Thursday, March 14, 2019

Red Letter Society-Who do your works point to?

Let’s begin with a little Lectio Divina.  If you are new to the idea of of lectio divina, then let me share the five steps:
  • Reading. Read a passage slowly and carefully within the bible.
  • Prayer. Having a loving conversation with God.
  • Meditation. Thinking deeply or swelling upon a spiritual reality within a text.
  • Contemplation. Resting in God’s presence.
  • Action. Go and do likewise.

Now, let us read the passage below in that fashion.  Matthew 6: 1-4

“[But] take care not to perform righteous deeds in order that people may see them; otherwise, you will have no recompense from your heavenly Father.
2When you give alms, do not blow a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets to win the praise of others. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward.
3But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right is doing,4so that your almsgiving may be secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.

Of the many teachings Jesus gave us, this one hit me in the heart perhaps the hardest.  In other teachings, Jesus speaks to us about what to do for people (Love them, teach them, serve them, forgive them and so on).  In this passage, He tells us HOW to do those things. To paraphrase, do it in private, in secret, in a humble way like a whisper of God in their ear.  

In our modern time (not unlike Jesus’s time by the way), we don’t have to look far at all to find people and situations that perform their services for great pomp and they hope the adoring eyes of those who have the privilege of witnessing them.  It’s interesting to note-Jesus doesn’t break their backs about that, not really. He simply says that if that is why they do it, then they’ve received their reward. In other words, if you stand up and preach the word so others can admire you, their admiration (which is, I hope you realize vanity and fleeting) is the whole of your reward.  

On the other hand, let’s look at why he might ask us to do things a little different….in secret.  

Let’s pretend someone you know is in dire need of rent money or they will lose their apartment.  They arrived at this because of some illness or accident. They are potentially feeling weak, less than, perhaps even like they failed.  Now, you can help them, you can be an answered prayer and you pay the rent.

In Jesus’s instruction, you arrange to have the rent paid or give them the money without knowing it was you who did it, and in fact you tell no one you’ve done it-you just make it happen.  When the person receives the blessing, they aren’t thank you, they are thanking God. Their focus is on the need provided for, and the gratitude is given to God.

If you, on the other hand, tell everyone you are helping, and then make a spectacle of helping the scenario changes a bit.  
The first things we risk is that their focus is on US and not the Father (who truly provided).  We also risk, perhaps, changing the relationship with that person. They may feel indebted to you.  They may develop a misplaced resentment that you had to save their butts. You may develop some kind of feeling of entitlement, “Well, I helped you then, you owe me!.”  There may be an uncomfortable shame dynamic.

There is also some other possible things that develop.  Both your business, and the business of the person helped becomes a matter of public talk (gossip).  Dignity and privacy are compromised.

When we help people in secret, when we act as God’s hands in this world, both the person being helped and we who helped keep our eyes on the Lord. We are doing the right things for the right reasons, not for our own vanity at the expense of another’s dignity.  

Just some food for thought….

As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord,

L Brandel

Friday, March 1, 2019

Red Letter Society: Sermon on the Mount

Let’s begin with a little lexio divina.  If you are new to the idea of of lexio divina, then let me share the five steps:
  • Reading. Read a passage slowly and carefully within the bible.
  • Prayer. Having a loving conversation with God.
  • Meditation. Thinking deeply or dwelling upon a spiritual reality within a text.
  • Contemplation. Resting in God’s presence.
  • Action. Go and do likewise.

Now, let us read the passage below in that fashion.  Matthew 5: 1-11

1 When he saw the crowds, he went up the mountain, and after he had sat down, his disciples came to him.
2 He began to teach them, saying:


3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit,for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 Blessed are they who mourn, for they will be comforted.
5 Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the land.
6 Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied.
7 Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
8 Blessed are the clean of heart,for they will see God.
9 Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
10 Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness,for theirs is the kingdom of heaven
11 Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you [falsely] because of me.

Welcome now to the first week of the Red Letter Society.  It’s a bible study I began and named for the fact that some translations of scripture have all Jesus’s words written in red AND the bible study focuses completely on Jesus’s words alone.  I was inspired to do this after my own two year contemplative study on what Jesus said. It was a transformative experience. One I hope to share now with you all.

