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Serious Minded

Serious Minded

Cruelty-Free

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I recently discovered that most of the products in my house were animal tested, and my life as I once knew it was turned upside down! And speaking of down, I was sitting on it when I had this revelation!

Emotions of grief struck me. I looked at my three dogs, who were in the room with me, and I began to cry uncontrollably.

They got up and came over to me, and one of them started to lick my face and clear away the stream of tears, but I could not stop sobbing.

I tried calling family members for support but to no avail, so I reached out to my mentor. I was so grateful to God that she answered her phone.

I worked to console myself in order to explain my sudden grief, and after telling her what I was challenged with, she shared a wonderful insight that enabled me to settle down and commence with this new journey unfolding before me.

She explained that because I now knew better, I could proceed doing better. When I asked her how to forgive myself for being so ignorant, she reminded me that because my motives are pure and I have such a strong desire to make a change for what I believe is better, a healing of my heart would follow.

After our conversation ended and I was more composed, I began researching products that are animal tested. To my surprise, there were too many to count.

I continued seeking and found myself on PETA’s website where I read more articles and the weeping started again. I was aghast that these horrific things were still happening to animals, but the truth of it is that I had to take full accountability for letting the world trick me (see http://www.peta.org).

I had not stopped to even consider where most of these products came from that I had been using. I had not done my own homework. Was it because I did not care enough? Was it because vanity, pride, and ego got in the way? Was it because I had no interest in how the manufacturers made the products? Yes, yes, and yes!

The emotional upheaval continued as I made a list of all the cruel products I had in my house. I became so upset that I began throwing items away, rolling up rugs, disposing of food, and discarding anything else I could manage. By the end of the day, I was both mentally and physically exhausted.

I decided that it was time for me to make radical changes in my choices, so that is exactly what I did.

I eventually had to resolve that because of my own dreams of vanity, I never stopped to consider whom they could be harming. Even when it came to food, I began learning how to make much more responsible choices.

I sought out many different websites that help people find “cruelty-free” products ranging from household items to clothing, accessories, and food. I looked thoroughly into each one and logged my favorites in my bookmarks.

I practiced new recipes and redesigned my eating habits. Through all of this, my family was not only onboard, but after I shared all the information and startling facts with them, they too made lifestyle changes.

I felt the need to write about this because we need to not only pull together to stop cruelty of any kind, but also do our own homework to our highest capability to support those who practice humane habits to manufacture products.

When you go into any store, there aren’t signs that read, “PLEASE NOTE THAT THIS PRODUCT HAS BEEN ANIMAL TESTED.”

It is apparent that we must do our own investigating, and with the help of several organizations we have at our disposal who demonstrate altruism, all the information we need is ready available so that each one of us can make a decision that is right for us.

No more being duped! “There is nothing covered up that won’t be exposed and nothing secret that won’t be made known” (Luke 12:2, ISV).

I understand that it is costly to make such a radical change and that this is not feasible for everyone, but there are so many other ways to contribute to humanitarianism.

For example, some of the places that I frequent are still not recycling plastic. “Americans used about 50 billion plastic water bottles last year. However, the U.S.’s recycling rate for plastic is only 23 percent, which means 38 billion water bottles—more than $1 billion worth of plastic—are wasted each year.” (https://www.banthebottle.net/bottled-water-facts/).

Yes, it takes more of a conscious effort to recycle, but it is for the good of our planet (https://www.dosomething.org/us/facts/11-facts-about-recycling).

Waste, waste, and more waste! In some countries, patrons at local restaurants are charged for throwing food away! (See http://thestir.cafemom.com/food_party/151280/genius_restaurant_charges_patrons_for.)

Some people think it is none of anyone else’s business if they waste, but it seems to me that because we all share one planet, it’s everyone’s business what it looks like and how clean it is or isn’t!

In the meantime, until we become a complete euphoric world, there is always a higher perspective waiting for us to reach, if we care enough to strive to be there.

I have since forgiven myself and moved on with a clearer conscience and have gained much understanding from this experience.

Greed and deceit will continue to try to dupe us into closing our eyes and blocking our ears to cruelty, because it seems too big of an obstacle to overcome, but closing our eyes to this ongoing problem will never make for a more humane and benevolent humanity.

 

ISV—International Standard Version

Clean Clothes Build Confidence

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To my surprise, I came across a video on YouTube that explained how Whirlpool has been donating washing machines and dryers to public schools throughout the United States. At first glance, I thought how charitable that is, and as the video continued, facts appeared across the screen, and they were disturbing.

“Every day in the United States, more than 4,000 kids drop out of school.”

“Kids who drop out have a 40% higher unemployment rate.”

“Kids who drop out have a 70% higher rate of government assistance.”

“Kids who drop out are more than 8 times as likely to be incarcerated.”

“EVERYDAY thousands of kids miss school because they lack one thing:

CLEAN CLOTHES.”

“With care counts, over 90% of tracked students increased attendance over this previous year.”1

After I read these facts and watched the rest of the video, I was impelled to write about this campaign that Whirlpool has begun. This is a demonstration of charity and compassion as well as consideration about the children who are the future of this country and our world.

To aid children in ways that will uplift their minds, to instill in them self-regard, compassion, charity, intelligence, and knowledge makes for a hopeful future generation.

Thank you, Whirlpool, for caring and sharing and for all those who help in keeping this program successful.

 

1 Watch the Video

Gun Control or Hate Control?

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On March 24th, 2018, students and fellow supporters across the country protested to bring awareness to the need for gun control in the United States. They called it March for Our Lives. A very accurate title! That event followed the National School Walkout that occurred the week before and was brought on by the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, leaving 17 people killed.

