Sunday Thoughts: God’s Day & Fun Day, What?

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We are lucky to live near one of God’s most beautiful creations. We live close to the beach. For those of you, Dear Readers, who have been on this journey with me for a while know that the beach, particularly Perdido Key is home to me and my family. (See page 21 in the Perdido Key Visitors Guide for my article about home)

The beach is for me like being in church. Not everyone will understand and that’s ok.  If you pray and ask God to meet you where you are, he will not let you down. He will be there.

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Today we will go to the beach. We will marvel at the beauty of God’s creation. We will sing songs of praise in the car. We will share the love of God with each other. I do not believe that God loves me less for not going to church on his day, but rather choosing to spend the day with my family out in nature that he created. There is nothing in the bible that says Sunday can’t also be a fun day.

Matthew 18:20 “For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” (NIV)

~Lori O’Gara

Sunday Thoughts: I am not that Kind of Christian

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 What’s love got to do with doing Church?

I was asked a fair question recently by a unaware person, nice person, who knew me once upon a time, in another life. She simply asked, “Why do you no longer go to ****** Church?” (Name of church omitted by me to protect the innocent.)

I gave her question some thought. I love my old church family. I still communicate with many of the some people I went to church with, so it wasn’t that I didn’t want to associate with them any more. I still consider myself an Episcopalian in a lot of ways, so it wasn’t the Church big “C” that I was avoiding. My reasons for not settling down with one church was simple really.

One church, one Christianity method of serving God does not have all the answers. Each in their own way put God in a box that they construct with interpretations of the Bible, traditions and human invented rules. They then expect me (and You), dear reader, to fit as a perfect conformed shape to hold that particular box. I am not very pliable for conformity to certain shaped boxes. Therefore I drop said box all too often. I find that I can’t live up to the expectations of what many of the box builders expect. It is better to save them and me the agony of trying to get me to reshape to fit their version of God. I simply walk away. No mention of love there.

I am not one of those Christians that think that only main stream Christianity is the way to serve God. I believe that all religions hold some truth of God and that saying one is better or more true than another is foolish. To say that an all powerful omnipresent God will only use one religion to commune with His human creation is ridiculous. To say that God will only answer to one name is equally arrogant. No mention of love in that. However, I digress….

I am not one of those Christians that say, “ I just don’t like organized religion.” I actually love it. The more structured and Scripture filled the better. I love the singing, praying, and bible dissection. I love the communion with God and fellow humans. I don’t even mind tithing. No, I like church.

I am not one of those Christians who blindly follow a teaching because I learn it in Church, so it must be true. I always take the time to study and research a truth for myself. I don’t like being told how to love God and humans. I don’t like being told that I must serve in certain ways through the church. I hate feeling like less of a Christian if I don’t go to every function or serve on committees. I hate the back biting and politics that come with church membership. Where’s the love in that? However again, I digress…..

I am not one of those Christians who follow a teaching because a preacher said I should. I also don’t like to be told that the message I got from God through my own prayer life was incorrect. Excuse me? It is not our place to judge other humans. God told me to love everyone and you are saying yes but not certain people? No thanks. I will follow what the Bible says and what God says on that one. Let me remind you what the Bible says about that, good Christian….

I believe that love is the number one point of being a Christian. Sharing God’s love by following Christ’s example, however that looks like for you is what makes you a Christian. Not what church you walk in to or not.

~Lori O’Gara

(Lori is a novelist and self proclaimed expert on how to be a non traditional, people loving, happy life living Christian. Read more about her here.)

Article also published on Medium. 

Sunday Thoughts: Rest in God

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Sometimes you just find yourself exhausted. Not the sleepy tired that goes away with a good night’s sleep but the bone weary tired. You know the one, you go to bed with it and wake up with it the next morning.

Yeah, that one. We knew it is coming because we begin to feel it in the middle of the day. It taps us on the shoulder and says hey, how about a nap? Usually we are standing at work putting our best customer service smiles on, waiting in the grocery store line or some other place that frowns upon sleeping, like sitting in church on Sunday morning.

Excuse me mam, you are storing.

God tells us this sort of soul tired is to be expected. ““Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” The burden he is talking about isn’t the kind you physically carry but the emotional one that changes from day to day. Emotional burden come from many causes. Life causes stress good and bad. Many people are living with emotional burden and do not show it because they have found a way to cope. They might be repressing their emotions and this can often be more damaging. Coping and repressing brings the exhaustion that sleep won’t fix. Sharing the burden with someone you trust and making a plan to deal with it is one way to handle the burden.

This burden is not always because life is difficult or from something bad. Even when life is good we have this burden. It may be the overwhelming happiness that you are terrified you may loose, It may be the responsibility of supporting a family, because well, children like to eat. Life may be all picket fences and daisy chains that is making you tired.

Sometimes you just need to rest. Stop what you are doing, give the burden to God, lay down and rest.

Believe in the power of restoring rest and letting God handle your stuff.

~Lori O’Gara

(Also published on Medium.com)

Sunday Thoughts: He Lives

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Resurrection of Jesus has many consequences for us today. It means that we have a living reason to stand for truth, a hope for the future and a foundation to place our faith. Not everyone who was lucky enough to be there when Jesus vacated the tomb believed He lived.  I am amazed that even after Jesus was seen by several people after He was risen, that people still didn’t believe it. The writers of the four Gospels either had themselves been witnesses or were relating the accounts of eyewitnesses. The apostles appealed to common knowledge concerning the facts of the resurrection. Everyone at that time was talking about it.

