31 October 2014

Your Ideal Occupation Part Three

In my ambitious pursuit to be happy, I aimed at gaming the system so I wouldn't have to work very hard.  I came to realize the secular world was run through fear, ignorance and the dulled senses of the masses.  With this ambition, I also realized I had some misconceptions that I needed to get clear.   I needed to ask myself: am I going to further the ignorance and justify getting paid?  Or, am I going to instead prune my conscience regardless of the challenge that may bring? 

Some of you have heard that creed from the Declaration of Independence “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.”  I wonder if this is now marketed to the world with the hope of encouraging people to further the buying and selling of things without consideration of others and nature.  I wonder if this activity truly brings more happiness while giving one a sense of life and liberty.  It sure seems that is the manner which the idea is spoken of.  The feeling of a new car, a new pair of brand name shoes, a new house, getting a big check, etc..  It was a noble statement within an essay aimed at escaping the tyrannical stranglehold of a corrupted nobility.  This nobility wasn't doing their part as being the righteous example the people needed.  They instead ran the people as the people are being run today: like a commodity to serve the business of people and resource management. 

When hasn't leadership been corrupted to one degree or another?  Just like the ocean ebbs and flows, so does the individual's temperament along with the temperament of those in high positions ebb and flow.

Yet, in the cosmic reality of the world and the direction the world continues to go in, do we really have tyranny at the heights and apathy at the depths as some suppose?  Isn't this what is also marketed to the world to believe?  Don't we actually see signs of apathy at the heights and signs of heart-felt service at the depths?  Despite the exploits of the wicked, the ambitious pursuits of the already wealthy at the cost of nature and mankind, despite the divisions among classes of people, do we not clearly see the good outweighing the bad?  We see those with little giving as much as they can to those with even less.  We see those among the depths of society doing their best, according to their conscience and what they believe to be right.  The media is contracted to further the fear and indifference in order to control and manage the people, regardless of the people's religious affiliation or lack of.  Rarely is any good news broadcasted, for this is against the secular method of people management.  

Just because we don't hear good news being broadcasted doesn't mean it doesn't exist.  Look for it and you will see it everywhere.  Follow the train of thought you hear in the news, and you'll never want to leave the house, believing your neighbor is out to get you ( maybe they are, I don't know where you live ).  

Righteous kings [ heads of state / people ] do not lead the people using fear and expressions of power, but by faith and with expressions of compassion.  These rule by example and with discretion regarding the influence of their position.  

Righteous rulers [ politicians / owners of things / judges ] exemplify noble manners in making the tough and right decisions, not by lying or deceiving those who look to them for direction.  These should put people at the forefront of justice and what is right, acknowledging that systems and laws are sometimes immoral, biased, unfair and unbalanced, not putting people behind the profit incentive and behind the security of their position. 

Righteous religious leaders [ priests / ministers / pastors / imams / gurus / etc. ] do not seek what would best profit their personal time and their personal view of righteousness, but what would profit those they serve.  These serve every single person living in their community regardless of the community's belief or religious affiliation; the server doesn't choose who to serve, the community chooses those who serves the community.  

Righteous bosses [ managers of people and resources ] are considerate and sensitive to the fact that those under them are humans with feelings, with families, with dreams and with hopes.  These should consider alternatives prior to removing the employee from their employment.  The loss of income can be a powerful blow to the psyche, possibly negatively affecting one and their stability.  These are to look after the interests of those they manage, not in spite but with dignity, since employees are humans and an integral part of the entire mechanism.  

Righteous employees in the lowest position, who carry the weight of the entire apparatus, should be sobered by their high place.  If these choose to do so, they are closest to becoming any one of the other places in a manner of time.  However, pursuing the vocations as a means to an end as they are presented, one may fail to realize the strength in thinking outside the typical method of business.  These have opportunity to escape the trappings of the path most others blindly take by default, who think the world today is unchangeable or somehow fixed.  If these were to reach up to be like a king by action, in deed and with word, these may be able to escape the entire apparatus altogether and find themselves director of their own destiny.  These may realize they can be a king over a system of their own.  

I say this because there is a movement of people desiring to grow their own food and to return to the previous ways of conducting life in pursuing their 'happiness.'   There is a movement of people who desire to live life in a new way or like an older way.  A movement, from God as I see it, to pursue the spiritual, the secular, the entire way of looking at the world by living according to a higher standard than what they inherited from the previous generation.  These are the innovators of today who wish to do business in a more humane way both today and tomorrow.  

Two decent examples of people making steps in a better direction in secular pursuits are Blake Mycoskie and Elon Musk.  Take some time and read how these two individuals are incorporating their conscience into the business world by bringing a brighter perspective to pursuing their  occupations.  We are all fallible, so let us see these examples as their acts define their hearts. 

Today's homeless hippie, having tasted what it means to lose everything and perhaps themselves, can be tomorrow's king, not compromising themselves nor forgetting where they came from.  Today's criminal, having now read the law, can become tomorrow's politician / judge; erasing immoral rules and writing new codes which will strengthen and reform community, not impoverish it and reduce it.  Today's disgruntled worker can be tomorrow's innovator and business starter, treating employees in a dignified way; like family.  Today's believer, dissatisfied with the routine of ritualized religion, can be tomorrow's spiritual leader; sparking the faith of thousands to forward the love all humans are seeking.  

Today's you can become tomorrow's you; the person you've been dreaming of becoming.

The following precepts are for all people from all walks of life.  If these identify you today, know that they do not have to define you tomorrow.  If the opposite of these speak to you, increase your effort so your yield may increase.  Let your good actions be the example to others!

A ruler who oppresses the poor is like a driving rain that leaves no crops. 

Better the poor whose walk is blameless than the rich whose ways are perverse. 

Whoever increases wealth by taking interest or profit from the poor amasses it for another, who will be kind to the poor. 

The rich are wise in their own eyes; one who is poor and discerning sees how deluded they are.

A tyrannical ruler practices extortion, but one who hates ill-gotten gain will enjoy a long reign. 

Those who work their land will have abundant food, but those who chase fantasies will have their fill of poverty.

To show partiality is not good - yet a person will do wrong for a piece of bread. 

The stingy are eager to get rich and are unaware that poverty awaits them. 

Those who trust in themselves are fools, but those who walk in wisdom are kept safe. 

- Proverbs 28~

30 October 2014

Understanding the Nut and the Squirrel

I leave the house this morning to meet with a friend and chat about life and all topics derived from life.  I enjoy our dialogue as we explore our mutual faith, married life and the silly as well as the profound things of life.

