Unless you are blind, when you encounter someone, you probably use the information their facial expression provides you to help assess their mood. Whether they are angry, sad, or somewhere in between, their smile, or lack of one, can go a long way toward helping you figure out where they are emotionally. However, these days many people are wearing masks when out in public in an effort to slow transmission of the covid 19 virus. In that case, we automatically turn to another major source of body language, the eyes. It’s often said that eyes are a gateway to the soul. Eyes help us see what’s going on inside another person. Meeting, or failing to meet another person’s gaze can often be a clue in itself. With practice, study of the eyes can even tell you whether the person you’re interacting with is being genuine. Poker players will often wear dark glasses in an attempt to keep other players from guessing the quality of their hand.
More about eyes:
22 “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. 23 But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness! Matthew 6:22-23 NIV
Haughty eyes and a proud heart, the lamp of the wicked, are sin. Proverbs 21:4 ESV
Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things; and give me life in your ways. Psalm 119:37 ESV
22 “All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows who the Son is except the Father, and no one knows who the Father is except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.”23 Then he turned to his disciples and said privately, “Blessed are the eyes that see what you see. 24 For I tell you that many prophets and kings wanted to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.” Luke 10:22-24 NIV
“When a person starts to talk about their dreams, it’s as if something bubbles up from within. Their eyes brighten, their face glows, and you can feel the excitement in their words.” John Maxwell
“It is necessary to keep one’s compass in one’s eyes and not in the hand, for the hands execute, but the eye judges.” Michelangelo
The pane of your windows barrier between outside and in melts away with emotion through that membrane so thin Thoughts come/go, an instant without attention you might miss Truth escapes your edit though you try to hold it like a fist When invited, God’s spirit makes a home in the heart He resides so one to another, sister and brother His love shines through the eyes
So I kneel humbly in awe before the Father of our Lord Jesus, the Messiah, the perfect Father of every father and child in heaven and on the earth. And I pray that he would unveil within you the unlimited riches of his glory and favor until supernatural strength floods your innermost being with his divine might and explosive power. Then, by constantly using your faith, the life of Christ will be released deep inside you, and the resting place of his love will become the very source and root of your life. Ephesians 3:14-19 The Passion Translation (TPT)
Earlier this week I was helping a gentleman at work who is one of our regular customers. He’s one of those folks it’s just a pleasure to be around, always encouraging and friendly. No matter what kind of day you’re having, people like this have a way of making it better. On this day in particular I noticed he was wearing a unique cross. It had a sort of steampunk metal look to it, and I told him I liked it. In reply, he said it was a gift from a friend when he moved years ago. Here’s the story. My friend worked for one of those laundry delivery companies that serve businesses. One day, as he was making his rounds, he came to one shop in particular where he had established a friendly rapport with a lady who worked there who happened to be African American. He told her he was leaving the area and this would be his last time delivering to them. She said, “Wait, I have something for you.” She disappeared into the back, and when she came out she had the cross in her hand and asked him to take it. He was surprised, and when he told her as much, she said the reason she was giving him the cross was he was the first white man who had ever called her, “ma’am.” I was both moved and taken aback by the story. Thinking this must have been a very long time ago, not that racism should have ever been the norm, I asked him what year this happened. He said it was 1995. It seems to me our relationships with people of different colors and cultures have been moving forward at a snail’s pace, that is, when they are moving forward at all. I’m concerned that not enough attitudes have shifted since my friend was given his cross.
There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations—these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit . . . Next to the blessed sacrament itself, your neighbor is the holiest object presented to your senses. C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory and Other Addresses (New York; Harper-Collins, 2001, first paperback edition).
Jesus said to love God with everything you have and love your neighbor as yourself. How many days have I begun, leaving those words on the shelf? It’s easy to treat well those who do the same. It’s easy to not fear those with similar skin and names. Let me be the bridge to Jesus’ love even when it’s not natural or easy.
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:34-35 ESV
“Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.” Romans 13:8 ESV
My children, our love should not be just words and talk; it must be true love, which shows itself in action. 1 John 3:18
“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.” Matthew 5:17-18 ESV
When Christians get together and discuss the state of the world and how it relates to them, the conversation often turns to the general decline in standards of conduct and the increase of sinful behavior. We can probably agree that it’s easier than ever to step across the line when the other side is just a click away, but anyone questioning the growing absence of a moral compass may be judged as being unfairly restrictive of freedom of expression. Consider the way today’s world views and interacts with Christians. While many locations around the globe range from being restrictive to downright dangerous for Christ-followers, even countries with a Christian tradition are finding ways to marginalize them. So it’s no surprise that the church finds itself trying to choose someplace between adopting a foxhole mentality of drawing away from the world to the point we risk losing touch with our communities to becoming just another political group vying for its own special interests. Just how are we to be the salt of the earth? I’m convinced we must love each other desperately, sacrificing for each other while at the same time standing out as a beacon of light for our communities, and not just the parts of our communities easiest to love.
Love isn’t easy, not as Jesus commanded. And it wasn’t just the Pharisees our Lord reprimanded.
In our age love ranges from dear to trivial, from life-giving to simply convivial.
But to impact our world nearly enough, beyond our judgement, they must know us by our love.
