As mentioned in a previous post, most of my blogging will now be published on Medium. Looking for today’s Sunday Thoughts, you can find them here!
As mentioned in a previous post, most of my blogging will now be published on Medium. Looking for today’s Sunday Thoughts, you can find them here!
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.
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.
This has been a tough weekend. We said goodbye, we worked through some dark thoughts, and we experienced stress. I am almost certain that you, dear reader, had some similar trying days recently. Oh, I am not psychic, it’s called being human.
Today I have decided not to worry. I have decided to focus on love. I have decided to just be thankful for today. I know that the future holds some tough stuff that I will have to deal with too. It also holds amazing miracles I know is coming.
Again, I am not psychic, I know what I know.
I know that God almighty, the maker of all things, the holder of sparrows, the painter of sunsets, the curator of lilies, the feeder of the thousands, the drier of tears, the keeper of souls, the forgiver of sin…..and my Lord will give me all that I need. Nothing can take me from Him.
So, I will not worry or even think about tomorrow and what it might bring, I will be thankful for today.
Do Not Worry
25 “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?
28 “So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; 29 and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?
31 “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.
It is no secret that I am a different kind of Christian. I am transparent about what I believe. My Jesus is not like the picture of Jesus that is hanging in the Sunday school classroom. My Jesus does not have silky red and white robes with perfectly combed hair, a perfect completion, and smiling looking up heavenly with crystal blue eyes. My Jesus is dirty from his travels on the dusty Jerusalem roads. He is battered, bloody, poor, tired, thirsty…a fugitive criminal.
What would happen if he walked in chose a pew for himself and took a seat next to Mrs. Never Skip Church in her Sunday best dress and hat? She would smile at him and say good morning, I doubt it. My guess is she would scowl and slide over away from Him. When we attend church, we expect to see a certain group of people around us in the pews. Everyone dressed in his or her good clothes nodding at the pastor. Children listening and not crying disturbing the rest of us. Would Jesus be comfortable in your church family?
It is so easy to attend church on Sunday and walking out feeling good about ourselves. What good Christians we are for not hitting the snooze and staying home. Being a Christian is more than a Sunday and maybe a Wednesday occurrence.
Being a Christian is a daily existence. It is a living breathing part of your life. It is Jesus living through you. The real Jesus, not the made up good-looking one, but the Savior who died for our sins.
To be like Jesus we have to get out of the pew and into the world. We have to go and serve those in need. Many of us do lip service to this effect. Are you opening your doors to the homeless man on the corner? Come in, praise God with us, and let us feed your body and soul. Are you paying medical bills for the pregnant teenager in your youth group? More likely, the parishioners are gossiping about her behind her back and are looking down at her parents for raising a promiscuous daughter. It cannot be that your youth director chose not to discuss abstinence with the teenagers because some parents my get upset. No that’s not it.
As a church, Christians have to get out of that comfortable place where Sunday services feel safe and mundane. We need to be confrontational to the issues of our community. We have to get out there and touch people for Jesus. We have to feed the multitude, step in front of the stone throwers, wash dirty feet, and heal the hurting. We have to agree to change what we can and love everyone.
(Also published on Medium at https://medium.com/@loriogara)
A person asked me today what gift I got for Valentines Day. When I told them my significant other fixed my lunch for me before I went to work, he smiled at me and asked me how my day went when I got home and he told me that he loved me. The person said to me, sounds like a normal day, not a Valentines Day gift? Yeah, so?
As I look at all the Valentines Day posts on social media I am struck by the conformity of the holiday. I am not talking about the commercialism of the thing promoted by card companies, florists, and jewelers. Rather the mind set that because it is Valentines Day one must get a gift for their chosen special person. Really? I say, why wait for a made up holiday to let the most important person in your life know that you love them? Tell them today.
I would much rather have a my love tell me how important I am to him or have him express it by his day to day actions than for him to make a show of our relationship by sending an obnoxious bouquet of flowers that will be dead in a few days anyway.
How about doing all the little things that you did while you where pursuing the one you now have. If you are still new and are still wooing them, do not stop once you catch them.
For example, he texted me with this, “13140 days and counting…” When I asked him what he meant he said, “That’s how many days we have had love in our hearts for each other.”