On my walk to our meeting place, I pass under a tree and I hear a familiar sound.  I know it's a squirrel but I can't see it.  I am looking up into the tree and after some time I finally see who is making all the racket.  I see a squirrel biting into something and I quickly grab for my camera to film this little creature eating.  Seeing wildlife, even in the city, is a joy for me.  It is like I'm a child again seeing something like this for the first time.  I'm smiling.

As I continue to walk towards my destination I see several uniformed police officers exit an apartment building, chatting and laughing about what they just finished doing.  Some of them are somewhat boasting about how they would have saved the other officer after the apparent raid they just did.  I think about how each man's life is in the hands of the others when they are doing what they do.  I may not agree with every little thing that men do, allow or disallow, but I can see the humanity in these men and the place each person has on this planet.  I am grateful for where God has placed each man and woman according to their purpose and calling.  I consider my role in this life.

As I near where I am to meet my friend, I hear behind me as I cross the street, a conversation. Two men of different ethnicity are talking about their cars.  I look back to see that both cars are very old, what may be considered 'classics.'  They have both arrived side by side at the stop light in first position and both have their windows rolled down.  They admire the vehicles the other man has and share a short conversation about year and model.  They are happy to share the words with each other as the light turns green and they slowly roll forward.  I see that even with what some would consider mundane, others use as a means to have a conversation and connect.  I see hope and I'm glad.

In my conversation that I have with my friend this morning, he shares with me that although some things can arguably be right or wrong, sometimes it may be best to first try to understand.  I sometimes don't understand why some things are as they are.  What may be wrong on all accounts for someone is sometimes not considered as wrong or right for others, but simply accepted or the way things are.  I sometimes need to be reminded to focus on the positive, on the good, and forward this in my speech and actions.  There is a time and place to point out what is wrong, usually when asked, but instead of pressing that issue, perhaps pointing out the good can better lead one's focus onto more of the good.  Perhaps this is the best move in understanding things before arguing about whether they  are right or wrong.  I am corrected and I am grateful.

I think, prior to judging people in what they do as being right or wrong, I should think about that squirrel who is simply gathering nuts because it needs to eat.  The nuts could complain I suppose, but they too seem to have a role to play, even as just a meal for a city squirrel.  Good thing we are not all nuts, nor are we all squirrels.  

29 October 2014

Empty Building Part II; The Lesson

I walked into an open building recently on my way to yet another coffee shop to get some work done.  I was surprised to see the doors unlocked and open.  These types of buildings are usually locked throughout the week unless they are open for business.  My curiosity led me to walk up the several steps and into this building with stain-glassed windows.  

Every one of these types of buildings are slightly different from each other yet have the same theme.  Some have more or less sculptures, paintings and designs than others.  Some have statues which people kneel before and pray to or through.  Sometimes candles are lit, sometimes flowers are left, sometimes money is put in a slot or in a basket somewhere. 

I understand this place is meant to be a place for people to congregate.  Some believe this is the place where prayers are heard.  Some believe God resides in buildings such as these.  Some believe one can become more like God or become better by continually coming to places like these and listening to what is said there.  People think this is a place of worship or a place to come and worship. 

I wonder what kind of buildings God resides in...?  Not every religion believes a God exists.  Some believe it is impossible to understand the idea of God and instead focus on a variety of other things.  Does a building need to be 'open' and 'unlocked' so God can come and go?   Do you really need to go to a building to find God?

Just like there are many different buildings which represent many different points of view in regards to God, so there are many different people who have grown up in a religion or have gone in search of various methods of reaching out to God or becoming better people.  No single person is born with the facts, nor with the truth being spoken from their lips.  People are born into cultures, into religions, into societies and into methods of thought.  Most of us grew up believing everything our parents told us and everything their religion told us prior to us thinking for ourselves.  Some never ventured to second guess their upbringing and some don't have the allowance to do so. 

You are God's Temple / You are God's Building

While Paul was waiting for them in Athens, he was greatly distressed to see that the city was full of idols.  So he reasoned in the synagogue with both Jews and God-fearing Greeks, as well as in the marketplace day by day with those who happened to be there.  A group of Epicurean and Stoic philosophers began to debate with him.  Some of them asked, “What is this babbler trying to say?” Others remarked, “He seems to be advocating foreign gods.” They said this because Paul was preaching the good news about Yeshua and the resurrection.  Then they took him and brought him to a meeting of the Areopagus, where they said to him, “May we know what this new teaching is that you are presenting?  You are bringing some strange ideas to our ears, and we would like to know what they mean.”  All the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there spent their time doing nothing but talking about and listening to the latest ideas.

Paul then stood up in the meeting of the Areopagus and said: “People of Athens!  I see that in every way you are very religious.  For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: to an unknown god.  So you are ignorant of the very thing you worship - and this is what I am going to proclaim to you.

“The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands.  And He is not served by human hands, as if He needed anything. Rather, He Himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else.  From one man He made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and He marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands.  God did this so that they would seek Him and perhaps reach out for Him and find Him, though He is not far from any one of us.  ‘For in Him we live and move and have our being.’  As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are His offspring.’

“Therefore since we are God’s offspring, we should not think that the Divine Being is like gold or silver or stone - an image made by human design and skill.  In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now He commands all people everywhere to repent.  For He has set a day when He will judge the world with justice by the Man He has appointed.  He has given proof of this to everyone by raising Him from the dead.”

- Acts 15:16-31

Empty Building Part III; The Way

People build for themselves religions.  People build for themselves places to gather together, learn, perform and exercise their beliefs.  People have the choice to follow or lead, to believe or disbelieve, to gather or to scatter.  The world has seen its fill of religions, of ideas and of methods to either get closer to the notion of God or to avoid that notion altogether. 

What about you, what / who do you say God is?     

“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.”

- Matthew 16:15-17

I believe Yeshua said Peter was "blessed" because Peter's response was something revealed not by men, but by some One.  This is elsewhere mentioned as "your good confession" and holds a powerful declaration on its own, but let us consider the response in lifestyle of Yeshua's followers.  What was the lifestyle they chose to pursue after walking with this 'Son of the living God?'  What was their attitude towards all that they have known and to the world in general?

But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ.  What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Yeshua my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things.  I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ - the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith.  I want to know Christ - yes, to know the power of His resurrection and participation in His sufferings, becoming like Him in His death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.

- Philippians 3:7-11

What a profound message is written in this letter to the congregation, especially this small portion.  Does it sound like the author has a death wish?  Or does the author wish to die to their former lifestyle and to the world's ways?  Why would they desire to do such a thing?  Seems like they have realized a bigger picture to life and the promise of life eternal ( resurrection from the dead ).  It is mentioned as a 'surpassing worth' in there.  What could be worth more than all the gold, all the honor and all the glory one could achieve for themselves in this world?

I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty.  I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.  I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

- Philippians 4:12-13

Did those who walked with Christ continue their prior occupations?

