And the Greatest of these is Love

The greatest of these is love

Over the last year, I have entered several writing contests. I have never won a contest or even had an honorable mention. That’s okay because I enter the competitions to sharpen my writing and creativity skills.

The writing contests are a bit demanding. After I enter the contest, on a Saturday afternoon, at about 1 p.m., I receive an email from the writing contest holder.

I am given specific parameters to follow for the contest. I have 24 hours to complete the story. The story can only be a certain amount of words, never more than 2000. And, I am given a short paragraph, usually three sentences long, that I need to include in the story. The segment I receive does not have to be included in the story verbatim, but the premise must exist in the short story.

To some, this may seem simple, but it’s not. The contestants also receive a long list of dos and don’ts.  Many scenarios that have been used multiple times that the contest holder tells the contestants not to include in their story still are used quite often.

To be honest, I always try and do my best and rewrite my story and go over grammar multiple times. Perhaps, someday I’ll rate at least an honorable mention. For now, I continue to write my stories, devotions, Bible studies, and children’s message because I believe that I am Spirit led to do so.

The story below is not a religious or Christian one. It’s about a family. It’s about my family. Parts of it are genuine; parts of it are fiction, and parts of it are a  combination of events.

Most of all, it is about caring, family, and love.


Drive-In movie memories

During the late 1950s and early 1960s, my parents would take my brother and me to the drive-in movie theater twice a month. I can’t recall what movies we saw. Still, I do remember our car entering the outdoor theater and listening to the wheels on the vehicle grinding over the rocks throughout the lot. Up and down the rows of parking spots, we’d drive as we searched for the perfect place to watch the movie.

My dad would pull into a parking spot. He always made sure the metal pole, with the detachable metal-speaker, was just outside his window. After dad stopped the car and turned off the engine, he’d partially roll down his window, grab the silver-colored metal speaker and hang it on his window.

My brother Sam and I were already asking for popcorn and soda. Still, my parents would make us wait till after the movie previews and cartoons were over before they’d purchase any snacks.

Even on warm evenings, we’d have all the car windows open. This was a time when air-conditioning in your automobile was an expensive luxury, not a standard feature.

The music and sound from that silver-colored speaker were what my mom used to refer to as sounding like “someone talking into a tin can.” But for my brother and me, this was an adventure, a time with family, and we got to watch cartoons in color on a big screen.

My dad would seem to enjoy our trips to the drive-in, but he was always tired, as he worked construction during the week, and sometimes on Saturday. Usually about half-way through the movie, he’d fall asleep, breathing heavily. Sometimes my mom would wake him up and say, “John, you’re missing the movie.” Other times she would just let him sleep until the movie ended.

One evening, during the movie, my dad had fallen asleep not long after the film began. My mom decided to go to the snack bar to get some popcorn, soda, and my still all-time favorite Milk Duds. My brother and I received the usual parenting talk, “Be good while I’m gone, done get out of the car, and don’t wake your father.”

My mom got out of the car. As she walked away, I could hear her feet crunching on the drive-in parking lot rocks. My dad was quietly snoring fast asleep, and my brother and I were focused on the movie.

Even in my childhood, I was a bit of a worrier. Mom was gone perhaps ten minutes or so when I began to wonder what was taking her so long and if she was okay.

Just about that time, there was a loud crackling noise outside, like a clap of thunder. That sound was loud enough to wake my dad and scary enough for my brother and me to let out a frightened scream. In an instant, the movie screen went dark, and all the lights in the outdoor theater turned off.

My dad turned around and looked at my brother and me and said, “Are you okay, where’s your mom?” I told him she had gone to the snack bar about fifteen minutes earlier. Dad said, “Don’t move; stay here.”, and he jumped out of the car running towards the snack bar in the dark.

By this time, many of the cars had turned on their headlights. Many of the occupants of the vehicles were also honking their horns. All of this was quite scary for me, a 10-year-old, and my brother, who was only four.

Just as quickly as the lights and screen had turned off, they came back on to the delight of the theaters’ patrons. People flashed their car lights on and off and honked their horns as a way of saying, “Yay!”. The movie screen was lit up once again, with a message that read, “Sorry, for the inconvenience, the movie will resume shortly.”

Sam and I felt a lot safer with the lights back on, but we were still scared. Where was my mom? Did my dad find her? Are they okay? What happens if they didn’t come back? These were the thoughts that ran throughout our minds as our eyes filled with tears.

