30 April 2016

The Human Perspective Was Purposed


Anthropomorphism

noun

the attribution of human characteristics or behavior to a god, animal, or object
    Anthropomorphism derives from its verb form anthropomorphize, itself derived from the Greek ánthrōpos (ἄνθρωπος, "human") and morphē (μορφή, "form"). It is first attested in 1753, originally in reference to the heresy of applying a human form to the Christian God. [from the wikipedia entry]
It is always an insightful experience reading what the definition of a word is... and also read how that word came to mean today, as it was from its earliest known conception (etymology).

Yet, isn't the very reach in defining something, putting into words what the human's perception of what something “is” yet another form of anthropomorphism?

It seems the human being, by default, puts all of its ideas firstly through the mill of anthropomorphism.

It is the effort of looking at something objectively and not 'as' a human being ( if this is actually possible ) that 'may' somehow grant the observing human being a clearer picture of the world and its contents, as it is, and not as an extension of the human perception.

The video is an example of 'seeing' birds perching on wires as a piece of sheet music.

The man who beautifully put music to what he saw had previously learned to 'read' music as written on lines.

To a person not having a clue as to what sheet music is, they may see perhaps a different pattern, or something else, beyond the image of those birds on the lines... yet most likely attributing what they see according to their perception and according to their human experience(s).

Read about anthropological linguistics for further insight.

Herein is the point of this observational blog post:

The definition of this term anthropomorphism includes human beings projecting their concept of 'god' / God as, and as we've already seen, through their human perception ( according to what the human understands ).

Yet, is this actually a true statement considering all things?

As with many attempts to answer a provocative question, the answer is paradoxically “yes” and “no”.
Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” 
So God created mankind in His own image, 
   in the image of God He created them; 
      male and female He created them. 
- Genesis 1: 26-27
This seems to read that mankind was made in God's image, not the other way around as the man-made and man-perceived definition suggests.
The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.  For in Him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through Him and for Him.  He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.  And He is the head of the body, the church; He is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything He might have the supremacy.  For God was pleased to have all His fullness dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile to Himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through His blood, shed on the cross. 
- Colossians 1: 15-20
It seems that the vastness of 'what' and 'who' God is goes beyond the visible, yet we've been granted a glimpse in Yeshua Christ, a glimpse as to what that 'image' looks like... complimenting the passage in Genesis.
No one has ever seen God, but the One and only Son, who is Himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made Him known. 
- John 1: 18
And this glimpse, this experience the earliest believers had when seeing, touching, hearing and walking with the One from Above; the anthropomorphism was not in vain as skeptics may criticize.

It is quite striking how the disciple Thomas finally came to faith:
A week later His disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them.  Though the doors were locked, Yeshua came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!”  Then He said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see My hands.  Reach out your hand and put it into My side.  Stop doubting and believe.” 
Thomas said to Him, “My Lord and my God!” 
Then Yeshua told him, “Because you have seen Me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” 
- John 20: 26-29
We who Today believe are quite blessed to 'see' without having seen the image... the very image and likeness we've been created and made to reflect.

Praise His Holy Name!

29 April 2016

The Promise Of Undeserved Grace


The world is a wonderful place, full of interesting things.

We have been gifted the animals, the vegetation and the waters above and below.

It is from these we learn much about life, if not all of it.

An idea can sometimes only go so far without a physical example or representation.

Thus why man has learned to 'fly' by observing the birds, and gaining the ability to swim faster by imitating the fins of the dolphin.

So it is no surprise that man has invented the computer, and has named certain aspects of the computer according to man's concepts of himself and the world around him.

Memory, storage, cells, mouse, screen, mail, web, bookmark, etc.

These terms mean different things outside of computing terminology, their meaning dependent on the subject matter in which they are mentioned.

Looking closer at the computer, these machines can also keep an account of your efforts and actions.

Cookies, history.

Some cookies, or certain things your computer remembers, are helpful.

But sometimes, cookies aren't so useful.

Same with history.

History is helpful, and can be bookmarked to find a website or virtual location.

Going a bit further with the concept of deleting history and cookies ( virtual memory ), have you noticed what this function can mirror in real life?

Clearing “cookies” and deleting “history” helps your computer run smoother, opening up “storage” and allowing for “memory” to run faster.

On a computer, clearing its history is like God's grace over our sin.

This redemption and grace, despite our humanity, was promised many centuries before Christ appeared in the flesh... read what has been promised:
I, even I Am He, who blots out 
   your transgressions, for My own sake, 
      and remembers your sins no more. 
- Isaiah 43: 25  
I have swept away your offenses like a cloud, 
   your sins like the morning mist. 
Return to Me, 
   for I have redeemed you. 
- Isaiah 44: 22

No longer will they teach their neighbor, 
   or say to one another, ‘Know the Lord,’ 
      because they will all know Me, 
         from the least of them to the greatest,” 
     declares the Lord. 
“For I will forgive their wickedness 
    and will remember their sins no more.” 
- Jeremiah 31: 34
God promised to erase the frailties of our humanity, our shortcomings, and promised to remember them no more.

As we could choose to do on a computer, God chose to do through His Christ:
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Yeshua Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For He chose us in Him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in His sight. In love He predestined us for adoption to sonship through Yeshua Christ, in accordance with His pleasure and will—to the praise of His glorious grace, which He has freely given us in the One He loves. In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that He lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding, He made known to us the mystery of His will according to His good pleasure, which He purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ. 
- Ephesians 1: 3-10

28 April 2016

Walking The Talk, Knowing Not The Gnosis


Have you ever met someone ( maybe that someone is you ) that knows very much about any given thing, topic or subject, yet their application of such knowledge falls short of them really 'knowing' it?

