Reason to Smile

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“Though our feelings come and go, God’s love for us does not.” – C.S. Lewis

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Listen to the PODCAST version of Today’s Contemplation by clicking HERE.

For a deeper reflection, listen to my song “God Is” on YouTube by clicking HERE

My albums and books Mercy Reigns & Listen to Your Heart are available for purchase HERE. Also available on Amazon.

Thank you!

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Mark 16:15

Jesus said to them, “Go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature.”

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Today’s gospel reading starts just after a rather telling verse that was not included.

That’s where the resurrected Jesus appears to the apostles, all the men who had abandoned him, and “rebuked them for their unbelief and hardness of heart because they had not believed those who saw him after he had been raised” (Mark 16:14).

Also interesting how the writer reduced the women and namely Mary Magdalene to “those who saw him after he had been raised.”

The canonical gospels all agree about this.

But then Jesus makes a complete about-face and sends the apostles forth to proclaim the gospel to every creature.

So, he forgives without so much as a word from these guys.

This is the gospel.

God forgives.

God loves unconditionally.

I’m sure at this point the apostles knew that deeply in their hearts because the master had just taught them a real-life lesson in God’s forgiveness.

I find it also interesting that Jesus wanted his followers to proclaim the gospel to every creature.

Not just humans.

All creatures need to know they are loved and treasured.

We do this by being good stewards of the earth and all that lives on it.

This takes action.

It means being compassionate and caring for all the Earth and all that lives on it and in it.

And it means standing for those without power.

We are all called to do this.

No one is excluded from God’s love.

That’s what makes it Good News!

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Listen to the song of the day “God Is” on the Give Praise and Thanks album by clicking HERE.

Purchase my albums/CDs and books by clicking HERE.

Stream and/or purchase my songs on Amazon Music by clicking HERE.

Remember: God loves you!

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Healing Presence

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“Grace would be a poor host indeed to exclude anyone.” – Alan Cohen

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Listen to the PODCAST version of Today’s Contemplation by clicking HERE.

For a deeper reflection, listen to my song “All Are Welcome” on YouTube by clicking HERE

My albums and books Mercy Reigns & Listen to Your Heart are available for purchase HERE. Also available on Amazon.

Thank you!

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Mark 2:1-2

When Jesus returned to Capernaum after some days, it became known that he was at home. Many gathered together so that there was no longer room for them, not even around the door, and he preached the word to them.

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Jesus had drawing power.

He could literally pack the house.

And it says that he preached the word to them.

That must have been some word!

So, what was Jesus saying that would be so enticing?

Was he promising the “10 Easy Steps to Wealth” or the “10 Easy Steps to Having a Successful Business”?

No, Jesus never spoke about being wealthy as a positive thing.

Not that it was a bad thing in and of itself, but Jesus did say that it would be easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for one who is rich to enter the kingdom of God (Matthew 19:24).

He also said “Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:3).

What Jesus was getting at is that if you have lots of stuff you can very easily get quite attached to that stuff and thereby miss seeing those in need.

What else did Jesus say?

He said “Blessed are the peacemakers” (Matthew 5:9).

He said that loving God and your neighbor as yourself were the greatest commandments (Matthew 22:36-40).

And don’t forget that dreaded command to love your enemies (Matthew 5:44).

You have to admit, these statements are so counter-cultural and counter-intuitive.

Perhaps that, and the fact that Jesus must have been an impressive speaker with a good amount of charisma, all of that helped to draw crowds.

But most of all, Jesus reflected the unconditional love of God in the way he met and treated all the broken.

He didn’t reject any of them.

And don’t forget that all those people listening to Jesus were looking for hope.

They were under the brutal rule of the Roman empire.

Jesus let the people know they were not forgotten by God, but loved dearly.

Are we poor in spirit? Peacemakers? Are we loving God and our neighbor as ourselves?

What about our enemies?

Are we welcoming to all?

Each of us must consider Jesus’s teachings and whether they are reflected in on our words and actions.

This, my friend, is the path to the kingdom of God.

Right here.