If you believe and know that eternal life has been promised to you, what would you spend doing with your life from that point on?  What would compel those who walked with Christ to renounce what so many people in the world run after?  Did they go mad?  Something surely seems to have happened to them which for many is an absolute mystery.  What would compel you to leave all things behind? 

The world's religions have buildings that are empty, yet there is a 'building' which God desires to have filled. 

You are that building.

28 October 2014

Your Ideal Occupation Part Two

The specialization of the world has brought about many inventions and has helped mankind strive forward in ways the world has possibly never seen before.  Throughout recent history, inventions made by those who did not have to work the fields helped make bringing in the food much easier for everyone.  Systems of management were made.  Machines replaced people.  The leisure time made it possible for more thinking, more invention and the making of other means of earning a living / money were brought about.  Today I enjoy a particular lifestyle because of the inventions and machinations of civilization.  I am grateful yet have become mindful of the cost involved in this benefit.  

Count The Cost

All things come with a cost or a crinkle in the material.  Not to limit inventions and modernization, but we should see with an objective and open eye what inventions and ‘modern’ things have to offer; judging for ourselves both the good and the not so good of the 'modern.'  Not every invention or manifestation from man’s mind has brought about good things.  I'm sure you could think of some of the bad things yourself.  Any given thing can bring, for example, 60% good ( productivity, assistance to labor, solutions to problems, more profit, etc. ) and 40% bad ( waste, contamination, disease, unemployment, etc. ).  It would be ideal to aim for and realize 100% good and none of the bad.  Imagine a world where no one ( and their life ) is diminished because of the appetite of others in the manner those others make their money / a living.

Consequences of Profit Motives Without Regard to Life

Sometimes the new, the easy and the modern comes at a cost.  Sometimes this cost isn’t easily seen and less easily explained.  Sometimes it takes generations to reveal where the path deviated for the worse.  In the pursuit of profit, cigarette makers began to produce cigarettes with addictive ingredients, deviating from the early product of natural substances.  This was purposed to guaranteed repeat customers.  The need to earn a living became a wicked pursuit steeped in greed and disregard for the health of others.  I am sure you can think of several other industries, businesses and methods of earning a living which produce side effects onto others and either ignore this reality or deny it altogether.  One day, someone came up with the microwave oven.  Thanks to that invention, one doesn't have to wait 30 minutes for something to be cooked but only has to wait 3 or 5 minutes.  Yet, that invention also brought some unhealthy situations which are controversial but very true.  Reading the link on the microwave, is the health risk worth speeding up your food cook time?  Sure, many people made millions selling microwaves, but we have yet to see the full damage in the human body from the use of microwaves.  I personally ceased using one and when out for a bite, I try to make sure the food is cooked in some other way. 

Judge Things, Not People

One should not see the modern with suspicion, but with an objective view.  Be faithful in embracing what is new but do not turn a blind eye to what comes along with the new.  The pursuit to split the atom had a byproduct; the idea of a nuclear bomb.  Einstein was conflicted to find out his mathematical work was used towards the making of the worse invention to date at the time; the atomic bomb.  To some, this new invention is 100% good in their aims.  To me and to Einstein, it is 100% bad and evil to the core; no way to logically or consciously accepting it.

Choose and Do Good

What if people were to make a decision Today to 'do' or invent or work at something ( what you occupy your time doing ) that would be well above the 50 / 50 level between good and bad and would only pursue things which were nearly or mostly 100% good!?  

What if people would put the financial pursuit, the profit motive and the marketed lifestyle of consumption aside in second, third or last place and simply follow the good in their heart!?  I know that not all people have good intentions at heart at any given time, arguably some may never get there.  Perhaps you reading this message are of the group which is desiring to do nothing but good!  

Choose Today to pursue your heart's good desire!  Do this with faith-filled expectations! 

Do not fret because of those who are evil or be envious of those who do wrong; for like the grass they will soon wither, like green plants they will soon die away.

Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.  Take delight in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.


- Psalm 37:1-4


May He give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed.

- Psalm 20:4

27 October 2014

Empty Building Part I; The Loosening & Binding

I see lots of empty buildings on my path to here and there.  I see many who are temporarily occupied for certain times, on certain days and for certain purposes.  Not all of us see things in the same way, yet once the heart and mind is awakened to certain things, the truth of the matter can easily be realized.  The truth isn't always clear at first and must be reminded to us time and time again.

Today I understand that God's grace works in people's lives despite their ignorance, for if He judged people according to what they do not know, then He would cease to be a just, graceful and loving God.  No single person knows how loose the disciples of Christ, over the years, have loosened the Way and to what extent the Way was bound.

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.

- Matthew 16:19

What a profound responsibility and power was granted to the disciples of Christ!  Imagine the challenge of growing out of a culture of laws, of rules, of constraints, of religious practices, of righteousness by obedience to hundreds of rules, to now be living the Way of grace, seen by faith and built on love.  It must have truly been a great sense of freedom for the early Jewish Christians to break away from the weight of religion and ritual and to find the righteousness that is by faith. 

Here is one of the first and most obvious examples of binding and loosening by the first disciples:

Then some of the believers who belonged to the party of the Pharisees stood up and said, “The Gentiles must be circumcised and required to keep the law of Moses.”

The apostles and elders met to consider this question.  After much discussion, Peter got up and addressed them: “Brothers, you know that some time ago God made a choice among you that the Gentiles might hear from my lips the message of the gospel and believe.  God, who knows the heart, showed that He accepted them by giving the Holy Spirit to them, just as He did to us.  He did not discriminate between us and them, for He purified their hearts by faith.  Now then, why do you try to test God by putting on the necks of Gentiles a yoke that neither we nor our ancestors have been able to bear?  No!  We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Yeshua that we are saved, just as they are.”
 

The whole assembly became silent as they listened to Barnabas and Paul telling about the signs and wonders God had done among the Gentiles through them.  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.
 

So the men were sent off and went down to Antioch, where they gathered the church together and delivered the letter.  The people read it and were glad for its encouraging message.  Judas and Silas, who themselves were prophets, said much to encourage and strengthen the believers.  After spending some time there, they were sent off by the believers with the blessing of peace to return to those who had sent them.

- Acts 15:5-33

26 October 2014

Your Ideal Occupation Part One

Occupation / noun / ˌäkyəˈpāSH(ə)n / Middle English: via Old French from Latin occupatio(n-), from the verb occupare. Sense 2 dates from the mid 16th century.

1. a job or profession.  a way of spending time.

2. the action, state, or period of occupying or being occupied by military force.

3. the action or fact of living in or using a building or other place.

What’s in a word?