That, my friend, is a gift, holiday or not.
I like that word, nonnegotiable. It has a very simple definition, not open to discussion or modification. I have a few nonnegotiable things in my life. Things that are important. Things that guide your life compass should be nonnegotiable.
Nonnegotiables mirror your values. The define what you will and won’t accept from others and from yourself. Nonnegotiables are the big-time deal breakers. They are unique to you.
For me it is simple, love is nonnegotiable. I love God, nonnegotiable. I either love you or not. If I love you, you are important to me. Even then my family is first. I put my phone on Do Not Disturb when I come home from work. I will only answer it for family, nonnegotiable.
If you do not make some things in your life nonnegotiable, people who do not care about you will take advantage of you. You have to be considerate and you have to be open to change; however, God does not want you to be a doormat.
All my life I had this image of where I would be when I became an adult. I am nothing like that image. I have not landed in the city that I thought I would live; however, I have a peaceful home. I am not be affluent as I imagined I would be; however, I do have a fabulous career that I worked hard for. I am not alone as I thought I would be. I do have an unbelievably great family, a loving man, brilliant children and awesome grand kids.
While that is true in a sense we are also bound by our station in life. Where we are in society, how much money we have and how much determination we have, and our level of discipline play a part of where we go in life. There is also the factor of our trust.
Our trust in ourselves and in our choices is vital to success. If we lack trust in just one of these areas we can fail, but if we lose our trust in God we are certain to fail. Will we trust God enough to provide for what we need? Will we allow him to lead us to our future? We have to trust that God is in control even when we feel He is not. We have to believe that He is there at work even if we can’t see any results yet. This is difficult and we often give up.
We can break those bounds and be more than what we think, more than society says we can be. We must not give up. We must keep trusting God. We can not allow the alternative to be an option. We can’t trust feelings or emotions or even what we see around us. We must trust ourselves, trust our gut. We must trust God is keeping His promise.
Someone asked me what is the main theme for my second novel, Almost There, and I answered redemption. Briana has to look her ugly past in the face, forgive herself and accept the forgiveness of God before she can move past it to a life of peace.
It’s like this, no one told me that when God forgives sin, he often makes you face your sin to learn from it and that, my friend, is forgiveness that hurts. It is painful to look your sin in the face and say, “I did that and I am truly sorry.” It is even more excruciating to look sin in the face and say, “Wow, that was me? I really did that?” Yes, you did.
God doesn’t offer a caveat on His grace. There is nothing you can do to repay the gift of redemption. You must take it with a remorseful heart. Part of that remorse is facing your sin for the dirty, ugly, pathetic, nasty thing that it is and learn from it. If you don’t see what it is for the truth of it, you risk a repeat performance and more of the same. You don’t have to be scared, God is with you. He forgave you. He will be there to wipe tears and heal the hurt.
Do you remember telling your mom that your leg hurt and she said it was growing pains? Pain isn’t always a bad thing. With facing your sin comes pain, but you must face it to grow in faith. You must realize where it was that God saved you from, what life you had that His grace redeemed you out of, and what mortal sin you were forgiven. When you face your self, your sin, you can grow into that person that God can use for His glory. If you don’t face your sin, deal with it and move on, then this life, this hard, painful, struggling, forgiven life is for nothing but your self-serving purpose, not God’s will.
Think about that thing you are avoiding looking at, that tucked away sin that needs light shined on it, yeah that one, deal with it, today. The sooner it is dealt with the sooner you can praise God for the redemption that follows. Briana learned that lesson the hard way.
Birthplace: Earth, Race: Human, Politics: Freedom, Religion: Love
Look at the description above….is that you? If not maybe you should reconsider being a human. I hear there are other planets that have space for you. Trust me, I know The Doctor.
All kidding aside, as humans we need the same things. We may desire other things, however our basic human needs are the same. I think we can all agree in the first two attributes, birthplace and race. It is when humans forget those and focus on politics and religion does the air get murky. As humans we like different things. We desire different things. We pursue different creative outlets.
We must learn soul-balance in a vacillating, changing world of differences. We must learn to be fearless. Stand up for humanity. Focus on what makes us human and love each other.
Believe in humanity.