It’s All About God (Repeat: It’s All About God)

Take a look around this country and the world. Storming the U.S. Capitol. Asian hate. Rioting and looting Portland. Crazy conspiracy theories. Black Lives Matter. Blue Lives Matter. Shootings. Russian tampering in U.S. elections. Congressional partisanship like never before. North Korea. China. Myanmar. Miami beach spring break. Masks. No masks. Everything COVID-19. And on, and on, and on. Where is God in this? MIA. Why? Because we don’t want God in our lives. Pure and simple.

Regardless of COVID-19 resulting in more people turning to God, the world is absolutely moving toward secularization, which means away from God. I sound like a broken record —even to myself—but look no further than the exodus story in the Bible to see how this ends. Repeatedly, the Israelites turned away from God in their 40 years of aimlessly wandering in the desert. And bad things happened all along the way. There is a reason this story is in the Bible. Because it is now our story. The people of this world, starting with the United States, are aimlessly wandering in this desert of a world, which ironically is becoming more of a desert. And as we turn further away from God bad things happen.

No, I don’t think that COVID-19 was thrust upon us by God as punishment for turning away from Him. COVID-19 is just another one of the millions of viruses on this planet, but one we let get ignited because we simply don’t have out act together. Bad things happen because we let them happen as we increasingly don’t look to God for answers.

We should be a people with a vision of where we are going; namely our own Promised Land. We should be looking to lift each other up, to not let anyone go hungry or without. We should be good stewards of this earth and looking out to the stars. We should be looking to God for direction and answers, not trying to cut Him out of our lives.

I’m not some doom and gloom guy. I’m someone who constantly looks at the good and believes in the best. But as we turn our backs on God more bad “stuff” will happen. It’s that simple. Like the Israelites in the desert we will moan and groan and be unhappy. And bad things will happen. It’s as clear as day.

I for one will do everything I can to make this world a better place. Change happens one person at a time. I’m certainly no saint. In fact, because I think I know the answers, but screw up all the time, I may be the world’s greatest sinner. But I try. And I constantly turn back to God for direction and answers, God. The only answer in life.

It’s simply all about God!!!

I hope you have an AMAZING week ahead. Look for God in your life. He will make all the difference in your life!

Only Love Can Drive Out Hate

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Dr. King must be shaking his head in disbelief on this day we dedicate to him and his message of peace, love, and equality. Our capitol city is literally an armed camp. In fact, you can’t even get near the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial in D.C. today. Ironic and sad.

Rather than try to unite, our politicians are pointing fingers, with some wanting to go on witch hunts. Rather than looking forward to healing, so many want to look back and further divide us. And the cable pundits who make millions and millions on stirring the pot, are stirring harder than ever.

The storming of the Capitol was a terrible crime. But it should be a wake up call to unite, not divide. If every politician were required to read the message above from Dr. King at the start of every day, our country would be a much better, stable & loving place. Only love can drive out hate.

Dr. King knew what God commanded and Jesus gave His life in commanding us to do: love. Can it really be that hard? We do a really good job listening to the devil’s call to hate rather than God’s call to love. Think about that! The only thing we love to do is hate. Sad.

I’m going to read those words of Dr. King every day this year. What a great message that only light can drive out darkness and only love can drive out hate. And Jesus is out light with a message (command) to love.

Have a peaceful day in the light!

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!

Would Jesus Wear a Mask?

Of course he would! Why? First, for the same reason He said to pay taxes to the government (Rome). “Give, then, to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s…” Matthew 22:21 If the government said to wear a mask in public, Jesus would wear a mask for that simple reason. Second, and more importantly, Jesus would want to show everyone that wearing a mask was the right thing to do in showing concern for others. I don’t know if the human part of Jesus could get COVID-19 or even spread it to others. But Jesus would show others that out of concern for each other wearing a mask is the right thing to do. Jesus was all about concern for others and healing them. Wearing a mask is the show of concern for others that Jesus would follow.

We just had a 30-hour adventure driving from Connecticut to Tennessee and back to pick up our new puppy. Yes, here’s a picture of Rip (a Portuguese Water Dog).

It was quite the driving adventure, especially when it came to the “mask” issue. In Connecticut, at least in our neck of the woods, everyone—and I mean everyone—wears a mask. In fact, if you see someone wearing a mask but falling down below their nose, it’s a strange sight. It’s unthinkable to not wear a mask. Anyway, that was not the case in parts of Virginia, West Virginia, and Tennessee that we passed through. You can imagine that traveling with an eight-week old puppy requires a lot of pit stops. So, we had a lot of different mask observations.

