Free yourself…

August 21, 2021

I saw this quote recently in a daily email of inspirational quotes that I somehow got on the mailing list to receive.  

“Forgiveness is just another name for freedom.” – (Byron Katie}

One may be excused for not immediately associating freedom with forgiveness. However, if you think about it for a while, the inability to forgive, whether it be forgiving someone who has wronged us in some way or forgiving ourselves for our own mistakes, holds us captive to the bitterness and pain from which we cannot free ourselves.

If, or once, we find it in our hearts to forgive, we are free to go on with life, unencumbered by the baggage of past transgressions, whether by us or against us.

We can find the advice to forgive others in the Lord’s Prayer, where we are admonished to forgive the transgressions (sins or trespasses are terms also used)  of others as God forgives our transgressions. It is in accepting that God forgives us that we also find the reason to forgive ourselves and free ourselves to move on in life.

Forgiving others is sometimes not easy, especially if it is still close in time to whatever the incident was that needs to be forgiven. Sometimes there is an initial reaction of shock to some slight, rejection or wrong that we perceive has been done to us. That is usually quickly replaced by anger. We get mad at someone or maybe at ourselves. We seek someone to blame for what has happened. Hopefully those reactions dissipate quickly, and we can start to think rationally.

There is no way forward along the paths of hate or disappointment that does not lead to further hate or even to depression.  The only way forward that leads to a better life is to forgive. The forgiveness path replaces hate with love. Forgiving does not equate to forgetting, it just means putting the incident in proper perspective and making the choice not to continue down the paths of hate or disappointment. If God can forgive you for your mistakes, surely you can forgive others for theirs or yourself for those same mistakes. If you can reach that point, it is a short journey down that path to get to love for those same people or for yourself.

I know of no greater example of this than the forgiveness that the survivors of the racial massacre of nine worshipers at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C. in 2015. After the initial shock of the heinous act by Dylann Roof wore off, the survivors found it in their hearts to forgive him and even to pray for him. They freed themselves from the fears and hate of that incident and found a way to share God’s love.

Let us hope that none of us are involved in anything so horrific. Let us also strive to put whatever smaller incidents have taken place in our lives into perspective and move as quickly as we can to forgiveness, so that we, too, can be free.

Forgive…Free yourself.


Don’t blow air kisses…

August 3, 2021

Pastor Freed used a quote in his blog, Jack’s Winning Words, that made me think this morning – “Love is, or it ain’t.  Thin love ain’t love at all.”  (Toni Morrison) 

Actually, his daily quotes always make me think and I suspect that this is what Jack has in mind when he posts them. Freed used the example of thinning out soup by adding more water during the Great Depression and talked about spreading one’s love to thin or over too many people.

My thoughts turned to people who blow air kisses your way when they meet you or exchange those faux kisses to both cheeks. They are going through the motions of expressing love, but that is all that it is – just going through the motions. Don’t blow air kisses…

Many people blow air-kisses our way, but it is thin love that they are expressing, meaningless love at best. I think that is the important distinction. One can, in fact spread real love around to many people, but it is critical that it is real, heartfelt love and not just air kisses. I believe God gives us an infinite amount of that kind of love to share, just as He shares His infinite love for us. However, we will not have that feeling about everyone that we encounter. Why is that? Don’t blow air kisses…

Maybe the answer lies in thinking about love as an unconditional sharing of ourselves with others. The things that keep us from sharing our love unconditionally are our fears, pre-conceived notions, and prejudices. We allow these things build barriers around us that prevent our love from being shared. We blow air kisses to those people for whom we cannot seem to feel real love. Sometimes that may make us feel uncomfortable, but far too often we feel self-righteous about not sharing ourselves with “those people”.  Don’t blow air kisses…

We may rationalize our inability to share our love with certain people s a defensive mechanism to keep us safe. In fact, it is not so much keeping us safe from them as it is keeping us from sharing ourselves with them and experiencing the love that they have to share in return. We may feel safer for having withdrawn from them, but we are also poorer for having missed the experience of sharing love with them. Don’t blow air kisses…

