29 August 2014

For God and Country

For God and Country you say?

I see too many mixed messages of what it means to put one's trust in God as opposed to trusting yourself, your gun, your government and your military power.  The world has yet to cease using weapons and war to "bring peace" ( what an abstract and illogical notion ), yet this is the message filling the airwaves of radio and television every day.  Those who profess and confess to follow the Prince of Peace also profess and confess to support war, weapons of war and whatever else worthless words waylay them with worry.  This is clear evidence of duality, blind hypocrisy and faithlessness in light of the gospel.

You cannot be going in two directions... and God isn't going in two directions... so let us clarify what the Word says about the use of weapons.

Is it a contradiction when Yeshua asked the disciples to sell a cloak to buy a sword?  Peter is later rebuked for using a sword after Christ mentioned getting a sword.  Was Christ advocating the use of a weapon or was this for something else?

Let us read and see what is happening:

Then Yeshua asked them, “When I sent you without purse, bag or sandals, did you lack anything?”
“Nothing,” they answered.


He said to them, “But now if you have a purse, take it, and also a bag; and if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one.  It is written: ‘And he was numbered with the transgressors’; and I tell you that this must be fulfilled in me. Yes, what is written about me is reaching its fulfillment.”
 

The disciples said, “See, Lord, here are two swords.”

“That’s enough!” he replied.


- Luke 22:35-38

Two swords for at least 12 people ( Christ and the twelve minus Judas who wasn't present yet ).  Two sword yielding men with 10 watching and cheering?  

Let us read what happened just a short time later in that same passage of scripture:

While he was still speaking a crowd came up, and the man who was called Judas, one of the Twelve, was leading them.  He approached Yeshua to kiss him, but Yeshua asked him, “Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?”

When Yeshua’s followers saw what was going to happen, they said, “Lord, should we strike with our swords?”  And one of them struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his right ear.


But Yeshua answered, “No more of this!” And he touched the man’s ear and healed him.


Then Yehua said to the chief priests, the officers of the temple guard, and the elders, who had come for him, “Am I leading a rebellion, that you have come with swords and clubs?  Every day I was with you in the temple courts, and you did not lay a hand on me.  But this is your hour—when darkness reigns.”


- Luke 22:47-53

Yeshua / the Prince of Peace / the Messiah / Immanuel ( God with us ) responded to the violent act of one of his disciples with: “No more of this!”

Questions:

Is it possible that Yeshua mentioned the purchase of a sword in order to fulfill the scripture of the Messiah being counted among the transgressors? 

Therefore I will give him a portion among the great, and he will divide the spoils with the strong, because he poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors.  For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.

- Isaiah 53:12

Was Yeshua leading a rebellion? 

Is Yeshua Today leading a rebellion? 

Are you part of a rebellion or part of the kingdom of God?

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person.  If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also.  And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well.  If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles.  Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you."

- Matthew 5:38-42

Does God’s kingdom stand on human principles and human logic?

Do you stand with love, peace, unity and forgiveness or stand with war, strife, division and indifference? 

Look what was depicted in another gospel regarding the incident in the garden:

With that, one of Yeshua’s companions reached for his sword, drew it out and struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his ear.
 

“Put your sword back in its place,” Yeshua said to him, “for all who draw the sword will die by the sword.  Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels?  But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way?”

- Matthew 26:51-54

It was God's will for Yeshua to die ( and in the manner it happened ).  It was God's will for Peter and Paul to die ( and in the manner they did ).  It was God's will for Philip to be stoned to death in front of all the religious hierarchy of the Jews ( surely as a testimony to them and to express the faith these men had in God as opposed to the faithlessness of the religious and the religious men being obedient to the Roman empire instead of God and His Word ).

Perhaps it is God's will for you to die in a particular way... but would that be with a gun in one hand and a bible in another hand defending and offending with a political ideology that hijacks the gospel in order to expand an empire built for commercial purposes?  Is this the manner Yeshua taught His disciples to further the good news of life after death?  Is the gospel about buying and selling things?  Is the gospel about fighting over land, fighting over natural resources and pledging allegiance to inanimate objects? 

What are Today’s weapons for the believer in Christ?

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.  Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.  For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.  Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.  Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.  In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.  Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

- Ephesians 6:10-17

Questions:

Are you fighting against flesh and blood?

Bullets and guns are used as weapons against flesh and blood… but the believer’s battle isn’t against flesh and blood.

Why does a believer ‘believe’ they need a physical weapon?

Is this what the gospel is teaching you or what some twisted religion is teaching you?

Are you living according to the Spirit of love and peace or according to the flesh?

Do you believe the Way and how Yeshua exemplified it by being a servant of all and laying His life down for His friends?

Where and when did any of the disciples of Yeshua use a sword or any other weapon ( for defense, no need to mention offense ) after Yeshua rebuked Peter in the garden prior to being crucified?  

Do you realize no other depiction of the use of a weapon ( neither for offense or defense ) is found in scripture or further writings of the faithful?

Do you believe what mainstream pastors preach about supporting empires and supporting warring states who also use God and religion to commit genocide on their neighbors?

Do you believe the propaganda news media and their flavor of Christian religion instead of what your heart tells you after reading scripture?

Are you living according to faith in God or do you live according to what men say and what your fear leads you to do?

Do you use a physical sword or a spiritual sword?

Where is your faith? 

Is your faith set upon the weapons of men or the weapons of God?

Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation?

- Hebrews 1:14

Do you truly believe angels are protecting you or do you think your government, your military, your weapons of war and your own logic is going to protect you?

What does it say about trusting in men, in yourself and in the things of the world?

This is what the LORD says:
 

“Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who draws strength from mere flesh and whose heart turns away from the LORD.  That person will be like a bush in the wastelands; they will not see prosperity when it comes.  They will dwell in the parched places of the desert, in a salt land where no one lives.
 

“But blessed is the one who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence is in him.  They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream.  It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green.
 

It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.”

- Jeremiah 17:5-8

I suggest you to be like a tree planted by the water and not like a faithless person who follows the religions of men.

I suggest you be like Peter and repent from seeing the world through the old way of "eye for an eye" and instead realize what Yeshua has established: a kingdom of peace and love built on righteousness.

I suggest you actually believe and follow the gospel and not the version being peddled from those who do not faithfully follow God's Way but instead run a business of misinformation.

I suggest you be like Christ and not like yourself.

19 August 2014

And Who Is My Neighbor?

I grew up in southern California in a predominantly Latino community.  White Flight happened a generation prior with my grandparents and aunt / uncle being most likely the first non-white homeowners on the block.  There were two houses for sale ( one previously occupied by the owner and one their rental right next door ) who were owned by a recent decedent.  The 'catch' was that in order to sell one of the houses to my aunt / uncle, the other also had to be purchased.  My grandfather felt obligated to make the purchase, selling his rental property about a mile away.  My grandmother advised my grandfather that they could own the rental property and purchase the new single family home without issue, but he decided against it.  They owned a property that had a single family house at the front of the lot and two apartment units over garages at the rear.  The income from the two units were paying the mortgage, so you could imagine what a leveraged position my grandfather had... but his desire to see his daughter and new husband established beckoned an unnecessary sacrifice. 

When I moved to Texas as a teenager I was shocked by quite a few obvious differences.  My dad had purchased a house in a predominantly white neighborhood which was your average two or three bedroom neighborhood.  It wasn't a recent development so the houses were maybe twenty years old or so at that time.  The house I was living in back in California was circa 1920.  One thing which was quite shocking was the manner in which people would address me in Texas.  They would say hello while I walked down the street of my neighborhood or when I'd walk through a grocery store.  This wasn't the case back on my street in California.  I could only assume this was due to me being a young man and gangs being prevalent on the street in that California neighborhood... or maybe overcrowding or who knows.  I just don't remember having much exchange or being addressed on my block or out in the general public where I grew up and the places I frequented.  Or maybe I just wasn't friendly, which is what started to happen to me while living in Texas.  I remember the neighbor across the street, a retired gentleman whose wife I don't remember seeing much other than sitting in their car while he closed the garage, saying hello in a heavy and loud voice one day.  And as anyone knows me, all it takes is one question and I pretty much tell a life story.  So I told him who we were, what my dad did for a living and so forth.  He must have been curious as to who these two new transplants were.  The neighbor to the north was a dentist who lived alone with a dog named Gretchen.  The neighbors to the south I don't remember ever catching a glimpse of and had no idea who they were. 

