parables

I’ve known the parables attributed to Jesus ever since my boyhood days in Sunday School class and vacation Bible School.  To me they were nothing more than neat stories which had no application in contemporary society.  Not until I was ready for God to illuminate my darkness, did I read these parables in a spiritual context.  They then began to pop off the pages with amazing truth and wisdom.CANDLE

The story of the prodigal son is my favorite because I lived that story through alcoholism and recovery.  The verses continue to humble me today even after many years of sober-living.  I knew of a God as a child, I turned my back and traveled to the “far country” to find my fortune and pleasure, I suffered financially and morally, I finally came home to Father who was waiting excitedly for me with open arms.  It was probably the most profound home-coming I shall ever experience.

One of today’s inspirational readings cites the parable of the talents.  “For the kingdom of heaven is as a man travelling to a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods.” Matthew 25:14

In the times of Jesus a talent was worth more than $5000.  To one servant he gave 5 talents, to anther he gave 2, and to another he gave 1 talent.  The first two servants invested the money wisely and when the man returned from his travels his money had increased.  The third servant had buried the talent in the ground for fear of losing it and thereby bearing his master’s wrath upon returning.  The servant did indeed suffer his master’s anger because of his timidity in using the talent wisely.

Jesus is the travelling man who showered humanity with unfathomable wealth in wisdom and truth before he was crucified.  He entrusted his disciples with the “talents” of eternity instructing them to invest that which he had taught them and to increase God’s wealth throughout the world.  That’s his simple directive yesterday, today, and forever.

I am basically an easy-going man.  Don’t get excited about too many things and don’t rely on worldly wealth for validation or fulfilment.  There is a part of me that could be labeled “lazy”.  Yep, guilty as charged.  Sloth is one of my favorite character defects and it has been a reliable  bed mate  of depression for most of my life.  Two more of sloth’s definitions in the Merriam Webster are “inertia” and “apathy”.  If I am inert it is probably because I am also depressed.  If I am depressed it is probably because I am inert.  Both scenarios lead to apathy.  Therefore, it is in my best interest and the health of my sobriety to stay active, stay involved with other recovering addicts, and stay protected by the wisdom of AA literature and scriptures.  That is my best defense against sloth, apathy, depression, and inertia.

Not only during this special observance time of giving thanks, but always, my recovery from alcoholism needs a daily dose of gratitude, a fix of appreciation for the multitude of blessings received, unmerited and undeserved, from a power greater than myself, a Higher Power whom I call God.  It is my fix for the brokenness which I call Larry.

“This little light of mine; I’m gonna let it shine”.  Childhood Sunday School simplicity nails the heart of Matthew 25: 14-28, the parable of the talents.  God did not save me from the pits of hell lived in alcoholic stupor to rise up into the salvation of sobriety without stipulations.  Jesus has told me that merely being sober is not enough.  The wealth, the talents, he has bestowed are not meant to be buried or hidden under a bushel basket.  They are to be shared unselfishly with the broken masses.  They are meant to be invested in the still suffering addict, the depressed man who has no source of consolation, and ultimately returned to Jesus himself as payment with interest for his grace shed upon me.  It’s not complicated and with an attitude of gratitude, it is entirely possible for even a man like me, a wretched and lost soul, to return and bask in the light of God.namaste rainbow

 

Judas

I am reading a book by Elaine Pagels, “READING JUDAS”.   Ms. Pagels  is an accomplished scholar in the field of religion and has written several works which shed light on the complexities and inconsistencies of Biblical scriptures.  She compares the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John noting that contemporary scholars overwhelmingly agree that Mark was composed first about 40 years after the death of Jesus and that the remaining three were written later based mainly on the writings of Mark with additions and increased references to Old Testament prophesies.  Debate continues over whetherCANDLE the writers of the Gospels, none of whom are logically the namesakes of the books, attempted to show prophecy historicised or history prophesised.  The era of the formulation of the canon which we now know as the Bible was fraught with disagreement, conspiracy, and murder.  Many books, such as the Gospel of Judas, the Gospel of Thomas, the Gospel of Philip and the Gospel of Mary were banned or burned having been labeled as heretical accounts of the events surrounding Jesus and his band of disciples.  Ultimately only one version of these events was authorized by Emperor Constantine in 325 C.E. at the Council of Nicaea, a lakeside village in present day Turkey.  It represented Christianity much as we know it today.  Only recently have the banned writings been discovered hidden in earthen jars buried in caves.  They are the Nag Hammadi and Dead Sea Scrolls.  Those scriptures have reopened debate and speculation regarding the veracity of the accounts of the Nicaean approved writings.

