Is Our World On a Wobble?

Our world at any second stands on the brink of destruction, we set poised to face annihilation by people who stand as abject rulers to either prosper a period of peace or anarchy such as those despots of the early 20th century.  We are awash in seas of supposition, where one opinion is as common as the other and everyone has the answer and no one has an answer.  Our streets are overridden with crime, our jails are overcrowded with the criminal.  Our society is a paradox within itself, we castigate those who would commit a crime (especially against us) and yet we purport the need for timeless chances of opportunity especially for the most egregious of sins.  Our politicians rank at an all-time low in the confidence department, and yet we tell them to vote their conscious on whatever vote they participate in.  Our media is so egregious in their decisions to tell a subjective truth, our cynicism reaches new lows of perception when we understand their points of view are based solely on the need to make money.  Christian churches are on the decline in attendance, largely because there is a growing sentiment of exclusion, of boredom with what is perceived as antiquated, because culture has demanded religions of thousands of years conform to ideologies existing for less than a decade.  Finally, our family foundations are eroding faster than we can comprehend, our society has written a new definition of what should be considered a family and why it should be considered a family, and culture’s need for inclusiveness has embraced these changes as though they were the goose which laid the golden egg, and in some projective manner they can see their fortune’s star rising.  Although, belief in the devil isn’t a popular one anymore, it doesn’t mean he isn’t set on the destruction of each and every one of us.  Look at the most basic forms of our society and see how they are in shambles and torn from the very fabric of the love we desire.

The love we seek in life is as basic to us as breathing.  Look at anyone who was forced to live a life seeking love but never finding it.  The history books are replete with examples of tyrants who turned away from love and even our society at large now has an attraction to those who would seek personal gain over altruistic unselfishness.  This machine is so large, I would imagine, like myself, most of us don’t have a solution to stop it.  Like shouting into the storm, our voice won’t ever be heard, our common sense understanding of the problem will become lost in the myriad of other problems we will face in a single day or week.  We can’t slowdown of course, because slowing down is like stopping and stopping means our attempt to get ahead in this life has now become defunct, and for anyone who’s ever lost a job or been on the rough end of a job search, this is an awful place to be.  Bills pile up, stresses increase, our own self-identity is questioned leaving our self-esteem in tatters.  Stopping must never be allowed, a rest is all we can give ourselves, and even then it’s more like a nap.  We work in jobs we don’t necessarily like, we create paradigms of justification for poor decision-making, and above all we risk losing those things which have the potential to give us the most joy in life.  Our family. 

Our families are there to support us, to guide us through those tough times we choose to endure.  Our families seek to prevent us from making monumental mistakes and hurting ourselves as well as others, but what our families should do above all else is love us.  They love us with unconditional responses binding us in eternity.  Those family members wither when we choose to turn away from them, when we castigate them for not thinking everything we say and do is of a solid gold nature, and yet we deride them for not following us like lambs to the slaughter.  We punish them through our passive aggressive natures and diminish their self-worth by blaming them for failing to love us the way we envisioned, rather than the unconditional means with which they offered us.  Their willingness to stand by our side at any level of a storm, indicates their love, our willingness to push them away for failing to know what we are thinking or to have the courage to tell us “no” is like abandoning a child on a cold night to fight the devil alone.

Here is where our society has diminished itself to, a ripping apart of the fabric within our families and culture, to give us a perception of no hope.  As if we hang by a string, above a chasm of uncertainty and despair, knowing within ourselves, one false slip will send us into the abyss never to return.  Nothing could be farther from the truth, nothing could be more false, and as a great deception many believe the lies told on behalf of the devil. 