Right now.

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Listen to the song of the day “All Are Welcome” on the Give Praise and Thanks album by clicking HERE.

Purchase my albums/CDs and books by clicking HERE.

Stream and/or purchase my songs on Amazon Music by clicking HERE.

Remember: God loves you!

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I Feel Your Pain

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“Only when we know our own darkness well can we be present with the darkness of others. Compassion becomes real when we recognize our shared humanity.” – Pema Chodron

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Listen to the PODCAST version of Today’s Contemplation by clicking HERE.

For a deeper reflection, listen to my song “Heal Me” on YouTube by clicking HERE

My albums and books Mercy Reigns & Listen to Your Heart are available for purchase HERE. Also available on Amazon.

Thank you!

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Mark 1:40-41

A leper came to Jesus and kneeling down begged him and said, “If you wish, you can make me clean.” Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand, touched him, and said to him, “I do will it. Be made clean.”

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Why do people suffer with illnesses?

Why are many people afflicted with various diseases?

Why do bad things happen to good people?

These are the questions humankind has struggled over for millennia.

Could it be that this is the only way we can truly experience empathy and compassion?

Let’s face it, if everything was perfect, we probably would be quite self-centered and completely under the control of our egos.

Have you noticed how people tend to suddenly come together and care for each other in times of trouble?

It seems it takes a tragedy to jolt people out of their self-centered-trance and wake-up to the realization that we are all part of the same human species and that we all share the same planet with creatures, plants, and trees.

Everything that has life shares in that One Life.

In today’s scripture verses, we see a man afflicted with leprosy begging Jesus to heal him.

And it says that Jesus was moved with pity.

He was emotionally moved.

This is compassion.

It’s perhaps the one common denominator shared by each human being regardless of their religious beliefs.

Many Near Death Experiencers say that this earthly realm is the only place where such adversities can be experienced so that we can truly know what it is to have compassion for another, or where we can experience compassion from another when we need it.

Put yourself in the leper’s shoes in today’s passage.

Perhaps you are struggling with an illness or affliction?

Perhaps you are grieving over a loss?

Feel the hand of Jesus as he reaches out and touches you.

Now, put yourself in the shoes of Jesus.

Who in your life is hurting, and in need of a healing touch?

Perhaps that touch, that listening ear and kind word, can come from you.

We’re all in this together.

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Listen to the song of the day “Heal Me” on the Live to Love album by clicking HERE.

Purchase my albums/CDs and books by clicking HERE.

Stream and/or purchase my songs on Amazon Music by clicking HERE.

Remember: God loves you!

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Cultivating Quiet

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“We often miss hearing God’s voice simply because we aren’t paying attention.” – Rick Warren

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Listen to the PODCAST version of Today’s Contemplation by clicking HERE.

For a deeper reflection, listen to my song “Turn Off the Noise” on YouTube by clicking HERE

My albums and books Mercy Reigns & Listen to Your Heart are available for purchase HERE. Also available on Amazon.

Thank you!

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1 Samuel 3:6-7

Again the LORD called Samuel, who rose and went to Eli. “Here I am,” he said. “You called me.” But he answered, “I did not call you, my son. Go back to sleep.” Samuel did not yet recognize the LORD, since the word of the LORD had not yet been revealed to him.

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This is a very meaningful passage today about a young minister named Samuel under the mentorship of Eli.

Samuel is awakened from his sleep by the voice of God calling him.

But, as the passage states, Samuel did not yet recognize the voice since the word of God had not yet been revealed to him.

It takes three attempts by God with Samuel returning to Eli each time, before Eli realizes that Samuel is not dreaming.

Eli tells Samuel that the next time this happens, to answer: “Speak, for your servant is listening.”

This is a great story for each of us to place ourselves into.

Have you heard God call you?

I have heard the call, but I admit, it’s not always easy to determine if the voice is God’s or mine.

It takes discernment.

The more you are in tune with God, the more you set aside time for listening in contemplative prayer, for meditation like Centering Prayer, for being present to life, the easier it is to hear the call.

