Freedom From is Freedom For

When do we possess the most freedom?  Do we possess it as we stroll down the avenues of life with not a care in the world, or perhaps freedom comes from the decision to do as we want and not as others command?  I’m sure each and every one of us is at a place in our lives where we have bound a definition of freedom to the very foundation of our perceptions of just what freedom ought to be.  Though, when we do this we incline our very nature to an pursuit of error and sin because of the subjectivity with which we choose our pursuit.  Instead, a freedom from such things as greed, lust, anger, and overall any devilish decision laid upon us, becomes a freedom which disciplines us and yet opens life up in such a way as to become a vessel of an overflowing nature towards God and the life we live.  Our reflective light grants one of distinct proportion whereby we humbly pursue the here and now, and yet we are bound by nothing by the very nature of life as it consistently surrounds us.  At any time we can choose a subjective nature to pursue, but at all times the truth of freedom from patiently awaits our return.

So, what then do we do when challenged by those thoughts and ideas meant to expand our minds and challenge our traditions?  First of all, abandoning a tradition without logical pursuit of total comprehension of the past understandings and reasoning elicits an embrace of hubris and arrogance.  Are we such historical and modern snobs as to think we are above the very rules which once governed people who lived before us?  Do we believe we somehow perceive life better (philosophically speaking) than those who pioneered the effort?  Are we determined to restrict our freedom of good and right to be bound to the error of selling our freedom to the lowest bidder?  Here are some very salient points which should not be abandoned.  We are told, more often than not, liberalism is a matter of questioning and adopting methods of living life which challenge the traditional norms.  This is to say, a person or group of persons, found the traditional thought for circumstances we experience to be hampering for the purposes of change or “progress” and in doing so create new paradigms of practice.  This is common place in areas of technology, medicine, and laws which seek to understand our ever-changing landscapes according to science, religion, and life in general.  However, truth has never changed, which is to say, it requires no liberal thought and practice, but instead is indicative of each and every person to conserve the very nature of the objective truth.  Which is a fancy way of saying “truth is truth” it doesn’t need our further explanation and furthermore it needs no changing of how it is to be perceived.

A perfect example of truth as it just is would be the freedom to tell the truth or the restriction of the lie.  The lie will bind us to a story which is neither correct nor is it proper, even when we attempt to liberate the truth with a desire to spare one’s feelings, we corrupt the beauty of the knowledge of what is.  The lie forms and takes shape, creating in us a narrative which neither truly exists nor a proper perception of the narrative in general.  Which is purely why when confronted with a truthful statement, such as “The Catholic Church was the church founded by Jesus Christ our Risen Lord” isn’t accepted by all Christians.  The subjective truth has distorted the objective authority and created in it a base miscomprehension and ideological miscomprehension of our own ability to unbelieve.  We won’t believe what we can’t understand, furthering an binding to ignorance as the light our lives should follow, rather than accepting what we don’t know and trusting the love of God, which is the truth in life never subject to change or the need to be liberated from its very existence.

Ok, so where does this leave us?  Our freedom from such things as sin, is our freedom for such things as life.  As we all know, “For the wage paid by sin is death”, why would we bind ourselves to a death sentence, unless we believe we know it all?  Knowledge becomes freedom then, freedom from sin, but more importantly as Bishop Fulton Sheen described in “Life is Worth Living”, knowledge doesn’t bind us, but allows freedom to reign and the more we study the less free we become to know error.  Liberalism in through prevents the immutable truth from being fully realized.  The truth is our own personal freedom, regardless of the events which surround all of us, knowing the truth of anything creates in us a perception of right.  When we can know, we are fully in communion with God.  When we learn and embrace what is true and what is right, we can find harmony in life.  Just recently my wife and I were challenged by something personal, which affected both of us in varying ways.  My wife is a formidable force of truth, kindness, and love, but is nevertheless challenged by others who are very close to her.  Their embrace of a subjective reality, and furthermore their liberal pursuit of a life which replaces God and idolizes sin has created a chasm of pain which seeks to sap the strength of all of us in its pursuit to rip and tear apart a family dynamic.  However, her strength isn’t in her ability to be strong, but it is in her freedom gained by her knowledge and embrace of truth.  She loves God, she is fervent in her belief of our Blessed Lord, and in the very nature and context of life she desires this above all else.