Then, I heard the sound again. The crunching rocks beneath the feet of someone walking. I looked out the window, and there were my mom and dad walking toward the car. My dad was holding a tray with sodas, popcorn, and snacks. Mom was walking beside him. As she spotted us looking at her and dad through the window, she said, “We’re okay, we’re back, are you guys okay?’

We were okay because our family was okay. After my parents got back in the car, they reassured us once again, everything was fine. As we nestled back in our seats, they handed us our sodas and popcorn as the movie came back on. I was feeling pretty good. My family was safe, we were watching a movie together, and I was chewing on my favorite chocolate caramel snack, Milk Duds.

Joe Guagliardo (Joe G)

1 Corinthians 13:1-7;13

“If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.

Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud 5or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.”

‘Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.

Love & Friendship

Blog – 2/19/2020

Love and Friendship

Image result for rocky II

We all have favorite television shows or movies. Back in the 1980s, I was totally hooked on the Rocky movies. I was so into them I saw Rocky II at the movie theater 22 times. That’s right, 22 times. (I was working the night shift at my retail job, and I always went to the matinees. It only cost $1.25 back then.)

Like most people, I was really into the Star Wars movies, especially the first three, and now the last three. And don’t even get me started on Marvel movies. I am crazy for the Avengers, Iron Man, Captain America, and of course, when Spiderman is with the Avengers.

Image result for star trek ii the wrath of khan

I’d have to say the first Syfy series that I really got into (although I did watch the Adventures of Superman in the late ’50s and early ’60s) was Star Trek. The television show was only on for three years, but it forever changed how Syfy series were approached, developed and filmed.

When the first Star Trek movie came out, I was there with my wife at the midnight showing opening night. I remember the film began with several ships on the screen, which were recognizable from the original series. As those ships came into view on the screen, you hear the entire theater say, “Klingons.”

I was hooked. I loved all the original Star Trek movies, the fifth one not so much, and I thoroughly enjoy the new ones released in the last two decades.

Let’s get back to the original Star Trek movies, in particular the 2nd film, “The Wrath of Kahn,” In it, Mr. Spock dies of radiation poisoning after saving the ship and the crew of the Starship Enterprise.

His words to Captain Kirk, through a transparent wall of a radiation containment room, were quite touching:

Captain Kirk: Spock you saved the ship

Spock: The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few or the one.

Spock again to Kirk: You are and forever shall be my friend.

Powerful words. It’s funny how a Syfy movie can somewhat imitate real life or even touch on a belief system.

Rocky and Apollo Creed became friends. For all their banter and arguing, Captain America and Tony Stark were friends. Kirk and Spock had a special friendship that transcended traditional ones.

Image result for gods love through christ

God sent His Son Jesus to us, because our needs, our salvation was that important to Him.

His love for us outweighed and still outweighs anything we can think of or comprehend.

And so God’s Son Jesus came to earth and totally gave of Himself. Jesus taught He healed, He showed compassion, and He served mankind.

Jesus gave the ultimate sacrifice, Himself, His earthly body. He allowed Himself to be humiliated, tortured and put to death because of His love for us. Jesus loves us because He wanted and wants a personal relationship with us because He wants us to see, to understand what true love and friendship is.

Jesus is our friend, nothing can change that or the fact that He loves us.

Take some time soon, and talk to your friend (Jesus), and thank Him for putting you ahead of Himself. And then think, who do I need to put ahead of my own needs and wants in my life?

That’s what friends do.

Blessings on your day

Joe Guagliardo (Joe G)

Weekly Blog – “What?”

Weekly blog – January 18, 2020


We all go to restaurants. Eating dinner out can be a great experience, especially if the food and service are excellent. I’ve learned over the years that I can control the service a bit, but I cannot control the quality of the food, and neither can my waiter or waitress.

So here’s something I’ve learned to do. I always greet my waiter or waitress when they come to the table initially. Usually, it goes something like this, “Hi, my name is Sarah and I’ll be your waitress today.” My reply, “Hi, Sarah, how are you doing today?” Sarah’s response, “Fine, thank you for asking.”

