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Serious Minded

Serious Minded

Memorial Day

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Memorial Day, or what was once known as Decoration Day, is a time to demonstrate gratitude for the ones who fell in battle while serving the United States of America.

Originating from the Civil War, Decoration Day was based upon the idea that people would honor fallen soldiers by decorating their graves with flowers.

General John Logan, who was the national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, officially proclaimed May 5, 1868, Decoration Day.

Several of my family members served in wars. Thankfully, they all returned alive. However, many who served did not make it back home to their loved ones.

“The total number of Americans killed in all U.S. wars is more than 1.1 million.”1 And each one of them is owed a deep sense of gratitude for their selfless contributions. Now we may not know their names, but we know they fought and died for the greater good of this country.

I have seen many movies and documentaries on wars that depict what it was like to put one’s life on the line in battle, to ensure freedom and equality for the citizens of this country. And though difficult to watch at times and even harder to believe that men and women experienced such horrific ordeals I am reminded to be grateful, very grateful for the courage, tenacity, and loyalty that our fallen soldiers have demonstrated.

I’d like to believe that before we fire up our grills, open the pools, put the beverages on ice, and begin our summer season, we remember to express our deepest thanks to those who sacrificed their lives so we could enjoy the BBQs, the lazy days of summer, the swimming and traveling, the days out of school, and all the other days we are blessed to experience freely in these United States of America.

With gratitude to all our fallen heroes, never forgotten, who gave up their precious lives for this great country!

 

War Movies Based on True to Life or Actual Events;

Hacksaw Ridge

Full Metal Jacket

Platoon

The Great Escape

The Enemy at the Gates

Pearl Harbour

Lone Survivior

We Were Soldiers

Unbroken

Fury

13 Hours

1 Crigger, Megan, and Laura Santhanam. “How many Americans have died in U.S. wars?: PBS. Public Broadcasting Service, n.d. Web. 12 Apr. 2017. <http://www.pbs.org/newshour/updates/many-americans-died-u-s-wars/>.

Easter

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The Day of the Resurrected Christ

In the gospel of Luke, it is written in Chapter 9: 23-24, “Then he told all of them, ‘If anyone wants to come with me, he must deny himself, pick up his cross every day, and follow me continuously, because whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it’” (ISV).1

Easter is a time when Christians celebrate the resurrected Christ. And though bunnies are very cute, that is not what Easter is all about. In fact, is Easter even about Jesus?

“According to Bede the word is derived from Ēastre, the name of a goddess associated with spring.” (see more at https://answersingenesis.org/holidays/easter/is-the-name-easter-of-pagan-origin/ )

So why call it Easter rather than The Day of Resurrection?

When spring time is appearing and Easter is at hand, I think about how Jesus suffered, died, and was resurrected for the forgiveness of our sins and what that truly means.

Spring does symbolize the end of one thing, the dead of winter, and the beginning of another, the growth and blossoming before summer.

This seems the appropriate time for our Lord to have been transformed, just as winter transforms to spring.

However, do we have to wait for springtime or Easter to awaken to the Christ-idea residing in each of us though it be buried under ignorance, fear, and pessimism?

For hundreds of years before Jesus, the prophets delivered message after message about God, in hopes that the people of Israel would turn to Him and relinquish the worship of false idols. That did not happen.

There were some who remained steadfast to their God, but the majority were conformists, adhering to worldly ideals, superstitions, and dogmas.

In Leviticus 19:4, it is written, “Do not turn to idols or make for yourselves any gods of cast metal: I am the Lord your God” (ESV).

For thousands of years, people have been looking outside of God for their needs to be met. They have wandered from one worldly concept to another, hoping to be satisfied by the material pleasures so readily available.

However, these pleasures are all temporal. They offer promises of joy and satisfaction but cannot fulfill those promises because they lack righteousness or the substance of the Christ.

In Matthew 5:6, one of the beatitudes declared by Jesus reads, “Blessed are they who do hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied” (ESV).

This kind of satisfaction usurps the material pleasures because it is directly linked to Christ. It satisfies the deepest kind of hunger and thirst as it fills the mind with comfort knowing that life offers more than sub-celestial desires.

I realize that to forgo the pleasantries of matter and reach for something more profitable is a very big task. And it requires daily commitment and discipline. However, the reward is everlasting life!

In the gospel of John 3:16, it is written, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (ESV).

That is not accomplished just by mere belief. It means carrying the cross—in other words, holding-up your end of the burden to “the way of suffering” as did Jesus.

As difficult as it may seem, it is not more difficult than what the Lord experienced when, on the night before His crucifixion in the garden of Gethsemane, He was sweating blood.

This is mentioned in the gospel of Luke 22:44 possibly because Luke was a physician. “And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground” (NIV).2

This condition is known as “hemohidrosis” or “hematidrosis.” When the capillaries around the sweat pores become weak, blood leaks into the sweat, a condition seen in patients who suffered from severe stress.

The garden where Jesus sweats blood is also interesting to note. Gethsemane means “oil press.” And back in biblical days, stone or granite was used to press or crush the olives. Now, stainless steel rollers are used to crush them.  Either way, pressure is needed to get the results.

Jesus felt the unbearable pressure that night in the garden as he was being pressed beyond what we could fathom. And so much so, that blood came out of his pores. Nonetheless, that was not the end of his anguish.

He would then suffer “verberatio,” or flogging at the hands of the Romans which was different from the whippings carried out by the Jews in the synagogues. Verberatio was much more moderate compared to flogging or scourging, which could be fatal.

