Before I begin I just want to say that as I read the Bible whenever a certain chapter, verse, or line hits me I make a mark so I can go back at a later time to reread it. So as I was looking through my Bible to pick a topic to talk about today I opened to Mathew 6:22-23.
22 “Your eye is a lamp that provides light for your body. When your eye is good, your whole body is filled with light.23 But when your eye is bad, your whole body is filled with darkness. And if the light you think you have is actually darkness, how deep that darkness is! -Mathew 6:22-23
After reading it a couple of times it hit me that it’s a pretty good passage to start our Lenten journey with because sometimes it’s difficult to truly see our own faults. We have no problem pointing out the flaws in others, but in ourselves….not so much. Or maybe we see it but brush it off because we’re “normally good”, and my favorite during Lent is the “well I messed up already today, I’ll just start again tomorrow” attitude. Unfortunately that’s not how this works, but when you can’t or won’t see the errors in yourself it becomes difficult to genuinely see right from wrong anywhere. But that’s the beauty of Lent. We’re given this opportunity to hit a spiritual reset button. To look beyond our own vanity, and humble ourselves to God. In baptism we all received the indelible mark on our foreheads, cleansing us of original sin… cleaning the slate. Today when we receive ashes on our foreheads, it’s a reminder for both ourselves and the world around us that we acknowledge that we are imperfect, but repentant, and we’re doing this because Christ sacrificed Himself for us…cleaning the slate. So as this journey begins, remember we are all in it together. I’ll be praying for you all.
Remember to Live the Faith.
5 I did this so you would trust not in human wisdom but in the power of God.-1Cor 2:5
So every year around now as spring approaches I find my thoughts floating to topics like “when should I start seeding and fertilizing”, “how do I find a way to surf…everyday”, and of course “what do I give up for Lent?”! A while back I had read an article about how people tend to try and keep God at a safe distance. Almost like we’re don’t want to get too close to him out of fear of what He’ll ask us to do. When I first read it I was moved by the idea, but quickly let the thought fade away. Then, as Ash Wednesday crept closer the typical “Lent” conversations that take place between Catholics began to happen and I was reminded of the article. Although there has been a few people that were truly looking to test themselves and sacrifice, most had a reserved or even nonchalant attitude about it. What’s funny is, as I would listen to other people talk, in my mind, I would pass judgment. Either commending them for being willing to do so much, or silently chastising for not. But it wasn’t until this morning that it all became clear. My judgmental thoughts were meant for me. I realized that over the last year or so I’ve become almost complacent in my faith. And what I mean by that is for a long time I saw myself as someone who was, for lack of a better, aggressive with my faith. But at some point I started living my faith based on the actions from the past. I’m not sure if it’s ignorance or vanity that somehow made me believe that my ideas, my thoughts, or my plans were somehow better or greater than His. That the view I have of myself has become so distorted to think that I can judge anyone. The truth is I’m not worthy to judge myself, much less others. Delving a bit deeper on this spiritual realization I thought of last Lent. It was a less than stellar performance on my part. The entire situation is truly disappointing when I put it all together. So here we are, it all starts tomorrow. Lent. When I think about all the things I have asked of God over the course of my life, between daily prayers to the more serious pleas, then I can absolutely do something for Him for 40 days. So as the sun rises on Wednesday I’ll be doing a little seeding and fertilizing on a spiritual level. And like Peter in the midst of the wind and waves said…
28 … “Lord, if it’s really you, tell me to come to you, walking on the water.”
29 “Yes, come,” Jesus said.
So Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus.
-Matt 14:28-29 If Peter was willing to put aside his fears and bring God close to him and “surf” with Christ, then I will too…everyday. Last week I spoke with someone how aggressive I would respond when I felt that someone was attacking my faith. Looking at it now, “aggressive” doesn’t sound very Christ like, so now it’s a time for “active patience”. No judgements. No quick gut reactions. But absolutely living and sharing the Faith regardless of what or who is in front of me. After all the blessings that God has given me in my life I’m not gonna keep Him or His plan at a distance anymore. So if His plan has me and Kerri as missionaries, teaching the Word, a little of both, or just doing what I’m doing as long as I’m “surfing every day” it’s all good.
Remember to always Live the faith.
Before I begin I just want to say that for a couple of reasons I was reluctant to write this. One reason is that I feel when ever someone does something for someone else it shouldn’t be glorified if it’s the right thing to do, but it’s what happened at the end is why I needed to say it.
