What is Our Mortality?

At any second, we stand on the edge of our own mortality and we wait.  Unsuspectingly, we wait to plunge into the depths of the unknown.  All humankind is poised for this moment, and as we wait we can choose to occupy our time with the world as we perceive it, or we can search intrinsically and find the depths of the meaning as to why we wait with baited breath for the moment when we shall enter the unknown.  I’ve known family members to be here one minute and gone the next, with nary a moment’s notice to collect our thoughts or to say our goodbyes.  I’ve had people in my life who enter like the wind and leave just as suddenly, and although they’ve not past from this life, they are removed from mine as if they were.  Then there are those people, whom I love, who have chosen to remove themselves from my life, as if they were already gone, allowing time to hammer the nails of the proverbial coffin which was once our relationship.  All the while, I wonder why it has to be this way, and if I just give a little they will most assuredly come back.  However, this isn’t usually the case.  People leave for one reason or another, and their absence, no matter how big or small reminds us all of our mortality and what little time we have to make a difference in the lives of those we touch from day-to-day. 

When I was thirty-five, I being a ridiculous thinker, moved within myself and begin to think about what my life meant so far, the fact my life was potentially a third of the way completed, and how quickly the years had moved past me all the while giving me moment after moment to savor if I were just willing to open my eyes.  As the thoughts continued to roll over and over in my mind, I cautioned myself not to take a knee jerk reaction to the events in my life as if I were on a sitcom, but instead to patiently begin a movement towards a life’s purpose and goal.  My eventual goal was to realize the light of joy in my life and move towards this goal.  The goal was an eternal existence with God, which is easier to say than do, but I’m a pretty stubborn person, so anything I do takes time and patience before I ever begin.  More often than not, when I don’t exhaust my time thinking about something, I usually mess up whatever it was I was trying to accomplish in the first place.

The first step was to remove myself from the dramatic plays which went on in my head, and live a drama free lifestyle focused on those things which had purpose and meaning in my life.  This of course sounds simple, until people get involved, and a sense of belonging or obligation begins to get in the way, and then what once sounded so simple takes on a convoluted tone obscuring the original goal.  Much like our society, people feign the existence of love and altruism, but they do so without the principle understanding of objective truth, so their subjectivity tends to mare what would be a pure accomplishment and goal seeking life towards the transcendent.  In other words, they let life get in the way and life is a hell of a mess sometimes.  So, this was my goal, to focus on three things and in this order, God, Family, and handling my business.  These very real foundations of life seemed to have become less important to me for some reason, and I was determined to change this.  Though, I wanted the change to become a real change and not a knee jerk reaction, bound to become a passing fad in the potential future years which would come.  This was terribly difficult for me!

American actors Tom Cruise, Rob Lowe, Thomas C. Howell, Matt Dillon, Ralph Macchio, Emilio Estevez, and Patrick Swayze on the set of The Outsiders, directed by Francis Ford Coppola. (Photo by Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images)

To begin, from the earliest times I can remember, my friends and I would talk as boys do when parents aren’t around, and we would do so in the most vulgar ways.  This has carried over in my adult life, and at times when anger strikes especially, I can cuss like a sailor on leave, and to this very day I’m still working on removing those words from my vocabulary altogether.  However, when everything we see on television is one curse word after another, the haze of doing the right thing becomes harder and harder to see through.  Although, this isn’t the worst thing a person can do, it is a perfect example of the type of struggle I have seen day-to-day for years on trying to put God first.  Trying to pray or meditate in a day, for a busy person, is like trying to stop a race to ask for directions, it’s just not going to happen.  However, this pace we live our lives is a very fleshly, worldly, and man-made desire.  God, as far as I can tell, doesn’t want the excuses we would undoubtedly try to provide, as to why we didn’t do what we knew needed to be done, but instead action is what is needed.

Magnified illustration with the word Action on white background.

Action, a word in action, so full of meaning in our own lives, it has the potential to conjure up all sorts of images in one’s mind’s eye.  I know when I see people in action, it somehow inspires me to act in ways I never thought would be possible, good or bad, but watching people in action inspires.  This is why what we watch is just as important as what we do.  Faith in action inspires us to do the works God intended for each of us to do, but actions based solely in sin or even partially cause us to justify the works of man as being more important than God’s Will.  Which is why we are bombarded with intrinsically evil works today, and told we must believe this new way of life, or we are subject to intense scrutiny, and being reasonable people we don’t want our lives upended over something which will be forgotten shortly, or do we?  This is the line in the sand, folks, this is the moment in our lives where the divergent paths of sin and saint must cross.  Now, I’m not saying I’m a saint by any stretch but God sees our struggles and holds us up so we might endure the pain life throws in our general direction.  Those of us, who would rather not struggle at all and continue to move down the path of the sinner bring sadness to the eyes of the one who created us.

How long can we do this, before the sin in our lives takes a toll on our very being, before our desire is anything but the Glory, God has promised?  Our culture seems to be at a crossroads as we speak, we see derision among every facet of society, and those who would desire moral and truthful lives are shouted down into an oblivion (or so it would seem) and forced to face a society where seeking God becomes a lonely road of superstition and make-believe.  This is what our culture would have us believe, but this has never been true.  God is very real, there are more reasons to believe than to be an unbeliever, and the challenge to anyone would be to prove God doesn’t exist.  It can’t be done, likewise I can’t prove it either, except for the overwhelming miraculous, spiritual, historical, and faithful beliefs I’ve seen and know about to convince me God is very real and very much wants us to take our mortality into consideration when we walk our personal path in life. 

Seeking God in all we do, helps to create in us an awareness of love within every fold of life as we take those steps of faith.  I currently work with many professional people who neither openly pursue a life focused on God nor do they entertain conversations where God might be the main topic.  Most of them are intelligent young professionals, who have been fed a steady diet of ego laden fodder and they’ve begun to believe what another person has told them.  I’ve seen some treat other people with so much disdain, I became incredulous at the event unfolding before my eyes.  It was like life imitating art, as if they saw themselves placed before a movie camera and they were acting out a dramatic scene.  A couple of thoughts entered into my mind while watching this unfold, the first being my own culpability in allowing such behavior and also my own behavior over the years in just such a situation, and the second was an immediate awareness of the thinness of words as opposed to action.  There is the word “action” one more time.  I knew, almost immediately, my words if uninteresting to them, would fall on deaf ears, and I wouldn’t get anywhere with their current perceptions of life.  However, my actions, in love, would carry the strength of the angels in a movement to destroy the hardness of their hearts.  Believe me, there is a lot of harness, I feel sometimes as if I’m making no progress.  Tough is usually not a strong enough word to describe their total desire to unto themselves rather than the Will of God.  This is what we are all here for, to find the light, and then to lead others to the light we’ve found.  While standing on this precipice of life, awaiting a forever with Jesus, we should realize the need to tell what we know before it’s time, but the way we can tell our story and what we see is through the loving action of patience and charity.

This is where we’re at, a life meant to be lived once, and a life meant to example to others where the paths we seek in mortality will go.  Sin is everywhere, the more aware of God we become, the more we revile the sin which surrounds us and as pervasive as this sin is, we desire to tell others.  Much like telling a teenager about the pitfalls of life, most people choose to find the sin themselves and likewise have the hubris to believe it won’t cause detriment to them like it did so many others.  I’m not one to preach a gloom and doom topic of conversation, but I do believe in a world which exists either in dark or light.  Our desire to touch sin, because we’ve no longer turned to the light, puts us into an existence of greyish hue.  Life becomes dull and sullen as the darkness begins to overtake us and less of our world becomes visible. 