Where then do we go, if where we are at is so bad?  First of all, slow down, stop, and look down.  Recognize, the power to move the mountain is in the faith you have in God.  The ability to realize a joy and a peace at the very center of your being, at the very nature of our soul, is the embrace of knowing God is there within us.  God sees what is happening to each and every one of us, and the culture we create.  Compassion is what is needed, the love of all people is warranted, and the ability for us in our love and compassion to say “no” to each sin we encountered is a must.  I know people who are hurt, who are alone, who are dismayed, and who are just plain angry in life.  I was each of these at one point or another, and I can say with experience, there is a light, there is a truth, and there is a love seeking us all if only we would look up from the shadows and recognize what it is.  All cannot be made to fit our desires, but we can all be made to recognize the purpose needed in a single step we take every day.

Our society seems to be bound for hell in a handbasket at any second, but is this really true?  Look at the details, where the devil is in them, there is also a second and more venerating portion.  The portion of God, who is the very nature of being itself (as Thomas Aquinas makes in Summa Theologica), the portion of the tragedy we face as the blessings we are given as a result.  From the most simplistic desire to help, to a point of truth which won’t fade or be destroyed, regardless of the attempts to do so.  So is our world actually on a wobble, yes and no.  It stands to wobble and destroy all, concerning those who seek truth within themselves, but for those who find God in all things, the wobble is an effect of a faithless rabble hoping to upend those truths set forth for each and every one of us.  Take for instance, the vast number of vocal Christian beginning to stand up for their faith, the movement is inspiring, the number of people willing to stand up and resist the media machine bound for destruction grows by the day.  Look at the programs which minister to the down—trodden or to the incarcerated, they grow as the believers of Christ dig in for a spiritual fight against an unseen enemy.

Some say, we should turn away from a modern age and become centered on the principles we know.  St. Francis of Assisi, considered by some to be the finest example of a Saint, renounced what he was promised for a life of struggle and poverty.  Even when Jesus is asked by the rich man what he still lacked, Jesus instructed him, in order to be perfect he must give away all his possessions (Matt 19:21) undoubtedly scripture inspiring a young St. Francis.  So, is this the answer?  Maybe for some, maybe for those who seek a life, embracing these very understandings is what they need.  For those of us with families, what do we do?  We can’t very well give away all our possessions and quit our jobs?  No, this would be most irresponsible and foolish.  Taking a story literally can sometimes be the best medicine, but looking into the essence of what was being conveyed carries with it the ability for all of us to become “fishers of men” as Simon/Peter was beckoned with by Jesus on the shore of the Galilee.  (Matt 4:19)  Our desire to stop this machine, this massive wheel of society which turns unforgivingly towards, what seems an impending destruction, requires every person, on a singular scale to walk in the footsteps of Christ.  This is to say, to embrace what he was doing on this earth, to understand the Lord of all made himself small that we might understand his love for us, and even unto death we watched in agony, and knew his life is what we must go towards in all we do.

In all we do, in all we see, we must put God at the very top.  This instructs us to place God as the focal point of our lives, especially the role of the family as it pertains to all we do as we interact with those who are so willing to unconditionally support our lives and decisions.  From this most basic level of understanding, from the singular actions we take each day, an up swell begins to occur.  The hedonistic life/lie begins to erode itself, because a lie is nothing more than a movement of the shadows to fool us into believing a truth cannot exist.  On the day when our earthly life ceases to exist, we are alone with our creator, we are looking into the face of God, and we are subject to his love.  We, through our life and the choice made, have determined if we embrace who loves us, or we beg for entry into a pit of ice and despair which seeks to burn us in our solidarity and sinful desire to put self above others especially God. 

When we can begin to make decisions which suit us and our lives with a purpose larger than life itself, love, then we can begin to order our lives in just such a way as to lay a foundation of principled decisions.  This will manifest itself in such things as elections, what money is spent on what entertainment is provided, and the influences our culture embraces.  When enough people are willing to just stop watching, voting, and participating in a lifestyle full of poor choices, we will find even the most hardened of businesses will have no choice but to capitulate.  The people, the consumers, the voters, the every person has the power to change what is happening, but without the presence of God in our lives, without resting our weary hearts in God’s goodness, we will follow the machine to perdition.    

