September 27, 2009

Golden Rule III...Loving past worry

Living can be difficult when we get distracted by worries in our life. The cares and concerns of our day to day living nibble away at our good intentions. We forget that we have set out to “treat others as we want to be treated” It is easy to get distracted by our needs, but Jesus assures us that God will provide.

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? And why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? Therefore do not worry, saying, “What will we eat?” or “What will we drink?” or “What will we wear?” For it is the Gentiles who strive for all these things; and indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. ‘So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today.” (Matt. 6:27-34)

One of my favorite early morning activities is to sit on the deck and watch the hummingbirds at their feeder and the sparrows and mourning doves at theirs. I think the birds have a lot to teach us about this passage. They trust me to provide for them.

The birds have gotten so used to the morning routine that it I’m late filling up the feeder with seed, the doves and sparrows line the fence and perch in the bushes waiting for the food. Even more heart-wrenching is what happens when I take down the hummingbird feeder to refill it. There is nearly always at least one panicking little bird buzzing hysterically around where it is supposed to hang. I can almost hear him saying, “I know it was just here. Where did it go?” Sometimes they fly off to reassess the bearings and come zipping back to hover impatiently until I return the feeder.

I’m not sure that I always trust God’s providence for my needs like the birds do. Certainly, I should be, because I have seen God provide money or supplies at exactly the right time and in the right amount, but I am too easily distracted by the fact that I don’t see the solution in front of me. Like the hummingbird, I start panicking when I don’t see the feeder right there. I start flying around looking for help in all the wrong places.

Hummingbirds are surprisingly protective of their feeder as well. Rarely will two settle to eat at the same time. Usually it’s more of a contest to see who can grab a sip and then chase the other bird away. The mourning doves also try to hog all the food at the bird feeder, even from the one that they can't quite eat from. The one in the picture is trying desperately to balance and get the seed, but he's too big to fit on the perch.

We are more like the birds than we might like to admit. Our fears of not having enough keep us from sharing what we do have and trusting that God will provide. There are many who need our open hand offering help instead of our fisted hand protecting what we claim as our own. trusts that God will provide. is not afraid of what tomorrow will bring. invites others to come and be filled. has open hands. seeks the Kingdom of God by sharing.

Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “You cannot do a kindness too soon, for you never know how soon it will be too late.”

What are you worried about that keeps you from treating others as you would like to be treated?
Is there a kindness you can do to share the Kingdom of God?

Maybe you can pick up an extra can or two of tuna for the local food pantry when shopping.
Perhaps it’s sorting your closet to see what can be donated.
It could be helping with a project like gathering school supplies.
Possibly it is getting involved with a bigger enterprise like Habitat for Humanity or Special Olympics.

Did you find some new way to do a kindness for the sake of the Golden Rule? How did you feel?
Next week is the last in this series of We will look at how we can Be Fruitful as we live the Golden Rule.

September 20, 2009

Golden Rule II...Agape Love for my Neighbor

How did you do with Loving Yourself as a Child of the King? This week we'll look at living the Golden Rule (Do unto others, as you want them to do to you), in how we love our neighbors. Not just the people living next door or working in the next office, but seeing each person we meet as a neighbor.

Loving your neighbor may not be the same as liking them. Rather it is each of us seeing everyone we meet as an individual and as deserving of God’s love because they, too, are royalty. We don’t have to be in competition with one another because God has enough love to go around.

It’s a trap that is easy to fall into. Our own insecurities make it so easy to try to find something “wrong” with our neighbor in order to feel better about ourselves. Jesus suggests a better way. He says, “Do not judge, and you will not be judged; do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap; for the measure you give will be the measure you get back.” (Matthew 7:1, Luke 6:37) The Golden Rule is one measure of how we can love, forgive, and give to one another.

Jesus then goes on to ask “Why do you see the speck in your neighbor’s eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye? Or how can you say to your neighbor, “Friend, let me take out the speck in your eye,” when you yourself do not see the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your neighbor’s eye.”

That log in my eye is my inability to see you as a fellow child of God. I can be happily superior when I notice that you have a ‘speck’ in your eye, while complacently ignoring the log blocking my own vision.

Golden is a call to Agape Love—active, unconditional, self-giving love as defined in I Corinthians 13:4-7. We’ve all heard the citation: “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” It’s easy to recite the words, but not always easy to live them. That’s where comes in.

Golden love—seats the despised at table.
Golden love—washes the feet of those who we differ with.
Golden love—embraces the leper.
Golden love—offers the coat you are using to the one who has none.
Golden love—puts others first.
Golden love—believes that everyone is a fellow beloved Child.

Animals can sometimes teach us more than anything else. Reader’s Digest recently highlighted animal heroes who saved their families in spectacular ways. There are innumerable stories about dogs helping raise orphaned squirrels or puppies or even tiger cubs. Recently one story made the email rounds about a cat who acts as a seeing eye helper to the family dog who is blind. Cashew is a blind 14 year old Lab and Libby is a 7 year old cat who goes everywhere with him to make sure he gets to his food and anywhere else he wants to go. It's a touching story, that teaches us something important.

If the creatures we call ‘dumb animals’ can cross species boundaries--even interacting with natural enemies, then we should be inspired to extend our hand across cultural boundaries without fear. We are each loved unconditionally by God. Jesus died for each person, not just those we consider good or proper. What can you do to love your neighbor?