Flogging was debasing, to say the least! In fact, it was so demeaning that Roman citizens were exempt from it.

This in turn signified that only the lowest of low, the ones of lesser importance, such as slaves, would receive such cruel and inhumane punishment.

The apparatus used to inflict this punishment was called a flagellum or a flagrum. Made of at least three thongs or strands that were three feet long, a flagellum was weighted with lead balls or pieces of bone meant to lance the criminal and break open his or her skin.

This is what our dear Master had to endure. And then still, He had to carry the cross (some bible scholars claim Jesus carried the entire cross while others claim Jesus carried only the patibulum) for 650 yards to Golgotha (“place of the skull”) to endure the final humiliation and agony on the cross.

It is no wonder why He sweat blood that night at Gethsemane! After all, He knew what He would have to undergo.

Something else happened on the way to Golgotha. Jesus needed some help to continue the arduous climb. He became tired, naturally, and could no longer carry the cross by Himself, so Simon of Cyrene (‎‎“Hearkening; listening”) was commanded by the Roman centurion to pick-up the cross and carry it as Jesus was ushered to His crucifixion.

In the gospel of Matthew 27:32, it is written, “As they were going out, they met a man from Cyrene, named Simon, and they forced him to carry the cross” (NIV).3

Maybe what we are to take from that is at some point in time in our lives, in order to find true fulfillment and real joy, we must pull our own weight and take up our end of the cross, demonstrating to Christ that we are willing to walk with Him.

By taking accountability for our own choices and actions and thus being willing to bring them to the foot of the cross and pin them to the cross by confessing our faults to God, and repent, we too will be resurrected through Christ.

Jesus, a man without sin, suffered and died for us, rose for us, and now reigns in power over us. He laid down His precious life so that we would be free to live ours.

He stood in our place in hopes of giving us eternality, to overcome, as He did, the last enemy called death!

In her textbook Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, theologian and author Mary Baker Eddy writes, “We need ‘Christ, and him crucified.’ We must have trials and self-denials, as well as joys and victories, until all error is destroyed.”

Self-denial? With all these temptations in the world? How is that even possible?

The apostle Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 15:31, “I swear by your pride, my brethren, which I have in our Lord Yeshua The Messiah, that I die every day” (Aramaic Bible in Plain English).

To die every day, or to divest ourselves of the beliefs of pleasure in the temporary things that only keep us fettered, mentally stunted, and deadened, means to try on the new concepts of Christ-mindedness.

To resurrect means to “restore to life.” However, one cannot resurrect or be restored to Life if one does not first symbolically die or kill off primitive ideas of life.

Christ symbolized love, harmony, peace, joy, and the highest sense of God in action right here on earth. And though following this path and emulating the pattern of Christ-likeness is no easy walk, if we do choose that path, we will live in Love forever!

Now that’s satisfaction guaranteed!

 

ISV-International Standard Version

ESV-English Standard Version

1,2,3 NIV-The Holy Bible, New International Version. Nashville: HarperCollins, 2011. Online.

Bulimia

Written by

Divine Approval

I used to believe that food was my source of comfort and joy. That was until I found myself addicted to food and then it manifested into bulimia.

Bulimia is characterized by overeating, bouts of binging and purging. It preoccupies thought and distorts one’s self-image into a grave concept. Bulimia is a very serious mental health disorder that requires a drastic change in thought in order to manage it and heal it.

“A person with bulimia might eat more than 2,000 calories in one sitting and then induce vomiting. Vomiting, however, is not the only method of purging. Excessive exercise, laxative use, enemas, fasting or a combination of purging methods are common alternatives to vomiting. People who binge without purging often receive the diagnosis of binge eating disorder…This type of stress may cause arrhythmia, heart palpitations, heart attacks or death. Repeated vomiting erodes the enamel of your teeth, leading to yellow teeth, mouth sensitivity and rapid tooth decay. For women, bulimia often causes fertility issues.” (http://www.bulimia.com)

After almost two decades of keeping this disease concealed, I had to go to the doctor regarding a separate issue and my best friend came along with me for moral support. After the doctor examined me, my friend and I joined him in his office. The doctor asked for my permission to speak openly in front of my friend and I said that he may. He asked me pointedly, “So, how long have you been tossing your cookies?”

My friend looked at me in astonishment and I broke down in tears. My secret was disclosed. The doctor said that the damage I was doing to myself could cause death and explained in graphic detail how that could happen by something known as Barrett esophagus.

I knew then that I had to face this inner assassin, head on.

It wasn’t healed overnight, by any means. First of all, food is everywhere and there’s no law against overeating at restaurants, no law against driving after you’ve eaten too many slices of pizza. No law against serving a 10-course meal at family dinners and holiday gatherings, and certainly no law preventing you from going to the bathroom to purge after you’ve been on a food bender.

I tried many different avenues to curb the craving. Some were very useful, but all were temporary fixes. I hadn’t yet found the destructive thought.

I was buried under the debris of feeling contemptible and undeserving. I recoiled at the mere idea of self-approval, as I had no sense of worthiness and assurance. Each time I walked past a mirror, I avoided looking into it at any cost, because looking at myself triggered thoughts of binging and purging. Worse, whenever I was yelled at, criticized or judged, I found myself plunging into days of gormandizing and regurgitation.

I was engrossed in tracking calories, weighing myself and desperately trying to extirpate the parts of me that seemed so horrific, but nothing was changing in the mirror of belief and the symptoms of bulimia grew worse, resulting in afflicted health.

