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Jesus is Permanent and Life is Temporary

For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ;

Philippians [3:20]

On September 10th at three in the morning, a man was awakened by a loud crash of glass outside his home. When he looked out his window he saw two men breaking into his car. He ran outside with his gun and confronted the two men. A gunfight ensued, and the man retreated to his house. He called the police, who arrived quickly.

After the police arrived on the scene, the two men initially agreed to surrender. The sheriff’s relaxed just for a moment. Then with a very quick movement, one of the men pulled out his gun and shot Deputy Sheriff Ryan Hendrix in the face. Later he died at the hospital.

Deputy Hendrix was a father of two and recently had become engaged. He had served as a sheriff in Hendersonville County, North Carolina for eight years. He was also a former Marine. Those who knew him described Ryan as a humble Christian. A well-known and liked member of his community. His funeral procession was long and backed up traffic for hours in Hendersonville county.

At three AM on September 10th, 2020, the temporary nature of this world became real. For the man in the house, for the two young children now without a father, for a young woman who lost her fiancé and Deputy Hendrix’s parents, everything changed in an instant. They all had gone to bed normally and arose to the abnormal.

Sure they all knew that being a law enforcement officer is a very dangerous job. I am sure they prayed frequently for Deputy Hendrix’s safety. And it is ironic that Deputy Hendrix served to help his community, only to be killed in service. Unfortunately, this is the ever-present risk of being in law enforcement. Dealing with criminals is a dangerous job.

This sad event is also a reflection of the very temporary nature of our own existence. We go along many moments and days with perceived normalcy. Only to be suddenly disrupted in a moment. Years may pass between these moments, but they will always exist. Moments when everything goes dark and the future is no longer certain.

One of my favorite quotes from Billy Graham is; My home is in heaven; I am just passing through this world. When I first heard this quote, I pondered it for days. Thinking through every aspect of why Graham said this now-famous quote. Concluding Graham’s perspective was so very true. We are on a journey back to our permanent home and life can be very temporary.  Our life here is unknown and temporary, which in itself creates a sense of urgency to our connecting with Jesus. For none of us do not know the day when life will change.

An urgency to never let our guard down. Each moment is precious as we are passing through to heaven. An urgency to intimately connect with our Lord and savior. An urgency to correct our failures and fix our wrongs. An urgency to be a beacon of love and hope for others. For we all exist for each other when we accept Jesus.

Unfortunately, these moments will exist, as did for Deputy Ryan Hendrix and his family. The devasting consequence of the reality of this very temporary existence. These are the moments when we can question the value of God or does God even exists. They can and have pushed many of us further away from God.

But there is ultimately no other place to turn for relief but Jesus. Grief can send us down many roads, not all leading to Jesus. Yet Jesus will still be there when it is our time to arrive or in the most difficult of circumstances.

As my own father was dying, I prayed, not for my father’s recovery, but that he would be safe on this final lap in his life. Many times, through tears it was my only desire. I asked only two things, that he pass safely over his personal River Jordan and that I would know he was safe. The answer to him being safe came the following day after died, through a songbird who sat next to me, singing it’s a sweet song.

Jesus is the permanent aspect of our lives. When we fully release ourselves to Jesus’s compelling request for us to be connected, Jesus becomes our never-ending companion on our journey home. A journey that is inevitable.

While our lives here are temporary, they are not an illusion. Life is a great blessing given to us. A blessing to be cherished. There are many things to be discovered in this life and many people to help. There are birds in the sky and the sweet smells of life. And many moments to cause our souls to rejoice.

I grieve for Ryan Hendrix’s community of friends, family, fiancé, and children who have been stung by the temporary nature of our lives. Their loss is unmeasurable. It is a harsh reminder of the urgency of having our souls ready for the inevitable. Their souls will journey on. We can and should pray that their grief turns into memories of the time Ryan spent with them.

Jesus is real and permanent. He knows our journey home can sometimes be difficult. Jesus will always be there in our every step, especially in the most difficult of times.

