fight hate by finding time to smile today, give something to someone in need, to help, to heal, to love.

 

Today (Not Tomorrow or Yesterday)

I have lived a good part of my life living in tomorrow and yesterday. Thinking about what will be and what could have been. I’m not sure I have spent a lot of time living in today. That’s what I’m working on today. Living in today. Relishing today. Not living in tomorrow or yesterday.

The problem with living for tomorrow or in yesterday is that you don’t enjoy today. God wants each one of us to enjoy today. And the best way to deal with what we should have done yesterday and want to do tomorrow is by living in today.

Like everyone else, I want the todays of COVID-19 to go away. I long for the world to get back to normal—whatever that is. But the funny thing is that with all the bad news swirling around me I am trying to stay in today. To cherish what today brings, to stay in communion with God, and to make the best of today, whatever today brings.

Sure, I look back at yesterday to enjoy memories and think of what I would have done differently. But I don’t want to live in yesterday. And I look for tomorrow to leave COVID-19 behind, to travel again, and just be normal. But I’m not living in tomorrow. I’m living in today—COVID-19 and everything.

It’s a funny thing when you start living in today. Colors seem brighter, the air is clearer, and there’s more bounce in my step. And in every today, I spend time listening for/to God for the messages of today. I certainly try to make time for God. Today.

I hope you enjoy today to the fullest. There’s a lot wrong with the world we live in but there’s everything right with God. Live for today and what God has in store for you today!

Enjoy!!!

Not Alone in the Fire

There are a lot of fires burning in this world today. Pandemic, regional wars, social unrest, etc, etc. The list goes on. And in our own personal lives fires may be raging as well. Furloughed, COVID-19, uncertain school year, no daycare, etc, etc. What you need to know is that no matter how many fires are blazing around you, and no matter how intense the heat, you’re not alone. Just ask Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. What???

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were thrown in an intense fire by Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, when they refused to bow down to the king’s image (chapter 3 of the book of Daniel). The fire was so intense—heated seven times normal—that all around were burned. Except Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. There were unhurt by the fire, walking with a fourth person, someone “like a son of God” in the midst of the fire.

I know this is a Bible story that you may think is a little out there. Well, whether you believe it or not the bottom line is that you are never alone in any fire in your life. There is always an angel, and there is always the Son of God, Jesus.

I know this sounds fanciful and more religious mumbo-jumbo. But it’s life. If you want to be alone in the fire, fine. Be alone and burn. But if you reach out (pray) for protection you will be saved from the fire. One way or another. It’s simply a matter of faith. Of believing.  Of opening up your mind and heart to God.

Simple, yes. Then again, God means life to be so, so very simple. We are the ones who complicate it. And light the fires.

Think Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. You are never alone if you don’t want to be alone. Just reach out for help.

Have an AMAZING day!!! 

Real or Fake Christian?

It’s pretty easy to spot a real Christian. He or she simply follows what Jesus Christ taught us. Love (John 15:12), give the shirt off your back (Luke 7:29), and don’t judge (Luke 7:37) are several of the notable commands Jesus gave us. You can’t follow Jesus—translation, be a Christian—if you don’t do what He says. It’s that simple.

Listen, I call myself a Christian but make no mistake I screw up all the time. And I mean all the time. I do anything but love on occasion, I judge, and I turn my back on others. I’m far, far from perfect. But being Christian is not about being perfect. It’s about doing your best to do what Jesus asks of us. We fall off the horse at times. We simple need to get back up.

Jesus lived and died to rid us of our sins—our un-Christian behaviors. He doesn’t expect perfection but a realization of when we screw up. A “real” Christian not only knows what to do—what Jesus expects—but knows when he or she doesn’t do it. And tries harder the next time. Again and again.

I don’t want to judge but it seems there are a lot of “fake” christians out there. Then again, I don’t want to judge. I just want to focus on me and what is expected of me. In that way, rather than judging I can let my christianity flow to others. And let their christianity flow to me.

Being Christian is simply following Jesus (the Christ).

I hope you have an AMAZING day and rest of this beautiful week!!! 

Why Can’t We All Get Along?

