Blog Archives

Facing Our Prejudices

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“Imagine two people coming into your meeting. One has a gold ring and fine clothes, while the other is poor, dressed in filthy rags.

Then suppose that you were to take special notice of the one wearing fine clothes, saying, “Here’s an excellent place. Sit here.” But to the poor person you say, “Stand over there”; or, “Sit underneath my feet.” Wouldn’t you have shown favoritism?…

God chose those who are poor by worldly standards to be rich in terms of faith and as heirs of the kingdom. Don’t honor one and dishonor another…Love every neighbor as yourself.” Epistle of James

This selection of writings was read in worship this morning. They are from a letter tradition says was written by James the brother of Jesus.  It is a powerful reminder of how quickly we are seduced by outward appearances.  Folks that look nice, smell good, wear fashionable clothing with beautiful smiles seem to draw people to them while those without such amenities, too often, are shunned, looked past, avoided or treated as lesser than.

The word “favoritism” or “partiality” literally means “to receive the face.” In other words to look at someone and decide/judge whether or not they are worthy of our time, effort and lives.

True love doesn’t have conditions. Radical grace knows no limits. Sacrificial giving of ourselves is never dictated by the other.

“Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. That is not our business and, in fact, it is nobody’s business. What we are asked to do is to love, and this love itself will render both ourselves and our neighbors worthy.” #ThomasMerton

blessings,
@BrianLoging
http://www.thewannabesaint.com

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The Long (and Final) Goodbye

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Below is the final message I shared with my campus family today. It was a good and difficult time filled with memories, laughter and tears.

(Read the Long Goodbye, Part 1, The Long Goodbye Part 2)

Last week we spoke of Joseph, his father Jacob and how Joseph’s entire family came to live in Egypt. Joseph’s generation passed away followed by many other generations. In time a Pharaoh, who didn’t know the story of Joseph, rose to power. This Pharaoh came to fear and despise Jacob and Joseph’s offspring whom had multiplied greatly, became very numerous. The Egyptians began to worry these “outsiders” would someday take over the land. To keep this from happening Pharaoh took away their freedom made them slaves.

In the beginning of the book of Exodus God hears the cry of these descendants, now slaves, known as Hebrews and raises up a servant named Moses. God calls Moses to lead God’s people out of bondage into a new land, a new place where they could worship God and live in freedom.

However, even after God showed his mighty power through great miracles and made a promise the Hebrews would be God’s chosen people they would not listen to God. They would not trust God to do as he promised; lead them to a new place. These people complained about everything! They accused Moses, God’s servant, of not knowing what he was doing. They missed Egypt and wanted to go back. They grumbled in their hearts, became angry, doubted God in times of difficulty, and didn’t believe God could do what he promised. They could not move into God’s future promise because they clung to past familiarity.

Ultimately, their lack of faith, holding on to the past and fears of the future cost them dearly. God led them into no man’s land to meander aimlessly until the first generation died out. Instead it would be their children who would receive the benefits of the new land, the new place God had promised.

After most of this generation passed away a new one stood on the border of God’s Promised Land ready to go, to believe what the former generation could not. To journey on to this new place they had to leave the past behind, which included parents they had buried, places they were familiar with, lands they once called home and step into the next place God had prepared.


As they ready themselves Moses addresses them…

Deuteronomy 30 New Revised Standard Version & the Voice

Moses says;if you’ll follow your God, heart and soul, and listen to His voice and obey His commands and remember His regulations, which are written in this book.

11 What I’m commanding you today isn’t too difficult for you; it’s not out of reach.12 It’s not up in the sky, so you don’t have to say, “Who will go up into heaven and get it for us and tell us what it is, so we can obey it?” 13 It’s not across the sea, so you don’t have to say, “Who will go beyond the watery abyss and get it for us and tell us what it is, so we can obey it?” 14 No, the words you need to be faithful to the Lord are very close to you. They are in your mouth if you will speak of them and in your heart if you will treasure them.

