Lost (Hopelessly?) in the Desert

I have written about this before but we (the world) are lost in the desert. We’re moving away from God and, as we do, the acrimony and downright hatred in the world increases. And we have no direction, no goals, and we’re just wandering. If you want a picture of this, and how it plays out, read the Old Testament. Seriously!

I hate to be gloomy because I’m an upbeat person, always trying to see the good. But it’s tough when you see the spitefulness and incessant arguing by the politicians, who we pay (with our increasing taxes!) to fix things—not break them. Riots, wars, and threats of nuclear bombs seem like a day-to-day constant. But most troubling is the fact that we are moving away from God.

It’s startling to think that 26% of the United States population now describes themselves as religiously unaffiliated; meaning, their religious identity is atheist, agnostic or “nothing in particular” and now stands at 26%. That’s up from 17% in 2009. So, translation, a quarter of the population basically doesn’t believe in God, or at the very least, doesn’t involve Him in their lives. If anything, He is just “he” (lower case intentional). Although an increasing number of people believes that He doesn’t exist.

The Israelites aimlessly wandered the desert for 40 years, taking that time to go about 11-12 miles. They turned their backs on God and bad things happened. All this is playing out now. We are the Israelites and we are wandering, turning our backs on God. And bad things are happening. None of this should be a surprise.

I’m not wandering. The world around me may but I’m keeping my eyes fixed on God—Father who sets my purpose, Jesus who has laid out the footsteps for me, and the Spirit who empowers me. Sorry if this sounds like religious mumbo-jumbo but it’s the only way for me to not get down and look straight ahead.

… this one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead. Philippians 3:13

Don’t wander. Look straight ahead with a plan. And keep your eyes fixed on God.

Have an AMAZING week ahead!

Purpose, Footsteps & Empowerment

This is real simple. God the Father sets the purpose, that special, unique purpose that we all have in life. And, yes, that includes you! Jesus the Son who walked among us provides the way—Christianity has been described early on as “the Way”—the footsteps we need to follow. And the Holy Spirit provides us with the empowerment to walk the walk—follow the footsteps in pursuing the purpose. Simple.

I could write on and on about this but, again, it’s pretty simple so I’ll keep is brief. One of life’s great secrets is understanding that purpose—special and unique; totally individualized for each one of us—and pursuing it. Jesus laid down the footsteps in His 3-year walk about how we should live our lives. And Spirit is all the empowerment we need to walk that walk in pursuing our purpose in life. And nothing is more fulfilling in life than knowing we have a purpose and pursuing it.

I know, I know. Sounds all too simple and packaged with a bow around it. But as I say and write all the time, God means life to be simple. We are the ones who complicate it. And boy do we complicate life!!! 

Don’t know where to start. Again, simple. Open up to God—Father, Son, and Spirit. Reach out. Talk and LISTEN. Spend some quality time with God. It truly is that simple. You can’t get results if you don’t invest the time. Seriously. It is that simple.

I hope you have a FANTASTIC week ahead on your walk!

Our Demons

Last night my brother had a memorial “Celebration of Life” service for his only child. Jacqueline was 32 years old and died from an opioid overdose. She was a good girl, close to finishing her studies to be a physician’s assistant. But she fought a demon, as we all do to varying degrees. As I said last night to all attending, now she is in a place where there are no demons. What seems like a loss—to her and everyone—is a big win.

As I spoke to a room full of people last night, my niece like all of us battled a demon. In her case it was a very powerful opioid drug. Like to admit it or not, we all battle demons. Realizing that and knowing our demon(s) is half the battle. The rest of the battle is turning to God for help. That’s what my niece did not do.

Like my niece, her generation of “millennials” have less interest in religion. Research just out from the Pew Research Center shows the the religious “nones” (atheist, agnostic or “nothing in particular”) now makes up 26%—yes, 26%!!!—of the U.S. population. But I digress. My point is that my niece did not turn to God for help in her fight with her demon opioid. But God turned to her and now has Jacqueline under His watch, where there are no demons.

My message in all this? There are several. One, know your demon(s) because that’s half the battle. Two, God is always less than a heartbeat away ready to help. You just have to ask. Three, God is always there. You may lose the battle here but you win in the end because He is always there. God is the beginning and the end. That alone gives me such comfort. And it should you.

And, finally, if you know anyone dealing with a drug demon of any kind, help them get help!

God is always there! Remember that as you have an AMAZING day!!!

Screw Up

I screw up all the time. I identify with St. Paul who wrote, “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) I know exactly what I should do because I know what God expects me to do. But I screw up. Why? I just don’t know.

The good thing about screwing up—if there is any good in screwing up—is that God forgives me. As long as I know I screw up, ask forgiveness, and really try to not screw up, God is there with open arms. God loves and loves unconditionally.

There was a reason God sent His only Son Jesus to deal with our sins. They were nailed to the Cross with Jesus. Our job is to pull those nails out and atone for those sins.

If you know what God expects, especially in how you should live your life, it’s even worse when you screw up. I’m dealing with that right now. But for every step back in life you may take, you have to commit to taking at least two steps ahead. That’s how you move forward in life. I can’t undo my screw ups but I can move ahead and do better.

Have an OUTSTANDING week ahead!!!

Faith, Hope & Love?

What’s the greatest? Most people would say “faith.” Everything flows from faith. Of course. But if you know 1 Corinthians 13:13 you know the answer. The greatest of faith, hope, and love is LOVE.

