31 July 2016

Do You Know The "Santa Fe" ?

"Santa Fe" is Spanish for "Holy Faith"

God has already shown what is most important: love working through all things.

It is loving the wayward where the law of Christ is fulfilled.

The manner the wayward may “see” Christ and understand God's grace may depend on how the Christian treats another person.

Relating to the wayward shows that God's love is greater than their sin, since all Christians have been at one or many times in the past wayward themselves.

God's love and grace is not a license to continue to sin, but a sign that God has been very patient with them.

This should be evidenced in those who act like Christ towards the wayward.

If constantly pointing out the faults of others is your idea of being like Christ, you may be a bit confused as to how Christ executed the demands of His ministry.

If always arguing your specific doctrinal positions, or leading with your dogmas rather than with love is your method, then you may be very confused as to how Christ treated others.

Christ knew the hearts and can read the minds of the people who stood before Him.

Can you read minds and see hearts?

If not, then it seems the effort of love is first and foremost.

This is where attempting to learn where the other person is coming from and their points of view is critical to building a friendship, if that is what you are aiming to do.

Some religious people are busy attracting people to their cause in an effort to legitimize their religion, their specific group and their point of view.

But for the person who understands that loving people is the calling, their love for others doesn't need to realize an immediate or eventual result.
This is how we know that we live in Him and He in us: He has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent His Son to be the Savior of the world. If anyone acknowledges that Yeshua is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. 
God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Yeshua. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. 
We love because He first loved us. Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. And He has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister. 
- 1 John 4: 13-21

30 July 2016

Facts Over Fiction, Unless Fictions Are Your Facts

Feast On The Bread From Heaven; May Ears Be Opened

[follow-up to "Dying to Share Facts in Scholarship" article]

Orthodox (mainstream) Islam holds to the teaching that Jesus / Yeshua / Isa did not die on a cross, but another person died or was hung on the cross.

This theology loosely says God played a 'bait and switch' before everyone's eyes, and Yeshua was raised to heaven in body and form.

What is interesting is this bait and switch idea has a gnostic source predating Islam by many years.

Some places in the Quran, when speaking of Muhammad, say that Muhammad must die as did the prophets before him.

Another place in the Quran speaks of most prophets suffering an unjust death by their enemies, and all being humans, and as do all humans, realize death.

Yet, when it comes to Yeshua, who is believed in Islamic theology to be a prophet (and much more), somehow the wires have been crossed regarding the idea of Yeshua suffering an unjust death as did many prophets before him.

It is a misinterpretation that has been propagated for centuries, showing evident contradiction and much Muslim apologetics to smooth out the rough 'logical' conclusions.

If one would allow themselves an objective interpretation of the Quranic verses mentioning Yeshua's death, or the belief that Yeshua was killed, one may see the issue was whether or not Yeshua actually died (metaphor) for good, or that it was simply the flesh which was killed.

The Muslims believe He didn't die, or was not killed... and that notion is partly true, since God rose Yeshua up to Himself (as the Quran also states).

The issue with the Quran, and its interpretation, is that it is always viewed in a vacuum and only from a particular perspective, mainly the perspective of people living in the desert of Arabia.

As is typical with loosely associated tribes and bands of people of that time in that region of the world, being mostly illiterate and unschooled, legends and stories abounded.

Having heard various tales and legends about Yeshua outside of the source material (Gospel), and hearing contradictory stories from heretical and autonomous groups of 'Christians' in that region, many were the stories and opinions of what happened to Yeshua prior to being raised into heaven.

The ascension seems to have been a broadly accepted part of the story, but the death part seems to have found contention with the minds and logical cognizance of men, which is of no surprise.

The issue mentioned in a particular Quranic verse is whether or not the Jews killed and triumphed in extinguishing God's Holy Prophet; the Spirit of God / Word of God, which are two terms equated with Yeshua.

Question: can the Word and Spirit of God be killed?

This question is the argument posed by the verse in contention, and what that verse is messaging is: no man or thing is or was capable of killing God's Word and God's Spirit.

So, in essence, if one would read these things in the Quran in the light of what was revealed previously in the Gospel, then it makes sense the manner it is written – that Yeshua was not ultimately killed-off by His enemies, and that God raised Him to life and then up to heaven, which the Quran does confirm.

It is all a matter of interpretation, which some early Muslims did interpret clearly and correctly, but perhaps in doing so the legend of Muhammad could not be promoted as superior to that of Yeshua.

And here we can understand why so much division exists in the Islamic community, since different groups adhere to different interpretations and legends.

The legend of Muhammad is what we see promoted in orthodox Islam, which further calls Muhammad the 'perfect man', although the Quran and Hadith (reported stories of Muhammad) confess that Muhammad killed people and had people killed, amongst other things which are morally and ethically questionable when looking to a 'perfect' role model for mankind.

Over time, some unorthodox Islamic theologies have developed showing Yeshua to have been a holy man, as the prophets before him were, a priest in regards to Yeshua's manners, a rabbi according to Yeshua's understanding, a healer and miracle worker according to testimonial accounts, and having been given the titles Word of God, Spirit of God, Son of God and the Holy One of God.

The obfuscation of what is spoken in the Gospel is evidenced by a motive to promote a 'prophet' from the line of Ishmael, which is another misinterpretation, since Ishmael was never counted with the lineage of Isaac or was considered a coheir of the promises given unto Isaac until Islam rose out of the Arabian desert and desired to legitimize for itself a place at the table among the Arabian Jews and Christians.

How difficult it is to debate such a matter with people who have learned a certain interpretation that highlights their identity, reinforces their ideology and justifies their very way of life.

It is like asking the cat to deny he is a cat... yet this is what Yeshua calls all men to do: "deny yourself and pick up your cross daily and follow Me"...

The person who identifies as a Muslim, and continues to deny what history and previous testimony confesses as truth, may need to deny their pride, their legends and their suspicions, and look to Christ according to the earliest of testimonies, some of which have been misinterpreted from the Quran.

29 July 2016

Picking At Fruit That Isn't Yours Is A Crime


One interesting issue between Protestant and Catholic dogma is salvation and works.

Sadly, it seems man's nature is to choose a side (usually the one they agree with, are a part of, etc.), instead of seeing how both sides may be either correct, partially correct, partially incorrect, or incorrect.

The Catholic perception may say that one isn't saved without doing good works.

The Protestant perception may say that no one can do anything to save themselves (no works-based salvation).

Can both of these statements be true?

I don't see the Catholic dogma arguing for a works-based salvation, but assumes salvation is already there, so people are simply asked to do good things with their gift of grace.

What other reason does God save a human if not to do good and have Christ work through them?

Haven't these works been prepared by God in advance for the faithful to accomplish?