Texas was also the place I heard and sensed racism for the very first time in my life.  Maybe some things were said when I was a child when I was out and about with my mother and siblings, but certainly I never heard anything I understood.  But now as a teenager in high school and learning about the world, it came at quite a shock and I didn't know exactly how to handle it.  The middle school I had gone to in California was a public school and had a wide variety of ethnicity mix, no certain dominant type.  It was in a few cities over from where I actually resided; I was using my aunt's address, the same aunt who was helped by my grandfather, for her family had moved 'up' to the best part of town in the second-best neighborhood of that town... while grandparents stayed in the same neighborhood that was becoming less than stellar to live as time went by and latchkey kids began to run the streets.  She was generous enough to let me use her address as my home address to go to a school that wasn't gang infested or systematically broken like the school I would have been obligated to attend using my real home address.  I don't think I could have made it as a gangster... at least not a street thug with my pants falling off and tattoos on my neck, maybe more like a white collar criminal type robbing people of the title to their homes with a smile on my face, who knows ;)

The class or social stratification was more prevalent in the dichotomy I experienced in Texas.  Since there are more immigrants packed into southern California with pockets of ethnic areas and cities overlapping each other, one doesn't sense much of the imbalance as I did in Texas among a predominantly white population with very few Latinos and even fewer non-whites.  I may be wrong and may be projecting my past experiences of over twenty years ago with my perceptions today, because even in the city I currently occupy, I still see and experience a stratification on a more intimate and local level... with tolerance and political correctness being expressed to quell an unfortunate issue from arising. 

With all this said, who then is your neighbor and why are they your neighbor?  The believer who reads the text can see how the Hebrew nation / tribe was called to be separate from among all other nations / tribes.  There was a purpose to this: to reveal to the world 'who' the God and Creator of the universe is.  Since that revelation came to pass in the reality of Yeshua the Messiah, the division of tribes and bloodlines was ceased and a new Way became of significant importance... but not everyone believes, sees or understands this.  Many 'believers' still do not see past their prejudices, their codes and their upbringing to look past the manifested divisions which prevent them from identifying their distant relatives whom God has brought near. 

For me, by the time I began attending college, I had friends from all walks of life and cultural backgrounds and ethnic groups... yet they were acquaintances and the friendships were conditional on the time spent in class and didn't go further than that.  For me growing up, only 'family' or relatives were first priority and others outside our clan / tribe / immediate family were easy come and easy go.  It wasn't until I realized the bigger picture of what Yeshua had done and established that I began to view all people as my brothers and sisters... that we have One in common and the old view of the world ( what the Hebrews were weened on  ) had passed, yet still so many people in the world simply didn't perceive this.  We see this in churches which are predominantly one type or ethnic group although there is a plethora of ethnic groups all about them.  We see this at the workplace although once you step outside onto the street, you see variety in the gene pool.  We see this in practically every group that men make up yet people sometimes see themselves as fair and as equal with their fellowman... that is, until they begin to look at themselves, their surroundings and the invisible walls of cultural acceptance they have established. 

The lesson in the following passage is quite extraordinary, for it reveals the heart of the matter.  It shows the humanity of all people and also explains how self righteousness doesn't cut it in the greater scheme of things... and this eliminates many who only judge by their immediate surroundings and justify their apathy when they cross paths with someone in need or in trouble... the types that are quicker to rescue an animal than say hello to a homeless person or fail to go out of their way for someone not of their tribe, ethnic makeup or near relative:

On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Yeshua. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
 

“What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”

He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”
 

“You have answered correctly,” Yeshua replied. “Do this and you will live.”
 

But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Yeshua, “And who is my neighbor?”
 

In reply Yeshua said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead.  A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side.  So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side.  But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him.  He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him.  The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’
 

“Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”
 

The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”

Yeshua told him, “Go and do likewise.”



- Luke 10:25-37

Bonus passage:

Do to others as you would have them do to you.

- Luke 6:31

18 August 2014

When a Man Loves a Woman

What does it mean to really love somebody?  The world's definition of love sometimes blurs a line between lust and fiction novels without ever really depicting love.  Some mistake physical attraction for love.  Others believe they are loved although they are abused.  Some wait patiently for love to blossom yet may simply have not found someone who is loving them back in the manner their love is being forwarded.  Some sadly do not know what love is and so haven't a clue how to love others or allow themselves to be loved.  I have been all of these.   

"Love is patient, love is kind.  It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.  Love never fails..."

- 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a

When I think about my wife, I think about a person whom I'd die for.  I think about someone who I guard jealously and look after with a watchful eye.  I walk her to the lady's restroom when we're out in public.  She waits for me while I open a car door or any door for her.  She expects to be escorted like the queen she is.  Now, you may think to yourself I'm obsessed and I am most likely a control freak, but let me be clearer.  I protect my wife.  She is the person God has gifted and blessed me to 'have and to hold.'  She is my heart.  I've learned some lessons by experience ( the hard way ) when I wasn't too mindful and men have said bothersome things to her ( like: "what are you doing with that guy?" ) while I was a few feet away at a buffet line in a hotel lobby.  Men have had women follow my wife into a restroom to hand her a note on their behalf.  She, being ever the confident and faithful wife, notifies me of another man's trespass to keep all things and events above board... and wisely waits until we are away from any situation so I wouldn't be tempted to twist a neck or make a scene ( not her neck of course, but the man who dishonors God, dishonors our union and who most likely thinks too highly of himself or perhaps not much at all to jeopardize himself by putting himself in the sights of this jealous king ).  She knows me too well and also knows my weakness in that I may dishonor our heavenly Father if the temptation is too great in desiring to correct a wayward man who dishonors my queen.  Now there is no such thing as "I'll wait in the car honey" ( me saying to her ).  I know what this temptation is for men, for when I was single and desiring what I now have, I would see couples happily going about and would want what they had... so I can relate to their weakness, but not enough to allow them an opportunity with my wife.  My wife loves me and respects me for this protection.  She periodically mentions how protected and safe she feels when I am right by her side and ever mindful of not leaving her alone for an instance.  She is secure with the reality that she is all mine and I am all hers.  Some may find this odd or perhaps as a crutch or what some people call "codependency," but they must not 'see' what I see nor understand the love which is prescribed by a righteous God.  Some people call a fanatic what another would call a fantasy.

I'm living a fantasy and I recognize it takes work to build a union right.

The moment I heard the timber of my wife's voice, it was as if I've known her all of my life.  I had walked into a coffee shop I frequented and noticed her.  I grabbed a seat nearby and within earshot.  I was debating whether I would speak to her and introduce myself... until I heard her on the phone as she spoke to a friend of hers.  I heard her laugh and heard the manner in which she spoke.  I turned around and really noticed her.  I thought to myself what a genuine woman this was... and then I began to really wonder if I would even stand a chance.  In no time she was gathering her things to leave and I made the attempt of a lifetime in saying hello.  I told her exactly what was on my heart: I had noticed her and after hearing her voice and the way she spoke on the phone I had to say hello and introduce myself.  I told her that I would love to have a coffee with her or simply make some time to speak with her and get to know her if possible.  I think she too recognized my voice.  She sat back down and we chatted for a bit.

That was the beginning of what has become the most amazing chapter of my life yet!

When we planned on meeting for the first time after that initial encounter, I told her exactly where I was coming from: that I believed in the Lord Almighty and I followed the Word as best as His grace allowed me to.  I told her I wasn't a perfect man but desired to be one.  I pretty much laid everything out in plain view so she could judge for herself if she'd be interested in someone like me.  My tone and manner in which I approached her and expressed myself didn't fall on deaf ears.  And what I heard in response was what I came to realize as a match created in heaven.