Bam! Sarah and I have just started a very positive relationship between waitress and diner. If Sarah had come to the table all flustered and simply said, “Hi, do you guys know what you want yet?” I would have to swallow first, as I hate the “guys” comment, way too informal. Yet, I would still engage her with a genuine caring attitude one Christian to an unknown person. “Oh hi, how are you today? If you don’t mind we could use a couple of minutes, I’m always ready to order, but you gave my wife too many choices to think about.” This is a true story and I use it all the time when I’m with Kathy. She doesn’t seem to mind because my comment is based on realityJ.

Another thing I like to talk to waiters and waitresses about is tipping. I started to do this several years ago when the server would bring me the bill. I generally say something like this as they either hand me or place the check on the table. “Can I ask you a question?” Server, “Sure.” Me, “When there’s a discount on a bill such as AARP or a dining rewards, do customers give you a tip based on the gross amount or the net amount after the discount?”

It’s incredible the looks and answers I get to this question. The server shakes their head and says, “65% (I’ve been told up to 80%) of the customer’s tip on the net, not on the gross.” I always ask a follow-up, “Do you do less for the customers who give you a tip based on the net amount of the bill?” The server always replies, “No, because, by the time I bring them the bill, I’m already done serving them.”

I find it sad that people are that cheap that they don’t pay on the full price of the bill. I mean, the restaurant just gave them a discount, and they cheat the server because they just paid less for their food. It makes no sense to me at all.

This brings me to an incident at a restaurant that occurred two weeks ago. Every week after church on Sunday, my wife Kathy and I go out to breakfast. The majority of the time, we go to Cracker-barrel which is less than ten minutes from our church.

On this particular Sunday, we were seated very quickly and served by a waitress who had taken care of us before. It was crazy busy in the restaurant, so I made sure I exchanged my usual niceties with her and asked her how her day was so far, and so on.

I noticed on the far side of the table we were sitting at there were two dollars folded under the little peg game that Cracker-barrel has on every table. I pointed it out to my wife, and we both presumed it was a tip from the last customers sitting at the table. When the waitress came back with our coffee, I handed her the two dollars and told her it was sitting on the table and I presumed it was hers.

She looked at me, sighed, and said, “Thanks so much for giving it to me, most people just take it.” I said, “What?” She replied, “I’ve seen people walk by a table where a twenty-dollar tip was sitting and pick it up. That kind of thing happens all of the time.” I told my server, “That’s the saddest thing I have ever heard.”

At some point during the meal, our waitress brought our check (which you pay for at the front counter.) I do like to leave cash for the servers when I have it, so they can have instant gratification as to how I tipped them, which also tells them what I thought of their service. I never leave less than 20% on the gross amount.

As my wife and I were getting ready to leave, I spotted our server coming out of the kitchen. I approached her and handed her tip in cash, saying, “I wouldn’t want it to disappear, have a blessed day.”

Okay, so Joe’s a nice guy, positively engages his servers, and gives them a gratuity that is earned and deserved. Yet my story is only partly about being kind and caring to others. It’s a story of a fundamental moral issue.

Both Exodus and Deuteronomy list God’s laws in the bible.

Exodus 20:15 NIV

“You shall not steal.

Deuteronomy 5:19 NIV

“You shall not steal.

Pretty straightforward. It’s God’s 7th Commandment.

Let me give you some insight into this commandment from Luther’s Small Catechism.

“You shall not steal. What does this mean? We should fear and love God so that we do not take our neighbor’s money or possessions, or get them in any dishonest way, but help them to improve and protect their possessions and income.”

There are several examples listed in the Catechism also, but I’d like to share this question and answer included in the explanation of this commandment.

“What does God require of us in the Seventh Commandment? We should help our neighbor to improve and protect that person’s possessions and income.”

Alright, all you tippers out there! Did you just read that? “We should help our neighbor (server, waiter, or waitress) to improve (by tipping properly and treating them properly) and protect that person’s possessions and income (If you see someone stealing a tip or stealing anything either stop them or report it)”

This is all about doing the right thing, treating people with love and respect, and giving them their due wages for their services.

Whew! I do believe it’s time for me to come off of my soapbox.

Have a Blessed day

Joe Guagliardo (Joe G)


Weekly Blog – Ephesians 2:8-9

January 4, 2020 – B.G.T.F.

This morning I was reading my devotions in my home office when I came across these verses from Ephesians 2:8-9, ‘ for it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.”

In my office, I have books, bibles and memorabilia from VBS’s and servant events, and youth gatherings I’ve attended over the years.