When He ascended into heaven over five hundred people witnessed His departure. Yet, some still did not believe what they saw. Those that did believe that Jesus was in fact alive and returned to His heavenly home told everyone they encountered. They spread the gospel far and wide. As a result they were  beaten, stoned to death, thrown to the lions, tortured and crucified.  Even in the face of fear, the face of death, they laid down their lives as  proof of the truth of their message.

Jesus lives, He died for us and rose again.

He lives. What’s more He will return for us!

We must believe in the Resurrection of Christ.  Paul puts the Resurrection of Jesus this way (1 Corinthians 15:14-17) “And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. 15 More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins.”

We are forgiven.  We are not under the threat of death if we share the gospel, yet we are more often than not silent. We go about our daily lives faithful, but how much are we sharing the gospel?

We haven’t seen Him. We never walked and talked with Him, we certainly did not get to witness His death, burial, His Resurrection and  Ascension to the Father, but we believe in the person, the divinity for Jesus. We should be telling everyone! Sharing the gospel with everyone. What do we have to lose?

Galatians 2: 20 “I have been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So the life I now live in the body, I live because of the faithfulness of the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

What are you waiting for?  Tell everyone about the life, death, Resurrection and love of Christ.

Happy Easter.

~Lori O’Gara

 

What is a Marriage?

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What is marriage? Is it a wedding ceremony and a license? Is it a commitment to love honor and obey? Marriage is defined by Webster’s as the state of being united to a person of the opposite sex as husband or wife in a consensual and contractual relationship recognized by law or by the rite by which the married status is effected, an intimate or close union. No mention of love.

Marriage existed before any government was organized. For thousands of years, people were getting married without a marriage license. Even today, there are some countries that have no governmental recognition of marriage and no legal requirements for marriage. Government endorsement is usually necessary for certain benefits, however. In American history, up to around the 1920’s, there was no such thing as a marriage license. The states invented them as a way to dictate who could and could not get married. Primarily as a way to stop white people from marrying black people. Still no mention of love.

Some people believe that a man and a woman are married in God’s eyes when they have completed some kind of formal wedding ceremony. There is an event, action, covenant, vow, or proclamation that is recognized as declaring a man and woman to be married. Love may be present, maybe not.

But does the very act of getting married constitute a true partnership? Does connecting yourself to another in the bonds of marriage mean that you are equally respected, loved or wanted?

Though many of my characters that I write choose to get married, I for one do not like what marriage has become in today’s society. It is an institution that gives people carte blanche to dictate what another person can and can’t do. I consider myself an expert on how not to be a spouse and how not to preform life as a married person. I should know I have had three failed marriages. Just as it takes two to make a marriage work it takes two to destroy one as well. I know, I have been there. Usually it plays out that one person gives up sooner in the marital timeline than the other. The vow is broken, hurt happens and loss is felt. Often a marriage dies long before the participants are willing to admit it. How many times have you known people who stayed married for the sake of the children or other reason that is not that they truly liked being together? Notice I said marriage not love.

Love is a choice. Love is a promise to cherish the other person. 

You choose to love or not. There are couples who are more devoted to each other without a marriage license than others who have been married for years. It is society that has conditioned us to believe that those who are in committed relationships but are not legally married are somehow not valid partnerships. Somehow we are taught to believe that two people can’t be devoted if they do not get married or we think maybe they don’t love each other, trust each other, or care about each other enough to get married.

Marriage as ordained by God is a spiritual connection that is grounded in faith not government. Faith in God, faith in each other and faith in your choice to be together. It is not based on the human’s faulty idea of marriage that is a contract and dictated by social norms. It is the choice and promise of commitment to that one other person that is important. Love and devotion do not require a piece of paper or even a ceremony. Ultimately, that is between the couple and God. Only God knows our true heart (1 John 3:20).

A marriage license is just a piece of paper. If there is no love there is no point.

~Lori O’Gara

(Also published on Medium.com)

Sinners Only

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When you think you are not good enough. When you feel worthless. When you want to give up.  Remember God uses the broken. He prefers the company of sinners. Throughout history we see God using imperfect people to get things done. You are in good company. Here are a few of your companions:

Abraham was a senior citizen.
Issac was a daydream believer.
Elijah was suicidal.
Joseph was abused and broken.
Job ran away from responsibility and went bankrupt.
Moses was a murderer and he sucked at public speaking.
Gideon was scared.
Samson used women for sex and liked it.
Rahab was a sex addict and a prostitute.
Samaritan woman was divorced many times and had a live-in boyfriend.
Noah liked to drink wine, a lot.
Jacob was a cheater and was good at it.
David murdered his lover’s husband, so he could keep her.
Peter denied truth.
Martha worried about everything all the time.
Zacchaeus was a greedy little man.
Lazerus was dead…long dead.
Paul brutally killed Christians.

Then there was Jesus. He was a tradesman with a skill. He was a carpenter. He could have lived a life of privilege. Instead he chose to be with the homeless, hookers, thieves and liars. He spent all his time with the imperfect people, you know,  the normal ones. He empowered them to do the will of God.

So, what makes you think you are so special that you can wallow in self pity?

Get up. Do the thing you have been scared to do.

~Lori O’Gara

Thank you!

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Well met to all of you who came out to the Gulf Coast Ren Faire! The O’Gara’s had a grand time meeting all of you.

May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind always be at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
and rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.

Thank you!

The O’Gara Clan

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