Think There is No Devil?

One of the Secrets to Life is realizing the devil (Satan., Lucifer, etc. etc.) is real. It is hard at work looking for souls and fighting the devil is a must. This isn’t any cute Trick or Treat horned little red devil; it’s the real personification of evil. But the devil doesn’t want to be seen as real. It works best behind the scenes. And one very scary scene is this article. In fact it’s beyond amusing. It’s very scary and a sign of the times.

“Rapper Lil Nas X sparked intense debate online over Palm Sunday weekend with the release of a controversial pair of “Satan Shoes,” which feature a bronze pentagram charm, an inverted cross — and actual human blood.”

I don’t know what else to say. The devil is at work and smiling.

Fight!!!

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!

Take Him Down!

That’s one of my mantras for 2021. Take Him (Jesus) down from the cross. What??? Jesus was taken down over 2,000 years ago. Is this more “religious” mumbo-jumbo? No, it’s about life and changing mine for the better. Here’s my thinking.

Jesus died on the cross for our sins—yours, mine, and every living being past present, and future. My sins were up there on the cross. In fact, effectively my sins hammered in those nails at the hands of the Romans. I had a hand in putting Jesus up there. It’s my responsibility to take Him down.

OK. Let’s get practical. How do I take Jesus down from the cross? Simply by doing what He showed all of us to do—love. Every day, every step, should be a walk in love. Sure, I veer off the love path all the time. I get inpatient with people. I get mad. I look down. But I try to look back on every day and be honest when and where I messed up. I then repent. And try not to mess up the next day. I envision Jesus hanging on the cross and me taking Him down. It’s really that simple. Try, review, and repent. Constantly try to do better, be better.

Yes, this all sounds simple. But then again for the 1,000th-plus time, God means life to be simple. We are the ones who complicate it so very much.

Take Him down! Easy enough to think about, harder to execute. I know. Trust me. But we all get points for doing our best. That’s what God expects. Try.

Have a TERRIFIC weekend ahead!!!

The Lure of Greed, Power & Ego

Too much of the world operates around greed, power, and ego. Unfortunately, I see this in D.C. all the time and it reverberates out through the media across the world. Sorry to say this and be a downer but it’s true now more than ever. The devil lures with greed, power, and ego and is doing a very good job in the temptation department.

I’m thinking about this because I’m already fast-forwarding to the end of Lent. Only a few days in and I’m having dreams of diving into a big bowl of chocolate anything because I gave chocolate up for Lent. Not that I think giving up something is more important that doing positive things during Lent, but if I can’t stay away from chocolate I won’t be able to resit any temptation.

So, in thinking about the end of Lent I’m picturing the devil tempting Jesus. He first offers Him all the bread he can eat—after not eating for 40 days in the desert. He then shows Jesus all the kingdoms of the world and offers it to Him. Finally, the devil takes Jesus to the pinnacle of the temple and tells Jesus to throw Himself off because His angels will swoop in to save Jesus. Greed, power, and ego. The devil tests Jesus and fails. Jesus comes out of the desert and starts His ministry.

It’s easy to give into greed, power, and ego. They play out on big and small stages all over the place. There is one thing that stands in the way of greed, power, and ego: humility. Humility that realizes that anything we have comes from God. He gives and our path in life is to use our God-given talents to the best of our abilities. And use them for good, just as Jesus did. And just as His Spirit empowers us to do on a daily basis.

My wife teases me that I think Lent is the best time of the year. In a way it is, if we take the time to reflect. That reflection should include getting grounded in humility as Jesus did in the desert for 40 days and resisting the urges of greed, power, and ego.

Have a humble week ahead! And eat some chocolate for me!

Change, But Don’t Change

Well what the heck does that mean? Change, but don’t change? How does that make any sense, let alone is possible? Simple. It means always strive to be better. Everyone can improve. No one is perfect. Only God can claim perfection. But always realize who you are and the special, unique purpose that God hardwired into you. Change—strive to be better. But don’t change from what God created. Be comfortable in your own skin.

As we get past January, a lot (most?) of us leave the well-intentioned New Year’s resolutions in the rearview mirror. We were going to do this or that—diet, exercise, have more patience, etc, etc, etc. But the change for the better part falls short. That’s natural to a degree. But just because January has come and gone doesn’t mean we can’t renew our striving to change, to be better. Make what you have been given better step by step. It won’t all happen over night.

I always go back to trying to understand what God has given to me. The special, unique purpose He has for my life. That takes listening for/to God. You can’t understand God’s purpose for you if you don’t “hear” from God. And that takes finding quiet time to spend with God.

When you know your purpose in life it’s easier to change by building off of that foundation. Think house. You may repair the house or even tear it down and build a new one but the foundation always stays. That foundation in your life is the special, unique purpose God built into you. Understand it. Build off of it.

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

Have a FANTASTIC week ahead. Change, but don’t change!

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.

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!

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!!!