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……

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…..

THE SERVANT SYNDROME

THE SERVANT SYNDROME

What I have learned the most from my ‘relationship’ with Jesus, the Christ to the original followers, has been the idea of coming to the table as a servant. Not a King, or a Boss or a buddy or even so much a friend, as it rings more often ‘A Servant’.

It has built an issue of servant-hood that that has been more focused on it’s relationship to others vs it’s relationship to yourself. Servant-hood that ignores yourself as one worthy of attention, pours energy out in buckets, but energy in gets barely a drop-or two.

Being in a mindset to do unto others at the expense of your own needs for yourself is as harmful as any particular evil you may corrupt yourself with. The accomplishments you may make in your servant-ness to others is not always a source of a full cup for yourself.

The strong focus of servant-hood needs to be balanced by a determined effort to include your own wants, needs, and desires. A father absorbs the joy of a child’s excitement when you do things together, but watching a child struggle without your help does not fill your own soul. In the same way I have to recognize that the same GOD which Jesus calls Father, does not want the journey in this place Earth to be lonely and one sided.

In the BBC series “Downton Abbey” the lives of the servants were as much a focus of the writer as the relationship of the servants to the masters. An ‘empty’ servant needs to keep their own needs as a personal focus to enjoy the journey rather than emptying the cup before it gets around to the one in the mirror.

I do not believe that this life journey was ever designed to ignore your own needs or your own journey and the many, many gifts placed at your own feet by your “Father” in Heaven. I think, too many times, we set aside the direction that GOD has planned for us, to create a journey for ourselves that we feel is proper and acceptable to GOD, i.e. A Servant.

If you see this in yourself, be the servant for yourself once in awhile and begin enjoying the life that GOD has prepared just for you. Enjoy the hobby, the meditation, the sport, the people and the journey. A Father does not help prepare his children to have the best life that he feels they will enjoy, to watch them change the plans out of an interpretation that means only be a servant to others. LOVE believes that loving yourself and serving yourself is equally as important as loving your neighbor. After all, one of the lessons we often learn is written “Love your neighbor as yourself”. Too often I think our focus on Serving only others leaves us in a position where we do “Love our neighbors as ourselves” which lacks the knowledge of what Love is all about. Loving ourselves by servanting ourselves gives us that comparison to know what true Servant-hood means. Servant-hood should not be a task that we are charged to do, but one that has knowledge of what being a servant means to others, by what it has meant to you.

For me, the guitar in the corner is not meant for the value of the guitar, it is a tool by which I can serve myself as much as others. Loving yourself by teaching yourself that measurement, will help you truly “Love One Another as Yourself.”

ON POLITICS – The New Immigration

ON POLITICS – The New Immigration

ON POLITICS : The New Immigration
Religion has always had a political forum. Religion controls many countries. We in America are not exempt. In fact we have more religions and different versions of religions, vying for power than any other nation on the face of the earth. I call these comments ON POLITICS, not because Religion is exempt, but because Jesus told us to watch for them.

Todays Subject: Re: Effect from Illegal Immigration

A friend forwarded the following note to me the other day.
A former teacher at a Title 1 school said, and I totally agree with her:
This teacher really lays it out – it can’t get much worse.”

Nine hundred teachers just got laid off from the Los Angeles Unified School District. They are $650,000 over their annual budget. The following comments by an English teacher help to explain one area that looms large over California’s educational crisis. I hope each person receiving this mail will read it carefully, all the way to the end. It is sad what is happening to our great country, all because our politicians are afraid they will miss out on a vote. What a travesty!
This English teacher has phrased it the best I’ve seen yet and it should make everyone think, be you Democrat, Republican or Independent.
From a California school teacher….