Blessings, until next time,
Bruce L. Hartman

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The Act of Giving is Divine

When you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret.

Matthew 6:3-4

Jesus was all about giving in a positive way.  That’s probably why this passage confused me for years. Lately, I’ve come to realize a much deeper message that’s contained within the words.

You see, we all are needy at some point in our lives. If you want to disagree; tell me how you changed your own diaper as a baby.

We all need something from someone at some time.  The joy of giving and the gratitude of receiving comes more often not with fanfare or parades, but often with a smile or a tear or a hug.  True giving elevates the recipient in a Divine and genuine way.

2020 hasn’t been the best of years, but we’re here.  Over the next few months, we can be there for each other and give of ourselves and especially our time.  Those gifts can truly make change happen.

Praying for you!

Pastor Lou Strugala

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Even Jesus’s Brothers and Sisters Lacked Faith

 Isn’t this the carpenter? Isn’t this Mary’s son and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas and Simon? Aren’t his sisters here with us? And they took offense at him.

Mark 6:3

One of the more interesting questions about Jesus is; Did he have brothers and sisters? Like most things of ancient history, the answer is complicated and a little blurry. We have this very interesting verse, from today’s message in Mark. It seems to indicate that Jesus had four brothers and at least two sisters. But the verse itself contains a small hidden clue, that they may have not been brothers and sisters. Notice it says, Mary’s son and not a son of Mary. Then mentions his four brothers separately. With Theologians, this has led to a considerable amount of confusion and discussion as to the state of Jesus’s family.

For the first three centuries, it was generally assumed that Jesus had four brothers and at least two sisters. However, later church writings suggest that these were half-brothers and half-sisters. In the fourth century, Catholic historian Jerome raised the issue of perpetual virginity of Mary, which took hold. A view shared by later Protestant leaders, such as Luther and Wesley. In other words, Mary had no more children after Jesus.

While this became an accepted belief, there is the problem of explaining how Jesus was related to the brothers and sisters from Mark 6:3. There are two theories. The first is that Joseph had a previous wife and was a widower. The brothers and sisters are actually half-brothers and half-sisters. Others have said that the Greek word in Mark 6:3 used for siblings, Adelphos, has a broader meaning than brothers/sisters. That they could be closely connected relatives; as in a cousin, step-brother, or half-brother. At the very least the brothers and sisters mentioned are strongly connected and very familiar with Jesus.

When I researched the writings around this issue, I found that these different interpretations were more of an opinion than solid factual evidence. Like many issues from the 1st century, little writing or records exist to support any of these assumptions. What is clear is that Jesus did not grow up alone, likely surrounded not only by his parents but also by a large group of children.

Which leads us back to the verse, where it says; people from his town, And they took offense at him. Jesus, during his three-year ministry as an adult, had gone to his hometown to preach and heal. The people he grew up with; local townspeople, relatives, and even his quasi siblings, heard Jesus preach and perform miracles. But they couldn’t reconcile that this child they knew, could be the same person. Jesus later said about this visit to his hometown; A prophet is not without honor except in his own town, among his relatives and in his own home. In fact, after this display of a lack of faith, Jesus could no longer heal or help those he grew up with.

In verses 5 and 6 of chapter 6, it says; He could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them. He was amazed at their lack of faith. Their lack of faith reduced Jesus’s divine power to help them.

While many in the surrounding communities fully accepted and had faith in Jesus, his own community initially could not. This was not all that unusual, even the original twelve Apostles struggled with understanding and fully accepting Jesus. Not to mention the ruling religious elite, the Pharisees and Sanhedrin.

It seems that familiarity is a big impediment in accepting Jesus as Lord and savior. But Jesus gives us a clue as to how to tap into the power he holds. Simple, just have faith. Notice Jesus was amazed at their lack of faith. And faith is the most critical part of recognizing Jesus and who he is. Seven times, Jesus said, your faith has made you well. In fact, faith is mentioned 262 times in the New Testament. Faith is a critical ingredient in recognizing Jesus.