Where does this belief stem from?

As I continued searching for answers, I learned from the Greek origin that bulimia means “extreme hunger.”

During this time, I had taken up scriptural studies in hopes of gaining spiritual interpretation and metaphysical answers to the ongoing dilemma of the human condition.

In one of my bible classes, the “Be-attitudes” was the subject and one verse in particular stood out to me: “Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.” (Matthew 5:6 KJV)

I pondered this for a while and found myself reviewing it over and over again. Eating and drinking are the most fundamental human needs, so there had to be something else to this.

As I continued to dig and read a variety of interpretations, my research in lexicons led me to discover that Jesus wasn’t referring to food and water, but rather that it’s possible – and just as vital to our health – to gain a deeper sense of satisfaction by being filled and quenched with righteousness.

The word righteousness doesn’t refer to self-righteousness, but rather to “justice,” and “approval. More specifically, a “divine approval.”

There was that word again: “approval.” But this time I saw hope in that word. It took on an entirely new meaning that led me to a different point of view. For the very first time, I had a glimpse into how God sees me. This prompted me to reflect on how long I was hungering and thirsting for the acceptance and love from others and how those cravings were being temporarily satisfied with food.

Further exploration and study led me to another section in the Bible, Genesis 1:31 (ISV) that supported this idea of divine approval: “Now God saw all that he had made, and indeed, it was very good!”

Me, very good? Yes, and that is something I would have to accept.

It was time for me to take up arms against the thieves that had been occupants in my thought for decades, broadcasting in my mind that I had no worth, no purpose and was very bad. I had to demand my freedom from those enemy thoughts because they were not going to easily give up control over my self-image and set me free.

With immense dedication and fortitude, I used every means at my disposal to become the victor over this arduous challenge and eventually it yielded to the power of prayer.

When those squatters were finally kicked out of my consciousness, I was lifted up to a higher, deeper and more permanent understanding that I am worthy of love.

It was best said by King David in Psalms 63 (ESV) when he was in the wilderness thirsting:

5“My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food, and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips, 6when I remember you upon my bed, and meditate on you in the watches of the night; 7for you have been my help, and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy.”

I am forever grateful to God that I have since been free from that vile disease and continue to seek the fullness of Christ rather than the fullness of food.

 

KJV-King James Version

ESV-English Standard Version

ISV-International Standard Version

Limits or Limitations

Written by

“Sign, sign, everywhere a sign

Blockin’ out the scenery, breakin’ my mind

Do this, don’t do that.

Can’t you read the sign?”

–Five Man Electrical Band

 

Why all the signs telling us what to do? Well, I suppose that somebody has to, or we would be living in chaos, but who are those somebodies deciding what the limits are?

Road signs, which go all the way back to the Roman empire, were originally made of wood or stone. The Romans also used roadside columns to indicate how many miles to Rome.1

Over the course of time and with the invention of the automobile, more signs were necessary, which eventually led to speed limits which caused the Italian Touring Club in 1895 to lobby for the improvement of road signs.2

Later, in 1899, according to the United States Department of Transportation, a group of people who owned automobiles met in New York City, New York, to discuss road signs to provide drivers with more information about direction and their destination. This meeting would be the first of many to make traveling by car safer.3

Colors were then designated to signs so that people would easily be able to discern what the signs indicated, such as red for “stop” and green for “proceed with caution.”

As more people drove, the need for driver’s education courses became pressing. The first in the U.S. who developed a course in driver’s education as well as how to maintain a vehicle was at State College Area School District at Penn State in 1935.4

That did not stop folks from driving while intoxicated, so this problem led to the implementation of laws against drinking and driving. New York was the first state to enforce these laws, and in 1910, California would soon follow along with the other states after that.5

In 1936 a professor of toxicology and biochemistry at the University of Indiana, patented a device he called the “Drunkometer,” and this was followed in 1938 when the American Medical Association and the National Safety Council agreed that the blood alcohol limit of any driver should not exceed 0.15 percent.

Mothers Against Drunk Drivers (MADD) was born from a tragedy in 1980, and the group began its fight for tougher legislation against drivers who exceeded the alcohol limit, especially for those with prior offenses.6

By the year 2008, the blood alcohol limit considered in order to safely drive a vehicle was reduced to 0.08%.7

We complain about limits and oftentimes want to exceed them. This is common human behavior, but there can be severe penalties and hefty prices we pay, including death, for that excessive behavior.

“Another sign … reminded drivers to slow down, reading ‘35 mph — it’s a speed limit, not a suggestion.’”8

Limits and signs may oftentimes feel like a nuisance, but they are loving reminders meant to keep us safe.

Parents must set limits for their children to keep them from harm.
Amusement parks set limits so we won’t lose our arms.

Elevators have limits so we can go up and down.
Some counties have zoning restrictions to preserve towns.

Highways and roads have limits so we arrive in one piece.
Landlords have restrictions, enforced by a lease.

There are signs that intend to direct and signs to correct.

There are limitations for the length of a speech and limits as to how much we need to eat.

There are maximums and there are minimums and even water restrictions for your chrysanthemums.

There are limits as to how one may protest and restrictions for one who is under house arrest.

There are limits to anger so keep your composure, and double yellow lines also mean don’t crossover.

There are limits on what you can say to someone and restrictions regarding too much fun.

Weight limits and lifting weights.
Plating food and carrying plates.

Spinning, climbing, watching TV.
How many ornaments you put on the tree

Limitations may provoke aggravation and restraints may bring on complaints, but without rules we would have no order, no lines of demarcation, and no borders.

