“Tell me You love me or I’ll Tickle you”

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A picture of a young child being tickled

Hannah our 3 yr old Daughter is on the mats on the floor with our son Jerome and Myself, and It is approximately 1 hr after we had woke up.My wife was already up, and I was playing with the kids. As typically happens I would tickle them and they would try and tickle me back, despite me not really being ticklish at all.  Some times, like this morning I said to her “Do you love Daddy?” and in the typical fashion she would play the game and bodly say”NO!” I would then respond back “Say you love Daddy… or I will tickle you.” “No!” She responds. So I reach over and tickle her on her stomach, in her Kilikili (Armpits in Tagalog), her side, and on her feet. Then I would start again “Tell Daddy you Love him or you will get tickled!” She laughs and Laughs then again Boldly shouts “NO!” AND SHE LAUGHS AND LAUGHS. I tickle her again and again as the game goes on; she keeps saying no so that she will continued to get tickled and I keep tickling her, plying this game. This can go on for more than a half hour and by this time she is laughing hysterically “Daddy no …Daddy no” Then jump over to tickle my stomach and start things again.  Even if I stop totally and try and ignore her, she will keep trying to tickle me on my large stomach,  trying to agitate me to start tickling her again.

Aren’t you glad however that God does not tell us”  You Love me!” or “Love me or I will …..” .  We have a loving God that has given us a free will to choose, to love, to serve, and yes even  play. While he desires us to love him, be in fellowship with him, and to always be following him with all that we are, He does not force us.  He wants it to be done out of Love for him and gratefulness for what He did through his death and resurrection. So the next time you are being tickled into submission, remember that we serve such an awesome God that doesn’t want Robots,but faithful and true servants of the most high God who Love and serve him because of who He is and What He’s done.

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MORE THAN JUST EMPTY WORDS

New York City. Homeless man.WHAT’S THAT? …YOU SAY THAT YOUR HOMELESS… I’LL PRAY FOR YOU THAT GOD WILL PROVIDE HOUSING FOR YOU” Oh the empty word! Oh the Hypocrisy we show! We will often make comments like this without even thinking about what we are saying. We are quick to appease and tell “white lies”,BUT we seldom keep our promises to be in prayer for that person. Where is the concern? Where is the love? Where is the compassion? Do we even try to ask further questions to find out the extent of the problem? Do we look to see if there are things that we can do to help? Are we willing to spend time with them really getting to know them and their needs. Is our concern truly for him or is our real concern our bank account being drained away; “leaches” sucking our money and resources dry. Could it be that our biases, preconceptions, and stereotypes are causing us to be prejudicial to those in need? And what is it that we really believe about the homeless? Are they in our minds 2nd or 3rd rate citizens? Do they have less rights than us? Are we like the priest and the levite in Luke10 that totally ignored and avoided the man that had been , robbed,stripped, beaten, and left for dead or, are we like the Samaritan that helped him with his wounds, bandaged them, got him up on his animal, got him to an Inn and took care of him? What really is our heart towards the poor? Do we truly love them or are we just going through the motions; playing the role of one that cares when really we couldn’t be bothered otherwise?

I think, more often than not, it’s the latter. We all tend to do it. We talk the talk real good but we don’t walk the walk. We are so convincing that we even sell ourselves the lies that we are doing a good job in caring for the poor when in reality it’s all a sham, a big production done to make ourselves look good in front of others. We are experts at lying to ourselves and others; so much so, that we could sell snow to Eskimos (Inuit First Nations People). Oh sure there are lots of scammers out there, and many more that will take money misuse it without even a blink of an eye as to the sacrifice behind the gift. But are all like that?No of course not. There are many different types of people with a spectrum of needs. surely there is something we can do? Are we that Jaded that we throw out the baby with the bath water and not give at all to those in need?  What position does that put us in light of the passage in Matt 25:31-46? Certainly I am not saying that we must foolishly give to all that ask without using discretion, and certainly there are those that are unable to give at all. We know that we have to choose wisely how we help so we don’t enable them But, we must seriously ask ourselves, whether we (myself included) are truly serious about showing the love of God to the homeless. We must ask ourselves is there not something we can do? Can we not buy them a meal at McDonald’s and use it to show the love of God. Is there no one that has a place in their heart and an extra room to take someone in that is on their way to recovery; giving them a hands up? Perhaps there are those that can just sit with them, listen, find out their story and really show you care.  Is there not someone that is willing to start a support group for the homeless where they can discuss the issues and have the opportunity to hear how Christ can meet their needs?  Is there not someone to love on them with all their heart and strength, and could be a light in a dark and perverted world? Is there not a Follower of Christ who truly cares enough to sacrifice their dignity and pride and spend time with them? Can we not be real, get past our hangups and start treating them like they truly are; People whom God loves and made in His image.  Is there not a way that we can convey to them that we are good friends with their maker and we want to re-introduce them to their maker, help them understand their instruction book, the Bible, and help them to understand their purpose, and know that they have value, worth, dignity, hope and more because of who their maker is and what he did for us?  Is there…..?

