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!!! 

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!!!

Remember Every Day

Memorial Day is over. Pre-summer hot dogs, hints of hotter days ahead, and looking forward to summer vacation. Hopefully we all spent a little time remembering those brave Americans who gave their lives in far too many wars fighting for our freedom. We take for granted how good we have it in this country and how many have sacrificed their lives for us. And let’s now forget the supreme sacrifice for all our freedoms—regardless of where you live in this world. Jesus nailed to a cross.

Jesus, like so many veterans, died for our freedom. Regardless of what we do, if we honestly admit to sin and do everything to not sin again, our slate has been wiped clean with Jesus’ blood. We are free—if we want to be free!

Every day should be a Memorial Day to remember all the lives lost in this country for our freedom. And every day should be a remembrance of what Jesus did to set us free. It’s really overwhelming to think and internalize what so many have done for us—starting with Jesus.

No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. John 15:13

Have a FANTASTIC week ahead! And REMEMBER!!!

One Step Back. At Least Two Forward!

There are a lot of stories about how many failures Thomas Edison had before he perfected a working light bulb, but the number isn’t important. It’s that he learned from his mistakes. In fact, the light bulb is the product of taking one step back but making sure Edison took at least two steps forward.

A given in life is that you are going to make mistakes. I am the king of mistakes!!! But my guiding principle is to make sure I take at least two steps forward for every one back. I try—not always successfully!!!—to learn from my step backwards so that the steps forward are on more secure ground. I get mad at myself for the mistakes but try not to beat me up. Although I’m not always successful there. Tough to escape that Catholic guilt!  

My message is simple. You will make mistakes. Try to make them minor but if they are major deal with it. Think one step back, learn, and boldly take at least two forward.

I think the person who says they don’t make mistakes is either delusional or in complete denial. Or simply won’t admit to a mistake. That’s sad. We grow stronger as individuals when we understand and acknowledge our mistakes and do our best to move forward—at least two steps at a time.

And, to end, God knows every mistake you have made and will make. But He forgives you. All those mistakes are nailed to a cross. You just have to know your mistakes and vow to correct them.

Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper, but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy. Proverbs 28:13

Remember—one step back but two forward!

Who’s in Control?

God. There’s only one answer. And if you got this question wrong, or even had to think about it for a second, think again. God’s not driving your life. You can’t sit in the passenger seat and just relax, snoozing on occasion. You’re driving but God is giving the directions. So, you have to LISTEN.

Why are so many people directionless in life? In fact, why does it seem like the entire planet of people we call humans is directionless? Simply, because they don’t LISTEN to God.

I can’t write enough about this but God has a special, unique purpose for your life. Yes, you! And, yes, both special and unique! Unique because whoever you are—even if you have an identical twin that reads your mind—you are uniquely individual. And your purpose in life is uniquely yours.

The secret to life is finding and understanding that purpose. And one of my first Secrets to Life is to LISTEN for and to God. He’s sitting there in the passenger seat beside you, ready with destination and how to get there.

But you won’t know your destination unless you simply LISTEN.

Try letting go and letting God. It’s simple. And it works!

Happy driving!!!

Do You Look Outward or Inward?

There is no better question on how you live your life to ask yourself! I mean, seriously. Of course, 99.9999…% of us look outward. We look at the sex of a person, skin color, our version of “attractiveness,” etc, etc. All outside. But God told Samuel how we should be “looking:”

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

Of course, this makes sense if you stop and think about it for a minute. God created us “in His image” (Genesis 1:27). The “image” of God is not outward—He can’t look anymore like me than He does you or anyone else. God doesn’t have any kind of doppelgänger. God’s “image” is His heart and total, absolute, and unblemished unconditional love.

OK, I’ll stop the gobbledygook and abstractions and bring this down to earth and practical living.

You need to look past the outside of a person, no matter how hard that may be. You have to look “inside” a person, at their “heart.” We can only move closer to God when we start loving like God loves. And the only way to really LOVE a person is how God loves you, me, and every other person past, present, and future. Inside.

Look at the world today. Hatred, violence, abuse, etc. It’s not God(ly) because it’s all about what’s outside people, not what’s inside. The world would be a far, far different place if each one of us even made the attempt to look inside people.

Want to change the world? Start looking “inside” people. Look past the flesh. Like all of life, it’s that very simple. Remember—we complicate life. God intends it to be simple. Change starts one person at a time. Change. Look inside.

Have a GREAT rest of this weekend, wherever you are!!!

Only You Can Take Away Your Peace

The outside world cannot take away your peace. And, yes, unless you don’t know it, you have natural peace within you. That’s simply because God created you and God is peace to the core. Only you can take away your peace. Not someone else.

Not at peace? Events and/or people around you “stealing” your peace? Well, they can’t “steal” your peace unless you let them. Your peace is your’s. Only you can let events and/or others take your peace away. You own it.

Not at peace? Lost your peace? Find a quiet place like a church, library, mountaintop, etc. and tune out the world. Dig down deep inside of you looking for your peace. You will find it if you really try. And, if you don’t realize it already, that peace is God inside of you.

The Lord gives strength to his people; the Lord blesses his people with peace. Psalm 29:11

Have a PEACEFUL week!!!

Merry Christmas!!!

I don’t just wish you a “Merry Christmas” today. I wish all of you, regardless of whether you celebrate Christmas or not, the true meaning of Christmas—joy, love, and peace in your life today, in 2017, and beyond.
 
It’s bad enough we live in a divided world, but our country is more divided than ever before in modern history. So, not just for one day, but for all days, let’s each try to spread some joy, love, and peace. If we are going to heal, we need to heal ourselves and help others heal.
 
Merry Christmas!!!

Are You Passing Lazarus on the Street?

Last week I went from Washington, DC to Chicago. What I noticed was more people on the streets of both cities begging—in one case a mother with a small child. And the other thing I noticed was north of 99.9% of people totally ignoring those people. Reminds me of Jesus talking about the story of Lazarus:

There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores. Luke 16:19-21

What happened? Lazarus died and went to heaven. The “rich man” died and went to hell. He lamented not having stopped and helped Lazarus when both were alive on earth.

Are you passing Lazarus on the street?

One more thing to think about that Jesus said:

Give to everyone who begs from you. Luke 6:30

Do you?

Have a great day!

Shine Some Light Today on a Dark World!

I am not a doom-and-gloom sayer but look around you—the world is a pretty dark place these days. Bombings, stabbings, shootings, and lots of animosity. It’s a rare day when we aren’t hearing about something bad happening. I am afraid the world is getting darker.

That’s where you and I come in. Today is a day to shed a little light on our dark world. It’s simple. Start with a smile, show some kindness to a stranger, and help someone in need. It’s not difficult. Just spend some time today thinking more about others than yourself. Let that light of God that is in you do some shining today.

You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven. Matthew 5:14-16

Smile. Do good. Go out of your way for others. It’s not hard to let your light shine. Don’t keep your light under a basket today. Let it shine! The world needs your light!

Have a GREAT, shining week!