15 Look, I give you two choices today: you can have life with all the good things it brings, or death and all the bad things it brings. 16 If you do what God commands you today and love the Lord your God; if you live as He wants you to, if you obey His commands, regulations and judgments, then you’ll live. He will bless you with a new place, give you a new land.

17 But if your heart turns away and you don’t listen, if you go astray and you bow down to other gods and worship them,18 then today I assure you you’ll be destroyed. You’ll not inhabit this place; this new land will not be yours.

19 The Lord is giving you the choice today between life and death, between being blessed or being cursed. Choose life, so that you and your family may live! 20 If you love the Lord your God and listen to His voice and always remain loyal to Him, for He is your life, then you’ll be able to thrive in this new place the Lord has promised you.

This must’ve been a bitter sweet time for Moses. He is 120 years old but is still very capable of leading. However, Moses is also human and flawed. He has made mistakes and God has revealed to him he will not be journeying with this generation to this new place. Moses accepts this and after addressing the people he anoints others to lead them where he cannot.

God does give Moses the assurances of his faithfulness by taking him up a mountain and showing him the new land, the new place God’s people will make their home.

Deuteronomy 34 New Revised Standard Version & the Voice

Moses climbed up from the plains of Moab to the top of Mount Nebo, to the peak at Mount Pisgah on the east side of the Jordan River across from Jericho. The Lord showed him the whole land that would be Israel’s territory: Gilead as far as Dan, all of Naphtali, the territory of Ephraim and Manasseh, all of Judah’s territory to the Mediterranean Sea in the west, the southern desert, and the basin in the valley of Jericho, the “city of palms,” as far as Zoar.

The Lord (to Moses): This is the land I promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob when I told them, “I’ll give this place to this generation. I’ve let you see it, even though you will not be going with them.”

So Moses, the Lord’s servant, died and was buried in a valley in the land of Moab. The children of Israel stayed in the plains of Moab and mourned for Moses, until the grieving period was over.

Today, in many ways, we are experiencing this story in the book Deuteronomy. It is a day of decisions. It is a time when we must choose this new way or choose to hold on to the past and what is familiar.

I have served this campus church for 5 ½ years and my history pales in comparison to some of you who have been at Lebanon Valley Nazarene much longer. I can only speak from my experience and from what many of you have shared with me. There have been some wonderful times and some rough times. Moments we’ll treasure forever and memories we’d like to forget! But God has always been faithful.

In many ways we have wandered in the wilderness for these past 8 months wondering where the path would lead us. Though unsure of the way we now stand on the border of something new and unknown.

The choice becomes; do we leave the past behind, the good and the bad, highlights and low times, beautiful and less desirable events and journey into this new place, or hold on to what was, complain, grumble, fear and miss the new thing God wants to do and is doing.

Crossing the border, going to this new place requires leaving some we love behind, familiar surroundings and a place we’ve called our home. It won’t be easy but life rarely is and God is always faithful.

In some ways I see myself as Moses in this story…give me time to explain before you start rolling your eyes and thinking; “The Pastor really does need this sabbatical if he’s comparing himself to Moses!” It’s in very small ways but I maybe sense what Moses was experiencing in this selection of text.

Like Moses, I have set the choices before you today and beg you to choose life.

Like Moses, I ask you to trust God and walk his way. He will not abandon the work of his hands.

Like Moses, I have had a group of leaders and supporters who have walked with me as I have led and who will go with you as we separate.

Like Moses, I stand on the border of this new and unknown territory but cannot go with you.

Like Moses my heart hurts today as I see my dear friends and loved ones prepare to continue on without me.

I wonder if Moses regretted his actions and hasty words which kept him from continuing the journey. I want you to know I regret not being able to do more to keep this campus church open and this from being our last Sunday. I am sorry I could not lead in such a way this could have been avoided and to keep this wonderful community whole and moving forward.

This deep sadness is tempered by God’s assurance that he keeps his promises even through the weaknesses and shortcomings of leaders. I stand here today seeing, though unable to experience, God’s faithful hand which will guide you and lead you to a new place filled with his blessings!

