Category Archives: Faith
You and I share this planet with 7.3 Billion other human beings. And as much as we generally appear similar, we are equally unique, by DNA, by fingerprint, by voice, by life experience; and by our soul.
When we say “I am”, we are sharing our thoughts as of a particular moment. The very nature of the phrase “I am” implies a sense of purpose, of being, and of value. Yet, most of us struggle mightily when we dive deep into understanding or examining our personal journey in life.
And unsurprisingly, each of us has most likely encountered moments of extreme happiness, sadness, anger, pain, despair, love, abandonment and wonder. As human beings, you see, we are physiologically comprised of matter; matter that somehow combined to provide us sensory organs. We see, hear, touch, smell and taste. And incredibly, we Think.
At an atomic level, we are marvelously complex organisms… Yes, like viruses, only a bit more cultured. And our average lifespan varies between 75 and 100 years, impacted of course, by our environment, genetics, lifestyle and oh yes, our disposition.
One might surmise that we can largely influence our own lives as a result of our powerful senses, ability to communicate, anticipate, plan and learn. Yet, so many of us flounder in life, make mistakes, fail to learn and come to believe we have little or no value to mankind.
The truth of the matter, however, is that the chances of merely existing in this world, absent of an important purpose, are near 100% likelihood. That is, of course, unless we have discovered not only the self, but also the true source of our being, our essence and our destiny.
There is only One true source that can say “I am” with 100% certainty, and that my friends, is God. For God, is the Supreme Being, the one who created all things, is omniscient, breathes life into each of us, and without question, loves us as a parent loves each of their children.
“There is a vast portion of this world and universe that remains unknown, not only as a result of our cognitive limitations as human beings, but also, deliberately, by design. The foundation of faith is believing without seeing; translated, without knowing. We have been provided with just enough knowledge about our life, planet, environment and self to be able to recognize that there is so much more to life, yet to be known, understood, appreciated and revered.”
The stark reality of a higher power is deafening, yet many of us refuse to acknowledge it’s existence, or more aptly phrased, His existence. We spend precious little time in our conscious lives contemplating, acknowledging, developing and leveraging this power, known as God.
Like every penny minted, however, I firmly believe, “In God We Trust”. Be well.
“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
As human beings, we are obsessed and preoccupied with materialistic things; it’s just unavoidable as it reflects the essence of who we are, sensory beings. It is said that to a boy with a hammer, everything he encounters needs fixing. And so it is with you and me; we exist by digesting the world through our senses, yet once ingested, that input is manipulated, analyzed, processed and output as thoughts, emotions, attitudes, behaviors, and values.
And the irony of it all is that the physical presence each of us creates in the world, is a product or collective result of all that intangible, untouchable, immaterial, yet very real sensory input that our minds (and hearts) filter and shape into what makes each of us so unique in this world; our Spirit.
“Many individuals fail to connect the dots, in that they believe who they are is determined by what they do, rather than the values they hold, the beliefs they form and the future they create. It’s like swimming in a pool and never knowing what you are, much less, what direction you are pointed and where you are going.”
Indeed, Choice breeds Optimism, Confidence, Productivity, Morale, and reduces Anxiety. Choice, or shall I say, Free Will, is a fundamental construct created by God to empower us to rationally decide whether we wish to follow Him.
It’s about the connection, the relationship, the desire, the attitude, the commitment and the future. Faith breeds momentum, in that it reinforces a consistent approach and response to the world around us.
Free Will is as much associated with Decision making as our Creation is to Intelligent Design, or what I like to call, Deliberate Design. Life with a Purpose; a purpose We Choose. What a concept!
There are numerous examples of Racing and each has its own domain and range. NASCAR, Marathon Running, World Cup Sailing, Tour De France Bicycle, Olympic Swimming, and more. None, however, are more striking nor more important, than the Race against Time.
In any race, one must consider the length, the duration, obstacles, requirements (rules), anticipated problem
s, physical requirements and environment, goal… And then, as a “Racer”, you must perform, survive obstacles… and lastly, Finish the Race.