Unfortunately, that execrable event was not the first of its kind. Last year alone, in the U.S., 65 shootings occurred at schools and universities. And “since 2013, there have been 291 school shootings.”1 The statistics are alarming! And I don’t think anyone would disagree that a solution is most urgent.

The debates on gun control are not a new issue in this country, but the issue has now been ignited by students from all over demanding that action be taken to pass laws for stricter gun control.

As I have been following these events with deep compassion in my heart for those families who lost loved ones as well as empathy for the students, I felt the need to do more than just sign the petitions in favor of banning assault weapons. I needed to earnestly pray! And as I often do, when seeking answers and comfort to life’s heartbreaking provocations, I turned to the Bible for insight and wisdom.

In one of my favorite books in the Old Testament, I read in Proverbs (a plethora of wisdom!) 10:12, “Hatred fuels dissension, but love calms all rebellions.”

I continued to repeat that in hopes that it would fill the air like the fragrance of honeysuckle, travel to the hearts of all people, dismantle hate, and build up love. At that moment, as my eyes were filled with tears, a question arose: Gun control or hate control?

I have heard the aphorism, “Guns don’t kill people; people kill people.” Maybe we need to alter that to “hate kills.” Because we know love does not kill.  

Hate and guns of any kind make for a deadly mix!

As I pondered that and stayed informed about the March for Our Lives event, I came across an article on kids, hunters, and those who compete in skeet, etc., who trust that when guns are handled with respect and discipline, the gun is not the problem.

I know how desperate we are for an expeditious solution to these school shootings, and I cannot help but think that banning the sale of automatic weapons to consumers will make schools and communities over all safer, but those are not the only guns that kill nor are the triggers of those weapons being pulled by loving, mentally healthy persons. In fact, a criminology professor stated that in school shootings, the shooter’s motive is fame.2

That is a very dark and morose concept of fame! Regrettably, it may be a very accurate assessment.

In 1 John 2:11, it is written, “But whoever hates his brother is in darkness. He lives in darkness and does not know where he is going. The darkness has made him blind.”

This blindness that John wrote about refers to a mental blindness or dark thoughts which obscure the messages of divine Love, leaving the person mesmerized by pride, malevolence, and enmity, followed by  deplorable manifestations!

In “Disarming Animal Magnetism” from The Anthology of Classic Articles, Helen Wood Bauman wrote, “If people would recognize the first whisperings of the serpent to be not their own thoughts but the destructive influences of an unreal mind, if they would stop listening to and obeying these whisperings, animal propensities would be quickly stamped out of thought and would not be permitted to grow to intensely hypnotic, dragonlike proportions.”3

Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”

So how does Love drive out hate?

Love, according to scriptural text, is God. In 1 John 4:7-8, it is written, “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.”

Hate then is the antithesis of Love, or God. Hate is the myopia to the existence of the omnipotent and benevolent God who is Love. Even if one does not choose to believe in the power of God, I would hope one believes in the power of love.

So, as these debates continue and passion on both sides of gun control increase, as we contemplate our position on this issue, there are additional fights we can take up and more work we can do to be efficacious in this battle.

  1. Let us look into our own minds and examine where we may be hiding any quality of hate, and quickly replace it with love.
  2. Pray and pray and pray more! It is the silent force of good! (James 5:16) The Lord’s prayer (Matthew 6:9-13) is simple but so profound. It includes all people as one and both petitions and reassures that God does deliver us from evil.
  3. Bless others. Bless our schools. Bless our communities. Bless our cities. Bless and bless on! A very helpful book in blessing others is The Gentle Art of Blessing by Pierre Pradervand. In fact, there are testimonies in that book of how people healed hatred.
  4. Take a leap and read scriptural text on handling evil. There are plenty of examples in the Bible of how the omnipresence of God usurped evil as well as positive affirmations and prayers you can practice, such as the 91st.
  5. Take another unbiased leap and consider reading Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by theologian, Christian healer, and author Mary Baker Eddy who thoroughly explained the power of Christ, the healing work of Christ Jesus, and how we can follow in his footsteps.
  6. Call on a prayer warrior and healers to pray for you, your school, etc.

There is much work to be done, and it may seem as though the work is overwhelming, and maybe even impossible, but with God all things are possible.

In the gospel of Luke 10:1-3, Jesus said, “After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them two-by-two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go. He told them, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field. Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves.’”

I trust that what Jesus was telling us is not solely for missionaries and proselytizers, but for those who dare to stand up for what is right, fair and good; to spread peace and as much as the kingdom of Love as possible. And with so many people on board arguing on the side of righteousness and change for the betterment of all, it appears it will be a harder task for those who oppose the workers of good than those arguing for it to win!

I commend the students who have demonstrated shalom and peace and rallied in protest of evil. And I think the Lord must be pleased with them as they, like many other stouthearted brothers and sisters before them, fight the good fight and demand that the manmade laws for human rights align with something greater; our divine rights to live in harmony. So, as the campaign for gun control advances, let us also advance the campaign for hate control.

 

L.O.V.E. Love Omits Violence Everywhere®

ICB-International Children’s Bible

ESV-English Standard Version

 

1 Cuddy, Alice. “America's History of School Shootings.” Euronews. March 26, 2018. Accessed March 27, 2018. http://www.euronews.com/2018/02/15/america-s-history-of-school-shootings.

2 “The Gun Owners of the Parkland Generation | The New Yorker.” Flipboard on Flipboard. Accessed March 27, 2018. https://flipboard.com/@flipboard/-the-gun-owners-of-the-parkland-generati/f-f323f33f24/newyorker.com.

