Sunday, June 23, 2013

Clutter, Clutter Everywhere

Reading: Matthew 6:19-21    
“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."

I woke up this morning thinking about clutter--rather the temporary disposal of it. By temporary, I mean removing it from view.

I'm just not a fan of clutter. I think it has something to do with claustrophobia; I don't like tight spaces and a bunch of clutter gives me the same feeling as being in a too tight spot.

So, this morning, after a fruitful weekend of cleaning and hauling various treasures and trash to the Goodwill and the dumpster, I woke up thinking about how to take on the next batch of clutter.

How or why do we accumulate so much stuff? I have no clue.

When I was younger, I tended to be much more cluttered--just ask my mom. My bedroom was cluttered to say the least. I didn't throw much away; it all held some fun memory, so I thought I needed to keep it. Happily, as my mom predicted, I passed through that teen-age phase of hanging on to anything and everything and got pretty much clutter-free. Nevertheless, living in the same house for 20+ years tends to invite clutter, no matter how vigilant we are. So, every once in awhile, I take on the role of anti-clutter ninja and clutter becomes enemy #1.

The reading today tells us to not get too carried away with these earthly "treasures". And it's right--they do tend to rust, break down, and lose their initial enticement. It's that temptation to buy more, more, and more rather than help a neighbor--near or far away--with our limited resources that gets us in hot water. "For where your treasure is, there you heart will be also."

So, the next time I'm out and about and I'm thinking that whatever it is I'm looking at would be just great at our house, I'm going to do my best to remember today's reading. Uncluttered home--uncluttered mind. Sounds great!

Peace be with you.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

OUR Father...

Readings: Matthew 6:9-13, Luke 11:1-4

Happy Fathers Day to all the dads out there. Traditionally, this is the day of bad ties, naps in the hammock, and adoration. Dad is in the a dad should be. It's not an easy job. What, keeping up with kids' schedules, daily work duties, fix-its around the house,'s not for the weak.

Now, for a moment, think of OUR Father...who is in heaven.

He, too, has some kids to keep up with--frankly, the whole WORLD. And his kids are some doozies! We're enough to wear anyone out--thank God He IS our Father.

Repairs needed around the house? Look at what we've done to our "house"...this poor planet has been pummeled, polluted, and roughed up to the nth degree. We're not very good kids when it comes to keeping our house in a neater state then when we found it.

Bad gift? A tie can't hold a candle to the lousy gifts we've given OUR Father. Although we know what's right and what's wrong, we still don't do a very good job with honesty, we don't treat our "siblings" as we'd like to be treated, we don't share our toys, and we don't do a very good job of keeping in touch with Him. In short...we're kind of weak in the faithful kids department.

Dads in general don't get much extra rest--those occasional naps on the couch or a hammock or a special "sleep in" time some morning can be pretty nice, but we all know they're pretty rare. Now just think of OUR Father--it's only 24/7/365 that someone needs Him and is calling His name for comfort, assistance, or rescue. No hammocks in His world.

So, on this Fathers Day, when Fathers are honored in person or in memory, let's remember OUR Father who is in heaven and keep His name hallowed.

Peace be with you.

Monday, June 10, 2013

"It Was Never Between Them and You"

Reading: Deuteronomy 15:10--"Give generously to them and do so without a grudging heart; then because of this the LORD your God will bless you in all your work and in everything you put your hand to" (NIV).

We generally have a tendency to be concerned with what those around us think of us. We start hearing this as kids and it embeds itself in our minds and in our actions throughout our lives. We want to be accepted by others--it's human nature. All is fine with this, until it starts infringing upon our need to be, first and foremost, concerning ourselves with God's will.

Mother Teresa, one of the most loving and giving of God's servants in modern times, is quoted as saying the following:

“People are often unreasonable and self-centered. Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of ulterior motives. Be kind anyway. 
If you are honest, people may cheat you. Be honest anyway.
If you find happiness, people may be jealous. Be happy anyway.
The good you do today may be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway.
Give the world the best you have and it may never be enough. Give your best anyway. 
For you see, in the end, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.” 

How exhausting it is to try and keep unreasonable and self-centered people happy? How many hours have each of us spent thus far in our lives trying to accomplish the impossible by making truly unhappy people happy? How about from now on that we do as Mother Teresa suggests and forgive them for being as they are rather than falling into the trap of becoming unreasonable and self-centered ourselves?

While living our lives simply and practicing active kindness, we occasionally find ourselves being accused of having ulterior motives. We are caught by surprise. Upon further examination, the accusation against us of practicing something less than pure kindness may have little to do with our gestures and much to do with the soul of the accuser. Our true test--are we being true in the eyes of God? If so, all is well.

We've all been cheated, one way or another, in our lives. Our feelings are greatly hurt when we know we've been honest; how could someone do this to us? And when a friend or relative is the one doing the cheating, the hurt is all the deeper. Our consolation? God knows. We don't need to point out all the errors. We can, however, pray for those who find honesty a difficult task.

When something really nice happens to us, we might find ourselves floating along in a mood where the sun seems to be shining just a bit brighter and the birds are singing just a bit more on key. We catch ourselves smiling--what a great feeling. And then, out of nowhere, comes a cutting remark or an arrow of ill-will shot in our direction. What happened? Why do people need to bring us down from our happiness? It could very well be jealousy--nothing more. It's a truly "human" nature. Don't let it spoil your's not between you and them anyway, remember?

I once had a professor that asked the class how important we thought we all were. We weren't sure how to answer. He further suggested that to see just how important we were we should take a bucket, fill it with water, dunk our hand in it, swirl around liberally, and then remove it to see how big of a hole we left.'s the same with the good gesture we perform for others. It can quickly be forgotten by the recipient. It's the chance we take in being benevolent. We should, however, look for every opportunity to help one another. I do believe it makes God smile.

We work and work, practice kindness, give our best...and people continually ask for more. It's okay--truly it is.

When we work as a hand of God, we will naturally give without ceasing, practice kindness on a daily basis, act honestly, and accept the fact that we will probably never meet the needs and wants of our fellow men and women. And, at the end of the day, it's all okay.

"For you see, in the end, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.”