Featured

What is Your Drug?

Your love is very much needed in this world, your spouse needs you completely, your children need you fully, and God desires everything you have for a love as completely pure as to make the very ground you walk on quake from the goodness given.

When you are willing to give almost everything you have and everything you ever will be for the hit of one last experience, your drug of choice has become more important than life itself.  This is to say, when nothing else matters in the world, except for that look, taste, or feeling you get, then your shackles are fastened securely and you are the slave.  The bind which you once considered a passing phase, has now become the only phase which matters.  Whether this describes you or not, and whether you can push past your own philosophical boundaries to expose a drug you’ve kept hidden is removed from our everyday life as a matter of course rather than something to be reviled.  You’ve justified its purpose, a Munchausen Syndrome has taken hold, and your justification has revealed no physical harm has occurred, or at least no physical harm has occurred to anyone else.  It’s your body, it’s your life, so why shouldn’t it be your choice on what you do, as long as no one is hurt.  If people could only understand how you think and what you feel about why you do what you do, then maybe they could understand and appreciate, even show sympathy for your actions.  They may even allow a carte blanche when it comes to behavior.  Perhaps they can know you on a deeper level.  All of these are what the junkie for their drug will say, and eventually, after ridicule has become the order of the day, and banishment has occurred, does the junkie no longer care.  They’ve been written off, they’ve been cast aside, and in this public process of social death, we see what they really want.  One last hit, a search for the exhilaration they once felt, but a search which never yields the dividends or results they desire.  Have you ever known anyone like this at all?  Have you ever been like this at all?  The drug of choice, doesn’t need to be an illicit drug, designed to chemically change us physically.  No, the drug could very well be, something we covet, and hold above all other aspects in our lives, something which changes us from the inside out and corrupts our very soul.  This could be porn, power, money, material items, or all of the above.  Can you name your drug of choice, or can you name the loved one who seeks this drug?

tencommandments1

Often times we hear people, religious minded people, dictate a rule of living which means the pursuit of these “drugs” as they were are a wrong pathway to walk in life.  However, when pressed on the point, we may find they are regurgitating a religious philosophy which promotes incredulity at the very questioning of their beliefs.  It may even invite ridicule, to a point where they fail to listen to the questions of those suffering from this perceived need.  Saying, “because, this isn’t what God wants” may be sufficient to those who’ve embraced the love of God, but for those who don’t know or are in the grips of sin, this answer is woefully insufficient.  Equally, I would find consternation in those people who desire to explain nuance with platitudes and vague generalities.  Where the advice sounds like a truism and where the person giving advice sounds like they are helping, often times their vagueness creates distended issue worse by infusing more questions without any answers.  Once, I worked for a man, who loved to hear himself talk, his problems were usually the worst, and his answers were the extensions of those who worked around him.  He took credit for those who worked for him, which allowed him to maintain his position, and when asking for project explanation, his answers were vague and unhelpful.  It wasn’t until years later, when really putting my life and experiences in perspective, did I realize what he was doing and subsequently what he was suffering from.

20150821084816-Badboss1300px

First, what my previous boss was doing was allowing enough movement for himself where is vagueness was an elongation of his need for power, so keeping me in the dark long enough to continue asking his advice and direction allowed him to steer me where he needed me to go.  His pursuit of misdirection when dealing with supervisory direction, such as projects requested but never utilized, was a matter of his own realization of regulatory discretion.  He was less worried about the people who worked for him and their careers, and he was more worried about how he was going to attain his next big break in the company.  He wanted to maintain his “rock star” status with the executive management and keeping a tight leash on his subordinates was a method he found to keep his fix coming.  Second, his drug was attention and power at the hands of those who considered him irreplaceable.  He focused his need for this attention and power and exuded a persona of simplicity and fairness, his reality was to keep his subordinates at odds with one another, and give details only when necessary.

shutterstock_130864595

For me, this took me the better part of ten years to let my anger go and forgive him, because at the end of the day, he thought he was playing the system, and instead it was playing him by allowing him a “hit” when he did selfish and unredeemable acts.  He couldn’t help himself at one point, and when confronted with the truth of his lies, he didn’t deny them, just stared at me for bringing them up.  He was at a position of power so distinct, he no longer cared what anyone thought.  Of course, at the time, I was disheartened to be exposed to this.  I was angered to have been the brunt of his selfish actions.  In the end, I was offered another position, in another company, and I left his employment.  Many years after the fact I often would work myself up to a lather thinking about how I had been taken advantage of, and I realized I allowed him to do this to me, because I needed the job.  I wanted the hours and salary which came with the job, and I was willing to be treated poorly in order to attain these desired materials.  I was in the grip of my own drug, the drug of status quo.  This is to say, I enjoyed what I had attained from those benefits, and I was unwilling to let them go, even if I was being poorly treated by a boss who was out for his own benefit.  After looking back on the entire organization, I realized it was bred into the industry with the profession of individuals who steered its direction.  If I was willing to step back a little more, I saw this was not just an industry thing, but a cultural thing.  This is to say, we all have something we’re willing to endure to keep the status quo.  We all have something, we answer away with “this is just my struggle” as a matter of course, rather than the recognition of our own need for the drug of choice.

My drug, was a search for the better, a reality of making life easier by increasing my wealth through employment.  I was willing to work as long and as hard as I could, so my life and the life of my family could be easier.  Not better, mind you, but easier.  I employed a distance philosophy, a strategy which said, as long as we have all we need to pay bills and provide us these creature comforts, we’ll be fine.  What I failed to think through, with any love or time whatsoever, was the erosion of foundation needed for my family.  I was the provider, yes, but a father can’t only provide money.  A father must provide, compassion, love, instruction, defense, will, strength, to sum up, a father must be a man.  I know this is rolled up nice and neat, but this is what it is.  A simplicity of life, which carries with it the nuanced complications of reality.  I was shirking my duties as a father and as a husband, so I could do what I wanted, rather than what I needed to do because of my obligation which was given lovingly to me and my wife by the Living God.

Family_Devotion

We were entrusted to create a family by covenant with God, to raise our children and maintain this love shown to us, as we raised our children.  My selfish need for a fix, created an aberration of obligation and adulterated the very truth I was seeking in life.  I was awful in retrospect.  So, upon this realization and reflection in my life, I choose to reexamine the situation surrounding my career and those supervisors who once were the bane of my existence and look over the situations once more.  Here is what I found.  Often times, God gives us the very tools needed to overcome the situations we’re in, and when he doesn’t, this means it’s time for you to come home and probably your life is ending.  Which is to say, unless it is death, you have the tools, you just need to dig deep and reflect on just what your expectations are in life.  Regarding my previous boss, my compassion won out.  He is just a man, trying to figure his way out in this world, and “when in Rome” was his philosophy at the time.  He just wanted to provide for his family and promote up as he did so.  Nothing so wrong about this, until you begin to step on those around you, and this is where the pain comes in.  An unwillingness to acknowledge our behavior, because to acknowledge it would be to admit wrongdoing and in our admonition we are faced with a decision of right and wrong.  We all like to think of ourselves as right, so the very mention of being wrong would be about as painful a truth as I can think of. God wills our love, but gives us free will, we choose to return our love to him or walk away.  It is up to us.  Our decision to push away from the drugs which bind us in this life are our choice.

Regret

Think about your decisions today, did you go to a job you hate?  Did you talk poorly to a person you love?  Were you confronted by a situation which by itself isn’t too good, but taken as a whole with everything else in your life, makes everything seem awful?  What are you going to do?  Do you just up and quit everything, run away from this problem(s) in your life?  Believe it or not, before writing this, I talked with numerous people who have gone through these very questions today, and I had to assure them, all isn’t lost and yes pushing away from these is needed.  It doesn’t mean we cut out our family, friends, or quit a lucrative job.  Just the contrary.  It dictates, the pathway we are walking down, is wrong.  The decisions we are making are not based in principle, but selfish desire to realize an outcome which will never materialize the way we want.  It is the realization, what we want isn’t always what is needed.

Wants or needs - wooden signpost

I would challenge anyone who is facing these situations to ask themselves, “is there any part of this situation, I could have changed for the better of everyone involved?”  This may mean an acknowledgement of selfless behavior or a truth of outright wrongness.  Whatever the result of the situational reflection happens to be; is it too late to fix?  If it isn’t, then as I would tell myself, my wife, and definitely my kids, “make it right!”  If it is too late, then what is your solution?  How can you fix it for the future?  How can you kick this drug of selfishness to the curb?  Questions which have literally been asked for millennia and will continued to be asked long after we’re dead and gone.  Though, not without merit if we can learn from our mistakes, and teach the next generation to be more compassionate and thoughtful individuals living principled lives.

As I’ve acknowledged before, when I began to focus more on my principles in life, I found the quality of my life began to dramatically improve.  So much so, I had people tell me there was something different about me, almost a joy exuding from me when I spoke.  I had no idea what they were talking about.  All I knew was I was tire of being angry, and I was tired of being tired of all the drama I sought in life.  Along with searching for a better life, as a drug of choice, the side effect was vitriolic anger.  I wasn’t happy about anything, I wasn’t nice about many things, and I could find fault in the whiteness of snow, if given the time and opportunity.

Paul-Quinton-Paradigm-Shift-1024x636

The side-effects of our “drugs” are the worst part about it all.  The side-effects give us the illusion of binding us to our decisions and preventing us from taking steps of correction.  Some of my family members are well known for stubborn pride, they can be quoted as saying, “I’ve made my decision and I’m sticking to it” even when objectively this decision is bound to fail due to the selfish nature of pursuit.  They are unwilling to discuss alternatives, and are unwilling to discuss points of view.  When asked, they simply respond, “nope, I don’t wish to discuss” or “I’m sorry you feel this way”.  Which if I’m being completely honest, I absolutely hate the “I’m sorry you feel this way” response.  However, something I’m still working on, I have a lot of personal projects.  Nevertheless, the pain which is cause by people who care about us, and are willing to say anything at all out of love, should not be derided as a matter of course in our decisions.  There are a few situational hurdles which must be met before we can fully continue down the path of correctness and not the path of selfish desire or so we can get our fix.  The first being, why was anything said to us at all, do they desire to prevent us from being happy or do they have any experience in this matter?  If they want us to be happy, then we must acknowledge this, and if they have experience, failing to recognize this, is tantamount to a fool’s paradise.  The second question is a little more in depth, are they suffering from their own drug fix and are incapable of seeing our situation for what it is?  To answer this final question, the first two must be recognized of their own merit.  If the answer is no to the first two, and we can clearly see the answer as, yes to the last question, then we must as compassion dictates, stop relishing our own situation, and give to them.  They need our care and concern.

At the end of the day, keeping the focus on selflessness is what we should be doing, because the drugs we face in this life are centered on a pursuit of selfishness to the destruction of all if needed.  The need for power, money, sex, control, and feeling good.  Instead the antithesis of these selfish desires is where the love of God resides.  This is to say, God, wills us to fall in love with him through, charity, selfless acts of compassion for those who need to be pulled out of the mire their lives are in.  God needs us to, put others first always, even as an expression of life and martyrs.  God needs us to accept his love, accept his joy, and give everything we have in return.  Just imagine this, knowing you could have run a little harder or pushed a little farther, and you would have succeeded in winning the game but you always held something back, just in case.  Life isn’t a game, but the principle applies.  If you’re always holding something back, if you’re always waiting for something better to come along, if you can’t quite give of yourself completely for hopes of anything else, you’re hooked and you need to get off the drug as soon as you can.  Your love is very much needed in this world, your spouse needs you completely, your children need you fully, and God desires everything you have for a love as completely pure as to make the very ground you walk on quake from the goodness given.  May, God bless you and your family!!!

 

God is good, all the time, and all the time, God is good!!!

Featured

With Me or Against Me?

We don’t need enemies, we don’t need turmoil, we need to step back and realize our way isn’t the only way in life.

Today I was fortunate enough to hear a perspective in thought about how we may all perceive others as well as our own actions.  It was a perspective of change, at least in the context of our very lack thereof.  Which isn’t to say we are incapable of change, if we can visualize or realize the outcome expected we can contain some control over our expectations.  Though, the very second, we no longer have or perceive control, we push away what we can’t have.  We don’t have control over everything, and by this fact, we only exist in those comforts of control.  We only stay around those people we feel most comfortable with, we only do those activities which provide a predictable outcome for us, or we only accept those things which seem to benefit us and then turn our back on those things which seemingly hurt us.  This hurt is pain which comes in all shapes and sizes.  Sometimes pain comes from growth, sometimes from loss, at other times pain can be a combination of both, but I think the most prevalent form of pain comes from the disparate expectation of results in our favor and then being disappointed.  Our disappointment leads to a removal of situation and thus removing what is perceived to be the pain.  This perception is somewhat counter-intuitive because when we seek to remove the pain in our lives we take out the most needed portion of control and in doing so we replace it with a mechanism of devilish design focused on our destruction. In Mark 9:40 Jesus states “For he that is not against us is for us”.  For in these ten words, he describes pain and acceptance for those things which we can’t control, and at the same time those we deal with who represent a mountain of difference but a similarity in pursuit.  Their journey is different to our own, but their goal is just like ours, God, of whom we all seek whether we realize it or not.

shutterstock_457772350.jpg

Earlier this week, my wife and I watched the public lynching of a person who by all objective standards was castigated because of his difference of perception to certain groups of individuals who disagreed with him which created an atmosphere of hysteria.  These people because of their perception of “against” were willing to destroy a reputation of a good man, all because he didn’t do things the way they wanted.  He didn’t agree with their points of view, and destruction, in their minds, was the only way to achieve victory.  The real answer was never dialogue through argument and persuasion, only destruction through villainy and misdirection.  The repercussions of their behavior to this person, are perceived to have long lasting effects which will disrupt the decision-making process for a generation.  This was all achieved, because of their lack of focus on their own paradigms, their lack of work in their own fields, and the need to pawn the hard decisions on those few to find a villain when the time comes.

Ultimately, this is a perfect example of the for or against argument and existing paradigm in today’s world.  We don’t need enemies, we don’t need turmoil, we need to step back and realize our way isn’t the only way in life.  Our perceptions aren’t the only perceptions of life.  Finally, we must do better and know, when it came to Jesus, we were either for or against him.  When the Apostles were incredulous to the fact there were those driving out demons in the name of Christ, they wanted it to stop, because of the perceived unaffiliated association perceived to be with Jesus.  Their perception was limited, and they walked with the Divine Christ, just imagine how limited our perceptions are of the people around us.  Think of a time, when you may have felt threatened by someone new to the group, someone who received the attention you worked so hard for.  Then when you were asked about how you liked this new person, you never said an untruth, but what you did may have been much worse.  You, instead, didn’t give your endorsement, and this cause others to look down upon the new and ultimately reject them.  To flip this around, the rejected may have been dumbfounded as to a reason they were rejected, especially since they were nice to everyone and there was seemingly no reason whatsoever to have been rejected.  Do you think if they had an opportunity to speak with you to plead their case, they might have done so, especially knowing the power of persuasion you wielded?  At the end of the day, accepting those who are different in ways of look, practice, or perception is the cornerstone of compassion.  A compassion which simply stated wants and wills the good of the other.  We all are created by God, and we must all realize, although another person doesn’t always fill a warm place in our heart, they are beloved by God, and are loved beyond measure by God.

My focus in life, is to be a faithful servant to God, be a good father and husband, and a desire to be a reflective light of Christ in all I do.  This can be very difficult at times, especially when those results I seek, don’t seem to go my way, and instead I am challenged at every turn.  I meet challenges when I go to the store and find people going too slow or walking down the middle of the aisle.  There are those I work with, who at the very least, are argumentative to a fault and create strife because of their unhappiness.  I even have strife in my own family, when I am confronted with a member who does not see faith or religion in the way I see it, and consternation ensues and creates tension because of a perceived ocean of difference between the details.  However, everything is about perception, and with a proper perception, we can overcome it all.  We can also realize, to be with God is the only “with” our concern should be focused on.

atom_img1

Did you know 99.999999% of the human body is empty space?  The nucleus of an atom is very small in comparison to the atom.  Which is to say, although we see our bodies as a solid mass of cells because we feel and look solid, but when seen through a microscope the very dimensions of what we see is exposed and there is a vast gulf between what we can see and what is there.  This is better explained when the question is asked, “if there is so much space between the nucleus and the protons, electrons, and neutrons, then why can’t we float or walk through objects.  Here is where the real perception comes in, because of those things we can’t see or know, or truly wrap our heads around, the space is full.  The space is filled with undulating waves of quarks and gluons.  This is to say, there’s a whole lot going on we just don’t know or fully understand why.  However, the kinetic movement of the cells is very much needed to function.  A perception of with or against is very much like this.

So often we act as if we are for change and for an understanding of the original and even the eccentric when it comes to those people who are around us.  Though, if I’m being honest, I would have to say, I don’t deal with change or others very well at times.  Those times when I don’t seem to connect with others or find a common ground, I’m more likely to push back and walk away.  In other words, I create a perceived gulf and give what sounds like a logical argument for my distance and even adversarial relationship.  However, if I’m willing to focus on the objective truth between myself and others, I will find I do more things to distance myself, due to inconsistent behavior than they do.  In other words, they are more normal than me, and if there is an issue, it is probably more my responsibility to work on myself than the insistence of my forced perspective on them.

dr_robert_anthony_quote_blame_others

Time and again, I find with the context of morality, when I focus on a reality where I’m not the one with all the answers. I am willing to accept blame for my actions, I find a willingness and perhaps a zeal to be wrong as a matter of course to learn.  However, when I find an honorability in ostracization, I find judgement in others as being against me, because “they’re doing everything wrong” and this doesn’t meet the plans I had, when deciding to control my life.  This isn’t to say there haven’t been those people in my life, who above all else, were more selfish than myself, and their decisions were really a toxic portion of my life, there were, and those times led to worse times when I allowed the influence to sway the decisions I made.  No, what I’m really referring to, is the comfortable times of mediocrity, where we find blame and fault in those who don’t do as we wish, but who aren’t wrong either.

I’ve always heard an expression of, “there’s always more than one way to skin a cat”, and yes, I realize if you’ve never heard this, then my hillbilly roots just came through loud and clear.  Though, there is great wisdom in this expression, a fountain of knowledge which seeks the listener’s ability to forward think and realize a paradigm shift explaining a new perception of the same old argument.  If there were only one way to do the activities we seek in life, then it would be fair to say, I would not be typing right now, and you would not be reading right now.  All of us would have already embraced the traditions of old, and it would be more a question of “when?” than “why?”

two person doing handshake beside table inside room
Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

If we embraced a fervor to accept different ways and methods of thought, then we would be inclined to trust those around us, and instead of a with or against argument, we might just have a when argument.  Ideal as this sounds, we as human beings, would then force ourselves to create a new equilibrium dictating where the “for” or “against” lines should be drawn.  If you doubt this, look at the laws of the last 100 years, and you will quickly begin to realize, there is a social movement in the perceptions of the laws and those who commit the illegal acts.  There is a new sense of indignation when “offensive” remarks are made, but no real substance can be draw from the outrage when a proper perception of God is the focus.  This is to say, if we exist on the very Hands of God, then we must begin to realize, it’s less about what we perceive, rather than what we give.  It’s less about our honor or ego, and more about a humility to ask for the acceptance of another.  Perpetually behaving as if the world owes us something, or our honor is never to be impugned sets us on a pathway which seeks the derision of our lives and breeds unjoyful disdain.

istock-511852007_nastco_gross

So, are you with me or against me?  Question of the day; this is focus of our politics now, the focus of our world now, and frankly the focus of religion as well.  As much as smart individuals want to embrace a grayish area of existence, a focused morality and decision-making process of good or bad should really be all the black and white we need.  This is to say, if we are for one another, then the good wins this contest.  If we aren’t consistent our acceptance, like it or not, the “against” will always win out.  The gray area consists of the time we take to use our objective truths to answer these questions.  Obviously the longer we take to answer the hard questions, the longer we stay in the gray, and the more comfortable ambiguity will become for each and everyone one of us.  Maintaining an atmosphere of moral ambiguity allows us to embrace, perversion of perception and this fosters ambivalence towards others for failing to meet our expectations or requirements in an area we are neither an expert nor a proper judge.  We aren’t an expert, because we assume there is only “our” way of doing things, and we are not a proper judge, because only a judge who bases their decision on an objective truth (e.g. rule of law) can make a fair decision to know and accept a truth larger than their perception.

Ok, so we mostly exist in the gray, but we desire to be in the white (or light as I like to think about it) and obviously the black is the darkness which threatens to consume us, by our own decisions and improper perceptions.  I’ve written about the mediocrity of the age, whereby, we as a culture embrace the gray.  We don’t wish to push past the difficult and really know the beauty of life, but instead we become lazy and wish to have others do the work for us, or at least make the hard decisions so we can blame them for our lot in life.  When the truth of this comes to light, we don’t have the courage to admit we were cowards, and we didn’t do what was needed to really make a difference.  This starts with an ability to acknowledge the differences in others and accept although they are different this doesn’t make them wrong.

future and past

Next time you feel the desire to push someone away, because they possess those personal, profession, or religious attributes which appear to be at odds with us.  Remember, ours isn’t to push away, but instead, ours is to embrace with the Light of Christ at every chance possible.  So, are you with me or against me?  I hope you’re with me on this point.  I am the guiltiest of pushing people out of something I held to be mine and mine alone.  The shame I feel from this, creeps in on me from time-to-time, and I realize, my arrogance gave me the courage to act as if I was better and in doing so.  I made another person feel unwanted and unloved, when I think on this long enough, I know it should have been me who was pushed for failing to recognize how wonderful those people were, in their own ways.

shutterstock_406338748-696x464

If you were able to make it this far, please think about your situations in life and how you could be/have been better and make those good decisions now.  Root for the win, embrace all those who truly are with you in life, and find a reason to bring those who seem to be against you in to the fold as well.  I hope and pray my words are an encouragement to you and your family.  I pray God blesses you and your family.

 

 

God is good, all the time, and all the time, God is good!!!

Featured

Why Does Growth Create Pain?

Through pain we find a greater willingness to love, to understand, to hope, and to put ourselves last as a matter of truth.

When I was a kid, I went out of my way to avoid extra work, or anything which I perceived would cause me turmoil.  I would cut corners in the hopes, my corner cutting would be considered a new minimum amount of necessary work, and would be accepted.  My calculated risk venture would work, more often than not, and the dividends paid meant more time to watch TV or basically hang out with my friends.  As far as the times it did not work, I found mild irritation in the lectures I received from my parents, and the struggle of doing extra work.  All in all, it made more sense to me, to avoid the struggle whenever and wherever possible.  At the time though, I didn’t know why I was so willing to be essentially lazy, all I knew was it was working just fine for me, and I was ok with this.  As I was becoming a teenager and then eventually a legal adult, I found those situations were becoming more often and less innocuous.  The results of my behaviors were also becoming more pronounce and the effects on those around me were even more severe at times.  I was walking on people, in a manner of speaking, to get where I needed to go, by avoiding those tasks and situations which required my attention and my personal care to focus on the issues at hand.  In other words, I was avoiding my responsibility.  The process of being responsible, for me, was painful, and although I had not characterized this as pain, this is what I was avoiding all along.  I was pushing off the pain of growth for the perceived painlessness of life through inaction.  However at one point or another, I realized the pain I was avoiding was being manifested in other ways on other people and because of the transference the pain was exacerbated.  Through my nonacceptance of responsibility, I transferred my pain to others.

broken heart love sad
Photo by burak kostak on Pexels.com

This is really what everything comes down to at times, we don’t want to feel true pain, so we avoid it at all costs.  We make a personal practice of willing ourselves to maintain the status quo, without realizing the only status quo which can be maintained is change.  The change needed in our lives, although we may not recognize or agree with it.  The change needed for growth or responsibility is paramount to our collective efforts within a culture of “me”.  I’m sure we can all remember as children when we had growing pains in our legs which seemed to throb and become a never-ending pain which wasn’t relieved by any position we sat or laid in.  I was always given a rub of some ointment which smelled awful and I likened to burning a hole in my leg.  However, with enough time, the pain seemingly just went away, as if it was never there and the world would be right once again.  This is what I would liken pain in our lives like.  Some pains are worse than others, and some stick with us, while others just seem to vanish.  If we focus on the pain and figure out why it’s occurring, we might be better suited to find a solution, rather than if we practice avoidance and find after the pain has affected every aspect of our lives, we no longer can avoid and we must fix what has been broken by the pain.  The expression, “and ounce of prevention, is worth a pound of cure” was never truer than when dealing with pain.  When we avoid our responsibilities, and allow a subsistence of pain to continue we risk damage which will take more time to fix than if we’d just focused and prevented it in the first place.

I’m not suggesting though, we run head long into every painful situation we can, or people don’t have pain thrust upon them for no reason or explanation at all.  What I’m merely suggesting is, we deal with our pain, as we understand, in order to grow in our spirituality, lives, understandings of the world and people in it, and love we must all endure varying levels of pain.  Pain from loss, pain from growth, pain from the unexpected, and pain from the expected are all ways we must grow.

left human injected with hose on white textile
Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

Just the other day, I was informed about an acquaintance whose child was diagnosed with leukemia.  To say this is heart wrenching is an understatement.  His child, was diagnosed years ago, and seemingly beat the cancer into remission, but the sickness has come back and it’s aggressive.  However, the situation isn’t a practice in avoidance.  Quite the contrary, they are focused on every aspect of the physical sickness, the pain of the situation in all aspects, and the very real contention of loss from all points of realized mortality.  They know what the result could be in a loss to this disease, but they also realize avoiding this pain carries not one scintilla of benefit whatsoever.  They, for lack of a better understanding, embrace their pain as they wish to grow in the light of Christ.  This is to say, God’s will is for all of us to accept where we are and pursue love in life as it pertains to God’s Love.  This is a painful proposition, but not one which is unjoyful or one which carries with it no benefit.  Through pain we find a greater willingness to love, to understand, to hope, and to put ourselves last as a matter of truth.  I’m strengthened to know their child has what seems to be the faith of a thousand hearts, a faith as bright as the reflective light of a child but in a circumstance as their body struggles.  Their pain hasn’t affected their faith, but has increased their love of each other and of the world.

adult affection baby child
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Over the years, I noticed something about pain though, the first time I endured a physical pain, perhaps a migraine or broken bone the pain was almost so bad, I felt as if it would never end and I couldn’t endure it much longer.  However, the more times I felt pain I was able to focus and clarify the pain, and create a sense of position within the pain as a matter of a perception to harness rather than something which would control me.  This isn’t to say I didn’t feel the sting of physical pain or the emotional drop of failure in both my personal and professional life.  It just means I recognized the supercilious events as they occurred.  It was like opening a door to a world which would allow me a better understanding to accept what must be endured as a matter of course.  I see the man’s child who is enduring a fight with leukemia, and what they must endure to fight the disease.  I see the pain they endure and the pain their family endures by being unable to fight it themselves and I don’t see hopelessness, but instead I see a glorifying effort in the name of God to push past the physical ailment and recognize a higher purpose to the pain they endure.

brown wooden cross
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

This really is what it is all about, the enduring of what we see as pain, for the purpose of something higher and more pure than we can possible comprehend in life.  So, the question asked is, why does growth cause so much pain?  The answer is, because we don’t know what we don’t know, but in order to know, we must realize growth and learning is a matter of pain because as humans we resist growth because we like where we are at the time the pain becomes apparent.  Why can’t things just stay the same?  This isn’t the will of God.  If everything were to exist as it is now, then there is no hope for any of us.  Personally, I have a lot of work to do on myself, I feel as if I’m a project only half-completed and the work is long and difficult.  However, the work although painful at times, allows me the knowledge, once I’ve pushed past the pain, to address the real issues I have and with God’s help create something better.  I on my own can only hope to create works which are imperfect and lacking, but if I’m willing to take direction from God, this is to trust God completely (which is painful), then I will be shown a better and more fruitful way to exist.

This is where the family of the child with a disease is at.  They ask questions like, “why us?” or questions like, “what did we ever do to deserve this?”  The answer, although people don’t want to hear, because presumably there is the pain of receiving an answer which doesn’t satisfy our need of certain closure as a result of questions, is perhaps we were never intended to live a life stretching into old age.  Perhaps we were never intended to have a life where we received the vows of marriage, maybe having children was never in the cards as well.  It could be our intended purpose on this earth was to be a light which shown bright for a brief period of time, only because a brightness like those who leave us early can never be sustained over a long life.  The truth is we don’t know, but what we can know, is because of medicine, and new techniques for human health, we’ve grown to assume all humans should live well into their 70s and anyone who doesn’t left too early.  However, when we think like this, we take God out of the mix, and assume life is about science and the explanation therein.  Perception is key, when we presume life is how we see it, then we can correctly presume we are wrong in this.  “Some truths about God, exceed all the ability of human reason” (Aquinas, Summa Contra Gentile, B1:iii)

midsection of man holding hands over white background
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

There is pain in this understanding, but when we move past this pain we realize, we can only know what God wishes us to know, but this knowledge isn’t without the express desire to know.  We can’t simply ascertain a bevy of knowledge as if it were a notion suddenly apparent in our heads.  We have to search for this knowledge, we have to be willing to accept in our search we will go down the wrong paths.  We must conclude, in our search for knowledge, the pain we must accept as our world no longer is what we once perceived.  Many years ago, although I have always believed in God, I never asked the question “Where do you think you go when you die?” Seemingly I knew what the answer would lead to, and I knew letting go of what I’ve always known would be painful.  Accepting a truth which didn’t align with my current situation, would be a painful proposition, and one I wasn’t ready and willing to accept.  The truth still existed, and the question was still on my lips, “why is my life in so much turmoil?” The answer found its way into my head and into my heart, and the years I mulled it over and over, I would find a qualifying understanding of the question on one aspect or another, but I kept away from the answer I knew I must accept.  Finally, I did, I can’t say when or where it was, but it was as if the entire world and understanding of past, present, and future made sense to me.  It was then, I looked back on my life before this point, and realized my turmoil, my confusion, and my lack of acceptance was painful.  This part of my life was very painful, and although I don’t have the physical scars on my body to show the pain I was dealing with, I have very real scars on who I am, perhaps my soul is covered in the scars of my sins.  I was in pain, I looked and acted like a normal man, but the truth was, I wasn’t a man, I was still that little boy trying to avoid pain off the pretext, I didn’t want anything in my life to change.

Titanic_Captain

I’m reminded of the movie, Titanic with Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio where the ship has begun its final plunge into the blackness of the ocean.  The cold waters of the Atlantic risk to swallow the light from the ship and the voices crying out in fear.  What I always remembered was the stoic behavior of the Captain, as the ship dips below the water, and he looks at the glass now covered by the ocean, and the fear is realized.  He knows his death is eminent at this point, he knows there is nothing he can do to prevent this from occurring, so he’s accepted his fate.  Then all at once the water comes crashing in and his fears are realized, his fate is sealed, and we move on to others in the film, suddenly realizing their own fates.  Hollywood is real good about the dramatization of events to evoke emotion, and then leaving those events to entertain us with other equally dramatic tales of happiness or sadness.  Though in the case of the captain, our pain is a lot like what he experienced before the water came rushing in.  We wait till the circumstances of our fear have taken control and it then becomes too late to do anything about where we find ourselves.  Jesus once asked “Who do people say the Son of Man is?”  Peter being the leader of the Disciples says, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God”.  Jesus indicates to Peter, he is the rock the community is meant to be built upon, and nothing of human origins gave Peter this revelation of truth.  Though, this truth wasn’t something Peter received just because, he was in search for this answer, even if he didn’t realize what he was searching for.  This search would inevitably lead to Peter’s death, but a death glorious in the truth of God.

Like Peter, we are all searching, but we aren’t quite sure what we’re searching for.  Some of us have preconceived notions of what we’ll find, and there are those of us who run from what we’ll find because we are fearful of the pain it might cause in our lives.  Some of us risk the loss of a loved one due to sickness, and even the loss of our own lives due to sickness.  There are those of us, who have the capacity to embrace the love of God, and reflect the light God shines upon us to all, but we don’t because we know what this will mean for our embrace of the culture which surrounds us.  Don’t be mistaken, to embrace God, means to push away a culture focused on self, and to become selfless.  It means the pain of being ostracized by those we once considered friends even family.  However, the reward of life doesn’t come in life, but in death.  When at the point of death, our fears are relieved and we can see a truth more beautiful than the limits of our imagination, we understand, the pain was necessary for our growth, so might be willing to accept the Love of God.

Rejection

God must deal with enormous amounts of pain, in order to love us all.  God must endure those, whom He has created, rejecting him at every twist and turn and yet his acceptance of those (including myself), is the unconditional love we all seek and desire.  God must also see our pain as we grow, much like a parent must watch their child endure a necessary pain in growth and even a perceived unnecessary pain (though as we don’t understand God’s narrative, we must always presume there is a reason for the pain we feel).  God must allow this, because if we are to fall in love with God, we must be allowed to experience the pain from the growth necessary to experience an unmitigated and pure goodness from God’s love.  I know this can seem counter intuitive, but this is only because we don’t know what we don’t know.

gray scale photography of jesus christ head
Photo by Alem Sánchez on Pexels.com

So, why does growth cause so much pain?  Because, any journey in life will inflict upon us demands which for some will seem like a painful experience because their head is down as they look upon themselves.  For others, their eyes are affixed to God and what might be physically painful or emotionally painful is mitigated by the joy one feels for God.  Pain risks to control us all, if we accept it as a final act, but where God is our focus our pain becomes secondary.  Embrace your pain, push past it, find God in all you do, and your spouses will follow suit, your children will have a leader to follow towards the path of the eternal light.  You will be joyful, and you will always have a reason to admonish the pain you feel as par for the course.  May God bless you and your family and mitigate any pain you feel in this life.

 

God is good, all the time, and all the time, God is good!!!

Featured

Where is Your Compassion?

Compassion simply comes in the word, “no” more often than the word “yes”.

“Where is your compassion?” A phrase uttered by those people taking stances of incredulity whereby they feign shock over another person’s ability to either be insensitive or unflinching in the perceptions of the world over their own perception of an event.  They are immediately listed by any one of the common descriptors and placed into an ideological prison set to explain issues of nuance and complexity with one word monikers or one line backhanded labels.  At any rate, our need to take anything and everything we see, and categorize it expresses the need to keep things simple.  This need for simplicity is thwarted when we begin to utilize hypocrisy, standards with shades of gray and justifying measure, and when we simply don’t want to spend the time to find out the truth behind such perceptions.  This is further exacerbated, but not always knowingly, by the general public, when they are knowingly deceived by media outlets and/or manipulated by the very sources they depend upon to give them factual evidence.  I will always stand by a desire to have only the facts relayed to me, and allow me to form an opinion devoid of political and social influences.  At the end of the day though, our culture’s need to define and redefine what is believed to be compassionate without an objective base to compare it with will remain a constant problem.  Just like an inability for compatible moralities, so are expectations of compassion.

compassion-1

When we think of compassion, I’m sure we have a roughhewn image of kindness, this is to say, an act of kindness for someone in need of our charitable behaviors.  However, since our lives aren’t written for us to examine and prepare for, we’re left at a loss to determine how much or when our charity/compassion is to be used.  Our “free-will” allows us to go as far or as little as we desire, with a hopeful expectation (linear in its thought progression) which inadvertently says, the more charitable we are with people the more we can expect in return.  This is to say, the better we’ll feel, or the more magnanimous our efforts are the more people might see the “good-works” we’ve done.  I would say, if this is any person’s goal, they are somewhat off course.  Though to say they’ve done good works at all, means someone who benefitted from their kindness is better off from this expression of love, although be it a misguided love.  In some instances, I see a compassion shown by one person to another, becomes an act of self-love due to an expectation of reciprocal love in action.  This is to say, and expectation of benefit by first giving as a form of manipulation.  All I’m saying is, person “A” gives to person “B” in the hopes person “B” will reciprocate by giving back or telling everyone about the generosity of person “A”.  The ego is fed by a reverse stream of adulation performed by the original intended target.  Compassion then becomes more of a photo op than an act of charity.  With this exposure, a game of sorts is created, the game where parties are more concerned about the actions expressed as meeting a minimum set of arbitrary requirements, set forth by culture, and subsequently moved when the culture has found little response in the manipulated response.

Thoughts-and-Prayers-2

Here is what I mean, when something bad happens, people will usually extend a message of “thoughts and prayers” this message is used to convey a simple compassion and let the person receiving the message a sense of community.  In return, society has deemed the appropriate response to such an expression would be something similar to “thank you” or “I appreciate your words”.  A compassion was shown, regardless of size, and the acceptance of the intended target has lovingly reciprocated.  However, just recently, we’ve seen ire being cast upon those who offer “thoughts and prayers”, not because they’ve done anything wrong per se, but because those who would find fault in the subjective world of compassion, see the perceived diminutive response as more an admonition of bad events rather than the simple words of compassion they were meant to be.  This is to say, the line of acceptance has moved once again, and people who are on the wrong side of the “correct” perception risk public ridicule and varying levels of ostracism.  This is of course until the offending party, remember the person attempting to show compassion, apologizes for their breech of etiquette and forms in with the rest of the cultural police.  How, dumb!

This got me to thinking about how we perceive compassion and how it translates to each and every one of us.  All I mean is, to have an understanding of compassion, there really should be a measure of compassion.  There really should be an objective standard, with which to measure our actions against and in turn know beyond a doubt we’ve been compassionate to those who are in need of compassion.  Ok, so in laymen’s terms what is this?  All I’m trying to say is, when we perform compassionate acts, there should be an allowable stopping point to conclude this act, but at the same time, there should be an objective reaction which agrees upon the conclusion of compassionate acts.  A good analogy would be, a person of wealth and means takes it upon themselves to feed a family starving.  The family agrees they need food to live and gladly accept the food of charity, but also expect the brief respite from their situation to be concluded at the end of the meal.  For them to have an expectation more should be given is a subjective expectation of want over need.  They want something and because the person can theoretically provide this want, the compassion which was originally showed has now become obligation by only one side of the compassion equation.

camouflage

Often times, I’ve seen people who do not wish to be involved, for whatever reason they may have, with the parties they wish to show compassion, but because they don’t act with the perfunctory social norms of society, their compassionate act is treated with vitriol and pushed into the realm of defunct ideologies.  This isn’t to say, they could have acted better or with more tenderness in their pursuit of compassion, but within the actions of their efforts they are without a doubt, not wrong.  As this is the case, those who seek a punitive action against perceived adversaries of compassion find themselves at odds with segments of the “new culture”.  It then becomes, by popular acceptance, a crime of sorts to push away from public opinion.  However, like any drug and the potential for addiction, those forces set to rewrite the objective standards of compassion seek all avenues of power to attain in order to make all aspects of culture fall in line with their perceptions.  We see people who have religious beliefs being forced to go against their wills, as a matter of course, regardless of the degradation it focuses on their lives and the lives of their families.  We see entire organizations, focused on the compassion of others, being told, because of perceived outdated beliefs, they no longer are considered compassionate, but instead they are outdated and evil to their core.  The Catholic Church is a prime example, a religion of over 1.2 billion Catholics is routinely told, regardless of the literature and words spoken daily, they are bigots and enemies of goodness, at least by popular media and media driven sources.  Events in the Church, which are deplorable and an affront to anyone who claims to be Christian and good, are exacerbated to an epidemic level challenging the very motives of compassion and good the Church is built upon.  However, just like anything with a subjective goal in mind, there is always something behind the curtain, and an argument of compassion is no less important to the debate over abortion.

prolife

Abortion, a hot button topic in the world today, and especially a hot topic when the law and its continuation may be subject to change or at least be hotly contested is on the forefront of the minds of many people.  Just so we’re clear, abortion is wrong, and taking the life of anything is wrong, especially the life of an individual who cannot defend or answer for themselves.  If we want to talk about choice, where is the choice, the child in the womb, has and why aren’t they allowed to exercise it?  Some would say, giving the woman a choice to decide if she wants to keep the baby or not is compassion.  Though, I would say this isn’t even in the same world as compassion, in truth, a woman who exercises an option to end life acts more like a dictator purging what they don’t want rather than showing compassion to all.

The Christian Church is very specific about the life of a child, and in the processes of the compassion to see the beauty of life, choices must be made to keep this very reverence for life understood as an objective truth and not the opinions of those with an agenda.  Some, could argue, the Christian’s pursuit is a subjective approach to “their truth” and is no more relevant than those with a pro-choice agenda.  In some specific cases, I can find no argument with their point.  However, even when we can find those with a subjective agenda, it still doesn’t preclude the understanding of objective truth and life and the need to preserve life at all costs.  At its very core, compassion seeks to prolong what is good, by shielding those who are beset by what is evil/bad.

truth-3

I would even go so far as to say, when we can accept the objective moral truth finding compassion is relatively easy and to put into practice is a matter of time and acceptance.  When we find subjectivity in our compassion, we find issue in circumstance and derision in anything which doesn’t meet our specific standards of compassion.  If it isn’t what we’d do, or feel, then it is probably safe to assume the person intending compassion is wrong, and since there isn’t anyone around to punish them for their oversight, we must do so, so we can teach them where they are wrong.  Seems to be the standard action for anyone who doesn’t meet a set of standards.  Standards, which are neither written down, and can only be repeated, until they are no longer popular.

The act of compassion, isn’t just about hugs and kisses, although, those are good to have in certain disagreeable times, especially those instances of loss.  However, compassion should be, one’s desire to understand and proffer a solution meant to alleviate circumstances which might be necessary to help another person or persons.  Currently within many governments, we are inundated with social programs focused on the help of the society at large.  For instance, welfare programs intended to subsidize those who need financial or food needs, with a general belief the help will provide circumstances whereby the individual(s) will be capable of sourcing food and shelter on their own at some point.  At least, this was the original intended purpose, however this has changed over the years, and there appears to be more and more folks finding loopholes and system crutches to allow advantageous circumstances perpetuating and existence on the forced compassion of the people around them.  This isn’t to say all the programs are necessarily bad, but they should never be considered entitlements of life.  However, culturally they have been accepted as a cultural need, and anyone who disagrees with this perceived need, now becomes the cultural equivalent to a racist, bigoted, uncompassionate pariah.  So, now we reach the value of the question, “Where is your compassion?”  To which I would answer, “My compassion has always been here”, for me to continue giving sums of money unrequited, is nothing less than an inability to be compassionate and an ability to feel bad.  That’s right, seeing poverty and the conditions it creates should make us feel bad, but giving our time and money to an entity which has been shown, by its agents, to be woefully corrupt and inadequate, is an indicator of our misaligned need for compassion.

discipline-of-father

Compassion simply comes in the word, “no” more often than the word “yes”.  I love my kids, and yet I find I tell them “no” so often, they assume this will be my answer anytime they ask for something.  I know there might be some out there, already forming an opinion of me, but keep reading, and hopefully you will recognize the compassion in my “no” to them.  A child is a needy set of circumstances, which culminates into a beautiful gift from God.  This is to say, their innocence and their goodness is one of the closest gifts of the ethereal we can touch and experience.  However, kids are also entitled and believe they should get what they ask for, sound similar to some adults you might know?  By giving them what they ask for, whenever they ask for it, I am showing no compassion, but instead I’m complicit in the degeneration of their development.  A functioning adult is one which can accept circumstances and yet still rise above to achieve their goals.  An adult’s ability to rise above their circumstances isn’t a matter of talent, but something which must be taught and learned over many frustrating years of development.  Likewise, this is a matter for the parents as well, I personally don’t enjoy causing consternation for my family.  I don’t find enjoyment in seeing the letdown on their faces as I inform them, they will not be going to the party because they are in trouble for failing to do their chores.  So, you’ve guessed it, I’m a mean dad, because I care enough to tell them “no”, so one day when they are much older, they will have an objective standard to base decisions on.  They will be able to accept the fact, they won’t receive everything they want, but this won’t make them unhappy, but instead it will give them perspective to understand needs and wants.

35576-find-your-own-path-quotes

Sometimes, being perceived as wrong, because we don’t follow the pack in their subjective standards of compassion, is right where we need to be.  This can be considered tough love, old school rules, or common sense, and whatever we choose to call it, we can be certain of a few things.  The first certainty is our comprehension of what we call compassion, find an objective source (The Bible and Teachings of the Church) and stick with them.  The second, compassion isn’t a feeling, but instead a moral choice to acknowledge right from wrong, and then show charity for our fellow man with no hope of reciprocal effort.  The third, no matter what another person says about the compassion we show, if we can find where our actions are objective (through self-reflection) then we can argue our point, and contrary to popular belief now; arguments are very much needed, they are the only preventative measure to all out chaos.  An argument is the only way to create a compassion through discourse.  Our compassion is our own, and although we feel the need to explain it from time-to-time, this is the effect of a hypersensitive culture, which needs our argument and your silent stance on your efforts to find compassion in those who are God’s creations.  May God bless you, and your family!

 

God is good, all the time, and all the time, God is good!!!

 

tumblr_nmfdb2URe01s1zrwuo1_500

Featured

Is Morality Transferable?