You work because you are saved, not to stay saved or to be saved in the first place... but men do misunderstand even the simplest of things, most likely because they've been listening to confused minds for far too long.

The Protestant dogma, instead of understanding this concept, argues from the issues raised in the rebellion / reformation, and after having brought all things from Catholicism's past into a present contextual contention, the argument fails to realize that the issue is with the manner something was written despite the message being agreeable and / or correct.

With this said, not everything labeled Catholic is agreeable, at least not with this man.

I'd like to think I see somewhat clearly where men began to build upon fantasy and their own conclusions aside from what the Holy Spirit was and was not authorizing.

I don't think torture was ordained by God, nor was burning people at the stake regardless of their crime.

It is unimaginable that Christ would allow for the death of the church's enemies when there is a teaching stating "love your enemies and do good to those who persecute you ... leaving room for God's justice."

This is evidence where men lost their moral compass after having experienced temporal power; pride and arrogance trumping love for others.

Same is said regarding the Protestant reformation and every issue raised in protest; arguing over things which cannot be proven but are only contended due to doubt, suspicion and lack of information (the not so obvious issues).

One case in point is infant baptism.

The baptizing of infants and children was a practice going back to the 1st century, being practiced since then in all associated churches on earth until the reformation brought this reality into contention, using the 'sola scripura' dogma, yet for nearly 1500 years God seems to allow the baptism of the young without issue.

Man's fallibility has given rise to some ridiculous and contradictory dogmas from both groups.

In reference to the Catholic dogmas: infallibility of certain men and their teachings, forbidding men to marry, calling men 'father' when only the Father shall be addressed as such, just to name a few.

In reference to Protestant dogmas: judging a man according to what that man specifically believes (or doesn't), making up new doctrines and 'prophecies' which continue to cause division, arrogance in claiming to have a 'better' doctrine than another group, just to name a few.

Back to salvation and works; this is where "faith without deeds is dead" comes into play.

The person who thinks they can simply believe in God but does not walk as Jesus walked or follow through with where it says "whatever you did for the leasts of these you did for me" may be fooling themselves.

So also the person who doesn't make a whole-heart effort to repent of the sins that will disqualify them from the kingdom, for they may love their sin more than the call to obedience, desiring to instead avoid the suffering that comes from not being like the world standard of depravity.

A humanistic approach to salvation, part of the attack against the Catholic dogma, is to cover bad deeds with good works, as a way to work-off the bad done or outweigh the bad with the good.

This is another manner of fooling one's self - this dogma is similar to the Muslim dogma of hoping one's good deeds outweigh the bad deeds in an attempt to please God by human effort.

When people already see one group as an enemy, instead of another part of the one body of Christ (speaking again to the divisions between Catholic and Protestant dogmas), it is difficult for individuals to see their own sin when they are always desiring to point out the sins of another group... but it seems God has allowed for another group to be a counterpart of the former for a reason.

28 July 2016

The Greatest Compromise In History


Must another human being agree with you in every way imaginable in order for you two to get along?

For some people, this is a yes; it is always their way or the highway.

We see this very often in religious circles despite the inspired sources of the religion speaking of working out differences.

The aim between two people, groups or mindsets, is to compromise the unimportant in making room for peace and unity.

Is compromising such a bad word?

Happy and healthy couples have learned to compromise for the sake of the relationship, and after such efforts are made, what was previously held as a high priority doesn't seem like much of an issue.

In compromising, both sides agree to concede.

Some religious groups demand their adherents to believe a certain set of criteria.

Sadly there is seldom a compromise regarding religious dogma, and this is understandably so.

When Christ walked the earth in the flesh, it was believed by His enemies / detractors that He and His message compromised the law of God.

The religious hierarchy of that time had their idea of what it meant to be 'righteous'; portraying an exterior semblance of righteousness, goodness and holiness.

Hypocrisy in their exterior judgments was revealed, along with deception found deep within their hearts, and there was no room for love nor acknowledging Who was before them.

The religious had hatred for people they should have been helping, and despised God's call to be merciful, pushing instead sacrifice and obedience to rule after rule after rule.

Christ was calling the religious and self-righteous to compromise their arrogance for the truth of grace.

Christ compromised His position from Above and participated in the flesh... compromising further His high place when lowering Himself to humiliation, suffering, and death on a tree.

The pure and righteous becoming a curse for the sake of the world.

Who else has shown a better example of compromise?

What was lost by God when He made such a compromise for our sake?

What was gained by humanity when God committed such a loving compromise?

God has already made the greatest concession in man's favor.

Now in this state of grace, the compromise for the human being is to drop their pride in their specific religious stance, their divisive ideology and group affiliation based on human agreements but empty of God's love and mercy... and to acknowledge the reality that there is nothing they can 'do' to trade their sin for God's righteousness.

This is why grace is very much misunderstood even amongst the most religious and pompous circles.

Grace isn't a license to sin or not make the ultimate effort in being obedient to God.

Grace is a humble and broken acknowledgement of the grand compromise God has achieved through the body of Yeshua His Christ.

The secular mind can agree with the suggestion that Christ was the perfect man; perfect in thought, word and deed.

Some people believe another man to have been a perfect human being, yet they acknowledge this man to have been buried... while Christ is believed to have risen to heaven.

I think it is clear who the perfect man was according to God.

27 July 2016

Sick & Tired Of Getting Sick & Tired


I was reminded once again how easy it is for me to take my health for granted.

What initially started as a minor discomfort in my throat eventually grew to a fever, several sleepless nights and major pain while swallowing.

I don't know what was worse; the maddening thoughts that spin out of control while trying to fall asleep, or the constant discharge of phlegm and snot through the nose and mouth.

A fever makes a mind run wild, not allowing the body to rest.

The mucus builds up no matter how much effort is made trying to spit it out or prevent it from accumulating in the throat.

Hearing is diminished, taste is lessened and eyesight becomes sensitive to light.

I am reminded once again that I exist in a tent that isn't eternal, but will diminish and eventually break down in due time.

Being able to walk outside after a few days without aches and pain, breathe in without congestion, keep my eyes open without straining to see, was a welcomed state.

I recall my grandmother always reminding me to be grateful for my health at a time when I felt invincible and old-age or sickness seemed like an impossibility.

I don't recall my colds being so bad growing up.

Maybe I simply don't remember the discomforts so much because the discomforts of getting sick are infrequent.

I cannot imagen what life would be like if getting sick was a frequent occurrence... as it sadly is for some people.

Or if one or several of these discomforts was a constant reality while in the tent of the body.

What I am realizing is that aches and pains will most likely continue to occur as I grow older, whether these are accompanied by a sickness or not.

This isn't something I am looking forward to, but something I must accept as part of the growing process while still in the flesh.

