Faith trumps fear, when it comes to death…

March 31, 2018

I attended my church’s Good Friday service last night. While I was sitting there listening to the familiar story of Christ’s Passion and death on the cross, I couldn’t help thinking about a recent post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog – “It is the unknown we fear when we look upon death and darkness.”  (J.K. Rowling)

Death is the one certainty that represents the biggest unknown in our lives. As the service went on, we prayed and said the words to Martin Luther’s Explanation to the Second Article.

I believe that Jesus Christ, true God, begotten of the Father from eternity, and also true man, born of the virgin Mary, is my Lord.

He has redeemed me, a lost and condemned person, purchased and won me from all sin, from death, and from the power of the devil, not with gold or silver, but with His holy, precious blood and His innocent suffering and death.

He did this that I should be His very own, live under Him in His kingdom, and serve Him in eternal righteousness, innocence, and joy; just as He is risen from death, lives and reigns in eternity. This is most certainly true.

jesus-as-lightThe death and resurrection of Christ is the defining event in the Christian faith and I thought that if one believes in that event, i.e. if that is the foundation of one’s faith; then that belief should remove the fear of death. The next thought I had was one of wondering what someone has who has no faith? If you cannot find hope and comfort in the belief of life after death, then what do you have. Nothing? It’s no wonder those without faith fear death.

Man’s fertile imagination has allowed him to conjure up many different ways to express the concept of God and his need to organize and manage the process of expressing that faith has resulted in hundreds of religions. Even within the religions based upon the belief in Jesus Christ as the son of God, the hand of man has resulted in hundreds of implementations of the practices of that faith and the concept of the church as a vehicle for those practices. The religious chaos that grew out of all of this has fueled the argument of the cynics who have no faith in God or anything else. They are unable to put aside the trappings of the various religions and get to the core of them all, which is a belief in God and a faith that an afterlife exists.

As we head into Easter Sunday, we put aside the dark and somber meditations on Christ’s woman-prayingdeath and turn our attention to the joyous celebration of his resurrection. That is how we overcome our fear of death. Life after death may still be a great unknown for us, but we believe in it and look forward to the promise of “a peace that surpasses all understanding”.

He is risen! That’s all that we need to understand.

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Be a good father; be there…

March 19, 2018

From the Jack’s winning Words blog – “Be like St. Joseph.  He’s a model for every (teacher and parent).  Children need you to walk beside them in love.”  (Pope Francis)  Today is St. Joseph’s Day, honoring the father of Jesus.

Jack went on to write a little bit about Joseph, the father of Jesus and about being there for our children. All too many fathers are so focused upon success in their careers that they fail to realize, until it’s too late, that the children that they worked so hard to man rushingprovide for have grown up and moved away. They rationalize all of the time that they spend at work instead of at home as necessary to provide all of the things that they think the family needs. Often, the only thing that the kids really wanted was more time with dad. Perhaps the saddest country song that best captured this topic was Cats in the Cradle by Harry Chapin.

In reality, the pursuit of career advancement and success at all costs is an ego-driven thing and, as such, is extremely selfish. The success-driven businessman is not in it for the family; they are in it for themselves. Few ever really admit that and that is the root cause for many divorces. Perhaps even their marriages are motivated by the need to appear successful, to have the perfect wife and the perfect family to fill out their resume. Those marriages seldom stand the test of time. Some may evolve into loveless arrangements of convenience for both parties.

The truth is that, if family is one’s first commitment and concern, the career that you family grroupchose to pursue will be viewed as a necessary and secondary commitment of your time and attention. An even deeper truth is that family will actually be second, after your commitment to God. Once you have made that commitment your other priorities will fall into line. When you get your priorities straight, you will also find that your level of satisfaction with life increases dramatically. A loving kiss from your partner or a hug and a heartfelt “thinks Dad” from your child is much more rewarding than another reward plaque to put up on your wall.