3 Cuddy. Ibid.

White Lies

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Sin is sin

Growing up, when my mom caught me in a lie and asked me to explain myself, I told her that I lied to avoid hurting someone’s feelings.  She told me not to make a habit of lying, that it is “okay” to tell a “white lie,” from time to time just not a “black lie.”  She explained that a “white lie” signified a small sin that was more of a falsehood (Okay! That’s what a lie is!) but that a “black lie,” is an evil that would stain my soul.

It was terrifying!

I went to my room and began calculating how many “white vs black lies” I had told and I was deeply troubled (there’s a confession!)

It seemed confounding that one who claimed to be a Christ-follower (bless you, mom!) would justify any kind of lying as though a white lie was authorized by God.

Over the years of gaining more spiritual insight, I came to realize that a lie is a lie is a lie, or a sin is sin, great or small, but let’s identify what a sin is.  To sin means; “missing the mark.” http://biblehub.com/greek/266.htm

I understand that to suggest, we miss the point about God, that we often fail in the human condition, falling well below the standard Godliness.  St. Augustine defines it as, "Sin is nothing else than to neglect eternal things, and seek after temporal things.”  St. Augustine

The lie derived from none other than the liar.  To quote Jesus in John 8:44, he said, “You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father's desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”  NIV

Siding with the liar even just a little, suggests that we have turned away from incorruptibility and that one slight turn could lead us so far off the path of righteousness that we become susceptible to all kinds of danger.  One small sin, one white lie is no small thing!

I think of a small sin or a white lie in this way;

The poison dart frog, which is no bigger than a thumb nail, is bright and fauve, and has enough poison to kill 10 humans!

And then there is the mosquito.  Yes, a tiny mosquito.  Mosquitos are responsible for 2 million deaths a year, causing Malaria, yellow and dengue fever.

There is the blue-ringed octopus found in the waters of Australia, New Guinea, Indonesia and the Philippines.  It is “half the size of a golf ball,” but its sting can cause cardiac arrest. http://all-that-is-interesting.com/the-worlds-six-smallest-and-deadliest-animals

Those are just some of the smallest but deadliest creatures, which symbolize that small doesn’t mean harmless.

There are many more examples of how one small sin can cause havoc, accidents and even death.

I received a call from a woman who was deeply disturbed abut her daughter’s pattern of lying and needed a resolve.  She repeatedly told to her daughter to close their front door, so their dog would not get out.  This was a constant ordeal, especially because they lived on a busy street.  One morning before school as the daughter was getting her rain boots from the porch, she left the front door open, but when her mom asked her if she had remembered to close it, she said she had.   The daughter then snuck over to actually close the door, but it was too late. Their dog had gotten out and was hit by a car.

Small lies, white lies, little sins all add up to an offhanded mentality,” and this attitude left rationalized and unchanged leads to a life of telling more lies resulting in missing the mark in greater ways.

In the book of Revelation in chapter 12, a woman is faced with the “great red dragon” who is trying to “devour” her child and kill her.  I envision that this dragon was once the serpent in Gen. II, who beguiled Eve and I cannot help but wonder what would have happened if she had just heeled in its head as it was tempting her thereby obliterating the enticer and preventing it from ever having had the chance of growing into that predominant threat.

Let us learn from this allegory that it is wise to stomp out the temptation to lie and instead, take up the practice of telling the truth and even though telling a lie seems to be the best option to save face, in the long run, it will prove to be a most detrimental decision.  “Anything is better than lies and deceit!” ― Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina.  

I came across this verse in Prov. 27:6, “Wounds from a sincere friend are better than many kisses from an enemy,” that inspired me to work on being very courageous to break the habit of lying in order to protect someone else’s feelings, because in reality, by being dishonest, I was damaging my own integrity. I was not considering the aftereffects nor did I realize that I was allowing diffidence to control me. I had become enslaved to the habit and justified it by absurd self-righteous reasoning.

Honesty is salutary and it does require prudence when vocalizing it for the results to be most efficacious.  So the sooner you practice it the better you will become at it. 

We’d love to hear form you about how a small lie you told turned into a dragon.  We will keep all stories anonymous.  If you would like to share your story, write us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Lent

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Fasting from Chocolate!

Lent season reminds me of when I was a child being raised in both Catholicism and Eastern Orthodox Christianity.

My mom would take me and my sisters to church to receive our ashes on Ash Wednesday and that meant we had better have decided what we were going to give up for forty days in celebration of Lent.

One year, I chose to give up chocolate of any kind (I loved milk chocolate!). This decision was not easy, but my mom was convinced that fasting from something we loved was a way of making a sacrifice. She explained that if God could sacrifice His only son for the forgiveness of our sins, then surely I could give up chocolate for forty days. So, for those forty days, chocolate was forbidden to pass my lips. Easter Sunday took forever to arrive so I could receive my reward, a very big solid chocolate bunny! When I got my hands on that bunny, I enjoyed every single bite. It was delicious!

As I grew up, I realized the greater meaning and value of sacrifice and Lent. It was not just about giving up food but rather letting go of what did not promote my spiritual progress and stunted my mind from elevating.

Those spiritual hindrances ranged from a variety of things such as victimization, anger, resentment, and unrighteous judgment on my fellow man. 

I knew that somewhere along my way, I allowed the influence of erroneous beliefs and ideals to creep into my mind and usurp the natural thoughts of God. I never considered not only how He saw me, but also how He thinks, overall, about His creation.