Hopefully, unlike Moses, I will not be buried here today but like Moses I can rest knowing God is faithful.

Today, in the midst of our parting and pain, let us choose to celebrate the future unknown and not cling to the old which is passing away.

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Psalm 145

The Greatness and the Goodness of God

I will extol you, my God and King,
    and bless your name forever and ever.
Every day I will bless you,
    and praise your name forever and ever.
Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised;
    his greatness is unsearchable.

One generation shall tell of your works to another,
    and shall declare your mighty acts.
The Lord is gracious and merciful;
    slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
The Lord is good to all,
    and his compassion is over all that he has made.

The Lord is faithful in all his words,
    and gracious in all his deeds.
14 The Lord upholds all who are falling,
    and raises up all who are bowed down.
15 The eyes of all look to you,
    and you give them their food in due season.
16 You open your hand,
    satisfying the desire of every living thing.
17 The Lord is just in all his ways,
    and kind in all his doings.
18 The Lord is near to all who call on him,

  He also hears their cry, and saves them.
20 The Lord watches over all who love him.

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Foolish Wise Men

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An excellent and thought-provoking quote.

My first reaction when reading this was to think of folks I have known to whom this quote succinctly applies. However, wisdom teaches to move past the shallow critiques of others and deeply consider if it is applicable to me.

Scary. To think we may acquire knowledge and not become wise. To spend our lives accumulating that which can enlighten our path and still live in darkness is disconcerting. How do we ensure we are not someone to whom the quote; “Men can acquire knowledge, but not wisdom. Some of the greatest fools ever known were learned men.” can be hung on our lives?

A good step is to move past our initial reactions, our first thoughts. When knowledge is given to us, do we assume it is meant for someone else? Do we allow it to penetrate or just see it as data, a piece of information to file away somewhere in our minds? Do we chew on it, as a cow continuously chomps on a clump of grass, turning it over and over, drawing out all the flavor, each bit of nutrients, letting it become a part of us?

Wisdom is not the amount of knowledge we possess but if this knowledge possesses us.

blessings,
bdl

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To Feel

“Those that will not hear must be made to feel.” -German Proverb

In a world of talking, screaming, singing, social updates, breaking news, attention seekers, televangelists, highlights, lowlights and naysayers, it can be difficult to speak a word much less hear one.

To hear deep calling to deep is to shut out the shallow voices which demand to be noticed. It is to center our attention on the still small voice that beckons. To seek to listen in this cacophonous life comes from the desire to feel. When we learn to recognize the words spoken in stillness, when the stillness touches us, then we can reach out and touch the world.

blessings,
bdl

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The Patience to Live Fully

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Patience is a hard discipline. It is not just waiting until something happens over which we have no control: the arrival of the bus, the end of the rain, the return of a friend, the resolution of a conflict. Patience is not a waiting passivity until someone else does something. Patience asks us to live the moment to the fullest, to be completely present to the moment, to taste the here and now, to be where we are. When we are impatient we try to get away from where we are. We behave as if the real thing will happen tomorrow, later, and somewhere else. Lets’ be patient and trust that the treasure we look for is hidden in the ground on which we stand.

Henri Nouwen, Bread for the Journey

There are days when Henri Nouwen speaks directly to me, this is one of those days and I hope his words touch some of you as well.

blessings,
bdl
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When You Fall

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I have a scar on my left knee that reminds me of the difficult task of learning to ride a bicycle. The scar is from a large rock I discovered when I fell on my grandmother’s semicircular, dirt & gravel driveway.

Once you learn how to ride a bike they say you don’t forget and so far, so good, but occasionally I still take a tumble. The bigger, faster, mountain bike I now ride is more fun but can also be more dangerous depending on what’s around the next curve of the trail.

Life is like riding a bicycle. Learning balance, staying upright, keeping your bearings, is hard and sometimes no matter how much experience you have you’re going to take a tumble.

