time for R&R

Just another traveler on life’s highway hanging out in the slow lane.  It’s quiet.  It’s peaceful.  Beyond the horizon is rest calling my name.  Green pastures, still waters, my cup overflows.

My blogging friends and assorted readers, I appreciate your interest in my writings and I have thoroughly enjoyed your creativity in the blogosphere.  Life can become unnecessarily challenging for those of us who forget that, although important as social issues are, in the end we do not control the outcomes.

That also applies to faith and eternity.  The truth which I realize and express in my posts might not be the garage in which you park your car and that’s absolutely cool.  Jesus said in his Father’s house are many rooms (John 14:2).  Life is a rainbow of varying faiths and identities and that’s what makes our walks so wonderfully colorful.

I thoroughly enjoy writing and sharing thoughts and ideas, so I invite you to visit me on my second blog Gabby’s Place. Gabby is a laid-back, sometimes irreverent version of me who has no qualms about jumping into the issues of religion, politics and society.  He loves to eat, so be ready for swapping of favorite recipes and information about differing foods.  I need to spend some R&R time with Gabby and find a healthier, perhaps lighter, perspective on life.  Have a blessed and productive 2019.

EEEEEEEEEEHAW

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AULD LANG SYNE – home free

My New Year’s Resolutions
  • To procrastinate as much as possible in doing the things that other people think I ought to do.
  • To eat as much ice cream as I want today because in today’s social turmoil tomorrow could see dairy cows going on strike.
  • To rest my muscles and watch TV from my recliner  more frequently because the latest scientific studies prove that the theory of exercise is a conspiratorial hoax promoted by 1) Democrats, 2) Republicans, 3) Independents, 4)Libertarians, 5) idiots, 6) all of the above.
  • To stop screaming at the TV while watching the day’s headline news and scream instead at my 1) neighbors, 2) significant other, 3) cat , 4) garbage man, 5) congressman.  (Folks, there is only one correct answer here)

Yes, 2018 has been less than most of us wanted.  2019 could be worse.  Buckle up and pay attention to the road signs.  Let’s try our best to make it serene and prosperous.

WISHING EVERYBODY SUCCESS IN 2019

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my North Star

Just another traveler on life’s highway hanging out in the slow lane.  It’s quiet.  It’s peaceful.  Beyond the horizon is rest calling my name.  Green pastures, still waters, my cup overflows.

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No, Christ is not his last name.  Probably most of you are smarter than I am, so don’t judge me too harshly when I tell you that for many years, having heard Jesus Christ mouthed so many times in church, I thought Christ to be a surname.  You can understand why I did not get A+ in Vacation Bible School.  And Sunday School was more along the lines of play time before entering the church sanctuary where I had to shut up and sit still for an insufferable hour beside my mother.

Then I heard (yes, I did listen sometimes) a visiting pastor say, “Jesus, the Christ.”

Jesus, THE CHRIST!  What is he saying?  I began to repeat his terminology because he was a big city minister with a Doctor of Divinity behind his name who, I determined, knew a lot more than our country bumpkin preacher and my irreverent uncle who always  said Jesus Christ.  Well, that theory fizzled with the city slicker preacher’s demise in a church finances scandal, but I stayed with Jesus, the Christ.

Father Richard Rohr, a Franciscan, founder of CENTER FOR ACTION AND CONTEMPLATION, will be focusing during 2019 on “Old and New: An Evolving Faith.”  Interestingly for me, in today’s post, he states:

The teaching of Jesus is our central reference point. We all need a North Star to orient us toward meaning and purpose.  As a Christian and Franciscan, for me that is Jesus, who revealed the Eternal Christ.

He then defines Christ as:

“….the eternal, ongoing union of human and divine, present in and evolving all of Creation since the beginning of time….”

Man has always searched for the divine as evidenced by crude drawings on cave walls to elaborate theologies with a litany of “thou shalt” and “thou shalt not”.  Many searchers today look to the heavens for divine guidance.  Like I said in my beginning sentences, most of you are probably smarter than I am; therefore, where you look for divinity is your choice and your personal North Star.  If it “orients you toward meaning and purpose”  in life then seize your discovery and run with it.

Jesus – our North Star, our moral compass, revealing through his life and teachings the Christ, the human and divine union of God, man and all of Creation.

Jesus, the Christ!  How cool is that?

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crazy?

 

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Are we crazy?  Many people think we are when we express belief in a formless, invisible power which can’t be touched or seen.  How often have acquaintances and family ridiculed our naiveté when making reference to the One who gives life and breath, the One who transcends all human understanding and reasoning?

“Well,” they say.  “Define it.”

“Can’t.”

‘”Describe it.”

“Can’t.”

They question further, “Where does this undefinable, indescribable power live?”

