Category Archives: Jesus

The Sin Of Anger

There is a saying that when you hold onto anger, it’s like drinking poison while expecting the other person to die. 

Last year at this time we were part of the loving vibrant church. It was a large part of who we were as a family and we miss it dearly. I won’t go into any details of what happened at the church other than to share how I feel. I can honestly say I don’t hate those responsible for destroying the church as it was, as hate is too strong a word even for those I am angry with.

 Yes, I still find myself angry.   

 I am angry with the lies and rumors that they chose spread even after they  were shown to be untrue. 

I am angry with those who failed to make amends towards my family and to those close to me.

Jesus Christ took away our permission to call people sinners and said, love your neighbor. And by the way, (here is the tough part ) everyone is your neighbor. 

Up until this point in my life I feel I have been a forgiving person. I have gone toe to toe with someone, got my nose busted but afterwards sat down for a beer together as if nothing ever happened. Perhaps it was because physical wounds are easy.  
Recently I was sharing with my best friend on how I was amazed that my children could be so forgiving of those who have crossed them while I as the parent, struggled to be forgiving of the infraction against them. It’s simple she explained, those are your children and you want to protect them.

 I believe as Christians, if we want to hate sin, it must be our own sin.I must now choose to spit out the poison of anger. The sin of anger. May God have mercy on me. Amen. 

Forgiveness

“Forgive others and you will be forgiven” ,”Forgive and forget”.
In Luke 23:34 Jesus said “Father forgive them for they know not what they do”. 

All familiar phrases. We love to provide this advice to others.

Others that we might not have any idea what they have experienced. 
Then, as he only can, C.S. Lewis hits you between the eyes with, “Everyone thinks forgiveness is a lovely idea… Until he has something to forgive.” 


Recently myself and loved ones experienced deep emotional wounds caused by those who we had thought to be trustworthy friends, almost like family. As merciful time has provided some healing of these wounds, a mental inventory tends to naturally take place and much like hitting the refresh button for a website, an evaluation takes place on the status of personal relationships. Personally as I described in an earlier post, “Human Nature”, A simple approach to the worthiness of a personal relationship can be evaluated by what others do while you are at your most vulnerable.if they cut your jugular, this is a reflection of their character and more importantly, NOT YOURS. At that point it’s not about forgiveness, all that matters is having enough self respect to sever ties to that person. Although it may sound harsh, to engage with them is to engage with a fool or a drunkard. 

Ethical Line

Recently I came across a few forums supporting the argument of not taking up the offenses of others i.e. ….fight your own battles. Additionally, 1Thessalonians 4:11 states:“Do all you can to live a peaceful life. Take care of your own business, and do your own work as we have already told you”. 

In other words mind your own business. I couldn’t agree more. 

However, human decency dictates that it is your responsibility to stand up for those without a voice or being treated unfairly. In my humble opinion, that should be your business. 

Years back I took an ethics class where the curriculum was structured around ethical questions such as your stand on abortion, corporate accountability, etc… What I truly enjoyed about the class was there were no wrong answers/opinions. 

The objective was to peel back the layers of laissez faire positions on posed ethical questions. I was surprised by the level of passion throughout the class as we became ethically self aware. Recent events in my life have brought me to a similar place, I felt spirituality mature enough to stand with those I felt had been wronged and although it happened to be my job to protect them, it was much more than that. Not only was it my ethical responsibility as Christian, even more so as a fellow human being. 

My position doesn’t mean I am right, but simply striving to be true to where l feel an ethical line should be drawn. Peace and may God have mercy on us all. 

Pastor David:A Tribute

Contemplating my next post which are typically comprised of those who have shaped my outlook on life, none have yet to be my junior. Pastor David O’Toole is the exception. I can only tell  my story and will not give mention to those of a contrary opinion as this is not a pity party but rather a tribute to a good man.

Over 10 years ago I sat in the back of our local church praying for my one of my three sons to find a path to peace. Zachary as many 14 year olds was an angry you man trying to find his way. Zach recently had moved in with my wife and me in our small Ohio town. A glimmer of solace was listening to Zachary teaching himself guitar. It never dawned on me that God was about to answer my prayer.

David had been hired as a youth minster but also played in the worship band. He seemed preoccupied with his teen group and committed to his duties. I can remember we were in the church gym when I had the opportunity to talk to David about Zachary. I explained some of his struggles and his interest in guitar. David took Zachary under his wing and as any mentor, Zach was not always happy with David and probably vice versa but the relationship was genuine and grew strong to this day.I had the privilege of watching the band Strength Within, a Hard Core Christian band perform in which David was the lead singer and Zach eventually would play guitar in. I appreciated the edginess and the youth that attended the performances. It opened my eyes to a Christ worshipping raw subculture that did not tolerate hypocrisy. I was impressed.