While it sounds easy that faith is all it takes, it really isn’t. That is the point of the story. Many things erode our faith; worry, temptation, ego and even our own human senses. For the townspeople and his relatives, their faith was diminished by their inability to separate what they had seen of Jesus as a child with his deity.

The Apostle Paul has a great description of faith when he writes in 2nd Corinthians; So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. (2nd Corinthians [4:18]) We can’t use our senses or human knowledge to have faith. History won’t work as well.  To fully experience the power of Jesus, we have to put away everything we know and simply trust. No magic formula, just believe.

Faith comes from being compelled to know Jesus and then giving up our human senses and experiences during this encounter. Taking this step is difficult for many, but when we do, we become fully engaged with Jesus. Many times it occurs when we have nowhere else to turn.

You should know some of Jesus’s neighbors and siblings eventually came around to having faith. His oldest brother, James, eventually became the leader of the Jewish Christians in Jerusalem after Peter went to Rome. I am sure after this initial encounter described in Mark 6:3, many others had their own personal journey of faith in fully accepting Jesus into their lives.

Simply, just have faith that Jesus is the Lord of Lords, King of Kings, and our personal connection with God. It will end a lifetime of wondering.

Blessings, until next time,
Bruce L. Hartman

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God’s Spirit of Hope

And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out His love into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, Who has been given to us..”

Romans 5:5

It’s been a rough few weeks for several towns in Atlantic County.  Storms, COVID, and several deaths are highly impacting many of us.  As I was with a few police officers yesterday discussing the suicide of a 29-year-old, one of the young men said something that prompted this devotion.

“You can never give up hope…” was his comment.  It kept swirling in my mind the rest of the day and most of the evening because my go-to phrase is “hope will not leave us disappointed”.

Hope is in fact God’s gift of His Holy Spirit in our lives. Through my darkest days the Holy Spirit got me through; and sometimes that Spirit came through someone else.

We all have received God’s Spirit freely. We can keep It to ourselves for strength and we can share that Spirit with others to build that strength up.

Praying we use God’s Spirit often!

Pastor Lou Strugala

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Angels the Messengers of God: Are They Real?

Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation?

Hebrews [1:14]

We have all heard about angels. Probably the most famous angel we know of is Clarence, the bumbling angel in the movie, It’s a Wonderful Life. In the movie, Clarence is portrayed as a junior angel trying to obtain his wings by helping George Bailey through some tough times. In the movie, we are also told that every time we hear a bell ring, a junior angel has gotten their wings. Well, this makes for a good subplot in a movie, but it isn’t quite accurate from a Biblical standpoint. Clarence’s is portrayed as an angel is close, but not completely accurate.

To know about and determine what are angels, we should turn to the Bible. And when we use the Bible as the authentic source of information, we need to believe that the Bible is the word of God without error. Using this perspective we get three clues about angels. The first is the word angel itself, in ancient Hebrew, it means messenger. In the entire Bible, the word angel appears three hundred times. Many times as a messenger, perhaps the most famous time was when an angel visited Mary to let her know she would bear a son named Jesus.

In today’s verse from Hebrews, we get a second clue about another role of angels, that as ministers or helpers. An example of this is found in Matthew [4:11], where it says; Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him. This verse is right after Jesus has spent forty grueling days in the desert and had been tempted three times by the devil. After His ordeal, angels came and ministered or attended to Jesus.

In the book of Psalms, we find a third clue, angels as protectors. In Psalm [91:11]-12, it says; For He will command His angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways. On their hands, they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone. In this case, we find God uses angels to guard and protect us.

We now have three ways that angels help us. They are messengers with instructions or advice. They help heal and minister. Finally, they are guardians or protectors.

