Stop and Let Someone Turn

The turn into our church is a left on a busy two-lane road. It never ceases to amaze me how many people don’t slow up and let me turn left. I sit there and count that at least half must be self-proclaimed “Christians” who also know I’m pulling into a church. Worse is the person who makes a right into church before letting me turn left. What’s up with that? But none of this behavior is surprising. It’s just a sign of the times that where I am going, and getting there, is more important than you and your destination.

Let’s understand that I’m no saint. I screw up all the time. And there are occasions when I’m so preoccupied with myself that I don’t slow up to let someone turn left. But I do at least make it a point when coming out of church at the one exit to stop at the other exit and let people turn left and right depending on where they are going. And don’t you know that when I slow up to let people exit that I get someone behind me honking the horn, upset that I slowed up.

You see it all the time. People don’t want to slow up and let anyone turn or get ahead of them in line. It’s as selfish as selfish gets. Contrast that with what Jesus did in giving up His life for us, the ultimate selfless act. “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (John 15:13) Jesus wasn’t talking about letting someone turn left. He was talking about fulfilling HIs command of love.

I’m not a good Christian driver. I drive too fast, get angry with people hanging in the left-hand lane, and sometime stare down people driving too slow as I pass them. But I’m trying to change that. Why? Because it should not be all about me but all about others. I should be the servant, not the one served. It’s simply everything Jesus taught us. It starts with slowing down to let people turn left. Letting someone ahead of me in line. Just simply looking out, not in—at you, not me. It’s about you. Not me.

Hope you have a SPECTACULAR week!!! Slow down and let some turn left.

Puppy Lessons

Sometimes I don’t know what we were thinking. Empty nesters on the “older” side of life and here we are with a new puppy. In fact, we drove 30 hours round trip to pick up Rip, a Portuguese Water Dog, who certainly is a “rip.” If you forget what a puppy is like, especially a working dog full of vim and vigor, it’s about testing authority, getting into trouble, peeing in the house, and just being a puppy. But that puppy is dependent on you for everything. To keep him/her safe and fed. Without you, a puppy is lost.

I know it’s crazy but I’ve been reflecting on my relationship with our new puppy and my relationship with God. I test His authority all the time. In fact, I test His bounds of authority. It’s all about me, as Rip is all about him. I screw up all the time. But I know God looks into my face and just smiles. God has a warm heart just like I have for Rip, no matter what he does. The difference is God doesn’t get mad at me, He just continues to love me unconditionally, no matter what I do.

Putting myself in the paws (BIG paws) of a puppy may be a strange way of looking at my relationship with God. But it works for me. I am totally dependent on God for life and daily sustenance. Without God I am lost. God is everything to me—or should be everything to me—as Rip is to me, especially when he needs me, is hungry, and needs some attention.

A puppy keeps you young at heart! And a big smile on your face. You may get upset at times when the toilet paper gets unraveled all throughout the house but the look in those puppy eyes heals all anger. I’m no puppy, although I may act like one at times, but there is a lot to learn from my puppy and reflecting on my relationship with God. I’m simply lost without Him!

Have a WONDERFUL week heading into Christmas!!! Blessings and peace as we celebrate the birth of our Savior!

It’s NEVER Too Late!

It’s never too late to course correct your life, to do something different, be someone different. Don’t ever say you wasted any portion of your life, regardless of how old you are. Look at Jesus. As best we know, He lived an obscure, quiet life as a carpenter. Then, for three years at the end of His life He had His ministry. He died around 33 years old, which by today’s standards sounds like a babe in the woods. Until you realize that the average age expectancy back then was around 35 years old. By today’s standard, Jesus was an old man!

So, it’s never too late to change. To be a different person, do something different. Sure, I often think I should have done this or that differently, walked down a different path in life. But I’m here now and making the best of where life has led me. Or where I have led life.

If you give up it’s you giving up. I know there are different situations and obstacles that make life changes difficult and at times seemingly impossible. But you’ll never change, or course correct, unless you set your mind on change. You can do it. Jesus showed by example. Easy for Him to do it. Sure. But there’s a reason why Jesus is a living model for us on how to live life.

It’s NEVER too late! Start TODAY!!!

Have an AMAZING week ahead!

Who Are the Children of God?

You. Me. Everyone past, present, and future. Pretty simple. We are all the children of God. I have to remind myself of that when the guy at the gym let’s his mask slip down on his face. When the woman in the 15-limit line at the supermarket has 35+ items. When someone cuts me off in traffic. When one of the many holier-than-thou pundits on TV talk down about everyone else. The list goes on and on. No matter what someone says to you or does to you, we all have one thing in common—we are all children of God.

God created each one of us in His own likeness. His DNA is our DNA. God is the builder and He is the lover. He loves us all equally and unconditionally. That’s a far cry from us. We expect love to get love. And we certainly don’t love equally. In fact, we don’t love—or even like—many people around us. We typically don’t even think about strangers at all.

