Sunday, July 29, 2012

21st Century Leprosy

Readings: Proverbs 4:10-23, Galatians 5:16-24, Luke 17:11-19

Leprosy--the mere mention of the word makes us shiver. Though it still exists in our world, it is not nearly as prevalent as during Biblical times. Those with the disease during ancient times were shunned and sent to colonies where many times they would die rather than receive healing--the medical answers weren't available as they are now.

As I was reading through Proverbs, Galatians, and Luke, it occurred to me that leprosy is still among us, albeit in a 21st century form. Many are ill; millions of people "just don't feel well" and look for every cure imaginable. We try new diets and take other extreme measures, we go on numerous and expensive vacations to relax, we get elective surgery to make us feel better. Yet the illness stays with us.

We have leprosy in the 21st century--it takes over our bodies; it takes over our souls. It has no intent of leaving. What is this horrific dis-ease? Greed. Entitlement. Envy. Impatience. Frustration. The need to be the best. An over-all lack of self-control. Many a person spends day after day in excruciating pain--all as a result of these "ailments". We have forgotten, as written in Proverbs 4 that "above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life" (23) and that we need to keep the words of God "within our hearts, for they are life to those who find them and health to a man's whole body" (21-22).

What is the cure for this 21st century leprosy? Taking the cure of the fruit of the Spirit which is "love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control" (Galatians 5:22-23). If we have our daily dose of developing our lives in these areas, we will feel the shadow of the illness of self-centeredness lift from our bodies as well as from our souls. Then, as Jesus told the thankful leper, we can "rise and go; your faith has made you well" (Luke 17:19).

Peace be with you.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Helping Our Neighbors

Readings: Zachariah 7:4-10, Galatians 3:16-22, Luke 10:23-37

Where I live, in the Midwest, helping one's neighbor is just plain the thing to do. We help people who need a ride when the car won't start, feed the dogs and cats and pick up the mail when they go on a little vacation, hold their hand or give them a shoulder when a catastrophe strikes. Who would we be if we weren't there to lend a hand or ear?

The Bible tells us in both the Old and New Testament that being a good neighbor is not only a good idea, but very much expected of us.

But what do we do when we expand the neighborhood? When the "neighbor" is a person who makes nothing but bad choices throughout life; when the "neighbor" is a person or family that isn't our color or nationality; when the "neighbor" is someone of questionable background? The Bible gives us an answer: "Do not oppress the widow, or the fatherless, the alien, or the poor. In your hearts do not think evil of each other" (Zachariah 7:10). A pretty tall order for us, don't you think?  Are these people deserving of our help if they're clearly not helping themselves? "Administer true justice; show mercy and compassion to one another" (Zachariah 7:9).

But aren't we supposed to encourage people to be good and do good? Won't helping them just encourage them to do the opposite? Don't we need to use "tough love" to encourage them to make them more independent? When we think on these terms, we've immediately limited ourselves to think on a level that is beneath the spiritual plane we've been called to use. "The scripture declares that the whole world is a prisoner of sin, so that what was promised, being given through faith in Jesus Christ, might be given to those who believe" (Galatians 3:22). That's our dose of tough matter how good we think we are, we're still all sinners. Only our faith in Christ will release us from these limitations--and once we receive more and more release, it enables us to become more of that good neighbor. As difficult as it is, we're truly called to look over, through, and beyond another's faults when offering aid or assistance.

It all pretty much gets summed up in the familiar story of the Good Samaritan. We remember that there was a man that was robbed, beaten, and left for dead along the road. Since he wasn't the "right" kind of person in many a man's opinion, he was ignored--until a Samaritan came along. He helped the man up, got him cleaned up and his wounds cared for, and made sure he had a place to stay until he regained his health--no questions asked. All was covered. Then Jesus asked, "Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hand of robbers?" (Luke 10:36)

"The expert in the law replied, 'The one who had mercy on him.' Jesus told him, 'Go and do likewise'" (Luke 10:37).

Throughout this week, let's all agree to be more of the example of the Good Samaritan; we don't have to agree with everything a person in need does, says, or in the way he/she acts. We do, however, have an obligation to "go and do likewise" in helping our neighbor.

Peace be with you.

Sunday, July 15, 2012


Readings: Isaiah 29:17-21, II Corinthians 3:4-9, Mark 7:31-17

In our world today, we're ovewhelmed with sound. Quiet is at a premium. Ask anyone who has ever had to deal with hearing aids and they'll tell you just how much noise and sounds there are in everyday life. Zeroing in a particular voice becomes nearly impossible with all the competing sounds. Add to the cacophony of voices all the electronics meant to "enhance" our life experiences and just about the only thing a hearing-impaired person wants to do is shut the batteries off in their devices.

Silence. Sometimes it is golden.