I had been reluctant in considering marriage for I thought I could only find someone decent in the church, but I was about to learn a lesson from God Himself that His body of believers are not confined to any single religion or group ( this is what men are taught and are misled to believe ).  I had already embarked on a journey where God was showing me how He works through many other people outside of organized religion and that He has sons and daughters in all walks of life and in places and positions I had no idea or clue about.  Many of my faith-filling experiences have happened with believers outside the safety net and conditioning of a religious group... and this meeting of my wife was another instance which demanded I forgo the conditional and myopic view of religion and see the entire world as not only God's pasture but also His fields of harvest.

Many scales fell from my eyes after meeting my wife. 

To my surprise, my honesty in sharing with my wife how I desired to live a righteous life according to God's Way in the new testament was met with refreshing acceptance from her.  Her faith in God and also in following me was yet another test of the little faith I had picked up in organized religion... and I saw God stretching my faith and field of view yet again.  The safety net of others in the church, with their dogmas and protocols, was not there to guide or forbid my actions or thoughts.  I was truly on the path of faith with God as the example, the Word as the guide and my soon to be wife as the person to whom I would be responsible for... and it was the most liberating yet scary thing I had been challenged with thus far in my life.  It took a while for me to shed some thorns and mannerisms which didn't coincide with what God had planned for me.  These shortcomings reflected my cynical heart and the cold reality that many in the world do not have love and have instead lost hope in finding love.  Many go from person to person carrying pain and afflicting punishment on new people.  I had also been one of these and I needed to shed that legacy off of my pitiful tenure, for it would surely conflict and destroy what God was planning for me and with the reality which I now live.  My faith was being challenged and my darkness was being weened and sifted by His light.  My dear wife was the example of faith, forgiveness, patience and hope.  She loved and accepted me even with my shortcomings then.  This helped me believe I could become the man God made me to be.  

In time, the passages in scripture where it speaks about Christ and the church being analogous to a man and his wife really started to hit home and impacted my heart as never before, for now I was living it and not simply reading and theorizing about it with other single men.  The responsibility of having a wife has brought a new dimension to the phrase "washing her with the Word."  The 'protection' of my wife goes beyond the obvious of guarding her from the impulses of other men.  The 'protection' is signaled to others in the manner in which I hold her hand, lead her through a crowded place ( either walking ahead of me or behind me ), in the manner in which I notify all others that she is the most special person in the world to me and no one dare cross this bond of oneness.  My immediate responsibility is speaking to her with and in love, talking through things with her patiently, humbly expressing my misstep in either what I said or what I did... and many other expressions of love.  My responsibility as her husband is to make sure I listen to her and not stifle her expressing her points, her pains and her perceptions.  

Wisdom has a female gender in scripture and this isn't by mistake. 

I remember hearing a minister I respected saying to a group of men years ago when I was first learning how to be a Christian: "husbands, if your wife isn't glowing you're doing something wrong."  This has stuck with me as if that's the only advise I've ever heard.  I heard another minister lamenting and sharing with a group of men one day: "please brothers, choose your wife wisely... choose not according to looks, her shape or the things men typically look at and go after... choose according to her character, her heart, her convictions..."  He was lamenting over the struggle his wife had with drinking and how it was devastating their marriage and children's lives.  That message also rang through my ears and sank into my heart.

I can proudly say that God has blessed me with someone who has a conscience for God, puts others first and considers her words and actions prior to saying or doing anything.  She is a woman after God's heart and I am the most fortunate man alive today having found her!

My wife is my best friend.  She is the one I can be vulnerable in front of and not be embarrassed or ashamed when my tears begin to stream.  I don't think she is judging me or considering me being a weak man for being honest or exposing a tender heart to her.  It is this vulnerability which has allowed us to share our most difficult secrets and personal disasters... and doing so has brought us closer together and has fused the relationship which continues to flourish.  I share these things not to boast, but to share that the experience of love which God has in store for those who faithfully follow His Way is readily available... you must want it.  The heart I put out to my wife is responded to and she in turn puts her heart out to me... and it is amazing to see what God has done!

So to say I guard her with a jealousy only second to God's jealousy for His children is an understatement.  To say I look after her like she is a rare and precious jewel doesn't even come close to how much I prize and honor the woman God has created her to be.  To say I will die for her and put myself into harms way so she wouldn't be afflicted is an understatement and exactly what Yeshua's message of love for others has taught me all these years prior to meeting her.  This message of love has now manifested into a reality that my heart and psyche express in the manner I love and protect my wife.

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.  In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies.  He who loves his wife loves himself.  After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church - for we are members of his body.  “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” This is a profound mystery - but I am talking about Christ and the church.  However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.

- Ephesians 5:25-33

17 August 2014

#UNITE

u-nite: / verb /
- come or bring together for a common purpose or action.
- come or bring together to form a unit or a whole, especially in a political context.
- join in marriage
  synonyms: unify, join, link, connect, combine, amalgamate, fuse, weld, bond, wed, marry, splice, ally, cooperate, collaborate.
  antonyms: divide, split
  late Middle English: from Latin unit- "joined together," from the verb unire, from unus 'one.'

How powerful people can be when they become one.

How impacting a single purpose can be when all are on the same page.

How motivating it is seeing people gather together under one umbrella to weather the storm.

What is Today's storm?

Indifference, racism, hatred, apathy, religious division, religious ignorance, political division, political ignorance, ethnic division, ethnic ignorance, economic division, economic ignorance, blind allegiance and many more.

Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.

- Ephesians 4:3

Any effort to be unified without peace as a foundation supporting all people is a failure to realize what unity really means.

Failure to work via peaceful means will produce a failure to gain support from others across mental boundaries; the people you need to reach in order to achieve unity.

What did Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King have in common last century?  They motivated masses of people behind the front of unity using peaceful means in order to make changes in their society.  Gandhi unified his countrymen into peacefully mobilizing against British colonial oppression and ushered that empire's rule out of their country.  He encouraged his countrymen to cease supporting the empire's rule by not buying British products and not showing up to work in British mills.  It was simple.  He encouraged other methods which you can read at the Gandhi link.  King motivated his fellow countrymen ( of various ethnic and religious backgrounds ) to support the message of peace and non-violence in demanding equal acknowledgment and equal rights of second-class people.  He encouraged people to not cooperate and support an evil and divisive system.  A look at some rap / hip-hop music and its detrimental effects on the youth would be one such thing King would most likely discourage people in supporting due to its depraving message.  Here's a video of a gentleman who realized too late the depraving by-product of negative messages.  Although these two men were murdered for their beliefs, words and efforts, their unified spirit and their peaceful leadership lives on in those who follow their example.

How do union employees get higher wages and increased benefits when negotiations for a new contract fail?  They mobilize as one ( unify ) and their peaceful effort brings pressure that yields to their demands.  There's no need for threats or idiotic demonstrations of anger, but unifying together as one brings a powerful wake up call to the executive and capital class that without the compliance of the employees no work can be done, no production can be realized and their money machines come to a halt.  Here's a video which speaks to that machination and those who are conditioned to perpetuate it.

There are other outcomes to being unified, but these next two examples are two which do not meet the criteria I mentioned in 'Today's storm.'

When the housing bubble burst and the stock market crashed in the mid 2000's, banks and lending institutions worked in unison to limit credit to the general public, they decreased credit lines and systematically foreclosed on people's homes, businesses, cars and credit cards.  These institutions worked in unison to solidify their monopoly on credit and the repercussions left many people broken ( financially, emotionally and spiritually ).  This 'unity' didn't cross economic lines, but reinforced the economic division of the working class and the managerial / owning class.  The reaction of the common man on the street was to occupy public spaces and to occupy Wall Street.  Yet the unified force of those who wield power wasn't going to have it.  This reality shouldn't cause disunity among the disenfranchised ( which is everyone who is a consumer and can lose their job for any reason ).  There is a wicked method of unity, and that is one the individual needs to assess for themselves and objectively judge to find out if they are on the wrong side of peace, morality, ethics and history.