This person may know everything about, let's say sailing, but they cannot sail a boat too well... even after years of sailing!

The same could be said in the opposite direction.

Someone could know exactly 'how' to sail a boat, without fear of making a mistake and consistently providing for a safe journey, while knowing very little about technical terms and maritime vocabulary.

Some folks simply do not have the application despite the knowledge.

Similar to how a driver of a car, having driven for many years, may not have the same application to driving as another person who happens to have an innate skill when it comes to being behind the wheel.

The latter are what can become professional race car drivers, or are experts at avoiding accidents and getting out of difficult road conditions.

What is evident is that despite experience, skills are only developed so far for some people.

While for others, not even 'knowing' much of the subject matter, they can 'perform' as if they've had that experience their entire lives... seeming to have a gift / talent / an already highly developed skill.

Natural Talent this phenomenon is sometimes called.

So, do some people have a natural talent to things of the heart, the mind, and applications which have nothing to do with exterior actions, but with speaking with and talking to others?

We see this with politicians, preachers, pastors, salesmen, etc.

Some people can weave quite a tale, telling a tall story, and convince people of many things...

And with the much talking, there could be much learning behind the talk, but the two don't always meet honorably, or align properly.

Many teachers or preachers can talk a great talk, 'knowing' the theological mysteries, and can mention a solid doctrinal perspective... yet can still be void of love... and God is love.

A great orator isn't always an honest orator, perhaps focusing too much on the 'gnosis' and not as much on the applications.

A convincing politician isn't always a good shepherd, perhaps speaking the right words, but hardly doing what they say they would do.

Although practice may solidify a talent, a gift usually takes little practice.

A gift just is.

Sadly, the world if full of phony people... only applying an effort in a vocation to pay their bills and more.

27 April 2016

The Battle Only Within, Never Without


Every so often I am reminded of things I've done and said in the past.

My past sin; my cross I bear.

It can be quite overwhelming at times, these memories.

Something sometimes unrelated, sometimes quite related, remind me of my old self... and the shell of a man that was removed from me.

Life is challenging enough dealing with the thorn(s), some that may not likely be removed, let alone being reminded of the things I willfully did and said times ago.

I beg Him to remove them all, or at least only allow the memories to linger but allow for a failed response to current temptation(s).

But I, and we who have been gifted faith, have in the world with us the Way necessary, already won for us.

We have the Holy Spirit living within us leading us to victory time and time again.

We have prayers directly to the Father's ears, from within our heart and mind, in silence or spoken, that places us before the thrown of Grace.

We have the Word of God, written on our hearts and in printed form.

We have the testimony which reminds us the best news, the good news ( Gospel ) any human being can ever hope to hear and know.
Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Yeshua the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have One who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet He did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. 
- Hebrews 4: 14-16
We also have fire-branded first-hand experience of what it means to walk the Way to heaven, written down for us, and also evident in many who live by faith Today.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Yeshua, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before Him He endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. 
- Hebrews 12: 1-3
So when the thoughts begin an onslaught and the spiritual battle begins, these testimonies and experiences all authored from Above, have been written to encourage us, to feed us, to inspire us and to remind us we are never alone... no matter what our mind or tempted heart may momentarily ponder.
Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things Above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things Above, not on earthly things. 
- Colossians 3: 1-2
The battle is not with physical weapons, as some are confused due to their fear and state-religion.

The battle is always in the Spirit against things we, thanks be to God, cannot see with the human eye.
For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. 
- 2 Corinthians 10: 3-5

26 April 2016

Nostalgia Without Memory


Had a great conversation with someone who shares the same recent heritage as myself.

I say recent because before the national identity of this place made history, the heritage hailed from another place, and that place had its own identity... and so it follows the further back one goes.

This gentleman's parents also left the island that experienced a definitive ideological change two generations ago.

This change left much damage in its wake with few triumphs.

The damage was not only economical, but social and psychological.

A triumph was education and eventual food independence after the supportive eastern regime collapsed.

Skills have been exported ( doctors, for example ) along with enough drama to capture the attention of the world, inspiring Ernest Hemingway and many others of the art world.

Families were separated and emigrating relatives placed throughout the nation of immigrants.

The Cuban Diaspora.

Although our parents eventually settled in different cities at opposite sides of a new country, our language and its nuances stayed the same.

Hearing about his recent trip to visit relatives he most likely never met before, I couldn't help but feel some nostalgia... although I have no memories of a place I have never visited.

The nostalgia arises from our similar stories, or the stories of our parents and their parents.

One story that struck me deeply was about a relative of his who owned a thriving gas station.

This relative's gas station was located at the base of the mountains where the insurgent revolutionaries hid away until their final victorious decent into the rest of the country.

The revolutionaries would take provisions as needed and kept a tab with the station's owner.

When the revolution was realized, the new government kept their end of the agreement and paid back the tab in full.

This surprised me.

However, two weeks later, members of this same new government arrived at the gas station and arrested the owner.

He was charged with hoarding a large amount of money ( the very money the new government had recently paid him ).

This man also happened to have in his possession the titles to many adjacent properties.

This was another charge leveled against him.

