Prayer for Peace—I Can’t Do Any Better

Here is the opening prayer at the University of Notre Dame prayer service, Prayer for Unity, Walk for Justice on June 1st. The prayer is by Jo Cecilio, Rector of Cavanaugh Hall at Notre Dame.

God of Mercy and Compassion, we come before you today in grief, in anger, in mourning over the deaths of Ahmud Aubrey, Breonna Taylor, Philando Castille, Tamir Rice, Eric Garner, Trayvon Martin, Sean Bell, Sandra Bland, George Floyd and the litany of names of men and women who have died at the hands of those charged to protect and serve. You know each one of them by name, and we know that each were wonderfully created in your own image and likeness. Their lives matter to you and to us, and so we ask you, God, to etch their memories forever on our hearts.

LORD, we are tired of the senseless acts of violence, the injustices, the oppression, the racism, and the ignored laments of black and brown communities. Hear us, LORD. Open the hearts, minds, and ears of all your children to hear and understand the cries of pain, of sadness, of trauma, and of immense loss.

Make us your disciples who speak truth to power. May we allow the Spirit to lead us to act for justice. Lord, we invite you to use us so that we might bring about a transformation in our world; a transformation that makes the Beloved Community real here on this earth.

We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

I simply can’t do any better!!!

Peace & Love. As God wants and commands.

Stay safe!!!

What Has the Coronavirus Taught You?

It has taught me that this world is so much more fragile than imaginable. It has taught me that humankind is not in control, no matter how superior we think we are. It has taught me to never take anything for granted. It has taught me I miss the things I use to dislike (like traveling all the time). Unfortunately, it has also taught me that as a world, and even as a country, we are divided more than ever. But the most important thing I have learned is that I’m not in the driver’s seat. God is. I’m just a passenger. A very willing passenger.

As humankind, we think we are invincible. Well, a microscopic virus that virtually came out of nowhere just taught us differently. We may think we own this planet and it is ours to do with what we want but it’s clearly not. We have learned over a brief few months that we are not the rulers. We are the ruled. We have been brought to our knees. That is worth really, really, really thinking about.

At the beginning and end of each day, God is really the one in command. He gave us a world of abundance that can house and feed everyone. But look at what we have done with it. We are killing it. And masses go without food every day.

I’m not trying to be a downer. Just the opposite. I have been given a wake-up call. I use to complain about that dump we call Laguardia Airport and it being my home-away-from-home I was there so often flying out of it. Now, I can’t wait to see it again, to go through security, and to fly. To stay in a hotel. To sit in my office in D.C. To walk the halls of Congress. To get back to the old normal. Not the new normal.

But most of all I have said to God, “Here, you have the wheel. Drive.” Father, tell me where I need to go. Jesus, lead the way and let me follow you way—The Way. Holy Spirit, keep me empowered along The Way.

The world looks different to me. Last week, I drove on a highway for the first time in months and kept driving right out of Connecticut. It was like my eyes were opened to a new world.

Yes, we are divided like never before. The politics in this country, and all around the world, is destructive. In some respects, that unseen virus has divided us more than we were BC (before coronavirus). But I refuse to let that get me down. In my own little way I will be a uniter, not a divider. I will smile. I will help. I will give. I will love—just like God has commanded.

This coronavirus captivity has taught me a lot. It has changed me. I hope for forever. I know for the better. I hope it has taught you something. I hope you will join me in being a uniter. In smiling, In helping. In giving. In loving. As God has commanded us to do and specifically the one and only commandment Jesus left us with before He have up His life for you and me.

Be well. Stay safe. Love. And unite!!!

What Has the Coronavirus Taught Us?

Nothing in modern history, not even 9/11, has come anywhere close to providing the opportunity to soul search like this novel coronavirus and the COVID-19 health crisis. Especially in the hot spots, we have been shut in and in many cases shut out of work and school. BC (before coronavirus), families were running all over the place, sometimes barely talking and less frequently sitting down for a meal together. Now, families are shut in together and forced to converse and eat together. But what has this taught us, if anything?

