Are You Too Busy To Listen?

Are You Too Busy To Listen?

“Storehouses” – Extended.
Hoarding your
boxes and packing your bags.
Preparing like
luggage affixed with nametags.
What will it get you, Your storehouse of gold?
No matter how mighty, You’ll too grow old.
And down to the dust From which you once came.

Consumed 
all your darkness.
Love will remain.

Still you keep on and keep on, playing your game.
The more you control, you’ll victory claim.
And, all will know, “You’re living the dream.”
But, when it comes crashing down, what will it mean?

calm sky
Photo by Sindre Stru00f8m on Image Description: Sunlight breaking through clouds. Pexels.com

I’ve been thinking a lot about productivity lately. How we take and turn something intended to be positive and recast it in our own image. You can read a little about this in my previous blog post, “Where Will You Store Your Treasure?”

We are good at that, we humans. If we can control everything through our own efforts, we don’t have to rely on anyone or anything else. Sure, we might offer our words to G-d but to actually trust, especially in something we cannot see, that’s a different story.

That’s the myth of productivity. If I just work harder, I’ll get ahead. However, I’ve witnessed many people work hard only to end up on the short end of things. It’s easy to see if you’re looking. It happens all the time, actually.

Further, this notion of never ending work isn’t biblical either. I heard a message this week based on Luke 16:19-31. (Hat tip to Rev. Matt Kofahl of the St. James and Hope United Methodist Churches in Niagara Fall and Sanborn, NY respectively.)

The narrative tells the story of two recently deceased people; one rich, one poor. In a twist as shocking to the initial hearer of Jesus’ story as it is to us, it is the rich man who finds himself far away from G-d as the poor man is comforted.

Didn’t the rich man do everything right? By worldly standards, certainly, this is true. However, as the rich man cries out in agony he is told quite simply, “You received your good things already.”  (Verse 25)

On the other hand, look at the poor man, Lazarus. He couldn’t work. He couldn’t even get himself to the rich man’s gate. He was laid there! (Verse 20) It’s as if we have everything backwards in our human brokenness. Less is more.

I have to rely on G-d when I can’t rely on myself.

When you can do nothing, G-d still loves you because Love is not dependent on what you do. It’s dependent on G-d.

Back in the Luke 19 parable, the rich man begs for someone to warn his relatives only to be told as Jesus foreshadows his own resurrection, “If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.” (Verse 31)

The same message holds true for us. The only question is, “Are You Too Busy To Listen?”

Wherever you find yourself this day: Love Accepts You, No Exceptions. 
Peace Love and Acceptance

Where Will You Store Your Treasure?

Where Will You Store Your Treasure?

“Storehouses”
Hoarding your
boxes and packing your bags.
Preparing like
luggage affixed with nametags.
What will it get you Your storehouse of gold?
No matter how mighty, You’ll too grow old.
And down to the dust From which you once came.

Consumed 
all your darkness.
Love will remain.

calm sky
Photo by Sindre Strøm on Image description: Sun breaking through clouds. – Pixels.com

Hey all!

I’ve been super sick for some time now. I hope to be back on a regular writing schedule soon. I appreciate your prayers and support. Please keep them coming.

In the meantime, I’ve been pondering the state of our world. The profit at any cost narrative and its accompanying notion that if you just work hard enough you’ll get ahead.

This, as I’m fond of saying, is bullshit.

Now, I’m not against working as you are able, but a person’s defined worth is not based on their productivity. Your worth is inherent. Read the Bible.

In fact, you don’t even need to read your preferred holy writing.
Use Google. It’s talked about a lot.

Sadly, I am still too sick to dig in with any depth for now, but this is a narrative put in place by those at top to keep you right where you are now.

You can work for them or you can die. From a disability point of view, this is what brings about the super-crip or die scenarios where one can either overcome their disability or it is a fate worse than death.

However, what if this is a lie? What if the reverse is true?

What is Love really is about expanding the circle until everyone is included?
(Matthew 22:36-40)

Maybe Jesus was right when he said you can’t serve G-d and money.
(Matthew 6:24)

Your hoards of gold might shield you for a time but this is temporary.