When the townspeople appeared in court in his defense, they stated that they had placed their titles with this man because he owned a safe and he was trusted among his peers.

This defense was ignored and the man was jailed.

A political prisoner.

My fellow exported compatriot told me that many influential men were railroaded in the very same manner... some being summarily executed.

This is the testimony of those who saw atrocities first-hand, but haven't had a voice to express their sentiments in almost 60 years.

I learned that the current monthly income, whether doctor or construction worker, is $24.

A fixed low wage sapped incentive to work, since more work wouldn't be seen in more income.

So a variety of side jobs and side businesses have survived alongside and in lieu of official jobs and rationing.

Party affiliates are the only class of people who enjoy a moderate modern existence, but as my new friend shares, the people mostly care less about the consumerist society the American mind has produced.

They are more concerned about relatives, about enjoyment of life and about, perhaps, righting the wrongs.

Until I visit and see and hear for myself, I shall wonder from afar at what God will have in store for the future of this island and its place in the eventual unification of the world's people under a single flag.

23 April 2016

Oh The Choices We Make


Have you heard the saying “choose your battles wisely” or something similar?

Choice is present in so many ways in our lives.

We have power to choose our words and our thoughts.

If we can remember to choose wisely, we can avert much turmoil when emotions / temptations arise.

When anger sparks for whatever reason, and if we remember, we can choose which words to express ourselves with... if any words at all.

We can also choose to be silent.

Silence and a calm demeanor can extinguish flaming arrows being aimed at you.

That same silence can also keep you from responding in kind, which would dishonor the Father and cause further turmoil.

The silence is first choosing to restrain your 'self'.

Secondly you can choose to speak to He who hears and knows all things.

The choice to beckon the Spirit that triumphed over death and breathes life into the lifeless, is yours to make.
And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. 
- Ephesians 6: 18
You do have the power of choice.

Decide with discipline.

Much how a man has the choice to avert his eyes from seeing something that can derail his peace, so can a man choose the thoughts in his mind despite the temptations which may cloud the heart.

For the believer, the man of peace, the man made by God to reflect the Love revealed from Above, the battle is always within, never without... always internal in the spirit, never external against flesh and blood.

For the Christian, those called to follow He who has always been, He who chose to be revealed in the flesh, the image of the invisible God:

Although the battle comes to your doorstep, it is your choice to open the door.

If the battle has infiltrated your temple, choice once again can exterminate the cancerous growth.
No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can endure it. 
- 1 Corinthians 10: 13

22 April 2016

Friends Walk Together


Friend

noun

a person whom one knows and with whom one has a bond of mutual affection, typically exclusive of sexual or family relations.

a person who is not an enemy or who is on the same side.

I like reading the different ways any given word is defined.

Many words can be used when explaining what another word could or would mean.

Meanings change over time, or new and different meanings can be attached to certain words.

The word friend is one word which can carry quite a bit of weight.

Context serves the means by which any word is understood, what is being meant when that word is used in a message.
But you, Israel, My servant, 
   Jacob, whom I have chosen, 
      you descendants of Abraham My friend...
- Isaiah 41: 8
Could you imagine being called God's friend?

The Being who created the universe; all things seen and unseen, considering you His friend!?

How would it feel if you were to hear God call you His friend?

What would that friendship look and be defined as?
Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are My friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from My Father I have made known to you. 
- John 15: 13-15
We can agree that a human friendship isn't dependent on obedience to another human being.

That would be quite the opposite definition of what a human would consider the idea of friendship to be, building upon the “mutual affection” mentioned in the definition above.

So does God put an unusual demand on us when asking obedience in return for friendship?

Does this sound unreasonable?

Think of any new or old friend you now have; a good friend whom you trust and is dependable... or at least you are trustworthy and dependable towards them.

Doesn't a certain level of expectation already exist in how you speak with and treat one another?

Is the manner in which you speak and treat your friend built in disrespect and an unloving way?

Or isn't there a clear effort to do what is right, good, kind and loving towards your friend?

Don't you have an expectation of the same type of treatment from this friend?

This is where the concept of obedience comes into the picture.

Hasn't God been a best friend to us all?

We are here on earth, now alive.

We've been sustained so far, despite our expectations of more things or a greater lifestyle.

We exist, and in that reality and context, God has been very good to us; making us in His likeness.

So where is our reciprocation towards God?
And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend. You see that a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone. 
- James 2: 23-24
So where, again, is our reciprocation towards God?

A: believing God at His Word and doing as He calls us to do.

God desires a friendship based on the very premise we expect from our human friends.

Imagine for a moment the friend you have treated and spoken to in love, kindness and fairness your entire life... and this person never responding in kind to you.

It would be a one-sided friendship and relationship.

You would wonder why that person doesn't respond to your love... or if they even care to value your friendship.

Here we see the second definition of friendship: “a person who is not an enemy or who is on the same side”.

God calls us to be on His side, not be an enemy by the way we may respond to His friendship.

Surely we need God and His friendship more than He needs ours... yet He has already gone far and beyond in being the best of friends to us.

21 April 2016

The Predictable Rabbit Hole


A friend recently gifted me several used movies on dvd.

We shared a conversation about movies a while back and I was surprised by his generosity.

All movies and media, as a whole, can be literally categorized as fiction.

Although a documentary film may reach to show cinéma vérité, the manner in which the work is edited, narrated and such, always lends a natural bias despite the effort to portray the truth.

Any individual will have their relative 'truth' to interpret and understand.

