How To Have Good Relationships

Sounds difficult, doesn’t it?  But it is really very simple, if we are just willing to do it.  Here’s the five steps:

  1. Make a list of everyone who has hurt you. 
  2. Forgive everyone on the list.
  3. Make a list of everyone whom you may have hurt.
  4. Go and sincerely ask for forgiveness from each person.
  5. Take responsibility for your life. 

That’s it.  See? Simple.  What?  You expected a long-drawn-out explanation?  The Word of God is very clear.  Matthew 6:15 states: 

But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.

I have a friend who says he loves the Lord, yet he refuses to say the words: “I’m sorry”.  Mostly because he does not accept responsibility for his life.  This really concerns me.  Please, don’t be like my friend.  Saying ”I’m sorry” is one of the most freeing things you can do for yourself.

Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come,
your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.  Amen

Answers From God


God speaks to us today through the message of the word given to us in Matthew 5: 3-16

Us: God, I do such a pitiful job of following of Christ.

God: Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (Verse 3)

Us: God, I am so sorry for every time I fall short of your desires for me.

God: Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. (v4)

Us: God, I am nothing without you.  There is nothing good within me.

God: Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. (v5)

Us: God, I want so much to do what you want me to. 

God: Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. (v6)

Us: God, help me to consider those less fortunate than myself.

God: Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. (v7)

Us: God, I really do want to love you and show love to my fellow man.

God: Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. (v8)

Us: God, in this law enforcement career to which you have called me, help me to bring your peace to others.

God: Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. (v9)

Us: God, I know that sometimes I get the short the stick because of my love for you. 

God: Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (v10)

Us: God, my soul is heavy for the things which I am accused of because I want to serve you.

God:Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. (v11)

Us: God, my soul is downcast.

God:  Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. (v12)

God: You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. (v13-16)

Us: What should be our response to God? 

Is death coming for you? 

I don’t know about you, but it seems that death follows me everywhere.   I have participated in four funerals / memorial services this past month.  The church I attend has a lot of older folks and it seems that someone is always dying.  Many of our families have experienced death this past year.  There seems to always be someone who is related to someone who is dying.  Why?  With all the medical advances we have seen over the last 50 years, you would think we could keep anyone alive forever.  But it just isn’t that way.  Our Creator created us so that there are consequences for what we do.  That includes what we do to our bodies.  Are we eating good things? Are we exercising?  Are we practicing good oral hygiene? Are we getting the rest we need on a scheduled basis?  Do we visit our doctors on a regular basis?  Are we taking the meds we need?  Are we constantly worrying about things?  Are we using substances we shouldn’t be?  Are drinking alcoholic beverages in excess?  Do we pig out on the sugars?  Are we overweight (ouch, that one probably hit most of us)? You get the idea.  If we don’t take care of our bodies, death will most likely come sooner, rather than later.

There are all sorts of things we might be doing which are not good for our health.  If we don’t keep our homes in good repair, they will begin to have major problems.  If we don’t practice good maintenance on our vehicles, they too will stop running!!!  So, take good care of your bodies!!!  We only get this one and life does not come with a ‘do over’ option. 

God, Your Word tells us that our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit.  That alone should motivate us to take care of ourselves.  But we do need your help since it is so easy to NOT take care of ourselves.  Help us to occasionally, look in the mirror and picture our loved ones without us beside them.  Help us to realize that you might have a mission for us here on earth that no one else can accomplish, and YOU need us to be in good health.  Good health is a gift from you and we thank you for it. 

In the name of your son, Jesus, we pray.  Amen.

Just what is this saying?

Have you ever read something and you have to stop and scratch your head to try to figure out what the author is trying to communicate?  That happens to me a lot.  Especially when I read the scriptures.  For instance, 1Chronicles 4:10 states: Jabez cried out to the God of Israel, “Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain.” And God granted his request.

The words seem plain enough, however the meaning is somewhat elusive.  The word Jabez is used three times within the entire bible, all in the first book of Chronicles.  The first time it is used in chapter 2, it seems to be referring to a location rather than a person.   The following two times is referring to the person.  The name Jabez means ‘He causes sorrow’.  Possibly, his mother named him this as it must have been a difficult childbirth.  And maybe, because of the difficult birth, or an event later in his life, Jabez must have become injured and suffered with a lot of pain throughout his life.  So Jabez, (a name which did not evoke very positive thoughts), was calling out to God so that he could be blessed, rather than reminding everyone of pain. 

Enlarge my territory.  Do you think Jabez was asking God for more real-estate?  No, he was asking God to let him have more influence on a greater area or a greater influence on more people. And he wanted to be free from the pain he was experiencing. And God granted him his request.  Basically, his prayers were answered. 

Sometime, when we want God to use us more, we don’t know how that would come about.  When God was instructing Moses how to confront the Pharaoh in Egypt, Moses came up with excuses.  Then the Lord said to him, “What is that in your hand?”  I like that scripture because when I don’t know what to do, I start taking inventory of what the Lord has given me.  Then I usually see what I have and how it can be used for the Lord.  Lord, help us to count or take account of the blessings you have given us.  Then help us to understand how we can use those blessings for your glory.  Additionally, help us to know how we can increase or be more effective for you.  In your Son’s name we pray.  Amen. 