I ended up on a confused and confounded path that led me away from what once mattered to me the most: love, compassion, charity, forgiveness and such like. However, when I decided to turn my life completely over to the care of God and God alone, I had a strong desire and a need to let go of inferior and imperfect thoughts.

As I prayed that the Holy Spirit divest me of anything unlike the character of God, I wished it had just been chocolate that I was once again faced with giving up. Relinquishing unpleasant traits was no easy task. I found myself returning to the same old habits that I needed to forgo. I knew that I could not achieve such a prize without God’s intervention. I needed to cling to God even more for endurance, patience, and comfort. And God showed up! He fully armed and equipped me with everything I needed to forge ahead through Christ and destroy those unloving attributes.

Some of those unlovely thoughts fell away more easily than others. For the ones that try to claim my identity, I still fight the battle within to give up whatever is not of God.

In the book of Ephesians 4:22-24, the apostle Paul wrote, “To put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness” (ESV).

This kind of Lent, the Lent I trust my mom was truly teaching us, lasts much longer than forty days. It is lifelong work and in the end has a greater reward waiting for us than a chocolate Easter bunny!

The reward is salvation won!

 

ESV-English Standard Version

Celebrity Gossip

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As I was placing my items on the conveyor belt at the grocery store, I saw to my left magazines lined up in rows on a rack. One of them had a photo of an actress on the front page with the headliner that expressed that she was “wild” about her new boyfriend.

Another magazine had a photo of a judge who apparently had divorced her husband and asking the question whether the reader would like to know why she got a divorce. Silently, I said, “I don’t want to know. But I hope all persons involved are happy.”

There were many more magazines like that, and similarly, they were all advertising the same concept: celebrity gossip.

As the cashier was ringing up my items, I thought about how gossip is unkind, intrusive, and mostly, if not always, invalid. So, then I got to thinking about why people want to read about celebrity business or any personal business for that matter? Is it curiosity? Entertainment? Infatuation with a certain celebrity? Is it the need to fantasize and live vicariously through another? Or maybe it’s schadenfreude, pleasure derived by someone from another person’s misfortune. Whatever the reason, this huge money-making industry on celebrity gossip does not seem to be fading out. In fact, gossip seems to be attractive and a fruitful habit!

A gossip is one who discloses personal or sensitive information about others in a chatty, careless way. The magazines certainly have that chatty, careless tone.

I recalled a time when I was in a waiting room in a medical building. The coffee table and the end tables were covered with gossip magazines. In addition to that, the TV tuned to a daytime talk show, and the hostesses were talking celebrity gossip. I felt there was no escaping the buzz! I then decided to meditate on something good and useful. That got me through the next ten minutes with ease!

Before leaving, I felt compelled to ask the person at the front desk why there were no periodicals about health and well-being in the waiting room. She responded, “People like to read that stuff, so we just keep putting out.”

I said goodbye, but I pondered how many more important issues there are in life to fill our minds with and contemplate, and how many more viable subjects to speak about that would be like healing agents to the world.

In the book of James 1:2-9, it is written, “If a person never speaks hurtful words or shouts in anger or profanity, then he has achieved perfection. The one who can control his tongue can also control the rest of his body. 3 It’s like when we place a metal bit into a horse’s mouth to ride it; we can control its entire body with the slightest movement of our hands. 4 Have you ever seen a massive ship sailing effortlessly across the water? Despite its immense size and the fact that it is propelled by mighty winds, a small rudder directs the ship in any direction the pilot chooses. 5 It’s just the same with our tongues! It’s a small muscle, capable of marvelous undertakings.

And do you know how many forest fires begin with a single ember from a small campfire? 6 The tongue is a blazing fire seeking to ignite an entire world of vices. The tongue is unique among all parts of the body because it is capable of corrupting the whole body. If that were not enough, it ignites and consumes the course of creation with a fuel that originates in hell itself. 7 Humanity is capable of taming every bird and beast in existence, even reptiles and sea creatures great and small. 8 But no man has ever demonstrated the ability to tame his own tongue! It is a spring of restless evil, brimming with toxic poisons. 9 Ironically this same tongue can be both an instrument of blessing to our Lord and Father and a weapon that hurls curses upon others who are created in God’s own image.” (https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=James+3%3A1-12&version=VOICE )

Filling our minds with unproductive thoughts may not only hinder our spiritual progress but it may also thwart overall mental development.

In “What You Read Matters More Than You Think” in Psychology Today, writer Susan Reynolds explains, based upon a study published in the International Journal of Business Administration in May 2016, that there is “deep reading” and a “light reading.”1

Essentially, deep reading involves a more concentrated reading and comprehension and “occurs when the language is rich in detail…taps into the same brain regions that would activate if the reader were experiencing the event…a great exercise for the brain and has been shown to increase empathy, as the reader dives deeper and adds reflection, analysis, and personal subtext to what is being read.”2 As opposed to light reading that does not require much focus, attentiveness or a reason to retain. Reynolds further comments that light reading, such as “entertainment news…,” “lacks a genuine voice.”3 

According to one article, after a study, Microsoft Corp. declared that “since the year 2000, the average attention span has dropped 12 seconds to eight seconds.”4 However, this fact, and the source of this fact, has been challenged. According to Simon Maybin, author of the BBC News article “Busting the Attention Span Myth,” the source is not Microsoft, but a company called Statistic Brain, which could not be reached. Maybin, having interviewed “various people who dedicate their working lives to studying human attention” found that even the experts are not certain “where those numbers come from either.”5 Sounds like more myth-information that turned into gossip!

