Cleaning The Closets

We moved. After 25 years in the same house and 35 years in Connecticut we have moved. Well, kind of moved. It’s complicated. We are going to end up in North Carolina but for the next nine months we are living in Pennsylvania. Why am I boring you with these details? Because moving entails cleaning a lot of “stuff” out of your closets. It makes you think about all you have and all that others don’t have. It’s humbling.

There is another aspect of moving that makes you think. It’s actually gratifying looking at your completely empty house for the last time. We donated a lot of our clothes, furniture, and other possessions to two good charities. You feel good slimming down and making good use of things that others can better use. I found out it feels good to clean a closet and even better to clear out a house. You lighten up, you free up.

This move has made me think about cleaning out the “closets” in my life. Not physical closets but the mental ones where we tend to accumulate emotions, life scars, things we don’t want to deal with, etc. It has to be as liberating to clean out the life “closets” as the real closets in our former house. Maybe more difficult to clean but I can tell you those real closets were no picnic—they had a lot of stuff in them!

I could go on and on about moving and how it has made me reflect on life. It’s tough but refreshing. It’s closing one chapter in the book of life and opening up a new one. Lighter, stronger, and ready for new surroundings.

Have an AMAZING weekend!!! Do some cleaning.

Divided We Are Falling: From Judges to Scotland

The United States is falling, I hate to say. Falling and failing. Why? First, we are pushing God out of our lives. And pushing hard. We just don’t want to separate church (God) from state (our lives), we simply want to leave God far behind. We have other gods to worship (greed and ego). Second, we don’t see the commonality in us. We see black, yellow, red, left, right, Christian, Jew, Muslim, etc, etc, etc. God sees us as all the same, individually and equally. We see each other as different. Love should abound but hate—and I mean HATE—rules.

We should be taking lessons from the past, starting with the Bible, but we know better. I know this sounds bleak (hint: Because it is VERY bleak!!!) but the reason I’m writing and doing my part is because change can happen, but it happens one person at a time. And change needs to happen! And fast!

Just last week I wrote about the lessons from the exodus of the Israelites wandering the desert for 40 years for a journey that should have taken 12 days at the most. Wandering, leaving God in the desert dust, complaining, and worshipping false gods along the way. Bad things happened. The Israelites were lost. No one was happy. Well, fast forward to the period when the Israelites had judges—rulers who were not really kings but rulers. Read the book of Judges in the Bible to see how well that period went. Once again, the judges did some pretty bad things and the people were once again lost. Bad things happened. God didn’t forget the Israelites; they forgot Him.

Really fast forward to Scotland, which has this history of warring and divided clans. There were periods (William Wallace, etc) when Scotland kind of, sort of united but the constant friction from the clans didn’t keep Scotland united against England over time. There’s a reason the saying goes, United We Stand, Divided We Fall.” Or as Jesus said, “If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand.” (Mark 3:25)

I really don’t know if we will learn. Our country is more fundamentally divided that any time in modern-day history than I can remember. But as I wrote last week, and write here again today, the future lies in God—or not. United and with God we stand. Separate from Him we are divided and will fall.

What am I doing? Keeping God in my life. Trying to be a uniter, rather than a divider. Smiling. Reaching out. Helping. Trying. Following the Secrets to Life.

Doing my part. Please do yours!

The Pale Blue Dot — Great Perspective on Life

HIGHLY recommend watching this three minute video to get some great perspective on life.

The Pale Blue Dot

Watching this is humbling, as it should be for all of us. But keep in mind as insignificant as this may make you feel, God loves you. You are not insignificant to HIM. You are the only thing that matters.

I’m not going to write anything itself. Simply ponder the message of the pale blue dot in the context that God loves you and you’re not insignificant to Him.

Have an AMAZING week!!!

Take Him Down!

That’s one of my mantras for 2021. Take Him (Jesus) down from the cross. What??? Jesus was taken down over 2,000 years ago. Is this more “religious” mumbo-jumbo? No, it’s about life and changing mine for the better. Here’s my thinking.

Jesus died on the cross for our sins—yours, mine, and every living being past present, and future. My sins were up there on the cross. In fact, effectively my sins hammered in those nails at the hands of the Romans. I had a hand in putting Jesus up there. It’s my responsibility to take Him down.

OK. Let’s get practical. How do I take Jesus down from the cross? Simply by doing what He showed all of us to do—love. Every day, every step, should be a walk in love. Sure, I veer off the love path all the time. I get inpatient with people. I get mad. I look down. But I try to look back on every day and be honest when and where I messed up. I then repent. And try not to mess up the next day. I envision Jesus hanging on the cross and me taking Him down. It’s really that simple. Try, review, and repent. Constantly try to do better, be better.

Yes, this all sounds simple. But then again for the 1,000th-plus time, God means life to be simple. We are the ones who complicate it so very much.

Take Him down! Easy enough to think about, harder to execute. I know. Trust me. But we all get points for doing our best. That’s what God expects. Try.

Have a TERRIFIC weekend ahead!!!

Sow & Reap

There are more “sow” and “reap” messages in the Bible than you may think. But my favorite is what Paul wrote to the Christian community in Corinth, Greece: “whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.” (2 Corinthians 9:6) The message is pretty simple—you get back according to what you put in. And the message pertains to everything in life—relationships, work, and God.

We live in a time when people want but don’t want to put in the effort. People want quick fixes. But what you put into something is sooner or later tied to what you put into it. Invest more in a relationship and you will “reap” more. Work harder (and smarter) and you will “reap” the rewards. There are rarely quick fixes that will get you through life. They may work one once in a while, and even a few times, but they won’t get you through life. What you “sow” in life is truly what you will “reap.”