The danger of life and our mortality comes from living the word of God, and not turning our very backs on the truth (no matter how uncomfortable it makes us).  As far as I can tell there are some major topics of discussion which plague our society, and I think I will discuss more in the future, but to this point as I type issues like transgender, homosexuality, definition of family, politics, and faith are all such hot button topics, just talking about them seems to cause riotous behavior among some folks.  For the record, I don’t presume to judge or dictate the path a person should take in life, but I will express the focus of what sin is and what it does to our lives no matter the simplistic justification and baseless ideologies which are thrown to explain.

Since our mortality is so prevalent, embracing any type of sin is a matter of life and death for hell is a place where we must request entry but heaven is gate open because of the love in our hearts and the purity of our souls. 

As this New Year begins to take shape, I encourage everyone to stop focusing on tomorrow and forget about yesterday, today is what you have.  If you’re inclined to seek God, know on this day you might be sent a personal request to meet God.  Are you prepared to be in the very presence of love and goodness?  If you died today, where do you think you would go?  If being with God is of the utmost importance to you, but you’re not living a life worthy of this importance, how serious are you really about being with God for eternity?  Morality isn’t a chant performed weekly at mass by unaffected and uninterested people.  Morality is the presence of mind and spirit acting as one to attain recognition of Jesus Christ, and the sacrifice made for our souls and then to marry the understanding of our sin as it relates to God, the very nature of being itself especially as it relates to the silence which exists in our very hearts.  Become a moral person if you’re not, be the example of a moral person to those you can see are seeking the light of Christ, don’t turn from the wretched, they need your patience and your love so they can tear away the fleshly coils and chains of man, and realize the beauty in which God lovingly sculpted their soul before they were born in to this world. 

If you have a story or something which has been weighing on your mind lately, unburden yourself not through words, but a recognition of action and your very own mortality.  As morbid as it is to contemplate, realize we will all die at some point, but the difference between those who turned away and those who embraced God, is a distinct perception of joy.  The distinct perception of joy will brighten the colors we see, increase the passionate emotion we feel for everything, and the enrichment of life will be such, and we barely have words to describe the fulfillment of life’s needs on absolutely every level of your life.  Your family will be blessed by your actions, you will appreciate your family on a more granular level, and as much as you live, so too will the people who are blessed to be with you every day.  May God bless you and your family!!!

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

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A Point of Light In Our Darkness

Today, I was unfortunate enough to watch legislative hearings, where legislators grilled a cabinet secretary about the function of their department.  The Secretary was pummeled with question after question and barely allowed to answer as time permitted.  The people asking the questions were unkind at times and harassing at other times.  Their political anger was in full vitriolic pace with their fellow legislators and as they pursued an avenue of blame and discontented hegemony over the Secretary, their motives were on full display.  They positioned themselves to stand upon the mountain of morality, all the while deluding themselves as Don Quixote did, hypocrisy seemed to be the flavor of the day and they were taking full advantage of the speaking supremacy they had from their elected offices.  One couldn’t help but feel sorry for the position the Secretary was placed, especially when questions about the law and pursuant policies to enforce were questioned and even ridiculed.  The Secretary is at the behest of the President, but is still required to maintain the disciplined behavior of law as it pertains to federal function.  The very people who were deriding the Secretary for following the law, to the letter, are the very ones who can change it to suit whatever desires they want.  I’ve always heard a phrase, “don’t kill the messenger”, utilized between kings to accept the poor news given and not to punish the one giving the bad news.  However, it seems as if history isn’t a lesson our elected officials take into consideration.  Perhaps common sense isn’t either, but the one glaring and worrisome direction I do see is vengeance, hubris, and a dark desire to ambition at the destruction of all around.

Vengeance, a terrible word, which conjures up scenes from movies whereby the heroin is tempted to walk down this dark road, but inevitably reaches the light and doesn’t lower themselves into such a pit.  Though recently, our entertainment options have showed an embrace of such behavior towards the dark as some misaligned prospect to accept hate and sin as par for the course.  Though, sinking to the very level of the sin we despise is the recipe for destruction of our lives and our souls.  It just doesn’t come with a surgeon general’s warning, “may cause destruction of soul if you continue this path”, but the warning is there and it is real.  Our culture seems to totter on the edge of destruction at every single point in our existence, and although some might say this is life as we accept it, I would argue, it doesn’t have to be this way.  Sin isn’t good, it isn’t healthy, and pursuing avenues where we accept sin as something we must live with is standing on this precipice where we risk everything to embrace an earthly life rather than the heavenly.

As the legislators continued to punish the Secretary, who I would add held their ground to my amazement, I became aware of an entertainment industry phrase, “jumping the shark”.  A term coined when the sitcom “Happy Days” became so unrealistic and willing to do anything for ratings, they had the character, Arthur Fonzerelli, wearing a leather jacket and on skis jump a shark while maintaining an aura of coolness.  To say the least, even for people who enjoyed the show, this was too much.  The ridiculous nature pushed upon the viewer became too much and shortly thereafter the show was cancelled.  Although the government our culture elects isn’t a television sitcom, it is still adherent to the whims of those who watch them perform their duties.  Which isn’t above reproach, especially due to the nature of their elected offices.  They are and always should be held accountable for their actions in office, but what happens to the quality of elected officials when subjective morals and beliefs begin to take hold in a society so willing to accept anything other than the truth?  Chaos is a good word, but one which suits the environment better is ambition, people so willing to reach their ambitious goals they throw caution to the wind and rush towards this goal.  In previous years, at least as long as I’ve been alive, I’ve seen politicians conceal ambitious goals as a manner for polite politics.  There are smiles and maneuvering which creates posturing, but with this comes a strategy and tactics which our culture has come to know the very nature of politics.  The duplicity our politics has reached on both sides of the aisle is one of destructive properties.  As a culture, when we are asked to give our opinions about politics, usually nothing good comes from the question.  Most of us think of politicians are liars, corrupt, cheaters, duplicitous, schemers, ambitious, liars, and generally awful individuals.  Though, is this really a fair depiction of the modern politician?  If I were to go out on a limb, I would say no, this is a depiction of the minority of politicians, but the vast majority desire to do good in the position they hold and wish to do good for the constituents they represent.  This appears to be changing, at least before my very eyes.  I was watching people yell at one another, push their ambitious goals on the crowd gathered, and treat a fellow human being with vitriol for something which if taken apart, they were more to blame than the person being questioned.

The politicians “jumped the shark”, and by my estimation, we as the people who elected them can see it now.  The politicians no longer seemed concerned about appearances, but instead they are pushing their agendas and warped sense of morality on those of us who find an objective authority and are increasingly more conflicted with rules and regulations which run counter to our morals and belief systems.  If we just accept this, like many already have, and we just accept misaligned principles with our very own, then were like the legislators are more to blame than the people we question.  Suddenly, this world begins to close in on us a little, the truth becomes very uncomfortable and we have little or no alternatives.  We can choose a path of righteous indignation over acts of a deplorable nature, but when face with a true reality, we are staring at ourselves.  Our society is the way it is because of us, change begins with our actions in a desire to affect changes more suitable with our desires for moral and ethical laws and behaviors.  Our problem comes when we listen to those with no direction, pull us into the quagmire of detail to create justification.

