Today I read an account in The New York Times of what happened when I was barely one year old. It was April 11, 1945, and General George S. Patton’s Third Army had liberated the Buchenwald concentration camp. Army Chaplain Herschel Schacter ran through the barracks crying “Shalom Aleichem, Yidden,” – “Peace be upon you, Jews, you are free!” This story nearly brought tears to my eyes. There is so much pain and inhumanity in God’s creation. I am sure those words of liberation were so hard to believe at first and that there was fear in the hearts of those who had survived the gas chambers. But those words were true! Countless lives that to be sacrificed in the battlefields of WWII to bring freedom to so many. Christians are about to celebrate another form of liberation. The affirmation that Christ conquered the power of man’s inhumanity and death represents to the world the cry to all people of every age: “you are free!” It is a liberation from the power of fear and meaninglessness. Because of Easter we are free to love and live as forgiven people. All it takes is faith to be delivered from the destructive forces of hate, envy, regrets and pride. Those of us who have this faith should run telling others that they can be free. Have a blessed Easter!
“Take a Break”
February 21, 2013
It happened again today. When I was driving on one of the busy roadways in our city I saw a driver “multitasking.” This is a fairly new word in my vocabulary and it means that a person is doing a number of things at the same time. An example would be to talk on the cell phone, apply make-up, eat breakfast and “drive” the car all at the same time. It makes me tired just to look at a person multitask. I avoid it, but it is easy to fall into the busy trap of a hectic life. We can wear ourselves out to the point of physical, emotional and spiritual exhaustion. The sacred scriptures give us guidance about how to find rest from our weariness. Psalm 27 ends with important words: “Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.” If you are facing difficult and challenging times in your life, then it is time to take a break. My interpretation is that we need to take our hearts to the Lord and wait until he brings them in sync with his healing rhythm. That is what I call taking a refreshing break!
“Old and New”
January 19, 2013
We are now in the second half of January and I don’t hear too many people saying “happy new year” anymore. Most people stop saying this after the first week. The new starts getting old very quickly. A new car or the new gadgets we get for Christmas soon lose the luster. If we stay away from young members of our families for even a short time, we realize how fast they grow. The older we grow the faster time seems to go and all new things grow old. Except with God! At the end of the Bible John tells of the vision he had of a new heaven and a new earth. There writes about how he heard God’s voice saying “I am making everything new!” Rev. 21.5 There is a lot of food for thought in these five words. Let’s all take some time to reflect and discern the new things which are emerging in our lives in this aging new year. Perhaps you have found new friends, ideas, interests, communities, hope or inspiration. God’s renewal in our lives can take many different forms and it is important that we recognize the positive changes that are taking place inside of us. Remember, He is making everything new, even in you. Celebrate change!
“Don’t Trust Your Eyes”
December 10, 2012
Pilots in training learn the importance of trusting the instruments and not their eyes for flying at night and in bad weather when visibility is poor. I have heard people say “I have to see it to believe it.” As a matter of fact I have probably said the same thing many times. A number of years ago I became acquainted with Richard Bach through his fictional writings. Bach is a former Air Force pilot and airplane mechanic turned mystic, philosopher and author. All of his books somehow deal with flying as a metaphor of life. Bach tells us “Don’t believe what your eyes are telling you. All they show is limitation. Look with your understanding, find out what you already know, and you’ll see the way to fly.” Scripture also teaches us that spiritual blindness is more limiting than the physical type. The eyes of understanding are the eyes of the soul and they can see worlds that our physical eyes cannot perceive. Not trusting your eyes is the same as living by faith. This season of the year is a time for miracles and a good time to seek a higher life. Many feel a strong desire to attend worship and to perform acts of mercy. Don’t be afraid to believe. Trust the Holy Spirit and you’ll arrive at your destination even if visibility is poor. It is time to soar!
“Waiting for The Bird”
November 22, 2012
Americans are very religious people and most of us are going through the rituals of Thanksgiving Day. Let me count some: travel to be with family and friends, turkey preparation with all the trimmings, football games, eating excessively, drinking all sorts of libations, and wishing you had not consumed so much. Thanksgiving Day is a very American tradition which is not observed in most of the world. We do, because be have come to believe that God has imparted special blessings upon this nation. Thanksgiving is a good time to examine this belief. Since I am at a big family gathering I don’t have to do anything but relax and wait for the turkey. Much more able hands will fix everything and later the bird will appear at our table. Meanwhile I am reading Psalm 100 trying to rediscover the true meaning of thanksgiving. The Psalmist invites us to shout for joy to the Lord and to know that we are his creation. The Psalm also reveals the creator’s nature as being good and that his love endures forever. Let us not just feed our faces on Thursday. Reflect on these words of wisdom and feed in your heart. This is also a good time to be humble and not feel that we are more blessed than others. Feed your soul and mind while you wait for the turkey and pray for a grateful heart. We live in a hurting world where so many have no hope. Let us spend less, consume responsibly, give more, and practice the art of giving thanks!
