Sheep or Goats?

“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. Then the king will say

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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 these least brothers of mine, you did for me.’ 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 eternal life.” ~Matthew 25:31-46 (NABRE)

This verse from Matthew was on my heart this morning when I woke up. I’d had a dream that I had been killed in a car accident and found myself at my time of judgement. Images flashed before me and I recognized them as times in my life when I was less than Christ-like. I hit my knees, in tears, begging for forgiveness and mercy, but feeling like I deserved neither. That’s when I woke up. I’m not sure if I would have then been shown the better moments in my life, but it was a very sobering dream.

Ever since the first time I heard this passage it has become my biggest fear. Will I be numbered among the goats? Despite my best efforts, will I still fall short and be sent to gather with the goats?

I firmly believe that our God is loving and merciful, and despite our many failings, He will forgive us if we are truly repentant. Yet, we can’t rely on just our faith to get us into His kingdom. We must do our best to care for the least among us and make sure that we are carrying out Christ’s mission on earth. Have you fed the hungry? Have you clothed the naked? I don’t believe that we have to check off every item on the list in order to get in, but you need to try to do at least a few of these as you can.

So what do you think? Will you be numbered among the sheep or the goats?

“Deliver us from evil…”

Finally, draw your strength from the Lord and from his mighty power. Put on the armor of God so that you may be able to stand firm against the tactics of the devil. For our struggle is not with flesh and blood but with the principalities, with the powers, with the world rulers of this present darkness, with the evil spirits in the heavens.

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Therefore, put on the armor of God, that you may be able to resist on the evil day and, having done everything, to hold your ground. So stand fast with your loins girded in truth, clothed with righteousness as a breastplate, and your feet shod in readiness for the gospel of peace. In all circumstances, hold faith as a shield, to quench all [the] flaming arrows of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. ~Ephesians 6:10-17 (NABRE)

When I look around at the insanity that seems to be taking over the world I just can’t understand it. How did we get here? At a base level I like to think that people are basically good. If they are good, then why is there so much hatred, ugliness and turmoil? The very people who are screaming about tolerance are the first ones to try to bully you into compliance. What happened to them? Why do they act like this?

Is it possible that when we started removing God from our schools, our government and our daily lives that we opened up a giant door for the devil to enter? When we removed the shame and stigma from certain behaviors it’s almost as if we were silently saying that they are actually okay to do. Can you hear the door opening even more? At this point I think that we’ve actually ripped the door off and enlarged the hole for the devil to come through.

A few years ago I actually stopped listening to mainstream country music. I grew up listening to George Strait, Diamond Rio, Garth Brooks, etc. After I started attending church regularly and reading God’s word I realized that I no longer wanted to internalize the kinds of lyrics I was hearing on the radio. Most of the songs celebrated drinking, partying, and just having “fun.” That wasn’t what I wanted to listen to anymore. I have to say that I really don’t miss it.

Respect. Love. Treat others as you would want to be treated. Why don’t people follow this anymore? As I’m typing this post it’s 10 pm and I should really be heading to bed because I have to work in the morning. However, there is a person about a block away who is setting off full size fireworks. I can feel the concussion of them before I hear the bang. Why? Where is the respect for their neighbors who are trying to sleep? I should have been fast asleep by now and would NOT have been happy being woken up by their stupid fireworks. I’m trying not to get angry because that’s when you give evil more power. However, I know the person setting off the fireworks is NOT going to listen to reason and realize that they are being an idiot.

Instead, I need to put on the armor of God. I need to stand firm in the Truth. I need to gird my heart from the evil thoughts of punching the fireworks person in the face. I need to find the love in my heart for my fellow man. I just wish that the armor of God included ear plugs of Peace.

Dear Lord, the world is crazy. There are days when I don’t know how I’m supposed to keep going when everything is hitting me in the heart. How can I love others when they make themselves so unlovable? Please help me keep your words on my lips and in my heart. Let me see others through your eyes. And Lord, when all else fails, please dampen their fireworks so that my neighborhood can have one peaceful night this summer. Amen.