Perhaps we can make a better effort to overcome our fears and prejudices by asking God to take away those fears and allow us to experience with others the unconditional love that He shares with us. We may never get to that level of unfettered love with all other people, but our lives will be so much richer if we can get a few more of those prejudices out of the way and allow ourselves to experience the sharing of love with more people. Don’t worry, you won’t run out of love the more you share it. God has lots more for you where that came from. Just remember – Don’t blow air kisses…


You decide…

June 18, 2021

“One day, or Day One?  You decide!”  (Paulo Coelho) 

That was Pastor Freed’s quote of the day in his blog, Jack’s Winning Words, today. He used it to discuss pursuing one’s goals and dreams for tomorrow. To me it seemed to pair well with another quote that I found and saved recently –

“No matter what troubles have befallen you or what difficulties you have caused yourself or others, with love for yourself you can change, grow, make amends, and learn… Real love does not encourage you to ignore your problems or deny your mistakes and imperfections. You see them clearly and still opt to love.” — Sharon Salzberg

I have posted here a few times about love for oneself being critical in life. I have also opined that love for oneself begins by accepting the forgiveness and love of God.

Most of us spend way too much time beating ourselves up for mistakes that we make. We second guess and agonize about what might have been. We find it hard to let go of the past and accept its influence on the present and our future.

We are told in the Bible that if we accept Christ into our lives – “This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” – (2 Corinthians 5:17)

None of us is perfect. We all make mistakes, some more serious than others; however, all of us are given another chance to repent and return to God. If we turn to God, ask for His forgiveness and then ACCEPT that forgiveness, we can once again love ourselves and make this Day One of our new lives, instead of just another day of regret and sadness.

When that happens in your life, it is Day One of the new you, that is a you that God loves and a new you that you can love. If you can get there, you can begin loving others, too.

So, is this just another day in a life that is not what you hoped it would be or not something that you are proud of or is this Day One of a new life that you can feel good about. Ask God to make this your Day One.

You decide.


Choose love instead…

May 10, 2021

In his blog, Jack’s Winning Words, today, Pastor Freed used this quote – “Love is the big booming beat which covers up the noise of hate.”  (Margaret Cho)  Cho is an Asian-American comedian, who may joke about the current anti-Asian hate campaign, but who knows that it is no laughing matter.

Posted on my side lawn is a sign with a quote from Martin Luther King Jr. – “I chose love because hate is too big a burden to bear.”

Jesus said that we should love one another as he loved us and he didn’t specify race, ethnicity or any other criteria for sharing that love.

Ignorance and gullibility provide the fertile ground in which hate grows. No intelligent person could listen to the messages of hate and accept them as reasonable.

There was a show on TV recently that delved into the rise of Hitler in Germany. One of the points made during the telecast was that in any other setting Hitler would have been recognized as the crazy maniac that he was and would have been put into an asylum. Instead, the show pointed out, the German people of that day were hungry for any message of hope, even one based upon hate and discrimination against the Jews; so, instead, they allowed Hitler to turn Germany into an asylum that he ruled.

One might question if America is today allowing social media to influence our decisions and actions in divisive and hateful ways. That is a question that was explored on the TV show 60-Minutes on Sunday. The show set up two of its producers with fake Facebook accounts, one with an obvious liberal bent and one characterized as having an obviously conservative tone. The two were allowed to start following 1-2 other conservative Facebook influencers as a “seed” to see what might happen. Within days the posts in both Facebook accounts had diverged to the right and left extremes and hate was being spewed forth from posts made by both sides. The point that they were trying to prove (and did) was the overbearing influence that social media can have on us all through the biases and hate that it promotes.

 You don’t have to be on Facebook or Twitter for very long to see the hate coming from both sides of the political spectrum. You might even be intelligent enough to recognize it for what it is and unfriend or stop following those who promote hate and conspiracy theories. However, many are not able to discern what they see and read as false and hateful, so they repost or reinforce those posts out of ignorance and their own hate.

What are we to do? We are to love one another as Jesus loved us. One of the things I have learned in life is not to rise to the bait of hate. Hate needs others to hate along with it. Hate encourages others to follow and reinforce it; otherwise, it dies the ignominious death that it deserves. Nothing turns hate away faster that to return love instead of more hate. Countering hate with love allows an opening for reason to creep back into the conversation and nothing dissolves hate faster than reason.