“Throughout the Race (aka Your Life), you will need to manage change(s), some planned, others unplanned, some positive, others not so much. The extent to which you are effective and successful in dealing with change and in adapting to loss, to a large degree, will determine how rich and abundant your life becomes.”
And, with any race, who you have in your “pit crew” largely impacts the outcome of the race. Let it be known we are in this race together, to be interdependent, to love, sacrifice, suffer, support, and Help each other.
So, who do want in your crew and how do you select them? Skill, Experience, Familiarity, Knowledge… Shared Values? Secondly, what kind of dynamic(s) do you want to create within your team? Conformity, Creativity, Commitment, Compassion, Character, Charisma? Rest assured, designing, recruiting, creating and then, managing your team is no task to be taken lightly.
To be sure, books have been written on each of these important questions and issues; Change, Values, Teams, Racing, Group Dynamics, Values…. Without question, Life is complicated, yes? So, be very focused and dedicated to living your life with the intent to “go the distance”, to be “true to your heart”, to leverage the gifts God has given you, and ultimately, to reach your destination… On your terms, following your heart, listening to your conscience, living your dream.
The favorite class of my entire high school experience was Geometry. I still love the shapes, the symmetry, the balance, the beauty, the complexity and the real world applications; indeed, the real world implications.
Geometry, as a subset of Math, is predictable, in that there exists a defined and disciplined cause/effect relationship inherent in its manifestation within our world. In contrast, Faith and/or belief in God, may at times, appear unpredictable, from our myopic and grossly limited view as human beings. Therein lies the paradox.
As much as I admit I am unaware about God’s thoughts, other than I believe He is indeed
Real and has dominion over all dimensions of being, I firmly believe that there is as much predictability about God as there is with Geometry. It is very important to note that acknowledging the predictability of God does not require complete or intimate understanding of Him or comprehension of His nature.
In terms of this world, you and I exist and function in a primarily horizontal plane, specific to relationships, communication, interactions and knowledge. From a spiritual perspective, however, any/all interactions, communication, etc., with God or involving our faith, predictably exist largely in a vertical plane, i.e., “God on Most High”.
“The ability to think vertically in a horiontal world is what sets individuals apart from others, from the aspect of being able to get a sense of the “Bigger Picture” and better understanding cause and effect events in our lives and of those around us. It’s almost like observing the world through perfect vision, seeing the lines that connect the dots of seemingly disparate events, when everyone else is viewing it using fuzzy, out of focus sight.”
Without question, faith and an unwavering belief in, and reverence for, God, is the catalyst enabling that ability. And like any skill, with continued practice or use, it is refined.
So how, then, does faith work to sharpen or transform our senses? I believe that faith, in practice, minimizes distractions in the world, sets and clarifies life priorities, focuses our efforts toward clear goals, fertilizes our relationships and interactions with others, and attunes our minds to be in better harmony with God’s Will.
As imperfect beings, and as sinners, each of us were born at a great distance from God’s Will. As Christians, we are taught, and slowly learn, to shape our lives in such a way that we become more like God as we grow. As we succeed; as we stumble; as we repent and as we pray, our spiritual maturity develops within us as our physical bodies develop externally; bringing us closer to God.
And the critical points to remain focused on are that we must:
- Never waver in our beliefs
- Constantly remind ourselves of our goals
- Regularly evaluate our lives
- Identify areas to improve
- Followup with appropriate actions, and
- Remain humble in our approach
These guidelines have and will define you and I as Christians and as worthy of God’s Mercy and Grace.
“To thine own self be true, And it must follow, as the night the day, Thou canst not then be false to any man.” – Shakespeare
Electricity has always fascinated me as a concept. In truth, it has empowered me directly while teaching me respect for it, along with a good dose of humility. My perception of electricity is that of a formidable force of unbridled power and a silent master.
And as human civilization has harnessed electricity to create unfathomable applications and outcomes, you and I can equally harness our faith to create unimaginable yet incredible futures. Indeed, from a bolt of lightning in the sky, we have managed to transform it into light, heat, coolness, stored energy, movement, communication and intelligence.