Just as the book and movie “The DaVinci Code” provided intrigue concerning the lineage of Jesus, the Christ, these new discoveries of ancient scriptures contribute another dimension to the mystery of Jesus, the centerpiece of Christianity.  As much as I  would like to have a definitive account of the historical Jesus of Nazareth, it simply is not available to me.  Who he was, how he lived, what he believed cannot be a certainty to those of us who claim him as Lord and Savior while also refuting the inerrant and literal interpretations supported by some Christians.

I have no problem with that.  My faith is based on a God which has blessed humanity with numerous messengers throughout history.  My faith is not dependent on the historical accuracy of those messengers nor the accounts written by their followers.  What those instruments of guidance have provided is a rich and wonderful foundation for living life to the fullest in compassionate communion with all of God’s creation.  I find the deepest inspiration in the verses which ancient mystics have passed on for me to discover and ponder.  I marvel at the wisdom and beauty expressed by both simple shepherds and royal kings.  I find many of the answers to contemporary society’s problems given to me by sages from centuries past.  I find strength in the thoughts and writings of others who have been deeply touched and inspired by their faith in a Higher Power.  I don’t require historical accuracy to follow a manner of living which honors and reveres God, the Higher Power of my understanding.

What I need is heart driven truth.  It is not necessarily historical nor factual by the world’s standards.  The truth which I seek emanates from a sacred place within, it wells up, it flows, it gushes from a spiritual presence which is timeless and eternal.  Jesus knew it, the great mystics knew it, Buddha knew it, Muhammad knew it.  Every one of us can have it and live fully in God’s glory, compassion, and mercy.

“Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” Psalm 46:10smiley 3

The Jewish faith says, “Stop striving and know that I am God.”  Stop striving with religious doctrine, stop striving with translations, stop striving with historical accuracy; go to that quiet place within your personal temple and know the loving kindness of a gracious Father.

 

“do something”

“To repeat, if God operates as me, God operates as thee too, and the playing field is utterly leveled forever. Like Jesus, Francis, Clare, and many other humble mystics, we then rush down instead of up. In the act of letting go and choosing to become servants, community can at last be possible. The illusory state of privilege just gets in the way of neighboring and basic human friendship.” CAC.ORGCANDLE

Father Richard, in this daily meditation, begins by discussing his upbringing within the community of white privilege, the favoritism shown to whites, the status of higher education, numerous challenges which whites do not endure and which non-whites face on a daily basis.  It is truly a different world for those of us who walk the earth in this life as Caucasian.

When I realized and accepted within my heart the truth of “Namaste, I bow to the divine in you,” the Spirit within would no longer cover my inbred white privilege.  It refused to entertain all the excuses I held for my bias and prejudices.  It forced me to look upon my brothers and sisters whom God created in various shades and hues as beings loved just as much by the Creator as me.  I no longer had an excuse to trivialize the plight of people of color.  Our “white” world via politics and extremist religions has demeaned, ostracized, brutalized, and oppressed those children of God and it is my challenge as a white man to make restitution.

In order to do so, Father Richard exhorts me to take the route of ancient mystics who, rather than aspiring to rise toward a perceived heavenly God, focused  downward and joined the suffering and oppressed masses living on the edge of survival in an ungodly world.  That is where true obedience will be found, where salvation shall be experienced, and ultimately where the living Jesus dwells.

Most of my life has been spent anticipating the great white mansions in the far reaches of the Universe where God and Jesus sit side by side on their thrones waiting for me to arrive for my final judgement.  (Incidentally, both of them in my past have been “white boys”.)  I no longer wait for that occurrence because the truth as revealed to me, the GOD OF MY UNDERSTANDING, is right here, right now living in the hearts of all humanity regardless of race, religion, nationality or creed.  I must now choose on a daily basis whether to commune with God and his indwelling truth or return to a denial of that truth.  It’s very simple theology; it is awe-inspiring and breath-taking.

