Human

What do you think when you hear, “he/she is only human?” I guess most would say it is an often-used phrase to excuse one’s mistakes. One dictionary defines a human as a living creature, “especially susceptible to weakness.”

One way to differentiate us from other living creatures is that we make tools, we cook our food, we wear clothing, among millions of examples. One major difference is we are constantly making moral and ethical decisions where most creatures operate mostly on instinct. When we look to the Bible in the Hebrew scriptures we are told we are created in God’s image, and in Jesus the early church fought over his nature. I think not only Christians but people of many faiths would agree that he epitomized the full potential of humankind.
So, next time you hear, “He is only human” think of the phrase as something different. Being human is a great responsibility and privilege, an opportunity to be more like Christ in thought and deed.

Thanks

Usually when we sit down to dinner with the grandkids one of them asks, “Can I say the blessing?” I was recently reminded about remembering to say thanks and making it a habit. Our good friend Marty, is in Cleveland anxiously waiting a lung transplant. It brought back memories of my wait over four years ago and how thankful I am for my own transplant. It is easy to take for granted “life.” And like most blessing, unless we are in the habit of giving thanks for each of our many blessing, including life itself, we can quickly forget how vulnerable we all are, even if you’ve barely escaped death once before.

When I watch with admiring eyes my close friend fight for life, and remember the strength of other friends overcome cancer and heart troubles, I feel guilty for not being appreciative enough for my “miracle.” I also remember those promises I made to make every day count. That includes beginning the day with a thank you to God, George, family, and friends.

As I have traveled this summer plugging my book, When Men Betray, I’ve been asked a lot of questions. Usually at some point in our conversation I let it slip that I am living my life as well as it has ever been lived. However, Marty’s wait and strength have reminded me to be more thankful, and to take a little better care of this life I’ve been given.

So, now when I hear one of my grandchildren ask, “can I say the blessing,” my response of “Of Course” has a little deeper meaning.

Icon

What do you think about when you hear the word “Icon.” For today’s kids it might mean an image on their computer’s desktop. For many we might think about a religious icon — a distorted figure of a religious figure. In the original Greek icon means image, and the ten commandments prohibit the making of “graven images.”

To this day, Judaism has no statues, mosaics, or stained glass windows of Moses, Abraham or other historical figures in Jewish History. Islam takes the Ten Commandments quite literally, and no images of Muhammed are allowed at all whether they be distorted or attempts at portrayal.

In Christianity, their are two schools of thought. In Eastern churches early on they rejected statues and images, and out of their rejection arose a style of icons with a distorted two-dimensional figure in a way not to be confused with reality or worshipped on its own. While Western Christianity does not see statues or paintings as a threat to our relationship with God. Our churches and museums are full of images of God, Christ, and biblical figures.

Maybe Tom or other readers can provide us insight about how Eastern religions deal with images of God.

I suspect the graven images of today are more metaphorical such as money, possessions, or society’s worship of the beautiful, athletic skills, or powerful.

Perhaps the question we should ask ourselves is if indeed we are created in the “image of God” then how do we live up to that image. Are our daily actions and thoughts “distortions” or “reflections?”

Today’s Disappointment, Tomorrow’s Gift

I have learned the hard way that today’s disappointment, tragedy, or crisis, viewed a year later, may turn out to be one of the best things that has ever happened to me. Yet, I still have to remind myself of this each time something bad or tragic happens.

Words painting a rosier picture often fall on deaf ears during our difficult times. So what do we do?

There is no good answer to the question I just posed, for each of us pull ourselves out of the hole different ways, but one thing is for certain, and that is God is available to listen and help you work through those “Dark Nights of the Soul.”

God also provides us the morning sun, an evening breeze, the smell of honeysuckle, and a million other reminders of the beauty and love that is all around us. So if you find yourself wrestling with the latest tragedy draw on your experience that crisis often turns into opportunity, and no matter how dark the day, you have a companion to walk with you towards the light.