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He departed from there and came to his native place, accompanied by his disciples. When the sabbath came he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astonished. They said, “Where did this man get all this? What kind of wisdom has been given him? What mighty deeds are wrought by his hands! Is he not

the carpenter, the son of Mary, and the brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? And are not his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him. Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his native place and among his own kin and in his own house.” So he was not able to perform any mighty deed there, apart from curing a few sick people by laying his hands on them. He was amazed at their lack of faith. ~Mark 6:1-6a (NABRE)

Prior to Jesus arriving in his home town he had been traveling around teaching and performing miracles. Everywhere he went people would crowd around him asking to be healed. They huddled close to hear his teachings. There was the woman with the hemorrhage who had so much faith that she knew if she only touched his clothes that she would be healed. Complete strangers had such faith in him that they sought him out. I do believe that Jesus was more humble than most of us would be in this situation. If it was me, I would be feeling good about all the things I was doing and the number of people showing up to hear what I had to say. He was working toward rock star status. His groupies followed him from town-to-town and there were the crowds crushing around just to be near him.

Then he arrived in his home town. This is the place where he should be an even bigger star, right? They knew him before he went out and became important. They acknowledge that he has done might deeds and that he speaks a lot of wisdom, yet in the end they reject him and have little faith. I can almost hear one of the men in the neighborhood who used to play ball with Jesus when they were younger, “Yeah, I knew Jesus before he became famous. Sure, he can heal the blind, but when we were kids he never wanted to do anything fun. We would play tricks on our other friends, but he was too good to join in on the fun. He’s nothing special. I don’t understand what all the hoopla was about. It’s just Jesus.”

Many people feel like that in their own families. They go out into the world and make a career for themselves or gain notoriety for something they’ve done. Yet, when they go home they don’t carry the same status. They are treated just like they were before they made a name for themselves. Some people might be very happy with this kind of treatment. Others, like Jesus, are disappointed because not only are they being rejected, but the good that they can do is being rejected as well. How many people in Nazareth could have benefitted from not only the healings, but also the knowledge and faith in God that Jesus was teaching?

Jesus tells us that this is going to happen, but you must stick strong to your principles. No matter what people tell you or ridicule you, your belief in Jesus and your love of God must always come first. You can’t give into the feelings of rejection that might happen due to your faith.

“I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing! There is a baptism with which I must be baptized, and how great is my anguish until it is accomplished! Do you think that I have come to establish peace on the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. From now on a household of five will be divided, three against two and two against three; a father will be divided against his son and a son against his father, a mother against her daughter and a daughter against her mother, a mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.”

Luke 12:49-53 (NABRE)

This verse from Luke is very personal to me. When I think about rejection in the Bible this verse always comes to mind. I grew up in a household that considered ourselves to be Methodist, yet we really didn’t attend church or talk a whole lot about God. As Protestants we really didn’t care for Catholics and how we thought they were a bunch of hypocrites who would “sin” throughout the week and then be considered clean after going to confession. Then I married my husband and decided that I wanted to become a Catholic. While going through RCIA (Roman Catholic Initiation for Adults) I read the Bible for the first time and talked about how the readings affected me. I never really talked to my parents or sister about becoming Catholic because I didn’t think they would be very happy about it. I didn’t want to see the disappointment in their eyes or know what they were thinking about the Catholic faith. My parents love me very much and are supportive of me, even if we don’t see things from the same point of view. At this time in my life I knew that a relationship with God, and one formed in the Catholic church, was very important to me. When I read this verse from Luke I knew that this could possibly be my reality. I knew that I would choose my faith over my parents’ feelings.

Rejection hurts, no matter who is rejecting you. If you are sticking to your faith and principles then it doesn’t matter who rejects you here on earth because your heavenly Father will welcome you with open arms. Just keep the love of God in your heart and let the holy Spirit move you. You are wonderfully made in God’s own image. You are loved.