“Deep thinking” or intelligent thinking does not have to be lengthy, but it does need to consist of something useful, uplifting, and propitious. It needs to educate, inform, and inspire. Surely, there are more subjects that could use our attention, such as love, benevolence, kindness, awareness, confidence, healing, and overall mental fitness.

Martin Luther King, Jr., said, “The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character—that is the goal of true education.”

“To think intensely” is no light concept! And maybe that’s why gossip of any kind, celebrity or otherwise, is more appealing!

I understand the concept, “To each their own,” and I understand gossip may be lucrative for journalists. However, there are many wonderful topics to write about, topics filled with new ideas and new thoughts. In fact, there are unlimited possibilities waiting to be discovered. To entertain those new opportunities, one must be willing to search for the deeper things and put the mind to work! To break down barriers that confine thought to mediocracy.

Marie Curie said, “Be less curious about people and more curious about ideas.” That’s a refreshing idea!

Psalm 119:37 reads “Turn away mine eyes from beholding vanity; and quicken thou me in thy way.” (KJV)

God’s way of thinking is significantly different than gossip! And the prophet Isaiah spells that out clearly when he said, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts” (KJV).

So, is it possible for man to think like God?

Yes! However, that requires man to focus on God and get to know God along with how the Almighty thinks.

In Colossians 3:2, the apostle Paul wrote, “Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth” (ESV). He wanted us to know that it is very easy to get pulled down by earthly ideas, desires, and aspirations rather than looking up, mentally up, to God for all things. After all, it’s not like man became tempted and earthly driven only in the 20th century. The world has been tempting mankind to yearn for the worldly things as far back as Adam and Eve.

Fame, fortune, self-glorification, and self-satisfaction are the ongoing tempters that draw us away from God and leave us smack in the middle of personal desire.

However, with this enticing and mesmeric pull of celebrity and material appeal, how can one stay his or her mind on God?

In the book of Philippians 4:8, it is written, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things” (ESV).

Ask yourself whether gossip fits any of those qualities mentioned above.

Is gossip true?

Is gossip honorable?

Is gossip just?

Is gossip pure?

Is gossip lovely?

Is gossip commendable?

Is gossip excellent?

Is gossip worthy of praise?

Henry Thomas Buckle said, “Great minds discuss ideas. Average minds discuss events. Small minds discuss people.”

 

1 Reynold, Susan. “What You Read Matters More Than You Might Think.” Psychology Today. June 07, 2016. Accessed October 20, 2017. https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/prime-your-gray-cells/201606/what-you-read-matters-more-you-might-think.

2 Ibid.

3 Ibid.

4 McSpadden, Kevin . “Science: You Now Have a Shorter Attention Span Than a Goldfish.” Time. May 14, 2015. Accessed October 20, 2017. http://time.com/3858309/attention-spans-goldfish/.

5 Maybin, Simon. “Busting the attention span myth.” BBC News. March 10, 2017. Accessed October 20, 2017. http://www.bbc.com/news/health-38896790.

Six Plus Three Equals Seven

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In my biblical studies of what numbers and symbols mean, I learned that the number 7, which is used hundreds of times in the Bible, signifies completeness.

We find the first example of the number 7 indicating completeness in Genesis 2:1-3 when we are informed that God finished creation. “Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. 2 And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made. 3 And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made.”1 (KJV)

It is true that of those 7 days, 6 of them were used for creating the “heavens and the earth,” but what I found interesting was that God did not declare He was finished until the 7th day, and that day included rest. Only then did He say that all that He made was complete as well as “very good.”

That indicates the idea of rest being directly linked to completion. For example, the expression, “I rest my case,” is a term used in a courtroom when an attorney has completed his or her case.2 If the attorney is not confident that the case has been completed, then that phrase, “I rest my case,” is not verbalized.

Another example of the number 7 representing completeness is in Exodus 22:30, where the Israelites were instructed that any animal used for a sacrifice must be at least 7 days old.3

In 2 Kings 5:10, it is written that for Naaman (captain of the army of the King of Aram or general of the Syrian Army, second in command to the King) to be cleansed of leprosy, he must wash in the Jordan river seven times.4 And in Joshua 6:15 it is written that Joshua along with his 7 priests must march around Jericho 7 times before the walls of Jericho would fall.5

These examples are not the only ones intimating that the number 7 represents plenum.

Other examples can be found in Leviticus 4:6, 25:8, 26:18; Psalms 119:164; and Revelation 1:20, 13:1, 17:10.

In my further research of numbers and their biblical implications, I learned that the number 6 not only symbolizes mankind but that also the number 666 symbolizes “the beast,” according to the book of Revelation 13:18.6

So I had to ask myself if man and beast were one and the same.

I was very familiar with Gen.1:27, that man was made in God’s image and after His likeness which implies that man, in character and in nature, spiritually, is like God!

There seems to be a contradiction between Genesis 1 and Revelation.

Did God create two different types of man? One like God and another like a beast? Or are we to believe in multiple creators?

Definitely not! For that would lead us to entertain polytheistic reconstructionism.

However, if one is to trust that God is the only cause and Creator of all things, then he or she would also have to include the declaration from God that all that He made was in fact “very good.” It seems contradictory that He could make a good man as well as a beastly man!

In the book of James, it is written, “Doth a fountain send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter?” This question is set forth to remind man that God, symbolized by a fountain in this verse, could not create both a good and a not-good anything.

Is it possible and even likely that we are to both apprehend and accept that the universal man, signified by the number 6 man, denotes incompleteness only if man has not yet accepted the three beings, the Father, the son and the Holy Spirit? And once one has made space in his or her mind and heart for the trinity as the Godhead, we begin experiencing our true and complete nature as God’s nature and awaken to the Christly character within.  