Every time Jesus speaks he is speaking life into those who would hear his words. In the case of the Beatitudes, we may have heard them so often that these are verses that we think “Oh, yeah, I got that.” and we think we know already.  Let’s examine what we think we know.

What does it mean to be blessed in the Beatitudes?  Is it a feeling? From what I’m reading I don’t think it is.  We don’t tend to think of mourning, poor in spirit, or persecuted in His name as feeling super great.  What of being a peacemaker, merciful, or pure in heart? They sound (and are) super saintly, but not like feelings, but more like attributes we can possess, not only a conformity to Christ, but through grace a transformation within us, by grace, to become like Christ.  

So, some questions we need to ask ourselves, as Saints-in-training...Do we have any of these attributes?  Which ones do we need to work on? A little food for thought as we begin our Lenten bible study….

Here I am, Lord, send me,

L Brandel

Friday, March 30, 2018

Abundantly Free.

Last night, as we removed the Eucharist from the church to place it in repose I wept.  Maundy Thursday mass always hits me hard.  I suppose it’s because in my own personal life I have had these last moments, knowing they would be my last, many times that I firmly identify with Jesus as we remember this time every year.  The Eucharist in repose, symbolic of Jesus praying in the Garden of Gethsemane, when he is praying so hard he is sweating blood ( Hematidrosis is a condition in which capillary blood vessels that feed the sweat glands rupture, causing them to exude blood, occurring under conditions of extreme physical or emotional stress.) hits me deeply because I have experienced profound anxiety (but never to the point of sweating blood) before and I identify with Jesus in that moment.  I just want to hold Him and beg Him not to do this for me, whatever potential I may have, isn’t worth a moment of His distress or a drop of His blood.  Yet, He bids me come to Him and He washes me clean in his sacrifice.  God forgive me, because I don’t know what I am doing.  What a great Love, beyond my comprehension.

In the last four months five or so people have come to me asking me about how to start or proceed in their relationship with God.  In one instance, I first asked this question, “First tell me what your plan.”  They replied, “I think my family and I are going to try to find a church we like.”  I nodded and said, “Do you mind if I give you my opinion?”  The person replied, “Of course, I asked you!”  This is what I said:

Instead of trying to find one that you like, seek first the truth.  It has been my experience that I have grown the most, and drawn nearer to Hashem (The Lord) when I have butted up against things I didn’t like, because they drew me away from my natural tendency to want to live lawlessly and pushed me toward wanting to live the truth.  It’s not comfortable, it’s not always immediately comforting, but it is the only way I’ve found to walk in true freedom.  You see, what I like is easy. It’s instant gratification. It doesn’t challenge me to be better, do better, think better, or most importantly love better-beyond what is humanly comfortable.  What I like may make me feel warm and fuzzy, but it doesn’t always compel me to make the decision of love, the greatest and most high love-the type of love that would make me sweat blood with anxiety and still do the next right thing, the Lord’s will above my own.  That’s the truth that sets us free, truly free, and in my experience first it’s really going to tick you off, because it challenges you to face things within yourself you don’t necessarily want to face. 

This week I am challenged to remember that it took only five days for the crowd to go from crying out “Hosanna!” and laying palms before Him, to crying out “Crucify Him!” As much as I would LOVE to think I would have been different, I have seen in my own walk that I have the capability of rejecting Him, so I probably would not have.  This week I have been reminded that everyone likes to point the finger at who is to blame for His death, the Jews did it, the Romans are to blame...but it all smacks of Adam blaming Eve and God for why he ate the fruit when I hear it spoken.  The uncomfortable truth is that we all have a part in that dark moment. Every single one of us required that sacrifice.  It’s only through His grace that we are redeemed of all that and more.  (Eph 1:4-14, Romans 8:29, 1 John 4: 19, Romans 5: 8)  

The truth sets us free, not barely free, but abundantly free! (Ephesians 1: 3-14)  

So, today we look not for what is humanly comfortable, but for the truth that will set us free.  Not my will, but Yours.

