Restless in bed and sleepless through the night,
I longed for my lover.
I wanted him desperately. His absence was painful.
So I got up, went out and roved the city,
hunting through streets and down alleys.
Song of Soloman 3
Song of Soloman 3
Y’all, this sounds like God’s way of saying, “Karma’s a bitch!”
Could it be that Buddha and Jesus agree? Gasp!
Why should this simple thought bother us?
I’m convinced that most of the world’s religions are in some ways more similar than we believe. Most, at its core, seeks peace with their God and peace with their fellow man.
If this is the case, why is religion used more as a weapon than the intended conduit to peace?
My answer: Pride. Humans in their narcissistic, selfish pride have convoluted the simple message of most religions. Of Christianity, Paul writes, “…I fear that somehow you will be led away from your pure and simple devotion to Christ…just as Eve was deceived by the serpent.”
It’s sad to say, but religion in the hands of man has done far more harm than good. I understand the case my Atheist friends bring to the table, and as a Christian, this hurts my soul.
Christianity, in a nutshell, is meant to be “pure and simple devotion to Christ.”
It was never meant to be complicated. It was never about a list of do’s and don’ts. Many who still use the list as a whipping stick have forgotten that Christ took care of the do’s and don’ts on His cross.
Jesus stressed time and time again to “…love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind. This the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: Love your neighbor as yourself. ALL the other commandments and ALL the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.”
If we would but follow Jesus’s commands there would be no need for a list of do’s and don’ts! Why, because our motives would be pure. There would be no wars, and peace would reign.
Simple…and yet profound. Such is life.
Friends, don’t listen to those who spout condemnation, those who seek to heap coals of guilt upon your head, and who try to put you once again under the bondage of “do’s and don’ts.”
Those who condemn and judge others would do well to heed the warning from Jesus:
“…whatever measure you use in judging others it will be used to measure how you are judged.”
So, when it comes to judging others…tread lightly, my friends, because Karma’s a bitch!
Jesus and Buddha agree!
One is happy when one believes their Christian life, and relationship to Christ is nobody’s damn business! LH
“If we love each other, God lives in us, and his love has been brought to full expression through us. (I John 4:11)
Sometimes it’s just too easy to forget, and the older I get the more this becomes my super-power.
I feel confident my friends over fifty can relate…hmmm…unless, of course, they have forgotten how often they forget.
It’s true, I walk into a room and forget my reason for being there. I stand blank-eyed, trying to remember what I was just thinking about before I entered the room. My reasoning is this, perhaps my last train of thought is what led me to this room, so if I can remember that then maybe that would jog my memory as to why I am standing helplessly looking at the contents scattered within the four walls.
One time I got out of the car, closed the door, and realized I had forgotten my phone. Knowing I would need it later, I asked my daughter…(on the other end of the line) to wait a moment while I retrieved my phone. (true story)
Another time, again with my daughter, I found myself stuck in the snow.
I was in the midst of helping her move just outside of Boston. We finally finished unloading the truck and hauling her stuff up three flights of stairs, and now it was time to go out and grab a bite to eat. Beth jumped into the passenger seat and I got behind the wheel, we were sooo tired but happy the hard stuff was over.
Well, if you’ve visited Boston in the mid of winter, you know, more than likely, snow will be upon the ground, and it was on this particular day. Thinking about a cheeseburger I cranked up the old girl (my truck), put her in drive, and proceeded to exit the parking space; however, the wheels would do nothing but spin in place.
Two hungry women on a mission would not be deterred…so I told Beth to get out and push.
When that didn’t work we dug the snow from around all four tires and tried it again…me at the wheel and Beth pushing as hard as she could.
When that didn’t work we searched for something to slide under the wheels, hoping it would give some sort of traction for the spinning wheels. We finally found a scrap of cardboard and I put it under the left front tire, as we were parallel-parked. We assumed the familiar position, me at the wheel and Beth, outside pushing with all her might…still the wheels did nothing but spin!
