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……

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)

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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.

Lead By Example

Lead By Example

Lead By Example

Millions (Not thousands), HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS of citizens, born, adopted, raised, immigrated, brought as slaves, and followed others to AMERICA over hundreds of years looking for the modern day Promised Land. Not one, but EVERY culture in the world is represented. Not one, but EVERY nation, current or passed is represented in those MILLIONS.

“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.” (Preamble to the United States Constitution)

Before he enter on the Execution of his Office, he shall take the following Oath or Affirmation:—”I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.” (Presidential Oath of Office)

I just took a break of writing this note to let my adult dogs outside with the neighbor’s puppy that we are watching out for while they were out of town to learn how to ‘pee’ in the yard and not the house. I took my dogs out with me to “Lead by example” so that the puppy would learn what is acceptable vs what may get her turned into the local rescue mission for going in the house by mistake. This bad habit is the #1 cause of pets being turned in to the various animal rescue leagues around the country. I want to be sure the same doesn’t happen, per chance, to this puppy.

Where was I. Oh, The Presidential Oath of Office and the Constitution.

I’ve discussed the whole discussion about Making America Great Again many times. This is my last time.

One of our President’s ardent supporters came to visit us here in El Paso last Saturday. (Where I live). He came here specifically to help his hero achieve what was important to his hero and many in Congress and the country. He came to help those who wave the flag of Jesus as their Savior and call themselves Christians.

Jesus died penniless on a cross for preaching “Love One Another”, and “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

This hero worshiper killed 22 predominately Mexican cultured residents and visitors and injured 20+ others. He stated they need to all go back to where they came from. Most were at where they came from.

“Lead by Example”.

Is this, honestly, what Christians believe the example that Jesus would use as the Leader of the most powerful nation on Earth if he had positioned himself as the President of the United States? Would he see himself as the President of just a part of the voters and wealthy donors?

“I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

The President of The United States.

It doesn’t say “President of the DIVIDED States”. We talk about Abraham Lincoln. Both Republicans and Democrats wish to claim his allegiance to them come voting time. What exactly did Lincoln do? He created the United States. The cost was very high. Now our President has become the hero to many who wish to help The President and his party divide it. Is this truly the key feature to Making America Great Again?

I do not wish for this “Great America” for our children to inherit. Most of the world has been blessed by our extremely creative group of citizens. The millions of us have come to win Noble Peace Prizes, develop great inventions, put men on the Moon, and medical discoveries that have saved lives all over the world. Our diversity built railroads and airplanes and saved the world through 2 world wars. What made us great was UNITED, and we will never be great again as long as our example is trying so hard to divide us for the sake of getting elected.

Mr. Trump, Be the LEADER of all of us. You are supposed to and you promised us you would. Need I say More.

I have said enough.

No Test At The Table with GOD

I remember when they handed me my daughter just getting off the plane at 5 months old. It was like being handed a sack of groceries with no manual or recipe to follow.
For 40 years now I have watched over, watched with, shared with, mentored, prayed for, and loved my little, now adult sackful of groceries. As the challenges have played out, the past has grown into her reflection that comes with the consequences of choices made that conflicts with the present and a measure of regret establishes a threshold in her spirit. It happens to all of us in varying degrees of measurement.
I think of the Frank Sinatra song “My Way”:
“Regrets, I have a few, but then again too few to mention.”
The regrets have had time to settle into the reality of what my life is. (The greatest book ever written: “LIFE IS” – the entire commentary on life in a single page of two words by my friend James Parsons (not the actor).
For my daughter the timing is too soon  for the measurement. She called me to ask my opinion.

We grew up religious.  This blog has always been called Unorthodox Christianity since the late 1990’s. Unorthodox for a reason. It is a different box. As I read the commentary of other bloggers about the judgement of GOD in all sorts of circumstances, I can see where a person would feel like there is no help for Heaven and not saving grace. This is where this writing is coming from.
Just like getting my daughter as a sack of groceries from a plane at 5 months I have been the caretaker for a child of GOD. A “GOD is LOVE”, God.
I have been the caretaker since she was 5 months old and I have done my best and will always strive to teach her what GOD has taught me. But I haven’t been the only caretaker. There have been many, but one really stands out in my mind.   GOD.

You can develop any image of GOD that serves you, but GOD has been with you, as with my daughter, since the womb. There has always been a set of footprints next to my daughter since the beginning. Even when she doesn’t have a set of footprints next to them, as the story goes, because that is when GOD carried her through a difficult time. GOD does not wake up on a Tuesday 40 years later and start throwing darts at his children for what they have done in the last 40 years. GOD already knows. GOD has walked every step and more. GOD knows the most important fact “WHY?” Mine will never  be a vengeful GOD. GOD will be an understanding entity that knows why decisions were made. GOD was next to me during the peer pressures. GOD was next to me with the difficult decisions, and when I made the wrong ones. GOD provided the mentors, the teachers, and even the strangers whose comments in a moment, that was their only time with me ever, made all the difference in the world. So I told my daughter this:
“There will be no test at the table with GOD.”

There is nothing about you that GOD does not already know. You have already lived the circumstances and payed whatever price may have resulted. There is no need for a test. The prodigal son squandered his inheritance in awful ways, and when all was said and done there was a feast at home to welcome him.

“There will be no test at the table with GOD.”

You have already lived the circumstances. Now is the time, at the table with GOD, to decide how you go forward in the future. Jesus commented to one of the thieves he was crucified with, who had recognized what his own personal activity had resulted in. Jesus recognized the thief’s understanding from the vision of a mentor who had only known Jesus for a morning in a horrific experience that a set of steps walked next to that man, Jesus. Jesus recognized his understanding and offered the judgement of GOD to him. “This day you will be with me in paradise.”

‘THERE WILL BE NO TEST AT THE TABLE WITH GOD.” People set more than enough judgement on themselves, they do not need the help of GOD for that. In fact, you can not tell GOD something about you that GOD doesn’t already know, or shared with you.