It took me sometime to realize just what I had standing before me, a life full of love, if I was just willing to accept my own arrogance as the hindrance preventing me from realizing the depths to which I must go in order to fully know a joy so warming and kind as to be a spiritual nurturing like none other.  A truth which is so resolute, I can know no other truth, and a reality so sobering, I cannot turn my head to anything else no matter how hard I try. It wasn’t until I understood what was standing before me, did I realize, how disjointed I’d become in my pursuits of self.  An alignment of painful realities set my focus to stand before what I know to be truth, and to shout it from the roof tops if possible.  Since I’m a very private person, my blog was one of the first steps in this process, exposing a truth of sin in my life and a dereliction to faith was the only way I knew I could, through action, represent a redeeming quality of love.  This isn’t to say, I’ve mastered anything yet, I see the path I must walk, and I find it difficult to stay on the path most days.  However, when my foot steps onto the gravely pebble laden path, I sense a rightness and centeredness to my life, which makes my heart leap at just the thought.

This Christmas season, starting the 25th of December ushers in another wonderful time in our lives, a rebirth of our lives after a winter of darkness and cold.  God is light and in him there is no darkness (John 1:5), in the light there is warmth and in this warmth we find a loving desire to fulfill those life choices which help to purify us, that we may walk in Heaven, during the cool of the evening, with God.  Many programs on television seek to tell us to be kinder, more helpful, and generous to those who need these loving behaviors, but most often they don’t say why.  For many, being compelled to do one thing or another, should have a sense of purpose not just an idle command from people we neither know nor would trust to do anything in our best interests.  So in this instant, they are right to try and help guide us towards a sense of compassion and charity for all, but the reason is Christ.  The reason is the will of God is something so wonderful, as we should never stop ceasing to seek the pathway to God’s goodness.  There is nothing which is as pejorative as a person who might have the power to affect a loving change in the life of a single person and chooses not to out of a sense of self-reliance.  So, if faced with a situation where giving your last dollar, your lunch, or your time give it for God nothing more and nothing less.  Don’t let a fear of the unknown debilitate your sense of right.  If you’re already doing this, then please pray for those who need your action and guidance, that they may find your kindness by direct or indirect action.

For unto us a child is born, (Isiah 9:6-7), our world isn’t wobbling, it is where we placed it.  With every action you take, seek to put this world in a direction more suitable to love in Christ, more suitable to seeking the objective truth in everything you seek, and more suitable to embracing those who seek and embrace but are too afraid to say it aloud.  May God bless you and your family this wonderful Christmas season!!!

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

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Should We Not All Be Equal?

In our modern cultural circles, a hubris arises, and within the context of social order we find people creating paradigms of equality.  Sometimes, these consist of economic equality (socialism), or social and economic equality (communism with socialistic economies).  The hubris which comes from such day dreams, is a continued approach which determines their efforts will surely succeed in triumph, even though every major attempt has failed prior to now.  Their one underlying question, “Shouldn’t we all be equal?” finds enthusiastic ears willing to force an equality of outcome for the purpose of subjective justice.  There are few things wrong with this pursuit though.  I want to briefly touch on them, so I can put into perspective, equality as an outcome is the most unjust outcome ever deigned as a solution to the problem of poverty.

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First, let’s tackle the concept of what poverty actually is, and why “the poor will always be with you” (Matt 26:11).  There are sectors of every population, either by circumstance, choice, or condition which remain below an acceptable societal standard for economic subsistence.  By choice, they choose to work in a job which pays very little, either because a lack of education, or by societal barriers placed on them from poor choices (e.g. prison record preventing someone from working).  At any rate, choice is a factor larger than is capable of describing in many cases.  Sometimes, a circumstance, a loss of job or debilitating injury, without a financial security net, causes induced poverty.  This again stems from an indirect choice, but ultimately wasn’t the choice of those who succumbed to the poverty conditions.  Finally, as a population’s wealth increases, there will always be a poverty level well below and average income distribution, but as the standard of living increases so too will the standard for poverty.  Take for instance, the poverty level has increased, in the U.S. for a family of four by over $20k in the last fifty years.  Whereas other, less industrialized nations, still have a poverty level below the US 1968 poverty level.  So, what does this tell us, subjective standards of poverty as based in the position and placement of local analysis.  The poverty stricken people now, live better than the poverty stricken people fifty years ago.  This isn’t to imply, charity is going away, but instead to give familiarity to the paradigm of subjectivity to explain the perspective we find ourselves in, in today’s world.

