Romans 15:7: “Therefore, accept each other just as Christ has accepted you so that God will be given glory.”

God is Creator of all things. It’s one thing not giving Him any credit for His creation. It’s quite another to know He created everything and not accepting it. And yet, that’s what we do when we reject each other.

I will not lie to you, accepting is no easy thing when it comes to accepting people, and it starts with accepting oneself. I can only speak for myself when I say that accepting myself has been a work in progress. However, I know one thing: without accepting myself I have found it hard if not impossible to get close to other people. Self-acceptance is well-worth our attention since it enables us to accept others too. All good relationships are built on mutual acceptance and trust.

So, let’s take a closer look at self-acceptance. How have you liked yourself lately? How have you treated yourself recently? And what do you think of yourself secretly? Believe me: what you think of yourself secretly is not so secret. It’s more of an open secret. People can see it in your eyes, in your demeanor. It’s often the first impression people get when they see you walking up to them. So, you can hide a million skeletons in your closet, but you can’t really hide the fact whether or not you like yourself.

Accepting yourself comes before liking yourself.

It’s a funny thing that very young children, before they become self-conscious and self-aware, instinctively like themselves. I remember how happy I was as a little kid that I was born a girl. “Girls are so much prettier than boys” I thought, “I’m so glad I’m a girl!” Well, this innocent confidence was gone by the time I shifted into my teenage years. As a budding teenager I questioned the status quo – that’s what all teenagers do – and I also questioned the way I looked and what types of talents I brought to the table. Unfortunately, it took most of my adulthood to snap out of a rather negative self-assessment. Self-critique is pointless if it has only one purpose in mind: to put oneself down.

Assessing our qualities and flaws and acknowledging the assessment with an accepting nod: “Yup that’s me!” is an important step into adulthood. It’s part of growing up. As a young adult I hated the fact that I wasn’t good at math while being unappreciative of my artistic talents. Looking back, I think my deranged point of view came from witnessing how hard it was to make a living as a single parent. Our amazing mother pulled it off, but it also made me wonder how in the world was I supposed to support myself as a starving artist? It wasn’t until recently that I threw some of these concerns overboard. It is unfortunate that it took so long, but better now than never, right?

Finally pursuing the dreams I had put on hold for so long, I find that accepting oneself is the basis to all of that. Being a working artist is impossible without self-acceptance. The same applies to you as you put to work your particular talents. We got to accept our talents first before putting them to work. And as we do, we will finally develop our talents. And what a blessing that is to the world around us – and I’m sure it makes God smile.

2 Corinthians 13:14: “May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.”

“May the Trinity be with you,” Paul wrote in his letter addressed to the people in Corinth, Greece – i.e. “May the grace of the Lord Jesus, the love of the Father and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you” – what an amazing blessing!

Is Paul a dreamer? How can the divine Trinity be in close proximity to ordinary human beings such as you and me? And yet He certainly can. Emmanuel – God with us – has a tremendous effect on us. He completes us.

God is set up as Trinity, which means He works as Trinity, loves as Trinity and blesses us as Trinity. In fact, the Big Three are inseparable! As an exception, the Trinity was separated for a little while when Jesus became human and died on the cross; other than this particular time window, the Trinity is known to be a unit and a force to be reckoned with.

King Solomon wrote about the power of two people agreeing, but added that a consensus of three is even greater. Here are his thoughts on the matter (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12):

“Two are better than one,
    because they have a good return for their labor:
10 If either of them falls down,
    one can help the other up.
But pity anyone who falls
    and has no one to help them up.
11 Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.
    But how can one keep warm alone?
12 Though one may be overpowered,
    two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”

A consensus of three is stronger than a consensus of two, hence the unity of the Trinity is supremely tight.

What can we learn from the Trinity?

Full power and blessings flow in community, not in a party of one.

Technically, when the Trinity is with you, you are not a party of one – God is with you, hence you are not alone. You are in community. And who wants to be alone anyhow? Who could survive alone?

Living in community is a lifestyle invented by the Trinity. We thrive in community, we bless in community, we overcome in community, and we celebrate in community.

Community needs freedom of expression and thrives on trust. Different viewpoints are weighed against one another. Each person’s input is taken seriously, and by way of negotiation we can reach consensus and come up with interesting new pathways.

Life is a direct derivative of community; so is love, and love is what keeps us going, which is yet another trademark of the Trinity.

May the blessing of our Triune God be with us all!

Joel 2:23: “Be glad, people of Zion, rejoice in the Lord your God, for he has given you the autumn rains because he is faithful. He sends you abundant showers, both autumn and spring rains, as before.”