“God Bless America”
Nov. 7, 2012
It is customary to hear “God Bless America” between the top and bottom halves of the 7th inning at the ball park. Most people like it except those who might object to the fact that the name of God is part of the song. Since baseball season is over, you might have to go to a church to hear this traditional song. Perhaps you can Google the words and read them carefully. Now that all the political announcements are over and the election done this nation can move forward with the hard work that must be done. Here is a good place to start. Read 2 Chronicles 7:14. We must begin with the practice of humility since the opposite is pride and it divides. Prayer is essential since it is a recognition that we are subjects to divine order and receive underserved blessings. Strange and wonderful things happen when people pray. Forgiveness and acceptance are examples. Prayer and humility combined facilitate our knowing the face of God which then becomes a mirror where we see ourselves as we are and as we were created to be. Then we must turn from our wicked ways, and they are many. All of this applies to individuals and to the nation. There is a promise in Chronicles that if we manage to do these things, then our land will be healed. It is not enough to sing the song. It takes more than that. Let’s all pray and work for the healing of the wounds.
October 30, 2012
Dreams are just dreams, but wonderful realities can and do come from them. John Lennon wrote “Imagine.” Martin Luther King had a dream and gave his famous speech “I Have a Dream.” Well, I had a dream last night. Barack and Mitt were standing side by side holding hands as brothers do. They declared an end to the presidential campaign effective today. They pledged that all the funds left in their coffers would go to the American Red Cross to assist the thousands of Americans affected by Hurricane Sandy. I know what you are thinking. You may say I am a dreamer, but I am not the only one. I am entitled to my dream of a nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. That dream belongs to the founders, but I have appropriated it with countless others. Perhaps Sandy has delivered the most powerful pre-election message anyone can pronounce. Try to hold hands with someone who has a different opinion but who shares in the same ultimate goals. Imagine that! Keep on dreaming my friend, you are not the only one!
October 16, 2012
I find it difficult to imagine a tool so simple as the plum line. Plum lines have been in use by brick masons for centuries. Early builders realized that if walls were going to stand firm and hold the weigh placed above them, those wall had to be perfectly vertical. This tool consists of nothing more than a piece of string with a heavy object at the end. Amos lived in the first half of the eighth century before the birth of Christ. He lived in Tekoa, a small village in Judah and worked as a farmer and herder. Then Amos had a vision. The Lord was standing beside a wall built with a plum line, with a plum line in his hand. (Amos 6: 7-8) Often times the “visions” that are given to us come veiled in symbols and it is up to each of us to discern their meaning. God has different ways to reveal his purposes to each of us and invariably a response is required. While you think about your own task, ponder the builder’s tool and place it against the wall of your life.
October 9, 2012
I wonder how many remember the days when everyone had at least one of those folding maps from the oil companies. Many cars now come with built-in navigation systems because staying on course is important. We tend to set many goals and courses to follow in life. We do it for school, work, family, finances, vacations and more. However; when it comes to the spiritual direction of our lives most people just drift with the waves and wind. You can stay on course if you look up. Before all modern navigational aids, ancient mariners and travelers took their bearings from a formation of starts called The Northern Cross in the constellation of Cygnus. Now is a perfect time to “look up” and confirm that we are on the correct course. This is a perfect time of the year to look up to the heavens and ponder the magnificent creation of which we are a very small part. Elevate your own heart felt prayers and ask for direction so that you can reach your God intended destination. Listen carefully and follow the instructions with a trusting spirit while you enjoy the journey!
“Pillar of Salt”
September 20, 2012
Life is to be lived looking forward and not back. A regret is a feeling deep inside that somehow makes us want to go back to change history. That desire has no future. Words said and deeds done can not be changed no matter how hard we try. As I drive my car I am reminded that the windshield is the front window of my vehicle and it is huge compared to the rear-view-mirror. Imagine for a moment driving by only looking through the mirror at the place where we came from and not using the forward looking view. I am not completely sure why Lot’s wife looked back to the city where they had lived. (Gen 19:26) The result was disastrous and she became a pillar of salt. You can take this literally or metaphorically but either way the lesson is clear. Regrets of the past can dominate one’s soul and render it lifeless. Live your life fully and look forward to a future that is positive and full of promise and hope. Trade your destructive values and behaviors of the past for new life affirming beliefs. Make the choice now to live abundantly tomorrow. Besides, so much salt is not good for anyone.