So, take Martin Luther King Jr’s advice and chose love instead of hate. A position taken on matters out of love is a much easier place from which to defend one’s words and actions – it is the high ground. It’s not so much that love covers up hate. It is much more like love is the Tums or Zantac of life that neutralizes hate. Do let hate become the cause of heartburn in your life. Chose love instead and be heartburn free.

Have a great, loving week ahead.


Be fearless today…

February 6, 2021

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment.” (John 4:18)

The love referred to is this passage I believe is that mutual love between God and man. Those who love God receive God’s love in return and that love drives fear from our lives.

While the passage from John uses the word “punishment”, it is really the fear of death that the love of God drives out of our lives, because we know that Jesus overcome death for all of those who believe in Him. Once one conquers the fear of death, everything else that we might fear is put into perspective and we can become fearless. Once you trust in God to overcome death, how can you not believe in Him to help you with any of your other fears?

This is not to say that believing in God means that those things in your life that you might fear won’t happen; rather, that God will also be there with you as you face those fears. If you believe in Him, He will give you the strength to persevere and overcome those fears.

Being fearless due to your faith does not mean being reckless or stupid about what you do. One doesn’t jump off a tall building and say on the way down, “God will protect me.” A part of being fearless is making good decisions; decisions that are not based solely upon fear. Perhaps one should add to their morning prayers this request: “God help me make good decisions today by taking fear out of my life and replacing it with trust in You.”

In many of the computer games that are so popular there are things in the game that one may find to recharge or restore an injured character. These are sometimes called Golden Apples. In the games you can see the character’s strength restored, sometimes with a little on-screen strength meter. In our regular lives, touching base with God is our Golden Apple.

So, start today and each day by touching base with God and re-charging your faith. You’ll see your fearlessness meter go up when you do and you’ll be ready to face whatever the day throws at you.  

Love God and remember, “There is no fear in love.”

Be fearless today!


What would you save?

July 25, 2020

A recent post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog used this quote – “We live in a perpetually burning building, and what we must save from it all the time is love.”  (Tennessee Williams)

Williams’ comparison of life to a burning building may be a bit dramatic; but, it serves the purpose of asking the question, “what is important to you…what would you save?”

When people who have faced a disaster like a fire or a flood  are interviewed on TV they are often asked what they took with them from their homes. Aside from pets, the answers most often given concern family pictures or other memorabilia that related to family, such as a family Bible. Those are objects that relate to the history of the family. As the interview goes deeper and looks to the future the love that was salvaged from the disaster is most often mentioned – loved ones who were spared and the love of the town or area in which they reside. It is hard for some to understand why someone who has been flooded out multiple time continues to want to rebuild and go on living in that same location. Simply put, they love it there.

The perpetually burning building that we find ourselves in today is fueled by the Corona Virus Pandemic. Everything has changed, yet all is still physically the same. The flames of this disaster have signed our lifestyles and destroyed most of the patterns and traditions that we enjoyed. Having stripped away almost everything else that we used to do, the flames of this virus now lick away at our relationships, hoping to also interfere with them. It is most important that we not let that happen; that we remain strong in our love and support for one another, even in cases where we cannot be together.

There is probably not a more poignant scenario than a spouse having  to say goodbye outside a hospital emergency entrance and watching their loved one be wheeled into the building, not knowing if they will ever see them alive again. At that moment, all they have left from the  burning building is their love.

 For most of us, life does not come to that; however, it is important to think about what is important to you and what you would take with you. If you come to any other conclusion than your love for those who are important in your life – parents, siblings, spouses and your children ,friends – I would encourage you to rethink your priorities in life. All of the wealth, possessions or power in the world is not worth losing the love of someone important in your life. Hold on tightly to that most precious possession during this current conflagration.

There is no greater example of love when faced with a life or death choice than God’s decision to let his only son die on a cross, so that we might be saved. If God  loved us so much that he would do that, how can we not heed his commandment to love one another and care for one another? How can we not share that love? We have so many simple ways to show and share that love, like wearing a mask to protect others, practicing good hygiene and social distancing so that we do not spread the virus. The building is on fire. Let’s save and share God’s love.

