Advent….Another season of waiting

2019 was a year of waiting to recover from Guillain Barre Syndrome (www.CaringBridge.org/visit/michaelguthrie. Little did I know that 2020 would bring a new kind of waiting; the all clear from Covid19. Although I am physically well and have accomplished my 180 goal stated in this link http://thankfulinallthings.com/tag/transformed/, the doctors have me self-isolating as much as possible. They say that is the best course of action given my compromised immune system because Covid19 can result in Guillain Barre as well. Singer Christopher Cross had that exact thing happen https://youtu.be/aeEe9W8wayw back in March. Along with all of you, we wait for a vaccine that will hopefully allow us to return to our normal lives again sometime in 2021.

Waiting for recovery in 2019 and Covid19 to be brought under control in 2020 has made the season of Advent more poignant for me. Why? Because it is also about waiting and waiting is never easy. I guess that is why they say “patience is a virtue.” 😀 God’s chosen people had been waiting for a Messiah for a lot longer than a couple of years. God’s son, Jesus, had been prophesied hundreds of years before in Isaiah 7:14. Here is a link to 44 prophesies in the Old Testament that were fulfilled in the New Testament. https://parish.rcdow.org.uk/swisscottage/wp-content/uploads/sites/52/2014/11/44-Prophecies-Jesus-Christ-Fulfilled.pdf

One such prophesy shares about the servant, the messiah for whom they were waiting.

Isaiah 42 goes on to say what the people could expect upon His arrival.
“Here is my servant, whom I uphold,
    my chosen one in whom I delight;
I will put my Spirit on him,
    and he will bring justice to the nations.
He will not shout or cry out,
    or raise his voice in the streets.
A bruised reed he will not break,
    and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out.
In faithfulness he will bring forth justice;
    he will not falter or be discouraged
till he establishes justice on earth.
    In his teaching the islands will put their hope.”

Ponder this question on this 2nd Sunday of Advent. For what or for whom are you waiting? Is it something temporal in nature like improved health or the end of Covid19? There is no doubt I have found both are worth waiting for with expectant anticipation. Yet this Christmas season, try waiting on God to show you how He wants to renew your life. There you will find the everlasting Hope that was promised in Isaiah. The hope that comes from God who loved us enough to send His Incarnate Son to live amongst us. Wait on Him friends and watch how he will bring justice to this broken and bruised world that feels like at any moment could be snuffed out like a smoldering wick. Joy to the world, The Lord has come. May we each receive Him personally as our King. When we do we can remain Thankful in All Things.

Thanks for reading my thoughts on what it means to wait during The Advent season. I can be reached by email at michael@mrg7175.com Please subscribe to the blog if you want to get email notifications when new content is posted.

What can be learned from the life of Ruth Bader Ginsburg?

The country lost an amazing force when Ruth Bader Ginsburg died Friday. How meaningful it was that this, small in stature but mighty in character woman, passed away on one of the holiest days of her religion.

Affectionately known as RBG, Justice Ginsberg, was indeed a person of great righteousness.  I personally admired and respected her even though I sometimes disagreed with her legal opinions. I was not alone in that regard. “What’s not to like?” Scalia said of Ginsburg at that joint appearance six years ago. “Except her views on the law.” Thus did the two ideological opposites attract for what became from that day on a close friendship – one their families, friends and colleagues recalled affectionately after Scalia’s death at a Texas ranch in 2016 and again following Ginsburg’s death Friday on the eve of Rosh Hashanah.” (from USA Today article) https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2020/09/20/supreme-friends-ruth-bader-ginsburg-and-antonin-scalia/5844533002/

I don’t know about you but I am tired of the rancor and divisiveness in our society these days. Why does it feel so much worse than in years past? Could it be that it isn’t but social media is making us feel that way. A Netflix documentary, “Social Dilemna”makes this very point. The way the apps are set up cause us to be pulled one way or another making us feel like there is no middle any more. The relationship between Scalia and Ginsberg begs to differ. Judge Scalia was known to say, “We agree on a whole lot of stuff,” Ruth is really bad only on the knee-jerk stuff.” Ruth Bader Ginsberg exemplified the words of David in Psalm 90:10 “Teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom as each day takes us one day closer to eternity. 

