“The Lord is my Savior and my Guide” (adapted from the 23rd psalm of David)
Saving Grace is referred to often as a gift from GOD for belief in the teachings of Jesus and many of the prophets. And disciples.
What is it exactly that I am being saved from?
What is the purpose of this saving grace?
Jesus gave the ultimate example of GOD’s saving grace when He was crucified on a cross for preaching love one another to a hostile audience of those who were profiting by the taking advantage of an entire population. They convicted Him of sedition because too many of those who were being taken advantage of them agreed with Him. Love One Another had become the ultimate threat to the powers that be. Two thieves were crucified along with Jesus. One of them taunted Jesus for not saving himself along with Jesus if Jesus really had the power to save. The other condemned his partner thief and pointed out “We are only getting what we deserve, but Jesus has done nothing to deserve this.”
Jesus mentioned, “Today, you (the second thief) will be together with me in Paradise.”
Recognizing his own wrong doing, and Jesus’s lack of guilt, was rewarded by Jesus for making that determination was a proof that GOD recognized a spirit had learned the ultimate lesson of life by admitting his own behavior was wrong and carried consequences and not blaming someone else for it. Saving grace was his reward.
What exactly do I need to be saved from?
Does it save me from stressing over right and wrong?
I told myself once that if I was afraid of getting a speeding ticket the easiest fix to that stress was to drive the speed limit. Wisdom is acknowledging the simpleness of it all.
Saving me from hurting others?
Or for not hurting others in the first place.
The word SIN moves about the territory of religion quite openly and quite broadly today.
Some say we are born sinful. Some say temptation causes sin. What becomes our sin?
How can you be born sinful? Everyone has the choice of being sinful or not. But what is sin? What is it to watch for? As I thought about it there is a simple judgment to decide.
For me, I found my life was more complicated when I asked for things that benefited me and could have easily hurt others, whether I would recognize it as such or not.
What I needed to be saved from was my own selfishness. SIN is a simple word for selfishness. My own ideas of right and wrong are challenged when the direction that I am moving in is to feed my own selfishness.
An Uncle once said “In our rush rush society, there is never time to do things right, but there is always time time to do it over.”
One of the WordPress Bloggers (Mr. Ropeka) says to always take time to talk to GOD at least 3 days about change before before you decide what direction to go in.
My father-in-law was a city engineer in a small town in western Minnesota. I stopped by his city shop one day while he was working on the city police car. He stopped and stared at the engine for what seemed the longest time and I asked “What are you looking for?”
He said: “What is the easiest way to do it right the first time before I do it wrong the first time and have to fix it.”
Selfish decisions get the project off on the wrong foot. Getting back on the right track can be tiring and much more difficult than not being selfish in the first place. I think most of the world’s pain is caused by selfishness. Often the word that best describes it is sin, another word is evil.
“Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” (The Lord’s Prayer)
“You lead me along the right paths (those of your own choosing) that I might serve you there” (adapted again from Psalm 23.)
GOD works overtime to help you find the right direction, the right decision and the right move. It is not rocket science, it is all around you in the people that GOD has cross your path. It has always been up to me to decide.
What do I need to be saved from? An enemy? A neighbor? A bully?
More than that, it is to save me from my own selfishness.
Sin is when your own selfish wants negatively impacts the quality of the lives of others.
Grace is when you recognize the risk and do not pursue it, or you admit the wrong, ask for forgiveness and pray for the strength not to pursue it ever again.
It is truly Amazing this Grace. (Thank you – John Newton)
“The Lord your GOD is one GOD,
Thou Shalt have no other Gods before Me.”
How confusing can this get? Which GOD is writing? Which GOD should I Pray to, today?
GOD the FATHER?
GOD the MOTHER?
GOD the GOD of LOVE?
GOD the PUNISHER
GOD the JUDGE?
GOD the I AM?
GOD the AVENGER?
GOD the ANGRY?
GOD The GOD of I WILL GET YOU for that?
GOD the FEAR ME GOD?
GOD the FRIEND GOD?
GOD the CARE GIVER?
All of these descriptions have been attached to GOD from acquaintances, and bloggers, and Pastors, and Sunday School teachers. They come from movies and tv dialogs, music and more than I will ever have room to list. It will always be your choice as to which GOD will be yours that you pray to.
Many blame GOD that things happen that they don’t wish or pray for. Many blame GOD for the results of tests, for illness or so on and so on.
Many justify their own behavior by saying they are merely performing GOD’s will. Many think GOD is dead. Many believe there has never been a GOD in the first place.
Wars throughout the the world for centuries have put GOD on one side and not the other. The participants, though, each claim to be the warriors for their “GOD”. (I won’t even get into the names for “GOD”.)
I, personally, consider myself to have been fortunate. The only GOD I have known is GOD my friend. The GOD is LOVE GOD. My GOD is a GOD of “GOD watches out for the ignorant and uninformed.” (Like me.)