Beth, exhausted from pushing, finally stopped and came to sit beside me in the passenger seat. We were now two hangry women.
Frustrated, I smacked my hand against the steering wheel of the truck and noticed the small red light that illuminated the word brake.
That was the last time Beth has ever asked me to help her move.
Thank God, enough time has passed so that now we can at least laugh about it.
These funny stories came to mind as I read my morning meditation.
The meditation had taken me to John chapter 14. Here, I found Jesus talking to his friends/disciples saying,
“Remember what I have told you: I am going away, but I will come back to you again…I have told you these things before they happen so that you will believe when they do happen.”
Jesus was telling his friends that soon he would die. He loved them and was worried about how they would feel when he was killed. He worried they would feel confused, abandoned and afraid all of his promises had been a lie. So, over and over again in the four gospels, he tells them,
“Remember what I have told you…”
Friends, I believe Jesus, rich in his compassion, is telling us the same thing…
“Remember what I have told you…”
When things go wrong and people hurt us…it’s so easy to forget he is with us. Feelings of hopelessness, loneliness, and utter despair draw us down into those dark places we created as a child to keep us safe.
How easy it is to return to that lonely stomping ground.
Jesus knew this for his disciples and presently, he knows it for us, as well. If we could but be still in those moments and just breathe…we would hear his voice gently telling us…
“Remember what I have told you…”
I can write this with confidence because He has put his Holy Spirit deep within us and his Spirit abides with us even our in our darkest moments. Jesus gave us his Spirit because he loves us so much, and he doesn’t want us to be alone or feel alone. (It’s possible to be with people but feel alone…been there done that.) In this world, our most loved friends and family may leave us, but Jesus never will.
“…know that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you…the Father sends the Counselor…and by Counselor I mean the Holy Spirit, he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I myself have told you.”
“Remember what I have told you…” (Jesus)
His Spirit moves within us…be still, breathe, and listen.
Have you ever had to eat your words?
I’m sure I have, but at the moment, nothing comes to mind. Perhaps, even if I could, I wouldn’t share as “eating your words” is considered quite distasteful.
Often, the words we have to eat are bitter.
I believe the words we say never disappear. They linger and take their abode within the minds of those who hear.
I remember the day, Corinne and I left Josh, our son, at West Point. As a new cadet, he was about to enter basic training, or “BEAST BARRACKS” as it is referred to at West Point. Beast Barracks is a 7-week program designed to transform young men and women into cadets worthy enough to be sanctioned Plebes, the lowest rank on campus.
My heart hurt at the thought of what he was about to face, and as most moms in this world, my imagination soared beyond the realms of reality. Sitting in the auditorium I heard an officer beckon the new cadets to come forward, and I knew this would be the last time I’d see Josh for what would seem an eternity. I looked at him and he looked at me, and I’ll never forget the words he said, “Write and write soon.” Tears ran down my face as I watched him walk away and disappear from sight.
I was able to write him immediately; however, it would be weeks before he would be allowed to write home. When those letters came, I couldn’t wait to open the envelope and devour the words on the page. The words were few because he rarely had a moment to spare during BEAST, so I hung on every word. His words were important to me. Finally, after seven weeks, we were allowed to go and visit him at West Point, and that is a moment, and a hug, I will never forget.
When we love someone, their words matter.
This was true of King David’s relationship with God. In the book of Psalms, he has this say about the words of God,
“They are more desirable than gold, even the finest gold. They are sweeter than honey, even honey dripping from the comb.”
The more we fall in love with Jesus, the more we want to listen for his still small voice. They become a balm for our soul.
On the flip side…guess what?
Our words are just as important to God. He loves us so much, that our words matter, and he waits patiently to hear them.
Talk to God today…He loves your voice.
Okay, I remember a time when I had to eat my nasty words…I even wrote a blog about it. Almost two years ago on election night, I colored the world of Facebook with a wide array of colorful expletives. As a result, there were consequences to bear. I was unfriended by friends and family. Those family members, to this day, ignore my Christmas cards, and of course, I get none from them. Words matter.