The things I use to complain about I now finding myself missing. Traveling almost every week, Laguardia airport in New York, traffic in Connecticut, walking the halls of Congress in D.C. are among those things that use to get to me, more than on occasion. Now, I find myself missing them. Except for a run to the grocery store, or a morning run on the local rail trail, I’m a shut in with my wife. I have a lot (a LOT!) of phone and Zoom contact with work people and friends but it’s not the same as live interactions.

I think the most important thing I have learned is to be thankful. Thankful for the things that use to bother me and I would complain about. Thankful for all the basics—yes, I would include toilet paper on that list—that I simply took for granted BC. Thankful for the company of friends, even if BC I was more than happy with a good book than at a party having to converse with people. Thankful for my health as I watched my healthy sister-in-law struggle for 5 weeks with COVID-19. But, most importantly, thankful for God and my faith. If there is ever a time to fall back on faith and put your trust in God it’s DC (during coronavirus).

If there is ever a time to truly soul search it is now, DC. What do we want to do differently, how do we want to live differently PC (post coronavirus)? This is what I have been asking myself and hope you have done some reflection on as well. Do we keep aimlessly wandering the desert of life, like the Israelites, or do we follow the path and purpose that God has laid out for our lives? We may not know it, but God most certainly has laid out a purpose for each one of us. A unique, special, individual purpose for each one of us. For you, For me.

Life purpose. That’s a good thing to reflect on DC as we prepare for life PC.

Be well; be safe!!!

Would You Recognize Jesus?

If you took a seven mile walk with Jesus and listened to Him talk with you, would you know Him? Imagine spending three years roaming the countryside with Jesus and then not recognizing Him! Imagine thinking that Jesus was some gardener? All this and more happened after Jesus died and rose again on the walk with the disciples to Emmaus, multiple times with the apostles, and with Mary at the tomb. What was it about Jesus that they did recognize Him?

There are lots of theories that our “spiritual bodies” are somehow transformed from our “earthly” bodies. They’re not exactly the same. Let’s put that all aside for a minute.

Jesus was raised body and soul from the dead, with the nail holes in his hands, side, and feet intact. So was He a “different” Jesus or were the eyes “closed” of everyone around Him, including His closest followers. Bingo!

God (including Father, Son Jesus, and the Holy Spirit) is in everyone. That means, you, me, and every other person past, present, and future. God made us, so He is very much in us. Whoever you look at, you are looking straight in the eyes of Jesus. But do you recognize Him? I can tell you that in all my failings that there are a lot of people I know who I do not see Jesus.

That’s the problem with life and our walk through it. We don’t see Jesus. Yet, we should see Jesus in the mirror as well as in every person we walk by on the street—well, use to walk by on the street BC (before coronavirus).

Here’s a challenge for the week. Whoever you see on TV or behind that mask at the supermarket you are seeing Jesus. Look real hard. It’s Jesus in the face of anyone you are looking at. And how would you treat Jesus if you were looking at Him? Something to think about this week.

These are tough times that truly test our faith. Look for Jesus in the faces of others and your faith will get a boost. And we will get through this. With Jesus!

Have an AMAZING week!!! 

Glass Half Full or Half Empty?

I was going to title this post something about, “Do you see light or darkness?” It’s trying times like these when our true characters show through. And when we face the reality of where God really is in our lives. Are you are glass half full person, or one who sees it as half empty? Are you a person who always sees light, no matter how dark it is out, or do you just see the darkness—or at least the darkness overtaking the light? Good questions to ask as the coronavirus seems to be overtaking the world. Or not.