Her life and the relationship she had with one, so diametrically opposed to some of her views, support what I have been writing here for the last few weeks. Like the Good Samaritan in Luke 10:25-37, when faced with opposition, we need to STUDY the issue, seek to UNDERSTAND, and then allow ourselves to be VULNERABLE enough to listen to another point of view. The Samaritan had a choice. Instead of crossing the road to avoid the man who was robbed and beaten, He got close enough to SEE he was alive, FEEL his pain, so that he could be SHAKEN into action. Where do you need to do the same? Will you cross the road or meet the challenge head on?

The USA Today article goes on to say, “In an era of increasingly bitter partisan enmity, the odd coupling of Ginsburg – petite, serious, seemingly shy – and Scalia – rotund, garrulous, overtly opinionated – may be viewed as an anachronism. But many cited it over the weekend as a signal of hope.” Who with opposite view points is God asking you to build this same kind of friendship?

My Guillain Barre health challenge www.caringbridge.com/visit/michaelguthrie was the impetus for this blog. I hope you will subscribe. Contact me at michael@mrg7175..com

Loving your neighbor is more important than ever

‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

Loving your neighbor while distancing

Social distancing is wreaking havoc on us individually and in how we go about loving our neighbors. We were made to be in relationship so to back up, like a turtle pulls his head into his shell, is so contrary to how God wants us to live. Jesus said in John 10:10 that “he came to give us an abundant life” and later in John 15 encouraged us in this way, “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.” I don’t know about you who are reading this post, but I can say feeling an “abundance and a joy that is full” is not easy to do these days. I wake up many days thinking, “another day, just like yesterday, and the day before. It is magnified as I see so many people enjoying family vacations and, because of my compromised immune system, we cannot. There is a daily choice to be made. Do I slip down into discouragement or choose to make the day a positive one by finding creative ways to love my neighbors? I have found that having a mindset toward acts of service keeps me from allowing my circumstances to defeat me.

The commandment to Love my neighbor literally means to go out and care for those nearby. This moves the exhortation not just to those who live nearby who may look like us or have the same type of lifestyle, but who come nearby as we move throughout our the day, physically or remotely. As I have shared before, even wearing a mask can be a way that we love someone who comes into our proximity. Bishop Claude Alexander in his sermon, https://livingontheedge.org/coffeebreak/july-2020/ says like the Good Samaritan, we need to be willing to not go around an uncomfortable situation. Instead, be called forward so that we go through and into that place. That way we can get close enough to see, feel, and understand what is happening, why it occurred. Bishop Alexander shares that “Seeing, feeling, and understanding will make us realize we must do something about the situation”

When we are moved to make a difference, what does it look like to love our neighbor? The practical application will look differently for each one of us and that is OK. One thing is for sure though. It starts with us getting out of our own comfort zone and entering into a place where we have never been before or haven’t been motivated to make the time. The first step for the Good Samaritan was to see what had happened. He then felt the person’s pain which made him understand he needed to do something. That something cost him physically, (he walked while the injured one rode on the donkey), financially (he paid for a room and for his care, and his precious time ( he cared for the man and then came back later to see if he was OK. What starts with being open to see and responding to others who have a need or just need encouragement. Here are links to three different ministries that started with people like you and me who got shaken into action. https://charlottesvilleabundantlife.org/ https://movementfoundation.org/ https://peaceprep.com/ I share these to show what amazing things can happen when people make the choice to love their neighbors.