Father, we thank you for the gift of Your Son, may we see and act on Your perfect truth that it may challenge us to grow closer in Unity with You. In Jesus name, Amen!

Here I am, Lord, send me!


Tuesday, December 12, 2017

What is love?

What is love?  When I had my interview with the pastor of my parish to come into the church we got to talking about love.  I remember saying it was a shame that the English language only has one word for love.  I can love chocolate and love God, and there is no distinction.  As I said that though, there is an understanding that I have that there is really only one love, one REAL love.  I do not love chocolate, as much as I admire the flavor. I cannot “love” things, not really.  I can have a fondness for them, enjoy having them in my life, own them, partake in them, but I cannot love them as they are things.  Well, I suppose I could love (in the sense of great desire) them, but there are many warnings in our sacred scripture about placing things over people and over the Almighty. 

There were four Greek words that meant love of one kind or another.  Eros, probably named after the god of the same name, which is sexual love.  Storg, which is familial love.  Phileo, which is more in tune with our modern English word love since it has more to do with feelings than it does action or thought.  Kind of like spontaneous crushes, or like I said earlier, chocolate, but it always also receives something if it’s going to give.  Then there is the big word.  Agape, which is selfless, sacrificial, unconditional love, the highest form of love, and I would argue the only real form of love that exists as Agape is (should be) the foundation from which all other love and desire springs so it will be right love in actions, thoughts, and deeds. 

If we are in agape, then we aren’t using people (eros) for our selfish pleasure and when we “feel” it isn’t convenient for us throwing them away.  We are wholly dedicated to the other in agape, by first doing what is Godly (for ourselves and them), and then by giving without reserve or expectation. Which means no matter how much eros desire we have for them, we are always doing the next right thing for them.  It’s the same if the relationship is storg. By this understanding, phileo would be relegated to that wonderful ‘love’ of chocolate and what not, and have no place in human to human relationships. 

In other words, love, real agape, is agape love, which cannot be compartmentalized, detached from, quantified, limited, or lost.  Agape is God’s kind of love, in the pale way we humans can express and experience.  I write a lot about love, and some people perceive that it’s some vanilla marshmallow hippy abstract human idea I talk about.  It’s not, and if we explore some of the scripture where agape is used we begin to see what we are truly called to do.  It’s frightening, honestly it is, because it’s the abandonment of the ego and the self-centered nature, it is always sacrifice. 

John 15: 13

13 "Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.

Romans 13: 10

10 Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.

John 15:9-10

9 "Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love. 10 "If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father's commandments and abide in His love.

1 Corinthians 16:14

14 Let all that you do be done in love.  

1 Peter 4: 8

8 Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins.

And to my mind the greatest of these:

John 13:34-35

34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

This is what we are all called to.  We are given the command (not suggestion) to love each other as He loved us, as God loves us.  What keeps us from that? Fear, and fear does not come from God fear comes from darkness.  We cannot be saints in training, if we allow fear to compartmentalize love, because fear has walls, and love is boundless.  This is not some hippy-dippy concept but the most radical, truly anti-establishment, extreme act of God we can live within.  It’s not emotional band standing, it’s an active choice and action.  When we actually get this, and we begin to live with this in our minds as well as our hearts, then we truly find the narrow path.  

Just some food for thought and prayer….

Heavenly Father, place within me a heart of agape love, let it burn all fear away so I may be transformed into Your love in this world.  In Jesus name, AMEN!

Here I am, Lord, send me!

Lisa Brandel

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Going to church or dwelling in Truth?

Matt 7: 21, 21-24

Matthew chapter 7 is a very interesting chapter.  It’s kind of a “Cliff notes” of the Christian walk.  We start the chapter with an important directive, “Don’t judge people or you will have judgment heaped on you.”  Then we go into, “Don’t cast pearls before swine.”  We are told to ask, knock and seek.  We are reminded that the path to holiness is a narrow one.  Then we are told how to spot false prophets (fake people in general.) All that brings us to today’s readings in which we are told about self-deception, and the difference between someone really walking with Him and doing what he asks, and those who pay only lip-service.  This is how we wrap up chapter 7.  Jesus tells us, time and time again, that among the church there will be tares among the wheat and this is another of those times.  He straight says to the people in verse 21: "Not every one who says to me, `Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.”  If that isn’t intimidating enough he goes on to say in 22 and 23  22Many will say to me on that day, 'LORD, LORD, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?' 23Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'  

