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.

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!

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!

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!!!

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!

Conform or Transform Your Mind?

So, what’s it going to be? Conform your mind (thinking) to the traditional and/or social media influences pulling you either left or right (or any other way) or transform your mind by being your own person? Letting others—with a clear agenda in mind—do your thinking for you? Or do your own thinking? Be someone else’s person/pawn? Or be your own person? It’s time to answer that question!

Paul said it best a long time ago…

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:2

Don’t conform to what everyone is saying, wanting you to say. Transform your mind by renewing it. That means constantly challenging your thinking by focusing on God’s will. Not the will of the media, pundits, politicians, advocates or anyone else. God’s will. What is good, pleasing, perfect to God, not any person.

I know I am hopelessly lost without God. Without figuring out why I was created by a Father who has a very specific purpose in my life. Without trying my best to follow the path set down by Jesus Christ. Without seeking the empowerment of the Holy Spirit. The more I listen to this world the more lost I feel. Especially in the middle of a pandemic that has spawned more hatred than I have ever experienced before in my lifetime.

Challenge yourself and what you hear around you. Take your eyes off of the TV, computer screen, and smart phone. Focus on God—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. It’s not hard. It simply takes a determination to “transform” rather than “conform.” Conforming is easy. Transforming is tougher. Don’t let “big brother” rule your life. Let God. And let go so you can let God (do HIs thing in your life).

Have an AMAZING, transformative day!!!

A Virus Far Worse Than Any Novel Coronavirus

Hate. It’s a “virus” that is spreading all around the globe. I certainly see it spreading in this country (the United States; which are far from united!). And hate is spreading faster than any novel coronavirus. It’s being spread by a lot of so-called “christians” (the lower case “c” isn’t a typo). “So-called” because you’re certainly not a true Christian (meaning, follower of Jesus Christ) if you hate; in fact, you’re not a true Christian if you don’t actively love. ACTIVELY!!!

This is all too simple and clear. In facing His death—a gruesome death suffered for all of us in the supreme act of love—Jesus gave us one little, simple, clear command: love.

My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. John 15:12

What part of that command don’t we understand? Yet, with about a third of the world made up of Christians, hate is spreading faster than any coronavirus. In this country, the name calling, destruction, and violence is unspeakable. Why? Because we have lost the ability to love and have found the ability to hate. We like hating.

Worried about the coronavirus and getting COVID-19? Sure. But I’m even more worried about giving in to hate. That’s why I’m determined to do just the opposite. To find love. To love. To find the face of Jesus in every face I look at, regardless of who the person is. To love.

I hope you help to fight hate by finding time to smile today, give something to someone in need, to help, to heal, to love.

 

Listening to COVID-19

I’m not one of those people professing that the novel coronavirus is a plague sent from God to signal the end of times. Yes, they are out there. I don’t think COVID-19 is anything “sent” from God, to punish us or otherwise. We’re facing a pandemic because viruses are a part of nature and we simply don’t do enough to respond to new ones. (Why is a different story for a different post.) My point in this post is that you should be listening, and learning, from COVID-19. What is it saying to you about you?

I know it sounds strange but I am trying to “listen” to this once-in-a-lifetime (let’s hope it is!!!) experience to hear what it tells me about me. What’s really important in my life? What do I miss in this pandemic? What does it tell me about my family and friends? What does it tell me about people I don’t know? I could go on and on.

COVID-19 has told me that life can hang on a thread. Yes, you can walk across the street, get hit by a car, and die that suddenly. But with COVID-19 raging all around us, death is all around us more than we have ever experienced. Cancer, the flu, heart disease are all killers, but COVID-19 deaths have come in a wave—OK, a tsunami.

I miss a lot of things that I thought I would never miss—like traveling for business most weeks. But I have a new appreciation for my family (my sister-in-law had a really bad bout of COVID-19; it was scary), my friends, my work, my health, and a lot of other things I take for granted. And listening to COVID-19 has helped tune my faith. After all, everything I am, everything I have, every breath I take, and everything else is in the hands of God. I may plan the way but God sets the course (Proverbs 16:9).

I hope this finds you well and safe!

And have an OUTSTANDING day!!!