After I read the Ephesians passage, my right eye stole a glance at a 3×5 picture frame on one of the four bookcases in my room.

It’s a 3d frame containing a photo of the Orlando Florida Convention center, with a banner hanging on the side of the building.

The banner and frame both read, “Beyond Imagination 2004.”

Orlando was the location, and Beyond Imagination was the theme of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod’s National Youth Gathering that year.

I’m pretty sure all of us have had occurrences in our lives that have been beyond our grasp or imagination.

At that 2004 Gathering, I partnered with my friend Sally, who is now living with Jesus, on our District event for the youth and adults of the Florida/Georgia district of the L.C.M.S.

With over 1000 people attending the district event (about 30,000 at the gathering all together that year), it’s incredible how easy the event came together. (Of course, we did work with Disney on it, and there are known for being a bit organized.)

When the adoption of my daughter Heather went so smoothly in 1988, with no problems or setbacks, that was unimaginable for my wife Kathy and me.

When I completed my 4 1/2 years of ministry training and became a Certified Lay Minister for the Lutheran Church in December of 1999, it seemed unbelievable to me that I had accomplished my goal.

When I “finally” received my college degree in 2005, and was named student of the month during my final weeks at Hodges University in Fort Myers, FL, this accomplishment was beyond anything I ever imagined.

Yet all of these things pale at the fact that we, you and I are saved from our own sins, B.G.T.F.

Yes, many of you have seen or heard the acronym before, B.G.T.F., By Grace Through Faith.

It almost seems too simple, doesn’t it? God loves us so much that He sent His Son Jesus to teach us, to guide us and to serve us unto death on a cross.

And what does He ask in return?

Pray three times a day?

Go on mission trips?

Serve at a soup kitchen?


He says, “BELIEVE!”

That’s it, acknowledge Him, and believe that by His Grace (His undeserved love), we are saved.

Our praying, the mission work we do, serving at a soup kitchen, and all the other things we do for others are a direct result of His love, Grace, He poured down on us. We want to serve to show our love for God and others.

So what’s the point?

The fact that we are saved through God’s Grace, and through our Faith, is so simple, so uncomplicated, so outside of our comprehension, that it is genuinely, Beyond Imagination!

Don’t let your worldly accomplishments get in the way or become more important than what is the most critical thing in your life. God’s love for you, your love for Him, and the Faith, belief that He sent His one and Son only as a living sacrifice for you and me

God is good all the time, all the time, God is good.

Blessings on your day

Joe G (Joe Guagliardo)

“Be Still”

Weekly blog – December 18, 2019

“Be still.”

This morning I was in the shower, and the thought came to my mind, “Lately, this is the only quiet time I have!” The water running, pelting my body, and keeping all other noises on the outside of the shower wall. My shower time allows me to de-stress a bit and let my thoughts wander.

How many of you have Quiet Time carved out for yourself regularly in your life?

As many of my readers know, my wife Kathy has progressive M.S., I tend not to leave her alone too often, as she needs help with many things that are ordinary routine accomplishments for others. Believe me, when I tell you, I’m not complaining one bit. I love my wife, and at this stage in my life, a significant part of my ministry is to care for her.

So I’ve had to adjust some things in my life, such as quiet time for myself. Here’s what I do. Each day I generally get up about an hour or two before Kathy (Between 5:30 and 6:00 a.m.). I head to the kitchen, set up the coffee pot, get two cups out, and put sweetener in hers. I do this for a reason.

Once the coffee is ready, I go to my home office and close the door (actually, I leave it slightly ajar in case she needs me). I have a coffee cup heater on my desk, as I like my coffee very hot. I turn on my computer and turn on smooth jazz music. For the next hour or so, I read devotions, the bible, pray and write. (Okay and a little Facebook tooJ)

Most times, I hear Kathy as she walks out of our bedroom, as she shuffles when she walks, due to leg numbness from the M.S. When I hear her, immediately get up go to the kitchen, finish preparing her coffee, and bring it to her after she seats herself on our reclining sofa. We exchange good mornings and other niceties, and I then head back to my office.

Oh, remember the sweetener I put in her cup when I was preparing the coffee? That’s so she has one less thing to do in case I don’t hear her get up while I’m in my office (Doesn’t happen often.)