What I can take comfort in is that one Day sickness, discomfort, frailty and pain shall surely cease, for this man, and for all those called heavenward.

23 July 2016

Flat Earth, Crescent Moon, Falling Stars & Light From Above


Why are some things believed while other things denied?

Does something true cease being true because others deny it, or disbelieve it?

For a long time man believed the sun would 'rise' over the earth, believing the earth not to be rotating, but the sun moving around the earth.

Standing on the earth and observing things, yes the sun does seem to 'rise' in the east and 'set' in the west.

As time and contemplation has allowed for more accurate understandings to develop, man can now conceptualize that the earth is in a solar system moving around the sun, the solar system moving about in a particular galaxy, among a plethora of other galaxies... all within a universe with yet undiscovered borders.

Has the sun's movement (the perceived / observed movement) changed because of a better understanding between the relation between the sun and earth?

No.

Believing exactly 'how' the earth and sun relate to one another may be important to some people.

But in reality, has anything changed from the truth / reality that the sun shines light upon the earth, light which life and existence depends on and wouldn't exist without?

People still say the sun rises and it sets, although this could be argued by some scientific snobs as ignorant and incorrect.

To the man standing on the earth, the sun still looks like it moves 'across' the sky, although the sky / atmosphere is only a few miles thick (800 miles) compared to the sun's distance from earth (about 93 million miles).

It seems mankind has matured over time regarding his understanding of the world around him, but the world around him hasn't ceased 'moving' as it always has moved despite gaining deeper understandings.

This has also been the case regarding the spiritual path that God has revealed to mankind under heaven.

When looking at names, titles or descriptions of God, historically, the 'revealing' of God's attributes have been shown over time, a little bit at a time.

Much how man has been discovery more things about the world around them, so also God has been bringing mankind closer to Himself with every passing generation.

But sadly, just as still today some people refuse to believe that the earth actually moves around the sun (or that the earth is actually spherical and not flat), some men are bound to deny facts already long established.

No amount of observation, or contemplation, grants insight or understanding into 'who' God is unless God intends that person to know Him.

How can this be?

Let us consider; if God is Sovereign, knows all things past, present and future, and is the sole Author of Life, then it is God who decides to whom He will reveal His Self to.
When Yeshua came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” 
They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” 
“But what about you?” He asked. “Who do you say I am?” 
Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” 
Yeshua replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by My Father in heaven. 
- Matthew 16: 13-17
The world and its religions are full of opinions, theories, ideas about “who” Yeshua is... but as one can read for themselves, to understand “who” Yeshua is... that understanding is not according to mere observation or human effort... but by God's choice.

The term “Messiah” goes hand-in-hand with “Son of the living God”.

Many have claimed to be gods, or son(s) of the gods, or manifestation of any certain 'god', or something special or unique, like a prophet of God... yet they disagree with what has already been established.

The sun will continue to shine and 'look' like it is revolving around the earth regardless if people know how things actually move, same as the Light of God in the Son will continue to shine where darkness has people believing myths and contrived legends, but not accepting what has been made evident.

Peter responded with certainty in confessing that Yeshua is actually the long-awaited Christ (Messiah), the factual “Son of God” as prophecy had anticipated – Immanuel (God with us).

Christ's response to Peter affirms the reality that those who believe such a confession, only do so by God's allowance... not according to human effort, logic, deductive reasoning or a well conceived debate.

This “faith” is truly a gift from Above; a blessing upon those who are given understanding of “who” Yeshua is.
“Stop grumbling among yourselves,” Yeshua answered. “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws them, and I will raise them up at the last day. It is written in the Prophets: ‘They will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard the Father and learned from Him comes to Me. No one has seen the Father except the One who is from God; only He has seen the Father.” 
- John 6: 43-46

22 July 2016

Learning From Hurtful Memories

Grateful For Having Born Fruit

Some time ago I mourned my mother's release from the body along with relatives.

My nephew had put together a montage of pictures of our relatives from holidays, vacations and other family functions.

The flush of memories, emotions and regrets from watching the images was quite overwhelming to experience.

I held my breath trying to keep my composure.

One image in particular was a side profile of her as she sat on the deck of a cruise ship overlooking the ocean, like she was contemplating something (my interpretation of the image).

I couldn't hold back the tears.

My regrets were me failing to meet certain expectations my mother had for me.

Expectations not in gifts or worldly aspirations from me or of me, but her desire for me to be a good man... not the rebellious man she had seen.

An early motivation of mine in pursuing financial wealth was to give my mom that fancy car in her favorite color that she always wanted.

This was my method of addressing “I'm sorry” regarding how I've hurt her.

Another human effort of mine was hoping to have her retire as early as possible by me providing for her every need and want... like a prodigal son returning from his worldly pursuits.

Things didn't turn out the way I had aspired them to.

One effort I did accomplish was taking her on a couple of trips, in gratitude for the many vacation destinations she took me and my siblings.

Of course, the 'things' are all based on material possessions attempting to attain happiness, or turn a wrong into a right.

This is where my thought process was.

I guess I was reflecting the manner a parent buys something for a child to express their love for them, in an effort to make them happy or appease them... and me attempting to return the favor.

The greater regrets were the many times I had disappointed her; with my drug abuse, outlandish lifestyle, verbal disrespect, obvious hypocrisy and duplicity.

This self-destruction was how I had been hurting my mother.

In recent years when I introduced her to my wife, my mother realized that her prayer for her son to be on a fruitful path had been answered.

Reflecting on Christ, I desired to honor my mother in all ways I could, as He did His mother.

Reflecting Today on Christ, I can relinquish the sorrow from these sins towards my mother when I realize He has made all things new.

I recall how Christ comforted His mother as He hung on the cross... and how I comforted my mother as she laid dying in bed, reminding her of God's love for her, holding her hand, praying over her, thanking her for the love she had for me and her forgiveness of the trouble I had caused her... and I praise His Holy Name!!!

Reflecting on the ways I hurt my mother allows me one way to understand how precious the gift of grace and forgiveness is; the underserved forgiveness by God of my mountain of sins against my mother (and so many others).

These failures are the impressions evident on the personal cross I carry, just as Christ carried and was hung on His cross for these many sins of mine.

I can thus understand His sacrifice for me which grants me respite from my sins.

The peace from this faith absorbs and saturates my feelings, emotions, regrets, sadness and memories of the pain caused to my mother... and extinguishes this regret forever to oblivion.

Only the memories may cause sadness, while His salvation brings refreshment and peace.

The material possessions I desired to spoil my mother with are nothing compared to the light and heavenly abode she now resides in.

21 July 2016

Patterns By Design

The "Random" Wind Formed Square Edges on Concrete - Amazing!