Spring rains bless the world when new life ventures out behind every corner. Autumn rains soften the scorched soil when the summer heat finally lets up. – Spoken like a true Arizonan! Like many desert dwellers we know all too well what it means when those Autumn and Spring rains delay. In May 2018, after a prolonged drought, nearly 200 Wild Horses were found dead, stuck in the mud near a watering hole in Cameron, Arizona.

Currently going through another dry Monsoon season, we are essentially looking at an ongoing 19-year drought, which has brought water levels in the American Southwest dangerously low. Ensuing water negotiations to divvy up cutbacks in Colorado River water deliveries were difficult to say the least. John Schwartz from the New York Times wrote:

“In March 2019 seven Western states have agreed on a plan to manage the Colorado River amid a 19-year drought, voluntarily cutting their water use to prevent the federal government from imposing mandatory squeeze on the supply. State water officials signed the deal after years of negotiations.”

Water means life, however not just in a desert environment. The human body will die of dehydration much quicker than of starvation. A human can go without food for about three weeks but would typically only last three to four days without water.

So, it is for a very good reason that Prophet Joel loves the spring and autumn rains. He celebrates the water of life by addressing our life-giving Creator to thank Him. All water leads to the Lord since He created it. We need to remember and not take things for granted. Joel does the appropriate thing: He thanks the Lord. I believe that gratefulness is the foundation of abundance.

We all have been blessed one way or another. If we cannot see our blessings, then we definitely need a fresh perspective. Realizing our blessings, we thank God who increases our awareness, which leads to even more gratefulness. Thanking God raises our satisfaction level exponentially. It also makes us very attractive people. Who does not like to be around a positive person? Such human beings seem to attract even more blessings from above.

Blessings we have – still more blessings we need. Here’s to more rain!

” I am making a way in the wilderness
    and streams in the wasteland.” – Isaiah 43:19

Philippians 2:3-4: “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.”

Ambition and competition is the engine of capitalism. However, the Kingdom of Heaven runs on humility.

Heaven is a society of humble citizens, which seems far removed from our world, almost alien. We are hooked on the Adrenalin of getting ahead and securing our place in this world, so much so that we can’t imagine life without it. We think if we take all of that out of the equation, what else is there left to do in Heaven? Well, taking a genuine interest in other beings (human beings included) would be a good start to wean ourselves off of this mindset.

Humility – What a concept! James wrote in one of his letters (James 3:13):

“If you are wise and understand God’s ways, prove it by living an honorable life, doing good works with the humility that comes from wisdom. “

Humility stems from wisdom. The wiser we are the humbler we become. Life has a way of humbling us, and that’s a good thing. I believe that blunders, failures, frustrations and roadblocks are encouraging growth in wisdom. We learn empathy. How else could we relate to other people’s misfortunes if not through misfortunes of our own? The frustrations that we go through bring us closer together. We realize we’re “only” human. We recognize our limitations.

We will grow a crop of wisdom if we open our eyes wide and see other people around us fighting the same battle as we do. Instead of being entirely consumed by self-interest (which ignores the interests of others), we’ll become intrigued by other people’s stories. The minute we begin to feel empathy is the beginning of wisdom.

The bedrock of all charity work is both noticing and listening. We are not blind to a need, and we are not deaf to a good suggestion. This refreshing approach makes life on Earth much more enjoyable. Living this way, we are simply mirroring the lifestyle of Heaven. It’s beautiful. It’s simple. It’s inspiring.

Notice someone today. Pay attention to the undercurrent of a conversation. Follow one of these rabbit trails and you will end up learning something new. Taking interest in someone else’s story creates a better story. That’s the beauty of wisdom and humility.

1 John 4:16: “And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.”

There is no such thing as stagnant love. Love is always on the move. A person who is loved will naturally spread love. To him or her it’s as natural to love as it is to breathe. We will love generously in as much as we receive love abundantly.

There is abundant love to be had, the question is do we know that? And if we know it, do we receive it? God has always loved us; the problem is that we don’t always notice. God’s love is the big elephant in the room that some of us don’t care to acknowledge. Of course God is way ahead of us in the love-game. He has made up His mind about us a long time ago. He promises to love us forever and ever. As far as God is concerned, He knows what He is doing. As far as we are concerned, not so much!

The ball is in our court, which means, we have to make up our minds sooner or later (hopefully sooner rather than later) whether or not we want to open up to the Almighty, believe He exists and believe in His love for us.

Believing in His love is a big deal. His kind of love is unheard of. He simply loves like no other. We will experience His amazing love as we get to know Him. However, we won’t experience much of Him unless we believe in Him. So, in a way it’s a catch 22. But then, God is the One who knocks on our doors and who does all the public relations to get our attention. God is not known to be quiet. It’s actually pretty difficult not to notice Him. An Elephant in the room is pretty obvious.

We have our reasons for being reluctant with God. God is God, and we are not. How can we love God who is beyond anything we can imagine? The answer is simpler than we might think. In the book of Genesis we read (Genesis 1:27):

“So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.”

