Archive for the ‘Love’ Category

What If

January 23, 2020

That is such a powerful phrase.

What if…causes you to shift the analogies you think in. To consider new possibilities. New ways of seeing situations and challenges.

Consider a thought from one of my favorite philosopher/theologians–Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (tay-yard de shar-dan):

Someday, after mastering the winds, the waves, the tides and gravity, we shall harness for God the energies of love. And then, for the second time in the history of the world, man will have discovered fire.

What if we really followed Jesus, who turned the world upside down by pursuing love, not power?

We Are All Interconnected

November 27, 2018

Once in meditation, I was brought to a room. Then suddenly appeared all different peoples. People of different races, cultures, genders. And I was given the realization that we are all connected. And we are all in this thing called life together.

The Roman emperor/philosopher Marcus Aurelius wrote a reminder to himself, “Meditate often on the interconnectedness and mutual interdependence of all things in the universe.” 

Travel brings wonderful things into consciousness if we but open our eyes. We get out of our tribe. We see that other people have the same joys and struggles. Within our tribes it is easy to impugn the motives of others. When we realize how interconnected and alike we all are, we are convicted of our own motives.

[Note: If you notice posts this week are a little early, it is because I am in Germany.]

We are placed here to help others and do good. I must remind the technologists to whom I write professionally that the purpose of developing and implementing technology is to help people. To be more like Scott Harrison who founded Charity Water using technology to bring safe drinking water to millions. (Link is to his new book.) Not to be like Mark Zuckerberg who uses and manipulates us in order to become a billionaire.

Jesus told us God is Love and that we should channel that love to all of our neighbors. Meditate often on how all of God’s creation is interconnected and interdependent.

It’s Not Everyone Who Calls Me Lord

April 10, 2018

What if Jesus meant what he said?

I truly appreciate that group of teachers who began pondering that question some 45 years ago or so. It is much to our loss that their voices have been drowned by the hype of others.

What if Jesus really meant what Matthew recorded (7:21):

Not everyone who says to me ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter into the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.

Jesus also said (as reported by his good friend John):

I give you a new command, Love one another as I have loved you.

What if we lived today not simply repeating opinions of theology or calling the name of Jesus with empty hearts, but…

that we lived today doing the will of the Father.

Maybe like James teaches, we watch what we say lest we hurt someone rather than building them up.

Hint: perhaps we step back and look objectively at the tone of our opinions and social media posts–remember that the right to free speech does not absolve us from the responsibility of speaking in love.

Maybe like the apostle Paul teaches, such as the list he gives us (1 Corinthians 13) describing how to act with love.

Maybe Jesus really meant that we are supposed to do the will of the Father, not just call out his name.

Do Not Over Think

March 12, 2018

“Do not overthink. Call the simple fouls.” Advice to soccer referees preparing for the new season.

OK, this is odd advice coming from the guy whose basic life orientation is to think and analyze. But maybe it’s why I have liked the challenge of refereeing soccer for the past 30 years. When you focus on each challenge in a match, you don’t have time to think too much. It’s feel for the flow of the game, the reactions of the players, and what serves justice.

Do not overthink.

My morning reading in Romans. “The commandments…are summed up in this word, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore, love is the fulfilling of the law.”

When Jesus gave this command the Pharisees, those overachievers in thinking too much, started questioning. “Who is our neighbor?” Jesus responded with a story whose hero was member of a despised race of people–sort of like an illegal immigrant. In other words, everyone is our neighbor–even those we despise personally.

Love does no wrong to a neighbor.

Consider this when deciding what to do with your money.

Consider this with every person you come into contact with.

Consider this with your politics.

Consider this within your church and groups.

How do I live each moment as if Jesus and Paul actually meant for me to live this way? In the flow of the moment; without overthinking it?

By This Everyone Will Know

September 25, 2017

I give you a new commandment, that you love one another.

Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another.

By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.

We had a few days of vacation last week. Well, my wife had a week. I had four days. I took some time each day meditating. On that saying of Jesus recorded by John in his Gospel—twice. 

Repeating something means it’s important. Something like when your mom called you and used your entire given name. Not that I ever heard, “Gary Alan Mintchell! Get in here right this minute.” Well, maybe I did. And I knew the emphasis.

Look this up in John 13 and again in John 15.

Jesus gives us a commandment—Love one another.

He gives us an example—Just as I have loved you. (John places this teaching immediately following the experience of Jesus washing their feet just as a servant would do.)

He gives us an outcome—By this everyone will know…

It’s simple. 

It’s direct.

There is no room for theology, argument, dispute, equivocation.

It is also so hard to do.

But, wow, if you are ever blessed to be in such a group, it is life changing.

Real Christians…

September 18, 2017

In the southern Bible Belt of the US, the most outspoken theme of Christian messaging is conversion. That is, “accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior.”

As we travel south on vacation, we are always greeted by a parade of two types of billboards. One tempts you into visiting an “adult” store or stripper club. I’ve never visited an “adult” store, but I imagine it is, well, for adults. The other series of billboards attempts to provoke a conversion–whether by guilt or fear (usually fear).

This billboard in Virginia was different.

“Real Christians…Love Their Enemies”

Well, that is what Jesus instructed, right?

He said that anyone can love their friends. Even the pagans. But as for his followers, they should take this love thing to a new level.

So, what about this love thing?

Certainly not emotional. How about in action? Like when he followed up that discussion with examples such as “when someone asks you to carry his baggage for a mile, do it for two” or “when someone slaps you on the left cheek, turn the other”.