We often see stories in the news about children being raised in single parent homes. Many times those are children in black homes, where the father is incarcerated or perhaps even dead at an early age. It is easy to sit back and think that this is somehow different from the family where the children never see dad, because he is always “at man prayingwork”. Perhaps “at work” is his prison. In any event, the result is still the same – children being raised in what is effectively a single parent home. Grant yourself a pardon from your work prison and spend time at home with family. Don’t worry that you can’t afford to give them the latest things; the one thing that they want is you in their lives and you can give them that. Be like St Joseph and be there for your children.

Have a great week ahead with your family.


Indeed…

September 20, 2017

“Small deeds done are better than great deeds planned.”  (Peter Marshall)

That little quote from a recent post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog captures the essence of a lot of the problems that we are seeing in politics and elsewhere these days. problem-solverThere is a tendency to spend time thinking or talking about or planning to take on the big problem all at once, instead of just taking actions to resolves little pieces of the problem one at a time.  The President spends a lot of time talking about getting a deal done on this or that, while getting nothing done; and, the dysfunctional Congress seems just as happy to do nothing, since that fits into their Radical Right vision of anarchy as the ultimate goal of getting all government interference out of people’s lives.

In our own lives, I’ve written here a few times about tackling problems or challenges by breaking it down into small pieces and doing each of them. We tend to try to figure out the solution to the whole, big problem before taking any action. Sometimes there are lots of little preparatory steps that must be taken before we even can get to the main problem and it the thought of having to do all of those things, just to get ready to take on the worriesproblem, that stalls people out.  Think about painting a room and all of the furniture moving and drip cloth spreading and edge taping and plug and switch cover removing and all of the other things that need to be done just to get ready to open the paint can. Sometimes it can take as much time in the preparation and post work as it does actually doing the project.

How many times have you passed someone begging on the street and that set off a torrent of thinking and planning about how you could solve world hunger, rather than stopping and giving the guy a couple of bucks to get something to eat tonight? Or maybe you’re on a committee within your church or organization that is wrestling with the insightissue of declining membership. Rather than go out and personally invited someone to the next meeting or service, you spend all of your time researching or thinking about grand plans to improve things – and nothing gets done.

Instead of putting a lot of time and energy into the planning of a grand solution to the big problems in our society or organization, why not resolve to do what you can right now with the things that are right there in front of you. Do something, rather that thinking about doing everything. If enough of the small, immediate things get done the bigger problem may just fade away. Ask yourself, “What can I do right here, right now to help?” Then just do it. It may be a small thing, but that small deed actually done is better than spending your time planning a big deed that never gets off the drawing board.

Indeed…


It was a great weekend in Milford…

September 18, 2017

Every year, the third weekend in September is a great time to be in Milford, Michigan, and this year was no exception.

The weekend kicked off with the Huron Valley Chamber of Commerce Brewed In Brewed in MIchigan logoMichigan event out at the Bakers of Milford restaurant. This event, now in its ninth year, featured beers, ales, meads, hard ciders and wines from over 35 Michigan based craft breweries/wineries. It also had tasty foods from more than 10 local restaurants, as well as music and lots of fun for everyone.

On Saturday, the 41st annual Milford Home Tour started the first day of its two day run DSCN0555which features tours of five local homes, as well as the Milford Historical Museum and the Log Cabin in South Park. The Oak Grove Cemetery was also open with self-guided tours of the grave sites ofOak Grove Cemetery entrance the many of the people who built or lived in the homes that were on the tour and information on those and the graves of Milford’s WWI veterans was provided by local historian Linda Dangenhardt.

On Sunday the Home Tour continued and the 33rd annual Milford Car Show took center CAR SHOWstage all the way down south Main Street and into Central Park. Over 340 cars were in display from 8 AM until 3 PM. There were cars and trucks of every age, description and type – from un-restored antiques to modern street rods. The sights and sounds during the day were enough to satisfy any car enthusiast. In addition, there was an antique tractor show outTractor Show at the Huron Valley State Bank parking lot featuring tractors from collectibles to day-to-day working farm tractors and equipment.

