Make-up Or Making Up for Something?
I must admit that I became a girly-girl when I started reading fashion magazines in my early teens. I studied how to apply makeup along with fun ways to paint my nails. I wanted to look like the models in the magazines. Their flawless beauty mesmerized me, and their entire look from head to toe was impeccable. I wanted to emulate them.
In my naivety, I was unaware that what made those models look perfect was lighting, airbrushing, and other special effects, so no matter how much I practiced to imitate their appearances, it was an impossible goal to achieve.
This became an obsession for me that challenged my self-perception, causing a beclouded viewpoint of my femininity, and before long I became extremely dissatisfied with my looks. The need to have a flawless look in the flesh became incessant, and makeup became my mask that I refused to be seen without.
I suppose you could say that makeup for me was like the mask for Erik, the phantom of the opera. His looks were so repulsive that his own mother became aghast looking at him, which impelled him to run away and never be seen without his mask (with the exception when Christine took off his mask, twice).
My mask became heavier as I layered my face with primer, foundation, powder, and that was just the beginning!
Family and friends regularly made comments regarding the amount of makeup I wore, but the thought of going bare-faced was oppressive, so I kept up the disguise.
I was so insecure about my looks that I often went to bed wearing makeup or would rise early enough to put it on before anyone saw me.
I continued to follow the most recent trends in the fashion magazines, which became my creed for womanhood.
This would radically change after I met an energy healer who knew a very good friend of mine. He had seen a picture of me at her house and asked her who I was indicating to her that I needed healing. He asked her if we could meet.
After my friend introduced us, he invited me to a spiritual awareness workshop that he was hosting. I made excuses as to why I could not go, but he just kept looking into my eyes as I babbled on. I soon found myself agreeing to attend.
This man was the very first individual who would lead me to a path of enlightenment.
I arrived at the home of my friend where the meeting was being held with my designer luggage, my fashionable outfit, makeup, and jewelry. My costume was complete!
I was led into a room where people, who were dressed in frocks, were sitting on Indian-style pillows on the floor. The delicate smell of incense filled the room.
I was lovingly greeted by each person with a hug, and the man who had invited me said that he was “very glad” that I was there. He then showed me to my room and asked me to join them when I was ready. I was uncertain as to what he meant when he said to join them when I was “ready,” but I was struck by something in his voice.
I kept telling myself that no way was I going out there to join anyone, yet the sound of this man’s voice kept resonating.
After a couple of hours passed, my friend came in and gently said to me, “Don’t be afraid to come out.” She went on to say that once I found the courage to take off all that was covering true beauty, then I would begin to understand.
She handed me a wash cloth, a towel, and a robe, which all smelled as delightful as the incense, and she left the room.
I began taking off the makeup, and I did not like what I saw. Something inside me kept saying that I had to continue, so I washed my face, removed the garb, and put on the robe.
By the time I went out to participate with the others, dinner was being served, and that too was aromatic. I was welcomed again, just as warmly as the first time.
Each one of us had a plate of food and sat on the pillows, and before eating, someone said a lovely prayer of thanksgiving.
I told my friend that her guests were so loving, and then I asked her how she managed to get everything to smell so fragrant and the food to taste so good. She said that she works with pure and natural ideas that manifest in all she does. That concept set in motion for me a new way of thinking.
Activities during this meeting went on for three days, and with each one that I participated in, I began to feel a sense of freedom that I had not known for a long time. It would be many years later when I would fully implement this approach to life of “pure and natural.”
I had to challenge every spurious thought tempting me to make up for what I seemed to be lacking, especially in comparison to those images rooted in my mind from the fashion magazines.
I researched higher ideas of beauty that would replace the harmful thoughts that had me penned in. I came across one in particular from a book by Kahlil Gibran my mom had given me. He wrote, “Beauty is not in the face; beauty is a light in the heart.” This was a very refreshing idea and one that would orbit my consciousness to redefine my womanhood.