Limitations we very much need to heed,

but there is one exception,
to love one another with genuine affection.

 

1 @Allstate. “A History of Street Signs.” The Allstate Blog. 2016. Accessed September 20, 2016. https://blog.allstate.com/from-rome-to-detroit-a-history-of-street-signs/.

2 Ibid.

3 Ibid

4 “State College Area School District.” History/Driver’s Education Course. Accessed September 20, 2016. http://www.scasd.org/Page/826.

5 @LifeSafer. “The History of Drunk Driving Laws in the U.S. • LifeSafer.” LifeSafer Ignition Interlock. 2015. Accessed September 20, 2016. https://www.lifesafer.com/blog/the-history-of-drunk-driving-laws-in-the-u-s/.

6 Ibid.

7 Ibid.

8 “Apps and Street Signs to Get People to Stop Texting and ...” Accessed September 20, 2016. http://www.techinsider.io/apps-and-street-signs-to-get-people-to-stop-texting-and-walking-2016-2.

Happy Valentines Day!

Written by

The facts vary as to how many Valentine’s Day cards are exchanged annually. The estimate ranges from 150 million to 1 billion! And that’s second to Christmas cards!

Either way, that’s a lot of well-intentioned love-thoughts sent out.

So how did all this Valentine’s Day hoopla begin? Much to our surprise, it turns out Valentine’s Day is tied to wolves! But how?

Lupicinus was a wolf charmer who lived among the ancient Greeks and Romans. He was gifted with the ability to communicate with wolves. I suppose we could call him a wolf-whisperer!

This became a needed skill to keep the wolves from attacking people and livestock as villages began to grow and infiltrate the areas where wolves lived.

A group of Roman priests, who called themselves “Luperci,” held an annual pagan fertility festival called Lupercalia from February 13th-15th. The rituals performed at this festival were believed to have sprung from Lupa, (keep in mind that the Latin word lupus means wolf) who supposedly was the she-wolf who nourished the founders of Rome, Romulus and Remus, in a cave when they were infants.

The fertility festival requirements were that two goats and two dogs be sacrificed. The skins from those animals were worn by the Luperci while thongs or cords were made from the remaining animal skins. Those cords were then soaked in the animal blood, and the Luperci would run though the city, hitting young girls with the blood-soaked thongs; they believed that this ritual would increase fertility as well as stop childbirth pains.

The Lupercalia also held a lottery at the onset of this festival where men would select from a jar the name of a young maiden who had entered the lottery. They would then pair up, and off they would go for days of sexual relations. In fact, their coition would last the entire time of the festival.

By the 5th century, pagan rites, which included this fertility festival, were against the law. They were considered “un-Christian.” During that time the reigning Pope Gelasius declared the 14th of February St. Valentine’s Day in hopes of distracting the populace from celebrating the pagan rituals such as Lupercalia and turning their attention to something more Christian-like.

It is believed that Pope Gelasius chose that name based upon St. Valentine, originally a priest who declared Emperor Claudius of Rome blasphemous when he issued a decree that there should be no more marriages because he believed married men did not make for good soldiers.

When Claudius heard what Valentine said about him, he had Valentine executed on February 14th. This act martyred Valentine, and he then became a saint. Eventually, a holiday was named after him that we know today as Valentine’s Day.

Other stories exist as well, suggesting how Valentine’s Day was born, such as when the Normans from Normandy, France, celebrated Galatin’s Day, another fertility celebration that meant “lover of women.” And then there is the story of that the medieval poet, Geoffrey Chaucer, who, based upon his poem, “The Parliament of Fowls,” was believed to be the first to associate romance with the present Valentine tradition.

In his poem, Chaucer refers to birds, who, during their mating season, choose their partner, symbolizing choosing one’s Valentine.

From goats and dogs, she-wolves, and birds mating, to romance and what is now a billion-dollar business, Valentine’s Day has certainly evolved! And that is a good thing.

But I ask: Has it evolved enough?

The idea that love can be squeezed into one day and meet the demands of the heart is a stretch at best.

Love—romantic, brotherly, or parental—needs to be employed and entertained daily. After all, love needs to be the reason that we do what we do. Love should be the motive of the heart as well as the soul.

But love seems to take a back seat, and sometimes ends up being thrown into the trunk very quickly, when challenges arise in relationships.

In that one moment, that one person whom you believed was your Valentine can, in an instant, become your foe.

So, what is it that happens? How can something so beautiful turn into something so ugly?

I suppose that depends upon what hands you placed your heart in.

In the book of Psalms 28:7, it is written, “The Lord is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts,…”

We can hope that the love we feel for someone will endure and bear much fruit. We can anticipate that the love we have for that special one will last a lifetime. After all, we are just human beings, doing what we believe is our highest understanding to express and reflect love. But how is love supposed to look and act?

Good question!

In I Corinthians 13:4-7, the apostle Paul wrote, “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” (ESV)

That’s a high standard to uphold! And yet though we may fall short of, and sometimes very short of, that profound directive from Paul, love remains the one commodity that we all pay dear prices for. To live without love is like not living at all.

I will confess that I have placed my heart in many hands that returned it to me shattered, shocked, and darkened. However, after it regained its health, I commenced on the journey of love and to be loved. And along the way, I found many Valentines.

To give of your heart may seem risky, but to not give of your heart seems lonely.

Mother Teresa said, “I have found the paradox: that if you love until it hurts, there can be no more hurt, only more love. “

From my heart to yours, Happy Valentine’s Day!