Maybe it’s a note or card or email that says ‘hi.’
Perhaps it’s a thoughtful action like picking up a dropped paper in passing their desk.
Possibly it’s extending your hand to someone in need.
Or it might be just a hug that says ‘I’m here for you.’
Often it's just a smile as you pass a stranger on the street.
It could be that you feel the need to forgive someone who you feel has wronged you, keeping in mind that forgiveness is more about you letting go and moving on than about changing the other person or excusing what happened.

Share some of your ways of loving your neighbor. Doesn’t the act of friendship and kindness bring you into a closer relationship?

See you next week when the topic is "Loving Past Worry".

September 13, 2009

Golden Rule I...Love Yourself

Living the Golden Rule can only be done by living another ancient mandate: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and mind and soul and strength, and your neighbor as yourself.” (Leviticus 19:18, Matthew 22:37, Mark 12:28, Luke 10:25). It is one of the oldest commandments about how to live in community.

In Genesis 1 we learn that God created everything, including humankind, and declared “It is good.” In Michelangelo's famous depiction in the Sistine Chapel, we see man reaching toward God's finger in an image reminiscent of the way a baby grasps a parent's finger.
We are each a Beloved Child of the One who created us—the King of Kings. Because of that, we each deserve to be treated as being a Princess or Prince by one another!

Matt. 7:7-11 tells us that God loves us so much that when we, “Ask, and it will be given to you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.” Jesus asks, “Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for bread, will give a stone? Or if the child asks for a fish, will give a snake? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask him!”
In the same way this peacock mom is carefully watching and guiding her chick, (he's there between her feet and the bush), our loving Father gives us what we need. We each yearn to be treated as a Beloved Child, as a Princess or Prince. Too often we don’t believe we are loved by God. That rubs off in the way we treat others. We strive to grab all we can and to be first and “win” and forget that what we “do unto others” comes home to roost in their response to us.

The flip side is that when I realize that I’m a beloved child of the King of Kings, I can love myself—no matter what shape or size I am or what I may have done wrong in the past. Through God’s forgiveness I can start anew and live like a true member of the royal family. True royalty does not oppress, but rather eases the load of others. Loving yourself is the place to start living is: believing you are beloved of God. is: believing that God loves you, just as you are. is: loving yourself as God does. is: forgiving yourself for all the little and big mistakes, just like God does. is: letting God bless you. is: asking God for all you need. is: accepting God’s gifts day by day. is: living your life as God’s beloved child—a son or daughter of the King of Kings.

The little kitty certainly is contented and knows he's loved--how often do you feel that way? Start this journey toward living the Golden Rule by doing something nice for yourself.
Maybe it is as simple as telling yourself that you are valued. (Not really as simple as it sounds, sometimes.)
Perhaps it is allowing yourself to take some time to do nothing!
Could be reading that book you’ve been putting off.
Possibly loving yourself means treating yourself to a new outfit or a special meal.

What are some of the ways you love yourself? Don’t you feel more loving toward others when you care for yourself first?

See you next week for Agape Love...

September 6, 2009

Golden, an introduction

Nearly everyone knows what the Golden Rule is: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." Even more simply stated it is: “Treat others as you want to be treated.” It is part of Jesus’ teaching on life. It is found in both Matthew (7:21) and Luke (6:31).

There are some recent ‘social movements’ like “Pay it Forward” and “Random Acts of Kindness” that encourage us to think of the needs of others. Oprah Winfrey even gave $1000 to people so they can “make a difference” and People Magazine recognized everyday heroes who are making a difference. is a bit different. is not me alone or you alone. is Christian women and men choosing day by day and even moment by moment to make Jesus’ words their Rule of Life. is deciding to “Treat everyone in the way you would expect to be treated” in all your actions and relationships. is more than an ethical way of life. demands dedication and self sacrifice to consciously put other people first. calls us to be a living website manifesting God’s Golden Rule.

Easy—no. Rewarding—yes.

From the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament) to Native American spirituality and even Humanism and Wicca, the Golden Rule concept is found in most belief systems. Some of these statements sound very similar to “Do unto others as you would have them do to you.” Here are just a few examples.

"All things are our relatives; what we do to everything, we do to ourselves. All is really one." Black Elk
"Don't do things you wouldn't want to have done to you” British Humanist Society.
"An it harm no one, do what thou wilt." The Wiccan Rede.

In a world where everyone often seems to be at odds with everyone else, the Golden Rule is a good place to return to. How do you live out this Golden Rule, esp. when there is conflict and confusion? is a place to come to for an exchange of ideas on how we can live our lives by the Golden Rule and learn to treat others as we would like to be treated.

Golden is a challenge to change the way you interact with those in your life. Check back every week for meditations on living out You can share your successes and your failures by commenting so that we are all encouraged and strengthened.

Ecclesiastes (4:9-12) reminds us, “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up! Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”
Together we will strengthen each other in following the Golden Rule. John Donne states us “No man is an island entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main; if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as any manner of thy friends or of thine own were; any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind. And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.”

We are meant to live our faith journeys in community with one another and the internet can extend that community beyond our immediate friends and neighbors. For the next 4 weeks we will look at some citations in Matthew and Luke related to the Golden Rule and how they inform our actions toward our Family, Friends, Acquaintances, and even Strangers. A good place to start is with the Great Commandment. Come back next week to explore the connection between the two citations.

A little visual aid to help you is an Infinity Loop with the Golden Rule on one side and the Great Commandment on the other. When you twist it correctly, you will have a never ending loop and can trace the Golden Rule and then the Great Commandment without picking up your finger. A 2-sided paper has become an endless loop that reminds us of our plan to live the Golden Rule.
You can download directions at: