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!!!

Hope

Hope may be something in short supply during these COVID-19 days. What seems like a never ending nightmare may seem like it truly will never end. Will we ever get back to normal? Will we have to wear masks everywhere—forever? Is there really going to be a second wave of COVID-19 in the fall/winter? The list of questions goes on and on and so with them hope seems to fly out the window. So, what are we to do?

Hope! That’s what we are to do. This is not the end of life as we know it. It’s the beginning of a new life, hopefully a new life that will make us look at the world and each other a little differently. As in differently better.

If anything, this COVID-19 experience should be a good time to take stock. Figure out what really matters, what’s most important in life. COVID-19 should be a lens that makes us look at our world in a new light. A light of love. A light of caring for others. A light of respect for the other person. A wave. A smile. A helping hand.

Jeremiah told the people of Israel that, “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) Jeremiah told the Israelites that their “normal” wouldn’t be for 70 years when they would return from captivity in Babylon. He told them to live their lives, marry, and have children. He gave them hope. The same hope that we will come out of this COVID-19 pandemic stronger and better as people. If we don’t, it’s a terrible experience lost.

Have hope! Use this time to revaluate. Look at your life in a mirror. Hit the pause button of how you lived your life in the past as COVID-19 has hit the pause button on our “normal” lives. And, most importantly of all, in the quiet that COVID-19 has brought to our lives, LISTEN for/to God. He’s there. Less than a heartbeat away. Spend some time with Him. That will give renewed hope, purpose, and outlook to your life!

Be well and be safe!!! 

Would You Recognize Jesus?

If you took a seven mile walk with Jesus and listened to Him talk with you, would you know Him? Imagine spending three years roaming the countryside with Jesus and then not recognizing Him! Imagine thinking that Jesus was some gardener? All this and more happened after Jesus died and rose again on the walk with the disciples to Emmaus, multiple times with the apostles, and with Mary at the tomb. What was it about Jesus that they did recognize Him?

There are lots of theories that our “spiritual bodies” are somehow transformed from our “earthly” bodies. They’re not exactly the same. Let’s put that all aside for a minute.

Jesus was raised body and soul from the dead, with the nail holes in his hands, side, and feet intact. So was He a “different” Jesus or were the eyes “closed” of everyone around Him, including His closest followers. Bingo!

God (including Father, Son Jesus, and the Holy Spirit) is in everyone. That means, you, me, and every other person past, present, and future. God made us, so He is very much in us. Whoever you look at, you are looking straight in the eyes of Jesus. But do you recognize Him? I can tell you that in all my failings that there are a lot of people I know who I do not see Jesus.

That’s the problem with life and our walk through it. We don’t see Jesus. Yet, we should see Jesus in the mirror as well as in every person we walk by on the street—well, use to walk by on the street BC (before coronavirus).

Here’s a challenge for the week. Whoever you see on TV or behind that mask at the supermarket you are seeing Jesus. Look real hard. It’s Jesus in the face of anyone you are looking at. And how would you treat Jesus if you were looking at Him? Something to think about this week.

These are tough times that truly test our faith. Look for Jesus in the faces of others and your faith will get a boost. And we will get through this. With Jesus!

Have an AMAZING week!!! 

Done with Negative People, Posts & Pundits!

I’ve had it with the negativity!!! Negative people, posts & pundits. I’m not talking about bad news as COVID-19 swirls around us. I’m talking about people, posts & pundits that just focus on the negative—not doing anything constructive, not offering positive hope, and in general not contributing anything to making us stronger as a people as we fight through this crisis.

We will come out of this stronger and better as a people but only if we stay positive, help those in need, and uplift ourselves and others in a positive spirit. No solutions ever come from negativity. Solutions spring eternal from positive thinking!

“The positive thinker sees the invisible, feels the intangible, and achieves the impossible.” Winston Churchill

There is a fork in the road during this crisis: the negative path and the positive path. I’m down the positive path all the way to the end. It may be bumpy, with twists and turns, but it’s the path I am staying on—now, during this crisis, and after we come out the other side.

I’m not conforming; I’m transforming!

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

Have a FANTASTIC, POSITIVE day and week ahead!!!

Where is God?

It’s times like these when we ask that question. “Where is God?” With death swirling around us worldwide, we at least think the question, it not say it. “Where is God?” I thought of the question this morning when I heard the gospel account of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. Martha and Mary must have been at least thinking it over and over again—“Where the heck is Jesus?” “He could have saved our brother from dying?” Yet, Jesus finally showed up and raised Lazarus from the dead.

God is where He always is—less than a heartbeat away from each one of us. A natural disaster has hit and God is not off on some vacation in heaven. He’s here. And if we LISTEN for/to Him we will weather this storm.

These are times that not just try souls (shoutout to Thomas Paine) but shake our faith to the core. Does God really care? Why can’t He stop the sickness and dying? How can God sit back and not do something? Anything?

Like the disciples in the boat terrified during the storm, we have to have faith. Faith will get us through this. The same faith that tells us that no matter what happens in this life that it is less than a heartbeat in the eternity we have been promised.

What’s very important during this crisis is how we act. Do we reach out and help others, however we can? Do we PRAY? Do we donate? Or do we simply hunker down and worry about ourselves. How we act during a crisis like this says everything about who we are as a person.

Have faith. Believe! It’s tough going right now but we will come out stronger. If that’s what we want.

I hope you are keeping safe, helping others, and BELIEVE!

Spend some more time with God this week. LISTEN for/to Him!!!

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!!!