The path which I walk has been tortuous and twisted.  I have endured the full spectrum of faith experiences from belief in a God who was vindictive and vengeful, to a God who was aloof and unapproachable, to an errant acceptance of atheism, to the revealing grace experienced in the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous.  Even during my period of strident atheism, I came to realize that my denial of God’s existence only  fortified that his existence was real; otherwise, why would I expend so much energy denying him.  If God is dead, then I should probably take up knitting or crocheting doilies instead of rallying with the oppressed masses or with a suffering alcoholic in forging a better world.  If God is dead, then I would need to depend on the “goodness” of mankind to save us from physical and spiritual destruction.  I can’t do that because goodness is not inherent, it is derived from a Source.

Matthew West in a very powerful song questioned a God who would allow all the suffering endured by mankind, “God, why don’t you do something?”  The reply from his Lord was, “I did, I created you.”  I was created to do something, but it all happens through and by the grace and direction of a Higher Power.smiley 3

 

walk by faith

I had an opportunity to visit with my pastor yesterday morning.  The conversation was casual, centering on a number of concerns regarding theology.  I refer to myself as the “doubting Thomas” syndrome.  If I can’t see the nail holes and the wound in the side, I tend not to believe.  Maybe that’s why people sometimes see me as cynical and wishy-washy.  I need proof before I get off the fence to make a commitment.  In some areas of secular life this is a good thing, but in my faith walk it is not always the best path.  CANDLE

I invariably reach a point when the way forward is a confident step into the world of faith in that which is mysterious and unknown.  Given the evidence which life has accumulated for me proving that God exists and that Jesus loves me, that step should not be as difficult as it sometimes is.   My miraculous ongoing recovery from alcoholism is one such piece of the evidence that a Higher Power has the answers to all questions and the grace to lead me to green pastures and still waters.

The PROMISES of the Alcoholics Anonymous program are no longer extravagant dreams; they are happening in my life and in the lives of others in the fellowship.  I am in dire financial straits according to the norms of society, yet I don’t fear the future.  I am an introvert by nature yet find myself comfortable in a room full of people even to the point of speaking to the group.  Today I follow a God who is doing for me what I could not do for myself.  In the beginning these were indeed nothing more than extravagant promises which required an enormous amount of faith in what was unknown.  But, they were proven occurrences in my fellow AAers; I walked with them holding a faith that I also was worthy of these promises.

So it should be with my church affiliation.  The promise that goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, that when I seek then I shall also find, that when I knock then the door shall be opened, that the Lord will give rest to my weary and burdened soul is a promise which I embrace with faith.  With faith as small as a mustard seed mountains can be moved.

“If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you” Matthew 17:20

It’s not rocket science, doesn’t require an impressive intelligence to realize that walking by faith in that which is a mystery, that loving a God which is unseen, that following a Jesus who was crucified cannot be measured by the world’s standards.  The things of this world repeatedly have disappointed and caused pain and will continue to do so.  Therefore, why follow the world when a mustard seed of faith will deliver unfathomable joy and peace?  It’s one of the best investments I could possibly make.

In the end, if I have been wrong, if my faith is erroneously placed, if eternity with Jesus is not awaiting, if my final breath is indeed the last of me….no one will know the difference, least of all me.  But, I will have spent this life living joyously in peace and absolute awe of a power greater than myself.smiley 3 Namaste.

 

Atheist & Agnostic

CANDLE

I have many friends in real life and in the blogosphere who follow the path of atheism and agnosticism.  I respect their choices and refuse to view my given path in life as “better than” or more spiritual.  What I have discovered is that the common thread in these friendships is mutual acceptance of the other person’s ideas.  No, a pursuit of evangelism and proselytism is not my cup of tea.  The fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous clearly states that it follows the concept of “attraction rather than promotion”.  That works for me.  If you like what you see in me and want to know more, than I will fill your ears for hours with the truth which has discovered me in some of the darkest corners of my life.

