27 February 2015

Everlasting Encouragement

When I was a senior at Winston Churchill High school in San Antonio, Texas, my English teacher Mrs. McCullough asked me if I ever considered pursuing a writing career. I was practically lifted out of my desk! At that tender age, it was one of the most encouraging suggestions from a teacher. She said this after reading a paper I had written. I had my share of challenges in high school. I really opened up with great detail about what was going on in my life. I will never forget that moment.

Thank you Mrs. McCullough.

The irony with what this fantastic teacher suggested I consider was what was to happen later that year; I would fail the state's essay exit exam! It seems I never learned how to write an essay in the expected format, or whoever read my essay didn't think I followed the proper essay guideline. I was floored. After my mom and older sister made some phone calls, paying $50.00 for a review, I was 'passed.' I remember seeing other students in anguish having received the same news. Whoever didn't pass and, wasn't able to pass the paid review, was restricted from walking with the class in the gowns at year's end.

I always held the thought of being a writer in my heart and in the back of my mind. I wasn't sure if I would be up to it. I didn't think by expressing myself onto paper was anything valuable. I did think that perhaps years later after having lived a life worth sharing, with something to say, I would be able to put something to paper at least half interesting.

The loving way Mrs. McCullough responded to my emotional plea on paper is something I will never forget!

God bless you Mrs. McCullough.

26 February 2015

What Is Love For God?

Love makes people do all kinds of things. 

Out of love ( or jealousy ), a man may kill another man for his wife / woman.

For some, love is the absolute motivating factor behind their efforts. 

But love is sometimes difficult to understand.

The examples of love are sometimes difficult to clearly identify.

Some may say love can drive them to kill. 

Some believe they love God so much, they are willing to kill for Him.

Others believe they love God so much, they are willing to die for Him.

Still others believe they love God so much, they are willing to allow themselves to be killed for Him.

To kill and to die is arguably reasonable within the framework of any given religion.

Yet, for some, loving God is not about killing or dying, at least not in the literal sense.

For some, loving God is dying to oneself; dying to the desires to serve the self over serving others.

To some, loving God means absolute obedience to Him.

Obedience equals love.

But what is ‘love’ for God in religion?

Some follow an idea which leads them to draw blood in the name of their god, believing their god commands them to spill blood.

Some others are willing to have their blood drawn for the Name of their God, believing their God commands them to be at peace with all others, to love their enemies and to forgive everyone.

For some, God is in absolute control and does not need humans defending Him / His honor.

For others, if they don’t physically act out in defense of God’s honor, He will be unhappy with them.

Some take pride in God and show it on the outside.

Others take pride in God and keep their pride in their hearts.

25 February 2015

Looking And Listening

“When I was little my homies would say ‘you’re gay,’ and I would say ‘no I’m not.’”  - what a young woman dressed like a man was saying as I passed on the way from my home to a nearby coffee shop.

I would not have recognized her as a woman if she would have not said this.  She was standing with two men ( two people dressed like and resembling men ).  In the manner her hair was, her clothing and her stance, I thought I was seeing three men standing there as I walked by with a smile. 

“I was run over.  It was a hit and run.” – a nearby pizza shop owner says, as he jay walks again across the street where he was hit.

I’ve seen him in a cast weeks ago limping around, but didn’t have an opportunity to speak with him until now. 

“It’s like Tia Juana over there.”  - my friend who owns an antique store between the Laundromat and my home.

I was returning from doing the laundry and he asked how I was doing.  I said I was walking back from washing my wife’s and my clothes.  He said somebody had to do it.  I shared my dislike of doing it, but said I do find it entertaining and always a learning experience when I walk over to the Laundromat.  This is when he said what that intersection looked like to him.  I’m not sure if he was referring to the demographic or the condition of the buildings and street, or both. 

“I would not have remembered unless you would have said something.” – the lady at the counter of the coffee shop I arrived at to do some work.

The debit card hadn’t worked yesterday.  Sometimes it does, other times no.

24 February 2015

Democracy Of Two

Id' like to share about what a democracy of two means to me.

My wife and I make a singular union; we are two minds with two hearts operating as one.  We understand that deciding on anything of relative importance on our own would be inconsiderate of the other 'half' of the one.  The word 'compromise' may come to your mind.  That term sometimes has negative connotations attached to it, especially in today's cynical and sometimes broken notion of relationships.

I don't really see the negative connotation of 'compromise' when I let my wife decide what we should eat.  I sometimes eat the same thing over and over again, not venturing to widen my horizons.  She also has allowed my suggestions broaden her food horizons where previously she wouldn't had dared to try ( like sushi / raw fish ).