Let us also not forget that love when those who refuse to take the recommended measures to protect others confront us. They, perhaps more than anyone in a mask, need to see God’s love in action. Turn the other cheek and offer them a mask. If they refuse that, tell them that you will pray for them. If they scoff at that, tell them that you see that you will have to pray harder and wish them well.

The building is burning. What will you save?


Don’t mess with your selfie…

April 3, 2020

In a recent post to his blog, Jack’s Winning Words,  pastor Jack freed used this quote – “The easiest thing in the world to be is you.  The most difficult thing to be is what other people want you to be.  Don’t let them put you into that position.”  (Leo Buscaglia)

So, why is so hard for some  to just be yourself? I suspect that it is because we don’t necessarily like what we see when we look at ourselves. We take a mental “selfie” and immediately break out our copy of a virtual Photoshop to try to alter the picture.

For some it is their physical appearance with which they are uncomfortable. That may lead to all sorts of different and sometimes unusual steps to change that appearance. It may involve dying one’s hair bright orange or perhaps just wearing unusual clothes. Maybe it means getting a noose ring or a tattoo. It may even lead to plastic surgery to correct a perceived imperfection.

For others the desire to “fit in” may force dramatic changes in their behavior or lifestyle. If putting on the “uniform” of the group to which one wishes to belong isn’t enough, they change things like their vocabulary and speech patterns or maybe adopt a different lifestyle.

The rationale for making any of these changes is based upon trying to make yourself into something that you are not, to be something that you think other people want you to be. That rationale starts with your own dissatisfaction with what you see when you take that mental selfie. If you cannot love yourself and what you see in that selfie, it is natural to try to find others to emulate, in the mistaken belief that you will be happier being them than you are being you.

Life seldom works out that way. It is not until much later in life that most discover and appreciate the words of Meryl Streep – “What makes you different or weird, that’s your strength.” 

Maybe what you see in your mental selfie looks weird to you, or at least different. Start by embracing that and saying it is OK – it is your strength. In fact, maybe you should find ways to enhance and bring out those differences that make you unique. After all, they are your strength. Instead of being just another clone dressed in the cookie-cutter “uniform” of the crowd, you will stand out as someone with the confidence and strength of character to go their own way in fashion as in life. You might be surprised how attractive that can be.

How do you start to go your own way? Well, it starts with loving yourself and who you are. I’ve posted here about accepting and loving yourself first several times. Rather than spending your time seeking the approval of others, seek first approval of yourself. You must come to the conclusion that I am who I am, I like who I am and I’m not going to change who I am to suit others. The more comfortable you are with yourself, the more comfortable you will be around others. In that comfort within your own skin you will find courage and confidence that will radiate from you and make you the type of person that others enjoy being around.

For some, loving yourself may start with accepting the fact that God loves you just the way yo are. God does not ask or expect you to change. He just loves you and accepts for who you are. After all, He made you what you are and how can you not love that. So, if you can accept the love of God, you should be able to love yourself and then you can go on to love others and be loved by others.

So, it is alright to look in the mirror in the morning and take that mental selfie. The goal should not be to makes changes to be like someone else; but, rather, to be the best you that you can be that day. Embrace the things that make you different. They are your strength. They empower you. Loving yourself will allow others to love you, too.

Today, start by taking that mental selfie and saying – “Hello world. Get a load of this. It’s me. Don’t you just love it? I do.”  The world will be a happier place because you let the real you shine through.


Thinking about love…

January 16, 2020

Today’s post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog is one of those short little ditties that gets you thinking about all of the other things that you have seen about it or could say about it. The quote was  –

“The duty of love is to listen.”  (Paul Tillich)

Almost immediately, the famous movie line “Love is never having to say you’re sorry” popped into my mind. Then came a flood of thoughts that might be quotes of their own from someone..

The opportunity of love is to share.

The reward of love is reciprocation.

If the duty of love is to listen; then the requirement of love is to act.

The opposite of love is not hate; it is apathy.

Once you start thinking about love, you eventually come around to Jesus final commandment that we “Love one another as I have loved you”.

He went on to say in the next verse of John 15 – Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.

What do you think about when you read today’s quote? Hopefully those thoughts lead you down a happy path.