But in the world of art and man's creativity, a work of fiction can sometimes depict and describe a truthful reality outside of conventional descriptions.

After viewing two movies so far, I couldn't help but notice their mirrored narratives.

Here are just four similarities:

- mankind battling alien / extraterrestrial invasion

- set in the near-future

- mankind unified under a single authority / mutual cooperation while still having national identity

- spiritual / supernatural connection between beings, both alien and human

This post isn't about predicting anything, nor suggesting anything which really shouldn't make a difference of man's relationship with the Eternal God, nor challenge but resolve the question regarding physical life beyond earth.

I would like to highlight what may be quite clear to some readers while being helpful in understanding the further possibilities of our existence and the surprise of life in general.

Simply because something is unknown or not openly verifiable doesn't mean it isn't either possible or actual.

Plenty works of men in what is called 'entertainment' seem to have 'predicted' the future.

I don't see them as 'predictions', but more like possible conclusions, derived from the minds of people who, when looking at the past, can see a human pattern that is repeated.

Historians are notorious for having 'predicted' what is simply their observations of natural patterns... and the natural world ( men also being made from natural ingredients ) is replete with patterns; visible, invisible, unknown and misunderstood.

Time and time again mankind has been loosely unified, then divided, and this by more methods beyond religion, national identity, ideology and so on.

Mankind has also been challenged in understanding what is easily acceptable and understood by some, because the manner of understanding is itself limited by limited perceptions and beliefs contrived from popular opinions.

People have mental roadblocks.

Mental roadblocks occur when lies are portrayed as truth, when truth is diluted by lies, and misunderstanding and ignorance is cited as fact.

And when some people deny a world, reality and life beyond the physical realm, they miss what is clearly understood by those having accepted a world, reality and life beyond the physical realm.

Consider how Kirlian photography helps people understand what is not 'seen', much of science being derived from observation.

Perform an internet search for “phantom leaf” and look also into the scholar articles in search of scientific definitions of this phenomenon.

As for mankind having to defend itself from extraterrestrials with nefarious intentions:

If the phantom leaf shows the skeptic that something continues to exist when something visible was removed ( death with humans, for example )... then couldn't the nefarious intention be that which some of us battle within our human nature?... and that which some others are consumed by while denying even their own extraordinary composition?

So in speaking of facts being found in fictions...

...mankind is battling an 'alien' / foreign being of sorts...

...future developments do mirror past histories...

...mankind eventually unifies despite their outer apparent differences...

...discoveries of our connection to the natural, supernatural, each other and beyond are repeatedly discovered and then hidden away.

Perhaps the real 'alien' mankind will battle in the future won't be the typical close encounter of any kind, but the foreigner who was already present in the garden, that one who desires to weave lies into the fabric of truth.

Perhaps the cycle of life, times of harvest after times of planting, and times of renewal after times of destruction, will once again bring forth God's Eternal Mystery... as it is testified to repeatedly have done for ages past.

20 April 2016

The Paradox of Choice


It is true nothing can separate those whom God chooses from Him.

It is those called and chosen who are in the battle, and nothing can separate those whom God has called because they, in heart, mind and soul, have somehow responded... bearing fruit unto eternal life.
Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Yeshua who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: 
“For your sake we face death all day long;    we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” 
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Yeshua our Lord. 
- Romans 8: 33-39
What about those who 'believe' they know God, yet will be found to have been spit out and told they are unknown by the Almighty?
By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 
A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them. 
Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of My Father who is in heaven. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your Name and in Your Name drive out demons and in Your Name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from Me, you evildoers!’ 
- Matthew 7: 16-23
And what about those who deny Him despite having been given a glimpse at least once in their lifetime, either by hearing a testimony to consider, or seeing something supernatural, or other evidence?
The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—His eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. 
For although they knew God, they neither glorified Him as God nor gave thanks to Him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles. 
Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen. 
Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error. 
Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done. They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy. Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them. 
- Romans 1: 18-32
In this last example, we see these also having a choice, just as the previous two examples also have a choice... to obey or disobey.

Did Adam, then, make a fateful choice when he decided to disobey the only "do not" of his day?

Read about that account in the first three chapters of Genesis.

What do we learn when speaking of Cain, Adam's first-born son?
Then the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.” 
- Genesis 4: 6-7
So we see that surely God has granted all people choice despite His knowledge of the future and the outcome of our choices.

God has surely made us having free will, yet our free will doesn't "save" us on its own or according to our own merit, but we do see how our choices may condemn us, as the choice to obey can continue to bear fruit according to God's grace.

Consider the fallen angel(s), who being made in perfection, were also made with choice... and they fell when they chose to disobey... and as Romans 1 exemplifies, they cannot see past their deceived state, much like some who have forsaken the Lord and His Way.

Let us find ourselves always repenting, always in humility, and always in gratitude to what God has provided us in the Lord Yeshua Christ:
At that time Yeshua, full of joy through the Holy Spirit, said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this is what you were pleased to do. 
“All things have been committed to Me by My Father. No one knows who the Son is except the Father, and no one knows who the Father is except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal Him.” 
Then He turned to His disciples and said privately, “Blessed are the eyes that see what you see. For I tell you that many prophets and kings wanted to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.” 
- Luke 10: 21-24

19 April 2016

The Journey Called Life


He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. 
- Ecclesiastes 3: 11
Have you ever heard or seen how some, or maybe most, babies are not too attractive after being born?