We simply can’t. We spend more time tearing each down and apart than helping build each other up. We need to take a page out of Paul’s letter to the new Christian community in the Macedonian city of Thessalonica, “Therefore encourage one another and build up each other, as indeed you are doing.” (1 Thessalonians 5:11) We need to stop listening to the media—both left and right—and the pundits who make their million dollar livings tearing down, rather than building up. We need to listen to God!!!

God gave us one basic command that involves us loving Him through loving our neighbors. He put a punctuation on that command by sending His One Son to live and die that love. Jesus reiterated that command of love when He said, “This is my command, that you love one another as I have loved you.” (John 15:12)

Anyone who professes to be a Christian does so because they follow Jesus Christ. Anyone who says they are a Christian because the follow Jesus Christ, simply can’t be a Christian if they don’t love. You can’t ignore Jesus’ one command to love. It’s that simple.

I don’t mean this to be a negative message. To the contrary. This is about being positive, not negative. About loving, not hating. About smiling, not scowling. About encouraging, not discouraging. About building up, not tearing down.

It’s time to change the world. That starts with one person at a time. Let’s not let the novel coronavirus be the only thing spreading across the globe. Let’s starting spreading love and encouragement!

Have an AMAZING day and week ahead! 

Purpose, Footsteps & Empowerment

I like catchwords. These are my three catchwords I try to start every day with: purpose, footsteps, and empowerment. Wherever I am, I start my day off at the gym or doing something athletic, except if I’m traveling really early (which happens a lot). Regardless, I start my day by saying “hi” to God and remembering the following: the Father created me for a purpose; I try to walk in the footsteps of Jesus; and I ask the Spirit for empowerment. Pretty simple.

I believe that each one of us was created with a special, unique purpose in life. Living by aimlessly wandering through life without any purpose is just too depressing to me. I have a purpose and always try to stay true to it. I do that by trying to walk in the footsteps that Jesus laid down for us. And that starts with His one commandment of loving each other (John 15:12). And to do all that I ask for the empowerment of the Spirit.

Purpose, footsteps, and empowerment. Simple. And it’s not religious mumbo-jumbo. It’s my way of taking each day one day at a time but with direction. I think the biggest problem we have today is simply lack of direction. As a human race we are aimlessly wandering. Just like the Israelites in the desert.

If you don’t know your purpose in life, simply ask God. He’ll tell you if you just listen. That’s why I list LISTEN as the 1st Secret to Life. You won’t hear God if you don’t LISTEN for/to Him. Once you know your purpose in life walking is easy by just following the footsteps that Jesus laid down for us. That’s why READ is another Secret to Life. It’s all laid out in the Bible. And asking the Spirit for empowerment is also easy once you know your purpose and start the walk following those footsteps.

Spend some time—real time—with God this week. You won’t be disappointed.

Have a FANTASTIC weekend!!!

Yes, There Are 7 Secrets to Life!!!

I started writing this blog almost eight years ago to share what I have found—seven Real Secrets to Life. Not some catchy, gotcha, “I have the secret to life” hype. Just what I have found that has worked in my life. They have helped me get through the chaos and clutter of life, as well as helping me simplify life. Life that we always manage to complicate, regardless of how simple God intends it to be. I don’t spend any time “promoting” this blog. I don’t make any money off this blog, which is not a bad thing, but I just keep it simple. My thoughts are as much for me as for those who read them. So, I thought it was a good time to briefly review what are the seven Real Secrets to Life that I have found.

LISTENREADLOVEFIGHTBELIEVELIVE & PRAY. There you have them. My Secrets to Life. For me they are a steading influence, helping me put life into perspective and serving as a map going forward.

LISTEN because God is calling to you—yes, you! READ the Bible because it has life answers (It’s God’s handbook on life, in case you don’t know it.). LOVE because God is love and commands us to live in love. FIGHT because the devil is all too real and whispering doubt and other temptations in your ear. BELIEVE that you can do anything—because you can! LIVE knowing this life is just the opening act to eternity. And PRAY simply because it works. God is listening (as well as calling to you, which loops you back around to the first Secret to Life).

The utter simplicity of these Secrets to Life says everything. They boil life down to its simplicity—the way God means life to be. They help me focus my life—what I did yesterday that needs correcting and the course changes I need to make today. They help me focus on what’s important and what is not. They help order the life chaos.

