A Point of Light In Our Darkness

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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.

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.

jesus-teaching

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

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

Advent-Candles

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

 

God's light

 

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

Why Must I Always Be The First to Say Sorry?

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

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

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

journey

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

fightthegoodfight

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

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

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

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

Hug of Jesus

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

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

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

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

Crucifixion

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

 

 

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

Do Not be Terrified, For Such Things Must Happen

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

Syria

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

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

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

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/

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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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