I’ve read that verse dozens of times, and if you are paying attention, that’s pretty sobering stuff.  When I meditate on it, in connection with the previous verses in chapter 7, we begin to see this person/these people as people who took the title of Catholic or Christian as a life style, like cultural clothes.  They sang in the choir, or they were priests, nuns, sacristans, whatever you like….but they didn’t do any of the things asked of us in earlier in the chapter.  Jesus even tells us earlier in the chapter how to discern between this kind of walk, and the true walk of the righteous.  Look at the fruit we bear verse 15:  “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. 16 By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.  Now, there we are talking about prophets, but for two reasons I don’t think it’s a huge leap if we apply this as a barometer for what a ‘good’ Christian walk looks like. 

The first reason I think this is applicable to the walk in general is because of what a prophet truly is.   A prophet is a truth teller.  In the modern context we tend to see a prophet as a teller of the future.  That can be true, but if you look at what the prophets of the old testament did most it was tell the truth when lies were societies paradigm.  If you know the truth, then you see the lie for what it is, and in seeing the lie you know (can extrapolate) the outcome.  The outcome of lie is usually destruction of some kind.  People caught in the amber of lie see the truth teller as having some mystical knowledge of the future, because they have been blinded to the outcome of living the lie.  The prophet has grace given wisdom about the lie because they live outside of it inside the truth, so it’s really not a huge leap of understanding to see the outcome.  (If you ever wondered why the prophets of old seem to be a grumpy lot, this would do it.  When the truth seems like common sense to you, and everyone around you is being a jerk and not listening to the truth you have that would save them…that, I think would tend to make one grumpy.)  So, the fruit of the good prophet is truth, which spares us from destruction.  At the same time, the fruit of a true Christian walk is walking in truth, which spares us from destruction.  If we are on a self-destructive path, and bringing people down around us, then we aren’t walking in truth. 

The second reason I think this connects to the walk is because Jesus say in John 15 of a vine grafted onto the true vine, that apart from Him we cannot bear fruit.  So, I think there is a strong case for us seeing not only a prophet but all of us in that context. If Jesus is truth, are we connected to that truth, and if we are we cannot help but bear good fruit. 

And here is the thing, in verse 24-27, Jesus tells us the difference between the two.  It’s a foundational point on which the whole of our walk is based.  24 “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock. 25 The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on rock. 26 And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not act on them will be like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27 The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell—and great was its fall!”

He tells us very plainly the difference between those who are in church, and those who dwell in truth.  The people who simply go to church and do the church thing as a cultural part of their life, hear but do not do.  The people who are dwelling in truth, hear and then act on what they hear.  The difference is being around the truth, and living the truth in act and deed.  Those trying to live the truth, even though the storms of life come their faith will sustain them. 

Dr. Kreeft is quoted as saying, “If anyone claims to have met Jesus without being changed, he has not met Him at all.  When you touch Him, you touch lightening.”  I believe this is truth, because I cannot now dwell in a lie and be satisfied.  I cannot be satisfied by simply going to church, as I desire to embody the truth.  In reading today’s Gospel, I can’t help but believe when we have that desire we are on the right path. 

Just some food for thought and prayer….

Heavenly Father, grant me a heart that wishes to dwell and act in Your truth.  Let me hear obey with my words and actions. Let your will and word dwell in me so I do not deceive myself and others, but bear sweet fruit for the Kingdom.  In Jesus name, Amen!

Here I am, Lord, send me!