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Equality of choice, is a foundational need for every society.  The choice of whether or not to seek ambitious desires, to protect one’s life, to speak against injustice and so forth.  What culture, all across the world seems to be struggling with is those with and those without, as a means for cultural destruction!  It is argued, those who make exorbitant wages shouldn’t, and those who make very little, should make more, but very often when pressed as to why this social manipulation should occur and poor answer is given.  Social equality, must be a measure of the choices a society makes in regards to an individual’s choice, for instance, the choice in what secondary education is sought.  Perhaps and equality of prospect, in one’s decision on how to grow wealth; in our culture, with a little extra money, anyone can invest what they have, at a risk, and potentially grow their wealth to increase their own standard of living.  The key to understand is, at their risk, everything is at your risk. Your health, your wealth, your, faith, and your family’s sense of direction are always at some risk, but this is the benefit of choice, the ability to make a decision which will either benefit or create detriment for yourself and those around us.

Equality is a subjective term, a term which in today’s lexicon, and with it carries a negative connotation, as in the “have’s and have not’s”, but more importantly it assumes an objective authority determines the measure of equilibrium to determine right and wrong.  With so many people denouncing traditional methods of objective stances, such as morals, ethics, and societal norms, the landscape is moving rapidly with little or no thought given to such dramatic decisions.

When I was a bright-eyed teenager, set to put the world aright with all of my ideas, I knew the past regimes of the Nazi’s and other socialistic economy nations had failed.  Though, the Utopian concept of a “needs” being provided for by the state, wasn’t altogether unappealing.  My mentality at the time was one of relativistic ideals, which is to say, I wanted everyone to have what we as a society considered to be basic standards.  So, let me stop there and at least give one argument for experience.  There is a reason, young people should not make decisions which affect millions, they simply don’t have the experience needed to weigh the decision(s) properly, within the context of life and general experience.  The man I was at 28 was a completely different person than the perceived man I was at 18.  The ideologies I purported were just simplistic explanations bent on watering down complex issues in order to make them more palatable for myself and the people I talked with.  At the end of the day, I was asked a question about perceived rights as they related to the choices we make, in my arrogance, I fell head long, into the trap.  His question was simple, why is it ok to take from people who’ve worked hard for their earnings, and give to others who haven’t.  Now, simplicity aside, this is what he boiled it down to.  A legalized version of theft, and once I started looking at the rippling effect of people taking what I have worked so hard for, because the state said it was ok, is as evil a proposition as using tax dollars to pay for abortions.  At any rate, a decision to give our earnings should be ours to make, and the more consistent we are about standards of giving, the more expectation certainty people will have with what they should have and shouldn’t have.

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The largest charitable organization in the world is the Catholic Church, but this is overshadowed by the complex and disgusting issues of abuse within the church.  However, context once again is key to understanding the whole issue.  First, to place equality on all people in the church, and expect all people to act according to the equality of status is silly at best.  When one person or a group of people act heinously, is it fair to condemn a church with a church body of over a billion people?  Is it fair to hate America because of the actions purported upon detainees at Abu Ghraib, or is it wise to lump an entire group into one contingent, much like I did as a youth with my desire to fulfill ideologies as a means of explanation?  The equality comes only in perception of who we are and why we’re here, but this is where equality is no more.  Some people are meant to be kings, and some are meant to be the King’s servants, where is the equality now?  If a king serves his people as a good steward, is not their life better and are they not capable of being joyful in God?