Every couple of weeks or so, I try and get some quiet time for myself away from the house. On those days, I generally get up early (5 a.m.) shower in the hallway bathroom so as not to wake Kathy, set up the coffee for her, with her cup in place, and I’m out of the house usually within 30 minutes or less (yes, I do dress before I leave – I actually plan this the night before and lay my clothes out in the living room).

Usually, I go to Starbucks for coffee and a croissant. The barista’s there know me by name and say, “Good morning Joe.”

This too is my time… time to read, check the news on my phone, read a devotion, do some writing, as well as personal prayer time. It’s also a time for me to be alone with my thoughts and listen to God. (Kathy texts me good morning when she gets up, and usually says, “I didn’t ever hear you leave,” which is my goal.

Jesus sought quiet time out too. Time to pray, gather His thoughts, and talk with His Father. In Mark 6:31, Jesus said this to His disciples, “Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”

Right now, during this Holiday season (I say holiday as I incorporate Thanksgiving and Christmas together, with Thanksgiving kicking off the season of Christmas), our lives are incredibly busy… parties, shopping, travel, giving and helping others, and waiting for that day, Christmas, when we celebrate the birth of our savior. That is one busy schedule.

You must have rest and time alone in whatever you call your quiet place and time. Jesus sought it out for Himself and His disciples.
In Mark 6:46, Jesus was still seeking time alone to pray and be still, “After leaving them, he went up on a mountainside to pray.” 
I want to encourage you over these next few days and weeks, as well as throughout your lives …. Follow in His footsteps, He wants you to rest, to have quiet time alone, time to pray, and to talk with Him.

And remember this, when you take that quiet time to be alone with your thoughts and to spend time with God, remember To pray not just requests but to have a conversation with Him about your needs, your wants, and His plan for you. 

That’s right His (God’s) plan for you, not your plan for you. He does have one for you and He will reveal it to you in His own time, so don’t be impatient.

And you’ll find that many times He reveals His plan during those quiet moments you have one on one with Him.

Let me leave you with these words from Jeremiah 29:11 that I believe was aimed at people of all ages…

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

May you have a Blessed Christmas, a prosperous new year, and make time to “Be still” and know that He is God.


Joe Guagliardo (Joe G)

Linus Got It Right

Weekly Blog – December 12, 2019

Linus got it right – Luke 2:8-14

Here we are. It’s Christmas time. It’s a season that many call, in word and song, “The Most Wonderful Time of the year.”

I have to admit, it is a little more fun this time of year than any other. Think about it for a moment. Christmas is the only Holiday last a season. Not a day like the 4th of July, or Thanksgiving, Memorial Day, or Easter (Okay, I may have to give in a little on Easter, as it wraps up the Lenten season for Christians, with the death and resurrection of Jesus, although lenten services are not fun nor are they meant to be).

As a secular holiday, Christmas is more fun than any other Holiday. There are parties, gift-giving, fabulous meals, get together with family members you only see once or twice a year and most of all, wait for it…

There’s the Hallmark Channel.

My wife and I are pretty addicted to the Hallmark channel during the Christmas season, which now seems to begin on October 25th and ends two months later. We watch all of the new, and many of the old Christmas movies on Hallmark.

Yes, Hallmark movies have pretty much an ongoing formula that lasts all year long. Girl meets boy, or at the very least, runs into an old flame. Their love grows, but something always happens at the one hour and forty-minute mark that causes the two main characters to either get angry at one another, feel the need to leave that city, or not know how to make the relationship work. (This usually stems from listening to half of a conversation, which I call, “Betty Haynes Syndrome.” (Check out my very first blog from July 25, 2019, “Do you have Betty Haynes Syndrome,” at

Hallmark is pretty much a clean-cut channel, the main characters at Christmas and throughout the year never have or speak of sex. If they do sleep under the same roof or even room, it’s always in separate beds or bedrooms.

But Hallmark Christmas movies, like the Christmas we witness from Black Friday through Christmas Day, has minimal if anything to do with the real meaning of Christmas. As an adult, I’ve always known this to be true, yet it took a cartoon I had never in my 68 years seen before to help me to understand what I already knew.

Several weeks ago, my Grandson Keegan was going to be spending the night. In advance of his arrival, I recorded several movies for him to watch with us. Jumanji, Aquaman and, A Charlie Brown Christmas.

After dinner, we watched A Charlie Brown Christmas. As I stated earlier, I had never watched this cartoon before, even though it was first released in 1965.