One of my blogger friends posts daily about his spiritual walk.  From the first time I read his writing I felt drawn to what he was saying and wanted to hear more.  Mike’s NEW HOPE FOR DRY BONES approach is somewhat different from mine, but his message rings clearly about his faith and love for Jesus.  I like that.  Recently, I’ve come to realize that the most salient thing about Mike’s stuff is that he never preaches.  It is always about his experience, strength, and hope.  I trust folks who share themselves rather than preach morality and righteousness.  Jesus did not preach. He was accorded the title of teacher, not preacher. According to the scriptures of Christianity, he walked with the common people, he shared their sorrows and joys, he hurt when they hurt, he partied with them, but he also shared the joy, wisdom, and freedom of a spiritual kingdom.  He was extraordinarily honest and self-less in the world of hypocrisy followed by the Jewish hierarchy.

I suppose this is why I love recovery programs.  They attract real people with real problems.  I cry with them and I grieve with them.  We console and instruct.  But, we also live joyously a new life with a renewed spirit.  Then, if we choose to do so, we can navigate the waters of spirituality, commune with people of varying understandings, and receive the blessings of a loving and compassionate Higher Power in a colorful array of worship and celebration.

“Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.”  Psalm 51:10smiley 3

 

 

Bill W.

Bill Wilson in his writings often discussed the periods of depression he suffered long after he claimed sobriety:

“When I was tired and couldn’t concentrate, I used to fall back on an affirmation toward life that took the form of simple walking and deep CANDLEbreathing.  I sometimes told myself that I couldn’t even do this – that I was too weak.  But I learned that this was the point at which I could not give in without becoming still more depressed.” Bill Wilson “AS BILL SEES IT” 

It sometimes seems that those of us who face our alcoholism have  battles with depression that defy the serenity and joy we ought to have as recovering addicts.  Those bouts support one of the tenets of Alcoholics Anonymous which says that “the drinking is just a symptom of deeper, underlying illness”.  Treating our character defects with the prescribed 12 step program is one pillar of our recovery, but, addressing the emotional baggage we carried with us into sobriety often requires professional counseling and guidance.

As a younger man, jogging was a huge part of my life.  On the trail in my Nikes the pitfalls of life became secondary to my breathing and the cadence of my footsteps.  I was able to center on the inner journey coinciding with my external activity.  The experience of runner’s euphoria was the carrot on the stick, a reason to get my head out of my butt and do something about the lurking depression just waiting to immobilize me.

Physical limitations have retired my running shoes, but I know today, many years into continued sobriety, that the walking/hiking routine is essential to a happy, contented Larry.  The pace has slowed considerably, but the focus on breathing and the “clop, clop” of stepping still carries me to another world.  It is a world of victory over depression.

Much of the AA program seems akin to the “Path” of Buddhism and also the “Way” of Jesus and his followers.  Meditation is advocated by both.  Meditative walking is a new endeavor for me.  It is also an activity focused on breathing and stepping.  The intent is to empty the head of worldly concerns and replace that circus with the beauty of the inner self, the soul.  Repetitive chanting enhances the exercise.  This is a  much slower, deliberate type of walking very suitable to a much slower, deliberate Larry.

With entry into the “golden years” (whoever coined that phrase was undoubtedly drunk or high) the clutches of depression can increase.  Our bodies fail us, our friends leave us through relocation or death, our family ties become weaker.  We feel lost in the loneliness of retirement and many younger folks see us as burdens which they would sooner ignore.  Financial security is a joke; one uncovered medical emergency will wipe us out and scammers are lurking on every website to relieve us of our monetary resources.

I need my walking to stay balanced emotionally and fit physically.  I need my faith to approach the “final stretch” of this QUEST with confidence and joy.  Scripture, the words attributed to Jesus and the Buddha, feed that faith.  In John 16:33 Jesus tells me:

“I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace.  In this world you will have trouble.  But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

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Helen Lemmel

CANDLE

I encounter a number of people who do not want to hear “Jesus” in the conversation.  It’s as if a brain wave has a fart and immediately odorizes the thought patterns.  I understand their reaction and I can’t take offense because they often equate Jesus with religion and the Christian Church.  But, consider this.  Does Christianity need Jesus to validate its existence?  Yes, of course.  The theology is thick with the virgin birth, the man/God, the divinity, the crucifixion, and the resurrection.  Without those elements , it would be just another minor, extremist sect.