Currently, our world seems to be overrun with a sudden explosion of immigrants seeking “asylum” from governments and local conditions which are oppressive and dangerous to their lives.  The Christian doctrine of faith dictates to all Christians, our fellow man should always be precious to us and we are to give aid where possible (Luke 10:29-37 “Good Samaritan”).  This is also important to recognize the sovereignty of a nation, a nation is built on the acts of the people, in either the creation or defense of the nation.  So, what to do when thousands of people seek to flood a border for safety, a better life, or a new start?  The question is a quagmire, but one which cultures have sought to answer for ages.  However, more questions arise from everything asked, and nothing which can be solved here today or tomorrow or perhaps in our lifetime, to think we can solve the problems of the world, especially problems which have plagued generations of people amounts to an arrogance only to be rivaled by the mountain of ambition we seek. 

The answer to most questions, especially of this nature, is accountability, the reaction to any event whereby we accept our role in the events and outcomes.  As much as the country should treat people appropriately, we must also consider the actions of the individuals seeking asylum, the actions of the areas they are fleeing, and the roles both country’s play in regards to immigration.  When we fail to approach the proper accountability, we fail ourselves and the very culture we’re a part of, plus to mention we fail our race.  We become nothing more than animals at this point, and our humanity is in question for its abhorrent stance against our fellow man.

Our hubris and arrogance seem to get the best of all of us.  Those of us who seek ambition, seek power, control, wealth, and an all-encompassing desire to embrace the flesh of this world rather than the spirit.  We become slaves to our desires, and no matter the lessons of the past, we are certain we are better than the failures before us.  Currently the question of socialism and communism have come about, a desire to realize a utopian society, where an equality of outcome can finally be realized, and we can all live our lives in harmony.  Suddenly I see the scene from “Animal House” when John Belushi smashes the guitar against the wall, and this is what I want to do when I hear such ridiculous notions of utopia.  Utopia doesn’t exist on this earth, it is a fallacy of desire and argument because man exists and where man exists, so too does free will, and with free will man has the ability to sin.  Which is what has happened every time a socialist experiment has been tried and failed.  Any proper history book will explain the enormous death toll which has been realized at the desire to have a utopian experience, but what is worse is the glaringly obvious examples of non-communistic and socialistic environment and the lack of death cause by the hands of those enlisted to create the utopia.  Russia, China, Germany, Italy, and Venezuela are examples of needless deaths caused by the hand of a ruthless dictator/government.  Yet we have to realize, if everyone is to get the same sized pie handed out to them, who controls the person handing out the pie?  Who determines the size of the slice and when it is to be sliced?  People who desire to have control, such as many in our political culture today, believe they would run everything better than the despots of centuries before, and where they may try failure is always around the corner and hubris is our lesson for this.  The less we have people telling us what to do in our lives, the quicker we become autonomous to ourselves and we will seek the objective truth and authority which has always existed.  When we rely on other imperfect and sinful human beings to make a rule of living for us, without consulting the objective truth, is the quicker we seek the path we walk littered with mistake after mistake eventually leading us to a understanding of failure and doom where we no longer care.

When we’ve finally reached the pathway of destruction, where we no longer care, our laziness to put the blame on another becomes the hypocritical crypt we enclose around ourselves and we then reside our fate to the decision of others.  Who wants to live like this?  Who wants the destruction of our souls and lives left to a person who neither cares if we ever existed at all?  When I watch the legislators eviscerate witnesses over a pursuit of ambition, I see this happening, I see what appears to be a dark future for all of us, but this is what it’s supposed to look like.  The reality is, we can change what we see, we can change the path we walk, and we can no longer accept the person whom we elect to be an immoral agent for darkness rather than light.  The solution starts with God always.  If we elect someone who neither believes in God, no a life after this very one we live now, we should worry.  Seeking God tells me a few things about the person I want to represent me.  The first being, they answer to a higher authority, which is to say, they are less worried about the rules here and more about the eternity they face, so in action their behavior and decisions will reflect an eternal desire to be with God.  Second, their desire to be with God makes for a moral path walked daily.  A person who has neither a desire to be with God or follow the will of God, has neither a moral path to walk or cares to walk it at all.  The atheist who purports morals is lying, they are following behaviors with a selfish goal to attain, once this goal is reached or they find no purpose in this path, they will abandon it as soon as they can.  Third and final point is how can we trust the actions of anyone when they determine themselves as their own personal god?  It never worked out well for the Greeks, why would it work out well for us?  Joking aside, a worrisome situation occurs when anyone believes themselves to be the sole ruler of their destiny and the sole arbiter of judgment of their destiny.  By my own experience, I would stay as far away from this paradigm as is humanly possible, because this is a pathway to destruction.  These are the people who will begin wars, who will kill millions who they find as threatening, and who will take the world down for the desire to control it.

I hope in some of my words I’ve conveyed a silver lining in a world filled with perceive doom and gloom.  With God, even in the worst of times, we always seek the light.  I had a conversation with my wife yesterday, and I came along with a great analogy.  Imagine we are locked into a room, no windows, and in complete darkness, but directly across from us is a pin-prick of light, barely visible, but yet still there.  The light we can see, when we place our eye next to it is almost searing, but when we step back, we can barely see it once more.  This is how our world is perceived most of the time, we stand on the opposite side of the room, sometimes even turning away from the pin-prick of light, but it is still there.  It still exists, and just because it isn’t how we want it to be or as bright as we think it ought to be, this is all based on where we stand and whether we’re looking for it.  The fact it exists alone is a measure of the existence.  Goodness and morality exist in this world, there are many people who embrace this objective measure of life, but we too often turn our heads from this light to focus on what is dark.  The mere presence of these people prove to the existence of this pin-prick in the room of darkness we exist in.

For many of us, this is difficult to imagine a world which is filled with the reflective light of God, but this is only because we’ve never bothered to turn around and look for it.  Seek God’s light, seek God’s voice, and know you were put on this earth to control the decisions you make and not have someone who is adverse to your life in more ways than one control your life.  In the pin-prick of light which is surrounded by the darkness we are in, one cannot deny the light exists, because we can see even the smallest point of light can illuminate the darkness we seek to hide in.  God bless you and your family!!!

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

You Hear But You Do Not Heed!

Take a step back from your reality today, look at the world around you.  Look at the news, which runs now constantly.  Look at entertainment, focused on filling up every nook and cranny of your time.  Look at art, hardly any of it focused on an ethereal and transcendental elevation of our reality, but instead a deluge of abstract figures and paintings, of nature and a pantheistic pursuit designed to make us feel comfortable, and above all celebrations of mediocrity.  Stories seem unoriginal now more than ever, movies are remakes of once celebrated ground-breaking forms of art sometimes once and twice over.  The criticism each person faces by exposing their art has more to do with an inability to have perfected an art form which required decades to master, and the public’s immediate expectation let down (any Star Wars movie after Return of The Jedi as a perfect example).  This constant criticism of an audience which no more has an ability to critique because of their own deficiencies in the education of art have led studios and executives to pursue the benefits as a means rather than the goal of entertainment.  The inexplicable problem which inherently comes forth is, the quality is poor, and in our deepest recesses we all know it, but since we paid so much for what we are seeing we feel personally obligated and willing to sit through and endure this nightmare simply by personal duress of this obligation.  We’ve all allowed our standards to take a back seat, this includes the executive to the teenager willing to pay.  This is just one facet of our society willing to degrade a standard to have instant satisfaction, and for what?  Jesus, in his words to the disciples said, “Everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and buffeted the house. But it did not collapse; it had been set solidly on rock.  And everyone who listens to these words of mine but does not act on them will be like a fool who built his house on sand. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and buffeted the house.
And it collapsed and was completely ruined.”