It might not be in audible words.

It might be more of a feeling, more of a nudge in your heart.

One major time this happened in my life was when I was at the depths of despair over my career path.

I was a successful radio news anchor, but I was miserable.

The call came on the first Friday of March in 1997 as I sat dejected on my living room couch, wondering what I could possibly do to change my life.

At the moment I said, “I give up,” I heard in my heart, “Get your guitar.”

Since I hadn’t touched my guitar in ten years, that was a really bizarre thing to hear!

Long-story short, I started playing my guitar and writing songs.

The songs led me back to college for a graduate degree in Religious and Pastoral Studies, and ten years after hearing the call – I left my career in radio news and entered ministry.

I now have four albums of original music about my spiritual journey in this human experience.

I’ve written two devotional books to help others on their journeys.

The truth is, the call of God could also have been heard in my daily dis-ease over life in general.

When you are in tune with the Spirit within you, you begin to allow the Spirit to guide you.

It’s how Jesus could tell his followers in today’s Gospel reading from the first chapter of Mark that he had decided to leave the town where he was so popular due to his many healings there.

Jesus told them, “Let us go to the nearby villages that I may preach there also. For this purpose have I come.”

May you listen to your inner voice so that you, too, may know the purpose for which you have come!

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Listen to the song of the day “Turn Off the Noise” on the Listen to Your Heart album by clicking HERE.

Purchase my albums/CDs and books by clicking HERE.

Stream and/or purchase my songs on Amazon Music by clicking HERE.

Remember: God loves you!

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Now Is the Time

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“Wake up from the dream of thought into the aliveness of this moment.” – Robert Celner

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Listen to the PODCAST version of Today’s Contemplation by clicking HERE.

For a deeper reflection, listen to my song “I Stand in the Light” on YouTube by clicking HERE

My albums and books Mercy Reigns & Listen to Your Heart are available for purchase HERE. Also available on Amazon.

Thank you!

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1 Samuel 2:1

“My heart exults in the Lord.”

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It seems to me that many people are stuck in their heads.

I can make this observation because I, too, was once there and still have to be aware of it.

We get caught up in our thoughts.

It is a revelation to most people to even realize that this has afflicted them.

We get so used to the constant chatter of our minds that we think we are that chatter.

We think we are those thoughts.

Have you ever walked or driven from one place to another and when you got to your destination you had no remembrance of the trip?

You were lost in your thoughts.

That’s a very telling phrase: lost in your thoughts.

Lost.

When this happens, we are missing reality: the present moment.

This is where the magic happens.

This is where God, or Love, resides.

The place of love is not the head but the heart.

The heart is that mystical and mysterious place that can hold the opposites of life, the joys and the sorrows, and where compassion springs forth.

Some type of meditation such as Centering Prayer is essential as a way to practice letting go of our thoughts and allowing our awareness to sink into our heart-space.

This is the place where we encounter the Divine Presence, where we experience the Unconditional Love that adores us just as we are.

You don’t have to go anywhere to experience it.

This Love is right here at your deepest core.

May you experience this free gift and allow your heart to exult!

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Listen to the song of the day “I Stand in the Light” on the Mercy Reigns album by clicking HERE.

Purchase my albums/CDs and books by clicking HERE.

Stream and/or purchase my songs on Amazon Music by clicking HERE.

Remember: God loves you!

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Pause

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“Our appointment with life is in the present moment. – Thich Nhat Hanh

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Listen to the PODCAST version of Today’s Contemplation by clicking HERE.

For a deeper reflection, listen to my song “Slow Me Down” on YouTube by clicking HERE

My albums and books Mercy Reigns & Listen to Your Heart are available for purchase HERE. Also available on Amazon.

Thank you!

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Mark 1:14-15

After John had been arrested, Jesus came to Galilee proclaiming the gospel of God: “This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.”

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This marks the start of Jesus’s ministry in the Gospel of Mark.

John the Baptist had just been arrested.

That’s when Jesus steps forward.

Today’s passage says that he proclaims the gospel of God.

