I and Thou – Surrender

Fall into The Bible – Part 2

Artwork by:  Miwa Robbins

In this blog post, I have taken the liberty of looking at random phrases in The Bible where the word “fall” is used. Go ahead and read each of them:

Fall from your heads – Jer. 13:18

Fall at your side – Psalm 91:7

Fall down at your feet – Rev. 3:9

Fall from your secure position – 2 Peter 3:17

Fall prey to your power – Ez. 13:21

Fall on your hills and in your valleys and in all your ravines – Ez. 35:8

Now, re-read them. What do you see? How do you feel? At first, the word submission comes to my mind.  Yet, maybe surrendering is the better word.  In Julie Lopes’ blog, Dancing with God, she reflects on the meaning of submission and surrendering. She says that surrendering is an act of love where we respond to an invitation, whereas submission has a power and control element.  So, with that, we will look at these phrases collectively from a surrendering viewpoint.

Falling is an act of surrender. Surrendering to God, oneself, and to others. In the first three verses, there is the commonality of anatomy – heads, side, feet.  What do you see or feel? 

For me, there is a sense of Jesus. Jesus dying on the cross, hanging his head, and being pierced in his side and through his feet. I see a total surrendering. Surrendering of physical body and spirit. Jesus takes his last breath, and in that, he is providing salvation to the world. Abba Father, Why have you forsaken me?  Jesus surrendered as an invitation for us to surrender our wants, desires, and purpose to God.

The fourth and fifth verses are analogous to the wealthy man who must sell all of his possessions to “get eternal life.” In this case, the surrendering is his tangible assets. Jesus tells the man if he wants to be perfect, he would need to sell all of his possessions and give them to the poor. Scripture says, “he went away sad,” leading to believe he chose his possessions over entering the Kingdom of God. 

How often do we feel so secure, confident, and powerful that we would not want to give that up? Some of us work hard in our careers wishing to get to the next leadership position, and we don’t. Promotions are sometimes given to those who don’t work as hard. Or those who have less tenure? Or, perhaps to the person with the right pedigree, not the one who actually has the skills and experience. Falling from a secure position requires trust. And faith. Often, we fail to see what is ahead of us, or at least we fail in trusting God to direct our lives. Speaking from experience, God wants the details, and God wants alone time with you. We need to place our lives, position, power, and children in God’s hands. Then, we can enter into eternal life. Essentially, we need to “die” to self and “live” to faith.

We can’t get up unless we have fallen. The last verse is speaking to all of us. We will all have hills and valleys in life. In other words, trials and tribulations are part of it. And to overcome these obstacles, we must fall into them, and through them, we can come out the other side as more robust and more faithful people.  

In this Fall season of thanksgiving, I invite you to “fall.” “Fall” into your hills and valleys, and lying in the depths of the ravine, cry out to God. Give God your everything.  Only then you will be able to stand tall, brush yourself off, and spread God’s love to others.

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I and Thou: Divine Valentine

Is Valentine’s Day your favorite holiday?

It is mine!

Much of it has to do with the gratitude I have in my heart for life itself and where I am today. It is the realization that this love comes from God. Agape love is divine love – a pure love between humans and their Creator. A Christ-like love can only exist within the context of faith. An illustration of agape love is in John 3:16.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

John 3:16
It is this agape love that lives within each of us. And, it is up to us to know what to do with it. We show others this love through simple actions. A warm smile. A hug. A thank you. Valentine’s Day is the perfect day to think of how you can offer your love to others each and every day.

Valentine’s Day is often thought of as a holiday for lovers. It is so much more than that. In my mid-twenties, I was not in a romantic relationship on Valentine’s Day; so, my friend Wendy and I decided to go to Atlantic City for the weekend. Wendy had a friend who had a condo in Brigantine, actually an island, the city right over Atlantic City’s breezeway. The closest casino at the time was Trump’s Castle. So, off we went. I remember the inside of the casino looking majestic and castle-like. It was quite stunning. The point in this story is that Wendy and I had a great time. It was a time and place where I realized that I didn’t have to be in a romantic relationship to enjoy the love in the air on Valentine’s Day. So, for this Valentine’s Day in 2021, I wish all of you agape love. The love that will never fail. The love of our divine Creator.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

I and Thou – Global Pandemic Part 3

Christmas Season 2020

Online services
Music streaming
Celebrations by zoom
Dinners at home
Small gatherings, if any

Here are updates from the post on 4/13/20.

