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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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!!!

I Do Not Wish to Offend

Over the last few weeks, I’ve read stories about celebrities, public figures, and the everyday person offending groups of people over something said or done.  In some cases, the comments which were made, were done so many years before, and of course said in the context of spite, comedy, or insensitivity to an unknown audience many years in the future.  As this is becoming the case for everyone, we are now expected to find three paths of behavior resulting in a simple choice.  The first, we can play a character in our own lives and never truly let anyone see who we are, in a subjective attempt to play a game where the goal is moved constantly and we’re bound to lose at one point or another.  Second, we can exude a spitefulness towards the game, and in the process, still lose but now we are disliked immensely, except for those who’ve also taken the same stance.  Finally, we can choose to walk away from a game which is neither a measure of who we are, what we stand for, or a need to validate to a single human being why we are who we are.  These three paradigms, present a challenge for each one of us as we attempt to live in a world, where a prospective boss looks up social media accounts, in order to determine worthiness of employment.  Perhaps, those people who wish to dig up dirt on anyone to find any semblance of imperfection.  Whatever the reason, we’re seeing lives ripped to shreds in a matter of minutes which took years of hard work and dedication to build.  So, when people didn’t wish to offend, but inevitably did, is there more of a need for admonishment of the offending party, or a greater need for the offended to understand context and character instead.

arguing-at-thanksgiving

I’ve been blessed in my life with a wonderful family, who fights and grumbles like any other family in this world.  However, one thing I noticed was, although we are offended by one another, we get over the offense rather quickly and move on with our days, our lives, and making more memories where possible.  Why doesn’t this work for everyone else though, why do we choose to continue to be upset by those around us, or at the very least continue to be offended at every word uttered in distaste or disaffection towards what we hold to be important?  I think the problem we’re facing as a society is comfort, which isn’t to say, we shouldn’t be comfortable, but in our comfort, we’ve become sore bored as a society we rebel against anything which pushes us from our comfort.  Take for instance, the exhausting utilization of wording to meet the needs of the public, without a realization of hypocrisy which happens because of this need.  Black Americans have been called every name in the book some very bad, and some more appropriate to a desire for formality, but none of which ever are a pure description of who they are.  Many years ago, the term “African American” was introduced into the lexicon of our vernacular as a means of placation to assert an area of origin, and then we saw this occur throughout races and cultures widespread.  It has now become accepted practice to assume the origin of a person by their physical features, and then assume they want to be called by a place of origin.  However, my ancestors came from Northern Europe and I have no desire to be called Northern European American whatsoever, and I can’t imagine many other people would like this either.  Simply, I am fine to be called American if a moniker of obvious title must be placed.  Though, the hypocritical nature of our society rears its ugly head once more.  I’ve been called white, whitey, boy, cracker, honky and all nicknames associated with white since I was a kid, but it was simply verboten in my family to doll out the same retaliatory wording to anyone else.  The duplicity with having a society which is allows certain members to utilize offensive language as a sub-cultural allowance, but prevents others from using the same language because of this cultural exclusion and offensive rhetoric is a ludicrous notion of duplicity.

So we come to the first of the three paradigms, duplicity, when we act one way with one group, but are completely different with another group.  This is to say, we think we can be two or more people and the transition will be seamless.  Unbeknownst to us though, most everyone can see through a charade of duplicity with little or no effort.  I’ve known black and white people who’ve been appropriate when in mixed company to avoid using words where they would be offensive, but when around like minded individuals, they have no problem using words which are offensive and derogatory as a means of expression.  To be clear, they are not right for having two faces and being savvy enough to know when one face is needed over another.  It makes them a liar in the context of omission by action.  Would people be as nice to us if they could be inside our heads?  Isn’t this a question, we should ask, as a general rule to ourselves, when it comes to appropriate action?  However, one larger question should be lurking around as well; why do we have such a confluence of different appropriations if one is considered better than another.  Stereotypes, exist for one reason or another, they exist because we as cultures and subcultures desire to compartmentalize the people we meet, as if to place and ideological circle around them, and categorize a group as good, bad, indifferent, or hated.  Once again, this is morosely wrong behavior, but as humans, we seemed programmed to do it.