Just because you receive a paycheck for your job doesn't mean your job isn't wicked to the core.

Another example outside the criteria I mentioned is the unity of Nazi Germany under the ideology of Adolph Hitler and company.  The people of Germany, with the use of propaganda and manipulation, were unified behind an ungodly purpose.  One could see how the support of all the people ( all age groups ) were brought together to move as one and their unity in all things was quite profound.  Yet, the leadership's purpose was not rooted in peace nor change for the betterment of all, but in genocide, conquest and distinct division of others... it was rooted in racism, hatred and indifference... and thus their efforts were in vain and resulted in the ruin of a people for several generations.

Some scholars and writers who research the rise and fall of empires see the Amerikan empire as becoming another tyrannical monster facing the same penalty as other empires before it who promoted unification of select groups while ignoring the marginalized and exploited the weak.  We've read examples of out of touch leadership, a strengthening police state and the guise of 'homeland security' the world over making everybody terrorist by vague definition.  Some parallels are evident with Amerika and Nazi Germany, but one thing is also evident: the people do not have to follow the leadership down a path to destruction.  The people can choose to be united in peace and choose not to support any divisive ideals of the leadership or of fringe charlatans.

You can choose to align yourself with people of the same skin tone, or religious ideology, or economic class or the same political group if that is what makes you feel safe, strong and secure.  Or you can choose to see people as people and not as labels.  You can also choose to remove that sticky label off of yourself and choose to be a human being made in the image and likeness of an eternal God who doesn't see and judge according to these labels of men but sees people's hearts and judges them according to their words and actions.

But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him.  The Lord does not look at the things people look at.  People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

- 1 Samuel 16:7

I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Yeshua Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought.

- 1 Corinthians 1:10

16 August 2014

Peace-Filled Questions

What is peace?  

Is peace a cliche departing comment? 

Is peace the index and middle finger? 

Is peace a white dove? 

Is peace those three or four lines within a circle? 

Is peace something you feel? 

Is peace something you know? 

Is peace something which can be put into words? 

Is peace an idea?

Is peace a state of mind?

Is peace simply a word describing a sense one would like to arrive at but never does?

Are you at peace?

Have you ever experienced peace?

Does peace separate people or bring them together?

Does peace divide people according to their differences or unite them according to their similarities?

Does peace exist for people who seek it and for people who avoid it?

Does peace matter?

Have you ever attempted to make peace with someone?

Has someone ever attempted to make peace with you?

Have you ever seen peace at work?

Have you experienced keeping the peace and enjoyed the fruits of your efforts?

How does one attain peace?

Can peace be attained by war?

Are you a peacekeeper / peacemaker?

Is it peace when one subdues another?

Is it peace when fear, silence and revenge is brewing?

Can peace be forced upon others?

Can peace exist in a vacuum?

Can peace exist within one person while turmoil and conflict abounds without them?

Can you piece together peace?

Is peace part and parceled?

Have you heard of the Prince of Peace?

Have you heard of the phrase "peace be with you" ?

Would you like peace to be with you?

Can peace ever be against you?

Can you ever be against peace?

Is peace worth your pride?

Is your pride more important than peace?

Does pride produce peace?

Does hatred produce peace?

Can peace be lost?

Can peace be found once again?

Here are words which lead me to peace:

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.

- Matthew 5:9

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you.  I do not give to you as the world gives.  Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.



- John 14:27

I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace.  In this world you will have trouble. But take heart!  I have overcome the world.

- John 16:33

On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Yeshua came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!”

- John 20:19

And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Yeshua.






- Philippians 4:7

Peace be with you who read this!

15 August 2014

Growing Pains

Do you ever wonder what life would be like if you didn't exist?  It seems like a senseless question, but have you ever pondered the thought?  I have.  When I was in middle school and I was having trouble adjusting to a new school I began to think of such a thing, but school wasn't the only reason.  I had done six years of private school with the same 39 other kids.  Uniforms, the guilt of Catholicism wrapped around my conscience.  Sitting in class next to some kids who seemed like the spawn of Satan which you couldn't turn your back to.  Being taught to be honest and good while so many were acting out evil incarnate and teachers were mishandling kids in their anger ( I was tossed across a floor once by a teacher for fighting before class once ).  Being taught by hypocritical nuns who would sooner crucify you than tell you they loved you was an eye opener.... and a reason to rebel and not take them or school very seriously. 

Although I paint a grim picture, it was an inglorious comfort I had grown to embrace.  I went from this comfortable environment to finding myself surrounded by hundreds of kids and no one outwardly trying to be a saint.  Not that the kids were worse, but things were different and it was difficult coming out of a shell so to speak.  It took maybe two weeks to stop standing up when I was called upon to answer a question... the training was well ingrained.  I had been kicked out of private school.  My sixth grade teacher, a nun, had arranged a meeting with the priest to deal with my behavior 'problem.'  The priest, my mom and myself sat in a small room near his residence adjacent to the 'church' cathedral building.  This man recommended my mom send me to military school due to my misbehavior, which consisted of making the class laugh and being a clown in general whenever the timing was right ( it's all about timing being funny ).  I wasn't the guy bullying others, or molesting the girls, or cursing or anything outlandishly criminal.  I was just undermining the 'authority' of a hypocritical young nun fresh out of the nunnery who may have realized she had made a huge mistake putting on those dreary threads... and she was most likely taking that clash of conscience out on me. 

With the priest's recommendation, I figured God had kicked me out of his church due to my misbehavior since this was one of his representatives and the one directly over me and in between me and the Lord... so I was done going to church.  From that moment forward I refused to go to church with my mom and sisters.  I figured I must be so bad to have such a saintly person, dressed in flowing robes, recommend the stockade for the likes of me... so why try for redemption among these people who couldn't wait to get rid of me. 

At that same time of the school change, I found my parents at the onset of a divorce, although the relationship had been dead for years.  The only 'family time' was experienced with my mom, two sisters and grandparents and the extended family of aunts, uncles and cousins absent my dad.  The only time with dad was me and dad... mostly riding on the back of his motorcycle to a nearby municipal airport where I'd watch him work on his dream: a plane he was building by hand and from scratch.  There I'd often come across his girlfriend, and she'd show up like nothing was out of the ordinary.  I remember feeling a deep emptiness inside my gut when she'd show up, like a vacuum had been turned on and my intestines were infinitely vanishing inwardly.  I would burn with so much anger I couldn't see straight.  I would ask him who this gal was just showing up and being all bubbly around him and he would just call her by her name and not go further into it ( acting dumb ).  Out of love and respect for my dad I would try to keep my emotions out of my words, but I couldn't help it.  When I would try, nothing but tears would come out.  Looking back now, this was all a bit much for someone who was very naive and saw life through a prism of ideals ( I grew up watching teevee with every show having a happy ending, a heartfelt lesson and all things always being reconciled... so naturally my conditioning was set to "ideal" ).

I recall going through a time of sadness and wondered what life would be like if I didn't exist.  Perhaps the realization that my dad didn't love my mom anymore was hitting home, for I couldn't realize how anyone couldn't love my mom, after all she's been doing everything for me and my two sisters.  She'd buy us clothes, take us out to dinner, take us on vacations, to the movies, to amusement parks, etc..  She had bore children to my dad and kept an immaculate house in order.  How could he not love her?  I remember finally asking him one day after his girlfriend left our presence at the airport.  I started streaming tears before I blurted out "why don't you love mom?"  I guess my honesty and question touched him, for he started crying too.... and his answer was "she doesn't cook for me."  I didn't understand until some time later that he was still an emotional child himself, maybe stuck with the experience of an upbringing which wasn't the best.  Some of the tales I've heard was that his upbringing wasn't ideal, he also having a dad around but a dad being absent from anything relational.  It seemed my dad had somewhat repeated his dismal upbringing with his family; my mom, sisters and me.  I remember asking if he's asked my mom to cook for him and I just remember another ridiculous reason which led me to realize even at that young age that their love was something that expired long ago and it was something I couldn't understand.  Perhaps he felt rejected by my mother's family, who knows.  We have yet to discuss such things in depth for my dad just isn't the kind of guy to talk about such things.  But I did put my foot down then.  Once I caught wind of what my dad was doing, I told my mom she was never to sleep in the same bed with him... and that was settled.  She ceased sleeping in their bed.  I don't recall hearing from him as to the change, but never a challenge was raised to this change I decreed. 

