Just the other day I was flipping through TV channels and came across a show about a guy who picks up road kill for a living. I thought, “Why in the world would anyone want to watch this?” And then, of course, I couldn’t turn it off! That show was called “Dirty Jobs,” and Mike Rowe was the man who became famous for trying some of the dirtiest jobs on the planet. He has waded through sewers, castrated horses, farmed worm poop, and sorted through medical waste, just to name a few. He goes out and learns about the jobs that none of us would ever want to do, and gets coached by the people who do these jobs every day for a living. It’s not just for entertainment, because Mike goes deeper in order to pay respect to the men and women who roll up their sleeves and do these challenging jobs every day. Read More
On the Inside; On the Outside
A successful young executive was driving his brand new Jaguar down a neighborhood street when he noticed a kid darting out from between parked cars. As he slowed down, a brick smashed into his car’s door. He slammed on the brakes and drove back to the place where the brick has been thrown.
The furious man jumped out of his car and began shouting at the kid, “What the heck did you do to my car? Why did you do it?” The young boy was little scared, but was very polite and apologetic. “I am sorry Mister. I didn’t know what else to do. I had to throw the brick because no one else would stop to help.” With tears rolling down his cheeks, he said, “It’s my brother. He rolled off the curb and fell off his wheelchair. He is hurt and he is too heavy for me. Would you please help me lift him back into his wheelchair?”
The young man was moved beyond words and tried to swallow the rapidly swelling lump in his throat. He hurriedly lifted the other kid from the spot and put him back in the wheelchair. He also helped him with his cuts and bruises.
When he thought that everything would be ok, he went back to his car. “Thank you, sir, and God bless you,” said the grateful kid. The young man was too shaken up to say anything, so he simply watched the little boy push the wheelchair-bound brother down the sidewalk.
It was a long and slow ride back home for the man. When he got out of the car, he looked at his dented car door. The damage was very noticeable, but he didn’t bother to repair it. He kept the dent to remind him of a deeper message: Do not go through life so fast that someone has to throw a brick at you to get your attention.
My sisters and brothers, the Lord is always speaking to us. Therefore, we have a choice to make: do we listen for the gentle whisper or do we wait for the brick?
Imagine that you’re sleeping soundly in your bed, comfortably snuggled up in your blanket. You are in a dream-like state, and you feel secure and rested. Then your alarm goes off; and suddenly, you have a choice to make. You know that if you get up, there are things to do and people to see. Or you can stay right where you are and just give in to the peace and comfort that you’re feeling. Even though the outside world is calling, in your mind you know that there is no other place that you would rather be than where you are now.
Each of us has experienced this feeling of wanting to remain in bed where we feel great peace and comfort. While we do not always have the luxury of staying in bed and sleeping in every morning, there is a good place that we can remain in every moment of every day; and that place is in God’s love.
Every day, we have the opportunity to remain in the love of our Father. While we can all agree that sleeping in is a pretty nice every once in a while, it is nothing compared to the peace and comfort of knowing that we have a God that loves us so much and only wants us to have the best. God is love, and there is nothing greater in this world than loving and being loved.
I heard it said the love of Jesus is like an electric current. If the current does not pass through you, it cannot enter into you. Similarly, if the love of Jesus does not pour through us to others, then that love is not really in us. The love of God has to be recognized, responded to and passed on. It is not just a ‘given’.
We have a chance to remain in that source of that love, but we cannot just hold onto it for ourselves. We need to find a way to share that love with others, giving to others what God has given to us.
By remaining in God’s love, and sharing that love with others, we will experience a life like we have never known; because His joy will be in us and our joy will be complete.
May the peace and joy of the Lord be with us each and every day!
The Witness of the Candymaker
How can a candy treat be a birth announcement? Many years ago a candymaker had an idea. He wanted to show, through the candy he made, that Jesus Christ was born among us, lived and died to save us all. So, through the use of color and shape, he created a piece of candy that told the story of Jesus from Christmas to Easter. He created the candy cane!
The white stripes on the candy cane stand for the fact that Jesus was sinless and pure. The three small red stripes stand for the scourging Jesus endured before he died. The large red stripe stands for Jesus’ blood, shed on the cross.
The candy cane is shaped like a shepherd’s staff, reminding us that Jesus is the Good Shepherd. Turn it upside down, and it is the letter “J,” the first letter of Jesus’ name.
We can learn a lot from the candy cane – both to look at it and see Jesus, and, like the candymaker, to share the story of Jesus in whatever we do.
May the peace and joy of Christmas fill you, complete you, and overflow into everything you do and everyone you meet.
What do you think heaven is like? Do you envision a place filled with white, puffy clouds with angels playing miniature harps while flying to and fro? Do you envision a place where there is no more pain, suffering, grief, or affliction? Is heaven found in your sweetheart’s arms? Or is heaven the most ginormous all-you-can-eat buffet you’ve ever seen?
These are just some of the visions of heaven that have been documented over the years in books, movies, and music. But what do we really know about heaven? Read More
There’s something strange in the neighborhood. Who Ya Gonna Call?
There’s something weird and it don’t look good. Who Ya Gonna Call?
Most of you probably know the song and the movie quite well. Ghostbusters was a huge hit back in the day and the new version is doing quite well in theaters now. If there was ever any dreadful danger or spooky situations, the Ghostbusters were the best at saving the day. The song is still great and the movies are still funny, but spooky ghosts and goblins aren’t real. Proton packs and ghost traps don’t exist. There’s nothing spooky to be afraid of. Read More
A few years ago, Stephanie and I were on vacation when it took an unexpected turn, leaving behind a memory that neither one of us expected. We headed off to Maine to do some wilderness hiking for a few days, and then headed up into Canada to spend some time in Quebec. Read More
I feel a powerful weight pressing upon my chest. My eyes are drooping, itchy, and raw. My head is throbbing with a palpitating pain that just won’t subside. I find it extremely difficult to sleep through the entire night, and I am plagued with fatigue during the day. I am in a very sorry state. But there’s no need for me to call the doctor – for I know what I am experiencing… Read More
Maybe it’s just me, but I’m getting really tired of those prescription drug commercials on TV. Now I don’t watch a lot of TV, but it seems like when I do, there are more and more of these drug companies advertising their particular drug. And it’s not that I’m bothered by the dancing elderly people, or the guy playing with his grand-daughter and her dog, or the frisky couple sitting in two separate bath tubs overlooking a lake; what gets me is the never-ending warning labels within those commercials. Here is an example of one I recently saw: Read More
While in deacon formation, one of our final steps before ordination was to meet with the diaconate board for final approval. The board was made up of both clergy and lay people and their primary responsibility was to make sure that we were prepared for ordained service to God’s people. I guess you could compare this to a final job interview – that lasted for more than four years.
The pressure was on, and I was feeling it. As I had mentioned before, I am a worrier, so this was an extremely stressful event in my life. We had a specified time to be there, so while I was waiting with my classmates, I felt pretty good about it all. One of my classmates emerged from his interview and stated that it was not so bad. But then another came out and said that it was a brutal experience. (They had two different groups interviewing us.) My stress level shot through the roof! I was feeling sick to my stomach, and apparently I was looking quite pale. Read More