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How We Die – More Important Than Living


Destiny_QuoteWe’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 veterans_funeral_flagyou 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.”

Easter_CrucifixMany 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:

  1. Have we truly accepted Christ as King?
  2. Have we “Chosen Wisely” using our Free Will?
  3. How did we utilize our Time on earth?
  4. Were we motivated in moving toward life or Running Away?
  5. Did we present ourselves to others in an Authentic fashion?
  6. Have we developed a sense of Inner Peace?
  7. How effective were we at dealing with Change?
  8. Were we in a faithful Mental State?
  9. Did we consider the Bigger Picture as we made decisions?
  10. How effectively did we demonstrate Compassion and Love for others?

Judgment_Day_GateAs 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.

 

The Tense of Life – Future Perfect


GearsIndeed, time is a fickle thing, albeit a creation of our feeble human minds as a result of our inability to comprehend and understand the vastness and pervasiveness of God, the Universe and Eternity. Endless phrases have been captured (over time) characterizing and lamenting its stronghold over our human lives:

“Time is of the Essence”

“Can’t seem to find the Time”

“No Time like the present”

“I don’t have Time for this”

“There’s never Time to do it right, but always Time to do it over”

“Time waits for no man”

“Time heals all wounds”

“Use your Time wisely”

“Having the Time of your life”

the_time_machine_large_01In truth, time is but a fabrication and rationalization of our minds in an attempt to avoid confusion and chaos.  Simply, time helps us comprehend our existence within the limits of our knowledge. Now, let’s shift our perspective and view time from a spiritual perspective. As Christians, one of the tenets of our faith is the awareness and acceptance that each of us are born as imperfect beings, having inherited that imperfection as a result of the Original Sin committed by Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. The true beauty of Christianity, however, is that by being born again via Baptism, we are cleansed from sin’s blemish on our soul and are blessed to have the opportunity to live this earthly life in God’s Light, striving to become like Him, understanding that at times, we will falter and sin.  And in the wisdom of our Creator, He provided a mechanism for us to redeem ourselves of sins via repentance, along with his Grace via forgiveness.

“Yes, faith is a peculiar construct, however, those that possess it do not perceive it to be peculiar at all.  For you see, the expectation of faith is the realization that a life lived in God’s Light, following His Word, supported by love, kindness, humility, forgiveness and goodwill/intent, will be rewarded by the Perfect and eternal life in heaven, at some Future moment.”

Paradox_of_TimeThus, the Future Perfect tense of life; My Life.  I have but one breathtaking, awe-inspiring, profound, loving and Blessed word to describe this expectation in my life….  Hallelujah!  Be well my friends. Watch and Listen….  and be brought to tears in the Joy of knowing Christ.  God Bless You.

And for you “boomers”, let’s take a walk back in Time and relive another memory.

And something for the more mellow of us.

Lastly, how much Time do you have left?

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If I Were To Die Today – Living Life in Reverse


sunset_last_day_on_earthLife has a funny way of creating habits, routines and the resulting preoccupation with keeping busy.  We have routines for getting up, getting dressed, getting breakfast, getting to work, getting tasks completed, getting things done.   All this getting, getting, getting, however, is quite in contrast to that of Being.

The primary outcome of the “getting” is simply a preoccupation of our time here in this life; an Oh So Precious (and finite) time.  It is this mindset that inevitably results in the demeanor we subsequently create when there is loss; loss of a job, loss of a possession, but most critically, loss of human life.  We lament at funerals how we need to spend more time “living” and less time spending it on trivial matters.

So, in that light, this author offers an acute illustration of Being; “If I Were To Die Today”.

If I were to die today, I would let every person I meet, know that this life is simply too precious, complex and purposeful to be a cosmic Death_Ascension_Spiritcoincidence or accident.  Rather, it is a preparatory phase toward eternal life, one born of spirit and soul.  Our physical bodies were obviously not intended (by design) to last forever.  Our souls, however, are another story.  Pure energy is maintained eternally, so the key point are the transformations that occur along the way of our eternal existence.  Some call it consciousness.