Each of us bear the scars of this wild ride called life. It seems about the time we think we’ve figured it out is about the time we take the next spill. When, not if, we fall what do we do? We get up. We might be dirty, bleeding, hurt and tempted to quit but we refuse to surrender.

from The Lion in Winter:

Prince Geoffrey and Prince Richard are confined in a dungeon, the end seems near as their father, the enemy, approaches:

Richard: He’s here. He’ll get no satisfaction out of me. He isn’t going to see me beg.
Geoffrey: You fool… as if the way one falls matters.
Richard: When the fall is all that’s left, it matters a great deal.

blessings,
bdl

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A Bad Idea?

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This is either going to be a huge success or an unmitigated disaster! 

Ever put two things together and bad things happen? Two good friends, you know will hit it off, end up not liking each other? A blind date which goes horribly wrong? Hired for your dream job and it ends up a nightmare? Vacation with family…

Not everything goes together, not everyone gets along.

Last night, on my way to the campus, I was thinking about a new situation I will soon find myself in. It will combine people and places I love but there is an uneasiness in regards to putting it all together. This uncertainty of mixing several ingredients and what will result had me feeling apprehensive.

However, after more reflection, I realized my anxiety was in not being able to predict the future. I do not have the ability to foresee if the upcoming situation will be a success or failure, good or bad, mistake or sound decision.

What I can do is allow the path to unfold in front of me, walk it, and carry as little baggage of expectation and worry as possible. Wisdom tells me this is how we are to live life, always.

blessings,
bdl
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Fooling Anyone?

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It’s almost always the little things that give us away, tell on us, blab our secrets to the world and often at the most inconvenient times.

I wish we could capture the way we see ourselves in a photograph and the way others see us in another and then compare the two. Actually, it would probably be hundreds or thousands because different people see us differently.

Holding our picture and the other snapshots, looking at them, realizing we weren’t fooling anyone as much as we’d think or like, would we have the courage to ask; “what gave me away? what were my tells? what about me dispelled the illusion I was trying to cast?” We might be shocked by the answers.

We spend so much time trying to appear as something other than ourselves. Often we listen to inner and outer voices as they suggest, “maybe don’t do this, hide that side, avoid this behavior, hold back, be more assertive, insert suggestion/criticism here: _____.

What’s interesting is the way others see us is an illusion that’s based on their own upbringing, biases, desires, and ideas of what would make a “better you.”

No matter whose illusion we try to grasp, wisdom tells us it’s only a vapor. To know our true selves, the strengths, weaknesses, dreams and fears, to be content with not being perfect, nor striving to be, is to let go of that which we will never attain.

Look at the pictures again then throw them to the wind, you weren’t fooling anyone anyway.

blessings,
bdl 
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Polluted Picture

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See More Polluted Pictures

To find beauty in ugliness, desperate times, trashed relationships, polluted words and corrupt actions takes a certain kind of vision.

Most times, when our lives are inundated with the messes created by our and other’s choices, we tend to focus on what’s wrong with the picture. Our eyes get fixed on what’s spoiling our environment and believe only when it is removed will there be beauty again.

Mindfulness and wisdom teach us to accept the truth that life will never be perfect, pristine or picturesque.

Whether it is a situation or a someone, when an eyesore becomes all we can see we are unable to capture the truth of a beautiful life in an ugly world.

blessings,
bdl

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Comfort Food

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This morning I had breakfast with one of my favorite people. We talked about important things, laughed about silly things, ate good food, drank too much coffee, and had a good time.

My friend, as he almost always does, picked up the check. I texted him later and told him “thank you” for the food and the conversation, they were good the body and soul.

There is something about sharing a meal together. Most families, cultures and religions incorporate special times which revolve around the “breaking of bread.”

Just as food and drink are necessary for survival of the physical, also a sense of community, the sharing of lives, is needed for emotional and spiritual well-being.

We were not made to travel the path of life alone. Together we add flavor, sustenance and texture to this banquet we call existence.

blessings,
bdl

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Taking a Big Toll

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Okay, I must admit it, I have stood behind someone in a grocery store or in a line at Walmart and counted their items. I’m not proud of myself but they say recovery starts with confession.