For many of you have watched it before, you probably know where I’m going with this story, for those who haven’t, please allow me to continue. In A Charlie Brown Christmas, Charlie Brown is directing the Christmas play his friends put on each year. Charlie is very depressed throughout the show, being pretty negative about anything that pertains to Christmas. When he says aloud to his friend Linus that he doesn’t understand what Christmas is all about, Linus replies:

“And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”

Luke 2:8-14

After reciting the passage from Luke, Linus turns to Charlie Brown and says, “That’s what Christmas is all about Charlie Brown.”

So simple, isn’t it. A cartoon character summed up what Christmas is all about in seven verses. It’s about Jesus.

It’s not about the Holiday parties, and gift-giving, or even the great family meals. Oh, and one more thing, it’s definitely not about watching every Hallmark Christmas movie. Don’t get me wrong, it’s ok and even a good idea to do all of these things. These parties, gift-giving, and meals promote family time, and that is very important.

But, let’s not forget, as the song says, “Without Christ, there wouldn’t be any Christmas.” Linus got it right, didn’t he? Christmas is about Christ. The birth of the Son of God, who came to earth willingly to be a living sacrifice for all of us.

That’s what Christmas is all about.

May you and your families have a blessed Christmas as we celebrate together the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ.

Joe Guagliardo (Joe G)

Choosing kindness over hate

Weekly Blog – December 3, 2019

Choosing kindness over hate

It was just another Thanksgiving morning for a police officer in Kiefer, Oklahoma. The officer decided to do something generous for the emergency dispatchers who had to work the holiday shift with him last week. So he drove to the local Starbucks and ordered them all drinks.

Unfortunately, when the office got his order, the word “PIG” was written on the side of one of the cups. The officer’s chief contacted the Starbucks to complain, only to be told that the store would happily replace the beverage with the correct label. Not exactly the type of apology he was looking for.

The derogatory remark made the officer question himself, “Why am I doing this?” When he would have instead been home with his family for the holiday, he was patrolling his town and was disrespected for what he was doing.

Later after seeing the incident posted on Facebook, a Starbucks representative called the incident “totally unacceptable, and is not representative of the deep appreciation we have of officers who work to keep our communities safe.”

The employee who wrote the derogatory term on the cup was terminated. On Friday, in a joint statement, the Kiefer Police Department and Starbucks said, “they were committed to using this regrettable incident as an opportunity to leverage our shared platforms to promote greater civility.” (Paraphrased from an article from the Washington Post.)

This story is not a story of forgiveness, (Although Starbucks did apologize to the officer) as much as it is a story of a government entity and a global corporation striving to work together to make our world a slightly better place by promoting respect and civility.

We may never know how the employee felt (she too apologized) after the culmination of her actions, that she said was meant as a joke at the time she did it. She is forgiven by God, yet she paid the price for her actions didn’t she?

I’d like to share a devotion I wrote a couple of years ago, based on of all things, an incident at a Starbucks. This time it was all on me. I was the offender, I acted unacceptably, and I sinned against another, and paid the price in another way.

It was just like any other morning. Get up, take a shower, but no coffee. You see, I needed to get lab work done and I was required to fast for the blood draw.
When I arrived at the lab, over fifty people were waiting to have different tests done. I checked in, but I left five minutes later as I knew I had a lot to do that day and didn’t want to wait an hour or so for my lab work.

I headed over to the local Starbucks for coffee and to work on a bible study I was writing for our upcoming Middle school youth gathering. Unfortunately, I allowed my impatience and not getting my blood drawn to put me into a foul mood.
I arrived at Starbucks, put my backpack with my computer, and different materials on an open table before I went up to the counter to place my order. I asked for a cup of coffee, half regular and half decaf (as I always do). And the barista at the counter answers rooted my lousy mood even deeper. “So sorry, we don’t have any decaf right now; it’ll be ready in about ten minutes.”