Our area of concern is not unlike many who struggle in life and figuring out the curves and bend which seek to corrupt our ways and very pursuit of God’s light.  In the case of my wife and I, we’ve been tasked to accept those who seek a liberal life of excess and idolatry become like a weight, seeking to drag us down so in their misery they might not be alone.  Our struggle has been our desire to pull them from this misery and bring them to the light of truth.  At this point we’ve been unsuccessful, and this person has pulled away from us with a vitriolic fervor and spiteful anger we’ve never seen before.  To be quite clear, we’ve never placed on this individual any circumspect desire to do as we want, but instead we’ve sought to love them and accept them for the person they are.  However, when confronted by their idolizing of a life which embraces sin as a matter of pleasure and then verbally accosted because of their distorted truth, we decided to walk away.  C.S. Lewis once remarked “the doors of hell are locked on the inside” (Problem of Pain) leading us to and understanding, a truth as it were, we make the decision or the choice to push and pull away from the light by our very decisions to embrace sin.  Life isn’t a game whereby we tally points up in a hope or desire to win.  We don’t win heaven, we seek the Living God who is Heaven, and in doing so we embrace the very light and goodness which truth is.  Our struggle is less about what this person chooses to do, and more about how we can love them and pray for them while they insist on doing those things which we can see are desires for sin.

At one level or another, we can see where people want to create a palatable landscape for their desires, for instance the argument of abortion.  The common liberal desire is one where a woman (not the man, because in this new age he no longer has a voice) creates a paradigm whereby she involves herself in the decision to have unwed sex and in the process becomes pregnant.  Since the pregnancy was neither expected nor wanted she faces a dilemma, to keep or kill the baby.  And a baby is exactly what this is, because left to nature, the grouping of cells will grow and a fetus will form and then eventually at full term a baby will be born.  So, how does one mitigate the distortion of truth with performing a grotesque sin, well in the case of abortion, she says it should be a choice up and to the point of birth (in Virginia apparently this means after birth as well).  Her idolization of choice has replaced God.  Her desire for self rather than selfless has created a paradigm where the sacred has become the despised.  No longer free to embrace the love life gives to all of us, she has become chained to the depravity of ignorance and error.  What’s worse is a culture which seeks to congratulate and celebrate sin rather, a society which seeks to cajole the individual instead of seeking a part of the Body of Christ.  No matter the cost, self becomes too important to ignore once knowledge and truth are willfully distorted.  Freedom becomes a mark of distress on an obtrusive age seeking the denigration of love. 

Freedom of love isn’t a feeling, it isn’t an embrace of self, and it’s not the destruction of life so people can continue to live a life where they can have “good times”.  Freedom of love is above all a choice in life.  God loves us so much, he gave us the free will to choose.  Although he walks with us every step of the way, it is still our choice where go.  So if you can just imagine a parent who walks with you and watches your every move, but in choice says nothing to allow you full control of your decision to love, but must watch as you push them away constantly.  As a father, if my children were constantly pushing me away, I think this would tear me apart, bit by bit.  So, our heavenly father allows us the choice to embrace and love him or not, freedom isn’t about what we do, but rather what we accept.  When we accept God’s love, we naturally choose a life of humility, we choose a life of servitude, we choose a life where God is first, our neighbor is second, and we are last.  We choose an existence where we can know the more we learn about God the less free we become to error.

Painting inside Santa Maria del Popolo.

God needs spiritual warriors who will pray, who will seek truth, and who will stand up to evil.  These people must accept the life of a Christian isn’t always about hugs and kisses, sometimes it’s about struggle and pain.  St. Francis of Assisi thanked God for the pain in his life, as it was a reminder of God’s goodness rather than epidermal understanding of a transient existence.  In other words, Francis could see past his own pain to the greater glory.  Pain and suffering is what we must deal with because sin exists, there is no getting around this.  However, when we know the truth, the truth of eternal existence, then we can see past our own pain and realize when we sin, the greater pain this causes God.

I hope if you know of a cause, a need for spiritual warfare, you will pray and elicit the prayers of the Angels and Saints.  If there is a struggle in your life, you will fall to your knees, and humbly pray.  The most powerful weapon in the arsenal of a Christian is their ability to pray to forgive and for forgiveness.  Prayer is not meant to be a magic force which stops evil from perpetrating its offenses, but in an eternal life, forgiveness is a matter of willfully accepting love, and being a force for eternal goodness.  I will say, words will never cause a person to accept Christ, they might motivate and they might help to bring along, but they will never be the decisive factor in a person’s choice for God.  Instead, the actions we pursue are the very nature of faith, when those who put sin before God are confronted with the actions of goodness, they are immediately confronted with a reflection of their own sin.  This is why sinners hide, this is why Adam sought to hide away from God in the garden.  Remember, God’s goodness will shake the very ground you walk on, and in our sin, we naturally desire to hide our faces, but prayer and love allow us to look up in agape and seek his face.  May God bless you and your family!!!