Equality, seems to be and ideological imperfection, as a result of poorly thought out ideals translated into even worse contextual pitfalls.  To say we are equal, is only true when describing the human condition; we are all human, we all seek life and a way to live life which meets whatever expectation(s) we see fit for our lives.  This is where equality ends.  Some people are born to affluent families and continue the affluent life, passing their wealth on to their offspring and so on and so on.  Some people are born lowly and poor, in conditions which neither seem fair nor right.  Equality has nothing to do with this, choice has everything to do with it though.

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Choice is a confounding and yet simple concept, a choice to do one thing or another can have ramifications which last a lifetime, or the choice of another might be the deciding factor over how we respond to a specific situation.  The affluent family may be this way because of the decision by some previous generation helped to foster an increase in wealth and further their affluence, or it could be just sheer luck which allowed for just such a circumstance.  The choices of the poor family could consist of poor job choices, poor money management, and in some cases a family unwilling to do the hard work to ensure future generations would no longer be poor.  In many cases the results of what we see today in either affluent or poor sectors of our societies are as a result of choices made years ago.  Choices which were given to us out of equality, but by making the choices have created two different paradigms.  The first being the paradigm of the poor, an inequality is realized because the rich have what is desired, a way to pay for things.  The second, is perfect equality, because someone, somewhere along the line, worked hard and put into motion the circumstances laid before the world at the time of the perception.  On any level though, taking what is rightfully someone else’s either by inheritance or by choice, is absolutely wrong.  Of course, the examples used are not everyone’s opinion, nor are they the only opinion, but they are an opinion which validates those in our culture who wish to right a perceived wrong by committing wrong choices themselves.

The hard truth to all of it is, we may never be wealthy, or celebrated for our contributions in life or to our society at large, and in a world where everyone makes a video, writes a blog, does something to get noticed, it has become harder to achieve a subjective standard which keeps moving constantly.  A standard which sets into motion, seeming obtainable measures of success, but at the very same time indicates working to achieve those measures is a matter of opinion rather than the standard.  Placing ourselves at the behest of the proverbial mob indicates we no longer want to make decisions for ourselves, and essentially we want someone to make these decisions for us.  If we don’t trust the neighbor down the street, who else is there, I bet you guessed it already, the government.  A figurative body which seeks to legislate our lives, but neither has an inkling of faith nor cares who you or I are.  A body, which is notorious for making poor decision, and a body which creates counterproductive measures of law to restrict the citizens it is making decisions for.  For instance, I pay my taxes every year, but I have no way of knowing what my tax dollars are going to.  I have no way of preventing further tax dollars from being misused, except by election (there’s your equality), and no matter how hard I try, if my candidate isn’t elected, decision made for me by the newly elected official, may run counter to anything I want or think is correct.  My equality comes from the right to make the decision, not the decision itself or the outcome, and in the heightened atmosphere of charged anger and perceived inequality, people now want to force equality on every level, this is nonsense.

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If we are to live a life of joy, and focus on the light of Christ, we need to remove the notion of equality from our minds as results are concerned.  We have what we have because of God’s Graces.  Look at your spouse, your kids, your entire family, and realize without God, there would be nothing.  If anyone of us were wrongly convicted of a crime, and nothing we said or did would remove this burden from us, what then do we do?  Do we give up on life, or do we work harder?  I have never been to prison, so I can truthfully speak to the conditions of the prison and its inhabitants, but at the same time, I can legitimately speak of anyone else’s condition or circumstances.  I can only speak of which I know, and every time in my life, where hard choices were to be made, my principles and morals given to me by God, my parents, and my spouse have allowed a resolute focus on God’s love to allow joy to permeate throughout everything I do.  Regardless of any shortcoming I seem to meet as a result of another’s decision, I’m not looking to create an equal playing field, I am looking to enrich my understanding of God through the struggles I face.  He walks with me in every step I take, he never leaves me, if this isn’t something to be joyous about nothing is.

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When we focus on those things in life which actually have some meaning, and matter at the heart of what’s important all the other stuff in life seems to melt away into a trivial pursuit of self.  Can’t you remember a time where you were worried, possibly about a loved one, and when you found out they were fine, you realized nothing else in the world mattered at that moment.  Not whether, a wealthy person made more money than yourself, or if you didn’t get something you believe everyone else did.  Instead, your love transcended your ability to worry about the stuff of this world, and carried you to a place where all becomes clear and allows an embrace of your love with the love of another, as God lifts both of you up.