If God is a constant in your life, I don’t know how you see anything as empty—half or whole—or see anything as darkness. I love, love the beginning of John’s Gospel…

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it. John 1:5

That light, sent by God the Father, is Jesus, His only Son. He’s the glass that is always full, the light that no darkness can overcome. When your life is built on the foundation of God—Father, Son & Spirit—there simply can be no emptiness or darkness. It’s that simple. And, yes, I’ll say it again—God means life to be simple. We are the ones who complicate it.

When Jesus left this earth, He left behind the Spirit to empower us. The Spirit is that spark that keeps the light in us lit, especially when it starts to dim. It’s trying times like this coronavirus crisis—which will pass, and just be a mention in the history books—when we need to look at the fullness and light of life. And we have help if we just let God be a central part—THE central part—of our lives.

Have an AMAZING week ahead. Think full, think light!

Virus in the Desert

I’ve written a lot about the Israelites roaming aimlessly in the desert for 40 years. It took them that long to travel about a dozen miles to the Promised Land. And only two of the original Israelites made it. Even their leader, Moses, died before he saw the Promised Land. During that time in the desert all types of bad things happened—plagues, snakes, etc. The Israelites constantly turned their backs on God, and only when they needed God did they run to Him. We are roaming our own desert—and pretty aimlessly, at that—and bad things happen. Today it’s the coronavirus. Tomorrow it will be something else. But we’re not running to God. It seems we’re running away from Him.

I’m not suggesting that the coronavirus is some type of plaque sent by God. It’s a virus, and viruses are a part of life. Some are worse than others. But it’s how we react to this coronavirus that is so telling. We panic. Not that we shouldn’t mobilize to contain and “defeat” this virus. But we don’t need to panic, just like the Israelites did. It’s a surprise they didn’t stone Moses or burn him at the stake.

It’s a given that we are less tied to God than ever. I won’t bore you with stats, but “organized” religion is on the way down. People are increasingly simply not believing in God or turning to their own “spirituality”—whatever that is. Worship of self?

If I have said it once I’ve said it over a 100 times—read the Old Testament story of the Israelites wandering aimlessly in the desert. That’s us. This world is one big desert and we are certainly wandering—and very aimlessly! I have no idea where we are heading. Do you?

Least you think this is a depressing message, it’s not! My focus is on God—Father, Son & Spirit. I know my purpose from the Father, and am trying my best to walk in the footsteps of Jesus, and pray for the Spirit to empower me. I’m upbeat. I’m resolute. I’m out to find the Promised Land in life. I’m not a saint. I stumble all the time. But I’m doing my part to lead by example. We change the world one person at a time. It’s why I write this little blog, why I post Bible verses on my Facebook page ever day, and why I try to share with others.

I hope you know your way. Let’s help get everyone out of the desert!    

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!!!

Time for a Checkup

Need to bring my car in for its 30,000 mile checkup. Also, need to get to my internist right after the New Year for my annual checkup. Also, realized I am long overdue for a Spirit checkup. What??? That’s right—a checkup if I’m living by the Spirit.

A Spirit checkup is pretty easy because the “fruit” of the spirit has been spelled out for us:

The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness.
‭‭Galatians‬ ‭5:22‬ ‭

So, if you’re living by those 7 qualities—love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness—you’re living by the Spirit who is empowering you. Like all of life, it’s that simple! If you’re not living by those qualities you are sick and need a tune-up, some repairs, or time for serious medicine. Certainly, without living by those qualities the Spirit is not empowering you.

Recently, I wrote about 3 key words—purpose, footsteps, and empowerment. God establishes the purpose, Jesus sets the footsteps, and the Spirit empowers your life. You may know your purpose in life—and you do have a special, unique one!—and you may walk (or try to) in the footsteps of Jesus but it all falls apart quickly without empowerment of the Spirit. And you know the Spirit is empowering you if you live by love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, and faithfulness. Again, it’s that simple.

Don’t procrastinate (like I did writing this blog). It’s time for a checkup!!!

Have a fantastic day living in the Spirit!

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!