A word sometimes has a variety of meanings when defined on its own.  Usually we can tell which meaning is being used by the context of a statement.  I'd like to focus on the second part of the 1st definition.  I can talk about the moral implications, the benefits and detriments of the second and third definitions at another time.

Think and consider:

Ask yourself this question right now:  If I didn't have to meet a monthly financial demand, like the rent, mortgage, car note, electric bill, food costs, etc., what would I occupy my time doing?  Go ahead and take some time thinking of the answer before reading more of my words.  Maybe even close your eyes and imagine what things you would do outside of what you have to do now ( if anything ) to 'earn' a living or 'work' to pay the bills.  Really, take some time and think about it... it may take a bit of creativity and venturing thoughts.  Think also of the ‘why’ of what you would do.  Don’t think of it as being a selfish pursuit or a noble pursuit, but more so of what you would do if you were to break out of the ‘normal’ rhythms of your daily routine.  Take some time to think, this post will still be here when you open your eyes again.

My personal ambitions:

For me, I would like to take six months or maybe a year to travel some parts of the world via sailboat.  I would go along the coastline and stop at every little port or city I would see on the map or from the water.  This is simply a personal interest of mine, but it’s not like I’ll die or regret never having done this.  The point would be to see peoples and cultures as I would travel along, not so much be out at sea at extended periods of time other than necessary.  This is one thing I have thought about doing to break the city-life rat-race trap I grew up in.  This sailing trip would be a personal challenge to me.  I could also turn this sailing trip into a book somewhere down the road or simply add it to my perception of the bigger world outside of my always limited view of it.

Another thing would be to move out of the city, find some land to grow my own food, set up trading systems where I can trade / barter with others outside of using Caesar’s paper system and issue credit to everyone I come across ( my eggs and chicken wings for your goat milk and goat cheese ).  I would like to teach others the idea of being independent, being an anchor in their community, a producer in their marketplace and a creditor in a world of debtors.  I would like to teach them to make their own money / contracts / agreements and hope they see what I see in terms of not being limited by only using Caesar’s money to get things done. 

In both of these pursuits, one being more for ‘me’ and the other being both for me and for others, I would still share the gospel that permeates my heart and mind and would still aim to be a physical representation of the living Christ ( His Spirit living in me ) at every port I would visit on my sailing journey or every person I would trade / barter with out in the countryside. 

Excuses or actions?

The notion of helping others or spreading a message of faith may or may not also be your heart’s ambition, or you may have another ambition, and that’s okay.  Maybe you want see justice done in the world because you realize that crooks have their way every so often and mess things up for everyone else.  Maybe you just want to be rich and get out of working for others.  I know what that is like and I’ve had my share of that experience.  The point being made here is: are you really going after what is on your heart or are you allowing excuses to prevent you from making steps towards your heart's desire? 

23 October 2014

Listen, Learn and UnLearn

The other day I am back at a place I am currently frequenting, enjoying some interesting conversations and not trying to listen to some that are not so interesting.  The topic of a famous couple getting a divorce comes up.  Some of the men rate the woman according to her exterior looks and how she most likely would have never noticed her soon to be ex-husband if he wasn't rich and famous.  They mention how he's ugly and she would never have taken notice of him.  Some say she isn't all that attractive either and that they've seen better.  Everyone has something to say.

I also had something to say.

I say that both famous people had an unclear idea who the other person was prior to meeting due to their famous persona being on the radio, teevee, etc..  I also say they were most likely attracted to what is projected of them ( what is marketed to the rest of the world in order to sell things ).  They, like all who are sitting in that room discussing the topic, most likely had preconceived notions and high expectations of them that, after some time, were found to be untrue.  I also mention how difficult it already is to find someone compatible in the 'real' world and asked them to imagine how difficult it may be for famous people whose fame gets in the way of genuine relationships.  After I spoke, the conversation quickly reverted back to talking trash about these famous people, as if I didn't say much of anything.  What is noticeable is how when famous people are having trouble, the fans seem quick to throw stones at them.

Earlier I had met with an old friend, to catch up, talk about our lives and whatever else came to mind.  We haven't seen each other for quite a few years, in which time he married and had a child.  We both know one another from our time in the same religious organization.  The last few times we've met for lunch or by chance, we would reminisce and also gripe a bit about what did and didn't happen in that organization.  We discuss our lives now both being married and discuss the joys and challenges that responsibility entails.  We learn from each other.  What he shares helps me and what I share seems to help him.  We learn about what not to do and what to do more of concerning our wives.  We both see, through faith, that we are to treat our wives like Christ treats the church; we are to lay our life down for them, especially when our pride gets in the way of trying to be right instead of trying to keep peace and love at the forefront.  We are much more than just some man in the lives of our wives.

The conversation about the famous couple among my newer friends evolves into discussing relationships.  Some of the guys have their personal stories to share.  Some share about being married and then divorced while others share stories from their dating adventures and experiences.  I begin to realize that I have something very special with my wife that is not easily had by most I come across.  Much of what I hear among the guys sharing is mostly horror stories.  I can't help but ponder deep inside me that most miscommunication arises from lack of love, lack of respect and lack of knowing one's role in a relationship.  Far too many people have never experienced love and confuse love with attraction to the opposite sex.  After the butterflies in your stomach have all but flown away, love becomes a choice made and something pursued with effort, at times a strenuous effort, some other times with no effort at all.  Love is a choice.  You make this choice when using certain words and the heart behind those words, besides your actions and efforts.

The guys I'm sitting with know by now I am a married man.  After a pause in the laughter and trash talk from the male perspective, one of them asks me for my opinion in the matter.  I think for a second because my heart has much to say, but I need to speak wisely and not drown them in what may be heard as religious rhetoric.  I have two points to make.  I repeat to them something they may have heard before; "happy wife, happy life."  One other man there, also married, quickly agrees with me while some others grumble.  One talks about having to bend over backwards to please a woman.  I know this is not the case with my wife, for it has become a joy to serve her and she returns the effort in such a graceful way, I see it as such a wonderful blessing.  I am so grateful for the relationship I've been gifted and for having learned how to put the other person first out of reverence to God and out of love for them prior to meeting her.  I mention the obviousness and simplicity of this short phrase they've all heard before.  I use a few more sentences to expand the simplicity of that statement.

The other thing I have to share with them is something I heard on the radio some time ago while traveling with my wife.  It was a man preaching on the radio, and although I am very careful as to what I take as truth aside from opinion from anyone speaking about God, the last thing the guy on the radio said was something quite remarkable, humorous and yet sobering.  The man on the radio said something that I repeated to that room full of men who seem to be sharing about their failed relationships with their wives / girlfriends, yet seem to be gloating over their self-centered perspective and are unwittingly reinforcing the lie that true love and happy relationships do not exist.

