Archive for the ‘Religion and Spirituality’ Tag

The Rainbow   Leave a comment


Drawing by Kevin Daniel

Drawing by Kevin Daniel

I have a picture that hangs on one of the walls of my office.  I look at it frequently because it is on the wall opposite my desk.  Sometimes I do not even notice it.  Today was not one of those days.  Today I looked up and saw the picture hanging on the wall.  Today I was drawn to a detail in the picture.

I chose the picture because I have a great love for bald eagles.  In fact, I have quiet a collection of pictures and statues of bald eagles.  This particular picture includes two bald eagles in flight along a shoreline with a lighthouse, clouds, the waves, the rocks, and a rainbow.  It was the rainbow that caught my eye this morning.  I believe I was drawn to it because in my faith, a rainbow is a sign of hope.  I would say it is even a sign of the promise of tomorrow.

Sometimes in life, we have days when there have been highs and lows.  I find that if I go to sleep after an event or series of events that I would classify as low, I wake up in the morning and have a bit of a struggle.  This morning was one of those mornings.  But when I sat down at my desk and looked at the rainbow in the picture, I sensed that I was being given a message.  For me this message was a reminder of the hope that continues to exist.  The message was one of assurance that there is tomorrow and in tomorrow is a brighter day.  This movement toward tomorrow can lift my mood today because I find hope in the promise.

As a Christian, I believe in the hope of something greater than I can imagine.  I believe that this hope is rooted in the promise of my Lord.  The story of the rainbow in Scripture speaks of God’s promise to never destroy creation.  It is a promise of many tomorrows.  In the story of what Jesus has done, there is an even greater promise of tomorrows because Jesus destroyed death that ends the tomorrows.  True, the tomorrows will be somewhere other than where we are today but the tomorrows will continue for us.

So today, the rainbow reminds me of tomorrow and the promise contained in tomorrow.  Like the bright and beautiful colors of the rainbow, I will see the bright and beautiful colors of tomorrow even if there is a little grey in today

 

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Something Better   Leave a comment


Empty Tomb

Empty Tomb (Photo credit: abcdz2000)

Well, the busyness of the Easter holiday has come and gone for another year.  As I was reflecting on all I heard and experienced during last week and Sunday morning, I realized how Easter propels me to always be anticipating the “something better.”  Now let me first say that this does not exclude me from living in the present.  If we are always looking to the future, we can miss the wonderful aspects of today.  However, as a believer, I know that what I see and experience around me today is not all there is to life.  Easter reminds me that there is something more, something better, planned for my life.

The promises given and solidified in the actions of Jesus on Good Friday and on Easter morning are promises that are real for me in my life.  As Jesus tells the criminal on the cross next to him, I have the same promise that I will be with the Lord in paradise.  This points me to a better reality, a better existence than the one that I experience now.  The promise is real and given to all people without regard for their past behaviors or social status.  My belief in Jesus Christ and what Jesus did and said is the guarantee of the fulfillment of that promise.

So even as I live in today and enjoy the blessings of the Lord that are found in this day, I know that the Lord has something better planned for me.  Each day and the changes that I experience in that day moves me closer to that “something better.”  I long for the completion of God’s plan in my life.  I long for the steps along the way that move closer to that reality.  I long for something better.

 

Right Choice   Leave a comment


English: Pope Benedict XVI during general audition

English: Pope Benedict XVI during general audition (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One of the significant news items of this week so far has been the announcement by Pope Benedict XVI.  Internet has been buzzing for over 24 hours  with thoughts and reactions to this announcement.  Since this has not occurred for approximately 600 years, no one is totally sure what it means and exactly what all the details related to this action might be.  I am not interested in this post to debate the details of his actions or the impact it may have on the Roman Catholic Church or the Christian community.  What I am interested in is seeing an important example in his actions.

Arguably, the Pope is one of the world leaders that attracts much attention.  His statements, his actions, and his decisions are scrutinized and discussed both inside and outside of the Christian faith.  So when he makes the decision to resign, it is something which should draw our attention.  I have definitely not been a supporter of many of his decisions as a leader during the last eight years but I must applaud his example in this decision.  He has shown leaders that there is more about leadership than themselves.

Pause a moment and consider the significance of the decision that he has announced this week.  This man has dedicated all of his life to the  Roman Catholic Church and his Christian faith.  On April 19, 2005, he was elevated to the highest office of the Roman Catholic Church which at the end of 2011 claimed a membership of 1.196 billion people internationally.  He has the ultimate power and authority over the organization and his decisions/actions can not be questioned or reversed during his time as Pope.  Not many individuals or leaders would ever want to relinquish that power and authority even if they retain it for altruistic reasons.  Yet, this man has made that decisions.

I think sometimes leaders lose sight of the reason they are called to lead.  A leader brings gifts and talents that are intended to be used to move the organization forward in a positive direction.  Yes, there may be bumps along the way and set backs will occur but ultimately a leader is to lead forward.  When a person’s ability to lead forward and fulfill the expectations of her/his office falters, a leader should examine if his/her tenure in the office should come to an end.  According, to Pope Benedict’s statement, he believes that his health has reduced his ability to effectively lead so he will resign on February 28, 2013.  Instead of remaining in office and limping along, he has decided to move aside and allow a new leader to be chosen.