The first funeral I remember is one I didn’t go to. I don’t know if my parents decided I was too young or if I was given the choice of going and decided to opt out. I do remember what I spent the service’s time doing while I was waiting at my aunt’s house: I read a book called, “Rascal,” by Sterling North. Wonderful book, but I digress. For as long as we have records to tell us what humans have been up to on earth, we’ve had rituals associated with death. Christians believe a person’s afterlife experience has everything to do with whether the man or woman asked for forgiveness of their sins and committed to a relationship with Jesus Christ. But even within the Christian faith, funerals and memorial services vary greatly in style and tone. What’s true of an Irish Catholic service is not for an Irish Protestant. What’s true of Greek Orthodox is not for the Southern Baptist, and so on and so on. Any way you slice it, these celebrations of life can be tricky affairs for our emotions to handle. The grieving process involves pain, even when the person we’re saying goodbye to left a long and fulfilling life. If we’re not ready for them to go, or if the hole left in our life seems impossible to fill, the trauma can take a lifetime to resolve, if it’s ever resolved at all. It may sound trite, but I’m convinced how we handle death has a lot to do with how we handle life. What I mean by that is, if you had told your loved one all the ways they had contributed to and enriched your life, if you had told them not just that you loved them, but why, would it make dealing with their passing much, much better? Beyond that, and beyond whether it would be a good thing to do, isn’t it absolutely the essential thing to do? I believe it is.
If I didn’t say, loved one, how much I love you, if I didn’t say how much and all the whys, if I put it off till all of our todays ran out, would there be too much pain to say goodbye?
If I didn’t lift you up when you were discouraged, feed you when you were too weak, If I didn’t give you the words Jesus said were most important, when the time came to say goodbye, how could I speak?
Sometimes in life we see death coming, but too often it comes and we didn’t know. Since we might not see tomorrow the people we care for today, let’s not put off the loving words that we owe.
“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going. Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.” John 14:1-7 ESV
So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.
Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.
1 Peter 2:17
My first job was working for our family business. In the little town where I grew up that happened to be a service station. Typical of small-town America, “Jack Tipple Motors” did everything from selling and servicing cars to fixing lawn mowers and pulling wayward motorists out of ditches. Beginning in my adolescence, I learned the subtleties of pushing a broom and as I got older did other jobs like running out to the gas pump when a car made the bell ding. That’s back when “full service” was the norm. My dad taught me by example and instruction the way I should conduct myself when serving the public. Although I never had the knack or inclination for the technical aspect of the business my Dad was in, I learned how to work hard, be reliable, and treat people with respect and courtesy.
One such learning opportunity came when a sales representative was visiting the shop one day. He had just finished showing my dad a display and I thought this would be a great opportunity to show off something witty I had probably picked up watching TV. Although my dad had a sense of humor, I had not yet learned the art of when to speak up and when to remain silent. This was probably not the first, and certainly not the last time I would have to learn this sometimes painful lesson. As the sales rep wound up his talk I piped up and asked, “Got any more bright ideas?” Everything stopped. Rather than the hearty laughter and knee-slapping I expected from the adults in the room, there was silence, an expression of hurt from the salesman, and anger from my dad. I had managed to simultaneously embarrass the salesman and cause my father to lose face. I don’t remember the details of what I was told after being marched off to our office. The lecture was brief, heated, and included my going back to the salesman and tearfully saying I was sorry. After all these years, the memory of that moment still makes me cringe.
Are you a miser?
Is respect your currency?
Do you dole it out
to those you think most godly?
Are you only a respecter
of those who stroke your ego?
before saying no.
Do you jealously guard
what you believe your place to be?
And who put you there? Was God the authority?
The love of God
we express for all we meet
share a dose of dignity.
who needs a friend,
You can’t lift someone up
by looking down on them.
“I am fond of pigs. Dogs look up to us. Cats look down on us. Pigs treat us as equals.”
It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.
Deuteronomy 31:8 ESV
Give me a sign of your goodness, that my enemies may see it and be put to shame, for you, Lord, have helped me and comforted me.
Psalm 86:17 NIV
Inspiration came to me this week via my allergies. Here’s why. I recently ordered some handkerchiefs, because… well, when your need is as great as mine, tissues just don’t cut it. By the way, did you know that a standard men’s handkerchief is 16 x 16 inches? And if you want something smaller, you have to get women’s handkerchiefs. And they’re more expensive. For less of the same material. They call that the pink tax. But I digress.
One of my earliest memories of my dad was a time as a small boy when I was hurting. I don’t know whether I was suffering from an ear infection or just a garden variety earache, but whatever it was, it was causing me a considerable amount of pain. I don’t know what other steps were being taken to alleviate my distress but seeing how upset I was, my dad gave me his red handkerchief. Aside from being practical, at that moment it simply felt like love. Now, when I pull out my own handkerchief, the material reminds me of that moment and my father’s love.
Some bit of comfort,
from a father to a child
can spell the difference
between calm and despair.
bound up in a bit of cloth,
can be as vital
to the one who needs it
Not every effort we make
to share God’s love
need be expensive
Sometimes all we need to share is a smile.
Sometimes all we need to give is a hand.
The name of the Lord is a strong tower. The righteous run into it and are safe.