As you are listening to the news about the student protests over illegal immigration, there are some things that you should be aware of: I am in charge of the English-as-a-second-language department at a large southern California high school which is designated a Title-1 school, meaning that its students average in the lower socio-economic and income levels. Most of the schools you are hearing about are Compton, South Gate High, Bell Gardens, Huntington Park, etc., where their students are protesting – these are also Title-1 schools.
Title-1 schools are on the free-breakfast and free-lunch program. When I say free breakfast, I’m not talking about a glass of milk and a roll. But a full breakfast and cereal bar with fruits and juices that would make the Marriott proud. The waste of this food is monumental, with trays and trays of it being dumped in the trash uneaten. (Our tax dollars at work!)
I estimate that well over 50% of these students are obese or at least moderately overweight. About 75% or more have cell phones. The school also provides day care centers for the unwed teenage pregnant girls (some as young as 13) so they can attend class without the inconvenience of having to arrange for babysitters or having family watch their kids. (More of our tax dollars at work!)
I was ordered to spend $700,000 on my department, or risk losing funding for the upcoming year even though there was little need for anything. My budget was already substantial, but I ended up buying new computers for the Computer Learning Center, half of which, one month later, were carved with graffiti by the appreciative students who obviously feel humbled and grateful to have a free education in America. (More and more of our tax dollars at work!)
I have had to intervene several times for young substitute teachers whose classes consist of many illegal immigrant students here in the country less than 3 months, who raised so much hell with the female teachers, calling them putas (whores) and throwing things, that the teachers were in tears.
Free medical care, free education, free food, free day care, etc., etc., etc. Is it any wonder they feel entitled not only to be in this country, but also to demand rights, privileges and entitlements?
To those who want to point out how much these illegal immigrants contribute to our society, because they happen to like their gardener and/or housekeeper, and they like to pay less for tomatoes, I say: Spend some time in the real world of illegal immigration and see the true costs.
Higher insurance, medical facilities closing, higher medical costs, more crime, lower standards of education in our schools, overcrowding, new diseases, etc., etc., etc. For me, I’ll pay more for tomatoes.
Americans, we need to wake up. The guest worker program will be a disaster because we won’t have the guts to enforce it. Does anyone in their right mind really think they will voluntarily leave and return?
It does, however, have everything to do with culture: A third-world culture that does not value education, that accepts children getting pregnant and dropping out of school by age 15, and that refuses to assimilate, plus an American culture that has become so weak and worried about “political correctness,” that we don’t have the will to do what is needed.
If this makes your blood boil, as it did mine, forward this to everyone you know including your Congressman and Senators.
Cheap labor? Isn’t that what the whole immigration issue is about? Business doesn’t want to pay a decent wage. Consumers don’t want expensive produce. Government will tell you ‘Americans don’t want the jobs. ‘But the bottom line is cheap labor. The phrase “cheap labor”is a myth, a farce, and a lie. There is no such thing as “cheap labor.”
Take, for example, an illegal alien with a wife and five children. He takes a job for $5.00 or $6.00/hour. At that wage, with six dependents, he pays no income tax, yet at the end of the year, if he files an income tax return, he gets an “earned income credit” of up to $3,200, free.
Also….
1 He qualifies for Section-8 housing and subsidized rent;
2 He qualifies for food stamps;
3 He qualifies for free (no deductible, no co-pay) health care;
4 His children get free breakfasts and lunches at school;
6 He requires bilingual teachers and books;
7 He qualifies for relief from high energy bills;
8 If they are, or become aged, blind or disabled, they qualify for SSI;
9 Once qualified for SSI they can qualify for Medicare (All of this at taxpayer’s {our} expense);
10 He doesn’t worry about car insurance, life insurance, or homeowner’s insurance;
11 Taxpayers provide Spanish language signs, bulletins and printed material;
12 He and his family receive the equivalent of $20.00 to $30.00/hour
in benefits;
13 Working Americans are lucky to have $5.00 or $6.00/hour left after paying their bills and his;
14 The American taxpayers also pays for increased crime, graffiti and trash clean-up.
Cheap labor? Yeah right! Wake up people! These are the questions we should be addressing to the Presidential candidates for either party.
We must take action or we will all go down the drain because a few don’t care. And if you think this is bad, just wait until a Democrat becomes President and the redistribution of wealth becomes the norm in this ex-Democracy.”

NOW MY COMMENTS ABOUT THIS – Dennis Wheeler

Keep in mind that I have been watching this “immigrant” event from El Paso, TX and no miles from the Mexican boarder. It comes from hearing the press and politicians complaining that El Paso and other border communities do not take care of or provide for these immigrants up to “their” standards. That in May, 2019 a month ago, 140+ THOUSAND immigrants came across the border somewhere and were simply dropped off at these border towns to be taken care of from overnights, to many nights. And it does not stop for catch up. It merely adds more, day after day after day. None of the politicians who came down here to make political statements to bolster their political campaigns and desires wrote checks to pay for the supplies, bought blankets or clothing or helped plumbers run water lines for clean water to go into vacant buildings that were never designed to absorb thousands of people immediately and then more the next day and the day after that. None of the ACLU people, investigators, Congress people have taken any to their homes to feed them, cloth them, or adopt their children. None has paid for us to bring them to their home town so that they would have the opportunity to show the world how it is done “right” in California (57,000 HOMELESS), or Ohio, or New York, or Chicago. This is where my response comes from.

I want to go back a moment to remind you of a comment from the above teacher diatribe:

It does, however, have everything to do with culture: A third-world culture that does not value education, that accepts children getting pregnant and dropping out of school by age 15, and that refuses to assimilate, plus an American culture that has become so weak and worried about “political correctness,” that we don’t have the will to do what is needed.”

I agree with this opinion from the cost issue save one fact that does not appear on any nightly news investigative report.It does not appear in any major newspaper. It is not the topic of any political campaign or nightly politically focused channel discussion.
All that money goes to some sort of business in America, or is sent home to the family or business or government from which the immigrant has come.
The breakfast that gets thrown away, the computers that gets graffitied, the day care People, the cell phone people.

The money that business makes off of illegal immigrants is the issue.

Not the illegal for merely taking advantage of it.

All these immigrants represent a charge to get them to America. Who is paying the Bill? Do you know why?