What an amazing example.  All leaders should take a lesson from Pope Benedict about true leadership.

Hope In the Lord   3 comments


 

...Hope...

…Hope… (Photo credit: ĐāżŦ {mostly absent})

 

Sometimes I am amazed at my ability to forget some of the fundamental aspects of my belief in Jesus Christ.  As I have read the Scriptures (both Old and New Testament), I have noticed how many times the Lord tells us that we need to place our hope not in something within our existence but instead in the Lord alone.  The reason for this advice is that even the best things that we encounter in life can lose their significance but the Lord never loses significance in our life.

 

There are days when I struggle to maintain my positive outlook.  On those days I am much more prone to find the negative aspects of life around me.  I point out to myself all the hurdles and the reasons that I will not be able to accomplish what I feel called to accomplish.  I take comments made by others in a negative assessment of myself or a situation.  I can easily let this negativity snowball until I get to the point of wanting to quit or give up.

 

The reality is that nothing is significantly different about that day than any other day of life in any other person’s life.  The truth is that I have just chosen to grab on to the negativity and my hope has suffered because of it.  Yet, the other truth is that if my hope is based on the successes of my life or the positive situations in the life around me, I am bound to experience these types of days.  I have centered my hope in the wrong place.  My hope needs to be centered in the Lord alone.  For the Lord does not disappoint and the Lord does not fail.  While there are more than sufficient positives in the life that I live, the only lasting one is in the Lord.  The Lord endures way beyond human life.

 

So today I am reminded of this passage in Scripture:

 

“3 Do not put your trust in princes,
in human beings, who cannot save.
When their spirit departs, they return to the ground;
on that very day their plans come to nothing.
Blessed are those whose help is the God of Jacob,
whose hope is in the Lord their God.”  (Psalm 146:3-5)

 

 

Outside the Walls   Leave a comment


St Ethelburga-the-Virgin within Bishopsgate In...

Today I was reminded how important it is for us to take our faith outside the walls of a church building.  Recently I have found myself engaged more and more in conversations that end up leading to faith discussions.  The really cool thing about these conversations is that they are not occurring within the walls of the church building but in various locations throughout the community.

For many years, Christians have been told that there are two topics that should never be discussed in public settings:  politics and religion.  I would question this statement and agree with one aspect of this statement.  First, I believe that it is vital for United States citizens to discuss politics in public settings.  One of the key components of democracy is for citizens to discuss what is occurring in government with one another.  This does not condone the personal attacks upon other’s viewpoints or the refusal to listen to a views that are different from our own.  However, public discourse is vital to our democratic approach to government.

The second topic is similar in some aspects.  I would agree that religion should rarely be discussed in a public forum.  The reason is that religion is just the practices and beliefs agreed upon by a group of people.  However, I believe that faith can be discussed in a public forum.  I would throw a word of caution in here to state that discussing faith should be done as part of a dialogue and not a monologue.  There needs to be mutual respect and a commitment to listen, again, even if the views of another are different from your own.  Through such dialogues, each person’s faith and understanding of beliefs grow.

More believers need to have more sincere discussions outside the walls of the church building.  I have been enriched in my conversations with others, especially when they have a different understanding of God.  I have had an opportunity to share my understandings as I listen to others.  I know that I have grown in my faith because of these dialogues.  If more believers were to respectfully engage in dialogue, I think we would see some profound movement in faith.

If you choose to take on this challenge, let me remind you:  DIALOGUE AND NOT MONOLOGUE.  I believe that the best way to follow this approach is to remember that I do not have all the answers, I am not always right, and I can learn as much as I may ever be able to teach.

In the Quiet   3 comments


Lord Howe Island snorkeling - Double headed wr...

Image by Percita via Flickr

We live in a world that is filled with sounds.  No matter where we are, something is making a sound.  It might be animals, or vehicles, or the ticking of a clock, or the hum of the fan on a computer, or the furnace blower, or ……  The only way that we can escape sound is by wearing headphones that block out all sounds; even then we still hear our own breathing and beating of our heart.  Sound is part of the world.

Because we are constantly bombarded with sounds, we become accustomed to ignoring many of them.  In fact, we have to make an effort to truly stop and focus to hear specific sounds.  Since I live a very busy life like many of you, I do not always take the time to sit and listen.  I actually feel a bit of guilt when I choose to make myself do so.  I always know that there is something waiting for me to do.  But as I have thought this morning about being able to know what the Lord desires, I realized that the very first step is to focus on listening in the quiet (or at least as quiet as I can get).

I am reminded of this in two specific passages from the Bible:

He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.”
(Psalm 46:10)

The LORD said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by.”

Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. (1 Kings 19:11-12)

I am reminded in these words from the Bible that I need to quiet myself and quiet as much around me as possible at times so that I can hear the gentle whisper of the Lord. 

So it is good to be in the quiet.