Talking about patterns in nature the other day with a friend reminded me once again of how amazing the world is.

There are so many things waiting to be discovered, explored, further understood and realized.

I get quite nerdy with this kind of stuff, my curiosity being fed in a wonderful way.

Actually, I think I'm a nerd for almost anything...

Since our bodies are also made from the basic building blocks found in nature, we too fall into patterns.

However, the human being is quite unique despite sharing the substance of matter.

We have choice.

We can choose to follow disruptive, constructive, wayward or honorable patterns.

Our character patterns have been influenced by our parents, relatives, community, perceptions and belief systems.

People, as many animals, can be herded, divided, manipulated … also loved, encouraged, spurred on to positive growth.

For the spiritually minded and enlightened according to the Light from Above, the individual can see the patterns of this world as their flesh is tempted to falter and spurn the Way.

Nothing happens by coincidence or chance, although these words exist to describe events the unlearned consider random... but notice the patterns!

Even science builds computer models to predict patterns, human behavior and possible (or inevitable) outcomes.... the computer program following what has been observed.

Yet the human being has choice... that is, if that choice is properly made.

It is a beautiful world despite the fallen state of the human condition.

What does not, and did not fall into the typical and expected pattern, was the resurrection of Jesus Christ!

This is why the notion of life after death, although proclaimed for eons prior to Christ, and made sure in Christ and all those found in Christ, this evidence isn't easily understood by observing patterns.

A pattern that has been established is a people willing to endure suffering and possible death for the belief that Christ resurrected.

Why?

Because they too have been granted insight of the peace which is gifted by faith.

Where faith exists, so do miracles and what is considered impossible and improbable by nature's patterns.

The natural patterns evident throughout all of creation logically concludes there is a Grand Designer, Architect and Sustainer.

Enjoy the images of the nature's patterns at this link!

Dying To Share Facts In Scholarship



Tradition

noun

the transmission of customs or beliefs from generation to generation, or the fact of being passed on in this way

(in theology) a doctrine believed to have divine authority though not in the scriptures, in particular

Traditions are sometimes difficult to avoid.

Tradition is weaved into our cultures, societies, religions and our daily activities.

Do you not have a 'tradition' of eating perhaps three meals a day and at certain times, or of bathing at a certain time of day or night, or even repeating some maybe mundane or perhaps important 'something' on a daily basis?

Looking at the simple definition of 'tradition', we read that tradition is “customs or beliefs from generation to generation” and “the fact of being passed on in this way”.

In theology (the science and study of believed-to-be inspired works), tradition is “doctrine believed to have divine authority though not in the scriptures.

That final part (though not in the scriptures) is quite distinctive and is what I'd like to highlight.

Traditions are built upon what is understood, via man's interpretation, of readings that are believed-to-be inspired.

For millions upon millions of people living on earth Today, these believed-to-be inspired readings are found in what is collectively called the Bible and the Quran, just to name two.

Traditions have spawned from these two writings for both the Christian and Muslim communities, respectively.

Instead of arguing to highlight what is written beyond both the Bible and the Quran (centuries of exploratory writings of both believed-to-be inspired writings), let us consider a simple summary of one specific detail from both sources: the physical death of Jesus (Isa in Arabic) Christ.

I think it goes without saying what is believed by the mainstream Christian majority; Jesus Christ died a physical death on the cross, and was then resurrected.

There is no need to quote many passages, so one should suffice:


He then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that He must be killed and after three days rise again.  He spoke plainly about this... 
- Mark 8: 31-32 (paralleled in Matthew 16: 21; Luke 9: 22 and elsewhere)

This belief, being found in the Gospel, is for the most part understood by the Muslim community at-large as a foundation of Christian faith... but is rejected according to mainstream Muslim tradition and teaching.

Mainstream Muslim tradition has several conclusions regarding the event of the cross.

The mainstream tradition, which has been perpetuated and expounded throughout the centuries, is that Jesus was replaced in some form / fashion by another human being (the “substitutionist” theories).(a)

These substitutionist theories have their origin in the heretical 'Christian' groups of the earliest centuries after Christ ascended.(b)(c)

But what has been realized from a more accurate interpretation of the Quran regarding the death of Jesus?

“The Quran, as we have already argued, does not deny the death of Christ. Rather, it challenges human beings who in their folly have deluded themselves into believing that they would vanquish the divine Word, Jesus Christ the Messenger of God. The death of Jesus is asserted several times and in various contexts.”(d)


Some of the mentions and context are found in Quran 3:55; 5:117; 19:33.

Reading these writings, in several English translations, can garner an awareness as how any single translation from an Arabic text to an English text may cause an interpretive rendition (according to human bias, interpretation and the following of tradition).

These, as Muslim and secular scholarship of Islamic tradition shows, has lead to several conclusions.

The varied conclusions are further mentioned here (where further Muslim reports from earliest times agree, contradict and vary regarding the topic of Christ's death on the cross).

It is quite astonishing, however, to find Muslim scholarship, by devout Muslims still identifying as Muslims, are approaching the conclusion that has been a mainstay of historical fact for Jewish,(e) Christian and secular(f) scholarship for the centuries preceding Islam (or the 6th century)... that Jesus in fact died on the cross.

What Muslim tradition also teaches, which is also very striking, is that Christ was raised up to heaven... although this also has its particular understanding according to what individuals believe or follow according to tradition... and which may be shared at another time.


References:



a. Mahmoud M. Ayoub: (April 1980) Towards An Islamic Christology, II: The Death Of Jesus, Reality Or Delusion (A Study of the Death of Jesus in Tafsir Literature), The Muslim World (journal), Hartford Seminary, volume 70, issue 2, page 116.


b. William Montgomery Watt: (1991) Muslim-Christian Encounters: Perceptions and Misperceptions, Routledge, pages 39-40.


c. Alexander Roberts: (1 May 2007) The Ante-Nicene Fathers: The Writings of the Fathers Down to A.D. 325 Volume I - The Apostolic Fathers with Justin Martyr and Irenaeus, Cosimo Classics, page 349.

d. Mahmoud M. Ayoub: (April 1980), page 106.


e. Peter Schäfer: (2009) Jesus in the Talmud, Princeton University Press, page 139.


f. John Dominic Crossan: (1995) Jesus: A Revolutionary Biography, HarperOne, page 145.

19 July 2016

Small Decisions, Big Results

America is Entrepreneurship

There's a couple I see every so often on my walking routes.

Together, they pick up recyclable items.

They each have tricycles and I've noticed they also have a pickup truck.

There are quite a few people I see picking up what can be recycled for cash.

This particular couple are older and they work quite hard, having to load their cycles and the materials as they move about.

When I first noticed them some time ago, they were on foot using baskets on wheels.

