I have directed a few of my most recent posts at Change and the faith that it requires. I have been reminded that Change Happens. I have talked about my friend Jesus and discussed the power of love.
Tonight I was challenged to discover the greatest of GOD’s gifts to me.
Maybe it was my 23rd psalm:
The Lord is my savior and my guide
I shall have all that I require ………. (that encourages me to keep moving forward)
It must be Jesus and his gift of grace that forgives my human moments,
It must be GOD’s all encompassing love and mercy
and then I recognized GOD’s greatest gift to me.
The gift of recognizing the gifts GOD has given to me, the one’s I do recognize and the many more that have happened behind the scenes of my life that have brought me to this place of my life. For all I have done in my prodigal-ishness , the gift of recognizing that GOD has never given up on me and the help he has brought my way has made me the me that I have become over the last many years. The music, the teaching, the lessons, the tears, the gifts that I have benefited by and been challenged by. The people GOD has woven into my path, the many that have prayed for and helped me. To be able to recognize even such a very small part of all that GOD has done for me is a gift that I cherish and will forever hold dearest to my heart. Every day I awake I am closer to GOD because of what GOD gifted me with yesterday, let alone what lies ahead.
“It is by what you do, that people will recognize you as a disciple of mine…” (Jesus)
“Who you know is not as important as how you treat the people whom you meet.” (dennis)
“Isn’t that wonderful.” (my Aunt Vera)
The Bible is an interesting book. I pick it up and read a passage and set it down. I go about the day. Then I pick it up and glance quickly at what I read before to center myself on where I was reading to move forward and then notice something about what I had read before. It seemed I missed some of it before. Then I realize that what I missed was the fact that what I had read before was written specifically for me. I notice a picture generated in my mind’s eye that had me in it. It was a lesson about me. I read it over again and find myself face to face with my Lord. And I apologize. I become convicted by my humanity. I missed the part about me.
You see, I am the prodigal son.
I entered the world and became my surroundings. I learned many things and have had thousands of mentors. I have been taught and I have taught but I have also overlooked so much of just who I am. Improvement cannot be a theory, it has to be an action. Jesus calls us out for a new lifestyle. Jesus challenges us to better ourselves every day. Jesus even tells us how. By example, and by His teaching.
What is the most interesting, though, is that I am not discussing a one time event, or even an occasional event. It is every event. There are elements of me, from today or from the past, the stories are written just for me. Either about me, who I have been, or where I should be going.
Asked once about how to quit smoking one day I replied, “The easiest way to quit smoking is not to start”. The book is a constant reminder of what to be, and who not to be. The book shares faith and the book shares challenge. The book shares conviction, and the book shares the results of actions. I never feel fear, what I feel the most is concern. I may worry about my daughter, but what worries me the most is the concern that I have that life can be such a challenge. Peer pressure, life pressure, the state of the union, the stability of the world. It all subjects you to the temptations of the world. Concern does not reflect power. Prayer is often unseen by the one who is prayed for, but it is always appreciated by the spirit. Jesus mentored his disciples and left a huge legacy for life.
The prodigal son was not sentenced to hell and damnation, he was pointed in the right direction. He was where he was at by his own choices, and it was up to him to move forward positively or negatively. The choice he made took him home. The Bible is a book about going home.
It was written for me……
It is a new year. It requires a new attitude.
Over the years I have posted a lot of things. I have taken many breaks and always come back. I have posted “On Politics”, to “Love One Another”. The responses I receive from readers follow a pattern.
The largest numbers of Likes to Unorthodox Christianity posts have dealt with posts that deal with Jesus and a loving GOD.
There are a great many of writers posting on all sorts of things. They have large groups of followers and impact thousands of people with help issues, ‘kick the cat’ commentaries, and simple stories.
Today I want to address Unorthodox Christianity.
Today I was just reading about the rapid deployment of thousands of troops from Fort Bragg to overseas. The story talked about the real world of instant change to a group of people for whom the future instantly became unknown. How to react overnight. How to change what were simple things to address the serious.
I think of an old song “What the world needs now is Love, sweet love. No not just for some but for everyone.” What can I do about that for them? For their families and friends? There will also be a great number of residents where they are off to who have just had their lives changed also. Who have no choice of where to live as a result of their own location. The innocents suffer to politics no matter where they are.
Life is hectic. We have our routines and get lost in them. Jesus had his routines. People came to him for help. Help because what the world was offering them did not solve their problems.
I ask a simple question quite often during a given day, as do many of us. “Good morning, how are you doing today?”
Often they tell me. They tell me their dog had just passed away. They tell me they just got diagnosed with some form of cancer. They mention a friend’s concerns. They say they simply are not feeling very well today. They say their world is changing.
I am just a simple guy. I am not a doctor, a scientist, a politician, or a well known anyone. But I do have a response to all of them. “ I can and I will pray for you, that may be all that I can do.” (And I do. I do not sit down and take a hand, though for some I may have, but I do pray for them in the course of human events.)
They thank me, and seem to appreciate the simple degree of help from someone they really do not know. Jesus, unfortunately isn’t coming down the street today, walking through town for them to run up to him and say “Please help me.” I was told once at a retreat that I may be the only Jesus that they may ever meet. I have learned over my life to take that seriously.
Today GOD will ask you to fill in for Jesus. I rarely mention Jesus to them. I never mention a church or a religion. For those who know of Jesus they will think of that. If they believe along other lines they appreciate the prayer from the context that help entails. Unorthodox Christianity is not about conversion, it is about help, and a simple form of Love One Another.
The world needs more prayer. Unorthodox Christianity is not about creating a mega church, it is about filling in. Today the prayer you offer is a simple reflection of love. It is a reflection of help. Any day, any news, anybody.
“I give you a new commandment: Love One Another.
Just as I have loved you, you also must love one another.
BY THIS LOVE YOU HAVE FOR ONE ANOTHER
EVERYONE WILL KNOW THAT YOU ARE MY DISCIPLES.” (JOHN 13.34 njb)
“What a friend we have in Jesus
All our sins and griefs to bear
What a privilege to carry
Everything to God in prayer.”
I read a lot of commentary on God. Fear God. God will get you. God punishes. The Bible talks about the punishment of God. Those seeking a power base build on this concept. They may be correct.
I just have a difficult time with it.
I have been around for awhile. I was named Dennis and along with it the world picked up on “The Menace”. The reinforcement for that attitude as a person was more than simple peer pressure, it bordered on expectations.
To be honest, I have been human all my life. I have studied Jesus, the Bible, many of the other religious writings and companion discussions on life is. I have been active in church, I have preached, I have sung in the Choirs and led worship. I am old enough for reflection and have come to a conclusion. GOD need not punish. HUMANS, given enough time, are more than capable of punishing themselves.
I have not been the perfect human. Far from it. I have been Dennis. My parents took me to Sunday school. I even took myself to church. I write Christian music and have for 40 years +. Even though I studied GRACE, Even with the knowledge of the Jesus story, Grace is a noble idea but it does not always bring a warm fuzzy to the past. The man in the mirror sees the past. The past is not always what it should be. AND IT IS WORSE WITH THE BURDEN OF KNOWLEDGE. If I knew nothing about Jesus and the story I could sit back and have excuses. I have discovered that I can punish myself much more thoroughly than God could, and much deeper.
What is a key to grace is the text above from the song of the same name “What a friend we have in Jesus.” A friend.
“Love your neighbor as yourself”. I have discussed the weakness in this assignment in the past. To love your neighbor as yourself requires you to love yourself. It requires you to be able to look in the mirror and with all the knowledge of your life that stares back at you from the mirror one needs, more than all things, is the shoulder to cry on to find forgiveness for yourself.
“What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer.”
One needs to reach out to Jesus and GOD for forgiveness and know that GRACE begins at home for you to forgive the you. We, who believe in Jesus and the Jesus story have been given the privilege to do that by the knowledge of the life of Jesus. And more importantly, it is our gift to use it for ourselves.
My conversations with my friend Jesus and subsequent prayers with God is the healing affirmation that God is disappointed in me..”The Menace” but God took the measures to set the story straight and share that privilege with me. The mere fact of the story, the reaction of the disciples, the drive of those who shared the journey with Jesus after even denying knowledge of a relationship with him, it was all done that we may have that friend that we can share with. And share that knowledge with others. And heal.
If you find yourself in that place where punishing yourself becomes too much with all your sins and griefs to bear , God, through Jesus, has provided an avenue of help.
“Praise God from whom all blessings flow”.
Today is a new year. A new beginning and a new outlook. Take advantage of it and share that knowledge with those you know who may be helped by it.