To welcome this idea, one has to have a deeper understanding of the trinity.

To begin with, the title of God as Father appears 180 times, 15 times in the Old Testament and 165 times in the New Testament.7 Those verses support the idea that if one accepts God, according to scriptural text, then one would have to accept Him as our Father.

An example of that can be found in the gospel of Matthew 23:9: “And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven” (KJV).

Regarding the idea that the son is inseparable from the Father, that is supported in the gospel of John 10:30 where it is written, “I and my Father are one” (KJV).

Jesus did not say, “I am God,” but He clearly stated that He and God are inseparable.

So where does the Holy Spirit enter the picture to make this trinity complete?

In the gospel of John 4:24, it is written, “God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth” (ESV). Right there is a directive that our adulation for God automatically includes His Spirit and His son, Jesus.

To further support this, in Charles Spurgeon’s sermon, The Personality of the Holy Spirit on January 21, 6 1855, Spurgeon emphasizes the union of Father, son, and Holy Spirit when he said that when a person is baptized, it is announced; “I baptize you in the name,”—note, I said, “in the name,” not names — “of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”

He continued by adding, “Let me remind you that the same thing occurs each time you are dismissed from this service. In pronouncing the solemn closing benediction of 2 Corinthians 13:14, we invoke on your behalf, ‘May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all….’”8

In the textbook Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, theologian and author Mary Baker Eddy wrote of this trinity on page 331 in the chapter Science of Being, “VII. Life, Truth, and Love constitute the triune Person called God,—that is, the triply divine Principle, Love. Divine trinity. They represent a trinity in unity, three in one,—the same in essence, though multi‐form in office….”

I appreciate, deeply, how she makes a comparison to God, Jesus, and Spirit as Life, Truth, and Love because according to biblical text, they are synonymous with each other.

In the book of Revelation 2:11, it is written, “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. The one who conquers will not be hurt by the second death” (ESV). That verse indicates that Spirit is life eternal. Also, Jesus said in John 14:6 that he is “the truth.” And in 1 John 4:8, Jesus said, “…God is love” (KJV).

Jonathan Edwards, who was an American revivalist preacher, philosopher, and Congregationalist Protestant theologian in referring to God, said, “He has made all things that are excellent, and therefore He must have given them their excellency, and so must have all that excellency in Himself, or else could not have given it. He must have all the glories, perfections, and beauties of the whole creation in Himself in an infinite degree, for they all proceed from Him, as beams do from the sun, and He is as much more excellent than they all, as the whole sun is than one single ray.”

It has been said that when one finds that special person in life, that he or she then feels that person has completed him or her. And though that is a lovely sentiment, I’d rather trust that God has already completed us, making us like a 7, a universal 6 plus one, the trinity. Because as some of us already have discovered, if that special person leaves, for whatever reason, we are left with a feeling of incompleteness, a feeling of the universal 6 without the trinity.

I trust and must believe that God did, in truth, cause man to be like Him, complete and excellent, but when Adam fell asleep, in his dream, his wife Eve, became entranced by the serpent who coerced her into ingesting the fruit from the tree of both good and evil. After that she fed the lie to Adam, and before long, they were awake to transgression, trespasses, and lapses in judgment. The result was that they both fell asleep to their metaphysical identity, and to some degree, whether large or small, man continues to be somnambulant.

I fear that as long as man lingers in a trance, then he will remain ungraceful and is more apt to act like the beast, like a 6, than like Christ. But if man strives to wake from that stupor, leaving the Adam and Eve characteristics, the incomplete man, in the dust (pun intended!) then as the Psalmist wrote in Ps. 17:14-15, “As for me, I shall see Your face in righteousness; I will be [fully] satisfied when I awake [to find myself] seeing Your likeness.” Only then will man become 7, the universal 6 plus one, the trinity. (AMPC)

 

KJV-King James Version

AMPC-Amplified Bible, Classic Edition

1 “BibleGateway.” Genesis 1 KJV—Bible Gateway. Accessed July 16, 2017. https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Genesis%2B1&version=KJV

2 “Definition of “I rest my case”-English Dictionary.” I rest my case Definition in the Cambridge English Dictionary. Accessed July 16, 2017. http://dictionary.cambridge.org/us/dictionary/english/i-rest-my-case

3 “BibleGateway.” Exodus 22:30 KJV—Bible Gateway. Accessed July 16, 2017. https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Exodus%2B22%3A30&version=KJV

4 “BibleGateway.” 2 Kings 5:10 KJV—Bible Gateway. Accessed July 16, 2017. https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=2%2BKings%2B5%3A10%2B&version=KJV

5 “BibleGateway.” Joshua 6:15 KJV—Bible Gateway. Accessed July 16, 2017. https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Joshua%2B6%3A15&version=KJV

6 “BibleGateway.” Revelation 13:18 KJV—Bible Gateway. Accessed July 16, 2017. https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Revelation%2B13%3A18&version=KJV

7 “Fatherhood of God-Baker’s Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology Online.” Bible Study Tools. Accessed July 16, 2017. http://www.biblestudytools.com/dictionaries/bakers-evangelical-dictionary/fatherhood-of-god.html

8 The Personality of the Holy Spirit —  C. H. Spurgeon. Accessed July 16, 2017. http://www.biblebb.com/files/spurgeon/0004.htm

One Head is Better Than Two

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The cliché “Two heads are better than one” intimates that it is better to get advice or opinions from another person when one is uncertain about something. Often, after a horrific incident has occurred, the news will interview “experts” or a panel of “experts” in hopes of getting some explanation as to why the heinous crime happened in the first place.