Back to Clarence, it seems that he was all three to George Bailey. When George tried to commit suicide, Clarence intervened, protecting George. He also showed George that the world would be a lesser place without him, ministering to his broken soul. And he delivered an important message to George about his worth. But he probably didn’t have wings or need wings. Nowhere in the Bible do we find that angels had wings or have to earn their wings. This concept has been a creation of art from the Renaissance. But it doesn’t mean Clarence wasn’t an angel, he was, through his three forms of angelic service to George Bailey.

How does knowing this help our lives and help us understand how angels help us? My belief is that at some point in our lives we have all been aided or used by an angel. At some critical juncture, an angel has stepped in and helped turn disaster to victory. As I look back on my own life, I can recount many times when an angel has helped my life. When the seemingly impossible became real.

As I researched angels, I became a little confused. It seems that angels are not human, but yet I have experienced humans acting as angels. For instance, for most of my adult life, I have always felt that my deceased grandmother, Eleanor, was there in my best and worst times. Many times, I get feelings she is present. Waves of emotion will flow through me when these moments hit. Was she my guardian angel?

At other times in my life, I have felt that I was used to helping someone else. Once in Orlando, while on a bus, I spotted a man in the distant crowd and knew he was going to fall. In my next moment, I was cradling his head in my arms; telling people to call 911. Then comforting him until EMT’s showed up. When the EMT’s showed up, I silently went back to the bus and on my way. A similar event happened on a street in NYC when I knew a young woman was going to collapse. Once again, I was at her side until the EMT’s showed up. If angels aren’t human, then how could I have helped or why is my grandmother so present in my life? Perhaps the same has happened to you.

Other times, in my life, I have felt that I was urged to help someone in surreal moments. At the back of an AMTRAC train I was asked by a conductor; How do I find God? Or a time I felt that I was to pray intently for someone to be healed. Only to discover they were healed miraculously.

Now, this doesn’t mean I feel special, but rather it means that my experiences are probably shared experiences that many others have had as well. But if angels aren’t human, how did these events happen?

I turned to my good friend, Pastor Lou, right after one of these experiences and after my research was completed. I asked Lou, How could this be? Lou, as always was quick to point out that I was trying to explain the unexplainable. His point was there are somethings our minds can’t comprehend through human thought. Lou’s explanation was that these experiences are a matter of faith and not logic. Lou finished by saying; Once again, you are overthinking and not accepting!

The more I thought about it, Lou is right. Just have faith that angels exist and constantly be obedient when asked to serve. So I ended my quest to analyze how this could be and focused on knowing that angels exist. Sometimes as messengers, sometimes as ministers, or sometimes as guardians.

Sometime in the future, an angel will help me again. And maybe I will be asked to help someone else. That’s the point of angels. They are a matter of faith and knowing the Bible verifies they exist. How they work is a gift from God.

They are answers to our or someone else’s prayers. They are part of God’s unrelenting grace.

Blessings, until next time,
Bruce L. Hartman

Photo by Miltiadis Fragkidis on Unsplash

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Our Brokenness Lets God Light In!

“We are all broken, that’s how the light gets in….”

Ernest Hemingway

“Kintsukuroi” is the traditional Japanese method of repairing pottery with precious metal so the repair becomes part of the history of the item.

Although you might see Hemingway and a Japanese repairman as opposites; I believe God has a defined purpose that intertwines both ideas.  We are all flawed or broken in some way, some minor, some severe. God’s healing power and presence come in through the cracks in our human armor; and as we are healed, our experience becomes a precious tool and reminder that nothing is impossible with God.  Those cracks then become the wisdom for us to help and heal others.

We are called to be healed and be healers.  Turn towards the light of God and feel the cracks fill in with Divine Peace!

Praying with you, and for you!

Pastor Lou Strugala

NJSP Chaplain

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Pastor Lou and Praying For Guidance

“I used to that God would feed the hungry, or do this or that, but now I pray that He will guide me to do whatever I’m supposed to do, whatever I can do.  I used to pray for answers, now I pray for strength.  I used to believe prayer changes things, but now I know that prayer changes us, and we change things…..”