Luke 10;36.37 answers the question, What does it mean to love your neighbor? When the expert in the law answered that the one who had mercy on the person who was robbed, Jesus simply answers, “go and do likewise“. As I thought about this blog post this week, this jumped in to my head. What if our love for each other was as contagious as Covid19? I am guessing your life will be filled with the abundance God promised and you will find yourself full of joy. Let’s go out this week and find out. 🙂

We are all in need of wisdom these days.

It is vacation season and many of you are packing up to enjoy some much needed time away. Thinking about vacations reminded me that a couple weeks ago I wrote we all need to see we are on a journey together. I used Chip Ingram’s analogy of taking the trip in a SUV metaphorically. To travel through these days well we need to be willing to STUDY and Learn from each other, practice UNDERSTANDING, and make ourselves VULNERABLE so we can be open to hear what others have to say. Last week I shared I have been reading through Proverbs this month. There is such wisdom in these 30 chapters. As I circled and underlined words or phrases that came off the page for me,

I have been struck by the recurring themes on which Solomon focuses. The SUV metaphor certainly works with what I shared with you last week. “Pay attention and Listen well certainly fall under STUDY. Pursue knowledge and Heed Instruction emphasizes Learn from each other. Acknowledging I am not perfect so don’t make others feel like they have to be will give you the VULNERABILITY to be grateful for God’s grace and mercy. The journey will be more enjoyable if we can offer the same to everyone around you us striving to obey the commandment to love the Lord always and love others in the same way. Luke 10:27 ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'”

This journey called life will be made better if we allow others to help us strive toward being the best we can be. Try reading one chapter of Proverbs each day during July. Look for these recurring themes that can provide all of us the proper roadmap. Here are some of the directions it tells us to take:
1) Pay attention, stay focused on what’s next.
2) Listen to those who know what’s best for you.
3) Ask God for strength and wisdom
4) Be disciplined but have patience
5) Trust God for the outcome.
As Dabo Swinney says “Remember, there is no I Can’t. Cross the T out and make it I CAN because you Believe!”

Learn more about the adversity that brought this blog to life by visiting www.caringbridge.org/visit/michaelguthrie contact me via email at michael@mrg7175.com

Wouldn’t it be nice to have the innocence of a child?

I don’t know about you but these last few weeks have been a burden. I have felt weighed down in a way I can’t remember ever feeling before. Enough of Covid19 “Shelter in Place”. Can I please go out and hug someone? If that isn’t enough, let’s add the darkness of our world where people are being killed in a prejudicial way. Being quick to act out instead of being compassionate with a desire to understand. I am weighed down because I know I need to take on what I wrote last week. I need to journey w others in a SUV where I STUDY and Learn, wanting to UNDERSTAND others better, while making myself VULNERABLE so I can be willing to have others speak into my life. I hope you will too. If we do, we can do our part to make the world a better place. We can’t go back to being a child but we can still learn from one 😀

After seeing this and hearing Glenn Lundy talk about it and then listening to John O’Leary talk about his new book “In Awe” on www.thebrianbuffinishow.com, I decided to use the context taught to make my own list. I hope it will be helpful to you.
  1. Share everything  2 Corinthians 9:6-7 ….God loves a cheerful giver
  2. Play fair and don’t beat people down “If you want to keep from keeping people down, always look up.”  Serving others will bring you a humble spirit

2a)   Everyone deserves a chance to win Philippians 2:4 “Let each one of you look not only after yourself but also the interests of others”