Those experts may give statistics or have background information on the victimizer and then, through deductive reasoning, psychological evaluations, and theorems, come up with a variety of reasons as to why the egregious act happened. Even with an educated and astute “expert panel” do their best to fill in the blanks, the human mind still wants to understand how someone could commit such a crime. And as important and useful as they may be, we often want something more, something higher than those evaluations and explanations to bring us the peace we so desire. I know that I do and when I do, I turn my questions to God, seeking His thoughts and His wisdom.

During my years of being mentored, prior to opening up my practice of mental health mentoring through the knowledge of God and scriptural text, my mentor shared with me, after I had asked her what she thought about a particular challenge I was having, that it didn’t matter what she was thinking, and that she was not in the practice or habit of sharing opinions. She added that she doesn’t carry opinions on anything, just the knowledge of what she has learned of God.

She further elucidated by giving me an example that remains with me as an invaluable concept regarding this subject. She taught me that the word “pinion” meant “the outer part of a bird’s wings” and that the letter “o” before the word “pinion,” as a play on words, could also be looked at as a zero. She concluded that opinions have zero wings to take flight. In other words, opinions have no credibility. (Similarly, I know an English professor who borrows Terry Cole-Whittaker’s book title and tells her students, “What you think of me is none of my business,” although she adds, “What you learn from me is.”)

My mentor then went on to say that leading someone to higher thinking is the best counsel to offer rather than telling someone what to do whereby robbing him or her of an opportunity to strive for the answers through praying and pondering. She also forewarned me that when someone offers a human opinion or mere conjecture, he or she could easily influence someone in a direction that God had not intended that person to go. This became a standard rule which I implement in my own practice, to recall that opinions are pace! As I usually do in all areas of my life, I decided to look up citations in scriptural text to support and reinforce my mentor’s wise counsel.

I discovered in Proverbs 18:2 that expressing opinions could make one look foolish for it is written, “A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion” (ESV). In Isaiah 2:22, the prophet said, “Stop regarding man in whose nostrils is breath, for of what account is he?” (ESV) Namely, we put the credibility in man’s counsel.

That wise comment from Isaiah prompted me to think about how many billions of dollars are made annually in self-help concepts. When someone becomes famous, beats the odds, or has reached a high level of success, people want to know how that person did it and what the formula is. Some authors have devised a step-by-step method claiming that, if those steps are taken, then success will follow.

I am not suggesting that those kinds of stories be withheld—they can be motivating, useful, and even inspiring—but I am suggesting that each of us has our own individual path, and even if we were to try to follow another person’s path exactly, many variables would alter the journey and eventually the results. As Athos tells D’Artagnan in Alexandre Dumas’ The Three Musketeers, “In general, people only ask for advice that they may not follow it; or, if they should follow it, that they may have somebody to blame for having given it.”1 We must each find our own path in our own way.

Someone once asked me why he had not yet manifested the success he had been fervently praying about for years. He explained that a man who had never played the lottery before won millions when he played it the first time. I didn’t suggest that he go look for a self-help book on How to Win a Lottery For first Timers and follow it step-by-step! Rather, I reminded him that it would be more efficacious to focus on his work and not become distracted with what others are or are not doing, to remain in steadfast prayer, trusting God would bestow His wisdom and insight as to the direction of his purpose.

He then asked me how he could discern between his thoughts and God’s. So, I referred him to Isaiah 55:8, “‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the Lord. ‘As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts’” (NIV).

Traveling the same thought pattern day in and day out can not only quickly become mundane, but it can also lead us to feeling unsatisfied, longing for something greater than we were told we could ever achieve. However, traveling on the highway of thinking, listening to God-Mindedness, the Head above all others, will elevate thought and open up new opportunities. It is more than possible, it is likely, by God’s wisdom to experience and manifest greatness.

In 1 Chronicles 29:11, it is written, “Yours, LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is yours. Yours, LORD, is the kingdom; you are exalted as head over all” (NIV).  “As head over all”— if one does in fact accept that and believe it, one will experience the wisdom and knowledge of God with great understanding!

But how?

In the gospel of John 8:47, it is written, “Whoever is of God hears the words of God. The reason why you do not hear them is that you are not of God” (ESV). Hearing God means that one must be familiar with Him, His ways, and His voice. Becoming familiar with someone requires spending time with that person to get to know him or her. It is the same with God.

Simply put, to hear God means to know God, and to know God means you will hear God.

I heard this profound Bible teacher once say that most people do so much talking to God that they are “down-right rude,” that we need to listen more to God if we are to get to know Him.

After having listened to (no pun intended) the professor’s sagacity, I decided to try it. I practiced remaining still and just listening. It took a while to settle in and remain poised and serene in prayer, but once I did, the inner voice of reason, insight, wisdom, and acumen became clearer and clearer. The more I prayed with humbleness and receptivity, the more I was led to what turned out to be healthy and uplifting decisions and experiences.

I have always been a fan of reading a psalm a day, and Psalm 139 is primarily dedicated to God’s omniscience or All-knowing. The idea of God knowing all our thoughts, not barring where we are each moment and never separating Himself from us, makes it clear why the author of Chronicles said that God is the “exalted head above all.”

Asking God, who knows it all, is far better than asking someone who is a know-it-all but in fact knows very little. Joseph Joubert, an essayist wrote, “Those who never retract their opinions love themselves more than they love truth.”2

By asking God, even if you must wait for the answer, the result will be the truth, without human infiltration. However, asking God directly may for some at first seem odd, yet if the Bible clearly instructs us and encourages us to ask God for wisdom then surely it must be a most useful idea.