Bam! I grumbled and got very stern with her, and must have had a look of disdain on my face when I said, “Fine, just give me a regular.” So she gave me my cup of regular coffee and told me to have a nice day, to which I replied with attitude, “Thanks.”
So I sat down at my table, drank a few sips of my coffee, pulled out my computer and a few books, including the Bible, I was using for reference. For the next ten minutes, I couldn’t get past the bible verse for the bible study I was writing. Psalm 46:1-2, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea.”
I definitely needed help in trouble, I couldn’t get anything going on the Bible study I was trying to write. Then it dawned on me, and I got that feeling in my gut that something was wrong. I had been disrespectful and anything but a loving Christian to the barista who, through no fault of her own, told me that decaf coffee was not available; that was why I was stuck. The Holy Spirit was talking to me because I had veered off the path of righteousness. I needed to apologize to this young lady for my behavior.
It only took me a minute to walk up to the counter and tell her that I wanted to apologize for the way I spoke to her and my attitude towards her. Her reply was, “Oh that’s okay people get like that all the time when we don’t have what they want, and I’m kind of used to it.” My answer to her was, “I can see where that might happen, but it doesn’t make it right, please accept my apology.” She said thank you, and I went back to my seat, and in about forty-five minutes I was done writing the bible study.

I had been anything but kind and tenderhearted to the Barista that day. Fortunately, she was forgiving. It wasn’t easy to apologize and ask for forgiveness to that young lady that day, yet we ask God for forgiveness for our sins every day for things we do wrong in thought, word, and deed. Shouldn’t we give the same consideration we give to God, to the people we meet, greet and know in life?
God forgives us because of what His Son did for us on the cross, make sure you take the time to forgive and ask for forgiveness. It’s what God instructed us to do.

The police officer from Oklahoma deserved to be treated with love and respect, as did the barista from my story. Never forget Paul’s words from Galatians 5:22-23, But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

Dear Lord: Please help us to forgive others when we should, just as you forgive us for our transgressions and ask for forgiveness just like we do of you each day. Help us to share the Fruits of the Spirit with everyone. Amen

Rolling Papers

Weekly Blog – November 19, 2019

Rolling Papers – Psalm 46:1

“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.”

I genuinely believe that through all of the years of my life God has been with me. Even when I didn’t go to church, even when I didn’t pray, read the Bible, go to Bible studies, or serve others as His Son Jesus did.

I also believe God has tested myself and my family many times, both as my time as a marginal Christian and a born again believer. There have been financial tests, which He has always brought me through, physical tests, and even family strength tests.

Let me tell you about one such test that I actually posted on
Facebook several years ago. I call it the Rolling Papers test.

It was 35 years ago this month that Kathy and I rolled 2000 local newspapers.

The back story … I had lost my job in the retail food industry, in May of 1984, and money was tight.

I wa now working at a local paper selling advertising.

I didn’t make much money, but it kept food on the table. One of the guys who delivered the papers every Wednesday evening, Chuck, asked me if I’d be interested in making some extra money. I told him sure, depending on what it was I had to do.

He told me that he was looking for someone to wrap newspapers for him, and it was 2000 Papers every Tuesday.  I figured, how hard can it be, and told him okay, Kathy and I would do it.

It was election night, and Regan was running for his second term.

So Chuck, the newspaper delivery guy, dropped off the papers and showed me how to wrap them. Wrapping a newspaper involved, rolling the paper, putting in a plastic bag and then placing a rubber band around the bag, I wrapped a few with him and said to myself, “This is easy, we’ll be done in a few hours.”

I couldn’t have been more wrong.  Rolling 2000 local papers, is this hard. Kathy got home at 5, and we dug in. We only took 15 minutes for dinner. The election was well over by 10 pm, but not us.

No, we finished up at 1 am.

Did I mention how much Chuck paid us for rolling those 2000 papers? Wait for it … $35.00.

If my math is correct, we made 1.75 cents per paper or $4.37 per hour. Of course back then $35 was 2 tanks full of gas.

In life, you do what ya gotta do to get by.

BTW we eventually got it down to 4 1/2 hours to wrap the papers. A few months later, I got back into the retail food industry, and we stopped wrapping papers.

So when everyone else is thinking, Republican /Democrat on Election Day, Kathy and I look and each other roll our eyes and say, “newspapers!”

You might ask, “Joe, how was rolling 2000 papers a test from God?” My reply to that question would be in several parts. First God definitely tests us. He tests us to grow stronger, to endure hardships and to show our love for Him. He does this to prepare us for other things.

I mentioned several months after the paper rolling adventure, I got a job back in the retail food industry, where I had worked all of my life. It was a good job, paid well, I was promoted to sales manager within a year. Three years after the paper rolling adventure, Kathy and I adopted our daughter Heather, and three months after that, we came back to the church, and we’ve never looked back. Oh, and one more thing, five years later, I began my adventure in youth ministry, which lasted for 25 years till I retired.