Until next time friends, live, be well, and don’t forget: Wherever you find yourself this day, especially if you are on the margins, Love Accepts You, No Exceptions.

Thanks, again for the prayers!

Peace Love and Acceptance

Why I Won’t Agree to Disagree But I Will Try to Listen

Why I Won’t Agree to Disagree But I Will Try to Listen

I hear a lot today about agreeing to disagree.

You know, “I see it this way. You see it that way. We’ll just agree to disagree.”

Sorry, I can’t do that. 

As my friend and great social-minded theologian, Samuel Mudge said recently,

“Agreeing to disagree doesn’t work for a whole lot of people because sometimes, two people are discussing something that is an abstract idea to one, and life-and-death to the other.”

Think about that for a second. I’ll use my most personal examples for clarity.

Not having access to plastic straws might kill me.

Doing away with healthcare protections might kill me.

Using mental health or other disabilities as your excuse because you don’t want to talk about guns or other issues might kill me.

That’s how it works.

The same is true when you endorse leaders who overtly or covertly use their power and systems as a means of oppression, exclusion, and hate.

They aren’t all created equal. People are dying! 

I will say this. We do need to listen to each other more.

I do believe most of us are not as far apart as it seems. Outside the top few, the people from the middle down are all being squeezed economically and otherwise.

Let’s work together to answer these more difficult questions. Maybe life isn’t supposed to be completely found in easy answers.

agree agreement ankreuzen arrangement
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

We’ve lost our ability to sit across from each other; to hear each other, and to listen to our individual and collective pain. 

This isn’t a suggestion of mere tolerance. I’ll fight as long as I can against racism, ableism, and any other form of oppression, exclusion, and hate.

Inclusion is a table of equity and justice especially for people on the margins. 

That’s what Jesus’ ministry is all about. He restored people to equitable, just community.

This isn’t an over-simplified version of love the sinner, hate the sin. 

That’s just a slight modification of agreeing to disagree with a dash of power mixed in. That’s what got us here.

It’s just a reminder to listen because the cycle will never stop if we don’t do better. 

I hope you’ll join me.

Wherever you are this day: Love Accepts You, No Exceptions.

Peace Love and Acceptance

 

 

 

Give Me Liberty, Immigrants, Cripples, and Jesus!

Give Me Liberty, Immigrants, Cripples, and Jesus!

What you believe about the Statue of Liberty, immigration, disability, and our current US administration tells me everything I need to know about how you feel about Jesus and how you feel about me.

There has been a recent change to the immigration policy in the United States. It states that whether a person is admissible to the United States or not will be based on his or her likelihood of becoming a public charge at any time in the future, as set forth in the Immigration and Nationality Act.

The expressed goal is “to ensure that aliens seeking to enter and remain in the United States — either temporarily or permanently — are self-sufficient and rely on their own capabilities and the resources of family members, sponsors, and private organizations rather than on public resources.” 

Great, right?! Except how can you know? Beyond the obvious discrimination of people with disabilities like me, many of whom are fleeing violence, etc., it could be YOU at any time. Becoming disabled can and does happen at ANYONE. Further, if you live long enough you will almost certainly become disabled. Bodies don’t last forever without breaking down.

So, what does this mean? Unless you are super rich and elite, keep out? That’s sure what it seems like. What about Medicare? If you enter the country at a younger age and never need any public assistance, something you cannot know unless you are super rich, will you be eligible later in life? Does this exclude someone from coming to this country too? It’s a moving target.

Quite simply, we are moving toward eugenics. This should scare you into action! 

I know it won’t. I’ve been around nondisabled people long enough to know how little they think beyond their immediate concerns. You just don’t see yourself as me.

This is why we have a long history of locking away our disabled and elderly people. If you don’t see them, you don’t have to believe you will be them. You are wrong!

Speaking of long history, our current US administration recently stated that the words on the Statue of Liberty were for immigrants coming from Europe too.

I know, racism, shocking… Except, you should be shocked! You should be shocked into action against this administration and its policies. You have a voice. Use it!

worms eye view photography of statue of liberty
Photo by Jamie McInall on Pexels.com

Read more on both these things here or just look at the news or use a search engine. If you are uniformed or unshocked, you may be the problem.