Something in this gentleman snapped! Being 73 years old I would imagine there have been many times in his life where he stood behind a young whippersnapper who didn’t care they had too many items to be in the express lane.

As trivial a reason as 22 items instead of the suggested 20 for going to jail is, I believe the extra 2 we’re symbolic of much more. It’s the little things, after all, that get to us.

When the big problems come we dig deeper, find the strength and courage to do what needs to be done. Bearing up under great difficulty and hardship is sometimes easier than dealing with life’s everyday, ordinary, never ceasing nuisances.

If we aren’t mindful, at peace, possessing an inner stillness, sooner or later all of the aggravating, little annoyances, take a big toll.

blessings,
bdl
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Not One Person

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Interesting quote from John. If you were to watch certain television channels, listen to popular radio shows, or visit a myriad of websites, there is the sense that a huge portion of our population is intent on getting for free what others work so hard for.

Why are we so quick to believe what others tell us about certain segments of people, cultures and those of a certain social status?

Is it our own personal biases? A fear someone is taking what we think is rightfully ours? A need to blame others for our lives not measuring up to preset standards?

As long as we allow others to stoke the flame of judgement and suspicion in regards to our fellow man, we will not be able to let each person be their true selves.

blessings,
bdl

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Greater Good

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Isn’t this what we all want? A chance to do good? An opportunity, a moment, to not erase our past but to triumph over it?

We can be prisoners of past mistakes, choices, habits and addictions, defined by what we have done and not what we’re capable of doing.

It is only through being willing, like Henry in the story above, to jump into the muck of life, get dirty, make tough decisions and keep at it no matter what, that redemption comes.

In the end some may still see us as what we used to be but others will perceive the truth that all of us, no matter the bad we’ve done, are capable of even greater good.

blessings,
bdl

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Broken Promises

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I had the privilege of sitting next to a gentleman yesterday who was married to his wife for more than 60 years. I also had the privilege of officiating the funeral of his beloved in 2010.

As we ate lunch at one of his favorite diners I noticed even after all this time he still wears his wedding ring. Even after death my friend still keeps the promise he made almost 70 years ago.

Contrast this with the nypost.com story above.

In a world where broken hearts, broken engagements, and broken promises are the norm it’s good to know that there are those to whom the words; “I do” cannot be nullified even by the greatest of obstacles.

blessings,
bdl

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Rescued by Refuse

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I can’t help but wonder how many times this lady, or others from her building, complained about the trash piling up outside.

Did people bemoan to the building superintendent about the smell, the eyesore, demanding this pile of refuse be carted off as soon as possible? Yet in the end this mountain of junk saved someone’s life.

There are times when we have to deal with a lot of messiness. We wish our lives, the lives of family and friends, we’re more orderly, less smelly and didn’t seem to pile up right outside our door.

However, we never know if what we think of as junk might just be the valuable lesson which will save our or someone else’s life.

blessings,
bdl

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When Dogs are Barking

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Someone once told me that our minds are full of dogs and whichever dog barks the loudest is the last one to be fed.

Too often we feed our worries, bitterness, and ego.  They do, after all, bark the loudest. But it seems the more time, emotion, energy we feed them the louder they howl.

Like a dog chasing its tail are uncontrolled, barking thoughts. They threaten our sanity and mark other parts of our lives with their rancid scent.

Only when we break out the leash, discipline our thoughts, will our minds and lives be at rest.

blessings,
bdl
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Out of Our Own Pockets

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Seeing and complaining about  injustice is one thing, confronting and alleviating injustice at our own personal expense, is altogether different.

There are many things wrong with the world and to right them we must be willing to face persecution and give of ourselves so others can receive.

The path to a better tomorrow for everyone is forged through self-sacrifice today.

blessings,
bdl
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The Weight of Traditions

Here’s an interesting info-pic about different traditions celebrated by varying cultures around the world at Christmas…

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Traditions can be wonderful but they can also bring the heaviness of the past and a longing to live there. 

