Dr. Martin Luther King jr

In the United States, we are celebrating Martin Luther King Jr. Day today. Since I’ve held elected office, I have attended presentations about his life which really opened my perspective about the struggles of minorities. I must admit that I knew little about him before attending these events but I have come to understand more than the civil rights fight that he undertook. He wouldn’t accept the status quo; he wouldn’t back down against great pressure nor would he compromise his beliefs. He spoke all around the world to millions of people with a simple message – we are all one people. Lately in the United States, we seem to have forgotten that. Racial discord still exists and now we are divided by our politics. Hatred, ignorance, intolerance and just plain evil are everywhere these days. People are turning to violence in an attempt to get their messages across. Frustration is ruling our behaviors. 

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. fought against violence and took a stand to resolve differences in a non-violent way, though not everyone supported that strategy. His speeches were moving and his understanding of the issues were extraordinary and yet, many agree his work remains unfinished. He used his talents to change the world. Most of us will never reach the stature of Dr. King but each of us can have a huge impact on the world around us. Each one of us has God given talents that we can use to impact those around us. Sometimes people are in our lives for a brief moment, like in line at the grocery store and others are people we’ve known for years but we have the opportunity to model the same beliefs that Dr. King did, good Christian values. 

“For in Him you have been enriched in every way – in all your speaking and in all your knowledge…” 1 Corinthians 1:5

I’ve told you before about a friend who shared with me a serious problem that would have lifelong implications for him. As he described his problem he said that he has done a lot things in his life and that he didn’t feel “right with God yet and as long as I’m not right with Him, I can’t be right with anyone”. This statement stopped me dead in my tracks; how could someone who professes to be a Christian say something like that? As I continue to dwell on his statement all these years later; I believe that many people feel this way. This is why so many non-denominational “churches” leave out all discussion about sin. People feel bad and unworthy because of sin so if we don’t talk about it, people will come to get revitalized.

As we talked, I seized the opportunity to share my knowledge about our savior, Christ Jesus. I reminded him that he was already “right with God” because of what Jesus did for us Easter weekend.  1 Corinthians 1:7-9 goes on to say 7 Therefore you do not lack any spiritual gifts as you eagerly wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed. 8 He will keep you strong to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God, who has called you into fellowship with His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful.” We lack nothing; there is nothing we can do or must do to be “right with God”. He knew our weaknesses long before we did and sent us a Savior so we could enjoy eternal life with Him. God decided we were worth it long before we could do anything to prove it to Him. 

Compassion

As the NFL football regular schedule ended this weekend, some are celebrating, and some are lamenting their team’s season. Some teams really clicked this season and others couldn’t fight their way out of a paper bag. In the end, some teams won or lost because mistakes made – no doubt about that. I’m not talking about any team or game, but games are usually won because one team took advantage of someone else’s mistake. Sounds familiar doesn’t it? Someone makes a mistake and the office jerk is not only quick to point it out but also then tries to take advantage of it. How do you react when someone makes a mistake? I always make two promises to the teams that I’ve lead – 1) I will make mistakes and 2) I will never repeat them. They key is what we do with the experience of making a mistake. 

We all forget that post-it-notes were a result of someone’s mistake. The old saying of “its water under the bridge” is so true; you can’t get it back. My philosophy is that you have to acknowledge the error, learn from it and move forward. This is why, each week, football teams review films of the game they just played – win or lose. They don’t dwell on the outcome, they are always looking forward. People make mistakes all of the time. A baseball player who hits the ball only 33% of the time (.300 avg.) is a great player. Wouldn’t it be nice to have that kind of productivity goal? So next time someone around you makes a mistake or you do; give them a little smile and let them know that it’s okay. The office jerk will get theirs in all due time.

“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as Christ God forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32

We always seem to make one mistake after another; breaking commandments left and right. How can we call ourselves Christians if we can’t live a life without sin? St. Paul would certainly have a thing or two to say about that. His first direction in this one verse as part of a letter to the Ephesians was “Be kind and compassionate to one another”. This is a great place to start. How you handle yourself with others is a good indication of the messages that have gone to your core. My guess is that you are compassionate and caring toward others. You do your best to help when you can and pray for help when there is more to be done than you can handle. 