Our need to find this shepherd becomes a search for anyone to give us the directions we so desperately look for.

Is morality a transferrable option, which is to say, can just anyone possess a sense of morality?  Well if we listen to some of the greatest minds (modern day or the recent past), there seems to be some who say “yes” and others who believe “no”.  The truth is, without a sense of objective truth, we are left to wonder just how objective we can be.  Reality is, we all stake even objective perceptions in a subjective reality where justifications abide.  This isn’t to say our subjective realities are always moving in a direction of sinful behavior, in some cases, we become more restrictive than is probably necessary (e.g. The Puritans).  However, actions intended to be moral, but without the source of an objective morality being in place, our hopes of being objectively “moral” turn out to be self-serving actions which in their intent may be good or bad, but nevertheless of our own making.  In a godless society, we’ve become, to take a point of modern atheists, our own gods.  We keep our own counsel, and we determine the rightness and wrongness of our actions (which in a selfish society seem to hardly ever be wrong), and the degree of wrongness to which others have acted when not in concert with our interpretations of truth.  That’s a mouthful, but in the end, within ourselves we become the judge, jury, executioners of modern civics up to and including social organizations which don’t meet our civic perceptions.

Ideas

This topic is loaded, so I will do my best to keep things brief and concise as possible.  The first part of this is to unload perceptions.  I often have conversations with my wife, about the perceptions of those, who are neither well read, nor experienced in many things (e.g. failure, desire, success, life), but yet they have an opinion about everything, and to disagree with their opinions is tantamount to heresy in the court of public opinion.  In truth, if the church of public opinion wants to cast me out, I’m good with civil fringe existence, this area of the cultural landscape is getting more populated by the day.  I will also confess, I am super opinionated, and I’ve been this way since I could remember.  Sometimes this can be good, but often times this must be taken with a “grain of salt” and be understood, although an opinion exists, we must not allow it to get in the way of actual truth.  We can’t be so bound to our opinions, because they make sense to us, and be unwilling to look at all sides of an argument.  This is where being well read and well versed in a particular topic stands to gain the most ground.  This isn’t to say a veritable novice wouldn’t have a good opinion or judgement of any matter their not an expert in, but it does recognize those who are well read or studied on a particular topic as having more exposure and thusly being exposed to more viewpoints creating a more well-rounded opinion.  This is usually the problem with opinions, we don’t know how narrow they are until exposed to further explanation and the creation or expansion of the original thought.  This is good when learning about topics, but this can also be negative when it comes to topics of morality.  Expansion is like the platitude of moderation, “anything in moderation is key to a balanced life”, this is true but too much exposure to one side or another on any topic, might create an unbalanced look at whatever topic is being considered.

balance

As morality goes, our culture suffers from a relativism which is an unbalance expansive point of view.  This is what I mean, western culture has been largely influenced by Judeo-Christian beliefs, which is to say a moral foundation created and is the base for moral and societal determinative efforts for areas such as the law, societal acceptance, and workweek activities.  As a society has continued to age, the population naturally has increased considerably, but methods of exposure to morality has not.  This effect of expansion is the causation of a gulf between objective moral sourcing and perceived moral behavior.  Essentially, as the culture is aging and people are so busy, they are filling their time with activities which carry their attention more.  Like an ever-changing list, they are constantly moving items of interest in their list to “top five” designators and creating importance from this list.  Here is an example, if you were given two choices, go and listen to a speaker talk about the importance of financial planning or watch a movie you’ve anticipated for some time, which would you go to?  Truthfully, twenty years ago, I would have picked the movie, but now I would give some consideration to the financial planner, eventually resting on the movie.  My determinate behavior would be based on a few factors such as how much time I have to consider financial planning, maybe how much I’ve desired to see the movie, perhaps in just how bored I would be sitting in a hotel conference room listening to someone with more money than myself explain what I should do just in case I get some money.  If I boil everything down to its most simplistic terms, I would be bored in the room listening and not bored being entertained.  As you can see though, my perspective in life has caused me some pause to change my general outlook.  As something becomes important to me, it carries more weight than whether or not I should be entertained.

Which brings back into focus the subjectivity factor, this is to say, and we need to unpack what motivates us, and creates the subjective behaviors we all act on.  Now, as I was stating before the Judeo-Christian beliefs of kindness, love, compassion, and accountability are always there.  However, there are those who find going to church and listening to someone they hold in contempt, perhaps don’t agree with, or plain bored with because of an incomprehension to what is being said or done finding a deviation of these objective teachings as a matter of subjective thought.  So for instance, someone who doesn’t go to church nor do they believe in God, has all their life seen and heard the objective moral teachings of Christianity, and now they have molded the parts easiest or seemingly fair into a personal credo.  They then apply this credo as a matter of personal thought even placing a sense of originality to the thought as they apply it.  They thought it (at least this is what they tell themselves) and now they apply it and attain results.  Here is where the subjectivity will let them down, they own nothing to a negative result, other than to say it is a part of their understanding which will need to be reworked until a positive result ensues.  Their moral behavior has now become subjective, and their moral goals have now moved in one direction or another so as to achieve a result as they see fit.  The problem this moral subjectivity causes is, when millions of people are doing the exact same thing, thinking the exact same way, it creates confusion tantamount to chaos.  The chaotic whirlwind of secular morality is such as to create a relative point of view allowing for everything or nothing but all is good or all is bad.  Extreme?  Seems this way, but at the same time, if we don’t know there the line is, then who can we assume knows where this is at, and if we don’t know who knows then like lost lambs we await a shepherd to bring us into the proverbial fold.

person wearing shirt standing near tree
Photo by Alex Smith on Pexels.com

Our need to find this shepherd becomes a search for anyone to give us the directions we so desperately look for.  In an interview Jordan Peterson once made a point of the waves of men, especially young men, who flock to his presentations searching for anything which wets the appetite of their moral intellectual philosophies.  They are searching for directions, the relative pathway seems nice for a while, but the gift God gave us to search for the light of truth, persists within us to find truth and seek a shepherd within our lives.  The truth is a protection of sorts, it binds us to God, and creates within us a set of boundaries, a line as it were, and knowing where this line is creates a sense of calm within our restless souls.  Knowing where the path is at allows us to walk to the path instead of becoming agents of opinion and spending an entire life in search of the pathway needed to find joy, essentially finding God.

This becomes a figurehead to the question as to why, if there are objective points of direction, do people stay away from these points (i.e. the church, families)?  There are three basic reasons, as I can see, which would provide an answer to this question, but they may not be the only answers just the answers I’ve found to be of prominence.  The first would be what Peter Kreeft spoke about in some of his lectures as the boredom and complacent position of humans, we tend to stay away from those things which we determine to either be boring or those things which may cause us discomfort by removing our contented way of life and creating a perceived turmoil (once again we tend to utilize a subjective opinion pattern to determine future actions).  The second is a matter of familial subjectivity, take for instance my wife, she was not always Catholic, but when she converted, she was shunned by her side of the family, who were protestant and looked upon the Catholic Church as being an enemy to Christianity by some context.  My wife though, is a strong a woman as I have ever known, she held her ground and continued to move forward in her faith.  However, some people might have found this paradigm within their families to be absolutely debilitating and thusly cause them to stop.  The final and probably most significant to all people is the appearance we all face, by believing in something which may appear (based on any media driven outlet) the antiquated and perceived incorrectness of an institution which has existed for some over 4,000 years (Jewish) or for others 2,000 years (Christians).  Being bombarded daily by social media or reports from every news media possible about the inadequacy and perfunctory efforts of religion would create potential for anyone to rethink their position.

Not Interchangeable

Morality is not interchangeable.  Those who both claim to be moral and atheist or at least agnostic are a walking logical fallacy.  An oxymoron of sorts, to be without an objective moral authority means to have no moral line to which crossing would be considered verboten, which is to say a sin.  Instead, when there is no moral objective authority to counsel and direct us in our actions, then we make the decisions which will allow us (individually) the best outcome possible.  In other words, as long as we benefit from what is happening, then we are “morally” sound in our judgement.  However, the concept of morality, although it is based in a “rightness” or “wrongness” of decision, the principle of morality is a measure of sacrifice rather than selfish indulgence.  Here is what I mean, when I choose to treat others with self-less moral behavior, I sacrifice me in the process by giving of my time for the benefit of another.  Perhaps, I charitably give of my money to the benefit of anyone in need of it.  Whatever the result of my objective moral behaviors, sacrifice is at the root.  I must sacrifice what it is I want, in order to be supplied with what I need.  The need for God’s light, love, and presence in my life is the main objective of the Church, and its objective is a proper interpretation of God’s word either in action or written down for us to study and expound a reasoning.

I’ve heard, recently, people who exclaim they don’t like the complexity of our times and wish to have it simple and a simple understanding of Christ, much like the Apostles did in the first century.  Though, this leaves me somewhat perplexed, as a living body of the followers of Christ, we are set on a pathway of growth.  A pathway which given a boundary of morality we are to walk and learn as our life progresses, and we are to learn those which others have learned along the way.  This constant and hopefully consistent learning patter brings us form the proverbial mustard seed to a healthy growth determined to spread its branches as far as possible.  This cannot be achieved if we are constantly in turmoil about the parameters of morality.  The movement in morality is based on a person or person’s unreliable method of taking their own counsel in all matters.  As we “cry out in the desert” we must “prepare a way for the Lord, and make straight his paths” (Matt 3:3)

never-changing

To sum everything up, our morals are not up for change, and they are definitely not up for negotiation.  When we assume to take our own counsel and interpretation of God’s word, what we run in to is a subjective point of view which will not carry with it a proper introspective understanding at one point or another.  This is to say, if we only listen to the voice in our head, and claim it was the spirit, we might be more wrong more often than we care to comfortably admit.  This isn’t to conclude we won’t get things right on occasion which might turn to bolster our confidence in our perception of what we know, but is the pitfall the devil is counting on, our arrogance to put us down the path to sin.  Sin is a highway paved with good intentions as the saying goes.  We don’t read and hope to enter life in order to get things wrong, but we do, and this is a constant.  The need for an objective authority to point out and explain where the parameters of morality exist is the shepherd we are all looking for in life.  As a father, I realize I must accept this, if I ever hope to teach true love to my wife and kids by example.  The Catholic Church for me, meets this standard I’m looking for, and although there are problems with the inner workings of the Living Church, the bones of objective truth still exist and should be applied.

la Pieta.jpg

In case I haven’t sufficiently made my point clear, morality is found in the words of Christ and the teachings of the church.  Nowhere else will you find the proper dissemination of truth in your life, but it’s up to you in what you do with this truth.  It will be uncomfortable at times, and at other times you might even become disheartened and mad.  These feelings you feel are the pain of tearing away the sin which has become infused with you in life.  This pain is the pain of growth and of substantive understanding, of self-reflective capability, and above all else, like someone who has lived in the darkness their whole life and then suddenly is thrust into the sunlight, it hurts.  If you’re not currently holding to a moral life, then be courageous and start, accept the pain which will follow, but start right now, I promise a life led in morality is one which will set your inner turmoil to rest.  I pray God blesses you and your family!!!

 

God is good, all the time, and all the time, God is good!!!

Featured

Are We Shooting to the Middle?

Love in its most pure form has one look, unselfish desire to wish the best for everyone regardless of station or action.

Let’s hurry up and wait, or “shooting to the middle” have always been phrases I’ve known to mean mediocrity as a goal.  An average of sorts, which argues a point of minimum.  This is to say, if the minimum weren’t enough it wouldn’t be the minimum.  However, the point which is also to be illustrated is the overall aspirations or goals in life are to be the best at whatever we attempt.  One thing I’ve found over the years is just how much patience, effort, and luck I need to have in order accomplish whatever goal or dream I have.  Often times I have a tremendous amount of energy at the beginning of any endeavor, but as time begins to sit upon my goals, and inevitably becomes heavier, I’ve found maintaining course becomes more difficult as the seconds tick.  I think this would be a similar experience for most people, which is another reason we marvel at those who’ve seemingly moved past those barriers which tempt us to move forward, but keep us mired in the middle.  Haven’t you ever wanted to be something like an athlete or author, someone who accomplishes the perceived impossible or very difficult?  I know for a period of time, I was always trying to do one thing or another, and as usual I got where I was either bored, indifferent, dejected, or plain frustrated with many things I attempted without a true understanding of expectations as results and time were key considerations.  Furthermore, those failures began to mount in my life and by themselves amounted to very little, but at as a lifetime of failure and mediocrity stacked up, I hesitated to look at because of its size and imposition in my life.  So everything I failed at or seemed to fail at, was cast aside and became my mountain of problems.

hamsterwheel

I was clearly shooting to the middle, I was hurrying up to wait, rather than taking in the path life was giving me.  I confess, this is always still an issue with me, I have to tell myself to slow down, be patient, and not to expect unrealistic results.  Which is to say, I’m like everyone else, and my frustrations in life are usually a manifestation of poor planning, poor expectations, and generally poor results.  No matter what anyone of us does, we can usually never overcome poor planning.  I once had a colleague who would opine the phrase, “poor planning on your part, doesn’t make an emergency for me” and although he never used it towards me, be anecdotally would tell me about how I needed to be on top of my duties and yet maintain a proper pace.  The pace being of course to have the stamina to finish the race.  Nothing looks or feels worse than the bravado to begin a race, but not having the endurance to finish because we have all tried to bite off more than we could chew.  We were either completely unprepared, perhaps we were foolish in an attempt to cast something off as easy and is anything but easy.  All in all, we mostly reside in the middle, because our fantastical notions are what I refer to as the “theory of best intent”, this is to say, and when we think of things coming to fruition, very rarely do we see the most extreme negative.  We don’t look for the worst case scenario when planning, because somehow this seems to defeat our efforts even before we begin.  However, much like an unbalanced load, when we over-correct often times we are still a little over-balanced.  Failing to be balanced, will still create a stress because we fail to properly take in the full scope of whatever we are attempting to do.  So instead of realizing the pitfalls to any idea, we assume the bravado of green light and great outcomes, and this gives us wind in our sails, and the perceived energy to approach the task at hand.  For me, this usually means failing to think out the small details, and those are usually what kill my plans, or at least the details are what prevent me from moving forward.  Think of them like prerequisites for a class, you need those details to line up, in order to give you the best shot at success in your goals.

A proper balance in life, is what allows us to operate most efficiently.  If you visualize the word, “balance” you might come up with images like someone trying to walk a tight-rope, maybe the scales of justice, or even an experience in your life which flashes images of and improper balance causing you tremendous angst and frustration.  Which is where I’m headed with all of this, surprised?  Shooting to the middle, is a great indication of improper balance in our planning, execution, and delivery as it pertains to whatever we attempt to do.  Marriage is a wonderful example of two people needing the balance to withstand the storms which crash upon them like waves on a beach.  By balancing the relationship and paying attention to those details, they are better suited to tackle those challenges life hands to them.  For a couple to be unevenly yoked, it means, one will carry a heavier burden while the other doesn’t feel the strain of the increased weight.  When this happens, the one with most of the weight will eventually collapse under the pressure.  It’s not a matter of if, but when they will collapse and whatever they have on their shoulders at the time of the fall will determine the extent of the damage.  When this occurs, you can almost assuredly trace back behaviors and actions which laud the race to the middle.

marriage_psychotherapist.jpg

They raced to be in a relationship, sometimes not taking the time to figure out just what this meant to be committed to another person.  Then they raced to marriage, making a lifetime commitment to each other and hopefully to God, and yet still they didn’t grasp the relative weight which was set upon them.  Finally, they raced to the middle in hopes to begin a family still not comprehending the gravity of the weight which now lay upon them.  A relationship, a marriage, a family, all of which if are done by one, become a mountain seeking to drain us of energy and hope.  However, if we seek to move past the proverbial middle, we must share this load.  Essentially, the weight of family and responsibilities is tremendous, but with another by our side, we only carry half, but with the passion to carry it all.  If both proceed with this fervor towards their relationship, then over time, we find we can move up this mountain in lock step, and accomplish the most enormous goals.

In a relationship, when one or both members realize they no longer want the responsibility which they’ve chosen, because of their fear of hurt or because of their apathy, they inadvertently cause the other, who may have suspicions when they notice an unbalanced life, to deal with everything.  A lonely existence when you may be the only one who seems to care or want the relationship.  This becomes compounded when going through the motions takes on a gravity all by itself, and so being in the middle becomes a practice of apathy and unbalanced decisions.

Diamond-Lighthouse-selling-divorce-signs-marriage

Look at all the relationships we see where divorce was a surprise or even and inevitability, I’m sure in some cases we can look and see the signs of the doomed relationship, well before its end.  They shot to the middle and burned out because they couldn’t sustain a never-ending battle.   No person takes on a goal, realistically, in the hopes it will never end.  They don’t look at a race and hope it is infinite in its distance so they never reach the finish line.  Well, relationships are a lot like this, we need goals, and we need to see these goals realized.  Either in growing the family, career pursuits, home creation, and faith practices. Whatever the goal is, it needs to be realized at one point or another, or we will just burn out.  If we are always in the middle, we never see it realized and we become dejected by failure.  Sometimes, the push to the middle is a matter of exceptional perspective, this is to say, having a realistic expectation of our reality is the most important step in attaining a realistic goal.  If I’m a farmer in Kansas, then being the director of the United Nations isn’t a realistic goal when it comes to making decisions about my life.  Likewise, being in a relationship should never consist of goals for the other person, but rather goals for ourselves to attain.  Perhaps it’s a matter of increasing our prayer life, maybe to put our spouse’s needs in front of our own, it could just be to call our significant other and let them know we’re thinking about them and hope they have a better day than the one before.  The point here is, when we create goals focused on someone else, it never turns out particularly good, it may even end up a matter of manipulation to make another do as we would like eventually creating a rift or distrust between spouses.  Personally, I like me, and I want my wife to like me.  She doesn’t always agree with me, and I don’t always agree with her, but at the end of the day, we are both trying to be better for our relationship and for each other and in our efforts, we stumble and fall a lot, but the spirit is there to carry the load together.  Knowing this about her gives me energy to move past the middle and see to goals I’m currently working on.  I’m impatient, loud, and sometimes angry, I don’t listen like I should, I have more faults than you have time to read, but the point is I know she is working on a similar list and as we work together, when detours threaten to take us off course we work together to remove the anxiety and deal with the issue.

This-Divorced-Man-Wrote-Some-Beautiful-Marriage-Advice-Every-Man-Should-Read

I can only imagine what single parents must feel on a daily basis, the loneliness is magnified, because there is no longer anyone to share the load of familial responsibility, and there is no balance.  The work is all on them to accomplish a task created for two.  That’s right!  God, created this task for man and woman, we complement each other.  Contrary to the media’s belief men and women are different, we have strengths and weaknesses which when we prepare properly can be used to the advantage of the family, and in doing so become the will of God in practice.  The family becomes greater than the sum of our parts, in business this has been referred to synergy by some, but in the family this should be referred to a love.  Love in its most pure form has one look, unselfish desire to wish the best for everyone regardless of station or action.  In our culture today, this pure form of God’s gift has been diluted to focus on the emotive side of an action as the confirmation of rightness.  Problem is, when we dilute love, we shoot to the middle.  We’ve created a society based on feelings, rather than truth.  This society of feelings or middle dwellers shames us for what is impermissible and yet everything is permissible.  The problem we all run into is when we don’t seek the objective truth, or rather when we choose to stay in the middle, we accept failure as the new currency of relationships.  Don’t get me wrong, we all fail, and we all find ways to mess everything up, but as a matter of course for learning what and what not to do so we can finally reach our goals.  Too often now, it’s stated we should all be winners, but it’s ok if you want to accept failure.  It’s not ok, it never has been ok.

For those of us who may have been divorced at one point or another, can we take a true look back at our actions and find where we may hold the blame in a relationship?  Did we have poor expectations, going into the relationship?  Did we expect too much from them without giving the same in return?  Were we mature enough to handle the relationship properly?  Did we allow our selfish nature to make decisions for us, and in turn destroy trust and the ability to be balanced?  These are questions I’ve asked myself in the past, and honestly, I was ashamed of my answers.  Truthfully, when I was honest with myself, I failed all of them.  I made my spouse carry the load and in doing so, created an environment where we could never stay on course because we veered from one thing to another.  She could only do so much, and I wanted her to do everything, I was a bastard to my everlasting shame.  I will report, we are the best we’ve ever been.  We recognized we needed to rethink everything, we needed to redo everything, to tear down the unbalanced structure of our lives’ and start over.  This was very hard, but not as hard as it would have been to do it all alone.  Don’t mistake my innocuous statement of hard as just a single word of single description.  It was so hard, we argued, we fought, we battled over everything.  We were two titans with an agenda, and we weren’t going to be denied.  Then like a body of water in turmoil, it was as if a cleansing oil of salvation calmed us down.  We found a true starting point.  God, was this point.  We, in our own ways began to come closer to the God who created us and we embraced this, we prayed together and this further began to bond us.  Our shared faith began to yoke us evenly and we found purpose, a goal of sorts, to work towards.  We found self-reflection as a matter of course and no longer were we focused on fixing the other person, but we found egotistical shrinkage of ourselves as we began to chip away at the façade of sin we surrounded ourselves with.  As of today, we are more focused on the love we need rather than the desires we want.  This doesn’t make us perfect in any way though.  My wife knows I’m stubborn and hard to deal with at times, and yet she still finds a way to love me, she finds a way to accept me, an emulation of Christ Himself.  Christ who loves me, and accepts me as who I am, but doesn’t accept my poor actions and selfish behavior.  Christ doesn’t accept the middle, the lukewarm behavior.  Hot or cold, but no middle.

Angel Demon

So, if you’ve read this far, know this, you must move past the middle in your life.  The devil looks for this complacency in our lives and wishes to capitalize on our willingness to embrace our dreadful results.  Don’t give him the opportunity, move past the middle, move past you.  Take the time to focus on what you’re doing, and don’t jump into something without having a clearer understanding of who you are and what you want.  Don’t waste the life of another, because you’re unwilling to move past the middle.  If you are at a point in your life where everything seemingly is falling around you, stop for a second, pray, and then regroup.  If you need to tear everything down to the foundation, then do so, but this time build it right, take your time, don’t race to the middle, but instead be patient with your spouse be willing to understand who they are and how you fit into their lives.  If they are the middle dweller, patiently bring them in the path and teach them love.  Love isn’t something we all can just do, it’s something we must learn at times, it is something we must accept, even when accepting it means we might just be on the short-list of unrealized expectations.  Move past the middle, be willing to accept we can’t change other people, but we can work on ourselves and be better spouses, fathers, brothers, friends, and faithful.  Through our examples we have a great chance of becoming the reflective light of Christ and influencing those whom we love the most!  May God bless you and your family!!!

 

 

God is good, all the time, and all the time, God is good!!!

forgiven-thomas-blackshear

Featured

Is Marriage A Bygone Fashion?

Love and by extension marriage is an all or none prospect, not something we give a half-hearted percentage to, but something we give our very being to. 

Is marriage a perfunctory trend, like all trends, has become old and worn?  What do we owe a life of unabated selflessness?  Isn’t the need for a husband, wife, or two parents obsolete according to what we see and hear daily?  What’s the difference between having parents of both sexes as opposed to parents of the same sex?  I’m sure I could go on all day with questions we all ask ourselves at one point or another, some of us may have even acted upon these questions.  The one truth is, this is a truth, a truth we can rely upon and even hope in, but not a truth where the reality is bendable to subjective relativism.  There isn’t a truth which relies on the emotive explanation of a pop cultural aberration of love.  Love which is as disposable as any material item we can own, and which we dispose of so we can make room for more material items.  This most certainly isn’t love!  I have spent many years searching for what love actually is to each and every one of us, and although, I don’t have the best explanation, I do have an unwavering understanding.  Love and by extension marriage is an all or none prospect, not something we give a half-hearted percentage to, but something we give our very being to.  Marriage is the most outwardly courageous expression of our love, because we stand before the Triune God, and all of the world to express our desire for a covenant which binds us to our spouse and with time the creation of God’s gift, the family.  The family is never a throw-away, and the family is never something which should be moved aside to make room for more “things” in life, and above all else, the family is something sacred and should be treated as such.

adult adventure baby child
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Today, we are constantly bombarded with a media’s interpretation of what subjective morals and subjective beliefs we should adopt, in order to be “happy”.  However, there isn’t anything about the desire for continuous joy, nothing about the need for a construct of continuation in life past our perception of current existence.  We’ve come to the realization, as a culture, if we can’t explain it, then it is a figment of imagination.  At least, this is what the broader scope of the forced interpretation we are fed daily by those with the most obvious platforms for influence.  Though, if we step back we find, this isn’t at all true, very little of what we hear in the “news” or in the general social media is in fact true.  Of course there are punctuations of truth here and there, otherwise we would never believe anything (e.g. CNN).  The truth is, in every word which is spoken to us there is a subjective lean, something which creates a masterful manipulation focused on our seemingly independent choice to agree.  A manipulative argument designed with subjectivity, emotion, and in some cases outright lies to sway us in our decision making processes.  This is never more prevalent than in the consumer market, a place where “dreams come true” and we are separated from those who can’t possibly have what we have.  Maybe it’s not a cognizant effort to distance ourselves from those who can’t afford our lifestyles, but when this chasm is brought to our attention daily on every media device about the inequality of outcomes, a pervasive and convincing cry develops and threatens to erode the foundation of our very culture.

The truth of the matter is, the poor will always exist, and the perception of the rich will be the foundational argument to the poor’s plight (the wealthy are keeping the poor from being not poor, a fallacy of argument to be sure).  This inequality of argument will continue with everything which appears incongruent with the narrative being sold to our culture.  This narrative of perfect opportunities and perfect outcomes is a lie, the human right to be treated with fairness and equality is a verified objective truth.  However, the outcome of this equality is a harsh reality of life.  Take for instance, it should be every human’s right to believe in God in which ever manner they have determined to be best, and this translates into a proper equality of opportunity.  In some areas of the world, when those who choose the wrong “god” have been located, they are put to death, which is the most powerful example of life’s harshest realities.  To say the victims of terrorism deserved better, belies the concept of life.  No one person deserves anything over another, based on their intentions or effort, instead, we recognize the “chance” afforded to all of us when pursuing our goals.  To be somehow prevented the chance, by reasons of racism, bigotry, or manipulations is a basis of evil.  This is where we are now, evil, true evil, has found its way into our society on every level, and instead of a revulsion we, as a culture, are embracing a false narrative of freedom.

woman stands on mountain over field under cloudy sky at sunrise
Photo by Victor Freitas on Pexels.com

Our new found freedoms, allow us to go and do whatever we want as a matter of course in life, and when our goals aren’t realized, we can blame those who are in turn blameless.  The story of Joseph (Gen 37) is a prime example of unrequited circumstances working against his perception of life, molding him to become the man he needed to be and to forgive those who sold him into slavery.  What he wanted, was no what was best for him, and because he embraced God, he knew what was needed of him.

So, this is my long-winded set up to the questions posed earlier, has marriage become a throw-away effect of long ago beliefs? Do we perform marriage for the benefit of a party, and as a matter of tax and death benefits?  In short, yes, this is where our society seems to be leaning.  When we look at marriages, we often wonder if they are on their first or second.  Of course when we see a young couple, we automatically assume it’s their first marriage, without catching ourselves.  Instead of assuming this is their only marriage in life, we number them as a matter of course.  We’ve been formed by a society which doesn’t hold marriage to anything more than a living arrangement.  With enough money and desire to do so, we can trash a marriage in a matter of months, and even punish the person we no longer like with punitive means such as child-support, alimony, or even psychological efforts focused on the emotional destruction of an individual we once shared our lives with.  There’s a problem here folks!  How did we get so callous as a people and a culture?  Where has our compassion gone?

wedding rings

There is good news.  There is hope!  It requires work, a life time in fact, and the results may never be realized in your lifetime.  Can you handle this?  Personally, I love my kids and wife so much, I would be willing to do anything to make a better more joyful world for them, even at the risk of never seeing my work come to fruition.  The key to assessing anything and working to make it better is to understand every aspect of the problem, and from this understanding we create an opportunity to fix what is broken.  Marriage isn’t something which can be reformed, it is what it was always meant to be, and combining of a man and a woman to create a bond in order to have children and raise these children.  This is the most basic explanation of family I can come up with.  There is one very important distinction which should be realized when tackling this topic.  Marriage, up until recently, has always been a social construct, a contract set in social circles to create families and to perpetuate a “way of life” which coincides with their social existence.  For instance, a Christian family will honor a Christian marriage and will desire for the family to raise their children in a Christian tradition creating a lineage of social awareness focused on the propagation of this way of life.  In some cultures marriage was utilized as a simple contract to keep peace or to unite like-minded groups, but it was never an agreement in practice to focus on those which could not add longevity to social practices or groups.  In effect, marriage was intended to compliment those natural actions which benefited the group.  If it was seen as unnatural it was considered as such, and wasn’t a focus by the vast majority of any social group.  This was never in true contention, until we decided as a culture, to allow a non-thinking committee of sorts to make our social decisions for us, yes, I’m referring to the government.  A body which is focused on the over-arching wants of the people, and if allowed has no more constraint of power than what the vast majority of the people are willing to fight against.  Like a behemoth with unrestrained powers, the government is neither graceful, compassionate, just seeking an animal seeking to satisfy its wants.  It doesn’t do anything efficiently, and when compared to other better options, its one equalizer is it has your money to do with as it desires, up to and including the destruction of what it deems as unnecessary.

adult beautiful blur bride
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Marriage is a very foundational block, which I don’t need explained to me, nor do I need people who have no concept of my way of life determining the value of my life by decisions.  The attempted destruction of marriage is moving with such ferocity as to leave anything which opposes it in a wake of destruction and often times down a path of sinful pursuits.  Now, I’m not being puritanical here, but obeying the will of God isn’t something to be flippant with nor is it something to cast aside because we don’t agree.  Marriage is a gift of love from God, even though it seems like it’s a punishment at times, but anything worth doing requires efforts which at times seems likes punishment but is really growth.  This growth comes from a natural progression of life (i.e. kids and age), without both of these progressions, this is just a relationship, but never a marriage.  Although, a government entity can dictate what laws we should live by, they don’t have the ability to legislate morality. As a matter of course anything which denies the sanctity of the institution God created through natural law and life, is an enemy against it, bent on the destruction of God’s Will.

This is either people failing to grasp the gravity with the vows they take, by the introduction of same-sex unions, or the acceptance of society to go and do as we wish as long as the perception of a relative innocuousness is achieved.  “I’m ok, you’re ok” attitude isn’t heathy.  Why isn’t there a more concerted effort to determine why societies maintained a level of moral discipline and suddenly we’ve decided (in our arrogance or hubris) we don’t need the adherence of these moral disciplines?  The answer is the absence of God in our daily lives. Every year, more and more people claim to have no affiliation with Christianity whatsoever, and without a foundational representation by the vast majority of our culture, we find morals lacking and in distinct obscurity, all at the cost of us doing what we want to do.

The truth of the matter is, we are unwilling to sacrifice for what we truly say we believe.  This is to say, when it comes down to the crucial decisions, we are more willing to maintain a status quo rather than do without because we like our materiality.  If someone required us to live in a monastery or convent for the period of a year, and to live a Spartan lifestyle, most would run away as fast as their feet could carry them.  But, why?  What is it about living with no material possessions, except what we wear is so terrifying to us?  The answer is, we love our stuff, and to be asked to do without it, is something we’re unwilling to do.  This is why we won’t go against the grain of society, this is why we are unwilling to become a social outcast because we disagree with the direction our culture is going, and this is why when those hard decisions (e.g. abortion, same-sex marriage) we defer to someone else to make our decisions for us.  At least if someone makes our decisions for us, we can complain and defer the blame to someone else.  If this isn’t you, I’m sure with little effort you can point to a loved one who does exactly this, and if we can all do this, then there is the answer as to why our society seems to be teetering on the edge of a precipice bent on our doom.

gloomy-roommate

I know this seems like a lot of doom and gloom, but I never present a problem without showing the opportunity to make it better.  God is loving and time and again, we push away from God, but when we realize our errors God awaits us with open arms ready to forgive.  So the first steps to the pathway of God’s will is recognizing forgiveness awaits us, as we repent our sins.  Second, the foundation of our culture resides in the solid foundation of the family, something which isn’t designed or made by a government entity, but something which is consecrated by the very God of the faith we believe, a covenant between you, your spouse, and the Living God.  Nothing else should come between this, and a covenant is never disposable, it can be reaffirmed but not thrown away.  Sex is meant for the procreative and love affirming of a marriage, it is meant for nothing else, and if both are not ordered in this manner, then the disorder of the relationship is what constitutes the inadequacy on the cultural and social construct of our lives.  People who wish to have sex either homosexual or heterosexual without the foundation of a marriage behind them is why we are now consider marriage to be just a fashionable trend which is seemingly not needed anymore.  Nothing could be farther from the truth.

684-13-11-17-8-17-24m

We need the foundation of marriage to teach children the balance needed in life through the exercise of our faith.  Without both parents committed to one another, and to the children they created by God’s help, we embrace a society focused on sins rather than virtues.  We will go from one problem to the next until we are exhausted as a culture, we allow everything and the only thing we won’t permit is anyone or anything (yes, churches) to become counter to this embrace of the devil.  Make no mistake, we are in battle even now, it doesn’t require we stand up and shoot our way out.  No, it requires dedication to God, and to stand up for what is morally right and put down what is morally wrong.  Marriage isn’t throw away, and isn’t a fashion statement we can walk away from.  Marriage is deliberate, it is wonderful, and it is the hardest thing anyone will ever do, if they care at all.  Make good decisions in your marriage, it’s easier to do than you think.  Become good teachers with your spouse and teach your children the ways we should live by, based on God’s will for all of us.  Defy those who would wish to tear down God’s gift to all of us.  Find joy in your marriage, this is something which can’t be taken away, no matter what is going on.  Love your spouse and your kids with every ounce of energy you have, and leave nothing back.  Because, if you won’t give them everything you have, then what on earth are you holding it back for?  Be passionate about your family, second only to God in life, your loving awareness, may be the lesson your great grandchild teaches their grandchildren one day.  May God bless you and your family and extended family!!!

 

God is good, all the time, and all the time, God is good!!!

Featured

“When in Rome”

The words of the Divine Christ brought the walls of the greatest empire the world had ever known crumbling down like as if it were a child’s toy finally succumbing to the constant abuse of the child.

I’ve heard the expression, “When in Rome” all of my life, and of course this turn of phrase has been in existence for a couple of millennia (Rome was of course the most powerful empire for hundreds of years, and the center of existence, much like New York is now), and during this time it has been used to explain our outward metamorphosis of us human beings to adopt a similar way of dealing with life.  Some would even argue it is an “anything goes” way of life.  This is only to say, we justify our behaviors by applying a “mob” mentality and adopting a methodology of what’s best for the group behavior.  On the surface, this makes perfect sense, going against the larger population isn’t always what is needed.  When we constantly run into “walls” of opposition, we tend to change course and this becomes inefficient to our daily lives.  We’ve all known the one person, who with little to no effort, makes every situation difficult.  Guess what, just like the old joke goes, if you don’t know anyone who does this, then you might be the difficult someone.  Though, what are we rebelling against?  If my wife were talking to anyone, she might even say, I’m the difficult one, and from time-to-time, I cause a great deal of stress by my attempts to be an opposite of an “easy going” personality.  In my defense, I try to go with the flow more often, but I’m just no good at it, and unless I see a logical or even philosophical point to my actions, I usually refrain from doing anything which would detract.  I think though, the “When in Rome” mentality is being used to a detriment at every rate possible, and those of us who claim to me of the moral majority, are really nothing more than marionettes dancing on the string of a larger and yes evil force.

antifa

There are many books devoted to the explanation of why Rome eventually fell, and most come to a similar conclusion.  What strikes me as interesting is, we can all conclude Rome fell, and we can all see distinct points in time when the façade began to crack and then fall to pieces.  The major event I’m speaking about is the introduction of Christianity, a movement started at just the right time for the spoken words of God to be carried across the oceans and to distant lands exposing a truth, never before realized.  A truth, so terrifying to some, they put those with the message to death.  A truth, which illuminated a darkness so replete with sadness, death, and evil the lords of this darkness attempted to stop the flood of the waters of life.  However, much like us trying to stop a leak in a dam, this was never going to be possible and so the deluge of the truth of Christ became apparent.  A wildfire of sorts seeking to burn down the old establishment was racing across the lips of those few who heard it’s truth, and as each person began to believe the “movement” picked up momentum.

What did these people have which Rome could not offer?  Truth, the justice every human being innately desires to be set in covenant.  Let me be clear, Rome was the best the world perceptibly had to offer at the time, so one can easily imagine a truth which risks to take the obtained power from the power source and give it to the beggar and the leper.  This would shake the most fervent politician to their core.  And so, this is what happened, the “When in Rome” mentality began to waver.  People began to turn from their hedonism and selfishness to an introspective and selfless manner.  So much were they willing to accept the truth, death no longer became a matter of consequence, other than to accept it as a doorway to the eternal life promised by Jesus as he hung from the tree at Calvary.

Destruction of Rome

Ok, so where must I be going?  I’m sure you’ve already surmised my point is relevant to today, because fifteen centuries have passed since Rome succumbed to a truth more powerful than the subjective and wayward litanies of sin which it was built upon.  The words of the Divine Christ brought the walls of the greatest empire the world had ever known crumbling down like as if it were a child’s toy finally succumbing to the constant abuse of the child.  It took time, truth, and love to bring down this empire.  It wasn’t about going along to get along.  It was never about accepting the behaviors which are as detrimental to a society as they are to our very souls, and embracing them because our neighbors do.  Accepting truth may mean we are going to go against the very adulterated nature of those individuals around us, but it may also mean we are the light which will illuminate a path which has been in utter darkness for them.  When their path has finally been lit, they will see the “brood of vipers” which awaits to strike at every step they take.

My purpose for pointing this out is to make relevant the issues we face today.  I believe the knowledge of history is paramount to understanding and comprehending our now and our tomorrow.  When we presume our answers are to be found in one location, we find more often than not, a disappointment and even a profound sadness at being unable to ever find the answers we seek.  We are left unsatisfied, the cup of everlasting drink is never full.

Pride-Parade

In today’s climate, there are points of view which do anything but apply the mentality of “When in Rome”, but by failing to go along with the main stream, they inevitably become a mainstay topic and they’ve recalculated the equilibrium of our society and now they are Rome.  Take the example of marriage, before about 50 years ago, divorce was highly frowned upon and so couples would stay in a relationship either out of love or a fear of being culturally put down for being divorced.  Especially the women, men seemingly could move on, but as women were homemakers and without skills or a trade, finding a new spouse and one who would take on a potential nest of kids was very difficult to say the least.  However, our culture challenged this paradigm, and found people in a “bad relationship” should leave if for nothing more than their health and the health of those around them.  Like a pendulum which swings to keep the tempo of the music, we’ve gone from one extreme to the other now.  Now, our society lives in a paradigm where it is fully expected for most people to have been married at least twice.  As though the first marriage was a test run, and the second is a matter of work because they figured out how to play the game.  It has become the Roman rule to look at marriage as a disposable endeavor and one which we should walk away from, especially if the perceived spouse doesn’t capitulate to our wants.  A husband who wants to behave as he did when we was unmarried and with no more prospects than to engage in mindless activities with others to pass the time out of boredom.  Maybe the wife, who is so needy as to demand her spouse do as she wishes because this is the societal perception of what a loving spouse should do.  When these paradigms aren’t met, it’s time to give up and leave the confines of the stifling relationship.  Sound familiar to anyone out there?  Truth is, society has told us, it’s ok to be a flake, and I’m telling you, based on God’s Will, it is never ok to be a flake.  Being mindful, considerate, loving, and willing to accept an objective truth which doesn’t agree with our own subjective thoughts and behavior is a foundational understanding of life.  When we are the minority of thought, we must look at Rome and realize it begins with us.

Our behavior and the very nature of everything we do is a matter of God and how we fit into the narrative of everything since time began.  I would never presume to insult anyone and explain the unexplainable, but even to this point my faith makes sense of everything I know.  It fills in the gaps, so to speak, of all I’ve ever seen or knew.  Marriage, death, life, abortions, agreements, disagreements, abuses, the Catholic Church, and everything under the sun become relevant and no longer can I just go with the flow of the popular majority.  It also doesn’t mean creating a rule by force, it means the very slow and methodical processes of attaining an understanding and teaching those we are most influential of and by the ways of Christ.  We may never see the results of this, but God does, and this is why it matters.  We have the power through every little act of life to bring the equilibrium back into the objective truths we need in order to follow those pathways illuminated by God.

UofT Prof

As we traverse the slippery slopes of conversations with others, what matters the most, isn’t how we “destroyed” the other in a debate or how we “obliterated” them with a heady comeback on social media, but how we knew not to stray from the path and how we prayed for our detractors.  In many debates, when I was willing to love the other person as they spouted vitriol in my direction, I was unable to hate, I was willing to listen and it was as if my thoughts were clear and concise.  They could tell, I cared about what they had to say, even to the most vile commentators, they eventually broke down their defense and although they didn’t agree with me, we came to a common ground of kindness.  This is all God needs, a foot in the door, so to speak.  We can help to open the door and the Holy Spirit will do the rest.  The phrase “When in Rome” as an effect to the hardness of our hearts, we become swayed to doing those things which we thought weren’t possible and now have become the rule of the day, until they’re not.  This is the danger with following the subjective, it can turn on us like a dime, and when it does we could be in the wake of a very destructive wave of hate.  This is the devil’s plan and purpose all along, to get us away from the light and then reign down destruction in an effort to destroy our life and the lives of everyone around us.  The devil’s purpose is to destroy, to rip and tear apart.  Have you ever tried to put together something which has been ripped and torn apart, it’s very difficult and takes time and patience.  When in Rome is the force behind the gash which threatens to destroy us all.

When in Rome is a seemingly innocuous phrase utilized by the masses to explain away those things which we don’t desire to change or think about, but if we’re unwilling to question what is being presented to us, aren’t we as much to blame for the goings on as those we allowed to commit the behaviors?

In our cultures today, life is no longer held to be a sacred gift from God, and hate is a manner of behavior, and not something so repugnant as to risk staining one’s soul.  We march around talking about how we will destroy this and that and lifestyles which were once culturally and religiously disordered are now the normal accepted behavior, and anyone who doesn’t agree is sent to the desert until they capitulate to the “Roman Rule”.  These are wrong, without a doubt.  The Church and the Bible are our two sources to know what is right and what is wrong.  However, these sources aren’t a matter of telling us what not to do, but instead showing us the path to walk.  The path of truth is illuminated and we must have the strength to turn away from subjectivity as a matter of course and focus on an objective truth.  We must risk being sent to the desert, for who we desire to be.  I’ve been told, “Love the person not the sin” from my wife for years, and it is so completely true and has carried with it the benefits of wisdom for years.  I don’t have to agree with homosexuality to love the homosexual, and in doing so showing through my actions a considerable compassion.  I don’t have to accept a hedonistic lifestyle of those around me (a man slut who sleeps with every woman he can find is not ok), but I do want to love the individuals and pray I can be a good alternative to the life they are choosing to lead.

I’m not perfect by any measure, and I’m constantly looking for those examples in my life as well.  We are a collective of people searching, it is imprinted on our souls to search, we are looking for those who’ve found the way and can show us where to go.  When we follow blindly, by being the Roman, we’ve stopped looking and are now just desiring to take an easy path and covetous path, a pathway designed to be full of good intentions but very rarely a path which leads to something good.  Love is hard work, and it is a matter of the soul.  Why would I trust the decisions of my soul to those who neither have an interest nor even believe a soul exists?  Short answer, I won’t and I don’t.  I pray during these hard days, God blesses you and your family and gives you the much needed light to show you a path which is hard but the truth!!!

 

God is good, all the time, and all the time, God is good!!!

Featured

We Must Own Our Behavior!!!

God’s gift of free will, gives us the chance to grow, without our ability to accept ownership and learning from our numerous mistakes, an expectation of growth becomes unrealistic.

We’ve just added a new layer of complexity to the already abhorrent scandal of abuse, which has plagued the Catholic Church for decades.  We’ve learned about abuses which have spanned over seven decades in Pennsylvania and carry a pain which cannot be realized for the victims of those predators, or even an understanding of the desire to cover up what was wrong.  In many publications, I’ve read, there is finger pointing from everyone going everywhere.  Our initial reaction is to right the wrongs which were perpetrated on the victims, and the quickest way we know to do this is to vilify that which we don’t fully understand.  This has bothered me greatly, it’s analogous to those arguments of absolutism which hope to grasp an all-encompassing ideology or at the very least turn of phrase for everything which is wrong.  For example, some people might say, “the Catholic Church is evil”, but as I would hope many people out there understand, lumping everything into such an ignorant statement is neither helpful nor truthful.  So, back to square one, how do we fix what is broken, and how do we make right what others have seemed to make so wrong?

