Saturday, May 26, 2012

Emotional Gifts

All of our emotions are a gift of God. Sometimes you're going to feel angry. Other times you will feel sad or grief. There will be times when you feel lonely, or any of the wide array of natural human emotions which are nowhere near being happy. You're a human being; you're supposed to feel those things when life takes a wrong turn.

In fact, the desire to be happy all the time, to avoid feeling those "unpleasant" or "unwanted" emotions, is what leads many people to use drugs to change how they feel. As a healthy human being, you know that it is okay to not feel happy sometimes. These feelings help you examine the circumstances you are in so that your can work out a new plan of action and make a change. You do not need to change how you feel at that particular moment your feelings will change as your circumstances change.

In fact when you feel unhappy, accept how you feel, make your peace with it, and know that this too shall pass. Your unhappy state of mind is neither your identity nor your permanent state of being. This is simply how you feel in this moment and you know that brighter feelings will come eventually.

Use your gift of the natural medicine of humor to ease your way through the rough moments in your life. You'll be amazed when you go back to review your journal to see that it all starts with a simple smile of knowing that the sun will return to light your life and bring joy.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Sanitized Death

 We have sanitized death to the point that people now die out of sight in hospitals or hospices. Sometimes family members are there but often it happens alone in the night. Then we quickly ship them off to the funeral home where when we next see them they have been cleaned, dressed and made to look as if they are but sleeping. In some cases their bodies are simply and quickly cremated and the ashes packaged for presentation.

Life is a process of dying from the moment we are conceived and we need to be aware of and honor that process. Most of us know that we are mortal but think of that in the far distant future. Perhaps we try not to think of it at all. If we live to our seventh decade the future is all to clear and we can get a better feeling for the concept of our own death. Notice I said “If” and that if is a big one as accident or illness can take us quickly long before we are ready.

Being ready is a key element at any point in our lives. It is not just our own morality but also of those around us who may die with out warning. I am always aware of our gift of life and how precious it truly is. Make each day a blessing and make it count.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Religion Is Personal

My faith is a very personal thing and I do not want any government telling me how to worship or what to believe. Recently I have received hundreds of emails from well meaning friends telling me [note not asking but telling] to write President Obama and congress telling them that this is a “Christian Nation.” They also want me to pass the message on to all my friends. It would seem that there is a campaign afoot.

I do not think that they understand the term “Christian Nation” or they would not send those emails. While we are a country whose citizens are predominately members of the Christian faith, we are not now nor have we ever been a “Christian Nation” and as a Christian Pastor I do not want us to be so.

The term “Christian Nation” denotes a country that has established an official relationship with a Christian .denomination. England is a “Christian Nation” because it has established an official Church/State relationship with the Church of England. Queen Elizabeth is officially the head of the Church of England. Spain is a “Christian Nation” because it has established an official Church/State relationship with the Roman Catholic Church.

Our founding fathers established this country as one that provides its citizens with total freedom of religion with a clear separation of church and state. One of those founding fathers, Thomas Jefferson, wrote, “It does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods or no god. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.” We are a country that is in fact very religious. Almost every religion in the world has believers living here. Even though our money states, “In God We Trust”, we leave it to each religion to define the term ‘god’. It does not say Christian God, Jewish god, Muslim god, Hindu gods or Mormon god. Those who don’t believe in any god are free to ignore the term altogether.

As a Christian Pastor, I believe that the separation of church and state has been a major blessing for the Christian faith in America. The church is stronger because it has not relied on the government for support or recognition. With great wisdom the founding fathers placed in our constitution the first amendment:

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

We have always had other faiths than Christian in our country and their rights to freedom of religion have been respected here. They too are better off because of our great freedom of religion. All of our more than three hundred denominations of the Christian faith in the USA have been blessed and their rights of freedom of expression in the practice of their faith are respected. That would not be true in a country where a particular religion has been established as a state religion and it is the only one allowed. Think about it folks we do not want the government telling us what church to belong to, not even my church. Nor do we want the government collecting a “church tax” from everyone and giving it to some “established” church that is state approved. Religion is very personal, let’s leave the state out of it altogether.