Now, I’m not saying that the rolling paper adventure Kathy and I had, prepared us for all of the things I just mentioned. But, it did give me a better handle on being responsible, working hard, long hours, being humble, and doing what you have to do to take care of your family.

These lessons learned, God used them to grow our family and bring us not only back to His church, but for me to be a full-time worker for Him.

Does God test us? Absolutely! Does God use the tests He gives us to help us grow? Yes! His tests make us stronger and better people who can serve Him and others to the fullest.

Blessings on your day

Joe Guagliardo (Joe G)

One Man, Can make a difference

Weekly Blog – November 5, 2019

“One man can make a difference.”

Image result for knight rider

In the early 1980s, my favorite television show was “Knight Rider.” Here’s a brief description of the show from “Google.”

Michael Knight (David Hasselhoff) is a man on a mission. Reborn, so to speak, after getting shot in the face, Knight decides to dedicate his life to fighting for justice. Self-made billionaire Wilton Knight hires Michael to be the lead field agent in his Knight Foundation’s public justice organization, part of which includes the developing of KITT (Knight Industries Two Thousand), a super-powered, intelligent souped-up Pontiac Trans-Am. KITT can drive 300 miles an hour, is bulletproof, fireproof, can talk, and helps Michael fight injustices in the world.

Now, to be honest, I watched the show for one reason, I enjoyed the interaction between Michael and KITT (His car). It was always fascinating to watch the car jump over another vehicle, or go into ‘super pursuit mode,’ and drive up to speeds over 300 MPH.

The opening music for the show was pretty catchy, but the words of the now deceased, Wilton Knight, always stood out, when he would say, “One man can make a difference.”

It’s true, one man, one woman can and have made a difference in our world. Names like Martin Luther King, Martin Luther, President Abraham Lincoln, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Mother Teresa, Susan B. Anthony, and Marie Curie.

There is another name that stands out above all of the rest. His contribution to society and how we live, oh yes, and the fact that He died for us. Of course, I’m talking about Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

I want to make this as relatable as possible. Each of the people I mentioned above had their own style. Martin Luther King was an energetic, loud, forceful speaker who knew how to rally people around the cause of freedom. On the other hand, Mother Teresa was quiet, spoke softly, and showed love and a caring spirit for everyone.

Jesus, too, had a unique style that was hundreds of years ahead of its time. Jesus had a leadership style that would shape the world and bring change.

Over 2000 years ago, Jesus Christ understood and led via what is called today the new Paradigm for leadership. He preached change (how women were treated), and He understood how to react in times of crisis (Peter cutting off the ear of a Roman soldier in the Garden of Gethsemane). Jesus empowered His followers (He sent out His 12 Apostles and gave them the power to heal), He collaborated with them (His Apostles) for their input (asking them their opinion on what to do before He fed the 5000), and His 12 Apostles were from diverse backgrounds (fishermen, a physician, and even a tax collector).

Jesus shared His high purpose with His followers (telling them to “Go and make disciples of all nations”), and finally, Jesus was humble, “by supporting and developing others rather than touting His own abilities and successes.”

 Interestingly enough, Jesus was almost like a magnet when He asked people to “Follow Me.” When He called His first disciples, He knowingly was putting together a team. This team was made up of ordinary people who would readily be accepted by the communities that they traveled to. Jesus understood to accomplish His higher purpose He needed willing followers who He could teach and send out to do His work even after His physical life was over. His words of, “Come, follow me” meant more than mere following, He was saying, “Do as I do.”

What was Jesus Christ’s leadership style? It was one of being a servant to others. It was a style that set the tone over 2000 years ago for today’s new reality for leadership. His leadership style illustrated the importance of change and crisis management and how important it is to empower others and to attain high-quality results. Jesus knew that discussing things with His followers made them feel like part of a team. As for being humble, what is more, humbling than the Son of God, hanging on a cross, and taking the sins of the entire world upon Himself? What is more humbling than having your Father (God) turn away from you in disgust because you had become those sins? Perhaps this new paradigm we talk about isn’t so new after all, maybe it just took the world 2000 years to begin to see the light.

Jesus, the human, is living proof that one man can make a difference.

Jesus, our Savior, made a difference when He died for us.

Joe G