LOVE Thy Neighbor

Bono, of U2, said ” ‘Love thy neighbor’ is not a piece of advice. It’s a command.”

He’s right on. It isn’t a suggestion, and it isn’t advice on how to live. GOD, speaking as JESUS CHRIST, said it as a command on how we, as His followers, are really required to live. What better way can we display the Love of the FATHER? When we don’t reach out to the hurting and the lost, it is sin, simply put. Am I guilty? Absolutely. No rock throwing from me. My life is full of insubordination and stubbornness – sin.

“My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an Advocate with the FATHER – Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the Atoning Sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world. We know that we have come to know Him if we keep His commands. Whoever says, “I know Him,” but does not do what He commands is a liar, and the Truth is not in that person. But if anyone obeys His Word, Love for GOD is truly made complete in them. This is how we know we are in Him: Whoever claims to live in Him must live as JESUS did.” – 1 John 2:1‭-‬6 NIV

Oh, but I WANT the revenge….. and GOD wants me to LOVE that person??? What? Really???

“Don’t say, “I’ll get even with you for the wrong you did to me!” Wait for the Lord, and he will save you.” Proverbs 20:22

(BIG sigh….) I have to wait. Revenge from me is not the answer. I actually want to let God take care of the people who have winged me (and who I have wronged), because:

“It is written, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has known what God has prepared for those who love him.” (Isaiah 64:4) 1Cor 2:9

God will judge us. He will judge everyone, and those who chose not to accept Him and follow JESUS will be consigned to an unimaginably horrible eternity. I really don’t wish that on my enemies (well, most of the time I don’t; just being honest!) Then, after the Great White Throne judgement, He will be with us in the new world. EVERYTHING, EVERYONE will be new… NO sorrow. No aches & pains, no disease, no disfigurement. No mosquitoes, no ticks, nothing poisonous. Nothing scratchy or itchy, no ‘fashion police. No discrimination or judgment! Hallelujah!

Come back, Lord Jesus. Maranatha!

“A Wise Person Once Said …..”

How many times in your life have you heard a sentence that started with those words? Maybe the better question is how many times did you listen when you heard those words? Remember what GOD said:

“It is better to heed the rebuke of a wise person than to listen to the song of fools. The end of a matter is better than its beginning, and patience is better than pride.” – Ecclesiastes 7:5‭, ‬8‭ NIV

If you were like me, you didn’t like being told someone else was smarter or knew better than you (still a problem for me sometimes!). I read these verses and heard lessons and sermons on the words from Ecclesiastes. In school I learned that Abraham Lincoln, a very wise man, said “Do we not destroy our enemies when we make them our friends?” How can that even be possible? I mean, when someone hurts me, whether intentional or not, or physically or mentally, you are telling me to make that person my friend? Even JESUS teaches us:

“But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you …. ” – Matthew 5:44 NIV

I don’t want to pray for those people, let alone be friends with them! I want to take revenge. I want them to hurt more than they hurt me. I tell you the truth, if I had listened, had really heard my parents and my teachers, I could have bypassed so much of the hurt in my life. Being associated with and influenced by peers who are not Christians leads to a lifetime of pain. I never wanted to be rebuked for the things I did and said that went against the teachings of JESUS. I wanted to have ‘fun’, and to ensure that I did, I chose to listen to the siren song of fools. I was so busy having fun I didn’t have time to think about how miserable I was. Thankfully, for all of us sinners – and that term encompasses the entire human race – there is Grace and Mercy offered freely to us. We have the choice. Do we live with gratitude and love, or do we stumble and flail our way through life? Do we keep a sober mind (having a glass or 2 of wine or a beer can actually be good for you; it’s the excessive drinking that gets us into trouble)? Is it our choice to satiate our minds with excesses of ‘fun’ and business and even family to the point of putting the LORD in the background?

“Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.” – 1 Peter 5:8‭-‬9 NIV

Pray for your enemies. Love those people who make you angry and who hurt you. Seek out the ones you don’t want to forgive and make them your friend. Sound impossible? That’s because it is impossible in our human capacity. It is only with GOD’S Love and GOD’S help that any of this becomes possible. Pray for me that I may walk the walk. Amen.

Could I Wash Your Feet?