Today's readings, however, deal with a different kind of silence...too much silence. Deafness and muteness. And Jesus' wonderful, miraculous power to mix some mud with his holy gift of healing and the utterance of the word "Ephphatha!" which means "be opened" to a deaf and mute man, allowing him to hear the precious voice of Jesus and to give him verbal thanks (Mark 7:31-37).

This makes me think--at times, aren't we all in need of ephphatha? How many times do we turn the "deaf ear" to situations around us where we could be of some use? More importantly, how often do we turn that "deaf ear" to God's direction for our lives? We talk ourselves out of becoming involved, telling ourselves it's none of our business, it would require skills we don't have, etc. However, 2 Corinthians 3: 4-5 tells us "such confidence as this is ours through Christ before God. Not that we were competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God." If our hearts are true, God will lead us through whatever challenges we encounter when we practice ephphatha to others' needs.

So, today, tomorrow, this week...let's think about whether our hearing impairment is caused by our ears simply not working as efficiently as they used to or if it's really us choosing to not hear. And, when we need that boost of confidence, remember that "in that day the deaf will hear the words of the scroll" (Isaiah 29:8). No matter how much our physical ears don't hear, we'll always be able to hear the whispers of our loving God.

Peace be with you.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Ego be Gone

Readings: Daniel 9:15-19; Luke 18:9-14; I Corinthians 15:1-10

Since beginning reflexology training, I've spent a pretty good amount of time pondering on the idea of ego. Just as with any other God-given blessing, when one sees that she/he is actually helping another person feel better through one's actions, it's very easy for ego to creep in. After all, we're the ones making all this happen, right?

Wrong. So very wrong.

I have a good friend that I go to regularly for hands-on healing through cranial sacral therapy and viseral work. I think I feel good before a session; I leave knowing I feel better. One of the first things I noticed in our conversations after sessions was her hesitance whenever I would tell her she was doing a great job. She would simply say it wasn't her doing it. 

And now I understand. It's not her--she has beautifully humbled herself to be a vessel of God's wondrous power. Luke 18:10 tells us the "for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted." It gets very easy and tempting to start taking credit when someone feels better and wants to give you the all the credit for doing the work. But, if we did take that credit, the work would be greatly compromised. We would only be able to work within our range of power in helping others; it would be limited to only what our capacity for healing holds. 

Very limited indeed.

When we remove all ego from the picture and know that "but by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me is without effect" (I Corinthians 15:10), we become vessels of whatever goodness God wants to share with those receiving the sessions.

And God's goodness is without end.

Before giving reflexology to a client, I always send a silent prayer on that person's behalf for the mercy of well-being. I know that God is at the helm and only through the presence of Christ working through me as a conduit does the healing take place. "We do not make requests of you because we are righteous, but because of your great mercy" (Daniel 9:18).

It is indeed a humbling and spiritual experience to see someone feel better after being allowed to offer reflexology to them. I pray each day that Christ will always be with me and allow me to continue to reach others who need a sense of profound relaxation from the stresses of life. My witness to my savior is to humbly follow in his footsteps and be an instrument of his unending peace.

Peace be with you.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Simple Gifts...Miraculous Gifts

Readings: Jeremiah 7:1-11, I Corinthians 12:1-11

During this past week of 100+ degree temperatures and drought all around us,  one's thoughts quickly turn from all the wants of luxury and turn to the needs of basic precious gifts such as the relief of a breeze or a glass of water.

Simple gifts...miraculous gifts.

Perhaps this is a good time for us to look inwardly with a bit of introspection. Our excessive wants have somehow morphed into perceived needs. Yet are we any happier? Or are we endlessly searching, thinking that the next purchase or acquisition will help us find that elusive feeling of peace?

Our ultimate happiness and fulfillment peace is already with us...simple, yet miraculous gifts. 

Jeremiah 7:5-7 tells us "If you really change your ways and your actions and deal with each other justly, if you do not oppress the alien, the fatherless, or the widow and do not shed innocent blood in this place and if you do not follow other gods to your own harm, then I will let you live in this place in the land I gave to your forefathers forever and ever." It truly comes down to having one God and to loving our neighbors as ourselves. Simple, miraculous gifts we can give to one another.

Yet we're warned in verse 8 that "But look, you are trusting in deceptive words that are worthless." We're caught up in endless advertising that originates from unknown and uninterested sources with one solitary goal in mind--that we consume. As a result, we find ourselves in a loop...the Dalai Lama once gave the following answer when he was asked what surprised him the most about humanity: 'Man. Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies, have never really lived.'" We are given the chance to truly live and experience life--we just get too busy to accept the simple yet miraculous gifts.

Just what are these simple, yet miraculous gifts? I Corinthians 12:7-11 tells us: "Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. To one there is given through the Spirit the gift of wisdom, to another the message of knowledge, by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. All these are the work of one and the same Spirit and he gives them to each one, just as He determines." 

We are offered these simple, yet miraculous gifts--all we need do is accept and share with others.

Peace be with you.