Not Alone in the Fire

There are a lot of fires burning in this world today. Pandemic, regional wars, social unrest, etc, etc. The list goes on. And in our own personal lives fires may be raging as well. Furloughed, COVID-19, uncertain school year, no daycare, etc, etc. What you need to know is that no matter how many fires are blazing around you, and no matter how intense the heat, you’re not alone. Just ask Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. What???

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were thrown in an intense fire by Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, when they refused to bow down to the king’s image (chapter 3 of the book of Daniel). The fire was so intense—heated seven times normal—that all around were burned. Except Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. There were unhurt by the fire, walking with a fourth person, someone “like a son of God” in the midst of the fire.

I know this is a Bible story that you may think is a little out there. Well, whether you believe it or not the bottom line is that you are never alone in any fire in your life. There is always an angel, and there is always the Son of God, Jesus.

I know this sounds fanciful and more religious mumbo-jumbo. But it’s life. If you want to be alone in the fire, fine. Be alone and burn. But if you reach out (pray) for protection you will be saved from the fire. One way or another. It’s simply a matter of faith. Of believing.  Of opening up your mind and heart to God.

Simple, yes. Then again, God means life to be so, so very simple. We are the ones who complicate it. And light the fires.

Think Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. You are never alone if you don’t want to be alone. Just reach out for help.

Have an AMAZING day!!! 

What’s Really Important???

The novel coronavirus has been a virtual two-by-four to the side of the head in realizing what’s important in life. Health, life, safety, freedom, liberty, toilet paper, any kind of paper products, family, friends, meals together, school, bars, indoor dining, going out anywhere, the gym, traveling, airplanes, etc, etc, etc? All important to a degree but what’s most important? God.

The novel coronavirus and COVID-19 disease that has spread across the globe should be telling us how fragile, and precious, life is. To think that a microscopic virus can wreck so much havoc is beyond comprehension when you really think about it. It has disrupted life on a scale that’s now even tough to consider. But in any disruption, in any storm, there is always God. And if this experience has not driven us closer to God I frankly don’t know what will.

God the Father has created everything—you, me, coronavirus. Everything! God has a unique, special plan for you and me. Jesus shows the way and the Spirit empowers us along the way. This is the simplicity of life. In all this mess, this is what is really, really important. God. Father Creator, Son Savior, and Spirit Advocate.

If there has ever been a time to sit back and reflect on where we are going and what’s most important in life it’s now. What’s my real purpose in life? Where am I heading? What should I be doing differently? How can I LISTEN better for/to God? These are some of the questions I am asking myself. We all should be asking these questions and more.

I hope you have a really productive, and safe, rest of the week! And ask yourself what’s most important in your life.

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!

Happy Father’s Day!!!

One of the greatest gifts in life I have is being a father to my daughter Katie (who now goes by Katherine, use to go by Kate, and started out as Katie). She is smart, gifted, and truly the apple of her dad’s eye. People say she looks like me. I know she absolutely thinks like me. Mom says she feels like the odd person out!

Although my biological dad is long dead, my Father in heaven is very much alive in my life. That’s also one of the greatest gifts in my life. To have a Father who loves me unconditionally—expecting nothing in return for His forgiveness and uncompromising love. Day in day out He simply loves me. He who made me.

Take a moment today to thank your Father. In case you don’t know it, He loves you more than you (or I) can ever comprehend. He made you. He loves you. It is that simple.

Nothing more needs to be said about something so simple. Regardless of whether your father is alive or has passed away, your Father is very much alive in your life. He’s always less than a heartbeat away.

Have an AMAZING week! 

What Am I Missing???

I just don’t get it. Someone needs to help me out and explain something. God gave us very explicit instructions to love. That’s not about loving those you are close to you, it’s about loving everyone, especially “strangers.” Strangers, as in we don’t know them. And Jesus gave us a very simple command to love—to LOVE— before He sacrificed Himself for us. For us! So, what’s going on in this crazy world of ours? Why aren’t we loving?

So now, O Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you? Only to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul… You shall also love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt. ‭‭Deuteronomy‬ ‭10:12,19

This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. John 15:12

Of course, I know the answer. Because we trust in ourselves. Not God. We know better. We know how to hate and abuse each other, regardless of race, gender, political leanings, country, etc. We have become experts at dividing us. God is shaking His head in disbelief. Satan is laughing all the way to hell. He’s winning (or at least he thinks so).

This isn’t about religion sports fans. This is about life. We either love or hate. There is not much of a middle road. And to put a dash of “religion” into it, one way leads to eternal bliss and the other to eternal anguish. You pick.

Change happens one person at a time. It’s time to change this world of ours spinning out of control. It’s time for you and me to start that change. With a smile, with a helping hand, with a donation, with love.

Spread a little love around this week. Make it a good one!

