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Musings 38, The Eyes of Love

The eyes of love start in the mirror. Perhaps this sounds narcissistic; we are not taught to love ourselves. Parents and others find and try to correct our faults. “I don’t like that outfit you are wearing,” or “You should comb your hair.” They do not want to be mean, but they want to see a more perfect vision of us. Often when we look into the mirror, we see a vision that needs correcting.

In the mirror freckles, pimples, wrinkles are magnified. Curly hair or straight hair, not just-right hair, add to gray, white, or no hair. It’s just not fair. But– there’s hope.

God is not aware of minor imperfections. God loves us as he made us. Now, I’m not saying we should not wash our face or comb our hair. We live outside the mirror, too. But perhaps we should look into the mirror and say, “I’m pretty great. I’m good. I get better every day, and I see me as God sees me, with Love attached.”

Being  grateful for our loving God and praising him for his handiwork returns his favor. God sees us through the eyes of love, and we are worthy of his love. Despite our flaws, our imperfections, we must love ourselves and distribute that love to others.

When we look into the mirror, the eyes of love stare back at us.

(Psalm 91: 10) 70 years are given to us. Some even live to 80. But even the best years are filled with pain and trouble.

(Romans 8: 38) I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love.

(2 Thessalonians 3: 13) Paul writes again- I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. In 2:3 he continues – Don’t let yourselves be fooled by what others say.

(Ephesians 4: 3) Be kind to each other, tenderhearted and forgiving, just as God, through Christ, loves you.

 

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Musings 37, Fear Not

Is it ever possible to live without fear? Today, after months of drought, it is raining. Not a gentle rain, but a major storm that beats down on the dry, burned hillsides and causes mud to slide down on hapless victims. News media give warnings, to take heed and prepare sandbags, or use plastic tarps to cover vulnerable areas. Stay indoors and off rain slicked roads. Use your fear to keep safe, we are warned. Fear is a natural reaction when we encounter something different from normal.

Courage is the antidote to fear. Consider Daniel who was thrown into the lion’s den. He did not want to go there, but he used his courage to confront the natural proclivity of lions and to keep them subdued. God was at his side, and God always helps when we face danger. I’m sure he must have told Daniel to proceed with caution and courage.

We need to stand up for what is right, or those who wish us harm will triumph. When the shepherds in the field saw angels, they must have been frightened, for the angels had to tell them not to be afraid. Fear is a natural instinct to protect us from harm. I think if I saw an angel, I would want to call the police. Maybe angels have a soothing presence that would overcome any fear of them.

There are answers to my fears in the Bible. Let me share some with you –

(Luke 2: 8-10) And the angel said to the shepherds, “Fear not, for I bring you good tidings of great joy. For unto you is born this day a savior which is Christ the Lord.”

(John 3: 5) Whoever believes in him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.

(Philippians 4: 4) Be careful for nothing (don’t be afraid of anything): but in all things by prayer and supplication let your requests be made known to God.

(Philippians 4: 13) and Paul continues, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

– and so can we. We’re stronger than we think, and have abundant courage with faith in God.

 

 

 

 

Musings 36, Night Light

My friend Mary is disturbed to see the Christmas trees littering the street for pick up before the New Year is here. “My family always left the tree up until after the Feast of the Epiphany on January 7th,” she told me. Sadly, the trees, bought at Home Depot and Target, are dry and falling. “Better to remove them before they ignite,” I mourned, but Christmas is not over. It is with us forever, and we must keep it.

I think of that night star, shining brightly over Bethlehem in joyful anticipation to light the path for the wise men. An editorial published in the WSJ has been reprinted for 69 years, since 1949. Written by Vermont Royster, the essay describes the darkness into which Jesus was born. A despotic ruler had stolen the light from the people. Tiberius Caesar was king of Rome, and the known world was held in bondage until God spoke again in David’s city, and an angel said, “I bring you glad tidings of great joy.”

Writer Royster concluded with Paul’s letter to the Galatians. “Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ has made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.” Paul, having seen the light on the road to Damascus, cautioned the Galatians to remember the sacrifice of Jesus and never give up the light of liberty.

And the star sparkled in the sky over Bethlehem like a jewel in the night. It is a symbol of God’s greatest gift, and it is real.

(Galatians 5: 1) Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ as made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.

(Galatians 5: 25, 26) If we live in the spirit, let us also walk in the spirit. Let us not desire glory, provoke one another or envy one another.

( Matthew 3: summary) And the wise men were summoned to Herod the King, and he told them to return when they had found the child. They found the baby, knelt down and worshiped him, but were told in a dream to avoid Herod and return to their lands by a different way.

 

 

Musings 35, Looking Back and Forth

Janus was a Roman god, and it is no coincidence that January was named after him, for January begins the New Year, 2018 and as the years creep on, they add up. Janus wears two faces, one on the front and one on the back of his head (wonder how he shaves?). He looks to the future and to the past at the same time. He was the god of doorways, going in and out and guarding the gates. On New Year’s Day we tend to look back and forth. What did the old year yield, and what will the new one bring? We are not prophets.

Each year brings a new request for peace on Earth, and each year we find peace has moved away again. Animosity, fear, suspicion, hatred rear ugly heads to new heights, and we are left suspicious and afraid. We see our differences magnified and our similarities ignored.

Inward peace and joy are difficult to maintain, but we see examples of goodness to remind us of possibilities. People working to help strangers, firemen risking their lives to save the homes of others, police keeping us safe, doctors and nurses.  When all of us work not only for ourselves, but for others, peace seems possible.