I don’t know about anyone, but for me, nothing can really be said to allay the emotions and raw anger which is brought about by such evil inclinations.  So, I don’t attempt to say anything regarding the actions of others.  Instead, it is more a reflection of my own behaviors and by extension and understanding the behaviors of others in response to my decisions.  I would hope this applies to all when really reflecting upon ourselves and all those situations which require more than a simple explanation or the scapegoating we all desire as a kneejerk reaction.  Ok, to begin, McCarrick and those religious named in the Pennsylvania Grand Jury report, are in need of prayer.  They’ve allow those suggestions by the Devil, to take root in their behavior and by their wills have perpetrated evil acts upon the innocent.  If the capability and the evidence is shown for criminal behavior, then they must face the music, and serve a societal penance for their actions.  If they are no longer with us, then prayers must be said for them, that they repented of their behaviors before leaving this world, for even Cain was beloved by God.  “Am I my brother’s keeper?” Gen 4:9.

Cain was sent to the “Land of Nod” Nod meaning to wander, he was set to wander with a mark set upon him that no one was to do him harm.  Even knowing the awful acts which he perpetrated upon his own brother, God still loved Cain, and wanted to see no harm come to him.  In this we find the root of our understanding on multiple levels of our behavior as it relates to the scandals which have broken out, but more importantly on how we choose to understand ourselves and those who would wish to do us harm.

We are often given and impression of the Devil as being something of a literary myth used to describe in almost a philosophical sense of understanding, about an inability to explain what we know to be evil.  This of course has more to do with an inordinate amount of philosophers and psychologists looking beyond their interpretation of myth for a more scientific answer.  In doing so, they cast aside perceptions which can’t be explained in pursuit of what they perceive can be explained.  Let me be clear, to utilize an answer of, “the devil made me do it” might on some level be correct, but isn’t effective when it comes to our own souls or acceptance of fault.  When we search for a scapegoat, using the devil defense as your go to, is the mother of all cop-outs and should never, on the basis of legitimate repentance, be used as a decent explanation.  We are bound to the discipline needed to look within ourselves and accept, although we have nothing to do with what happened, is our indirect inaction to play a part in the events which unfold around us.  Take the scandal for instance, although the bishops and cardinals had nothing, in some cases, to do with the criminal behaviors, they still didn’t do anything to prevent more victims, and this is tantamount to pimping the violator out to another victim and being subject to the same moral culpability.  Evil, isn’t just a psychopath running around the woods in a leotard and knife, it is also the inability to do what is just when we know by our inactivity the unjust will act.

deedsoftheantichrist1700

The Devil is very real, very smart, and more powerful than we can imagine.  Although, the devil has no direct act upon us, an intelligent suggestion by means more cunning than we can fathom, has the potential to derail our every understanding.  We see this every day, families ripped apart by selfish actions, never intended to bring about the results finally realized, but in their maturation have done just this and burned every imaginable bridge.  The devil delights in this, and just knowing the root of the term “diabolic” which means to rip apart, we find, we are more weak and useless when we intend to do it alone.  When we intend to get out of just treatment in our behaviors, we leave others alone to face whatever emotive traps await them and the subjective environment can be most unpleasant.  I’m not saying, repentance and even a societal punishment should be pleasant, but one where we accept our behaviors and agree to the punishment is a society where ownership is taught from the earliest age.  A perception of evil, always trying to disrupt and destroy, is at the forefront of our minds, and we would rather behave in a manner of love and accountability than one of selfish indignation.

Here is where I’m at with everything, for too long, the Catholic Church sought to deride a just construct because they employed the “devil made me do it” mentality when it came to those who embraced evil.  This is and was unacceptable, failure to make the priest or bishop own their behavior did more to allow evil to flourish than any one thing imaginable.  The need for priests outweighed the need for justice, and what’s worse was those in charge failed to put their trust in the Lord, and in their own desire to be esteemed and honored, they became hypocrites set to do the work of the devil.  Time and again, when we see societies, unwilling to place blame in its proper place and context, we see evil spread like a wildfire, consuming anything in its path.  The citizens of Germany, during the 1930’s and early 1940’s were as culpable of the holocaust as were the perpetrators.  If we are unwilling, even to the punishment of death, to stand on the side of justice, then we are as guilty in one manner or another of the evils the devil pushes to perpetrate on all of us.

As a father of three and a husband, accepting my faults hasn’t been easy.  I could have been inclined to explain away poor behavior or bad circumstances with any number of vacillations or contextual realities (i.e. “when in Rome”), but this never assumes an ownership of behavior or result as matter of ownership.  Instead, this gives me a sense of superiority, allowing me to take credit for what I want to take credit for, and push off consequences I don’t see as being fair or at the very least what I want to deal with.  Pretty nice paradigm, right?  Always being the good guy, never dealing with negativity, unless it’s drama I seek, but even then I control the level the drama sits at.  I did this for a time, and it’s exhausting, I lost myself through deceit and embracing of my decision to sin.  I failed to own my behavior and I failed to own my decisions which would lead down a selfish path always ending in heartache.  I hated myself, and in the process, everyone else who represented the life I truly wanted, the life to be with God through my decision to own every action and thought I have.  It’s my free will of course, and where would any of us be if we didn’t own our own behavior, active or passive?  We wouldn’t have free will is the answer, and our lives would be infinitely more destructive and worse than we could imagine without the ability to exercise free will.

God’s gift of free will, gives us the chance to grow, without our ability to accept ownership and learning from our numerous mistakes, an expectation of growth becomes unrealistic.  This applies in everything.  The Catholic Church, in the moral ground with which it stands is still a matter of man’s pursuit towards the light of God.  In this pursuit, there will be shortfalls, evil, willful ignorance, and lack of ownership in the general behavior of the church.  However, this living body of Christ, is always doing the work of God, and is always led by the Holy Spirit, and in the process of failure is always learning as the world moves on, to correct its mistakes.  In other words, to own its poor behavior.

Lady Justice1.jpg

If I had any recommendation for the Church, do like you would do with so many others, allow them to face the laws of the land (Rom 13:2), and at the same time, pray for their souls and they may have the strength to own their behaviors and right the wrong in every way possible.  There is also the prayers needed for the victims to forgive, to stop being victims and move forward in their lives, and to embrace life as this bridge to a more beautiful existence with God.  Pain is a circle we will continue to walk with our heads down, failing to see we continue to walk a path of pain constantly.  Only when we lift our heads do we realize we must stop walking in this circle of pain and begin to move forward in our lives.

Ownership for me, was the hardest, most liberating experience of my life.  It was tangible, and it was something I could finally work with, something where I could envision God handing me the tools and telling me “make something beautiful my son”.  Just like any work, it requires revision and rework, it demands others to look upon this work, and give their thoughts, and it needs our loving attention at all times.  Men, this is where we can shine the most, own everything you do, right or wrong.  People may not always be a fan of this, but it is never about them, it is about our search for the truth, our search for our path, the search for God and the reflective light which will expose the darkest corners of our soul and allow us the ability for compassion and love to everyone.  If there are those people in your life, who have wronged you in some way, look into yourself and search out how you may have wronged them, search for a common ground and be willing to stand there first and wait for them, forgive them, pray for them, love them.  If you’ve done no wrong, then you must remember, even though they’ve decided to walk an evil path, you must still choose to walk the path of the righteous.  This means everyone is precious in the eyes of God, so we must all remember if we want God’s compassion, even in time of our own strife we must be willing to give the compassion at the highest cost.  May God bless you and your family!!!

 

 

God is good, all the time, and all the time, God is good!!!

 

 

 

Painting by: Thomas Blackshear

Featured

What Does Objectivity Have to Do With Me?

I am aware of this context and the outrage which could be elicited by telling people not to have sex, but no one has ever died from living a sexless existence, but millions have died because sex is treated like an afterthought.

Often today, we hear about subjective and objective points of view.  We are faced with subject matter presented to use, as a daily barrage, as matters of fact, when in truth supposition leads the day.  The person telling us how we should be, places their own personal subjectivity of a particular matter, and in the process attempts to sell us on what they believe.  This has become so popular a trend, we see every form of entertainment jumping in on the game.  So, not only are we bombarded with how we should be by the media, we are then castigated by the entertainment crowd, and next it will be by our elected officials (you know the people we vote for will lecture us).  To be clear, I am not above a good lecture from time-to-time, and assuredly I don’t handle those as good as I should.  However, I tend to turn a deaf ear to those people who openly lead a life, one which based on my faith is less than virtuous, and lecture me or others into what is good and moral.  It just doesn’t make sense.  I would also contend, a vast majority of people would disagree with being lectured, or at least told how they should think, unless they knew for sure it was a matter being dealt with as an extension of love.  Take for instance, I’m am against abortion, for the obvious, it destroys a life, which left undisturbed, has the potential to become like you or I.  It is intrinsically disordered to kill life, especially for the purposes of contraception.  If you don’t want the potential for having a kid, don’t have sex.  I am aware of this context and the outrage which could be elicited by telling people not to have sex, but no one has ever died from living a sexless existence, but millions have died because sex is treated like an afterthought.  So, here we are, the meat of the matter, the subjective personally selfish potential to do harm, or the objective acceptance to which we acknowledge, life is neither fair nor easy.  We are bound to one another through familial relationships, work relationships, friendly acquaintances, or our desire to achieve a faith which transcends our own existence.  To say anyone deserves anything is an assumption others don’t deserve their plight based on the most minuscule decisions based in selfishness or happenstance we know.  In other words, to assume someone is either deserving or undeserving of an event in their lives, assumes a comprehensive understanding of the narrative which God lovingly wrote.  Impossible.

head in the sand.jpg

In subjectivity, we find an ever-moving line which deludes us all into thinking we can control this line to be subject to our personal perceptions.  The fallacy which threatens to destroy us all is, if there are a million people, all have their own subjective points of view, which can turn on anyone of us, at any time, and where we were once in the majority of thought and action, we are now in a minority of ridicule and public admonishment.  When did the line move?  Weren’t we in control just seconds before it turned on us?  Sure, but humans are fickle creatures willing to pivot easily, in order to avoid a negative consequence.  I know truly I have acted in just this manner, and I don’t find myself extraordinary in the least.  What we see, is everyone has their own perception of the same event, if you don’t believe me, read any five witness interpretations of the JFK assassination and see if you don’t agree.  This was a murder which occurred in front of thousands of witnesses and was caught on film, and yet we as a population cannot agree on how it happened or who did it.  People place their own subjectivity in front of facts or logical implementation of understanding to determine a truth.  Imagine playing the board game, Monopoly, and imagine your wife is constantly changing the rules to suit her needs.  At one point or another, it wouldn’t be hard to imagine the board being flipped up, a fight ensuing, and feelings being rubbed raw until tempers cool down (we play to win in my house, and if I’m being fair, my wife accuses me of changing the rules).  So, since we don’t want people just making up rules as they go, the gaming company does us all a favor, and prints out an objective set of rules everyone can play the game by.  We aren’t bound by playing by the rules, but in a focus on fairness we do.  We play by the rules, because objectively this is the only way everyone will receive a fair shot at a potential outcome in their favor.  This same rule of objectivity must be applied to all aspects of life, or someone at some point or another will receive the proverbial short-straw and receive an unjust treatment.  We see, in life, this circumstance happen all the time when we hear about an innocent person being sent to prison because of an over-zealous prosecutor, or a witness who lied on the stand, maybe even with a prejudiced jury.  At any rate, their subjectivity to the situation, prevented them from making a just decision and instead created and unjust outcome.  Isn’t this a litmus test which should be applied to all situations?

arrogance

I know my topic is rudimentary at best, but truthfully, it seems as though our culture is in love with its ability to think and forgot the very foundation of thought and processes needed to create a comprehensive thought structure to build a just society.  Now, I’m not referring to our system of government or law; we represent the finest system of law, the world has ever seen, with an ability to put the rights of the person (due process) before the offended party.  This is why we say innocent until proven guilty, because in the end, we would desire an audience of objectivity to weigh the facts and rule in our favor if we truly were innocent.  The subjectivity is put into a most awful exposure, as people are no longer willing to be truthful because as our society embraces secular ideologies, there is nothing more than our subjective interpretation to hold us accountable.  This is until an objective authority is enacted and we are bound to adhere to their rules.

As we continue to move down our own pathways in life, are we really bound to anything other than what we want or how we perceive things?  In the end, we have true free will, we can either choose to live by rules or choose to ignore them.  From a civil point of view, within the context of the societies we live in, we live by the law, because otherwise we would go to prison.  In prison, we are given a more restrictive law and we must abide, or the restrictions will increase continuously.  There are segments of the population who embrace the renegade lifestyle by perpetrating crime and adhering to a different more subjective lifestyle which meets their needs and wants.  Unfortunately, as I described before, someone always will receive the unfair point of their subjective wants, this is to say where there is a perpetrator of lawlessness there is a victim too.  The criminal’s subjective point-of-view, has become the new line of majority (at least for them personally), and if either you or I exists on the wrong side of this majority, we might just be the next victim.

Ok, so where is the relief in all of this turmoil created by a subjective perception?  God!  Constantly, I hear people refer to the Bible as a set of rules to live by, and hardly ever do I hear an acknowledgement of what we read as a manner of purification needed to stand in the presence of God, of sheer and unadulterated love and goodness.  I mentioned it a few times before, but go be with anyone whom you acknowledge as being truly good, and you will feel an unworthiness and second-rate perception.  Not because they make you feel less, but because of the intrinsic reflection of yourself you are made aware of and completely unable to turn away from while in their presence.  Objectively, this truth is what it is.  Only a person who embraces subjectivity, as a means of worship for their personal beliefs, will be able to turn away from this goodness, but all of us have this within us to look at the good and objectively seek it.

Ok, so where are we when we can objectively see what should be done, and then we decide to interject our personal view (i.e. subjectivity), we are headed down a path which will go where we don’t want to go.  How does this apply to all the men and fathers out there?  Well, since you have been given the unique responsibility to help lead your family down the right path, you are one-half responsible for making sure you look at the whole picture and you accept, although things may not be what you want them to be, there is a truth and failing to follow it is derisive of love.  That’s right, when we fail to follow love, or objective truth, we embrace sin.  We embrace an existence where we vacillate on every topic, where we should have exceeded expectations, and instead are bound with the other people who put their material needs and wants ahead of the better more substantive truth.  I know, from personal experience, there was a time when I was making very poor decisions, and yet I still had the arrogance to say to myself, “you’re a fairly smart guy, why do you keep screwing up?”  At the end of the day, I failed to look at the objective truth, this is to say, I failed to look at those principles in my life which are used as beacons to help me and those who subsequently follow me down the proper path.

divergence.jpg

This is where the path of the subjective and objective diverge.  A path of principle is the only foundation our lives have in order to make work of the existing and yet never feel a need to look behind us, because we can trust the principle and the solidarity it possess for each and every one of our lives’.   In case you were wondering, yes, those principles are the ones we all know, and the ones which are the hardest to live by.  Take a lie, for example, something which if you ask anyone, they will express to you a lie is not acceptable.  However, today, many people will add an admonishment to their prosaic position on lying.   Their truth allows them to lie, if by their own subjectivity, they’ve determined the lie to be livable or miniscule in their perception of life.  So, in other words, people might say something like, “I lied to him, because I didn’t want to hurt his feelings” or they might say “I was never going to tell her she looked awful in her dress, I don’t want to sleep on the couch”.  Though when we look at the bigger picture both examples give us, we see a person desperate to save face or maintain status quo with no effort whatsoever.  Selfishness rules the day, when we accept a path where lies are to be permissible.  The alternative to either example is one which we always have options, some more distinct and potentially brutal than others, but nevertheless keeps one clean of making the decision for the other.  This is what a lie comes down to, its essential subjectivity; we lie to another person, because of our arrogance or hubris in assuming we can make a decision for the other.  We can’t, even if what we say, may cut to the quick by exposing truth to the other person, we are bound to look at our actions or theirs which brought us to the point, whereby a truth is so painful.  Sometimes, delivering bad news is as painful as anything we can bear, but to take away the raw truth from another person, to prevent them from partaking of the gift of pain which is God’s way of growing us, we assume the role of God.  When we fail to follow the principles in life, we assume we are taking control of the helm, at the bridge on a massive vessel, but in truth, we are like kids playing with a toy.  A toy which if thrown or left in a path could cause problems to anyone in its path, but a toy which sits on the deck of the vessel to which God has always had full control.

So, what I’m saying is, your charge as a man and a father, just like mine is to maintain a principled life.  A life devoted to God, through the practice of principles, which in the exercise of these principles we help to purify and maintain a pure love for the objective truth.  Objectivity is the only thing which we can truly know, and realize within the context of our lives and application of principles, where we know we are reflective of the light of Christ.  To be principled, is to love deeply, not feel deeply, but to love, to will the good of the other because they are other.  To be charitable, and always giving, the principle of putting others before ourselves is truly a matter of life and death.  To always tell the truth, but to express the truth with a compassion and love for each and every person, we should be the walking truth, we should always feign the possibility of taking someone’s free will away from them by deciding for them in our selfish lie.

wifehelping husband.jpg

Our efforts as fathers and husbands is sometimes hidden or at least shrouded by our duty as fathers and husbands.  Objectively, I know what I am doing is best for my marriage and my kids, when I get to a point of unsuredness about my actions, this is where my wife is the best.  She is willing to tell me the truth, even when I hate what she has to say.  Of course, the only reason I hate it, is because it is the truth and I must look within to acknowledge I was completely wrong and in my wrongness I feel like a fool.  However, she is right, she is true, and if I’m willing to be courageous enough to listen, then we have a real chance of moving forward.  This might be the final principle I would encourage all men to embrace.  We must be willing to look within, in order that we might grow, we must be willing to look into ourselves and see the awful truth, if we are ever to prevent the sin from growing in our lives, and truly love God.  God is our focus, and he requires all of us to search for the truth and accept our sins.  Look for the objective truth, push the subjectivity our culture is pushing on all of us, as far from yourself as you can.  Objectivity exists in the light, as does God, and when you embrace the objective truth, you will see your life changes from night to day, and it is quite dramatic.  May God bless you and your family!!!

 

God is good, all the time, and all the time, God is good!!!

 

 

 

Featured

What is Your Personal Choice and Responsibility?

Choice matters, either by our own hand or by another, and in this ability to choice we are faced with understand perception of power or eventual realized power.

So, I was once told, “no matter what anyone says or does, you have the ultimate power”.  Implying, I had the power of choice, either right or wrong, I was the captain of my ship.  Sometimes, no matter how carefully we choose, the results we are faced with are nothing we could have imagined and presents us with new paradigms every day.  Though, this is what I would call outlier theory, and one which shouldn’t be presented as a mainstream ideology of thought.  Instead, for the vast majority of people, we make good decisions and we are greeted with good results.  Thus, the opposite is true for any poor decisions we happen to embark on.  I personally see good and bad decisions made by people on a person level extending all the way to an international level.  I know I can never be the voice of reason to many of the people I see as they are on their journey of decision making (i.e. life), but objectively I can rightly anticipate their result based on their decisions.  In our current global climate, I think we are bombarded with people who make decisions, ranging from bad to worse, and we are foolishly led to believe this is the way of the world now.  However, if we all sit back and think about our lives and the people who touch our lives, I think we can envision many people who consistently make good decisions and by their own actions will us to make good decisions as well.

Perception of personal choice is one of tremendous power, but as is quoted often, “with great power comes great responsibility” (Voltaire), and this power is sometimes obvious to each and every one of us.  Though, for most of us, responsibility is made aware by exposition of choice.  When our choices become clear to us, in a causative based relationship, we can see the benefit or lack thereof presented to us.  We can see how our personal choices affect us and the people around us.  However, when we make choices, and we are not aware or are not permitted to know the effects, we perceive a lack of power within our own choice ability.  We don’t perceive our choices to have any effect whatsoever, and we behave accordingly.  For instance, if buying gas for one’s vehicle were a matter of life or death, and we were aware of this fact, is it possible we would be more sparing about how we used it or at least why we used it.  This is more to the point of my topic in this essay; our perception of responsibility within choice, is as important as anything we could possibly do.  To consider anything less would be letting ourselves down and those who are directly related to us through contact and familial relation.

white concrete cathedral
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

The phrase, “the devil is in the details” has never been truer than in my life and the decisions I’ve made.  I’ve looked past events which I should have made my focus, and I focused on decisions which had no more profound implication in my life than to acknowledge a necessity for moving forward as a matter of course.  My wife, for sure, is brilliant with the details, she pours over decisions.  Focusing on the details and covering ever angle to make sure she is covered in her process of choice, and the result is a woman who, short in stature, is as powerful a woman as I have ever met.  She knows she will not always make the right decision, but because of her ability to size up a situation, I rely on her opinion daily as it relates to me.  I can dress myself, and even though my kids think I dress like a dad, I can mix and match properly and blend in with the crowd.  Though, I ask my wife her opinion and I’ve never been disappointed by her choice.  I know the use of this example seems perfunctory towards the larger goal of my topic, but run with me for a second and you will see my point.

As dressing seems like something we do always, and a matter of dressing is up to the person, their body style, and the budget, we can’t be too critical of how people dress.  Though, if we imagine a person as a capable individual, we see a power of perception in the details of their lives on display for each and every one of us.  When we see someone disheveled as a matter of daily habit, we may intuit their inability to make good choices, and we are affected by this.  My wife’s ability to focus, with appropriate measure, gives an understanding to some that although I didn’t make the choice to wear what I have on, I was at least smart enough to trust the person who would make the choice.  Ok, now, we are getting to the meat of the matter.  Choice matters, either by our own hand or by another, and in this ability to choice we are faced with understand perception of power or eventual realized power.  In any context, and ability for choice constitutes power, and any country which resolutely puts the choice in the hands of the people, gains immeasurable power.

imigrants.jpg

Today, I was reading a good deal of op-ed pieces focused on two sides of immigration debates, and some articles were focused on the ever-increasing push for a secular world view.  All of these articles create a landscape of dotted morals and ever-changing rules as we understand them.  From the diminishment of life either in abortions or euthanasia, to the bravado exclaimed by a society which is bent on shooting as a means to an end, and finally cultural view of materialism the likes of which the world has never seen.  Nothing about what I read or was subject to was indicative of a society which bows in reverence to the Almighty God, nothing about what I was exposed to lovingly attached itself to where I was at to indicate there is something beautiful upon the horizon of our lives.  Instead, I was introduced to hate, lies, skepticism, posturing, and rampant desire.  I will admit, I was a little put back and could only shake my head for a second, before I realized none of what I was looking at was the truth.  None of what I was reading encapsulated what I know to be a real labor of perception in choice and power.  Instead, I was exposed to maligned theories of those who have yet to realize their own powers of choice.   The truth was, and has always been, we possess the ultimate power of choice.  We can never truly say any one person made us do anything we didn’t want to do.  If we did or do anything which carries a negative impact in our lives it was always our choice, we weighed the options and in doing so created a culpability of conscience and consequence.  We have the ultimate power, either do or don’t do, but at any rate we must accept the responsibility of so much power.

I’m sure I could jump on the band wagon of cultural criticism, and I probably have at one point or another, but in this specific instance of responsibility, I would encourage everyone to create an atmosphere within their own control of proper choice.  Don’t blame the person next to you, men don’t blame your wives, if she is doing something you don’t like, you have a choice to communicate with her your disdain.  Now, I know that may be a loaded statement for some out there, but it must be done if there is ever to be an expectation of an equal yoking between spouses.  She must be able to hear and appropriate a proper response to you and likewise, we men should be accepting of the reciprocal action.  There must a desire to affect a proper change through proper distribution of behavior and perceptions.  This tends to break down, as I’ve seen in the past, when one or the other party in a relationship (either marriage or dating) doesn’t pull their weight.  It creates frustration and an anguished feeling of despair for the other leading to regret and poor decisions.  Then the blame game begins, and the spiral downward to an inevitable crash seemingly occurs.  Though, this can and should be prevented by both parties in the relationship.  The popular or contextually unpopular Bible verse (Eph 5:21-29) indicates when read fully, a subordinate attitude or choice, out of our reverence to Christ.  Most modern day feminists or even an atheist attempting to make their point, will illuminate only certain points of this passage to assuage a fear in those who fail to recognize the potential in their choices, and at the same time bolstering the dominance some seek to over-wield a perceived power.  Neither is acceptable without the balance God brings to our lives.

Men, this is where we are at in our lives in a culture which seeks to rip apart those natural abilities we all possess as outdated idioms relegated to a time and place which no longer will accept wisdom from the past.  A culture which takes the stance, presumably from those portions of the societies we live in, which desires equality of outcome based on a subjective reality.  So, what is your personal choice?  Where do you go when everyone blames you for the failure which will inevitably befall everyone who fails to recognize the power they possess in every decision they make?  God!  God is your answer to all things.  This may seem simple to some and complex for others, but I assure you, God is the focal point for our decisions.  Let me give you an example.  The other morning, while driving in what seemed to be more traffic than normal for this particular time of the day, I was cut off by a driver who was obviously in a hurry.  Perhaps they were late to work, or maybe worse, they enjoy driving fast and don’t care too much of anyone else on the road.  They know if they cut off another vehicle, the vehicle my honk their horn, but will eventually slow down and allow a right-of-way to be accessed.  This indeed was the case with me, I yelled a vitriolic rant of disapproval, honked and in a matter of minutes the car was nowhere to be seen.  I made a choice to denigrate the very decision capability I possess to allay a need for anger.  My perception of this driver was poorly crafted and in my lack of concern for this person, I was willing to stain my own soul in a sinful diatribe only to regret my decision later.  I would imagine many of us are like this, in a split second, anger takes over and creates regrettable moments as if we never learned from our previous mistakes.  Our ability to make good choices, has become reflexive as a matter of course, we just exude anger because we can.  However, the reverse also creates in us a measure of squeamish subordination, especially when it relates to others as they view our actions.  If I were to repeat the situation, but now with an audience, I most assuredly would never have said what I did.  I would have received looks of disapproval and even words of discouragement of my behavior.  We are two different people, one of truthful maligned anger when no one sees us at our worst, and acceptable members of a relationship when on display.

two-faced.jpg

This is where my choices derided me in the past, my duplicity was never in check, except by my perception of the situation I found myself in.  I was unable to make competent choices as a matter of principle because I was always trying to control the situation and out think whatever was going to occur.  Well, I’m not that smart, and many things blew up in my face, most importantly my marriage became uneven, and it was all my decision.  This has taken me years to acknowledge, my decisions were ruining my marriage, my relationships in my family, and they were taking their toll on me.  I was drowning in a complex web of lies and manipulations, all the while creating a perception of control which never existed.  The inexplicable answer to the whole situation was to tear everything down, and build it properly this time.  Everything began with an understanding of how my decisions impacted my life, and how much control or power was to be realized.

I am part introvert and part extrovert, if this is even possible.  I can talk to everyone and for as long as they can handle my conversation, but at other times, I can’t stand being in large crowds, it feels like the walls are closing in.  Likewise, I can be a leader and control any situation I see fit, though I find most of my comfort in situations where I’m happy to take direction and seek to please whomever I am in contact with.  I find joy in the subordinate quality of principled behavior to glorify God.  Nothing else comes close, nothing I’ve ever attained in my life creates a situation where I can almost smile in the face of defeat as does the joy of knowing God.  This is where my decision patterns have developed over the last few decades.  Everything I do, is for the greater glory, I don’t always achieve what I want to do, and like my example with the impatient driver, I am brought to repentance as a matter of course in my decision to seek God.  This is where we are at, our personal choices must start from a foundational understanding of who we are and where we desire to be.  There is only one decision which will create a fulfilling effect in our lives though, and this fulfillment creates an understanding of the true power we possess.  This power is the strength to withstand those storms, as we see them enter our lives, it allows us to recognize the vitriol and fear mongering our culture is addicted to and desires.  Our responsibility is one of humility and recognition, we must understand how the foundation of choice and responsibility is set in our lives if we are ever to build upon it.  I can’t imagine a world which doesn’t have some strife, there are always people who want to pursue choice abilities in order to control the perceived weak.  However, perception is the most powerful tool we can possess.  Jesus, was perceived as being little more than being a common man, poor, unworthy of exaltation by any authority.  When the fruition of His earthly life came to actuality, he was nailed to a tree after being beaten and scourged.  Nowhere, and at no time, was there a reminiscent or abject stance of dominance to be seen.  Instead, with more love than we can possibly imagine, he stood there, not in a stance of cowering, but one of resistant love, and accepted what was to come.  His choice, to love those who condemned him became a symbol to each and every one of us.  Our choice first and foremost, must be a choice of love.

belief bible book business
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

As husbands, we must be willing to openly let God into our lives through our choices, especially those choices we make as we are yoked evenly with our spouses.  As fathers, we lift up our children, not by giving them what they want in order to appease them, but by deciding what we know to be the best decisions for them, until the day and time they must make their own.  Our example of a loving decision maker is paramount to reflecting the light of Christ in their lives.  This is our power in choice and responsibility, the long game as it were, we may never see the benefits of our choices reflected back to us.  It is in this we must always look to God and trust the path he carries us down.  May God bless you and your family!!!

 

 

God is good, all the time, and all the time, God is good!!!

 

crucifix on top of bible
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com
Featured

What is Life Worth to You?

We can no longer sit idly by, and allow people who have no self-professed reason to honor life, God, or humanity make our decisions for us.

This week we learned a sitting Supreme Court Justice (Kennedy) will be retiring and stepping down from the Judicial Branch in the United States.  Within minutes of the news, reactions were popping up on every major media site I have.  Reactions were coming in from as far away as Asia, and vitriol was being spewed in both directions over the potential new Justice and what this person will be like.  One half was groaning over the loss of a decided case (Roe v. Wade) and what this would mean to popularized stance of the hypocrisy of life and how selfishly they would be affected.  The other side high-fiving the chance to right a perceived wrong, the death of millions, yes millions, of unborn children.  So, I’m sure you can guess where my stance is on this, but not perhaps at my disdain for both sides.  A law, as powerful as it is, isn’t the measure by which a society functions.  Instead the morals and ethics by which we govern ourselves, creating an almost unnecessary need to be dictated in law, permeates society’s every fiber.  This isn’t what is happening.  Our society, hangs on the most delicate balance of majority in every situation, especially on those topics which there should never be a question.  Currently, everyone’s thoughts are on the palpability of seeing a legal injustice (as perceived) righted and justice being served.  Though, this brings about another question.  What are we going to do about all the people who utilized abortions for contraceptive methods?  Have we taught them anything?  Are we going to instill more familial values in our world, so instead of ubiquitous sexual encounters, we see a development of true loving relationships?  By my measure, this is why I write this blog, because there is real potential to see the law of the land mirror the values and morals we have to uphold the sanctity of life, but the hypocrisy will still be brimming under the surface.

When I was a teenager and I was talking with my friends, we all couldn’t wait till our first sexual experience.  We objectified the very act of something, which so beautiful in its own right, was degraded into an object, an activity to display prowess or desire.  We were typical, by all societal standards, and in our attempt to attain an average acceptance of society at large, we disordered something which is the very cornerstone of life.  The very action and all emotion which, with God’s Graces, creates a beautiful life.  Allowed to let nature progress (save any outlier such as medical emergencies etc.), we see a baby grow and be born into this life.  As the baby is born, there are two parents, who’ve set aside their own personal selfish pursuits, and decided to raise this child.  In their decision to raise this child, they do so in a loving home, because there is no longer any place for egotism, instead sacrifice is the measure of the day.  Sacrifice in time and effort to teach the rights and wrongs of life, a desire to have this child see the light of Christ, and a measure of self-reliance which gives the child a chance to live this life in a world looking for destruction.  Never, in my wildest dreams, did I envision destroying life so I could maintain a carefree lifestyle, one which would have been prevented if I was required to raise a child.  This is where we are at, and as a matter of perverted thought, we are bombarded by those who wish to make a case for their own bodies as a plight of decision rather than life.  Let me be clear, if a man and a woman have sex, and a pregnancy occurs, the natural order is such that a baby will be born in approximately nine months.  To do anything to stop this pregnancy by unnatural means (e.g. abortion, murder of the mother), constitutes a disorder of the Will of God.  A destruction of life, is an egregious act, which no society should stand for or allow on the context of decision alone.

sunset person love people
Photo by Josh Willink on Pexels.com

Ok, so where am I going with this?  I’m simply stating, a society which holds life as a precious gift, a society which gives recognition to natural event, should never permit the destruction of said life.  From another perspective, the conceived child never asked to be conceived.  If the prospective parents engage in ill-timed sexual activities, and are faced with a consequence of life, then it is up to society to hold them to this decision, not give them a chance to become worse people.  “It takes a village” is a true contextual observation of our lives as they are, not as we would like them to be.  A strength is needed, to correct the wrongs, the moral misgivings people have, a strength to stand in opposition to everything which seems to be going against us.  I have learned, over the years, to find comfort in God, even though I find discomfort in the opposition I bring to a room of unlike minded individuals.  Not to create disquiet, but to present an objective truth.  This is to say, all life is valid, beautiful, and of the love of God, to diminish it or destroy it is always unacceptable.  The child which is created by good, bad, or indifferent decisions, should not be punished.  Instead, the growth of the adults creating the child is what is as important as the raising of this beautiful representation for life.

The real substance of what I’m getting at is what will change if the law changes, when an overwhelming number of people don’t seem to care about a law, except for the fact they don’t want to be incarcerated.  The spirit behind why a law exists should transcend the population and create a redundant measure of justice to confirm our reality.  As I see it, it begins in the home, we are challenged to teach the next generation of kids and even create a learned paradigm ourselves pertaining to the sanctity of all life.  We can’t be hypocrites about life either, if life is precious, then we must hold it to be so.  What I mean is, we must push to have all corners of our culture embrace life, old and new, infirm and unhealthy.  We can no longer sit idly by, and allow people who have no self-professed reason to honor life, God, or humanity make our decisions for us.  Standing up in defiance, not fighting, not running, but defiant opposition to those who diminish life is paramount to our survival.

I’m sure I could look up statistics and quote very real numbers as to the veracity of life, but in the end if anyone is like me, there should be something innate within all of us, where we see the natural progression and growth of an individual.  The progressive potential of someone who as they enter life possess the potential to do wonderful things, and by the Grace of God, become a reflective light to all of us.  The key here is a doggedness which pursues the truth over and again and never rests until we rest in the presence of God.  Unfortunately, before abortion was made legal, illegal abortions were being performed, and in the process both baby and mother would sometimes perish.  The procedures were awful, and the “doctor” would use various means to destroy the life in her womb.  The real question was why was a woman willing to go through this to destroy a life and potentially put hers at risk?  Society, at this time society was unforgiving for women who chose to have sex outside of marriage and then become pregnant and produce “bastard children” as a result.  They would rather go through the risk of death than to face the humiliation, they most assuredly we see, if they kept the child.  The humiliation was from all facets of society, church, home, work, and strangers.  Everyone had an opinion and those opinions seemed devoid of compassion, giving rise to alternative routes of dissemination in result.  The problem became multifaceted, families failing to speak about truths, society unwilling to be compassionate, people unwilling to face discipline of their own lives as well as the discipline which results from decision making.  A ship going down in the middle of a storm and no one was willing to do what was needed, except those willing to look at the light of Christ as a beacon for hope.  Ok, so the law is passed.  Society can relax right?  Now, men and women can have sex, protected or not, and worst case scenario, if the woman gets pregnant she can terminate the pregnancy and it’s all legal.  The best part is, because it is the law, it must be right?  I don’t think this is a fantastical way of looking at the issue, many people believe the law is an extension of moral correctness and apply it as such, and in the ever-shifting sands of the law, they rely on the very words of the law to apply a life’s compass to their wandering.  Some of those who opposed the law, which should be every Christian ever, approached a tactic of shame and absolutism, for the ones who decided as a means of contraceptive measures to abort their pregnancy, and take a very unchristian approach.  This was wrong!

So, where are we now?  As a father I can tell you this, I love my daughters, and I don’t want them to ever feel as if they should be shamed by their actions, regarding any of this.  Thankfully they have not done this, and it is my goal to teach them as long as I have breath in me, about the utter sanctity of life.  This is to say, if they choose to walk the wrong path, it is up to me, through compassion and the Love of Christ to bring them back to the light.  This isn’t done with force and requires the patience of time to pray and show them the truth.  At the end of the day, bringing them back is a matter of their choice and acceptance of truth, even if they are my kids and I love them beyond measure, they must make their own decisions and live with those decisions, like we all must do.  However, a measure of compassion on all of our parts is needed.  Jesus, accepted those who sinned and dined with them as a physical way of showing how precious they were in the eyes of God.  Which brings me to my final point, God made each and every one of us, we are beloved in the His eyes, and as such, it must be understood, if even I am beloved, isn’t also the unwanted child of two people who conceived because of their pursuit of pleasure?

baby children cute dress
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

All children are wanted, needed, and loved.  God fashioned each and every one of us as a testament to love, to say, look at your ever-changing curves and wrinkles, look at your hair or lack thereof, look at what you’ve learned and the impact of your decision on the lives of those closest to you and then think what would this be like if you’d been aborted.  Just like any good argument, we must take the extreme and the reality is, some of the greatest impacts on our culture and societies have come from people who were originally cast off from society.  Society even wished them dead or to go away as though they were dead, in order to remove them from the conscious reminder, but they didn’t and with enough time and love, and the Graces of God outpoured, they became a radiant reflection of the Love of God.  St. Francis of Assisi is the best example.  A wealthy son of a merchant, and no stranger to sin, renounced his sinful ways and embraced a lifestyle of humility and degradation.  He became an outcast, so much so, his father renounced him as a son, and he was dead to him.  Though through the Love of God, he began to win over hearts and minds, and where people once wished him dead, they fervently celebrated his life unto his death by following the path he followed in Christ.  His life, although seemingly unworthy, created a fervent desire to approach God with love which hasn’t stopped since it began.

background blur clean clear
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

We must have the wisdom to look past what we see now, and know what is possible in the future as we approach a compassion for life and a desire to see all life flourish.  Babies must be allowed to grow to birth and be loved.  Those children must be taught to adulthood, to create a reverent and loving society.  Those adults must be compassionate enough to embrace the change which will come, and stoic enough to resist the temptations of man.  When life fades for all of us, we must accept it with a joy of God’s Will rather than an end to an unfinished life.  My wife and I have had the conversation over the years about conceptualizing death, and why it is such a hard concept for us to grasp.  Here is my answer, and I hope it can give some people some solace.  I believe in God, completely, and in doing so, I know this life on earth is a matter of a means to the end, the end being of course Life in Christ.  To be embraced by God, as both Heaven and Earth are once again joined in balance.  I know what we endure here in this life is a matter of course for the greater glory, and in a truer understanding of time and place, become a blink of an eye on a scale of eternity.  As I understand all of this, I am challenged to think of those I’ve loved and lost to this temporal existence, to know the joy I will feel when I see them once again.  Though we must feel the pangs of sorrow if we are truly to understand the joy of life, and this cannot be taken for granted.  Our every action must be accounted for, repented of, and compassionately understood.  If there is anyone you know, who has confided in you a decision to abort their child, pray for them, bless them for better decisions going forward, but above all else stand for what is right (life) and show them compassion beyond measure.  Don’t accept sin, but be willing to embrace the sinner.  I am a sinner, I know this for sure, and I am willing to embrace all because I know we are all looking for the light of love and compassion in our lives.  Be the light for someone who is desperately searching!  There are many alternatives to abortion, please pursue them and find a path to life.  For all the fathers, and husbands out there, stand your ground, don’t ever let someone make the argument of choice, there is only one choice and life is it, anything less is an abomination to the Will of God.  May God bless you and your family!!!

 

http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/marriage-and-family/parents-and-parenting/index.cfm

https://www.catholiceducation.org/en/health/abortion/

https://www.catholic.com/tract/abortion

Catechism of Catholic Church:

http://www.vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/p3s2c2a5.htm

 

 

 

God is good, all the time, and all the time, God is good!!!

 

Featured

What Can We Hear in God’s Whisper?

When we apply the understanding of the objective truth we find calmness in the midst of a storm.

Sometimes, especially when we position ourselves properly, we receive news which indicates extraordinary events explainable only by the Grace of God.  I know I’ve heard more stories than I can remember of events related to people which inextricably have no answer other than to associate a divine presence as the author.  I don’t want to diminish or dilute the faith of anyone, but I’m not referring to events such as a near miss or someone was sick with a common cold and got better.  These are happy events, but not miraculous.  I’ve spoken on the topic of miracles in the past, just a little, and so I was thinking about our perception of the mode of arrival in which God lets us know his presence.  In Kings 19, we read about God and his discourse with Elijah.  We expect the presence of God to appear with great whirling winds and earthquakes as the chapter alludes to, but this isn’t the form with which God spoke.  No, instead it was in a whisper, a faint representation of the Almighty’s power which to our human estimation presents us with either doubt or misinterpretation of strength.  When we as men, especially today, think of strength, the cultural landscape we live in dictates a confusing juxtaposition of strength and weakness.  We are presented with a need to be stoic and unmovable on points of rightness, and yet have the knowing capability to bend with a pliability needed for every situation.  I’m not sure about anyone else, but we can’t have both.  We can have one path to follow, and in this we will represent strength, compassion, courage, fear, and love.  Above all, we will find our thirst quenched in our loving pursuit of this whisper, which in its perceived weakness, is the most profound strength anyone of us could hope to discover.

Never have I been more confused as when I watch any thirty minutes of television today and attempt to figure out what society is looking for from men or fathers.  Morality seems to have taken a backseat to general wants, and those wants are paramount to material wealth or physical pleasure.  The objective truth, which does exist, is pushed aside for a version of “my truth”, which is nothing more than the perspective of any individual based upon their experiences and intelligence at the time of the thought.  It could change from moment to moment, and what’s worse, if someone is exposed to an experience less than acceptable, their moral line in what they are willing to accept or do, could be what’s needed to push them over the edge of a precipice where darkness consumes the soul.  I know this seems very extreme in the context of our normal lives, but I would argue this, if an alcoholic knew by taking their first sip, they would become an alcoholic, would they take that first sip?  We seem to be wandering the desert right now, and where there are beckons of light in the darkness, there are unseen hands grabbing at us to pull us down and away from those lights.  So, what do we do?

I won’t pretend to have all the answers, but I can tell you my journey, my struggles, and where I see a path of righteousness in pursuit of Christ leads us.  As I was detailing earlier, morality is a big button issue at the moment.  There are causes and movements swirling around us, so much so, I’m not sure anyone of us comprehends the depth of any three causes, except for what is explained through our media outlets.  Just recently we’ve been subject to sexual scandals, the ever-present abortion debate, and the stance on leadership as it pertains to our governments, and the need for a religion to strengthen our faith.  There’s a lot going on!   I want to address some of it, because by my estimation it is relative to the whisper of God’s voice in our lives, to the silence in our hearts where God resides patiently waiting on us.

blur care close up countryside
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I would like to begin by saying, if you ask yourself before you do anything, “Is there love in that?” You will find an ability to ask yourself the harder questions and have a distinct answer which is not only resolute in its solution but creates a paradigm to explain what love actually is.  To begin, love is not an emotive decision process, no matter what the movies tell us.  It isn’t the license to treat people poorly because we’re bored with our situation or we in other words have found something or someone else to gravitate towards.  Love isn’t the process to find wrong in others, so much so, we risk true joy and happiness for pursuits of the physical.  In other words, we miss true love poured upon us, because we insist our partners or those we love should fit in a precise paradigm of diminishing returns.  We want people to look and act a certain way, and we delude ourselves into thinking, once we have what we want, we’ll be happy.  Wrong!  The question of love in our actions becomes imperative, it becomes something we must utilize as a presence of being, a tool of sorts, to delve deeper into actions, meanings, and where we want to be.  When we apply the understanding of the objective truth we find calmness in the midst of a storm.  The storm is our person, our society, our loved ones circling about us and yet we must find the calm, because only in the calm can we ever hope to hear the voice of God.  In this calm, we find love.

Ok, so love is paramount to understanding everything, much like Jesus was referred as the cornerstone (Acts 4:11) “He is ‘the stone rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone’”.  We must apply the love of Christ as the cornerstone to anything we look at, any argument we face, and any hot button issue which seems to plague us today.  I will promise this to you, if you truly apply the objective truth as it pertains to love, you will have an answer to any issue you find, and the issue will become no longer up for argument, but rather a means of understanding to approach your life.