As Christians, we forgive and forget a lot more often than we give ourselves credit for. If you held onto every wrong against you, the weight of those emotions would be crushing. We forgive strangers everyday yet we find it hard to forgive those we love. Jesus Christ taught us to be patient with everyone. Even His own disciples were les than helpful in the end yet He forgave them. God, Our Father in Heaven who loves us so deeply, is compassionate with us even when we disappoint Him. All of our sins have been forgiven by Jesus’ death and resurrection, no exceptions. God forgives you for the sins that you have committed and those that you have yet to commit; that’s why we can call ourselves Christians. Go out and demonstrate God’s love through your faith in Jesus Christ, the world needs our kindness, compassion and forgiveness. 

Happy New Year!

Welcome to 2022, Happy New Year! It seems like just a short time ago I put up the Christmas decorations and now they are all down and put away. Each new year comes with all kinds of hope and unknowns. Many people will say “I hope this year brings…” fill in your own response. For many their hope is for better health, a new job or a little stability in their lives. How many people will take the time to write down their goals? A lot of research has been done on goal setting and one thing that is commonly found is that goals that are written down are more likely to be achieved. 

Leaders who work with their people to identify goals for the new year are really helping them get the most out of their work. Goals should be set following the SMART principle – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Timely (time specific). What about each of us? We too need to set goals that meet the same criteria. What is it that you want to achieve in 2022? Create a timeline to get things moving. What will you have done by the end of March? What about the end of June? Be specific with yourself but make sure that you can achieve it. Don’t set a goal to get your degree by June 30, 2022 if you have two years of classes to take. Setting goals is like making a shopping list; you are sure to get everything if you know what you are shopping for. 

“…Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:13-14

This is great advice to start the year – forget about what happened in 2021, it is behind us now.  There is nothing we can do to change what we’ve done (or not done) but we can focus on what is ahead. Don’t dwell on the past. This time of year can be so hard on people; sometimes filling us with regret for what we’ve done or great remorse for the things that we didn’t do. Put all of that behind you and give those worries to God in prayer. 

Get it off your chest and out of your system so you can focus on what God has planned for you. The prize that Paul talks about in this verse is a life of worship in Christ that will lead to eternal life with the Triune God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit. God wants us to be happy and will guide our lives toward the final goal but we have to let Him. Keep your eye on the prize of eternal life by keeping His word close to you, spending time with Him in prayer and keeping your faith in Jesus Christ as your Savior. You can have goals for this life and God wants you to achieve them when they align with His plan. God will not lead you astray so leave the past behind and strain toward what is ahead. Have a great 2022!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

I’ve posted this before and find myself returning to it every year at Christmas time. We just celebrated the birth of our Savior, and it is reminder of the real “new beginning” in our lives. There are two times during the year that I really focus back on God’s word; now and at Easter. We can get so wrapped up (no pun intended) in the hustle and bustle on “holiday season” that we can easily forget about our celebration. We forget about Love and Forgiveness as God promised to all of us. We rush from event to event that we miss the best present of all time. So again, I thought that I would let the word of God stand alone and reach everyone in its own way. Please have a safe New Year’s Eve and may God bless your 2022.

God’s Love and Ours 

7Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. 13We know that we live in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. 14And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him and he in God. 16And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him.” 1John 4:7-16

A Great Loss

Last Sunday, the Mayor of our city passed away after a short fall injury and illness. As a city, we have mourned the loss of Georgia Lord but certainly not to the degree that her family is. I heard from several people who expressed their grief at her sudden passing, and we held a short public event in which each Council Member was able to speak about how Georgia had impacted each of us. It was truly touching. I said that she treated all of us like extended family and that her and I would often disagree, much like a son and mother would, but in the end, we cared and respected each other deeply. I looked at her daughters on Monday and saw the same sadness that I observed in my sibling’s eyes just four years ago. While we are sad for what we lost, I know that we should be celebrating the joys that she brought to us as well.

Our mayor, my friend, had expressed such peace in her final days that it was hard to be sad for her. I am sad for your family, her friends, and supporters, we lost a real special person last Sunday and our grief will be present for some time. Georgia’s assurance of peace and trust in God’s promises were truly inspiring. This time of year can be very sad for some people; a look back over the year that’s past and see what did and did not get done on top of the losses we experienced in the second year of a pandemic. I like to use this analogy: during our life, we cannot see the path that we are on but when we finish a segment of it, God sometimes gives us a satellite view of where we’ve been. We mourn the loss of another great friend, but we should celebrate that we had Georgia Lord in our lives at all in the first place.