 

ESV-English Standard Version

Texting

Written by

Paying Attention Or Paying the Price?

 

“Each day in the United States, over 8 people are killed and 1,161 injured in crashes that are reported to involve a distracted driver.”1 Distractions while driving include eating, daydreaming, taking your hands off the wheel, and, one that has been buzzing since its invention, using a cell phone.

Distractions occur not only when you are driving. Even being distracted while walking, such as texting or having a conversation on the phone, has become dangerous A video on YouTube shows a man dressed in a gorilla suit being completely overlooked by individuals who are texting on their phones. However, other people were not texting and noticed him. Take a look: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tm2lfv3_ELc.

In his article, “Texting While Walking Isn’t Funny Anymore”, Geoffrey A. Fowler explains that there is a guard at the entrance of a parking structure next to his office who intervenes when pedestrians who are texting while walking do not notice the traffic around them.2

Recently, while driving home, I was slowing down as I approached a stop sign. I saw a woman walking and texting and noticed that she was wearing earphones. Not only was she oblivious to watching her steps, but also she was unable to hear a car approaching.

I was at a complete stop as she walked towards me. I had my hand on the horn and was just about to beep when she noticed she was about to walk into my car. To my surprise, that did not make her look up or cause her to take out the earphones or stop texting while walking. She narrowly avoided my car, and as I looked in my rearview mirror, I saw she was drifting side to side in the middle of the street.  

Technology is constantly changing, and I trust that most of us would agree that it has improved our lifestyles on many levels, with cell phones being just one of the many useful gadgets birthed from advances, but the abuse of the cell phone does not make the cell phone the evil culprit. To claim that is like proclaiming that because a hammer was used to kill someone, that all hammers should be labeled “lethal weapons.”

The problem of irresponsible cell phone usage has inspired people to find solutions. Some have developed apps to send signals to pedestrians to look up from time to time if they are using their phones while walking and especially while entering an intersection or crossing a street. Another company developed shoe sensors to warn “users” within two steps that they have stepped into the street.3

Designers Jacob Sempler and Emil Tiismann in Stockholm devised signs that show people walking and texting as an actual street sign to warn drivers to be on the watch for walking texters, and in 2015, in Hayward, California, “seven snarky signs” have been installed. One reads “Heads up! Cross the street, then update Facebook.”4

I find it interesting that the term applied to those inseparable from their cell phones is “users,” a word associated with addicts, and like any other form of addiction, this too has become yet another mode of distraction, directing one’s attention to a self-serving purpose.

Multitasking, theoretically, suggests that we humans can do many things at once, efficiently but with statistics proving otherwise, multitasking is really shifting your attention from one task to another, swiftly. But not for everyone!

Paying attention to our surroundings while driving, walking or using the cell phone may reduce the chances of or paying the price of accidents and pedestrian injuries.

Paying attention is most important. Not only just for one’s self-preservation, but for the preservation of others.

Love includes the safety for all!

 

1 “Distracted Driving.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 2016. Accessed August 27, 2016. http://www.cdc.gov/Motorvehiclesafety/Distracted_Driving/index.html.

2 Fowler, Geoffrey A. “Texting While Walking Isn't Funny Anymore.” WSJ. Accessed August 27, 2016. http://www.wsj.com/articles/texting-while-walking-isnt-funny-anymore-1455734501.

3 Ibid.

4 Garfield, Leanna. “7 Innovations to Get People to Stop Texting While Walking.” Business Insider. 2016. Accessed August 27, 2016. http://www.businessinsider.com/apps-and-street-signs-to-get-people-to-stop-texting-and-walking-2016-2.

The Armor of God

Written by

Ephesians 6:10-20 (ESV)

The Whole Armor of God

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. 14 Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. 16 In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; 17 and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, 18 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, 19 and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.”

Helmet of salvation: The centurion soldiers wore helmets with horse hair on them to signify manliness. The helmet was, of course, to protect the head. After all, you can’t live without it, and you have only one!

Paul is using this concept, symbolically, to teach us that we are to protect our heads, or rather our thoughts, by agreeing only with God. Having a head without useful ideas and productive thoughts is like not having a head at all or, at a minimum, not using your head.

In Isaiah 55:9 we are told that God’s thoughts are higher than ours. That’s reassuring! Accessing higher thoughts comes in very handy when perplexity argues with consciousness, and there seems to be no resolution.

Reaching for divine wisdom and supreme intelligence makes for a good head on your shoulders. And that’s where we’d like to keep it!

“Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:” Philippians 2:5

Breastplate of Righteousness: Soldiers needed to protect their vital organs which includes the heart, so they wore a heart guard or a breastplate. Paul is using this analogy to emphasize the importance of symbolically safeguarding what is vital. However, unlike just strapping the material armor on, understanding this analogy requires gaining a higher understanding in mind.

The word “righteousness” that Paul uses here means “justice, justness, righteousness, righteousness of which God is the source or author, but practically: a divine righteousness.” http://biblehub.com/greek/1343.htm

In Proverbs it is written in Chapter 2:2-5, “So that your ear is attentive to [skillful and godly] wisdom, And apply your heart to understanding [seeking it conscientiously and striving for it eagerly]; 3 Yes, if you cry out for insight, And lift up your voice for understanding; 4  If you seek skillful and godly wisdom as you would silver. And search for her as you would hidden treasures; 5 Then you will understand the [reverent] fear of the Lord [that is, worshiping Him and regarding Him as truly awesome] And discover the knowledge of God” (AMP).