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13:13

How can love be greater than faith? Simply because if you don’t have love you can’t have faith. God is love. Faith is belief in God. So, it all starts with love. If you don’t have love you’re a “resounding gong or a clanging cymbal” (1 Corinthians 13:1). Translation: if you don’t love, everything else, including your faith, is blah, blah, blah. Nothing.

Love is like electric current. It flows. In fact, if it doesn’t flow it is nothing. God flows His love out to us and He expects it to keep flowing from us. You have to flow God’s love out of you to others.

1 Corinthians is read at so many Christian weddings that most people think it’s about the love between a couple. But it’s not. It’s about what love is supposed to be so we understand how we need to love. God loves us unconditionally. We need to at least try to love others unconditionally. That means letting love flow to others with no expectations that love will be returned.

You will never feel God’s love for you unless you let that love flow to others. It’s the nature of love. It flows. It’s that simple. But, then again, life is simple. Or supposed to be simple.

Let some love flow this week. And have a FANTASTIC week ahead!!!

Prayer and the Magic Lamp

Some people think that prayer is a type of magic lamp, with God as a genie. Praying and asking God for something is like rubbing a magic lamp. Unfortunately, that’s not the real world. Prayer is not a magic lamp that you can rub to make your wish come true. Prayer is simply conversation with God. Note the word “conversation.” You talk; God listens. God talks; you listen.

Sure, you can ask God for anything. And God will respond but not always in the way you want. God responds for what is best for you. Not what you always think is best for you.

Let me restate what I just wrote: prayer is conversation. And any real conversation is two-way. It involves both talking and listening. God hears you and you can hear God if you try and take the time.

I know, I know. This sounds all too simple. Just having a conversation with God. But that’s how God means life to be: simple! We are the ones who complicate life so much. God is the One who tries to help us uncomplicate life. That’s what prayer is all about. Not memorized “prayers” but simple conversation with God. Try it.

Have an AMAZING day!!!

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!!!

All God’s Children

I travel a lot—I mean a LOT!!! And especially as schools let out and the airports are a mass of humanity traveling on vacation, patience wears thin. That’s when I have to look at the guy emptying Fort Knox out of his pockets at TSA or the woman walking down the plane aisle knocking into everyone with the bag on her shoulder and remind myself that they are children of God. No matter who I look at in the airport, it’s just another child of God. As am I. As are you.

The thing about God as a parent is He knows no favorites. Not even a little. God looks at each one of us as created in His own image and likeness but totally 100% unique and special. God loves us unconditionally and totally. That’s because God is love. He knows no holding back or partiality.

The next time you are in an airport, driving in bumper-to-bumper traffic, or in a crowded store waiting on line, remember that everyone you see, especially those annoying you, are all children of God. Like you, they are a product of God who’s love knows no bounds. Don’t worry about judging them, worry about yourself. God will take care of the judging.

All children of God. No matter who you see, what they are wearing, what they are driving, who they are, etc. they are—we are—all children of God. Treat your brothers and sisters the way you want God to treat you. No matter how annoying they may be to you.

Have an AWESOME day!!!

Humility

If there is one word after “love” that makes the world go around it’s “humility.” Unfortunately, there is not enough love in the world and way, way too little humility. Love is what God commands us to do. In fact, it’s His only command. Humility is an outgrowth of love and the understanding that anything you have in this world is from God. Sure, I have worked hard for everything I have in this life. But everything I have, including my ability to work hard, is from God. Pure and simple!

I think Paul said it best:

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.
Colossians 3:12

If you watch the news—and all the news is the same, just variations on left and right—the pundits (in general) are a study in a lack of humility. And with that lack of humility comes a complete lack of compassion, kindness, gentleness, and patience. And the politicians generally follow the same theme. This is what we are exposed to day in and day out.

The devil loves this! Toss out the love and humility from this world and you get hell on earth—literally. And that’s where we are heading unless we wake up!

So, what to do? LISTEN to God’s call for you—yes, you! You have a special, unique purpose in life because you are special and totally unique in the eyes of God. He is calling you to fill that purpose as you walk in love and humility. Like God intends life to be, this is easy! Really easy!!! You just have to do it.

PS—I’m writing this (and posted Paul’s quote on my personal facebook page today) because humility has been an issue for me the past several days. It’s my own personal message to tone it down and remember who has given me everything I have—whatever that is.

Love. Humility. Note to self!

Have an OUTSTANDING day!!!

Be the Glue!

Let’s face it—our world is divided. Everywhere. Divided. The U.S. is a virtual armed camp of right/left, conservative/liberal, this/that. Even the Catholic Church is a dived camp with a growing chorus to declare Pope Francis an anti-Pope. We’re talking Catholic Church (I am Catholic, BTW) that tracks its roots directly to Jesus. Divided. Angry. Certainly, not Jesus.

So, each of us can be a wedge, further dividing life. Or we can be the glue, trying to bring people together. It’s not always easy but I want to be the glue in bringing people together. Doing my little bit to help heal and stop divisions.

Jesus talked division, even about families divided against themselves. But the objective was coming together in a spirit—the Spirit—of love. After all, as he faced His death, Jesus left us with one command: “Love each other.” John 15:17

I have a news flash: We’re not following that command. Even a little bit. We’re following the devil’s command to hate each other. The venom coming out of mouths of politicians and priests (supposed holy men!) is appalling. They are the wedges, not the glue.

Be the glue! Love. As Jesus commands.

And have an OUTSTANDING day!!!