Predictions are risky – but, all things are possible with God when we submit and gratefully accept his love and extend it to others around us.

“Life has a way of confusing us, blessing and bruising us.” To your good health and happiness in 2018, and may we live together in peace.

(Isaiah 42: 9) “I will tell you the future before it happens.” (41: 27) “Look! Help is on the way.”

(1 Peter 1: 5-12 condensed) The prophets must have wondered what the Spirit was telling them about Christ’s miraculous coming and suffering, and his great glory afterward.

(Psalm 16: 11) God will show me the path of life. In his presence is great joy.

(Psalm 41″ 13) Praise the Lord, the God of Israel, forever and ever, who lives from everlasting to everlasting. Amen.

Musings 34, Light and Liberty

The star over Bethlehem sparkled like a jewel in the night sky and led the shepherds to where the Baby lay. When I neglect to switch on the night-light in the bathroom, I stumble around in the dark, confused and helpless. Once I fell down the stairs, cracking a few ribs. I am fearful and timid in the dark. So it was when Tiberius Caesar, king of Rome, held the known world in fear and bondage, and there was no light. The people were helpless and powerless.

Each year since 1949 (that’s 68 years!), the WSJ reprints an article written by Vermont Royster, describing the darkness that existed before Jesus. The despotic ruler stole the light from the people, leaving them afraid and helpless. Only a glimmer remained until God spoke again, and an angel brought tidings of great joy to the country shepherds abiding in the fields, saying, “for unto you is born this day a Savior.” (Luke 2: 11) and he shall bring peace and good will to all people.

Vermont Royster concluded with Paul’s letter to the Galatians, “Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ has made us free, and be not again entangled with the yoke of bondage.” Paul, having seen the light, cautioned us to look to Jesus and never give up the light of liberty.

If you missed this article, look for it next year. May we continue to live in peace and freedom.

(Galatians 5:1) Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.

(Galatians 5: 25 – 26) If we live in the spirit, let us also walk in the spirit. Let us not desire glory, or provoke one another, or envy one another.

(Matthew 3 – a summary) The wise men had seen the star, and as they were looking for the newborn king of the Jews, the wise men were summoned to Herod. When they found the baby they knelt down and worshiped him and then departed into their country by a different way.

Musings 33, Riches

The poster showed a well dressed woman leaving a chauffeur in her limo and entering a Tara-like villa. Written on the bottom was the message, Rich is Better, and I thought I know that, for I’ve been poor and I’ve been rich, and rich is better. But, I added, optimism and hope must be added to the mix, for both conditions are merely a state of the mind. Even without money, I never felt poor. This world abounds with riches.

New England poet, John Greenleaf Whittier, wrote, “If I of fortune be bereft–” and he urges us to spend the two dollars in our pockets, using one to buy bread and feed the body and the other to “buy hyacinths to feed the soul.” This nation is well fed, but is it soul starved? Certainly not at Christmas time when generosity and beauty abound, and the joy of sharing and giving shines.

Christmas cheer – family, friends, and strangers together celebrate the arrival of hope and joy, the baby who is God and King of heaven. We are all so much richer, for although he was rich, he became poor, and in his poverty he made us rich.

Like Scrooge, we can learn to keep Christmas in our heart all year, and be open to the joy of Christmas. We let the moths fly from our purses and joy flow into our hearts. Jesus knew that. Merry Christmas, everyone!

(Luke 2: 10) An angel said, “I give you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Messiah has been born.”

(Matthew 4: 1-4) Jesus was tempted by the devil. “Turn these stones into bread,” he said. Jesus replied, “Man does not live by bread alone, but by the word of God.”

(John 1: 12) To all who believe, he gave the right to be children of God.

And so we are born into riches and joy.

Musings 32, Obstacles

What an ugly word! It leers at us, packed with danger, frustration and worry. An obstacle stands in the way, a hindrance or obstruction; of course we don’t like them. They stand like rocks, blocking the path we want to pursue. They must be removed or circumvented. Clear the obstacles, and move full speed ahead.

Many obstacles exist only in our head. We were told we were not pretty or smart or lovable, and we listened, fastening the base opinions of someone uncaring in our brains and nurturing them. I knew some parents who refused to put their children in special education classes so they wouldn’t be with dumb kids or be labeled. They could not understand that the children in resource programs were smart or they couldn’t be there. A problem in learning something does not make a kid dumb. Consider Winston Churchill, he couldn’t get math even with specialized tutors and extra help. I could name dozens of others, but intelligence is not contagious. How quickly or slowly one learns can become a major stumbling block, an obstruction, or obstacle that can be ameliorated with specialized assistance. God gives us paths around obstacles.

We need to recognize obstacles in ourselves and others, and do our best to overturn them for a happy life.

God did not invent the obstacles in our lives. We do that ourselves, perhaps with the help of others. God gives us strength and wisdom to remove them. We can rely on his power to overcome our own sense of inadequacy. That’s a very good deal. We would indeed to be fools to ignore it.

(Psalm 59: 17) Unto thee, O my strength will I sing. For God is my defense and the God of mercy.

(Psalm 73: 23-24) I am with thee, O Lord, and thou holds me by the hand. You guide me with counsel and receive me in glory.

(Romans 12: 12) Rejoice in hope, be patient in trying times, and continue in prayer.