And just what is this good news of God?

“This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.”

Now…now is the time of fulfillment.

All that you need is present right now.

Because the kingdom of God, or perhaps in today’s language, the realm of love and total acceptance, is here.

Repent means to turn around.

You don’t need to look for this realm of love and total acceptance because it’s here.

In this moment.

Breathe d e e p l y — then s l o w l y e x h a l e.

Do it right now.

The Love that made you is sustaining you.

This Abiding Compassion is in you and around you.

My friend, that is the gospel.

That is the good news.

Believe it!

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Listen to the song of the day “Slow Me Down” on the Mercy Reigns album by clicking HERE.

Purchase my albums/CDs and books by clicking HERE.

Stream and/or purchase my songs on Amazon Music by clicking HERE.

Remember: God loves you!

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Sacred Source

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“What a man takes in by contemplation, that he pours out in love.” – Meister Eckhart

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Listen to the PODCAST version of Today’s Contemplation by clicking HERE.

For a deeper reflection, listen to my song “The Way You Are” on YouTube by clicking HERE

My albums and books Mercy Reigns & Listen to Your Heart are available for purchase HERE. Also available on Amazon.

Thank you!

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Luke 5:15-16

The report about him spread all the more, and great crowds assembled to listen to him and to be cured of their ailments, but he would withdraw to deserted places to pray.

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Today’s passage follows the healing of a man said to be “full of leprosy.”

He had fallen at Jesus’s feet and begged him to make him clean.

Jesus then touched the man, said that he did will that the man be made clean.

And we’re told that it happened immediately.

Jesus didn’t want the man to tell anyone what happened but told him, “Show yourself to the priest and offer for your cleansing what Moses prescribed; that will be proof for them” (Luke 5:14).

This had to do with laws in Leviticus that detailed instructions for purification for someone who had been excluded due to leprosy.

Jesus wanted wholeness for the man not only in health but in community.

A side note is that by touching the man, Jesus would have made himself “unclean” in the eyes of the law.

We see here how Jesus would easily disregard the law in deference to love.

He was more concerned with the community’s wholeness than the law.

He saw beyond any illnesses or struggles people had.

These did not define them in his eyes.

When he looked at anyone, he saw their belovedness in God.

This is lesson number one for us.

Second lesson: we see that Jesus “would withdraw to deserted places to pray.”

Jesus would do many good works, but he balanced those actions with solitude.

He communed with God in silence.

Jesus practiced what he told his followers: Go to your inner room and pray to God in secret (Matthew 6:6).

Some form of meditation such as Centering Prayer is very helpful.

Jesus showed us the importance of always being rooted in a deep relationship with God, our loving Source.

It’s the only way we can live authentically as our true whole self.

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Listen to the song of the day “The Way You Are” on the Mercy Reigns album by clicking HERE.

Purchase my albums/CDs and books by clicking HERE.

Stream and/or purchase my songs on Amazon Music by clicking HERE.

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Remember: God loves you!

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Being Christian

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“Only in heaven will we see how much we owe to the poor for helping us to love God better because of them.” – Mother Teresa

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Listen to the PODCAST version of Today’s Contemplation by clicking HERE.

For a deeper reflection, listen to my song “I Want to Follow You” on YouTube by clicking HERE

My albums and books Mercy Reigns & Listen to Your Heart are available for purchase HERE. Also available on Amazon.

Thank you!

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Luke 4:16-18

Jesus came to Nazareth, where he had grown up, and went according to his custom into the synagogue on the sabbath day. He stood up to read and was handed a scroll of the prophet Isaiah. He unrolled the scroll and found the passage where it was written: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor.”

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After Jesus read from the prophet Isaiah, he told those listening that “the scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.”

In other words, Jesus was claiming that Isaiah was speaking of him.

That’s a powerful statement.

This passage really hit me today as I was reading it.

How many people today do you hear saying that they have been anointed to bring glad tidings to the poor?

As a matter of fact, how often today do you ever hear the phrase glad tidings to the poor?

For those who identify as Christian, that means that you follow Jesus.