Furthermore, any notion that you can support this administration while calling yourself Christian or pro-life is a farce.

(Admittedly, I’m afraid to make this connection not because it is untrue, but because some have used this as justification to say the Church should be charged with charity, healthcare, and supports instead of the government.)

Frankly, you are not just wrong, the Church is pretty bad at these things. Feel free to ask me about accessibility.

That’s just it. These people claim to be Christians yet the sit in direct opposition to Jesus.

In case you haven’t looked in a while, he takes the powerful in this world and turns them, and their systems, upside down. I mean, Jesus literally tells the rich guy to sell all his stuff and give it to the poor. (Matthew 19:21-22)

Look at the Beattitudes (Matthew 5:1-11)

For Christ’s Sake (Literally) The first Christians lived as a commune. (Acts 2:44-47)

Maybe that’s why the Church is dying.

As for the rest of it, what you believe about the Statue of Liberty, immigration, disability, and our current US administration tells me everything I need to know.

Wherever you are this day: Love Accepts You, No Exceptions.

It also seeks justice and inclusion for the people on the margins; even those least like you. Jesus talks about that too.

I’ll let you look it up if you don’t believe me because, “Carry your own weight,” right?

Peace Love and Acceptance

Notes: 1. Uscis.gov, 2. USA Today – 8/13/2019, 3. Biblegateway.com

 

 

 

Are You Hiding Behind Your Smile?

Are You Hiding Behind Your Smile?

“My Sanguine Shell”
Sanguine
Shell
Fake

Pain
Anxiety
Depression
Regression

Rudderless Ship
Assailed by Stormy Seas
Wave Battered
Sinking
No Release

SOS
Drowned
As Smiles Abound.

 

photo of thunderstorm
Photo by Rodrigo Souza on Pexels.com

“And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.”Matthew 16:18

Do you ever wonder if others can really see you; not just what’s on the surface but underneath? It probably doesn’t happen most of the time. We’ve become good hiders.

That’s what I love about the dynamics between Jesus and his disciple, Peter.

Peter gets it wrong as much as right. He sinks in water instead of focusing on Jesus. He goes around chopping off ears. Still, Jesus sees and loves him. He sees the possibilities behind the fearful surface Peter exudes.

That’s the heart of God. It does the same for us. It strips away all the coverings of brokenness and finds the good underneath. Yet, I still wrestle with this.

I know God can see me completely, but I still cover it up. Talk about hubris.

I hide my true self from others too. Vulnerability is scary. They won’t accept me if they know my weaknesses.

Except, we all have weaknesses. Some of us might be better at hiding them but we all have weaknesses, fears, insecurities, and shortcomings. So, what if we didn’t hide them?

Maybe we’d all be better off if we were a little more honest with ourselves and each other. Maybe, we could engage in meaningful conversation and begin to break through all our divisions.

I don’t think it’s easy. Being vulnerable might be more difficult for us than building equitable systems and relationships and, frankly, we are pretty bad at both these things.

However, since I have to start somewhere. Maybe this change starts with me.

I hope you’ll join me in building coalitions of love, justice, vulnerability, and equity. In doing so I believe we are truly being faithful disciples of Jesus.

What do you think?

God, you see my heart.
You know my
hurts and pains.
You sit with me in my brokenness and comfort me.
Use me as you will to be open to the hearts of others.
Help me be open too that I might sit with them and together we might know your peace even amidst sadness and uncertainty.
May this be my p
rayer.

Amen. Wherever you are this day: Love Accepts You, No Exceptions.

Can I Cage My Neighbor’s Daughter?

Can I Cage My Neighbor’s Daughter?

The believer asked Jesus, “Who is my neighbor?” Jesus told this story.

A brown skinned man was sitting in front of his house when ICE appeared.

He was grabbed, separated from his family, put in overcrowded cages with unlivable conditions, and left. His wife and daughter were separated, likewise.

His young daughter was forced to sleep on concrete. Wondering, what no child should ever wonder, “Where are my parents?”