When I got the feeling to clean my parents old black and white TV that my parents gave me for my apartment when I was 20, I wiped off the picture tube with a white towel and ended up with a black one. 49 years later I can appreciate today giving up cigarettes that moment and be grateful I was no longer living and breathing the air of their life. In fact, I have outlived them by many years now.
Life handles the rest.
For me GOD is not someone to be blamed for the results of my mistakes.
When I make mistakes GOD reaches out to help. When I am moving in the wrong direction, GOD prepares the way for a new beginning through another mentor or friend, or neighbor, or someone who is passing through with a comment that may only have value to me. It may come to me through the TV show I stumble upon and it catches my attention because it was just what I needed to hear, RIGHT NOW. To build my relationship with GOD has required the use of the words, THANK YOU, GOD.
To build your relationship with GOD you may need to define just what is GOD to yourself. What role does GOD provide for you. What do you pray to GOD for? What do you expect from your GOD.
It will always be your choice, for your reasons. For your circumstances.
Which GOD do you live by?
Illness Is A Catalyst For Change
Whether it is a form of cancer (as in my case see below), or arthritis. Whether suffering through alcoholism or PTSD or whatever the physical crisis may be, a diagnosis of a life changing event can shock your system and generates any number of reactions. Whether it is us personally or a relative or a friend or acquaintance. The storms of life become a catalyst for change and those challenges of life can bring out the best of us, or the worst of us.
Our human bodies react to life and the reality of the life experience makes us choose what attitude we will bring to the challenge, the positive or the negative. All of this is not news. These challenges have existed since the beginning of time. When these challenges happen to the people we know it can remind us of the temporariness of life. One may react with “why me?” It may be “What did I do to deserve this?”
Over the years, many of the visits of mine to see others in my life who were in the midst of a life crisis taught me that the challenges of them all had one thing in common. Without exception they were the result of being human. One thing that I discovered is that they were not unique to an age group. They came upon people who expected the prognosis and those who did not.
Oftentimes these events draw out the religion, or lack of it, in many of us. Our discussion at church the other day pointed out that we often times find GOD as result of those difficult and challenging times rather than good times. Many important lessons to me over my life has been in the examples of those I have talked with, or seen on TV, whether young or old, and I have been exposed to their reactions to these challenges in their journeys. I have learned that GOD knows about these challenges and follows you as though He clicks the “Follow” button on a social website. And then GOD begins. GOD surrounds you, with friends and family and often strangers. Hope is the mainstay of GOD.
Jesus had a cross to bear to be an example of the way he saw the challenges of life and the attitude required to survive them. The Cross was a testimony of the catalyst of change and the power of GOD to bring a new beginning out of whatever is happening. God walked with Jesus and the disciples that followed Him to Calvary and then they followed in His footsteps after His resurrection (or simply by the example he set for believing that LOVE ONE ANOTHER was a challenge well worth the risks.) It is their reaction that caught my attention to the power that lied within the stories I read in the Bible given to me as a graduate from Sunday school so many years ago.
The sudden accident or diagnosis challenges all of us at some time in our lives. The calling may be as loud as a Fire Alarm in the middle of the night that jolts us awake. The heart pounds, then you recognize what is going on. Sometimes it is as quiet as a prayer. Whichever way the catalyst comes one knows their life is changing in some way shape or form.
The other day my doctor was giving me my yearly overall blood test and reviewed the results with me in his office. He mentioned to me that my PSA count ( a measurement they use to track the health of your prostate in men,) was a bit higher than the normal for men my age (68). He set up an appointment with a urologist for me to double check the count which is in the function of a urologist. Pictures were taken, examination was made. The next step was determined to be a biopsy to answer some questions.
The call a couple of days later that a measure of Prostate Cancer has been found took my breath away. My memory immediately took me back to that group of mentors that GOD had put into my life over the many years as to how did they react to such news? Where had their emotions led them and where did they find strength of attitude and persistence. It was at that moment that I recognized how prepared I had been made for this day. Make no mistake, my education from my visits to others had made me aware that challenge has taken on a new form for me. Statistics tells me that thousands of others in this country and a million plus over all the world receive much the same message as I every year.
Yesterday I discussed the results of the biopsy with my urologist. Moving forward with the discussion of treatment options I chose to pursue radiation therapy. I believe in the research that has been done over the years and have been blessed with an internet that can provide many answers to what I am facing in this new journey as I move forward. This internet is a gift that so many have not had before just a few years ago. To be in a position with my website to share information about this illness and how I move forward is a blessing to be able to share. The shock of any such diagnosis can be a call to action, however the action becomes.
I tell you this for in my research I found information from many sources to provide me with answers. One very positive and extensive “book” I discovered was available, for free, through the Prostate Cancer Foundation. I encourage you to contact them to help answer some of your questions. My challenge is just beginning. I truly wish that I had been given this book when I had friends who had received a similar call as mine many years ago before the internet.
If you want to do research, the Prostate Cancer Patient Guide can be found at www.pcf.org . They do not try and choose any course of action for you. They do not sell a magic potions for you to purchase. It is information for its own sake and is very thorough and up to date.
Periodically I will offer updates in this forum of my progress and journey as I am presented with them.
