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Wednesday, July 8, 2015

The humility of learning ...

Today I read this quote from Criss Jami [and as I've said before, I do knot know who he is, I just appreciate the truth in some of the quotes from him that I've seen]: “The barrier during self-improvement is not so much that we hate learning, rather we hate being taught. To learn entails that the knowledge was achieved on one's own accord - it feels great - but to be taught often leaves a feeling of inferiority. Thus it takes a bit of determination and a lot of humility in order for one to fully develop.”  

This brought back a lot of memories and thoughts. When I first started on my walk with the Lord I was soaking up knowledge in all directions ... and then [unknowingly at the time] using that new knowledge to [unrighteously] judge and look down on others. It was not until I joined myself to the body of Christ and got under a godly mentor that I realized I was full of pride. I thought I knew it all ... but really all I knew was a bunch of ideas and even a bunch of facts but had no clue as to how to put all of that in to practice in a loving, living, real way. I strongly believe this cannot be achieved on our own.

It was so easy for me, without a godly fellowship, to sit in my home and know I knew it all. But what did I know except a bunch of dead religion until I was actually able to put my knowledge to the test? For example, it's so easy to say, "Yes, I believe Jesus when he says we are to love our neighbors and love our enemies." Or, "Yes, I believe to marry the divorced is adultery." Or to quote Christ when he said, "Blessed are the merciful for they shall obtain mercy." But to actually LIVE that out in reality? That was/is a whole different story and being tested in these areas is where our true selves and hearts are revealed.

Anyone can agree to a list or an idea, and while actions do speak louder than words, actions can also be taken the wrong way. For example, we are told to be meek, humble, etc. but how many of us would accuse Jesus of getting angry and being prideful when he quite aggressively threw the wicked men out of the temple? Of course we would never think we were capable of misunderstanding Christ!! But I'm sure those who wanted him crucified thought the same way.

Let's be careful to not base our judgments on our own emotions, feelings, suspicions, experiences or gossip but on the truth. Which brings up another quote: “Self-righteousness is much like a spiritual egocentricity. It constitutes a secular type of love that thrives under conditionality, one in which is only existent after an individual meets the adopted standards of the condemner; oppositely, unconditional love is a holy love.” 

We are called to love one another, which I believe includes being merciful and forgiving and humble enough to know that things may not always be as they seem to be. Instead of using our energies to look down on others or pick apart their lives and actions, let us use our energies to bless others, lend a helping hand, visit the elderly, help the poor, and so on.

Go out and love someone today!

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Why the shock?

A thought: we shouldn't be so shocked when the world acts like the world.

And FYI ... We recently went to Mexico to witness a beautiful wedding. You may see photos here; hear message here - English and Spanish

Monday, June 15, 2015

A Choice

The last while I've been thinking about how we have so many choices to make each day ... all within our own control, though sometimes we might think otherwise or just not think about it at all.

A few examples.

When things do not go the way we think they should go, how do we choose to react? Do we get upset? Frustrated? Do we let others know how our plans have been thrown off and we've been inconvenienced? Or do we shrug it off with a smile and thank the Lord? We can choose to be happy and thankful.

When someone treats us in a way that is not loving, do we grow angry and bitter? Do we start thinking of all the ways that person has hurt us? Maybe we look for faults in them? Or do we love them in return? We can choose to be loving and merciful even in the midst of the most terrible situations.

Being grateful is a choice. We can focus on all the things that [we think] have gone wrong in the day or we can focus on all of the things that have gone right. We can focus on all of the things [we think] others have done wrong to us, or we can focus on loving them and blessing them.

Jesus said all of the law can be summed up in two commandments: Love God and love your neighbor. If this really is our heart, there will be no room for bitterness, mercilessness, anger, ungratefulness, and so on. If you find these things popping up in your mind, CHOOSE to give them to the Lord and ask for help and strength to truly love. Know that these things are not pleasing to him and he would love nothing more than to help you overcome them!

Choose to be happy. Choose to be thankful. Choose to be loving and merciful. Choose to overcome evil with good. The opposites are simply bondage, and Christ has set us free!!

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

The destructiveness of gossip

Do a topical study in the bible on the word "gossip" (and its many synonyms); you will be busy for a long time as the bible has much to say about this subject and its many faces. Once the 'gossip fire' has been sparked it's impossible to stop it or repair all of the damage that has been done by it. I recently read a short story likening gossip to opening up a feather pillow outside on a windy day ... the feathers go in every direction. Trying to collect ALL of the feathers again is like a person repenting of the "gossip fire" they kindled. You might be able to collect some feathers but you will never know where or how far many of the feathers traveled and they can never be recovered.