Remaining composed and spiritually poised and not so easily beset by the human conditions that challenge us is not easy to achieve. However, it is healthier and wiser, for protecting the heart is most necessary. In Proverbs 4:23, it is written, “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life” (KJV).

The Shield of Faith Wherewith you are able to Quench the Fiery Darts of the Wicked: Roman Centurions used shields made of layered wood that was then covered with leather. In the center of the shield was a spindle shaped metal piece that provided the soldier added protection and weaponry when using the shield for punching his opponent.

In this case, the apostle Paul is suggesting using a weapon of faith, which represents the ultimate form of protection. A shield of faith cannot be penetrated by the fiery darts of fear, anger, human hatred, hostility, condemnation, ridicule, jealousy, deceit, murder, and such like these.

Wood and metal can be broken-down and ultimately destroyed leaving the person exposed to death. However, unmovable faith is the ultimate knowing that the things that are temporal can never reach the things that are immaterial.

“For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.” 1 John 5:4

The Sword of Spirit: Unlike the material sword which was used by soldiers to kill, this sword brings a renewal and revival into one’s life. It represents the word of God. In Hebrews 4:12, Paul explains, “12 For the word of God is living and active and full of power [making it operative, energizing, and effective]. It is sharper than any two-edged [a]sword, penetrating as far as the division of the [b]soul and spirit [the completeness of a person], and of both joints and marrow [the deepest parts of our nature], exposing and judging the very thoughts and intentions of the heart” (AMP).

The Holy Spirit of God uses this sword symbolically, to prepare one’s heart to receive His word. The result enables the individual to intuitively and naturally act against sin rather than in favor of it.

In the gospel of John 1:1, he wrote, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” 1(NIV).

Loins Girt About with Truth: “To have the belt of truth around your waist” This was a belt made of leather straps which was worn under the breastplate and was essential for the whole armor to stay in place. It was needed to house the sword of Spirit. These leather straps also acted as added protection for the soldier, especially in areas he was more vulnerable.

Symbolically, Paul wants spiritual warriors to be prepared to take on the battle at any given moment, and without this belt, the rest of the armor would be inadequate.

“But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect” 1 Peter 3:15.

Feet Shod with the Preparation of the Gospel of Peace: In Luke 2:14, it is written “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those who have his good will!” (GW)

Peace, a very precious commodity which is why it seems too difficult to obtain, requires entertaining heavenly-minded concepts. Peace, often more times than not, seems almost impossible to reach let alone maintain. The inner battle, flesh versus Spirit, is ongoing and feels relentless. However, hope resides in our understanding of God and our relationship with Him, securing our future in His eternal home. The avenue to endurance is a pathway of peace. With each step we take, gentle in stride, we truly can overcome the temptations to feed the beastly hunger of the flesh and instead demonstrate unanimity.

Romans 12:18 “If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.” ESV

EVERY DAY, be sure to put this armor on, to be prepared in every way possible in guarding yourself with the full protection of divinity!

 

ESV-English Standard Version

KJV-King James Version

GW-God’s Word Translation

1 NIV-New International Version, Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

AMP-Amplified Bible

How Light Shines

Written by

Nothing shines in the dark. It is light which reveals the beauty and splendor of things. However, how exactly does light work, and where does it come from?

In physical science we learn that light comes from the sun by fusion or nuclear reaction. This is when hydrogen atoms from the core of the sun produces an exorbitant amount of heat that travels through the core to the surface of the sun. As it continues into space it creates sunlight.

In scriptural text, light came from the command of God. In Genesis 1:1-5, it is written that “1 In the beginning God created heaven and earth. 2 The earth was formless and empty, and darkness covered the deep water. The Spirit of God was hovering over the water. 3 Then God said, ‘Let there be light!’ So there was light. 4 God saw the light was good. So God separated the light from the darkness. 5 God named the light day, and the darkness he named night. There was evening, then morning—the first day” (GW). So, according to the biblical text, this light came before the sun was made. In other words, the light from the sun is one kind of light, but the light from God represents order, realization, and fullness.   Once God allowed light to be manifested, the earth took form, and confusion, unreality, and emptiness vanished.

http://biblehub.com/lexicon/genesis/1-2.htm

This text further explains that God saw that the light was good. It was pleasant or agreeable, so He separated the light from the darkness symbolizing that the two would never be able to commingle because one would always extinguish the other. However, by separating them, was God implying that meant darkness was not good?

We are told in Genesis 2:31 that “God saw all that he had made, and it was very good” (INV). Including darkness? Yes!

Suppose that represents the ability of awareness and discernment while darkness represents confusion and ignorance. These obviously are opposites and it seems reasonable as to why God separated them. This separation indicates that light and darkness can never be juxtaposed because one would always put out the other. So darkness has its place, necessity, and purpose just as light does.

In the physical realm, having light is essential when painting a wall, doing your taxes (maybe it is better doing them in the dark!), playing baseball, applying make-up, getting a haircut, cleaning, and performing surgery (much better with light!) etc.

In the physical realm, darkness makes it easier to get your rest, watch a movie, develop negatives, set the mood, etc.

In the realm of metaphysics, what if darkness, rather than light, were hovering over consciousness? Ordinary challenges would seem arduous, beclouding the avenue of joy. Mental darkness dulls hope and makes everything look dismal. Though darkness has its proper place in the relative, it is not meant for the mind.

In John 12:35, Jesus says, “…The one who walks in the darkness does not know where he is going.” That sounds very much like being lost, confused along with not being able to find what you are looking for.