I hope the pursuit of equality in everyone’s life is a pursuit of love, and a measure of making sure opportunity to love is available, it is the only one which matters as an equal choice in our lives.  If you’re ever unsure about your pursuits of equality, think about the understanding needed to perceive the condition of another person, if after you’ve placed yourself in their shoes, walked the miles, and still see a measure of inequality, then love and discernment has granted you a special place to ascend.  Always make good choices, and stop worrying about the perceptions of another, except those things which cannot be changed, and know either by choice or by circumstance we’ve all been equally placed in our positions by God.  May 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.”

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!!!

Why Must I Always Be The First to Say Sorry?

Have you ever been in a situation, where both parties are angered and both believe the other should apologize first for actions less than good?  I certainly have, I’ve been in relationships and friendships where the toxicity was such, I became paralyzed by the desire to seek honor as a means of capitulation, rather than making the first move of repentance and apologizing for my actions.  The result being a further diminishment of light and descending into a pit of anger and resentment which would take me a decade or more to be removed from.  As perspective is the best lens we can look through, while we try and maintain a foundation of objective truth, I realized I was fighting three fronts at one time.  The first being myself, my ego was such, I wouldn’t really listen to anyone, or anything they had to say no matter the benefit to my life.  I was afraid of the pain it would cause me, and the thought of such pain wasn’t something I was willing to put myself through.  The second, was although the people around me didn’t put into words their hurt, they were hurt.  I let them down, I cause what seemed to be a reflection of light to become dimmed right before their very eyes.  Imagine watching a tragedy unfold before your eyes and there is nothing you can do about it?  This is what I realized I was causing to the people who were closest to me, and loved me with unconditional boundaries.  The final and the most important front to my life was the very human desire for sin as I push away all which was good and true for the promise of desire and darkness.  I didn’t want to bring myself to the very painful truth, my “sorry” and repentant behavior was all which was needed to begin to heal and allow the light of Christ in my life once again.

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As a child, I spent most of my time determining I didn’t want to answer to anyone, and this included parents, friends, and yes God.  Since I wasn’t being struck down by a bolt of lightning every time I lied, I figured a justification of what I was said was all which was ever needed for explanation.  The irony being, one of the most prolific messages my parents would ever give me was the need to stop with excuses and live up to the truth.  However, this was inconvenient to me and my purposes of fulfilling my dreams and goals in life.  Now this isn’t to say I was rude or distasteful to people I met, but rather it means I found justification in doing what I wanted, when I wanted even if it was problematic or hurtful to others.  I never desired to cause pain, but I deluded myself into thinking others were just as much to blame for my behavior as was I, so they can apologize to me as much as I can to them.  It never entered my head, in any way, to lead and accept God’s truth, we must be willing to walk the path alone, but we must be willing to lead the way as well.

So, there I am in life, causing rip tides of destructive selfish tendencies bringing people down where I can, not bothering to take full responsibility for my actions, and I’m hit with a piece of advice which changed my life and I still think about daily.  As I was attending a therapy session, because talking is the only way I can understand some things, I was told, “Sometimes, you have to have the courage to be the first to say sorry, even if it means your destruction”.  To this day, I don’t think truer words were spoken to me about what I needed to be as a man, a husband, a father, and a friend.  Look at Jesus, death on a cross, for our sins, humiliation, and pain, yet he still did it for us.  He, obviously is the perfect example, but as I heard the therapist speak these words, my life began to change.  Of course, I tried to deny her words, but over time, I began to accept what she meant and I applied my understanding to how I needed to embrace this truth seeking a better life for myself and more importantly, my family.