After much dedication in practicing this advanced way of thinking, I was eventually freed from the belief that I had to wear an ensemble in order to qualify me as beautiful. The new womanhood that I was embracing had been based upon improving character, maintaining a sense of poise, and probity. It would no longer be contingent upon external costumes, body shape, or cosmetics.
There is a lot of outside pressure for women to keep up appearances in order to feel attractive; in fact, there is makeup for all occasions: weddings, “selfie-makeup,” and makeup to sleep in, which companies claim is better for your skin!
I am not intimating that makeup (cruelty-free makeup!) is a bad thing—it can be fun and complementary, but if we women feel as though our beauty must be imported and applied, then we may find that our true beauty will remain under the veil we call makeup.
Though I still enjoy being girly and use very little makeup, I have come to the understanding that making up for something I once believed I lacked was just an attack on my real femininity.
Presenting oneself properly is a demonstration of self-regard, but hiding under fashion, trends, and make-up reflects a disregard for the beauty within you.
Below are some citations and passages that have helped me along the way to a more beautiful view of myself.
In the book of Psalms 139:14, it is written, “I will offer You my grateful heart, for I am Your unique creation, filled with wonder and awe. You have approached even the smallest details with excellence; Your works are wonderful; I carry this knowledge deep within my soul.” (The Voice) https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Psalms+139%3A14&version=VOICE
Song of Solomon 4:7: “You are beautiful in every way, my true love. There is no blemish on you.” (GW)
1 Peter 3:3-4: “Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God's sight is very precious.” (ESV)
1 Samuel 16:7: “But the LORD said to Samuel, ‘Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.’” (NASB)
“The recipe for beauty is to have less illusion and more Soul,…” Mary Baker Eddy
ESV-English Standard Version
GW-God’s Word Translation
NASB-New American Standard Bible
In many instances, we find ourselves faced with handling the calamity of our past. The web of memories that occupy our consciousness leaves us frozen in times gone by, disabling us, confusing us, and guiding us in directions confounded.
Thoughts echo in our minds that fuel the horrors of our past and give pinions to new fears not yet experienced, even though they wait at the door of thought to be employed.
No one has told you that you are worthy of love. There’s not a whisper nor a hint of love that has begun to fill your heart, your consciousness, so the darkness has found its home. This is the voice you have been accustomed to hearing and obeying, so the highest thought you have entertained is self-hate and self-abuse.
The wheel spins as you are trapped in the confines of what seems to be an endless cycle of mental torment and emotional chaos, but where’s the release button that stops the pattern and sets one free?
There is a way to get off that spinning wheel of torture and begin to embrace the idea that you are a loving being who is worthy of peace and love and who is beginning to consider, if for a moment at a time, that the world needs you.
At first, it might seem very awkward to even contemplate such a thought; in fact, you might resist it so much that it makes you angry to even think you could be loved and that you are a benefit to the world, but if you can drum up the courage to say to yourself, “I am loved,” and then say it again, and then again, several times a day, a hundred times a day, and then in everything you do, you will arrive at a new destination in consciousness.
Though the work is just beginning for you to discover your loving and lovable self, you have begun rightly!
For the Love of People: God’s Creatures, too!
I have been reading so many articles on the benefits of going vegan that I have begun to wonder why God created such a variety of animals.
Like most people, I love animals, and I do my very best to be conscious when I purchase products. I always look for cruelty-free, eco-friendly, slave-free, and recycled products. When I first began waking to the facts of how animals have been mistreated and I sincerely wanted to make a conscious effort to change my habits, the search for human products that fit my new standards was laborious. However, I was committed to being steadfast in what I believe is ethical and loving.
Since I began, many new companies have surfaced and are making it clearer and easier to find a range of products that are animal- and eco-friendly. Vegan products are on the rise. A big rise! Plant-based products have multiplied threefold since 2016.1 And the vegan cheese industry is estimated to reach multimillions by the year 2024.2 Just Eat claims that this year veganism is the food trend.3 So it seems that veganism will no longer be a trend but a lifestyle and a natural one.
