Every good and perfect gift is from God above. James 1:17
Unless you’ve been living under a rock you are undoubtedly aware that there is a lot of yuck filling the news. When all the craziness from candidates to policemen to natural disasters and disrespect for life gets lumped together it can bring out the worst in us. Everyone is entitled to their opinions but folks sometimes forget others might not share the same one yet they insist on loudly sharing those opinions with everyone and proclaiming their thoughts are correct, just, moral and supreme. The result is a muddy mess that leaves me scratching my head wondering; why don’t folks remember everybody’s life matters and how in tarnation did things get so scrambled up.
I surely don’t understand all the messes we hear about in the news but there are a few truths I know. First, God is bigger than ALL of it! Second, I can’t fix it; God would never ask or expect me to and third there are two very powerful things that we can do RIGHT NOW that will matter. These things will matter in my life, my family and with the people I am close to. I can’t fix it but I sure shootin can make it better…and so can you. The greatest part; these two things will tackle the feelings of frustration, dread, anxiety and the overwhelming desire we might have to throw something at the TV or computer screen when we watch the news.
There is a tiny back story to this idea and it came from the Holy Spirit because I would have never thought to do this myself. As I was sitting in prayer sad and frustrated about the current state of affairs of our nation I was prompted to go to something happy so I yanked an Advent book from my shelf. Advent is such a time of joy and happy anticipation so I opened up the book and started soaking in the words and felt excited and happy; it was crazy! After reading several pages two things became very clear and my heart filled with hope and faith. Complaining, dwelling, commiserating and joining in on face book rants about how this country is going to hell in a handbasket isn’t cutting it…that Advent book made that very clear! We have to take part in the plan of God; and make no mistake, even in this mess, he has one…and judging by the magnitude of the mess I’m confident it’s gonna be a GOOD one for those who are faithful!
So, the first of those two things; be GRATEFUL! Yup, you read that right, be GRATEFUL. Think about it, gratefulness should be our response to the grace, mercy and blessings of God and no matter what you just watched on the 6 o’clock news, God has blessed YOU! A grateful heart sees what’s good and appreciates it. People who are grateful are merciful and kind because gratefulness causes us to be connected to the one who gave us the things we’re grateful for. If we are connected to the giver of all good things, he gives more good things. That connection leads to eternal life…that’s what we need to remember to focus on, not this short-term life we’re in the middle of right now. This isn’t the good part…that’s comin and our salvation isn’t based on the behavior of the world; it’s based on our personal behavior. If we’re living gratefully we aren’t complaining, we aren’t worrying we’re busy praising and thanking the Father and that leads to great stuff!
The second of the two things; be LOVING! If we are grateful, we realize all good things flow from love not hate, jealousy, greed or pride. When we’re loving, the atmosphere changes completely and God barges right in and brings those cool gifts of the Spirit…you remember those…joy, peace, kindness, goodness and gentleness! No elected official or community leader is going to deliver those gifts if we cast our vote for them or hold up the right poster at a protest rally. Those gifts come from only one place and there is no spot for those gifts in our life unless we are loving. Too many of us are fumbling around in a fog of bitterness, anger, frustration with our hands thrown up in disbelief…that isn’t the proper disposition or frame of mind to be loving. We need a new disposition; let’s try gratitude and love and see what gets better; I’m guessing everything will!
A Seed To Plant: Write down this quote and pray with it for a while and see how your heart changes. “Gratitude flows from the recognition that all that is good is born of a divine gift of love freely given to us so that we may offer thanks and share it with others.” (Author unknown but they must be a really smart, holy person!)
Blessings on your day!
The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him. Habakkuk 3:19
It has been one strange winter! We have had more snow days than I can ever remember in one school year. I’ve used the time to get caught up and do some of those yucky chores you dread but I’ve also had some time to watch a few movies. I have not one athletic bone in my body, but I love sports movies. I love it when the underdog wins, the hopeless find hope and the least expected turns out to be the most amazing. I have pulled four of my favorite quotes from 3 great movies for today’s post and added a twist as if they were each spoken to us by Jesus Himself.