Mother Teresa

Every morning that I try to put together these devotionals, I pray hard for the words that might help us focus on God’s endless love. These meditations are just meant to be one moment of inner peace in a swirling world.

Mostly I pray “God, help me to do what You want me to do, and please let Your message come forth, in spite of my weakness.”

Will you join me in prayer today?  Let’s ask God to guide and use as just as He did with Mother Teresa to transform our world a little at a time.  Feel His peace and know I am praying for you!

 

Pastor Lou Strugala

 

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What are Miracles and Are They Real?

Jesus turned and saw her. “Take heart, daughter,” he said, “your faith has healed you.” And the woman was healed at that moment.

Matthew [9:22]

One of the things I wonder and get questions about is; what are miracles and are they real? I have thought long and hard about this question many times. And sure I have seen my share, but always something so deeply personal, I am not sure my experiences are easily explained in words. Which is in effect part of my answer to those who ask. Miracles are deeply intimate and emotional experiences, something which can’t be explained fully in human terms.

Underlying each miracle is a private conversation with God through Jesus. Maybe by many people who pray together or perhaps just the individual. Each miracle is unique, easily recognizable by the person or persons affected, and always hard to explain to someone else.

As I recently studied miracles I started with, what is the practical definition? The Biblical definition of miracles in my research stated, Occurrences not explainable solely by natural processes, but which require the direct agency of God. Pretty practical answer, miracles are those things which cannot be explained by our human knowledge and involve God.

From ancient times we can get the voice of Augustine, who said; There is no impropriety in saying that God does something against nature when it is contrary to what we know of nature. For we give the name ‘nature’ to the usual and known course of nature; and whatever God does contrary to this, we call ‘prodigies’ or ‘miracles. Augustine is expanding the description by adding that we as humans have defined normal and how God works in our lives isn’t always normal and certainly not easily explainable in human terms.

So this creates another depth to explaining miracles, Augustine is stating; that what we define as miracles may not be that extraordinary in God’s eyes. Or in fact not that far out of the normal for God. When we are in deep distress, God’s intervention in relieving our stress is viewed in our eyes as a miracle. From God’s eyes, Augustine is implying that for God, what we call miracles, is a normal activity. I am very attracted to this explanation because we have a loving God and not a condemning God. And are we any different as parents towards our own children?

Another one of my favorite theologians is Karl Barth. You should know some consider him a radical liberal and others consider him a radical conservative. Just where I like my favorite theologians to be; in the middle. Barth says about miracles; We have one of two options: Either we believe them, or reject them; just don’t try to explain them. A very brief explanation from someone who is usually very long in explanation! And remarkably similar to Augustine in that as humans we will always struggle to define why and what are miracles.

Barth is implying those with strong faith, rely on the fact that miracles are from God. Those who don’t have faith will view the events around a miracle as circumstantial. Barth is also implying, that our human experiences can never explain them. They can only be explained with a strong faith that says, God was involved.

All this points to; miracles are things that we can’t explain through our own natural experiences and understanding. They are beyond our scope of comprehension and defy nature.

Some will say, there is no such thing as a miracle because they can’t be explained. Others will say that they are just superstitious or coincidental events.

I strongly disagree with these arguments. Because we can’t explain miracles, it doesn’t mean we can’t feel or have them. Here is what I mean. We will notice that unusually great joy occurs after a miracle. When a difficult moment has passed a lightness appears, and the dark tension is dissolved. Colors are brighter, music is sweeter, and the world is cheerier. This emotion can not be explained either, but it is real. A visit from God will do that. This intimate reminder that God is real will touch all human hearts that are open to God.

While we can’t completely explain miracles scientifically. I have found that I can get close through math. Here is what I do; I add up the odds of the circumstances of each event and each part of the miracle. Not to get to scientific, but this process is similar to a Venn diagram. As you keep laying the odds out and then multiplying the percentages from event to event. You end up with infinitesimally small odds of it being a natural occurrence. Leaving the scientific response to be none other than it more likely than not that it was a miracle. Do the math on your next miracle and you will see what I mean.