MotherTheresa

Cardinal Sarah, wrote in his book “Power of Silence” about listening to the voice of God, within the silence of our hearts, indicating the rightly ordered understanding of God, ipsum esse subsistens (the very nature of being), as residing in the quietness of our hearts and we must intently and lovingly listen if we want to hear what he is saying.  At the same time, St. Thomas Aquinas points out this imprint of God in all of us, is what causes us to inexplicably drive towards him in all we do, even if we fail to recognize what it is we do.  So, when we choose sin or rather sinful paths to walk down, we understand more fully, the free will to sin is our choice to hear and not heed the loving words spoken to us.

Have you ever been in a situation where you friend, spouse, children, or boss has stated “I told you this would happen” and for whatever reason, you still chose the path which led to failure, or sometimes victory?  Often times, the plight of a parent is seeing a more developed picture of the world than their children, because of poor decisions and failing to listen, and we seek to instruct the child in right behavior and appropriate responses with a picture of failure as a deterrent for poor choice.  Just to have the child fail to do what was advised, and an “I told you so” situation arises, where in hopes by the parent the child will learn from this failure.  Failure, such a negative word, many papers and books have been written about the context of failure as it relates to great catastrophes an then even when it helped to build the character of a person as they ascended the ladder of their career.  However, failure is by definition, “lack of success”, according to Google.  Placed into the simple context of life, we then have to ask ourselves, what is success?  Is success obtainable in a world with such lofty goals in criticism, and yet such mediocre goals in performance?  Are we only as successful as the world says, or is there a more objective standard in which to hold our actions and effects as we run through this life of never-ending pitfalls and slippery slopes?

prayer

The answer to any question, as simple as it may sound to anyone, is God!  God is always the answer, and placed into proper context of any situation, the answer is most appropriate.  For instance, your pregnant wife looks at you, eight and a half months in, uncomfortable and ready for this ordeal to be over soon, and she stares at you and asks the ever mindful question “do I look fat to you?”  Red lights start going off in your brain, images of people sliding down poles to man stations as sirens are going off whirls the imagination of your mind, and as you being to speak images of “Jaws” biting you in half suddenly take the forefront of your mind’s eye.  When you stop for a split second and think about God, and then all makes sense, the waters have calmed, it was just a flounder and not a man-eating shark, and you say “sweetie, you have a baby growing inside of you, you are so beautiful because of God’s gift to you”.  Before anyone thinks, this is mush and sounds cheesy, they would be so right, if you didn’t mean it.  However, your focus on God’s Graces in your life, center your responses and create in you a clean heart willing to example his light in a reflective manner towards everything you do.  Do be afraid to sound silly when speaking from the heart, this is where God is in all of us, and to speak from the heart, lovingly and humbly, is listening to God’s voice and echoing what is being said.

St.FrancisofAssissi

Over the vast expanses of time, we have all read and seen examples of God’s light shining from those who would place their hearts in a position for complete destruction and still were unafraid.  Those people who pushed to show what they heard, no matter what people criticized them for, because deep down they knew the truth, they knew the voice, and it contained within themselves a solidarity of purpose reliant on an unmitigated sense of veracity.  However, when people can listen to God and the works of art which are delivered in such a beautiful manner, it gives us all a glimpse at the potential we all hold as a matter of hearing what is required of us as we live our lives.  From the person we see standing on the corner with a sign that says, “Will work for food” to the relative who insists on telling you about a “great opportunity you would be stupid not to get in on”.  All goodness has an ability to stare in the face of difficulty and be unflinching as a result.

listentome-web

We never seem to heed the advice given by those who love us the most.  I am as guilty of this as anyone, and although I am better than I once was, at times my hubris gets the better of me, and my belief in my own ability indicates my lack of trust in others.  Which is to say, I feel as if I know better than a person who has given advice based on years of experience, especially when I have no experience at all.  The very arrogance I have displayed among friends and family over the years is astounding, because at its very worst, I attempted to disguise my arrogance under a vale of duplicity.  All the while, thinking no one can possibly know, but finding out years later, although people never said a word to me, they always knew and in my self-reflection I surmised, I must have looked completely foolish to them.  This is all as a result of listening by not heeding the advice Jesus gave us on down to the friend who only ever desired to see my happiness.  Just like when you watch a person and for some inexplicable reason, you can tell they are being untruthful, or at the very least they are not telling the entire truth, I was exposed even if they didn’t know what was being exposed.  Trust was cleaved in two, and it would take me years of hard work, pressure, and a fervent desire to meld the two halves back together.

jesus-teaching

When Jesus spoke to his disciples about the impending fate he would suffer at the very hands of one of his own, the Apostles failed to heed his warning.  So after his crucifixion, they for fear of their own lives, sought refuge in hiding.  They huddled together, minus Judas and Thomas (Thomas not yet there and Judas hung from a tree himself by his own hands), and lamented what their lives meant at this point and what they must do from this point forward.  Then all of a sudden, as if always there, Jesus sits among them.  They are astounded, they know all too well, he died upon that cross in a place known as “the skull”, Golgotha (Gospel of Mark), where he would spend the remaining hours of his earthly life in agony.  In Luke’s Gospel, we see two other men who will meet the same fate, and although one of them rebuked Jesus, the other who knew of him, listened to God’s voice and spoke true as his exclamation of Jesus’s innocence and what’s most important his truthful words “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom” indicate, although he failed to listen to God’s voice in his sin, he listened finally and heeded what was being said.  His reward, “paradise”, but for those Apostles who remained a fire would need to be lit, literally, and as the Holy Spirit descended upon them like a flame, they were eternally given the words of God to listen and heed.  They walked to the ends of the earth and spoke of the good news, which was Jesus.  To this end, they would all die but John, and they would all do so surrounded by darkness but as the brightest reflections of light possible.

At the end of our lives, we may not all have a chance to reflectively look back on what we did right and especially what we did wrong, in the hopes of rectifying those mistakes of sin we embraced as a matter of selfish pursuit of success.  Instead, death may come quick, death may come as an unfair guest to a game which we thought we were winning, while all along, we never had control of for one instance.  Death may be the sweet release of a life which sought to hamper every effort we had at making a better life for ourselves, it may even be (like JOB) a systematic disintegration of everything we’ve known and loved.  However, this isn’t the end, and listening to advice (morally and principally sound advice) has never and will never be a means to prevent a person from enjoying life, instead it is a means of direction for a path filled with joy, even in times of struggle.  Often times, when we see pictures of natural disasters or inexplicable events, testing the very nature of our faith.  We still see victims who have chosen to listen to the voice of God, and heed what they know to be true.  A life built in pursuance of love of God, is a life where no matter the struggle, a pure focus on what is true, always carries the day.

