Thursday, November 10, 2016

Please Listen!

Matthew 26:36-46New American Standard Bible (NASB)

The Garden of Gethsemane

36 Then Jesus *came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and *said to His disciples, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” 37 And He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be grieved and distressed. 38 Then He *said to them, My soul is deeply grieved, to the point of death; remain here and keep watch with Me.”
39 And He went a little beyond them, and fell on His face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will.” 40 And He *came to the disciples and *found them sleeping, and *said to Peter, “So, you men could not keep watch with Me for one hour? 41 Keep watching and praying that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
42 He went away again a second time and prayed, saying, “My Father, if this cannot pass away unless I drink it, Your will be done.” 43 Again He came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were heavy. 44 And He left them again, and went away and prayed a third time, saying the same thing once more. 45 Then He *came to the disciples and *said to them, [a]Are you still sleeping and resting? Behold, the hour is at hand and the Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of sinners. 46 Get up, let us be going; behold, the one who betrays Me is at hand!”

Whenever a person gets angry, regardless of age, I get nervous and uncomfortable. I become fearful that the angry person will become violent because I have seen anger turn into violence. This is a feature of my PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). My tendency is to get them to calm down by getting them to be quiet. The problem with that is it dismisses what they are feeling and sends a silent message that their current life experience has no value. As a chaplain I know and have been taught that I need to allow space for someone to feel their emotions, however they manifest. The most powerful thing I can do for that person is to listen. In listening I validate them and their life experiences and they feel heard, and subsequently they calm down on their own.

Right now, more than ever, we need listeners in America. As of today Donald J. Trump is our President Elect despite the fact that Hillary Rodham Clinton won the popular vote.

Popular Vote
Clinton - 59,861,516
Trumo - 59,639,462

Electoral Vote
Clinton - 232
Trump - 306
This data was pulled from here.

I am not disputing the results and I accept the outcome as this is how the election system is set up. Why I point this out to you is to show you that Millions of people are not happy with the outcome of this election. These people have real concerns and fears about their personal lives and the future of our country. The last thing we need to do is to dimiss their feelings by telling them to 'calm down' and 'get over it', or 'just accept it.'

Latinos who are American citizens are afraid of being deported because of the color of their skin
Muslims who are American citizens are afraid to travel for fear they won't be let back into America, their country
Blacks are afriad that violence against them will escalate
Women are afraid they will continue to be victims of sexual assault
People with disabilities are afraid they won't be fully included in society
Women are also afraid that they will lose their right to make personal and private healthcare decisions with their doctors.
Children adopted from other countries are afraid they will be taken from their parents.
Children of color are afraid to go to school for fear of being bullied because of their skin color.
LGBTQ people are afraid they will lose their newly found freedoms and continue to face discrimination.

People have real fears and we need to listen to them and stop dismissing them and their life experiences.

If we want true unity in this country then we need to be uncomfortable and start listening to the different stories around us.

Matthew 21:12-13New International Version (NIV)

Jesus at the Temple

12 Jesus entered the temple courts and drove out all who were buyingand selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves. 13 “It is written,” he said to them, “‘My house will be called a house of prayer,’[a] but you are making it ‘a den of robbers.’[b]

You are proabably wondering why I included these two passages that center around Jesus. I include them to show that Jesus had feelings too. 
To my Christian readers, if you can accept these passages as part of your Saviors story then please give room for others to express their feelings as well.


Monday, June 13, 2016

HATE...Is NOT of God



Yet again we find ourselves filled with emotion over another Mass shooting and trying to make sense of it. And while everyone means well as they process their own grief it seems some words can come across as cold and hateful and leave the message that the victims in some way asked for what they got. 

I want to take the time to study the scripture with you and see if we can get a grasp on where God is in the midst of 50 dead and 53 injured. 


Matthew 2:16 - 18


 16Then when Herod saw that he had been tricked by the magi, he became very enraged, and sent and slew all the male children who were in Bethlehem and all its vicinity, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had determined from the magi. 17Then what had been spoken through Jeremiah the prophet was fulfilled:
18“A VOICE WAS HEARD IN RAMAH,
         WEEPING AND GREAT MOURNING,
         RACHEL WEEPING FOR HER CHILDREN;
         AND SHE REFUSED TO BE COMFORTED,
         BECAUSE THEY WERE NO MORE.”

John 11:33 - 35

33 When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. 34 “Where have you laid him?” he asked.
“Come and see, Lord,” they replied.
35 Jesus wept.
Isaiah 66:13
 “As a mother comforts her child, so I will comfort you; you shall be comforted in Jerusalem.”
Isaiah 49:15

“Can a woman forget her nursing child, or show no compassion for the child of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you.”