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

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Either Right or Wrong

Life, for all intents and purposes comes down to the choice of right and wrong.  How we determine right and wrong is a matter of faith, objective truth, and morality created in the understanding of the first two.  This isn’t to say every choice is easy, or every choice will benefit us in one way or another.  Not everything can be a win/win, but in the context of our place in the cosmos and in the earth created by God, we can find joy even on the cruelest of days.  So, right and wrong, a mine field for some, leading to a landscape overwrought with shades of gray, but then for others a starkness of black and white pigments dotting everything seen.  I would put it like having the wool pulled from one’s eyes and suddenly everything makes sense and those things which still mystify can be explained with an understanding only the wise can possess.  This isn’t to say, making a “right” decision is always easy, it’s not for sure, when put into the context of hurting someone’s feelings for the sake of being right, and if we care about them at all, we almost always defer to omission or outright lies.  A more wrong decision can’t be made when we choose to make decisions for others without their consent.  To make a life dedicated to right and wrong, means we aspire to look into the heavens and seek God’s light in all we do.  We embrace agape love and seek the light of truth when we seek “rightness”, and likewise we hide from the voice of God, much like Adam, when we embrace “wrongness” or sin.

So, let’s start with the choice everyone makes daily, sin, a truly selfish and despicable way of life, and yet we all embrace sin as if it were the only flotation device on a sinking ship.  For most of us, we live a rather uneventful life, waking up and going about our days with little a thought on whether we live our lives right-ordered.  We go about pursuing our personal goals, and at the same time, we seek to help those who might need help and by the end of the day, we’re tired and might watch some television before we head off to bed.  Uneventful, right?  Of course, but if we peel back the layers of our day, the ugly truth begins to be exposed.  How many times did our impatience through the day get the best of us, and this impatience cause us to lash out while we’re driving, or fail to stop and render our services to anyone who might need it?  Did we volunteer our time, through the day, perhaps in prayer or in general thanksgiving?  How about when we finally arrived home, did we look at our spouse and tell them how much they meant to us?  Finally, at the end of the day, did we examine our day and give thanks to the Almighty God, with a general realization, our day is nothing without God in our lives?  For most of us, this isn’t something which is a part of our day.  Some might say, you might be thinking it right now, I just don’t have the energy to do all of this every day, or I won’t mean as much if I say it every day, perhaps you just don’t think there is a need to do as much when a little goes a long way.  Whatever the reason, right is based on the objective, and no matter where we stand in life, this objective will remain constant.

Sin doesn’t simply come into the picture like a flash of lightning, set to disrupt the calm of life, instead sin seeps into our very nature and begins to corrupt little by little, and before we are aware, we’ve allowed sin to create its own space in our very soul.  Sin seeks to snuff out the light and keep us in utter darkness, because when we reside in the dark, we delude ourselves into thinking no one can see how utterly wretched we can be.  Wretched is a proper word for sin and those who embrace sin in their daily life, we are all wretched in one context or another.  However, the sin we choose is a matter of choice, not something we’re bound to for eternity, and in our choice we can come to terms with our very nature at any point and choose life, choose goodness, and love.

Love is at the very heart of everything, everything we do, everything we see, and everything we hope to gain in life.  Not one of the Graces given to us by God is removed from love.  Our very lives are centered on a distinct position of love.  Our culture doesn’t exist without the very fabric of family, from parent to child to grandchild, we are all interwoven in such a way as to become a foundational aspect of life which keeps everything moving.  The movement of society is directly dependent on the strength of family.  Take for instance the issues we have in our world today.  From abortion, to homosexuality, to murder and many other moral issues dotting the landscape.  The answer exists in God’s love, and the living example of God’s love is the family.  The family is the single strongest unit in our world as we know it.  It can overcome great obstacles, and the power of a parent teaching their child moral values carries with it more weight than any single act a person can do.   When we give the child moral values to look towards, we essentially teach them to fish for the rest of their lives, and give them spiritual nourishment which will feed them in the rough times which are certain to befall them as we have all experienced.

What then do we do, when faced with a choice?  Do we run? Do we fight? Do we sacrifice?  Questions, we all face every single day of our lives, probably not dramatic choices, but nevertheless important choices which might affect our very souls.  The other night I was speaking with my wife, and I am most dependent on her opinions and points of view to gauge where I’m at in life.  She is more wise than most and has an ability to cut through rhetoric and get to the meat of any matter.  So, as I’m discussing with her the implications of sin on our souls, it occurred to me, the decision of right and wrong as we accept and as we understand them.  Therein lies the problem, we as a society/culture are creating our own basis of comprehension, which is to say, we’re determining the morality of life rather than God.  We are saying, we are competent enough to forgo an objective moral truth for the ability to utilize our senses as a matter of judgement based in our own experiences.  Our point counter-point discussions are devolving into a context of never-ending decision patterns set to meet our subjective points of view.  This is nutso, this is as silly a point of context as any person can get to.  The day we believe we have the wisdom to redesign the context of morality, is the day we have usurped our beliefs and deigned to be gods of our own making.  This is the level of folly on Greek myths can rival.