May the words of my mouth and the thoughts of my heart be pleasing to you, O Lord, my rock, and my redeemer. (Psalm 19:14)
My morning reading was all about the golden rule. You know, “…do to others as you want others to do to you.”
I ask, “Why is such a simple concept, so hard to achieve?”
If I had to guess as to why this can be such a difficult task, I would credit the blame to greed and selfishness. This world it seems is fueled by greed and selfishness, and sad to say, America does her part well. We have a leader who is all about greed and selfishness. His very logo, “Make America Great Again,” reeks of selfishness. And when it comes to greed I dare say, his whole life and empire has been built upon it.
As a nation, this is not who God calls us to be.
A nation is made up of individuals…you and me, and for it to change, we must change. This is why Jesus stresses the concept of loving your neighbor.
Who is your neighbor?
I dare say, it is the person closest to you. It’s the cashier who takes your money at Kroger…the mail person who brings your bills…the police officer who pulls you over for speeding…the homeless person with their hand out…the person driving the car that just swerved into your lane…the one who hands you an ice cream cone on a hot summer day…it’s the bill collector knocking at your door…the telemarketer on the phone…the next door neighbor who drives you crazy…the other next door neighbor who brings you pie…the person across the street who lets their dogs run rampant…the elderly lady down the road who never fails to smile when you meet…the old man down the road who curses you on sight…and on and on and on…. My point is, most of the time, we cannot choose our neighbor, and we certainly cannot choose what they will say or do.
We can, however, choose what we say or do.
People mistakenly think love to be a feeling, when it fact it is an action. Feelings are fickle, and change with the wind, but love weathers the wind, and continues to act accordingly in spite of discomfort.
Corinne and I celebrated our 12th anniversary on April 2. I remember our “commitment ceremony” well. (I say “commitment ceremony” because gay marriage was illegal at that time) We decided to come up with our own vows to one another, and I fashioned mine from I Corinthians chapter 13…
“Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. Love does not demand its own way. Love is not irritable, and it keeps no record of when it has been wronged. It is never glad about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. Love will last forever…”
In the past 12 years, I can’t say I’ve totally lived up the this statute, but it is, and always will be what I strive toward. Love is a verb…it is what we do.
Instead of saying “I love you,” show “I love you.”
Major change begins with one small act of kindness, and kindness is contagious.
Let’s do our part to spread it.
God has called us to build bridges and not walls. The whole story of Christ’s life, testifies to this. During his ministry, Jesus broke down many walls of separation.
Jesus leveled the playing field, where all are equal, and He calls us to do the same.
“The Lord is my shepherd.” And thus begins Psalm 23.
King David is the author of Psalm 23; however, as much as we Christians would like to believe, David was not the first to pen the idea of God as shepherd.
History tells us, this metaphor, of comparing god to shepherd, was common place within the Eastern world. For example:
Some Christians, learning of this, may feel it weakens David’s writing, but I feel quite the opposite. I’m sure David, a learned man, was aware of such comparisons; therefore, when he chose to liken his God to that of a shepherd, he, in essence, was elevating his God, Yahweh, above all other gods.
David spent many of his younger years, tending his father’s sheep. The book of II Samuel, speaks of two incidents where David had to kill a lion and a bear in order to protect the fold. David understood the lambs were vulnerable, and without his protection, they would most likely die. Knowing this fact, when he wrote Psalm 23, he visions himself to a lamb, that is dependent upon the shepherd, and for David, this shepherd could only be Yahweh. David humbled himself, and placed his entire well-being, within the hands of God.
I love how David makes Psalm 23 personal. He could have written, “The Lord is a shepherd” and that would have been true, but instead he writes “The Lord is ‘my’ Shepherd.” By that simple two letter word, David sheds light upon his close relationship to God.