Advent-Candles

As we are in this Advent season, a time of waiting, and time of listening for the sound of Christ’s birth, we should be reminded of the lessons we seek to teach our own children.  To seek God in all we do, to seek love in every action performed, and in order to recognize, we must listen as much as anyone if we want to live a life in heeding of the words Jesus spoke.  So, when you go out and purchase a gift for your spouse or your kids, think about the implications of what you give them.  Of course, people want the latest or newest gadget, especially if makes their life easier (I know my wife would always like something that sparkles and she isn’t satisfied with the sparkle in my eyes apparently), but is this really the gift they need in their lives?  Don’t give the gift they want, at least not always, but give the gift they need, as a parent you are their protector and guardian, they need guidance from you every day of the year and especially during those occasions where their own inability to listen creates tension.  For your spouse, they are your other half, a union created in a covenant with God.  To be one with one another, it is always best to put your spouse’s needs above your own, but with it, you create a bond to strengthen love day-by-day.  I am reminded of the story of the Gift of the Magi, a wife with hardly any money seeks to buy her husband a gift, her only option, to sell her hair to acquire enough money for the purchase of a chain for his gold watch.  When he arrives home, he can see her hair is gone, he sits her gift upon a table, and she begins to open it when she realizes, it was a set of brushes for her beautiful hair.  Unshaken by all of this, she proceeds to hand him his gift.  A beautiful silver chain for his gold watch, but he looked at her with love in his eyes and set down the box while saying, “I sold my watch to purchase those brushes for your beautiful hair”.  The lesson from this simple story being, both were willing to give what was precious to them for the benefit of the other.  Although it amounted to very little in the material sense of the transaction, their love deepened by the acts of unselfish desire to unconditionally love one another.  The story is called Gift of the Magi because, the Magi were wise men who desired to give what they had to the King of Kings, and in doing so, and this made them wise beyond measure.  The story is similar in a vein of wisdom, the loving couple wisely gave gifts for the pursuit of happiness in the other.  Unselfishly they put the other before their own desires, willing the good of the other in life, especially when it is our spouse, is the very essence of love in action.  Every great saint, every great disciple, and every great apostle embodied the very nature of listening and heeding the words Christ spoke.  Remember, you are loved greatly, God is in your heart, listen to what is spoken to you, and heed it in every possible way.  I pray God blesses you and your family!!!

 

God's light

 

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

Do Not be Terrified, For Such Things Must Happen

In the Gospel of Luke 21:5-11, Jesus speaks the words, “Do not be terrified, for such things, must happen” as a warning and a comfort to all those who seek the His light in their lives.  In my own lifetime, I’ve seen many cults and evangelical preachers assume a role prophesying the destruction of the world.  Some have even blamed natural disasters as a cudgeling response to the sinful ways of a cities inhabitants.  Their narrow minded, half-hearted attempt at drawing a parallels with the Old Testament, shows a misinterpretation of the Bible and further exacerbates the ignorance of the people who choose to listen.  So, why do the fear mongers who live among us, carry so much sway when they make these predictions?  Well, it comes down to our need as humans, to have answers.  We look for leaders in every walk of life, because they have the answers we desire, or at least we think they have the answers we need.  In truth, the answers we are looking for can be summed up in this one line; “Don’t be terrified, for such things must happen”.  My wife has often said, “this too shall pass”, a derivative of the first phrase, what we are instructed to do is stop the worrying our mind will ceaselessly do, and begin to focus on those who truly need our efforts.  After we’ve moved past our initial shock to the cultural shifts happening before our very eyes, we must finally stop our grumbling and get to work on the objective moral solution.

Syria

Currently as I write this, there are at least 10 crisis happening in our world.  From the Rohingya Crisis in Myanmar and Bangladesh to the cartoon character in North Korea.  All are threats to peace and in some cases have outright destroyed peace.  In Syria alone, estimates of death range from over 350k to over 500k; I Am Syria, a website devoted to exposing the death tolls also places the death toll over 500k.  To place in context, about 600k were killed in four years during the American Civil War.  So, putting it mildly there are reasons to be thankful for the peace and tranquility most of us endure on a daily basis, with only fighting the rush hour traffic, or putting up with the Holidays and those guest who never seem to leave.  Our world isn’t one of bland tastes or derisive points of view as much as it is a world complex in its desires and brutish in the ways in which those desires may be fulfilled.

If we look back at those who wished to possess power the most, we see two who stick out predominantly, Hitler and Stalin, and perspective is everything when it comes to historically looking at these despots of time.  Hitler, of course was on the losing side during the Second World War, and neither time nor the history books have been kind at all, as well they shouldn’t be.  However, not much is said in modern context to Stalin, a thug and paranoid dictator who before the outbreak of WWII, purged the leadership in his military for fear of coup d’état, and after the war, he murdered approximately 20 million people, so as to maintain the fear and control of his country.  His history is less damning, probably because he was betrayed by the other tyrant and his only choice was to join the winning side of the war.  Those people who lived through such times, especially the Jews of Russia, Eastern Europe, and places like Turkey were tested with the phrase Luke writes of Jesus, and it wasn’t as if Jesus was unfamiliar with hard times.  The Jews of the Holocaust were herded like cattle, into rail cars and brought to factories of death, the most prominent being Auschwitz, located in Poland.  A place of sadness and doom for those chosen to walk through the gates and either face immediate extermination or be forced to work until their bodies could no longer work, and then would be summarily killed before the rest of those living.  Living conditions so bad, when we read about what was eaten and the sickness which occurred, we ponder if we’d have the ability to live through what they did.  Since we have nothing to base our perceptions on regarding the treatment of the Jews during WWII, we are left at a foundation of incredulity to grasp at what we can only think of as too outlandish, even for a movie.  The same can be said for what we know of the time when Jesus lived, aside from His omniscience due to his divinity, ancient Jerusalem was a difficult place to be in, from sickness, to wars, to poverty, and death as the result of any one of those paradigms and Jesus lived and embraced those who were meek and humble, poor of spirit, and those who would weep.  Death was at every turn, and to have the very Divinity of All, stand before us and teach us to put away our terror, elucidates just who he was and what he was here to do for us. The irony of the Jews of the early 20th Century having never read the words of the everlasting Christ, although they feared the unknown, the stories of accepting their fates are what true stories are written about.

blacklivesmatter

The events of our lifetime have been, or are in constant turmoil.  Everywhere we turn, there is a person, a group, or a country trying to stir up strife as a means to an end, regardless if they don’t know what this end might be.  Take for instance, the black lives matter movement which took on a fever pitch in 2016 and had people (mostly black Americans) marching the streets and protesting a perceived systemic racial bias being showed to them by the law-enforcement communities throughout the country.  Problem is, the statistics didn’t back their argument, and the police were being vilified by conjecture and supposition leading to the culmination of the deaths of five police officers in Dallas, Texas, and countless other brother officers throughout the nation.  The rhetoric being spewed from the mouths of those who would seek their own ends regardless of the means, meant tragedy for those families forced to pick up the broken pieces of their lives.  The turmoil which was created by selfish pursuits left heartache in the wake of destruction by incendiary lies, which prompted those who would find purpose in the lies the devil tells.  At the end of the day, the worst part of the whole situation is when members of the movement were asked on new programs and street interviews, they could neither explain cohesively nor intelligently, why they were there or what they were fighting against.  Instead, the conversation would unravel and words like racism or bigotry were used as facts were dismissed.  A duplicity began to evolve with movements such as this, and although these people still exist and are still marching today, their ever-changing path to truth became too much for a mainstream to accept and it now has become a fringe element of extremism.

water-crashing-rocks

Over and over again, we continue to see fires out of control in our own lives, and if we just take a step back, we see much of the turmoil amount to nothing more than experience based in perspective.  Like the rock which isn’t moved by the turmoil of the sea crashing into it, we must be willing to accept the wave, while we hold fast to our faith.  To the person who has seen and done many things, excitability isn’t something we will see them exhibit too much, instead, a deliberation of effort and calculation of outcome is what we can expect, and when we think about the words of Christ spoken to those, who for lack of a better term, were ignorant of his ways, Jesus was deliberate in the words chosen and the actions taken.  For in his divinity, he is aware of the full narrative of time, and like any of us who’ve read a book more than once, we know what’s coming up, but if the story is good we are no less moved by what happens.  If we think about Jesus’s life on this earth, we are reminded of his power and ability to command legions of Angels, but as he knew this part of the story must happen, he refrained from calling upon them, that we must not lose faith and succumb to terror, because those things would happen.