I don't know who Morgan Blake is but I appreciate what he wrote - it's called "Who Am I?"
I am more deadly than the screaming shell of the cannon. 
I win without killing. 
I tear down homes, break hearts, and wreck lives. 
I travel on the wings of the wind. 
No innocence is strong enough to intimidate me, no purity pure enough to daunt me. 
I have no regard for truth, no respect for justice, no mercy for the defenseless. 
My victims are as numerous as the sands of the sea and often as innocent. 
I never forget and seldom forgive. 
My name is Gossip. 

Really it all just comes down to loving one another and treating others as you would have them treat you.

Here are a few more thoughts on gossip ...

The other day I was watching a BBC Word documentary on Homeopathy. In Homeopathy you take one part of the poison, allergen, or whatever, and mix it with 99 parts water. It is then shaken up quite vigorously and now this new solution becomes the 1 part in 99 parts water for the next solution. This is done several times (30 I think) until what you have left is the equivalent to 1 part original mixed with more water than will fit into this WHOLE ENTIRE WORLD. Not a trace of the original molecules can be detected nor do they exist.

Now think of gossip. This is a pretty rough comparison but bear with me here. Gossip is like taking one part truth (or one part you THINK is truth) and mixing it with 99 parts of your interpretation of that truth, suspicions, biases, ignorance, etc. Now you share this 'truth' with someone else. This new 'truth' is then mixed with 99 parts of the next person's interpretation of that truth, suspicions, ignorance, etc. Now that next person shares this 'truth' with someone else. And it continues, on and on, becoming more and more distorted.

I have no idea who Criss Jami is but I found several quotes from him when looking up quotes about gossip. His quotes ring so true I thought I'd share them here.

“Just because something isn't a lie does not mean that it isn't deceptive. A liar knows that he is a liar, but one who speaks mere portions of truth in order to deceive is a craftsman of destruction.”  

“Grudges are for those who insist that they are owed something; forgiveness, however, is for those who are substantial enough to move on.”  

“To share your weakness is to make yourself vulnerable; to make yourself vulnerable is to show your strength.”   (and I'd like to add that we are totally opening ourselves up to gossip when we are honest enough to share our weaknesses)

“The only thing more frustrating than slanderers is those foolish enough to listen to them.”  

“What man ever openly apologizes for slander? It is not so much a feeling of slander as it is that of a massive lie, a misdeed not only to the slandered but also to those manipulated in the process. He has made them all, every one, his enemies, thereupon he is so overwhelmed with guilt that he will deny it until his grave.”  

“The motive behind criticism often determines its validity. Those who care criticize where necessary. Those who envy criticize the moment they think that they have found a weak spot.”  

“A rumor is a social cancer: it is difficult to contain and it rots the brains of the masses. However, the real danger is that so many people find rumors enjoyable. That part causes the infection. And in such cases when a rumor is only partially made of truth, it is difficult to pinpoint exactly where the information may have gone wrong. It is passed on and on until some brave soul questions its validity; that brave soul refuses to bite the apple and let the apple eat him. Forced to start from scratch for the sake of purity and truth, that brave soul, figuratively speaking, fully amputates the information in order to protect his personal judgment. In other words, his ignorance is to be valued more than the lie believed to be true.”  

“Popular culture is a place where pity is called compassion, flattery is called love, propaganda is called knowledge, tension is called peace, gossip is called news, and auto-tune is called singing.”  

And one from Mother Teresa - “If you judge people, you have no time to love them.”  

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

In the Night He Was Betrayed

Brother David's message last sunday was a great blessing to me so I thought I'd share the link here and say a little bit about it (some of his thoughts and mine).

Christ, in the night he was betrayed, gave us a clear example of how we are to love and treat others. Not only did he wash his disciples' feet and fellowship with them, but he included Judas, the one he knew was going to betray him. There was known sin, yet to the very last Christ showed love and mercy to this man who was merciless to him. Here is our perfect example.

David shared about a photo he'd seen one time some where. I did a search on the internet using various phrases I thought might bring it up but I was unsuccessful ... so if you have heard of this photo and know where to get it, please let me know. It was a photo of a man looking at a photo of one man on his knees and another man over him with a gun to his head. That might sound confusing so I hope you get it. Another man came up behind the man looking at the photo and asked him the question: "Which would you rather be? The man getting shot or the man pulling the trigger?"