journey

I wasn’t sure how to begin, but all I knew at one point was I needed something more in my life.  I was incredulous with my life, how can I sometimes make good choices and sometimes make bad choices, there was no consistency.  I was happy at some times, and very down at others, I wasn’t sure what the hell was going on.  All I knew was it had to stop, all I wanted was no drama in life, to make good principled decisions, and to find purpose to what I was doing.

fightthegoodfight

Just like any good race, I needed to figure out why I was racing, was it for me or something else.  Well, it was for both, but most importantly, it was in search of God’s presence in my life.  God’s presence provided me with understanding, a warmth of unspeakable dimensions, and above all joy.  I won’t try and pull the wool over anyone’s eyes and say I don’t get mad, or I walk around with a smile plastered across my face every day all day.  Instead, I seem to calm down more often, quicker, less likely to get excitable about those things which I can’t control, and above all else, recognize God’s here with me and this was always the purpose.  God is my goal, my purpose for running this race, and my desire to see it through, no matter the cost.  But I was running into a wall, now I knew what I needed, I wasn’t sure how to get it.  Of course everyone knows about being “good”, but what does that exactly mean?  The world is full of good people, “hell is a road paved with good intentions”, but being a good person isn’t merely enough.  Good, is relative to the subjective conversation we have with other people.  Being principled and holy is a completely different story.  When we don’t have a measure of what good actually is, then we don’t have a concept of how to accomplish this goodness.  As it were, I was stumped by how to not only do the right thing, but to show others I was doing the right thing.  Well, the first was answered by an understanding of what a principle is.  An objective moral which becomes a standard, set to lay a foundational rule, not to be broken and which isn’t negotiable by any standard.  A principle is not just a rule, but a belief which forms our way, a conduit of sorts, towards God’s light for each one of us.  It creates in us an ability to focus our desires for the will of others, and to find joy in what we do as we become consistently good in our decisions and our very being.  What we all find in being principled is, where we follow one, we must follow them all.  This isn’t to say we always do, or I always have, but what it means, is we are human and we strive to seek this light, God’s gift to all of us is the yearning for his love and affection through means simple to understand and because of our will hard to always do.  Of course, as I realized through my principles I would attain a truthful life and devotion to God, I also needed to remove any drama.  Drama, which causes emotion to take over and decisions to be ruled by feelings only and little intellectual skill, instead of the combination of intellect and compassion as a measure of decision making which having the two combined creates principled lives in all of us.

The first thing I did, was begin as it were, my humble march in shame.  I would apologize to all members of my family, at one point or another.  This meant one-on-one meetings whenever and wherever possible to express regret at my selfish actions, because much like water with ripples, so too are our actions in the lives of other people, especially those who are closest to us.  After making my concessions and apologies to my family, extended family, and those closest to my family, I began with friends and acquaintances.  However, at this point, I wasn’t just apologizing for recent actions which caused disquiet among family, instead, it was a lamentation of sorts for past woes which I may have caused and which I needed them to know I regretted, not simply because it was wrong but because they may have hurt because of it.  Now, I know what you might be thinking, this seems like a lot of drama, especially for a person who was trying to remove drama, but I would say it was the last push of a life devoted to no more drama, except the envelopment of the drama which unfolded because of the “Passion” Jesus endured.

What-is-truth-Christ-and-Pilate-Painting-by-Nikolai-Nikolaevich-Ge.

What I attained from all of this has helped to set my path in life.  I hope I can pass along a little of what I’ve learned and it will help those who have experienced similar circumstances, or will help illuminate a path some have been seeking and as yet have been unable to find.  The first lesson I grasped from all of my struggles was I am entitled to nothing, I deserve nothing. In acknowledgement of God’s Graces, I’m overjoyed to receive a drop of rain on a hot day, a warm coat when a frigid wind blows against me, the hugs of my children, a kiss from my wife, a call from my mother and father, or a chance to open my eyes one more day and seek the love of God once more.  Recognition of God’s Grace is the first step to a life of joy, a life where blaming people for our troubles is no longer needed, but most importantly a belief in an existence past our earthly lives, a goal to live for.  God’s love truly isn’t a race in the traditional sense, as it is nothing to win.  Instead, God’s love, is like a race in the sense we all must start and we all must end, how we decide to run the race is the very definition of character we choose.