It’s not just the younger people who think they are invincible not wearing masks, it’s older people as well. In fact, we stopped to get gas and walk Rip at a station with a small convenience store. I was taken aback by two older women working in the store with no masks in sight. They were nice enough checking me out but no sign of masks.

You may not care about yourself, but care about others in wearing a mask, wherever you live. If you’re a Christian—a follower of Jesus Christ—wear a mask because Jesus would be wearing one. For the simple reason of Jesus showing all that we need to look to others before we look to ourselves. Wearing a mask is not a sign of weakness. It’s a sign of compassion. A sign of loving. And remember that simple commandment Jesus left us with before He died for us. “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.” John 15:12

Wear a mask! Jesus would. So, if you’re a follower of Jesus—a Christian—wear a mask. It’s about others. Not you.

Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Philippians 2:4

Have an AMAZING weekend and an even better week ahead!!!

Why Can’t We All Get Along?

We simply can’t. We spend more time tearing each down and apart than helping build each other up. We need to take a page out of Paul’s letter to the new Christian community in the Macedonian city of Thessalonica, “Therefore encourage one another and build up each other, as indeed you are doing.” (1 Thessalonians 5:11) We need to stop listening to the media—both left and right—and the pundits who make their million dollar livings tearing down, rather than building up. We need to listen to God!!!

God gave us one basic command that involves us loving Him through loving our neighbors. He put a punctuation on that command by sending His One Son to live and die that love. Jesus reiterated that command of love when He said, “This is my command, that you love one another as I have loved you.” (John 15:12)

Anyone who professes to be a Christian does so because they follow Jesus Christ. Anyone who says they are a Christian because the follow Jesus Christ, simply can’t be a Christian if they don’t love. You can’t ignore Jesus’ one command to love. It’s that simple.

I don’t mean this to be a negative message. To the contrary. This is about being positive, not negative. About loving, not hating. About smiling, not scowling. About encouraging, not discouraging. About building up, not tearing down.

It’s time to change the world. That starts with one person at a time. Let’s not let the novel coronavirus be the only thing spreading across the globe. Let’s starting spreading love and encouragement!

Have an AMAZING day and week ahead! 

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!

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!!!

Did God Send the Coronavirus?

No. I know there are people out there who believe the coronavirus is a sign of the coming of the end. A type of plague God sent on a disobedient humankind. However, the reality is that viruses are a part of this world—a world that God created—and will always be a part of this world. It’s not the virus that’s the focus here, it’s how we respond to the virus that’s important.

Do you think that God wants us selfishly hoarding toilet paper? Or fighting in the supermarket aisles over the last package of chicken breasts? Or partying like it’s no tomorrow on a Florida beach? I can tell you the answer is a clear NO! How we respond in any time of crisis tells us everything about ourselves and where we place our priorities. Is my focus on me or you? That’s the question God wants us to answer.

God commands us to do one thing—LOVE Him by loving one another. He sent His only Son as a sacrifice for our sins. And before He was hung from that cross, Jesus made it all too clear that His one commandment to us is to LOVE!

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

Loving one another isn’t hoarding, partying like no tomorrow, or not staying smart and safe. It’s doing the right thing by others, helping those in need, and, in general, looking outward, not inward. In short, it’s loving.

I hope you are safe and doing your part to help others in this crisis. It’s not the end of the world. It’s a time to define ourselves and our place in this world.

Stay safe!!!

 

Grace

The total untethered grace that God gives us is all about unconditional love, favor, mercy, and empowerment. It is that grace that has saved us, through God’s Son Jesus, and gives us the power to do anything in life with that grace. But that grace is tied to giving our own “grace” to others. Life is a two-way street. It’s not all about taking. It’s even more about giving. Want to feel God’s grace in your life? Give your own grace to others.

I know this sounds like more religious “mumbo gumbo” but it’s actually about life. Life that should be a two-way street with you taking in all that God has to offer through His grace while giving back to others through your own “grace.” This isn’t difficult. It’s pretty simple. Give and take. Don’t just take. Give.

I don’t know how to make this message simpler. Give. And I’m not just talking about money or other things. I’m talking about giving yourself. Start with a smile. Lend someone a hand. Pay forward a cup of coffee. Give to those in need. Go beyond yourself. Just give as God gives.

Simple.

Have an AMAZING week pouring out your grace!