In Arkansas…

April 13, 2020

  • 1,280 confirmed Covid19 cases | 27 deaths

December 24, 2020

  • 176,744 confirmed Covid19 cases | 2,959 deaths

In Massachusetts…

April 13, 2020

  • 25,475 confirmed Covid 19 cases | 756 deaths

December 24, 2020

  • 335,731 confirmed Covid19 cases | 11,752 deaths

In New Jersey…

April 13, 2020

  • 61,000+ confirmed Covid19 cases | 2,350 deaths

December 25, 2020

  • 458,900 confirmed Covid19 cases | 16,650 deaths

In New York…

April 13, 2020

  • 188,00+ confirmed Covid19 cases | 9,000+ deaths

December 27, 2020 9:45 a.m.

  • 920,171 confirmed Covid19 case | 36,870 deaths

In the United States…

April 13, 2020

  • 558,000 confirmed Covid19 cases  | 22,000 deaths

December 27, 2020

  • 19,103,992 confirmed Covid19 cases | 335,265 deaths
Artwork: Tree Tapestry by Miriam Schulman, @schulmanArt

Revive Us


May God mourn with us the lives that have been taken,
Provide us with comfort and care,
Instill community in all of us of near and far.
Revive us, O Lord
Mark us by your Holy Spirit,
Speak to us and make it clear,
So we can fulfill the mission you have set.

I and Thou – Better to Receive

12 Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— 13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. John 1:12 & 13

Artwork Credit: Faith Evans-Sells http://www.faithevansells.com

You enjoy holiday shopping. Don’t you? You aim to select the perfect gift for a loved one. Best of all, you love giving the gift and watching it be unwrapped.  All you want is to see the joy and excitement. Lately, I’ve been thinking about gift-giving. I used to think that it more suitable to give than to receive. Yet, in John 1:12 & 13, we see that it is much better to receive than to give. God has a way of turning our thinking upside down. In this passage, we see that our faith isn’t enough. We need to also receive. Receive God. Receive salvation. It is free for you and me. So, you may ask, how do I know if I am a child of God? Your logical mind may agree that there is a God. What does your heart say? It is the heart that causes your behavior to gradually change over time. When you strive to be Christ-like in your daily life, you become a child a God through your acceptance of God’s love.

I and Thou – Memorial Day

 

Today is Memorial Day. A day to remember people who have lost their lives for the sake of freedom. Yet today is different. Something seems radically different. A renewed sense of hope is emerging as the country slowly begins to open back up from the ravages of the global pandemic. Be cautious. Life is short. Every day is precious.IMG_0528

  • Take time to reflect. Pay homage to veterans. Mourn with the families of nearly 100,000 who have lost loved ones over the past few months.
  • Take time to connect. Reach out to family and loved ones with a phone call.
  • Order a surprise gift by mail. Write and send off a letter. Most of us have had our lives turned upside down.
  • Take time to enjoy. Stop and smell the flowers. Notice how many shades of yellow are in a daffodil. Count how many different trees you see in a park.
  • Take time to listen; hear the birds chirp and frogs croak. What types of sounds do you hear in the morning? Or, at night? Hear the fire snap in the fire pit. Listen to the owl hoot far off in the distance.
  • Take time to see. Watch the clouds glide by. See the stars and the leaves sway back and forth.

We mourn together as a nation. Lay aside political views. Honor those who have lost their lives in service to our county.  Let’s learn from past mistakes, so we can move forward together toward a new normal.

I and Thou – Global Pandemic

Easter 2020

Online church services.
Passover Seders through zoom.
Communion in homes.
Choirs singing virtually.

In Arkansas…

  • 1,280 confirmed Covid19 cases
  • 27 deaths

In Massachusetts…

  •  25,475 cases
  • 756 deaths

In New Jersey…

  • 61,000+ cases
  • 2,350 deaths

In New York…

  • 188,00+ cases
  • 9,000+ death

In the United States…

  • 558,000 cases
  • 22,000 deaths

The numbers are everywhere.
Online. On CNN. On MSNBC.
On local news stations. Unless you live under a rock, the impact is real.

