VIRTUES, FRUITS AND GIFTS

       I am a reader and writer; a ponderer and prayer.  I enjoy thinking about the big questions of life. Lately, I’ve found myself adversely impacted emotionally and psychologically by the horrifying and troubling cancer of hate and violence that seems to be metastasizing. I pray  hard for conversions of heart and mind – of my heart and mind and of others’ too.  I find that when I pray daily for virtues, and for the fruits and gifts of the Holy Spirit, I receive relief and peace.  Here is my prayer:  “I pray Lord that You help me to be more joyful, peaceful, humble, kind, loving, patient, gentle, generous, forgiving, accepting, understanding, faithful, self-controlled, charitable, prayerful, long-suffering, compassionate, tolerant, persevering, strong, courageous, grateful, trusting, truthful/honest, hopeful, wise, knowledgeable, reverent, awe-struck, prudent and merciful. My prayer and hope is that you may too receive peace of heart and mind. Together we can eradicate the “cancer of hate” and transform our world.  I believe.  Peace, Joy & Love.

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A CHILD SHALL LEAD

This morning as I was reading scripture, inspirational devotions and writing in my journal, I ran across a prayer I wanted to share.  It is excerpted from Living Faith, Vol. 32; No. 3, by Phil Fox Rose.

THE SET ASIDE PRAYER

“God, please help me set aside everything I think I know about myself and this passage, and you, so I may have a new experience of these things.”

Short and to the point, it struck me that we could all benefit from the openness, and child-like humility that this suggests as we not only read, but also watch, experience and discuss. It takes humility to be teachable and open-minded. Oftentimes we adults are too arrogant, rigid, and close-minded to learn anything new. We jump to conclusions, judge others, and dismiss views that run counter to our preconceived notions about the world and its people. Scripture tells us to be open and teachable like children, and to be dependent upon God. My prayer is that we all open ourselves to new experiences during this most holy and festive of seasons. Perhaps we can take steps towards greater understanding, appreciation and respect for others. Peace, Joy and Love.

 

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THE MISGUIDED SEARCH FOR A SAVIOR.

Recently, some people have elevated Donald Trump to the position of savior, as though he had been personally anointed by God to deliver all who are fearful, feeling insecure, or feeling unheard.  This bothers me.  They argue that God uses “sinners” and “the worst among us” to bring about good things.  They cite the deliverance of Paul–from persecutor Saul to apostle Paul–suggesting that Trump is similarly being delivered.  However, the argument does not follow…Paul repented of his sins and humbled himself to be used by God.  Trump has said he needs no forgiveness for anything, therefore he has neither humbled  himself nor accepted his sinful nature like the rest of humanity.  God uses us when we repent and pledge to do His will, not our own.

How do we discern who is anointed by God?  The Bible gives us a list of Gifts and Fruits of the Spirit.  It follows that a “savior” would possess and display these as an outward sign: joy, peace, humility, kindness, love, patience, gentleness, generosity, charity, forgiveness, faithfulness, prayerfulness, long-suffering, self-control, understanding, acceptance, compassion, tolerance, modesty, perseverance, trust, counsel, honesty, hopefulness, piety, fortitude, and wisdom.

We must ask ourselves why we need to elevate a “mere mortal” to the level of savior unless we too have had our faith shaken by fear, prejudice, and hate. We need to recognize the humanity of each individual; recognize our own failings, fears, and prejudices; recognize our own need for forgiveness.

Neither Trump, Clinton, Johnson etc…can “save” us, and it is blasphemous to suggest that they are anointed by God to do so. Unwavering faith can banish our fears. Recognizing that “this too will pass” can re-kindle the hope in our hearts and souls, and humbling ourselves before the Will of God can bring us peace.

 

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UNITY & HUMILITY

The Last shall be first; the First shall be last.  This biblical phrase seems to run counter to what average Americans strive for in their lives.  It isn’t what we want to hear and yet over and over counter-cultural phrases challenge us – Love your enemies; turn the other cheek…

I was reading my daily scripture recently and the following passage really stood out:

Philippians 2: 3-4.  “Do nothing out of selfishness or out of vainglory; rather, humbly regard others as more important than yourselves, each looking out not for his own interests, but everyone for those of others.

This is the ideal; the Christ-like action.  It made me think of why we need some government regulations even if we would rather be free of them.   Unfortunately, not all nations, corporations, or individuals are as philanthropic as they should be.  Not everyone cares about the Common Good, the welfare of others.  Greed, self-interest and disinterest in others seem to be predominant “values” in our culture.  Therefore, we need to strive to be more Christ-like and to regard others as more important than ourselves.  Imagine the peace, joy and love that would flourish and how wonderful that would be.

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END TIMES MIND GAMES

Lately I’ve read enough doomsday and end-times scenarios to last me a lifetime!  I mean, the fear-mongering and hopelessness in these s0-called prophecies are eating away at the serenity of the mind.  Jesus said to “Be Not Afraid.”  He said that again and again in the Bible.   And in speaking about the end of days he said in Matthew 24:36  “No one knows the day or hour when these things will happen, not even the angels in heaven or the Son himself, ONLY THE FATHER KNOWS.  So why persist in scaring people with talk of horrifying things and working them up with fear and hate?  LIVE…now…full of joy, hope, kindness for others, faith, courage, peace, love, mercy, giving, forgiving…  Create memories of great love and charity for all…not fears of others!!  GOD IS LOVE.  Why worry about death…it happens to all of us…to the best and the worst of us…it can’t be avoided.  But we can make a choice how to live the life we have been graciously given, not wasting it with rancor and division.  So, STOP preaching the destruction of the world and START making it a most loving, and hospitable place for all.

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DISTRACTIONS

Smart phones; television; social media; over-activity; food; alcohol; drugs – anything and everything to distract ourselves from looking within to examine our motives and behaviors.  We judge others, pick out the “log” in our brother ‘s and sister’s eyes, and condemn rather than searching our souls for fear we may discover that we’ve fallen short of our idealized self.  We justify our hate-filled remarks as “righteous” as though we were appointed by God Himself to be his judge on Earth.  How arrogant, misguided, and prideful- how deadly are our sins.  No one knows the mind of God; no one knows the heart and soul of another; no one knows the trials and challenges of another; no one has the right to judge another and to proclaim who God himself will choose to save.  So let us examine our own self-serving motives, our own fears, our own prejudices, our own pride, and stop trying to elevate ourselves to the divine position of God the creator, savior, redeemer, healer, and judge. HE ALONE has the power to save and/or condemn.   Let go of fear and embrace the peace and love of God.  Peace, joy and love to all.

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HATE IS A CANCER

Keeping in touch with old friends and colleagues via Facebook used to be fun.  After catching up I would also read articles, opinions, and, on occasion, politically-related issue pieces.  Lately, I’ve literally felt ill after reading some of the most hateful, cruel comments that are being made – often unrelated to the original topic.  It is as though FB has become a network for angry, destructive, and thoughtless people with nothing better to do than to spew hatred and incite violence.  It has become a platform for a disgusting display of ignorance being perpetuated, and the truth being stomped on as trivial.  It is so sad that we can’t seem to disagree with each other without being vicious. As this hate speech increases, so does the incidence of violence against others.  Fear is insidious, and it seems to be spreading like a cancer.  It is infecting all areas of our lives.  I believe it is up to the majority of us that are not yet caught up in this to respond to the hate with love, to the cruelty with kindness, to the violence with peace.  Fear begets more fear…hate begets more hate…violence incites more violence.  Lets put a stop to these horrible, contagious “diseases” of the heart and soul.

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