As this Christmas season counts down, my goal is to try to view everyone I encounter as just another child of God. As a brother and sister. I’m trying to think about the birth of a child that was sent to save us in the ultimate sacrifice—giving His life. The gift of Christmas to all His children is the gift of salvation. A gift given equally and unconditionally to each one of us. The children of God.

Have an OUTSTANDING week ahead!

Freedom

Today in the United States we honor our veterans who gave life and limb for our American freedom. Unfortunately, a freedom that often is taken for granted and even gets trampled on. But our focus on this day should be on those who gave so much so we can be truly free. They have followed the example of Jesus who gave His life to set all of us free for eternity, if we just follow His lead.

As I said, freedom is often taken for granted. We don’t know what we have until someone tries to take it away. Jesus gave up His human life on the cross so that we—all of us; past, present, and future—would be free of sin forever. We simply have to follow His way, live by His command to love, and walk in His light to be free.

Don’t take freedom for granted. The freedom you have to do anything, be any anyone if you just live understanding what you have been given. By our veterans. By Jesus.

Have an OUTSTANDING day living in freedom! Think about freedom today in your life. And thank those who have given you that freedom, especially Jesus.

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!!!

Christian in Three Simple Words

What’s the definition of a “Christian” in three simple words? Love, God, neighbor. What? Listen to what Jesus said:

“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:36-40

Simple. The keywords are Love, God, and neighbor. So, if Jesus the Christ said it, the definition of a Christian—a follower of Jesus the Christ—is that simple. Love, God, neighbor.

It you think this is too simple think again. As I write over and over again, God means life to be so very simple. There should be nothing complicated about it. But we complicate life. Life is like a new closet that starts out as empty but we start storing junk in. After a while the clean (simple) closet is filled with junk (complications).

Love, God, neighbor. Wow! I’m watching an election season that has nothing about love, God, or neighbor in it. Just the opposite! But that’s the state of the world right now. There’s simply not a lot of love, little God, and even less care about our neighbors. That can only mean there are not many true—I mean really true—Christians out there. Sad but true.

My priorities for this week are love, God, and neighbor. Yours?

Have a FANTASTIC week walking in love with God and your neighbors!!!

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!!!

Glory

Glory is one of those difficult words to define when talking about God. But like all things in life, which is meant to be so very simple, I think that “glory” is pretty simple. Glory is the awe of God—everything that is right, perfect, splendid, shining, and magnificent. Glory is total light, like the sun rising on a cloudless, perfect day. Everything flowing from God flows in rays of glory. And, as God created us—He is in us and we are in Him—our own form of glory should flow from us.

The world is in desperate need of glory!!! We live in times that seem to get progressively darker. It’s like a string of damp, rainy days when you think you’ll never see the sun again. We blot out God’s glory and with it our own brand of glory.

It’s time for each of us to step up to let God’s glory flow, and along with it our own glory. The glory of God within us. Sound like more religious mumbo-jumbo? Well it’s not. It’s life. A life we need to make less dark and more glorious.

Smile at strangers. Wish everyone a great day. Buy someone in line behind you a coffee. Give of your time and money. Forgive. Love. Simply think glorious thoughts. You get the picture. It’s not hard. Simple.

I wish you a GLORIOUS day and week ahead!!!

Is God Lost?

I have heard more people questioning where is God? Is He hiding? Has He given up on us? All good questions in the middle of a pandemic that has claimed over a million lives, civil unrest that has virtually locked down some big American cities, and a world seemingly one button away from nuclear destruction. It just seems that we all hate each other and God is lost in all of this mess. Well, NEWS FLASH: God is NOT lost. We are!

I don’t know how many times I have written about this—too many to count. But our current story is the story of the Israelites thousands of years ago. They fled Egypt to make what was an 11 day journey across the desert to the Promised Land. It took them 40 years (as in 40 YEARS!!!) to finally cross over to the Promised Land. And only two Israelites who fled Egypt made actually made it to the Promised Land. All others died along the way.

The Israelites had no vision of where they were going. They doubted God, complained to Him, and turned their back on Him worshiping false idols. Wow!!! We have no vision of where we are going, what this country or even the world should be. We turn our backs on God, even during the scourge we call COVID-19. We have thrown Him out of our schools, and want His name off our dollar bills. And those idol bills we worship with a passion! The story of the Israelites has become our story. We are the ones aimlessly wandering in the desert of this world.

Whether you like it or not, God made you and me and everyone else. He is hardwired into each one of us. As such, God is less than a heartbeat away. Always there, always present. We’re the ones who deny that presence. We doubt, complain, and deny. We turn to all the idols we have built.

What can you do? Keep God front and center in your life. LISTEN for/to Him. Understand the unique, special purpose He wants you to fulfill with your life. Smile, laugh, love. Get away from the crowd. Craft your own path. Find your own Promised Land. It’s not hard. It just takes centering your life on God.

Take a read of the Old Testament dealing with Moses and the trials in the desert. Think about that and reflect on today. Then, set out on your own path and enjoy every step of the journey.

Have a TREMENDOUS day walking your walk with God in your life!