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!

Faith, Hope & Love?

What’s the greatest? Most people would say “faith.” Everything flows from faith. Of course. But if you know 1 Corinthians 13:13 you know the answer. The greatest of faith, hope, and love is LOVE.

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13:13

How can love be greater than faith? Simply because if you don’t have love you can’t have faith. God is love. Faith is belief in God. So, it all starts with love. If you don’t have love you’re a “resounding gong or a clanging cymbal” (1 Corinthians 13:1). Translation: if you don’t love, everything else, including your faith, is blah, blah, blah. Nothing.

Love is like electric current. It flows. In fact, if it doesn’t flow it is nothing. God flows His love out to us and He expects it to keep flowing from us. You have to flow God’s love out of you to others.

1 Corinthians is read at so many Christian weddings that most people think it’s about the love between a couple. But it’s not. It’s about what love is supposed to be so we understand how we need to love. God loves us unconditionally. We need to at least try to love others unconditionally. That means letting love flow to others with no expectations that love will be returned.

You will never feel God’s love for you unless you let that love flow to others. It’s the nature of love. It flows. It’s that simple. But, then again, life is simple. Or supposed to be simple.

Let some love flow this week. And have a FANTASTIC week ahead!!!

Faith or Love?

What’s more important in your life: faith or love? If you picked “faith” you just heard the wrong answer buzzer going off. If you picked “love,” congratulations. Certainly, faith is critical—a faith in an ever unceasingly loving God who demonstrated that love by sending His only Son as a living sacrifice for us. But, reread what I just wrote. A “loving” God. Because that’s what God is: LOVE!

“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” 1 Corinthians 13:13 

Paul said it all—the most important out of faith, hope, and love is LOVE. You can think you have all the faith in the world but if you don’t have love you’re a “resounding gong or a clanging cymbal” (1 Corinthians 13:1). Translation: without love you can’t have faith. Your faith is empty.

I see a lot of professed faith out there in my travels but very little love. So, do a “love” checkup today. Do you really love? Everyone? Remember: it’s easy to love those who love you. God loves all of us unconditionally, regardless of whether we love Him.

Have a great day walking in love. The faith will follow!

All God’s Children

I travel a lot—I mean a LOT!!! And especially as schools let out and the airports are a mass of humanity traveling on vacation, patience wears thin. That’s when I have to look at the guy emptying Fort Knox out of his pockets at TSA or the woman walking down the plane aisle knocking into everyone with the bag on her shoulder and remind myself that they are children of God. No matter who I look at in the airport, it’s just another child of God. As am I. As are you.

The thing about God as a parent is He knows no favorites. Not even a little. God looks at each one of us as created in His own image and likeness but totally 100% unique and special. God loves us unconditionally and totally. That’s because God is love. He knows no holding back or partiality.

The next time you are in an airport, driving in bumper-to-bumper traffic, or in a crowded store waiting on line, remember that everyone you see, especially those annoying you, are all children of God. Like you, they are a product of God who’s love knows no bounds. Don’t worry about judging them, worry about yourself. God will take care of the judging.

All children of God. No matter who you see, what they are wearing, what they are driving, who they are, etc. they are—we are—all children of God. Treat your brothers and sisters the way you want God to treat you. No matter how annoying they may be to you.

Have an AWESOME day!!!

Humility

If there is one word after “love” that makes the world go around it’s “humility.” Unfortunately, there is not enough love in the world and way, way too little humility. Love is what God commands us to do. In fact, it’s His only command. Humility is an outgrowth of love and the understanding that anything you have in this world is from God. Sure, I have worked hard for everything I have in this life. But everything I have, including my ability to work hard, is from God. Pure and simple!

I think Paul said it best:

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.
Colossians 3:12

If you watch the news—and all the news is the same, just variations on left and right—the pundits (in general) are a study in a lack of humility. And with that lack of humility comes a complete lack of compassion, kindness, gentleness, and patience. And the politicians generally follow the same theme. This is what we are exposed to day in and day out.

The devil loves this! Toss out the love and humility from this world and you get hell on earth—literally. And that’s where we are heading unless we wake up!

So, what to do? LISTEN to God’s call for you—yes, you! You have a special, unique purpose in life because you are special and totally unique in the eyes of God. He is calling you to fill that purpose as you walk in love and humility. Like God intends life to be, this is easy! Really easy!!! You just have to do it.

PS—I’m writing this (and posted Paul’s quote on my personal facebook page today) because humility has been an issue for me the past several days. It’s my own personal message to tone it down and remember who has given me everything I have—whatever that is.

Love. Humility. Note to self!

Have an OUTSTANDING day!!!