6But godliness with contentment is great gain. 7For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it.  1 Timothy 6:6-7

I am comforted by the faith I have in God’s promises and can see His hand in my life; sometimes by the people He put there and sometimes by the experiences He gives me. Georgia did a lot in her lifetime, raised great kids, had a large extended family but most importantly, she was a woman of great faith. She was very content with her life and was at peace when she passed. This verse from Timothy reminds me about the story of the DASH whose premise is what have you done with the time represented by the dash between the year you were born and the year you die. We bring nothing into this world, and we take nothing out; its what we do with our time that counts. 

God has given us the tools to do great things, we just need to slow down and read the instructions found in the bible. Sometimes we even have examples placed in our lives. Jesus lived as the ultimate example for us but God also gives us examples like Georgia Lord in our lives today. Slow down to see them and be content with the things in your life; it ends suddenly. We will never know the impact we will have on others. We all have a life that contains a DASH; fill it with contentment, love, kindness, and worship to God who made it all possible. 

Rest in Peace Georgia Lord, you earned it!

Who’s Responsible?

“Who’s responsible for this?” Most everyone shivers when they hear those words. Responsibility can often be a huge burden. We are given it through our job/position and sometimes we just take it upon ourselves. If you are the boss then you are always responsible for the things that happen in your area. If you are a parent, you too are responsible for everything that happens around your house. We all have responsibilities to something or someone and these responsibilities usually weigh us down. There are days when we don’t feel like being in charge or always being responsible, it’s natural. As a leader, you are always leading your people. You don’t get to say “I’m not feeling it today” or give away your responsibilities; we just can’t do it. 

No matter what you do or what position you hold; people count on you. Think about the people that you count on every day, in every setting or circumstance. You are one of those people to someone else. We are responsible to each other; the key is also being accountable to them. There’s an old saying that one “oh no!” wipes out ten “atta boys”. Go out and make this a great week for yourself and those that you are responsible to and those that you are responsible for. See how contagious a little responsibility can be and demonstrate what accountability looks like. Own your actions, your promises and your words.

For the LORD is our judge, the LORD is our lawgiver, the LORD is our king; it is he who will save us.” Isaiah 33:22

Today’s verse is from the Old Testament, a time before Jesus Christ. Think about how the world was during that time period and the chaos that consumed everyone. I imagine it to be a very scary time to live in: between the wars, slavery, punishments, Kings and Rulers not to mention that God was not very happy with His people. No one was taking responsibility for themselves or their actions. Isaiah was trying to tell the people who really was in charge of their lives. 

No one but the Lord was responsible for all of these things; not a single King was in control, the Lord was. Yet still, no one was listening, and people continued to ignore their responsibilities. The Lord is our Judge, our lawgiver and our King and He saved us through His Son Jesus Christ. It was God who took responsibility for our salvation and sent His Son to us. It was Jesus who took the responsibility to live a perfect life, to teach us how to live and even accepted the responsibility of paying for our sins. God gave us the laws but Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection took away our failures to follow the laws (sin). It was God who held Jesus accountable for our sins and yet, He granted each of us eternal life through faith in Him. We can count on Him to be with us in our journey here on earth; He’ll never say “I’m not felling it today”.

Frosty the Snow Man

I don’t think that at any time in the last 10 plus year that I’ve been writing this weekly devotional that I’ve shared someone else’s work. I have been following The River Walk for almost as long as I’ve been writing. Given that many of us have recently put up our Christmas trees and decorated our homes, I thought that this “story” of a modern-day radio interview was a good start to the month of December. While it is a little long, it is certainly is worth the time. Please note the link below and check out what they are doing at the River Walk. 

http://theriverwalk.org/2021/12/03/frosty-the-snowman-2/

December 3 – At a radio station in modern day America

Frosty – People just don’t get me. I get way too much attention, and I don’t want it. Any of it.

Rudolph – Yo man, I know just what you’re saying.

Host – Hello, ladies and gentlemen. We’re here at Straight Talk with a round table of some of the biggest legends of Christmas. To my right, I have Frosty the Snowman and Rudolph the Reindeer. On my left, I am joined by the infamous Grinch and George Bailey, and across from me is none other than Mr. Santa Claus himself. I would like to thank you all for coming and joining us tonight.

Grinch – Hmmm.

Santa – It’s our pleasure.

George – Yes, yes. It’s just wonderful to be here.

Host – Thank you. Now, before we got going, Frosty, you said that you don’t really feel like you belong here. Could you run with that thought and explain to our audience what you were telling us before the cameras started rolling?

Frosty – Sure thing. In fact, your introduction inadvertently underlined the very problem I was talking about. You called us legends. It sounds like I’m some sort of superhero. You’ve got Batman and Flash, Wonder Woman and… frosty? You have the Justice League for eleven months of the year, but come December, the Christmas League takes over?

Rudolph – Word. Is my superpower supposed to be having a red nose?

Santa – You can fly.

Grinch – Heh. and you’ve got a nasty cold of radioactive proportions.

Host – So Frosty, are you saying you feel like you are getting too much attention?

Frosty – That’s it exactly. I mean, all over the world, when snow begins to fall. As soon as it starts to pile up, kids start rolling it into balls and making snowmen. Then one day, one of those things came alive, and here I am. Did I do anything special? I didn’t will myself into existence, and it certainly wasn’t some magic hat.

Host – So, how did you come alive?

Frosty – You tell me, sir. How does the gospel of John’s Christmas story start out? “All things were made by Him, and without Him, nothing was made that has been made.”

Host – The “him” being…

Rudolph – Jesus, man. It’s all about Jesus.

Frosty – Exactly. I came into this world when nobody expected it, just like Jesus. My arrival brought joy to everyone in the world I met. That’s Jesus. When the weather turned, I left this earth but not before promising to return. Who does that sound like?

George – Just a minute, just a minute. Now hold on, Mr. Frosty. You’re here today and tomorrow and the day after that. Then you will be back next year and the following year and every single year to come. But Jesus, He’s coming back one time, then he’s shaking the dust off this crummy little world. He’s gonna build new things. He’s building big things. How does that fit into your little analogy there?

Frosty – That’s a good question. It isn’t one I really have an answer for.

Rudolph – Yo, check this. It’s all about the faithfulness of God. You will faithfully show up the first time the snow falls. Every year my nose starts glowing at the same time. God gives us just what we need precisely when we need it. He’s faithful like that.

Host – So you are saying you agree with Frosty?

Rudolph – Sure thing. That cool dude points to some parts of the real Christmas story, and I point to others.

Santa – Ho, ho, ho. You and Frosty think you’ve got it tough? You should try walking in my shoes.

Host – Santa, thank you, but we would like to save your story for last. Rudolph, how so?

Rudolph – It’s like this. I was rejected by others, scorned, and despised by them. Then I became the one to point the way for them. I was a light in the darkness. I understand that the connection doesn’t seem all that hot, but no doubt my whole reason for being is to light the way for others.

George – Service. Your Christmas theme is service.

Host – Could you elaborate on that, George?

George – I’d be delighted to. Each one of us highlights one aspect of what Christmas is really all about. Santa here is about the gift. Frosty is joy, and our bright little animal friend here is about service.

Host – And what would your theme be?

George – I’m about memories and regrets. There’s something about the Christmas season that makes people get to thinking. Everyone starts getting together with their family but some are heartbroken over the ones who won’t be with them this year. Others might have to be away for one reason or another, and they begin thinking maybe they won’t really be missed at all. Some people will spend the holiday and the end of the year just thinking over all the mistakes and failures of the past year. Pretty soon, they get to thinking that maybe, just maybe, the world would be a better place if they weren’t in it. I get that. I was there once. Then God sent me an angel named Clarence to help remind me that each one of us is loved and valuable to him and to others as well. It’s no small fact that despite all the joy this season is supposed to bring, the Christmas season also sees a significant increase in depression and suicide. I am here as a reminder that it doesn’t have to be like that. Each one of our lives touches so many others. If we weren’t around, we would leave an awful hole in the hearts of others, wouldn’t we? But I’m talking too much. Am I talking too much?

Santa – No, no, no.

Rudolph – You’re just spitting truth, bro.

Host – Mr. Grinch, I would love to hear your input on all this. Frosty is joy, Rudolph light or service, Santa gifts, and George memories. What about you? As the villain of this bunch, what do you have to say for yourself?

Grinch – To most people, I’m the villain. For some people out there, I’m the hero. Those who say they hate Christmas absolutely love me. I’m fine with that.