My discussion with my wife, above all else, illuminated a concept of black and white, essentially right and wrong.  Not that I’ve ever dismissed the notion of right and wrong, but the decision complexity to approach right and wrong and then embrace one context or the other is absolutely paramount to the love we must all seek as we embrace God’s presence in our lives.  Which is to say, family either is or it is not a priority.  If it is, then we must go to it with a full heart and never look back, and in doing so, we’ve made a “right” choice by embracing a God’s Grace in our lives.  Ok, so back to the overall point of my discussion with my wife, our lives are about life and death.  It’s just that simple, we choose life over death when we choose God.  We choose the paradigm of right over wrong when we choose God.  Jesus didn’t hang from the tree and declare us to be wishy washy about our lives or our faith, instead his deliberate actions to die for us, to declare forgiveness for those who sought to kill him, and instruction by his very example were the point to be made.  Our Blessed Lord, Jesus, wants our fervor for his love, how can we turn away from pure love?  The culmination of my discussion with my wife was, our faith is a faith of pain, of sacrifice, and ultimately of death as it depends for all of us.

Norman Rockwell (1894-1978), “Going and Coming” (detail), 1947. Norman Rockwell Museum Collections. ©SEPS: Curtis Licensing, Indianapolis, IN

That’s right, death, think about your eternity, think about where you want to go, and think about what it takes to get there.  When we go on trips for just a couple of days, don’t we pack entire car loads of suitcases and supplies so we can get to our destination and then get back with as much ease and comfort as possible?  Can you just imagine what we need to prepare for a life of eternity?  Our faith isn’t a matter of packing earthly supplies, but instead it’s about purification of body and soul to stand in what can only be surmised as pure love and goodness.  Although our lives are precious, we are bound to an understanding of death as it relates to the context of life in general.  After we look upon the decisions needed to prepare for an eternal life with God, our first realizations begin to come into context, I’ve not lived a life worthy of goodness and eternal mercy.  However, this is what God is giving us, this is what God’s love is promised to us.  Mercy, in the sight of our sins, forgiveness in the wake of our actions is what is promised to us, if only we would choose.  If only we would choose to accept a “right” and moral way of living, we might begin to realize the frailty of life.  If we can associate a life which is never promised one day more, then we can begin to realize the need of moral rightness as death is always near to us, for a promise of eternal love.

We would never accept evil, if it didn’t smile occasionally!

Rightness is afoot.  Our choices carry with them the weight of life above all else, this is to say, our choices matter a great deal.  A few weeks ago, I woke up to see headlines about a law, which was passed by lawmakers in the state of New York, and in their decision, they declared life as a matter of choice rather than a gift to be protected at all costs.  When the decision was declared, it was met with cheers and celebrations.  The lawmakers were elated, their steps to secure human choice over God’s will moved one step forward in progress.  However, for anyone who values life, for anyone who holds the bonds of marriage and family as sacred, this was more than abhorrent, it was wretchedly sad.  To know a beautiful life, created by the very nature God created ex nihilo, is being destroyed by the very nature is a cataclysmic explosion of sin and we should all weep for those destroyed in its wake.  However, there is hope, we know this, because Jesus existed.  God lowered himself and became a man, that we might know his pure nature is love.  This is what our hope is foundationally secured to.  St. Paul wrote in Corinthians 13:2; “and though I have all the faith necessary to move mountains — if I am without love, I am nothing.”

Love is always the right choice, but love isn’t something Hollywood created to make movies, it is the very nature of being to which God is.  Love is a choice, the choice for right, the choice to place life above all else, even when the other choices we think we have seem more important because of our choice to be selfish.  This is what our choices come down to, putting other before one’s own desires.  The moral teachings of the Bible and the Church are not something to be chosen when they suit our daily habits or needs, they are something which much be embraced daily.  They are a sacrifice for sure.  The sacrifice to put away objects of sin, desires of sin, behaviors of sin, and above all to fold us lovingly into God’s embrace through those sacrifices which are inherent in our free will.

Our choices above all else create in us either a clean hear or a heart of stone, and the harder our heart becomes the more effort it takes on our part and the part of God to crumble the façade which seeks to entomb us in darkness.  Remember this, sometimes God must break our heart in order to destroy the wall which surrounds it, but God is the only one who can mend our broken hearts.  I hope and pray if you have an ability to choose life, you do, it is so very important and the children which can be saved may have difficult roads ahead in their lives, but at least they will be alive to experience God’s greatness in all which is done.  May God bless you and your family!!!

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

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.

INDIA MOTHER TERESA

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.

YourlifeYourChoice

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.

God-allowed-Satan-to-attack-Job-understanding-God_s-Grace-from-Job_s-story

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!!

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.

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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?

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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.

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.

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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!!!

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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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