How deeply are you affected by this virus? The stay-at-home orders? The work from home orders? Wearing facial coverings in public? Did you ever think you would live to see this day? 90% of the country has shut down.

Loss of celebrations.  Loss of livelihood. Loss of time with loved ones. Loss of life. It becomes personal when you know people in your circle who have tested positive and who have lost their lives because of this virus.  Until that happens, it really isn’t all that personal.

I’d like you to meet David Hoganauer.

He attended Prospect Presbyterian Church in Maplewood, NJ, where my two children attended Nursery School. I was a substitute teacher when needed. That is how I knew David.  He was one of those people who smiled at everyone. The neighbors. The children. The nursery school teachers. He was gentle and kind. He passed away last week.

https://obits.nj.com/obituaries/starledger/obituary.aspx?pid=195900208

I’d like you to meet GeeGee.

I met GeeGee in Tai Kwon Do Class.
No, not for me – for my sons.  But, GeeGee did take the class, her husband, and her daughter.  It was a family activity.  That was many years ago.  GeeGee is a Dean at a local community college in NJ.   She tested positive. Was ill. Has recovered.

I’d like you to meet Beth.

Beth is the daughter of my friend Maryann. Maryann and I attended Wednesday Bible Class together for several years at Wyoming Presbyterian Church in New Jersey. Beth works in NY.  She tested positive, was sick, and has now recovered.

On this pandemic Easter 2020, let’s us all become one. One in spirit. One in friendship. One in love.

Blog_Pic53Photo Credit: blissshine.com

Easter is…

A time of refreshment
A time of renewal
A time of rebirth
A time of new birth

A time for planting
A time for plowing
A time for joy
A time for sorrow

A time of reorganization
A time of recommitment
A time of reconciliation
A time of rededication

A time for life
A time for death
A time for caring
A time for loving

A time of retreat
A time of reflection
A time of restoration
A time of resurrection

 

I and Thou – Love

Love is all about giving and taking, ebbing and  flowing. Love is innate. Blog_Happy-Valentines-Day-by-PLATUX-modern-Art-ArtistIt drives us to become the people we are meant to be. Love encourages. It builds up. And, yes, even times, it causes pain. Loneliness. Separation.  However so lonely, however so separate…deep down, love will prevail. It always does.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

I and Thou – New Year…New Path

The Bible isBlog_Pic49 a living document that speaks to each person in their own unique way. It is the Holy Spirit dwelling within you who discerns the word of God. The words of God that are in your heart and mind need to direct your path. These words can profoundly influence each decision that you make in your life. For each choice, there is a wide path and a narrow path. God walks beside you on either one. You choose one over the other for many different reasons. Some go back and change their minds. Others realize the wrong path and then have to live that path until another way becomes available. God does walk alongside; yet, some do not know. Many seek God in deep distress. And that is okay. When you surrender and ask God to participate in all your decisions, life becomes more bearable, and your path will become more evident. When you stick to the principles that God has outlined in scripture, you will prosper. And, in so doing, you will experience God’s love where you are. Where ever that may be. The place that God has led you to. For now.  Wishing you a new path, full of joy and love for 2020.

Photo Credit:  Dominic Martinelli

I and Thou – New Year’s ABC’s

Happy New Year!

Blog_Pic48

Artwork Credit: David Baruch Wolk
Title: Holy Alphabet

In with the new and out with the old.

In with…

Affirmation and out with rejection.

Blessing and out with condemnation.

Calmness and out with turbulence.

Delight and out with discontent.

Endearment and out with alienation.

Friendship and out with aloofness.

Gratitude and out with thanklessness.

Harmony and out with discord.

Improvement and out with stagnation.

Justice and out with falsehood.

Kindness and out with selfishness.

Love and out with hatred.

Magnificent and out with ordinary.

Navigate and out with ignore.

Optimism and out with hopelessness.

Passion and out with indifference.

Quirky and out with conventional.

Relationship and out with estrangement.

Self-reflection and out with self-absorption

Tranquility and out with upheaval.

Understanding and out with unfeeling.

Value and out with worthlessness.

Warmth and out with coldness.

X-traordinary and out with the standard.

Yet and out with but.

Zip and out with inactivity.

In with the new and out with the old.