Not Just Passing Through

Not Just Passing Through Chaplain Adele M. Gill 20 “But our citizenship is in heaven.  And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.” Philippians 3:20-21 As Christians, our citizenship is really in Heaven. Our passport? Love of God and others, and how we use our God-given free-will. Could that be why we as believing Christians, sojourners even, we are set apart to some degree; often uncomfortable here as the world is spinning out of control and away from God’s commands? Could it be that in actuality, we are just passing through this life on our way (by the grace of God) to Eternal Life. Citizens of Heaven Could it be this life is just the audition, the waiting room, if you will, for living the afterlife with God?  We are here on earth for such a short time, and we need to make the most of each day as we are not just passing through this life. We are need to be preparing for Eternal Life. As believing Christians, we are actually citizens of Heaven in process. It is very important not to forfeit ones heavenly passport! Through God’s grace and mercy, and our own free will to love God and others–or not–the choices we make about what we believe and how live our lives set the stage for where we spend eternity. Recently, the topic of Eternal Life has come up in discussion, as has the topic of Hell....

Are You a Child of God?

Chaplain Adele M. Gill   14 “For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God… 16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. 17 Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.” Romans 8:14 Recently a friend asked me “Who are the Children of God?” Certainly there are many diverse answers and perspectives for that question. This is a poignant question posed by both believers and non-believers over the ages. It is my considered personal opinion that we are all children of God by birth—both people of every faith, and those who follow no religion, alike. Yet, we all have the choice to choose to follow God’s commands and ways.   Since I am a student of the Bible rather than a Bible scholar, I turned to the greatest source of wisdom I know to answer this timeless question: Holy Scripture. Though I was quite surprised by what I found, I consider Holy Scripture to be the true and ultimate authority. According to Scripture, God physically created all of humanity through His divine grace. However, the actual identity of the children of God, His heirs by adoption through Jesus, appears to hinge, according to Holy Scripture, on one’s belief, choice and free will—our believing (or not believing) in, and following, Jesus Christ, the Greatest Hope the world has ever known:   Scriptures about the Children of God 26 “So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, 27 for all of you...

How God Blesses His People

The Lord gives strength to his people; the Lord blesses his people with peace.   Psalm 29:11 Strength and peace. Today’s scripture tells us these are the blessings bestowed upon us by God when we seek Him with all our hearts, and follow Him and His ways. No One Could Convince Him For 9 years, I have been working weekly with a man, I’ll call him George for anonymity, at a local soup kitchen. Each week he has made a point of telling me, convincingly, with a booming voice, “God hates me!” Despite the fact that my best efforts to convince him otherwise have fallen on deaf ears, he has had no peace, but his mantra has been unchanging, “God hates me! If He cared about me, He would not have let me have 3 back surgeries, live at an emergency homeless shelter, and all the other awful things that have happened to me in my life. I’m a good person. But my life has been really hard, and no one can convince me that God loves me. What has He ever done for me?” Then one day recently, something changed… The Awakening One day, as George came into the soup kitchen, he seemed different than he had over the 9 years I had known him. “I have something to tell you,” he said. “I had a bad car accident last week and my vintage Mustang was totaled. Here’s the picture of my wrecked car. I’m Ok. Walked away without a scratch. But there’s more. When I went to get a new car, I was really upset because I knew I...

God’s Compassion & Mercy for You

“11As you know, we count as blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.” James 5:10-11 Recently, I had an exacerbation of myasthenic syndrome causing neuromuscular weakness that affected my respiratory muscles making it hard to breathe, and subsequently, garbled, slurred, raspy speech for a week and a half. I have experienced this many times over the past 36 years that I have had this condition. The doctor ordered the usual outpatient IV treatments—3 days in a row, 5 hours per day. The treatments were eventually helpful for returning my breathing and speech, but there was a week long delay before my condition improved. Yes, this scenario has occurred dozens of times in my life, but this time seemed different. What happened next was anything but the usual recovery from a neuromuscular exacerbation… Healing Happens Several days after going for the IV treatments, I attended a healing service at my church, St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church. My speech had not yet returned and as usual, I was walking with my walker for distance due to poor balance. The healing service was quite an experience to say the least. However, about 3 days after the healing service, my speech and breathing returned. 5 days later, I went to the Mall to walk. Normally I walk there with my walker, but this time I forgot my walker and only had my cane! So I went in the Mall anticipating not being able to walk any distance without my walker as has been...

A Better Way

“I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.” JOHN 15:5 NASB We Are the Branches A better way. In today’s holy scripture, Jesus tells us that we are the branches that emanate from Him, The Vine. One need only prune a spindly vine to see that new life follows masterful pruning. Pruning removes dead debris that is no longer useful or needed. The vine is the foundation of the plant and subsequent growth. It is the very source of its sustenance, bringing much-needed nutrients into every branch, every leaf, into each and every fruit. Without pruning The Vine, there is no fresh new growth. The plant simply remains dormant or withers and dies and does not bear fruit. Pruning is necessary to rejuvenate the branches, and it is important for the production of abundant fruit.   Spiritual Pruning In real life, times of spiritual ‘pruning’ can be difficult. Figuratively, this pruning occurs whenever we ask God to take the reins, to help us conform to His Divine Will for us. Whenever we give him control over our circumstances. It occurs whenever we put aside our own desires in search of the ‘better way,’ the ‘greater plan’ God has for each of us. It comes every time we deny our own desires for the greater good, or reach out selflessly to others in need. But the challenges pruning presents are short-lived, making way for full, unencumbered new growth upon completion. Conduits of Love And so it goes, we as...

