The Start of a New Day

Sometimes no words are needed to express the magnificence of our Creator

Posted in Spiritual Challenges, Spiritual Growth | Tagged , | Leave a comment

‘Nature Abhors a Vacuum’ – in Physics and in Our Spiritual Life

‘Nature Abhors a Vacuum’ – in Physics and in Our Spiritual Life

 Recently, while the church staff was compiling the church bulletin, it wound up with a blank page.  As we all know, “nature abhors a vacuum” so rather than leave the page blank a member of the congregation provided the office with some historical and controversial recaps of U.S. Supreme Court rulings from 1844 and 1892.  Although the essence of the rulings have been overturned, the issues are as much a hot-topic today as then and still a cause of divisiveness.

 

But as I look around at life today I realize that our lives are filled with divisiveness.  In everything we experience we have created dissent and discord.  We have sporting events that evolve into outright riots when fans disagree on a loss or a ruling.  Parents at children’s sports games scream at the referees or coaches over a disagreement.  Parents argue with teachers because their child did not get the grade the parents wanted them to have.

Our politics have eroded into a situation where we don’t even care if our elected officials are lying, as long as they are saying what we want to believe – words that support what we want to hear.  Our religions have evolved into the debate about “our” God as though God is Christian or Jewish or Islam – yet we all claim there is but one God.  It just might be that the person who points to others of a different religion and says “they are wrong” may be violating the very essence of God.

Our world is clearly a divisive world.  If we are going to reverse this trend, we are going to have to learn and to commit to becoming one.  We can still be different, but we must be on the same page when it comes to how we treat each other.  Our nation was founded on the premise of E Pluribus Unum – “out of many, one.”

In business, I have learned that when you are trying to get people to agree on a contract it is helpful to get them to agree on one issue, often a simple one.   Once they agree on one issue, it is easier to move forward with other issues, and hopefully reach a contract.

With that in mind, lets’ try to agree on one issue right here, and right now.  In John 13:34 Christ said, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.”

It makes no difference if you are rich or poor; black or white; old or young; Christian or Islam or Jewish or any other religion; it makes no difference if you are republican or democrat or independent.  The phrase E Pluribus Unum applies to the world and not just the United States – out of many, one.

We must make sure that everything we do complies with the commandment that Christ gave us, “…Love one another…”.  If our actions do not comply with precept, we need to stop and think so that we can comply with the Commandment.

May the love and peace of Christ be with you, always.

Roland

 

 

Posted in Spiritual Challenges, Spiritual Growth | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

My Good Friday Dog

My Good Friday Dog

 We have a family dog that is as sweet as she can possibly be.  Her name is Sugar, and it is a fitting name.  She is a Maltipoo (part Maltese and part Poodle).  Sugar loves to do many things, but going for a walk is one of her favorite past times.

When she goes for a walk, she will sometimes stroll slowly looking at everything in her path, and other times she walks full speed ahead just to be outside.  In either case, when we get back to the house Sugar loves to get a treat.

The treats are kept in a drawer in the kitchen along with some pens and note pads.  She doesn’t care much about the pens or note pads, or anything else we keep in the drawer, but she knows where the treats are kept.

When we come back inside after a walk, Sugar will go immediately to the location of the drawer and sit there patiently until she is rewarded for the walk.  When the drawer is opened she will wag her tail in anticipation of the coming treat.

Occasionally, if I am busy after returning to the house, Sugar may not get her treat right away.  She will sit patiently right below the drawer and watch me, waiting for the drawer to open.  As time passes her face loses the happy expression, the ears begin to droop, and her head is not held in high expectation.  Nevertheless, she sits.  In time, the sitting droops to laying down on the floor, but directly below the drawer with the treats. She waits.

In time, one of us will walk into the kitchen and see our forlorn dog sitting or laying at the closed drawer wondering why there was no treat to be had. Her world revolved around that joyous treat and now it was held from her.  She waits.