For the topics I mentioned earlier, I want to attack each one, and put to rest what should have been put to rest already.  The current environment of sexual proclivities including sex of all types, pornography, multiple partners, artificial contraception, and a willful acceptance by a growing percentage of the population has presented us with an aberration of truth as we see it contextually.  This is to say, we haven’t a problem with what’s going on, until we do, and hopefully you’re on the right side of the fence when the problem becomes apparent.  Now, this isn’t to say poor behavior such as rape, harassment, or sexual perversion as it relates to unlawful behavior has ever been ok.  Instead, it seems to be more an ideological perception of what right and wrong in the context of right, and then pushing and extremity to areas where it was never considered or was simply put back on the participants.  Let me give you an example, a woman being raped is awful and should never happen, and based on the individual circumstances is how to determine the degree of severity with which any justice is to be applied.  However, in our cultural climate today, we find, the presumption of guilt no matter the circumstance.  The accusation is levied against an individual, and without any due process whatsoever, we hold this person in contempt and they have now become a pariah we wish to turn away from.  We no longer find the promiscuous behaviors of the population as a matter of unacceptable path to personal destruction, but instead we honor the victim (poor decisions and worse consequences and all).  We don’t ask why this event occurred and what the factors were leading up to it transpiring.  We don’t ask if the event ever occurred at all, because it becomes too risky for fear of reprisal in either a private or public forum, usually both.  We don’t want to be the one to pour salt on a wound which has already potentially caused someone pain, we haven’t the stomach for this.

food couple sweet married
Photo by SplitShire on Pexels.com

I do want to set the record straight, I love having a physical relationship with my wife, it is a gift from God, at its most basic understanding it’s a physical representation of love to express our oneness with each other in the covenant of marriage.  A marriage which is brought together by the Graces of God to perpetuate life, love, and the objective truth as set forth by the Divine Christ.  To extend this even further, it’s the natural progression of life as was ordered by God.  Anything outside of this, from a physical intimate portrayal is a disorder of its intended purpose.  In Humane Vitae, Pope Paul VI, intuits a destruction of familial truths in society (Section 17) as a result in the creation of artificial contraception.  He indicates the failure of will, to be replaced by want.  No longer do people need to worry about the societal implications of their actions, as long as they got what they wanted.  Before anyone thinks, they know what’s best for their lives, I would caution this method of thinking, we don’t know from day-to-day what our lives have in store, and to explicitly challenge objective truth and replace it with our own, should be analogized as trying to play chicken with time.  It just doesn’t work, and when we try, we inevitably fail.

Now, I know what some people think when they hear this, and at first it appears Puritanical.  However, if we approach the entire paradigm with a lens of love, we see this is the furthest aspect of the truth.  It’s not that rules are for us to follow, but when we apply love to our decisions, we find we follow a pathway with the truths and these truths become objectively speaking a rule or guideline to stay on the path to God’s love.  Which presents our next cultural challenge, abortion, the destruction of life, to preserve our own way of life.  No matter, the decisions it takes to get to this point, killing life is unacceptable.  Christian Faith, and specifically Catholicism, is a religion of putting to death a sinful life and a rebirth of spiritual purity.  To put it bluntly, you must allow your old self to die, before you can be raised up to the light of Christ.  This is not, and has never been achieved by the destruction of life.  This is to say, we can’t move forward as a culture if we create a culture of promiscuity and sexual disorder, then allow the circumspect behaviors towards those involved as they continue to make poor decisions.  I’m sure at one point or another, we’ve know someone who has had an abortion (if there are women reading these words, it’s possible you may have had an abortion), and it’s not a matter of condemnation.  Instead it’s a matter of compassion for those who have sinned, but if we don’t change the behaviors then the sin continues unfettered and this becomes the culture we are being forced to embrace today.  I’ve heard arguments for a very long time in the position of “pro-choice” and “Pro-Life”, and yes I capitalize my life stance for the inflection of importance.  Life is always more important than any one of our choices.  To give our lives for another is a choice which still places life above anything else.

The way I’ve always seen the arguments crafted for abortion is a matter of the utilization of outlier (i.e. extraordinary events to make us think about what might happen) and prevent any movement whatsoever on the topic, which has so divided everyone.  The vast majority of abortions are performed as a matter of contraceptive method, a decision to regret sexual behavior, and instead embrace a pathway which leads away from accountability.  At the end of the day, there are two stances one can take for the argument against abortion, a scientific one (very valid when speaking with secular groups or atheistic religions), and the second it the faith comprehension of truth and applicability of love in all situations.  If we apply love to this debate, then we see, no loving person could end the life of another soon to be fully functional human.  Just isn’t possible, and if anyone thinks I’m accusing those who’ve had abortions as unloving, you’d be correct.  We all have the ability to love, but we must learn how to love, and we can’t learn to love if we are pursuing our own selfish ends.

The final topic of discourse is our need for leaders in this world.  Do we really have anyone we can look up to?  Maybe, but at this moment, we are so unwilling to hold ourselves accountable on the most objective level, how can we expect to hold our leaders.  They are a symptom of a much greater problem.  We must start with the family, we must start as fathers and husbands and hold ourselves accountable to each and every person we come into contact with.  We can’t deny our failures, we must embrace and learn from them. “It is not the healthy who need the doctor, but the sick” (Matt 9:12).  We have to acknowledge to ourselves, we are sick and in need of healing.  A healing which can only be provided by God.  Our leaders begin with us, they begin with a family which is both made up of a father and a mother to teach our children the proper objective truth in life.  To accept pain as par for the course, and yet continue to move forward as a matter of life and the pursuit of life and the light.  Though the most important gift we can teach our children is to be charitable.  Our charity, or love, towards others will help us to be leaders and to pick leaders who meet our ideals and share a common pursuit of objective truth in a time of hegemony of subjective morality.  Our leaders are an extension of our pursuits in life, these leaders have the courage to stand up and show us the way.  Don’t be afraid to stand up for a leader who embodies these principles in life.  There are too many good people in the world to give an excuse for the selection we have now, but because of the ever changing moral climate, it’s impossible to tell unless you calm yourself in the midst of the storm and listen to the whisper of God.

I only briefly touched on topics which in themselves have been the inspiration of volumes of books, dissertations, and essays which explained my topics much better.  Though at the end of it all, we don’t need a full explanation, sometimes, to know deep down what is wrong.  Be only with a spouse, it is more ordered and special in this context.  Don’t kill innocent life (this really goes without being said, one would think), when left untouched, life blooms, we can’t hide behind choice, life always takes precedent.  Our leaders are an extension of us, if we don’t like who our leaders are, perhaps we need to take a longer look at us and fix what is apparently broken.  God gives us the strength to fix what is broken, but like anything learned, a level of pain is needed to correct a wrong.  Even if the pain is the intrinsic understanding which alludes to ridicule of one’s self for failing for so long.  Pursue God, pursue love, and the answers you seek will become all too clear.  May God bless you, and your family!!!

 

God is good, all the time, and all the time, God is good!!!

man kneeling in front of cross
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com
Featured

Are We Really Finding Humility?

As a father and husband, I feel like I am challenged to walk this humble line constantly by trying to be the living example of what Christ wants us to be, and to be a man in this world.

So, for the last couple of weeks I’ve been diligently working and spending time with the family, and a curious question was raised, which I thought was food for thought.  When we see our fellow man act with some level of contrition, are we associating a measure of humility to their actions or are we so focused on our lives we don’t notice at all?  Does humility require us to be subservient, contrite, or on many levels something other than ourselves as we feel we should be?  Is humility an ability to self-deprecate and lower ourselves so we can be liked by perceived superiors?  These are the questions which have been rattling around my brain, so I wanted to go more in depth with you and hopefully we can find a way to embrace our humility and yet retain all of who we are and how this applies to our pursuit of love in God.

When we look at a simple definition of humility we see the most basic of answers; “freedom from pride or arrogance, the state of being humble” (Merriam-Webster Dictionary).  When I think of the word pride, I immediately imagine a patriotic banner swaying in the air, and music which evokes an emotional response tied to heroic events sweeps through my mind.  Though, in this case the pride which humility seeks quash, is the pride we take when we can’t accept our wrongness as it pertains to us and the people around us. The first example I can think of is when the devil tempts Adam and Eve with the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge (Genesis 3), their desire to know as much as God and their pursuit of control amounted to a prideful pursuit of self-sufficiency, to rule themselves as they see fit.  This pride became arrogance as the devil continued to whisper in Eve’s ear about how she could do things and make decisions just as good as God, and the combination of her pride and arrogance mixed with Adam’s own pride and arrogance gave rise to an unhumble desire to control.  Isn’t this what an unhumble person becomes, someone who can’t be told what to do, a person who can’t accept their fallibility, or a person who sees what they are doing as wrong (by all conventional and moral standards) but desires the control and will do anything to keep it?  I’m sure we all know people (could even be us) who fit the bill, and as Christians we are bound in our pursuit for the love of God, to be a representation of someone who is humble in life.

Now, isn’t it just that easy?  You say to yourself, “I want to be humble, so now I’m going to be humble.”  I find, it is much more difficult to put into action than just saying those words.  Peter Kreeft, Angels & Demons, remarks about the super intelligence both angels and demons possess.  Their intelligence on it’s lowest level makes our smartest human beings resembling the intelligence of a dog.  This isn’t to say we are dumb, just not as smart as they are.  As we understand and apply our knowledge of the intelligence paradigm, it is much easier to understand the crafty nature of the devil and demons which pursue us and latch on to our arrogant and prideful natures.  It is also not too difficult to see how playing on someone’s need for attention and need not to forcible made to be meek in the sight of everyone would prompt them to take a path where humility is looked down upon rather than something which seeks to harness the true reflection of God’s light.  At every moment of every day, we are being tested to make decision which have no humility whatsoever, so we can pursue earthly accolades.

adult black and white charity close up
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

As a father and husband, I feel like I am challenged to walk this humble line constantly by trying to be the living example of what Christ wants us to be, and to be a man in this world.  I’m constantly challenged to be kind in the face of insult by exterior events, but at the same time I’m challenged to be humble in front of my family, especially when I’m wrong.  Truly wrong this is, I’ve lost my temper and acted so poorly in the past, I was faced with two options, either accept the humiliation of my wrongness or continue to move forward with my unjust behavior and in doing so create an example to the people whom I love dearly, with an example which leads them down a path of selfishness and despair.  We all, as a matter of learning our humility, must in many instances face the humiliation required to learn this very basic but important learning block of our spiritual development where the result is God’s love for all eternity.
This is an interesting turn of events, when we think about what we must learn to continue in our growth.  Much like we all had to learn to write letters before we could read or compose full sentences.  We must learn how to accept what creates our unhappy nature before we can pursue the joyful path.  This is to say, we can’t possibly know which path to walk down, unless we’re shown this path, and in some cases irrespective of our desires we choose the wrong path, and in doing so we are given perspective to decide to continue this path or face the humiliation.  This humiliation hopefully causes us to take stock of our decisions and never walk the wrong path again.  The instances of humiliation we face from day-to-day, are seemingly poignant reminders of our straying from the desire to pursue God.

I’ve faced humiliation more times than I care to remember, and one lesson I can take away from my learnings is the complete and total embarrassment which set me on a path, so I wouldn’t repeat the behavior/process again.  I hated the notion and even the feeling of setting myself down a notch, especially in front of those people who were blameless yet suffered my pride and arrogance.   At the same time my embarrassment was reaching its zenith, I could also feel a growth in my behavior.  I could feel a movement past where I was currently at in my growth spiritually and in my understanding of others.  In other words, I felt as though I was learning to love, through my own humility.

We can never hope to gain all humble circumstances within the confines of our comfortable surroundings, we are pushed through our life to move from one changing circumstance to another, and in the process of doing so, we learn the pitfalls which allow us to gain traction in understanding.  This isn’t to say we learn on the first time we fail at anything, I personally have failed more times than I care to remember, on the same subject or topic.  The more difficult the topic the more times and effort may be needed to fully comprehend the humility we hope to attain.

backlit black guy close up dusk
Photo by Raim Matau on Pexels.com

As a husband, I know I’m in the dubious leagues of eating some humble pie to attain a paradigm of understanding and application of love.  When I was younger, I foolishly thought my passion for life and what I did, would translate to an application of love.  I thought, if I approach everything the same way, with the same amount of fervor, I would have fair to similar results and this would be fine for me in life.  I was a perfectionist when it came to my hobbies and general pursuits in life, and I just figured, everything would fall in place when it came to my spouse.  I intended to just approach life in the same haphazard manner I approached everything, and I would just learn along the way.  Marriage just isn’t this way!  To begin, marriage is a sacred covenant between your spouse and yourself, a focus only to be beaten by your faith, is absolutely required.  This person, who is your spouse completes you, they balance your place in the fabric of time, for however long they are here with you, and evenly yoked, they present the challenge of family and faith as a matter of path for your very existence.  You mission, as it were, becomes the movement of both husband and wife through and ever-changing landscape, requiring a steadfast approach to compassion and love, but to bend as the tree will do in large storms but never break.  Though, we do break sometimes, we do need to be fixed sometimes, and in the processes, which requires the time and attention needed by both spouses, continually sets the foundation of solid stone and regrows (obviously with God’s help) a loving environment.

So, this is where I was at with my own relationship with my wife.  I needed to humble myself, and truly understand where my wife was at, more than choosing to think I was the only one in pain.  She also needed this, and together we were both broken, but we needed each other to mend our brokenness.  My wife, who is an angel, was in pain because of me and because of failed expectations, I was in pain because of me and failure to care what the expectations, which were lovingly asked of me, were needed to grow our love in God’s eyes through the covenant of our marriage.  In the end, we both became fighting and selfish to what we wanted, and the irony was we really didn’t know what we wanted.  We thought we were going to do everything ourselves, our pride, our arrogance was going to fix the problems we inevitably faced because of our pride and our arrogance.  This became a revolving door of misery for us, no matter what I attempted to do, I was getting things wrong, and no matter what love she tried to show me, I interpreted it as anything other than love.  We didn’t trust each other, and we didn’t want to be the first to give in, for fear of showing weakness, or so I thought.  In my monumental arrogance, I failed to see, my wife was there with open arms, and in her unconditional way was giving me herself (much like the day we said our vows).  God helped her in a humble path, and she was humbly waiting for me.  I am completely floored when I think about this now, when I realized this at the time, I was embarrassed and didn’t know how someone could love me so much.  She did!  Little by little, she patiently waited, and we eventually were yoked evenly again, and since this time, we’ve moved side-by-side in patient step with God’s will.  We recognized, it is far better to stand together, realizing God lifts us both up, and allowing his light to shine in everything we do.  It’s not about whether I got what I wanted, or she obtained the expectation she hoped for, but it is, and has always been about the journey to find truth in love.

man in brown shirt standing on train rail near coconut palms
Photo by Oliver Sjöström on Pexels.com

This is a funny concept, one which I’ve met people over the years, and I’ve had them explain to me their perception of what a truth is, and as a matter of course, they indicate a destination of understanding rather than a journey.  Humility isn’t just about knowing what we did to bring us to the point we are at now, but instead it’s about perceiving just how every step can affect every perception and every action we take.  Our journey in life is what forms us so when we do meet an expectation or a goal, we will know just what to do with it.  Humility must be attained if we are ever to understand who we are in relation to a loving God.  If you think back in your life and you meditate on those individuals who carried the most influence and seemed to show a love in one way or another, you should see the marks of an individual who humbled themselves to be a loving foundation of your life.  If you are one who has never been able to knowingly acknowledge a presence of love, look deeper and know, there have been people all along the way, but with every ounce of humility they are harder and harder to find.  Which is a good way of saying, they are involved with you daily.  Those who are so humble as to be almost non-existent in your life, not because they aren’t there, but because you never noticed those things which they do for you to carry you forward.  Perhaps someone holds the door open for you, allowing you to walk in first, maybe someone at work is willing to accept more work because your shift has ended, and they intuit your need to go home, or maybe a beggar at the stop light, looking for a handout stares at you and with fluidity says, “God Bless You” and then walks on.  None of these instances carries with it a perceived notion of a life changing event, but in their humility, they give what charity they can (the effect of a true charitable love).  Of course, we’ve all talked to a friend who states, “those beggars probably make more money than we do”, or they might say “well if they are willing to stand at the corner, then why can’t they work”.  Though the truth of the matter is more nuanced than the simple observation of an impropriety or perceived laziness.  Perhaps the real humility is to recognize, someone of lower societal stature than yourself, can look into your eyes and pray for you with three simple words, and your inability to recognize this humility is indicative of a path still untrod and still in need of travel.  You must humble yourself to understand, even if the person doesn’t mean what they say, you can draw a deeper understanding a deeper meaning and in this newfound perception your humble response should be one of gratitude.  A gratitude for a truth being revealed.

grayscale photography of man praying on sidewalk with food in front
Photo by sergio omassi on Pexels.com

I know for some; a perceived naivety can be construed by what I’ve written but allowing those who wish to fool us or take advantage of us grants us an understanding (at times) to understand the person who is in enough pain to hurt another.  Yep, that’s right, someone willing to hurt us in one way or another is truly in pain.  They’ve left the path of love, which exudes joy with every step, and they’ve entered darkness, and although they may not realize exactly where they are at, the innate need for God’s love in our lives will project pain when we push the light of love away.  This pain will be reflective in outward actions towards others, your humility and understanding are paramount in these situations.  Your ability to put your pride, ego, arrogance, and need for honor will steer you and hopefully those who need your example in the proper direction.  The best example of those who need the most influence are our children, as we all know, they are easily influenced and respond to exhibitions of natural and unconditional love.  This means, yes you must say no and be the bad guy.  In the end, their acknowledgement of truth, as a humble person would accept truth, will in its recognition through their own humiliation of being wrong or even right create a loving individual on a path to find God.

So, are we really being humble in our every day lives?  I know I am not, I know I can find more and experience more in my life to create in me, a humble heart.  I know I can find love in the darkest of places, those places exist in my heart and in the hearts of the people I am in contact with every day.  As we find those places of darkness, we see despair, desolation, a sense of hopelessness and it only appears this way because of the darkness.  Find humility in your every action, find a sense of right through your wrong.  Don’t be fearful of being wrong, it just might be what you need to find the path God has set forth for you.  Above all else, be the light which burns the brightest because you’ve lowered yourself and attained an overflowing measure of humility.  To find humility we must seek understanding, as we journey for understanding, we find humility was the ability to recognize our weakness and our wrongness as the foundation for understanding all along.  Look within yourself and you will find the humble place your heart desires to be, because as we are made in the image and likeness, this humility is the unconditional love given by God.  May God bless you and your family!!!

 

 

God is good, all the time, and all the time, God is good!!!

grayscale photo of the crucifix
Photo by Alem Sánchez on Pexels.com
Featured

What Is Heaven To You?

Those obstructions are laid before us, that we might know, God will be there when we fall.

This is a loaded question, and one with no really good answer to the average person.  Though, it does carry with it a sense of finality and its elusive context provides the backdrop to our finite reality on this earth.  When I turned 35, I didn’t go out and do anything uncharacteristic, nor did I push the envelope of proper behavior.  No, what I did was take a figurative look back at the previous 35 years, and my first thought was, “whew, this went by way too quickly”, but as this began to set in, so did my mortality.  Just who am I?  What is my purpose in this life?  What am I truly meant to do? Where is it I go, when I die?  You know, the easy questions in life.  Of course, it’s been several years since I asked these questions, and although the answers were not necessarily what I wanted to hear, they were what I needed all along.  I hope in the next few paragraphs, you will see some of your own questions come to light, and perhaps you will find an answer yourself.  At the end of the day, God is always the answer we look for, but finding the path, He crafted Himself for us, is the first step to the hardest and most rewarding decision of your lives.

Let me start from where my “mortality enlightenment” occurred, and then I will push forward from there.  My realization of a world which passed me by, like bullet train, was beginning to sink in.  My kids were much older now, I was much older now, and I wasn’t further along in my career.  I wasn’t doing anything professionally or socially important with my life.  I wasn’t attending church on a regular basis.  I didn’t have many friend or even acquaintances, except for those people I talked with at work.  Though, I hated my work, so I understood, as much as I enjoyed talking with people, this eventually would go away.  So, back to square one, I thought, “where am I supposed to go from here?” I intuited I needed people in my life, but at the same time, I didn’t want anyone else but my immediate family.  I was going to take the quasi loner’s life, and I would wear the invisible cloak of struggle.  At the end of the day, I was creating my own paradigm of failure, and this mortification of self through a deprivation of human contact was probably one of the lowest times in my life.  I didn’t feel unhappy though, I was content in my solitude, but desperately seeking human interaction.  I only noticed this, when someone would give me the slightest attention, and it was as though my world was set to right, and I could function as I should.  At the end of the day, it would always go away, and a false reality would set in.  The words seemed to pop into my head, indicating, “This is all you’ll ever have, and you should be happy”.  Now, I’m not sure about anyone else, but sometimes faced with an acceptance of less than we anticipated can be demoralizing at times.  At any rate, this is where I was at in my life.

Now, it’s taken me years to seemingly self-diagnose this and realize, I was the problem, not everyone else.  God isn’t asking me to suffer my situation, but rather as St. Theresa of Lisieux would point out in “Story of A Soul” it was a matter of embracing what it is I am and giving it to God in every possible way.  To begin, I looked at all the years which to this point passed me by, gone, I can’t get them back now!  I sat quietly thinking, at best, I may have another 35 or 40 years left, and I’m on a downhill trajectory at this point.  I was very depressing to be around, but it is just like the darkness next to the light, always seems to be more enveloping and consuming until we become illuminated.  As was the case for me.  I began to move my thoughts from, why the years seem to move so fast, to just who I am as a man.  What is expected of me as a man?  What is my purpose?

man standing facing body of water
Photo by Sindre Strøm on Pexels.com

As a man, this was a pretty hard question to answer for a couple of reasons, the first being, and my expectations as a man, because I’m a man.  The second being, my expectations as a man, because society sees me as a man.  When I tackled the first, I was constantly convoluting it with our cultural expectations, and rendering a poorly imaged portrayal of what a man should be.   There was always a defect in my mind’s eye, and I continuously was exposing the flawed characteristics of my manly personality and my frustration began to grow.  This mixed with my attempts to teach my son about being a man, becomes more confusing to him, which in turn frustrated me. However, just like anything we do, with enough time and attention, we begin to get a little better, we look for better sources of information in what we seek, and we hold ourselves to a higher standard as we increase our skill.  My higher standard is God, and my recognition of the source of my manhood was the illumination I wrote of earlier, it exposed the good and the bad.  It was the medicine I needed to heal the festering wounds of pride, hubris, ignorance, and a lack of love in my life.  Let me be the first to say though, it wasn’t easy to take, it wasn’t a picnic facing the exposure.  My wife, in her unconditional love, fought hard to ask me the question and have me realize the answer, “where is the love in what you do”.  Seemingly a simple question, but when we dig deep, the exposure of an answer, “I haven’t been giving my love, I’ve been holding back for fear of rejection, loss, and failure” entered my mind.  I was in my anger and removal of myself in situations creating a distance which allowed an insularly effect protecting me from my fears (at least I thought so).  As hard as it was to take the answer to the question posed, I found it harder to look in the direction of God, shame was winning and the worst part was, I was letting it win.

I must emphasize my shame in this, I thought I looked like the biggest fool to everyone and to everything.  I was arrogant, and put myself in a place where I didn’t need anything or anyone (or so I thought), it was like being a mile in front of everyone in the race, only to realize I took a wrong turn.  My embarrassment, especially to my wife, created a sense of anger in me and confusion.  I always felt as if I need all the answers to anything asked.  I read, study, and constantly try to know everything I can for a couple of reasons.  I need the human attention so bad, I wanted to immediately be valuable to anyone if they just asked, and the second reason was I needed to know as much as possible, so I can never look foolish.  When my wife pulled me back in, she did so in the way a wife loves a husband or as a woman can love a man.  She unconditionally asked me the question, and I had to answer.  It’s the best question I was ever asked, and I didn’t have the answer this time.  I couldn’t make an excuse for me any longer.  Happy 35th birthday, right?  It was probably the best birthday, I’ve ever had.  It was as if the door was opened, and I was exposed to the “real world” the objective truth as it were.

bright bubble clean clear
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

A couple of things changed on the onset, first of all, every detail didn’t escape my notice.  Now, I’ve always been hypersensitive to my environment, but in a way which was entirely self-serving.  This time though, I noticed one simple change to my perspective, and then everything seemingly fit into place, even when I didn’t have an answer.  I could see love, in everything.  I don’t just mean, pink hearts, or people smiling a lot (which is nice, but overrated).  No, I could see the love of God, in everything.  It’s truly amazing!!!  I can’t describe, the joy which can overwhelm me in an instant at the thought of what I see.  I have stopped to embrace this all-consuming experience, and many times, because of our cultural perspective of manliness, I will conceal my tears.  Peter Kreeft, once remarked in his dis-belief of those who claim to speak with God, and yet seem to have no emotion or memory of emotion which isn’t fervent or believable.  In other words he indicated, God, in His sheer goodness should shake us to our core and in being within the presence of this goodness will inadvertently cause us to look within ourselves and be repulsed at the sin which we have allowed to corrupt our very nature.  I would use this example to further explain my point, when I’m around someone who I can very clearly tell is good and kind in their nature, I carry with me a sense of shame because, in my pursuit of God’s love, I am immediately exposed to the truth, I can do more than I am doing as this person has clearly (without saying a word in chastisement) has shown me.  This is what my wife’s question did for me, and this is what my experience is when my hypersensitive experiences are introduced.  I have less of those experiences now, than when I first started having them, but they still come back, and I fully embrace the chance for a realization of emotion attached with a recognition of my failures.  Embracing our sin as a cognitive device to remove it would be the same as a doctor acknowledging the sickness before he can remove it and make you well again.

Right, so there I was answering the most important questions of my life, and the next question popped up, “what is my purpose?”  This question, is on the minds of everyone at some point, I would imagine, and some have answers and some don’t.  When I asked this question, I was at a point in my career and my life where it was evident I wasn’t achieving the goals I set forth for myself.  I had clear intent to attain my degrees and work a job, all the while moving up the ladder of success.  This did not happen, at least not in the way I would ever have imagined.  I was challenged to look at my perceptions and goals, and place a new perspective on something other than a material view.  What was I doing for others, how did I show God’s love in everything I did.  This was further exposed by an understanding of God’s place in my life.  God, who lovingly created me, put me where I would have the greatest opportunity to find love in my life, he does this for all of us, although be it, in different ways.  Some of us must go through great struggle and there are others of us, who must be willing to push those earthly gifts away to create a sacrifice in life for God.  Those little sacrifices are to push those things which keep us further away for the light of Christ and embrace everything we see with an acknowledgement of love.

I was meant to be a loving husband and father.  I was always meant to pursue God and embrace His love with every fiber and ounce of my being.  These were my true goals, and at 35, I realized I had wasted too much time on my personal wants, rather than a determined focus on the unmitigated love of God.

My wife deserves a husband who is patient and loves her for who she is.  This meant for me (I’m still working on this), accepting those things which make her who she is, not who I want her to be.  This can’t be stated more clearly, how can we love anyone if they are not free to choose who and how they want to reciprocate the love in return.  My children deserve a father who is willing to place the principle of love before all things.  This doesn’t mean, I’m their best friend or I won’t become upset at their actions, what it means is I’m willing to teach them what true, unconditional love actually is, and I do this through my actions towards them.  I will admit, my son tests my patience beyond measure at times, but when I give myself enough time to think about him, I am transported to what my mind imagines the pain God must feel when we constantly and without rest test his love.

We test God every second of the day when we fail to repent, through our sinful behavior and through the repulsive behaviors which push Him away from us.

alone autumn mood forest cold countryside
Photo by Gabriela Palai on Pexels.com

This brings us to the final question, and the hardest from the standpoint of truth.  We as humans have the power to decide two pathways to travel down.  The first is the pathway which God has placed before us, a pathway which is laid with obstructions and bends so severe we risk failure at every turn.  Though this is our perception when we look with our eyes, it is much different when we acknowledge what we see with our hearts.    Those bends and slopes create in us a need to slow down and find God, nothing in life is truly gained by running so fast we miss everything around us.  This is the first path, the journey is our journey of love, the pathway we might seek to embrace an unconditional love of God.  The second path is a path of self.  A pathway where we control our destiny, or at least we try to control our means and end.  This pathway is straighter and less narrow, it has less obstructions, and we find there are many people on this path but no one person is concerned about us and our journey just their own.  How can we find joy in people who aren’t concerned, at every unconditional level, about us?  The answer is, we just can’t, and we can’t pursue the desires of another and hope to find the joy of God.  Ok, so the moment of truth came when I was tasked to answer, “Where do we go when we die”?  This was the fundamental question, the question when once asked and answered should be the direction we base our entire lives going forward on.  So, I did.  Based on everything I know of this world, and those who’ve been kind enough in their lives to exhibit God’s love, I chose God.  I want to be in an existence where I can fall in love with the creator of all things and do so in a way where I’m not creating an issue of being forced to decide.  This was the inevitable truth and I accepted it with all my heart.

At the end of the day, the decision was a fork in the road.  Either I could believe or not believe, and if I chose to not believe (deluding myself from every bit of evidence and what I knew to be certain in my heart), then I would lead a life answering only unto myself with a moral compass set only to an emotive true north.  On the other hand, believing in God presented a multifaceted acceptance.  An acceptance of an objective truth, a way as it were for me to direct my energies.  I was given a solid black and white paradigm to accept, it was the belief in a true right and a true wrong.  Something I could tangibly rest my back upon for the rest of my life, and this was what I was always searching for.  My heart longed for something and I tried to fill it with everything possible, except the one thing which would keep it full.  God’s love is what I was searching for, and in this I found the answer to absolutely every question I ever had.

The meaning in my life was God, the joy which was a side-effect of loving God has brought a fulfillment of riches regarding my marriage and my family life.  I see people so much more differently now than I ever did, and in the process of seeing them differently I recognize everyone is precious in the sight of God.  If God loves you as much as he does me, then how can I not love whom my heavenly father loves.  Heaven is the joining of this world and the throne with which God sits.  Since my pitiful attempt to describe the indescribable is the best I can do, we will just have to imagine the original tear in the fabric of life being brought back together where we will walk in communion with God in the cool of the evening as Adam once did.  May God bless you and your family!!!

 

 

God is good, all the time, and all the time, God is good!!!

 

art cathedral christ christian
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com
Featured

What Does Devotion Mean to You?

In my own life, it took falling down, and disappointing almost everyone I knew for me to realize, my desire to seek selfish goals was achieving the figurative equivalent of pouring out God’s precious blessings.

Devotion is such an interesting word, often overused to indicate one’s pursuit of a goal as a means to an end.  Though, if we delve deeper into just what devotion is, I think we might be surprised.  Every example of the definition of devotion has a moniker of love associated with it.  Either through the pursuance of faith, religion, or even the love of a spouse and children.  Typically this might involve a sense of urgency as it relates to want or desire pertaining the devotion.  It would perhaps carry a zeal or enthusiasm as we approach anything in context to our devotion.  Where we begin to trip up is the self-interpretive benchmark our culture lays on our shoulders to create a devotee status which is worthy of our peers.  In other words, our society seems to place an importance on our personal devotions which is neither substantive to our personal pursuits but instead becomes a socialistic collective of ideas bound to meet an ideology of equality in outcomes.  Ok, so this is was a mouthful, the lay version of this is, people have their own pursuits and want us to want what they want.  If we do, they are pleased with us, and if we don’t we seem to be a pariah to them or to their cause.  So, the question comes back, and hopefully we can discuss this in depth as a matter of interpretation and fulfillment of our devotional development.  Where does your devotion stand, based on the influences of our culture?

Let me begin by saying, everyone is on their own spiritual journey in life, so for anyone of us to think or believe we’ve cornered the market in devotions would be tantamount to a priggish snobbery.  There is no place in the Heavenly context we talk about for behaviors such as this.  However, if we approach our faith and our interactions with all of God’s people as a matter of zeal and an enthusiasm, seeking not to tear away (as is the devil’s desire), but to bring together as in one “church”, one “body”, then we’ve found the truth of a true devotion.  Every day, I run into people who are on one path or another, some are seeking the spiritual guidance of God, and others are just trying to tread water in this world long enough to see earthly goals realized.  Though, objectively speaking, where do we go when we’ve been blessed to see our earthly goals come to fruition?  Do we stop, or is it human nature to seek more and more?  My money is on human nature, although imprinted with the image of God, seeks to fulfill its own accord or desire.  Sacrifice isn’t apart of measure of achieving more.  In my own life, it took falling down, and disappointing almost everyone I knew for me to realize, my desire to seek selfish goals was achieving the figurative equivalent of pouring out God’s precious blessings.  I was shouting in the silence, “I don’t need you”, all the while being miserable with what I was seeking.

There are numerous types of devotions, and I want to discuss what I see as the top three.  The first being our pure and truthful devotion to God.  The second is our devotion to the covenants and missions we chosen in life.  The third is one’s devotion to their family.  As you can see, none of the devotions can be truly realized without the first, in the context of truth.  However, when we attempt to put the second or third devotion over our devotion to God, we find a misappropriation not altogether wrong, but somewhat misplaced.  Take for instance the beauty of a flower, to recognize its beauty is epidermal, and to associate a function of the senses proves to be yielding of purpose.  Though this purpose could wane with mood or time, and our once simple devotion no longer exists as a matter of course.  This all changes, of course, when we look deeper into the meaning of the flower and to its lineage of creation.  This is to say, when we peel back the layers of the flower’s inevitable creation, we see God as the architect of this beautiful, and seemingly insignificant portion of our lives.  Now, the observation takes on a new priority, and in this priority, we find as we stop and “smell the roses” we are not just appreciating the sights and smells of this beautiful example of nature.  We are also finding appreciation in the gifts God gave us as a matter of natural design.  So, perspective changes all solutions.  This is to say, our devotions will take on new characteristics as our perspective of God and our natural existence changes.

pexels-photo-704767.jpeg
Photo by Juhasz Imre on Pexels.com

In descending order, let’s look at the devotions one-by-one.  The third, family, a devotion worthy of kings but given as a gift to even the poorest of beggars.  The family is so important to God, he choose to lower himself, as a man, and be born of a woman, who was betrothed to man.  Then to be raised by this family, until such time as the fulfillment of the ultimate sacrifice would come to pass.  The apostles walked with Jesus, and created an ad hoc family of believers specifically focused on the evangelization of the world.  As we can see, family should be in the upper three and we should never dilute the importance of family, let alone allow culture to dictate what the definitions of family should be.  Here is where devotion should play its most significant part.  We devote ourselves to raising families and teaching our children the ways of Christ, and in doing so we build upon the stone foundations set by Christ Himself, leveled and adjusted as the cornerstone of life.  Men, our wives are there for us and we are there for them.  We enter into a covenant with God, when we enter marriage (nothing to be taken lightly, I assure you), and we create a physical family focused on the rearing of children and teaching them the ways of Christ as they were taught to us.  So, what if we weren’t taught the ways of Christ, and this is all news to us?  Good news, The Catholic Church is the “Universal Church”, in other words, the biggest family you could ever know.  Not here to judge, and never here to condemn, but instead here to pour forth compassion, and teach us everyone is invited to the table of redemption and love.  This is what we must teach our children and this is what we must show our spouses.  This isn’t easy, to be certain, choosing the covenant of marriage and choosing to raise children with my wife, has been by far one of the toughest choices of my life.  However, I tell my kids all the time, “go to the hard” your results may vary, and you might just fail, though failing isn’t the end, it shows we must try harder.  The knowledge of seeing where we must go is God’s gift to us.

wedding couple sitting on green grass in front of body of water at sunset
Photo by freestocks.org on Pexels.com

I personally can attest to the forgiving nature of my wife and my kids when it comes to my failures.  I cannot state this with enough importance, I am a hard person to know, and I thank God for the gifts of my family, and of the family of The Church.  We are all one family, maybe not by blood or in the natural law abiding sense of the description, but as devotion goes with God, we are all family in the ecumenical bonds set forth by Jesus Christ himself, even with those who don’t believe at all.  Just like a family member who refuses your company (I have one of those), all we can do is lovingly want the best for this family member, and then pray this blessing for them.  Perhaps they will walk our path with us once more and we can rebuild and repair as we journey through redemption.  Make family a priority, treat everyone as a meaningful person who we can be more with, in doing this we might just be able to move the obstacle of egotism away from our path.

agriculture clouds colors countryside
Photo by Binyamin Mellish on Pexels.com

The second devotion (covenants and missions) is more hidden in our lives but carries with it the interpretation of God, and the point of views we possess as they translate into our daily activities.  I already wrote about the covenant of marriage, and in this I discussed its application as a familial matters are concerned.  Now, let’s talk about the covenant as it relates to our spouse.  This person whom you choose and they choose you, and just how this daily gift can be looked at as a struggle or as a blessing.  Early on in my marriage with my wife, I perceived everything I did as “the struggle”, never to be undone but to be layered one struggle upon another.  In doing so, I blamed everyone else for my problems, and I wanted them to feel sorry for whatever predicament I was in.  Even if this predicament was of my own making, and if as a matter of course I was facing the consequence of my decisions.  As a point of fact, I didn’t devote myself to my marriage and this was its faltering.  My wife was willing to work hard until she could see I wasn’t and in the overall process we allowed our feelings and egos to decide best course of action.  Emotive responses are good for the movies but have little place in the decision to do what’s best when discussing true problems with any relationship.  We often forget, the dynamic of any covenant is a realization of our place within the covenant.  Too often, in our culture, we see people demanding an answer for evil, demanding to see a relationship with God on an inverse level.  They subordinate the Most High, into a subservient position as a requirement to answer questions which within the context of understanding or not knowable.  Cardinal Sarah (Power of Silence) indicates we neither can know the highest of the highs or the lowest of the lows, but we insist on an answer.  The covenant between us and God, isn’t a matter of knowledge as to how, but rather as to why.  The answer as to why, is all just a matter of love.  Love is God, in every pure and concentrated way possible, and as we approach our covenants and missions we must do so as God has done with us, in love.

The second part of the second devotion is our mission, our perception of the work with which God lays out before us.  A choice as always, because love is not love if we don’t have the free will to choose to love in the first place.  Though our perception of a loving God, is the fire for the enthusiasm to approach our mission as reflect the goodness and love of our creator.  I’ve discussed “mission” in the past, and let me say, my mission is what brings to reality the true desire to seek the redemption God is so willing to give.  It is also the pathway which allows me to stop wandering in the desert of doubt, and instead head for the mountain of faith.  Without my mission in life, which for me is to be a husband and a father (in that order), and to be a reflective light for all of God’s people.  No matter the perception of anyone else, I am here to be a reflection of the Light of Christ, and in doing so be an example to show love in any and every way possible.  I must confess, I still have a long road to travel, I seem to trip and fall a great deal, but this hasn’t discouraged me one bit.  I can still see the mountain, and I am as energized to and full of strength to pursue my faith as I’ve ever been in my life.

Family_Devotion

Finally, the first devotion, God.  This is a devotion we were all born to realize.  Some of us do, and some of us fail to see where devotion should always be.  When we pursue anything in life, without the guidance or devotion of God, we find the pursuits can be meaningful at times, even to fulfill somewhat the desires we set as goals.  Though, with enough water which passes under the bridge, we become unfulfilled once more, seeking more goals to get us back to where we have a sense of purpose or even belonging.  If we think of this like the addict we might just see many familiar traits, both ending in death, and both being abundantly clear to the objective observer, this life was wasted in the greater context of life in general.  As I discussed earlier the cultural predication, we deserve an explanation, runs counter to any meaningful relationship we could possibly want or know.  Logical fallacy as a matter of course seems to be the ruling ideology of the day.  We can apply, as a culture, a system of fallacies which neither prove a point nor can be sustained as a pillar of an argument, and then we vacillate between fallacies in order to create false equilibriums of perceptions and right actions.  Supposition, as we know it today, is more an art form of fallacy, than it is of following and interpreting evidence of anything as one would deduce a set of clues.

To be sure, evil exists in our world, and this evil is set on the destruction of love, the separation of covenants, the diminution of family, and the belief there is nothing but what we see and what we know as the objective truth.  Our devotion to God, changes all of this.  I know evil exists, and I know this evil does terrible things to all people no matter the place or time, but I also am aware of an existence of the loving embrace of God.  This embrace is indicative above all else, which is as terrible as evil is, it becomes inconsequential to the overall narrative with which life has been written.  It is our choice to accept what we can’t change, but to know it is God who lifts us up, and not the other way around.  The topic of devotion to God, has filled the pages of books, beginning with the Gospels, epistles, writings of the Old Testament, and the inspired writing of authors for millennia.  I would never presume to come close to the writings of the masters who were titans to my insignificant attempts.  Though, if I had one take away to give to anyone reading, my life has utterly changed with my devotion to God.  For years I was stumbling around in a darkened room of awareness.  This awareness, seemingly innate, was telling me to open my eyes to the truth.  It was painful, to the extent, I wasn’t forced to tear anything down, and I gladly did so.  The truth hurt because it was growth, and any real growth in our lives should involve a level of pain.  The pain which I felt, in some cases has become the signal my devotion was right, and in other cases has become an expected portion of my spiritual growth.  I would be ridiculous to think my devotion to God was as simple as truth and understanding.  The hurt still hurt, the poor still exist, and the evil in this world still hunts the weak of spirit.  Our devotion to God, is our first line of defense against the, for lack of a better expression, ways of evil this world chooses to thrive on.

None of us are immune to sin, and we’ve all let our devotion wane from time-to-time, but the redemption we seek is a matter of accepting the truth.  Hans Urs Von Balthasar remarked about the “theo-drama”, a play which is produced, directed, and written by God, only to be countered by the “ego-drama” which is a play written, directed, produced, and stars us.  This is something we all insist on being in, and why our devotion seemingly diminishes or at least teeters on a brink at all times.  We are all cast in God’s “theo-drama” some big, some small, but the truth is we have the perfect part, one written especially for us.  This is the truth, no one want to witness a play where one actor upstages all, and demands more than others.  Instead, we want to be a part of something which allows our devotion to expose the relevancy of our existence as it translates to the creator.  We want to play the part with the most love we can provide.  Remember, truth isn’t a matter of interpretation, it just is, as God is “ispsum esse subsistens”, the very nature of being itself.  God isn’t changed and will forever continue on the path of existence within our lives whether we accept this truth or not.  I hope I’ve brought salient points of interest to the forefront of your mind with what I’ve written, at the very least, hopefully these topics will allow you to think and discern the needed devotion to God and the way in which you love yourself, those closest around you, and for better or worse the world.  I pray God places many blessings over you and your family, and these abundant blessings will help you attain a new perspective on your devotion to life and God.

 

God is good, all the time, and all the time, God is good!!!

 

Featured

Are You Wandering In The Desert?

God’s Grace is the living breathing functionality of love, and then all at once it culminates in the one great sacrifice, Jesus.  Within this sacrifice, we see the desert for what it really is, a treacherous gift.

From time-to-time we hear about someone wandering the desert, and I’m not sure we assume a literal translation but either something of a metaphor or an allegory to teach us what we may need to know. At the very least, remind us of what we’ve forgotten.  However, if we look at the overall paradigm of our lives and their relation to an eternal existence, we see how the wandering we do in this desert of life is set more profoundly than we could ever imagine.  There is a deeper meaning to all of this, if we’re willing to look around and ask those hard questions which never come with easy answers.  This desert write about, seeks to confuse us with mirages and the promise of salvation just over the next hill.  This false hope we chase is bent on giving us an earthly fulfillment but when we really examine the fountain of knowledge we see, we find nothing more than the proverbial sand and wind so many have endured before.  So, are we truly lost in a desert?  Are we being led to the oasis which is a truthful promise of our life and salvation, or are we just wandering aimlessly, just filling time as we see it? Do we attach ourselves to those people who will help lead us through the desert of life, and do we trust them enough to help lead us?  The next question which comes to my mind, is who do we trust, and how do we know to trust them?

I’ve read, and listened to speakers talk about the wanderings of Jesus, as he didn’t so much wander in the desert, but embraced it.  Jesus, fervently approached a time of fasting and want as those necessary steps in the ultimate sacrifice he would inevitable make for each one of us.  St. Theresa of Lisieux, who in her writing “Story of A Soul”, remarks over and over again about her excitement in the sacrifice which would be asked of her.  Her story of course, is an extraordinary one, but not a story of bewilderment.  She approached The Trinity with a fervor and an innocence, I’ve never encountered before.  Her laments in life were over what we would admonish as a mere triviality, and yet she begged in some ways for hardships and tests so as to prove her devotion.  She aggressively pursued a relationship with God, this pursuit, until her death, was a reflection of the vigor Jesus displayed to all of us as he walked in the desert.

pexels-photo-226460.jpeg

So, the question comes back to the forefront.  How and who do we know to trust to lead us through the desert we wander in life?  I know it’s too simple to suggest we listen to the voice of God, but in truth, this is the answer.  Quiet yourself, allow your heart, your ears, and your soul to hear the silent voice of God as you begin to pray.  It’s not a matter of sitting still, though it can be, but more a matter of the willingness to be patient and focus on all around us.  To sit in awe, as it were, and notice every inch of every movement, and every sway of every branch to be the integral creation (beyond our mere comprehension) of God.  God’s Grace is the living breathing functionality of love, and then all at once it culminates in the one great sacrifice, Jesus.  Within this sacrifice, we see the desert for what it really is, a treacherous gift.  I know this may sound like your standard oxymoron, but let’s think about it.  In past writings, I imbued the concept of falling, not for the sake of our pain, but for the instrument of God’s love in the greater cognitive reality of our lives.  We stumble, that we might realize the need and love in our lives provided by God.  Isn’t this true for everything?