All these verses paint a picture of God as mothering and compassionate. A God who nurtures us and grieves with us. I want to share one more passage that provides a portrait of How God relates to us. That is the image of the Body of Christ.


1 Corinthians 12:12 - 31

12 Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For we were all baptized by[a] one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. 14 Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.
15 Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body.16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body.17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be?18 But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. 19 If they were all one part, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, but one body.
21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” 22 On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty,24 while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it,25 so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. 26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.
27 Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.28 And God has placed in the church first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, of helping, of guidance, and of different kinds of tongues. 29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? 30 Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues[b]? Do all interpret? 31 Now eagerly desire the greater gifts.

If God instructs us to be accountable to each other and responsible to each other then is he not also those things to us? When we laugh he laughs, when we cry he cries.
To solidify that God is the caretaker and the comforter in these heinous massacres I want to establish the role of the devil here. As he clearly has one.I give you the following verses.

John 10:10
10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
Ephesians 6:10-12
10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
The devil is alive and well, make no mistake about it. And when darkness invades our world leaving people dead you can be assured the devil is at the center of it. No atrocity like the massacre in Orlando should ever be attributed to God. Our God sent his own son to earth to die on a cross that we might have life. That is not the actions of a revengeful God. The devil would have us think that but that would be incorrect. Please see this act for what it is. An act spurred by the devil and evil as Ephesians say we battle against. And know that God is in the midst fo the grieving.

Lastly, can we learn to love our neighbor? This will never end if we fail to do so.


Thursday, April 21, 2016

Loving the Unlovable

Disclaimer: This is written primarily for people in the Human services profession. If you are in an abusive relationship with a  significant other, do not stay in it. You have every right to be loved and respected and not hurt by others. Check resources in your locality and seek help if you are in this situation.



People on the margins of life have been on my mind lately. This is the result of a conversation with a friend and my weekly devotion this week. How many of us can say that we excel in loving everyone, including those who bother and annoy us? I don't expect any reader to raise their hand. If we are honest, we have all failed to love those that are unlovable. We know who they are, the child who is constantly disrespectful, the adult who is verbally abusive, the one's who show no appreciation for what has been provided for them. I am no different. The devotion and the conversation reminded me of a time I failed to love the unlovable. I would like to share it with you.

It was 2009 and I was serving as Director of Children and Youth at St. James United Methodist Church in Tarboro, NC. I had a part time job sitting with an elderly lady at the local senior living community. Things started off well but as time passed she would get angry at me. She would say I was a waste of her time, tell me I was fat and needed to lose weight, then there was the day she ran into me with her walker. That was it for me. I was not about to let someone abuse me when I was trying to be their friend. I called her daughter that night and promptly quit.

Seven years later as I reflect I realize this woman needed the love and patience I could offer and I simply cut her off. One of the most difficult passages to digest in scripture is when Jesus tells us to turn the other cheek when someone strikes it, to walk an extra mile when a soldier demands we walk one and to give the cloak off our back when we are asked for our shirt. Jesus is calling us to a different way of living. Are we going to accept the call?


Monday, February 1, 2016

Love is......


"The truth is that the more intimately you know someone, the more 

clearly you'll see their flaws. That's just the way it is. This is why 

marriages fail, why children are abandoned, why friendships  don't 

last. You might think you love someone until you see the way they 

act when they're out of money or under pressure or hungry, for 

goodness' sake. Love if something different. Love is choosing 

to serve someone and be with someone in spite of their filthy heart. 

Love is patient and kind, love is deliberate. Love is hard. Love is 

pain and sacrifice, it's seeing the darkness in another person and 

defying the impulse to jump ship."


-Unknown



Monday, January 25, 2016

A Prayer (for all of us) to Pray



Pray for this fragile earth, our island home. Pray that we would be good stewards and she would withstand our abuse.


Pray for the Church. Pray that where it is right God will strengthen ti, and where it is in error God will direct it. Pray that God will fill the Church with all truth and peace.


Pray for the joy of human life, with all its wonder and surprises. Pray we would remember that all people are created in the very image of God.


Pray for the poor, the destitute, and the dying, in full knowledge that God looks with special favor upon those in greatest need.


Pray for our families, friends, and our neighbors, and for those who are alone.


Pray in thanksgiving for all the blessings of this life, and for the promises of the next. Pray that we may live not by our fears but by our hopes, not only by your words but by your deeds.


*Taken from the Prayer Books of the Church of Ireland and the Anglican Church of New Zealand and the Iona Abbey Worship Book






Thursday, January 7, 2016

Someone else's shoes

Please take the next 4.5 minutes to step into someone else's shoes. Be blessed and be changed.








Wednesday, January 6, 2016

A thought for the New Year




HERE'S TO A YEAR OF

BETTER HABITS,

positive thinking,

CLEAN EATING

& most of all,

LOVING YOURSELF.