Hug of Jesus

Ok, so why must we always be willing to say “I’m sorry” first, because God’s love exists and in our imperfect nature, we undoubtedly could have done more to embrace the compassion and charity needed for every situation.  Often times, when I speak to my children, they are in a situation(s) where they are at the receiving end of another person’s vitriol, and in response they release their own anger and words they hope will cut as deeply as the wounds they believe they have.  Though, to be honest, no wound is too great which can’t be healed by humility and the light of God, so why easily offend?  The other night my oldest daughter was at the brunt end of an accusation, which was neither true no kind in the way in which it was delivered.  She was immediately upset and intended to strike at those who were delivering the verbal body blows, and this was how she intended on settling the issue.  Though in this case, the people who verbally accused my daughter, had been under some stress and were facing tough questions in an uncertain future, and when faced with an accusation they applied swift and incorrect judgement to affect an outcome.  Much like what my daughter was willing to do and make the same hurtful error.  However, my wife and I talked to her and she thought better of making decision by emotion only.  To this day, I’m not sure how it ended, but since I haven’t heard anything else, I would guess she adhered to a “silence is golden” behavior and left the insults and accusations alone.

salemwitchtrial

My daughter’s experience though does bring about one good point, was she at blame enough where she could have apologized for something, possibly, but only she can truly know this.  At the end of the day, this is what repentance and making one’s self humble is all about, reflecting on those instances of our own lives where we could have made a more loving outcome occur if not for our need to have a circumstance the way we want rather than what is best.  When my daughter became upset, she could have called and handled the situation emotionally, and I can’t say this would have been completely wrong, but not best you see.  Best is stopping and thinking about everything occurring, and then putting ourselves in the place of another, so we may see a situation as they see it, so we can understand as they understand, because if we’re willing to see the world through the eyes of another we might just be willing to be less hostile and more compassionate.  Jesus said “But I say to you, offer no resistance to one who is evil. When someone strikes you on [your] right cheek, turn the other one to him as well.  If anyone wants to go to law with you over your tunic, hand him your cloak as well.  Should anyone press you into service for one mile, go with him for two miles.  Give to the one who asks of you, and do not turn your back on one who wants to borrow” (Matt 5: 39-42).

Jesus speaks these words after giving the Beatitudes and right actions, and what He is saying above all other things is, our absolute need to understand, to elevate oneself to a position where even if evil is applied to us, even if we’re innocent, to stand and receive what we receive but understand there may be a point of misunderstanding on the part of the one who seeks your pain.

When we face situations which are seemingly impossible to understand, situations where we are blamed, wrongfully or rightly, we have the absolute power to step forward and fix what is broken.  When we’re always waiting on the other person to apologize, we will never be satisfied with the result, because our anticipation of personal expectations unrevealed to another are always most certain to fail.  However, if we set the tone with an expectation of redemption and adherence to humility through love and compassion, more often than not, we’re not disappointed.  Although, people will continue to disappoint, and cause us consternation through their selfish efforts, it’s up to us to be leaders and make things right, even if we stand to lose.

Crucifixion

At the end of the day, our free will gives us power to choose above all else.  Our choices are located in two arenas, good and bad.  Those arenas are easily labeled by the objective morals/principals we adopt in our lives.  Like a science-fiction movie, where a special gift enables the hero to draw from and locate the source of power they seek, so too is the power of principle.  When we follow our principles, we find a new world is opened up, a clean world, a world where offense is abhorred and compassion is embraced.  So, if you question life like I did at one point, know this, your principles are a great starting point and will get you on the path where the search for the light of Christ can be found.  The acceptance of those principles starts with your ability to stand before those you’ve offended and apologize.  They may never accept your apology, but at a minimum, you’ve put others before yourself and this is a great point to begin your journey.  I pray God blesses you and your family!!!

 

 

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.

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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.

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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/

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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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