If you start down the path that Jesus laid out in John 15 it will lead you to a warm, secure and confident place where you know that you are loved.

Think about it.


Light up the world…share the love.

January 9, 2020

I need to share Jack’s entire post from today’s entry in his blog, Jack’s Winning Words –

“Love multiplies and adds as we divide it with others.”  (Arthur C. Nielsen –adapted)  A leader was trying to illustrate the truth of this quotation to a group of young people.  Each person was given an unlit candle.  The leader then lit a candle and passed the flame to a candle that was unlit and that one passed it to the next…and so on.  Then she commented: “Look at all of these candles…from a single flame which is not diminished.  “Love multiplies” as we share it!

It seems to me that the two key words in that whole post are the words “love” and “share”. Jesus came to earth as God’s way of expressing his love for his people and recast their perception of Him from a God to be feared into a God to be loved and embraced through His Son. Jesus preached a message of love for one another and in deed left that as his final commandment in John 13:34 – “I give you a new command: Love one another. Just as I have loved you, you are also to love one another.”

God, as interpreted by the religious leaders of Jesus’ day was a God to be feared. Those same leaders created and imposed rigid instructions for keeping God happy by following the rituals that they designed. Jesus threw out those rules and substituted love for the fear that was the foundation of the beliefs at the time.

Jesus may be thought of as that first candle in the story that Jack related in his post. The light of that first candle was the love that Jesus shared even unto His death on the cross. That light has been passed from person to person and from generation to generation ever since. That original love is undiminished, just as the light from the original candle was undiminished as it was shared.

Our mission, it would seem, is not to sit there with an unlit candle or a candle whose light we keep to ourselves; but, rather, to share the light and the flame of our candle with others. Sharing the good news of Christ is not about preaching at people, it is about sharing the love that we inherited when we accepted Christ and lit our candle.

You need not get up on a soapbox to share that love. If you just reach out to others who may be in need, you are sharing the love. If you greet others with a cheerful voice and a sincere interest in them, you are sharing the love. If you live your life as an example of the love that Christ has for you, you will naturally share and spread the light of your candle.

As you start out each day, take a moment to turn up the wick of your candle through prayer, then go out, and light up the world by sharing your love. The world will be a brighter place because of your light. Share the Love.


Seeing love in your mind’s eye…

October 9, 2019

In a recent post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog, Jack told a wonderful little story that used this quote as it’s headline – “Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind.”  (Shakespeare) Go read Jack’s post.

There is a little phrase that people often use – “in my mind’s eye”. They use it to describe the ability to “see” things in our minds. Athletes use this ability to visualize a shot or a play ahead of it actually happening. Most of us use it to give form to our imaginations and conjure up images of the good or bad things to come. It is interesting that vision is the primary sense that we imagine in our minds and not touch or smell or sounds (although most dreams, which also take place in the mind, involve sounds as well as things that we see).

So, how does one see love in the minds eye? I would submit that is less visual than it sounds and involves the “mental” sensations of various of our senses all at the same time. One does not so much “see” love and they sense it, they experience it. You can watch love (or experience it yourself) as a child (or adult) plays with a new puppy. There is unconditional love coming from the puppy and the new owner is returning that love. You also see it many times with young couples interacting when they think no one is watching (or they don’t care if anyone is watching).

Trying to put the experience of love into words gets complicated. It is a feeling of warmth and safety and surrender and reciprocation and comfort and appreciation that washes over you all at the same time. There are alliterative phrases that have been used by authors, poets and song writers trying to describe this feeling, like “melting into his arms” or “a warm embrace” or “swimming in the pools of her eyes”. Whatever words one chooses to use to describe the feeling of love usually end up describing a very satisfying experience or state of mind.

How do you “see” love in your mind’s eye? What words come to your mind when you think of someone (or something) that you love? Doesn’t that make you feel better?

Imagine how great you would feel is you could love everyone that you meet. That is what Jesus asked us to do in Luke, Mark and Matthew when he stated the Second Great Commandment – “Love your neighbor as yourself.” What a great place to live this world would be if instead of meeting people with judgement or fear or prejudice or hate, we met them with love in our minds. The next time you meet a stranger, trying seeing them with love in your mind’s eye.

Have a great and loving day. I’ll be seeing you.