Miracles are always very personal and intimate. In those dark moments of life, when you are bare and hopelessly lost, you have conversations with God. Conversations pleading for help. Starkly real moments when you are physically frozen. In quiet desperation, you yield your inner thoughts to God. God hears and responds. Only we will know about the depths of this conversation.

Then we watch and slowly the veil of darkness is lifted. When we were alone in complete darkness, God responded. For me, this once occurred on a dark night, under a street lamp. A moment so memorable that it’s realness is as sweet today as it was back then. An answer from God, that didn’t make life better but made me know God was with me, which was what I needed. The events that followed created a cascading set of events; whose improbability assured me that it could be none other than God.

Only we know about the depths of these conversations. And when the stress is resolved, we can and should go back to these conversations. We will see how we were answered.

I suppose I should take Augustine’s and Barth’s advice, stop trying to explain miracles through natural terms. Give my faith the opportunity to believe when I see miracles that it was God. To allow the joy of knowing God’s involvement and God’s response to be more important than the explanation.

Our faith makes miracles real and our faith will let us know God was involved.

Blessings, until next time,
Bruce L. Hartman

Photo by Miltiadis Fragkidis on Unsplash

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Jesus Would Not Approve of the Cancel Culture

“I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

John [8:12]

A Twitter follower wrote me saying, I am amazed at the state of our country. Each day I hear about something so strange, I wonder if it is real. Now, what he was talking about are the strange events that are happening to our country. Events so illogical, they make you think and wonder, now why would they do that?

The cancel culture mob has emerged as a driving force in American life. A dark and marauding group that seeks to eliminate any and all that disagree. American’s are losing their jobs, statues are tumbling, and corporations are giving in, afraid of backlash. Freedom is under attack.

University of Chicago’s famed economist Harald Uhlig recently came under attack after saying; Don’t defund the police, train them better. Uhlig was placed on leave after a blistering attack by the cancel culture mob.

Reason Magazine senior editor, Robby Soave, came to Uhlig’s defense by saying; There was nothing discriminatory in what he said because he has some different views from the protesters, he must be a racist.

In turns out Uhlig views were right. Violent crime is remarkably up. In Milwaukee, crime is up 132%. New York, as well is seeing crime increase to levels not seen since 1997. And this is not the exception but has become the norm. Police funding is being reduced and with the low morale in many of our police departments throughout our country has caused this increase. Some will tell you otherwise, but they aren’t talking to law enforcement officials.

I believe that most local police officers want to a good job and humanely protect their citizenry. For instance, I recently heard from a pastor friend that accompanies local police who have the job of telling next of kin the loss of a loved one. He told me about their incredible compassion and professionalism. I have seen the same. However, I also know there are some who take their job too far and target black men.

The cancel culture mob is calling to cancel or defund police departments? Is the solution to make the police disappear? And is the solution to maintain the status quo? My answer is no to all.

A recent poll by Associated press confirms my view. Ninety-five percent of all Americans want police reform. Also, most police departments do as well. Overwhelmingly Americans want solutions, not cancellations.

Americans want better training for all police and better identification methods of those who step beyond the bounds of decency. And in the same poll, few wanted to cancel or defund the police.

Likewise, the cancel culture mob has begun destroying statutes. In fact, a Fredrick Douglas statue was recently torn down. Why? no one really knows. But it canceled a great African American leader from our past.

Aunt Jemima has been erased by the cancel culture mob, to the dismay of her family and many black leaders. It seems Quaker Oats, who benefited from Aunt Jemima was too quick to listen to the cancel mob. Afraid of the backlash they canceled her. In doing so, they erased her efforts as the co-founder of the largest church in America, as of 1900. They eliminated the first black corporate spokespeople and one of the first female spokespeople as well. They canceled her years of hard work as one of the early civil rights activists.