Not sure if they had the pickup truck then.

The tricycles are a recent addition, I think.

I guess they park the truck at a central location and make the rounds on the cycles.

It isn't a glamorous job (most jobs aren't), but I guess it makes ends meet.

It is noble and honest work, quite laborious due to the sifting, accumulating and transporting.

But I see them together, and I'm sure they also spend together what they earn together.

Many couples spend most of their waking hours apart, with one or both working somewhere away from the other.

Time apart is healthy, but a life apart when considering all things, I'm not so sure of.

Years ago when I lived with my grandmother and mother, I would gather up the recyclable items and would realize between $20 – $30 dollars for a month's worth of aluminum cans and clear plastic bottles.

I saw it as tightening a leak (not throwing money away / making the most of every opportunity).

The back seat and trunk of the car would be packed full with these items for the short drive to a recycling center.

Most cities in the Los Angeles area pick up the recyclables along with the trash (two different trucks).

When considering the small amount paid for recyclable materials, the city's effort must deal in large volume to make money and pay its employees.

There are many more individuals picking up recyclable material than city employees competing in the same effort.

On an individual level, as with this couple, the gain is very little.

The individual needs to also deal with large volumes to make it worthwhile.

I don't recycle my items anymore, but leave them the day before trash day for whoever is earning an honorable yet difficult living.

I understand the $20 a month I can get back is more appreciated and useful in the hands of such as these.

I wonder if it would be better for all parties if the city wouldn't pick up the recyclable items and instead they were available for those many who wouldn't or couldn't qualify for the few city jobs.

15 July 2016

Adjusting Your Paradigm According To Light

Darkness and Shadow is Made Evident in the Light

I think people in general have a difficult time accepting the world around them.

The world is a beautiful place despite the ugliness that occurs.

The bad comes with the good, as we can reflect within ourselves when looking in the mirror.

If you can acknowledge the struggle of darkness within the light, then you can accept the manner events in the world occur.

Acceptance doesn't equal agreement.

Acceptance is soberly looking at what happens, reflecting the reality of darkness and light, yet realizing that despite the darkness, the light is forever outshining darkness.

It all depends on your perception, your view, and the manner in which you interpret the world.

Do you see the world as a mass of constant chaos?

If so, then to you everything in life will be filtered through this paradigm.

If you see evil as being the prevalent force (strongest), then you will filter your life and experiences according to this view... and this is actually a faithless view.

I suggest not falling for this lie.

It isn't a matter of ignoring what is wrong, but truly appreciating, accepting, acknowledging and realizing that more good exists in the world than the bad.

This isn't hokum (nonsense), neither is it 'wishful thinking.'

It is simply taking a look beyond the noise, the distraction and the highlighting of extreme events.

Ignoring the noise isn't sticking one's head into the sand.

One can be up to speed with the catastrophes occurring on earth and can appreciate the peace they realize in their hearts, their homes, their streets and their locality.

Questions:

What are you doing to prevent chaos from occurring near you?

Are you fomenting the same narrative heard on television (fear, call to arms, division, mania, etc.)?

Have you noticed the solidarity that comes out of every disaster, whether natural or purposed by man?

It is very interesting to notice how one produces the other.

It is the following reality that people believe in, perceive the world through... and it is the following paradigm which allows peace to reign in the hearts of the faithful despite the wickedness of the wayward:
Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. 
I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” 
Surely He will save you from the fowler’s snare and from the deadly pestilence. 
He will cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you will find refuge; His faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. 
You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday. 
A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you. 
You will only observe with your eyes and see the punishment of the wicked. 
If you say, “The Lord is my refuge,” and you make the Most High your dwelling, no harm will overtake you, no disaster will come near your tent. 
For He will command His angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone. 
You will tread on the lion and the cobra; you will trample the great lion and the serpent. 
- Psalm 91: 1-13

14 July 2016

Pulling Your Finger


Facebook has a feature called “memories” which allows you to see and share your past posts.

I am sometimes surprised by what I was years ago; at times embarrassed.

Every so often when looking at the past memories, I find I had shared things that were based on opinion rather than fact, or more conspiratorial that conspicuously rational.

Sadly as often as I scroll down to see what my other friends are sharing and talking about, I see far too many fictional 'news' stories, poorly conceived memes and vitriol.

Most of these posts are full of polemic religious attacks, binary political fallacies and links to websites sharing the same negative effort.

You can always tell if a website is worth its story by the advertisements it contains.

If there is more flesh in the ads than words, you may simply be assisting someone gain click-through ad revenue.

Or if you do not find any author or personal name attached to website, the editing, etc..

A look at the “about us” page, or disclaimer, should tell you what exactly you are sharing on social media.

Although everyone makes mistakes at any given time, I have learned to search the source of the 'story' to see if there is any truth, or if the methodology is weak or simply biased and forwarding nonsense.

Simply because a story isn't shared by a major news association (who also have their share of phoniness and propaganda), doesn't make it false nor true at first glance.

But if all other websites / sources sharing the same story are full of ads and still no author can be found, chances are someone has been duped.

Too many stories are pushing racism, prejudices, fear-mongering, low-sensuality and a closed-minded effort.

Our hearts can be revealed according to the things we share without clarifying comments.

I've also learned not to attempt to correct what others post too often.

Sadly some people's minds are so programmed and their hearts so enamored with what they hold to be true (thoughts based on hate, fear, ignorance, etc.) that it is easier to ignore a post than to get into a discussion that may end up blocking someone... usually me.

Room should be left for time, growth, reflection and learning (as I realize when looking at my past posts).

13 July 2016

Limitless [According To Your] Faith


Context has so much to do with understanding, the two are never found too far apart.

Cultural climates can give rise to reactionary ideas, sparking a different cultural climate.

Looking at the terms “deist” and “deism”, the time when these word's current definition was derived shouldn't come as a surprise.

In the context of cultural discontent with how the religious hierarchy in Europe directed political and social discourse, and the subsequent bloodshed between the church and the rebellion of the protestants, we see the rise of a belief in God without the notion of things which cannot be rationally explained.

Much how a child who was raised with too many rules, the child (now an adult) desires not to forward the same frustrations onto their children.

This intention beginning noble enough, the method soon begins to wander away from the noble intention, much the same as the prior order that was just removed had wandered away.

Among certain circles of 18th century educated hierarchy, in a desire to redefine oneself while resolving exoteric conflicts of ideological differences, new methods were formulated and 'old' manners were denied.

The new methods brought what seemed to be greater freedoms in reaching for higher spiritual plateaus, while denying the 'old' manners which brought the allowance to doubt and bring into question every single thing that had been established.

A mainstream notion in deism is the rejection of things which cannot be logically or naturally explained, like miracles.