When we see our rejected and pitiful looking dog and we realize that she did not get a treat we go for the drawer to give her the long-awaited treat.  When she sees the drawer open she immediately goes into a spiral dance with the tail wagging wildly, hopping and dancing like this will be the best treat ever! She rejoices, realizing that the treat is about to become a reality.

But then I begin to wonder:  I cannot image what Christ and his followers experienced on that Friday so many years ago when humanity crucified Christ.  If I could image, I am sure there are no words in human language that could adequately express the grief.  After 2,000 years, it still brings tears to my eyes.

After laying Christ in His tomb I’m sure they wondered, “Why doesn’t He…?”, “Why didn’t He…?”  As time moved on over that long stressful, weekend, did they become more despondent of what they hoped for, what they believed in?

But they waited.

We may not see it now, but that Christian drawer will open.  And on Easter, we too will be dancing in joy for our long-awaited treat – the Resurrection!

May the love and peace of Christ be with you, always.

Happy, Joyous Easter!!

Roland

 

 

 

Posted in Spiritual Challenges, Spiritual Growth | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

The Old Testament and Christmas

The Old Testament and Christmas

I have never been fond of the Old Testament in the Bible until recently. It is difficult to read, and much of what I have read was difficult to understand. It portrays the worst of humankind and a God that is angry much of the time. When I was younger that was not the God I envisioned, so I avoided the Old Testament, rather than study it and try to understand it. But in doing so, my understanding of the Bible was incomplete.

the-birth-of-christ

The Old Testament is filled with conflict between people and God. Over and over again this same theme plays out. Humans, with their innate sinfulness, simply could not – or would not – be obedient to God. From Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden all through the Old Testament this disobedience is rampant. It even continues today.

I never grasped the depth of this disobedience until I studied parts of the Old Testament in a small group study at our church. Moses, the man who lead the Israelites out of Egypt, was as much a man of God as anyone could possibly be. Yet even Moses angered God by his disobedience. Because of Moses’ disobedience, Moses was told by God that he would not be allowed to see the Promised Land. After leading people through the desert for 40 years, and up to the cusp of arriving at the Promised Land, Moses was punished for disobedience.

But that disobedience that we all live with every single day of our lives is what makes the story of the birth and life – and yes, death – of Christ so spectacular. The Son of God is not a different story from the Old Testament, it is a continuation of it – a culmination of the experiences of life. God provided his Son for the reconciliation of us to God. Christ was and is the missing piece to the love of God.  The Old Testament is the perfect groundwork for what is to come in the New Testament!

With Christmas upon us, our focus will be on the New Testament, but take time to learn about the Old Testament and how significant it is to the full understanding of the New Testament.

If you would like to learn more about how Christ can reconcile us to God, take time to visit a church that you are comfortable with. You can learn more by visiting http://www.umc.org.

May the love and peace of Christ be with you, always.

Roland

Posted in Spiritual Growth | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

The Tomb Is Empty, …Now What?

We have a dog that is a Malti-Poo.  She is about three years old and is part Maltese and part Poodle.  She has the intelligence of the Poodle and the loving, sweet nature of the Maltese.  Her name is Sugar, and it is a good name for her.

Sugar

It is a fitting name.  She is the sweetest, friendliest, most stubborn, playful, and intelligent dog I have ever seen.  She loves to play with her toys.  She has a basket where we keep her toys and she knows exactly where they are.  Her favorite toy is the rubber ball that squeaks when she bites it.  When she plays with the ball all we hear is squeak, squeak, squeak.

Sugar loves to chase the ball when I throw it.  I throw the ball, she runs and gets it and squeaks all the way back – squeak, squeak, squeak.

Sometimes when I am playing ball with her I will put the ball in my pocket or anywhere so she can’t see it and then hold my hands out to make her believe I don’t have it.  She will look around the room bewildered as to where the ball went.  She will run to where I threw it last to see if it is possibly there.  She’ll run to her toy box to see if it is in there.  She can’t see it and doesn’t know where it is; now what? If I don’t squeak the ball every so often, she will give up and look for something else to do.