We were made in His image. We have more in common with God Almighty than we are aware of. The bond that exists between Creator and Created is very real. God sees Himself in us, and we can see ourselves in Him. This does not mean we are God, but it certainly means we are from God. And related to God as we are, we can certainly learn to love Him.

If love is missing in our lives, we feel as good as dead. Loveless, we’re aching to receive love and end up looking for love in all the wrong places. We may be estranged from the Godhead, but we are not too far gone. We can meet Him, we can fall in love with Him, and we can spend an eternity to get to know Him.

You know I love you, I always will
My mind’s made up by the way that I feel
There’s no beginning, there’ll be no end
‘Cause on my love you can depend

Philippians 2:1-2: “Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Any comfort from his love? Any fellowship together in the Spirit? Are your hearts tender and compassionate? Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose.”

We recognize an auto immune disease when a body’s immune system goes bonkers and starts attacking and damaging its own tissues. We also recognize a family is in deep trouble when family members won’t stop hurting each other. We all need unity and peace. Our bodies can’t function without it. Societies can’t function without it.

The source of all peace, Jesus, aka the Prince of Peace, will help us pursue unity and turn us into peacemakers. Speaking of making peace: what about ending war? Wouldn’t it behoove the Prince of Peace to eliminate global warfare? Curiously, ending military conflicts has never been first on His agenda – His peace movement will eventually lead to that, but first and foremost Jesus is interested in bringing peace to the human soul. Wherever we are, whoever we are, His peace offer stands – if He finds you knocking on Heaven’s door, He will open it wide and let you in.

In the 66 books of the Bible peace is mentioned 249 times. Today’s world is riddled with friction, and this is probably the reason why the Bible emphasizes our need for peace. A disciple whom Jesus nicknamed Peter wrote in one of his letters (1 Peter 3:8):

“Finally all of you should be of one mind. Sympathize with each other. Love each other as brothers and sisters. Be tenderhearted, and keep a humble attitude.”

Believe it or not, there is such a thing as a recipe for peace! According to Peter’s recommendations, here are its listed ingredients:

  • Be of one mind – to be on the same page with another person requires a lot of communication. Do not take anything for granted. Ask questions to clarify, and explain your own thought process.
  • Sympathize – walking in someone else’s shoes is generally an eye opener.
  • Love – treat every person with respect.
  • Be tenderhearted – empathy goes a long way and is a blessing for anybody facing life’s rough patches.
  • Be humble – humility brings people together; pride on the other hand represents a major stumbling block on our road to peace. Remain curious what others have to say, validate people’s input.

Agreement, consensus, and harmony by no means come easy; we need a lot of help! But even if we end up agreeing to disagree, at least we show some respect for the difference in point of view without ridiculing each other. That’s what peacemakers do. We’re golden in God’s eyes if we live by those standards. So, as the coming days unfold, above all: let’s all stay gold!

Life is but a twinkling of an eye
Yet filled with sorrow and compassion
Though not imagined, all things that happen
Will age to old, though gold!  
                                (Stevie Wonder)

Psalm 121:1-2: “I look up to the mountains— does my help come from there? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth!”

Looking up we can see the sky, but the sky isn’t the limit. Looking up we can see the Lord.

Seeing the Lord depends on our outlook. We can put our head in the sand and refuse to see anything. We can put our head in the clouds and keep on dreaming. Or we can be curious, open our eyes wide and discover the truth.

We can paint the world around us black and white and only notice our differences instead of seeing what brings us together. What is the magic bond connecting us? Here it is: We’re all human and we’re all created by one wonderful Creator.

Looking up comes natural. In our heart of hearts we know God is there. We want to connect with Him because He is the reason we’re here. Who can understand the intricately woven fabrics of our hearts? Who can get through the maze of neurons firing up in our brains? Our thought processes are many, our shifting emotions multi-layered. None of us is one-dimensional. The more we understand this, the better we fare.

Looking up is a change in perspective. I believe one reason why people climb mountains is to get a better view. And a better view is what we crave when we temporarily step away from an overwhelming reality. We want to see the big picture, the grand scheme of things.

Looking up is talking with God and listening to His input. Listening to God expands our world view and shapes us into strong and patient human beings. What the world needs now, more than ever, is patience. Impatience successfully eradicates life. Patience, on the other hand, builds up and heals. Here is an illustration of God’s patience by the Prophet Isaiah (Isaiah 42:3):

“A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out.”

We know what often happens to bruised people: They get more bruises. A smoldering wick needs to be rekindled, not thrown out or trampled into the dust. Looking up we are able to see potential. Hope is reintroduced. How cool is that!

Looking up, we help make this world a better place.

Let’s keep looking!