I recently finished my Christmas day calls & texts to family and friends. Some are doing well and others have had a rough 2013. Family members and friends separated by varying circumstances including death, traditions once highly valued now gone, have a way of making this day dreadful instead of joyful. I spoke to someone this morning who began to cry while saying she would “be alright in a little bit.” I told her not to make this day anything other than what it was, a hard one, and if the mourning of what has been is needed to get to what is and what will be, then embrace this season of change. 

Traditions are wonderful and should be cherished but when they change or cease, as all things do, maybe the gifts of acceptance and letting go is what we need to unwrap this year.

blessings of peace,
bdl
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A Visited Planet & A Selfish Death

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I told the following two stories tonight at our campus. They are wonderful and tragic, heart warming and heart breaking, fantastical and truly depressing. I followed them up with 2 selections of holy texts and a plea to meditate and reflect upon what they mean on a night such as this.

The following has become a tradition at our Christmas Eve service. The telling of the J.B. Philliips’ story titled “The Visited Planet.”

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Once upon a time a very young angel was being shown round the splendors and glories of the universes by a senior and experienced angel. To tell the truth, the little angel was beginning to be tired and a little bored. He had been shown whirling galaxies and blazing suns, infinite distances in the deathly cold of inter-stellar space, and to his mind there seemed to be an awful lot of it all. Finally he was shown the galaxy of which our planetary system is but a small part. As the two of them drew near to the star which we call our sun and to its circling planets, the senior angel pointed to a small and rather insignificant sphere turning very slowly on its axis. It looked as dull as a dirty tennis-ball to the little angel, whose mind was filled with the size and glory of what he had seen. 

“I want you to watch that one particularly,” said the senior angel, pointing with his finger.

“Well, it looks very small and rather dirty to me,” said the little angel. “What’s special about that one?”

“That,” replied his senior solemnly, “is the Visited Planet.”

“Visited?” said the little one. “You don’t mean visited by ——–?

“Indeed I do. That ball, which I have no doubt looks to you small and insignificant and not perhaps over clean, has been visited by our young Prince of Glory.” And at these words he bowed his head reverently.

“But how?” queried the younger one. “Do you mean that our great and glorious Prince, with all these wonders and splendors of His Creation, and millions more that I’m sure I haven’t seen yet, went down in Person to this fifth-rate little ball? Why should He do a thing like that?”

“It isn’t for us,” said his senior a little stiffly, “to question His ‘whys’, except that I must point out to you that He is not impressed by size and numbers, as you seem to be. But that He really went I know, and all of us in Heaven who know anything know that. As to why He became one of them – how else do you suppose could He visit them?”

The little angels face wrinkled in disgust.

“Do you mean to tell me,” he said, “that He stooped so low as to become one of those creeping, crawling creatures of that floating ball?”

“I do, and I don’t think He would like you to call them ‘creeping, crawling creatures’ in that tone of voice. For, strange as it may seem to us, He loves them. He went down to visit them to lift them up to become like Him.”

The little angel looked blank. Such a thought was almost beyond his comprehension.

“Close your eyes for a moment,” said the senior angel, “and we will go back in what they call Time.”

While the little angel‘s eyes were closed and the two of them moved nearer to the spinning ball, it stopped its spinning, spun backwards quite fast for a while, and then slowly resumed its usual rotation.

“Now look!” And as the little angel did as he was told, there appeared here and there on the dull surface of the globe little flashes of light, some merely momentary and some persisting for quite a time.

“Well, what am I seeing now?” queried the little angel.

“You are watching this little world as it was some thousands of years ago,” returned his companion. “Every flash and glow of light that you see is something of the Father’s knowledge and wisdom breaking into the minds and hearts of people who live upon the earth. Not many people, you see, can hear His Voice or understand what He says, even though He is speaking gently and quietly to them all the time.”

“Why are they so blind and deaf and stupid?” asked the junior angel rather crossly.