Portraits-of-Homeless-by-Lee-Jeffries

In the context of the world we live in we need to keep a few things in mind before we abandon all hope.  Our perspective of life is limited, which is why embracing patience and compassion in all situations can never not benefit us, but may limit our exposure to material desires we truly don’t need.  Think about those situations where you failed or even when you succeeded, the failures for me usually came when a lack of preparation and planning was replaced by speed and quick results.  More often than not, when I forced an issue, any issue, I was greeted with mixed results, but when I’ve taken the time to measure out a proper decision, I am greeted with results I planned on and gladly except.  Which is the overall purpose, because there are some who will read this and think to themselves, “it doesn’t always work to take my time and deliberate”, but fringe exceptions to the rule should never be the acceptable proving ground to break a rule of thumb.

Overall, the words Jesus spoke in any context, soothe our weary minds, calm those seas which risk to stir us up into a lather, and above all give us a peak at what is to come if we’re just patient enough to allow the story to be told.  In the major motion picture, “Paul: Apostle of Christ”, Jim Caviezel, counsels the Christians in the temperament needed to face certain death.  He indicates the pain will be there, but in an instant it will be gone, and the light of life will greet every one of them.  As some may find this sophomoric in his attempt to “sugar-coat” a horrific action, and they may be right, the other we can be sure about is the light they will receive by their martyrdom.  Bishop Robert Barron, in his book, “To Light a Fire on the Earth”, makes use of the beauty of both the Saint and the Martyr, not because their lives are full of luxury and desirable to the common person, but because their lives are examples of the beauty which awaits all of us.  Those are the leaders we should follow in life, not the CEO’s or the alphas who exist in every group, but those who have been given the proverbial light to follow and beckon us all to come with them through their unselfish actions.  Barron, remarks in his book, more people have come to Christ through the actions of martyrs than just about anything else.  The beauty in the sacrifice is evident, but above all, the embracing of Jesus’s words is inspiring.

burden

When we face those events in our lives which prove to test our souls, and when we feel just like we’d break at any second, what we need to focus on are the words resonating in our heads.  “Do not be terrified, for such things must happen”, sometimes we need to break down a little, how else can we learn to trust God?  Sometimes, we need to set the structure we designed in our heads and our actions, ablaze because burning it down and rebuilding is what is needed (figuratively speaking).  In my own life, I needed to tear down the structure and the façade my life had built up to a certain point.  Remember, building your life and its structures without the light of God, is like building a house in the dark, with no light whatsoever to look upon your work and make corrections where needed.  When we have the light to illuminate what we do, we still need patience to guide us to the right decisions, and we must overcome the fear of the unknown.  Just like those who’ve come before us, accepting our cross simply means, we’ve are nailed to it, and we have accepted what it is we must do.  It is not a matter of simply removing ourselves from what we don’t like, but instead, making the best of any situation we happen to be in, and praying God will guide us into his love.

MaxamillionKolbe

I will leave you with this one last story to put your mind of the martyr at work.  Maximilian Kolbe was a priest who was sent to Auschwitz prison, during World War II, and while he was there, a function of the evil employed against the prisoners, was a selection of ten prisoners to be killed when someone escaped or tried to escape.  They would be lined up and selected at random (or if someone looked as though they couldn’t work, they would undoubtedly be selected), and during this process of selection, a sickly man was selected, but he protested the selection indicating his family needed him.  So, Kolbe, took his place, and was placed into a cell for two weeks without food, as a means of starving to death.  However, Kolbe, and a handful of prisoners were still alive at the end of the two weeks, and were summarily shot to death.  He was granted sainthood in 1981, by St. John Paul II.  This story is sad, depressing, and full of remorse over the lives of those chosen to die at the hands of the evil.  However, I wanted to point out one most intriguing points which my mind was affixed to, and which I’ve tried to point out in my writing here.  Kolbe, through his own sacrifice, saw the light of Christ clearly, he was moved to take the place of another, solidifying those nails as he was placed on his own axiomatic cross.  His enduring ability to stay alive, for two weeks, and then have it ended by an assassin’s bullet, makes for what seems to be and anti-climactic end to such a magnanimous effort.  However, this is where God exists for us.  In the spaces between, in the cracks of the hardened exterior, and in the silence of our hearts.  Can’t you remember a time, when you’ve done something for someone else, and they showed little response?  Perhaps there was a time when you unselfishly did something for another, and they thanked you, and you walked away, and no one ever knew what you did?  This is the step I am referring to, the fear of putting ourselves out so that others may ridicule, and the willingness to accept our fate is where the light of Christ exists.

JesusontheCross

Do not be terrified, for such things must happen, is the first words anyone should hear, especially when they begin their journey to Christ.  For many years, I allowed my fears to control my actions, and what pitiful actions they were, but fear is liberating, for many reasons, not least of which, overcoming our fear is where God stands, he needs us to do this if we are ever to love him.  Think of when you loved someone dearly, and then they broke your heart, God would never do this. If you’re willing to give your heart to those people, who most assuredly have a chance of breaking your heart, it seems a waste not to at least try the same with God, who will always lift you up because you are his beloved.  May God bless you and your family!!!

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

“10 Conflicts to watch in 2018” Robert Malley; https://foreignpolicy.com/2018/01/02/10-conflicts-to-watch-in-2018/

Thank You, Once Again, Thank You!

Last week I was scrolling on social media, and I came across a “meme” and it was a list with two columns with answers based more in perception than anything else.  The message was more a matter of gratitude rather than expressing regret as a measure of action.  This little message blew me away, something so simple, and yet it completely reversed how I interpret what I do.  Now, this isn’t to say, I wasn’t thankful for the gifts and time people ever gave to me, nor was I thankful for the patience I’ve received over the years, but what it exposed for me was although there is a measure of penitence to an apology.  The depth of the pool of repentance comes when we ultimately realize, our apology isn’t about saying we’re sorry so much as it is about thanking the other person for the love they’ve shown us in one way or another.  When we stop worrying about messing up or generally capitalizing on selfishness, we find a desire to put “other” before us and achieve a humble existence.  In other words, we grow closer in our relationship with God.

sorry

The first line of the list said, “I’m sorry, I’m late” on one side, and on the other, the more appropriate response was “thank you, for waiting on me”.  Both responses indicate a measure of sorrow and seeking of redemption, but one response above the other indicates a recognition of the other person and their sacrifice for us.  This perception, in one manner or another, is what life is all about.  Our sacrifices and the recognition of the sacrifices by others, creates within us a humility, allowing us to see the individual actions of another and how they might impact all of us.  In other words, I can see how my actions actually impacted another, and when I realize they had to struggle due to loss of time or worse, situation, then shame is exposed as if by a bright light.  Isn’t this what goodness is all about, a recognition of the light and it’s exposure to those dark areas of sin we all possess?

Our thanks in life should never be about what we see, but instead what those around us see.  I don’t necessarily mean, we should be bothered by another, when we are trying to do well and they just don’t like what we do.  However, how our actions impact another should be quite relevant and going out of our way to mitigate the negative consequence on others.  I think back to a phrase I heard many years ago, “better to act and beg for forgiveness, than to risk being told ‘no’ to begin with”.  This is such a loaded statement, I’m sure I could probably write a dissertation on the positive and negative impacts of such a life’s philosophy, but what I will say is when we seek to manipulate a situation out of selfish desire to see a goal realized, we run the risk of creating a negative impact on all those people like a ripple effect on a lake.  We may never realize, by pushing our self-motivated agendas a short-fall might occur sometime later, which we will never know nor will we be subject to the negative consequences.  Instead, another innocent person might be subject to the consequence and face hardships because of it.  We see this happen daily in companies and in countries all over the world, and as a result we continue to seek more and more regulation and rules/laws to regulate the push for selfishness and immoral behaviors instead of attacking the root problem.  The light of God isn’t in their lives and the absence of light breeds darkness and in the darkness, the presumption of any selfish person, is they can do as they wish because no one will ever see.