Similarly, we have the ability, dare I say, power, to transform our faith into actionable living, yielding real life outcomes and consequences. Yes, we are the switch!
One might ask, “What are the possible outcomes of faith?” and “How do I go about pursuing them?” The answer to both questions begins and ends with one question; “Do You Believe?”
If your answer is “Yes”, you have already mastered the most difficult aspect of this concept. Conversely, if your answer is “No”, I will challenge you that subconsciously, your real answer is “Not Yet”.
Like electricity, every physical aspect of our existence and being on Earth, must conform to a simple construct specific to energy, i.e., Every action has an equal and opposite reaction. Simply stated, this means that because everything in our world is fundamentally energy, the Law of Physics states that energy is never lost, but rather, transformed into other energy, water boils and becomes vapor, food is ingested and becomes muscle and body mass, thoughts transform into action… and prayers are answered and manifested in numerous ways in our lives.
“Unlike electricity, however, faith is a conditional construct. And that is, faith depends upon our Will to enact it. Faith triggers real life events to occur. People are saved from tragedy, opportunities materialize, sickness can be healed and reconciliation between people is made possible. An essential aspect of faith that many people overlook or do not acknowledge, is that God acts within His own timeline, not ours. He responds to us in many ways, some being unexpected or misunderstood, because we do not share His thinking, logic, or plan.”
The real Power of faith is in knowing that we have influence upon the world, other people, and events; and that God is a Loving and Caring Being, and will eternally be just, compassionate and responsive to our communication. All we need to do is simply Believe.
As a Believer, I want; truthfully, I need, to learn more, to better understand, and to guide my actions as I implement my being as a Christian… as a Believer. Accordingly, I read the Bible, I share my thoughts with others and I collectively worship God with other believers. I observe my world and I sincerely offer help to others in the interest of making it a better place. I refer to “Prayer” as the First Amendment of the Soul, and I will always choose to Believe, to be Thankful and to seek to Help others. I invite you to come and join me.
Seriously, would you rather be an atheist and die, only to learn that God is Real; or would you rather be a Believer and die, only to learn that God did not exist? Which path has minimal risk and maximum reward? Which then, do you choose?
Within the annals of history, rest countless examples of misperception, altered reality, confusion and wonderment. Some perhaps steeped in deception, others in amazement and a sense of incomprehensibility. Indeed, Genius, dare I say, Divinity, is the product of pragmatism clothed in unspeakable Beauty.
“And so it is with regard to many things spiritual. The simple life yields immeasurable fulfillment, wonder and gratitude. Darkness (Sin) gives way to Light, Mortality to Eternity and Minutia to the Grandiose. Our world is one of contrast, oxymorons, context and perspective.”
Jesus Christ died so we may live, not only in the flesh, but most importantly, in the Spirit. Amen! The Bible teaches us that Sacrifice leads to Fulfillment, Suffering to Glory, and Patience to Reward. And in many ways, along the journey of our life, we are endowed with glimpses of our Creator’s work. If we are wise, we must first recognize His Hand, but then, firmly sieze the moment to completely and fully appreciate those experiences as they occur.
As Christ’s Resurrection perfected His sacrificial life (body), the Sun emulates His power, glory, warmth, protection and Path. At most times too bright to extend direct sight, the sun (and the Son) offers us mortal souls the distinct privilege and opportunity to relish and cherish a Transfigured Vision of this Power; the Moon Shadow.
For as the Moon only reflects the Sun’s Light; the Son only reflects the Light of the Father. And accordingly, each of us likewise has the potential to reflect the Goodness and Greatness of God. Yet, as difficult as it can many times be, that potential is only realized as a by-product of a humble and contrite Heart Imbued with pure Intent, one that is emblazoned with Enthusiasm, Gratitude and Spirit, and lastly, guided by Wisdom, Prayer, Determination and sheer Will.
The Good News, is that it is entirely “worth the trip” and exclusively within our own will to accomplish. Do not be deterred, timid or hesitant to claim that which is yours and guaranteed by Christ Himself. Behold the Moon Shadow in all its Glory, for it represents the tranquil spirit within us that has the potential to unleash immeasurable power to calm the chaotic nature of life.