But in due time, a new face and a particular personality is developed; beauty expressed in many ways.

And if by God's grace and His will that child comes to a ripe old age, perhaps the beauty may fade from what is externally seen, yet what has been sowed within may continue to brightly beautify all witnesses.

The notion of “forever” has been argued by philosophers and mystics since men began to discuss life beyond death.

For some, it seems difficult to conceptualize eternity when everything visible eventually comes to an end.

For some others, the idea of forever has not its origins in man's capacity to perceive the Eternal Constant.

Going further:
I also said to myself, “As for humans, God tests them so that they may see that they are like the animals. Surely the fate of human beings is like that of the animals; the same fate awaits them both: As one dies, so dies the other. All have the same breath; humans have no advantage over animals. Everything is meaningless. 
- Ecclesiastes 3: 18-19
“Everything is meaningless” ?

How's that for optimism? ( humor )

The human experience, the banality of carnal desires that easily reflect the earth's nature ( and animals ), is a guarantee for the human being.

The participation in the divine nature is something eluded to and found throughout ancient times across all cultures.

Did this notion originate with and where man originated?

Some peoples cared for and kept this knowledge, while others slipped away from it.

Still others edited and made up their own ideas, and still others denied it altogether.

Yet this reality has already been made known since recent “ancient” times ( if two thousands years by about a factor of 25 can be considered ancient ).

Is doing good included into what is considered to be meaningless?

Doesn't the pursuit of things which may eventually hurt yourself and others, although seemingly desirable, attractive and ambitious at the moment, add up to being empty and meaningless when considering our limited time in the flesh?

Do you need to keep paying rent or a tax bill for where your bones will be buried?
I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God. 
- Ecclesiastes 3: 12-13
Well there it is!

“there is nothing better for people than to do good while they live”

If ambitions do not bear good fruits, good works, good results, “paying it forward” as the modern idiom translates... then for who and whom are you finding satisfaction?

Selfish ambitions don't seem to be handed to you as a gift from God.

I learned this first-hand; a harsh and deceptive lesson... not many learn it, but are blind to it.

But in forwarding the effort into and among others, it is quite amazing how God can bless the work of one's hands... prospering the good effort in so many ways, well above and beyond monetary recompense ( the obvious and banal expression of literal prosperity; that which, if void of good works, is found to end as meaningless ).

So how would one start to do good, and commit themselves to doing good works?
Then they asked Him, “What must we do to do the works God requires?” 
Yeshua answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the One He has sent.” 
- John 6: 28-29
Faith in Him begins this life's journey.

This faith also carries you beyond the bounds of this material world.

Ask for this faith; He is willing to give!
Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love Him. 
- James 1: 12

16 April 2016

Death Bears Fruit For The Living

From Left to Right: Oldest Sister, Me, Older Sister, My Mother: Maria

I didn't want to believe what I was seeing, experiencing, realizing, facing.

When you see someone who loved you more than they loved themselves coming to the end of their time on earth, you can't help but not want to see them go.

Years ago I saw a fuzzy notion that my mom may eventually pass away from her ailment... sooner than what is popularly expected.

And when that time had come, and became “now”, my mind did not want to accept it.

My mind's lapse into denial caused my heart to sway.

What was evident for some time, now I wanted to push away.

My mother loved traveling.

She made traveling a priority for my siblings and myself early on.

We would see much more of the world than the peers we grew up with in the neighborhood and the kids we went to school with.

We were not rich; my mom was frugal in her spending throughout the year, saving up for a yearly trip.

For her children.

This theme is constant in my mind when reflecting on my mother and what she did for me.

I remember, as a young man seeking the Way to God, asking her some very personal and revealing questions.

I wanted to know 'who' my mother was.

My dad had divorced her in 1989, yet his fidelity for her had diminished many years prior to that year.

I asked some questions that some mothers wouldn't dare answer, let alone share with a child.

But my mother trusted me... as I did her.

And the times I disappointed her would cut me like a rusty sword... but not always.

Yet, when my arrogance and pride would subside, I surely would remember how my mother did her very best in raising me to the best of her abilities, and she desired nothing but the best for me.

And when I didn't attempt the best for myself, she would share her thoughts ;)

My mother honored her mother and father... to a fault some may say.

She abandoned her life for the sake of providing support to theirs in their last days on earth.

So it is no surprise to me how God's timing has been revealed.

My maternal grandmother preceded my mother by almost two months.

Years had already passed since they saw one another face to face, my mother having moved out of state to be cared for herself.

But, they both now have that joy returned to them, for now they see themselves face to face, but not as before.

They also now are seeing the Face all people will face.

Some desire greatly to see this Face, while some others fear to see, yet we shall all have a glimpse or an eternal pleasure in seeing sooner or later.

Thank you Holy Father for your love through my maternal grandmother Edelmira (Mima), who was very much more than a surrogate mother to me.

Thank you Holy Father for your love through my mother Maria, who also forwarded qualities of Christ... qualities which challenge me in imitating.

But in obedience to You, as the examples of obedience I witnessed in both of these mothers of mine, perhaps I too may learn obedience, faith and service.

The living can see and hear us, those who are alive in Christ though their flesh having expired.

These two are Today included in the “cloud of witnesses.”

So I say:

Hola mis queridas!

