Should We Not All Be Equal?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

listentome-web

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

jesus-teaching

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

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

Advent-Candles

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

 

God's light

 

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

Do Not be Terrified, For Such Things Must Happen

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

Syria

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

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

blacklivesmatter

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

water-crashing-rocks

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

Portraits-of-Homeless-by-Lee-Jeffries

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

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

burden

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

MaxamillionKolbe

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

JesusontheCross

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

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

Thank You, Once Again, Thank You!

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

sorry

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

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

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

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

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

political turmoil

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

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

holiday material

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

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

parents

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

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

brother and sister fighting

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

brother and brother

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

family3

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

 

propose-live-on-tv

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

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

 

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

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Truth2Freedom's Blog

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

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