Light of the World, Shine on Me, Love is the Answer. God Bless You.
In today’s world, we are bombarded with information; sounds of music, flashes of light and color, fluid motion, visions of warm tropical places, imagery of goals worth achieving, memories of childhoods past, scenarios of futures awaiting, temporal aspects of life, emotions and frame of mind, outcomes of poor decisions, rewards for a humble life. Indeed, all these sensical stimuli invigorate our thoughts, sway our judgment and populate our mind. Critically, they feed our soul.
And at our core, that which supports all the processing and analysis of this information is what I prefer to call, “The Voice that Matters“. This voice is silent, yet dominates and influences our actions via our thoughts. This voice formulates our opinions, guides our lives and determines our future.
But just what is this voice, where did it come from and why does it speak in silence? At the foundation of our being, we are creatures of free will; possessing the ability to think, reason, make judgments, form opinions, reach decisions and implement actions. The image of the proverbial angel and devil on our shoulders is so apropos.
Still, others identify this voice as our conscience. And it can manifest itself in our minds as darkness, solitude, light, echoes, angels, demons, perhaps parents, a friend or a person from our past. Regardless of form, this force of energy materializes whenever we are presented with multiple paths for decision or action.
And truly, this voice does matter, as our lives are impacted as a result of our thoughts and actions. Rest assured, we are never alone, yet at times, the world certainly can make us feel that way.
“To the degree we acknowledge, trust, leverage and listen to the voice that matters, our lives can be enriched and stretched or constrained and limited. Even more paradoxical is the revelation that it is our own doing that ultimately directs or creates our future. We are not soulless victims, but rather, energized gladiators. Life is not a matter of chance, but of choice”.
Morality, norms, spirituality, integrity and intuition, all feed our internal voice like an engine of sorts, powering our thoughts, guiding our actions and monitoring our behaviors, setting our path forward. Each of us has multiple futures, determined by the choices we make in life.
The quality of our being is in large part, determined by our resilience in resisting temptation, our resolve to reach and implement moral behaviors, our commitment to authenticity and our willingness to embrace and acknowledge God in our lives.
The real question is which words will you talk… Which path will you walk? Can you hear the sound of silence?
Hello darkness, my old friend
I’ve come to talk with you again
Because a vision softly creeping
Left its seeds while I was sleeping
And the vision that was planted in my brain
Within the sound of silence
In restless dreams I walked alone
Narrow streets of cobblestone
‘Neath the halo of a street lamp
I turned my collar to the cold and damp
When my eyes were stabbed by the flash of a neon light
That split the night
And touched the sound of silence
And in the naked light I saw
Ten thousand people, maybe more
People talking without speaking
People hearing without listening
People writing songs that voices never share
And no one dared
Disturb the sound of silence
Fools, said I, you do not know
Silence like a cancer grows
Hear my words that I might teach you
Take my arms that I might reach you
But my words, like silent raindrops fell
And echoed in the wells of silence
And the people bowed and prayed
To the neon god they made
And the sign flashed out its warning
In the words that it was forming
And the sign said, the words of the prophets are written on the subway walls
And tenement halls
And whispered in the sounds of silence
As the seasons echo changes in our physical world, so too, does age mimic the passing of time. In an eerrily similar fashion, Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter parallel our human life’s transformation of Child, Adolescent, Adult and Elder.
Without question, both transformations represent distinct, yet related stages or phases of growth, in the physical sense, and yes, also in the metaphysical sense. A cursory glance of each cycle could easily end purely on the visisble and tactile plane, yet, when examined at a more subterranean level, multiple layers of context bubble up to the surface. Emotional, Psychological, Spiritual and Cognitive strata collectively define our being as individuals.
And as surely as the seasons elicit deep understanding, wonder, amazement and respect, so should life… So MUST life.
As we (individuals) progress through life, knowledge is learned, experience is gained, values are formed and reinforced, behavior is exhibited, relationships are made and developed, and most importantly, wisdom is attained as a collective result. Truly, wisdom is underrated in life.