I hope these help you as they help me. But whatever you do, find your Real Secrets to LifeAnd have a GREAT day, and an AMAZING year, in the process!

 

Mulligans

I like to think of the New Year as giving me a second (and third, fourth, fifth, etc, etc.) chance at renewal. There’s something psychological about the fresh start the New Year brings. Dieting, exercising, being a better person, doing something different with your life, whatever. The New Year gives us another chance at changing. But then it hits me that God gives us a second chance every day. In fact, every second of every day. And God doesn’t count how many mulligans (sorry; that’s golf for “do-over”) He gives us in life. They are infinite.

I love the fact that Christmas is a week before New Year’s Day. It reminds me that God gave His only Son for us to give us all those mulligans in life. Jesus wiped out all our sins—past, present, and future. They are all forgiven if we just acknowledge them and ask for that forgiveness Jesus was born into our lives on Christmas morning. So, the new year may be psychological but it’s not important because, in a way, every day is New Year with Jesus in our lives.

We all screw up. Some  more than others (I’m in that camp!). I love what St. Paul says, “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.” (Romans 7:15). Bingo!!! That’s me. I know what I should do but I don’t do it. That’s why I need a lot of mulligans. It’s pretty amazing that the guy (Paul) who almost singlehandedly spread Christianity to the world knew that he screwed up. Guess I’m in good company.

Thank you Jesus for those mulligans!

Wishing you the very best of the New Year ahead. Blessings, joy, health, and prosperity!!!

The Season of Expectations

If there’s one holiday that’s about expectations it’s Christmas. Whether child or adult, there’s that expectation of Christmas morning and the opening of presents. Whether you focus on getting or giving, there are expectations all the same. I get it and have the same expectations. But this season I’m trying to focus my expectations on Jesus truly being born again in all our lives. I’m not taking the fun out of Christmas. Just trying to focus on what Christ(mas) is all about. Christ, birth, and beginning.

It’s harder than ever to not get swept up with the commercial side of Christmas. Putting up the tree and all the directions, shopping online or at the store for presents, and baking those Christmas cookies. We even ventured into New York City for dinner with friends and we’ll be back for a family dinner next week, when my niece turns 21 the day before Christmas Eve, when my brother turns 50. Great time of year!

But in all the season rush, I’m trying to stay focused on the main even. The birth of Jesus Christ. Because that’s what this is really all about. Not a birth that took place 2,000+ years ago but a birth that should take place in each one of us on Christmas. Our expectations should be met by that birth and the joy, peace, and gratitude that comes with it.

Try to keep your expectations focused on the really important thing this year. Spend some time thinking about it and taking it all in. Seemingly “insignificant” people from an “insignificant” part of the world giving birth to a child in a barn in a manger where the animals feed. It’s a seemingly “insignificant” event that was the most important event in the history of the world then and ever to come. Try to make it the most important, significant event in your life!

I’ll try to write again by Christmas but if I don’t, let me wish you all the peace and joy of Christmas. Enjoy!!!  

Giving Thanks (for Real!)

OK. Thanksgiving, a time with an emphasis on eating (way too much), is over, we’ve survived Black Friday and Cyber Monday, and the Christmas season is in full force. In fact, it seems it was in full force three weeks or so before Thanksgiving with all the decorations already out! We give a lot of lip service to giving thanks at this time of year and preparing the way for the Lord but the commercialism of the season often drowns out the real giving of thanks. Don’t let that happen!

If there is ever a time of year we should give thanks, reflect on everything we have in this country, and truly prepare for the birth (rebirth) of Jesus in our lives it’s this time of year. This should be a season of giving, smiling, and helping anyone in any way possible. Simply put, it’s a season to be nice.

I’m first in line for taking for granted everything I have, from the little things to the big. But I’m going to do my best this season to be thankful, to be happy, and to be helpful. There is so much (and so many) that divides us. To make us unhappy, and downright angry. I’m going to do my best to be the opposite. In my own little way to be a uniter, rather than a divider. I can’t change the world but I can sure try in my own little way. Change happens one person at a time.

Wishing you the very best of this thankful season that really should prepare for the way of the Lord in our lives!