Tag Archives: Spiritual

I am not worthy

Even though I am not worthy, God still loves me. These words continually bring me great comfort. I am not perfect and won’t be. It is not in my nature to be perfect. Now knowing this does not give me an excuse to be unloving to people. It is still my responsibility to always try to do what is good and loving.

For several years, I had a young man work for me that was often disappointed in himself because he wasn’t doing everything perfectly.  I appreciated his efforts and stressed to him over a long period of time that what I wanted was his best.  I believe that when he was extremely overwhelmed, he finally figured it out. He could not always be perfect at everything he did. I am not sure where he learned this insecurity because I never explored that with him.

We tend to beat ourselves up when things don’t go as well as planned. Maybe we made mistakes or didn’t try hard enough. But it is up to us to examine the events and learn from them. Then again, it could be that we just might not be capable or talented for that particular task. I will never be a Russian ballerina. I am not Russian nor am I female and I am not particularly graceful. So I don’t beat myself up for not being a Russian ballerina. I know that is extreme, but the point is, there are just some things that others are better at.

I am not worthy but I try my best. I know that God is patient. I look at the men and women that God used throughout the Bible. These were not the top of the class, spotlight of the world people. They were everyday people. They often balked at the mission God gave them, giving God reasons why they were not worthy of such an assignment.

It didn’t seem to matter to God. He basically communicated that He knew they were not worthy but He would give them the strength and tools to get it done. I am not worthy but God has shown over and over again that He works through people. People, just like you and me.

I am glad that I do not have to be perfect to be loved by God or anyone else. If we had to be perfect, none of us would be loved. So, it comforts me to know that even though I am not worthy, God still loves me. He expects me to be human, which is a good thing, because that is what and where I am.

So don’t expect perfection from yourself or others. Try to be the best you can be knowing that you can never be perfect. Know that even though you can never be perfect, that God’s grace and mercy are already waiting for you.

What color is your world?

When I was young, my Uncle Harry (after whom I am named) came to live with us because he had lost his greenhouse nursery business. He stayed with us quite a while and as a gift for our family’s kindness, he left behind a black and white television set. It was the first television we had.

Black and white television depended on shades of gray to create contrast. We fooled ourselves into believing that we could tell the colors that should have been there by the particular shade of gray. Whether or not we guessed the color correctly didn’t really matter, as we painted the grayscale picture in our mind.

Like today, there was an annual showing of the Wizard of Oz. I did not know until years later that the dream sequence of the film was in color. That Zenith TV my uncle left us lasted a very long time.

There are some people who live in black and white only, others in grayscale and still others in technicolor. Of course, all of us have episodes of all three. Those that live in strictly black and white have a very hardened set of rules which establish right from wrong. Basically, anything that isn’t right must be wrong. That’s it – no argument. They write the script for the rest of the world to follow and become upset if they don’t, despite the fact that the rest of the world had no opportunity or desire to follow their script in the first place. So, they spend much of their time being consumed by the world’s inconsideration of their beliefs.

There are others that live in grayscale. They have a defined concept of right and wrong but know that there are motives, reasons and situations that create circumstances that dilute the rigidness of those concepts, hoping that grace will provide trails to the right path. The gray in their lives comes from wishing for better and playing the ‘if only’ game. I would be happy, if only I were married. I would be happy, if only I got a raise. I would be happy, if only I had another job. I would be happy, if only I had lots of money. Instead of looking at what they already have and the relationships around them, they always see what they are doing without or things they don’t or cannot have. They miss out on the joys of life.

Then there are those that live in technicolor. They know that the world is full of wonder and mystery. They want to see the colors of the orient. They want to hear the music of the African plains. They want to feel the tropical breezes. Creation is alive and vibrant, pulsing with color: to be experienced by all of our senses. They have defined concepts of right and wrong but understand that many cultures exist. That backgrounds and experiences shape the lives of each one of us – that grace belongs to all of us; that love and God are not limited; and beyond our full comprehension. They understand that two people can listen to the same music and be moved differently. They accept the diversity as the wonderful mystery of God and creation.

Now everyone has episodes of all three of these examples. Like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, her dream world was vibrant, beautiful, and at times a little scary. As exciting as it was, she was still tied to a place called home. Her relationships were important. She had tasted the Technicolor life, and it is my hope it remained an important part of her psyche.