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

It's the end of the world as we know it

Lk 21:29-33, Lk 21:34-36, Mk 13:33-37

I’ve lost count now about how many ‘ends of the world’ I’ve lived through, but I can tell you I have never lost even a moment’s sleep thinking about any of them.  Since I came to faith in the Almighty at age 17 I can remember “learned” men telling me from the television that the end is nigh.  And so far our record for living through the end is 100%.  I just shake my head and pray, not only for them, but the people who follow them, who due to their errant doctrines, teachings, and words will lose faith.  I don’t think the people who preach/ teach this are bad people.  I think they have fallen prey to other misinformed teachers, all of which are trying hard and teaching passionately, but who also mistake their portion of truth for fullness.  Because of that, thousands upon thousands are being led astray.  Jesus himself prophesied that this would happen: Luke 17: 23, Matt 24:23, Mark 13: 21, Luke 17: 21, Luke 21: 8.  It has, and for 19.99 they will gladly sell you a book telling you the theories they pass for fact. 

For the price of free, let’s now explore what Jesus has to say about end times.

Luke 21: 29-33

Jesus told his disciples a parable.

"Consider the fig tree and all the other trees.

When their buds burst open,

you see for yourselves and know that summer is now near;

in the same way, when you see these things happening,

know that the Kingdom of God is near.

Amen, I say to you, this generation will not pass away

until all these things have taken place.

Heaven and earth will pass away,

but my words will not pass away."

In Friday’s reading we begin with the parable of the fig tree.  Luke 21 is chocked full of times to come prophecy.  In 25-28 He talks about the signs that make men weak fainting with fear which warms us up for 29-33, where He basically equates it with watching for it like we watch for the changing of the season on a tree.  He goes on in the next reading….

Luke 21: 34-36

Jesus said to his disciples:

"Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy

from carousing and drunkenness

and the anxieties of daily life,

and that day catch you by surprise like a trap.

For that day will assault everyone

who lives on the face of the earth.

Be vigilant at all times

and pray that you have the strength

to escape the tribulations that are imminent

and to stand before the Son of Man."

Here I believe He is speaking through time to us and all future generations.  It was and is important, no matter now imminent or not, His return is that we remain non-complacent with our walk with the Father.  In our modern time, as it always has been, it’s easy to become distracted from our walk by the stress, worry, busy, of our daily lives and allow our walks to take the back seat.  We get focused on how we are going to pay our utility bill this month for the massive amounts of Christmas lights we have going, on top of the ton of gifts we have to buy which pulls our budgets well out of the comfort zone.  We allow ourselves to become distracted by that to the point that we literally miss why we are doing any of it at all.  Jesus warns us about this kind of behavior, and I take it a little bit more personally here.  I may not live to see the actual end of the literal world, but one day my world will end as it will for everyone drawing breath right now.  Death comes as suddenly as the end times will eventually come.  Frankly, that’s the end time we need to be most focused on preparing for by not allowing ourselves to become numb by carousing, drunkenness (whether we are drunk by alcohol or some other “comforting” agent), and distracted by anxiety.  He asks us to be vigilant at all times, and pray we have the strength to make it through the worst of any time we as the world, or we personally face. 

Mark 13: 33-37

Jesus said to his disciples:

"Be watchful! Be alert!

You do not know when the time will come.

It is like a man traveling abroad.

He leaves home and places his servants in charge,

each with his own work,

and orders the gatekeeper to be on the watch.

Watch, therefore;

you do not know when the Lord of the house is coming,

whether in the evening, or at midnight,

or at cockcrow, or in the morning.

May he not come suddenly and find you sleeping.

What I say to you, I say to all: 'Watch!'"

Mark 13, like our previous chapter in Luke speaks a lot of the end times as well.  Our reading from Mark, again, asks us to be mindful, pray, and watch because it could happen at any time and will be completely unexpected.  We are to watch without expectation of knowing.  As I said in the earlier paragraph, while this applies to the end of days, it most certainly applies to our personal end day too.  We all must watch and be ready, anytime, anywhere, to meet our Divine Maker. Whether it happens globally, or personally, the point of Jesus warning us is to keep us focused on the fact this is all temporary.  He said in the first reading this very thing.  Everything will pass away, but the Word of the Lord will be forever.  That should be our comfort, and a constant companion in our minds as we wait, not only for His return, but for our return to Him.  Both things promise one thing: It will be the end of the world as we know it, and if we have kept our focus where it needs to be: we will be fine.

Just some food for thought and prayer.

Heavenly Father, please grant me the grace not to be deceived by distracted. Grant me the strength and wisdom to keep my focus on the Eternal and real so that when the end comes I have walked the narrow path back to You.  In Jesus name, AMEN!