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Most of our needs to supplant poor behavior with good behavior, comes from a societal pressure to get along rather than bucking a system of objective checks and balances.  Though, recently in the last few decades, objectivity for purpose of living good lives has been replaced by subjective pursuits of unfulfilling qualities like fame, fortune, beauty, attention, and power.  All of these pursuits have been around since man walked this earth, but they’ve taken on a more sinister turn in the last century.  They’ve no longer become a hidden pursuit, instead, we’ve gilded them in a luster and shine which promises everything we ever wanted, and when we scratch the surface, we see the ugly truth of emptiness on a rotten landscape.  This lends itself to the second paradigm, the desire to spite the entire world for failing to be what we expected it to be.  This is never more apparent than when looking at comments about the Catholic Church and the awful behavior of priests in the past, from the inquisition to the abuse scandal.  The vitriol which flows towards the church and those who help guide it, has in some ways taken on a life of its own.  However, in recognition of the bad which has been brought on so many innocent victims, a failure to see all the good displayed in the name of Jesus is a misaligned argument.  In other words, only attacking what we don’t like, without and understanding of what we do, presents an unbalanced argument and breeds an atmosphere of anger set to destroy us if we fail to resist it.  Good news though, God’s imprint rests in our hearts, and resisting the lure of anger and evil is only a matter of will and the desire to do good works.

fear

Anger and resentment, to emotive reactions to a world which seems to be changing by the second into something we neither recognize nor understand.  This anger and resentment is born out of fear and a disillusionment of expectation which comes from the pursuits of empty desires our cultures encourages and even pushes us to celebrate.  If we don’t accept what is presented to us, the first reaction is shame and ridicule, the second ostracizing those individuals for failing to fall in line, and finally defamation of character and standing as a means to crush them.  Some folks, don’t have the power to do such a thing, and wouldn’t want it at any rate, but their expectation disruption causes them to shout and wail against those things which have changed, those things which prevent them from recognizing life as they have always known it to be.  Finally, with perceived lack of voice, they hit the media air waves and spew anger onto the virtual hi-ways of the internet cultural forums, media.  There they “slam”, “crush”, “destroy”, and create “catastrophe” in their wakes.  Though, all of this anger is much like a circle, and never-ending spiral descending down into madness and destruction of both themselves and the society to which they claimed to care about so much.  The problem with the anger is, it’s a cancer which will metastasis those areas not already touched by unmitigated anger and if no one stands in defiance, we will all be sucked in.

JesusontheCross

Finally, our final paradigm, the hardest of them all.  Walk away from the cultural expectations and the perceived outrage.  Eventually, we all will see, although someone speaks tones of anger, exclusion, or general inequity, we don’t have to accept it.  We don’t have to bow to poor behavior, we can simply stand in opposition, but at the same time, will the good of the other.  This is to say, we can pray that the light of Christ will shine upon the darkness of their shriveled and angry hearts.  This is what the great deceiver hopes we all do, decline the light and shrivel in weakness as he overtakes what is left of us.  However, standing up means to oppose those who would deny us our free will as a matter of choice.  We don’t have to say anything which would offend another, but if we did, and we apologize, this should be enough.  If our actions cause the harm of another, and we are fully to blame, then we do what we can to make what was broken whole again.  Relying on someone else to make us sorry, fails at a result of societal implications.  It then becomes the fault of another, and this is what got us in this decline in the first place.

When I was taking a class, many years ago, I heard a professor speak about the epidemic of lawsuits which seem to plague our society today.  His simple and profound response to this was, “Christians don’t sue” (Matt 18:15-17), understanding the context of life and who we are in this life is a matter of perspective of our desire for eternal life.  Which is a fancy way of saying, be careful what you do in this life, you will reap what you sow, and if what you reaped was degradation and humiliation it will be brought back upon you in the same manner.  My father, many years ago, was faced with a situation from a less than noteworthy contractor.  This contractor built a retaining wall for him, but did a poor job in its construction, and the wall was beginning to shift.  My father, considered legal implications with the contractor, but decided against it.  In my conversations with him, I counseled him to accept the unfair nature of the event, and we would do whatever he needed if the contractor failed to do what was right.  At the end of the day, the matter was fixed without the need of the legal intricacies involved with suing one person over another.  However, I do realize this is probably best case scenario, it doesn’t change the fact, to stand up means a disciplined response where we neither fight nor flight from the situation staring us in the face.