It’s ok to think about what you want to do until it’s time to do what you’re meant to do. (The Rookie) If Jesus said that to us, I think He’d follow it up with “so put your plans and your dreams at the foot of my cross and I’ll take it from there. Oh, and by the way, I’ll come up with something WAYYYY better for you than you’d ever dream up yourself. Wait for it….Wait for it!”
You’ve taught me to judge a man by the soul of him, rather than the look of him. (Remember the Titans) That’s Jesus talking… but all too often way too many of us still haven’t learned that lesson. It’s easy to see this quote in terms of race but I think it’s much bigger than that. What about seeing the soul of a homeless person or a person lost in alcoholism or someone struggling with anger or mental illness? It’s not always easy to see beyond the first look sometimes but we’re supposed to.
When I told you not to get your hopes up, that didn’t mean I wasn’t going to. (Invincible) One of the things that really hurts my heart is when I visit with someone who has no hope. It hurts my heart even more when I see a person smash someone else’s hope. Hope is a very powerful thing and it can make amazing things happen. Hope is a grace and it’s freely given to each of us but we have to make sure we know that putting our hope in Christ is what we need to do. When we tell someone not to get their hopes up, we seem to be trying to protect them but I suppose Jesus would remind us to say instead, put your hope in Me because I have only the best for you….I will give you far more than you could hope for.
Sometimes bad things happen for no particular reason at all. (Remember the Titans) I see two big lessons of faith in this line. Lesson one, don't try to blame everything on something or someone and don’t try to explain, justify or second guess God’s motives because He sees our whole life, not just one event. Lesson two, no particular reason you can see or understand at this moment, but give Him time, He will reveal the reason and He will bring blessing and goodness because of it. I suppose it’s also helpful to remember that sometimes the lesson and the blessing are meant for someone else and it just comes through us and our circumstance.
There, I feel better now, thank you for allowing my lazy snow day movie watching to be used for a good purpose.
A Seed To Plant: Think of a line from one of your favorite movies that has meaning and enforces a Gospel teaching in your life. If you have time, share it with us in the comment section so we can be inspired as well.
Blessings on your day!
Children let us love not in word or speech but in deed and truth. 1John 3:18
I love watching parents in action. I especially love it when a mom or dad can immediately halt a behavior with just a look. You know; “the look”. No words needed, just “the look”. I find it really amazing when that look comes from a tiny, gentle, sweet little mom. I observed a tiny, mighty, master mom at work in the airport Friday afternoon and I’m tellin you what, as I got caught in the cross hairs of her gaze, I felt a chill and I sat up straight myself! As fierce as that look was, it was done out of love for her squabbling boys and it was so much better than ugly words or threats. I can only imagine what this world could become if we all took a cue from this line in St. Johns letter and focused on our deeds more than our words.
The first few words of this verse give us a mission; LOVE. Love is so much more than sappy, kissey-face, goey stuff. Hollywood gets it wrong, social media gets it wrong, television gets it wrong so it’s no wonder we’re all a little fuzzy when it comes to figuring out what love really looks like! The kind of love St. John was writing about is the real deal kind of love. Love is mercy and mercy means forgiveness and forgiveness means choosing the Father’s way. Love allows us to see people as their Creator sees them and when we look through his lens, love becomes giving and not taking. Love is not a suggestion, it’s necessary to make earthly life meaningful and eternal life possible.
I don’t know about you, but I could seriously pray on this verse for weeks and probably still not get it right. We are told by the world to find our voice and use our words, but it seems like it’s all becoming a giant screaming match with everybody trying to out-talk the next guy. It’s also a little tricky to navigate through all the words and messages and pick out the truth. Words can be twisted and misinterpreted but actions are concrete and powerful. When we think about the loving things we can do for others, it’s important to think small. Most of us will not be called to build a hospital, start an orphanage or open a school to serve forgotten children. We are simply being asked to do simple things with great love.