Eternal blessings are yours!
I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois [Edelmira] and in your mother Eunice [Maria] and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also. 
- 2 Timothy 1: 5

12 April 2016

My Mother Is Dying


The articles throughout this blog-site are about personal experiences and personal opinions derived from experience, observation and, what can be called insight; but I know it is not “my” insight which forwards a semblance of understanding to readers.

The past few days has been quite emotional, like a roller coaster; joyful, saddening, trusting, hopeful, hopeless, mind-numbing and many others.

When a loved one is released from the body ( their spirit returning to He who fashioned it ), emotions may sometimes run away from you.

The individual not only reflects on the person about to be freed from a body of decay, but also reflects on oneself, on others, on life in general and considers the meaning and purpose of things.

Seeing my mother lose her speech over the years, then her cognition, then her facial expressions, and ultimately all outward communication, has been difficult to put it in a single word.

I blamed myself, doctors, other relatives, and even her when she hadn't expressed her sorrows or internal battles years prior to the slow decaying of her frontal lobes.

In the past few days, I felt remorse for not doing more for her, or thinking I've failed some of her expectations for me.

There was a certain car she desired to have, and I was determined to acquire such a car for her, in her favorite color.

This ambition was a bit of a motivator when I had my heart set on making lots of money.

Yet when she couldn't drive anymore when familiar roads became unknown, this desire of hers was lost... and I too lost the ambition for worldly treasures.

Here and now, the time has come for my mother's time on earth to conclude... yet I am not desiring for this to happen.

I thought I had resolved the temptation to become bitter, or attempt to persuade God regarding her condition and for the wasting away to be reversed.

Yet in the past few days I questioned if I was being tempted to deny what was happening before me... seemingly deny His will.

Perhaps my faith and seeing myself as a spoiled child of God, I considered to not only bother the Lord for His healing hand once again, now for my mother, but to insist and persist.

I have no power aside from God to prevent the conclusion of death from occurring, for my faith says anything is possible.

God has and can do anything regardless of my logical understanding or comprehension.

I know it is never too late for a broken bone to be mended, nor a brain tumor to be miraculously disappeared, or for something to come from nothing ( the universe ), but the Lord's will determines if and / or when anything shall be... or cease to be.

The Lord is never late.

But the Lord's will includes many more factors and people, not simply working in a vacuum.

He works for the good of those who love Him, whether it is to restore their body, or cause them to die in any manner, or to bring about many more things we cannot immediately perceive.

The Lord also works for those near and dear to the dying, reaching past their fears and into their hearts to spark something; repentance, awe, reverence or possibly a taste of judgement.

The Lord also does not always meet our expectations, but instead exceeds our impatient expectations.

The Lord's will is what is always concluded, and this continues to be mostly unknown aside from what Scripture and experience may reveal to some of us.

So in battling back the tears caused by my swaying emotions at this vulnerable time; feelings of resentment thinking I didn't do enough for her, recalling troubles I had caused her, I beckoned once again He who can do all things.

I believe and understand that according to one's faith, a prayer or request shall be answered.

I believe and understand that the smallest amount of faith can move a mountain.

I believe and understand that whatever two or three agree upon on earth it will be done by the Father in heaven.

All of these shall be if they are found to be within His will... and according to His way... according to His timing... not always mine, or ours.

Yesterday morning a Protestant chaplain read, prayed over her, and last rites were read.

Later that evening, a Catholic priest also read, prayed over her, and read last rites.

I had no issue hearing these believers share their manners with us.

I had already beseeched the Father several times regarding my mother's condition, and also regarding this final phase of life, both from far away and now close to her... and if I must share, I too invoked what is called “last rites”, for I didn't know when her moment will come.

So whether my mother will pass soon or after a longer time, I cannot bitterly weep while also wresting with God against what He has set in motion.

I cannot allow myself to push my narrow view and human will onto Him, as a man would be tempted to do onto other men, falling into doubt and faithlessness regarding His eternal wisdom.

But emotions can cause us to doubt, or to reconsider what has already been made clear to us.

I desired to hug her; giving her a close hold I didn't a few days ago, thinking she was too fragile to be handled.

I began kissing her over and over again, from cheek, to forehead, to hand... and that's when I started praying... and this is when the tears really began to fall from my eyes.

My heart poured out, doing my part in begging the Lord for an extension to her life, or the better result; healing... or what He wills.

I searched for the words as they bounced about in my heart, as my mind attempted to capture them all in sensible order.

Having placed my hand upon her head while I held her other hand, I begged the Lord to heal her this instance and reveal His glory here and now... and if not, to please grant her a painless transition into His arms.

And as I continued through the sobbing and whimpering, my voice flexing and pitching in silly ways, she takes her free hand and removes my hand from atop her head.

This I understood as the answer from my Father; to face once again the notion I had for several years - that her imminent departure was and still is His will for her and others to experience.

I had written a blog post yesterday morning ( sort of 'written', more like just sharing Scripture and writing a few things ) because I hadn't written anything for almost a week; I was a bit numb from this visit.

I had not been sure what to write regarding my mother or this personal experience of anything else.

So this moment, another emotion that is returning is resolve... along with overriding peace.

I am resolved with what the Lord wills regarding my mother; whether it is to make her whole, extend her days, translate her in the body, or have her follow the conventional transition most of the faithful experience.

Any of these outcomes still result in the His ultimate glory and His perfect will for my mother and those associated.

In the manner this day or any future day plays out, I know and I am settled that my mother will soon enjoy His light and feel His comfort forevermore.