“Within me.”

“Ohhhhh, I see.”

Yep! Undoubtedly and indubitably crazy.  They didn’t get it.  They didn’t understand that I had to go crazy with love for the Higher Power that pulled me out of the insanity of alcoholism.  They didn’t know, as I did, that there is a difference between crazy good and insanely stupid.  Why was I insanely stupid?  Because every time I sat down on that bar stool, I thought that this time was going to be different from all the other times.  I thought that I would have two social drinks and then go home.  I was sure that my drinking habit would miraculously change.  Why?  Because I had will power.

Many years passed with innumerable drunken escapades resulting in hangovers, lost car keys, misplaced wallets, puke-covered shirts, broken relationships, car wrecks and a shattered self-image.  I finally understood the insanity of my alcoholic behavior.

Admitted we were powerless over alcohol and that our lives had become unmanageable.

It was insane to think I could drink and expect a different outcome at the end of the night.  It was never going to be a night like that of my buddies who knew how to drink socially.  You see, I would drink with them at the nice bars, bid them all a good-night when they went home to their families and then sneak to the other side of town where the action was.  You know – the sleaze bars where it was easy to score and the potential one night stands got smarter and better looking as the night progressed.  And that’s when I went crazy.

Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

Initially, family and friends thought it was extremely cool that I was on the wagon.  “Hey, Larry’s not drinking anymore.  Awesome.”

But, Larry had to change more about himself than simply not setting his butt on a bar stool every night.  There were deep-seated issues that needed attention.  Issues of insecurity, anger, envy, pride, and laziness.  And that’s when the heavy artillery had to be called in.  Detox, psychotherapy, meetings, meetings, meetings.  Changes had to be made and I could not do it without help.  I surrender, I give up.  HELP!

Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood God.

I took the “as we understood God” part of step 3 very seriously and, unfortunately, not many people (family and friends) got it.

“Crazy!  He’s crazy with religion.  He went from a drunk to a Jesus freak.  I liked him better when he was drinking.”

Yep, I’m crazy….but at least I’m not insane anymore.

 

 

 

injustice – elie wiesel

“Injustice may inspire anger or rebellion, but must not create despair.  Injustice has been part of our world since its beginning……..despair is when you no longer believe in anything.” ELIE WIESEL, The Night of the Uprooting

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CHRISTMASTIDE – Dec 25th-Jan6th

Yes, this is an appropriate quote for the season of Christmastide.  Why do we think the concept of a Savior and Deliverer was introduced to the world with the story of Jesus, born in Bethlehem?  Why do we marvel that this babe was announced to shepherds, the lowest class of Hebrew society only a step above lepers?  The world of Judaism 2000 years ago is a case study in oppression and social injustice from not only the Roman conquerors, but also the Jewish religious hierarchy.

Elie Wiesel suffered the most inhumane form of injustice at the hands of the Nazis in the death camps of Hitler.  He could not approach the significance of his internment for several years after being freed by the Allied Forces.  Fortunately for us, he eventually saw the writing of his story as a duty to the Jewish nation and the world.  He shared the pain and the horror of the Nazi atrocities in his subsequent books.  Mr. Wiesel was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1986.

Any of us today, me included, would surely “be inspired to anger or rebellion” if subjected to the same treatment as the Jews of 1930s and 1940s.  Justifiably so.  But, how many of us would  not curl up in despair?  Whom among us would be able to sustain faith, hope, and love while starving in the humiliation, the cold, the desolation of a prison camp where survival is a daily challenge?  I pray that neither you nor I ever have to suffer those consequences.

Despair is our enemy.  Not having hope is a death sentence of the soul, but faith in the unknowns of this life inspires hope and defeats despair.  The Christmas story, whether I believe it to be reality or you believe it to be myth, tells us how to relate to a world filled with violence, hatred, oppression, intolerance.  The life and teachings of Jesus portrayed by ancient scriptures is a blueprint to living life abundantly with faith, hope, and love in the midst of man’s inhumanity toward man.

We are witness today to unfathomable social injustice which should make us angry and rebellious.  But it does not need to devour us with despair.  That is the essence of the gift presented to us by the birth of a child 2000 years ago.  It is up to you and I to make it a marvelous myth or a life-saving reality.  Our concept of Jesus is hope in a seemingly hopeless world.

Let it be real as the morning sunshine, the stars in the nighttime sky, the singing of angelic children.  Let us discover, now, in the midst of turbulence and injustice the strength of faith, hope and love.  Lead us to defeat despair with the power of his eternal story.

philippians 4:7

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The INNOCENTS

Just another traveler on life’s highway hanging out in the slow lane.  It’s quiet.  It’s peaceful.  Beyond the horizon is rest calling my name.  Green pastures, still waters, my cup overflows.