Host – I’m sorry, I don’t follow.

Grinch – When people say they hate, double hate, and loathe entirely Christmas, it isn’t really Christmas they hate. It is the busyness and the stuff. There are so many parties to attend, presents to buy, cards to write… is old Aunt Mildred even still alive? We’ve been sending her a card every year but didn’t Cousin George tell us this last Christmas that she passed on a few winters back… some accident with a reindeer. Anyways, things get so busy and hectic and cluttered with stuff that people just want to cancel everything. It would just be so much nicer to just lay in bed staring at the ceiling and slip slowly into madness.

Rudolph – Cheer up, dude, it’s Christmas.

Grinch – You’re Rudolph, a freak with a red nose. Nobody likes you.

Frosty – Hey there.

Grinch – Sorry, I just slipped into character. What was I saying? Yes. People think that Christmas is all that stuff and business, trees and decorations, and the same ten songs that loop endlessly on every radio station and in every store in the world. Is it any wonder that people just want to end it all like George was talking about? Anyway, one year, I decided I had enough. I snuck in there and did my worst to cancel Christmas.

Host – What did you do?

Grinch – The food, the decorations, the tree, the presents… I stole it all. You know what? It didn’t change a thing. Christmas still came. It came without ribbons! It came without tags! It came without packages, boxes, or bags! I thought about this and then thought some more. I pondered for three hours till my puzzler was sore. Then I thought of something I hadn’t thought of before! “Maybe Christmas,” I thought, “doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas… perhaps… means a little bit more!”

George – By George, you got it! You’re the hero for all those who hate the fact Christmas has lost its meaning amidst all the business and noise of the season.

Host – And now it is time for us to go to a commercial. Be sure to stay tuned to hear what Santa has to say about all this. Also, don’t forget to tune in next week when we will be discussing the economics of the holidays with Mr. Potter and Scrooge McDuck.

Thankfulness

Thanksgiving was last week and I felt another devotion on thankfulness was fitting. Leaders are in the position to influence the lives of those that work for them, those they work with and occasionally, those who they work for, especially if you are in middle management. Regardless of our roles in life, we are often so busy trying to juggle all of our priorities that sometimes we forget to say thank you. If we are in a leadership position, it is only because people follow us. If they are following us because they have to, well, we are simply just managing them. If we are true leaders, we are influencing people’s lives each day by what we say and do. If the people who work for you are truly following you, they will alter their perceptions, attitudes, knowledge and behaviors all because of you. 

Last week I suggested that you pick someone who makes your life just a little easier and say thank you to them. I’d like to suggest that you also say thanks to the team that follows you. Tell them about the great work they do and how it impacts your business, then tell your coworkers how great it is to work with them and what they do to support you and then thank your boss for what he or she does for you personally and how you’ve grown from your experience working for them. Even if your boss is horrible, you are still learning something. Don’t let this Thanksgiving time slip away without thanking those that make your workdays a little more bearable. As a leader, it’s important for your people to know that you notice and that you care.

8Give thanks to the LORD, call on his name; make known among the nations what he has done. 9Sing to him, sing praise to him; tell of all his wonderful acts.  1 Chronicles 16:8-9

We are taught that when we pray, we should give thanks to God for all that he’s done for us. Even if you are struggling right now, God is with you making you stronger. We often pray when we need something or are worried but how often do we pray just to give thanks? We see people accepting awards or scoring points in a sporting event point to the heavens as if to say “thanks to you God”. We don’t have to wait until we win an award or score a touchdown; everyday is reason to celebrate.

Today’s verse reminds us to tell others what God has done for us: “tell of all his wonderful acts.” The greatest thing that God has done for us is to send us a Savior, someone to intercede on our behalf with God so that our sins are forgiven. Jesus Christ taught us how to live, how to treat each other and how to be saved from ourselves. He is a great leader and deserves our thanks. Today, tell God how thankful you are for everything in your life and ask for the courage to spread to the word. 

Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is this week in the U.S. and if I tried to tell you everything or everyone that I was thankful for, you’d be reading this for hours. I was reminded of a few key areas in my life that I am grateful for as I wrote a proposal this week for a community that we started working with five years ago. I say “we” because my partner in this project is a long-time friend who I began partnering with over 10 years ago. I am very thankful for the opportunity that I have to work with a great professional who is also a dear friend. The proposal reminded me of the community staff and leaders that we’ve come to know over the years and I’m thankful for the opportunity to have gotten to know them. I also work with a great team of city staff and fellow elected officials in my official duties as a Councilmember. It isn’t always easy, but it is the people who I work with that make it all worthwhile.

