Hope for 2019

The new year is just a few hours away and you may be one of the many who are celebrating the end of 2018. It’s not wrong to celebrate being done with something that was less than awesome, but it’s better to celebrate what’s ahead. You should never celebrate what’s done (and not great) with the enthusiasm, longevity or passion that you celebrate what’s yet to come or the victories you’ve achieved.

So I’m going to celebrate what’s ahead, the new possibilities that are coming in 2019, the opportunities to change and grow, the people I will meet, the days to enjoy the world, the transformations of nature, the successes in business and relationships, the victories I will help bring about, the relationships I help build, the ways that humanity gets to grow, and the ways we get to support each other.

Every day brings with it choices we have to make. I would hope that you choose to enter into 2019 with hope, joy, confidence and an attitude ready to conquer whatever comes your way. To make 2019 a year that you lived and loved and dreamed to your fullest. To enjoy 2019 with new friends and old. To being a year of laughing more.

“Today I choose life. Every morning when I wake up I can choose joy, happiness, negativity, pain… To feel the freedom that comes from being able to continue to make mistakes and choices – today I choose to feel life, not to deny my humanity but embrace it.” Kevyn Aucoin

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What God Asks of Us

Recently I have been thinking about the plans that God has for our lives and how they all work out. So today I thought I would share some verses I came across about what God asks of us and calls us to:

To be forgiving: “Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.” Colossians 3:13

To live with honor: “If we live, it’s to honor the Lord. And if we die, it’s to honor the Lord. So whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.” Romans 14:8

To live with and show mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience: “Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.” Colossians 3:12

To do what is right, love mercy and be humble: “No, O people, the Lord has told you what is good, and this is what he requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.” Micah 6:8

To pursue righteousness and unfailing love: “Whoever pursues righteousness and unfailing love will find life, righteousness, and honor.” Proverbs 21:21

To be a servant: “‘The greatest among you shall be your servant. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.'” Matthew 23:11-12

The things God has called us to and asked of us aren’t things we have to do alone, nor can we, they all require that we work with others to make it happen. This week I encourage you to choose one of the things God has called you to and make it a part of your life.  God doesn’t ask us to do or be things without a reason, I pray that He reveals some of that to you as you work with Him this week.

The Simplicity of Love

This month one of the things we’ve talked about is simplicity, and when we think about that topic it’s often with regards to how we can simplify our lives. While there are some more things going on now than there were years ago, simply because we can get things done faster, I think the bigger change is in that we’re aware of all that’s going on around the world. So it’s not technically that there’s that much more going on, it’s that we’re aware of what’s going on in cities and homes around the globe, and not just in our little town where we live.

To an extent we see this with all of the traveling that was done in the Bible, because if the people who are the main characters in the Bible didn’t travel we wouldn’t know about all of the other people who existed with them. Jesus too touched so many people because He traveled to where they were. Yes, some came to see Him because they heard great things, but a big part of His ministry was going to the people where they were physically and meeting them where they were in their lives.

Aside from Jesus being the Son of God, people came to see Him for one big reason: love. While Jesus didn’t recommend or celebrate sin, He didn’t turn away the people who were sinners, especially those that the world looked down upon for one reason or another. Jesus chose to love them for not only who they were but who they were made to be. Jesus could give them the forgiveness they needed to move on with their lives as well as the love to help them break free from their past.

We aren’t able to do all that Jesus can, and I don’t think we have to. We just have to choose to live with love. When we choose to love others regardless of who they are or what they’ve done it gives us a greater chance to build a healthy relationship with them, and for them to see that not everyone is a judgmental jerk. It’s a simple and complicated as choosing love as your first emotion, feeling and thought whenever you are with others.

“Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.” 1 Corinthians 13:13

Taking Time to Listen

Given the events of the last week as well as the big meeting between two world powers happening somewhere half way around the world, today I thought we’d take a look at the words of Proverbs 8:33: “Listen to my instruction and be wise. Don’t ignore it.”

My heart hurts whenever someone chooses to end their life before God has determined it’s their time. The world lost two public figures last week to suicide, Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade. While we may never know what truly caused them to make that decision, many who choose suicide do so because they don’t have hope, don’t believe life could get better, don’t feel heard or have been so beaten down they can’t take it anymore. Statistics show that on average over 100 people choose suicide each day, which is a really scary number, and means there are thousands of hurting families out there.

The Bible teaches us that we should love our neighbors, that we should be giving and support each other, that we should look out for women and children, to trust that the God who knows the petals on a flower and all the creatures of the sea could look out for the little details of our lives, and that God has a plan for good for our lives. But these are not assurances that everyone knows because not everyone knows the Bible.

These aren’t just spiritual messages, they’re life messages. Anyone can love, listen and be compassionate, regardless of race, sex, age, location, or language. Are you taking the time to listen to the people in your life? To the ways they’re trying to help you and things they’re trying to tell you? I encourage you to choose love and compassion this week, to stop and listen when people speak, to make time to listen to what God is trying to tell you, and make time for those who are most important to you.