All in all I’m a pretty simple man. I don’t wear flashy clothes (my wardrobe is pretty much cargo shorts and t-shirts year round), and I’ll sooner try and fix something that breaks before replacing it with something new. But every now and again I want, what I refer to as, a bourgeois coffee. You know what I’m talking about. Just about anything on the Starbucks menu, regardless if it’s cold or hot it’s covered with foam, whip cream, and caramel! Today was one of those days. So I put a little money to the side ($15) and figured I’d grab something in Penn Station this morning while waiting for my train. Weaving through the crowds at this seemingly perpetually filled station, I finally arrived at the Starbucks that I usually go to (there are 3 in Penn Station) for my indulgence in excess. But for some reason as I got to the door I stopped. I suddenly didn’t want the coffee. Within a minute of me standing there a man, probably not much older than me, walks up and in an almost whisper asks if I have any change. I reach into my pocket and pull out the five dollar bill and hand it to him. Appearing a little stunned, I can only assume he was literally expecting change…or nothing at all. We spoke for a moment, he said thank you I said God bless and he was off. A few minutes go by and I’m still debating in my head about going in, I mean I can still get the bourgeois coffee just no lemon cake (as you can see I’ve done this before) when an older man walks up to me. At initial glance, the clothes and facial tattoos made me expect a confrontation. Yes I was being judgmental, but sometimes it’s safer to air on the side of caution. Then in a soft spoken, almost apologetic manner he said that if I could give him just a moment he’d be out of my way, and then asked if I “had just 4 quarters”. I said ,”I’ll tell you what buddy I don’t have any change, but I’ll give you this” as I handed him a folded ten dollar bill. His look went from disappointment to confusion. After looking up and down at his hand a few times he whispered ,”you made a mistake it’s ten dollars”. I told him,”it’s not a mistake, it all I have left.” Then simply said, “God bless”.
The next few moments are why I’m writings this down. It was both heartbreaking and heart lifting at the same time.
As he reached out his hand to say thank you, without a thought I shook his hand a gave him the “guy hug”. He looked at me and said “who are you? This was great” motioning to the money ,” but you hugged me…most people wouldn’t hug me”. I said, “we’re all just people right? Sometimes people just forget.” He stood there for a moment not sure what to say so I told him to go outside and soak up this unusually nice January day and God bless. As I walked away, my train platform was announced, heading down the stairs to my train the scripture quote “And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me” (Mathew25:40) was running through my head. And the reality is it wasn’t about the money. Although I’m sure they both appreciated it, it was the conversation. It was the simple human contact and being treated like everyone else. I think that’s what we forget sometimes. Let’s face it we all start the same, and we all will face the same judgment in the end, and even though everything that happens in between may be different, we are all the same in God’s eyes. As soon we can learn to see each other through His eyes and not the ones we’ve created the world will be a better place. Now that I think about it, that was one of the best bourgeois coffee I ever had.
As much as I want people to remember, I am almost uneasy telling this because the unfortunate reality is there are a lot of bad people who try to prey on the goodwill of others. My size (5’10 250lbs) allows me the ability to put myself out there with less fear of something bad occurring. With that I still tend to air on the side of caution, just learning to do that without being judgmental. Alas we’re all just works in progress. Thanks for stopping by. Remember to live the Faith. God bless.
As we are entering the second week of December, and are now almost 10 days into Advent, I feel the need to bring up a point that too many people seem to miss this time of year. Advent is just as much of a time to prepare ourselves for the returning of Christ as Lent. Between the over commercialization of the season, and the anticipation and act of exchanging gifts it’s real easy to “forget” or dismiss the importance of the holiday on a spiritual level. Forget the commercialization aspect for a moment and just see it from perspective of a birthday. How can you blame anyone from getting caught up in the festive idea of the birth of Jesus. Now add in the gifts and “birthday party” mentality, sprinkle in some eggnog and a few Christmas songs, top it off with a tree and Kris Kringle and as happy of a time as it seems the day has become paper thin. Now before you start to respond with “Scrooge” or “bah humbug” let me just say that, like Easter, Christmas Day is a joyful celebration. And for the record I love eggnog! But THIS time…Advent…is for remembering the trials that Mary and Joseph went through in months, days, and literally minutes before the birth of Christ, as well as our time to prepare ourselves for when Christ will return. Whether it’s the birth, the rising, or the second coming of Jesus it is an absolutely joyous moment for us and should be celebrated accordingly. But like those who came before us, we must be ready…we must be worthy…of this gift. And we must be willing to teach others about this. So as we all (myself included) find ourselves over indulging in eggnog and holiday treats, while humming the same three Christmas songs we’ve heard a dozen times today, as we slip further into financial debt please take some time every day to center yourself with prayer, and put into perspective the TRUE debt we owe and the joy we will not just feel but live when He returns.
God bless. Merry Christmas. #advent #christmas #christ #jesus #reasonfortheseason