All this was too much for an eighth grader to process... I couldn't wrap my head around pre-algebra and I started having these weird episodes in class where time seemed to speed up during an exam... I couldn't focus on the work but only the strange words the math teacher was using.  Every time he'd say "integer" and "Pythagorean theorem" I was baffled and wondered what in the world am I being taught and why doesn't this sink in like the rest of school does.  The clock on the wall seemed to be ticking at a normal pace, but my senses were all telling me time was racing and I was like an animal in the headlights; frozen. 

I began looking at myself as a possible problem.  I remember imagining if I didn't exist ( but existing some how, just not living on the planet ) from far and away looking at earth.  I remember visualizing the earth above me and to one side while I was simply observing somewhere out in space.  I would look to see how my older siblings were getting along without me pestering them, how maybe my dad still loved my mom for some reason in my absence. 

I recall after sharing with my mom about time speeding up in math class and expressing how I wanted to hurt myself, my mom informing my dad that I was thinking of doing something to myself.  I remember him coming into my room and having a talk with me ( perhaps the first time we had a heart to heart father to son talk ).  It was such an awkward moment.  Here he is trying to reason with me that hurting myself wouldn't be good... and it seemed like he was apt to punish or hurt me himself if I proceeded in any way to do something to myself.  It was quite strange and like a major effort on his part.  Some time later my mom had made an appointment with a head shrink.  She informed my dad about it and said it was for me, not for their marriage.  He met us there.  We were sitting for maybe a few minutes when the psyche began to ask my dad direct questions when my dad suddenly sprang up out of his chair and said something to the effect that nothing was wrong and that he was leaving.. and asked if I was coming.  Loving my dad and yearning for his approval and time, I left with him and left my mom there with the psyche.  

At the end of my eighth grade middle school year, I left with him again when he had a job offer in a city three states away.  He was telling me about the offer one day and was sharing with me his plans to move away.  He wasn't inviting anymore than he was simply notifying me of what was about to happen.  I immediately asked if I could come with him.  I thought for sure this was the chance I would have with my dad; we'd go fishing together, we'd fly his plane together, we'd do all things we weren't doing because maybe him having an entire family was too much... or maybe Los Angeles was too much... but that too was a dream.  Although he immediately said yes I could come with him, I didn't realize what the real plan was until much later.  He was really getting away with his new wife and starting over.  I also didn't consider that I was also abandoning my mother and sisters, just like my dad was abandoning them.  I also had no idea the affect my dad's absence or me leaving had on my mom until years later.  I was so selfish and self involved... following my dad's lead that these considerations never crossed my mind at the time.  I was also looking forward to the move also for I figured it was a time for me to make a new start... having been challenged but overcoming the change from one school of values for another. 

The thought of me not existing had left, for I was on a path to realize the Me I had yet to discover.  The time away from my entire family seemed like the removal of a comfort zone I needed in order to get a taste of the real world... as if I wasn't already exposed to some growing pains from a broken home.  But this experience began to shed the naivete in me and began to solidify the adult world as only hard lessons could.  I grew up quite a lot living with my dad... and began to taste what looking after myself was like for I had a lot of that to do.  I also learned a bit about my dad ( which is what I desired for so many years )... and that experience taught me Today to be gracious, forgiving and loving above all things... for we are all works in progress and no one has yet to arrive.

14 August 2014

Conditioning Your Life Via Media Programming

Every day there is a story in the news about something bad that happened.  That type of media programming should be called the Bad News, for most of the programming coming from there is bad.  What is the product of bad news programming?   Here's an article showing how children are affected when watching negative / violent images and themes on television.  And why in the world is it called 'news' if you hear nothing but the same story with only names and places being different? 

Could it be that when a certain looking individual ( skin tone, ethnicity, religious affiliation, etc. ) is accused of a crime, a headline and story is used to reinforce a stereotype which feeds the subconscious and perpetuates racism and fear aside from statistics?  Could your favorite news or regularly scheduled programming be "priming" you to hate your neighbor for no good reason other than what you've been led to believe about your neighbor?  Here's an article about a test which may have you thinking.  The people in that test respond in a peculiar way when reading certain words and seeing certain objects, but do you suppose the messages in the news and regularly scheduled programs have little to no effect on your subconscious, your attitude and world view? 

Here's a one minute video that will grant you an insight into how powerful media programming is.

What was your attitude soon after 9/11 of men wearing turbans and women wearing burkas?  Did you ever take a longer look at someone who was dressed in religious garb after that event?  Remember the envelopes with some white substance?  Were you thinking about that the next time you opened your mailbox or sifted through your mail?  These are all signs of being hypnotized by the news media and programmed into viewing things in a particular way.

Here's an insightful research paper on bad news and how it is purposed by program directors.  This paper shows Amerikan news programming contained twice as much violence as its Canadian counterpart ( page 3 ) in both 1971 and again in 1990 when the studies were conducted.  Is Amerika simply more violent and its media simply reflects this violence?  Is Amerika more violent because of the media portraying more violence?  Do these two factors feed on themselves?

On one hand people do need to made aware of what is happening in the area they live in... to be informed and to be notified, but hasn't the programming become more a manner in which to strike fear into people rather than advising them of issues and current affairs?  Haven't we also seen many instances that the news media failed to reveal or disclose information which, being truthful and important, would also shed light on the wrongdoings of some who may be thought of to be untouchable or too powerful to expose?  The Franklin Boy's Town scandal is one example that comes to mind.  Another example is Watergate.  And one other example from further back in recent Amerikan history is the fact that President Roosevelt was in a wheelchair but the world ( and Amerikan public ) never knew it for fear that the image would weaken the national identity.  The last example is contestable and certainly not fear-mongering, but it goes to show when a consensus to conceal something is agreed upon, the general public is left in the dark.  And the general consensus of news media today seems to be sensationalizing the trivial while adjusting the bigger stories to fit a narrative or support a political aim.  The employed news reporter follows what their program director desires to broadcast... and as you've heard the sayings "if it bleeds it leads" and "sex sells" and other excuses for perpetuating a hypnosis of fear, the stories and the manner in which they are messaged to you have a purpose behind them... truth and objectivity aside. 

Consider what you feed yourself, for what you hear on the radio, what you see on the television and what you watch on the big screen is called programming for a reason.  Choose your programming wisely or choose not to be programmed, which to me is the better choice.

Program: / verb / to cause ( a person or animal ) to behave in a predetermined way.


13 August 2014

What is Your Message?

The Medium is the Message was a very clever and insightful phrase coined by Marshall McLuhan.  Marshall was an innovator in the world of media and he could define things in that realm quite succinctly.  He also coined the term the Global Village.  I remember studying about him at the university and one professor in particular would come back to Marshall's phrases and further explanations in his teaching method... but I didn't get it at the time.  I think I get it now.  It was a mystery which I thought to be simply a play on words and something not too important to consider ( it was over my head at the time, really ).  I say now I 'think' I understand because after so many years since studying about media I can define certain mediums which in themselves are the message and which in turn suspend thinking on the part of the audience and thus change the manner in which messages are digested and accepted. 

Here's a chat with Marshall from 1977 which would give more insight into how the medium changes people's perceptions and that, as he exemplifies early on, watching television is a subjective activity whereas reading is more an objective activity.  The entire lecture is very revealing and I recommend listening to the very end.