  • Accordingly, spend more time with those you love, acknowledge the presence of Jesus Christ in your life and never, EVER, be ashamed or afraid to profess your faith;  For it is your spiritual legacy, birthright and destiny.  I refer to it as spiritual maturity.
  • Express your heart’s feelings to those on the receiving end, whether they be friends, neighbors, co-workers, family or role models and mentors.  They need to understand not only who you are, but equally important, who they are because of your presence in the world.  Humanity is but a web of inter-connectedness, an interactive and impactful experience that helps us to define and develop ourselves as eternal beings.  Communication is the vehicle that moves us forward toward realizing our potential as human beings.
  • Behave with intent, purpose and a deliberateness that unequivocally demonstrates your essence for others to witness and be likewise changed.  Help other people whenever you can as it cleanses the soul and elevates your spirit.  Have you ever felt badly after having helped another person?   And in contrast, have you ever felt good as a result of hurting another person?  That is precisely the eternal struggle of Good and Evil.  And, it is as Real as the water in the oceans.
  • Do the things that fuel your passions in life, don’t wait for the bucket to empty itself or be emptied by someone else.  Regularly attend to your “bucket list“.

Headstone_in_MemoryPerhaps most significant, is to leave the world a better place than you found it; by your definition and not by that of anyone else.  Life is to be lived on your terms as opposed to that of any other person(s) or the expectations of society.

If I were to die today, I would be satisfied with my life, sorrowful for any hurt I had caused others, blessed by the presence and guidance of God and most notably, prepared for death’s transformation and passageway into the eternity of tomorrow.  I would gracefully ascend having known I spent every breath of life focused on actualizing my soul.

What would you do if you were to die today?  Be well.

 

A Sensory Encounter with my Book


“Not in Vein”

•••

Miracle within my Soul

 

The Context of eternity

Why?

“You see things; and you say, ‘Why?’  But I dream things that never were; and I say, ‘Why not?’”
George Bernard Shaw

At face value, obsessing about death can be depressing and difficult to contemplate.  Due to our collective ignorance about the definition of life beyond what we know as human beings, we have been conditioned to view death exclusively as an event with no curtain call and a very, very final conclusion.

We have been taught that death is something associated with negativity and painful emotions, primarily as a direct result of focusing on our own sense of self and our needs as human beings.  True enlightenment and one of the secrets to an unwavering faith as well as a belief in salvation is a core mindset that focuses on others, their needs and how each of us can play a part in those lives, not only giving of ourselves, but profoundly, in learning about ourselves.

Unsurprisingly, humans are overwhelmed with their physical senses that condition the mind to be self-centered, and this is fairly understandable, given the minimal and limited knowledge we as human beings have about the ‘bigger picture.’

Taking a different perspective, however and peering deeper into the entire thought process and scenario can provide much needed clarity and motivation.

Once a person is past the point of acknowledging their own mortality and physical boundaries; that is precisely the point where the conversation you have with that person in the mirror, begins to get serious and real about your faith, your spirit and soul, about your fundamental purpose in life;  more importantly, about your eternal life.

Surely, it is the thought of the certainty of that mortality, an inability to change it, and the anxious realization about its inescapable arrival as well as the frustration about not knowing when it will occur, that leads most individuals toward an emphasis on the what and how of everyday life and away from any ongoing or serious contemplation of the realm of eternity.

Prodigiously, my thoughts are then followed by a sensation consumed with fear of the unknown.  And typically at that point of my synapse playing ‘connect the dots’, my deep dive into metaphysics is typically extinguished.

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Please don’t hesitate to Comment below or send me an email with feedback.  I sincerely seek it and need it to improve.  Thank you.

Be well….

Michael

 

Incomprehensible Truths – Reality without Discourse


Like most children in elementary, secondary and high school, most of us were taught to learn, appreciate and recognize facts to explain the world around us, to prove hypotheses and to understand why things work or are the way they are.  We have been conditioned to constantly seek cause/effect relationships, to conduct experiments, look for patterns and document results with the intent to demonstrate mastery over the unknown and likewise serve as examples of discovery.

This factual world we now live in, however, as fervently as it tries, still cannot explain nor comprehend certain “incomprehensible truths” that concretely and unequivocally exist for all to witness without mortal comprehension or explanation.  Yet, as inexplicable as these events are to the human eye, mind and soul, they are profoundly “real”, critically “meaningful” and plainly “revealing” of the degree of Life we know little about, speak constantly to, yet absently avoid seeking to understand.

A dictionary definition of Incomprehensible is: “Incapable of being understood” and “Limitless, Boundless”

Everyday examples of “Incomprehensible Truths”:

  • We’ve all first-person witnessed or heard about an individual on death’s bed or having been given “months to live” as a result of a terminal illness or prognosis.  Yet, against all odds of recovery, miraculously is cured (healed) without explanation, reason or logic.  Prayer is the most plausible explanation followed closely by Divine Intervention.
  • Numerous articles documenting a person that has clinically “died”, many times for a lengthy amount of time that

    Painting copyrighted by Danny Hahlbolm

    reason and logic indicate should result in brain damage, severe complications or death; then, miraculously, has come “back to life”.  Science has no answers, save a miracle.  These experiences are commonly referred to as NDE’s (Near Death Experiences).  In some cases, I’d call them DE’s (Death Experiences).  In all examples, they could realistically represent the eternal life and/or the existence of a soul.