The logical mind, in reaching the conclusion that a miracle cannot be rationalized rejects its notion and the writings expressing such notions.

It has been my personal experience that what one doesn't believe to be possible, one will consider as impossible, improbable and eventually untrue... and one's reality will thus reflect this perception.

This is the stagnant lurch that religion becomes, whilst the righteous who desire not to be restrained by doubt or by God's boundless nature continues to seek the truth and grows accordingly.

The deist-minded individual, according to the popular definition, sees mankind on their own; creation having being set in motion and simply left alone by God.

With this mindset, it is easy to see how faithlessness and doubt can be a starting point for people in establishing government, policy, societal norms and in defining what is right from what is wrong.

Looking at the argument that a particular country was established on the Rock that calls Yeshua Lord and Christ (that which deism would categorically deny according by definition), and seeing the historical reality that such a confession of faith was not to be publicly legitimized government, one sees that argument as a poor one.

This is not to say that any place, people or purpose is vacant of God's blessing or not carrying within it His anointing, but it does clarify that the things unseen, denied by so-called intellectuals while still believed by those who have seen and heard, is simply His story (history) repeating... and trust in men and their machinations is an empty place to put one's trust.

12 July 2016

Love Is The Cipher


Interpretation...

Depends...

On...

Perspective,

Objectivity,

Consideration and

Humility.

Interpretation

noun

the action of explaining the meaning of something

If you have ever seen the art of interpretive dance, you know how a story can be told without the use of words / language.

The dance conveys a message, yet the manner in which the message is received depends on the receiver... according to their individual interpretation.

And whether there is music accompanying the dance, or silence, the message will be received differently, different emotions being sparked in a myriad of ways, again according to the recipient's interpretation.

Interpretation depends on the receiver's life experience, current understanding of the world and of oneself... in other words; many variables.

Sometimes, the message is widely misinterpreted, or new interpretations are derived.

A simple phrase, such as “you're funny” can be interpreted many ways, all according to how it is stated (if verbalized, how it is said, if read, the reader's disposition).

Since “funny” can mean several different things and is dependent on what sentiment and words precede and follow it (if any), this phrase can be interpreted as offensive, as encouraging, or some other manner.

Think of the many texts that mankind has looked to for knowledge, inspiration, guidance and 'truth'.

Now consider how interpretations have originated, mutated and changed... some quite outrageous from earliest interpretations.

The beauty of how meanings blend can lead to extraordinary insights... and outlandish contradictions.

Libraries are full of published books with much interpretation, some seemingly in agreement, some starkly diverse.

Typically a published book has to convey verifiable messages, supported by accurate and sound bibliography (ideas and messages previously believed to be true).

But has everything ever written by man's hand been verifiably true, accurate or sound?

The diversion from earliest interpretations are furthered by arm-chair philosophers and ideological theologians posting their interpretations on the internet.

Very few people are able to objectively view information and effort an interpretation unbiased to their ideological leaning.

It is inherently human to interpret according to one's current understanding.

Even highly honored scholars have their myopic interpretations according to their identity.

To expect a sparrow to be unafraid of a predator is asking that bird's nature to act unnaturally.

However, there is a way to see what is true and interpreted according to truth, not human bias.

What is quite notable and evident in the example of the earliest disciples of Christ was their abandonment of Jewish identity... and absorption of the rest of humanity they encountered outside of their homogenous group.

How was this possible and achieved?
Then He called the crowd to Him along with His disciples and said: “Whoever wants to be My disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow Me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for Me and for the Gospel will save it. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? If anyone is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when He comes in His Father’s glory with the holy angels.” 
- Mark 8: 34-38
Some reading this blog may say that I too have my biased interpretation, based on how I identify myself with something exterior of me...

Yet, if I aim to identify myself with the Holy One who was revealed from Above, and if my understanding on loan from Him allows me to realize that He lives in me, and I am not my own, then who is it I aim to identify with?

Isn't this identity the effort of most religions of the world?... while their interpretations are distinct and seemingly opposed?

Yet, does not what is shared by Mark point out that it is in emptying oneself of man's interpretations the Way one finds the One who calls from Above?

Consider then what is meant when the message calls mankind to “deny themselves and take up their cross and follow Me”.

But may I suggest you use the interpretation that is taught from Above, not your own or another man's opinion.

11 July 2016

Troubling Times Are Bound To Come

Judgment From Above Is Never Wrong, So Take Comfort Staying In His Peace

The following speaks to public lawsuits regarding private social matters between believers... and so much more.

It speaks to the evidence of depravity being unable, due to disobedience, to please God... and so much more.

It speaks to absorbing the waywardness of others, believer and wicked alike, and staying at peace... and so much more.

It speaks to holiness when considering the freedom the divine nature brings, and being responsible for the sake of holiness and not due to rights and freedoms... and so much more.

It speaks to the highest calling in the public eye and in the private confines of your heart's thoughts.

It speaks of the role of the servant, the blessed, the downtrodden, being dignified by the Spirit of Peace, not outwardly honored at all times, or if not seldom, perhaps never... just as Christ was at times honored, yet prior to being crucified was denied and ridiculed... but He loved and forgave until death.
If any of you has a dispute with another, do you dare to take it before the ungodly for judgment instead of before the Lord’s people? Or do you not know that the Lord’s people will judge the world? And if you are to judge the world, are you not competent to judge trivial cases? Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more the things of this life! Therefore, if you have disputes about such matters, do you ask for a ruling from those whose way of life is scorned in the church? I say this to shame you. Is it possible that there is nobody among you wise enough to judge a dispute between believers? But instead, one brother takes another to court—and this in front of unbelievers! 
The very fact that you have lawsuits among you means you have been completely defeated already. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be cheated? Instead, you yourselves cheat and do wrong, and you do this to your brothers and sisters. Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the Name of the Lord Yeshua Christ and by the Spirit of our God. 
“I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but I will not be mastered by anything. You say, “Food for the stomach and the stomach for food, and God will destroy them both.” The body, however, is not meant for sexual immorality but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. By His power God raised the Lord from the dead, and He will raise us also. Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ Himself? Shall I then take the members of Christ and unite them with a prostitute? Never! Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body? For it is said, “The two will become one flesh.” But whoever is united with the Lord is one with Him in spirit. 
Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body. Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies. 
- 1 Corinthians 6
Honor God with your mind, your heart, your thoughts, your words, your very self... no matter who or what comes across your path.

Amen.

09 July 2016

Go To The Ant...


Geometry is part of the Divine Design; lessons in nature.

These amazing creations reproduce that which they consume.

Every part of creation is useful and is to be utilized, benevolently managed.


Humans have their role: ethics and integrity (through love).

Children living in cities can have learning opportunities in playgrounds and recreational parks, built for leisure and also for fun.

