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It’s a Monday: Character vs. Reputation

“Worry about your character, not your reputation.

“Your character is who you are.

“Your reputation is who people think you are.”

 

Let’s See

Let’s keep a firm grip on the promises that keep us going. God always keeps his word. Let’s see how inventive we can be in encouraging love and helping out, not avoiding worshiping together as some do but spurring each other on, especially as we see the big Day approaching.

That’s Hebrews 10:22-25 in The Message version of the Bible.

Sounds fabulous, doesn’t it?

So where and how will you do that today?

Calling All Spiritual Adults

Carlos Santana (yup, THAT Carlos Santana) wrote this yesterday —

Spirit is
Stronger
than the
virus

how do we present an invitation to global wellness healing
from New Zealand to Honolulu

when you see a child in Manhattan learning to cross the street you alert the child and say please don’t cross the street in between cars… go to a crosswalk…

better yet hold my hand, I’ll help you cross the street unharmed

my point is that you have spiritual adults
who are in a place of recognizing
Divine wisdom

these are the nutrients and ingredients to help
humanity cross the street with this Coronavirus

When I look at the world… the immense suffering in Africa South America India
Europe USA Indian reservations

we seriously need a collective SOS

angels archangels light beings healers
shamans one and all

please bring the medicine the antidote to this evil virus and transmogrify fear

while we are at it as well
peace on earth

my highest intentionality is
for the highest GOOD
all ideas inspirations visions
are welcome

peace on earth

A Q from WWOL

Quick Review from my one of my recent WONDERFUL WORDS OF LIFE brief videos (posted at 5pm Wednesdays & usually less than 2 minutes long) —

“Where did I

see God

at work today?”

— That’s a question from our faith tradition to ask ourselves every night.

Join me in that.

See you back here tomorrow.

So, Who are Yours? — part 2.

They’ll keep you from making wrong turns,
    or following the bad directions
Of those who are lost themselves
    and can’t tell a trail from a tumbleweed,
These losers who make a game of evil
    and throw parties to celebrate perversity,
Traveling paths that go nowhere,
    wandering in a maze of detours and dead ends.

That’s what comes next in Proverbs 2.

I’ve been in that second group, those who are lost themselves.

And I’ve been guilty of not being able to tell a trail from a tumbleweed.

And on it goes.

And on I’ve gone.

Maybe you have, too.

I’m grateful for the people who tossed me a lifeline.

And who didn’t give up when I lost my grip on it.

Maybe you have people like that in your life, too.

Today’s a good day to thank them.

And join me in praying that we’re in at least one someone’s life like that.

 

So, Who are Yours?

Not sure where I first read or heard this, but it’s sure stuck with me: “You’re a composite of the 5 people you spend the most time with.”

Hmmmm. Whaddya think, True or False?

And either way, with whom do you spend the most time?

While you’re thinking, let me give you some wisdom from Scripture —

Lady Wisdom will be your close friend,
    and Brother Knowledge your pleasant companion.
Good Sense will scout ahead for danger,
    Insight will keep an eye out for you.

— That’s from Proverbs 2.

Hmmm.

See you back here tomorrow.

Meanwhile, let’s you and me notice our Influencers.

 

 

Don’t Make God a Liar

I will bless you and you will be a blessing to others, God promises in Genesis 12.

God first told that to Abraham.

How are you coming along with that second part of God’s promise, that you will be a blessing to others?

It’s only Tuesday. Lotta time this week to follow through.

Starting today, right?

I will bless you and you will be a blessing to others. 

Don’t make God a liar.

Charlie and The Church Keys

Come with me to a couple of decades ago.

Charlie owns and runs two successful businesses in town. He’s one of those people almost everyone seems to know. Everybody who knows him likes him, and most love him.

It’s time for Announcements in our Sunday morning worship service, and Charlie is at the lectern.

“Members of our family have keys to our home,” he begins.

“You want a key to our church building?” he asks the congregation.

“You can have a key.” He is the Chairperson of The Board of Trustees.

“We’ve had some problems recently with things going missing, and after the last time the police asked us who all has a key to the building,” he says, downplaying the situation.

“They think we have too many keys and copies of keys floating around town.” Slightly longer pause.  .

“Maybe you already have a key,” he says with a slow growing smile.

“It ‘s not going to work any more.” More of a smile.

“Because the Trustees and our Church Council have voted to change the locks, and it’s done!” Huge smile.

“But look!” he chuckles.

“Keys for everyone!” as he holds up the largest key ring I’d ever seen, easily a foot and a half across, filled with hundreds of keys.

He shakes it rhythmically, and we hear loud jangling, picked up quite well by the microphone.

“But here’s what different.” Serious face. Silence.

“They’re numbered. You’ll come to the office to get one. You’ll sign your name by the number on the Master List. Next time we have a problem with things going missing, the police will start with this list.