If you follow Jesus, then it would seem to follow that you also would bring glad tidings to the poor.

Hmmm.

Here is a good question each of us could ask ourselves:

How often do I bring glad tidings to the poor?

Or, do I do the opposite?

As we go about our day today, perhaps we could keep in mind our words and actions in regard to those who are on the margins and in need.

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Listen to the song of the day “I Want to Follow You” on the Listen to Your Heart album by clicking HERE.

Purchase my albums/CDs and books by clicking HERE.

Stream and/or purchase my songs on Amazon Music by clicking HERE.

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Remember: God loves you!

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Listen to Your Heart

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“God is nearer to me than I am to myself; my existence depends on the nearness and the presence of God.” – Meister Eckhart

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Listen to the PODCAST version of Today’s Contemplation by clicking HERE.

For a deeper reflection, listen to my song “Listen to Your Heart” on YouTube by clicking HERE

My albums and books Mercy Reigns & Listen to Your Heart are available for purchase HERE. Also available on Amazon.

Thank you!

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1 John 4:13

This is how we know that we remain in God and God in us, that God has given us his Spirit.

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For many people, the idea that God is in us is a hard concept.

That’s because we have been immersed in the idea that matter and spirit are separate.

We have brains that operate on a binary system that separates this from that.

They put this in the good category and that in the bad.

This process is very either-or.

We obviously need this type of dualistic process to know that walking into the path of traffic is not a good idea!

But in the realm of love, dualism fails.

It takes a non-dual approach, one that is able to hold the supposed bad with the good.

This process is very both-and.

We are BOTH in God, AND not God.

St. Paul put it this way: In God we live and move and have our being (Acts 17:28).

When I let go of all my self-centered interests and allow the Spirit’s interests to guide me, I experience the fullness of life.

That can happen right now, at any given moment.

It’s not a doing as much as a non-doing.

It’s an allowing.

It’s what Jesus was talking about when he said if you wished to save your life you would lose it, but if you lose your life you would find it (Matthew 16:25).

A good meditation practice such as Centering Prayer is extremely helpful as a way to practice letting go and letting God.

When engaged in the activities of life, before making snap judgements – take a moment.

Breathe deeply.

Allow a shift from brain to heart.

Ask yourself: What is the Spirit asking me to do?

Since God is love, what is Love asking me to do?

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Listen to the song of the day “Listen to Your Heart” on the Listen to Your Heart album by clicking HERE.

Purchase my albums/CDs and books by clicking HERE.

Stream and/or purchase my songs on Amazon Music by clicking HERE.

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Game-Changer

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“Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.” – Desmond Tutu

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Listen to the PODCAST version of Today’s Contemplation by clicking HERE.

For a deeper reflection, listen to my song “Mercy Reigns” on YouTube by clicking HERE

My albums and books Mercy Reigns & Listen to Your Heart are available for purchase HERE. Also available on Amazon.

Thank you!

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1 John 4:8

Whoever is without love does not know God, for God is love.

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You can pretty much cherry-pick the bible for verses to support any position or point of view.

The bible has many contradictory statements.

But in my opinion, the general arc and trajectory of its entirety, the Big Picture, is toward love.

Jesus overturns a couple of older bible verses in the Gospel of Matthew.

First he nullifies ‘an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth’ (Matthew 5:38-39); then he states: “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:43-44).

Jesus also said that if you knew him, then you would know God (Matthew 8:19).

So I think that I can safely say that God is a loving God.

As today’s scripture verse states: God is love.

So if you want to dwell on verses that make God into a nasty, vengeful ogre, that is your option.

I choose to side with Jesus.

If we all, in our own imperfect ways, chose to love, then perhaps those without love would come to know love and God.

The reverberations of such little acts of love just might turn into tidal waves.

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Listen to the song of the day “Mercy Reigns” on the Mercy Reigns album by clicking HERE.

Purchase my albums/CDs and books by clicking HERE.

Stream and/or purchase my songs on Amazon Music by clicking HERE.

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Remember: God loves you!

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