Does the living Jesus need Christianity?  Absolutely not.  Leave theology out of the Christian walk and what remains is the man who has eternally been a voice for tolerance, love, and compassion; he remains a champion of the world’s disenfranchised and oppressed.  Unfortunately, as in Jesus’ earth life, the dogma and doctrines of some of today’s hypocritical religious institutions are crucifying that unifying voice.  They have disguised the power of the universal almighty Sovereign and one of its messengers, Jesus of Nazareth, and have defined that power as a vindictive, intolerant code of laws.

The historicity of Jesus of Nazareth has been studied, argued, and disputed by scholars who have devoted a lifetime to this undertaking.  Some reference the writings of a Jewish historian, Josephus, who mentions Jesus, a worker of incredible acts and a teacher.  Other scholars dispute this paragraph in the writing of Josephus saying it was inserted at a later time.  Some scholars note that the time span of the writings later defined as the Gospels by Christianity point to historical accuracy.  More recently the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Nag Hammadi scriptures give further credence to the belief that Jesus was a  historical fact.  It doesn’t matter if the man called Jesus was a living being in ancient Israel.  The legacy he created, the legacy attributed to him is sufficient to lead me through the valleys of darkness and despair and the lion pits of life.  It is more than sufficient to set me on the highest mountain and soar with the eagles.  Martin Luther King, Jr. and I have been to the mountain top; we have seen the promised land.

The bottom line is that none of us knows with certainty whether the Christian Church has nailed the truth with its theology.  Karl Marx called religion….”the sigh of the oppressed creature….the heart of a heartless world.”  He also named religion as the opioid of the masses.  karl marx

In a world overrun with physical and psychological brokenness, is there anything wrong with a spiritual opioid?  Perhaps not.  “The heart of a heartless world” strikes a chord within me.  I have experienced the joy of communal worship, the escape from a heartless world afforded by my religious tradition.  As in the realm of pharmaceuticals, a spiritual opioid used as intended can be a tremendous pain reliever.  Used indiscreetly, it can become a vicious master and enslaver intent on destruction.

I need a doctor in my life to fix my brokenness, a physician who can prescribe a faith walk which will enhance my solidarity with all mankind, not just the ones who look, think, talk, smell, and worship like me.  I need a shepherd who will lead me into pastures of inclusiveness and tolerance, not thorn-filled fields with noxious weeds.  I need Jesus in my life, not to make me more religious, but to create me in a new image, a transformed version of the old Larry.

Here’s a verse from Helen Lemmel’s song which has renewed my spirit innumerable times when I feared being swamped  by a heartless world:

Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace. 

Helen Lemmel 1863-1961

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sledhead

 

CANDLELike many young people who follow the path of non-violence and pacifism, I was severely bullied during junior high and high school.  We were targets for the ‘big boys’ who were feeling their developing testosterone; most of us were labeled weak sissies because we were strongly encouraged by our families and church to resist physical and verbal conflict.  Today I look back on those challenges with a sense of gratitude for having been blessed as a young man with a sense of civility.  But unfortunately, back then, I took my seething anger and self-loathing deep inside resulting in a bevy of addictions which controlled my life for many years.

My classmates called me “sledhead”.  It was, to them, an endearing term describing my naivete; to me it was condescending and painful.  My faith in an entity which would allow this pain was severely tested.  Today, some folks, not all of them friends, see my faith as an uneducated devotion to my imaginary friends, God and Jesus.  I’m sure you also in your faith walk have encountered the same.

“So you talk to Jesus, do you?  Have your ever seen God?  Do you really believe Jesus rose from the dead?  And oh yeah, that story about him healing the blind man.  Hmmmmm.”

You can see the wheels churning within their brains.  Nutcase, delusional, hallucinating, foolish…..sledhead.  I don’t, anymore, attempt to explain my faith to them.  I don’t share my experience walking with my Lord unless they initiate an interest.  I don’t expect them to understand, just as the bullies in high school did not understand my commitment to non-violence.  I endured name-calling, shoving, and punching with words like sissy, wimp, momma’s boy, coward.  Sadly, by the time I could call myself a young man, a high school graduate, I agreed with them.

That was 50 years ago.  But, baby, take a look at me now!  Check out what I can do with the power of Jesus and God ahead of me, within me, and behind me!  We have put a hurting on the addictions which controlled my younger years.  We have shown the world of aggression and oppression that there is strength and courage in the words of peace and compassion, the words spoken by Jesus before he was taken by the cowardice and hatred of a bullying, hypocritical, self-serving theocratic society and was nailed to a wooden cross.