Business development to success and growing growth concept, Businessman pointing line dot graph corporate future growth plan

Companies are accused all the time of putting the profits ahead of the people, to satisfy expectations by those who would otherwise seek selfish goals to meet some finite expectation of today, rather than think about the degrading impact of tomorrow.  I’ve heard many arguments over the years about the relevance for making smart financial decisions, within the structure of a company, and although this is correct, preparing for such a day isn’t usually on dais for question.  I once had a business professor who stated clearly, “the role of a manager and a leader is to put themselves humbly into the lives of those around them.  When they can do this, then future of an organization becomes a labor of love and not the first payment on a boat.”  His words, like the list, changed my perspective on how I wanted to approach life and the people around me.  This was at a time when I embraced turmoil and self-aggrandizing efforts, and because of his care for his students and because of the influence of God in my life, I realized I could say, “thank you, for having patience with me”.

This is where it all comes down to, sacrificing what we want, for an understanding of what others need.  We as fathers and husbands provide this for our families.  We counsel our children about lessons from day-to-day, and we must say thank you to those wives, willing to be patient as we learn just how to traverse life and marriage all at the same time.  I once approached my life as a matter of momentary instances, to be thought out thoroughly, some work our way and some don’t.  I compartmentalized events into good and bad, but I never saw the string of responsibility connecting everything I did and the subsequent ripples my actions caused others in life.  Like my son, who loves to do a cannonball in the pool during those long summer days, and the torrential flood of water which splashes those who sit on the edge of the pool, my actions were much like his, but emotionally draining.  When he jumps in, and comes up for air, he usually looks around and says, “oh, sorry” because his focus was on achieving the perfect height and splash radius for his entrance into the pool.  For everyone else, who is now dripping with water, we look at him with disdain because he disrupted what was enjoyable.  Though, there are two perceptions to be taken with this, the first is, he isn’t wrong for wanting to jump in, it’s a pool, and that’s what you’re supposed to do, meanwhile we should understand this and be willing to see his perspective.  Simultaneously, he should know, just because we want to do something, what is the best course of action, when we put people before ourselves and their needs into consideration with our very own?  The usual result is a verbal argument by himself and his sisters, or a few words of instruction by myself or my wife, until it happens again.  On all of our accounts, we’re unwilling to look at the whole of the situation and this is eerily similar to life as we live it.  So many times we are unwilling to thank another for simply being or loving us.  We forget to put them ahead of us in what we decide to do.

political turmoil

Think about the politics of where we’re at, all too often we talk about this side or that side and how they are destroying everything we know.  The irony is, both sides are doing the same thing, we constantly see politicians corrupted by power and selfish desire to have rather than to give.  We see politicians who would rather push a personal agenda sometimes devoid of moral behavior, and as constituents we are so willing to accept immoral behavior to allow for what we truly want, like a law or revenue streams not previously possible.  We all are attempting to get something, but have we really asked what the cost of our desire is, or are we all hoping we can say, ”sorry” later?

I think this is what the politicians in our culture believe, they can capitalize on the turmoil between voters and the immoral stance of their constituents and if they are ever called out on what they’ve done (assuming it’s non-criminal), then they will just apologize and it will be business as usual.  Instead what they should be doing is thanking those people who voted for them and remove themselves from such an important position.  The result, some would argue is two-fold, the first being the call for the resignations of many in office, and the second being a deluge of politicians leaving office and creating a virtual vacuum of disruption for all of us.  This is of course true, but the house we live in is falling in ruins, and we must have the courage to clear off the foundation and rebuild, and do so in a proper fashion.  This starts with the ability to place our needs last and put those needs of others first.  This might start with a thankfulness to those who gave their lives, which you might be able to sit in your chair and read these words.  This is a thankfulness for those who gave everything they had or would ever have, to realize the truth of what men and women should be, even in the face of great evil.  Their thankfulness to those who gave to them, much like they gave to us, strengthened the string of events which has eventually led to our culture today, but the string is fraying.  Our liberties and freedoms are waning under the guise of immoral behavior touting a platform of choice.  Over and again, we bring into focus a need for consistent choice-making and foundations of principled lives of those who wish to lead us.

holiday material

As we head into another holiday season, we will be bombarded with music and advertisements pushing a season of giving, a season of spirit, and above all a season where if you use financing you can get more stuff.  However, I challenge you to look at this as a season of rebirth, much like the birth of the greatest man who ever lived this earth, Jesus, we are called to become reborn in our lives through action and proper reaction to the events which surround us constantly.  We have an ability to place upon us the weight of right and wrong, and always know wrong is ugly and disdainful, but brought to us in beautiful wrapping.  “The road to hell, is paved with good intentions”, a phrase I’ve heard uttered for many years, and a phrase which sums up our culture so quickly.  Good intent doesn’t pay the bills for those workers laid off before the holidays.  Good intent, doesn’t tell the person, who waited hours for you, you understand how they felt by simply saying “sorry” as if it were a passing turn of phrase.  Good intent doesn’t offer redemption, just strings words and actions together to make us feel better about choosing wrongly.  Don’t be this, intend to put yourself in the shoes of another this Holiday season, be thankful, be mindful of everything around you, and be reborn.

Although, I write about my family sometimes, I never truly give them credit where credit is due, and to show them just how thankful I actually am.  So, if you will permit me, I would like to do this with the few lines I have left today.

parents

To my parents, how I love you, thank you for raising me the best way a boy could be raised.  You held me when I was young, and you embrace me now I am older.  Your instructions in my life have proven to be invaluable, and your freedom to allow me to make mistakes have taught me more than I could have ever imagined.  Mom, you are the strongest woman I have ever known, tough and tender when it counted, more tough at times, but love isn’t a squishy pillow, it’s a choice and you choose to do it right, thank you so much!  I saw you fight for those in life, who couldn’t fight for themselves, and I was never more proud of anyone in my life when I found this out.  Dad, your ability to approach life with wisdom has inspired me since I was a teen, to seek the truth, your forgiveness of my poor behavior when I argued with you humbles me.  You thoughtful tone when I hear the word “son”, warms my heart.   My perception of a Father in Heaven comes from your ability to be patient as a father to his son.  I love you both beyond a measure of any type, thank you for raising me properly.