Insecure, introverted, shy, lacking confidence. These are words I would use to describe myself, but there are some who would say those traits aren’t me, and that instead I am outgoing, boisterous, and assertive. Have you heard the saying, “Fake it till you make it?” Forcing myself to interact in social situations when I really just want to be invisible; taking the lead at work; standing in front of a crowd and speaking my heart….. sometimes it feels like my heart will burst out of my chest from nerves! Left to myself, I wouldn’t choose to share my story, but my GOD had other ideas! Through the Grace and Mercy of the Living, Loving, LORD, I have shared my story of redemption in large and small groups as well as individually. I have no confidence in myself, but I have every confidence in my LORD JESUS CHRIST and His Redemptive Power. LORD, let my words always be Your Words, and my actions reflect the Love and Mercy you have shown me. Be with me when I fall short of your example, as I do every day. Let Your confidence be mine. Amen.

“Let us then approach GOD’s Throne of Grace with confidence, so that we may receive Mercy and find Grace to help us in our time of need.” – Hebrews 4:16 NIV

A few years ago, our pastor and his wife demonstrated what it means to humble themselves and have a servants heart. They took people from the congregation and washed their feet, I was humbled to be a part. To have a leader, a teacher, kneel to do something so base, is difficult for me to describe because it touched me so deeply. Imagine if it was such a profound moment for me, how must the Apostles have felt when the Messiah, Saviour of the world, GOD, knelt in front of them to wash their feet? What a beautiful picture! That’s the attitude we need. Humility, and confidence in our LORD JESUS. Amen!

Listen to “My Story,” sung by Big Daddy Weave

Morning Has Broken

“In the beginning GOD created the heavens and the earth.” – Genesis 1:1 NIV

Gorgeous June morning! Cool breeze from the South, blackberry bushes bursting with fruit; crepe myrtles and lilies, hostas and cannas blooming in all their glory; robins and finches and mocking birds filling the air with their songs…. I can only imagine that heaven must be even more incredible, more beautiful than the most enjoyable morning here on this flawed earth. In 1971, on his album Teaser and the Firecat, Cat Stevens sang “Morning Has Broken,” a poem and hymn first published in 1931. (Written by a Scottish author Eleanor Farjeon). It goes in part:

Mine is the sunlight
Mine is the morning
Born of the one light Eden saw play
Praise with elation, praise ev’ry morning
God’s recreation of the new day

Our Creator, LORD of the Universe, Ruler of all things, Master Builder – Healer, Lover of mankind, Commander of the angel armies;and ultimately, Judge of every living thing…. The Supreme GOD of all gods, loved us – LOVES us – enough to give us beauty and life, even after we reject and neglect and deny Him. Yes, it takes faith in order to believe that there is a supreme being that created the universe, and in fact, spoke it into being. It also take faith to believe in the Big Bang, because the matter needed to set it off had to come from somewhere. (I’ll let you in on a secret. It came from GOD’S Mouth!)

Whatever you are doing with your life, take a few moments to step away from the demands and the busyness and breath in the beauty of our world; marvel at the Glory of our LORD and His recreation of each new day. GOD knew that Adam and Eve were going to defy Him, and He gave them (and us!) a beautiful, bountiful world to live in anyway. That’s how much He Loves us!

Photo: Sunrise over the Gulf of Mexico – our Happy Place!

Just Kill Me Now

“You intended to harm me, but GOD intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” – Genesis 50:20 NIV

Can you imagine being sold into slavery by your own brothers? It happened to Joseph, whose brothers were so jealous of him that they went to drastic measures to get rid of him. They thought they were sending him into a life of servitude and misery, but the Almighty LORD used that action to save millions of people’s lives. Joseph rose from horrible circumstances, a punishment he didn’t deserve, to become Second-in-Command to the Pharaoh of Egypt, who was essentially the ruler of the known world. I can testify to being treated badly, and treating others badly. I don’t claim any kind of uplifting like Joseph’s, but I do claim, and proclaim, that JESUS has lifted me from some pretty bad situations. He has saved me from my bad choices and poor decisions, and He has never forsaken me. Through Him, I have had the privilege to share my story of redemption to hundreds of people, and pray that I will have opportunities to share again and again. If my story can reach even one person, and help them find their way into Jesus’s arms, then I would have accomplished something! Even then, it’s not about me, but the Saving Grace and Mercy of our LORD.

There are been a number of instances in my life when GOD was justified to take me out of this world. I was living my life, totally out of turn with CHRIST, and He Loved me through it, never leaving me to face the enemy alone. There have been people in my life who intended harm, who deliberately hurt me, and I have returned that harm….. not something I’m proud of. Let JESUS into your heart today if you haven’t already. Remember Paul’s words to the church in Rome:

“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the LOVE of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” – Romans 8:38‭-‬39 NIV

You can kill my earthly body, but you cannot kill my soul.