During one of the youth summer trips David asked me to do all the cooking and it was then I saw his talent for organizing events. “Ray” he said, “there are three key factors that make or break a youth trip, the food, the location and the activities.” I still chuckle to day thinking about. “on that last day I want some much food, like a half chicken each for the kids,,,snacks at 11,” ….Good memories.

Once I had the honor of speaking to a recover group in which I whole heartily gave my testimony of my experience as the child of and addict. I mean I felt like I had given part of my soul away. The next day I was riding with David to lunch and I was explaining how I felt. He called it an “Emotional Hangover” , where you so much of yourself away that the next day you can physically and mentally feel the effects. This gave me a small glimpse of what pastors must experience on Monday mornings.

I could go on about others that I know David has effected positively but as for me I am forever grateful that God used Pastor David O’Toole to deliver my son who is now, Pastor Zach Roy, to us so many years ago.

Thank you David O’Toole and May God Bless you.

Otooles and roys
Hailey Roy, Celeste O’Toole, Pastor David O’Toole and Pastor Zach Roy

Stardust 

As I sit in the quiet of the morning drinking tea, looking out at the snow, I am humbled and simply amazed of the many blessings I have been given. Yes, given. I used this term not as one of entitlement but as one of appreciation. The universe has seen fit to be kind enough to provide me with a plethora of life lessons including this particular one of me sitting quietly taking a personal inventory. 
Most are familiar with the Butterfly effect where, if a butterfly in South America flutters its wings this slight disturbance in the air can set off a chain of events culminating to something as big as a hurricane.  

Recently the colliding of two black holes and the gravitational waves created in space was hailed by the scientific community. It’s is estimated that the total effect of these waves on the earth was its shifting less than the thickness of one atom. One atom! 

A human my size is made up of approximately 9 billion billion billion(that’s 27 zeroes) of the universe’s atoms.  While impressive in number, in the absence of a soul, all humans atoms are nothing more than stardust. It seems only fair that while we are occupying these stardust atoms, we should put them to good use.

One of my favorite expressions is that when you are  filled with love and at peace with the universe, you “shine”. Take a moment and consciously think of every atom of your being. Now be still and know how special of a being you are. By the very fact that you know that love exists, makes you worthy of love. 

May this simple message be an ember unto your soul that sparks a cataclysmic reaction of wellbeing that you luminesce with the knowledge that you are a unique stardust Masterpiece shaped by the hand of God, brought to life by a whisp of his breath. Amen. 

“When you love you should not say,

“God is in my heart,” but rather,

I am in the heart of God.””-  Kahlil Gibran 

  

“In The Clench”

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Growing up with an older brother in the 70s meant I came to experience  a phenomenon called, “The Clench”.
It was the privilege of being cornered and subjected to a series machine gun punches in the stomach while he yelled,”Muhammad Ali, Frasier”, “In The Clench”… For dessert a few breadbasket and head shots…I could not escape.

Over the years I discovered “The Clench” had taken up new residence. Looking down at my own hand,  There it was, A  tightly clenched fist. White knuckled with stress, anxiety, anger, worry,  A five fingered barometer of silent storms raging inside. Such is life, internal storms, wrought with an intense feeling of wanting revenge on those who had hurt, abused or neglected me.
I could not escape….

When I was 16, while my Dad drove truck, I would ride shotgun. I remember his tattooed hand resting on the gear shifter, his last two digits permanently curved. His fingers had been damaged as a result of smashing his hand through a drivers side car window during one of his many altercations. He chose to fight. His closed fist meant he wasn’t open to a discussion.
Given his life story, it was not surprising

Historically an open hand was a sign of peace. When you approached an unknown, showing and raising an open hand demonstrated that you bore no weapon and meant no harm.

Even Christs’ open hands as decpicted in Byzantine art, with the thumb and first two fingers open and last two digits  just slightly closed emerged as the sign of a blessing.

Look down at your hand. Is your fist tight? Deep down is your spirit silently screaming “I’ve had enough “?

May I propose that an open hand can not only symbolize peace but also a willingness to surrender.

Surrender my friend. Surrender all the burdens that weigh you down

Breathe in slowly. Breathe out.

Surrender. Take a moment and drop your weapon and open your hands and experience a moment of peace.
Take a moment to know that no matter what is going on in your life, you are alive and worthy of love.

An open hand is a sign of acceptance of reality. It doesn’t mean you have to like the circumstances. It simply means you are willing to deal with them.

As a believer in the teachings of Christ , I’ve found the simple act of opening my hands and raising them during worship, creates a conduit which allows the stresses of the world to escape. When I open my hands, I open my mind and eventually perhaps symbolically open my  heart to experience Gods Holy Spirit of Love for which I beieve we were created.

Be still and know He is God. Psalm 46:10
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