“It is not for us to judge them. We who live in the Splendor have no idea what it is like to live in the dark. We hear the music and the Voice like the sound of many waters every day of over lives, but to them – well, there is much darkness and much noise and much distraction upon the earth. Only a few who are quiet and humble and wise hear His Voice. But watch, for in a moment you will see something truly wonderful.”

The Earth went on turning and circling round the sun, and then quite suddenly, in the upper half of the globe, there appeared a light, tiny but so bright in its intensity that both the angels hid their eyes.

“I think I can guess,” said the little angel in a low voice. “That was the Visit, wasn’t it?”

“Yes, that was the Visit. The Light Himself went down there and lived among them; but in a moment, and you will be able to tell that even with your eyes closed, the light will go out.”

“But why? Could He not bear their darkness and stupidity? Did He have to return here?”

“No, it wasn’t that” returned the senior angel. His voice was stern and sad. “They failed to recognize Him for Who He was – or at least only a handful knew Him. For the most part they preferred their darkness to His Light, and in the end they killed Him.”

“The fools, the crazy fools! They don’t deserve —-“

“Neither you nor I, nor any other angel, knows why they were so foolish and so wicked. Nor can we say what they deserve or don’t deserve. But the fact remains; they killed our Prince of Glory while He was Man amongst them.”

“And that I suppose was the end? I see the whole Earth has gone black and dark. All right, I won’t judge them, but surely that is all they could expect?”

“Wait, we are still far from the end of the story of the Visited Planet. Watch now, but be ready to cover your eyes again.”

In utter blackness the earth turned round three times, and then there blazed with unbearable radiance a point of light.

“What now?” asked the little angel, shielding his eyes.

“They killed Him all right, but He conquered death. The thing most of them dread and fear all their lives He broke and conquered. He rose again, and a few of them saw Him and from then on became His utterly devoted slaves.”

“Thank God for that,” said the little angel.

“Amen. Open your eyes now, the dazzling light has gone. The Prince has returned to His Home of Light. But watch the Earth now.”

As they looked, in place of the dazzling light there was a bright glow which throbbed and pulsated. And then as the Earth turned many times little points of light spread out. A few flickered and died; but for the most part the lights burned steadily, and as they continued to watch, in many parts of the globe there was a glow over many areas.

“You see what is happening?” asked the senior angel. “The bright glow is the company of loyal men and women He left behind, and with His help they spread the glow and now lights begin to shine all over the Earth.”

“Yes, yes,” said the little angel impatiently, “but how does it end? Will the little lights join up with each other? Will it all be light, as it is in Heaven?”

His senior shook his head. “We simply do not know,” he replied. “It is in the Father’s hands. Sometimes it is agony to watch and sometimes it is joy unspeakable. The end is not yet. But now I am sure you can see why this little ball is so important. He has visited it; He is working out His Plan upon it.”

“Yes, I see, though I don’t understand. I shall never forget that this is the Visited Planet.”

new-york-skyscraper-free-desktop-city-wallpaper-1024x640

This next story is ripped from the news headlines a few days ago…

The mother of a 3-year-old thrown to his death from a 52-story Manhattan apartment building said the father killed the boy — and then himself — out of spite.

Svetlana Kanarikov said in a statement that she had been nervous about her son’s visits with his father, and she initially wanted them to be supervised. But she relented after a Dec. 5 court appearance.

“The father never did anything violent against the child before,” Kanarikov said of the two previous visits in a statement issued Monday night through a lawyer. “Both times, Kirill was happy after seeing his dad. Skype calls were also going well.”

Police said Dmitriy Kanarikov threw the child from the rooftop of the building before jumping to his own death Sunday.

He had picked up Kirill at 10 a.m. Sunday at a Manhattan police precinct — a neutral site negotiated in advance by the parents — to spend time with him for the first time unsupervised.

The couple had been married four years and separated in August, and Svetlana Kanarikov said she had taken action after a domestic violence incident. Their split was acrimonious. In addition to Kirill, Dmitriy Kanarikov had wanted their house and other property, too, Svetlana Kanarikov said.