  1. Put things back where you find them, clean up your own mess and don’t take what is not yours  “If you can’t clean up after yourself…There’s no need for you mess things up and expect another to clean up behind you”
  2. Say your sorry when you hurt someone or if you know they are hurting. The answer is to show love. 1John 1:9 “If you confess our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Be willing to forgive. Matthew 6:12 “Forgive as God has forgiven you 
  3. Give people space, wash your hands and flush your toilet (for men, put the toilet seat down) 😀Golden Rule-Do unto others as you would them to treat you. 
  4. Take care of your body. To help others you have to take care of yourself 1Corinthians 6:19 “Do you not know your body is a temple for the Holy Spirit?”
  5. Live a balanced life. Learn, think, creative, play, work “God 1st, others 2nd, yourself 3rd” 
  6. Be united and stick together “They will know we are Christians by our our love for one another. Psalm 133:1 “How wonderful it is when brothers and sisters live in harmony”
  7. Remember the little seed in the styrofoam cup. Firm foundation  Matthew 17:20 “faith like a mustard seed, nothing will be impossible for those who believe” Dabo Swinney-“Cross out the T in I CAN’T and Believe that you Can”
  8. Everything dies. You only have so many days Make the most of it. Ecclesiastes “to every thing there is a purpose and a season.  A time to be born and a time to die” 
  9. Look, Listen, strive to understand. Chip Ingram, Life is a journey. To travel you need a SUV. STUDY and learn so that you can UNDERSTAND. Then let God allow you to trust enough to be VULNERABLE. 
  10. Bonus #12 😀 “Love the Lord with all your heart, mind, and soul and love others as the Lord loves you.” Be tethered to God and then Let go and let him be in control of the outcome. http://thankfulinallthings.com/to-what-are-you-tethered/
    When you focus on these simple principles, you will stand “In Awe” of what God can do to help you be better tomorrow than you are today. A child’s wonder is something to behold but experiencing the Wonder of God’s love will change you forever.

Please feel free to contact me at michael@mrg7175.com or learn more about my Guillain Barre Syndrome story at www.caringbridge.org/visit/michaelguthrie

Our brain is really like a computer

My 12 days at UVA hospital were miserable. It was so frustrating to not be able to move and even more aggravating to not be able to sleep. Ask those who know me and they will tell you sleeping has never been a problem for me. My son-in-law Ben has a folder on his computer with photos of me sleeping pretty much anywhere. That was not the case for many days. Here is a post from my Caring Bridge site on the 10th day. “Dottie and I are so grateful for everybody’s love and support. Life has definitely thrown us a curveball, which unfortunately I never could hit very well….But with your wonderful words of encouragement and knowing God is with us, we will get through this. Please pray for continued movement….and a good night’s sleep.” Becca wrote, “He had a rough night last night and is having more difficulty finding that “comfy spot”.  The plan is to try some medications to help with nerve pain as well as some Tylenol, so we are praying for some more rest and comfort throughout the night tonight.” My son, JM wrote on “Dad is more and more uncomfortable with the small signs of improvement and an increased feeling and awareness. Dottie is doing her best to keep him relaxed and their love is tangible even in this time of struggle. ” 

Why do I share these things. Because a little more than 7 months later, these very tough days and nights are still etched in my mind but not as the minute by minute struggle they were at the time. I titled this post “our brain is like a computer” for a reason. Every so often, we need to defrag our computer so it can run faster. When you do that, the information you have saved does not go away, it gets compressed in some way to create more space for other programs to run. Psalm 30:5 says, ” For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning. ” 2 Corinthians 4:17 says it a different way-
“For our light and momentary affliction is producing for us an eternal glory that is far beyond comparison.” I am grateful that I am getting better but in a weird way I want my brain not to compress my memory of how I felt in the darkest of my time in the hospital and in rehab because I learned that God was there and His favor does last a lifetime. I also learned what a blessing it is to have people who truly care come along side to help in whatever way they were asked. As mentioned in an earlier blog post, by dealing with the adversity of Guillain Barre well, “I have been given a ticket to a place I would never have been able to go” I have become a different person. A quote from a friend on a different Caring Bridge says it best.  “I’ve spent deeply meaningful time with my family and closest friends. I’ve been a better father and husband. I’ve shared my story openly, and learned to let people help our family in ways big and small while looking to find ways to encourage and support others”. Dottie and I remain so thankful for your friendship and care. Your support gives us hope, comfort, peace of mind and encouragement during what has been a tough season.  We will not forget. We will always remember.