Faith and Hope

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Since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access [by faith] to this grace in which we stand, and we boast in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we even boast of our afflictions, knowing that affliction produces endurance, and endurance, proven character,

and proven character, hope, and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the holy Spirit that has been given to us. For Christ, while we were still helpless, yet died at the appointed time for the ungodly. Indeed, only with difficulty does one die for a just person, though perhaps for a good person one might even find courage to die. But God proves his love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us. How much more then, since we are now justified by his blood, will we be saved through him from the wrath. Indeed, if, while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, how much more, once reconciled, will we be saved by his life. Not only that, but we also boast of God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation. ~ Romans 5:1-11 (NABRE)

The Greatest Generation. What comes to mind when you hear that phrase? Take a moment to roll through the images that pop into your head. In my mind I see dirty, skinny little kids wearing rags, surrounded by dry dusty ground in a photograph showing the Dust Bowl. I then see the black and white news reel images of WWII airplanes engaged in battle, images of sailors scrambling for their posts as their ships come under attack, and bombers dropping their cargo on the enemy below. I see the women working in factories to keep the war effort going at home.

This generation of people was known as the “greatest” because of what they endured and how they overcame it. They started out life by surviving the Great Depression and then they headed off to war to fight the terrible evil that was spreading across Europe (and would eventually include South East Asia). This generation of people had grit, power and determination. They saw an evil being committed so they attacked it head on. When the war was over they went back home and got back to living life. They didn’t ask for recognition, awards or compensation. In fact, if you’ve ever known a WWII veteran they often won’t talk about what happened during the war. They did what they had to do and then they came home to get on with life.

… affliction produces endurance, and endurance, proven character, and proven character, hope…

Romans 5:3-4

Most of our greatest successes come after we’ve slogged through a lot of hard work, turmoil and trouble. It is only by facing problems, figuring out how to surmount them and then actually conquering them that we can learn from them. We take that knowledge and we build upon it when we hit the next obstacle. Every time you overcome an obstacle it builds confidence in yourself. Take a moment to think about this statement. Think of the last time that you overcame some kind of problem that required you to dig down deep and find the resources to get past it. How did you feel when you realized that the problem was behind you? Doesn’t that knowledge give you courage and confidence to confront the next one that pops up?

Parents and mentors refer to this kind of gained knowledge as Tough Love. Could they tell their children how to overcome the problem? Could they get in there and possibly help their children through it, or solve it themselves so that the children don’t have to even deal with it? Of course, but that doesn’t really help that child in the long run. They don’t learn how to endure or suffer through an issue. They don’t even learn how to approach a problem and solve it on their own. You do a huge disservice to a child by making their life so easy that they never have to learn how to do anything themselves. They grow into young adults who are “triggered” and easily offended, so they need “safe spaces” in order to cope. Seriously? Jesus’ entire ministry was a new movement and new way of thinking that offended the religious leaders at that time. Jesus even told his disciples that they would be hated in Jesus’ name, but I can’t find anywhere in the Bible where it says that he provided them with “safe spaces.” There’s only one safe space and none of us will get there until we’ve walked through the trial and tribulations of this world and are welcomed into the next. When we are in His presence, then we will know that we’ve reached the ultimate safe space.

The Greatest of These is Love

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“You wives should be subordinate to your husbands so that, even if some disobey the word, they may be won over without a word by their wives’ conduct when they observe your reverent and chaste behavior. Your adornment should not be an external one: braiding the hair, wearing gold jewelry, or dressing in fine clothes, but rather the hidden character of

the heart, expressed in the imperishable beauty of a gentle and calm disposition, which is precious in the sight of God. For this is also how the holy women who hoped in God once used to adorn themselves and were subordinate to their husbands; thus Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him ‘lord.’ You are her children when you do what is good and fear no intimidation.

Likewise, you husbands should live with your wives in understanding, showing honor to the weaker female sex, since we are joint heirs of the gift of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.

