The Greatest of Gifts

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.

Thank you

“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)

 

It Was Written For Me

   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……

PRAY

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)

Pray

What A Friend

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.

God Bless.

Joseph’s Song

Joseph’s Song     

nails

We were talking at church about Joseph of Joseph, Mary and Jesus sometime ago and it resurfaced again this last weekend. The last time I discussed it was 11 years ago and I had been moved to write a song about it at that time.

Not in a position to record it today, but can post it.

Joseph’s Song

(words and music 2006 : dennis wheeler)

It is quite a task you’ve given, to be the father of your son
For it is only wood and nails I know, for teaching life to the holy one
It is quite task you’ve given, to raise your Jesus as my Son
I’m not a learned man of scriptures, I am as simple as they come.

        Can I teach him how to love, when it is only wood I have
        Can I teach him how to judge, by putting nails into his hands?

It is I that you have chosen, to send your son into the world
Just a carpenter with hands so rough, to shape the spirit of the Lord
I am a carpenter and as such, my life is working with my hands
What can I teach your son named Jesus, that he may understand.

         Can I teach him how to love, when it is only wood I have
         Can I teach how to judge, buy putting nails in his hands?

So far the path has not been easy, the soldiers come to find your son,
I have to move my family through the sands, because the truth scares everyone.
What lies ahead for the life of Jesus, that you’d entrust to this carpenter
I kneel in prayer for your help each evening, that you protect this child of yours.

    Can I teach him how to love, when it is only wood I have
        Can I teach how to judge, buy putting nails in his hands?

It isn’t that I am not grateful, that I am the one you chose to ask
I only feel that as a carpenter, I’m not equipped to perform the task.
May you give to me the wisdom, to teach beyond what I’ve explored
Just a carpenter with hands to rough, to shape the spirit of the lord.

Can I teach him how to love, when it is only wood I have
        Can I teach how to judge, buy putting nails in his hands?       (2X)

—————————————————————————————————-

Being a Dad has its differences from being a Mom. Being a Dad to a son also has special references. What have you talked to Jesus and GOD about your job as a parent today?
They are always hearing and always listening. Start your conversation today.

Change Happens

Change Happens

Change Happens

The mysterious “they” say that moving is the most stressful thing you encounter in life outside of illness. Having just recently moved back to Iowa from El Paso, at a point in my life that may be considered a bit later in life, I would have to agree. I have relocated a number of times in my life and the moves do not get easier. The only thing that I recognize as common in all of these moves is the friend that always moves with me.

Jesus. Not Jesus the co-driver, but Jesus the driver. Any physical move, when analyzed, has so many elements to cover all the bases and somehow the bases get covered. Whether through relationships, housing, location, meals, help, people. Hotels and gas stations. Somehow, there comes through it all a time when you realize that it has taken much more than you yourself, to make it happen. The planning, the preparation, the opportunity and the support needed a helping hand.

I was not the hand. The preparation and the pre-planning took many years for the pieces to fit. Yet with all of that, everyday is still just day one. The future holds nothing but secrets. In all of that I am fortunate to have a driver that requires but one thing from me, faith. When change happens the opportunity to talk with my driver over a cup of coffee becomes the greatest of gifts. Persistence is the mirror of faith. Jesus promises to be in the thick of things for all who call on him for help. There is no need of bartering or making deals. Jesus comforts me when I am tired and sleeping. Jesus is always doing things to fill in what appears a gap, until you realize that the gap has always been the project in the in the background and you could not conceive of it.

When change happens do not be afraid to discover Jesus. 2,000 plus years ago a substantial amount of sudden change occurred to a somewhat well regarded carpenter in Jerusalem. Many people told of his miracles. Many told of his compassion and his caring. Many journeyed far to simply see this man and maybe even see if he could help them with change. They believed that he could help. They believed that the change he was bringing would change their lives forever. As he drew closer to the ultimate change he explained how he handled change.

He said, when you pray, pray this way,

“My Father, who art in Heaven, hallowed be thy name.
Thy Kingdom come, Thy WILL be done on Earth as it is in Heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
And forgive us our trespasses (I like to think humaness)
As we forgive those who have trespassed against us.
Lead us not into temptation (For God understands your humanity, its pressures and enticements
But (when we are tempted and human) deliver us from evil.
For thou art the kingdom, and the power and the glory forever.

AMEN

Jesus had discovered already in his life that he had to have had a mentor through it all. And he told his group of followers to take time and have that conversation with their spiritual connection. Because CHANGE HAPPENS. And when the time had run it’s course and he was offering a tremendous sacrifice to so many he did not meet, who were left yet to be born and live their lives and are challenged with Change often, his conversation with his people was about his relationship with his ultimate mentor:

“Father, I thank you for hearing my prayer. I knew indeed that you always hear me…” 

My greatest gift I have ever received was my friend and Mentor, and navigator and my guide, Jesus the carpenter from Nazareth. Change Happens. Too often the tendency is to go it alone.  Take every opportunity to share it with Jesus. He never tires of hearing from you…..

Where is the Good News

Once in awhile I sit down and read some of the other pundits here in the religious world. I try to get a grip and the religious news of the today. I watch some on TV and listen. There seems to be something that seems to be missing in a lot of these. The Good News.
Jesus did not garner crowds because he gave a message of condemnation and fear.

Jesus didn’t condemn the universe, He did not have to. Jesus didn’t threaten just too many people during his visit on Earth. And just how many are still waiting for the return of Jesus to hear the GOOD NEWS. In all of it I have come to recognize one thing. Today is today and tomorrow is going to be today in the morning. Whatever news is thrown out there on the news, no matter what channel on what nation, many in the world have given up on the BAD NEWS. DO I want my day to be condemned before I even get to it?

As I go through my day I have come to realize one thing. I have a very small circle that perhaps I have been charged to touch, to help, to pray for GOOD NEWS. A small mentorship that believes that GOD is love. I have tried to get a handle around the idea of what “LOVE” is. Is GOD all about “TOUGH LOVE”? Do I really need tough love to look at the man in the mirror and feel like I am a dart board for GOD? I don’t buy into it.

My circumstances are my own doing. The GOOD NEWS is that there is still time. Time to smile, smell the roses, be grateful for all I have been given, and all the mentors that have crossed my path. Tomorrow is all about hope and when tomorrow becomes today hope is in action once again. Why? Because GOD is constant. GOD is love and GOD’s hand is open to me. Only I choose whether to grab it for all it is worth or to walk away from it.

GOOD NEWS is to a large extent, MY responsibility to be thankful for each day. Each one who gets up to see the sunrise has been given an opportunity to grow and learn. When I watch the news I have to keep news in perspective. BAD NEWS sells, GOOD NEWS is to be enjoyed. Enjoy the GOOD NEWS. Jesus did not make this complicated. Love one another as yourself. Start with yourself each day, pray for all those on your list and all the one’s that maybe are not. Every morning is a GOD NEWS moment. 3 days after Jesus’ Crucifixion the stone was rolled away. Because He criticized everyone? What did Jesus have to say about it?

“Forgive them Father, for they know not what they do.” That is the GOOD NEWS. Jesus understands what you go through, what the pressures are, what the dangers are. Jesus knows illness, Jesus knows Evil, racism, corruption, power brokers. And Jesus says, “Forgive them for they know not what they do.” I believe that is a good direction for my today and tomorrow.