When we were kids and my friends and I would play hide n’ seek, we would ask the adults for permission to turn out the lights so as to make it more difficult for the seeker to find the hider. With the lights on, it was just too easy, and that made the game less fun. However, when we are talking about the mental darkness which mystifies the mind, there is nothing fun about keeping the lights out. Whatever you are seeking becomes too laborious to find, and without clarity, seeking can become exhausting!

More light is needed to ease the mental atmosphere.

I have found that when darkness rises up to my mind, praying for more light is most necessary in order to suffocate the dreadful thoughts. Speaking with a trusted friend or a professional can also be remedial, but doing nothing about darkness in the mind perpetuates bewilderment. Remember that darkness and light cannot co-exist so as light grows, darkness dissipates. The one that we choose to magnify minimizes the other. So choose wisely!

In the gospel of Luke 11:34, it is written, “The eye is the lamp (a portable lamp) of your body; when your eye is clear, (simple, single) your whole body also is full of light; but when it is bad, (toilsome) your body also is full of darkness” (NASB).

This makes me think about crystal and how it reflects light causing its brilliance to bounce off walls and ceilings resulting in an array of colors. Yet without light, its brilliance is diminished. The crystal may just as well have remained under the rubble of earth, tucked away in a cave full of darkness.

Comparing ourselves to crystal means that with more light in our mind there is more transparency. It is then when we begin to see ourselves from a brighter view and from that springs visibility and self-worth, as well as the absolute worth of another.

More light means more realization and awakening. Paul wrote in Ephesians 5:14, “For anything that becomes visible is light….” More light means better sight!

Don’t just sit there and listen to the darkness! Challenge the dark, erring thoughts with ones that are light-filled.

Christ Jesus spoke these words in 1 John 1:7, “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another…” (ESV).

Often times, all it takes is one small glint to ignite a blaze of aspiration, and from that one spark you can shine!

Top 10 Things to Help You With Your New Year's Resolutions

Written by

Happy New Year? Not Without Happy Thoughts!

2016 will soon be behind us, and a new year awaits us. So, what are we going to do with the new year?

The answer to that question depends upon what kind of thoughts you will entertain. After all, the year itself does not care how you feel or what you do or don’t do. It’s just days on a calendar, and with or without your permission, time will continue. With each new year, we get another opportunity to repeat the offenses of the previous year or work to be transformed and renewed.

In the book of Romans 12:1-2, the apostle Paul wrote, “Do not be conformed to this world, but continuously be transformed by the renewing of your minds so that you may be able to determine what God’s will is—what is proper, pleasing, and perfect” (ISV).

The key here is transformation. According to Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary, to transform means “to change in character or condition: convert.” However, by holding on to old beliefs or former ways of thinking and acting, there is no room for anything new and refreshing to enter your mind.

Bringing in the new year is not about the same person doing different things. That does not qualify as transformation. It’s about becoming a new you and making it more probable of having a happier new year instead of the same old one.

What will make a difference in the upcoming year is your state of mind. Without first committing to a renewed sense of self, simply making resolutions without dedication to follow through with them is futile. After all, the old you may not give in to new ideas.

So, what are some steps you can take to bring in the new year, well, newly? Begin by gently accepting suggestions that will elevate and open your mind to the idea of change.

Below is a list of ten profound concepts that you may find useful in approaching the idea of becoming transformed.

10 “The world as we have created it is a process of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking.”
Albert Einstein

9 “The price of doing the same old thing is far higher than the price of change.”
Bill Clinton

8 “Those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.”
George Bernard Shaw

7 “If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.”
Maya Angelou

6 “Change your thoughts and you change your world.”
Norman Vincent Peale

5 “They must often change, who would be constant in happiness or wisdom.”
Confucius

4 “To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often.”
Winston Churchill

3 “Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.”
Barak Obama

2 “When we are no longer able to change a situation—we are challenged to change ourselves.”
Victor E. Frankle

1 “Prayer does not change God, but it changes him who prays.”
Soren Kierkegaard

ba colorful row of firework shells pretty animated gif pic

I have had to do much praying, meditating, and letting go of false concepts of myself and of the world in order for change to unfold. And the journey has not been without frustration, apprehension, inner battles, and uphill climbs. But as I look back on who I was, what thoughts I would entertain, or how I felt, and compare myself to who I am today, I am humbled. My gratitude to God, the universal, infinite Mind, who found me worthy of transforming, is boundless. And though I am not yet who I hope to be, I stay the course; a simple earthling doing my best to embrace divinity. For it is now clear to me that there will always be more room to grow, to change until I awaken from this mortal dream of finiteness and see the unending, spiritual selfhood as I am face-to-face with God.

Give yourself the opportunity to become new by challenging the same old thoughts, and behaviors, for there is much more to the world, and to you, but if you resist change, then you will not see the wonders and splendors of a self and a world far beyond the limited view of what you see now.

Happy New Year!

