As Unique as your Fingerprint . . .

I hope I am not rushing the season, but picture a big family seated around the table on Thanksgiving.

After a nourishing and satisfying meal of turkey and all the trimmings, my family would talk in endless conversations about everything from politics, to existentialism, to UFO’s, to, of course, religion. Everybody always got a piece of the action, and everybody was respectful of everybody else’s opinion.

Everybody was unique, and everybody had their own individual point of view. Once I was twenty minutes into a conversation with Steve about purgatory before I realized he wasn’t kidding.

Where did all these fascinating and distinctive opinions come from? And how do they relate to Jesus Christ?

Each person at that holiday table lived and experienced life from a different vantage point.

Every book we read, every television show we watch, every song we hear on the radio, every conversation with a friend helps to shape who we are in relation to God.

None of us can un-read a book, or un-hear that song on the radio. Everything we see and hear becomes a part of our individual story, our fingerprint.

Our relationship with God hinges on our unique earthly history. Many of us use that “inner dog” we experience in the soft, still voice of God to help shape our unique psyche and guide us toward rewarding and helpful encounters with God via our personal experience here on earth.

If we all allow God the opportunity to help shape our lives, then, our fingerprint is super-imposed under His. God is part of us in all we experience here on earth.

Our own personal history on earth can be one with His-story. Have faith.

Wendy S.

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Following Jesus . . .

I work in the retail world, selling carpet and flooring. Yesterday I happened to notice that I and each one of my co-salespeople seem to have catch phrases that they use frequently. My biggest catch phrase is, “And that’s for sure.” Tom’s is “Or whatever.” Michelle says “Umm” constantly. But Dan’s catch phrase is, “follow me?”

Of all the catch phrases on the sales floor, I had to ponder that Dan’s is probably the most effective. “Follow me?” Dan will begin to explain product features, and then to confirm that the customer understands, he will ask, “Follow me?”

Yesterday when I heard Dan ask “follow me,” I thought of Jesus.

Jesus is known to invite each one of us to follow Him. But what does Jesus mean? “Follow me.”

There are many ways a person can follow Jesus. During His ministry on Earth, the multitudes followed Him around, listening to Jesus as he ministered and healed. Sort of like a game of “follow the leader.”

Some people will take heed and “pick up their cross and follow Jesus.” In other words, they will recognize the burden of their shortcomings, and follow Jesus as he leads them spiritually to a joyous eternity.

Like the carpet salesperson Dan, Jesus may also be asking us to understand Him.

Dan says “follow me?” Or “do you understand me?” Jesus, sometimes, when He invites us to follow Him, He is asking us to understand Him. Understand what He is doing in our lives. Read, ponder, and understand His ministry as conveyed in the Christian Bible New Testament. Read, study, and understand scripture. Understand the soft, still voice of His Holy Spirit as He directs us. Follow. Understand. Have faith!

Wendy S.

P.S. “And that’s for sure!”

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Just Who is to Blame for this Mess?

Ethnic cleansing? Mass extermination? Herem? Reading the books of Joshua, Judges and Samuel makes me doubt the very goodness of our Father in Heaven, or at least causes me to invoke a double dose of faith.

The Canaanite people were apparently not worthy of the blessings of the Lord, while the Israelites, who screwed up time after time, were often treated to success in battle.

Makes me wonder. Why didn’t God encourage the souls and minds of the Canaanites to follow Him? Were the Canaanites the “stepchild nobody wanted?”

As I am working my way through the Christian Bible Old Testament, I am seeing a side of God that I never knew possible.

Now, the New Testament I have read through several times, enjoying the building relationship between God and mankind through God’s sacrifice of his own Son. But the Old Testament, in reality, I have read piece-meal, usually relying on the Old Testament readings coming from the pulpit.

The loving Father, Friend and Soulmate I know from the New Testament is elusive as I read the history of the relationship between God and mankind from an Old Testament point of view.

Has God changed His mind about His creation? Or did mankind progress in faith along the way?

I searched my soul for the answer because I do not take very well to reading where all the men, women and children, and babies were destroyed in the name of God!

The answer from God, through personal revelation and inspiration, came swiftly.

God seems to be saying to me, “Take it easy, Wendy, you are on the right track.”

I invite my readers, if you have such a profound question, to search your soul. Meditate and ask God, and then rest in His care.

The answer seems to be good news indeed.

Many people, during the first few millennia of the creation, did not reach out to God. They appeared to be a peoples who had to be concerned with their environment and bare survival. Learning right from wrong, from a soul connection with God, may have seemed like a luxury, out of the reach of many people.

As man was able to progress in faith, and began to learn to control their environment, God was apparently able to send relief in the form of His Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord.

The New Testament does not recount a culture of war, but it heralds a culture of profound peace.

Mankind, with the help of God, and the sacrifice of Jesus’ life on Earth, has won the Holy war once and for all.

Man has evolved. Think how the great opportunity of having Christ in the world may have affected our own history, and culture, and think of the great opportunity our future holds in fellowship with Christ Jesus. Have faith!