“He said he would take the child away and I will ‘shoot myself from grief,'” she said. “This was his sick way to take Kirill away from me.”

She said he had told his parents that he was taking the child to Grand Central Station but instead went to the building on the Upper West Side and killed himself and the child.

Officers responding to an emergency call reporting two jumpers from the building near Columbus Circle and Lincoln Center found Kanarikov, 35, of Brooklyn, and the boy on the lower rooftops of two separate nearby buildings.

The man was pronounced dead at the scene and his son, Kirill Kanarikov, was pronounced dead at a hospital, police said. A witness said the boy was wearing Christmas pajamas.

“Kirill was a very sweet, wonderful child, who was loved very much,” his mother said. “He will forever live on in my heart.”

Earth in Milky Way

Psalm 8

O Eternal, our Lord,
    Your majestic name is heard throughout the earth;
Your magnificent glory shines far above the skies.
From the mouths and souls of infants and toddlers, the most innocent,
    You have decreed power to stop Your adversaries
    and quash those who seek revenge.

When I gaze to the skies and meditate on Your creation—
    on the moon, stars, and all You have made,
I can’t help but wonder why You care about mortals—
    sons and daughters of men—
    specks of dust floating about the cosmos.

grace def

John 3

13 No one has ever journeyed to heaven above except the One who has come down from heaven—the Son of Man, who is of heaven… 15 all those who believe in Him will experience everlasting life.

16 For God expressed His love for the world in this way: He gave His only Son so that whoever believes in Him will not face everlasting destruction, but will have everlasting life.17 Here’s the point. God didn’t send His Son into the world to judge it; instead, He is here to rescue a world headed toward certain destruction.

Both stories above illustrate great truths.

The first and most obvious is that we are capable of inflicting great pain and hurt through our own selfishness and desire for power and control.

The second is we need something greater than ourselves to show us how to be greater. We need a hope that is greater than our capacity for depravity.

We are made, designed, purposed to live lives of light in a dark world. Only when we shine can others find their way.

blessings,
bdl
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I Thought You were Dead

tombstone

The NY Post has a story about a man who was injured by a falling tombstone.

Apparently he was “paying his respects at a grave in a Brooklyn cemetery and was hurt Sunday — when the tombstone suddenly toppled over on him.” Read the rest of the story here.

Most of us can relate to this story. Though we’ve probably never been trapped by a death marker we’ve had experiences with things we thought were dead and buried only to have them come back and cause us pain. Maybe it was a habit we tried to kick, a relationship assumed fixed, a careless word figured forgotten, a prejudice rarely seen or a betrayal we were sure we had gotten over.

Oftentimes it can seem that just when we feel we’ve moved past negative, harmful and hurtful events in our lives, ready to leave the past for dead, they have a way of coming back to haunt us. When this happen we begin to wonder if we have made any real progress towards becoming wiser, stronger and more mindful.

The answer is “yes.” Life’s journey is rarely a straight path. It has a way of leading us to places we have been before to remind us of what we’ve learned and to teach us new things.

Remember, just because the past comes alive again doesn’t mean you have to live there.

blessings,
bdl
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An Uncomfortable Blessing

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May God bless you with a restless discomfort about easy answers, half-truths and superficial relationships, so that you may seek truth boldly and love deep within your heart. 

 May God bless you with holy anger at injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people, so that you may tirelessly work for justice, freedom, and peace among all people. 

May God bless you with the gift of tears to shed with those who suffer from pain, rejection, starvation, or the loss of all that they cherish, so that you may reach out your hand to comfort them and transform their pain into joy. 

May God bless you with enough foolishness to believe that you really CAN make a difference in this world, so that you are able, with God’s grace, to do what others claim cannot be done. 

And the blessing of God the Supreme Majesty and our Creator, Jesus Christ the Incarnate Word who is our brother and Savior, and the Holy Spirit, our Advocate and Guide, be with you and remain with you, this day and forevermore.” – Saint Francis of Assisi

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