I had a discussion with my wife the other day, and we talked about the incomprehensibility of people only willing to accept part of a truth.  In other words, they cherry pick what is important to their point and seemingly forget the rest, although to fully accept the truthful logic presented, one must accept the whole truth.  We can’t drive the car without gas, we need all of it for it to work.  The objective truth, is neither concerned or acknowledges ignorance or willful disobedience.  Though you cannot willfully acknowledge an untruth and carry with you the credence of logic or proper discourse, there will always exist and fallacy of truth exposed by the existence of objective truth.   It just is, and in its being, we can either accept or deny.  Even though we can exist in the gray matter of ambiguity, we are still challenged to accept or deny as a matter of faith, logic, understanding, and pursuit.  Some of us get into trouble, pursuing an ends, which is neither truthful nor morally sound.  We attempt to pursue a pathway which is untruthful, whether we acknowledge this or not.  Any pathway which leads us from the truth carries with it, the opposite of love, and the opposite of God.

pexels-photo-326642.jpeg

Ok, so why is the desert of life a treacherous gift, because we need this gift to understand who we are and who God is to us.  We need those hill which move constantly, and those hidden enemies which test us at every turn, but more importantly we need the mundane and never ending perception of blandness to remind us our sacrifice and struggle in our lives and those of the people we come in contact with are the most important.

If any one of us has ever been in a desert, you will find, there is a rugged beauty to what we see.  This goes away quickly, and what we begin to see, is harshness.  There is no water, the animals which seem to inhabit this forsaken land are treacherous.  Snakes, scorpions, and even the plants are all living warnings telling us to stay out.  Though, after our initial shock (especially in life), we begin to look past the epidermal layer of fear, and notice a whole new world of beauty.  We come back to the rugged beauty of our surroundings and we notice, on a deeper level the colors, the movement, the history, and the uniqueness of those entities which desire to keep us out.  With enough time, we are no longer worried about the danger, but wish to explore a newer brighter world which pushes us further and further into the exterior of everything we know, and we push past the barriers to see everything.  All the while, we rely on a deeper voice, God’s Voice, to give us direction in where we must go.

This is where I’ve been in my life, not truly knowing where to go or what to do.  Many friends and family have benefited from the clarity of purpose in their lives as a focus on family or careers.  I wasn’t blessed with this type of focus, but for me, the clarity of a more providential purpose has been my focus of faith.  How do I translate my faith into purpose for my life, and for those around me?  How can I become a true reflection of light to everyone I meet?  In the end, this hasn’t been easy, to say the least.  I seem to be challenged at every turn, either from my relationships in a professional or social environment, to my son and his never-ending challenge to what seems like me personally.  I would translate this as when we first step into the desert, and our perception of the desert.  How we must take everything in before we can truly appreciate it all.  It’s not about the paradigm of the desert, but rather, it is about our recognition of mission as we journey through the desert.

pexels-photo-1058068.jpeg

In my personal relationships with people, and the frustrations which come along with these relationships, I find there is excitement in getting to know the people and finding out about them personally.  This can be difficult to a large extent, especially when everyone is so guarded these days, and we all seem to exhibit an atmosphere of underlying hostility towards society at large.  Though, if we can only imagine, we have opportunities everyday to show God’s light in every situation we are faced with.  Now, I’m not writing this with an exuberant level of optimism, but instead, our situations are loving means to our inevitable ends.  The end being an eternal relationship with a loving God, who desires to be with us and longs for us with open arms.

This becomes the paradigm we exist in, if we accept our faith journey, then truly no matter the situation, our faith becomes paramount.  I know this seems in some ways rudimentary, but the real questions are can we apply this new focus on faith to all situations?  For instance, you’re diagnosed with an inoperable and incurable disease, given only months to live.  Can you accept you’re almost through the wandering desert of your life and although this last challenge will be the hardest, it will be the one you gain the most insight, the most ability to love, and the greatest opportunity to show God’s love.

As we believe we are truly lost in this life, truly lost in this desert, this is where we should be learning to let go and give God the control.  Ok, so what does it mean to give control?  Control, is another way of saying to be patient, accept not everything will go your way, but above all show the true light of God and give love at every turn of your life.  To accept one’s way as a matter of course and quit lamenting the perceived negatives is the first step in our personal focus to look past the barren landscape of the desert and we start to see the colors and beauty of God’s work.  St. Theresa looked forward to the hardships of life, and her laments were more concerned with the frivolities and luxuries of life.  Jesus was asked by a wealthy man with many possessions, because he followed all the commandments, what must be done to inherit the Kingdom of God, and Jesus’s response was “Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said to him, “You are lacking in one thing. Go, sell what you have, and give to [the] poor and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.” (Mark 10:21-23) Truly all which is being stated here, isn’t the obvious, but instead the focus of our lives.  How can we accept God, if we can’t give ourselves to the journey?  The journey of our wandering through the proverbial desert has become our mission as we seek God.  In Mark, Jesus was asking quite literally and figuratively to follow him.  In the literal sense, he desires us to drop our worldly need for possessions as we seek him, and in the figurative sense, Jesus seemingly was eluding to our ability to focus on the beauty of life, even as we walk through the desert.

So, as I begin to focus on my own desert, I realize, I need my children to challenge me to be a better father.  It’s at those times when my consternation is at a heightened level, I begin to see the colors with which God painted the sands of my life.  They are truly beautiful, and I’m blessed with an abundance of joy and gifts truly given to me by God.  Just now, as I’m writing this, I receive a wonderful blessing as my son tells me goodnight.  He is growing to be a handsome and responsible young man.  He has his whole life ahead of him, and yet he still finds the time to come and tell his old man good night.  I’m not saying this is what fatherhood is about, but instead it is one of God’s blessings to allow me and his mother an ability to focus on our task as our son’s parents to teach him about God’s love in its completeness as we understand it.

I’m not saying I have everything figured out, in fact, I don’t.  I get more things wrong than I get right, and this frustrates me almost to the point of exhaustion.  Though, I see everyday the light shining brighter and brighter in my life.  With every passing moment and every written word, I find more strength to become a reflection of this light and become a beacon for others who wonder in their own deserts.  This has been done for me, by my parents, and by those people who have entered the pathway in my life and lovingly helped me.

pexels-photo-372098.jpeg

Why do we wander?  I think above all else, we wander because we are looking to be filled, much like the man who was unwilling to give away his possessions.  We want eternal love, but at first, we might just be too unwilling to put in the work, especially for something we can neither tangibly see or know.  However, this is our faith.  This is the journey, to give one’s self over to God, even when everyone disagrees.  To wander the desert with him, and know, he holds us up through everything which comes our way.  To realize, although things don’t turn out the way we imagined or wanted, to assume we know the narrative of God’s plan is to become the epitome of arrogance.  This is perhaps why we wonder the most, we allow our egos to interceded and decide our path, instead of our hearts.  We look for excitement, instead of love.  Love is our decision, a decision to accept what we cannot change, a decision to embrace who we are and why God loves us.

I hope as you wander through your desert of life, you seek the reflection of God’s light in those around you to indicate which way you should go.  Don’t rely on easy answers for your journey, but don’t expect every step to be drudgery.  Look around, look at God’s beauty in everything.  Who hasn’t ever watched a storm roll in and been amazed by God’s presence in nature?  I know this is an overused line, but stop and smell the roses, and then look deeper into the pistil and the petals.  Go further and think about the design of something so insignificant yet so beautiful in this world.  When God goes to this level for something like a rose, imagine to what level He would go for you.  You are precious in His eyes, and because of his love he longingly wants you to see the beautiful canvas He’s painted for you.  I pray God blesses you and your family in everything you do!!!

 

 

God is good, all the time, and all the time, God is good!!!

pexels-photo-208414.jpeg

Featured

How Right Are We?

We need to be humbled, we need to seek redemption, and we can only do this by a self-reflective quality which will manifest itself in the silence we seek within the rightness of God’s voice!

Last week I had the pleasure and in some cases the burden of reading N.T. Wright’s book on St. Paul (Saul of Tarsus).  The burden lay in my extreme lack of knowledge of a person who was so instrumental in developing the Christian theology as we practice it today.  This burden was pouring through the details and minutiae which existed based on Wright’s expert knowledge of the subject.  The pleasure in the reading was focused on learning the human aspects of a man, whom God personally chose, to bring the news of life to all peoples.  His focus was primarily on the conversion to Christ.  Christ, whom Paul never met, but who spoke with him on the fated road to Damascus.  The blinding light, the voice, and the redemption given to Paul to proselytize the Christian mission until his dying days.  So, this is where I would like to begin, and discuss the mission, the perceptions Paul faced and how we seem to face very similar derisive decisions in our own world today.  How does this affect our daily lives as husbands and fathers, and just how can we fall more in love with God?

I think it might be fair to say, the ancient world was a tough place to live.  From disease, short-lives, warring regimes, autocratic rule, religious fervor, and hard physical work.  We see a lot to be miserable about but this isn’t what we find when we explore the words of Jesus or the disciples.  We see tremendous hope in the face of the gravest danger, and this is compounded by conditions which would cause any one of us to shrink in our seats with fear.  We see in numerous writings the joy which seemed to be infectious for those early Christian believers, a willingness to enter the homes of strangers, and the walls of societal implement being torn down to receive the open arms of love.  If we were to believe what we see today, we might just think the world was in its own handbasket to hell.  Everyone utilizes their own supposition based on nothing more than just their perceptions, and in the process they go through to know and understand why they believe something amounts to little more than a cursory search of multimedia pictures and click-bait ads.  We are all experts at everything, and we all don’t need to be told how to do anything, especially by older people who are out of touch with reality, right?  Wrong!

books-shelves-architecture-wood-442420.jpeg

Something which occurred to me when I was reading Wright’s book was, how does he know all of this information?  How can he know so much about a person who lived 2,000 years ago, and at best had very little written to explain motives and understandings of this person?  It hit me with clarity, he knows because of his extensive knowledge of historical writings, of personal experience, of teaching and researching this topic ad nausea, and the culmination of his life’s work allows him to intelligently speak about topics which are as foreign to us as Greek (assuming you don’t speak Greek, but if you do that’s awesome).  The more and more I looked into a person’s expertise the more I was astounded at the authors who neither have an expertise (including myself) and the numbers of people so willing to listen to a person who has no basis of knowledge whatsoever.   I’m not saying the people who aren’t experts are going to make competent comparisons and analysis, but there is a great risk in accepting what is said at face value.  Though we do this on a daily basis.  We listen to the news, and we think because of the perception of the person delivering the news, we can trust what they have to say.  Because the news isn’t so important we must check it daily, we accept stories with little to no fact as truth, and we buy into the acceptance of ideologies which neither have the capability to encapsulate our society nor explain it very well at all.

Non-Expert experts are everywhere.  Their form is usually deceiving, and as life goes leads us down a path of regret and selfishness.  I have been down this path, and I would owe it all to my inability to distinguish between what was really truth and what was not.  I listened to anything which sounded like it made sense, and then built a cognitive stream of thought in order to rest my back upon this new founded information.  At the end of the day though, there always seemed to be a “fly in the ointment” and would cause me to give up my new opinions or beliefs about something.  After a period of time, this became so disconcerting, I almost felt like giving up.  There seemed to be no redemptive quality in my actions, and the more I tried the more it seemed to compound me and cause a disconcerting turn of events to unfold against me.

This was when I began to realize, perhaps I should go deeper in to the meanings and trappings of life and find out a truer purpose than to just live.  This presented me with a challenge, questions down to the very fiber of who I was.  Questions which threatened to dismantle everything I ever thought I believed.  Who is God to me, and just where do I think I go when I die?  These questions have taken many years, and it seems to me, I always knew the answer, but my need to hang on to what was in this life carried precedence, to my shame.

pexels-photo-374918.jpeg

My questions needed to be answered by those people who seemed to float in and out of my life, by the circumstances of everyday and the experiences I dealt with daily.  I was given answers to these questions when I least expected it, but people I never thought would have the answers, and most importantly my humiliation was key to a realization of humility which for me is soul saving.  This isn’t to presume I don’t continue to make mistakes daily, as though I’m in a contest to win a prize for the person who makes dumb decisions.  I still have days which make me scratch my head and wonder just how I could have done something so selfish or stupid.  However, on the overall scheme of things, I see a growth in myself which seems to breed an overflowing abundance of joy.

Those times which I just knew I was right, I was completely wrong, and this acknowledgement of my own flawed paradigm gave me the clarity to realize.  We are all like this, we are seeking to prove our points of rightness, but we are all guilty of a failure to realize we don’t know everything.  Not only do we not understand or have the ability to conceive everything in a competent way, we are miserable at it.  Oh sure, we have experts on the law, on art, or ever on politics.  Though, I find most people are seeking some truth in life, to become an expert in anything else is a way to fill the gaps in the more important question, who is God to you?

Ok, so the gauntlet has been thrown down.  Is God your main point of purpose?  Do you wake up and constantly think about God throughout your day?  For most people the answer is no, and they have their “right” way of perception and a belief in their “rightness”.  However this amounts to little more than a grasping of earthly footholds in an attempt to ascend a mountain of unknowable dimensions.  The only way to truly ascend this mountain is to allow God’s loving hand to gently set us atop.  The analogous understanding in all of this is, we are always in God’s hand and when we attempt to do it ourselves, we are trying to leave the grasp of the one who loves us the most.  Think back on times, in your own family when you push away those who would love you unconditionally, and in your attempt to free yourself and possess the “rightness” you so desired, you were willing to hurt in the most egregious ways.

This is where I’ve been, I’ve been at the precipice of life thinking I was completely right, and when finally exposed to the objective truth, I was shocked.  I was shocked at just how little thought I put into those things which required the most thought, and I was shocked at the depths with which I was accepted by those whom I hurt the most.  This prompted me to begin to look at the world in a completely different way.  I was willing to explore everything in its deepest way, to search for the meaning I could find in all of it.  Believe me, this can be exhausting, but in the best possible way.  The most exhausting part of my new perception has been to realize, most people don’t want to go too deep for fear of getting the answer I was so afraid to find out myself.  Some people are sure, like I was, I am wrong and they don’t want to hear what I have to say which brings me to the next big point.  A knowledge of the truth isn’t about telling everyone you meet, it’s about showing everyone you meet.  Let them figure out through observation and discussion just why you are who you are.  Let them know, your only motivation in life is the pursuance of God’s love.  In this and only in this can you be a reflection of Christ’s light.

Now this isn’t to say, when you meet people you are bound to silence, we aren’t Trappist, but what we are, are people in awe of God.  Delving deeply in to a love for God, means simply finding the deepest possible meaning in everything, even those which aim to hurt us and cause a tearing of the fabric to which we would cling in this life.  It will present a paradigm, whereby God is our focus, and because we can never hope to completely comprehend his reasoning, we can accept it more fully.

My role as a father is a challenge every day, my wife challenged me a few days ago about my need to be more as a father to my kids.  This wasn’t accepted well, but she wasn’t wrong.  Her observations of my actions, and furthermore willingness to face my anger over her understanding of “rightness” as it pertains to the objective truth, was what my soul needed to accept the task, one more time, to try harder as a father.  I was also challenged to accept, I wasn’t right in this instant, I was completely wrong.  My back also felt this, as I was presented with a night on the couch as a means of my stubbornness to prove just how right I was.

As it just so happens, when I was more level headed the next day, and for all intents and purposes very humbled by just how wrong I actually was.  I could see a definitive change in my interactions with everyone.  It was as if I had been walking around in the dark, and suddenly the room was filled with bright light to illuminate the fact I was always standing near the door.  My wife is a true reflection of God’s light in my life, and she is right most of the time because of this.  I can only hope to have as much fervor and love for God as she does.  I have so long to go, but I’m not discouraged in the least way.  I am looking forward to my journey.  I have conversed with several people about what I write, both good and bad, but I’ve learned something from everyone.  I am so very thankful for God’s graces to be poured out in the manner in which I’ve received them.  My stubborn need to be right, and my acceptance of just how wrong has been the sanctified understanding, my life is meant for more than just waking up and doing a job while running through the motions.

wrongway

No matter what is happening to us at any given time, we must look deeper in to whatever it is we do.  In most cases, as they pertain to life and God overall, we might just find we are more wrong than we are right.  This should humble each and everyone one of us!  When I entered my graduate program for business many years ago, I was challenged by a professor who asked each and every one of us, if we were aware of just how much we didn’t know.  When I was asked, all I could see was a forest of knowledge and me standing on its edge fearfully waiting to enter.  Don’t let fear hold you back from pursuit of God, don’t let fear dictate what you will or won’t do when it comes to the truth.  Don’t be afraid of fear, don’t be subject to the paralysis which accompanies a fearful life.  Go out and be a disciple of Christ, and spread the message of God through your works.  As fathers and husbands, we must do this, we must be the example to our kids and our spouses.  Although they may not say it to us, they rely on us.  Although, my wife keeps me centered on us, she needs me to do the same for her when it comes down to it, but she also needs to be evenly yoked with me.  Which above all else requires my dedication to my marriage and my family.  If one spouse is doing all the work, the burden will be too heavy to sustain and will eventually cause the dissolution of the marriage, the failure of the covenant before God.  When we let go and give everything we have to God, then although the world will still continue to move around us, we will have joy about it.  Although we will still face hardness of hearts and times which cause deep sadness, we will still have joy in the understanding we are here for more than what amounts to a glimmer of time.  We are here for more than to just be right, we are here to be wrong and recognize it.  We need to be humbled, we need to seek redemption, and we can only do this by a self-reflective quality which will manifest itself in the silence we seek within the rightness of God’s voice!

I do hope some of my words will help, especially if you are struggling today with your life.  You are truly loved and you are truly special in God’s eyes, but also every Christian who stops and answers those questions I posed to myself.

So I want to ask one more time, for you, as well as for myself.  Who is God to you?  Where will you go when you die?  I hope these questions are a permanent fixture in your life from this day forward, if they already weren’t.  Joy in life isn’t about being right, it’s about filling yourself up on the abundance of love provided only by God.  May God bless you and your family!!!

 

God is good, all the time, and all the time, God is good!!!

 

host

Featured

Is Stubbornness a Good Thing?

“Are we satisfied with cultural status quo, and are we better served to leave things as they are or search for an objective truth?”

I think it’s fair to say, anyone who has ever met me and of course known me for any time at all would characterize me as being a little stubborn.  Once I have something set in my mind about what anything should or should not be, I’m almost impossible to convince otherwise.  In my defense, I spent inordinate amounts of time searching for an answer before setting my mind to a point.  Therefore, I’m a little stubborn when it comes to what I think, and how I interpret what is happening.  I will also argue, as my mom has stated for years, “with a brick wall, if he thinks he can win”.  True as well, I’m not satisfied with listening to anyone’s point which carries either a logical fallacy, or clearly hasn’t been thought out well.  This is a common phrase I hear from people when I talk about something and proceed to enter a deeper thought stream regarding the point, “I don’t know, I just don’t think about things that deeply, most people don’t look at it that way!”.  At this point, I almost can’t see straight with the ludicrousness with the phrase just spoken to me.  Whereby I will begin to start justifying why I do what I do, and hope (at least in the back of my mind), they nod and say, ‘you know what, you’re right, I was wrong in how I perceived things my whole life”.  So, this is a mountain of stubbornness, I’ve been working on most of my life.  I think people could agree, stubbornness can be good in some instances, and because of a prideful affect detrimental in other situations.  I want to write a little on just what these have done to really create a positive and negative situation in my life, and perhaps we have similar stories.

From the earliest age I can remember, I could think fast, and usually fast enough to have a quick-witted, and usually unkind response to anything anyone stated.  Sometimes, my responses were met with laughter and other times a look of awkwardness on the faces of people standing near me as if I’d relieved myself completely unawares.  In fact, I’ve made a true ass of myself so many times, I qualify some statements to people with a phrase, “I hope what I’m about to say isn’t offensive to you”.  Over the years, I’ve taken a more rigid and institutional look at my opinions as they pertain to my discussions and found, if I don’t have any experience and I’m not well read on the topic, it’s probably best I keep the information to myself.  This has given me great results over the last few years, but I still step in it from time-to-time.  What I will say is, because I’ve tripped up so many times in the past, I feel as if I’ve got a good point of reference when talking to my kids.  I can literally see what they’re doing and remember when I did the same thing, and I can tell them (not that they listen that much) not to do whatever it is they’re going to do.  My stubbornness in its infancy has created a stubborn need to keep pursuing a correctness and in some way perfection to “get it right”.  Nowadays, I would rather read ten books about a topic before talking about it, because I don’t want to be embarrassed again.  I think we can all reason with this in some small way, no one wants to be humiliated because they didn’t think something out properly and were eviscerated by another’s argument to a point, the scar can still be felt a decade later.

pexels-photo-346796.jpeg

I feel like stubbornness is like a mutant power from the X-Men and all I’ve needed to do was harness it.  Of course, this is a silly notion on the surface, but when we delve a little deeper, we see truly everything should be something like this notion of expertise.  I have natural ability to argue, or at least pick a side and think cogent thoughts to make my point.  I don’t always convince, but at the same time, they don’t walk away from the table saying to themselves, I have no idea what he was saying.  However, at the same time, I spend more time stirring up whatever it is I’m talking about, instead of true points of conviction being harnessed.  My stubborn nature finds this to be a goal worthy of pursuing, but not at the cost of anything or anyone else.  I can see the same nature in my children when they want me to allow them to do something, I otherwise said, “no”, to and I’m asking them to convince me.

All of this is less of an attempt to show anyone I know what I’m talking about, than to raise the question, “Are we satisfied with cultural status quo, and are we better served to leave things as they are or search for an objective truth?”.  On the surface when I ask people about this, they always say, “objective truth, of course”; however, when they are confronted with the actual objective truth, they tend to shy away and back track.  It seems the truth has a way of confronting anyone, especially if their beliefs are wrong, or their understandings are completely inaccurate, of exposing them and at the same time in the silence of their minds shaming them.  Who wants to be shamed, I sure as heck don’t, so like many people, I myself have run the opposite direction of truth many times.

However, do we have the stubbornness to eventually accept, we were wrong, and then to move in the direction of truth, no matter what castigating vitriol we must face to get the truth we seek?  Take for instance our political climate we deal with from day-to-day, currently we have three relevant perspectives.  All three have in their own ways valid points of view, and all three have relevant areas of needed development.  For many years I tottered with an idea where I would look to the most relevant at any given time, but the problem with looking at things this way makes subjectivity (my truth) the qualifier.  This never works, because my subjectivity could change from day-to-day, as many people’s perspectives do in our ever-changing cultural landscape.  In this case, what does a man of faith do?  Do I hang on to a platitude as a common phrase spoken, or do I challenge myself to pursue the objective.  Since asking myself this question many years ago, I’ve concluded (see why I’m so stubborn), objectivity is the only way to pursue anything at all.  This means, principles must be adhered to, and objectivity is always the pursuit of truth in everything.  We should be stubborn about this.  We should always apply a litmus test, which when it doesn’t pass, the point is cast aside until another can challenge and defeat the point we now possess.  The great thing about objective truth as we pursue this understanding with our completely stubborn nature is, it is what it is and we can see in the entirety a fairer way will never be met past a certain point.

pexels-photo-277052.jpeg

Take for instance an argument where one player takes an argument to a valid extreme, but the other player, because of recognition of the truth which has just been exposed fails to acknowledge this truth and either ridicules or dismisses what was stated almost immediately.  So, out of stubbornness, because the first player sees the truth, they try again, and once again the second player refuses the attempt.  Is it at this point, player one should relinquish their pursuit or continue to challenge?  In my experience, player one should stop, otherwise their stubborn need to be right will subvert anything they could hope to attain through this conversation.  Ideas are seeds meant to be planted in the mind of another, if they are truthful, all ever need be done is to plant and leave alone.  If we continue to pursue without changing our perspective we, risk uprooting whatever has been done.  Therefore, in an argument, an extreme case should always be offered to meet the extreme confines of the paradigm, and if shown not to destroy the argument, you’ve attained a truth, at least within the argument.  Maintaining this principle out of stubborn pride, is wrong, but maintaining this principle out of a stubborn need for a pursuit of objectivity is right.

So how do we know when we should pump the brakes or continue ahead?  Are there warning signs to let us know when we may be taking it too far?  Of course, there are warning signs, but generally experience is the only way to recognize, unless we get a “life” coach and the coach can be with us every day of the week and will sit back quietly to watch our actions, and based on their experience will only speak up when they can see us going awry with our actions.  I’m not sure about anyone else, but I think this would be a silly notion. Which usually leads to another parallel, as smart as people may be, there is no substitution of experience.  Thinking one’s way out of a situation is terrific, but only one theoretical point of view is grasped within this convention of solution.  When we hire, or promote anyone with experience to a position of leadership or coaching, we are really looking for a successful track record of experience which will allow for difficult situations to occur, as they do in anything, but to have a leader at the helm who knows exactly how to handle them.  Within most police departments there is usually a minimum amount of time before anyone can be considered a supervisor, not because an effort to discriminate is prevailing, but simply a matter of time must exist for a potential candidate to attain supervisory levels needs the experience to handle what ultimately, they will need to know when faced with similar situations under their watch.  I think it would be a good use of stubbornness to continue an effort holding to a standard such as this; when we allow some levels of hubris to enter our stubborn pursuits, we will always fall short of any glory we hope to have.

I will admit, in the last couple of weeks, I’ve taken my stubbornness superpower to the very next level.  In my attempt to teach my children and a husband to my loving wife, I’ve failed miserably.  I’ve been so stubborn as not to take the advice of my wife or recognize the imploring needs of my children for one thing or another.  It’s so easy to write off what I do, or rather what any of us do as a matter of course or in the end, we never meant to achieve such dubious goals in life.  Though with much thought, I must admit, I failed them at this point, and it’s up to me to make it better.  I was fortunate to listen to a wonderful homily given by our local priest, and his explanation of fear was one of the best I’ve ever heard.  His exemplification of the normal paradigm we all face was our lack of doing what is right comes from the innate fear we have for whatever it is we attempt.  His point was rather, if we fail to do anything at all, it has more to do with our own failure to attempt to accomplish a goal, and saying to ourselves, “I’m no good for any of this, so why even try”.  So, in retrospect, we fear the change of life, so we subordinate ourselves to being stubborn, so in futility we hope we can stop time by saying “no”.  This is where I’ve been for the last couple of weeks, my focus has been on me and what I want, rather than sacrificing my time for God.

So, if you will forgive my absence from writing over the last couple weeks, and if you will accept my confession of selfishness and the stubborn pursuit of “me”.

At the end of the day, no one person is immune to a condition of stubbornness; the real question happens to be more a matter of do we have the self-reflective ability to change our ways when we can see the bigger picture and realize our actions are going nowhere.  Being able to step back from whatever paradigm we happen to live in and look at outside influences and apply a healthy principled foundation to whatever decision we make will help all of us be better men, fathers, and husbands.  Our roles in this world require of us a tremendous responsibility, so being stubborn until you have the full objective truth is an absolute must.  Don’t ever bend to the feelings of society, especially when you know those subjective feelings can turn on you in an instant.  May God bless you and your family!!!

 

God is good all the time, and all the time, God is good!!!

cross-symbol-christian-faith-faith-161078.jpeg

Featured

Why Do We Never Have Enough Time?

God’s love isn’t about rules, it’s about the pursuance of his affection, and in this pursuance, your guidelines to stay on the lighted path will appear to be rules, but really, they are instructions to find your way home.

Do we ever really have enough time in our lives to do what we want to do?  So, there seems to be two valid yet disqualifying answers when we really think about our lives.  Yes, we always have plenty of time to do what is needed.  At the same time, do we ever truly do what we ought to do?  The answer to the second question seems to be a resounding, “no!”  For me personally, I find a multitude of items to fill the space, and none of them ever completely fill the void.  Instead seemingly prolong an internal agony I feel constantly by not placing the most primary goals and items in my life in the appropriate order.  Deep down the worst part is I really do know where I need to be, but my laziness, and indeed acacia have proven to get the better of me.  I know a deep recognition resides in the most quiet and resolute places of my soul.  Those places which recognize God as being my sole purpose in life, but instead of keeping his love and presence as front and center to my everyday actions, I find I seek out, with what time I have something other than the truth as a replacement.  So, when I do finally realize my shortcoming, I say to myself, “I never have enough time!”.  Which, for all intents and purposes, is one more lie to myself and to God, whom I love but not enough to be honest.

pexels-photo-343416.jpeg

Ok, so here’s the rub, we are all given a specified amount of time to exist in this earthly life, and we are challenged to live life to the fullest.  I once heard a homily given by a priest friend, who exclaimed, we should be living every day as though it is our last.  We should be living every day as if we were given the terminal diagnosis, which interpreted properly gives a time-stamp to our days.  A gift as it were, a period for us to realize our own mortality and make best use of time.  I am sure many people look on death or the circumstances of sickness and then subsequent death as an awful transaction of a godless world, but I don’t see it this way at all.  We are all creations of God, and in the process of living an earthly life we must live it fully, loving all we are in contact with, and at the same time finding our own path (lighted by God) to fall in love with the One True God.  Since all our pathways are separate but uniquely convergent as well, we find intersections of pain and loss along the way.  No one enjoys pain, hence the word, but to the extent we experience life, isn’t most of our life attenuated by the reduction of pain?  Think back on a time where we did experience a real pain, perhaps a loss of a loved one, or the failure of a much-anticipated goal.  Didn’t we learn from our experience, don’t we carry that pain in some small measure with us?  If it is true pain, doesn’t it linger with us, when our presence of mind is consulted about what we should do next?  The entire misconception is, we are the doctors to affect the healing of our own pain.  We aren’t, how many doctors have you ever met, perform open heart surgery on themselves, it just doesn’t happen, but without the much-needed surgery, they will die.  The surgeon must rely on another to help in the process of dealing with the pain, and then in the process of moving past the pain.  An open-heart surgery patient, if coaxed to do so, will indicate what they’ve dealt with in overcoming their pain as it relates to the physical and mental of the surgery.  Isn’t this like those of us who’ve dealt with some form of pain in their lives?  A properly healed wound isn’t something someone is afraid of confronting, but a wound still in need of proper healing will continue to fester and with writhe with pain.  When asking myself the question of time, and realizing I was avoiding the answer all along, the recognition of my avoidance, and the flood of a realization of the emotional and spiritual pain which has crippled me the whole time was an experience everyone should realize.

My pain exhibited its traits in my poor attitude towards people and life, in my avoidance of people and events, but most importantly it affected my decisions towards those I love and those I was always meant to love.  This avoidance, or sin as we all know it by, is one of the most powerful weapons the devil has as an influence over us, the confrontation of pain is something our culture would much rather do without.  Look at the world around us, we can’t speak truth for fear of the environment it will cause, or the offense it may give to another because of what we think or say.  Our feelings are the emotive equivalent to the Washington Monument, apparently, and defacing our emotions at the expense of reality has become verboten among large groups of people today.  This is never truer when we confront the truth of God, and for doubters out there, truth doesn’t care if you believe, it just is.  Now, just imagine being a skeptic all your life and then suddenly realize everything you think didn’t exist does, and not only that, you have a lot to make up.  You think to yourself, I just might not have time to make up for all the lost time.  Never fear, you have time, if the God of all can raise a life from the dead, then you can repent and believe.

monks-path-sunset-landscape.jpg

Where does this leave us then?  Where do we go with our time?  Should we just hang it all up and enter the cloister with the Franciscans?  Well, if you feel this is the life you should lead, and with proper guidance from a spiritual director, then I pray for your journey!  If you are like me, and have a wife and kids, then this is the real question.  How do we have a life focused on God, but not oppressive to the people we love the most?  The answer is once again, simple and yet seemingly a matter of personal perspective as it translates to what is best for each one of us.  Some of us are challenged to enter the cloister, perhaps some are challenged to see a perspective of life dealing with personal physical sacrifice, there are those of us who must accept loss as their path, and even those who deal with their own pain as it translates to their loved ones.  Whatever the path might be, the time focused on God’s Graces, as they pertain to each and everyone of us, is a matter of significance.  Like any loving relationship, God allows us the free will to choose what we will do.  To make a determined decision to either fall in love with Him or walk away.  What we will all inevitably see is, our choice to walk away ends in a determination, we never had enough time.  We never did enough, we never made enough, we never experienced enough, but in the end, with God as out focus we will be completely full.  No regrets, at least not in the manner of seeking God, except to lament not doing more to grow the unconditional love we seek.

prayer

Perhaps there are events in your life, I know there are in mine, where I regret the decisions I made, no matter the significance or the inscrutable circumstances which surround my regrets, they are mine and mine alone.  Even to have someone I truly love and care for tell me to move forward doesn’t always wash away my guilt or recognition of the delta which exists between what was right and what was wrong.

As time continues to march on in my life, and my hair gets more and more grey with each passing year, I find my memory serves me well, I forget those things which cause great pain, and I seem to remember those which brought me the most joy.  I fully believe this is a Grace poured upon me by God, because the devil wants nothing more than for us to relieve the hurt we cause or the pain we felt, this is ideal way for him to keep his liar’s clutch on us.

Suppose there are things about you or someone you love which are almost too much to bear or at least you think they are.  Consider this, stop wasting time, confess your sins, reconcile their impact in you life and the lives of other, and rectify your decision.  Your decision to waste time, your decision to push yourself further from the loving gaze of God.  Realize, you have time for what you make time for, and in the process of learning what is most important, realize those who want to fill your life and embrace them.

When I was in school, I was not a part of the “in-crowd” I performed on stage and spent a great deal of time reading and philosophizing with my father and friends.  Over the years, I’ve had significant run-ins with people who seemed to look down upon me in school, but for reasons unknown matured and treated me as a person worthy of their attention.  I have subsequently done the same, and it occurred to me an analogy which in a manner of perspective sums up our lives and how we treat people or how we are treated.  Imagine yourself on a team of any kind.  This team has captains who receive all forms of adulation from everyone, some deserving and some not so deserving.  Then there is you and me, we serve the captain, we get the captain what they need whenever they ask for it.  In our eyes, we perform a valuable service, but in the eyes of the captain, he doesn’t even know our names, or possibly a nickname is given.  When the captain achieves a monumental victory everyone on the team is thanked but us, we are left to continue our seemingly subservient duties until we can move on to something more befitting our own aspirations or desires.  What did we learn from the experience?  We have two ways of looking at it, much like anyone might perceive.  The first way would be the most typical, we are stepped on because the captain imbues a level of sub-distinction on us, even if the work we did was exceptional.  The captain always thinks of their self as superior, even if they don’t come right out and say it, their actions speak louder than any utterance to move past their lips.  The second perspective can also look at the same situation and realize this, God is our focus, and much like Jesus washing the feet of Peter (John 13:5-9).  We are to make ourselves as servants to all, and in our humility, we glorify the one true God.  In our attempts to serve the captain we seek God’s love, in our search for God’s love we face the ridicule of the captain, but it doesn’t truly matter.  It doesn’t dampen our spirits, it just shows us we have much work to be done, if we choose to seek the light of Christ.  Christ, hanging from the cross, served all humankind by a humiliation never realized.  The Divine Christ allowed himself to be tortured, spat on, beaten, and crucified as a matter and an example to every one of us.  His efforts in their actions spoke to us saying, I love you, and I will die for you.  I will humiliate myself for you, give me your time and energies as I have given them to you.  Love me, because I love you so much.

pexels-photo-210590.jpeg

Ok, so where does your time focus at?  What will you do with the extra five minutes you have at lunch?  Will you help those people at your work, who struggle but need someone with a loving soul to figuratively wash their feet?  Remember, we are the subservient, we take the beatings because in our own sin we’ve given them out.

As husbands and fathers, we watch those we love the most treat us with love and disdain.  We watch a child, whom we nursed from sickness, stare into our eyes with utter contempt because we told them “no”, and they give not one second of thought to us when making poor decisions.  Though when they are in trouble they look to us for answers.  Did we not do this to our own parents, from time-to-time?  Were we not the “captains” in our perception of the game of life?  I know I was, I know I behaved abhorrently when it came to the people who loved me the most.

When we think about time, and we think about what we might have wasted, don’t let the fear of what people may think regarding decisions.  Your decision to love God, is a matter between you and God.  It doesn’t matter what people think, or say, or do.  What matters is the agape you have, the love sense to look towards true light of God, this is what will cleanse you and light your way.  Nothing any person can do will sanctify your life, except the sacrifice of Jesus, and worrying what another person my say or do in this life proves to be nothing more than wasted time.

If you feel like you’ve wasted time in your life, welcome to the club.  I wasted so much time, at first, I thought I needed to play catch-up.  What’s worse is I didn’t know what to do or where to look, I was running around trying to do everything, and this in an of itself cause levels of consternation with my family and I was perceived as being a priggish interlocutor condemning those who weren’t willing to see my perceived goals.  As I grew a little wiser in my relationship with God, it was only then did I see the humiliation I cause and faced my own humiliation.  I was embarrassed to know people disliked me because of how I treated them.  I was the “captain” and I treated those who were most willing to love me with contempt because I thought I was better.  I wasn’t, I truly desire to wash the feet of those who surround me, I am contemplative and want everyone I meet to know, I love them with the light of Christ.

pexels-photo-130111.jpeg

When you look at your wife tonight, realize how much she serves you and how much you should be serving her.  Realize, with her a grace has been poured upon both of you, and in this grace, you will reflect the light more fully to everyone you meet.  Recognize, the time spent teaching your children the ways of Christ will be worth every moment.  They won’t always understand, but be solid, be unwavering in your love.  God’s love isn’t about rules, it’s about the pursuance of his affection, and in this pursuance, your guidelines to stay on the lighted path will appear to be rules, but really, they are instructions to find your way home.

Don’t waste any more time, don’t give yourself any more excuses.  Seek God, ask for a transformation of your soul and the time to bring yourself into his fullness.  Spend just a few minutes each day in communion, conversation, confession if you can.  He desires this from us.  Don’t be the child who pushes the parent away, because they don’t understand why the parent said, “no”.  Instead, trust God knows what is best for us, if we would just be willing to accept the truth.  I’m sure there are many people in your life who will tell you, you are wasting your time, let them.  They need God’s love as much as we all do, so be the reflection of this love, so they will stop wasting their time.

I pray God’s light will enter your life, and illuminate the way for you, your path is your own.  Don’t waste any more time searching for sources of light which will neither illuminate your path or direct you down another’s misguided way.  Put God in the forefront, cognizant reaches of your mind and keep Him there always.  May God bless you and your family, always!!!

 

 

God is good, all the time, and all the time, God is good!!!

Featured

What is Faith Without Love?

We are called to do nothing more than to find the beauty in all others, and in our understanding of this beauty we can love our neighbor!

This is a question Paul asks in Corinthians 1,13:1-2.  A question, which at the times he preached was relevant, especially with the groupings of Jews relegated to focus of Jewish law as a means of living, for the one true God.  However, as we see time and again, within the Gospels, we see the challenges given to Jesus in a manner of what appears to be a question with no way out but answered flawlessly by Jesus.  So, in his answer, what was the one key ingredient the scribes and Pharisees were missing?  Love!  Their questions were aimed at a focus of rule and regulations as set forth by the Jewish teachings and prophecies as they were interpreted by the prophets.  This is finally challenged when the Divine God walked, suffered, cried in pain, and eventually died for us as a matter of love.  Our very definition of faith was challenged at this point.  We were challenged to see, life as a matter of love and sacrifice in this love as a way of living.  Essentially speaking, a new rule was brought forth, to challenge every rule ever set before.  The rule was love, to seek a path so we could fall in love with the Eternal God, and in this path, we may be the light for others (like Paul), to help light their paths.

How many people have you ever met in your life, and wondered why they are angry, upset, or seemingly without joy, but at the same instance you see this joyless expression you determine your calling being the light this person needs for their pathway to be lighted?  I will admit, I see it all the time, and I’m as befuddled at a solution to help light their way as I am my own, but I see the need.  When we expressly understand, the need in others, this is the gift God has given us in the sacrifice of Christ.  To not only have the faith to believe in what we see in others but combining this with love as we pour out ourselves to the other.  Fulton Sheen said, “for no one comes to Christ, and comes back the same way he came” (Meditations of the Magi, Catholicism, Barron).  Our path is such, we are forever transformed by what we see and feel.  I’ve asked this question before, but for those, who have never read these words, “where you think you go when you die?” are the foundational understanding of our lives, our faith, and our interpretation of love.  Once we truly answer this question, we are never the same, our pathway is forever changed, our blissful ignorance has become the very sand blown away in a desert to reveal the stone with which we build our foundations.

I talk a great deal about love, over and again on this, but it is for nothing more than the pursuit of faith and love we exist.  We can never hope to fall in love with God if we are just faithful to the commandments.  My son, indicated during our discussion, “yeah, I have to be good, so I can go to heaven, right?”.  My eyes were wide at this moment, not only because, I felt he missed the mark of our faith completely, but I also felt this was a teaching moment to help form his faith more solidly and become a principle he could always come back to as his life continues to move forward.  My answer to him was Heaven wasn’t about winning or losing, but about our relationship to God as a focus of our lives.  I used the analogous example between my wife and myself as the prototype of the love we seek in Christ.

Imagine having a relationship where we seek only the result as a means of winning or losing.  Many Christians may have this interpretation, one where they see the result of life as being good and walking through the pearly gates of Heaven or doing bad and burning for all eternity in the absence of God known to us as Hell.  Since, I’m not a theological master, I can only explain it as my interpretation of faith as it relates to the Catechism.   CCC – 1024 “Heaven is the ultimate end and fulfillment of the deepest human longings, the state of supreme definitive happiness.”  I ask you, have you ever thought of Heaven in this manner?  “To live in Heaven is to be with Christ” (CCC-1025).  God has opened our minds to see past the rules and effectively attached our ability to fall in love with him, and in doing so, a beatific vision is given to all of us, allowing for our contemplation within the expression of love.  Could we ever love our wives without being allowed to think on her and what makes her so wonderful in our eyes, but then not limited to an understanding she opens herself to us and creates an ability to understand her.  We don’t always know ourselves but being open to exploration of our love and our purpose in our lives, allows our spouses to truly love us to depths we can hardly imagine.  This is true with God, God opens himself to us in a way where we are called (through prayer) to contemplate on God to fall truly in love.

pexels-photo-9816.jpeg

There isn’t a list which indicates, if you complete all the rules and follow everything which is said, you will inherit the kingdom of Heaven.  We are called to do nothing more than to find the beauty in all others, and in our understanding of this beauty we can love our neighbor!  Our perception of life and love is distorted by the times we live in, we find abject beauty as being a prerequisite for love.  We also determine, if we don’t feel a sense of emotion or jittery feelings as they pertain to our perception of love, then we truly must not be in love.  This pursuance of an emotive acknowledgement within our own person as the litmus test prevents us from seeing the real person we meet.  We are ridiculed if we are with anyone who isn’t beautiful on the outside first, or at the very least pleasing to be around.  Though this comes to us like a double-edged sword, why would we want to be anything other than accommodating when it means we have an opportunity to be around someone to love more?  Have you ever treated, anyone who you determined in your eyes to be diminished of your own stature, in a less than loving way?  In my shame, I have, I haven’t always treated people as though I am, if anything lucky to be in their presence.

So, is it any surprise to us when people attach an emotive understanding of love, to associate with God.  In this pursuit of feelings (a reciprocal effort), when they don’t receive their expectational response, they determine a lackluster quality to a pursuit of love in life as it relates to God.  Then it becomes, as I explained to my son, an atheist’s pursuit of life and to follow just the rules as to follow a rule and receive something for our efforts becomes a subjective morality and value system ever more.  Morality isn’t a set of rules we must follow, in order we may fully understand our faith.  Instead, morality is the surest way to keep ourselves focused, that we might have a clear chance to deepen our faith and love for the One True God.

Ok, so where do we go from here in our lives, if we determine God is truly where we want to be?  A life of love, put down those instruments of hate and determine (unto our deaths) where Christ is, and don’t just walk or meander down this path, but doggedly pursue the relationship.  Don’t let it elude your efforts by letting life slow you down or become the whisper in your ear indicating your unworthiness.  You are worthy, you are lovingly fashioned by the hands of God, and it isn’t about emotion, it’s about your pursuit of faith in love which will create the deepest seas of emotion you’ve ever experienced.