Allow GOD to work within your lives as a mentor of help and a provider of HOPE. Jesus said: “I am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life”. It is reflected in my logo. This has always been the foundation of Unorthodox Christianity since it’s inception.
Ask any questions of me that you wish. If you have been diagnosed or in reading this Patient Guide you recognize the warning signs that I did not recognize, my prayers are with you as many are praying for me.
Thank you for reading. Share this with anyone who may benefit from this information.
LIFE IS (for Jim)
Every day I am fortunate enough to wake up to life.
Seems simple until life wakes up also. Life is all.
I wrote the other day:
The Purpose of Life is to Experience It
And so what is “IT” like?
For me it goes something like this:
I Believe in GOD, yet I do not know how GOD works.
I have seen the work of GOD and try to live within GOD’s power.
I am comforted by GOD yet GOD remains a secret I can not unlock.
I wake up to a new day with new possibilities and opportunities.
I need to say thank you to GOD every day.
I believe in Jesus, the SON.
I also believe in Jesus the “SUN” of GOD as the light of the world.
I cannot hide from living.
Living is the purpose for creation.
Life is all of it’s own stories.
Life is always it’s own choices.
Appreciate every day and move forward within it for that is my purpose.
Be the example that Jesus wants me to be for the people who cross my path.
In the envelope of LOVE are people.
People come in a great variety. They are short, tall, in between. They have different colors. They come in cultures. Without the lines on a map of the nations, they are simply people who are unique, inhabiting different areas on the planet known as EARTH. Their differences make them unique. Knowledge comes from the sharing of life with these people and their experiences and the sharing of their ideas, discoveries, attitudes and beliefs. LIFE has been a unique story from each of them as well as for me.
To be enveloped by LOVE brings comfort and a certain amount of peace that many people may miss out on because they don’t see people, they see politics.
These who miss out on Love do not often see LOVE because they refuse it.
Though I see the truth of living everyday and I live the challenges of life everyday the joy of living can get lost in the reality of the experience every day.
The Good News, the BAD news, the FAKE news.
The nice people, the caring people.
The struggles of surviving in a body that has it’s own strengths and weakness.
Every day is on a road that has it’s own challenges.
The living is what life is.
Love is in my surroundings.
Love is in your surroundings also.
Love is in the constant examples of love in action.
Love is a well of HOPE to drink from.
Life begins each morning in the news. It may be happy, it may be a crime. It may be sorrow, it may be a difficult prognosis. It may be a war event, or a Success AT ANother’s expense event.
I can choose to be the GOOD NEWS of Peace and Love and of LOVE’s existence on EARTH for us to be a part of.
I was born and given an opportunity to experience life. All the things we see and do. All the choices that we make. All the choices that other’s make that impact our life at some point in time.
I think the choice that my spirit makes to experience life again and again and again becomes my purpose. Even GOD, in the example of Jesus, promises opportunity to share LOVE and HOPE and PEACE, even with the harsh realities of living that any day may represent.
The power of LOVE will always be a source of HOPE and ENERGY whether the day holds a cross, a storm of nature, an illness or a moment of temptation.
LIFE IS an experience. Every day. I am here to be a part of it.
GOD is in my toolbox.
Jesus is in my toolbox.
My family, my friends, neighbors and mentors are in my toolbox.
The strangers that GOD sends by are in my toolbox.
They are a part of my every day.
It is up to me to utilize this every day.
I can open my toolbox for myself or for others.
HOPE SURROUNDS ME.
HOPE SURROUNDS YOU.
Enjoy the opportunity that every morning represents.
Every day I say: I LOVE YOU GOD
And for all of you I say: GOD BLESS.
And for my daughter I say: “Don’t Worry, Be Happy”.
For me, 2020 has begun as a year of change.
Whenever you encounter change you find yourself in a position of worry, concern and challenge. I replied to a text this morning from my closest friend and wished to share it with all of you for whom 2020 has become a year of change.
Thank you for your text. I appreciate your concern. I am not unemployed. I am working and am active in finding supplemental work, or at least a bit less physical. I’m still in real good shape and have learned how to compensate with my left shoulder to take the emphasis off of the arthritis in the right shoulder.
I have money in the bank and social security comes every month. Once the weather permits I will have my 2 dogs as companions. I will admit that the greatest strength a person can have is attitude. A positive attitude and a position of perseverance is the key. I planned on a lull if the retail world slowed down for a while. I have been bolstered by the ideas from the people that GOD has put around me. Now the key is patience as all the pieces come together.
If history has shown me anything it is that my close relationship with my faith has been the keystone for my success. Wealth is not necessarily just the measurement of money, nor is it the measure of a successful living.
To be rich in caring people is the measure of true success.
The power and energy of prayer in a congregation of people can not be measured within limits. It is only measured by its LOVE.
Today is always a good day when you are in a position to smile at the good that surrounds you and the hope that it represents.
GOD surrounds you with things that you may not recognize as gifts. Take a better look and smile as you pick them out of the day. They have been placed all around you for your sake.
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……
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.
(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.
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.
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…..