Veganism, besides the claims of being healthier, is preventing the exploitation of animals, so again I asked myself what will be done with all the billions of livestock?4
Most recently, I read an article about a company who makes delicious vegan mayonnaise and how it has just launched a new plant-based egg substitute (which I am looking forward to trying). The article mentioned how many chickens, in the millions per year, are penned up and stacked on top of one another so that the demand for eggs can be met.
I felt impelled to do research regarding chickens, which led me to discover how many other animals, livestock, are mishandled, penned in, and slaughtered for food. The numbers were staggering!
Per A Well-Fed World, “90 billion” land animals are killed each year for food. And the creatures of the sea fished for human use are in the “trillions.”5 I must admit, those numbers were hard for me to imagine.
Are we consuming that much meat? No! Not really.
The USDA reported that, in the United States, “food waste is estimated at between 30-40 percent of the food supply.”6 That’s close to half! What a waste! It seems like the scale of demand and supply is way off.
If people are making so much demand for food but wasting almost half of it, then it would stand to reason that we need to check and correct our attitude about food with gratitude and become much more conscious about the quantity of food consumption!
But let’s circle back to my question. What would happen to those billions of animals if everyone became a vegan or vegetarian? The number of livestock, if not all of it, would still need to be somehow taken care of or relocated. It would be very difficult for almost all people, to adopt cows, sheep, pigs, chickens, etc., and properly take care of them which includes disposing of their waste. How much land would a person need to care for livestock? It would be impossible especially for those who live in overpopulated cities like Guangzhou and Beijing, China; Mumbai, India; and Manilla, Philippines, or a metropolis like New York City to entertain such an idea. It’s difficult to persuade people to adopt dogs and cats, let alone livestock.
In addition to that, after a while, would plant-based companies rapidly be asking consumers to cut back on eating their products because they could not keep up with the demand? Earlier this year in Kenya, farmers were forced to freeze the exportation of avocados because of shortages.7 And in Mexico, who now exports more avocados than petroleum, to keep up with the demand of avocado exportation, deforestation has been ramped up.8
Is consumers’ food demand driving supply to an unnecessary level which then pushes the farm factories to pack in as many animals as possible, supplying the demand for a greater profit? Or is it just overall greed running this entire gambit?
Is it possible that the idea of plant-based foods and veganism are erupting to create a balanced system? One that will keep the scales in equilibrium?
You may find more information regarding this idea in the article from BBC, “What would happen of the world suddenly went vegetarian?”9
In addition to the passion of vegans fighting for the human treatment of animals, shouldn’t that humane consideration be prevalent in their behavior towards people?
In an article from the Metro News, vegan “extremists” or known as “Vegan vandals” sprayed a sign at a nature park with graffiti.10 And more recently in France, butchers were “living in fear” from attacks, though “small” from vegan extremists.11
Those are not isolated incidents. In 2017, in Berkley, California, vegans intimidated a local butcher shop owner to change their sign which advertised that their business is “humane” to animals. The vegan activists argued that there is no “ethical” way to kill an animal for consumption.11
There are valid points by both sides of this debate but cruelty, whether to animals or people is not the solution.
To imagine all people eating plant-based food and leaving the livestock to keep the pastures perfectly grazed without having to exploit them for human consumption and products sounds ideal and harmonious to me, but I don’t know if that is possible. My hope is that maybe one day, it will be.
1 Millot, Julia. “Plant-Based Products Are Blossoming Quickly.” 1010data. October 2, 2017. Accessed August 13, 2018. https://1010data.com/company/blog/plant-based-products-are-blossoming-quickly/.
2 “Global Vegan Cheese Market - Industry Size, Share, Analysis, Trend & Forecast 2024.” Mynewsdesk. December 9, 2017. Accessed August 13, 2018. http://www.mynewsdesk.com/in/pressreleases/global-vegan-cheese-market-industry-size-share-analysis-trend-and-forecast-2024-2324642.
3 Online Editors. “Veganism Trend Set to Grow in Popularity in 2018, According to Just Eat.” Independent.ie. December 29, 2017. Accessed August 13, 2018. https://www.independent.ie/life/food-drink/veganism-trend-set-to-grow-in-popularity-in-2018-according-to-just-eat-36443713.html.