Indeed, as your children grow as children of God, they are as sponges in the ocean to your lead and example as parents and responsible adults. Your words and actions, your compassion, your discipline, your teaching, your Love…. blend a message your children directly and subliminally receive and absorb.
“Yet, inasmuch as this environment contributes to our development as human beings, it is unmistakably guided by each person’s free will, choices and decisions. Our life plays out at the intersection of responsibility and accountability. Indeed, actions have consequences”.
And then… physical maturity catches us from behind and prevents us from returning to our youth. Many perceive this “fact of life” to be madddening, frightening, horrifying and just downright abhorable. Yet, the other side of the coin has a redeeming merit; for it represents the shadows, profile and characteristics of everything we desire to share with others… and that is Wisdom.
So, parents and seasoned humans skilled in the profession of “life”, take stock in the beauty that is wisdom; Adolescent and Adult sons and daughters, take value in the beauty of your parents and elders, for they are a rich and robust source of wisdom. As they age and their physical acuity begins to fade, never forget the tremendous insight they have about life. Their life experiences may not even be known to you, yet assuredly, they suffered, they rejoiced, they learned valuable life lessons and they simply want to share this wisdom with you because they Love you. Moreover, they possess the unique ability to package, customize and deliver that wisdom about many facets of life to you; if only you allow yourself to be open, receptive and appreciative of it.
“When I was a boy of fourteen, my old man was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have him around; but by the time I became twenty one, I was amazed at how much he had learned in seven years.”
– Mark Twain
If I’ve learned one thing in my life, it’s that even though my relationship with my dad was rocky at times, I learned a tremendous amount about life and living from him in a relatively short period of time; about self-respect, compassion, focus, humility, and excellence, along with a few things not to do. And from my mom, I learned the gentleness, tolerance, caring and duty to family that is required to achieve spiritual maturity.
Photo Credit: A.F. Bradley in his Studio
Above all, however, I would give my right arm, yes, even more, to be able to see my parents again and be able to sit down and talk with them about many things; and to thank them for loving me in their own way, for working hard to raise me and my family, for demonstrating by their actions, the reality, truth and grace of God, and to tell them that I love them deeply… For my soul is Saved in large part because of their love for me.
“Don’t worry that children never listen to you; worry that they are always watching you.”
– Robert Fulghum
Yet there comes a time in each of our lives when we reach a plateau of sorts that represents a plane of existence, comprising our ideals, core values, fervent beliefs and yes, religious and political advocacy. You may reach the plateau at any age, however, typically, and more often than not, it will be some time after you’re out of the K-12 school system.
“Truly, it is completely normal and entirely expected that we will (and should) be challenged about our beliefs, for it is in these “Moments of Truth” when we learn more about who are; as sons and daughters, as husbands and wives, as mothers and fathers… most importantly, as spiritual beings. For if our beliefs are never or seldom challenged, we lose focus, motivation, self-awareness and yes, direction in our lives.”
And without question, my childhood was no exception. Born and raised a Catholic, I regularly attended church, was educated for five years in a Parochial elementary school, served as an Altar Boy, learned the Mass in Latin, and of course, was instructed in the constructs, requirements, expectations and directives of living as a Catholic.
I began to seriously question, for lack of a better word, the validity of Catholicism as contrasted to other “alternatives” within the Grand scheme of the world, even universe. Keeping in mind this is MY personal journey; upon inquiry, discussion, research and comparison, the Catholic Religion emphasized an inordinately large amount on finances/”dues”, spent an equally small amount of time on the Bible, and ubiquitously created the mental hierarchy of Church, Priest, Catholicism and lastly, Jesus Christ (in that order). Needless to say, this troubled me in a deep and huge way.
And then, I began to read the Bible on my own. I began to personally experience Jesus Christ in the most wholesome, reverent and meaningful way, like I had never envisioned before. It was as if I had just discovered that Santa Claus (Catholic Church) was not the real deal. It caused me to feel betrayed, angered, frightened and anxious about my future. In short, it challenged my core values to the point of nearly destroying my sense of self, value and being.