I say: "I always have the last two words in my house... 'yes dear.'"  The room erupts in laughter.  I further the clear novelty of this statement.  I allude to how important it is to put out possible fires when they initially spark.  Put out that initial spark so it doesn't consume one or both people and before it ruins the hour / day / week / the relationship.  There is a way to put an argument to rest without being overbearing, without shutting the other person down, without hurtful words, without spitefully bringing up past issues, without stifling the other person and preventing them from airing their frustrations.  This notion is sometimes simply being silent when the other person has something to say, although what they say may be unpleasant or hurtful at the moment.  This notion is sometimes best expressed with the two words "I'm sorry" followed by your favorite term of endearment.  This notion is something best performed with less words with the aim at being calm instead of allowing your pride, emotions and whatever else may propel you away from love and the bond of peace.

Being in agreement with your spouse, even during an argument, is important.  You can avoid the many pitfalls which far too many people fall into.  In my union I am not always the one doing this, mind you.  I have had my moments as my lovely wife has had hers.  I mention how, by not being quick to engage in argument or a verbal fight, one can avoid confrontation when emotions are running high.  Any disagreement or issue can be revisited later when the emotions have subsided, the anger has dissipated and when the mind and heart can be reminded that the two people are now one.  The bond is based on love and a greater purpose which is something not to be thrown away for any reason.  After feelings have been calmed then the mind can once again follow the heart in talking calmly about whatever the issue was.  And many times the 'issue' was something ridiculous and petty.  The practice of not letting the small things cause division in a relationship is necessary if / when something big does happen. 

My wife is my body.  My wife is my heart.  If I do not take care of my body, protect and guard my heart... if I carelessly mistreat my body and deny my heart the love it needs, my body and my heart will cease to function properly for me... and I will cease to exist.

Sadly, some folks see other people as something that can easily be removed from their lives, like a worn out garment easily tossed away.  Sadly, people are seen as something that can be easily replaced.  Perhaps people have this notion because they see so many people living on the earth and figure there is someone 'else' that can take the place of the one you now have next to you.  But no two people are alike, even among billions.  To replace a significant other as you would replace an older model car for this year's model isn't the same thing.  People are not objects that can be upgraded, updated and refurbished.  People are not replaceable, regardless of what your teevee, your programming, your conditional upbringing, your movie or your music tells you.

The lies which make up our society and culture forwards a cold message lacking the virtues of what makes a relationship work.  No wonder mainstream culture promotes the doubt of a God.  No wonder people go about their lives based on the material while the spiritual world stays a mystery to them.  No wonder so many disbelieve that love is available for them.  The popular culture is marketed the world over and although many may deny it, they are conditioned to not only admire popular attitudes, they also admire popular people.  As the regular person who watches pop culture may not realize, they subconsciously forward what that culture teaches them.  It is in the way you dress, the way you speak and also in the way you act.

The famous couple who are planning to divorce had a child recently.  That child is the casualty of their selfish decisions.  No amount of fame, money or replacing of a spouse will take the place of the mother and father in a loving relationship.  Simply because someone is famous, or rich, or renowned for some achievement doesn't mean they know anything about love or how to keep a relationship together.  Rarely does the 'news' share a message of lifelong trust, fidelity and love between a couple and the product of their commitment and sacrifice exemplified in their children and their children's children. 

The recipe that makes a relationship flourish includes a variety of ingredients.  The main and most important ingredient is love.  Let us realize that this love ingredient isn't the one misconstrued as a feeling but a long lasting choice to accept the other person after the 'feeling' of attraction begins to fade.  The other ingredients making up the recipe is humility, patience, forgiveness, understanding, service, compassion, etc.. ( there is a long list ).  These are the missing ingredients from the world's perception of what kind of ingredients go into a relationship.

Here is the best description of what makes a relationship work, thrive and survive the moments of misalignment:

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

22 October 2014

The Science of a Message

I've been reading the last few days about the history of what is today called Christianity / Churchianity.  Seems to be that over the centuries, the message became a knowledge.  That knowledge then mutated into an ever increasing doctrine.  Eventually, the doctrines became dogmas.  Dogmas then began to outshine the message, as if a copy was better than the original.  Division over perceptions of belief in doctrines and dogmas began to strain the pride of men who believed more the dogmas rather than the message.  Arguments over matters of faith turned into bitter disputes.  Pretty soon, the text of what became New Testament Scriptures was being worshiped instead of believed and guessed as to what it really said instead of followed.  After this, the actual message was hidden away and various doctrines and dogmas man had put together taught as gospel, making man's opinions greater than the message.  Images of people and items believed to hold mysterious powers were worshiped and venerated instead of the One who had brought Light to the world.  Worship further devolved into ritual, with religious men being followed instead of imitating the Perfect example of faith lived out in humility and submission before the eyes of God.  The calling to be a servant of all men became a vocation of authority to command all men.  Contentment with very little became an aspiration to swallow up very much.  The spiritual aspects of the message had become confused with the physical world and commingled with the pitfalls of the hearts of men.  The outward examples of love and service of mankind turned into a struggle for power and to who had 'it' right.  From what I can tell, those who were found doing what was 'right' were ostracized, hunted and killed for putting their faith into action.

The falling away from the Way was predicted, so reading all of this isn't so shocking.

Some folks approach things of faith as if it were a science.  What I mean is that the reader looks into words and looks into their specific definition while sometimes overlooking the comprehension of what the message is saying.  Instead of capturing what the message is, they hold onto certain words and go on a journey of the mind instead of the heart.  And when one word is translated as another in a different language in forwarding the message, all war breaks loose among those who should be bonded in unity.  It is this fanaticism which divides many adherents of the major religions of the world; Islam, Christianity and Judaism.  It was this fanaticism and blindness to the message which divided believers and continued to divide them over the centuries.  Yet somewhere, there is a message of being at peace with one another and not letting words divide you:

They are conceited and understand nothing.  They have an unhealthy interest in controversies and quarrels about words that result in envy, strife, malicious talk, evil suspicions and constant friction between people of corrupt mind, who have been robbed of the truth and who think that godliness is a means to financial gain.

- 1 Timothy 6:4-5

Keep reminding God’s people of these things.  Warn them before God against quarreling about words; it is of no value, and only ruins those who listen.  Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.

- 2 Timothy 2:14-15

What is meant further is this example:  I can say "I love you" in a matter of ways, yet what I am 'saying' using other terms is much the same.  I can use the term "you are the apple of my eye" as well as "I hold you in highest regard."  I can also use "you are most valuable to me" and "I care for none other as I do you" and so on.  I am sure you could come up with plenty of more phrases which would message the same sentiment of "I love you."  Just because one of two people doesn't agree with the other regarding specifics doesn't mean they have to be at odds, or be divided, or that one person is 'evil' or 'wrong' per say.  No one person sees nor understands everything as does another person.  What was quite remarkable was that people were divided ( and still are today ) because of concepts later derived after the fact of the message.