In Seattle, all the white city employees have been gathered together to learn how to get rid of their Whiteness and are being instructed that they have all participated in some form of racism. In fact, white employees were instructed to practice self-talk that affirms their complicity in racism. Making me wonder, who decided all white people are racist? And isn’t that assumption in itself racist?

David Shor, an analyst from Civis Analytics, stated in a report; riots alienate voters. For this, he was fired. Even though his analysis is supported by facts.

A Boeing executive was even forced out for opposing women’s service in the military—30 years ago. A thought he long ago changed.

The new dark and angry totalitarians called the cancel culture mob, demand that no one criticize their view of the world. Otherwise, they will attack.

We all need to become better at thinking things through, instead of quickly resorting to canceling. If this is our new way of solving problems, we will all eventually be canceled. No group or community is free from mistakes and all have fallen short.

Instead, we should build on what’s good and not resort to quick fixes like canceling. Despite our flaws, we are a country that generally wants to do the right thing. And the rest of the world knows this, despite what we might read. Every year the most desired country to immigrate to is the United States. In fact, in 2017, over one million people immigrated, by far the largest amount for any country.

There are very clear abuses that go on in our country and they need to stop. But canceling and portraying entire groups based on some individual actions will not solve the problem. Rather, we should follow Jesus and his lessons. And this is why Jesus said, I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.

A simple message to live life with Jesus in mind. He is the light of the world. For us all to work a little harder to see the good in all people. To not jump to quick solutions that fail to recognize all the facts. Jesus wants us to love and not blame. It is too easy to curse the darkness, but much harder to light a candle. And this is where we all should get better.

We must lift up the many great people from all walks of life that have lifted up our country. Instead of canceling and living darkly, we need to become followers of the light. Looking for those who do good. We should honor our heroes more widely, those who make us great. We need to gather up the great doers of good and let them lead. Not this angry mob that trolls the internet to seek people to cancel.

We won’t agree with our neighbor on every point of view. Jesus asks us, however, to still love all our neighbors.

Jesus wants us to walk in the light and not the darkness of judging others. Jesus wants us to listen to learn and not prepare our next attack.

Jesus wants us to love and forgive. As Jesus did when he went to the Cross.

Blessings, until next time,
Bruce L. Hartman

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The Lord Is Merciful

The Lord is merciful and compassionate; slow to anger, and giving of kindness and love……”

Psalm 145:8

Saturday was one of those typical Jersey summer days; humidity and temperature about equal, and the sun adding a bit to help bake.  I received a notification early of a fatality in one of the communities where I serve as a police chaplain and arrived at the scene a short time later.  Praying for the young man was about all that I could do as we all were waiting for the investigation to run its’ course.  While there, we received word of a fatal car accident and it was felt by all I could be of more service there.

I knew many of the officers and firefighters on scene, and had prayed with the NJ State Police Sergeant and crew at a diner in the past.

As we waited for the painstaking and thorough investigation with multiple agencies involved, I observed this Psalmist’s verse being lived out.  God was working through everyone on scene in so many ways.  Here are just a few.

The main concern was for the family of the deceased: it was imperative to be 100% certain of the young man’s identity.  The secondary concern was for everyone on scene:  I lost count of how many times I heard “Pastor Lou, you ok?”  Or “_______ is having a tough time; can I have him talk to you?”  Do you need water?  We have some coffee if you’d like… and on and on.   Kindness

And finally when we went to the parents’ home, the officer showed a tenderness and compassion that only comes as a gift from God in sharing news that turns a family upside down.

God was present through all the events that day; and I wanted to take this time to say “Thank you” to all our first responders. You will always be in my thoughts and prayers; and I wish you peace and safety!

Pastor Lou Strugala

Lou Strugala

Lou Strugala

Pastor Lou Strugala has a wonderfully deep background in ministry. Lou is more of a “Street Preacher” and has dedicated his life to helping Jesus and those in need.