Be Still

Be still your angry heart, contemplate your actions as they begin to boil beneath the surface, and quite the storms which create in you a restless desire for destruction of your enemies.  There are those who do wish to offend, those who would like to see nothing more than the utter destruction of all who oppose them, but this is something left for them to sort out with God, not you.  You’re not the arbiter of life and the dissemination of proper subjective morals.  Instead, you are the reflection of light which God places upon you, but much like a mirror reflecting the light of the sun, when it is moved the reflection is lost.  We are much like the mirror, until we can be still and deliberate about our actions, contemplative and kind, compassionate and charitable, the light will never stay with us for long and we will serve to be more annoying to the recipient of the reflection than a help.

caring-hands-helgunn-ravonsheed

I do not wish to offend, I wish to thank.  I do not wish to offend, I wish to care for.  Offensive behavior doesn’t require defensive reactions, instead it requires silence and contemplation.  If some would accuse this of cowardice, I would prompt them to read the Beatitudes, especially “Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth”.  Even Jesus own words to his disciple, “Those who live by the sword, shall die by the sword”.  It begins with you, it begins with me, and it begins with our actions to be better.  We must look to those people who came before us, and recognize their insistence of standing firm.  It isn’t about an offending anyone, it is about walking away from a game designed for your destruction, while entering a world created on life and the love which extends from each and every one of us.

I will confess, after reading the comments from the posts the other day, I was disheartened by the vitriol expressed out of ignorance and malice.  I wanted to comment and set the record straight, but I neither had the words to express nor an inkling of just how to do it.  I realized, the people expressing their anger were of the second paradigm, and nothing I could ever say would change their minds into something I perceived as being correct.  I spoke with my ever wise, wife, and she agreed with my decision, and after sleeping on what I read, I came to a conclusion which put my heart at ease.  I was reminded of a phrase from a book, Stephen Prothero, “God is Not One”, where he tells an anecdote about a southern black church and the conversation between the pastor and one of his congregation.  The parishioner indicated their lack of belief in God, and with great care the pastor’s response was simple and profound.  “That’s ok, he believes in you”.  This granule of knowledge put my mind at ease, because it reminded me, we’re all on our own journey to find the light.  Some of us, are way off the path, and in their confusion about their life and expectations of life, or rather where the path of light is, they have become anger and willing to lash out at anyone who reminds them why they are despondent.

Prince Harry

In our attempts to live our lives to the fullest extent, don’t offend, don’t do anything which would prevent another person from realizing their own path and the light of Christ which they desire as you do.  We are all loved by God, and their path is as important as ours.  If they choose to be offended by love, charity, and kindness, then this is something they must deal with and all you can ever do is accept what is.  What is!  A simple phrase to examine for each of us, the cross we bear.  Which is an acceptance of not the cross we carry, but the cross we are nailed to, and the irascible ending we must face. Christ, was the first, he hung from the cross, and yet his words were not of despondent hate, vitriol, cursing, or questioning.  They were full of love, compassion, and understanding for the very people who wished to experience his destruction.  Would they have continued to do so, if they realized he was the Divine God incarnate in man, hanging before them?  No, probably not, so therein lies the greatest of human mysteries, if you knew what you were doing was a mistake, would you keep doing it?  I would contend, as eternal life matters, “no” you would cease immediately.  Everyone is on their own spiritual journey, although they believe they want to offend, I believe if they knew what you may know or what those who have found God’s love knows, is really they do not wish to offend.

Perspective

In my own life, my offensive actions were brought back to me, and I never wanted to offend anyone.  I did though, and as I go through my life, I must recognize when people are saying what truly offends me, I have to remember, either they are in a circular paradigm of confusion and anger, or they are where I once was and need guidance, much like I had to show them a pathway of compassion.  I pray God blesses 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!!!

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.

boy_tells_lies_gets_long_nose_like_pinocchio_SMALLER_Stock-517717040

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!!!

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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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