This is the message God has sent into the world via His Christ Yeshua; that God loves you and has proved it so all people can believe that some One surely does exist and has your best interest at heart.  To those who view the world via sacrifice, hardship and the pain of losing something very dear to them, the Christ was allowed to suffer and eventually sacrificed although being most highly regarded.  To those who see family as most important and hold their children in higher regard than anything else, God honored the Christ with an eternal kingship over all things.  To those who didn't know about Judaism or about the Jews and their legacy with God, the message of life after death was a starting point into the message of Yeshua and what Yeshua signifies for the world.

The idea and concept of life after death had found its way into practically every religion and culture up to that point, and this I see was by God's hand and not by chance.  God hasn't been working in a vacuum where His presence was only felt by the Jews while being absent in all other peoples and cultures. 

This also is the message; the hope for life after death.  The mystery became the reality for those who walked with Christ when they saw Him alive after they saw Him die.  His word was proven to them and this reality was undeniable to them!  Those who witnessed Him alive again went faithfully to their deaths proclaiming what they saw, forever changed and openly accepting whatever the world dealt them.  Many of them also put their experiences down on parchment to forward the message of this reality to others.  These are the particulars of the message we have today.

We also have heard a complicated message and see it played out in today's rituals, religions and repetitiveness.  Why should one complicate something already simple and beautiful by going further than the basics?  Some have lost their faith and have fallen into doubt from reading what other doubters have written.  Some say they went searching for proof of the matter, yet what more proof can one muster aside from the fact that many men and women went gladly to their death over the message of Yeshua?  Did insanity compel these early faithful?  Did ignorance propel them to die in vain or for some ridiculous idea?  Did they collectively see something false?  Perhaps there is more to the story than what is written and perhaps not all of those early believers had the opportunity to write in detail their dreams and private revelations.  Perhaps they were commanded not to write in further detail their personal experiences.  There is a place where Paul the apostle said he heard things that no one is permitted to tell [ 2 Corinthians 12:4 ].  Was it only Paul who was restrained from sharing some fantastic things?  

What we do have is message enough to spark your faith and start you on that journey of a lifetime, whose lifestyle is by faith and not by following a religious prescription!  The early disciples, those we see authored some writings as well as what is called the gospels, didn't include more rules than what was evident to them.  We can read for ourselves what was promoted and what was frowned upon.  We can see the very message of Christ and His instructions on how to treat others and how to 'be.'  Why folks would need or desire to follow anything outside of what is already proven is beyond me, but most likely is evidence to how the pride of some men can capture the attention of others... and blind so many.

Death is something every human can surely relate to, for anyone who has lived long enough eventually comes to an understanding of the limited time they have on earth and realizes that life in this world doesn't last forever.  Plants, animals, people and even things men have made come to an end.  The mystery of the unknown after death was revealed in Yeshua.  Yeshua brought hope to the reality of death like no one has been able to in all of history.  The impact on societies, cultures and what men would later write in sharing their insights and experiences from what Yeshua started is quite a tsunami of influence that has swept over the world.  Who else has had such an influence over what the people of the world have Today?  

The attempt to 'better' what was already a completed work became a dispute which still exists today.  The pitfall was in using more words instead of actions; using words to describe what was already perfectly messaged by Yeshua.  Here is where we depart when we'd rather read the words of others in place of what has already been mentioned.  The formation of doctrines and dogmas to explain what is easily understood and believed by the simple-hearted / simple-minded seems to have backfired for those who are puffed up.  But God wasn't without grace in days long past as He isn't short with His grace Today.  Think of the many authors who have their books on bookshelves yet keep hidden away the full message that Christ proclaimed.  They further the idea of secular success is a sign of God's blessing, but this isn't what the message reveals.  They believe that the more one accumulates the wealth of the world is a sure sign that God is happy with your efforts.  They must have forgotten that Yeshua said He didn't have a rock to lay His head on, and the early disciples would sell their property to help feed those in need.

Although men full of pride and arrogance have brought war onto others in the name of their religion... although men have mismanaged the message and instead taught division, hatred and indifference... although men have brought doubt onto the Life that Christ has fulfilled ( by overcoming death ), God has surely triumphed!  I say this because Christ is preached every week the world over before millions upon millions of people.  He is preached on street corners the world over.  He is preached in secret behind closed doors the world over.  He is preached in the most subtle of ways which have yet to be revealed to the masses.  We don't have a count as to the multitude who pray to Him in secret, pray to Him in their hearts, who are daily continuing on His path or are for the first time searching for Him.  And we will never have a count of the righteous who have lived and are living Today as long as we live on this earth.  These are matters yet to be revealed.

The kingdom of God, which was proclaimed to never come to an end and which would last forever, is very much intact, very much alive and very much being forwarded, even Today, despite man's shortsightedness and shortcomings.

In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven.  He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence.  He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all nations and peoples of every language worshiped Him.  His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and His kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.

- Daniel 7:13-14

But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God.  You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call Him Yeshua.  He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High.  The Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David, and He will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; His kingdom will never end.”

- Luke 1:30-33

The eyes of the world cannot perceive nor even acknowledge that such a kingdom exists because the kingdom of God is within you; the kingdom of God is among you; the kingdom of God is in your midst.

Once, on being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Yeshua replied, “The coming of the kingdom of God is not something that can be observed, nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is in your midst.”

- Luke 17:20-21

21 October 2014

How To Be Today

I like to read.  From my readings I see how easy it is to develop opinions and perceptions.  I have developed several opinions and perceptions derived from my reading.  I can sometimes see how doctrines and dogmas are developed from what others have shared.  It is noticeable how members of the same faith can have contrary views after so much has been written.  Some believers follow, to the letter, what those standing before them teach.  They believe and disbelieve what is taught them to believe and disbelieve.  Some decipher what is said alongside with what is written.  There is a point when one passes from death to life according to the faith God grants them, and this happens without that believer having much understanding or knowledge of all that is written.  I must consider: does more knowledge equate to more salvation?

I think about how most of the men Yeshua surrounded Himself with were not very educated regarding their upbringing and their life experience.  Most of the men were commoners, scratching out a living as best they knew how.  Some were in business for themselves while others worked for someone else.  This was purposed, perhaps to show it doesn't take a genius to see the things of God.  The men who searched out Yeshua were drawn to Him for some reason.  In due time, from the message Yeshua preached about the kingdom of God, more and more people of status searched Him out... some out of curiosity, others out of spite and others because they believed what was being reported about Him.