I try very much to live a technicolor life, but I admit, I sometimes fall into the grayscale (probably more than I would like to admit). Each morning, when I wake up on the right side of the grass, I am thankful and blessed – anything beyond that is a gift. I wish to continue to see all these little gifts as blessings, trials as lessons that give me insight and strength, and relationships that promote love and understanding. My world is full of color and you shine brightly. You can be a gift to the world no matter how you see it through your own eyes. The reality might be gray, but that does not mean you can’t live a technicolor life.

Take care, be well, and be blessed.

Does God Exist?

Almost every workday, there are two gentlemen where I work who discuss the existence of God. Some days are more passionate than others. They are constantly bringing up evidence or proof of their opposing beliefs. One believes that science proves God does exist by discovering: the delicate balance of nature; our unique circumstances that allows life on this planet; the incredible complexity of life itself and the programming of DNA. One believes that all these things are incredible but in no way proves the existence of God. I do believe in God. I have faith in God. But I am intrigued by the argument for and against.

I asked privately if they learn anything from their arguments. The believer said that he was learning a great deal about science. I agree. There is so much that we do not know. As soon as we think we figure something out, there is always something else beyond our reason.

I believe that God does exist. He is not only all around me but in me as well. But I can understand that some need hard evidence, and maybe even then would not be convinced. I appreciate both these people. They are thoughtful and passionate. They are friends, even though they disagree. So, even if you do not believe that God exists, I wish you well and hope that you will be well blessed.

Faith does not make things easy

Faith does not make things easy. When we are going through trials or tribulation, having faith does not make those things disappear. What faith does is give us hope that things will work out for the best. It helps us look to what is possible.

Belief is praying for rain. Faith is bringing an umbrella. Faith is powerful but without love, it is nothing.

Job, for instance, had great faith despite the fact that he lost everything. He did not know what was going on., He did not realize that he was part of a test. Yet, he kept his faith and looked forward to the time that God would reward him. Even his friends doubted the position he held, but he insisted that the Lord gives and the Lord takes away.

I look at every night when I go to sleep as a mini-death. I am not aware of my surroundings nor am I aware of the passage of time. O when I awake, it is as if I experience a resurrection. A chance at another day. It is a chance to make better decisions. It is a chance to do better n my life.

I hope that you see each new day as a present. To be in the present is to change the future. I hope you take advantage of the time you have.

Marketing Christianity

   During my long commutes to and from work, I listen to a good amount of Christian broadcasts on normal radio and satellite. I find the various messages very interesting, especially the various interpretations on the same theme.

As expected, I hear marketing efforts for numerous churches and ministries. Some messages promote Christianity as the end all of all problems. Even I may be guilty of this occasionally. As pleasing as that sounds, it just isn’t as simple as the marketing would like you to think.

Joining a church will not suddenly make all your problems disappear. In the proper circumstances, it will surround you with people who care and provide emotional, spiritual, and sometimes tangible support. As it any endeavor, it takes courage to step away from the familiar, humble yourself and establishing new relationships. It takes time to establish new routines.  It takes time to gain wisdom and maturity in any new line of thought. We are naturally impatient so we may give up on good things sooner than we should. Then again, not all changes are good for us and we need to be attuned to that as well.

Another very popular marketing theme is the name-it-and-claim-it philosophy. I am not sold on this. I do not think that God is my personal butler or concierge that awaits my beck and call. I hope not. I hope that my God is much bigger than that.

As in all life, each day is filled with choices. It was every choice that we made that got us where we are. It will be choices that we make today that will determine where we are tomorrow.

I am not implying that all marketing of Christianity is bad, but as in the retail world, let the buyer beware.

I Am a Gift

Eleanor Powell once said, “What we are is God’s gift to us. What we become is our gift to God.” I believe we are gifts to each other. Every day I thank God for the wonderful gifts of my sons, Theresa, and all those I have loved in my life. Even though some of those people have moved on, such as my children’s mother, the love for her still remains. The love – their gift – of my parents, now departed, will live on in my heart of hearts.

Sometimes, we just have to change the way we think to inspire ourselves to move forward or do the things that we need to do. I am no stranger to failure when it comes to self-control. I do try. I really do. I am reminded by Oscar Wilde’s quote, “I can resist anything but temptation.” I am trying to lose weight, just like millions of other people. I am tempted by all the delicious snacks that world.

Because the people that are important to me in my life are gifts to me, I would hope that I am a gift to them. As I would not want to give them something that I am not proud of, I want to improve my health for them as well as myself. Because I am a gift, it creates both a selfish and unselfish motivation for me to take care of myself. Better health might prolong my life,giving me more days to enjoy the company of others. Better health means that I might be around to bring joy to my loved ones for a longer period of time. My goal is to lose weight and exercise. A goal that is as much for them as it is for me.