In practicing 'democracy of two' with my wife, I've learned to really listen and consider her suggestions and opinions regarding more important decisions.  The dynamic we have; me being the leader of the family, being personally subject and answerable to God, and according to His order she being subject to me, greater responsibility is beckoned from me rather than from her.  This theme is seen in the majority of cultures, societies and peoples in times past, regardless of religious perspectives.

And the rare time I make a bad choice ( joke ), she patiently follows me, being faithful to the Lord and to me.  It is in her patience and obedience to His order that I am able to learn from my bad choices while appreciating her wise suggestions I missed.

Wisdom is given a female gender in Scripture for a reason.  Have you noticed?

Does not wisdom call out?  Does not understanding raise her voice?

- Proverbs 8: 1

20 February 2015

Change The Money

A gentleman sitting nearby asks if I can watch his computer while he uses the restroom.  He has a hat on that has a familiar looking logo.  I ask him about it upon his return.  It is the Colorado State flag.  I thought it was the euro dollar, but quickly realize I was thinking about a friend of mine in Breckenridge, Colorado who started a local interest-free currency that looks similar to the Colorado flag; Mountain Hours.

We begin to speak about a topic that I am surprised this man is familiar with.  He hadn’t heard of Mountain Hours but has come across the idea of an independent currency.  It is moments like this I see the hope in the struggle to escape usury. 

I go into a three minute blurb with my thoughts on the subject.  He mentions BitCoin and I respond with the inherent shortcoming of using that centralized digital currency; fluctuating value.  I do mention it is a step in the right direction in terms of a consciousness towards fair and equal trade.

Money has an illusion attached.  I say this because when people trade real things for a piece of paper, I don’t know how else to call this phenomenon.  Since money is an agreement which compels the user of the money to agree so they can survive, I don’t see it as equal and fair.  This is why I told this gentleman that people can factually make their own money.  They can do this by writing agreements, contracts, etc.  In the past, these agreements were a handshake or verbal agreement among witnesses ‘for the record.’  Today it can be done in much the same way; I suggest having it in writing.

Regarding international trade, perhaps something fairer than BitCoin will be introduced in due time.

19 February 2015

People Do Change

Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples.  He went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem.  As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him.  He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute Me?”

“Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked.

“I am Yeshua, whom you are persecuting,” He replied.  “Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”

The men traveling with Saul stood there speechless; they heard the sound but did not see anyone.  Saul got up from the ground, but when he opened his eyes he could see nothing.  So they led him by the hand into Damascus.  For three days he was blind, and did not eat or drink anything.

In Damascus there was a disciple named Ananias.  The Lord called to him in a vision, “Ananias!”

“Yes, Lord,” he answered.

The Lord told him, “Go to the house of Judas on Straight Street and ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul, for he is praying.  In a vision he has seen a man named Ananias come and place his hands on him to restore his sight.”

“Lord,” Ananias answered, “I have heard many reports about this man and all the harm he has done to your holy people in Jerusalem.  And he has come here with authority from the chief priests to arrest all who call on your Name.”

But the Lord said to Ananias, “Go!  This man is My chosen instrument to proclaim My Name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel.  I will show him how much he must suffer for My Name.”

Then Ananias went to the house and entered it.  Placing his hands on Saul, he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord – Yeshua, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here – has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.”  Immediately, something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he could see again.  He got up and was baptized, and after taking some food, he regained his strength.

- Acts 9

17 February 2015

The Human Element: John The Millionaire

On the way back home from a coffee shop, I ran into a man who works with his hands and his mind.  He’s a millionaire.  It was Sunday and he asked if I was returning from ‘church’ with a bit of a smirk on his face.  He’s heard me talk about God and similar themes in the past.  Our friendship has been building for months now and we’ve had light and easy topics of conversation.  We ventured deeper today.

We shared a constructive and insightful conversation about religion, God, history and perceptions among other things.  He mentioned liking the Dalai Lama and what he stands for.  I agreed that the Buddhist philosophy has its strengths.  I asked if he believed in God.  He said he does believe there is a higher power, but is not sure if Jesus is God.  The conversation continued to pull the path of historical wrongs the Catholic Church committed. 

I reasoned with him that he is not responsible for the actions of his father, nor is he responsible for the manner in which his father ran his house.  I equate the same idea when looking at an organization and those who are parts of that organization.  I then mentioned the typically unknown period of two hundred years after Christ and prior to the faith becoming the Roman state’s religion.  I pointed out the difference between those who followed Christ during those two centuries to those who began to wield temporal power and became once again engrossed in worldly affairs.

We spoke about several other things, and I had to leave him get back to his work; he was managing quite a few people who were working for him.  I see the desire men have to know truth and do good despite the world’s historical narrative.