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Tag: You are God’s Hands

Peace Like a River

Peace Like a River

The greatest of all power is the conscious abdication and relinquishment of it.  The outstretched arms of Jesus on the cross signify that if we are to be like him (Matthew 4:19; 5:48) we must surrender that almost insatiable human appetite to pull things in to ourselves, to hold on to them and to control.  Finding strength and power in helplessness, vulnerability and letting go seems contrary to our nature.  But Jesus demonstrated that accepting our loss of control and power is the gaining of it.  Jesus modeled this as he submitted to church and Roman authority.  Knowing that irony and paradox ignite the human soul like bellows to a flame, Jesus stirred within us a passion for justice by suffering injustice and sparked a spiritual blaze that burns in the hearts of billions to this day.

We too must learn to stretch out our arms and let go.

If we are to be powerful, we too must learn to stretch out our arms and let go.  If we are to be transformed, we must learn to let go.  If we are to be happy, we must let go.  (Matthew 10:39; Matthew 16:25; 2 Corinthians 12:10.)

Jesus promised us peace.  (John 14:27.)  That peace is like a fountain of living water—a river—flowing within and through us.  (John 7:38; John 4:14.)  We must get out of its way and let it flow through us if we are to ever find peace and happiness.

You are out of control if you need to be in control.

We were created to be a part of the divine flow, conduits for the presence of God.  (Romans 8:10; 2 Corinthians 4:6-7; Galatians 1:15-16Galatians 2:20; Ephesians 3:17.)  You, like Jesus, are called to be the revelation of God through the enfleshment of the Word.  (John 1:14.)

Thirst for control dams the beauty of the flow and destroys our peace.

Get out of the way.  You are out of control if you need to be in control.  You are weak if you feel that you must be strong.  Any time you try to cage, capture, contain or control someone or something you are damming and destroying the peace and beauty of the flow.  And then you are damned.

You are dammed and damned if you are preoccupied with trying to receive revelation from God rather than revealing God to others through your goodness.

You are dammed and damned when you clamor for attention instead of attending to others.

You are dammed and damned when you spread your arms and reach to grasp rather than reach to give.

You are dammed and damned when you stretch and strive to pull things and pull others in to you as opposed to projecting and unleashing light, love and encouragement.  (Luke 11:33.)

You are dammed and damned when you clamor for attention instead of attending to others.

You are dammed and damned when you constantly worry about your health instead of healing others.

You are dammed and damned when you constantly think about your own appetites and yearnings instead of yearning to feed others who are hungry … and not just for food.

The creed weary and ritual worn Jesus showed us the way.

You are dammed and damned when you are preoccupied with knowing the right or being right instead of righting what you know to be the wrong within yourself.  (Matthew 7:3-5.)

You are dammed and damned when you care more about how others feel about you than how you feel about others.

You are dammed and damned if you constantly worry about the future or the past instead of doing good in the present.

Not revelation.  Transformation.

You are dammed and damned if you think you can know God through study, prayer and ritual when God says the way to know him is to know your neighbor.  (John 5:37-40; Matthew 25:31-40.)

You are dammed and damned if you are always looking for God in some holy place when he has said, “I’m always there in another’s face.”  (Matthew 25:31-40.)

You are dammed and damned if you think some method, magic or incantation will bring you to God when God has said your neighbor is his incarnation.

Pray we must.

But for what?

Not revelation.  Transformation.

We don’t need much guidance (a guise for control … a wish to make God the genie in our lamp).  This or that?  It matters not.

Not revelation.  Transformation.

What matters is courage, kindness, integrity, compassion.

To see God in another’s face.

“I’m always there in another’s face.”  (Matthew 25:31-40.)

Atonement.

Reconciliation.

To see that in another … God in his place!

The creed weary and ritual worn Jesus showed us the way.

To have the courage and the power to let go, get out of the way, and thus live it … for this I pray.

Are You Living Your Religion?

Are You Living Your Religion?

Live-your-days-MEMEAre you living your religion?  The answer is not as obvious as you would think.  If you were to ask your children, your friends and neighbors, or even yourself, to write on a piece paper the five things you must do to live your religion, what would those five things be?  Are we confusing the means with the ends?  Where is our focus?