Don’t get me wrong.  The negativity of people who try to bully me with their condescending air of superiority, their need to ridicule my “imaginary
friends, and attempts to discredit my truth does sometimes bring doubt into my life.  I am the character of ‘doubting Thomas’, show me the nail holes in the hands and feet, I want to see the pierce scar in the side.  Let me touch you, Lord.

Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.” John 20:27

Recently, I heard a comment on NPR regarding world poverty.  The woman being interviewed stated that the predominant characteristic of humanity was “goodness”, but, it was often quietly unseen and unheard.  The thought that we are predominantly violent and selfish is assumed because that is the loudest voice in our civilization. Therefore, we hear the raucous noise of intolerance, bigotry and injustice over goodness, mercy, and compassion.

Goodness, mercy,  and compassion.  That’s who my friends Jesus and God are. That’s whom I commune with every day.  I see them in people on the street helping other people.  I hear them on the radio when listening to a contemporary Christian artist singing his heart out for the Jesus he loves.  I feel them in a sanctuary with other worshippers praying for the homeless, the poor, the addicted ones, the forgotten, the discarded, the downtrodden.  I can touch them in an AA meeting when at the end of the meeting everyone stands clasping hands and reciting the “Our Father”.

My faith is in the inherent goodness, mercy, and compassion of humanity.  Therein is Jesus, therein  is God, and therein is nothing imaginary.  Real, visible, omnipotent!

Edward Mote, 1797-1874 “My hope is built on nothing less. Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness; I dare not trust the sweetest frame, But wholly lean on Jesus’ name. On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand; All other ground is sinking sand.”

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envy

Does everybody know the seven deadly sins?  They are sometimes called the cardinal sins.  And if you don’t like the connotation of the word sin, let’s call them defects of character.  Ok, here’s the countdown and they are not listed in order of severity.  Each one of them can be deadly if allowed to run rampant.

  • anger
  • greed
  • lazinessembarassed
  • pride
  • lust
  • envy
  • gluttony

I am entertaining envy today.  No, it’s not related to materialism or physicality or status.  I am envious as hell about those folks who can maintain an aloofness from the shenanigans being foisted on us as religion and politics.  Yes, I am dead serious.  If for just one day I could not hear the news, read the newspapers, and view the screens depicting another episode of name-calling in Washington, D.C., another horrible act of violence in Syria, or another Hollywood celebrity enmeshed in a tangle of sexual wantonness, then I might be content.  If I could limit my social media time to nothing but wholesome, heart-warming stories of man’s goodness toward man, then I would be at peace.

Twenty-two years ago when I moved into this house in which I now live my next door neighbor was a saintly woman who had lived many years in the far country and, by the grace of her God, returned to marry a good man and raise a brood of decent kids.  They were all skinny because she was a strict dietician, and they were all cheerful and kind-hearted.  The woman read her Bible every day.

During an extremely active hurricane summer, we spoke to her about the imminence of an approaching hurricane.  She knew nothing of it.  “Oh no,” she chortled, “we don’t have a TV in the house and we only listen to Christian music on the radio and we don’t receive a newspaper.”

I’m sure she recognized the horror on our faces.  Sweet lady, you are so out of touch.  Don’t you realize the danger that could be approaching?  Don’t you care about the world around you?  What in the world will you do when calamity strikes?

Smiling sweetly, she responded to our unvoiced questions,  “Jesus will take care of us.”

OMG! What faith!.  She had been in the world, she knew the inherent dangers, she had lived life on the edge, and now she firmly believed that her Lord and Savior would protect her and her family.  It did not matter if she was living in a fantasy existence because in her world she found contentment and peace.  And maybe, just maybe, her fantasy reality is the truth we all envy and desire.

Yep, I am harboring envy today, but I know the fix.  I often use an analogy of sobriety to make a point.  There is a fine line between me, a committed sober-living man, and my brother, a man caught up in his alcoholism.  One step across that line into his world and I have a slip, a relapse; one step across that line into my world and he has a recovery, a miracle.

Both our worlds are a reality, but that fine line which I call Jesus makes it a living hell or a blessed journey.  Nah, there’s no place for envy on this journey.  Now, if I could just get a handle on gluttony!smiley 3“Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.”Psalms 51:10