We are mediums conveying a message of sorts to the world, most of the time reflecting the programs we watch on teevee, the music we listen to or the social circles we find ourselves in.  We should reflect and consider if we are forwarding a positive message or negative or indifferent or otherwise.

Ask yourself: from what source do you draw your identity from?

Do you consciously absorb and emit something in particular?

Is it a lineage which goes back to a conqueror or great warrior type?  Is it drawn from a religion which has brought forth civilization by the manner in which it colonized certain regions of the world?  Is it drawn from a heritage of famous people who entertained many, or invented something, or established a political dynasty... or something otherwise worldly?  Is your identity attached to a national identity and ideology which you see yourself as one of the same by political definition?

In my early teens, my message ( unbeknownst to me, for I was merely outwardly reflecting what my inner self desired ) was that of a boy soldier.  I was R.O.T.C. through and through.  I was greatly desiring to be G.I. Joe, to defend my country and do whatever was necessary to forward the ideals of Amerika and squash all opposition.  I was utterly brainwashed by the messages I fed myself in the programming I watched, the toys I'd want and movies I'd see.  When the movie Top Gun came out, it was like I fell in love with every bit of the message in that movie... and I desired to be just like the Tom Cruise character: good looking, tough, sharp, risk taking, unashamedly ambitious, obedient to an extent without being an absolute robot, having an edge of rebelliousness, gutsy, a lady's man... all of it.  The motorcycle the character rode was right in line with my upbringing and so was the desire to blow the enemy out of the sky from a multimillion dollar fighter jet.  My dad was in the U.S. Air Force so there was the desire to emulate my dad and go one step further to beckon the family's pride in me.  I literally learned every single word in that movie, as if I was studying the stage version play of that movie.  I wreaked of military geek for the following few years, going to airshows, getting a bomber jacket and filling every empty space with a patch of some sort.  I'd build model planes and would learn all the nerdy specs of each and every plane in preparation for the real thing and the imagined tests of knowledge I thought were awaiting me from the military gurus upon enlisting.  And when I enrolled into a high school which had a junior R.O.T.C. department, it was my dream coming to fruition!   I couldn't wait to start doing pushups and get yelled at for no good reason... I couldn't wait to do my duty... and die for a country I knew little about other than what was told to me.

Yet, it was there in those high school classes where reality began to nip at my conscience.... for no matter what I did right, no matter how much I obeyed and how good I did anything... being good, right and obedient wasn't the case... it was a good ole boys club and I wasn't about to brown nose in order to be accepted or let myself be trampled by them until I 'paid my dues.'  This reality was not portrayed in the movie nor in the teevee shows or cartoons depicting military life and my pride wouldn't allow me to go against what was in all reality my conscience coming out ( although I was brainwashed to desire this thing called military service, my heart and conscience wouldn't allow myself to do things in a manner I knew deep down inside was wrong... yet I couldn't explain it at the time ).  I had a taste of what the real military would be like as a teenager and I realized signing my life to a system which decided what to do with me ( even to sacrifice my life for some ideals I would later on in life not agree with on any level ) was not for me.  So although I was a part of a nine-member team which came in second place out of the entire state of Texas for what the United States Drill Team is famous for... no amount of pride or boasting was worth the price of my conscience... nor my life.

What happened next was an 'about face' into a more rebellious reflection of what was going on in my heart... and I drifted toward edgy music, edgy clothes and edgy activities.  The clean cut, short hair, shirt tucked in and all things aligned kind of kid became a long haired, torn jeans, t-shirt wearing opposite of my formal self.  The message I was emitting had changed quite drastically.  Yet I didn't know I was emitting any message at the time... nor did I realize that in all actuality I was merely copying and reflecting those I idolized.  It was the Tom Cruise character in Top Gun for a time... and then it was the Axl Rose character of Guns N Roses for a time. 

When you think of someone in history who has become an example of a message in themselves, who comes to mind?  Think of someone you identify with... or maybe you don't identify with completely, but would surely like to be like them in some aspect.  Most likely you are messaging that ideal you have in your mind.  Maybe they share the same lineage of you ( blood line ).  Maybe the same cultural upbringing.  Perhaps they reflect ideals you believe in.

I have a pretty good idea 'who' this character of history is for me...

This character I have in mind is the ultimate medium of an astounding message... this character turned the world on its end and many still can't conceptualize what really happened.

12 August 2014

Do You Have the Keys?

The other day I was having a conversation with a younger gentleman who belonged to a denomination which believed they were the only one who had the true doctrine of salvation... and all others were doomed.  It reminded me of a group I once belonged to.  I recalled how I would get into discussions with people over what any particular passage in scripture really meant and most of the time both myself and the other party would cease the argument with frustration and worry that the other side was wrong and in danger of hellfire.  How arrogant and full of pride I was.  How blind to the vastness of God's grace and how faithless I was in thinking He was limited to man's ego, logic or understanding... and thank God He isn't limited by our dim perceptions.

So as this gentleman and I "sharpened iron" ( Proverbs 27:17 ) I couldn't help but fall into the trap of arguing over words at times, but this time it was different.  I personally do not see the divisions between one particular denomination or group and another... for I must consider what is mentioned here when looking at other individuals or their particular brand of doctrine / religion:

But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at.  People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

- 1 Samuel 16:7

This passage tells me that God is not looking at the labels any person has for themselves, or which group they belong to, or what nationality they are or of what particular ethnicity they come from.  He sees the hearts of you and I.  This leads me to conclude that I cannot 'judge' or consider if any given person is 'saved' or 'lost' according to their knowledge of scripture or the manner in which they express themselves or their beliefs... not even their actions.  Yet this is what many a man who stand behind podiums, stand on street corners and stand behind a corporate entity filed with the state of wherever delve into and assume... and they embarrass the work of God which is by faith and God's grace.  This is what I used to do too... and I'm embarrassed to say I used to think in such an unloving, unfaithful and ungrateful way considering what God had done with me and the reality that He is in absolute control all the time and only He knows any given person's destiny.

We began to speak about the term "authority" and he shared with me that his group has an 'apostle' which leads the church as the man of this age who has the authority to call the shots, spiritually speaking.  I initially listened carefully to gauge exactly what I was hearing.  At my first objection I heard several passages of scripture to affirm his faithful view and this is where I had to mention a few things.

I mentioned the following:

When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted.  Then Yeshua came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me."













- Matthew 28:17-18

Looking at the passage, ask yourself: who has been given all authority in heaven and on earth?

Next, considering Yeshua has all authority where we currently are and where some of us would desire to go, I mentioned this:

Yeshua called them together and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them.  Not so with you.  Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave - just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

- Matthew 20:25-28

Notice the difference Yeshua gives... it seems to be upside down or the exact opposite, yet this is what is said. 

Then the question was posed whether or not Peter had the authority to lead the rest of the disciples... and wasn't it Peter whom Christ gave the "keys" to.  I then heard a scripture mentioning this passing of authority... yet no authority is mentioned ( neither the word but more importantly neither the notion ).  This passage of scripture is used by many groups who claim lineage and authority in order to give their efforts legitimacy, but we have already seen what kind of authority and leadership Yeshua has asked his followers to do ( not be like the world but be like Him ).

Here is the passage in question and we'll look at what is going on:

When Yeshua came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?”
 

They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”
 

“But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”

Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”
 

Yeshua replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven.  And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.  I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”  Then he ordered his disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah.

- Matthew 16:13-20

Yeshua poses a question... and you can read what the opinions of the people were.  Yeshua then asks the disciples who they say He is.

Peter responds... and why does Yeshua say Peter is blessed?  Is it not because what Peter answered was revealed by the Father and not by men?  Seems to me a mystery was revealed in Peter's mind and heart... the mystery which allowed him to recognize and confess with his mouth "you are the Messiah, the Son of the living God."  If only the entirety of the world's past, present and future population can be so fortunately blessed!