But the more I think about Easter, I began to wonder if the Apostles and followers of Christ did not feel like that the first Easter morning.  The tomb is empty, where is He and ‘Now what?’

empty_tomb11

In our faith, the empty tomb is not the end, it is the beginning.  How the story continues though is up to us – do we understand the price that Christ paid and live our lives devoted to Him or like our dog, do we give up and look for something else to do.

May the thrill of the story and the Peace of Christ be with you, always.

Roland

Posted in Spiritual Challenges, Spiritual Growth | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Old Testament and Christmas

The Old Testament and Christmas

I have never been fond of the Old Testament in the Bible until recently. It is difficult to read, and much of what I have read was difficult to understand. It portrays the worst of humankind and a God that is angry much of the time. When I was younger that was not the God I envisioned, so I avoided the Old Testament, rather than study it and try to understand it. But in doing so, my understanding of the Bible was incomplete.

Is-the-Old-Testament-Law-Still-Important-today

The Old Testament is filled with conflict between people and God. Over and over again this same theme plays out. Humans, with their innate sinfulness, simply could not – or would not – be obedient to God. From Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden all through the Old Testament this disobedience is rampant. It even continues today.

I never grasped the depth of this disobedience until I studied parts of the Old Testament in a small group study at our church. Moses, the man who lead the Israelites out of Egypt, was as much a man of God as anyone could possibly be. Yet even Moses angered God by his disobedience. Because of Moses’ disobedience, Moses was told by God that he would not be allowed to see the Promised Land. After leading people through the desert for 40 years, and up to the cusp of arriving at the Promised Land, Moses was punished for disobedience.

But that disobedience that we all live with every single day of our lives is what makes the story of the birth and life – and yes, death – of Christ so spectacular. The Son of God is not a different story from the Old Testament, it is a continuation of it – a culmination of the experiences of life. God provided his Son for the reconciliation of us to God. Christ was and is the missing piece to the love of God.

With Christmas upon us, our focus will be on the New Testament, but take time to learn about the Old Testament and how significant it is to the full understanding of the New Testament.

If you would like to learn more about how Christ can reconcile us to God, take time to visit a church that you are comfortable with. You can learn more by visiting http://www.umc.org.

May the love and peace of Christ be with you, always.

Roland

Posted in Spiritual Challenges, Spiritual Growth | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Doing All The Right Things For All The Wrong Reasons

Doing All The Right Things For All The Wrong Reasons

Thanksgiving is a heart-warming time of year when families and friends join together in celebration with good food and fellowship. Whether we give thanks through a formal worship service or simply give thanks from our hearts, its a day we set aside for giving thanks.

ee004ph-eric-enstrom_grace-760x577

Often times organizations support a group effort to help feed the needy or homeless with a traditional Thanksgiving meal: turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, green bean casserole, cranberry relish, sweet potatoes, and of course pumpkin pie. Joining in with a church or other organization to help the needy during Thanksgiving is a wonderful way to be mindful of those less fortunate and to help others. It is a great opportunity for a family event to help children understand the needs of the world and how their contribution of volunteering and service to others can be a rewarding experience. More often than not, people feel very good about what they have done when they volunteer to help others – and they should, it is a very rewarding experience.

But often times we believe that by doing good deeds and by being “good” people we will earn a place in heaven. But that isn’t true. Yes, we should strive to do good deeds and volunteer to help those less fortunate (every day not just Thanksgiving). But it is important to remember that you do not enter the kingdom of heaven through good deeds, but only by believing and through faith do we receive the grace of God.

John 3:16 says in part, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have ever lasting life.”

Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “For by Grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”

Salvation is yours for the taking. It is not measured by the number of good deeds you do – it is not even measured by the number of bad things you do – sins can be forgiven. Salvation is yours for the taking for believing in Christ and receiving God’s grace.

I invite you to take time in your life and learn about the facts of life – learn about ways that you can enrich your life through understanding the Bible. You can find out more at http://www.umc.org or by visiting a local church.

May the love and peace of Christ be with you, always,

Roland

Posted in Spiritual Challenges, Spiritual Growth | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment