His Love Endures Forever

I’m finding it harder these days to be positive about many things. Everywhere I look there is turmoil and chaos; some people are stoking it and others are embracing it. Everyone seems at odds with each other and if you have a different point of view or opinion, you are attacked or outcast. Television shows seem to base their stories around conflict between the characters, even the comedies aren’t funny anymore. In today’s world, no one wants to take responsibility for their actions, so they blame the observer. We’ve lost the “common” part of common sense and now we appear to be on the brink of losing our senses altogether.

Originally, I set out to write about being positive in the workplace as leaders but I found it hard to be positive. The moral of this negative post on positivity is that no matter your leadership position, people look to you for reassurance – always. No one wants to be “gaslighted”, as my mom used to say, but they also don’t want to hear from someone who never has a positive thing to say – a Debbie Downer (SNL) if you will. Leaders have to speak the harsh truths, but they also need to find the sunshine in those cloudy moments to maintain hope. Once we lose hope, we have lost it all. I was in need of few rays of sunshine and where did I find it? The bible of course! In a rare (for me) bible quote from the Old Testament.

30 Tremble before him, all the earth! The world is firmly established; it cannot be moved. 31 Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad; let them say among the nations, ‘The LORD reigns!’ 32 Let the sea resound, and all that is in it; let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them! 33 Let the trees of the forest sing, let them sing for joy before the LORD, for he comes to judge the earth. 34 Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever. 35 Cry out, ‘Save us, God our Savior; gather us and deliver us from the nations, that we may give thanks to your holy name, and glory in your praise.’ 36 Praise be to the LORD, the God of Israel, from everlasting to everlasting. Then all the people said ‘Amen’ and ‘Praise the LORD.’” 1 Chronicles 16:30-36

Comedian Tom Papa has a new Netflix special out called, “You’re Doing Great” and he talks about the good old days – bathing once a month and wearing a lot of leather goods. The times of the Old Testament are really the old days! Even my worst day is better than their best day. We are being encouraged here to rejoice in everything because, the “Lord reigns”. Seas, fields, and forests are encouraged to rejoice, why not us? “God’s love endures forever”.

If you break apart all of the troubles of this world, they are nothing that God’s love cannot overcome. In all things, let love abound. We only have each other and we only have today so let’s make the most of them both. There is nothing negative in love, only in the things that keep us from loving one another. Remove the obstacles to love and just as God’s love endures forever, keep love out in front and live your life loving each other.

Division

I’m trying something a little different this week by using a larger block of scripture. For the past few weeks, each week, I have had new followers join this blog; many from countries outside of the United States. I truly appreciate everyone who receives this and passes it along to others. I started this blog five years ago as a precursor to finishing my still “unfinished” book but it grew into something that I never imagined possible. Spreading the joy and peace of God’s Word has been incredibly fulfilling. This is one of the spiritual gifts that God has blessed me with; despite what my high school English teachers said about my writing skills. We all have gifts; do you know what yours are?

The last verse talks about divisions among us. As we move through our days of uncertainty, strife, fear, hopefulness, peace, enlightenment and hopefully a little joy; we seem to be constantly bombarded with people trying to divide us. Liberal, conservative, socialist, capitalist, patriot, immigrant, “one of them” or “one of us” are all labels that are being tossed around without consequence. These divisions are creating chaos and in chaos, terror lives. High school kids being afraid to go to school or who hesitate when the fire alarm goes off is not a result of peaceful society. I urge everyone to carefully consider using labels or engaging in divisive dialog. Know your facts before repeating what you hear on your favorite news channel or read on the internet. Please look for context and understanding of the subjects you are about to debate; avoid extremes. United we stand, divided we fall! No matter what the subject is, division and chaos are never the best outcome.

6 even as the testimony about Christ was confirmed among you– 7 so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift, as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ, 8 who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.10 I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment.”  1 Corinthians 1:6-10

St Paul was reminding the people of Corinth that God is with all of us until the end and that we shall be guiltless on the day that Jesus calls us home. This verse should give us all so much peace. God has given each one us spiritual gifts to use while we are here on earth. Some of you have musical talents, some have creative talents, some math skills while others are blessed with athletic talents. EVERYONE has spiritual gifts. God is using each of us, directly or indirectly, to spread the good word; witness our faith; or demonstrate Christian living. Do you see how you are fitting into God’s plan? If you don’t see it, take time to reflect on how God has worked in your life and how you are working in the lives of those around you.

St. Paul was also urging the people of Corinth (and us) to remain united in faith. While there are many denominations of Christianity, we all remain Christians. I mentioned earlier that it is in chaos where terror lives and the devil loves chaos and terror. When we start to doubt God’s presence, the devil is ready to exploit our doubt. When we no longer see God in our lives, the devil starts to “help us see” our own understanding. And, when our faith in God or mankind or each other is fading, the devil is standing ready to give us false hope. These are trying times and we all must be strong to resist the chaos and embrace the peace and hope that we HAVE in God through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

What is Love?

In particular during these past two weeks, I’ve witnessed three people demonstrate what love is. We all say that we know when we find love it but so many of us can’t define it. Few of us are lucky enough to find that person, get married and stay married; we know love and express it in many ways. Lisa and I started dating 31 years ago this month (maybe even this week) and she has always shown me what love is. Her support of my career and of each step during my non-traditional education path, not to mention the thousands of dollars from our savings and she never said no. Not to mention the five houses we’ve had in three states because of my career. I could write all day about her but she isn’t one of examples. One is of a wife being by her husband’s side as he has his third brain tumor removed while being worried that she’ll won’t be able to meet the needs of her clients (she’s a sole proprietor), another is the best friend of our dear friend’s (Joe) wife who made sure that I knew about Joe’s retirement following his stroke 14 months ago. She also is there for Joe’s wife Kathy, to help her or to just listen because Joe needs constant care. Kathy says that everyone should have a friend just like her.

But the one most demonstrating love is Joe’s wife Kathy. We met them just over 27 years ago when Joe and I started to work together. They became great role models for Lisa and I about raising a family. Today, Joe is in a wheelchair and unable to care for himself. Kathy tirelessly cares for him and does so with a positive attitude and a smile on her face. Everyone that knows her will say that she is one of the strongest people you will ever meet. She has always been there for her friends when they had trouble. Her and Joe were there for us when our daughter was born prematurely at 27 weeks. She takes care of Joe with such love and care. She will even joke that this isn’t what she envisioned in retirement but she is grateful for what she has. To me, this is what Love is.

This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. 1 John 3:16

To be honest, this devotion is not ending the way I envisioned when I started it. So, what is love? I believe that we recognize love because we have seen it demonstrated to us. People like Kathy learned about love from someone else, who learned it from someone else and so on. The first real show of love came from God and has been written for us in the Old Testament. God continued to fight for His people, protect them and still cared for them even when they disobeyed. Instead of turning to anger for rejecting His commandments, God turned to Love and sent us His Son; a savior to give us all a chance to be with Him.

During His ministry, Jesus taught us about Love. He asked for forgiveness of the Soldiers crucifying Him because they did not know what they were doing. Jesus taught us to take care of each other and serve one another not ourselves. He knew what was happening to Him and yet He still gave His life for us. He could have pushed the “Easy Button” and went somewhere else to avoid His death, He didn’t. The friends that I’ve seen over these past two weeks could have found another way to deal with their situations but they didn’t, there are plenty of “Easy Buttons” to push these days. They didn’t because they all know what real Love is. We don’t know why Joe had his stroke or why my other friend’s husband has had three brain tumors, but God is showing us what love is through these amazing people.