Thursday, August 29, 2013

Love Again

In the last devotion we considered how hard loving the unlovable neighbor is.  Yet, God sent all his messengers to tell us that love them we must.

Romans 13:8-10 tells us if we love another we have fulfilled the law.  When you think about it, you can't show love if you are sleeping with your neighbor's wife or stealing from him.  Love and killing are not compatible.  If we covet or bear false witness, we are not fulfilling the law.  Strife and envy do not show love.  Therefore, to bottom line this, if we love others, it follows that we have to keep the commandments or at least keep trying.

It is no doubt easier for all of us to love a collective humankind than it is to love each individual person, or, for that matter, individual nation.  It's easy to get upset with countries that are always threatening others, and it is even easier when the people are up close like neighbors, family and co-workers.  But, love them we are told we should do.  And we should love them as much as ourselves.

The fiftieth anniversary of the March on Washington reminds us all that if we love somebody, we should set them free.  After all, excessive power needs and love are extremely incompatible. 

I close with words from the Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, "Free at last, free at last.  Thank God Almighty, we are free at last."  And now, may they feel the love.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Love, The Best Part

Mary at the cross of Jesus -- that was love.  Jesus, hanging on the cross to die for our sins -- that was really love.  Loving thy neighbor as thyself -- that sometimes feels almost as difficult to us as the task Jesus faced.  The question is, are we up to our part of the situation? 

Neighbors are a huge challenge.  About the only thing that dictates who your neighbors are is the economic half of socio-economic status.  The friendly neighborhood drug dealer may be able to match you economically, but what exactly can he offer to the neighborhood mix?

Economic status also does not insure that your neighbor will have the same socio status as you.  The friendly neighborhood drug dealer would probably be no more interested in my blog opinions than I am interested in his drugs.  And of course, I would be inclined to think I am in the right, just has he thinks he is right.  But, people flock to his door for whatever he has to offer.  How many flock to mine for my opinion?

The neighborhood drug dealer is easy next to the neighborhood meth maker.  That individual doesn't leave it as your choice if you are exposed to illegal drugs.  They are airborne with every batch.

Even the neighborhood thief does not measure up in evil intent as much as these.  And, are the thieves largely a product of those who manufacture and deal?

Maybe in that world so long ago, it was impossible to conceive of a world as unlovable as the one described.  Or maybe God and Jesus used their precognition and knew exactly what would be, yet they expect us to love and pray for all these individuals as well as a whole lot more.

And what a success we could become if we could learn to do just that.  It is said that when we do pray for our neighbors, no matter how unlovable they seem today, they turn out not so bad tomorrow. 

Now, God, please give me strength to keep on trying.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Dishonesty and Holiness Are Incompatible

Leviticus 19:35  ". . . Do not use dishonest standards . . .".

This and verse 36 of Leviticus 19 are referring to weights and measures used in determining how to mete out supplies during the time of Moses.  Although it was situation specific, it is not that confusing to project God's commandments to today's world.  God was issuing decrees as well as commandments and He instructed His people to follow all of them.

It isn't hard to extrapolate this decree for use in the world today.  If we sell cloth or build homes -- measure the length correctly.  Don't short a pound purchase by even a part of an ounce.  Be honest in all our dealings.  Give correct change.

The latter may seem like a huge jump from measuring and weighing, but it really isn't.  God said not to use dishonest standards.  If He were writing the commandments and decrees today, He would have a different kind of world to examine and a new kind of people to both chide and protect.  But chide and protect He would do.

God wants us to treat, love, protect, pray for and respect all of His people wherever we find them and to love our neighbor as ourselves.

. . . and to remember "Thou shalt not steal."  God wants his people to be holy.  We cannot be holy if we are dishonest.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Mary, The Mother

". . . the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary, thy wife:  for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost."  Matthew 1:20

What a shocker that must have been to Mary and Joseph!  She is with child, without sex.  He is becoming a father, and he didn't have anything to do with it.  And we struggle with faith.  I suppose, though, ours might be stronger if visible angels brought our messages to us.