For children living in more rural areas and countrysides, the natural landscapes can provide this leisure, learning and fun.

Growing up, my family had plenty of animals / pets, and over the years each new pet brought with them a time of learning, observation and reflection.

As an adult, the natural world seems to be 'calling me'.

I mean this not in a weird mystical sense, but in learning about the world, myself and mankind.

I've noticed that a serious respect for nature – and man's place and responsible role in nature – is a perspective I've either ignored or have only lately realized.

There is still so much to explore on the earth; to learn from, to observe, to manage properly, to allow to flourish and to protect.

I love snorkeling.

It is another world under the water's surface, and snorkeling / scuba diving allows one to explore and be amazed.

I think with gratitude, the human can appreciate the animals that help sustain us, so long as we treat creation responsibly and respectfully, further learning how important every single piece of life is essential.

The western / modern cultures can learn from how some native and ancient tribes respected nature and the animals, knowing full well man's existence is a part of nature, not separate in any way.

Humans appreciating our role atop the food chain also included.

When snorkeling, I have had opportunity to swim in a real-life tropical fish tank – the initial understanding of this water-world for those growing up in the city or from television – and I am always amazed finding so much vibrant life and with vibrant colors.

I love watching animal documentaries, for when doing so I 'see' how the lessons in the bible continue to build upon my observation of the beautiful and artfully designed creation we have all around us.

The basic lesson of looking at "...ants...” sparks the journey of silent contemplation while reflecting this tiny creature's role, attributes and manners with our own.

We can apply this methodology to every single part of creation when learning about them and ourselves.

The lessons from Above, some written and others unwritten, are always speaking to our hearts and are all around us in what is not made by man's hands.

We can appreciate and learn from what man has made with his hands; painted colors imitating colorful birds, machines to fly like a bird, designs copying the geometric shapes of plants... hasn't man historically taken all his lessons from the natural world?

Seeing the reality of our symbiotic relation to creation, we can recognize with sober judgment the good works of man's hands from the bad works.

May we all look to exploring the deeper realities awaiting our discovery with what we've had all along... and further the good... perhaps in due time!

07 July 2016

The Mind Is A Beautiful Thing

Truth; protected like this irrigation pipe.

The mind conceives notions that can greatly assist others.

Many are the things that man has conceived and put into existence through the work of his hands.

The mind can also run wild, at times seeming to run away from you.

The mind isn't always correct, or isn't always processing information properly, having difficulty deciphering good from bad, true from false.

There was a man who conceived a mathematical formula in the hopes his discovery would help mankind, and this discovery gave rise to a unique, yet dangerous, energy source.

Using this mathematical formula, another man included his mind's ideas and developed a weapon that could wipe out all of mankind, capitalizing on this energy's manipulation.

The first man regretted having conceived the formula after seeing how the second man used the formula, having no idea what would come about from the second man's work.

What is interesting is that this weapon is also perceived by some people to be a good thing, which is very interesting.

The paradox how a good thing can be turned into something not so good is striking.

How much more striking it is when the mind's idea challenges that which has been acknowledged as true for as long as life has existed.

This is where ideas in a religious context can seem like good additions, while at the same time, become divisive and destructive.

How can someone decipher when a new idea is conducive and can build upon what is already understood?

How can this deciphering be clarified in mentioning that a new idea is actually adverse and incorrect?
How can a young person stay on the path of purity? 
By living according to your Word. 
I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands. 
I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. 
Praise be to you, Lord; teach me your decrees. 
With my lips I recount all the laws that come from your mouth. 
I rejoice in following your statutes as one rejoices in great riches. 
I meditate on your precepts and consider your ways. 
I delight in your decrees; I will not neglect your word. 
- Psalm 119: 9-16
And how can the mind be aligned with what the heart perceives?
The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? 
“I the Lord search the heart and examine the mind, to reward each person according to their conduct, according to what their deeds deserve.” 
- Jeremiah 17: 9-10
It seems a deciding factor comes down to obedience, although the heart can be led astray into believing something to be good and true (which may in reality be bad or false).

Many are the thoughts of the heart, as well as the mind, but the truth having been firmly established since the beginning cannot be moved despite the newest ideas that men struggle with... and desire to make true.

06 July 2016

Language Of The Invisible


I have learned a great deal of insight into "how" God has moved when looking at scientific discoveries, no matter 'who' the science comes through, haven't you?

Have you noticed how God continues to work every single day?

I think far too many people, religious, atheist, righteous and otherwise, may take for granted how amazingly intricate the workings of the world (God's hand) truly is!

The wind's breeze, the ocean's currents and the seasons are sometimes an afterthought, as if these are obvious or typical.

I guess because these are so out of our control, the human being a passive observer, that these things are too easily accepted as expected constants.

Do you not realize the grand design behind the entirety of nature?!

This is why nature is such a beautiful and amazing thing, for it speaks of God's genius and miraculous works!

People, even more so, are quite beautiful and amazing, since they've been made in His likeness and image.

Every human being plays a role, has a purpose (or several), no matter how vile, good, loving or hateful they currently are.

Same goes for every 'thing' that has existed, currently exists, and will exist in the future.

I don't particularly like mosquitos, among several other pests, but these too play an intricate and helpful role in the world.

So many insects and animals feed on mosquitos, while the mosquito also has its job, no matter how unpopular a pesky mosquito may be to the human being.

It is all about seeing the bigger picture, and not seeing the world through only our fleshly eyes... but through God's eyes.

This is where looking past any individual's personality, and their opinions, can assist in learning insights that may come through them, which would otherwise be ignored due to judging the personality.

The scientific community's contributions to society are vital, for they are actually putting into terms and languages of men (math) the evidence of God's hand, and the manner His hand moves in all things.

I appreciate the scientific effort in furthering mathematical equations in attempting to decipher the universe, in terms of a language that allows mankind a method of communicating ideas, theories and their own understanding of realities waiting to be discovered.

If only man would recognize their responsible position among the rest of creation, and when making choices to eliminate life (either the mosquito or an unborn child), this is actually not the responsibility nor place of humans, but of God and His hand.

04 July 2016

The Simple Truth

The Truth has forever been Internationally Acclaimed

Some believe they possess the truth, or 'know' it because they have memorized words.

Can the truth be held, possessed or known by repeating words?

Isn't the truth 'known' and perceived when experienced?

Isn't the truth 'heard' when it quietly whispers to your heart?

Isn't the truth only understood when another human being can 'see' it in you?

The truth is spoken every day, a subtle symphony manifested in every-day life.

Although the truth is not always perceived, it resides within, without, throughout and everywhere.

The truth is found in science, yet the language of science has difficulty describing the truth.