So, it was a busy and very entertaining weekend in Milford, Michigan; of course, every weekend is great when you live in Milford…just sayin’.


Create your own sunshine…Let the Son shine through you…

August 21, 2017

Amidst all of the eclipse, Jack Freed posted this thought today on his Jack’s Winning Words blog –  “Somedays you just have to create your own sunshine.”  (Unknown)

Jack went on to write…Here’s a thought:  Why not do something to bring sunshine into a person’s life?  It could be making a phone call, or sending a text, just to say, “Hi!”  Or, doing an unexpected good deed.  Make the world brighter, today!      😉  Jack 

Currently, many people in the U.S. are obsessing about the eclipse, which is now only a couple of hours away. I am not one of those people. I’ll probably just sit on my front porch and watch it get dark and then light again. I don’t have eclipse glasses and don’t soldiersplan to look up at the sun. I suspect that the partying associated with the various gatherings across the country is the real draw that attracts people to travel to get to a site in the path of the total eclipse. Given the choice of being totally in the dark or being in the sunshine, I would choose the sunshine every time.

I get a notice from Facebook every time that someone has a birthday (assuming that they have filled out their Facebook profile correctly) and I always take the time to wish them a happy birthday on their timeline. It seems like most people appreciate that and it’s such a simple thing to do. Maybe that is bringing a little ray of sunshine into their day. Perhaps a better way of looking at it is that it is bringing a little ray of Son shine. It’s the right thing to do. It’s the thing that Jesus (the Son) would do.

We all have dark times in our lives and we see others going through dark times. It is in those times that we need to let the light of the Son of God shine through us to create our own sunshine and to be the sunshine in the lives of others. It is impossible to stay in the dark if you let the light of the Son shine into your heart and out through you to others. christ lightYou just don’t have time for self-pity and dark moods if you are doing God’s work in the world and spreading the sunshine of the Son.

So, go ahead and watch the eclipse, if you must; but, don’t wait for the sun to come out on the other side of the moon before you get back to spreading your own sunshine or Son shine, as the case may be.


Entitled to nothing; but, thankful for everything…

August 12, 2017

Today’s quote is one that I saw on the Jack’s Winning Words blog recently – “The happiest people don’t have the best of everything, they just make the best of everything.”  (Tiny Buddha)

I would have added the words “they have” to the end of that quote. It is the human tendency to covet what we don’t have that causes dissatisfaction and dissention in our lives. Perhaps the most over-abused term in our modern language is the word “right”, as in it is my right to have (put in anything that you have heard lately using that phrase). Many people feel that they are entitled to or have a right to things that they don’t have and they somehow come to the conclusion that the society that they live in have some sort of obligation to provide them with that things or service or whatever it is that they feel entitle to. In fact, this feeling has become so prevalent in America that news casts often capture people characterizing things like access to health care or a clean water supply as “basis human rights.”

Let’s be clear. There are no such things as basic human rights or entitlements. One has only to journey to the wilds of the South American Jungles or the jungles of Africa to find primitive tribes living hard-scramble subsistence existences to find examples of peoplei want living in the most natural state of human rights. Anywhere else, where people are given, or have free access to, things above the subsistence level by the society they live in, is an example of privileges being extended by that society and not examples of people having rights to those things.

Those people living without entitlements in the wilderness are very happy when the tribal hunters return from a successful hunt or when what crops that they might plant bear fruit. They may wish for an easier life, but they may also be happy with what God has provided them from the land around them, even if their concept of God is somewhat murky.