Are You a Reader?

I am the type of person who tends to avoid books.  It is only when the stack of books on my desk reaches a ridiculous height that I say to myself:  I have GOT to read those books!!!  Well, that is where I was in January.  I have been diligent in attacking the books, but they have all been what I call sad books.  I don’t mind a sad book, but occasionally, I really like to read something uplifting or encouraging.  Well, my stack of books included one on leadership (yawn!!!), the autobiography of LPD Officer Gene DeBerry (sad), and another book about dealing with suicide (also a sad book). Hoping for something positive, I picked up my next book which is “Facing Evil”.  It is the true story which began on October 24th, 2014.  A husband-and-wife team on meth came to Sacramento, California and killed 2 Deputies, injuring another and a civilian.  I have read all the introductions, forward, prologue, endorsements and information on the jackets.  Although I am sure this will be an interesting read, it will not be very uplifting, other than the good guys win (if you can call it that) in the end.  I did note that the last book on the pile is entitled “The Right Fight” by John Kennedy Vaughan.   I’m sure the name of the author doesn’t mean anything to you.  Until I tell you that he is the man who founded Shields of Strength.  That is the company which manufactures encouraging dog tags for military, law enforcement, firefighters and communications personnel. I am hoping that this book will be somewhat encouraging. 

The point of me telling you this is that the Bible is also filled with various writings from various authors.  Some are sad, some are encouraging.  There is even a book from an author who is called the “Weeping Prophet”.  His name is Jeremiah and he wrote two books of the Old Testament, one entitled with his name: Jeremiah, and the other one entitled “Lamentations”.  Lamentations is defined as the passionate expression of grief or sorrow. I won’t tell you why Jeremiah is weeping, you will have to read his books yourself (have a box of tissues nearby!).

Let this be our prayer today, from the Psalms of King David (#30), when they were dedicating the temple to God:

I will exalt you, Lord, for you lifted me out of the depths and did not let my enemies gloat over me.
Lord my God, I called to you for help, and you healed me.
You, Lord, brought me up from the realm of the dead; you spared me from going down to the pit.

Sing the praises of the Lord, you his faithful people; praise his holy name.
For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime;
weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning. AMEN!

What are you worth?

It seems like I’ve been running into lots of folks who say things like:   If it wasn’t for (a certain person or thing) I wouldn’t be worth anything. These folks seem to have a low self-esteem, a lack of good close friends, and a very poor understanding of God.  Maybe they had a parent or parents who treated them poorly.  Maybe they have had friends who have turned their backs on them when they needed them the most.  Maybe God zigged when they felt he should have zagged. 

I don’t know how much is enough, but I do know lots of people who have said that they did not feel loved growing up.  Or one of their parents rarely told them that they were loved.  Maybe the parent was not around to give support.  This could cause deep lifelong injuries to someone’s soul.  I have felt this, but I have examined the situation thoroughly and know that even though I may not have felt loved, it was not the case.  The person was just not good at expressing love the way I needed it.   

If you ever get to a point (or maybe you are there now) of not feeling loved, just remember that the God in heaven above, the one who created you, the one who sent his only Son to live as a human, suffer and die for you, has absolutely no regrets about doing that…because YOU are worth it!!!   

2 Thessalonians 2:13 states:  As for us, we can’t help but thank God for you, dear brothers and sisters loved by the Lord. We are always thankful that God chose you to be among the first to experience salvation—a salvation that came through the Spirit who makes you holy and through your belief in the truth.

Believe me, there are many more scriptures which confirm that we are loved by God.  Any other love we receive is merely icing on the cake!!

God.  Thank you so much for loving me (put your NAME in there).  I do not deserve you having sent your son to live on earth and die for me.  Nothing I do can make you love me more…or less.  Thank you for giving us your Word, which reassures us how much we are loved by you.  Help me to never forget that.  Amen. 

How am I doing?

I was thinking about my grandkids the other day.  I do this quite often.  I was trying to assess how good of a Papa I have been.  The thoughts made me think of the grandparents I had and what I remembered that they did for me. 

Sad to say, both sets of my grandparents spoke Italian and none of the grandkids did.  This severely hampered any type of close relationship that we could have with them.  The only things I could remember was that my father’s father always gave me the pennies he saved.  My other grandpa taught me how to make a little toy from a walnut shell.  That’s it.  That’s not good enough for me. 

I want to be the Papa that my grandkids love to be around.  The Papa that plays with, teaches life lessons and is always there to listen to them.  That’s the Papa I want to be. 

So how am I doing?  Well, obviously, not good enough.  I really need to start zooming or calling my grandkids.  Showing them that I love them and am really interested in them, even if I am over 1,000 miles from them. 

So, the God I love and serve is one who loves me even when I mess up.  Who cannot love me more or less just because of my behavior.  He is a God who wants the very best for me.  I want to be that kind of Papa to my grandkids. 