In James 1:5, James said, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God…” and James continues in 3:17 with, “But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.”

Is it possible that because we cannot see God that it is easier to lean on a person for counsel, direction, and understanding? Is it possible that we have forsaken the Creator and in place of Him we have set-up man, God’s creation, to be relied upon?

Maybe if we could see God, meet him for lunch, and converse with Him, or even email Him questions, we may be inclined to turn more to Him for answers than to family, friends, and others. I am in no way proposing that we do not receive useful information and most needed support from others, but I am submitting that there is no wisdom wiser than God’s! And He wants to share His wisdom with those who seek Him as an answer to their needs!

In Proverbs 21:30 the words of God are, “No wisdom, no understanding, and no advice [can stand up] against the LORD.”

It stands to perfect reason why when one is seeking answers, asking for God’s wisdom is the way to go! His wisdom is unadulterated, absolute, impartial, unbiased, and nondiscriminatory. As Albert Einstein said, “Few people are capable of expressing with equanimity opinions which differ from the prejudices of their social environment. Most people are incapable of forming such opinions.”


ESV-English Standard Version

NIV-New International Version

1 Dumas, Alexandre. The Three Musketeers. Bantam Books: Toronto, 1984. 300.

2 https://www.britannica.com/biography/Joseph-Joubert

The Ring of Truth

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What does a ring of truth sound like? This phrase derived from the idea that a bell that rings true is a bell that rings at a correct note. A note is a pitch of sound. If that sound does not vibrate correctly, it is called “off pitch” or “off key,” meaning the note is either flat or sharp and therefore must be adjusted.

I used to play an acoustic guitar, and before I played any song I had to tune my guitar. There are many ways to tune a guitar, especially now with instrumental tuning apps. Before tuning a guitar or any other instrument can be accomplished, you must match each chord or key with the note you want your instrument to imitate.

For example, on an acoustic guitar, there are 6 open strings: E-A-D-G-B-E. The idea is to get each string name to the proper note name. The result will be a guitar in perfect tune! The rest is left up to the musician to play the perfect melody.

I correlate the idea of fine-tuning an instrument to fine-tuning our mouths; our choice of words and how one might sound when he or she is talking. A negative form of speech is equal to an ill-tuned instrument, and a positive form of speech is equal to a tuned instrument.

Is it possible that speech can reflect perfect pitch?

In the letter to the Ephesians, the apostle Paul said in 4:29, “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear” (ESV). So, the speaker and the listener are both blessed by mellifluous tones. If notes are played in harmony, we can enjoy the symphonious melody!

So how can people tune-up their mouths?

In the gospel of Matthew, 7:24, it is written, “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock” (NIV). Now that’s a solid idea!

Whose words is Matthew talking about? God’s words! In order to emulate them, one must be willing and ready to study His word and become familiar to how it sounds and listen. And then, most importantly, practice!

When I played my guitar, practice was most essential for my progress. I would play one piece repeatedly until it was flawless; however, when it came time for me to speak, my mouth was not nearly as fine-tuned as my guitar. That would take a lot more practice on my part. In fact, when I was a teenager, my mom would say to me, “Watch your tone with me, young lady! That language you choose is very unattractive yet you sing beautifully. It just doesn’t make any sense. You should talk like you sing!”

Well, she was right! I spoke off-key, and my tone of voice was not in alignment with harmony!

In 2 Corinthians 6:15, the apostle Paul wrote, “What harmony is there between Christ and Belial?” (NIV)

Eventually, when my mouth got me into enough trouble, I had to make some radical changes! It was time for me to get in tune with God’s language, the language of Love. I knew that Love would not sound like an out-of-tune instrument.

One of the first ideas I worked with was in Jeremiah 1:9, “Then the Lord put out his hand and touched my mouth. And the Lord said to me, ‘Behold, I have put my words in your mouth’” (ESV). In Proverbs 10:31,“The mouth of the righteous brings forth wisdom, but the perverse tongue will be cut off” (ESV).

In wanting to keep my tongue (well yeah!) as well as sounding harmonious, I turned my ears to God’s mouth and listened. I began unifying His words and my thoughts. Then, I learned to appreciate their eloquence. With more and more practice (and still practicing!) of tuning my speech to His words, my tone of voice changed, and I soon found that my speech sounded like tones of Love!

Sadly, with the language of today, disharmony and adverse language have become the norm. Unfortunately, abhorrent language appears on TV shows and radio talk shows, and in everyday common language.

I doubt that anyone who has tickets to a concert, or any musical event for that matter, would be satisfied if the musicians’ instruments were out of tune and the singers were off-key. So then why do we accept disharmony in speech? And how does that contribute to elevating thought and uplifting humanity?

It couldn’t! It doesn’t! Unmelodious language leads to less rectification.

If we chose to fine-tune our speech to reflect and imitate Love, there would be more harmony added to the world. Then, people would have a ring of truth to whatever they say!

 

ESV-English Standard Version

NIV-The Holy Bible, New International Version. Nashville: HarperCollins, 2011. Online.

Walkers & Talkers

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Have you ever noticed anyone pacing while conversing on his or her cell phone?

I was recently at my favorite café, enjoying my decaf latte. The man next to me paced while conversing on his cell phone.

When his conversation ended, he went back to his seat, read the morning newspaper, and sipped his coffee until his phone rang again. He answered the call, got up, and began pacing once again.

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