My life as a father has been one of confusion for me, but one of the greatest rewards possible, and I can’t imagine what God must feel from us, when by our own unloving actions, we say, “leave me alone, I don’t want you!”.  How this must hurt!  Let this perspective soak in for a little while.  Are we as fathers pursuing a loving relationship with our children and especially our wives?  Do we allow God to lift us up for the lessons so desperately needed as a daily dynamic in our own families, or are we insisting our trying to be the unmovable rock?  Don’t get me wrong, men, we should be men always, and our pursuance of a society, which has a pure focus on God is our utmost responsibility, but at the same time, are we seeking to understand above all else.  Have we taken this beatific vision, and let the love of God permeate our senses to move us closer to God’s light?

pexels-photo-374710.jpeg

My son’s comments today, made me question how we see events as they relate to those around us.  His friends, who don’t believe in a God, are without a strong parental figure to show them the objective truth, but instead attempts to teach them the only way to a proper life is one of subjective feelings and morality which applied to life is the aberration of love altogether.  This isn’t what God is about, God is about our attempt to have a closer relationship to Him, but we obtain this relationship by loving those around us, without condition.  No matter what they throw at us (Acts 7: 54-60, St. Stephen’s Martyrdom), we must be willing to face this with only the armor of faith, and the weapons of love.  Without either one of these, we can’t hope to best the giants which faces us, like Goliath and David.  Without both, we will succumb to our own expectations and our own perceptions of what love should be.  It is an all or none, a black and white existence, although we live in a grey world, our pursuit should be one of truth.  The truth is, without the free will we have, we can never truly know love, but within our free-will, if we don’t pursue love, then our pursuit of right and wrong is marred by no other than us.  My advice to my son’s friends, was to be the loving example God gave us, Jesus.  Be the best person he could be to everyone, but be true, be himself, no matter how much people accepted him or not.  It’s not about the acceptance of those who are not on the same faithful, loving journey we are on, it’s about us being the love to light their way.  I’ve had too many situations based in some manner of conflict, over the years, to not have a take-away which is an understanding, our actions in love have more power to move those mountains which stand in the way of faith, than anything else we could ever imagine.

pexels-photo-356043.jpeg

When you go out today or tomorrow, remember, you’re never alone, and so, all you need is to believe.  Your belief will bring you great joy, but more importantly, your belief will be fulfilling.  This pursuit of the fulfillment in your life is love, the ability to become fulfilled is faith as the tool to accept love.  When you’re sitting in your spot tonight, watching TV, or when you look up from your plate at dinner tonight, and you look over at your wife, think on three things.  The first, do you think it would be possible to love her if she didn’t open to you who she truly is?  Second, could you love her even if she didn’t seem to love you back?  The third, is love more transcendent than your own perspective of reality do you have to understand everything about her to love her?  Sometimes, we aren’t meant to understand everything, we must trust our spouse, we must have faith in them, which isn’t too much to ask seeing as how we are in a covenant with them before God.  As our trust/faith in them grows, we see a ripping away of those cultural and societal constructs which represent a shallow pursuit of love, and we see the deepening of a bond which as strong as an oak, sways with life.

pexels-photo-159333.jpeg

I hope and pray we are all pursuing a means of faith and love as it relates to a closer relationship with God and our fellow man.  We can’t take this physical life with us, which is why faith and love are the deepening of the soul, encouraged by the physical joy we feel by our pursuit.  Don’t be tempted to act on a matter of reverse egotistic tendencies, when we don’t receive the answer we wanted or the response of another.  Don’t give up, when we see the path change before us, and it isn’t what we originally planned our lives out to be.  Have faith, know we are all going through our own journeys of faith and we all need each other to light the way.  Objective truth shows us, our love is all God desires, and our purity though this love is needed that we may be in Heaven with God.  If you see yourself sinning, sacrifice those sins so you can fall in love with God, be willing to let go as a matter of faith to feel the love of God in return.  God speaks to us, within the silence of our hearts, and when you think about your family and friends, are we not moved to love them more when we see them sleep or see their actions of love as a matter in our own quiet contemplation on our feelings towards them.  God is much the same, take time to think about your relationship with God, and in your silent contemplation, you will see how He fills those spaces of your life with the loving graces to an overflowing capacity.  May God bless you and your family!!!

 

 

God is good, all the time, and all the time, God is good!!!

 

 

pexels-photo-208218.jpeg

Featured

What is Our Sickness?

The damnable quality of sin is just when we think you’ve got a handle on it, or just when we think we’ve overcome the sin we’ve struggled with, we become mired in its grasp and search for God is as if we never knew him. 

When we think of ourselves, are we consumed with thoughts of who we are as a person, or what we are capable of?  Do we look at ourselves the way we want others to look at us?  Why don’t we look at ourselves as someone who should be in a hospital?  I recently spoke with my mother-in-law about perception of sin as it relates to those who do us the most harm.  For her, it was my father-in-law, a person she loved at one point in her life with unimaginable unconditional love.  She saw her life, as an old woman, growing old with her husband surrounded by kids and grandkids.  This wasn’t to be, she faced a reality whereby, she was deceived and eventually abandoned by her husband.  Her wound was deep, and in human fashion, she was forced to deal with a new reality which included hard-times, strife, and the coming face-to-face with an all to reality of loneliness.  In here reality, she was forced to look at those items of her life which caused her the most grief and deliberate over the face of the person who wounded her the most.  In her despair and anger she found solace in God but struggled with forgiveness of the one person who caused the greatest pain in her life, her ex-husband.  So, this is where my point of recognition begins.  This in my conversations with her over more than two decades has become the realization of our sickness.

So, bear with me, imagine you are walking through a hospital, and you see a patient burned beyond all recognition.  Burned so bad, you’re not sure if there is a hope of his survival, he will probably gain some manner of disease, or eventually die of the pain.  Then imagine, you look around and everyone in the hospital ward seems to have the same degree of pain and wounding.  You look around and begin to ask questions about whether there was a fire or an event involving terrorism.  No one around you has a good answer but they are feverishly trying to use their machines and medicines to alleviate the pain and suffering, but more people are coming in by the droves.  You think to yourself, “what is this madness, why are all of these people coming in?”  Then suddenly, you are struck down with sever pain, you can’t seem to understand why you are feeling so ill.  Sores and blisters begin to form on your skin and the pain is unimaginable, and yet you can do nothing to stop them, eventually you fall and are picked up by medics hoping to deal with your pain in the same manner you were just dealing with the patient’s minutes before.  Eventually, all who come to the hospital, in pain and agony will succumb to their pains, but it’s their decision on just how they deal with the pain.  They can push away those people who are there to help, perceiving the help given as a poor attempt at control, or they can accept the help and realize although they don’t understand everything which is happening, they will trust in the help given.

pexels-photo-263402.jpeg

Imagine again, life is like this hospital, and the sickness incurred is the sin we gladly accept into our choices and allow to stain our souls.  As we begin to move more and more away from the will of God, we become more reliant on anything to fix our problems except the one truth, God.  One part of my discussion with my Mother-in-law was our inability to see sin for what it is, a true sickness on our soul.  Imagine walking through the hospital ward, seeing people writhing in pain, and being unaffected by this display of pain and the need for compassion.  Would we really walk by someone in need of our charity and love and tell them no, especially if we could see the sores exposed for all the world to see?  The answer is if we have a human bone in our body, we would probably bend over backwards to help this person as much as possible.  Our discussions pertained to the actions by which we perceived either an evil action or an action with so much malice behind an action it was perceived as evil.  Though the real question should have always been, is he dealing with more than we know?  Is there something which is he is dealing with, which requires patience and understanding more than my anger?  If he was sitting in the medical ward, with sores all over his body, writhing in pain due to the sin and influences he was dealing with, would I be more compassionate to him?  This is how I think God sees us, not as our sin a rapacious causality to our choices and behaviors which keeps Him away from us, but instead, sees us with love, and sees these sores and pains which cover the landscape of our soul as a matter of the need to be healed.  God’s compassion for us, is one which lovingly holds us with care, and wills us to be nursed to health by His will alone and our decision to accept His help.  This creates another analogous paradigm, which manifests the most bizarre perspective of all, because we writhe in pain, we don’t realize it, because our conventional understanding of pain isn’t exhibited, so when God offers to heal our sickness, we push God away and insist we can do it all our own.

I would also, point out, accepting sin as a sickness, much like I described, isn’t too far off the mark.  We can’t see the true form of sin, because we lie to ourselves, we fool ourselves into thinking what we do isn’t all too bad, especially since no one was hurt.  Though, at the end of the day, our sins are there no matter how noble they may appear to us, care no nobility whatsoever, they are what they are, sins, and those sins push us away from God.  With each sin, if we can only imagine the wound we inflict on our own body due to the sin we choose.  Some sins, may be small in the larger estimation of our actions, but if we think about any time we’ve run through a wooded area, and thorns were everywhere, while running we may have been aware of a thorn here and there cutting us up, but when we stop and we look our entire body over, we see more wounds than we could have previously imagined.  In this we can determine, even our actions, seemingly innocent by our estimation, could still cut us, because in the objective truth, a sin has been committed.

Ok, getting back to my mother-in-law, where is she at pertaining to the hurt inside?  Well good news, she is much better than ever before, she seems to have forgiven the man who hurt her deeply, she seems to have moved past the pain, and realized the one truth, God, and placed God before her in everything she does.  In our discussions together, we both agreed, looking at people who we deem to be sinners including ourselves requires our sympathetic perception of pain before anything else.  We should be looking on those, especially the ones who touch our lives, as a matter of a doctor dealing the medicine of love to those who seek relief, even if they don’t know they do.

Leper

Our sin is a lot like a sickness in many ways, if we spend too much time around it, it can affect us.  It truly creates derision in everyone causing a ripping or tearing of the fabric of love.  In doing so, we see exactly what we are seeing today, less people willing to make decision of faith, or more people willing to ridicule and criticize those who attempt to go through life looking for the light of God.  The sickness is the darkness of sin, and the only way to rid one’s self of darkness is to be presented and exist in the light of God.  It cures our soul of the sickness we feel, or don’t feel, but we allow to reside in us.  The damnable quality of sin is just when we think you’ve got a handle on it, or just when we think we’ve overcome the sin we’ve struggled with, we become mired in its grasp and search for God is as if we never knew him.

Being a husband and a father has been the most challenging things I’ve ever associated myself with, in my life.  I’ve never not loved my kids or my wife, but I chose to love my wants and needs more.  I chose to put something before my very God, and I confess to all of you, I am like Peter in my abandonment, and I have wept bitterly because of it.  The sickness grew inside me so much, the sin took over, and I said to myself, “what’s the point now, I can never be the perfect child I saw myself to be, I’m stained with this sin forever?”.  This was the devil trying to influence my thoughts and make me feel worthless, and it almost worked.  It was “Screwtape” trying to capitalize on my mediocrity of life and decision, and in my lack of enthusiasm and fire, I almost let go.  I didn’t know, even when I wanted to loosen my grip on the life I thought I lost, there was a hand over the top of my very own hand.  This hand in its strength, in its silence spoke to me, or rather spoke to my heart.  It said, “no, don’t go, I’m still here and I love you!”.  It was as if I had a thousand stones lifted off my chest, and I could breath once more, I could think about something other than myself.

pexels-photo-266429.jpeg

So, what was I missing?  Fire!  I was missing the fire of the Holy Spirit.  The only topic in my life which ever seemed worthy of my attention was the study of God, and the actions according to my faith, so when I failed my friends and family, I thought I covered the fire over with the dirt of sin.  I was so very wrong.  The one thing the devil doesn’t want you to know, is God’s forgiveness is the medicine we all need, we are all looking for redemption from our failures.  Some people have more than others, but this doesn’t negate the powerful forgiveness of God.  His love extended to a man, a man who chose to love us so much, he would die for us.  Love hung on the cross, love bled for us, love died for us, love conquered death for us.

Men if you have something in your life holding you back, and you know without the recognition of this sin and the wiping away of sinful behavior you can never walk one step closer to God, then stop now.  I would tell you, right your wrongs, ask forgiveness of those who’ve hurt you.  Be men!  Be strong!  Be the example, your children can look up to.  If you yelled at your wife, because she hurt you or angered you in some way, apologize to her, hold her, tell her how much she truly means to you.  You are one with her, you are bound to her within a covenant put together by God, so treat her as such.  I will be the first to admit, I’m no saint when it comes to anger or treating people the way I should, but I will say, the rush of emotion when you do ask for forgiveness is God’s gift to you, it’s God’s way of saying, “I love you!”.  What is more powerful, is when you do ask/beg the forgiveness of the wounded party and they forgive you, there is nothing more powerful in this world than someone who is truly hurt by your actions, willing to accept you for who you are, a bond of unconditional love is formed.

tear apart

Sickness wishes to ruin this, spoil this holiness, sin wishes to tear apart the bonds which bind us lovingly.  It takes many years to forge a path of love in pursuit of God’s will, but it takes only seconds to obliterate the very path we seek.  What is so wonderful, is God doesn’t deride us for destroying the path, but forgives us, and wishes to give us light so that we may see the path once more.  Sickness is darkness, and in darkness, how can a father ever show his children the way or be the reflective light his spouse so desperately needs when she is in her own mire of sin as well.  I know this seems almost too much to burden any one person with, but I assure you, life was never meant to be easy, it was always intended to purify and create lovers.  God’s beauty is the weapon of love, of righteousness, of hope, and of faith.  The Saints are our examples of this beauty, their lives are examples of the sin we fall into, but the faith which will carry us out of our own willingness to walk away from God.

I pray, within our own sickness we can realize, sin isn’t a matter of disobeying a rule set forth by God, but rather sin is our way of pushing the hand of God away from us when we are sick, and all God wishes to do is make us better.  I pray we can accept the forgiveness of other, but also be willing to forgive those who writhe in pain because of their choices in sin.  May God bless you and your family!!!

 

 

God is good, all the time, and all the time, God is good!!!

 

Jesus Forgives

Featured

What Does Eternity Mean?

God is your definition, Jesus is your purpose, and the Holy Spirit is your guide to a realization of an eternal light which will never again allow darkness to enter your heart. 

When we think about the word “eternity” doesn’t our mind immediately think, “whoa, that’s a long time”?  Which really isn’t accurate whatsoever.  The salient point to be made here is, eternity isn’t so much a mark of time, but a place without time which exists.  A place where being is, and a conception of time no longer keeps a place of importance within what we do or how we choose to fill our time.  Take for instance, what have we done today to mark time?  I personally have been awakened by my alarm, and then I had my “morning coffee” and I’ve just eaten my “first breakfast”.  During my day I will have more to eat, which will mark time in the day, I have a few appointments, and then my day will end with exhaustion (hopefully) and I will mark another point in time while I sleep.  This is just one example of how time dictates a pattern in our lives which imprints its decree of compliance on everything we do.  As humans, we rely on this time to perceive our existence, otherwise we might go mad with just not knowing.  Time is so important to us we sell high priced time pieces to mark our day, some of the greatest ancient inventions (Archimedes), were done as a measure of time, and we determine high points in human existence (e.g. Birth/Death of Christ) by a calendar.  So, if I wasn’t clear so far, time is a big deal for us, we need it, we search for it, and we can’t live without it.

pexels-photo-415767.jpeg

So, where does the question of eternity and time fit in with our pursuance of faith, and where does eternity fit in with our lives in general?  In some of my previous writings I referred to the paradigm shift of endings and beginnings, and to be sure, eternity is the beginning.  We’ve entered life, fashioned lovingly by God, and we’ve been put to the task of living.  We are thinking, breathing, beautiful creatures which have captured the heart of God, and it is our choice in life to reciprocate this love (freely given) and pour it upon our fellow man but also look in agape towards the light of God.  This is seen in the gift of Jesus, the gift of forgiveness, and the gift of love outpoured again and again by God in his grace towards us.  When we read the Bible, we are given a tremendous gift of forward sight as it relates to eternity and this life as we can know it as it pertains to Heaven.  God is heaven to be sure, existing in Heaven, means existing within the presence of God.

I’m not going to presume to explain an existence without time or of a place I’ve never been, all I can do is speak of the teachings I’ve received and of the experiences I’ve been fortunate enough to have in my life, which I believe are a semblance of what eternity must be like.  I always tell people, I’m not a fan of those movies which seemingly try to represent heaven, the first which comes to mind is the movie (What Dreams May Come), and to be clear, the acting was very well done in the movie.  Though, what I feel we miss is the ineptness with which a movie tries to describe the indescribable.  We as humans can’t possibly describe heaven, we are just too limited by our brains and our creative thought potential to realize a place of intense beauty and the true presence of love.  Kreeft points out, we are no longer seeking faith or hope when we enter the gates of Heaven, but instead we are surrounded by pure love, pure goodness and this must be impossible to describe, as none of us have ever experienced something so intense in our lives.  Those of us who have, are probably saints, St. Thomas Aquinas, was believed to have received a vision of Heaven, and when asked if he wanted to continue the Summa Theologica he declined and stated, “I cannot”, when asked why not, he replied “because everything that I have written seems to me chaffy”.  Just to be clear, Aquinas’s Summa is one of the greatest works of literature ever written, I would also mention, the very foundational understanding of Christian Theology is attributed to Aquinas and his explanations and refutations of everything pertaining to the Trinity.  Even as this is acknowledged, his vision of what we can only presume as the presence of God turns everything gray by our standard of perception, and this even includes time as it exists for us.

burning bush.jpg

When Moses asked for God’s name, at the burning bush, a response like no other was given, “I Am Who Am”.  A name which indicated an eternal existence, Scott Hahn points out in his discussion on the Gospel of John, an eternal existence is one which has always been no beginning and no ending, and everlasting life is an existence with a birth yet with no ending (i.e. Humans pursue everlasting life with the eternal God.).  We accept this, as Christians, when we eat the body and blood, and through our belief of Jesus the promise is fully realized.  Though to be in the presence of God as we are given many examples in life, it is to touch eternity and glimpse its stark contrast to our time.   These transcendent events, works of art, or our personal experiences with out fellow human beings is this glimpse.  If we can’t afford to spend any of our time in the presence of God doing the good works needed for our soul, how then can we presume to spend eternity doing this very thing?

As a man, I find my lack of emotion for some things to be bothersome, but I am just not moved by what my wife is moved by and combined with either my anger on some issues or my willful ability to push those things I don’t like in my life out, I create walls seemingly impervious to your standard list of acceptable responses.  Walls which prevent love from entering my thoughts and walls which make it nearly impossible sometimes to feel the sympathy or empathize at least with the events occurring around me.  For instance, my son was sick from school and when he approached my wife and I, I castigated his excuse for feeling unwell.  I was dissatisfied with his lack of explanation and seeing as I wasn’t to be made a fool of (I was more worried about me than I was him), I was going to stand my ground.  I was immediately imbittered by his lack of explanation and unmoved by his condition; in my anger, I upset my wife, and removed myself from an ability to look at his pain with my own love.  My wife, upset by my words and actions stated, “there is no love in your actions towards our son”.  This hurt.  Though, by my estimation, it probably didn’t hurt as much as my actions towards him, both my son and my God.  This was cathartic for me, my wife was truthful with me, even if I didn’t like it because I did feel pain when she stated my actions for the record, I had to accept the truth.  Eternity is the truth, it is the expression of love which God gives us by every means possible, and in this expression, we can look within ourselves and determine the answer, or we can be like I was with my son.  We can choose to allow anger to control our destinies, or we can accept our past behaviors and make amends for what we’ve done wrong, and then choose to make every effort to curtail our boorish attitudes and behaviors as events happen to us and with us.

sad-clown

Men, I think we have a tough road, we are increasingly looked upon as being out of touch with the times if we exhibit a roughness or stoic attitude about events which occur around us.  We are put in a place of diminishment as cultural subjective attitudes take precedent over objective truth.  Feelings have become a vital weapon in the arsenal of victim-hood, and men who blubber and cry in entertainment and public forums has become the normal paradigm now.  Personally, I don’t want to see men cry about tragedies, I want to see them stand up and lead the way to solutions.  Now, I’m not going to be ridiculous about my perceptions of men, but nothing good ever came from an emotive action, including legislation of laws, and changes in truth.  The truth is, bad stuff happens to good people, but time requires we continue to move forward, and this isn’t achieved when we attempt to stop moving and wallow in our misery.  I challenge anyone to read any five books on the westward expansion of the United States and you will see stories of misery whereby people were expected to pick back up and continue forward with their lives.  They did not have the luxury or time as it were, much like we do today, to stand and cry about what awful events transpired in their lives.  As this just so happens to be the case, all misery is terrible, and all misery is creating a void in our hearts longing for what once was, but as pain hurts, we learn from the experience of pain.  Our desire to be with our eternal God requires a purification of soul, and within our efforts of purification we will endure all manners of pain.  Our culture is attempting to create its own eternal paradigm where we are see ourselves as victims and where the culture pushes out those people who don’t agree or refuse to accept this self-aggrandizing behavior.  They are creating their own personal hell, and I don’t want to be there running in the never-ending circle which is misery.  I choose to believe in God, the sources of joy in our lives.  Our joy is the recognition, within our reality, no matter what happens, God exists and is there to comfort us, if we would only allow this love in.  Allowing this love to enter our lives is the beginnings of lights of eternity as it illuminates the darkest places of our hearts.   In every chance possible we should be looking for our places in the eternal light of God.

pexels-photo-117756.jpeg

Ok, where am I going with all of this?  Perception.  Perception is your key to understanding all, your pathway to understanding.  How can you ever hope to perceive what your wife or kids are doing if you don’t understand what they are doing?  How can you ever know the events in life which happen are bad, but altogether within the scope of the love God pours out, as matter of understanding and perception of love.  Your acceptance of an eternity which creates, The Paradigm, acknowledges the very real and very hard asked question, “Where do you think you go when you die?”.  This was the game stopper for me, this was the question above all other questions, which when I stepped up and finally answered, changed my perception of everything.  In the back of my mind I always knew the answer, but was too afraid to confront it, I choose to be willfully ignorant of the ways of the world and my culpability regarding those ways.  Much like Constantine’s Confessions, I was more apt to take the easy path of sin rather than the difficult path of righteousness.  My answer to the question was this, God is very real, and eternity does exist, God loves me, and so desperately wants me to love him back, but he won’t make me as this is not love, but a modern-day subjective aberration which dictates God should answer to us.  This is unequivocally wrong, we answer to our creator in all things, and we should refrain from hubris, arrogance, and the priggish pursuit of our own personal rightness.  God’s will be God’s will, it should be followed, and in a pursuit of anything else is our attempt to justify sinful behavior.

Fathers and husbands out there, this is the teaching we must pursue with out families, we are leading them down the path, especially our kids, as much as they may act like grown ups sometimes, they are still innocence personified and trust us beyond measure.  They still look to us, with an enthusiastic attitude of amazement, they want to put us on this pedestal and even expect us to never make mistakes.  There is some pressure, if we truly care about the eternal decisions we make, but in the end, eternity is our choice.  Everything we do is moving in the pathway of eternity, and we decide if it’s an eternity of love and fulfillment, or an eternity of misery and damnation.   This may seem a bleak representation of what we have before us, but it really is this simple.  We get to choose, and what I’ve noticed is when we choose the light of God, our whole perspective changes with death, sickness, kindness, feelings, and most importantly love.  So, when we are teaching our families through our actions or words, we need to keep eternity in mind, we need to be completely aware of those events in life which are determined to define us, but you need no defining other than looking to God.  God is your definition, Jesus is your purpose, and the Holy Spirit is your guide to a realization of an eternal light which will never again allow darkness to enter your heart.

eucharist-body-of-christ-church-mass-161081.jpeg

As we are coming into Good Friday, we are brought face-to-face with the reality of eternity, through the resurrection of Christ, we see a very real perspective confronting us.  A perspective of truth.  How does a man, beaten, scourged, and crucified manage to walk around after his death?  Well, he was the divine God, first, but more importantly we he was ascending to eternity as a manner to light our ways.  Subsequently the disciples followed his teachings and became martyrs themselves.  They all died to be reborn into an eternal life.  When we see the horrible events, which are occurring in our world today, we as a matter of media extension, focus on the death and destruction as a placement of emotion and we seek to put the guilty parties to justice.  What we don’t seem to focus on, as a society at large, is the very real need and understanding, God is all powerful, and nothing happens to us without the express love and attention by God.  When we die, we go to God.  Those of our families or friends who have died, are by my estimation, in a much better place than myself, and I long for the day when I will go to see my creator.  I am not worried about my journey, nor am I worried about my family, I seek everyday to show them the path as I see it, and I know God loves them.  They will have to make their own decisions, in life, and I pray my actions and words will help guide them in the path they need to go as time continues to march toward the sea of eternity within their lives.

Where did we end up in the discussion of eternity?  We’ve ended up knowing a few truths, you are your own worst enemy and in a matter of accepting pain as a matter of growth, you have two paths.  You can choose right or wrong, both are eternal, but one is with God, and one is without the loving presence of God.  To place this in a general perspective, we are always in the existence of God on Earth seeing as God is the creator of all, God is the very nature of being itself, but as Heaven is concerned we will see and know God more fully.  Being in an existence without the creator is an awful thought, and much like we can’t incapsulate the perception of Heaven, the same is also true with Hell, though Dante’s Inferno does a pretty good job describing it.

I hope and pray, eternity is a very real thought for you and your family.  I hope it is on the forefront of your mind daily, it is where we meet God, and I’m very excited about this!  Answer those fundamental questions and create a foundation of understanding which will keep your gaze in a form of agape always and keep your focus on the important work of God.  You are loved, and this is evident in your life, and the potential to do wonderful things with your life.  I pray your family is keeping you grounded in your faith, and as a man you stand in front to guide their way.  A family doesn’t need a crying blubbering man to guide their path, they need someone who is strong and willing to continue moving forward as a matter of faith in God and faith in eternity.  May God bless you and your family!!!

 

 

God is good, all the time, and all the time, God is good!!!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Featured

Is Seeing Really Believing?

Faith was never about seeing with my eyes, but having the ability to listening to the voice of God in silence and learning to see with my heart.

How many times in your life have you been challenged with your beliefs, only to be unable to fully defend why you believe or see things a specific way?  How many times have you ever been confronted by a non-believer, and because of either their aggressiveness or their circular arguments in questioning, you’ve left feeling inadequate to answer their seemingly innocent interrogations?  Well I have more times than I care to remember, and in some ways, I felt shamed because I could not defend my faith.  I know my faith to be correct and the basis for objective truth, but I couldn’t explain why.   Over the years I’ve read more and more, and engaged in some debates over faith and the Church, but overall, I’ve made it a general practice to refrain from arguing politics and religion/faith.  We seem to live in times where the only thing worth believing is what we can see and what we can measure.  Even then, people are left with a healthy dose of skepticism because the measurement is only as good as the person who measures.  We just don’t know who to trust or who to follow.  We gravitate to those who seem to have the answers, and when we realize they were wrong, we become emptied with nothing but dashed hopes and dreams of a promising future (maybe where many secularists/atheists are at in their lives).  Though, faith isn’t like this at all, I’ve never been disappointed by anything I’ve learned, and at the very lowest expectation I could have ever had, it has surpassed anything I could have dreamed.  Faith was never about seeing with my eyes, but having the ability to listening to the voice of God in silence and learning to see with my heart.

blind_Dog

Where do we go when we are surrounded by those who not only don’t believe us, but even ridicule us in every way, when our beliefs run counter to what they deem as “stupid” or at the very least outdated cultural mentality.  What this inevitably does is to presume, we are the more enlightened culture now, and those who came before us, especially if they were the faithful, are at best simpletons because of their lack of knowledge on science and modern-day matters.  To this line of thinking I would caution the arrogant, this is about the time the carpet is pull from beneath their feet.  The matter I’ve always run into is perception of what is right and the pushing away of what is wrong, no matter the situation or subjective nature of the situation.  The collateral damage incurred by this poorly crafted focus of life become a measure of in and out as they see fit.  Subjectivity is dangerous when trying to create equality of outcomes.  Currently most people still have a strong faith presence in their lives, but the swell of non-believers and aggressive atheists has promoted a movement towards a relativistic culture.  We see, as Christians, an acceptance of ostracizing behaviors meant to relegate those with faith beliefs to the section of the proverbial yard containing all the nuts.  In doing so, pushing us out of relevant discussions, we see a culture shift intent on pushing us out of the general forum altogether.  This in my opinion is unacceptable, and we must do everything we can to exhibit our faith in action, but also our faith in defense as much as we can.  We can’t be afraid to talk about our faith in public forums, nor can we be afraid to become the ostracized.  Jesus was our example, no one faced as much humiliation or degradation as he did for us.  We can endure a loose insult with a smile and then pray for our insulter, can’t we?

When I first began to study about the faith, and those who so fervently believed in it, I was looking for intelligent answers and a logical line I could follow.  Something which would make sense and yet was also something which would require my action of faith to finish the sentence (so-to-speak).  I wasn’t looking for platitudes, nor was looking for something based solely in the prophetic.  I was looking for something which could open my eyes to life, and the expectations of life, and tell me why I felt the way I did.  What I found were many people who were just like me at one point, and who embraced their faith in such a way as to become examples to all.  Some were Saints, and others were just faithful servants, and when I read their biographies or works of faith, I didn’t find a didactic instruction meant to punish those who’ve fallen in their faith.  Instead, I found a beautiful example of God lighting the way for everyone and they were the brightest beacon to do such a thing.  In some cases, I was reading text over a thousand years old and some only fifty years old.  Their texts were never an admonishment of sin, but an acceptance of their sin and the desire to repent and search for God.  They illuminated and clarified matters of faith which I never even realized to be an issue, and they refuted with tremendous clarity those who would seek impugn the fervor of those who are faithful and pursuant of God’s will.

thomas

As time was marching on, I noticed something within our own time as it related to the writer’s perspectives, some of which were centuries old.  Life, really hasn’t changed all too much, in the grand scheme of things.  We still fight over petty need for control, wars rage over territory and disputes of common ideologies every day.  Greed has never gone away, and since there is probably more wealth today, than at any other time in history, the greed runs rampant.  Though everyone claims they’re not greedy, just the businessmen or politicians.  Be honest, haven’t we all been greedy at many points in our lives, and isn’t our culture a representation of our need for “me” in a lot of what we do.  I have been greedy in my life, for a time, I was only looking out for me and to the detriment of the people around me, and in many cases to myself, I caused so many problems I was drowning in an ocean of poor decisions and hurtful outcomes.  At any rate, the points of views expressed by those faithful servants of God, illuminated a point of perspective which indicated, our time is our time, but our philosophies and faith are ancestors of those who came before us.  Failure to recognize this simplest of facts, invites hubris and even a priggish sense of self into discussion where there is no place for such a thing.

So, where does belief come into play, regarding everything we see today, and read from yesterday?  Have you ever heard the expression, “read between the lines”?  I’ve been told this time and again since I was a young kid, the inference is an indication to understand implication and thus refrain from all the superfluous questions.  Look at the bigger picture and ask yourself the pertinent questions for the important answers.  This is where faith resides, this is where we see faith in action.  In a very similar action, those of us who envision images as explanation, see a sheet of paper with words written and we look at those small spaces of emptiness and find the proverbial answer, this is also true when we think about the quiet spaces and silences in our heart, this is where God resides.

pexels-photo-356079.jpeg

A few weeks ago, my son asked me, “Dad, if God is real, why doesn’t he just reveal himself, wouldn’t that be much easier, then everyone could believe?”.  For such a young man, he has a wonderfully quizzical mind for simple and yet puzzling answers.  So, why doesn’t God just reveal himself to us in a grand display of power, so we can be believers, and the debate we currently face will be settled once and for all.  As a man, I love simplicity, and I’m not ever looking for drama, so when my wife indicates she will be watching the nightly litany of drama shows, I run the other direction.  I, like my son, have always searched for the easy answer, and this is exactly what this is, an easy answer.  For this, I find, usually the easy answer is the wrong or at least the less right answer.  The reason for the seemingly silent presence of God, is one of faith.  God wants you, God wants your love, and just like a relationship where we would love another, we must be willing to allow the other to choose completely unfettered and a decision which hasn’t been adulterated in any way.  When my spouse reaches for me, I know it is a matter of her will, and not my presence as a guilt, or even I possess something she wants.  Which is why God, doesn’t have a superpower light show every Sunday, if we want his love we must seek to be in his love.  This is all God ever wanted from us, God is love, and in his ability to be love, he is unable to not want this.

In my reading, and looking for the true answers which are sometimes plainly written and other times as plain as day within the context of the spaces as actions in faith.  I found there is more evidence to indicate a loving and beautiful God than to presume an existence where we are our own device and we’ve become gods ourselves.  There is more to this life than a pursuance of what we want, the early Christian writers didn’t just test the walls of doubt, the destroyed those walls with their love, reason, and faith in action.  If you ever want to read the best objections to the Christian Faith, read the Summa Theologica, not only did St. Thomas Aquinas present wonderful objections to the faith, but he also more sublimely refuted the objections with reason and philosophy.  It wasn’t about seeing with our eyes to more enhance our faith, but instead it was about seeing with our hearts to understand what is our faith.  The supernatural with which God exists, can’t be measured by human instruments, but can be seen with human understanding.  So, is seeing believing?  Yes, it just depends on what you’re looking with, and if your heart is open to accepting the truth.  Open your heart, allow the light of God to enter in, and illuminate those dark corners so at once you can see what it was you were always meant to see.

One of my biggest failings in life is having an opinion which excludes other opinions and is unwilling to allow differing perspectives to enter my cognitive thought pattern.  Though, having my kids, and being married to my spouse has softened this approach a great deal.  I tend to find myself thinking, much like with the question my son proposed, and really taking the time to explain what I know.  This is our jobs as fathers, we must be willing to search for the right answer, not the quick or easy answer.  Take your time, as the words you speak to them, will be something the will roll over in their heads for decades to come.  Something you may say to them will be the deciding factor in their pursuance of God and how they treat people in life.  Something you’ve said in love, to show thought and caring, will help prevent a series of poor choices ever happening.  The truth of the matter is, you will never be able to answer all their questions, and you will never be able to prevent them from making poor choices when it comes down to it.  Though, you do have the response capability to answer them in a way which is illuminating of the faith in love, and explanatory as in the explanation between the lines.  Kids understand your actions more than your words, mine do for sure.  Hugging my kids and exhibiting behavior which rewards or derides their own behavior is more beneficial than any diatribe I could recite about the beauty of God.  There is a place for such explanation, but it is always superseded by the action of love.

As is the point of my writing, you are bound to understand what you are willing to accept.  If you don’t accept anything without seeing it for yourself, then you will never accept it completely.  So, if you see anyone exhibit, what you don’t accept, your general interpretation will be one of nonacceptance maybe even ridicule.  When we look back at the Apostles, we see their attempt to preach the wonderful news of Jesus, and yet they were believed by many and hated by more.  They fought the establishment through prayer and preaching and were hated by the establishment, unto death, for doing so.  Imagine, telling someone you believe in the very words of God, and then having a stone smashed on you for this belief.  Do you think you could still say the words, “Jesus, My Lord and My God!”?  The disciple Thomas, uttered these words as he was being run through by spears at the end of his life (at least as the Gospel of Thomas indicates).  He was the perfect example of the one who seeks to see to believe, which is why he is known as “Doubting Thomas” for his unbelief, whereby Jesus, already in his resurrected state says, “You believe because you can see me. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe.” (John 20:29)

If we really think about our lives, there are many things which occur and we are not privy to their details, or we just can’t be in all places always and so taking some things on faith of trust between the parties is a necessary.   Ok, so where am I going with this?  Originally, I was writing about one’s defense of faith as a matter of exhibiting God’s light and reflecting this light to light the way of faith for others.  This seems irrespectively difficult when those around us are trying to trip us up at every turn.  Here is where believing is never about seeing.  Be the mustard seed which is planted in the minds of those we see and speak to each day.  God will do the work of growing this seed in their minds, but we need to plant it.  This is accomplished in our daily interactions as we come into fullness of our relationship with our spouse, and the tree of faith in our own soul continues to grow, but as an example to our children what is possible and what is truth.  It comes into fullness when we choose to understand and love those who are around us every day.  The faith comes into fullness when we exhibit those traits everyone sees and immediately realizes, as they read between the lines, and they say to themselves, “there is more here to my existence, and I want to know!”.  Be the example which causes them to say this.  Be the men who are strong enough to ask for the help of God, and be satisfied with the silence God will give in return, the answers are always in the silence of your heart.  Believing is seeing with the heart, and with the heart, we can all be wonderful by seeking the goodness of God, and receiving the blessings God pours abundantly over us.  Faith isn’t about rules and regulations, and it isn’t about seeing what we want, it’s about believing although we can’t see with our eyes we can feel with our heart.

pexels-photo-842161.jpeg

Today, if you get the chance, embrace your wife, and your kids.  Stop and listen to anyone, and really listen to what they say.  Focus on anything and everything but yourself, and I promise, as tired as you will be at the end of your day, you will have the energy to want more, want to do more, want to listen more, and want to really know God.  I pray your journey has begun or begins today, put your whole faith in God, you will not be disappointed in your journey.  It will be tough, but in the best way possible, and it will be fulfilling in the most unexpected of ways.  Listening to the silence of your heart is the key to seeing God with as much clarity as possible.  Be willing to listen, be willing to be quiet, be willing to pray.   I pray your family grows closer, and you become an example for those around you to see God more clearly.  May God bless you and your family!!!

 

 

God is good, all the time, and all the time, God is good!!!

 

cross-grave-cemetery-tombstone-161136.jpeg

 

Featured

Do We Really Understand What We See?

It’s about the effort applied to find a more loving and accepting relationship, to become open and unafraid, to become unconditional in our efforts to find oneness with the other.

Can we legitimately look at our neighbor and will their good over our own?  How many times have you been wronged by a friend, a coworker, or a boss and in your anger prayed for them?  Have you envied the position of someone you thought didn’t deserve the status or position they attained?  Have you ever known anyone to abuse their power, and thought, “I hope they get what’s coming to them”?  Do we have it in us to forgive the unforgivable acts committed against us?  Can we gaze into the faces of those who would wish us dead, and bless them as the proverbial stone is dropped upon us?  Don’t be mistaken, faith is a matter of one chapter ending and another beginning.  Faith is everything, as we know it, placed into the perspective of eternity and then thrust back at us, to choose life or death.  Life of course, is the eternal existence with God, and death is reality of knowing we will never be in the presence of God ever again.  An emptiness so lonely we haven’t the words or ability to comprehend its effect on us.  Though, based on the saints on interpretation and Jesus’s reference to a “fiery Hell” (Matt 5:22), this is also no where I think any of us wants to be.  For some of us who think God isn’t around, I would remind them, God is the creator of all, so in this very understanding, God is in all things we see, feel, and know.  We also must never forget, it isn’t about one or the other, all of this is about learning to fall in love with God.  God is love, and we run to him in our exuberance, our zeal, our love unconditionally as he does for us.  It’s never been about rules per se, but instead, look at your spouse.  It’s about the effort applied to find a more loving and accepting relationship, to become open and unafraid, to become unconditional in our efforts to find oneness with the other.  Though this isn’t just for our spouses or our family, but just as important we do this for our neighbor.

pexels-photo-279979.jpeg

I am the kind of man, who remembers a wrong, especially one which was perpetrated against me with malice.  This might have been an embarrassing incident where I was the butt of a joke (mean-spirited of course), or a person made my time in whatever I was doing interminable through their constant manipulations or passive aggressive behaviors.  As you can imagine, I didn’t handle these tests of faith very well at all.  I used name calling, yelling, me on subversive behaviors to undermine what I perceived them to have done to wrong me.  In the end, I was no better than them, and in many cases when I really think about it, I probably was much worse.  I knew where I should be at, and I knew what I should do, and I turned my back on what was right to avenge and uphold my honor.  My honor was the biggest issue in my journey to charity, my honor created more stumbling blocks for my life than any single factor I can think of.  Don’t be fooled by the word “honor” either, this isn’t a medieval word or something of a Southern Gentility where people take off a glove and proceed to have a comedic slap fest with it.  No, honor is a very real thing, a very debilitating way of looking at life.  We hold a form of honor so high in our culture, we are willing to some of the evilest acts as a matter of keeping our honor intact.  Hollywood’s staple blockbuster movie is about a heroin regaining their honor by destroying their enemy, by whatever means possible.  We rarely see a character willing to put everything on the line as a matter of faith and humility so vengeance will be eliminated and representing a true morality of character.  This just isn’t good entertainment, death, destruction, immorality is the best form of entertainment our culture can come up with now.  We can do better!

I want to start with work, and the unfortunate events which happen daily to us as we meander our way through the jungle of work politics.  Men, we can’t think everyone has a basis of understanding when it comes to morality or ethics as they might pertain to us, but everyone does have an innate longing for truth (the truth being God), and a recognition of this truth as it pertains to their lives.  So, when we work with people of similar backgrounds, races, and religions we naturally will have similar expectations when it comes to the moral landscape.  However, this isn’t the culture we live in anymore, the world has become much smaller, and inclusivity means everyone is welcome to the party.  Naturally, we work with every type of differentiation of character, race, religion, and orientation possible.  This isn’t an easy pill to swallow for many people, because we have beliefs which are so ingrained in our person, we recoil when we are confronted with an altering point of view.  Especially points of view which run completely counter to our very faith beliefs, or social understandings of ethics.  Ok, now how do we deal with this drastic change in philosophies or culturally acceptable behavior?  We accept everyone is a treasured soul in the eyes of God, and everyone deserves more consideration than even we think we do ourselves.

So, how many times have you ever been wronged by your fellow man?  Was the pain tremendous?  Were you enraged by their actions so much, for years when their name was mentioned, you became immediately angry and unable to find a calm?  I am not sure of anyone else, but for me, this has happened more than once, and in my anger, I found a revolving door of shame and more anger.  There was no respite from my inflammatory feelings, and within the procession of my anger, I took it out on the people I love the most.  Those people who were closest to me, received my vitriol, my rage at those who had perceptible wronged me.  Yet, this anger was somehow intoxicating, I wasn’t reducing my wrath, I was increasing it with ever turn of phrase.  I shamefully will admit, I would hand gesture my favorite gesture when passing their offices or homes.  When asked by anyone about my feelings, regarding my enemies, I had nothing but anger laden insults to hurl at these people.  Was anyone trying to stop me, yes, my lovely wife, but I wasn’t listening.  Instead, I was paying attention to those people who would encourage me to feed off the bitter angry vine I found succor in.  The parallel I noticed, was everyone was beginning to give me cause to anger and everyone was wrong but me.  My family was wrong for not agreeing with me, my friends were wrong for having a difference of opinion.  My wife was the most wrong of all, she loved me enough to tell me the truth, and I couldn’t handle the truth, and pushed her away.  I pushed her away in the most figuratively violent ways possible.  I avoided her, I wouldn’t discuss with her, I wouldn’t listen to her, and I passively decided I wasn’t in need of her at all.  To my shame, I was so utterly wrong, I can hardly bare to write the words you are reading now.

At the end of the day, I fell, I wronged, and I had become a perceived shell of God’s creation in love.  At least I thought!  This is where the fire began to grow in me, once at a low point in my life, the light began to burn the brightest, I began to see what is for some the beacon of hope, and for others the path which would lead out of the forest we call “shame”.  The deceiver wants us to forever stay in his forest of shame, he forever wants us to lament our decisions and create a never-ending spiral of degradation which we cannot ever recover from.  Judas is our primary example of someone, who in his very own decisions, decided to listen to the deceiver and betray the Son of Man, and in Jesus’s passion we find the very answer to the dilemma of charity.  Jesus, forgave the very people who put him to death.  Jesus, hung on that tree in a place known as “skull”, Golgotha, and he forgave.  He forgave the Sanhedrin, he forgave the soldiers, he forgave Pilate, he forgave you and me.  Let this sink in for a minute.  If Jesus can do this while hanging in the most unbearable pain, bleeding from his cuts, his lashes, and his nails, can’t we take the anger which wells up in us and just let it go?  What is the worst which can happen? Will people make fun of us?  Maybe we aren’t perceived as being as strong as people once thought we were.  Does it matter what people think of us?  Doesn’t the truth just exist with God?  Are we not more in search of a loving relationship with God, than what our neighbor down the road thinks of us?

pexels-photo-940880.jpeg

The matter at hand is our ability to understand just who we are, and what our purpose is.  My purpose as a man is to be a man.  I am here to help lead my family with my wife, and show love as a matter of daily existence.  To accept people are not always going to do what we would like them to do, but as a matter of love, do our best to understand why they do it, and then to pray for people as we may be the only ones who are praying.  We may be the only person to show another, who may treat us poorly, any type of love whatsoever.  Should we shirk this amazing responsibility?  I don’t think so, we should approach it head on, and allow God’s will to form as it was intended.  I’m not suggesting we do anything which would be foolhardy or wrought with degrading circumstances, unless this is the only route to love we can see.  Sometimes we must walk the line of danger (danger in life, danger in love, danger to put one’s self out there to be ridiculed for one’s belief) to be the loving example God intended us to be.  I can remember many times in my life when a circumstance would have completely changed, if for nothing more than my willingness to accept and the other person, understand where they were coming from, and pray for them.  I’ve always heard this phrase, “seek to understand, then to be understood”, everyone can stand to benefit from its platitudinal expression of wisdom at the sake of sounding too easy to work.  When was the last time you were derided for anything you’ve done or believe in?  Were you made to feel small or less intelligent?  Did you feel foolish for talking about it to begin with?  Maybe, you turned in a project, but the project was completely wrong, and since you pride yourself on doing good work, you looked silly turning in something so completely awful.  I’ve done these, and I lived, and not only that, I found it in me to put myself in the position of the person who’d suddenly become my adversary and found reason to understand their point of view.  I realized in an instance, I wasn’t so much angry with them for their behavior, although if could have been better, but I was more apt to see things in a clearer light.  In some cases, I still saw my point of view, but I could understand their point of view as well and this understanding allowed for a more conducive discourse between us.

pexels-photo-852793.jpeg

As I began to learn I wasn’t the center of the universe, and I learned other people’s opinions were as beneficial and useful as my own, I found growth beginning to occur.  I found I wanted to listen more to what was being said, and I found weakness in my own points of view.  This truth was a point of realization for myself, a recognition of my overall inadequacy as a person, but deep down what it showed me was a desire to know my neighbor more fully.  I was taking the skin-deep approach and applying it to everything in the past, but now, I want to know everything I can, and I have found a couple of wonderful benefits to come from this catharsis of selfish individuality.  I found I want the company and encouragement of other, plus the ample discussion which comes from friendship.   I also can see the beauty in most everyone I speak with, man or woman, a true and deep love for the people who enter my life.  I don’t mean a love of Eros, but a love instead known as Agape, a love which looks to God and is a fulfillment of our deepest desires in life.  I find everyday an inescapable feeling of thankfulness for the conversations I’ve had, or even the opportunity to bless the person who just cut me off in the fast lane.  I want God to create in me a clean heart, one which looks to the charity of another and the hope for the best of all circumstances which will allow them to see the true light of faith in God as we should all want.  Charity being the epitome of our willfulness when it comes to love, sacrificing our time, our efforts, our energies to the benefit of another.  Just think, if you can give just a few seconds of your day in prayer for the person who causes you the most grief, perhaps you will see the light of Christ begin to emanate from them in the most peculiar of ways.