3 Steps to Everyday Freedom

“For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.”  1 Thessalonians 5:9                                New International Version (NIV) Enjoying Freedom Everyday freedom. As Christians, through the power of the Holy Spirit, we are able to enjoy everyday freedom like no one else. We have the freedom to walk away from our sins and failings. The freedom to trust in Jesus, who is with us always through it all. We can forgive and be forgiven. Build bridges by building others up. We even have the ability to forgive ourselves for things we have done and not done, sins of omission and commission. We have the freedom to lead others to Jesus so that they, too, can walk in the everyday freedom that comes through Him alone. We have the opportunity and freedom to pray for ourselves, and others, with confidence, and to anticipate God will hear and answer our prayers as we seek to emulate Jesus. Perspectives Each of us has our own idea of what God is like. For some, He is a wrath-filled, angry task master; for others He is the very definition of Love, kindness, mercy, and compassion. How we see God has everything to do with how we see Jesus, and visa-versa. When you know Jesus, you know God, as He took human form while on earth. Surely our relationships with our parents can influence how we see God. Harsh parenting can lead one to conclude that God is punitive. Conversely, loving parents can...

Endurance, Perseverance & Patience

Endurance. Endurance and perseverance are so central to finishing any race. When blended with patience, these qualities often propel people to successfully complete the journey they embark on. These qualities make possible what God has asked them to endure. Endurance and perseverance, when blended with patience, are necessary to complete any task one sets out to complete—even and especially, healing. Two Brave Friends I have two friends who are fighting breast cancer bravely right now, with all their strength. The sheer courage these two have shown to all who know them is nothing short of miraculous. Even in this time of suffering, these women are faith-filled witnesses, shining examples of what happens when one serves God with all their strength despite adversity. The poise and grace they present to all who know them is clearly a testimony to the love of God, as they forge ahead with major surgery and cancer treatments that would challenge even the strongest among us. What makes them so special is the fact that they give God all of the credit for helping them and being by their side through every bend in the road. They lean heavily on His mercy and compassion. Perhaps more heavily than if they did not have such a need for healing. Cancer treatment is not for the faint of heart, but they credit God with the strength they embody, and the progress they make, in fighting their cancer. I’m sure they have asked “Why me?” at times, but their focus has stayed squarely on the healing power of the mighty God we serve. Surely these good women have...

Fallen Short & Lifting Up

“For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23 Once I was in the hospital for 5 days and had a seemingly constant flow of visitors. They were quite friendly towards the staff, and lovingly acknowledged everyone from the doctors to the maintenance staff. I had so many visitors, in fact, that two nurses pulled me aside, and commented on how outgoing and friendly my friends were. They both asked me where I met my friends. “I met most of them at church,” I said. “What church?” they asked as they pressed for more information. So I told them. I suspect they saw in my friends what I also saw in them: The love of Jesus Christ. It is often said that church goers are ‘saints’ and everyone else are sinners. But that is far from the truth as we all have the capacity and propensity to sin. Some say arrogantly (and blindly) that sin is what others do. These prideful attitudes are pervasive in our culture, but detrimental to both church-goers and the unchurched. Though we try with all our strength, none of us is ‘good’ all the time. We are all flawed to some extent and only human—we need Jesus to be lifting up all who fall short of the glory of God. That reality only gives us more reason to pursue our faith with fervor to be the best we can be in God’s eyes. The truth is that we are all sinners to varying degrees—all of humanity, indeed, and we sin in a variety of ways through sins of omission...

No Condemnation in Jesus Christ

“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,2 because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.” Romans 8:1   This scripture tells us there is no commendation in Jesus Christ. So what does that mean? When you believe and trust in Jesus, you are free from judgement toward others. Discernment vs Worldly Judgement Tempting as it may be, we do not have the right to judge others, as that is Jesus’ job. There is a big difference between recognizing and addressing sin, and condemning someone through judging. At times we need to paradoxically trust our discernment, but also  refrain from judging others. We are called to pray for them, and ask God for discernment, and wisdom in every situation. When our prayerful discernment leads us in Divine  judgement, based on prayer and scripture reading, we are to lovingly encourage others along to return to the narrow path. Ironically, we are called to both strive to be at peace with everyone, and also, to avoid worldly judgement. Sometimes that means speaking truth in Love—even when it is not easy. At times such truth may not be well received, but it still important all the same. As the need arises, we need to try to gently encourage each other in Love to stay on, or return to, God’s uniquely planned journey. Can’t Earn Heaven When you have the Holy Spirit of Jesus within you, you naturally want to do as much good as you possibly can, to serve God. For who can possibly condemn one who is...

Are You at Peace?

Are You at Peace? “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you,                                                 live at peace with everyone.”  Romans 12:18 Are you at peace? What a blessing it is when we are at peace. At peace with ourselves, at peace with our circumstances, at peace knowing we did our best, at peace with others—those we love and those who are difficult to love. When we are at peace, life just seems to run more smoothly. However, sometimes perfectionism, fear, challenges beyond our scope, or difficult people can throw a wrench into our best laid plans, leaving us unsettled, even reeling. It all makes such good sense to strive to be at peace each day. Yet, it is hard as we strive for peace, the operative word here is, ‘strive.’ As the Winds Change Sometimes peace can be elusive. Left to our own devices, being at peace may be dependent on our mood, the challenge at hand, or even the erratic behavior of others. As the winds change, there goes our peace. Yet, most agree peace is worth pursing all the same. Sometimes, we are ill-prepared to embrace peace, and we let another person make it seemingly impossible to attain that goal; so we let them steal our peace and joy. Good Reason to Find Peace There is ample, good reason why peace and joy are two of the first fruits of the Spirit listed in Galatians 5. They are two of the nine manifestations of...