To my mother-in-law and my step-mother, I am thankful for your presence in my life.  To my mother-in-law, you have always been kind to me and thoughtful, even when I was awful, you loved me and you didn’t have to, and for this I am eternally grateful.  To my step-mother, you have treated me like one of your very own kids from the beginning, and although, your entrance into my life was later, this has come with no less a profound significance to understanding what life throws at us and how we can choose to deal with it.

brother and sister fighting

To my sister, you are wonderful, you are brilliant and motivated, and yet you allow yourself to be open and flawed for all the world to see, I love this about you.  You accepted me for me, and then asked my opinions of things, even when I was the most boorish.  We haven’t always gotten along, and to this I’m forever ashamed.  I always could have tried harder, but I allowed my selfishness to get in the way, rather than seeing the thankfulness from your presence in every way.

brother and brother

To my brother, I haven’t spoken with you for some time now, and perhaps these words will get to you one day.  We definitely haven’t seen eye to eye over the years, and my bullish desire to seek out my own goals, was sadly to the detriment of our relationship, but I would like to say, I think we could one day be better.  I’m thankful to God for your presence, if for nothing more, than the pathway to walk with you one day as God intends us to walk.  I remember your lessons for me as a kid, how I looked up to you, and in many ways wanted to be like you.  This wasn’t meant for us, I guess, but I know God’s light shines upon you, please look up, please seek it, and please know I am forever thankful for you!

family3

To my kids, y’all are the greatest gifts God could have ever bestowed upon myself and your mother.  Smart, loving, kind hearted, obnoxious, and all around the very best this world has to offer.  Constantly, you teach me to be a better father, and for this I am thankful.  Day in and day out, you provide me with an abundance of love, and my cup is overflowing, and your willingness to accept the faults of your father astound me.  In matters of self and growth, I feel like I have so much to learn from each one of you.  I am thankful for your energy, for your tears, for your anger, for your inquisitiveness, which provides to both your mother and myself, so much joy.  When we realize how much God has given us, our thankfulness abounds into a feeling of contentment and humility all at once.  I see each and every light from you and I want you to know, it’s so very beautiful.

 

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To the love of my life, my beautiful wife.  Thank you, once again, thank you!!!  You are a rock, you are the strength I need in my most dire of situations.  Your forgiveness of me is like none I have ever experienced.  You kindness in truth and of our life together has sustained me more than you will ever know.  More important than anything else, is your love of God.  I don’t know why God placed you in my path, all those years ago, and when I wonder about what I would be like had we never met, the thought freezes my soul.  I shudder at knowing that if I had never had the courage to say, “Hi”, we might never have known one another.  At the same time, I realize God’s blessings give us a pathway of light for us to walk down and see those vipers of sin all around us.  Many years ago, we stood before the priest and committed to the covenant with God, we would be joined as one, and we would walk this life together.  For a time, I forgot how to be thankful, for God, and for you, I am truly sorry.  However, your faith has been unwavering in God, and in me; you are the most courageous woman, you tackle what is before you and you don’t give up, just because everyone says you should.  This is rare, and my decision to love you has come from all of this, your beauty, your kindness, your thoughtfulness, your intelligence, your love of our children, your love of life, your love of the family, your love of me, and most importantly your love of God.  By my estimation, you could have found a million men, just like me, but you choose me, and I am thankful for your patience, for being there, for helping me, for the courage to point out my mistakes, for your understanding, and for your love.  Thank you!!!

Today or tomorrow, if you get the chance, turn to those you know and love, and thank them for their willingness to see you and accept you.  In one way or another, love isn’t something in a box, it’s the two words spoken before any apology, “thank you”.  Have a wonderful holiday season, be reborn.  May God bless you and your family!!!

 

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

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Truth2Freedom's Blog

The mindset in postmodernism is that objective truth does not exist. But in post-truth, the person believes that objective truth exists, but they subordinate truth to their preferences, or their comfort. In other words, one doesn’t care that truth exists or what the truth is if it doesn’t line up with one’s preferences. "There is but one straight course, and that is to seek truth and pursue it steadily" - George Washington letter to Edmund Randolph — 1795. Faith in Jesus Christ is our response to God's elective purpose in our life. These two truths--God's initiative and man's response--co-exist throughout the Bible. The gospel is "the message of truth" because truth is its predominant characteristic. Salvation was conceived by the God of truth (Ps. 31:5); purchased by the Son, who is the truth (John 14:6); and is applied by the Spirit of truth (John 16:13). To know it is to know the truth that sets men free (John 8:32). Believers are people of the truth (John 18:37), who worship God in spirit and in truth (John 4:24), and who obey the Word of truth (John 17:17). People have rejected, neglected, redefined, and opposed God’s truth for centuries. Some cynically deny that truth even exists or that it can be known by men (John 18:38). Others foolishly think that denying truth will somehow make it go away. Truth determines the validity of one's belief. Believing a lie doesn't make it true. Conversely, failing to believe the truth doesn't make it a lie. The gospel is true because Jesus is true, not simply because Christians believe in Him. His resurrection proved the truth of His claims and constitutes the objective basis of our faith (Rom. 1:4; 1 Pet. 1:3). Truth is our protection and strength (Eph. 6:14). Throughout history, people have tried everything imaginable to gain favor with God. Most turn to religion, but religion apart from Christ is merely a satanic counterfeit of the truth. At the heart of every false religion is the notion that man can come to God by any means he chooses--by meditating, doing good deeds, and so on. But Scripture says, "There is no other name under heaven that has been given among men, by which we must be saved" (Acts 4:12). That name is Jesus Christ, and we come to Him by confessing and repenting of our sin, trusting in His atoning death on the cross, and affirming His bodily resurrection from the grave (cf. Rom. 10:9-10). There is no other way to God. False religious leaders and teachers talk much about God’s love, but not His wrath and holiness; much about how deprived of good things people are, but not about their depravity; much about God’s universal fatherhood toward everyone, but not much about his unique fatherhood toward all who believe in His Son; much about what God wants to give to us, but nothing about the necessity of obedience to Him; much about health and happiness, but nothing about holiness and sacrifice. Their message is full of gaps, the greatest of which leaves out a biblical worldview of the saving gospel and replaces it with the worldview of postmodernism with its dominant ethical system of relativism. The Bible describes mankind in the end times: “always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth” (2 Tim. 3:7). Spiritual answers cannot be deduced by human reason alone (1 Cor. 2:14). It’s not that spiritual truth is irrational or illogical, but that human wisdom is defective, because it’s tainted by man’s sinfulness, and unable to perceive the things of God. That is why the Bible is so important. It gives us the answers we can’t find on our own. It is God’s Word to mankind. Scripture is divinely revealed truth that fills the vacuum of spiritual ignorance in all of us. Post-truth is the word of the year for 2016 and also the philosophy of the day, According to the dictionary, “post-truth” means, “relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.” Simply put, we now live in a culture that seems to value experience and emotion more than truth. In a “post-truth” world, people make choices based on emotion and experience rather than objective fact. So in a post-truth world, truth is irrelevant. What exactly is a post-truth culture? It’s a culture where truth is no longer an objective reality. It has become subjective. It’s what’s true for me—my beliefs, my opinions, determine my truth. So in our post-truth culture, man determines truth. Man makes himself the ultimate authority. This starting point, which rejects God’s Word and the idea of moral absolutes, makes truth subjective. Truth will never go away no matter how hard one might wish. Christianity is grounded in objective truth. “And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32). Objective truth exists because we have God’s Word. In the Gospel of John, Jesus says, “Sanctify them by Your truth. Thy word is truth” (John 17:17), and Paul and James describe the Bible as “the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15; James 1:18). The Psalmist says, “The entirety of your word is truth” (Psalm 119:160). Jesus Himself said, “For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice” (John 18:37). When Jesus said, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except by me” (John 14:6), He wasn’t expressing His personal belief or opinion. He was speaking the truth, a fundamental reality that doesn’t change from person to person. It doesn’t matter if our culture thinks all roads lead to God. The truth of the matter is “no one comes to the Father but by [Jesus].” This blogs goal is to, in some small way, put a plug in the broken dam of truth and save as many as possible from the consequences—temporal and eternal. "The further a society drifts from truth, the more it will hate those who speak it." - George Orwell

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