Lunch with Jesus

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Every year I read The Traveler’s Gift by Andy Andrews.  It is a novel about a young man facing huge crises in his life, and after a car accident he finds himself traveling through time.  He is met by various historical figures, each one giving him a piece of valued advice.

He meets Presidents Truman and Lincoln, Christopher Columbus and Anne Frank among others.  That book is a quick read, and one of my favorites, but it always leaves me thinking, “With whom would I like to meet and share a few moments of discussion?”

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Hope in the midst of disaster

The hurricanes that resulted in devastation in Texas, Florida and the Caribbean Islands, have also brought out the best in mankind – as millions of dollars are being raised and first responders are performing heroic acts beyond measure.

As we continue to observe the results of the flood waters, my heart goes out to all of these people.  I’ve seen the effects of flooding, but I have also seen proof that prayer is an effective help before, during, and after a devastating storm.  I am reminded of this verse from the Bible: “When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against him” (Isaiah 59: 19).

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How do you worship God?

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People all over the world worship God in many different ways.  For many of us, worship includes maintaining a consistent awareness of God’s presence and love, and having an impact on the world by living from that basis.  It includes words and deeds of kindness and grace.

As we humbly learn more of God and recognize Him as a constant presence–the presence of infinite Life, Truth and Love–moments of inspiration often result in the healing of physical illness.  So, Christian healing–feeling the love of God that heals disease and sin–can be an increasingly important and reliable outcome of our worship of God.

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Stability when the winds of change blow

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As summer turns to fall in Illinois, the wonderful warm days of Indian summer arrive. This is a time of change, not only in the weather, as days become shorter and nights chillier, but often a time of personal changes as loved ones move off to attend college, start new jobs, make new friends, often leaving parents and others behind.

Bob Dylan once wrote, “May you have a strong foundation when the winds of change shift…”  Like many others, I have found the Bible to be that strong foundation when facing times of challenge or change.  Why?  Because the Bible, spiritually interpreted, helps us understand that the power of God is mightier than any fearful situation we may be facing. It’s a textbook on life.  Through counsel and example, it shows us how to face any situation, trusting that God’s love and protective power are sufficient to help us no matter the changes we face.       Continue reading

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Football and God’s defensive line of protection

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         Fall is coming, and for many of us, 16 weeks of wonderful competition (plus the playoffs) are about to begin — the NFL football season is almost here!  

         Why is it that so many of us love to watch football?  I find football to be a living expression of spiritual qualities, such as the precision illustrated in a perfectly executed pass; the agility shown in a beautiful catch; and especially, the mental toughness carried out in a goal-line stand by a defensive line that stops an offense cold.  

         To me and many others, football is more than a game.  It is full of life lessons for all of us, including the value of practice, the joy of teamwork, the importance of dedication, and the profitability of spiritual exercise. Continue reading

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Giving others the respect they deserve

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A recent post in the Io Triumphe!, the alumnae magazine of Albion College (my wife’s alma mater), highlighted an effort by 75 student athletes to promote respect despite differences among students.  Some of their social media posts quoted here showed thoughtfulness and empathy:

  • We don’t say she wanted it because sexual assault is never the victim’s fault.
  • I don’t say you’re crazy because it minimizes human emotion and those affected by mental illness.
  • I don’t say retarded because there is nothing dumb or stupid about Hannah (her special needs friend).
  • We don’t say that’s so gay because the words stupid and gay are not interchangeable.

In these days when civil debate is eclipsed by prejudicial outbursts and name-calling of all sorts, these profound and important statements stand out as examples of speaking with respect for others.  They attempt to bridge the gaps that divide us and remind me of one of my favorite quotes by Albert Einstein: “I speak to everyone in the same way, whether he is the garbage man or the president of the university.”  Everyone deserves respect, and this can reverse the toxic effects of prejudice and hate.

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A way out of crime

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This piece originally appeared in the Daily Herald.  Here is the link:

http://www.dailyherald.com/submitted/20170629/a-way-out-of-crime

Good news for New York can be good news for Illinois.  New York City has achieved one of the lowest crime rates the metropolis has ever seen.  Last year, gang-related killings were down by almost a third from the year before.  Police Commissioner James O’Neill credits a new approach for offenders:  “Either be arrested or seek help for their problems, such as job training, counseling, or mentoring.”  This is evidence that we can help individuals leave behind illegal and degrading ways and find a progressive and moral life.

The recent book, Place Matters: Criminology for the Twenty-First Century by David Weisburd and others, explains a shift in attention “from people to events, from those who commit crimes to the crimes themselves.”  It appears that more and more law enforcement officials are discovering the effectiveness of separating the crime from the criminal.  In other words, if we can learn to treat the offender and help him find a better sense of himself, we can bring healing into many lives, and decrease crime itself.

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“Declaring our independence” with the Bible

 

Declaration of Independence
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This is a wonderful time of year in the United States – a time to celebrate the signing of that magnificent document of freedom, the Declaration of Independence.  Written by Thomas Jefferson, it was signed by brilliant minds such as John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, and John Hancock.  It is a privilege each year to commemorate this document and the brave individuals who put their names and their lives on the line for us.

Like many other Americans, I love to study the history of our country, especially our “Founding Fathers.”  To me, their intelligence, integrity, and courage seem almost miraculous.  I love to read about them to find what influenced them greatly–what made them great, and often I find it was the Bible.

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What are you looking at?

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One day while reading in the living room of the retirement home where she lived, Mildred glimpsed a woman on the opposite side of the room.  She thought about waving or saying good morning, but decided against making the effort because the woman didn’t look too friendly.  As she studied the Bible in her lap, the thought came to her that no matter how unfriendly the stranger might look, she could behave in a loving manner.

Mildred prayed quietly to see the woman as God saw her–lovely and perfect.  She smiled and nodded at the woman, and the woman smiled and nodded right back!  That’s when Mildred realized she was looking in a mirror, and that grumpy – now smiling–woman was her own reflection!

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The importance of compassion in healthcare

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Early in my spiritual healing practice I went to visit a homeless man who was living temporarily in a motel. He was suffering from extreme mental distress and intense fear.  I talked to him for a while, sharing ideas I hoped would calm and comfort him, but he only became irrationally angry with me, and as I got in the car to leave, he slammed the car door on my leg.

As he pushed and pushed, he said, “I am going to push this door until I break your leg.”  I was just quiet.  Soon, he let go.  I got out of the car and sat down in the parking lot with him and he talked for over an hour.  I listened, and we prayed together.  He quieted down, and stated he needed someone to listen to him and pray with him.  He was much better when I left.  Shortly after that, he found an apartment he could afford and lived there happily for quite a while.  From that experience, I learned the importance of compassion in helping others.

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