 

I was never more challenged though, than when I had to forgive and even pray for those people who caused me the most grief in my professional working life.  These people went out of their ways to stop my advancement, and to create an atmosphere of derision within every turn I made.  I was taken to the brink of complete misapprehension and lowest self-esteem of my life.  I blamed everyone one for everything, and if I told my story to anyone and they didn’t take my side, I wrote them off as well.  I was completely wrong, I should have prayed for those people who didn’t understand me nor I understand them.  I should have tried every day, either in prayer or in conversation.  I should have been fearless, because God was always there with me, and I should have never worried about how I would be perceived.  I was so wrong to not trust in God.

pexels-photo-339620.jpeg

Men, as strong caring persons, we must always remember, strength of character comes from struggle of life.  If we struggle, then we are learning to become men.  Struggle within our marriages and how we can become a better spouse to our wives.  We struggle to become a better parent to those kids who just refuse to listen to our knowledge.  We need to understand who they are, who they want to be, and how their expectations fit in with the life God chooses for them.  This is the same with our neighbors, for whatever reason we are placed in the path of another, God’s plan is infinite, and we are only exposed to a minuscule portion.  We were never meant to understand everything, but instead trust in God.  If we choose to trust in God, then we choose to struggle to love, we choose to accept what is given us, and in our acceptance, we will move forward in our faith journey.  I do hope and pray, if there is a circumstance which is hampering your daily life or even bringing your down in spirit you do the right thing.  Pray for those individuals, pray for their understanding of faith, pray for your love (your Agape) to abound in the favor of another as it God wills us.  Remember, men, we are helping to create a foundation of faith, hope, and love in our cultures, and within our efforts we have the need to be understanding of all and willing to sacrifice in the name of God those things which keep us apart.  I pray you are finding a loving balance in your family and with those you meet daily.  We all need to be doing more, in the name of God, and in the pursuit of our love of God.  May God bless you and your family!!!

 

 

 

God is good, all the time, and all the time, God is good!!!

 

Featured

Why Are Beginnings Painful?

It seems to me, this is just how our journey works, for without those points of pain along our path, we may never realize the truth of joy when it is presented to us.

So, today, I was intrinsically motivated to leave my job.  My job became a labor of stress and pain and created in me a sense of anger which I applied to everything I do.  To my regret, I applied my anger in ways which were not beneficial to my family or the people around me.  I started to become the very individuals I was so opposed to, and in some ways, I was worse.  When we realize the objective truth, and yet fail to accept it, are we not more to blame than those who willfully create ignorance as a matter of truth?  I wanted to write about our endings, necessary in sometimes, sudden in sometimes, but inevitably we all have endings.  How can we accept our outcomes when they don’t seem to benefit us, but instead put us in a more precarious situation?  Jesus, hung from the tree, because an ending which wasn’t particularly beneficial to his health was our eternal benefit.  The greatest example of ending we could have ever been given, and God gave it to us.  We see time and again, endings occurring within the Bible, and in most cases the endings aren’t pretty.  We see the end of the population in the world after the flood and Noah’s Ark (Gen 7), everyone not on the boat, was relegated to a watery grave.  How about the fervent belief of Stephen, the first martyr of Christ, we see Stephen stoned to death, but created an ending which was more in tune with the love of God, than one of horror (Acts 7:54-60).  It occurs to me, our endings are of our own making, or at least of our own interpretation and we choose to accept the pain or give love.  Jesus, hung from the cross and chose to give love to all the world, Stephen chose to bless those who wished him dead.  We much choose the path to and ending of love when it comes to doing what we must do.

pexels-photo-684387.jpeg

Many years ago, much like the job I’m leaving, I was challenged every day to see a “positive perspective” and I attempted to look at thing from a positive point of view.  It was only after attempting to see things in a positive light did I realize, this was a lot of cultural junk.  Some things are never meant to be a positive, some things are problems, and some things must be seen for what they are or we risk a delusion within our own perception of truth.  Here is what I mean, we see an ending which doesn’t seem to benefit us in any way as a negative, or something we would prefer never to have occurred.  Perhaps a death, a divorce, or loss of a situation by our own actions.  These perceived negatives have the potential for creating within themselves more negative circumstances if we follow the path illuminated by their treacherous light, or we can create a recognition or even a precognition of sorts to understand what our role in life is.  I’ve heard once before, “the only certainties in life are death and taxes and the only thing which stays the same is change”.  All endings of one fashion or another, all points whereby we must except and embrace our lives as God has graced us with or turn away and attempt to control our perceived destines.

Of course, this is what this topic is all about, perception.  What is your perception of your life?  Are you where you thought you would be?  Have you become the important person you always perceived yourself to be?  Are you aware of God in your life?  All questions I’ve asked myself at one point or another, and all questions which were life altering, and ending to a perception which needed to die.  I perceive life as a matter of decisions which in the larger context are related, but to which I had full control over, up to and including a bad result/ending was a matter of poor decisions. Ok, so can we make bad decisions, and this have an interminable effect on our life and the lives of the people around us?  Sure!  The decisions we make carry a ripple effect, much like we would see in the wake of a boat.  The more speed and carelessness we pursue in our life, the more turmoil caused in its wake.  I perceived my life as a matter of my intelligence and I would determine its path.  This was a lie I told myself, a lie which I believed wholeheartedly and the perception would carry with it a mess which would take me years to fix.  My perception of life was wrong.  God gave me this life as a matter of a gift, he created me, lovingly to walk a path of my choosing.  Though he so desperately wants me to choose love, and in this choose him, it is my choice.  It’s my choice to end things the way I do, or embrace God’s will and create endings which are seen through a lens looked on by Heaven.

failure_steps

My perception was so convoluted, I perceived my place in life as a matter of failure.  I had a good paying job, a wonderful family, I was singing in Church, and I had friends in my life who were great.  I though, perceived my life to be one of failure, not being where I needed to be, not finding God’s love in my family, not understanding why more people didn’t want me to sing, and pushing away those friends who added so much to my life.  It pains me to write this, because I must revisit my behaviors, and in retrospective analysis, I’m ashamed at the pain I caused the people I love by creating a means of ending our relationships.  It seems to me, this is just how our journey works, for without those points of pain along our path, we may never realize the truth of joy when it is presented to us.  So, was I where I wanted to be, at first the answer was “no”, but after everything, the answer is a resounding “yes!!!”.  I love my life and the people around me, I love the opportunity to wake up every day and be a potential influence for those of our brothers and sisters who are searching for the truth.  I love working, and I love resting.  I enjoy looking at nature as it whips past my truck window on an early morning drive.  I was missing my joy and failing to see the endings in my life as true beginnings.  It is all a matter of the perspective of life, we must see our endings as our beginnings.  It’s not about positive and negative happenstance, but instead, it’s a matter of “God I love you and want to be with you always” or “I can do everything on my own”.  I choose God in everything I do, and everything I see.  This presents a challenge, within my endings to love those who would do me harm, even more so than those who I know securely love me unconditionally.

Are you important?  I think this is such a relevant question.  Look around, look at those people who look to you in life, maybe it’s a coworker, or a relative, or your spouse, or your children.  Look at them and imagine them without you, see how they would rely on another person’s advice, and know you would give them a more loving committed answer to any question they have.  Much like Capra’s classic “It’s A Wonderful Life”, it truly is a wonderful blessing filled life.  We are not immune to struggle, but what we do have is the ability to see God’s blessings in all we do no matter what the event or perceived ending may be occurring.

As we see in our everyday life, God is central to everything.  When we are speaking with our spouse, do we see love in our decisions and how we talk with them?  I must say, my anger was so ferocious for so long, I didn’t approach my wife with a loving tone or consideration.  I was more worried about myself and what I needed to see and hear, than in what was right for the both of us as we stood before God.   This was a stemming from those failed perceptions in my life and the subsequent endings which I hated to my core, and they were all a factor of my inability to place God first.  I was rude and bitter to my wife because I hated myself and I’d become an aberration of myself and the person I knew I could be.  Every time I would catch a glimpse of this person I hated, I would thrash in conversion to become someone other than who I needed to be.  I was always willing to reinvent myself and distort myself for the perception of others, I was willing to see an ending as final so never to revisit my personal pains ever again.  So, the person I needed to be was God’s creation, God’s love in action, and the person I chose to be was someone who thought he was a better sculptor of self than our Heavenly Father.

pexels-photo-127904.jpeg

This led to pushing my kids away from me, and failing to enjoy their presence which was overflowing every second I was with them.  Now, I’m not saying, they don’t test me, my kids have advanced degrees in pushing my buttons, but this is what kids do, this is what we signed on for, so love them when it comes to handing out a punishment, this doesn’t mean they shouldn’t realize the error of their ways, but what it means is their father loves them but needs them to see what they should be doing as a matter of truth.

My son, tests me daily with his obstinacy, his complete unwillingness to do the simplest of tasks creates in me a sense of turmoil like none other.  Though, I’ve realized, I love him more than I could possibly put into words, he is a wonderful light in my life, he just needs the encouragement I can give him, and then the rigidity of truth needed to eventually move forward in his life without his old dad.  I once looked at my discipline of my son as an ending to his behavior, but now I see it more like the beginning of a journey he will undertake.  He very much needs my help (even if he thinks he can do it alone), life’s pitfalls are such I can’t help him in every situation, but I can attempt to be at his side as often as possible.  This is what God does for us, God is at our side every moment, through our tough and wonderful times.  God’s desire for us is to turn to him and allow him to save us, allow God to hold us in his unconditional love.  We must open ourselves to his light, and realize our perceptions of self are never truer than when we look through the loving eyes of God.

pexels-photo-237189.jpeg

Ok, so where are we left when it comes to endings?   We are left in a place some consider nowhere, we are left to our own lazy devices.  When I began to write this, I indicated I left my place of employment, but I didn’t say why.  I had a fundamental disagreement with the manner and application of employer dealings as they pertained to the employees.  I was not satisfied with the environment I chose to exist in daily, but more importantly I was becoming lost in a world of anything other than love.  I was willing to look at the worst parts of a person and become critical of their faults, as if I had no faults of my own, and I was willing to take my anger out on those people who mean the most to me in life.  My wife would always say “God has a plan for you, be patient and accept what this plan is when you see it”.  Of course, his plan came in the form of an email which exacerbated an already tense situation, and created a door that I chose to walk through, ultimately releasing me of my work obligation.  It was as if, I needed this to validate my decision to walk away and end my relationship with my employer.  Though, it’s not really an ending, this is a beginning for me in a new environment and atmosphere where once again I have an opportunity to influence everyone I am in contact with about God, a new chance to reflect God’s light to be an example of faith in everything I do.  Although, the environment I left was tenuous and acidic in its very nature, I have no ill will for anyone, perhaps an incomprehension to some behaviors, but nothing but love for these people.  We are all children of God, and we are cherished in God’s eyes.  I hope the very best for the employer I’ve left, and all the people who still work for them, I pray they are successful and their pursuits in life become that of faith, hope, and love.

Within the context of my current writing, I believe it is so important for us to regain a vital understanding of who we are to God, and who we are to our very situations.  Our endings are not endings they are beginnings, no matter how painful the transition just happens to be.  Like birth, as a painful process for both the baby and its mother, it is necessary for the beginning of life.  It is needed to feel the eventual love the child will have when they wrap their arms around the parent as the parent tells them “goodnight” or as the parent faces a new beginning in their eternal life with God.  When we can see our beginnings with a proper perspective we will see anything with a true beginning will have some level of prescient pain in association, but a pain which can shape us as God sees us, or can distort us as we see ourselves.  Don’t ever forget, God is with you always, you are his work of creation, God formed you before you were born, “Why, every hair on your head has been counted. There is no need to be afraid” (Luke 12:7).  Stop worrying about trying to fix everything which comes your way as a matter of control in your life, allow God to take charge and his will be done.  You are so very valuable to God, and all he wills in return is your love, but a love which is your choice as a matter of faith.  Be faithful, accept your beginnings, accept love in your life.  Men, stand up and be strong while you do this, be a foundation of your family to accept the new beginnings in the life of your family, and never ever let the thought enter your minds whereby you can change everything, or you are not enough, or you are not where you need to be, or Heaven forbid you aren’t loved.  You are precious, and so too are all of God’s creation around you, so treat them as such.  The final ending in our life it the truest of beginnings ever, embrace the journey needed to begin our eternal life.

I pray the words I’ve written here will find even the smallest cracks in a wall which might surround your heart, and will allow the light of Christ to enter in, be open to love and those walls will fall.  Be open to pain, and you will grow immensely, be open to God so that you will understand why we have endings and why they can become perfect beginnings.  May God bless you and your family!!!

 

God is good, all the time, and all the time, God is good!!!

 

pexels-photo-408503.jpeg

Featured

How’s Your Subscription to Social Media Morality?

Don’t be lulled into a sense of easy answers or platitudes which neither explain your faith, nor fully represent your growing emotional bond with God. 

How many times have you been on social media, and come across a quotation or meme which spouts a platitude offering wisdom in only a few simple words leaving you a pondering moment whereby you conclude in a thought, “yeah, I agree with that!”.  How about when you read those posts from a family member or just anyone you know, asking you to forward or share their post about something religious maybe even controversial.  Your seeming capitulation to the request indicates to them, you agree with their point of view, but if you don’t forward along, or you don’t agree, they become social media distant from you.  What we see in many posts is a one-sided assertion meant to persuade those who read it.  In some cases, a misguided attempt to encapsulate a complex theology or epistemology of faith into a simplistic ideology of conscious will.  We see political views being expressed as matters of fact, but, the views are colorful suppositions meant to ridicule those who don’t agree and welcome those who agree.  Don’t misinterpret my meaning, some posts people publish are correct in every spiritual, intellectual, and feasible way possible, but when we are forced to wade through the right and wrong every time we log on, we would rather not.  How many times have you seen the profile of a ubiquitous quote fairy (we all know who they are in our circles), and just kept scrolling?  How about a family member, who can’t understand why their opinions aren’t solid gold, and so we hide their posts as a matter of passive protest them?  I know we’ve heard from everyone we know; social media creates a negative dynamic in our society (i.e. each and everyone’s life).  Social media is in fact a diminishment within the constructs of our culture because we’ve let go of traditional knowledge for the short-order wisdom special, and a side of hubris, with a dessert choice of anger or apathy on those topics which require neither to be addressed.  Our culture has replaced understanding with a “me, me, me!!!” entitlement philosophy, and those of us unwilling to capitulate to the new normal behavior, are seemingly left in the dust of those who tell us daily, they are moving forward.  They are wrong, the accurate paradigm is, those of us who choose not to berate those who disagree with us, or those of us who choose to look deeper into our faith journey, are more like to recognize social media as a tool for understanding rather than an opinion platform (I do realize the irony, as I write this blog though, it’s not lost on me).

pexels-photo-375889.jpeg

So, what do I mean by “short-order”?  There are so many different sites which post spiritual based text and pictures, and this become convoluted with the individual posts people make all focused on one thing, our spiritual growth and/or conversion of faith.  There are so many out there right now, how do we know which has a basis of truth, and how much is a matter of thought someone had one day.  I’m sure we’ve all see the quote, “Everything on the internet is true, by Abraham Lincoln”, I must say the first time I saw this, I belly laughed, because it is quite true.  We just don’t know what is and what is not, without a true basis of comparison as it relates to our journeys.  I know from personal experience, I have some relatives who are so combative and express so much vitriol with my points personal points of view, I eventually silenced them from my feed.  This was after a few altercations, whereby they quoted improper facts, and diminished my overall faith as a matter of stupidity.  In retrospect, I should have been more forgiving with my actions towards them, but at the time I was angry, and I felt as though there wasn’t any ability to have a civil discourse with them.  Not because I was unwilling, but because of a behavior which indicated they weren’t at a place to speak with me, because of their intense dislike of my views.

Over time though, I’ve noticed, people will post a platitude, and although it does have meaning and does strike a note if we allow it to permeate our thoughts for any period, when we mix true statements of wisdom with half-hearted attempts then we begin to see, the mire of junk we must wade through.  When we add this to funny posts, and posts with news feeds, the task becomes too much to look at for any one of us.  So, inevitably we focus on those things which we can determine as being mostly truth, such as videos which makes us laugh, and we push past all those posts determined to give us tidbits of information or spiritual advice.  Ultimately what have we lost, by only viewing pictures of friends or watching videos of people failing?  We’ve settled for quick advice, quick solutions, and even entitled ourselves to be a part of everything we see.  We’ve grown lazy in our attempts to embrace our faith, our responsibilities.  We’ve replaced conventional wisdom with wisdom from anything which sounds new because we attribute the past as an antiquated time which should be replaced with something new.  We are addicted to new, no matter what the cost of our change will be.  The irony is, we’re not the first culture to think we know better, and we’re not the first generations to think we are more enlightened and sensitive to culture than any which have come before us.

If we look at some topics in our culture today, we see politics is at a forefront, religion is purported as dying, social issues are the door to equality of outcomes (i.e. sexuality, abortion, identity rights).  We have so many issues, we as a culture don’t know up from down anymore.  At least this is what social media implies, we are led to believe by people who admonish religion and spirituality as something people with simplistic understandings of life accept.  We are bombarded daily by instances of “social justice” bent on righting the wrongs of the past by forcing people to be nice to one another, and then when people (rightfully) don’t like being forced to do anything they are derided as bigots, racists, or misogynists from those groups seeking justice.  It’s enough to make even the most vanilla of situations become intricate from the surface, where people are willing to give in to pressure, rather than to think for themselves and rely on a morality set in objective truth.

pexels-photo-270024.jpeg

Ok, how do we stop a progression of amoral, unprincipled people bent on creating a society whereby everyone can do whatever they want, if it’s ok with certain groups? Thing is, not everyone is amoral or even unprincipled, they due to ignorance willful or not, believe what they are doing is right, and they believe in it so much, they want us to come along.  Isn’t this what we would do?  Don’t we believe in something so much, we want everyone else to come along?  Partly I think we want this, because we believe in the experience, but also, it’s nice to have people we know along for the ride, people we know we can trust.  It’s about our comfort, our perception of the acceptance of others, in the end, it’s easier to do something if we can see someone we trust involved.  Therefore, social media is a one stop shop for religion, news, entertainment, and this is also the reason people spend so much time on their phones or computers attempting to live in a virtual world.  The only way to willfully admonish a perceived enemy is to attack their weakness and exploit their inability to defend this weakness or at least create a shift in paradigms focused on our faith.

Where is this magical weakness, I’m referring to?  Every person has this weakness, and we know it too, we are all searching for something.  Something which will give us all the answers, something which will metaphorically keep us full and we won’t ever become weary of this “something” we seek.  Until we find what we are looking for, we will search in every corner of this world, listen to anyone who seemingly knows what they are talking about, and progress any movement focused on the change we believe needs to happen.  We are sheep, and as much as someone may not want to believe this mentality, listen to Jordan Peterson’s lecture on “Man’s Capacity for Evil”, where describes just how easy it is as an instinct to commit evil.  As he states it, “when our own proclivity for evil unites with the human proclivity of evil, then you understand what you are capable of”.  I’m not suggesting people are all evil, but what this does show is, is the instinctive nature with which we can be persuaded, by our own personal selfish desires to lead or follow in just whichever way we are suited.  “When in Rome do as the Romans do”, an old phrase which has taken on a revived meaning within the context or contest of social media.  So, if someone has a will to be manipulated, we all do at one extent or another, then this will can be influenced in a similar manner by the action (altruistic for some) of faith towards one another.  As we learn from the life of Jesus, our actions are far more important than anything we could truly say to one another.  Giving of ourselves, sacrificing of ourselves (in either effort or body) is another way in which our actions will lead those who are searching for fulfillment, to truly be filled.  Though the difference is, they are filled by the love of God, and with this love, they become a true reflection of the truth of God.

book-address-book-learning-learn-159751.jpeg

I personally, enjoy scrolling through the day’s events to find interesting stories, or listen to interesting people as expansive knowledge of our surroundings will help to codify my thoughts about faith and understand how we are all one in the Body of Christ.  As a man, I look to those men, who might be leaders of our faith, and as leaders will provide wisdom, examples of courage, and be willing to face the difficulties in their lives with the Love of God as their armor.  The apostles were led by Jesus because they could see the Divine Christ, and as this was made clear to them, they also knew his truth was The Truth, God’s Truth.

Men there are very good groups on different social sites which provide a meaningful interpretation of truth and action, and within this truth, they utilize the Bible as a means or guideline to approach this truth.  Don’t be lulled into a sense of easy answers or platitudes which neither explain your faith, nor fully represent your growing emotional bond with God.  As we can see, anything worth doing in this life will be hard and will be littered with our failures until we attain a successful outcome.  It seems, God isn’t disheartened in our failures as much as he is willing our success, he needs us to try, to try for a stronger, personal relationship with Him.  If we are willing to put forth the effort, by praying, doing good works, and willing the good of the other, God is there to pour forth the graces upon us.  Think back at a time when you were wifeless, and childless, now think about now, are you blessed?  For me, my life was an empty shell compared to now.  My children are the greatest gifts I could have ever received, but they are the hardest to understand.  My kids test everything I know, they are obstinate, willful, and forever confusing me by their actions.  However, and most importantly, they are loving, kind, happy, filled with joy, a constant source of wonder in my eyes, and essentially, they allow my heart to ache in the most wonderful of ways.  I think of our Heavenly Father, and I know, his love is unquantifiable, but I can associate my own experience and only imagine the depths of what he feels for us.  Therefore, there can be no words, there are no human words to describe a love like this.  No human comprehension can grasp the helix of complication we are loved by, except to draw from our own understanding of our best parallel, our fatherhood.

pexels-photo-316778.jpeg

Our truth in God is reliant on our ability to search for objective truth and in our exhaustible efforts we will begin to see a crack of light creep through the proverbial rock wall which surrounds our hearts.  Much like being in a dark cave far below the ground, we stumble over what we can’t see.  In our acceptance of easy platitudes and social media justice, we do the same, we stumble on ideologies which are not consistent and which don’t encompass the wisdom of our creator, but take a kernel of wisdom from man as a moral to live by.  We can never listen to the morals of man, they are subjective and carry with them the burden of exactness which creates a perpetual motion of ideals.  Much like a camel is a horse designed by committee, man’s morals are subject to everyone’s opinions.  God’s morals are true and never changing, but within all God’s morals are true love, a beauty unparalleled in life.  So, as you enter the darkened cave of social media, remember the Love of God is the only light you need.  The Light of God is the only light which will show you the way to truth.    As smart as your neighbor believes themselves to be, their wisdom pertains to their life, mostly if it doesn’t have the basis of their faith leading the way.

Willie Wonka

Platitudes are nice, and should have some quick relevant understanding in our lives, but those platitudes should be in addition to what we know in faith.  Jesus, hung from the cross, he suffered a humiliating and vile death at the hands of people searching for the truth, even Pilate says to Jesus, “truth what is that” John 18:38.  Jesus was the truth, John 14:6, “I am the Way; I am Truth and Life. No one can come to the Father except through me.”  I always recommend when people have questions, to read their Bible, and if after reading the whole Bible they don’t have a satisfactory answer, then they should read it again.  The answers for our life are not in a “meme” intended to delight or create a pithy statement, but in the words of the prophets, the kings, and the One True God.  This is where the truth is found, and through the tradition of the Church, we find a way to practice our faith daily by accepting the graces God has given us and cherishing them with a true love and willingness to push sin out of our lives.  I hope as men who are reading this or women too, we realize our God is the most important aspect of our lives, and our families are second only to God.  Place importance on what we know to be the truth, stop searching for easy answers to our faith and life, there are none.  One thing we can all count on is, if it’s hard, and we know it is right, then this is the path we need to be running down.  May God bless you and your families, and may your families always be cogent blessing in your life of God’s will and love for each one of you.

God is good, all the time, and all the time, God is good!!!

 

pexels-photo-636010.jpeg

Featured

Have You Found Your Joy?

Though, the pain with which we go through, we gladly accept as a matter of growth and a matter of need, much like the plant who stretches its stem to reach the light, so to do we stretch ourselves for the joy which may fill our hearts.

When someone asks you if you’re happy, what is your normal response?  I usually say something like, “yes, I’m good”, or I may make a more sardonic approach and respond, “what is happiness?”.  Though, happiness is more a reflection of our general feelings or perception of our contextual situation than a matter of our disposition.  Disposition is a matter of our qualities as a character trait or just in general how we perceive our situations.  So, a person who is more content with life, as they perceive it, will tend to be happier which should be a derivative of their joyous nature.  I think many times, we are happy, but it become a fleeting moment, because what we choose to be happy about is more a matter of material desired fulfilled, but just like anything, a material desire will always loose its potency or luster based on what it is we seek in its intrinsic nature.  Now, I’m not suggesting we’re all a group of selfish creatures walking around trying to get what we want, I directly saying it.  We are, we are selfish by nature, we are looking to fill our needs.  We seek to fill our own needs by filling our life with food, entertainment, adulation, pursuits other than pure love, and we seek sin because sin has promised us a life of happiness if we would just push ourselves further from God.

So, why are we pushing ourselves further from God, isn’t God the truth, the light, pure love?  Yes, but we are selfish, and we want what we want now.  We want comfort and happiness at whatever cost seems appropriate with our moods.  If we’re lazy today, then we will only pursue what we can get from little or no effort.  If we are challenged tomorrow and we can measure anything less than the full truth of our situation, we will choose it.  If we want to see a superficial example of this in action, look to our children, they are not nearly so complex as us, but still seemingly exhibit the same tendencies.  We, just like our kids, do what we shouldn’t because, in the words of my son “I just wanted to”.  We just want to do whatever we want, and we don’t like anyone, especially God to tell us, “no”.  Though in the context of my words as you read them, I hope you can realize the arrogance, my actions, your actions, actions in our general culture are to the way of love.  Love isn’t a feeling, more than it is a truth of pure goodness, a truth which will draw joy in to our lives, and may as a result create pain as we burn away the sin which crept into our hearts and hardened our very ability to accept and give love to God.  Though, the pain with which we go through, we gladly accept as a matter of growth and a matter of need, much like the plant who stretches its stem to reach the light, so to do we stretch ourselves for the joy which may fill our hearts.

pexels-photo-532508.jpeg

How many people have you ever known, who were seemingly miserable within their lives?  No matter what was said or done, they found argument or complaint in the very details they were dealing with.  Their inclination towards the negative, created an environment which lauded criticism and judgement which in turn degraded their ability to feel love much less give it.  Well, this was me, I’ve been so critical in my life, I’ve pushed away everyone at one point.  I even push away God, through my actions of discontented behavior, leading to sin, whereby I wallowed in my own misery.  I wanted to make everyone around me miserable, to the extent they would agree with me, and we could commiserate on topics of similarity.  We could chastise those people who didn’t meet our hidden expectations, and in the process, we could look down on those individuals who we considered to be lesser.  I was awful, the vitriol I would spew at anyone who didn’t agree with my point of view, was painful to take, and although it has been years later, when I think back on my words, it’s painful to relive.  I feel so much shame for my behavior, it is like a wave of inexcusable shame washes over me, and at once, I can barely breath because I can only imagine what those people I hurt must think of me now.  Though, my ability to view my behaviors has a two-fold purpose.  The first is a matter of the Devil trying to insist on my acknowledgement of pain, and in doing so, create a never-ending cycle of bad decisions and bad behaviors.  The second part of this self-reflection I feel, is God telling me, in my shameful silence, “I love you, let this go, I forgive you and I want you with me”.

This ability to really understand what God wants from me in my life, is where I end up after walking in the murky swamps of my historical sin.  The swamp is laden with pitfalls and snares of imperceptible pain, but just like anything we see as ugly in our mind, our mind has a way of overarching the ugliness, and at the same time undercutting the significance of our actions.   We must look towards the light of God, God will handle what is around us, in one way or another.  Though, to let our past control our now, is to allow sin a permanent place in us, and keep us forever mired in our sin.  The sin must be burned away, dried up, and an ability for a clean heart.

Here is where we find our joy!  Joy doesn’t mean we won’t be unhappy or have rough times within our lives, but joy is the consistent acceptance of God in our now.  Not tomorrow, and not yesterday, although we do perceive God’s place in our time as it matters to all existence including our own.  We must be concerned with the here and now, a homeless woman in need of food, isn’t concerned with her meal a week from now, neither should we when it comes to being concerned with the food of joy we receive from God.  Telling ourselves, we will focus on prayer and God when we have more time, is equivalent to finding a dry place in the swamp of sin, and relegating ourselves to this space, till we must move.  We all must go through the swamp, and on the other side is our mountain of faith we must climb. And yes, I mean a mountain, it is tall and it is treacherous at times, and yes, we have a good chance of backsliding with every step we take.  However, God, is there with us, and in our silence, he never leaves us.  He needs us to ascend this mountain, for when we ascend it, we find our joy, our love, our goodness in Him.

selfie-monkey-self-portrait-macaca-nigra-50582.jpeg

Ok, so why isn’t happiness the same as joy, aren’t they basically the same thing?  Well, no!  Happiness is a feeling and emotive response to an external event.  Joy is a matter of an internal awareness which creates denotes and understanding of what we believe based upon our perceptions and acceptance of those perceptions.  Take for example, we are not happy when we have an abscessed tooth, but joyfully we are glad to have it removed for relief of pain and negative symptoms like fever and in extreme cases death.  Joy doesn’t always exempt us from pain, and I am not sure about anyone else, but I’m not happy to deal with pain, although as a necessary, I will joyfully accept it because I realize what it ultimately means to me.  This should inevitably be our perception of God and the joy which God’s love will bring into our lives.  One of the great atheist questions is why, if there is an infinitely good God, is there pain and evil in life.  If God is truly good, then how can evil exist.  The only question I think worthy of merit from a non-believing standpoint, but one which was asked and answered over 800 years ago in the thirteenth century by St. Thomas Aquinas.  Since, I don’t want to bore anyone with the wordy answer to the question of evil, the paraphrase is such.  Evil is a derivative, since primarily speaking good is the highest principal, evil is less than this value, it can never be a fully contained supremacy, without good, evil would destroy itself since its overall principle subject is goodness.  In other words, God is not evil, although it can exist, because within the evil decisions of humankind, there are the good decisions which always carry a supremacy of outcome.  Good always wins, and in the darkness which seeks to hide the light of good, we find dark will always exist because there is light, for a shadow is the lingering reminder of our sin and follows us as a reminder to seek the light in everything we do.

I cannot stress this enough, we must seek God to find true joy, without the recognition of the objective truth, love, and our understanding of our place in this universe, we have no hope for joy.   My perspective is just this, God is there for us, God loves us, God wills our good and the good of all.  We are all His creation, and in this, we are all beloved.  Even those of us who’ve chosen to push themselves from God, either by willful attempt, or by ignorant bliss, we are all given his compassion and graces to fill our lives with.  If we choose to fill our lives with anything less than the joy, God provides, then we find we are never quite full and continuously searching for something.  I was there in my life, and when I fully answered this question, everything became clear to me.  Where do you think you go when you die?  Some people will answer, “a hole in the ground!”, some might say, “I don’t know”, others might even answer, “I’m afraid to know”.  My answer after years of avoiding this question and answer was, “I want to be in the loving presence of my creator, I want to be with God!”.  Once I answered this question, there was no turning back (not that I ever want to), but this was a full committal on my part.  This was my life changing course and figuring out, I want what I’ve always been looking for, and in this process. I pray, I can be a beacon to others who are asking themselves the same question.  I felt the question was fundamental, but important for me to wade through the swamp of sin, and begin my journey up the mountain of faith.  I fully believe, the mountain for it to be moved, means we must have the seed of faith, essentially speaking the courage to climb our mountain.  We must have the faith to believe God is there with us the entire way, and we must be willing to accept, this will be the hardest journey of our lives, which will not end until we close our eyes for the final time.

black-and-white-sport-fight-boxer.jpg

This is a tough road, I will speak from experience, I fail more than I succeed at times and I am constantly frustrated by my lack of perceived lack of faith.  Though, in my conversations with other men who are on their journeys, we are all walking this perilous road up the mountain of faith, and although it seems impossible at times, and feels like we could fall at any second, just remember God holds us up, and bears our burdens if we just allow him.  For all he men and fathers out there, does it feel like everything is resting upon your shoulders?  Do you feel like you must work in a job you hate, or submit yourself to those who constantly undermine or underappreciate your contributions?  Me too, but if you try and go it alone, you will be destroyed by the very notion of a never-ending onslaught of degrading paradigms.  So, what can we do?  Embrace our wives, let them know of our struggles, pray together, find your faith together, you are one.  Within our covenant with God, we must embrace our struggles together and meet the challenge of life head on, this is what men do.  Being stoic about any problem and failing to truly solve it, or bring about a loving answer is something the movies have fed to us for over a century.  Men crumble, and men are failures, and men can’t do everything alone, when we create a pedestal of glory, only one thing can ever happen, it will eventually fall.  So, don’t!  Let God in, let him guide you through the briars of childhood, know your kids will test you at every turn, but your love will keep the light in their hearts, your compassion will show them a strength which can’t be synthesized from any other means than the love of Christ.  Sacrifice for them in ways which astound and yet be willing to continue, unconditionally, your pursuit of their hearts as God does for us.

I would challenge everyone to stop, slow down, and realize just what is important.  This weekend alone, we had discussions in my home about the importance of God and family as it pertains to our lives and the lives of the people around us.  Though to truly appreciate the mire of the swamp which sin exists in, we must be willing to seek joy.  We cannot appreciate the joy God brings in our lives without the existence of sin, and our willingness to push sin away for the pure joy love will bring to each and every one.

As men, we must walk that mile in another’s shoes and recognize they need us, and much as we need them, but we must also be encouraged to be unafraid and bear all which may come in our path.  Do not run from your fears as they exist in sin, but stand firm knowing they Love of God stands behind you always.  Seek your joy.  Find your joy in hard work, in being a husband who is willing to show his spouse a better version of himself, and be willing to accept your role as father.  Sacrifice your time, efforts, energies so they can also find their joy.  Joy will get us through those times when all our heart yearns to do is weep, because we continue to look to God.  God’s presence mitigates all pain.  If you failed, keep trying, I would love to be a failure with you, and know we are always seeking the light of truth.

sunset-summer-golden-hour-paul-filitchkin.jpg

As I’ve stated in the past, our ability to love, should eclipse every ounce of embarrassment we might endure, every point of pain which we will feel, and every moment of doubt seeking to disturb us in our silence.  Listen for God, listen to his voice, it will come to you in the silence of your heart, if you’re willing to listen.  I pray the Love of God will rest firmly in your heart, and your love will become a transcendent ray of light for your spouse and your family.  Do something wonderful with your life, glorify God in every way possible, when you do this you will most certainly find joy.  Your sacrifices in life will be a constant source of joy if you allow them to be.  God is the greater glory of our existence, never forget this.  May God bless you and your family!!!

 

 

God is good, all the time, and all the time, God is good!!!

 

pexels-photo-735833.jpeg

Featured

Where Are Your Priorities?

I will tell you, in my selfish pursuit of anything, I am constantly challenged with putting the proper priority in context with my life, and I usually need to make things simple for me to be successful. 

This morning, I was looking at bills and daydreaming of a day when I won’t have to worry about debt.  I’m sure most of us, think about the same thing.  This is probably more prevalent today than at any other time in human history, we are wealthier than ever before, and because of this wealth, we are enticed to buy more items to fill the material void created by our comfort.  So, as I am sitting here, and pondering different scenarios to pay off the list of bills, I start placing a general priority on the bills on paying bills of most importance to least important.  I’m looking at annual percentage rates, and effect of disposable income increase before I commit to a bona fide action plan.  It then occurs to me, if we placed as much emphasis on the small details of our own lives as we do on our bills and perhaps health, would we be happier, or better husbands and fathers?  Are our priorities a reflection of God’s will in our lives, or do we choose to take the reflective sources of culture to make our earthly lives more bearable and comfortable?  Only we know the questions to our own circumstances, and as heavy a question as this is, it is important to answer with full truth.  Be courageous enough to admit, we all fall short, but how can we make it better and rectify our wrongs?

I will tell you, in my selfish pursuit of anything, I am constantly challenged with putting the proper priority in context with my life, and I usually need to make things simple for me to be successful.  I always tell my kids, and subsequently now, people I run into.  We have three priorities in life, we must follow to be intrinsically ordered; first glorify God with everything you do, without God, there is nothing and we are nothing, and if we are nothing so are our achievements or in most cases our lack of achievements.  Second, family, without our families we have no base of comparison in life, we have no one to cheer us on in our successes and console us when we fail, and we have no one to teach us a proper understanding of truth as it exists in objectivity.  Third, we must be willing to “handle our business” in everything we do.  This means, we follow our principles set forth by our Faith and our Church, this third is a contingent of the previous two, because when we follow the first two we invariable embrace the last.  Many years ago, when I first picked up the Bible, I read a passage, Mark 12:28-34, and it read “One of the scribes came to Jesus and asked him, ‘which is the first of all the commandments?’ Jesus replied, ‘The first is this: Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is Lord alone!  You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.  The second is this: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.  There is no other commandment greater than these’”.  This scripture blew me away, its simplicity was put forth to the scribe, but within the walls of its utter ease, was shown to the answer which even in complication presents the truth.  I don’t think we find many things in life, which on the surface are what they say they are, but also present a world full of answers within those simplistic phrasing.

Can you think of any time where a comment has been spoken to you, perhaps a platitude, and within the hearing the context of the words, your life in some way is changed?  The wisdom in Jesus’s words are unparalleled in their fervor, but also in their approach to answer what seemingly is a question anyone could attempt a more material answer with.   In our culture today, people might say, commandments are a little old and outdated, or some others might speak in ambiguities, because they truly don’t have an answer.  Whatever anyone might indicate as being important, based within their priority structure, we must not forget, anything less than glorifying God, is just not enough.  Therefore, the Ten Commandments are listed in the order they are in, from most important to least, and the very first is “I am the Lord thy God, thou shalt not have any strange gods before Me.”.  This isn’t meant to be a rule you can’t break, although you shouldn’t.  No, it’s an instruction manual to help you ford the river of life, and reach God who patiently awaits on the other side.  God loves you and me so much, his joy is reflective in us, if we are willing to look for him in our hearts, and lovingly follow his instructions to find him.  I would consider the commandments more like a map in search of the heart of God, and all we need to do is accept the guidelines and they will lead us to our life of Joy in God.

confused-muddled-illogical-disoriented.jpg

Ok, so as priorities go, my most important priority is God.  What does this mean?  Seems a little open, how am I supposed to achieve this priority, unless I stop everything and run around singing his praise every second of the day?  Well, I guess anyone could do it, and in truth there are some saints in the past who’ve done this very thing.  Though, I’m not telling anyone to do anything they haven’t reconciled within themselves, and I would want anyone considering anything to listen to the silence of their heart for the answer.  God will give us the answer, but be bold enough to accept this truth, no matter what it is, and no matter what it may mean for you as your life exists.

What has worked for me, is acknowledging everything I do as a gift from the Almighty, and within this gift, I only want his glory to be realized.  If I write a paper, I don’t want anyone to pour on a lavish account of my words, because in truth, my words are helped along by the Holy Spirit, and they are for the Glory of God.  Which as a result, I hope my words will bring about conversion, and I pray my words will create a compassionate understanding of the overall love, God wants to give us with every breath we take.  Just look at the world around you, and you will see in every detail of everything you look at, God is in the smallest of the small and yet more wonderful than the highest of the high.  I was fortunate enough to leave my home one morning this week, and the sunrise was gorgeous, there were oranges, purples, yellows, grays, and pinks.  I’m sure there are some scientific folks out there who could give me an explanation of the science which creates these colors, and believe me I would love to know it.  Though this is surface deep, when I really considered the sunrise, I saw the creator beginning everything and knowing I would leave my house at exactly the right time, to see his Glory in splendor as it was painted across the sky.  How wonderful, how loving, and yet how humbled am I, I was permitted through life to see at least one more beautiful sunrise and gaze upon a splendor which is God.  God is in all things, and no matter our belief systems, we can all agree on beauty.  Science can tell me why it looks this way, but only beauty can relate my emotion and the correlation of God’s creation as it pertains to my life in this moment only.

pexels-photo-860935.jpeg

So, God is in everything, take a moment to realize and contemplate this paradigm, you will be a more humbled and loving person if you do so.  This is what I’m trying to teach my children, and when they ask the obvious question about pain and evil within this beauty, we all need to remember, even in the Glorious presence of God, did the devil insist on turning away, and relegating himself to an existence devoid of love.  So too, will people on this Earth, they are willing to acknowledge God, but unwilling to love God, and in doing so are accepting a path of pain, which isn’t necessarily derived of their own pain, but on the joy of the pain of another.  Love must be given, and never taken, all God can do is love us into existence and continue, unconditionally, and we choose to do the same or walk away.  My kids in their youth have never chosen to walk away, but in their inexperience, have lashed out in an unloving manner at people who care about them, and people who don’t, but it’s my responsibility to teach them the difference and the need to love both parties of offense because we are all beloved in God’s eyes.

My wife and I experience the same struggle, but ours is to attempt to understand one another.  We are one, in the covenant with God, and in the existence of this bond, we struggle from time-to-time.  Though, our recognition and humility in the sight of God’s Graces poured out over us, is what centers us and our pursuits in life.  My wife is a wonderfully strong woman, who in her own way has wisdom which far surpasses my own, but is humble enough to ask my opinion of matters which involve both of us, though I admit she could probably decide on her own best practice.  However, in her wisdom she elicits the recognition, we are as one and must function as one.  Though, within this recognition we face the second of the priorities, family.  As we are the teachers of our kids, and we also, whether we care to admit it or not, are examples to anyone who we are in contact with, our secondary life focus is on our family, nuclear, extended, and all people we meet.  Everyone is a part of the body of Christ, and in this understanding, we are all one family (clearly not in the genetic sense, but this doesn’t diminish my recognition of my brothers and sisters in our world).

Family, has numerous functions, and I think the most importantly the family’s role in this world is to unconditionally love one another through a recognition of the love within one another, and the love which is God.  I know this is difficult at times, just the other night, I watched two family members who normally get along very well, look at each other with disdain in their eyes, creating an atmosphere of tension so palpable it seemed to weigh everyone down and risk a tremendous upset.  Though, they love each other so much, they were willing to talk about their disagreement and walk away from the situation because their anger was still on the surface and nothing good would come from the irritation occurring.  As I thought on this some more, later in the evening, I was heartened at the thought of how, even if some people don’t care to admit it, but the devil is there to rip families apart because the family is the single biggest threat to him.  The power of love within a family, is paralleled by nothing, which is why the family is so important to our culture.  We need to stand up and recognize this, and husbands, this is as much on you as it is anyone else (don’t put yourself in a position of compromise, and don’t say to yourself, “why isn’t she doing anything?”, simple answer, because you are the man, and you need to act like it).  I hope my words aren’t too harsh for anyone, but I believe them completely.  As a man, I need to be the strong, the compassionate, the soft, the flexible, the rigid, and the understanding all rolled into one.  I can’t be afraid to fail, and yet still have the courage to keep trying until the full Glory of God is realized.  My wife, whether she really wants to always admit this or not, needs this in me, she is a woman, and as strong as she is, she isn’t and will never be a man (political climate aside, I’m referring to biology), and expecting her to be one is an abhorrent aberration of societal detriment we should stop doing immediately.  She is a beautiful woman, and should be treated as such, her strengths are not mine and likewise mine are not hers, which is why God gave man and woman, as a compliment to one another.  Stop looking at the times and trying to match subjective nature with reality, come into a reality of truth and be men who are what God intended, and while you’re at it, a beard is always a good way to start.