David went on to say more scenarios that we should ask ourselves ... Which would WE rather be:

- The one being judged or the one doing the judging?
- The one that is not shown mercy or the one not showing mercy?
- The one that is not given patience or the one that is impatient?
- The one being rejected or the one doing the rejecting?

The list could go on and on.

Now ask yourself, as a Christian, if you were the one choosing not to judge but instead chose to show mercy, even if you were wrong and the person actually was in sin, do you think Christ would be upset with you for showing mercy? Now ask yourself the opposite, as a Christian, if you were the one choosing TO judge and not extend mercy and the person you were judging was actually innocent (even if they were guilty), do you think Christ would be upset with you for judging when you should have shown mercy?

Which do you think is the bigger crime? Showing mercy when you 'shouldn't have' or judging when you shouldn't have?

Christ said, "Blessed are the merciful for they shall obtain mercy."
He also said, "You will be judged by the same judgment you dish out."
James said, "Judgment will be shown without mercy to those who have shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment."

The song goes: (Christ speaking)
"Example give I unto you, as I have done so you should do, and if you would my servants be, obey my words and follow me."

It's not enough to simply obey; we must also follow. If I am able to obey all of what Christ commanded in the New Testament (the common things seen as commandments of Christ such as divorce and remarriage being adultery, not swearing oaths, not storing up treasures on this earth, not going to law, etc.) but I am not able to show mercy, love, or be longsuffering, am I really following Christ?

Woe unto us when we start treating people as diseases or inanimate objects instead of living, eternal souls. Jesus says, Love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength and love your neighbor as yourself. He also says we are to do unto others as we would have them do to us ... and ... what we do to the least of Christ's brethren we do unto him. If we cut off one of his own, even the least of his own, we are cutting Christ off.

God help us to be found full of mercy, kindness and longsuffering towards our brethren AND our neighbors (which includes our enemies).

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

On Love and Mother Teresa quotes

The further I get in my walk with the Lord the more I see and know that LOVE really is the single most important thing we must have. Without it, all else is in vain.

I will never forget one of the first times I visited a woman in a nursing home ... early 60s, a bright mind, and a body that would not work at all (not even able to talk). Could you imagine? I left there ashamed of my selfishness and knew I had to make a change. I must learn how to love and I prayed God would help me. I believe that over the years he has allowed several trials in my life as an answer to that prayer ... and even though it's been hard to endure sometimes, I know that after everything else burns up, only the gold will remain. Love IS gold. I will gladly take on any trial sent my way, knowing that the dross and scum is being removed.

I will never forget the first book I read from Mother Teresa ... she put me to shame ... yet at the same time she inspired and encouraged me to be a better person. So here now I would like to share several quotes from Mother Teresa. May her words inspire you to love more fully.

“These are the few ways we can practice humility:
To speak as little as possible of one's self.
To mind one's own business.
Not to want to manage other people's affairs.
To avoid curiosity.
To accept contradictions and correction cheerfully.
To pass over the mistakes of others.
To accept insults and injuries.
To accept being slighted, forgotten and disliked.
To be kind and gentle even under provocation.
Never to stand on one's dignity.
To choose always the hardest.”  

“Never be so busy as not to think of others.”

“We do not need guns and bombs to bring peace, we need love and compassion.”  (and may I add that guns and bombs can be figurative too)

“God doesn't ask that we succeed in everything, but that we are faithful. However beautiful our work may be, let us not become attached to it. Always remain prepared to give it up, without losing your peace.”  

“God gives us things to share, God doesn't give us things to hold...”  

“every time you smile at someone, it is an action of love, a gift to that person, a beautiful thing”  

“Today somebody is suffering, today somebody is in the street, today somebody is hungry. ... We have only today to make Jesus known, loved, served, fed, clothed, sheltered. Do not wait for tomorrow. Tomorrow we will not have them if we do not feed them today.”  

“Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.”  

“I am not sure exactly what heaven will be like, but I know that when we die and it comes time for God to judge us, he will not ask, 'How many good things have you done in your life?' rather he will ask, 'How much love did you put into what you did?”  

“Do not think that love in order to be genuine has to be extraordinary. What we need is to love without getting tired. Be faithful in small things because it is in them that your strength lies.”  

“Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless.”

“Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin.”

“Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier. Be the living expression of God's kindness: kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile.”  