May His Name be praised, in all places, by all peoples, in all situations and at all times!

11 April 2016

Wished-For Charity (Maria Caridad)



Many of the 'times' have been fulfilled, and many of the questions have been answered / revealed... and many of the physical and literal interpretations have now been translated by the Spirit as spirit.
There is a time for everything, 
and a season for every activity under the heavens: 
a time to be born and a time to die, 
a time to plant and a time to uproot, 
a time to kill and a time to heal, 
a time to tear down and a time to build, 
a time to weep and a time to laugh, 
a time to mourn and a time to dance, 
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing, 
a time to search and a time to give up, 
a time to keep and a time to throw away, 
a time to tear and a time to mend, 
a time to be silent and a time to speak, 
a time to love and a time to hate, 
a time for war and a time for peace. 
What do workers gain from their toil? I have seen the burden God has laid on the human race. He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God. I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it. God does it so that people will fear him. 
Whatever is has already been, 
and what will be has been before;
and God will call the past to account. 
And I saw something else under the sun: 
In the place of judgment—wickedness was there, 
in the place of justice—wickedness was there. 
I said to myself, 
“God will bring into judgment 
both the righteous and the wicked, 
for there will be a time for every activity, 
a time to judge every deed.” 
I also said to myself, “As for humans, God tests them so that they may see that they are like the animals. Surely the fate of human beings is like that of the animals; the same fate awaits them both: As one dies, so dies the other. All have the same breath; humans have no advantage over animals. Everything is meaningless. All go to the same place; all come from dust, and to dust all return. Who knows if the human spirit rises upward and if the spirit of the animal goes down into the earth?” 
So I saw that there is nothing better for a person than to enjoy their work, because that is their lot. For who can bring them to see what will happen after them? 
- Ecclesiastes 3

Mother, we won't see face to face for a time, but we shall see face to face again, both renewed, in His kingdom.

I love you, dearest mother.

06 April 2016

If Not This, Then That, But Not These?


Let's read about a fallacy when thinking of marriage.

False dilemma.

The argument that only one of two options is reasonable, or available, or possible... when in fact there are many options or ways towards entering a successful marriage.

One such false dilemma is with marriage.

One cultural extreme regarding marriage is dating who one chooses in finding a spouse, sometimes including sexual intimacy (consummation) as part of the process to marriage, while another cultural extreme is an arranged marriage with no amount of sexual intimacy.

Yet there are several examples in between these two extremes / examples.

One example is friendly dates within a larger group of people.

I've heard examples of someone mentioning a prospective mate for a friend, inviting the prospect over for an informal dinner.

If something is sparked at the initial meeting, more informal dates with other people can be planned.

The person brokering the meeting most likely knows both individuals somewhat well, one sometimes being a relative or very close friend.

The romantic broker can soften the usual challenges that accompany the initiation of a courtship.

This is an example that leans a bit towards the arranged marriage extreme.

Using the word extreme not in terms of negative or attaching any negative notion, simply identifying a difference from what is usually defined as a more 'modern' method of two people becoming one.

An arranged marriage, similar to the friendly suggestion exemplified above, carries with it more social responsibility and the leverage of others being involved.

Some may see this as undesired pressure, from peers or from parents, while some others may perceive this as support and assistance (again, the false dilemma).

There are plenty examples of very successful, loving and growing relationships stemming from both extremes and in between.

However, the greater incidence of divorce is found among the dating of strangers (the 'modern' example of courtship which doesn't always lead to marriage).

This isn't a solid fact, for this opinion leans too much on culture and social variables.

05 April 2016

Sharing Papers From Panama


Who likes to pay taxes?

Instead of debating or attempting to answer this question, I'll mention the reasons why taxes have always been a part of life for the civilized world.

Without tax revenue, a society cannot function.

Taxes do not exist outside the realm of civilization as we understand them Today.

Outside the civilized realm, it is survival of the fittest and survival of the strongest... unless a tax / tribute is paid for either protection or acknowledgment power establishing a pecking order.

Taxes legitimize government ( whether that government is recognized or not ).

Not every tax is just, 'good' or beneficial.

Not paying certain taxes may result in loss of real property and chattel property.

Losing what you believed you owned for failing to pay certain taxes should clarify whether you truly owned those things to begin with.

What is interesting about the payment of taxes, is how some people are quite averse to paying any portion, let alone what government establishes as law regarding an amount or percentage to be paid.

This phrase was made famous a generation ago: "We don't pay taxes. Only the little people pay taxes".

When I was involved in real estate years ago, I remember learning the many “legal” methods of avoiding to pay taxes, or prolonging any tax liability.

At the time, it was quite exciting learning about this new world initially hidden to me.

Then my conscience began to affect me, realizing that those who know very little end up paying more in life ( aside from withholding in a paycheck ), while the wealthy and affluent 'game' the tax code.

The wealthy, using knowledgable lawyers and lobbyists, help author new tax legislation in their favor.

Very recently a 'leak' of information [Panama Papers] was released to certain international news agencies regarding the tax avoidance of very high profile, very wealthy and very powerful people the globe over.

Greed.

Entitlement is a term usually used to point at beneficiaries of government programs; the poor.

Yet, it can be argued that the tax code is constructed to help those whose aim is the pursuit of building wealth while paying less, or avoiding the payment of, taxes.

04 April 2016

When To Shake Off The Dust: After Love


Our life is truly like working a field.

There's a time to plow, plant, water, prune, harvest... and let the land rest.