Now to the point of controversy which has many a scholar, theologian, priest and minister up in arms and at odds with one another... but is quite simple and clear to understand.  Many believe that the church was built on Peter.  Some argue that Simon was given the name Peter ( which means rock ) to coincide with this particular scripture and the fact that Peter was the one to stand up and preach the first sermon on the day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit was poured out on the believers... and thus, using logic and like terms, Yeshua must have been talking about Peter when He mentions "this rock." 
Many also believe that Peter alone held the keys to the kingdom and, without a passing down of the keys ( like physically handing over the keys to the next man, which is a logical and materialistic manner of looking at it ), then the authority of leadership wasn't present.  Could this be true?

When Christ mentions "and on this rock I will build my church...." is Christ really saying He will build the church on this man?  Do you suppose Yeshua, being Immanuel ( God with us ), the Messiah ( promised King that was to fulfill prophecy ), who would build a kingdom which would never end and never be destroyed, who has all authority in heaven and earth, is building His church on a man?

Isn't the church in fact built on Christ Himself as the cornerstone?

For in Scripture it says:

“See, I lay a stone in Zion, a chosen and precious cornerstone, and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame.”

Now to you who believe, this stone is precious. But to those who do not believe,

“The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone,” and, "A stone that causes people to stumble and a rock that makes them fall.”


They stumble because they disobey the message - which is also what they were destined for.






- 1 Peter 2:6-8

Look at what is said here:

The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.

- Psalm 18:2

For who is God besides the Lord? And who is the Rock except our God?

- Psalm 18:31

The Lord lives! Praise be to my Rock!  Exalted be God my Savior!

- Psalm 18:46

So what then can Yeshua being stating when He says "and on this rock I will build my church" ??

Consider this passage and its significance:

If you declare with your mouth, “Yeshua is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.  For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.  As Scripture says, “Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.”






- Romans 10:9-11

Consider what is also mentioned here:

Fight the good fight of the faith.  Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses.  In the sight of God, who gives life to everything, and of Christ Yeshua, who while testifying before Pontius Pilate made the good confession...

- 1 Timothy 6:12-13a

Let's look now at the "good confession" Yeshua made before Pilate:

Pilate then went back inside the palace, summoned Jesus and asked him, “Are you the king of the Jews?”
 

“Is that your own idea,” Yeshua asked, “or did others talk to you about me?”
 

“Am I a Jew?”  Pilate replied. “Your own people and chief priests handed you over to me.  What is it you have done?”
 

Yeshua said, “My kingdom is not of this world.  If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders.  But now my kingdom is from another place.”
 

“You are a king, then!” said Pilate.

Yeshua answered, “You say that I am a king.  In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth.  Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.”


- John 18:33-37

Isn't the phrase "and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it" speaking of the very confession of faith Peter made... and every subsequent disciple of Christ has made? ( look again at the preceding passages )

Touching back on the topic of authority while giving one example of when things were "loosened or bound," let's consider 'who' made the suggestions and spoke in regards to the development of the doctrine of Yeshua.  I include the entire passage, which is quite lengthy, to point out who is speaking and to identify who makes the decisions ( having the authority ):

When they finished, James spoke up. “Brothers,” he said, “listen to me.  Simon has described to us how God first intervened to choose a people for his name from the Gentiles.  The words of the prophets are in agreement with this, as it is written:

“‘After this I will return and rebuild David’s fallen tent.  Its ruins I will rebuild, and I will restore it, that the rest of mankind may seek the Lord, even all the Gentiles who bear my name, says the Lord, who does these things' - things known from long ago.


“It is my judgment, therefore, that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God.  Instead we should write to them, telling them to abstain from food polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from the meat of strangled animals and from blood.  For the law of Moses has been preached in every city from the earliest times and is read in the synagogues on every Sabbath.”
 

Then the apostles and elders, with the whole church, decided to choose some of their own men and send them to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas.  They chose Judas ( called Barsabbas ) and Silas, men who were leaders among the believers.  With them they sent the following letter:

The apostles and elders, your brothers,

To the Gentile believers in Antioch, Syria and Cilicia:

Greetings.
 

We have heard that some went out from us without our authorization and disturbed you, troubling your minds by what they said.  So we all agreed to choose some men and send them to you with our dear friends Barnabas and Paul - men who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Yeshua Christ.  Therefore we are sending Judas and Silas to confirm by word of mouth what we are writing.  It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us not to burden you with anything beyond the following requirements:  You are to abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality. You will do well to avoid these things.

Farewell.


- Acts 15:13-29

Notice how it was a group choice, not a single man's choice / command / decree / etc., but the decisions of several individuals acting in unison and with the agreement of the church.  This is how the church ( the body of Christ ) acts in unity and humility.

Notice also the four items which were bound over from the old testament.  The Pharisees ( reading the entire chapter ) desired the Gentile converts to be circumcised AND to adhere to the law of Moses... which, again reading the entire chapter, one could those actions and efforts to be outside the message of grace God established in His Christ Yeshua.  It would be a nice comparison to also read this passage in another translation ( KJV for example ) to get a broader understanding of phrasing, words and such.  And as with all passages of scripture, it is best to read the broader context ( the entire chapter and beyond ) to gain a better understanding.

Seems to me; the more of a servant you become, the 'greater' your role becomes in the kingdom of God.

11 August 2014

The Religion of Science

I was recalling to a friend of mine some time ago that when man looks far out into the night sky, man sees objects which twinkle and such.  Man notices these objects moving about each other, and some who are called 'scientists' have recently 'discovered' that the unseen has more energy about it and within it than what is seen.  This is paradoxical to the basis that science is used to dealing with what it can see or touch and with that which is measurable.

Interestingly enough, a similar phenomenon happens when man looks close and near into the microscopic level and further within.  Man ‘sees’ the subatomic but when there is nothing else to ‘see,’ there is still something there… and it is called by scientists a quark.  They say quarks are held together by what scientists call gluons ( I'm not making this up ).  The intellectuals in the science lab have yet to find out what is inside a quark.  It is interesting to find the conclusion when gazing far out and into the enormous proportions of the seemingly infinite sky is the same conclusion when one goes into the not so seemingly infinitely small... the conclusion being a big ? ( a big question mark )

There is a pattern to this creation, as we have a pattern and develop patterns.  There seems to be a design and quite a sophisticated design at that.  When speaking as to whether this is all by happenstance ( mankind coming from monkeys which came from amoebas which came from nothing.... ) or if in fact there is a Designer to the world, what is more apparent than clear and popularly acceptable answers is where folks derive their information and methods of explanation.  This makes the difference whether you'll be enjoying an edifying conversation where two people may be learning something new... or where the argument will most likely be someone telling you you're wrong and that they know something because science has given definitions to names while not having the answers to prove it.

Seems like science has a faith / religion of its own that calls other faiths / religions false... interesting.

Let us consider now the wonder of how people breathe.  We now understand the manner in which breathing works.  We understand that plants breathe out what people and animals breathe in.  In turn, people and animals breathe out what plants breathe in.  This is amazing when one really thinks about it.  How in the world can a symbiosis like this come about by chance?  The odds / chances are better on a fixed slot machine in an obscure Las Vegas casino run by crooks.

Let us now consider how water is distributed all over the world.  You drink water, it filters through your body and you deposit the water out... that water eventually makes its way either back to the ocean if you made the deposit in a toilet connected to a sewer system... or if you made the deposit in the woods / on the ground, that water partially evaporates and the other part moistens the ground.  If to the ocean directly after a sewer system, some parts evaporate into the atmosphere eventually becoming clouds ( and rain ) while other parts go through aquatic plant life and perhaps even through the gills of fish and further on.  If deposited in the woods / on the ground, some parts partially evaporate and go into the atmosphere where eventually it will be turned into rain.  The other parts which moistened the ground may water whatever plant form is nearby ( their roots ) and in turn the plant form absorbs that water as their means of making food for themselves, called photosynthesis.  The rain falls on mountain tops ( and depending on which fancy brand of water you buy, here is your 'source' sort of ), filters down into rocks ( absorbing minerals ) which may replenish an aquifer, or run down mountainsides into rivers filling a dam... and somehow by modern science you buy filtered water, or go to the well and pump it out... or scoop it from an elevated stream, there the process begins for you anew. 