Here I am, Lord, send me!

lisa brandel

Sunday, November 26, 2017

On what side do you stand?

Matthew 25: 31-46

If today’s gospel doesn’t sober you up, you aren’t paying attention.  It does many things, including putting a pin in the balloon of the grace alone path of salvation.  Yes, we are save by grace given to us through Jesus, but He Himself tells us in this passage that we must cooperate with that by being servants to one another.  All too often we get caught up in the free gifts idea of what it means to be a Christian: Grant me grace, salvation, forgiveness, gifts of the spirit, understanding, and so on and so forth.  Yet, with privileges like that, there comes great responsibility.  A “ME” centric Christianity just doesn’t work.  We had two readings earlier in the week about the master giving his servants talents and how when returned he rewarded those servants who used the money to multiply his kingdom.  The one who hid what he was given was cast away.  We culminate those readings in today’s reading.  Let’s explore this together.

Mt: 25: 31

Jesus said to his disciples:"When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him,

he will sit upon his glorious throne, and all the nations will be assembled before him.

And he will separate them one from another, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.

He will place the sheep on his right and the goats on his left”.

This isn’t the first time this kind of divine shuffling is mentioned.  Matthew 3:12, Matthew 13: 30, Luke 3:17, John 15:2, all of these places in scripture just off the top of my head give us the same allusion.  The divine separating.  In this verse I practice my Ignation meditation skills by closing my eyes and attempting to place myself in this throng of people.  All nations through out all time standing before the majestic throne.  My limited human mind, I am sure, can’t conceive of such a splendorous thing, but even what I can come up with overwhelms me.  If you haven’t tried this kind of scriptural meditation before I suggest this beginning verse as it definitely leaves an impression on just how powerful and motivating it really is.  Then we go on to the next verses.

Then the king will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.' Then the righteous will answer him and say, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?' And the king will say to them in reply, 'Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of the least brothers of mine, you did for me.'

This is yet again another sobering verse and when you read this and think on your life I want you to realize something very special and important.  All the people around you that are hurting, lonely, in need, or ill….they are the face of the Almighty himself.  Your friends, enemies, family, and strangers, everyone who has need…they are the Jesus himself.  Obviously, not literally, but in the same breath literally.   I am me, but if you have helped me in my time of need you literally have helped Jesus.  If your mind isn’t blown by that you aren’t paying attention.  I would dare to say that if we could embrace that, really truly embrace and understand that, how we treated EVERYONE would so drastically change the world would transform into something so beautiful and kind that joy would be found everywhere.  I would wager money that the anti-depressant industry would fold overnight, along with half the prisons, illicit drug use, and all the other slave to sin industries that thrive because we constantly hurt and ignore each other.  Jesus is telling us that not only is how we treat each other powerful here on earth it holds ETERNAL power as well.  He is saying that how we treat others is how we have treated HIM.  Let that soak in for a moment before you move to the next verse that makes me ill to dwell in it too long. 

Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you accursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, a stranger and you gave me no welcome, naked and you gave me no clothing, ill and in prison, and you did not care for me.' Then they will answer and say, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or ill or in prison, and not minister to your needs?' He will answer them, 'Amen, I say to you, what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me.' And these will go off to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life."

This verse tells me that a Me-centric Christianity doesn’t work.  We are called to be about each other.  We are called to be His hands in the world, and care for one another as we would care for Him.  In our minds, and actions, we often try to separate the wheat from the chaff by deciding who is worthy of help and who is not, but that isn’t our job.  Our job is to care for those around us without trying to decide if they are worthy of the care, because what we are doing is ultimately for God himself.  Life-style and nominal Christianity doesn’t exist, we are either living this truth, or we are goats.  By our own merit and works we are not saved, only grace does that, but faith without works is dead.  (James 2: 14-26)

Just some food for thought and prayer…

Heavenly Father, allow me to see Jesus and You in those people in need so I may be moved to action by love to serve them as I desire to serve You.  Let my work be about the importance of this, and not about my reward.  In Jesus name, AMEN!

Here I am, Lord, send me!

Lisa Brandel