God, help us always to remember what you did so that you could have a relationship with us.  Then, let us realize that most of us need to work harder at building relationships.  Parents, spouse, partner, kids.  All of them.  Help us to learn that the urgencies in our life should not take precedence over relationships.  I know that’s a hard one God, but we are trusting you to help us in this area.  And yes God, thank you for loving us.  Amen. 

Are You coming in too hot?


When I hear that phrase, I think of a boat approaching a dock going too fast.  Or a car or motorcycle approaching a curve too fast.  Google explains the phrase as someone who is very angry.  But recently, I had an experience where I came in too hot, but it wasn’t related to any of those areas.  My wife and I have been married for 47 years and she is still trying to teach me the correct way of doing some household chores. 

Recently my wife and I, who are not big sports fans, bought team shirts to support our granddaughter who plays softball.  They finally arrived in the mail and my wife washed them.  Trying to be the good husband, I thought I would iron all the laundry which needed it and belonged to me.  The first item was my team jersey.  My wife specifically told me to iron this on the lowest setting and iron it inside out.  I thought I was following her directions, however, rather than setting the iron on the lowest setting, I set it on the highest setting.  As soon as I touched the iron to the shirt, the sleeve disintegrated.  Gone!!! Melted to the iron.  In 2 tenths of a second, I had ruined a brand-new shirt.  I came in too hot!!!

God knows we can become very passionate about somethings and if things go wrong, we will come in too hot.  So, he warns us about this.  Psalm 37:8 states:  Stop being angry! Turn from your rage!  Do not lose your temper— it only leads to harm.    There are over 325 references to anger in the scriptures.  That might indicate that we have a real issue with it. Be careful that you don’t come in too hot!!!

Dear God in heaven above, help us always to remember that you are the one who directs our coming and going.   You allow us to get into situations where we are tested.  And so often we fail the test.  Help us to pause before we react.  Keep us from causing harm to ourselves or others that can be a result of us coming in too hot. 

Busyness of the Season

Well, it is December, and we all know what that means.  Every year it’s the same thing.  All the “gottas”. I gotta decorate the house. I gotta plan the meals for the holidays.  I gotta invite all my family and friends over.  I gotta send out Christmas greeting cards.  I gotta go shopping for a new Christmas outfit.  I gotta buy gifts for everyone.  I gotta participate in extra activities at my church.  On and on it goes.  I’m sure there are a few gottas that I left out. 

How in the world are we supposed to ENJOY the holiday season when we are running around like a chicken with its head cut off!!!  You would THINK we would learn from every Christmas season in the past.  I keep telling my wife we need to start our Christmas shopping in JULY!! But it never happens.  All the stuff we do that robs our joy at Christmas.  And most of us really love the Christmas season.  Despite all the rushing around and drivers under extreme stress, there are still signs of life, signs of Joy, wishes of Peace on Earth, and sometimes we even remember the birth of our Savior. 

Sometimes we have just gotta STOP and remember that the Lord said: “Be still and know that I am God”.  Or when he said: “Peace, be still.” in Mark 4:39. He actually spoke that to the wind and waves when he was out on a boat with his disciples!

Or how about the time he stated: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” in John 14:27

Obviously, the world does not want us to have the peace of Christ.  The world wants to give us more ‘gottas’.  The one important ‘gotta’ goes back to that link of communication I spoke about last week.  Let’s try to remember that. 

God in heaven above, thank you for letting us have a 24 / 7 open line of communication with you.  Especially during this Christmas Season.  Help us to enjoy your peace and to be able to share that peace with those around us.  In the Savior’s name. Amen.

Nothing is Impossible?

Agatha Christie (1890-1976) was an English woman who had written 66 detective novels and 14 short stories.  She is quoted as having said: “I like living. I have sometimes been wildly, despairingly, acutely miserable, racked with sorrow; but through it all I still know quite certainly that just to be alive is a grand thing.”

We go through this journey we call life and day after day we are exposed to situations that are sometimes pleasant and make us happy, and other times, we face situations that make us shake our heads in disbelief, wondering how in the world will I ever get to the other side of this?  Each of us has limitations to our own skills, knowledge, abilities and even the resources we have at our disposal. Often we try and try to accomplish something and finally, when we are about to give up, we decided to pray.  ‘Maybe God will handle this for me’. 

I think that God designed each of us with our own limitations to see what it would take for us to ‘get to the end of our rope’ where we call upon him for help.  I don’t believe that is how he wants us to operate though.  What if we went to prayer FIRST, and then relied on God to help us through the situation or problem.   Proverbs 3:5-6  says: Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.

You might want to read that through again, slowly. 

Or what about Philippians 4:6 which states: Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.

It seems to me that God’s Word is encouraging us to not worry about things, but give it to God, and let him be responsible for handling the situation.  Then, thank him in advance for what he is going to do.  Think of all the stress we could avoid if we could teach ourselves to operate in this fashion.  Remember, NOTHING is impossible for God. 

God in heaven above,

Teach us to rely on you to guide us in every decision. We can plan our ways, but you are the one who determines every step of our lives.  Thank you for life.  Thank you for being there to help us through it all.