It is absolutely amazing to see how we live in a closed circuit of sorts.

We are not far removed from nature but are actually in the middle of the entire process.

We are dependent on a process in which we have no control over ( the parts of the clouds, rain, minerals, etc. ).  Neither do we have control over the process of the water as it filters through our body... and neither do we have control of the process as it goes through a plant, evaporates or fills the seas.  We simply enjoy the outcome of the complexity before us... and some still argue this is nothing extraordinary or it all just happened.  I don't know what is more amazing; the thought that all this is unfathomable and quite exciting when one realizes the intricacies or the thought that some people actually believe this is just all a big coincidence.  Both notions make me say "wow" but saying it in a different way.

Let us consider the planet's distance from the sun ( one of billions of stars one can see in the sky at night ).  Did you know that if the planet was any closer to the sun or any further from the sun it would be impossible for life to exist?  A few miles closer and it would be too hot and likewise if it was a bit further it would be too cold.  How in the world can this reality just occur by happenstance?  Why, with all the discoveries, there has yet to be any life found on other planets ( other than of course the theories, but no proof )?  Here's a definition of this amazing reality that is indescribable ( sure, some do describe things in a rather pessimistic way, and you'll notice their manner of descriptions... these are the prophets of the religion of science ).

How can such an intricate system of life ( our bodies and the rest of nature ) be found on a planet ( which is also living in such an amazing way ) that has no equal?  Not even a poorer example elsewhere is to be examined to determine whether it has all been a coincidence and something that 'just happened?'  I tell you, something is amiss in the mainstream acceptance of theories which have at their base many unknowns.  The religion of science is taught one way the world over; viewing your selves and your world as machinations which came about by chance and without purpose... but we see how the plants have a purpose ( to feed us and let us breathe ) and we have a purpose to the plants as well as the rest of creation.  We see the water has a purpose and is vital to life.  We see the planet is purposefully in perfect balance in space.

To not accept and believe all the tenets of science developed by sophisticated minds who arrive at 'unknown' as their answers is like apostasy to the teachings of your purposeless existence you have received.

Beware the prophets of science who say you are a well-developed monkey. 

Enjoy this short lecture by Rupert Sheldrake regarding the religion of science, you may be quite surprised.

10 August 2014

What's in a Meal?

Do you like eating alone or would you rather have a meal with someone or some others?  With whom do you like to commune?   

Commune: / verb / share one's intimate thoughts or feelings with (someone or something), especially when the exchange is on a spiritual level.

I personally think it to be the pits to have to eat by myself… it seems as if something is wrong.  Sure, we sometimes can’t always have our friends or family with us for each and every single meal, but think about some of the best conversations ( whether humorous or insightful ) you’ve had over a meal.  It seems like people lay their guard down ( or are more open and easy ) when having a meal with others.  What for some may seem like just another ‘must do’ or ‘routine’ in this life of ours, I think there is something much deeper going on when breaking bread with others.

For the business-minded, an initial lunch meeting or dinner meeting is of great significance and can mean you may be doing business with the person(s) across the table.  Your best manners and putting your best face forward may mean the difference between a lucrative and longtime business relationship or just another tax write-off meal for your accountant / tax preparer.

Did you grow up having to be sitting at the dinner table at a certain time so everyone can begin?

I did.  I thought it was a drag growing up because I would be missing a favorite teevee program or couldn't wait to get back to my toys, but now as an adult with an adult's perspective, I see the enormous value in looking at your loved ones in the eyes, hearing about their day and everyone gauging the state of the family over a meal.  This is such a fundamental anchor to a family unit that I wonder how others can easily let it slip away… or the sad notion that some never had the fortunate experience enjoying this in the first place.  It was at the dinner table where I learned manners like not speaking with your mouth full of food, serving or passing a plate of food to others, taking turns in speaking and other basics of etiquette.  I would always have much to say that my biggest faux pas was letting my food get cold, so at times I was restricted from talking until my plate was cleared... and then they couldn't escape my stories! ( lol )

Have you noticed that sometimes people are invited to a meal to have some bad news or something quite emotionally charged told to them?

Something about the entire experience of a meal can bring an air of calm and ease to a tough conversation.  So what is it about a meal with others?

It is within this contextual reality and basic experience of breaking bread with others that is the core to some cultures past and present: their entire day is centered around eventually gathering together for a meal, sometimes the entire tribe, sometimes the immediate family, sometimes the couple, sometimes whoever has become your family ( your closest friends )... the time available after working for some and preparing the meal for others when you get to see your loved ones again.  Yet even with most of mankind stemming from this one basic principle and anchor of eating together,  for some cultures of busy people, it seems to be a dying phenomenon… and I dare say the collapse of something very fundamental to the human experience and people the world over.

The reality of eating together is sometimes taken for granted and for some, it is something they simply need to get out of the way so they can continue working on whatever has captured or demanded their attention.  When I'm behind the wheel, I see people all the time gulping down their lunch as they are behind the wheel.  When I'm outside the Laundromat waiting for my clothes to dry, I see the droves of people stopping at the convenience store to grab a quick bite to eat… and most do not eat in the parking lot, no, they drive off with food in one hand going into mouth and the other hand on the wheel.  Sure, in times past the travel system was much slower like the days of horse and buggy or camel and caravan and I'm sure some of those people would eat atop their animals / carriages... or maybe they would stop for a few minutes to enjoy the meal and the company... perhaps?

For dinner, some people in the 'modern' world eat in front of the teevee and seem to have their communion with the people they see on teevee.  Those who do sit down to eat together ( with teevee and radio off ), may quickly shovel the food into their mouths, exchange some small talk that is not too intrusive or revealing just to back to their programming on teevee or the internet or whatever they do aside from touching others on a deeper level while at the dinner table. 

What has happened to communion?  What is communion?

Communion: / noun / the sharing or exchanging of intimate thoughts and feelings, especially when the exchange is on a mental or spiritual level. 

Maybe it's just me, but I've grown to love the experience of eating with others and talking about our lives.  It is an opportunity to really get to know someone, to hear about their triumphs or failures, to share good or bad news... to simply grow the relationship / friendship / acquaintance / etc..  It is an opportunity to grow. 

There was someone who established the mealtime with quite remarkable results, for among the dinner guests were people who wouldn't typically eat together... and this is what was said:

While they were eating, Yeshua took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body.”  Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you.  This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins."

- Matthew 26:26-28

Now, we know by all accounts ( secular as well ) that the disciples didn't become cannibals or drinkers of blood from one day to the next... nor that it was in fact flesh and blood they were consuming or going to consume in times to come, no.  There is a deeper meaning and sense to what was done here just the same as when having a meal with others, there is a more profound and more sensitive ambiance.

Today, the 'church' ( people of all walks of life who believe ) is called the "body of Christ."  Could Yeshua be showing that the body mentioned when He broke bread is the corporeal body of believers coming together to enjoy communion and commemorate Him? ( thus being comprised as being His body? )

Today, there is no blood sacrifice or other similar religious ritual like there existed prior to Christ... so could the participation of people eating and drinking together ( communing ), as a family ( like a typical family would do at the dinner table ), be the anchor of the new family Yeshua was establishing in His Name?

Yeshua was criticized for eating and drinking with tax collectors and all kinds of 'sinful' people ( or people who would otherwise be ostracized from mainstream society )... and it reads that He loved them and called them into His fellowship too. This is historically quite remarkable. 

It seems like Yeshua broke the trend of people only eating with their particular tribe, their family, their friends and their loved ones and, still being centered on the basic necessity of eating a meal and that experience, surrounded Himself with those who society would deem unlovable, unfashionable, unworthy and unwanted... and made them all to be family.  This was centered on the breaking of bread or communion.  And it was at this table of feasting we see the rest of the new testament grow from and many people converted to this new Life of faith, hope and love. 

Is something missing at your dinner table? 

Is something missing at your 'communion' when the believers gather together?