The project that I bid on is one that my wife can join us on and I’m thankful for our great partnership both at home and in the business. When my wife and I spend time traveling together or just hang out together in our empty nest, we appreciate how grateful we were for the huge blessings in our lives and what we’ve been able to accomplish under stressful circumstances at times. We never let things set us back; we keep talking about how the hard times build character in us. Once again, we sit amazed by the work of God in our lives – even when we didn’t know it. I encourage you to take time this week to reflect on all that you have to be thankful for and look at how God has moved your life even when you faced struggles, He was there. Thank Him for His work and then thank someone in your life that makes things just a little bit better. Happy Thanksgiving!

15 “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful… 17And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” Colossians 3:15,17

In our house Thanksgiving Day is the start of the Christmas season. We start listening to classic Christmas music, decorating the house finds it way onto the calendar, preparation for baking begins, Christmas card lists are printed and the peace of the season is in the air. The year will end soon and we all start thinking about how thankful we were for so many things and we look forward to what the new year will bring. No matter what has happened in your life let God’s peace, given to us through His Son Jesus Christ, be with you and comfort you.

It’s hard to think about telling God “thanks” for sending us a savior who had to die before we’d figure it out. God knew what it would take to save us and all He asks is that “whatever we do, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus and to give thanks to God through Him.” A simple “thanks”. Sometimes through all of the mess in our lives, the frantic pace that we live and the set backs we have, we still have a lot to be thankful for. Our faith in Jesus Christ and God’s grace has guaranteed us eternal life; free from all these worldly problems. Even when you struggle, be thankful. God has a place for you in heaven, which is something to be thankful for!

What’s Love Got To Do With It?

It doesn’t matter where you live in the world anymore, you will witness some large tragedy while existing in a time in which our “politics” have created unprecedented division. The United States is no longer the sole proprietor of violence and division. Governments are being overthrown, racial and religious divisions are abound, “pro” verses “anti” vaxers are literally fighting in the streets; the world is going mad. Yesterday was the second to last Sunday of the Lutheran Church year and we talked the end times or Revelations. I can’t say that we aren’t entering the “end of time”, because the world has been here before – history has a way of repeating itself. While we think things are bad in our own homelands, they are often minor when compared to other parts of the world. I’d like to suggest that the degree of these events affects our perception of what “bad” means to us. For some, it means having to fly commercial instead of by private plane and to others it means not knowing where their next meal will come from.

There are so many parts of the world that truly have it “bad” but we don’t see it or know someone there so it is easy not to think about it or take action. Each of us, no matter what part of the world we live in, is affected by all of these events which can alter how we feel about other people. Religion, race, sexual orientation, political party or its sub-party are just a few ways that someone else defines us. When we begin a sentence by labeling someone first, it shows that our mind is closed. I’m certainly not suggesting that we blend all of our thoughts and beliefs together into one, but we must guard against putting everyone in the same category because they share similarities. To quote from the movie Shrek, “people are like onions, they have layers”. As we get ready for Thanksgiving in the United States, I encourage everyone to think about being truly thankful for the blessings in your life and ask yourself “have I been a blessing to others?”

“And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” Colossians 3:14

The two verses that precede today’s verse from Colossians 3 are: “12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” The title of this section in the chapter is “Living as Those Made Alive in Christ” – a set of directions if you will. There isn’t really a lot of room for interpretation in verses 12-14, they seem straight forward to me. Love is the most important virtue. We’ve all heard the expression that “love makes the world go around” but somewhere over the years we seem to have forgotten that. 

We are all afraid of what “they” might do to us. We stereotype people and sensationalize events to make a point. We confuse one act of demonstration for another act of violence or insult. We need to start looking at life and circumstances through the eyes of Jesus, being cautious and vigilant, but with love and compassion. Political issues strain our relationships and cause more distress while religious, racial and sexual orientation stereotypes cloud our understanding and judgment. We are “God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved”. We need to start acting like it. Despite all of our disobedience and selfish ways, God found a way to bring us closer to Him through His Son Jesus Christ. It was Jesus’ act of love that paid the ultimate price for our sins; let it not be in vain.