There once was a man who thought he was a golfer.  He studied and read from the USGA rules of golf every day.  He knew every rule of golf, inside and out.  He religiously went to the golf course on a regular basis.  He bought the best equipment.  He dressed like a PGA professional.  When he played, he meticulously followed all of the rules.  He never cheated.  Yet, he was a terrible golfer.  He couldn’t drive.  He couldn’t putt.  He kept all of the USGA rules.  He went to all of the country club and men’s association meetings.  He looked the part.  He dressed the part.  He played the part.  But, in the end, he was a horrible golfer.  There was another man with an incomplete set of clubs, no golf shoes, no golf glove, used golf balls and no fancy golf clothes.  Yet he could golf; and he always scored better than the man with all the equipment and all the rules.

There once was a woman who thought she was a cook.  She acquired all of the best recipes—the “true” recipes.  She bought all of the very best equipment.  When she cooked, she used all of the freshest and best ingredients—the “true” ingredients.  She followed each recipe meticulously.  She looked like a chef.  She sounded like a chef.  But her soufflés wouldn’t puff.  Her bread wouldn’t rise.  Her cakes sagged in the middle.  Her eggs were tough and chewy.  In the end, although, she followed the formula, she was a horrible cook.  Even though she had the “true” recipes, the “true” ingredients and the “true” equipment, she failed to produce anything appetizing or appealing.  There was another woman with a small kitchen, dollar-store equipment, missing measuring cups and spoons and only moderate quality ingredients.  Yet her kitchen produced wonderful cakes, rolls and soufflés that fed and delighted her entire neighborhood.

What does it mean to “live” your religion?  Is it possible that, like the golfer or the cook, you are focusing on the rules, rather than the art, of living?  Is it possible that you could attend your meetings, be active in your religious associations, dress the part of a religious person, read and study the scriptures, “do” all of your observances, go to the right meetings, go to the right places, believe the right things, say the rights things and, all the while, entirely miss the point?

Learning and scrupulously observing all of the USGA rules of golf does not make you Arnold Palmer.  Having all of the right recipes, all of the right equipment and ingredients, and meticulously following the recipes does not make you Wolfgang Puck.  There is more to it.  There is an art to being.

There is an art to living and loving well.  And, unfortunately, for many that I talk to, religion seems to be only giving people the rule books and the recipes.

Religion has done a fine job of giving us the ingredients and teaching us what’s in bounds and out of bounds.  But has it done a good job of showing us how to become better, how to thrive at the game, and how to be excellent in the kitchen of life, so to speak?  How far do creeds and dogmas, rote traditions get us?  To excel and thrive; to truly enjoy the art and mystery of living do we need more?  If so, where do you get it?  How do you find it?

Getting back to one of my earlier questions, if you were to ask your children, your friends and neighbors, or even yourself, to write on a piece paper the five things you must do to live your religion, what five things would show up on the list?

I would hope these things would be among the first on the list:

“Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction ….”  (James 1:27.)  “Jesus of Nazareth … went about doing good ….”  (Acts 10:38.)  He ate with publicans and sinners.  (Matthew 9:10.)  For Jesus, healing and helping trumped observance; relationships mattered more than rules.  (See Mark 3:1-6.)

I fear, however, that our lists might reflect a different set of priorities.  What do you think?

 

Be The Reflection of God’s Goodness

Be The Reflection of God’s Goodness

Be the Reflection of God's Goodness

Be the Reflection of God’s Goodness

Whether or not you believe the doctrine of the incarnation, one thing it clearly teaches us is that when God wants to perform his greatest miracles he does so through the instrumentality of human flesh.  This should ever remind us that we are God’s hands.  Ordinary men and women matter.  They can make a difference.  They can be instruments of kindness and generosity.  They can be the modern-day incarnation of God as they reveal his loving and abiding presence to others through their empathic kindness and thoughtful acts of service.  They can remind the world that God still exists, that there is still goodness in this world and that miracles continue to happen.

Your goodness to others reminds others that there is a God.  Be the reflection of God’s goodness.

Look someone in the eye today and tell them how much they mean to you.  Tell them why and how they have made a difference in your life.  And then say, “Thank you.”