I believe when we read Psalm 23, God desires of us, to make it personal. He wants each of us to slip our identity within this passage, and when we do, this ancient scripture becomes alive. We like, David, can proclaim a personal relationship with God, and when we are able to do that, God Himself walks with us.
Oh, what peace and joy this brings!
My Daily Prayer:
Lord, you are my Shepherd. You care about everything in my life, even unto the minutest detail. Help me today to ponder this thought.
When I’m tired, help me to remember, “The Lord is my Shepherd,” so I will feel rest. When I’m afraid, help me to remember, “The Lord is my Shepherd,” so I will know your protection. When I am lonely, help me to remember, “The Lord is my Shepherd,” so I will know your presence. When I am guilty, help me to remember, “The Lord is my Shepherd,” so I will know your forgiveness. When I’m down upon myself, help me to remember, “The Lord is my Shepherd,” so I will know I’m enough. When I feel unloved, help me to remember, “The Lord is my Shepherd,” so I will know your love. And in that time, when I face death, help me to remember, “The Lord is my Shepherd,” and I will know comfort and peace.
Lord, thank you for this day, you have made for me. Help me to live it, with my hand in yours. Help me, to be a blessing, to those you bring to my path.
In the name of Jesus, my savior, I make these requests. Amen
“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.” — Jesus
When blessings, like a river, swarm
Some two thousand years ago Jesus asked Peter, “Do you love me?” Not once, but three times Jesus asked this of Peter, and three times Peter replied, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”
One may question, why did Jesus ask this three times?
Why wasn’t one “yes” enough for Jesus?
Was Jesus so insecure that he needed to hear Peter, say it three times?
Of course not. Jesus was trying to teach Peter a valuable lesson about true love.
This account is found in John chapter 21. When reading the story, we notice after each “yes” from Peter, Jesus says, “Feed my lambs,” “Take care of my sheep,” and lastly “Feed my sheep.” In doing this, I believe Jesus is trying to convey to Peter that, true love is not how you feel, or what you say, but rather, true love is what you do. True love is action.
I think it probable, Jesus asks us the same question, many times a day, and it’s not an answer he seeks, but rather a response.
We prove our love for Jesus, when we take care of his people.
My Daily Prayer: Lord, as I go through this day, help me to hear your question, “Do you love me?” May I hear it when I see the hungry, the poor, the lonely, and may I love you, by loving them. Jesus, fill me, that I may be you, to all those around me. In your beautiful name I ask, Amen.
My morning devotional, that I try to consume every day with a cup of coffee, told me, “We can live by the truth of God’s word and not by the way we feel.”
I grew up with low self esteem. I never felt good enough. As a child, I didn’t understand this to be a lack of self worth, rather it was just “my normal.”
One of my earliest memories of this was when I was in kindergarten. A symphony came to visit our school. It was a beautiful day outside, so the group set up their instruments and played under the pine trees of our school yard. As a poor kid, living in a cotton mill town, I had never heard such beauty. Spellbound, I sat crossed legged in the pine straw, trembled, and thought, “This is too beautiful, and I’m not good enough…”
At five years old, this was my realty.
Forty some years later, my knee-jerk reaction is to fall back into that same crippling mentality.
I want to be a writer and I think…“I’m not good enough…”
I want to be an artist and I think… “I’m not good enough…”
I want to be a friend and I think… “I’m not good enough…”
I want to be accepted and I think… “I’m not good enough…”
…and the list goes on and on…
Now, that I’m older, I realize I can rise above these feelings, …but sometimes…sometimes…I…. well, sometimes I just don’t…
So, it’s always refreshing when I read or hear words of encouragement. They become a balm, soothing and healing my soul as they are applied.
Eagerly, I hold fast to what God says about me. I eat it all the day long. I breathe into my being. I long for it to become my reality.
What does God say about me?
You are God’s masterpiece. (Ephesians 2:10)
Whatever God says about me, He also says about you.
You are a masterpiece!
Check out what Joyce Meyer has to say about this subject: : Finding My Identity in Christ
It was a blessing to me and I think it will bless you as well