Now that I have a better understanding of the impact of my goal, I hope that it will inspire me to be more disciplined. Since the expectation has increased, I suppose the that failure would feel that much more intense. If I do fail, then I will just try again. If you stumble and fall, as we all do, I hope that you find the courage to stand up, brush yourself off and try again.

No matter how old or young you are, time is short. My first 50 years have passed and I am amazed at how quickly it went. Even if I live another 50 years, it still seems short. I want to take advantage of this gift called life. I want to live it to the best of my ability. I want to share it with as many as care to walk the path with me. Each day that I am given is a gift from God, so that I can be a gift in return.

I am a gift. You are a gift. You have a much greater impact than you imagine. Even though you are not perfect, and neither am I, I am glad you are in the world. Let us be gifts to God, to those we love and to one another.

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Beyond Understanding

Last weekend, I attended a memorial service for a 7-year-old girl who lost her battle against cancer.  I will say right away that I do not understand why children have cancer or other dreadful maladies that take these precious souls away from us. I cannot imagine the loss to her family. Such an event cannot possibly leave a family unchanged.

As much as we do not like it, we can accept the cycle of life when someone dies at an advanced age, but to die so young seems so unreasonable. We know that people of every age die at the hands of accidents, negligence and the “free will” choices of others, but many medical maladies seem so far out of our control. Maybe someday we will find the answer that unlocks the secret to cancer and stop its runaway growth. I certainly hope so.

The pastor said that there is no explanation or reason that might comfort the family. I dug around my own thoughts looking for a reason. I thought about the fall of man at the beginning but even that didn’t satisfy my hunger for something understandable.

More than 30 years ago, Gary Mervis founded Camp Good Days and Special Times for his daughter, Teddi Mervis and 62 other children with cancer from Upstate New York. I am not directly familiar with this organization but I can easily imagine that this group not only brings fun and confidence to the kids but celebrates their undefeatable spirit. The founder not only poured out his love for his daughter and others like her, but allowed so many more to demonstrate their love as well.

In the newspaper after the memorial service was held, there was a comment about the little girl from her mother, I believe, that cancer was just a word. I can believe that, since children do not tend to dwell on their problems but look for the next moment of magic.

Death, of course, is a part of life. For some, it is the end. For others, it is a new beginning to something greater – a mere transition from here to the hereafter. I am not sure that death is much of a barrier for God. Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead after four days. (John 11) Jesus commanded his apostles to raise the dead. (Matt 8:10) Peter raised Tabitha from the dead. (Acts 9:36-43) Paul raised Eutychus from the dead (Acts 20:7-12). Jesus himself was resurrected and a resurrection was promised to all those who believe. For many of us, this is a comforting thought but those of us left behind miss our loved one’s presence. Their memories in our minds and hearts keep them alive for us here, even as they live on in paradise.

I cannot imagine the intense feeling of losing a child. I can only sympathize with those who have lost children for any reason. Early childhood passing was common one hundred fifty years ago, but in our modern world of medicine and sanitation, it defies my sensibilities. My thoughts and prayers not only go out to the family effected last weekend but to all those families suffering with cancer or other medical maladies.  I suppose that children living with and dying of cancer is simply beyond my understanding.

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Bewildered Directions

   Over the last few weeks, we have been looking for a new home. Theresa and I want to be closer to family. We thought we had found the home we wanted but another made an offer that the owner accepted just two days before ours.

There have been many things in our lives that occurred in the last few months: Theresa had received full time employment; my job changed; Theresa’s father passed away; and we have decided to move. Our lives have experienced both positive and negative stressors.

Today, I learned that the seven year old daughter of a co-worker passed away from cancer. I cannot adequately find the words that can comfort such a loss, neither can I imagine the pain to lose someone so young. As faithful as I wish to be, this is one area where I have a problem with existence. No child should ever have cancer, but they do. Because they do, I can imagine the love and support that is poured out upon that child and their families. It gives people opportunities to care, to give and to love. But I still insist that no child should ever have cancer.

I was thinking about direction today. Each day, we have to choose where we will go and what we will do. We have to choose how we will react to the world around us. It isn’t always easy. We have to decide to stand still or move forward. But what direction is right? Where shall I go? I suppose the only way to go is forward after we carefully decide which way to turn.