And sowing and reaping is no truer than with your relationship with God. In fact, you can’t have a relationship with God until you put something into the relationship. God is always there. But you have to be there. You won’t hear God until you take the time—real time—to hear God. You won’t “feel” God in your life until you stop to feel the “touch” of God in your life. What you “sow” with God is what you will “reap” with God. Not because God wants you to start but simply because God is here—there and everywhere. He’s already taken the first step. It’s your turn.

“Sow” a little and your “harvest” in life will “reap” a little. “Sow” a lot and you will “reap” a lot. In everything. God and everything. It’s that simple. But, then again, God means life to be so very simple. We are the ones who clutter and complicate life.

Have a SPECTACULAR week sowing and reaping!!!

When Will We Look at Each Other as God Looks at Us?

Yesterday was a very dark day in this country. I spend a lot of time on Capitol Hill, in the six House and Senate office buildings and in the Capitol. I respect everything on “The Hill” because it deserves respect, regardless of politics and differences of opinions. But yesterday The Hill was disrespected like I have never seen in my lifetime and, hopefully, will never see again. It was disrespected by a gang of vandals and by the President of the United States himself. And that’s not a political statement. It’s simply the sad fact. Unfortunately, underlying that disrespect, and the way that Washington, D.C. was disrespected earlier this year by another group of vandals, is a fundamental disrespect of each other. When will we start looking at each other as God looks at us?

How does God look at us? First, God doesn’t look outward at skin color, gender, and anything else on the outside. God looks inside. “The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7). God doesn’t care what political party you belong to, what cause you follow, or any other differences. He looks at each one of us equally and loves us unconditionally, regardless of what we do. God looks at us in terms of similarities—all different but all the same.

As I have written more times than I can possibly count, God commands us to love. To do one simple thing. Love. He went to the length of sending His only Son to deliver that message body and soul to us. To give up Jesus’ life in the ultimate sacrifice of love.

It’s time to heal as a country, as a world, as a people. It’s so very clear how God looks at us and how he wants us to look at and treat each other—with love. But we don’t do that. We do anything to divide and not unite. We are an angry country—an angry world—that not even a pandemic has been able to unite. Maybe, just maybe, the terrible scenes from yesterday will help some of us start looking for answers. And start looking at each other as God looks at us!

Please help today! Go out of your way to smile at someone, pay something forward, lend someone a hand—just be nice, when nice is not what you want to be. Try to look through God’s eyes.

Thank you!

Church or State?

The gospel reading at Mass this weekend was the encounter Jesus had with the Pharisees who tried to trip Him up about whether it was lawful to pay taxes to Caesar/Rome (Matthew 22). I have to admit that when the deacon started giving the homily I shut down because I had no idea what he was saying. He was up in the clouds somewhere and I wanted to know how this applies to everyday, real life. There is so much talk about the separation of church and state, especially during the Amy Coney Barrett Supreme Court confirmation hearings, that it’s an old story with timely implications. So, here are my thoughts.

The Pharisees knew they had Jesus in a no-win situation. If Jesus said pay taxes, he loses His followers who were oppressed by Rome. If Jesus says no to taxes, Rome comes down on Him. So, Jesus gets them with the answer of give to Rome what is Rome’s and to God what is God’s. Gotcha!

More people today want to completely separate “church” from “state.” “Religion” is something that belongs in a church or in a quiet place in your home. The two should never meet. Period end of statement. In fact, some pundits and TV types have criticized Judge Barrett because of her strong Catholic faith. Some want a Supreme Court judge with no faith in God.

I think what Jesus was saying was pretty simple. We’re in this world so live in it. But God created this world so live for Him. “Religion” is not something for the weekends or a quiet spot. Living your faith, whatever faith that is, is about how to live life. The “state” should never dictate what “religion” you practice, which includes how you live your life. If you really, really live what you believe, “church” and “state” are really inseparable. There are matters of “state” and matters of “God.” Jesus said be mindful of both but he didn’t say to separate them.

I don’t live two separate lives. I live one life. I live in the world with all the things of the world around me. But I try my best to live in the world as God wants me to live in the world.

Have an OUTSTANDING week!!!

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.

 

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!!! 

Jesus Needed Help Carrying His Cross? Really???

Of course Jesus didn’t need help carrying His Cross! He could have thrown it up the hill. Or a legion of angels could have flown it up. But His Cross is not His Cross—it’s our Cross. So, it’s only fitting that we should be helping Jesus carry our Cross. I know. Sounds like more religious mumbo-jumbo from me. But listen and I’ll explain. It’s not about “religion.” It’s about life.

Jesus came to save us. To nail to the Cross every sin we have committed or will commit. That’s the whole point of His time on earth. To banish our sins. But hold on. It takes two to tango. We need to do our part in carrying that Cross. We need to accept responsibility for our sins. We need to repent. Jesus is with us every step of the way. We just need to be with Him. We need to take part of the burden.

We live in times where everyone wants to point the finger at the other person’s faults but ignore their own. From news pundits to politicians to lawyers our “role models” are paragons of virtues—or so they think. So, we emulate this behavior. I’m always right and perfect. You’re the one wrong and flawed. Or so I think.

None of us are perfect and we each have a cross to bear in life. Some larger than others but we all have our crosses. Jesus is there to help carry the Cross but we need to be side-by-side with Him. Forget that carrying the Cross happened over 2,000 years ago. It happens every day in living this life.

What does this all mean in a very practical sense? Take responsibility for your actions. Fix your flaws before you’re so quick to jump on others’ flaws. Reflect on what you did right and wrong each day. Correct your mistakes. Fix the wrongs. Accentuate the rights. Live the life to the fullest that Jesus gave you by his death on the Cross. Be thankful. Be joyful!

And have an AMAZING day!