4 “Counting Chickens.” The Economist. July 27, 2011. Accessed August 13, 2018. https://www.economist.com/graphic-detail/2011/07/27/counting-chickens.
Please be alert that the information and photos on this website may be disturbing
7 Andae, Gerald, Kimanthi, Maureen Kakah, and Patty Magubira. “Avocado Exports Banned as Price Rises.” Business Daily. January 21, 2018. Accessed August 13, 2018. https://www.businessdailyafrica.com/news/Avocado-exports-banned-as-price-rises/539546-4272600-9gthm2z/index.html.
8 “Mexican Forests Paying the Price for Avocados.” ABC News. November 01, 2016. Accessed August 13, 2018. http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-11-01/mexico-deforestation-for-avocados-much-higher-than-thought/7983012.
9 Nuwer, Rachel. “Future - What Would Happen If the World Suddenly Went Vegetarian?” BBC News. September 27, 2016. Accessed August 28, 2018. http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20160926-what-would-happen-if-the-world-suddenly-went-vegetarian.
10 Hartley-Parkinson, Richard. “Mean Man’s Sassy Response to ‘extreme’ Vegan Vandals.” Metro. June 16, 2017. Accessed August 28, 2018. https://metro.co.uk/2017/06/16/vegan-vandals-spray-offensive-graffiti-on-nature-reserves-6713745/.
11 Horton, Helena. “Butchers ‘living in Fear’ as Vegan Attacks on the Rise, Says Countryside Alliance.” The Telegraph. May 28, 2018. Accessed August 28, 2018. https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/05/27/butchers-living-fear-vegan-attacks-rise-says-countryside-alliance/.
God maintains my innocence. My history or past is God’s story of me, His-story in Genesis I. Only how God thinks about me matters because there is only one Mind, and it’s divine. God’s thoughts about me, as with all of His ideas, are of peace and love, to give us a future, great hope, and an expected end.
My sins have been forgiven just as the prodigal son’s sins were forgiven. After his riotous living, the son went back home, ashamed, filthy, and destitute, but regardless of his past behavior and choices, his father ran to him and kissed him on his neck and all over his face. He then cleaned him up and put a robe on him in remembrance of his true spiritual identity, intact, unblemished, and royal! All the past vanished in the presence of divine Love which covers all sin.
“Your sins are so gone that they cannot be laid to your charge,” said Baptist preacher Charles Spurgeon. “Are you a believer and afraid of your old sins? You are afraid of foes which do not exist. Your sins are so gone that they cannot be laid to your charge. . . . You are not only pardoned, but you are a child of God. Go to your Father with joy and thankfulness, and bless him for all his love to you. Wipe those tears away, smooth those wrinkles from your brow: take up the song of joy and gladness.”1
If everyone were to be judged, and this includes self-judgment, based upon their so-called material record, then no one would ever have a chance of entering the kingdom of glory, for no man is without sin. In the first letter of John 1:8, he wrote, “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us” (ESV). In Romans 3:23, it is written, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Do those citations mean that man has no chance of being forgiven? Absolutely not!
In 1 John 1:9, we are told, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (ESV). To go before the throne of grace and ask to be forgiven is a step, but to repent, to forsake iniquity, is the most vital step. In Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mary Baker Eddy wrote, “Only those, who repent of sin and forsake the unreal, can fully understand the unreality of evil.”2
To truly accept that you have been forgiven takes much consecrated thought and though the waves of shame may surge upon your mind, divine Truth will calm the flux. The prophet Isaiah wrote “Don’t be afraid, for there is no one to shame you. Don’t fear humiliation, for there is no one to disgrace you. The shame of your younger years and the sorrow of your widowhood are over. You’ll forget those days as if they never happened.” (The Voice)
The precious blood of Jesus the Christ thoroughly cleanses all of man’s past errors, marks, and stains; relieves man of the burdens of aberrations, fault, and ignorance; and just like the father draped his son in the royal robe so does our Father drape us in white linen by the Holy Ghost, the Comforter, so that we exude original innocence.