Who Is Your Father?

Who is your Father? No, not Darth Vader, sorry!! We laugh, and I do love hearing “Luke, I am your father” in that James Earl Jones deep, breathy voice, but that’s not my father!

Today, people all over the world celebrate the day as a time to honor their earthly father. There are millions of us who are missing our dads, and it can be due to a myriad of reasons. Of course death has taken many of them, but for entirely too many people, they can’t celebrate with their dads because he deserted them. Millions of others don’t celebrate their earthly dads because of the abuse they endured – endure – at his hands. Millions more don’t even know their father. I had a good Dad. I never doubted that he loved Mom and us kids, and he loved all of his earthly family, too. Through him, I learned about GOD the FATHER, GOD the SON, and GOD the HOLY SPIRIT. I learned from him that men should be gentlemen and women should be ladies (I failed at that 😁), and I learned about love.

My Dad wasn’t perfect, but I never doubted his love. I also experienced his wrath a time or two or twenty, when I strayed far from the LORD. He was gone so much of the time when we were growing up because of his calling to be a pastor, and people remember and loved ‘Bro. Bill’ for his visible, passionate love of JESUS. He was never too busy to share with anyone about how to become a Christian and a follower of JESUS CHRIST. As Pastor, this verse from the Psalms epitomized his desire to be the best pastor and leader. He wasn’t GOD, and at times he neglected his immediate family in order to minister to the needs of the church; the needs of the widows and the orphans and the sick. He witnessed to everyone, even when he was unable to get out of his bed at the end of his earthly body. There was never a doubt that he loved and followed CHRIST.

“A FATHER to the fatherless, a DEFENDER of widows, is GOD in His Holy Dwelling.” – Psalm 68:5 NIV

He’s been gone 18 years. Even though I was away from him much of my adult life, I miss his presence. I was blessed to be at his side with my Mom and most of my siblings when he passed from this world to the next. What a joyeous reunion was happening in heaven on that day! I am confident that I will see him again. Together with my Dad, I’ll see my JESUS, and I will truly experience the FATHER’S Presence. What a day that will be! Happy Father’s Day, Dad. See you soon!

I Shot The Law and The Law Shot Me

“We know that the law is good if one uses it properly. We also know that the law is made not for the righteous but for lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly and sinful, the unholy and irreligious, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers….. ” – 1 Timothy 1:8‭-‬9 NIV

Life lessons taught when I was a child: Obey the law. Respect the office of those charged with making and enforcing the laws, regardless of what you may think of the person in the position. As American’s, whether by birth or immigration status or naturalized, we have unprecedented freedoms and riches in this world. We have laws designed to lift up and protect us, and each one of us gets to choose the who, what, how, and when we obey them. By our choices, we get the consequences of our decisions and actions.

Whatever country we occupy, there are laws to be obeyed and officials to be respectful of. For every human law, GOD’S Law supersedes it with a divine directive. As Paul wrote to Timothy, the laws aren’t made for the people who obey the law, GOD’S Law. Laws are made for the lawbreakers. Here on earth, the thought of having to live in prison is enough to keep me (for the most part!) on the right side of the law. Our choices with GOD’S Law, the consequences of breaking His Law, determines our eternity, and I certainly don’t want to spend eternity in the prison of hell! Living the Ten Commandments is a good thing, but just doing that still isn’t enough to keep me out of there. GOD provided us with a way to be with Him, and it is a simple decision; a choice that should be easy but often isn’t.

I wonder about that, but then again, perhaps it shouldn’t surprise me. Looking around at the overcrowded jails and prisons and the crammed full court dockets, it becomes apparent that many people have made the choice to disobey the laws of the land. There are millions of baby boomers reaching retirement age with no funds to live on, because we were immersed in living for the present. If it is so easy to choose to take a chance for a future that is imminent, then I suppose it is even easier to ignore a future that you can’t imagine. I hope that my writing will encourage you to take a closer look at your future, immediate and long term.

“Oh, the depth of the riches and the wisdom and knowledge of GOD! How unsearchable His Judgments, and His paths beyond tracing out!” – Romans 11:33 NIV

Choose CHRIST today and assure your future, immediate, long-term, and for eternity!