Yesterday I sat in a huge, old, gorgeous cathedral and I was captivated by the beauty, but I was more deeply touched watching the people and the way I saw this verse come to life. I got to watch the woman in front of me reach over to touch the shoulder of a hurting friend. No words were spoken, just a simple touch and a look that was steeped in compassion. As I was gazing at the stories being told in the stunning stained glass windows, I was distracted by a man who used his neck tie to play peek-a-boo with a restless toddler in front of him whose mom was trying desperately to hold on to his wiggly body. As I listened to the Bishop of the Diocese of Salt Lake City deliver a powerful homily, my gaze shifted to the usher as he welcomed a disheveled and frazzled looking little old woman and took her fail arm and escorted her to a seat. She wore years of worry on her brow but as that usher put out his arm and led her to an empty seat you could see the look of gratefulness and peace on her face as she settled in to listen. As I left the Cathedral, I noticed the little house next door that served sandwiches to the city’s homeless every day. God gave me a line from scripture during mass and then illustrated it for me in living color. I love it when he makes it so easy to see!
Maybe today is a good day to just be quiet and do something. Loving deeds speak louder than words…let’s get busy!
A Seed To Plant: Spend a couple days praying with this verse and ask God to put people in your path who need a little action packed quiet love!
Blessing on your day!
Jesus said, “Come follow me and I will make you fishers of men.” Mark 1:17
Growing up, Sunday was a great day. Mom and Dad made sure it was a day we slowed down. It was often the day we would take a drive and go visit my Grandmas or play games at the kitchen table. Winter Sundays were great but spring, summer and fall Sundays often involved a relaxing activity that I hated…fishing! Everyone in the family except me loved to go, so not wanting to spoil anyones fun, I never said anything but man I hated it when it was a fishing Sunday. To me, it was completely ant-social, totally uneventful and absolutely boring! You couldn’t talk or you’d scare the fish away, the hook began and ended with something wiggly and gross and if I actually ever sat still enough to catch something, the great prize was eating it. Since I don’t like fish, even the prize wasn’t a good deal. The only Sunday fishing trip I ever really enjoyed was the one where I convinced my mom that some boys at school told me Chocolate Chip Cookies were great fish bait. I told her that if I used those as bait, nobody would have to help me or listen to me complain about spearing a poor, little, slimy worm with a hook. It was a great day. I left my empty hook in the water all afternoon while I laid in the summer sun slowly nibbling on my two cookies and then announcing at the end of the afternoon that those boys had no idea what they were talking about! Any good fisherman will tell you, it’s all about the bait.
I love this verse from Mark’s gospel even if it does remind me of fishing Sundays. These words Jesus spoke two thousand years ago were not just meant for the disciples; they were for us in this place and this time as well. It’s one of those verses we read and think…oh no…he’s not talking to me! I’m not qualified to preach the Gospel or evangelize and lead others to the Lord. That’s for religiously smart, holy people who know lots of stuff about faith and the bible. If that’s what we’re thinking then we’re making a big mistake. Sharing the good news of Jesus’ love and mercy is a job that belongs to each of us. After all he’s done for us, he’s asking us to be willing to publicly “show him a little love!”
The most important part of this verse is the phrase “and I will make you”. Those five little words take all the pressure off of us. He's saying very clearly that he will give us what we need to do what he’s asking us to do. If we follow, he will arrange the situation and circumstances perfectly. He isn’t asking us to convert a continent or preach an eloquent sermon to thousands, he’s just asking us to take him with us wherever we go and share him with others. If you’ve ever asked someone to “put in a good word for you” then you understand what he’s asking. He’s asking us to make the introduction and he’s so amazing, he’ll even point out the folks he’d like us to introduce him to if we agree to follow and help him make a difference in peoples lives.
If we agree to let him make us fishers of men the best part is the bait! The bait he’s asking us to use as we “fish for men” is love. It isn’t knowledge or power or strength. We don’t have to buy any equipment or supplies, he’s given us everything we need to do this work. He has loved us abundantly and if we share that love with others, hearts will be changed, lives will be changed and the world will be changed. This is one fishing trip I can get excited about! The request is clear so pick up your pole, spend some time in prayer so you can load up on his love and then take that bait and tell a true fish story about the things you’ve seen him do when people grabbed onto the bait and let him change their life.
A Seed To Plant: Take this verse to prayer with you this week and ask the Father to show you where to take some of his famous bait!
Blessings on your day!
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