Woodrow Wilson said, “We live in an age disturbed, confused, bewildered, afraid of its own forces, in search not merely of its road but even of its direction. There are many voices of counsel, but few voices of vision; there is much excitement and feverish activity, but little concert of thoughtful purpose. We are distressed by our own ungoverned, undirected energies and do many things, but nothing long. It is our duty to find ourselves.”  Woodrow Wilson left us in 1924. I am not sure when he said these words, but it shows that our looking for direction, purpose and a way to spend our energies, has been a persistent state.

With so many changes in our lives, both great and small, we must choose a direction. We must also ask for direction. If you believe in a greater force as I do, then you pray for God’s will. And even if you don’t, you should still seek out wise counsel from those that have vision.

May tomorrow bring you closer to your dreams. I think it’s that-a-way.

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God’s Healing Spirit

In services today, there was a laying on of hands and prayer for healing. I sincerely hope that the service brought comfort and healing to those involved. I have been suffering from chronic pain for many years. Most of my pain is from arthritis with some nerve pain caused by taking statins. The gabapentin that I take for the nerve pain helps me the most. I actually did not participate in the laying on of hands portion of the service. I have been praying for healing for a very long time. I am not dissuaded from God’s love or caring. Paul had been afflicted by “a thorn in his flesh” and had asked God three times to heal him, but God said to him, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Who am I to demand that God heal me, when he chooses not to?

I believe God heals miraculously and through people as well. Some are given gifts of medicine and science and ease suffering this way. Some use their afflictions and disabilities to bring glory to God and uplift not only those afflicted like them but to inspire others as well. There are several examples, but one that comes to mind immediately is the story of Nick Vujicic. He was born without arms or legs. He prayed mightily to be made whole. Even though he did not look whole on the outside, he is complete on the inside. Nick may not have received the miracle he was looking for but became the miracle God meant him to be. God healed his spirit. Nick’s ministry, Life Without Limbs, has brought hope and inspiration to so many.

Compared to what many people deal with, the pain that I suffer seems so insignificant. I will seek understanding as God continues to reveal his will for me.

May this new year bring you many blessings.

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And the Truth is?

I had a very interesting conversation with my co-workers. One of them asked a long while ago the difference between a fact and truth. We had a lively discussion and even did some light research overnight before finishing the topic. The topic came up again today. Officially, I guess, a fact is something that can be proven, whereas a truth is a generally accepted idea which can be based in fact but not necessarily.

We then discussed whether facts were always facts. We decided they were not. When I went to school, it was a fact that Pluto was the ninth planet, but now the fact is that it is not a “real” planet at all but a dwarf planet. Poor Pluto. But my truth tells me that Pluto is a planet and always will be.

For many aeons, the truth was that the earth was the center of the universe and that it was flat, not round like the ancient greeks or Columbus believed it to be.  Columbus helped prove that the truth is that the earth is round.

For very young minds, God bless them, there is a simple truth for everything – it’s magic. Why not, it held together cultures for generations. Humans have always had a penchant for knowing, a need to have answers. It really didn’t matter if they were true or factual, just so they made sense. A flaming chariot racing across the sky, why not? I am sure it made sense to someone.

There are many creation stories on how the earth came to be.  In ancient Africa, the Bakuba believed that Mbombo, the White Giant, who ruled over a chaotic ocean of water and darkness became sick to his stomach and vomited up the sun, moon, stars, people, trees, animals and many other things.

In India, the god Vishnu awoke with a lotus growing from his navel. Inside the lotus blossom sat Brahma, servant to Vishnu. Vishnu commanded Brahma to create the world, and he did, but it was bare, so he created plants, animals, birds, and insects.

In Mongolian lore, Father Heaven had two sons who ruled the worlds upper and lower. The ruler of the upper world asked a duck to bring up mud to create the earth. When the ruler of the under world saw the ruler of the upper world resting on the earth, he tried to pull him under but the earth spread instead. The ruler of the upper world used mud to create animals and people. The ruler of the underworld spit upon the bodies of the new creations so that they would have diseases and die.

These and many more made perfect sense to those people long ago. Some may even hold these beliefs today. I am sure that the ancient Romans believed as sincerely in their gods as I do in my God. There is no doubt in my mind.

Even in our Bible today, which describes creation, there exists a rift between those who believe it was a literal six 24-hour days and those who view the days as symbolic of long periods, a thousand, or even millions of years.

There is, in the end, a simple truth: God is love and He wants us to love one another. I find it amazing that the Golden Rule is described, in slightly different ways, in more than 20 religions and philosophies. So even in the variations of truth and belief, the message seems to be getting through. In my search for truth, I know that God is Love and it is my responsibility to love others.

Take care, stay well and be safe.

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