No one wants to return to a crude, subsistence level of living in the jungle; however, all of us could learn to be a little more thankful and happy with what God has provided and be less focused upon what we don’t have. That is not to say that we need put up with cases of overt discrimination or criminal activities, such as happened in the Flint water crisis; however, we should couch our response to such activity in the proper terms. It was not that the Flint residents had a basic human right to clean water so much as it was that the residents who were paying for water to their houses had the right to expect that the water would be clean and safe to drink and use. That was not the case in Flint and is perhaps not the case in other locations in America. In some cases, it involves ineptitude on the part of the governmental bodies that supply the water and in others it involves criminal conduct by those who knew that they were doing wrong, such as in Flint.

woman-prayingOne can get in the right frame of mind about life by starting each day with a little “thank you” prayer to God for allowing you to awaken to another day. You weren’t even entitled to that day, so right away you have been given a gift to enjoy. Everything beyond that is just something that you should enjoy and be thankful for having. So, take the advice from today’s quote and make the best of everything that you have; rather than spend your time and energy worrying about things that you don’t have. God has just given you the most precious thing that money can’t buy and which isn’t a right – time. Use your time today wisely; be thankful and happy and make the best of what you have.


Is it time for you to switch gears? Can you do better?

March 3, 2017

“Life is like a 10-spreed bicycle.  Most of us have gears we never use.”  (Charles Schulz)  – from the Jack’s Winning Words blog.

Jack went on to write: An old song says, “You can be better than you are.”  We all have potential…unused abilities.  I’ll never forget a high school teacher who handed a test back to me, saying, “Jack, you can do better than this.”  He was right.  We all can do better!  In school, at work, at home, in relationships.  Is today that day when we begin to use a new gear?  I can do better!  I will do better! 

If you think back to your bicycle riding days (assuming that they are over, like for me – long over in my case) you may have used 2-3 of the 10 speeds on your bike. Sometimes youbicycle-rider-1 might have shifted down to a lower gear when you were going up a hill and pumped a little bit harder and faster; but for the most part you settled into a comfortable gear for the flat portions and just pedaled along. Life can be like that. We all hit tougher (uphill) stretches during which we must shift gears and pedal harder and faster; but for the most part we just settle into a comfortable gear and pedal along through life.

Perhaps it’s time to challenge yourself. Can you do better at work or in school? Can you do more to have a better relationship with your life partner and family? Can you do more in your community to help others? Can you do better? Maybe it’s time for you to switch gears and pedal harder and faster in life. Why? Because, in your heart, you know that you can do better.

The thing that works well in this analogy is the fact that switching gears is a conscientious effort. In times of emergencies (the uphill times in life) that switch of gears happens without giving it a lot of thought. The situation demands that you do something different, that you switch gears; and, you just do it. You may go into problem-solving mode or even life-saving mode; but, you definitely do so in a different gear than you had been in – you swing into action.

Making the conscientious decision to switch gears in your day-to-day life is more deliberate, but can be no less demanding of you to pedal harder and faster. Making the bicycle-rider-2decision to volunteer at a local charity means switching gears. Making the decision to work with special needs children or adults requires a switch in your gears. Deciding to volunteer at your church or maybe at your child’s school will require choosing a new gear. Even the decision to just try to be a better partner in your life-relationship or a better parent to your children means choosing a new gear and pedaling harder. Doing those things means raising your life to a new, higher level and requires a new, uphill gear and that you pedal faster and harder.

All of these decisions require a commitment first that you want to change and you want to do better. It would be sad, indeed, if you ended life with a bad case of the “coulda, woulda, shouldas” about gears that you never used because you wouldn’t make the effort to switch from your comfort zone and try something that required you to use a new gear and pedal harder. You don’t get extra credit at the end of life for turning in unused gears.

So, think about your life and the gears that you aren’t using. Can you do sobicycle-rider-3mething out of the ordinary to help someone else? Can you put more effort into your relationships with your family members? Can you show the world your faith in actions, rather than just talking about it? Can you do better? Can’t we all?

Have a great day – Switch gears and pedal hard!