 

ISV-International Standard Version

The Wonders of the World

Written by

Faith, Hope, and Love

The Wonders of the World

The seven man-made Wonders of the World are:

  1. Chichen Itza. Located in Yucatan, Mexico,
  2. Christ the Redeemer. Located in Tijuca Forest National Park in Rio de Janeiro,
  3. The Colosseum. Located in the center of Rome, Italy,
  4. The Great Wall of China. Located in China,
  5. Machu Picchu. Located in the mountain range of the Urubamba Valley in Peru,
  6. Located on the slopes of Mt. Hor, in the Arabah section of Jordan, and
  7. Taj Mahal. Located in Agra, India.1

The seven ancient Wonders of the World are:

  1. The Great Pyramid at Giza, Egypt,
  2. The Lighthouse at Alexandria, Egypt,
  3. The Statue of Zeus at Olympia, Greece,
  4. The Temple of Artemis at Ephesus,
  5. The Mausoleum at Halicarnassus,
  6. The Colossus of Rhodes, and
  7. The Hanging Gardens of Babylon.2

Of these seven ancient wonders, only the Great Pyramids in Egypt still exists.

The seven natural Wonders of the World are:

  1. Mount Everest in Nepal,
  2. Victoria Falls in Zambia/Zimbabwe,
  3. Grand Canyon in Arizona, USA,
  4. Great Barrier Reef in Australia,
  5. Northern Lights,
  6. Paricutin volcano in Mexico, and
  7. Harbor of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.3

It must have been spectacular to view The Colossus of Rhodes and the massive gold statue of Zeus at Olympia.4 And the newer wonders like Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, which stands 105 feet tall as well as the ruined city in Peru of the Inca civilization dating back to the 15th century. Without doubt, these magnificent structures along with the other wonders are fascinating. They are examples of man’s ability to express remarkable talent. It is no wonder (no pun intended) why we are so impressed by them.

Unfortunately, these grand wonders will not last forever as we have already witnessed with six of the seven ancient Wonders of the World. However, that is to be expected of things on Earth. There is, nonetheless, another wonder that will remain forever intact, indecomposable, and unaffected by earthly elements, and that is the wonder of love.

In 1 Corinthians 13:13, the apostle Paul wrote “Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love” (NLT). The faith that Paul is referring to here is peithó, the Greek word which means “to persuade; be persuaded of what is trustworthy.”5 The word “hope” derives from the Greek word elipzo or “hope for, expect, trust.”6 And in this case, the word “love” refers to agapaó or “esteem.”7

Paul claims that even after one has been faithful and hopeful, love will be the last to remain. But why is that?

There is no place in the Bible that says God is faith or hope. Those qualities are required of man, not God, to demonstrate in order for man to reach the zenith of divinity.

This does not mean that faith and hope are unimportant. What it does mean is that when one elevates to pure heavenly mindedness, faith is no longer needed. It dissipates in the sight of God because it has been completely fulfilled. And the same applies to the concept of hope. When one hopes for something, the hope refers to a future expectation of something. However, since there is no future in heaven and all times have ceased, all hopes have been fulfilled. That is why in the book of Revelation 21:4, it is written “4 And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.” (KJV)

That leaves love.

It is important to note that in the book of Corinthians, the apostle Paul was writing to the Corinthians about what it would be like in the day when one sees the Lord or is face-to-face with Him. Love will be in its purist form, undefiled by human filtering and conditions. And since according to 1 John 4:8, who wrote that “God is love,” we too become completely one with divine Love. I trust this is a wonder to behold!

Below is a list of seven of the many prodigious wonders of Love divine, of God, that have been recorded in the Bible:

  1. The ten plagues in Egypt,8
  2. Balaam and his talking donkey,9
  3. Joshua holding the sun,10
  4. Crossing of the Red Sea,11
  5. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abendnego,12
  6. Jesus walking on the water,13 and
  7. Jesus’s resurrection.14

There are still wonders, miracles and signs going on today that prove the omnipresence of agapaó, and I am certain that if each of us looks deeply into our own lives, we may find some that we may have overlooked.15

In the book of Joel, 2:26, it is written, “…You will praise the name of the Lord your God, who has performed wonders specifically for you…” (ISV)

I believe that the wonders of this world, ancient, modern, natural, and man-made, are just some of God’s ways of expressing Himself. But I also believe His greatest and only indestructible wonder, one that cannot be seen by the human eye or built with human hands, is love which when embraced can be reflected by each one of us.

This kind of structure, the structure of love divine, is most amazing and impressive. That may just make love the greatest wonder of them all!

 

NLT-New Living Translation

KJV-King Kames Version

ISV-International Standard Version

 

1 Dawes, Matt. “The Current 7 Man-Made Wonders of the World.” Owlcation. 2016. Accessed December 11, 2016. https://owlcation.com/humanities/The-Current-7-Man-Made-Wonders-of-The-World.

2 “Photo Gallery: New 7 Wonders vs. Ancient 7 Wonders.” National Geographic. Accessed December 11, 2016. http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2007/07/photogalleries/seven-wonders/photo5.html.

3 “The Seven Natural Wonders Of The World.” The Seven Natural Wonders Of The World. Accessed December 11, 2016. http://www.bobspixels.com/kaibab.org/misc/gc_7wond.htm.

4,5,6 http://biblehub.com/lexicon/1_corinthians/13-13.htm

7 https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Exodus+7%3A14-11%3A10 (ISV)

8 http://biblehub.com/numbers/22-28.htm

9 http://biblehub.com/joshua/10-12.htm

10 https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Exodus+14&version=NKJV

11 https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Daniel+3 (ISV)

12 https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew%2014:22-33

13 https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Luke+24

14 O’Neil, Tyler, CP. “Modern Miracles: 5 Stories For Bible Skeptics From ‘It’s a God Thing’” Christian News, The Christian Post. Accessed December 11, 2016. http://www.christianpost.com/news/modern-miracles-5-stories-for-bible-skeptics-from-its-a-god-thing-104832/.

15http://www.endtime.org/library/healing/contents.html

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