It is quite exciting to see how the Way Yeshua preached brought a unity among believers that transcended typical class barriers.  Yet many organizations Today, which profess faith in Yeshua and His Way, are somehow divided.  How can so many be so divided?  Are they not divided by opinions of what is important to believe and what should not be believed?  Are they not divided by what others have written regarding what was earlier written?  Are they not divided because of what each person struggles with; namely pride?  I know I have my personal pride I must contend with regarding the faith I can't always put into words.  Isn't the faith something that is lived out and not so much explained with words?  Didn't Yeshua 'live out' what He preached?

Very comforting is the fact that one can return to the basics of what it means to be good and read once again how to do what is right.  No matter how much knowledge and information one gathers into their mind, what THE dividing factor between those who hold the message on their lips and those who hold the message in their hearts is their living example.

May my words be silenced by the life example I live out.  May His Word speak eternally through me over and beyond my perception of Him and what I think is the Way.  Once you know for certain you have passed from death to life... are you not to be used as His vessel in being like Christ until you cease to exist on this plain?

Now when Yeshua saw the crowds, He went up on a mountainside and sat down.  His disciples came to Him, and He began to teach them.

He said:
 

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.


Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.


Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.


Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.


Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.


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


Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
 

Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me.  Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
 

You are the salt of the earth.  But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again?  It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.
 

You are the light of the world.  A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.  Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl.  Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.  In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

- Matthew 5:1-16

19 October 2014

Playing Games, Learning Life Lessons

I loved playing board games growing up.  I was the youngest of our generation so it was sometimes a challenge convincing my cousins and / or sisters to play with me, for we all outgrow games at one point or another.  I liked the board games because of the interaction they demanded.  I had plenty of time playing alone with my toys without interaction from others.  I have older sisters, seven and nine years older.  At some point one of my sisters began playing with dolls.  Her playing with dolls included drama with dialogue, similar to the soap operas she would watch on teevee ( while I wanted to watch cartoons ).  Some of my toy playing was with G.I. Joes and the only drama or dialogue was "get them" and "they got me" with the sounds of constant bombs and bullets.  But every time I had the opportunity to play a board game with others, I never wanted this type of game playing to end.

One of my favorite board games my siblings and I had was Monopoly.  I liked the idea of counting the money, buying and selling property, collecting rents, etc.  One had to think and pay attention to what others were doing.  With each role of the dice, fate and chance would happen.  You could land in jail, you could end up paying taxes for something ridiculous, or you could realize a windfall.  Some real estate on the board was more attractive than others, mostly for the rents they would render.  There was some decision making needed when the role of the dice would put you in certain situations, like having to pay rent and not having the funds.  If you had property, you'd have to mortgage it, sell it or negotiate something with whomever was demanding rent.  I liked this game because it would sometimes go on for hours.  I didn't mind the test of patience or stamina when it came to this game, it meant for me more time chatting with my relatives over the game and trash talking.  There was a time when my sisters and I were shocked at what another player had done while playing this game.  We happened to be playing with an uncle of ours and he was doing far better than any of us.  He was also filling in the role of the banker and this took just a bit more attention, since playing the banker is a responsibility.  The task of being the banker does not grant anyone extra privileges or leverage over other players.  It is a task allowed to be done in trust and in service of everyone else.  The game of Monopoly ( definition of monopoly ) is designed to absorb the wealth into few hands while eliminating all other players ( making them broke and unable to continue due to being stripped of everything ).  At one point during the game with our uncle, him being far ahead of the rest of us, he simply drops his money into the bank and became the bank!  I don't remember what became of the rest of the game after that, perhaps it ended with him declaring he won.  Who would have known this gaming move of his is exactly what happens every now and again in the history of managing 'civilization.'

The cousins who lived down the street and next door to my grandparents had the Game of Life.   I loved the idea of being a doctor or lawyer and filling the car with a wife and kids.  I liked getting the life card and reading what was next in 'life.'  In this game, you get an identity.  You could also get another card and soon find you're broke because of some catastrophe.  And just like in real life, having the title of a doctor or lawyer brings with it an air of 'respectability' as do many such titles.  If you were to introduce a significant other to your relatives or friends using a title like doctor or lawyer, you are most likely to build not only a sense of authority in conversation but also leverage some sort of credibility in your conversation.  If you were to introduce someone as unemployed, you'd most likely get the opposite reaction or no reaction at all.

Hungry Hungry Hippos, where you are behind a very hungry hippo with the aim of swallowing up as many marbles as possible, was a game the cousins around the corner had.  The hungriest hippo wins.  This was one of the simpler games I played, yet it still makes sense to the adult observer regarding the world after one's childhood runs out; whoever has 'the most' wins... or so people think.  The game was redundant and it wasn't my favorite, but when childhood boredom strikes, any game would do to help pass the time.

In the card game War, you battle your opponent and win by having the highest ranking card at any given hand... until one player has all the cards.  This was another simple game that I loved playing.  It would sometimes take a long time to absorb all 52 cards from your opponent.  One of the last times I played this, I remember my sister getting frustrated.  This particular game had become boring to her.  As with many games of this caliber, they are simple and no strategy or thinking is involved, only reacting to what card comes up.  Sort of like watching teevee and changing the channel when a commercial comes on.  Although we can see that strategies do exist in the real world when real war is being waged, I dare argue that no thinking is involved and no real strategy towards peace occurs with war, but only an absorbing of one people's things and a reacting to what happens before you.

In Chess, which I bought myself after learning how the game pieces move, you plan to topple the other player's king by systematically eliminating the other pieces or strategically surpassing other pieces protecting the king.  I never really built a strategy with this one, but would simply wipe out everyone in my path on my way to toppling the opponent's king.  The brother in law who taught me the moves of this game would tell me it isn't called 'killem' because I would simply take all his pieces out, one by one.  Perhaps I was too young to conceptualize strategy, for to me this was like the card game war, but on steroids and with movement rules.  Yet, I would still win!  It wasn't until later in life as a young adult that I played chess with someone who taught chess for a living that I began to see how really dull I was at this game.  The game of real life is very much like this; benefiting the few who figure out what is really going on while leaving the rest in a lurch

This particular post was inspired by some points made in this video lecture by Mark Lakeman which I highly suggest watching and learning from.  The world ( or at least your neighborhood / town ) could experience of revolution of sorts by implementing some of the ideas this man mentions.  He uses sarcasm at times, so be sure to pay close attention.  Here is the land ordinance he mentions.  I suggest reading it to gather an insight into what he speaks of.

17 October 2014

Are You Naturally Selected?