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Homeless man sleeping on the street.

FEEDING THE HUNGRY LIONS

 

LET ME SET THE SCENE

It is just after breakfast, Hannah and Bing are running around like chickens with their heads

lion-roaring
“MEOW”

cut off, doing this and that, trying to get ready to get Hannah to daycare. The breakfast table cleared, the dishes done, and a single bowl  with leftover breakfast scraps sits on the counter ready to be joined with other food scraps later in the day which will go to feed our dog, our puppy, our cat, and a devious and sinister black cat that frequently comes around at mealtimes or any time food is being cooked or eaten.  I call him Blackie.

MORE ABOUT THIS BLACK CAT.

The cat on the outside is not totally black, in fact it does have some white on it as well, but inside it is the devil incarnate.  This is a cat that frequently hangs around our cat and frequently gets into fights with our cat. (our cat wins). It doesnt come across as brazen, mean, and vicious, but rather is very subtle, and sly, manipulative and selfish. Yes selfish, I thought this perhaps this was a neighbours cat, but Jerome my son insists no it is not despite it frequenting over in their kitchen also.

HE IS QUICK TO SNUGGLE AND RUB AGAINST YOUR LEG IF HE WANTS SOMETHING AND WILL MEOW IN THIS WHINEY TONE AS IF TO SAY ” IM REALLY STARVING FEED ME, FEED ME  … I’M GOING TO DIE!”  BUT WHEN NO FOOD UP FOR GRABS …. HE IS LIKE A WILD CAT, WONT BE PETTED, WONT BE AROUND PEOPLE, AND EVERYTHING IS ABOUT HIM AND WHAT HE CAN GET!  HE IS THE DEVIL INCARNATE DRESSED UP AS AN ANGEL OF LIGHT.

THE DEVIOUS PLOT TO RID US FOOD LEFT OVERS

Some might say, “Paul, your exaggerating, things can not really be all that bad.” , but my response is “deep fry some tilapia (fish) and see what he gets like!” The idea with the bowl of leftovers on the counter is that we will wait until it is full enough, (sometimes by lunch but other times not until later) and then we will serve it up to all the pets in the house. It is not that we are trying to keep good things from them but rather we have more good things to add to it first. But he, (and he will often tempt our cat to also get in on the action under the guise that if he doesn’t he will not get “all the good stuff”

So He jumps up on the counter very quietly and subtly, and will go through the bowl trying to find the meat. If there is a piece of pork, chicken and especially fish he will grab it jump down eat it in private and then go back up for seconds until we happen to notice and shoo it off the counter and out the door. but this is not the worst of it.

LEFT OVERS MEANT FOR HUMAN CONSUMPTION LATER

If that were not enough he has an insatiable appetite for most any human food. It was not enough that he wanted to get into the bowl of scraps for the animals but he also is quick to jump up on the table knock the upside-down plate off that covers the plate of food and eat as much and as quickly as he can. There has been times where we got our ulam early (A meat or vegetable (or both)dish that is a rice topper) and we set it on the table with a dish covering it. I remember One time I was setting up for lunch, and I set out a can of sardines.  A dish had been placed over it and while I waited for the others to get ready, I went to do something else as I wanted to be productive with my time. I hear the sound of a dish hitting the table which got knocked to the floors, and I sprung up (as fast as an obese person can spring up) and ran yelling and screaming at the blackie, who then grabbed the last piece of sardine and darted off the table and out the back door. He of course doesnt go far. It is as if he is saying ” I won ….. ha ha ha ha ha!” It is as if he is mocking us and ready to make another attack.

Aren’t we often similar to Blackie? We come across as nice and friendly when we want or think we could get something or when a person is showing favor to us. Oh we don’t want to have people think bad of us, we come with our masks, making ourselves out to be honest, truthful, kind, generous, and so many other things, but really we are inwardly like the devil incarnate. That sinful nature springs up over and over again, and we are quick to make sure that we get the biggest piece of cake, the better toy,  be first to the tv remote so We can control the channel, and we insist that our preferences be honored over others,  so that we get what we want, when we want it. We try to appear as angels, when really when really we are sinners who struggle daily with our sinful nature. The funny thing is, It is not that Christ is trying to keep good things from us, just as I was not trying to keep good things from Blackie, but rather there were bigger and better things yet to come and the timing was not yet. But just as blackie was taking 2nd best by being selfish and greedy and not  waiting  for the best, we too are often selfish and greedy and take 2nd best instead of waiting for the best. We treat others around us as second class citizens and do not show them the love and respect that they deserve because we are acting in our own self interests.

 

Lord, help us today to not be selfish and self serving but rather serving others and thinking of them first. Help us to understand that you are not trying to withhold good things from us but rather have better things for us, bigger and better but we must trust you and wait for you to give us what we need. Lord forgive us for our selfish attitude and for not trusting you. Make us more like yourself, help us to trust you and live for you wholly. In Jesus Name Amen