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After the wise men were gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream.  “Get up!  Flee to Egypt with the child and his mother.  Stay there until I tell you to return because Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.”  Matthew 3:13

Wow! So much for the peace and joy proclaimed by the angels to the shepherds.  We have just been introduced to a messiah, Counselor, Comforter, Prince of Peace, and then a few days later the angel says, “Run, run, run, Joseph and Mary.  Grab the baby and get out of town.”

Should we totally discount the story of Jesus?  In chapter 2, He has come to save us and then in chapter 3 the entire family is running to Egypt to save themselves.  Herod conducts his murderous rampage on the babies in Bethlehem under 2 years of age.  With no historical confirmation of this event and few details from the Scriptures, we could easily pack the Herod account away as mere myth and throw out the Jesus story too.  But then the unchanging realities of this world would be denied and we will continue to live in darkness.  Jesus was born into a world of violence, inequity, abuse, war, mean-spiritedness.

That child of peace and joy did not stay in the manger forever.  He gathered a motley assembly of like-minded men and women who called themselves ‘the Way’.  Not confined to 1st century Palestine, they survived murder and torture over the following centuries so that today we can accept through faith and hope that He was born to save us from spiritual death.  That’s the Good News proclaimed to the shepherds on the hillside outside Bethlehem, the Good News proclaimed by Jesus and his followers.  That’s the Good News that drives searchers like you and I to put one foot in front of the other on this path we travel.

But, does He save us from a chaotic world of violence and hatred?  I would be misleading myself if I thought, as his countrymen did, that the world around me will change just because he appeared on the scene of my life.  They wanted a savior to lead them out of Roman occupation and theological oppression.  They wanted a 1st century solution to their lives of pain and hardships.  But, that did not happen.

That is where I rested my atheism, my agnosticism, and my doubt for so many years of my life.  I did not see the world moving toward any semblance of peace and joy and I blamed a weak Jesus for the world’s problems.  “Why would God allow the hatred, the child abuse, the murderous rampages of modern-day Herods, the deaths of innocents?”

Jesus said, “I am the light of the world.  Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”  John 8:12

Therein is truth, an answer to my questions.  God’s promise to us, through his Son, is not that He will descend upon the world’s wickedness and clean house.  No, the scriptures, I believe, are saying that when we invite him into our inner sanctum, then we will see the world differently, with an indefatigable joy and peace.  Quite possibly you and I,  and millions like us with faith and hope and love can be the lights in the darkness.  Just a thought, but I like it.  I want to shine with the light of life instead of living in the darkness. AMEN?

(The Lutheran Church celebrates today the “Feast of the Innocents and Martyrs.  Thanks to the writers of the link below for a wealth of inspiration for this post.)

SHARED LUTHERAN MINISTRY

Lord, today we remember the innocents, those who are victims of the world’s darkness and hatred.  Especially the children, whom you gave to us to protect and nurture, need your caring arms in countries at war, living in the decadence of sex trade, traveling across many miles to fulfil dreams of freedom and prosperity in another land, facing the hostility assigned today to the label of ‘immigrant’.  Those innocents are your children.  Remind us of your words telling us about our duty to protect them.  AMEN

CANDLE

Tim Tebow – John 3:16

Just another traveler on life’s highway hanging out in the slow lane.  It’s quiet.  It’s peaceful.  Beyond the horizon is rest calling my name.  Green pastures, still waters, my cup overflows.

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During the 2009 American college football  championship game,  Florida quarterback Tim Tebow, a devout, unabashed Christian, wore John 3:16 in eye black under his eyes.  The verse became one of Google’s highest searched terms leading millions (94 million) to search John 3:16 during the game and in the hours after.  In a subsequent interview, Tim quipped that the number was staggering, but he was more amazed that there were 94 million people who did not know John 3:16.  “Everybody knows John 3:16.  It’s the first thing we learned in Sunday school.”

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16

For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son…..

This is the Son whom we are celebrating during Christmastide.  The readings, the verses, the songs, the festivities are all an important element of the Christmas story, but the message to the world brought by this child in a manger is clearly uncomplicated.  Believe me, have faith in me, trust me, love me with all your heart, give your life to me and you shall have everlasting life.

What is that everlasting life about which John wrote?  I don’t know for sure, but I do know that I have lived without Jesus and I have lived with Jesus.  Living without the Son felt like a death sentence, physical and spiritual.  Living with him has been pretty darn good and, if life is eternal, then this is the eternal life I want.  I believe the God mystery is just that – a mystery  which unfolds with every step on this path we are walking. The path began with a cradled baby in Bethlehem and I am told it is never-ending.  That is good enough for me, how about you?  Want to join me?