Finally, all of you, be of one mind, sympathetic , loving toward one another, compassionate, humble. Do not return evil for evil, or insult for insult; but, on the contrary, a blessing, because to this you were called, that you might inherit a blessing.” ~ 1 Peter 3:1-9 (NABRE)

Before you start calling me a sexist and claiming that I’m suggesting that women should act as slaves to their husbands I want you to stop, take a breath and relax. First off, we need to realize that when Paul wrote this letter there was a much different view of marriage as compared to today. And even though he was writing for that audience, we can still take this advice and use it. If you take off your Offended glasses and read this passage again you should see that what Paul is trying to get at is that a relationship needs to be based on mutual respect, loving each other for what’s on the inside, and not for what can only be seen on the outside. In Paul’s time women had very little rights and often were treated as property. That’s why this was such a huge statement for him to make. As Christians we are called to love one another as God loves us knowing that ALL of us have an equal share in God’s kingdom. When we are standing in front of Him it’s not going to matter what gender we are, how tall we are, how rich we are or how good looking we might be. What does God care about? The heart.

When I was growing up we didn’t attend church and I knew very little scripture. What I did know, though, was The Golden Rule. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you (“You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” ~ Matthew 22:39). My mom said that all the time, and it’s good advice. No matter what type of relationship you are in you should always consider your behavior and are you treating the other person as you would want to be treated? Do you apologize when you realize you might have mistreated the other person? That is very important to me in my relationships, but especially in my marriage. I have apologized to my husband for misdirected anger that he didn’t deserve because that was the right thing to do.

How often do you give yourself a break, and then you turn around and judge others for doing the exact same thing? It’s okay that the dishes didn’t get done tonight because you had a rough day and all you want to do is lose yourself in your sewing, but it’s not okay that the grass didn’t get cut (because your spouse was tired after a 12 hour shift at work)? On the other hand, after you got home from work all you did was watch TV and yet you expect your spouse to cook dinner even though they worked outside the home all day, too?

Love. Honor. Respect. Sacrifice. These are things that Jesus did for all of us and we are called to share that Love. Think of somebody who truly lives out this calling. I always think of Mother Theresa. She loved and respected everybody she met, no matter what they looked like or who they were. She didn’t treat any of the world leaders better than she treated the lepers under her care. To her they were all sons and daughters of God, and she treated them as if they were Jesus in the flesh. I can only imagine how just being in her presence had to be very similar to being in the presence of Jesus. You would feel as if you were being enveloped by love and it was shedding light on all of the darkness in your life. THAT is the kind of adornment that Paul says you should put on instead of gold or fancy clothes.

This scripture passage actually came into my head tonight after my husband challenged me to write a faith post based on the conversation we had at his work bench. I had related a conversation to him that was held between two college interns where they didn’t feel any girl was worth a $5k engagement ring. He agreed and I teased him about the value of the ring he gave me. I said something along the lines of, “I was just happy you decided that you wanted to be stuck with me.” When he asked why I would think that, I pointed to how I was dressed… my sweat skirt (not sweat pants, but a skirt), a 25 year old t-shirt, Crocs and I was wearing a sling pouch that I put my cat in to hold him when he is needy (but I need one hand available to do other things). My husband’s reply was, “Maybe that’s my type.” And it really is. He honestly doesn’t care about what I am wearing, how I look or if I have a huge zit on my nose. He loves me for who I am on the inside.

Love. Respect. Honor. Sacrifice. Understanding. Compassion. Humility. Forgiveness. That’s what it’s all about. Whether it’s your relationship with your spouse or your relationship with your neighbor. This is the secret to world peace. If we all loved each other in this way then it wouldn’t matter how many weapons each country had because they wouldn’t want to use them. Love is not perfect and it’s not easy. We are going to mess up because we are human, but we have Jesus as the greatest model for all of these behaviors. Just do it… love like Jesus.