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!

Polyester, Not Cotton!

Boy, life has a way of smacking you in the face. I was walloped the other day as I set out on my way to work. I have an office in Washington D.C. and when I’m there, if the weather cooperates, I walk the 1.2 miles to work. I set out the other morning on a cold but beautiful day, invigorated and bundled in my long wool coat, scarf my wife gave me for Christmas, and my favorite Ugg gloves. Then, I learned that you have to wear polyester because if you wear cotton you’ll freeze to death sleeping on the Metro grate. Whack to the side of the head! 

As I came out of the coffee shop with my hot chocolate and croissant, there was a man sitting on a stoop with a cup asking for money. I stopped, dug into my pocket, and pulled out some bills. As I handed the money to him, he pointed to another man asleep on top of the grate to the Metro (the D.C. subway system), where warm air rises, and told me the guy was lucky he didn’t freeze to death last night. He schooled me on the fact that if you’re wearing cotton close to your body it will absorb the warm but damp air and will freeze. You can literally die, especially when the temperature falls to single digits, as it did that night. You have to wear polyester.

I walked away all bundled up headed to my warm office with my hot chocolate and croissant with my head spinning after that wack to the side of my head. Yes, I had given the man money.  I stopped and talked to him. I said, “God loves you!” But why didn’t I give him my hot chocolate and croissant? Why didn’t I give him my gloves and scarf—even my coat? After all, Jesus said, “Give to everyone who begs from you…” (Luke 6:30). That includes the shirt off your back!!!

I don’t want for anything. But others do. It was sobering to learn my polyester lesson. That was further brought home by Gloria. But I’ll save that for the next post.

Don’t turn your back on anyone in need. There are so many who need so much. I realize I have to do more. A lot more!!! Polyester, not cotton!

Enjoy the day and have a WONDERFUL week ahead!

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!

Judge or Judged?

Are you a judge? I have news for you—there is only one judge and He is God. And we are all equally judged by the One Judge. In this day of social media, almost everyone is a judge. It’s easy to send out tweets left and right, or blog to your heart’s desire, judging this person or that. Heck, the news today is all about judging. It’s easy to judge. But what’s REALLY hard is looking at ourselves and thinking about how God must be judging us. Ouch!

The good thing is that God doesn’t judge as we judge. He doesn’t sit all high and mighty like we do looking down on others. God loves us equally and unconditionally. So his “judging” is out of love helping us to find our way. We “negative” judge. God judges “positive.” It’s a hard concept to wrap your head around but it makes sense if you think about it.

If you want to go on judging others, then expect to be judged in the same way. Jesus instructs us all too well in this as He says…

Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, “Let me take the speck out of your eye,’” when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. Matthew 7:1-5

That’s a big WOW to think about. Look at the plank in your eye before trying to remove a speck from someone else’s.

I’m going to try and look inward today at the big plank in my eye. And thinking about what God is thinking about that.

Have a GREAT day as we approach that AMAZING day when Jesus is born in our lives and hearts!

Shine Your Light!!!

If there is ever a time of year to let your light shine—and brightly—it’s the Christmas season. A bright light in the sky showed the way to the birth of Jesus, who brought light into this world. And each one of us has a light that we need to let shine on others—and brightly!

In the same way, 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 ‭

I’m not talking in riddles or religious mumbo-gumbo. I’m talking about the light of goodness, kindness, charity, and all that is good shining forth from you. And actions speak way louder than words!

We live in a world that seems to be getting darker by the day. Just look at the headlines.

If every one of us let our inner lights really shine—smile, pay it forward, give to a homeless person and/or a charity, sing, whatever—one by one we would make the world a brighter place.

If there ever is a time to let your light shine it’s this season!!! 

Merry Christmas!!!

I don’t just wish you a “Merry Christmas” today. I wish all of you, regardless of whether you celebrate Christmas or not, the true meaning of Christmas—joy, love, and peace in your life today, in 2017, and beyond.
 
It’s bad enough we live in a divided world, but our country is more divided than ever before in modern history. So, not just for one day, but for all days, let’s each try to spread some joy, love, and peace. If we are going to heal, we need to heal ourselves and help others heal.
 
Merry Christmas!!!

Great Time to Start Living in Love

If there ever is a time of year to start living in love it is now. What does “living in love” mean? Let’s start with what John tells us:

Love means living the way God commanded us to live. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is this: Live a life of love. 2 John‬ ‭1:6

Did you get that? It bears repeating: “Love means living the way God commanded us to live.” That means that the definition of “love” is living “the way God commanded us to live.” That means forgiving as God forgives us, giving others the shirt off our backs, not judging, etc, etc. If there are any questions about how to live start reading at Luke 6:27-34.

This season celebrating the birth of Jesus—hopefully in our hearts—is a great time to look at your life and ask, “Am I truly living in love?”

It’s never too late to start living in love!

Advent Starts in the Heart

The Advent season of preparing for Jesus’ birth is a time for reflection on our lives and our own rebirth in Christ. Use each day leading up to Christmas day as time to look back only with a mind of looking ahead, growing, and positively moving forward. It’s a time to recommit to Jesus and focus your life in starting the New Year off on the right foot. It’s a time to strengthen your connection with God and reconnect with Him if you strayed. It’s simply a time to renew, starting in your heart.

There are a lot of distractions this time of year—eating too much at Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and the list goes on. The important thing is to work through the distractions in remembering what this time is about. There’s a reason why there is a “Christ” in CHRISTmas. It should be a season of remembering, giving, and rebirth.

I’m not suggesting detaching from the world. Quite the opposite. I’m talking about being a shining example of what this time of year should really be about.

Use this Advent season wisely. Start today. And have a GREAT one!