I’ve been injured by a few people in my life. Some years ago one of these people was talking with me. I listened politely and civilly, then went on my way. A friend asked, “Don’t you hate that guy?”  I replied, well, I don’t like what he did to me, but that’s no excuse not to be civil if I can’t otherwise avoid the conversation.

That’s probably on the weak side of love. But it beats the alternative–for both of us.

We are often too complicated. We overthink things. Why not just do the simple thing and move on?

And life goes on.

Mother’s Day Is Coming

May 11, 2017

Interesting that Jon Swanson wrote about Mother’s Day this morning.

I got into a conversation with an Israeli journalist yesterday in Las Vegas at the computer conference I attended. The subject of Mother’s Day came up. He was staying in the States for a second conference, so he would be here for the holiday. But he was confused about it. His English was not fluent. We could not translate “Hallmark Holiday” into terms he could comprehend.

According to a Wikipedia article, a certain Anna Jarvis began campaigning in 1905 for a day to be set aside as a national holiday in commemoration of her mother–a Civil War peace activist. Some states began recognizing it by 1908. President Woodrow Wilson signed a proclamation in 1911 setting Mother’s Day as the second Sunday in May.

But it didn’t take long….

Although Jarvis was successful in founding Mother’s Day, she became resentful of the commercialization of the holiday. By the early 1920s, Hallmark Cards and other companies had started selling Mother’s Day cards. Jarvis believed that the companies had misinterpreted and exploited the idea of Mother’s Day, and that the emphasis of the holiday was on sentiment, not profit. As a result, she organized boycotts of Mother’s Day, and threatened to issue lawsuits against the companies involved.

Gee, sounds like Christmas all over again. And Easter. And Father’s Day (well, maybe not so commercial, you can’t buy for men, you know). Did you know Sibling’s Day? Grandparent’s Day? Groundhog Day? Ooops, I think that one is different.

It is certainly hard to maintain your focus on meaning in the midst of hype.

My mother passed away quite a few years ago. I still remember the last time I saw her alive. But my wife reminds me that she is the mother of my children, so I should remember and honor her. And I will. For the 17th time in the past 22 years, I’ll be overseeing the referees at a soccer tournament. So, I’m out of her hair and she can do as she pleases.

But, maybe dinner later.

And to my many international readers–perhaps you don’t have a national holiday, but you could still take a day and do something special for your mother.

You Get It, You Give It Away

April 11, 2017

In the world of Website design and business, the best model is the Google model. You go to Google, and it sends you away. Yet, you return. Only to be sent away again. And they make a profit. A large profit.

Have you heard of the two “seas” in Israel? There is the Sea of Galilee and the Dead Sea. Guess which one gets water in and then sends it on its way.

Right. The Sea of Galilee is fed by mountain streams. Then it send water southward via the Jordan River to the Dead Sea. Where it stops. The Dead Sea is in one of the lowest places on Earth. Everything goes in. Nothing goes out.

The Sea of Galilee is a vibrant place for water sports and fishing. I’ve eaten fish along the shore. Great place.

The Dead Sea  supports no life. It is so mineral dense that you cannot sink if you go in. You float.

The Dead Sea is shrinking. All the water from the Jordan flows in, and nothing goes out, yet it is shrinking.

These stories are just like us. If everything is about me, if everything comes in to me, and nothing goes out, well I shrink. Emotionally, spiritually.

Thinking first of others before ourselves actually increases our own happiness. Teenagers who serve, whether they want to or not, live better lives, suffer less depression, and are more prone to be servers throughout their lives.

You’ll never deplete your supply of love by giving it away. Hoard it to yourself, and it will shrivel and die.

And The Foundation Of My Faith Is…

April 6, 2017

We received a solicitation for donation recently. In order to stir up our passion and cause us to open our bank account to them, the solicitor assured us that the foundation of their faith was [pick the religious/political topic du jour].

Well, we decided right there that this Christian organization was not going to be the beneficiary of any more of our money.

You see, the foundation of our faith is Jesus. We are followers of Jesus who lived, died, and lived again.

I know, that’s too simple for some people to understand. They want more rules. More ways to separate “us” from “them”.

In the eyes of that organization, I am proudly “them”.

They hit me just as I was studying Paul’s advice about how to live in community as a follower of Jesus.

Let us therefore no longer pass judgment on one another, but resolve instead never to put a stumbling block or hinderance in the way of another.

I ask and pray daily, why do we continue to do these things? Why keep trying to divide? Why put stumbling blocks and obstacles in front of people? Do they think that more people will become followers because of such hard-hearted attitudes? Or, do they care more about making points than living with-God?

The early church grew because people looked around and said, “I want what they’ve got.” Today, people look at the Christians who get all the publicity and say, “I don’t want that.”

The question is not “do you agree with me” but rather “how can I serve you.”

What a Jesus-Follower Look Like

April 4, 2017

I’ve been writing at the beginning of the year for several years that we should determine who we wish to be, what sort of person we want to become, and then choose actions and attitudes that support that outcome. Many people think this is far better than some of the Resolutions or goals that people make.

The last 13 verses of chapter 12 of Paul’s letter to the Jesus-Followers in Rome paint a great picture of what we should become. It’s like a list–and humans love lists. But it’s not like a checklist where you can compare your “score” with someone else.

Rather this is a description of a person.

I’d like to be that person.

9 Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.
10 Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.
11 Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.
12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.
13 Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.
14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.
15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.
16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.
17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone.
18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.
19 Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord.
20 On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”
21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
I know people who resemble this person. I wish more of them were inside the church rather than outside. I pray that there would be more people like this.