To only perceive man as mortal and material would omit the best part of the man, God’s image and likeness. To judge image and likeness would be like judging God, and that is absurd! But what if man were to judge solely on one’s spiritual identity? Then it would be a scientific and accurate judgment with no stones necessary. For there would be no need for stones because there would be no sin to cast out.
To drop the stone of judgment and self-condemnation and instead choose the gift of grace from God, and an awesome gift it is that you will receive grace, as the apostle Paul wrote to the Ephesians, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works so that no man may boast” (ESV).
We need the gift of grace to sanctify and renew us from the shadows of past sins, for they are but foreboding memorizations of experiences better left and buried with times gone by. Those dreadful flashbacks will only delay forward movement and spiritual progress unless they are met with and annihilated forever by the power of God’s grace and divine Truth. Mary Baker Eddy said, “Grace and Truth are potent beyond all other means and methods.”3
It isn’t easy for one to forgive oneself for the evil done or the error demonstrated, but rather than replay the past, repeat the truth: I am forgiven. As Charles Spurgeon said, “I am forgiven, I am forgiven, I am forgiven!”
“I need not walk through the earth fearful of every shadow, and afraid of every man I meet, for sin is washed away; my spirit is no more guilty; it is pure, it is holy. The frown of God no longer resteth upon me; but my Father smiles, I see his eyes,—they are glancing love: I hear his voice,—it is full of sweetness. I am forgiven, I am forgiven, I am forgiven!” (Spurgeon: Autobiography 1:110)
“I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more” (Jeremiah 31:34)
Bye-bye, past! Hello now!
1 Charles, S. (2019). Plenary Absolution, Sermon #1108. [ebook] Metropolitan Tabernacle, London, England. Available at: https://www.spurgeongems.org/vols19-21/chs1108.pdf [Accessed 29 Mar. 2019]
2 Eddy, Mary Baker. 1930. Science and health: with key to the Scriptures. Boston: Published by the Christian Science Pub. Society, for the Trustees under the will of Mary Baker G. Eddy.
In 1 Corinthians 13:4-13, the apostle Paul provided mankind with a template for Love when he wrote, “Love is patient; love is kind. Love isn’t envious, doesn’t boast, brag, or strut about. There’s no arrogance in love; it’s never rude, crude, or indecent—it’s not self-absorbed. Love isn’t easily upset. Love doesn’t tally wrongs or celebrate injustice; but truth—yes, truth—is love’s delight! Love puts up with anything and everything that comes along; it trusts, hopes, and endures no matter what. Love will never become obsolete” (The Voice).
If we were to make this the template to pattern our behavior after, we just might discover that we have much to work on to copy this divine concept of love.
When I repeatedly bumped into the consequences of my misconducts, I searched the scriptures, as I often do, for answers and after typing the word “love” in the search window, I came across many citations. The one that stood out to me was the apostle Paul’s eloquent description of Love.
After reading it and comparing it to my previous actions, I was ashamed. I knew that I needed to reconstruct the model of love that I held in thought, and the one of which I had been emulating. It was time for me to stop the excuses and self-justification, roll up my sleeves, and take up the work necessary if I wanted my experiences to be more loving and one day reflect the love that Paul described to the Corinthians.
I decided to go through Paul’s description of love, line-by-line, and treat it as a directive. In the very first verse Paul declares that “love is patient,” and he follows with “love is not self-absorbed” and “love is not easily upset.” Contemplating and implementing those concepts seemed impossible to me! I knew I had to do whatever it took to supplant those old ways of acting because they were not harmonious.
At first I was discouraged. My past behaviors were not all in alignment with Paul’s exegesis, and I was going to need help!
I prayed fervently that the Holy Spirit of God intervene on my behalf and transform my dissonant behavior.
However, there was a step I had to take before any of that would unfold.
I needed to admit my errors and make a genuine confession.
Yikes! That was frightening!
The following two citations from the Bible, regarding the benefits of confession, gave me hope and inspired me to move ahead and divulge my infractions.