“At the end of life we will not be judged by how many diplomas we have received, how much money we have made, how many great things we have done.
We will be judged by "I was hungry, and you gave me something to eat, I was naked and you clothed me. I was homeless, and you took me in.”
“I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.”   
“Live simply so others may simply live.”   
“I can do things you cannot, you can do things I cannot; together we can do great things.”   
“A life not lived for others is not a life.”   
“If you can't feed a hundred people, feed just one.”   
“It is a poverty to decide that a child must die so that you may live as you wish.”   
“I would rather make mistakes in kindness and compassion than work miracles in unkindness and hardness.”   
“Never worry about numbers. Help one person at a time and always start with the person nearest you.”   
“Without patience, we will learn less in life. We will see less. We will feel less. We will hear less. Ironically, rush and more usually mean less.”  
“I pray that you will understand the words of Jesus, “Love one another as I have loved you.” Ask yourself “How has he loved me? Do I really love others in the same way?” Unless this love is among us, we can kill ourselves with work and it will only be work, not love. Work without love is slavery.”
“Intense love does not measure it just gives. ”  
“Love is a fruit in season at all times and within reach of every hand.”  
“Smile at each other. Smile at your wife, smile at your husband, smile at your children, smile at each other- it doesn't matter who it is- and that will help to grow up in greater love for each other.”  
“There are many people who can do big things, but there are very few people who will do the small things.”  
“Go out into the world today and love the people you meet. Let your presence light new light in the hearts of people.”  
“Be happy in the moment, that's enough. Each moment is all we need, not more.”
“Spread love everywhere you go: first of all in your own home. Give love to your children, to your wife or husband, to a next door neighbor . . . Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier. Be the living expression of God's kindness; kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile, kindness in your warm greeting.”  
“It is a kingly act to assist the fallen.”  
“If a mother can kill her own child - what is left for me to kill you and you to kill me - there is nothing between.”  
“There should be less talk; a preaching point is not a meeting point.
What do you do then? Take a broom and clean someone's house.
That says enough.”  
“It is easy to love the people far away. It is not always easy to love those close to us. It is easier to give a cup of rice to relieve hunger than to relieve the loneliness and pain of someone unloved in our own home. Bring love into your home for this is where our love for each other must start.”  
“If I look at the mass I will never act.”  
“I want you to be concerned about your next door neighbor. Do you know your next door neighbor?”  
“When you have nothing left but God,you have more than enough to start over again.”  
“When Mother Teresa received the Nobel Prize, she was asked, "What can we do to promote world peace?" She answered "Go home and love your family.”  
“Holiness does not consist in doing extraordinary things. It consists in accepting, with a smile, what Jesus sends us. It consists in accepting and following the will of God.”  
“‎Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishment.”  
“Christ came to be Father's compassion to the world. Be kind in your actions. Do not think that you are the only one who can do efficient work, work worth showing. This makes you harsh in your judgment of others who may not have the same talents. Do your best and trust that others do their best. And be faithful in small things because it is in them that your strength lies.”  
“There's nothing more calming in difficult moments that knowing there's some one fighting with you.”  
“We learn humility through accepting humiliations cheerfully.”  
“One truly must have suffered oneself to help others.”  
“You can find Calcutta anywhere in the world. You only need two eyes to see. Everywhere in the world there are people that are not loved, people that are not wanted nor desired, people that no one will help, people that are pushed away or forgotten. And this is the greatest poverty.”  
“I have found the paradox that if I love until it hurts, then there is no hurt, but only more love.”  
“If we really want to love we must learn how to forgive.”  (and Christ said, if we do not forgive we will not be forgiven)
“Some people come in our life as blessings. Others come in our life as lessons.”  (which is really a blessing too!)
“I will never understand all the good that a simple smile can accomplish.”  
“I used to pray that God would feed the hungry, or do this or that, but now I pray that he will guide me to do whatever I'm supposed to do, what I can do. I used to pray for answers, but now I'm praying for strength. I used to believe that prayer changes things, but now I know that prayer changes us and we change things.”  
“It is not the magnitude of our actions, but the amount of love that is put into them that matters.”  
“We the willing, led by the unknowing, are doing the impossible for the ungrateful. We have done so much, with so little, for so long, we are now qualified to do anything, with nothing.”  
There are so many more ... but I'll stop now.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

New Family Photo

Been quiet on this blog. So much going on and not really interested in posting here right now. I'll get to it sooner or later though.

It's been about a year since the last family photo so I thought I'd post another.

Brianna, Corban, Me and Tylor