 

Virus in the Desert

I’ve written a lot about the Israelites roaming aimlessly in the desert for 40 years. It took them that long to travel about a dozen miles to the Promised Land. And only two of the original Israelites made it. Even their leader, Moses, died before he saw the Promised Land. During that time in the desert all types of bad things happened—plagues, snakes, etc. The Israelites constantly turned their backs on God, and only when they needed God did they run to Him. We are roaming our own desert—and pretty aimlessly, at that—and bad things happen. Today it’s the coronavirus. Tomorrow it will be something else. But we’re not running to God. It seems we’re running away from Him.

I’m not suggesting that the coronavirus is some type of plaque sent by God. It’s a virus, and viruses are a part of life. Some are worse than others. But it’s how we react to this coronavirus that is so telling. We panic. Not that we shouldn’t mobilize to contain and “defeat” this virus. But we don’t need to panic, just like the Israelites did. It’s a surprise they didn’t stone Moses or burn him at the stake.

It’s a given that we are less tied to God than ever. I won’t bore you with stats, but “organized” religion is on the way down. People are increasingly simply not believing in God or turning to their own “spirituality”—whatever that is. Worship of self?

If I have said it once I’ve said it over a 100 times—read the Old Testament story of the Israelites wandering aimlessly in the desert. That’s us. This world is one big desert and we are certainly wandering—and very aimlessly! I have no idea where we are heading. Do you?

Least you think this is a depressing message, it’s not! My focus is on God—Father, Son & Spirit. I know my purpose from the Father, and am trying my best to walk in the footsteps of Jesus, and pray for the Spirit to empower me. I’m upbeat. I’m resolute. I’m out to find the Promised Land in life. I’m not a saint. I stumble all the time. But I’m doing my part to lead by example. We change the world one person at a time. It’s why I write this little blog, why I post Bible verses on my Facebook page ever day, and why I try to share with others.

I hope you know your way. Let’s help get everyone out of the desert!    

We Can’t Get Along

I guess nothing has changed since the dawn of recorded history. We can’t get along. As a human race we constantly let us be divided rather than united. We fight, we war, we annihilate. And it seems to be getting worse rather than better. I know. Rather bleak picture. But there’s always that constant light in the darkness. No matter how dark it seems the darkness can’t overcome the light. Never. Ever. That light is Jesus. (See John 1:1-5)

Whenever I get discouraged—especially in high political season, when the daggers of darkness come out—I focus on the light of Jesus. I may not understand why God gave up His only Son for us when we can’t even come close to listening to Jesus’ one command to us…

This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. John 15:12

Forget about love. Imagine if we were just civil with one another. Better yet, imagine if we put down all the guns and bombs and looked up at the stars. If we worked together we’d be exploring other worlds, not trying to destroy this one.

I’m not trying to be bleak or pessimistic. I do wonder on occasion why God loves us so much when we can’t love ourselves. But in the beginning and in the end there is always Jesus. The alpha and the omega. The light in the darkness. The true king who will come again. Our savior. That thinking turns the bleakness to hope, the cold to warm, and the darkness to light.

Jesus. Say the name; think the name. Salvation in any darkness in your life. Not religious mumbo-jumbo. Just practically living life.

Have an OUTSTANDING day (in the light)!!!

Nails In or Out?

Sorry for what may sound like some heavy religious mumbo-jumbo but this is my new visual. Nails in or out? Meaning, Jesus was nailed to the Cross for our sins. Yes, yours and mine, as well as every other person, dead, alive, and to be born. So, we’re either there helping to nail Him to the Cross or trying to take the nails out. Pretty compelling visual, at least for me.

It’s that simple, We’re either sinning and effectively hammering those nails in or doing our best to repent and pulling those nails out. If Jesus died for our sins—past, present, and future—we’re either sinning or trying to stop sinning. We’re either indifferent or trying to fix our failings. Nails in or nails out? It’s either one of the other. There is no in between!

So, I ask myself all the time—Nails in or out?

Hope this helps. ENJOY the day!

Yes, There Are 7 Secrets to Life!!!

I started writing this blog almost eight years ago to share what I have found—seven Real Secrets to Life. Not some catchy, gotcha, “I have the secret to life” hype. Just what I have found that has worked in my life. They have helped me get through the chaos and clutter of life, as well as helping me simplify life. Life that we always manage to complicate, regardless of how simple God intends it to be. I don’t spend any time “promoting” this blog. I don’t make any money off this blog, which is not a bad thing, but I just keep it simple. My thoughts are as much for me as for those who read them. So, I thought it was a good time to briefly review what are the seven Real Secrets to Life that I have found.

LISTENREADLOVEFIGHTBELIEVELIVE & PRAY. There you have them. My Secrets to Life. For me they are a steading influence, helping me put life into perspective and serving as a map going forward.

LISTEN because God is calling to you—yes, you! READ the Bible because it has life answers (It’s God’s handbook on life, in case you don’t know it.). LOVE because God is love and commands us to live in love. FIGHT because the devil is all too real and whispering doubt and other temptations in your ear. BELIEVE that you can do anything—because you can! LIVE knowing this life is just the opening act to eternity. And PRAY simply because it works. God is listening (as well as calling to you, which loops you back around to the first Secret to Life).

The utter simplicity of these Secrets to Life says everything. They boil life down to its simplicity—the way God means life to be. They help me focus my life—what I did yesterday that needs correcting and the course changes I need to make today. They help me focus on what’s important and what is not. They help order the life chaos.

I hope these help you as they help me. But whatever you do, find your Real Secrets to LifeAnd have a GREAT day, and an AMAZING year, in the process!