All Lives Matter

It’s time for this country, this world to face a wake-up call. Racism of any type, kind needs to stop. Yes, black lives matter. There is no doubt of that! But brown lives matter. Red lives matter. Yellow lives matter. White lives matter. For God, all lives matter. God is color blind because He is all colors. And it’s high time we became color blind.

I love when God sent Samuel to find His king. Think very carefully what the Lord said to Samuel:

“Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for the Lord does not see as mortals see; they look on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7

The Lord does not see as we (mortals) see. We see outward appearance. God looks inward on the heart. We see color. God sees the true us.

I have BIG NEWS for you — There is no color in heaven!!! No racism. All lives matter. So, if you have any designs on reaching heaven, now is the time to become color blind. Stop looking at outward appearance. Look inward. You’ll never see heaven if you don’t stop looking at the color of a person’s skin.

Sorry for the Monday lecture but we need to change. And change now! I’m not counting on anyone else but you and me. Change happens one person at a time. It’s time for you and me to start that change.

We are all God’s children. He has no favorites. He loves us all equally and unconditionally. Color does not play into it at all. God sent Jesus His only Son to die for ALL OF US. Not just some of us based on color. But ALL OF US!

Let’s live in a world where all lives matter and matter equally. It’s time for a major change. And don’t think God isn’t giving us a wake-up call on this right now.

Have a GREAT week by making it a meaningful week!!!

There’s Only One You!

I am dating myself, but there’s a one-hit-wonder from the early nineties The One and Only performed by Chesney Hawkes that hit #1 in the UK and even #10 in the US. The chorus goes…

I am the one and only
Nobody I’d rather be
I am the one and only
You can’t take that away from me

For all the cheesiness of the lyrics, the song does have a point: You are the one and only. Just like I am the one and only. Each one of us on this planet is “the one and only.” “You can’t take that away from me” or you. And there is “nobody I’d rather be.” I hope you feel the same way about you.

When God made you He threw away the formula. The same with me. We are both totally unique, even if we had an identical twin. We are unique, one-of-a-kind, special, and novel, especially in the eyes of God.

As I have written more times than I can count, God has a special, unique plan and purpose for each one of us. That individualized plan goes along with our one-of-a-kind uniqueness as a person. Simply put, we are special with a special plan. One of the keys to life is understanding that plan and following it. That’s when we become whole and truly comfortable in our own skin. That’s when we live by “nobody I’d rather be.”

I have The One and Only in my running song collection not only because it’s a catchy tune to run by but also because it reminds me every day I hear it that “I am the one and only.” And that “nobody I’d rather be” and you can’t ever “take that away from me.”

When I’ve blasted the song in the house my wife thinks it’s all about ego. But I look at it in a very different light. It’s about being me. And you being you. Both unique and loved unconditionally by our Creator. And comfortable in our own skins knowing our places in this crazy world.

If you struggle finding out who you are, and what your plan is, spend some time with God. LISTEN for/to Him. Find some quiet time. Quality time. It’s not one-hit-wonder time. It takes some time investment. But God is there for you as much as He is for me and every other person. Just LISTEN. Yes, it’s that simple.

Have a FANTASTIC day and week ahead being you. You are the one and only!

And stay safe out there!!!

Hope

Hope may be something in short supply during these COVID-19 days. What seems like a never ending nightmare may seem like it truly will never end. Will we ever get back to normal? Will we have to wear masks everywhere—forever? Is there really going to be a second wave of COVID-19 in the fall/winter? The list of questions goes on and on and so with them hope seems to fly out the window. So, what are we to do?

Hope! That’s what we are to do. This is not the end of life as we know it. It’s the beginning of a new life, hopefully a new life that will make us look at the world and each other a little differently. As in differently better.

If anything, this COVID-19 experience should be a good time to take stock. Figure out what really matters, what’s most important in life. COVID-19 should be a lens that makes us look at our world in a new light. A light of love. A light of caring for others. A light of respect for the other person. A wave. A smile. A helping hand.

Jeremiah told the people of Israel that, “For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11) Jeremiah told the Israelites that their “normal” wouldn’t be for 70 years when they would return from captivity in Babylon. He told them to live their lives, marry, and have children. He gave them hope. The same hope that we will come out of this COVID-19 pandemic stronger and better as people. If we don’t, it’s a terrible experience lost.

Have hope! Use this time to revaluate. Look at your life in a mirror. Hit the pause button of how you lived your life in the past as COVID-19 has hit the pause button on our “normal” lives. And, most importantly of all, in the quiet that COVID-19 has brought to our lives, LISTEN for/to God. He’s there. Less than a heartbeat away. Spend some time with Him. That will give renewed hope, purpose, and outlook to your life!

Be well and be safe!!! 

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!!!