I have always been, and am, however, a Survivor. Throughout my life, I’ve trusted my instincts and my gut, to analyze, make decisions and move forward in my mortal journey. Truthfully, my transformation from Catholicism to Christianity occurred well into my 30’s, as it simply took my faith that long to mature. And I remain confident in my path, who I am, who is Jesus Christ, what our relationship has become, and what my expectations are of myself to effectively and successfully live life as a Christian and Child of God.
Am I perfect? HARDLY. I struggle, like everyone else, with the sins of humanity. Yet, that realization does not hinder nor prevent me from striving with every breath I take, to live my life in His image. Do I have guilt as a father for not having done a better “job” raising my children as Christians? EVERY DAY. Yet, that reality, when examined, yields the conclusion and belief that every human being has a Free Will and uses it to form their own thoughts, make their own decisions, create their own behaviors, future and certainly, their personal accountability for their life.
As a father, I provided the toolbox and attempted to teach my children (and myself) how to use the tools of life; compassion, integrity, accountability, motivation, enthusiasm, reverence, humility and forgiveness. Now, it is their choice which tools to use and how to use them; or whether to use them.
Does the Catholic Church serve a purpose? Absolutely, as a resource about Jesus Christ, history, self-discipline and community. My most trusted reference, however, is the Bible, for it represents the unequivocal “Word of God” and when viewed holistically, is the ultimate Book of Life.
I am a Christian and I live to become exclusively like Jesus Christ. There is no other. I humbly ask that you pray for me as a Christian to continue down the righteous path. God Bless You all in finding yourself; in finding Peace, Love, Joy; in finding your Savior and Salvation. There is definitely something in the water. Be well.
We’ve all heard about and perhaps have even read books about the grand nature of life, e.g., “The Purpose Driven Life“, by Rick Warren; “Chicken Soup for the Soul“, by Jack Canfield; “Heaven is for Real“, by Todd Burpo and Lynn Vincent, and “The Last Lecture“, by Randy Pausch.
Books like these, present us with an opportunity to change or better comprehend our perspectives about the significance of (our) life, perhaps a deeper meaning or connection with our spirit and overwhelmingly, insight into our human nature. They are, without question, all great reads.
What if I told you, however, that how we die is more important than how we live? Would you immediately disagree? How could this be true? Isn’t death an ending? Why focus on the negative?
Certainly, these are all relevant and valid questions or thoughts about something we know precious little about, yes? Yet, if one views life as an accumulation of knowledge, experience, wisdom and dare I say, faith; well, now you know the purpose of this discussion.
“Have you ever uttered that age-old phrase, “If I had known then what I know now…”? Trust me , you’re not alone. The essence of that quip, is that living life yields much insight into ourselves, our situation, our environment, and the world, as it relates to people and relationships.”
Many factors intertwine to make us who we are today. Among them, our childhood, the location(s) we’ve resided, family, friends, education, information about the world, events, and especially our faith.
I’ve assembled a punch list of 10 factors that influence just how prepared we will be when we die. Prepared, you might ask? For what? Well, prepared for what follows our death, of course. The following net outcomes at the time of our death largely determine our path forward:
- Have we truly accepted Christ as King?
- Have we “Chosen Wisely” using our Free Will?
- How did we utilize our Time on earth?
- Were we motivated in moving toward life or Running Away?
- Did we present ourselves to others in an Authentic fashion?
- Have we developed a sense of Inner Peace?
- How effective were we at dealing with Change?
- Were we in a faithful Mental State?
- Did we consider the Bigger Picture as we made decisions?
- How effectively did we demonstrate Compassion and Love for others?
As evidenced above, when we die is truly irrelevant in the Grand Scheme of our Eternal Existence. The things we accumulated during our lives are likewise meaningless as they remain behind in their entirety.
What matters, when our physical life is distilled, is how prepared were we to die all along the way. Collectively, our priorities, values, mindset and intent represent the bellwether of how we are to be judged, held accountable and projected forward into eternity.