These metaphors are literal when it comes to an actual field when growing something to eventually eat.

They can also be quite literal, being applied to many other efforts.

Not every person we encounter is ready for the Gospel, or to repent of what has been entrenched ( an attitude, habit, or belief firmly established and difficult or unlikely to change; ingrained ) for years.

There are some who immediately respond to God's love.

These most likely had received a planted seed and water for some time; how exactly is forever a mystery.

Seed planting and watering isn't only sitting before a preacher hearing a Gospel message, as the religious may only understand.

Seeing an act of kindness, an effort of love... and so many other ways indescribable can trigger the heart to reflect on God, His Word, His Way and His Love.

We may have come across others who are quite contrived ( deliberate rather than arising naturally or spontaneously; a way that seems artificial and unrealistic ) in their efforts to forward the Gospel's message.

Maturity, consideration of others and experience corrects this.

The entire world has practically heard about God, about His Christ and perhaps bits and pieces of the Gospel's message.

But even with so many efforts of people forwarding the Gospel, or talking about Christ, still many have not “seen” Christ.

The Gospel is preached every day on television, radio, street corners, in religious buildings and in close conversation.

But Christ is rarely seen and evidenced in the actions of His professors.

Christ is also rarely “heard” when in conversation with others.

Some people think the Gospel is some spellbinding invocation.

Not denying the power that the Word has on the heart of the listener, but the manner in which it is presented has to include love.

Far too many preachers are blasting the ears of hearers with so much condemnation, warning, fear and other things that it is no surprise hearers lack faith.

Love, kindness, encouragement, calmness, humility... and the many other attributes Christ exemplified can go further than all the quoting of Scripture from a loud mouth can.
If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. 
- 1 Corinthians 13: 1-3

03 April 2016

Meet Them Where They Are


Imagine making plans to meet with someone at a certain location, a particular address.

There is only one such address anywhere on earth.

And after planning to meet there, you at the meeting time, instead demand they now travel to you across town.

Yet, you're still under the impression that you haven't changed the meeting location.

This silly example is what it may be like to not meet people where they currently are.

And where are they?

Not where you are.

No two people are in the same mental, emotional, spiritual, etc., place.

To the person who is called to serve their fellow man ( which is each and every one of us ), we are to consider others better than ourselves.

This means loving them according to them, on their terms, not according to us or our terms.

Perfection has shown us the example when He went wherever invited, served however requested, and broke bread with supposed “sinners” and others who mainstream society avoided.

Never did Yeshua ask someone to meet Him at a synagogue or the temple ( today's physical building for religious ritual ).

Yeshua went the extra mile, meeting others at their level of faith, comforting their weaknesses and relating to their issues.

We don't see Him going around pointing out every shortcoming and every issue people had, unless the listener believed themselves to be without fault.

He built hope, encouraged, loved and breathed faith into His hearers.

He taught about the kingdom of heaven, a place of eternal love, joy, light and comfort.

He warned against continued self-destruction.

People who continue to be rebellious, disobedient and living life according to a manner only appealing to themselves actually destroy themselves without knowing it, nor understanding how.

This is how deceptive life without light can be.

So then, do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

Meet others where you would be met if you were to be in their current place.

01 April 2016

Three Friends, One Language, Three Heritages

Left to right: Alex A., friend whose name I forgot, Me; outside Alex's home, 1980's

Language:

the method of human communication, either spoken or written, consisting of the use of words in a structured and conventional way

Dialect:

a particular form of a language that is peculiar to a specific region or social group

Last night while out for dinner with my queen / wife, I could hear the family to our left speaking English from England.

The two men to our right speaking German, from which most of the English language is derived.

This morning on the train, I can hear south-central Los Angeles English.

The English in New England ( south Boston, for example ) is distinctly different from the English in a suburb of Montgomery, Alabama.

The English throughout all of England varies in word choice, inflection, slang and even palate placement and nasal resonance.

One could hear the distinctive English spoken along the coast in southern California being quite different than the English being spoken in, say east Los Angeles, or the variety of west Los Angeles internal immigrants ( immigrants from other parts of the United States, besides the many accents of external immigrants ).

The coastal English of the entirety of the United States alone is varied considerably.

And this may sound nerdy and possibly ridiculous, but I find this fascinating and reflective of the past.

Language is fluid.

Not only fluid as it is being spoken, but in how it changes in a very slow motion.

New words are adopted while others are forever archived.

New meanings are attached to current words, while previous meanings are somehow forgotten.

Couple this with the English origin and local meanings within slang, we can see how easily two people may at times miscommunicate using the same words while communicating.

For communities which seem to be closed off or unique in their development ( ultra wealthy and dismally poor communities, as two extreme examples ), a particularly different languages develops and continues in its unique direction.

Perhaps the more financially affluent community may use words from a century ago ( perhaps according to heritage ), words with several vowels and syllables, while perhaps the less affluent community may reuse simpler words, attaching with varied intentions and newer meanings that depend on where in a sentence they are placed.

This is quite phenomenal and revealing of how, in due time, new languages are always appearing, despite “English” being the category the words are derived.

But the most unique and phenomenal thing I've realized in terms of language... is how the language of love transcends all miscommunication, all dialects and all intentions and varying meaningful use of words.

Love's language transcends the side effects of Babel, for we are reaching for the oneness of Love's language; bringing all things into one, towards speaking the language of love, not hampered by dialect and language's confusion.