She cried out to God, “Please help me!”

1537297551199-privateprisonmoney

A prosperity gospel believer heard about this. But, he had to envision a better life for himself. He’d like to help. Maybe someday he would. He just couldn’t today.

A pro-life believer heard this news too. But, he had to be consistent with his beliefs.

“I have to defend the defenseless,” he thought. Once moral order is restored, surely, everyone will be ok. All they need to do is wake up and understand like he does.

So, he did what he always did because he knew best.

An orderly believer heard this news too. Surely, he would do something. He found these conditions most unacceptable. He even wanted to help.

“Still,” he thought, “There are good and bad people on both sides.”

He was taught to follow the rules; to work with people. He loved everyone.

So, he waited for the right time. Maybe others will see a better way in his example and change. It isn’t complacency, it is quiet witness.

Finally, there was one last person who heard these things too. A skeptic at best, an atheist at worst.

He wasn’t as together as the first three folks. He was sort of unkempt. He was brash and often joked with his friends, “If I came into church, the walls would fall down.”

Yet, he knew he couldn’t be quiet. People are dying!

He had a young daughter. He wept openly whenever he thought of her alone should he ever feel the need to flee whatever issues were so untenable. Things he couldn’t know or imagine about these other people’s lives but that didn’t matter so much when he looked into her eyes.

He just saw images of scared, abused, people. He saw children. Children like his daughter. So, he did what he could.

He spoke up. 
He refused to be complicit by his silence.
He even protested at great personal risk. 

Mostly, he vowed to fight for change with his voice, his vote, and his actions.

He’d do whatever it takes to stop these things and make sure they never happen again as long as he could help it.

Whatever his actions did or didn’t accomplish, ultimately, he’d do everything he could to protect, defend, and treat others as he would want to be treated.

“Which person do you think followed my commandment above all others to love God and neighbor?” Jesus asked, “Which person do you think followed me?”

“Go and do likewise.”

Love Always Includes Justice. 

Wherever you are this day: Love Accepts You, No Exceptions.

Peace Love and Acceptance

Note: This story is based on Jesus’ parable of the Good Samaritan from Luke 10:25-37.

My Wife is No Saint

My Wife is No Saint

“My Heart”
Beneath the surface my heart beats full with thoughts of you
In accepting me just as I am, my life was made anew
You didn’t change me, yet I did
Because love has a special way
Of growing something greater still
Each and everyday

60343616_10213935778689266_1085663940249124864_n

Today is my 10 year wedding anniversary.

On one hand, just like any man, I wonder how my wife puts up with me? On the other hand, she puts her pants on one leg at a time just like I do.

It’s true, I’m just a man. As I coined jokingly at church, “I’m just a man, she can’t expect much.”

Come on, guys, we all know women have the hardest job in relationships.

Her ability to keep going is amazing. Her resilience rivaled only by her heart. Heck, if I get the sniffles, I’ll claim to be dying in a whimpering voice.

You know what doesn’t enter into our relationship? My disability.

If my wife got a nickel for every time someone sainted her for being with me despite my disability, she’d have a lot of nickels!

Just last week, a neighbor approached her sympathetically telling her how difficult it must be to be with me. …The neighbor approached her.

My wife doesn’t seek sympathy just like I don’t seek the latest miracle cure.

This neighbor even closed their conversation, as my wife deflected this line of logic with, “Well, if you love somebody, I guess things don’t always seem so bad.”

I might be difficult to live with some days. But, again, that’s not disability related. On the contrary, we live remarkably ordinary married couple lives.

Yet, it happens again and again, the sad nods to my wife as others pass by.
(Don’t worry. These comments and gestures mostly go over my head, literally.)

That’s if they think we are together as a couple at all. Oftentimes, people assume she’s my caretaker. 

They’re stunned to find out I was married before. Not only that, I brought my now 12 year old daughter into our relationship.

So, here we are, 10 years in.

I love my wife and she loves me. We care for each other.

Not despite my disability, regardless of it.

Here’s to many more years regardless of the bodies in which we live. 
Peace Love and Acceptance