The last priority I follow is when we handle our business, and this covers all things, but is reliant of the first two priorities to maintain consistency.  So, what do I mean by handling one’s business, well, just like it says.  Don’t be lazy and allow acacia to enter your life, and don’t do anything which in its context is less than loving.  For example, my son, shorter than some, but as wonderful a boy as you would ever meet, and a heart as big as the ocean.  He, becomes frustrated by others who are short-sighted and measure him only by his physical stature, creating a sense of diminishment in their eyes, can complicating they matter by lowering his self-esteem.  This at one point or another has become an issue, and in certain cases, he’s resulted in anger to solve the problem and lashed out with his quick wit and created an insulting environment for everyone involved.  Though, when both his mother and I speak to him, our first question to him always is this, “son, was there any love in what you did?”.  His response is usually something like this, “why do I have to love them, when they are hurting my feelings?”.  I think this is a fair point of view to take when someone is, especially in this case, willfully ignorant of another’s place in this world and how their actions are perceived.  Though, our response is, “because, they need your love more, and your reflective light more than you can know, and until you understand this fully, we need you to consider their feelings before your own.”  From, discussions in the past, I’m sure there are plenty of people who would consider our advice to our son as being naïve, but in the same vein if this is the case, is it fair to consider the actions of Paul as being naïve as well?  His fervor and proselytization of the truth were more important that any cultural norm, especially in ancient Jerusalem.

The point we try to teach our kids is always one of love, and to always ask the simple but profound question to themselves, “was there any love in my actions?”.  If they can get a yes, and if their moral principles have been followed, they are good, and all one can say any further is, “go with God!”.

I’ve heard before, people exclaim, “why is everything so complicated?”, and I’m sure you have probably asked this question at one point or another in your life, and I would say, nothing is complicated if you’re willing to accept truth.  When objective truth is involved, it either is or it is not.  You either make good choices or you make bad choices, and those choices where you hesitate probably to have more to do with the fulfillment of a selfish need than a true pursuant desire to love.  No one’s perfect, and I suffer from this more than I care to admit, though I can see the path more clearly now than ever before in my life, and although there is a pain involved in changing what I do, and I’m glad to make the changes necessary in my life, to glorify God.  I just need to be better about it, and become more ubiquitous with my attempts.

I hope you and your family are at a joyous place with God being fully at the center of your lives.  If He is not, consider a few things, you’re not alone, and all that is left is for you to ask his guidance, and get ready for the ride.  Then accept your own faults, accept your manhood.  Make the good choice, make the choice to be a true father and true husband, and to be clear, not the ridiculous notions the movie industry sets forth, our families need our spiritual and faith guidance.  They are yearning for it, and they need a strong leader, this is you, so be a man (again, preferably start that beard today).  May God bless you and your family!!!

 

God is good, all the time, and all the time, God is good!!!

 

pexels-photo-693776.jpeg

Featured

Is Your Belief In God, Outdated?

Truth is never outdated, it is just what it is, truth just takes a matter of faith to realize its implication within our lives.

When I’ve had an opportunity to speak with anyone, Christian or not, and get their feedback on their overall perception of religion and faith, I receive an answer which eludes to an outdated perception of reality.  They usually talk about science, and how the utilization of empirical data to answer life’s questions is a more solid approach to who and what we are, and why we’re here.  Whereas I agree with the utilization for science, as a matter of answering those questions which elude us in nature, it’s not the whole scope of human understanding.  Really, as deep as science goes, there is an intellectual quality to understanding which if applied properly, affirms our discoveries in science.  Take for instance the fact of evolution, it exists, and has shown humans to drastically change in a rapid amount of time, considering the average span of a species on Earth.  Evolutionary science has also shown us something else, but which is neither explainable or conceivable without one consideration of intellectual submission and acceptance of faith.  Within the history of the World, and within the history of all species, why are humans the only species to have evolved so quickly, and within our own evolution why are humans so advanced in comparison to species which are considered prehistoric (e.g. alligators).

Our appreciation of science is warranted, it explains so much, which previous generations could only ever speculate and when no answer could be surmised, attributed to God (also not untrue, in keeping with the context of all life and matter included).  And, so, when we have conversations and such things as to be relevant to the supernatural, are brought to the forefront, many people are skeptical at the notion of something or someone which defies the very nature we are bound to live by.  We aspire to know something or someone who is unfettered by the everyday restrictions of life, say a famous person who is adulated and wealthy, to increase the comfort in this life.  Though every person must prescribe to the reality which is nature, or at least this is a foundational understanding when discussing the perceived whimsical notions of God.  Though, in one quick swipe of the intellect, we can poke a massive hole in the theory of using science to explain all, such as an explanation for moral intellect, or beauty.  When an argument for moral subjective nature comes into the conversation, we quickly realize without an objective point of reference our morals become points of subjective linear time markers.  They mark the periods with which we attained a new level of understanding, or we degenerated our thoughts because of perceptibility and potential gullibility in action.  There is more opportunity to create a morality out of emotive perception than to recognize an objective mountain which doesn’t move to suit our needs.  Now, this thought should be outdated at this point!  As the race of humans continues to age we’re too far along to think a matter of hubris is something we would never suffer from, because it sounds too much like something from an ancient time, and outdated time.

So, what about faith is outdated?  Is it the notion of a being which has an omnipotence over us and creates us as a need to feel loved?  I’ve heard a lot of reasons people think it would be crazy to believe in God, Christopher Hitchens was quoted as referencing God as a “flying spaghetti monster in the sky”.  Hitchens very notion of an omnipotent God, who watches us, was one of incredulity and suspended belief because of poor grasp of scripture and a misguided perception history based in assumption and supposition from which he drew his conclusions.  His larger context did come as a matter of a belief in science, and science’s ability to answer questions which were once believing to be unanswerable concepts of faith.   He took an epidermal approach to something which the depths are still unknown even now, and concluded based on his light understanding of a topic too complicated to create a simplistic ideology of the outdated, there was nothing to know but us.  We are all gods, and we control our fate, which is only hindered by technology and man’s ability to comprehend.  To say the least, this was a summation of his arguments, but in truth an argument made of straw, and altogether an argument which presumably could be crafted by a first-year philosophy major.  Ok, back to my original point, science can only give us, an answer to what is, but it is our intellect which ultimately derives a solution to the unthinkable the unsolvable.

If we apply the same contextual understanding of science, but more of a philosophical hunt for clues, we find in the pages of scripture and in the words of those since Christ hung on the cross, a treasure trove of signs pointing to truly modern and vibrant concept.  We see people, who already live difficult lives, lives where if work isn’t being done, no one eats.  Lives where one wrong decision to follow the wrong person means death by association.  A time when kings, had first born children hunted down and killed, and yet in the words of the Gospels we find people flocking to the Divine Christ and giving up everything they know.  People who somehow, in their own time, had truth revealed to them, by the Holy Spirit, and truly walked towards the light.  In this, we see Christ raised from the dead, we see sickness healed, and truth revealed over and again.  The fathers of the Church, all but one died as martyrs for Christ, and in this time the word spread like wildfire.  How outdated is a concept of truth, does truth become outdated, or is it a matter of expectation and boredom?  Kreeft, in “Jesus Shock” analyzes the experience of faith and compares it to a modern-day form of entertainment, and his comparison is correctly presented, people are bored with the liturgy.  Primarily, they are bored, because they don’t fully understand what they are experiencing.  Men, fathers, husbands, this is on us to be teachers to our children and to proselytize to the world, the good news.

pexels-photo-267684.jpeg

How do we combat the boredom we’ve all faced at one point or another?  The answer to this question, is the keystone to a realization of just how modern the truth Jesus has revealed to all of us.  Truth is never outdated, it is just what it is, truth just takes a matter of faith to realize its implication within our lives.  When Jesus, asks his disciples, “who do you say I am?” (Matt 16:15), it wasn’t because he was on some search for self, but he wanted his disciples to reach into the silence of their hearts and listen and have the truth revealed, and Peter’s answer was simple and profound, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”, a truth which was revealed by God.  How is this boring?  When mixed with the works, and the wisdom, and further the love, this was the truth.  In argument over the believability of these statements, some have claimed these were made up and can’t be believed.  Though, if we search our hearts and really think this argument through completely we find a couple of non-sequiturs, the first being, if it were made up then why four gospels and not twelve?  Another question which comes to mind, is why the variability within the context of all four gospels?  Why not have them be the same, if there was no ethereal context whatsoever, how could they possibly presume the context of any argument today, let alone what you are reading now?  The argument for the truth within the context of the writings, adds no mystery, except a question of the ludicrous attempts at dissuasion within the scripture.  The only part of a desire to disprove the existence of God, and subsequently worship at the altar of modern atheism, is the outdated argument tactic of non-existence.

Here is where the modern Church is needed so desperately, to remember our faith isn’t about excitement in the framework of entertainment, but in the intense love which is poured out unto us as a matter of grace.  We must remember, the bread which is transformed into the body, is the body of Christ we consume, and although I can’t reach into a deep theology, I know this should be a transformative experience for each one of us.  We hold the very body of Christ in our hands, and there is nothing boring about this experience whatsoever.   For any person who is unsure about the believability of this happening within the mass, I would remind everyone, God, is, and as this applies, anything is possible.  Within John 6:53, we are given the context of eating the flesh of Jesus when he says to the disciples, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.”.  The disciples knew what this meant, and continued this function of love, which is still practiced at every mass today.  It wasn’t until Martin Luther interpreted the scriptures different (nearly 1,500 years later) did the concept of symbolism take shape.  I would rather listen and follow the workings of those who walked with Jesus or those who followed the disciples of Jesus than of anyone who lived a millennium and a half removed from the first century and take any realization without first testing it against what the disciples interpreted and practiced.

eucharist-body-of-christ-church-mass-161081.jpeg

Now, as any Catholic should tell you, this is exciting, we are in the tangible presence of God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit, when we consume the body and blood.  Which further gets back to the original point, how is understanding the very presence of God, outdated?  Outdated is seemingly an extension of boredom within our culture today, but there is truly nothing boring about being in the presence of God, we’ve diminished God’s pungent presence within our lives, and in doing so we’ve decided we don’t need Him.  However, if you look around you’ll see everyone is searching for something in this life, except those who’ve found God, their search is over, and their journey is on developing a true love for God, and desiring a closer relationship with their creator.

Another more perilous aspect of the outdated mentality is arrogance, and we all assume this shade of sin at one time or another, but we don’t have to, if we remember, God is there with us at every second, His love isn’t one of condemnation.   God’s love is one which cleanses us from the muck and through fire purifies us.  Men, can we be strong enough to admit our failings, and yet be strong enough to push past those failures to be the examples our families need, and our spouses so desperately want?  Can we truly humble ourselves and love unabashedly, even at risk of failure or risk of exposing our vulnerabilities?  The answer, is yes, let go and give everything you have, to God, don’t hold anything back, don’t fail at being truly honest with how you feel in prayer, ask for help, ask for forgiveness, pray for those around you and be truly charitable.

Faith isn’t outdated, only the arguments against faith have become antiquated and empty.  And if anyone is ever interested in reading true arguments against the faith, St. Thomas Aquinas, “Summa Theologica” raises the best.  Nothing anyone brings today, carries the argument equivalent to his objections, and then subsequent refutations.  If we are brave enough to face the criticism brought about by non-believers, we’ll see nothing about Christianity is outdated.  In truth, most detractors are novice when it comes to their knowledge of faith and Christianity in general, they usually attack the negatives (something they can identify with as can everyone) which were purported by those who were corrupted by evil, rather than a focus on those who are truly in love with God and wish to express it with every action and thought possible.

pexels-photo-261400.jpeg

My goal as a father to my kids is to remember, I’m not trying to make faith an emotive function, although true faith should shake the very ground we walk on.  Instead, I’m trying to teach my kids the comprehension of truth as it exists, objectively.  I’m trying to have them understand a foundational work of truth which they will always be able to build their faith upon, and hopefully their questions and answer will far surpass my own.  I hope they aspire to be a family of saints, God willing, and in their journeys of life, they find the deepest love possible.  Within their journey, I want them to find relevance in their daily lives where God is always at the forefront, and a matter of modernity never is placed in context to how they perceive God.  We risk this, when we attempt to make faith a matter of fun rather than a matter of truth.  Don’t sugar coat the truth from your kids, tell them what they need to know, you’ll be surprised how wonderful their minds work, and how often they will come to you with deep questions of faith and practice.

Our families are second only to our focus of God, but our families in the greater context of society are the foundation for every society, and within our efforts, much like all the fathers out there, we must be willing to sacrifice our children’s need for fun and lovingly serve them truth at every turn.  As husbands, our wives need us the be the reflection of God’s truth in all we do, love your wives unabashedly, hold them, let them know just how much they mean to you.  It’s not a matter of passion, but more a matter of true unconditional love, and the need to be one for the entire family.  I hope the best for everyone, and I pray our families become stronger in the bonds of Christ, and we remember, God is never outdated, only an outdated perception of truth is to blame.  May God bless you and your family!!!

 

 

God is good, all the time, and all the time, God is good!!!

 

jesus-christ-good-shepherd-religion-161289.png

Featured

Do You Care About Your Neighbor?

When we think about willing the good of the other, this other person is beloved by God, just as we are, and our will to love them becomes an indirect experience to love God, but to love God through His creations.

I first heard the phrase “will the good of the other, because they are other” while listening to a documentary on the Catholic Faith, which is derived from the Catechism of the Catholic Church. (CCC – S1, A1, Ch5, 1766) This was a lightning bolt moment for me, when I heard it, it brought me back to the understanding of Luke 6:32-33, “If you love those who love you, what credit can you expect? Even sinners love those who love them.   And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit can you expect? For even sinners do that much.”.  Though, we are all sinners and we all tend to do good, especially for those we are agreeable with, and those people who don’t pose any sort of threat, as far as our social standings, or physical health are concerned.  I’ve entered conversations in the past where a challenge to help a stranded motorist on a desolate highway late at night, is answered with “um, nope” from most people in the conversation.  A common and not unexpected response from reasonable people, who are looking to preserve their life (for familial and personal reasons no doubt), and prevent undo danger from occurring.  Ok, so, are we missing something when it comes to following Jesus’s example in the Gospels?  Should we help those motorists, or enter the home of someone who is potentially sick with a deadly disease?  Do we help those people at work who’ve hurt us or caused tremendous discomfort with a reality they’ve set forth, to complicate and degrade our lives?  In short, yes!  We are Christians, and we are the true reflections of God’s light to those who may dwell in their own darkness.  We are the truth, and if we’re unwilling to trust in God, then our faith is nothing more than a whimsical notion of right and wrong which we can project on others and stand in judgement when they fail.  When we can’t be happy for the success and blessings of another, we fail, and our soul’s sadness is magnified through and increased distance (distance is the best analogy of measure when talking about God, not good, but the best I can do) from God.

pexels-photo-801857.jpeg

Willing the good of the other doesn’t always mean we put ourselves in harm’s way, but does mean, we are willing to see the success of another and want the success from a purely loving and genuine perspective.  This is to say, watching a coworker succeed you in promotion and being as happy for them as you would yourself, happier even.  Failing to acknowledge or even will the good of the other, as Barron points out is a matter of reverse egotism.  When we are angered and jealous because they are unwilling to impart a semblance of good will upon us, based in a deluded expectational goal of social interaction, we fall short of the charity needed to imbue God’s love in this world.  So, what does this mean exactly?  Do we walk around with a goofy smile on our lips everywhere we go, no, not necessarily, but if smiling all the time makes you cognizant of your love for God, then do it all day every day.  Who cares what others think of your incessant smiling, maybe they are where you were at before you began your smiling conversion.  C.S. Lewis in Mere Christianity wrote, “Do not waste time bothering whether you ‘love’ your neighbor; act as if you did. As soon as we do this we find one of the great secrets. When you are behaving as if you loved someone, you will presently come to love him.”  Although, Lewis, has great advice, I’m thinking more along the lines of a perception of will as it relates to us all.

Culture today, is based on an increased awareness of self.  A push to look out for one’s self before moving forward with anything else of a charitable nature.  When dealing with people who are infirmed or homeless, we ponder what this will mean for us in a far-reaching way.  Of course, I don’t want to sound pessimistic, I know everyone is on their own spiritual journey, and everyone comes to the conclusions of faith when it is the right time.  Though, for my own purposes, I’ve felt this way many times, and regret my personal and selfish motives for completing any good will regarding anyone else.  It doesn’t change the good work which was accomplished, and it doesn’t negate the benefit anyone may have received from our unselfish acts, although I acknowledge my own selfish motivations.

Though, since I was moved to action by Barron’s simple words, I’ve found different motivation in my perception of the people who surround me.  The first being, I truly want what is best around me, and secondly, I recognize the very nature of our existence, and why we were created in the first place.  God’s will was to love us into existence, and all he wants in return is our love, but to have our pure love, He is willing to allow us a choice.  Within our daily actions, our choice is our will to capitulate to God’s never-ending love.  This is to say, when we focus on God’s warmth and light, we are focused on willing the good in everything we possibly do.  We are transcended, as it were, to a higher plane where more than ever before we see truth more clearly.  We accept a harder understanding of life, and yet we attain a greater level of joy, which creates an inexplicable sense of calm, like oil smoothing itself over the surface of the water.

pexels-photo-392031.jpeg

While wanton of the best outcomes for everyone I have ever met and those I’m sure to meet in the future, I have experienced a sense of destruction, at least as far as tearing away those old constructs which seemingly were strong and rightfully perceived, but when exposed to the light of truth, were seen for what they were.  Duplicities, meant to merely hide a façade of wretchedness, focused on self, and self-aggrandizing.  It was an awful sight, when exposed to the light, yet in its exposure, there was a feeling of righteousness as I began to tear all of it down to the very foundation.  The foundation was the love of God, the existence of faith, and our general understanding of who Jesus was/is, and how this would ultimately pertain to my life as it was and how it will ever be going forward.  The truth of charity as it pertains to my existence among all God’s creatures, especially as we are a part of the overall Body of Christ and the Church’s mission to bring everyone into the fold.  We can’t of course do this, if we are seeking our own ends, by seeking our own means.  We want to control how we show our charity to one another, and in doing so, we hope to control our destiny, which in a very rudimentary way, we hope to be gods over our own individual universes.  Our will is not God’s will, except when we hope to reflect God’s will by our very own actions and thoughts.  It requires our thoughts to be as pure as our actions, and we begin to purify our thoughts by prayer.  Prayer was the single most effective tool for me, in my approach to the good of everyone I meet.  My prayer for the person who was out to ruin my day, made all the difference in the world.  My wife would say to me, “you never know what they are going through!”, and so she is right as usual.  She is an example of God’s grace for me, she is wonderfully strong and capable of keeping things together so we can come to God, evenly yoked.

Another strong point which should all give us pause is, when we think about willing the good of the other, this other person is beloved by God, just as we are, and our will to love them becomes an indirect experience to love God, but to love God through His creations.  God doesn’t make mistakes, and in the overall process of love, if God can find something to love about our enemies, so can we.  In the movie, The Shack, the father, played by Sam Worthington is bitterly angry at the loss of his kid (sorry, to spoil this if you haven’t seen it yet), but is then given a choice to pick if he had to choose between his two remaining kids, which one would he pick.  An impossible task, and one which no parent can do, no creator can do.  God, does not choose between any one of us, instead, he allows us to choose him, and he never leaves our side, nor does he abandon us when we’ve pushed him away with our incessant need to sin.  As this understanding should unfold for us, we can also understand, God, wants us to love our brothers and sisters as much as he does.  This love begins with a wanton effort to will the best possible circumstance we can.  We pray, whatever the bad times are, they may turn to good.  We are excited for the great outcome of their personal life, and we above all else seek to understand who they are to God and to us.

pexels-photo-372098.jpeg

Men, here is where we are at.  We must be willing to stand up and will the good of the person who stands near us, even when they wish to do us harm.  So, back to the original set of questions.  Do we help those who might be willing to hurt us?  The answer to this question is yes.  A resounding yes, our eternity is with God, and not here, Earth is a stopping off point before we embark on all eternity.  Why are we this concerned about a material life?  Could it be we would miss our wives, or our children, possibly the creature comforts we’ve become accustomed to in this life so far.  Our lives are not about comfort, although we are the most comfortable humans who’ve ever lived, our lives are about sacrifice and devotion.  Our devotion to God above all else, our devotion to or family, and our devotion to all peoples.  It’s not about the best animal activist group, or who won which award, or how much money did we make, and it’s not about where we are in the line.  It’s about our individual efforts to be a driving force for the world, in love, in giving of ourselves for the best possible outcomes and understandings of those who are God’s children.

I’ve had many conversations on this topic in the past, and I think we could at some level agree, on the positive outcomes for everyone.  Though this leads to two opposed methods of thought, the first being a pursuit for an equality of outcome, and the second, is an abandonment when the risk of death is introduced.

An equality of outcome is an ideal place to be, but equality of outcome isn’t a biblical understanding, it’s a manmade desire.  Even within the confines of Heaven, there are different levels, and different positions of placement; though the different positions don’t correspond with achievement as say would be won in a race.  Instead, the difference of level is based more on the graces with which God has poured out to us.  Even the angels have varied degrees of importance, though all love God fully, enough to sing “Holy, Holy, Holy” without ceasing.  We are where we are, because this is where we are.  Cryptic, and not satisfying, I know, but truthful nevertheless.  Your ability to be a father isn’t translatable to another paradigm, although, your actions may be.  A father may see your love for God, and in this he will be led to the light, and may become a reflection for his own family.  We can inspire to love God, but we can never replace, or expect identical outcomes, our only expectation is God lifts us up, and we can accept or deny him, it’s our choice.

Finally, faith is our compass and our tool as we search for God, and pertaining to God alone (in the Trinity of course), when death becomes a reality, what were our efforts in this life.  I will never suggest anyone do anything they are not prepared to do, but for me, my faith is one of hard decisions.  Unto death do we realize our existence as a matter of time, but on the overall perception and functionality of objective reality, there is a bigger context which we must accept if we are to accept Christ.  We must accept, death, Christ died for all mankind, and in doing so wiped away the original sin Adam and Eve brought about by their “original sin” and eating the forbidden fruit.  Though, we all must die, and for some this is a very disagreeable notion, they must leave everything they know, and all the people they love.  Faith is our function to overcome this fear of death, our ability to look past, although we aren’t sure what we’re really looking at, and accept the unfettered goodness of which God is.  The pure love which envelopes us, and permeates our existence to the ends with which no one can imagine.  Even those numerous near-death experiences (NDEs) which have been given to us in detail, have no explanation or wording to describe their experiences.  They are changed though, they are transformed into a greater understanding of their short-comings and willing to accept their sin for what it is.  When St. Thomas Aquinas was amid writing the third section of the Summa Theologica (his masterwork of over 3,500 pages, and subsequently the explanation of Christian theology as we know it), while in Matins, he was in intense prayer when a voice from the image of Christ on the cross and it said, “Thou hast written well of me, Thomas; what reward wilt thou have?” St. Thomas replied, “None other than Thyself, Lord.”  When he was asked to continue his writings, Thomas stated, “I can do no more. Such secrets have been revealed to me that all I have written now appears to be of little value”.  His transformation had less to do with himself or what anyone else could provide, but more to do with what God had in store for him.

Willing the good of the other because they are other, is a very foundational understanding of who Christ is to each one of us.  God’s loving will to create us, is a matter of agony in love, then of warmth within love.  The agony of knowing something you love unconditionally, has turned away from because of their refusal to accept your love, must be agonizing.  This is represented in the crucifixion of Jesus on the cross, to show every one of us, how much his love is willing to go, for all of us, to endure unspeakable amounts of pain, and still as he hangs on the tree, he wills the good to the thief by saying, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.” (Luke 23:43).  Before he expires and lifts the whole existence of mankind and he says “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34).  Jesus was the true example of willing the good of the other, and loving those who would hate us.  We must teach this to our kids, we must be examples of this to our spouses.  Our responsibilities to our families and to the world we live in cannot be overstated, it’s up to every one of us daily to be the examples for everyone, by following the examples Jesus set forth on the day when he hung from a tree for our transgressions.

I hope and pray the words you read today, will help strike a chord in your heart, and help you to pursue a life of love in God’s name.  I pray your families will become stronger with each passing day, and never fear what is hard or ever fear the reflective light of God you bring to them.  May God bless you and your family!!!

 

 

God is good, all the time, and all the time, God is good!!!

 

pexels-photo-226700.jpeg

Featured

Have You Ever Faced Rejection?

Our rejection of God, is the rejection of love. 

Have you ever faced rejection?  Have you ever been turned away for just being who you are?  I think on some level we’ve all faced a level of rejection which forever changes us.  Some people are more apt to receive a rejection, because they choose to exist on the fringes on our societal norms, but in the end, they still possess enough desire to be a part of the larger collective, and are affected by the rejection of others.  I know from personal experience, not looking the right way and acting the right way are two ways we become ostracized from inclusion of popularity.  I’ve been on both the receiving end, and I’ve also been the person (to my shame) who has excluded others for something as simple, as I didn’t like how they looked and acted.  It was only when I was put out by another, because I wasn’t agreeing with the proverbial mold they put forth, did I realize just what it meant by rejection.  I’ve been rejected by loved ones, for being too much of one thing or another.  I’ve been rejected by jobs, for failing to have whatever it was they were looking for.  I’ve also been rejected by ignorance, people failing to understand my faith and what I am completely about, and subsequently rejecting me, by their apathy or avoidance in hopes I would, “get the message”, and leave quietly.  I’m quiet about hardly anything, and instead of avoiding conflict, I ran to it, like a moth to a flame.

pexels-photo-106255.jpeg

When I was a kid and growing into my teenage years, I was “big-boned”, flabby around the middle, I was a food connoisseur of sorts.  I enjoyed eating, and working out wasn’t on my list of to-dos’, I did enjoy playing sports, but because of my increased girth, I found it difficult to keep up with the other boys and subsequently I sat on the bench a great amount of time as the games became more competitive.  As I grew older, I felt more rejection by people who I once considered my friends, for little more than I couldn’t keep up with them, sort of a natural selection.  I was hurt at the time, but I masked it with laughter or anger and tried to move on.  Although, it did one thing for me, it gave me a drive to attempt to work harder to prove, I could do anything they could do, but the rejection was solid, although I attended all practices and ran all the miles, I still wasn’t chosen for the team.  I was given a conciliatory job to keep score, and fetch the sandwiches for the portly coach during our practice (subsequently, I was still required to run when I finished fetching the sandwich, as the other boys laughed at my expense).  To make matters worse, I was also a singer, and to my horror, while asking for a practice off to sing at a school competition, I was instructed to sing for my teammates as a proviso requirement to have the practice off for said competition.  I shudder just thinking of looking at the amusement of those boys watching me humiliate myself for the coach, once again.  This for me was a form of rejection which even stings a little to this day.  Now, I don’t want to insist, my embarrassment was something along the lines of comparison for anyone who has felt degradation at the hands of rejection (i.e. rejection based on racism or xenophobia).  Though, I think I bring enough of a point as to draw similar situations for all who might be reading this.  Perhaps you were the butt of jokes, maybe you made a fool of yourself trying to impress the girl you just knew would be the one, or even deeper, you felt self-rejection over your own actions towards another you considered lesser.

Rejection is a powerful motivating tool for the devil.  To take one’s insecurities, magnified by the loss of inclusion, and submit them to inverse scrutiny whereby the ones who’ve rejected us would be subject to our sinful vengeance.  He promotes the utilization emotive actions where our anger seemingly takes control, and when we’ve lashed out, we’re subject to feeling even more worthless, which becomes a never-ending spiral into the abyss of death.  The farther we fall, the abyss becomes darker and darker, giving us a perpetual sense of despair.  Although this may seem an extreme example, I’m sure we can all think of someone who has suffered from a sense of rejection, and altogether isn’t sure how to handle it.  Sometimes people handle rejection by embracing their differences and rebelling against anyone who they perceive to be apart of the rejectionists, and further complicating their lives by creating a sense of mandated solitude so as not to face anymore rejection.

My daughter and I were watching a classic movie, Back to the Future, and there is a scene where “Marty” says to his girlfriend, “I just don’t think I can take the rejection”, and I think this is so relevant, because anyone watching the movie would probably think, “come on, you played the guitar well, what could that teacher possibly know?”.  Though, if we think back to those moments where we put ourselves out there and were soundly shut out of the group we hoped to be in, we might think the same thing, Marty, did and avoid pain wherever possible.

pexels-photo-40525.jpeg

For anyone who knows me, knows the story of how I met my wife.  I coolly walked over, to what I perceived as being an older woman, and proceeded to stumble my way through a proposal of a date.  I was so nervous, I even made sure she knew it was with me, and not anyone else or a big group.  In retrospect, I probably sounded like a gigantic moron, but I muddled my way through, and she said yes.  Decades later, she is the love of my life, and we have a home and kids together.  I think this is all because I faced my fear of rejection and I didn’t care if I failed, the prospective of not failing far eclipsed her saying “no”.  The chance to be seen with this beautiful girl was worth every possible pitfall imaginable.  My rejection from the team, I so wanted to be a part of, gave me courage and understanding, not everyone will understand who I am or where I need to be.  Even to the detriment of my honor, reputation, or even good humor, I was going to sing and do the very best job possible.  It was all a matter of perspective, when we can see past any situation and begin to understand, we don’t risk rejection, we gain understanding.  I was always told by my parents, “if someone is making fun of something you are doing, or the way you look, it’s to cover up their own insecurities”.  I’m sure this may be true in a lot of cases, and in others, people are just reacting to their own sense of rejection of fear of rejection and preventing it by striking first.

Ok, so what do we do with this new perspective?  What do we do, when people are willing to shut us out of our coveted position or place or thing?  Remember, there will be no other gods, then the God of all creation, and when we risk the rejection of something other than God, then our focus is misplaced.  God will never reject you or me, or anyone.  He holds us up and gives us abundant graces where we are never rejected.  However, us turning away from God, is our rejection of Him through our want to fulfill our own selfish needs in our sin.  Think of our journey as a path where we run from God and think of His Grace as a light to the path we walk.  The further we get from God, the dimmer the light will become, but it will still let us know we are walking in the wrong direction.   When we finally do figure out our rejection of God has pushed us so far away, we must begin the journey back towards his warmth which is His light.  Our journey back if we are focused on the light maybe perilous, but when our attention is on God, nothing else matters.  Not the rejection of others or of society, but just the warming love of God and His unending love for each and everyone of us.  So the rejection we felt from others is just their way of dealing with their path as they too walk from God, or possible their rejection could be their recognition of their own sin, and leaving us to walk our path as they begin their journey back to God.

As fathers we face rejection from our own children, which must in some manner of speaking resemble how we also turn from our Heavenly Father.  Our kids become so defiant and willing to risk everything to face our wrath and anger, all because their perception is they trust us, and we won’t abandon them.  I think this is much like us to God, we trust God will always be there for us (in some cases with atheists, they never believed anyway, so they have determined they are the authors of their own destiny, although be it, many of the moral and societal norms they regard as necessary are based on a moral religious teaching).  We assume, a loving God is unwilling to turn His back on us, even when we’ve rejected Him.  What some of us don’t fully comprehend is, He loves us enough to search our hearts, and where we’ve really rejected Him, He loves us enough to let us go.  Hell is a door which must be opened from the inside, we must request a place.  In God, the door is always open, but we must accept His love before we can do anything else.

We reject love, and so society tries to replace the absence of love with material items where we are happy for a while, but never filled with joy.  Our rejection of God, is the rejection of faith, hope, and love.  This rejection feeds on everything it sees, and so we are faced with rejection daily from people who’ve also faced rejection, and in their pain are willing to exact the same sort of contrived acceptance we so desperately need.  Our supervisors in work reject us or what we do, no matter how hard we try, society might reject us because we don’t look or act a way befitting their expectations.  Our families might reject us, because of the lifestyle we choose to lead.  There is more rejection in our culture than there are reasons to reject.  Why?  We’ve rejected God!

back to back

Rejection can become the worst enemy we ever face, because it’s ramifications are long-lasting, and in some cases the negative consequences could take years to be fully realized.  Our boorish behavior to women, is a rejection of love and charity as it pertains to God’s creation.  Our rejection of our elders is a disrespect to life and the courage or even necessity to live it.  Our dismissal of those who are fervent in a loving belief, all because it doesn’t suit our selfish inclinations, is our rejection of sacrifice which is a cornerstone belief in any faith and the building block of any stable society.  Currently we reject common sense for the much sought-after study which will explain away all our doubts and put to rest any contrived notions of the past.  We strive to think our generation and the time we live in now is more enlightened, more knowledgeable, and more capable of creation of a better society than any generation before.  This ironic twist to rejection is, we’ve failed to reject hubris, and instead we’ve accepted it with open arms.  We’ve failed to reject our emotive desires to concluded amidst turmoil to create a culture focused on its own feelings and especially feelings associated with being a victim are held in the highest of esteem and given carte blanche until they are then rejected themselves.  Even those things which once were held subjectively sacred, have been rejected for a more constrictive perception of life.  A life where we should be told what to do, what to think, and who to accept base on empty platitudes or superficialities (e.g. criticism of celebrities by celebrities on the red carpet for a show to give awards to people who already lead a rejection worthy lifestyle).

Men, in my past writings, I’ve acknowledged the need for strong men and a presence which dictates a caring need for us to be good husbands and likewise good fathers.  I know I’m guilty for rejection of anything which ran counter to my own expectational beliefs and was unwilling to discuss.  I rejected my family at one point, which had more to do with my stubborn pride and misguided sense of honor, than anything else.  If you are feeling a sense of everything slipping through your fingers, remember, God is holding you up in His own hands, so to speak, and nothing slips through.  Learn to let go, and be willing to focus on God’s will, this doesn’t mean everything will turn out the way you want, but it does mean, you can focus on the bigger picture.  Teaching our children to be fishers in a world so willing to have other people do the work for them, will create a fire which will spread to all corners.  Christianity is global, but there are entire generations of people who seem to have forgotten just who Jesus was and what His sacrifice was for all of us.  He not only rejected the way of man, He sanctified His existence with His sacrifice, and in doing so He embraced us in all in our malevolence and our every attempt to reject God by serving our will instead of His.

It takes a stronger more faithful man to embrace his enemies, including himself, acknowledging his own faults and his rejection of God as a matter of truth.  We can hardly expect to teach a truth if we fail to live the truth ourselves.  Don’t reject those you see no matter who they are, embrace them (accept them), in the best possible way you can.  Sometimes this will just mean to pray for them, because we don’t always know what someone is going through, and anyone who rejects us for some reason or another, needs prayer.  If your focus is on God, and within your focus, you show compassion and love, then prayer is your greatest ally.  May God bless you and your family!!!

 

 

God is good, all the time, and all the time, God is good!!!

pexels-photo-350769.jpeg

Featured

What Is Our Mission In Life?

My mission is to be a father, husband, and devoted servant; nothing more, and nothing less.

Do we have a mission?  If so, what is it?  If we can determine what our mission in life is, can we handle if it doesn’t meet our expectations?

I think we all have a mission, some are to be fathers, some are to be champions of the weak, and perhaps some are selected to be stewards of the world.  No one mission, in the great narrative which is the book of life in God’s eyes are any more important than another.  We just don’t know the story in its entirety; our mission may be that we raise a young child and teach them faith, whereby they are selected to be a father to someone who will one day lead the world in peace for God’s greater glory.  We just don’t know!  Though, not knowing is the journey which we learn and can one day follow what it is we were chosen to do.  Just like on any team we find there are leaders and followers, and as you can probably guess I’m going to point out the obvious.  There can be no leaders without competent followers and vice versa.  This extreme compliment works in all aspects of society it seems.  Look at the example of light and dark, with true light there is true darkness.  We can’t exist in both, but we can make a choice, and when we make the choice it is ours alone.

I wanted to talk about mission after reading (Mk 1:29-39); Jesus indicates to his disciples “Let us go elsewhere, to the neighboring country towns, so that I can preach there too, because that is why I came”.  There were many people with sickness, disease, and possession in this time and they flocked to him in droves.  Imagine this, there is no such thing as a doctor in your town, and an influenza epidemic has hit, your youngest daughter comes to you and says her throat hurts and she can’t stop sneezing.  What do you do?  Do you sit it out, hoping and praying for recovery?  Or, when you hear of a man, “a great prophet” who can heal and teaches with authority like no other teacher you’ve ever heard.  Do you run at the chance he may be able to heal your child?  Now imagine this, you are the man who can heal, and you feel the pain and anguish of every person who is near you searching for healing, both in the physical and spiritual sense.  You have a mission, do you stay against the wants and desires of the people around you, or do you stick to your purpose?

I think this in a very small way is analogous to the mission we as fathers and faithful men of God are selected to accomplish.  I see simply, do we continue in the directions we know to be right, in the moral teachings of God, or do we capitulate to the needs of our children because we can see the pain they may or may not be in.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not referring to those situations of innocuousness where your son or daughter may want ice cream, and you say “sure”, knowing it may not be what your wife wants.  Those are battle decisions, a choice to do battle over something that provides no long-lasting point, other than being able to flex the dad muscle.  No, I am referring to those decisions when your oldest daughter comes to you and requests that her and her boyfriend would like to go see a movie.  My mission in situations like this is three pronged.  The first, is she safe with said boy?  I want to do my best to insure she is aware of good and safe conduct and to never put her in a position where she may wind up getting hurt or anything much worse (it’s definitely not lost on me, the number of sicko guys out there).  Second, I am not someone who can see into the future, but I would like to think with my experience in life and my perception that behaviors are as easy to read as a book.  I ask myself this question; is the behavior they exhibit on which will get them into trouble in the future?  If so, I must have the strength to say, “no”, no matter how much crying and angry words are exchanged.  Third, as familiar as I am with the ways of the world and the importance placed on sex, I want to show that love is much bigger than a physical act between two people (whom are married).  My wife and I try to have the healthiest relationship possible.  We talk about everything, and yes, we argue about things too.  Sometimes our arguments are unproductive attempts to win the passive aggressive Olympics.  Though, I’ve noticed as we’ve put some years behind us, we’ve become more productive with our time.  We are willing to say sorry more often than try and blame the other for our decisions.  Though with this example, we try to show our children, the relationship is so important to everything in their lives.

When thinking about these three topics, I have no misconceptions about the fact, my daughter is a thinking breathing person, who can at some point make up her own mind with no help from, Dad.  So, I want to give her the choice of understanding, so when she makes her decisions, they are hers and she can own them.  However, like the driver’s education car of my youth, I have my hand firmly on the wheel and my feet ready to slam on the brakes.  At the end of the day, I know better than her, and this is my mission, to let her walk the path and quietly allow her to make some mistakes and gain recognition of the better choices which could have been made.  Though when I see a major bend in this road, to hold her back until I can see she can move forward.  I know this sounds like the typical jerk dad in a Hollywood movie or TV show; though the truth of the matter is, it is necessary.  Sure, there are some dads out there who never want to see their children grow to adulthood, but this truly isn’t the case for either my wife or myself.  We can’t wait to see the grown men and women they will be, but once again it’s out mission to patiently move them down the path of life, until we can see, they will make it.

So, this is my mission in life, at least as far as I can tell; I’m a father, a husband, and a faithful servant in God.  This mission has become my focal point in life, and no I’m not constantly talking to my kids about what they should or should not be doing.  Just like anything which is repeated too much, it might fall on deaf ears; I pick and choose my times to teach them what I’ve learned, because I was a major bonehead for a long time.  I know my teachings to them have three simple points.  God is always the most important aspect of their lives, no matter what adversity they face.  God is always there for them, they must recognize this fact, and they can always continue to move forward with everything.  This may mean, they face terrific hardships, crippling losses, or personal setbacks which test every fiber of their being.   Though they may go through all of this, God is always there, God is always comforting, and most importantly loving them for who they are, not as they see themselves.  If they are always honest and willing to stand up and expose their faults to God, God is always listening and forgiving.

The second point I make to them is the point of family.  Family should always come second, no matter what.  Now, I’m not saying people should allow a family member to walk over them like a floor mat, but what I am saying is, even if they do, we must be willing to make the ties of our families much stronger.  This means seeking to understand those members of our family who get under our skin the most, accepting them for who they are, not necessarily what they do.  This means, in its most unconditional way, we must learn to love them.  Everyone must face their own judgement at whatever time is selected, but in the context of family, our love may just be what they need to really see the reflection of who God is to us, and where they need to be.  I have a brother of whom, I’ve spoken with a couple of times in eleven years, we have just drifted apart, and this is a point of conflict deep down for me.  However, I am there for him no matter what; I love him deeply, and wish him the best no matter what he chooses to do.  Though I will not pander to behavior either; if he wants a relationship with me, he can have one for sure.  I have built my portion of the proverbial bridge, and I must wait for him.  He must build his own portion, otherwise it will never work.  A relationship requires work for both parties involved, and this seems much more complicated when dealing with family, but I feel it is worth the effort.  So, my wife and I teach our kids, family is second only to our faith in God.

pexels-photo-237950.jpeg

The third point is equally as hard as anything we could ever do.  I always say, “handle your business”, which for all intents and purposes means, make sure you get done what needs to get done.  This means study and make good grades, when given a job finish it to its completeness, always stand firm to their principles (e.g. be honest), and will the good of the other because they are other.  If we are unwilling to be charitable in our behaviors towards others, then we can never truly know love.  Sometimes, I will have a talk with one or more of my kids about someone who causes them grief either in school or the neighborhood.  My advice to them comes down to two things, “make sure you are right in how you act and how you treat the other person”, and second, “before talking, try and listen to what they have to say”.  As you can imagine, my children are more impatient than I am, so this most times falls on deaf ears, but the point is there to be made.  Again, and again, I ask what they could have done better in every tough situation they face, they must be made to realize they should hold themselves to a higher standard before they can have a single expectation of another person.  In this, I hope to challenge their intellect so they can learn the very much needed human trait of self-reflection.  Until someone can learn to do this, they will never progress in anything.  Athletes have the benefit of watching film to get better, but the only tool we have is our humility to ask forgiveness or how we could have been better.  The rough point is, when they’ve followed my advice and it blew up in their face, and they were embarrassed.  Embarrassment is not altogether a bad thing; the root of humility is humiliation, no one can ever hope to be humble without, at least some level, of humiliation that they may be forced to reflect on themselves and their actions.

As a father, when I’ve taught my children these lessons, I’ve thought back at the relevance of my teaching them as it has pertained to my life.  I’ve found when I failed or created a situation whereby my goals weren’t realized or a punitive situation has occurred, it has been a failure to adhere to these three points of action.  So, the relevance is there, and the broad stroke placed on the importance and ambiguity placed on the interpretation, allow for implied understanding in the need for an objective truth.  Without objectivity, I have never been successful in accomplishing anything consistently.

My mission is to be a father, husband, and devoted servant; nothing more, and nothing less.  When I’ve strayed from these roles due to a perception of want on my end, I sense an unseen for drawing me back to the fold, as it were.  When I’ve embraced this mission, my life has been anything but easy, and at the same time rewarding beyond a comprehension to explain.  I’m happy to wake up in the morning, and happy to be even a small portion of my family’s life.  I don’t always get to see my kids because of work obligations, and I’m just like any person who works from early till late, I’m tire when I get home.  I know some people may think there’s a regret there, but there really isn’t.  My kids are a priority, but to be clear, the tail never wags the dog, an old euphemistic phrase a wonderful choir director would say.  I want to give them things I never had and teach them lessons I see as important, but my wife and I never make big family decisions on our perception of how they would feel about our decisions.  Instead, we decide on what would be best.  This is to say, we know what is best, and they don’t, their kids, and as smart as some kids may be this still doesn’t qualify for an ability to make competent adult decisions.  Perhaps, some parents should realize this when deciding whether being a friend to their kid is as important as they think.  My mission is to always be a parent first before trying to gain my child’s affection.  I love them, and I truly want their affection, but they don’t even know what they want, why would I put stock in something which in its entirety is fickle at best.  They are kids, and I want them to be kids, and not worry about anything other than learning and knowing they can trust me and their mother no matter what.

pexels-photo-335887.jpeg

What is your mission?  Do you know?  Have you really spent the time to discern what is it God has planned for you?  If not, I challenge you to consider the silence of your heart, if you are quiet and listen long enough, you’ll find the answer is right in front of you.  I pray you find a noble and discerning mission which will fulfill your life and those of the people you are meant to be around and associated with.  May God bless you and your family, and remember God first, family second, and handle your business with everything you do.

 

God is good all the time, and all the time, God is good!!!

 

Featured

You Are Forgiven!

I was so broken, and I hurt so many by my own actions, I felt as though there was no path back to the light.

What does it mean to say, “our sins are forgiven!”?  What exactly is sin to us?  In the Catechism of the Catholic Church (Ar. 8:2,1849), sin is defined as “an offense against reason, truth, and right conscience; it is failure in