In 1 John 1:9, it is written, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (ESV).
In the book of Psalms, Psalm 51:10-12: “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit” (ESV).
Confessing to God (not that I could keep a secret from the All-Knowing!) and openly acknowledging and taking accountability for my choices and actions was an imperative step to freeing my conscience, and this acceptance of accountability set a course for a new and more flourishing way to live.
In the book of Proverbs 28:13, it is written, “Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy” (ESV). And mercy is what I needed!
In Scientific American, psychologist James W. Pennebaker wrote, “Any type of open and truthful disclosure reduces stress and helps individuals come to terms with their behavior. It is not coincidental that some of the most powerful people or institutions in many cultures encourage people to confess their transgressions. And there is very strong evidence that writing about upsetting experiences or dark secrets can benefit your mental and physical well-being.”1
Confessing sins may be compared to cleansing, which is very refreshing! And by relinquishing sins to God, there is liberation. A freedom from sin!
In the book of Isiah, in the old testament, he wrote in chapter 1:18, “"Come now, let's settle this," says the LORD. "” “Come now, let us settle the matter, says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.” 2
Carrying transgressions around with you can be burdensome and may lead you to feel the need to cover them up for fear of embarrassment or bury them deep within, pretending they did not happen. None of those choices will set you free from the mental prison of veniality.
In Genesis 3, the story of original sin of Adam and Eve, it is written that after the sin was committed Adam and Eve’s next move was to cover up the transgression in hopes of hiding it from God. However, God asked Adam, “Where art thou?” not because God couldn’t find where Adam was physically but rather to prompt Adam to consider where he was in consciousness. Adam needed to respond to God’s question and check his own thinking with his choices of behavior. He realized that it was futile for him and Eve to continue to dodge God because God is omniscient. And like Adam and Eve, I would soon bump into the same realization.
St. Augustine said of confessing sins, “In failing to confess, Lord, I would only hide You from myself, not myself from You.”
It is not an easy undertaking to admit your faults or to go before the throne of grace and plead the Almighty, but it is pertinent if we are to ever reflect, feel, and understand the potency of Love and its attributes.
For each one of us to attempt to mirror the love that Paul speaks of in 1 Corinthians, we must begin with a clean conscience, then ask God to flood it with His love until it runs over for others to witness and experience.
ESV-English Standard Version
1 Pennebaker, James. “Does Confessing Secrets Improve Our Mental Health?” Scientific American, Nature America, Inc., www.scientificamerican.com/article/does-confessing-secrets-improve-our-mental-health/.
2 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
I know that you are tired, and you are feeling really bad,
But hitting me and yelling at me makes me feel very, very sad.
When you call me names and push me to the floor,
I get so sick in my tummy
And so very scared, and I cry when you hurt my mommy.
I think that it’s my fault when you punch me and make me scream,
And when I go to bed at night, I have very bad dreams.
My arms hurt, and my legs are black and blue,
Tell me, Daddy, what can I do for you so you will be ok?
Anything I can do or say?
Maybe one day you will be happy again,
And then that day we can become friends.
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.
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.
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.
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
I was at a local hardware store with two of my dogs, and a woman came over to see them. We conversed about dogs and she told me that she was hoping to get a Tibetan Mastiff. She took out her phone and showed me a photo of one.
I commented on how beautiful those dogs were, and she said she heard that they were very expensive. I told her that they are, in fact, they are the most expensive breed of dogs in the world. She asked how much, and I told her that dog would cost 2 million dollars.
She gasped and remarked that she would “never” be able to have one of those unless “of course” she finds a rich man to marry.
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.
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.
Sharks in the Water or Sharks out of the Water? Who’s the Real Predator?
Though accurately predicting exactly how many sharks are killed every year by humans remains difficult, estimates show up to 73 million sharks are killed annually for their fins alone.1
Shark fins are used to make shark fin soup. In fact, shark fins are now considered one of the most valuable commodities in the world. One Whale Shark fin can sell up to $100,000 while a Basking Shark fin can sell for $250,000!2
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