Yesterday I returned to the cigar lounge I found last week ( I say 'found' but it had existed there for over 25 years prior to me calling it my own ).  The games were not on teevee but the news was.  Some interesting conversations came about as we saw the continued coverage of the Ebola fear programming.  Two of the gentlemen I sat and discussed things with were thinking of changing their travel plans since diseased patients were being transported to the states they had considered traveling to.  And I don't think they were joking.  I mention how, although the threat of sickness from this particular disease is real, notice should be taken of how the 'news' keeps with up with this story while ignoring all the other things happening in the world.  Another thing to take note of is how teevee watchers can't help but have this as their foremost thought in their minds and as the topic of conversation.  And as I've heard in that lounge, some are changing their plans due to what the teevee is telling them, fear being the basis of their choices.

Earlier in the day, before leaving the house, I had continued my reading and searching of obscure writings from the early disciples.  I've been doing this to get a glimpse of the world they were experiencing, their perceptions of the mystery revealed in Christ and to determine if what they shared was kosher or not ( or why some parts were included while others were not, of course according to my current view of these things ).  I was reading about Ignatius and how he was torn to pieces by lions when judged in Rome.  He knew this would be the way in which he would be executed and he wrote several letters to the current churches in hopes of encouraging them.  It is amazing to read about his steadfast faith and how he wasn't afraid to die, even being ravaged by wild animals.  He was looking forward to being with God the moment that ordeal was over.  When I ponder his state of mind, I wonder how trivial my worries and gripes are when considering others were being killed for their efforts in forwarding the message of faith in Christ.  How trivial indeed... and embarrassing are my current issues.

On my walk to the downtown area, I stopped by a hardware store looking for those 'push' and 'pull' signs folks put on doors.  The proprietor at the cigar lounge reminds customers who are entering the cigar room to push to enter, but within moments they are pulling to enter.  She rolls her eyes as a response and my response is to laugh.  Sometimes, without signs, folks don't know exactly what to do.  So I thought it would be funny, encouraging and helpful to get her these signs for her place of business.  When I do arrive at her lounge after breaking bread with a new friend, I tell her I have a surprise for her and I follow that saying I hope she is not offended for I thought this would help her if she chose to use it.  I ask her to close her eyes and out of my computer bag I pull out the two signs.  As she opens her eyes she can't help but laugh loudly... as do I.  She was very happy to have received these and I was so glad that she was happy to now have them.  She's very welcoming to every customer and knows her business well.  She does a great job of speaking to people from various  backgrounds. 

Prior to arriving at the cigar lounge, I'm on my way to yet another favorite coffee shop to do some work.  I run into a gentleman who asks for some loose change to buy some food and a new shirt.  I tell him I don't have any cash or coins but I would gladly buy him a meal if he'd like.  He agrees to my counter-offer and we proceed to the coffee shop.  Some people I pass on my path are not as bold to ask for help or perhaps are tired / embarrassed to ask for help.  From my experience, many are drowning in mental anguish from what has become of their life or some even already had mental storms which ushered them into living on the streets.  I hope to be this man's friend for as long as he hangs around and hope to help him in all ways I am equipped and capable of doing.  ( I share this experience not to boast of good deeds done, for the few I do share publicly are only for teaching purposes and not to express how 'good' I am or any other such vain conceit ).

Prior to breaking bread, he is unsure if I am open to sharing a table with him and stays standing as I have already set up my computer at a table for four.  I motion with my hand for him to join me for the meal which will be brought to us momentarily.  This is the hardest part for most people, as I too am challenged at times when speaking to those in need.  It is much easier to show a smile and hand over some change without engaging in conversation.  Yet, I must encourage you ( the reader ) that as with anything else in life, practice perfects the intention.  I've learned to keep a calm and friendly face regardless of what is shared with me, not easily reflecting my thoughts or emotions by facial expressions, for anything outside of content may hurt the person sitting across from you and further whatever trial they are experiencing.  He expresses he doesn't have a high school diploma and this reality makes him believe finding regular employment would be impossible.  I encourage him by pointing out the manner in which he is speaking.  He is quite the intellectual and kind speaker from what I can tell by his delivery.  I tell him that this gift isn't easily taught in school and many who have degrees in management or have experience dealing with people don't have the natural ability and ease of delivery he has.  I encourage him further in ways he can approach business owners for opportunities, suggesting he should offer his labor or any other talents in exchange for things of necessity, not so much simply money.  Many people cannot creatively think outside the box of only trading money for goods and services, so I suggest to him to make a creative approach where someone may not need or have the means to hire someone.  By posing options and opening a door for creativity, their heart may be open to helping and they both may come to an agreement to having some work done in exchange for meals, clothing, etc.  He likes the ideas and suggestions I've shared with him and thanks me for the time and the meal.

I finish the work I needed to do at the coffee shop and go around the corner to the cigar lounge.  After some time and several customers, a gentleman and his friend arrive and sit to enjoy a cigar and a conversation with the other patrons.  He's from Chicago and I am able to join in the conversation of places to eat while in Chicago and I also suggest places in Long Beach he may find interesting and enjoyable.  After them arrives more gentlemen who sit for a while and once again the Ebola topic comes up.  This time the three other gentlemen sitting there share their thoughts, ranging from a sinister plan to depopulate the planet ( which I've heard and researched ) to the teevee news not sharing much other than fear about this disease ( I've researched this method of mind control and people management ) and other ideas about how drug companies will surely profit from all the chaos, sickness, vaccines and treatments ( while not focusing on cures, which I too have noticed to be a pattern at times ).  The tone is dreary and after some time I can't help but ask out loud if there are any solutions.  Very few ideas are spoken.  I do follow the notion one man brings up that nature / creation has a way of correcting imbalances and this outbreak of disease, like others throughout recorded history, may very well be a response to the mismanagement and trespasses of mankind.  I say how man, although holding attributes which are seen to be above the rest of creation, is not separate but is in fact a part of creation.  I mention how man, in arrogance, does things with certain aims in mind that do not always coincide with the natural world and in most cases negatively affects others and nature.

Man is not wholly distinct from nature, but is a very important creation among the rest of creation.  Man is a shepherd of men and animals, to ensure things go well, not to only look after selfish interests.  Man is a farmer who is to work the ground in order to feed himself and others, not simply see the world as a business opportunity and other people as commodities.  Man is a manager of things brought about by other men in order to help one another, not simply leverage all things possible to benefit only himself.  When the balance of nature and mankind falls out of sync, people shouldn't be surprised when certain issues begin to arise and get out of hand.  The world around us has a way of reminding us that we have a higher purpose when our lower desires get ahead of us.

The question is not whether those in positions of power and influence will 'do the right thing,' but it is more a question to the individual, on the personal level, if you will do the right thing.  It is those who do the right thing which are 'naturally' selected, although they may perish in the flesh, as did Ignatius and the One Ignatius was imitating.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

- Matthew 11:28-30