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!

Nails In; Nails Out

Someone drove those nails into Jesus pinning Him to the cross. And I have news for you—it wasn’t some Roman foot soldier. What??? Sure, physically it was a soldier but in reality we all had our hands on the hammer. Jesus died to erase our sins. And it is those sins that pushed those nails into the bloody cross. It’s time to take the nails out!

I know this sounds like some religious mumbo-jumbo. It isn’t. Jesus died for our sins and our sins put Him on the cross. So, reversing those sins by realizing what we have done (or are doing!) wrong in life, and sinning no more, removes the nails and brings Jesus down from the cross. It’s that very simple.

The next time you do something wrong (sin) picture your hand on the hammer striking that nail through Jesus and pinning Him to the cross. Screams, blood, and agony! That’s the visual. Then, think about how you are going to remove the nails. Not easy, but needs to be done. Only when the nails come out can Jesus come down from the cross and rise in glory—in our lives. For real!!!

Pull the nails out today. And have a FANTASTIC day doing it!!!

The World Will Keep Spinning (Out of Control!)

I’m an upbeat, positive person. How can you believe in God the Father, our Savior Jesus, and our Advocate the Holy Spirit and not be upbeat and positive? But this world of ours is spinning out of control. Why? Because there is waning belief in God, Jesus, and Spirit. Just like the Israelites wandering aimlessly in the desert for all those years, leaving God in the dust as they worshiped idols, we are doing the same. And the outcome won’t be pretty. Sorry!

We had a faith-based shooting this week (and not on American soil). We have rich parents cheating/paying their children’s way into college. We have politicians (on American soil and even including our President) spewing discord and close to hatred. I could go on and on. The world is spinning out of control.

The more we turn our backs on God, the worse it will get. Again, read the story of the Israelites to see how this movie ends. We roam endlessly in the desert of life.

The only thing I know to do is up my faith in God. Listen to His commend (echoed by Jesus) to love one another. I start with all the simple stuff. I smiled a lot this week (at “strangers”). I helped people put up their luggage in the plane bins on my three flights this week. I gave to the homeless. I prayed for all, especially those people who it’s really tough to like, let alone “love.” I tried to do a lot of other things but will stop here. I’m no saint but I tried this week and will try next week.

Change happens one person at a time. I’m doing my best to change this world—from my world. I’m trying. And above all, I’m trying to keep God front and center in my life!

Have a FANTASTIC day and even better weekend!!!

Magic Lamp or Prayer?

I hate to break it to you but there are no magic lamps, the kind where the genie grants you three wishes. What we have is prayer. But it’s not a magic lamp. You don’t pray for three wishes from God. You pray to converse with God. You talk, God listens. God talks, you listen. Prayer is conversation.

We often pray to God for something to be granted by God. Give us something, make something happen. There’s nothing wrong with asking God for something. The funny thing is you ask and God will answer. It may not be exactly what you asked for but it will be exactly what you need. After all, God knows.

I don’t know what I would do without prayer. Not that I’m some holy roller but I just like stopping every so often and talking (praying) to God. And listening. I don’t hear some booming voice from the heavens. I just feel God’s answer when I really commit to prayer.

Jesus not only taught us the Lord’s prayer, he taught us how to pray and how to escape the noise of this world to pray.

Prayer. It’s a gift from God. Better than any magic lamp. Try it. You’ll like it. You just have to commit to prayer, and open up your heart and mind. That will open up your “ears” to God.

Have a FANTASTIC rest of the day!!!

Gloria (Polyester, Not Cotton; Part 2)

In a previous post, I related the lesson I learned about surviving on the streets of Washington, D.C. at night sleeping on the Metro grates: You’ll freeze to death if you wear cotton (it absorbs the hot, moist air rising from the Metro and then freezes). You have to wear polyester. A whack to the side of the head as I am all bundled up in wool, sipping my hot chocolate, and well rested from sleeping in a comfortable bed. Lesson enough until I met Gloria.

Gloria is an older woman, obviously homeless, who I have seen on occasion on the streets of D.C., ofter in the same locations. She doesn’t overtly ask for anything but, yes, I have stopped and given her some money. After one or two times of this, she asked me my name. I told her it was Ted. She gave me a big hug and said, “Ted, Jesus loves you!” I asked her name and she said Gloria. Another whack to the side of the head! Gloria is my mom’s name. She passed away 6 years ago.

All day I was putting my mom in the place of Gloria trying to simply survive on the streets of D.C., day in and day out. It’s inconceivable. Yet, here is this always cheery homeless woman giving praise to Jesus. Now the other Gloria in my life.

It’s tough to say anything else. I’m humbled and feeling like I have way too much. I need to do more to help others. Day in and day out. We all need to do more.

Polyester, not cotton. Gloria.

Enjoy the weekend!!!

Is God a Democrat or a Republican?

Obviously, neither. God is God and we are His children, who—in spite of what we do—loves us unconditionally. We are the ones who love to label ourselves—Democrat, Republican, progressive, liberal, conservative, etc, etc, etc. And all the labels do is divide us. God commands us to do one thing and one thing only—LOVE! And we manage to do one thing and one thing only—divide (and then even hate).

Yes, we can all have different views. The diversity of humanity is its calling card. It’s a strength that is also a weakness when we forget our common bond—God. We spend so much time disagreeing that we get lost in the disagreement. We lose focus of our responsibility to pick one another up and make us all better.

I spend way too much time for work in Washington, DC and, in particular, on Capitol Hill. Right is getting father than ever from left, and vice versa. More energy is spent on promoting political parties that we are not promoting people.

You and I can change this, one person at a time. We can smile, lend a hand, buy a coffee, and, yes, love. Not just family but one another. We can look at what we have common, not what makes us different. We can have different views and politics but we can disagree respectfully. And we can always focus on what binds us. God. Made in His image and likeness.

Have a SPECTACULAR day! Today, try and look at others through a different lens. The lens of God and love!

Every Day is Christmas

It’s over. The decorations will come down. The bells will stop ringing. Blink and stores will start selling Easter candy. Christmas is over. Or is it?

Wade through all the commercialism of Christmas and there is only one thing Christmas is about: celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ. If you focus on the true meaning of Christmas, then that’s all it’s about. That tiny child coming into the world, living as a tradesman in obscurity, until around 30 years old started a 3-year or so mission that changed the world forever. And will change us is we bring Jesus into our minds, hearts, and souls!

Every day should be Christmas! We should wake up celebrating Jesus coming into the world, coming into our lives every day. And it’s a celebration like none other!

It’s the 26th of December, the day after the “official” celebration of Christmas. But celebrate Christmas today, tomorrow, and every next day forever. Every day should be Christmas! That’s the real beauty of celebrating Christmas.

Merry Christmas!!! I pray for peace and joy in your life this day and every day to come!