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De-Mystifying Sin

What comes to mind when the word “sin” is mentioned? God? Punishment? The Ten Commandments? The word “sin” takes on an almost supernatural definition.

According to one source, “sin” is mentioned in the Bible 474 times in the NIV. Yet, bringing it down to the Earthly level, just what is “sin?”

If we erupt like Vesuvius when our child spills his milk, is that a sin? Lying, cheating, gossip? Are they all sins?

In reality, we all sin, and our sins have an effect on our fellow man, who may also sin as a ripple effect.

We may hear “Jesus takes away our sins.” Yes, through faith in Jesus we are redeemed. But we still committed the transgression. We sinned. The sin belongs to us, and we must own up to the sin.

Our sins are taken away through the supernatural act of Christ Jesus working within our souls and our psyches, but we still own the sin.

It is up to each and every one to listen to that soft, still voice of Christ, who will help us and guide us away from sin.

Our help is in the “lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.” Have faith.

W.S.

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“Nothing is too good for God”

Tucked away in an old convent on Milwaukee’s near south side, a magnificent chapel, and a monument to our Lord can be found. The chapel was constructed around the turn of the twentieth century and was commissioned by the co-founder of the School Sisters of St. Francis, Mother Alfons Schmidt.

The chapel, known as St. Joseph’s Chapel, was featured on a memorable television Christmas special a few years ago. The chapel is resplendent with stained glass, statues and artifacts, and even while watching the TV show, it took my breath away. Mother Alfons Schmidt was known to have said, “Nothing is too good for God.”

The last few days I have been reading the Christian Bible Old Testament book of Exodus. Nearly the entire last third of the book is devoted to recounting how the holy Tabernacle should be constructed, including the altar, tent materials, tent posts, right down to the garments and head dresses of the priests. Tedious detail is given in the book of Exodus as to the finest and minutest feature.

I tried with all my might to picture in my mind, as I read, how the completed Tabernacle would appear. I fell short, but I was able to piece enough together to get a good visual that I could hold onto. If I tried to relay a written picture, I know that I would not be able to convey the beauty and the elegance of this first Temple of our God, where God revealed himself to our spiritual ancestors, the Israelites.

As I read, it became apparent to me that the construction of the Tabernacle, and possibly St. Joseph’s Chapel, and possibly all the basilicas of all our times may have been an awe-inspiring cooperation between God and mankind. God’s pure gift of Divine Inspiration, followed by the work of the hands of mankind created these fine testimonials s to God Himself.

No, we do not have God’s Tabernacle, nor do we have the Temple in Jerusalem, but we do have the magnificent St. Joseph’s Chapel, and the resplendent Holy Hill (well known in Wisconsin), and the little storefront mission on the North Side with its modest vestments.

Regardless of where we worship, or where we gather, all these and more may be our reminders, and sometimes our very connection to our Almighty God. This Sunday, let’s sit down and look around, maybe we will see God in our surroundings. Have Faith.

W.S.

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Who Remembers William McKinley?

Let’s see a show of hands. How many of us were taught about the 25th American President, William McKinley? He did not abolish slavery in the U.S.A., but he led the U.S. to victory in the Spanish-American War. He did not encourage us to explore the New Frontier, but he raised protective tariffs to promote American industry.

Of course the credit for abolishing slavery goes to President Abraham Lincoln. The credit for beginning to explore the New Frontier (space) goes to President John Fitzgerald Kennedy.

Just as the revered Kennedy and Lincoln, President William McKinley was shot to death, assassinated. I must have been sleeping in my seat the day we were taught that fact in history class.

So, what’s the point? The point is, President William McKinley made the ultimate sacrifice, and he hardly seems to be remembered. Kennedy’s ember is dying, and most of us no longer celebrate Lincoln’s birthday, but instead, Presidents’ Day, honoring all of the U.S. presidents. Before long, Kennedy and Lincoln may become a footnote in the American History books, and eventually nearly forgotten, like McKinley.

What about another great man, Jesus, the Christ incarnate. Jesus, too paid the ultimate sacrifice, and His entire life was a sacrifice from God. The difference between our great presidents’ ability to stand the test of time and Jesus’ ability to flourish in most societies is what He left behind.

On the beautiful day we call Pentecost we were re-visited, by the Spirit of God–the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. God in three Persons. Blessed Trinity. Because we were provided another gift from God, we have the inspiration that assisted the witnesses to chronicle the life and chapters of Jesus’ ministry.

We are also able to prepare a place in our hearts where the Holy Spirit can begin to guide us with the rod and staff of affection. Once in our hearts, we are provided a life-long heart-companion and heart-champion.

The Spirit of Jesus, the Spirit of God, the Holy Spirit, cannot vanish from this earth like the memory of so many great men who are briefly recognized for their contributions to our world. Jesus can never be forgotten, because He is with us, even as I write this post. Have faith.

W.S.

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