“And you’ll notice that each key has ‘Do Not Copy’ stamped into it, right below the number.

“These are not for the public. These are for you.

“It’s just like at my home and at your home. Members of your family have keys to your home.

“Our church is a family. This building is our home.” He wipes at one of his eyes.

“With that privilege comes responsibility.” He’s getting choked up.

“Thank you.”

He steps away from the lectern and winks across the chancel to where I’m sitting by the pulpit. I realize I’m gratefully grinning idiotically at him and his brilliance.

Someone begins applauding, then the entire congregation joins in.

He was Charlie.

I was his pastor.

One year ago today we had our last phone conversation. A few notes from what all he told me then —

“This is how it goes.”

“The doctor says I’m dying.”

“I’m ready.”

“I’m worn out.”

—- Later that week I was with him and his family. Not long after that it was my honor to officiate at his funeral.

I still miss him.

He exemplified what St. Paul encourages all of us to do in 1st Corinthians 1:10

I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought.

— Here’s how The Message Version ends that verse —

Learn to be considerate of one another, cultivating a life in common.

— Charlie lived that.

Two questions for you and me:

  1. Who do we have in our lives we need to thank for their presence and their influence? Let’s do. Today.
  2. Where in our lives are we enjoying privileges but ignoring responsibilities? Let’s change that. Today.

You would have loved Charlie. I sure did.

And I still do.

 

 

“I’m about to break down, searching for a way out”

“Joe, you sound like this Christianity thing is serious stuff.”

Yup.

And yup, it’s the third day in a row that my blog title’s from one song, albeit carefully edited to maintain my Family Friendly status.

Serious stuff.

This following Christ Jesus really is. Things are expected of us. Dietrich Bonhoeffer called it The Cost of Discipleship. If you haven’t read his book by that title, do. But brace yourself, because it’s not fluffy summertime reading.

Serious stuff.

Amy Noel Green, whom I cited here yesterday, continues (highlight are mine) —

“This call to interdependence is repeated throughout the New Testament in many verses that talk about the followers of Jesus forming a body. (Romans 12:51 Corinthians 12:27Ephesians 1:23Ephesians 4:16)

“The biblical picture of a healthy community of believers is a single body. Each part of the body is unique and vital, but all the parts are completely dependent on each other. Loving God well means accepting our dependence on Him and His body, the church.

“You may feel uncomfortable as you begin to think of yourself as interdependent rather than independent. We tend to think of independence as a sign of strength and dependence as a sign of weakness. But as you shift your thinking to embrace the biblical standard of interdependence, you will grow in love and compassion.

“It may help to remember that interdependence doesn’t only mean that you resign yourself to your dependence on others, but it also means that you choose to become a person others can depend upon.”

— May we realize this…in every sense of the word “realize.”

Amen?

“And what if I were to lie, tell you everything is fine?”

I need to change a couple things

’cause something is missin’

And what if I were to lie,

tell you everything is fine?

 

[This title, and the previous one, are from the same song as yesterday. If you missed yesterday’s blog, please take a moment and read it now. And I again thank my millennial friend for opening my ears to his current favorite band and this particular song.]

Picking up where we stopped here yesterday, I yield this space to someone much wiser than I’ll ever be, who wrote —

In Christ we, though many, form one body,

and each member belongs to all the others.

(St. Paul, Romans 12:5)

— When one hurts, all suffer.

You and I have people in our lives who are hurting and suffering in ways we cannnot imagine.

Roll all that together with this, written by Amy Noel Green —

“Independence is a strong American ideal. We praise each other for independent thinking. We are often encouraged to act independently without considering the needs of the people around us. It can be challenging to shift our view of independence. But like much of the truth we discover in the Bible, the wisdom of the Kingdom of God is counterintuitive to the wisdom of our culture. (Isaiah 55:8-91 Corinthians 3:18-20)

— I’m really not trying to rain on our COVID-19 Restricted 4th of July Parades!

I’m really inviting you into a handful of five things today.

First, celebrate our freedoms by spending some extra time with those two sentences I highlighted in Amy’s paragraph. Consider them beyond the moment they make you uncomfortable; that’s a good starting point.

Second, join me in hitting the links she gives us for Isaiah 55 and 1st Corinthians 3.

Third, join me in confessing to our Lord that we’ve smiled and moved on rather than get involved…that we’ve changed the channel too quickly…that we’ve ignored Christ when he didn’t look the way we preferred.

Fourth, ask God to help us pay attention today and beyond to people unsure of how to reach out safely for help.

And fifth, as a starting point, ask the Holy Spirit to empower us in our inter-dependence as together we get healthier in significant ways.

Because,

I need to change a couple things

’cause something is’ missin

And what if I were to lie,

tell you everything is fine?