The truth is simple, spoken with few words and described in even fewer.

Religions of the world, what men have conceived in explaining the truth in their own words, come close in their own unique and similar ways.

But pride prevents the religious from learning from one another.

People's collective humanity and how the truth has been expressed in their specific cultures is an amazing find.

Truth is found when you're faced with difficult decisions, for it speaks directly to the heart.
To the Jews who had believed Him, Yeshua said, “If you hold to My teaching, you are really My disciples.  Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” 
- John 8: 31-32
The truth is lived.
Yeshua answered, “I Am the Way and the Truth and the Life.  No one comes to the Father except through Me. 
- John 14: 6
 The truth is acknowledged.

02 July 2016

616 Very Difficult Words

Romans 6: 14
When emotions cloud judgment...

Almost every complaint has a reason, a justifiable point.

But the manner in which observations and judgments are pronounced mean all the difference in how they are received.

I walk a tightrope when I shouldn't, for I too have my humanity to deal with.

That tightrope walk is sometimes reacting like a religious zealot, remembering to be a loving disciple of Christ, a preacher forwarding grace and a protector of my personal church... and this is not easy, yet this is a short-list of my current character traits and my heart's place put in words (according to my personal assessment).

I recently had a strong response, again, towards my wife when reflecting my personal struggles with lust and insecurity.

Insecurity in terms of my internal thoughts after seeing how other men notice my wife's beauty, causing jealousy to rise in my heart and challenging my love for such strangers to wane drastically.

Lust in terms of projecting my internal struggle with seeing overexposed flesh of women almost on a daily basis.

I can understand why cultures on the other side of the world cover up women like draping windows.

Yet this response doesn't cease humanity's inner struggles from occurring.

It only points the finger in the wrong direction, as I did this morning.

My lust and my insecurity overwhelms me when the climate rises, and my initial temptation is to blame others, instead of reflecting on what is stirring within regarding the natures; from Above and below.

So in blaming the world around me: the dress-code where I currently reside has outwear getting closer to lingerie.

Shorts have gotten shorter and going braless is 'in'.

Nothing is “being left to the imagination” as that saying goes.

The level of discipline in what my eyes see wavers from being 'in control' and above reproach, to responding to visual stimulations according 'animalistic instincts'... and I hate this vulnerability, for I know too well where such indulgences lead.

In taking responsibility for my self's struggle: my pride is hurt...my pride in my self-righteousness.

Continuing to blame the world: although I was born into a conservative and God-fearing family, the society outside the home is increasingly very carefree; free from constraint and accepting all shades of human nature.

Perhaps as accepting as Greece was when all things human, short of murder, was palatable... yet state-sanctioned murder (capital punishment) is still state-prescribed, so this analogy fails to fit the point.

As has been happening since the very beginning, popular consensus continues to prescribe societal 'norms'.

In reaching for man's definition of freedom, removing all religious and moral restraints as 'archaic fear-based notions', a brave new world continues to be humanly authored.

Brave according to some reserving their heart-felt opinions of the lifestyles of others.

Brave for others to express their struggles as strengths, yet the moral alignment is arguably undefinable.

Brave in that depravity has had an obvious definition for eons, but is now quite ambiguous... this 'bravery' being boastful, proud and defined according to individual interpretation.

The lesson: when I express these things to my wife, she is utterly oblivious.

God has seemingly shielded her heart from such concerns.

I admire her naiveté.

What I point out as carnal shortcomings in ourselves and society, she sees as me thinking too much.

I do think too much.

I also struggle with many afflictions, yet there is no cut-off switch to my thoughts and conscious.

Truly the knowledge of good and evil was a troublesome temptation.

It seems I may be apologizing for my shortcomings all my life.

Yet God's grace has been proven to be greater than my religious wrangling.

May His Name be forever praised, Amen.

01 July 2016

Believing Without Seeing; A Blessing

John 8: 36

What common theme do you see in the following passages (not an exhaustive / complete list)?
Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as He was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. 
- Genesis 3: 8
She gave this name to the Lord who spoke to her: “You are the God who sees me,” for she said, “I have now seen the One who sees me.” 
- Genesis 16: 13
The Lord appeared to Abraham near the great trees of Mamre while he was sitting at the entrance to his tent in the heat of the day. 
- Genesis 18: 1
That night the Lord appeared to him and said, “I Am the God of your father Abraham. Do not be afraid, for I Am with you; I will bless you and will increase the number of your descendants for the sake of My servant Abraham.” 
- Genesis 26: 24
So Jacob called the place Peniel, saying, “It is because I saw God face to face, and yet my life was spared.” 
- Genesis 32: 30
There above it stood the Lord, and He said: “I Am the Lord, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac.  I will give you and your descendants the land on which you are lying. 
- Genesis 28: 30
God also said to Moses, “I Am the Lord. I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob as God Almighty, but by My Name the Lord I did not make Myself fully known to them. 
- Exodus 6: 2-3
He said, “Listen to my words: 
“When there is a prophet among you, I, the Lord, reveal Myself to them in visions, I speak to them in dreams.  But this is not true of My servant Moses; he is faithful in all My house.  With him I speak face to face, clearly and not in riddles; he sees the form of the Lord.  Why then were you not afraid to speak against My servant Moses?” 
- Numbers 12: 6-8
Moses and Aaron went from the assembly to the entrance to the tent of meeting and fell facedown, and the glory of the Lord appeared to them. 
- Numbers 20: 6
The Lord became angry with Solomon because his heart had turned away from the Lord, the God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice. 
- 1 Kings 11: 9
Above the vault over their heads was what looked like a throne of lapis lazuli, and high above on the throne was a figure like that of a man.  I saw that from what appeared to be His waist up He looked like glowing metal, as if full of fire, and that from there down He looked like fire; and brilliant light surrounded Him.  Like the appearance of a rainbow in the clouds on a rainy day, so was the radiance around Him. 
This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord.  When I saw it, I fell facedown, and I heard the voice of One speaking. 
- Ezekiel 1: 26-28
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
This is what He showed me: The Lord was standing by a wall that had been built true to plumb, with a plumb line in His hand. 
- Amos 7: 7
Yeshua is 
“ ‘the stone you builders rejected, which has become the cornerstone.’ 
Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other Name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.” 
- Acts 4: 11-12 
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.” 
- Acts 9: 3-6 
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
I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True.  With justice He judges and wages war.  His eyes are like blazing fire, and on His head are many crowns.  He has a Name written on Him that no one knows but He Himself.  He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and His Name is the Word of God.  The armies of heaven were following Him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean.  Coming out of His mouth is a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations.  “He will rule them with an iron scepter.”  He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty.  On His robe and on His thigh He has this Name written: 
KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS. 
- Revelation 19: 11-16