Faith, Love and Moms

With Mother’s Day just a few days away here in the US I’m thinking about moms, and maybe you are too. It’s not always easy to be a mom, and we don’t always give moms the credit they deserve for the amount of time and effort they put in to their kids. Even the 9 month commitment and accompanying sacrifices to carry a child is more than some of us give to things in our lifetimes. No, not all moms are great, and not all women are really cut out to be moms, and some moms need more help than others. There’s nothing wrong with admitting and recognizing that you’re not cut out to be a mom or that you’re in need of help, there are lots of people who are willing to help you and plenty of families who are great with kids and can raise the next generation.

So as I was thinking about moms, it got me thinking about the very complicated topic that love is. Love is so many things, it’s an emotion, how we describe relationships, how we describe others, something that can unite, something that can soothe, something that can hurt, a feeling and so much more. But one of the biggest things that love is, is a choice. Even in cases of love at first sight, we have to choose to love the other person, and choose to do the work that it takes to keep that love healthy and strong.

One of the most important choices moms make is whether or not to love their children. Sometimes that’s easier said than done, and moms have to make a choice to choose love, or something else. One of the most important qualities a Godly mother can bring to the table is not just an attitude of gratitude, but an attitude of love.  When she teaches, guides and even disciplines with an attitude of love, it creates a solid foundation for us to grow into the people God has create us to be, and gives her the strength to do it in a way that honors God.

It’s almost guaranteed that we’ll be hurt in our lifetimes, but if we have learned from the cradle to have faith in Jesus, how to be thankful and how to love, we’ll understand the importance of forgiving, have the foundation to be able to do it and be able to move on in our lives with love, confident in knowing that God’s got something better for us.  So this week, so a mom you know some love. Maybe it’s with a card or gift, or maybe just the gift of time and a visit from you.

Reality Reflection: The Legacy of Ireland

Today we’re celebrating St. Patrick’s Day, honoring the man who was later honored with the title of Saint, as well as remembering and celebrating all things Irish. As I’ve been enjoying learning more about the world of Ireland, celebrating my Irish heritage and appreciating the beautiful products they create, I have been reminded time and again about something that isn’t really unique to the Irish but is part of who they are: history, legends and lore. Whether you believe in faeries, pots of gold, leprechauns, luck or not, these stories have been passed down through the generations, and are a big part of the culture. Also woven in with the legends and lore are symbols that are iconically Irish like the Claddagh, trinity knot, and many knitted patterns like the basket, honeybee and cable stitch.

These symbols may not be only found in Irish culture and products, but all of them have a story connecting back to Irish history that is uniquely Irish and has remained tied in to Irish beliefs and lifestyles. For example the Claddagh is based in a story of a man who was kidnapped before he was to marry, learned to create jewelry while away from his bride-to-be and came up with the Claddagh design and presented her with that ring when he returned to her and they were married. Many other connections tie in with the land and work that people do like fishing, bee keeping, and basket weaving. And we can’t forget the clover leaf, which became an icon when St. Patrick used it to explain the concept of the Holy Trinity when he came to Ireland.

I think these stories, icons, symbols and legends do more than make Ireland a place tourists visit. I think in many ways the stories and rich history has given the Irish a leg up in life where the history of some other places and cultures has been a point of contention. The joy of finding 4 leaf clovers, looking for magical fairies and pots of gold, and believing in love that lasts has taught many Irish to have a better outlook on life, to respect each other more and have more faith. That doesn’t mean they don’t have challenges, bad days and problems, it means generally they’ve learned how to bounce back better and to keep the faith. It makes me very proud to be part Irish.

What do you appreciate about the Irish, or about your heritage?

Relationships of Love

Last week people around the US celebrated Valentine’s Day. It was an opportunity for couples to celebrate the love they have together, for individuals to love themselves, and for those who aren’t in a relationship but want to be to recommit to doing the work that will bring them to that other person. One of the things I’ve been reminded this month as we talk about love is that love is so much more than just one thing or one definition, and when it comes to God His love is more than we could begin to imagine or understand or describe.

In my devotions last week I read 1 John 4:12 which says: “No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us, and His love is brought to full expression in us.”

This verse says a lot of different things about love and God. First, we should love each other. Second, God lives in us. Third, God lives in us when we love each other. Fourth, when we love others we share God’s love for us with others. Fifth, we can only begin to experience God’s full love when we let Him in our lives and love others. It almost sounds like there’s a condition to God’s love, and in some ways I think there is. But what I think this verse is really saying is that God is all about the relationship. He doesn’t want to be that dude on the throne overseeing everything, the benevolant dictator. He wants to be in relationship with us, and He wants us to have healthy, loving relationships with others too.

I think it says something really powerful that God isn’t just about the relationship He has with us, but that He cares about the relationships we have with others too. Yes, the Good News is spread through people, but I am confident that God would get the message out in other ways if He had to, so it’s about more than just the Great Commission. God has more love in Him than we could ever imagine, love that works in countless ways and reveals God in exactly the way that we need to be spoken to in that moment. God doesn’t keep His love to Himself, He wants to share His love with us and for us to share our love with others. How will you share love today?