Then, Jesus isn't exactly a piece of cake to rear.  He disappears for hours on end talking with rabbis.  Have you ever had a child disappear for a couple of minutes in a clothing store?  Remember the panic? 

He can perform miracles, from making wine to shriveling trees.  The former saved the day at the wedding, but wasn't the latter a little scary? 

He calls to neighbor's children to abandon their families and come follow him.  And they do it.  They travel from here to yon with no apparent homes, few clothes and food provided by others or by miracles. 

Jesus is witnessed walking on water, an act which must have raced through the grapevine faster than news on Facebook or Twitter.  People called him crazy and he irritated religious leaders, royalty and politicians alike.

Yet, Mary was there to the end, witnessed near the cross where he died.  Mary, The Mother, loving him to the end.  She surely must have had more patience than you or I. 

Friday, August 2, 2013

Faith and Bad Times

A friend of mine is facing surgery. Needless-to-say, she is fearful of not only the surgery, but also of a long recovery period.  She expressed these fears on Facebook, I'm sure so all who love her will whisper prayers on her behalf.  Another of our high school classmates responded, "Where's your faith?"  I'd like to slap him to kingdom come for that remark.  Why?  Because bad times come even in good faith, and his remark was callus and unthinking.  I've already written about how hard faith is.  See "Faith, the Really Hard Part" at

Well, my dear friend, I'm sure I am not the only one who heard your unspoken plea for prayer.  I've asked the good Lord for the success of your surgery, a fast recovery and a calming of your fear.  I urge all my readers to do so, also.

Why do I want to rebuke the minister who so rudely accused her of a lack of faith?  Because he doesn't understand how hard faith really is.  He is just chanting words without tuning in to real world experience.

In the early seventies, my Mother called to say she was to have a biopsy due to a lump on her breast.  She assured me that it was just a routine test to rule out a worse case scenario.  I was between semesters at school, so decided to drive myself across two-plus states to be with her for emotional support.  When I went into her room prior to the sedative, she once again assured me the doctor was confident it would be benign.  The woman in the next bed gave a quick head shake to the negative. 

I sat and read and did needlework for the duration, like I didn't have a care in the world.  There was a page for Mom's family at the end of the surgery.  I should have heeded that woman's head shake.  Mother's doctor, a man with the worst of bedside manner, spewed out that the tumor was malignant, it was the rapidly growing kind, the worst, and she had had a modified radical mastectomy.  She would have to undergo several cobalt treatments as well as chemotherapy.  He hadn't bothered to say it in person, which I now suspect may be a Hollywood myth.

My Mother's faith had been like the naivete of a child and yet the news was very bad.  She never talked about how it might have shaken her unending faith and I didn't think to ask.

Certainly, had she had a healthy amount of fear, she could have conveyed some of it to me.  I would have had someone -- my husband -- accompany me for moral support for me.  Instead, the combination of faith, denial and bad manners from the doctor, left me light headed and unsure of my footing -- literally.  And I had to stand to answer the phone.

It all turned out well.  Mother was healed and remained cancer free for many years.  At that time, she had a second mastectomy, but survived that one as well.  She lived for many more years after, and it was not cancer that killed her in the end. 

I've carefully worded my prayer, as I have learned over the years that it is necessary to be specific with our God. I, too, expressed fear before my eye surgery.  Friends and family prayed.  The day of the surgery, I was so relaxed and confident that I know group prayer was in effect.  I didn't think to be fearful the surgery wouldn't work.  The doctor was touted as the best in the area.  How many people thought to pray for his success?  Not only did the macular hole not get fixed, but the surgery caused a retinal tear, a cataract and a hanging mobile and veil of veins through which I have looked for almost seven years.  But my faith was strong like my Mother's and things still went wrong.

So, remember to pray specific prayers, keep your faith strong, maintain a hold on reality and accept that, "Though you may have made me see troubles, many and bitter, you will restore my life again . . .".  Psalm 71:20