Businesses know enough in America that it is well worth their effort to be sure that the welfare line stays long and for a long time. The govt money paying all these businesses is where our 20 trillion dollar debt has come from. It makes it look like we have great employment to keep the welfare line taken care of, the crime controlled, the border patrolled and on and on. Giving more tax breaks to businesses merely adds an incentive to them to bring more welfare on line. Not less. The culprit is not the poor. It is the same people we just gave a bunch of tax breaks to.
Do the math. The grocery store makes more, hires more people. The school district makes more from the government, per student. The food producer, the manufacturer, the shipper and distribution people, the farmer, the lawyers, the doctor’s, and on and on and on. I have heard this diatribe before and it never answers the question
“WHO GETS THE MONEY?”
BUSINESS. Property rentals, tents, construction workers to provide for housing, grocery, clothing, medical, and on and on. This is not just welfare for immigrants, it is welfare for BUSINESS because we have let BIG BUSINESS send all our jobs to other countries to MAKE MORE MONEY.
What is on our MONEY? “In GOD we trust.” MONEY IS OUR GOD.

Stop the welfare and you stop immigration at its artificially created high.
The Congressional votes you speak of are based more on campaign contributers making money off of welfare and not losing business than to fiscal responsibility made necessary caused by our wealthiest to invest more in themselves than our nation.  The debt has mushroomed over the years to feed the rich and not to make us “great again”. We can not be great again owing more money as a nation than any nation has ever been on the face of the earth. Trillions of dollars in GDP paid for by trillions more of national debt doesn’t strike me as the foundation for great again. To artificially create people’s income based on debt helps no one. The part time worker who used to be the full time worker with benefits is now being supported by trillions in fake money to create more billionaires. Go figure. That same part time worker who is making less for his hard work which makes the company do well but it does less for them is only being rewarded for his or her hard work by creating an enormous debt load for their children so that the owners and investors can take advantage of their effort.

In my world of Unorthodox Christianity I explain it like this:

Success AT ANother’s expense.

America will never be great again based on a huge debt load to have the appearance of great wealth. Buying GDP with fake money and debt is not the recipe for GREAT AGAIN. It is the recipe of disaster. Until we, as a nation, choose to invest in AMERICA again and spread the wealth around to all those who helped create it, we will never be “GREAT” again. Ever.

Dennis Wheeler

Lyle Says..

GOD’s Mentors create actions. Such was a conversation I had the other day with a couple of workers in a testing center. We were discussing the rush rush of everyday life and how it seems that much is missed during it. I related a story of one of my mentors, Lyle.

Lyle was a neighbor and a great friend I had about (many) years ago. Lyle worked as a guidance counselor at a state hospital dealing with recovering alcoholics and had done so for 20+ years. In addition his faith was Methodism and I would refer to Lyle as a Christian. We had stopped for coffee one day and Lyle was somewhat distant, immersed in thoughts. I asked him what was going on.

“The great diet that I have been on and I have lost a lot of weight, has been liver cancer. It appears as I have just a few weeks before it wins. As a 12 steps counselor I find I have been going through all the steps. Today denial gives way to acceptance.”

I chose to spend my time with Lyle on  morning walks with Lyle during the ensuing days. I will never forget one of the last days. We met outside and were walking around the neighborhood. I asked how he was doing. “It is interesting, Dennis. The greens have never been greener, the roses never more fragrant….”

Not too much later Lyle passed away at 53. We had shared a number of great moments together. Leading a summer parks ministry program, and retreats. He got me to begin thinking and that ended up with my launching Unorthodox Christianity.com some years later when the internet took over the universe.

So I was sharing this story with the two workers during a lull in their testing and no one else about. THE RUSH RUSH OF EVERY DAY. I mentioned that it got me to thinking.

“What do you think is the worst possible thing that you could ever hear from GOD?”

I went on, “I hear and read lots about GOD’s judgement. I hear how judgmental GOD can be and how strict and difficult GOD can be to those who do not ‘toe the line.’ So I have developed this scene that better describes what Lyle says and I believe that developed from this incident. I image that I have passed away and am in whatever place one passes away to. I have lived most of my life as a human being. I am fortunate to be one of the few who knows what GOD looks like. GOD has a big dent in GOD’S forehead from the many times GOD has struck GOD’s forehead and has said, “Dennis, you have done it again. I had made all the plans necessary to answer your prayer and you have changed your direction and now I have to start all over again.” The truth is that GOD started over again, next to me the whole way. Providing new mentors, new friends, new jobs, and more education. On this day, I am now at GOD’s spiritual home. I have been invited to have coffee with GOD and I go in. I reiterate:

“What do you think is the worst possible thing that you could ever hear from GOD?” 

GOD sits back in the chair and asks me a question. “You know Dennis, I have not been to Earth for some time now. Tell me, what does a rose smell like on the first bloom of spring?”

I look back on my life and think. “I am sorry, I can’t say I know.”
God  shakes GOD’s head and says, “That is so unfortunate, for this was your only opportunity to find out.”
There was no hell or damnation. There was no screaming or hollering. There was a simple truth. I am ready for GOD, because Lyle says..’The greens have never been greener and the roses have never been more fragrant…… Stop and smell the roses…Lyle says.”

Today those ladies know what the roses smell like on the first bloom of spring. Feel free to share this story with your friends, Facebook and any other encounter. These are the messages all of us are given to share. We are the spokespeople for GOD. We are the mentors.rose-3756985_960_720