  • Dating back to 330 B.C., Aristotle empirically concluded the Earth was a sphere, however, many other cultures did not truly agree with or support this “theory” until the late 17th century.  Applied Geography and Astronomy were limited in scope, theory and consensus.  Most people and cultures believed, as a result of limited knowledge and science, that the earth was in fact, either a flat disc or surface, resulting in the perceived fear of falling off or sailing off the “edge”.
  • In 1895, Lord Kelvin uttered his now infamous quote, “Heavier-than-Air Flying Machines are Impossible” .  Well, we pretty much know how that story ended… or more appropriately perhaps, began.  Related topics include space flight, “light years”, and the Universe.

All of these examples illustrate the importance and presence of an independent variable, i.e., time.   At the time or era specific to these comprehensions, this mode of thinking was considered an Incomprehensible Truth.  It went without question or challenge that this is simply how the world works or the specific limits of our existence; at the time.  Likewise, each example underscores the need for us to be Bold and question/challenge any or all facets of our life, existence, environment and thought.

In a converse approach, one of my Incomprehensible Truths is that each of us has a soul or spirit, unique as our fingerprint, that inhabits and controls our minds during each of our physical lives.  At the moment of death, the soul separates from the physical body and continues to survive, or more aptly, live on into eternity.  To the primitive limitations of the physical human senses, the separation of body and soul is indiscernible, inexplicable and to many, non-existent.

Out of sight, out of mind, however, has never been one of my mindsets.  Each to their own and mine to me.  I choose to believe in eternal life and a God of Creation as opposed to a singularly mortal or physical existence with a void at the end of it.  That is the beauty of Free Will and the difference between human beings and other life forms.

Excerpt from – Not in Vein


I’d like to share with you another excerpt from my book (work in progress) entitled “Not In Vein”.  The portion below is from Chapter One – The Context of eternity.  Please provide comments and feedback, including suggestions as I need input from others in the process of creating a final product.

Thank you in advance for your help.  I hope it is meaningful to you as well as providing you enjoyable reading.  Be well!

<beginning of excerpt>

The Context of eternity

The Incredible Nature of Life and Death

“Life is eternal, love is immortal and death is only a horizon.  Life is eternal as we move into the light and the horizon is nothing save the limit of our sight.”     Carly Simon

Throughout most of our lives, we subsist in routines that involve and encompass sleeping, eating, working, talking, moving and physical ‘maintenance’.  We have conditioned ourselves to exist in a pseudo ‘auto life’ mode.

For most adults, these activities typically consume in excess of 90% of our time every day.  When you consider the importance of life itself, much less the meaning of life, this leaves the remaining pittance of 10% or 2-3 hours per day at a maximum, to be reserved for introspection and spiritual development.

That very small fragment of existence occupying our lives seems hardly adequate to do any sort of justice to our spiritual being, much less enable its growth.

Certainly, it is time that should be in high demand, well-planned and then deliberately spent contemplating, acknowledging and then, living.

Real life, indeed, is genuinely experienced within those fleeting yet precious moments of excitement, laughter, tears, agony, sadness, gratitude, humility and joy.

When you strip away all the distractions that occupy the vast majority of our time spent living, it is precisely those briefly spent memories of emotions that ultimately transcend our existence on earth, yet continuously shape our thoughts and actions in the here and now.

Strikingly, it is these experiences that create the cherished and meaningful memories that last our lifetime, and then some.

So, why is it then that we spend such a small percentage of our time attending to our emotional and spiritual well-being?

In the big scheme of things, we have allowed ourselves to become very high maintenance and very low introspective creatures that are somewhat easily distracted by our physical senses.  Bachelor Pad, American Idol, Entertainment Weekly, Angry Birds, eBay, Facebook and Twitter; need I say more?

< end of excerpt>

The Blurring of America – Technology Bends Reality


If someone were to ask you what is the temperature outside today, you’d likely look for the answer on your radio, television, computer, smartphone or the thermometer hanging outside your kitchen window.  And chances are that most, if not all of these sources would be identical or very close to each other.

When you really think about it, however, each of these historically referenced sources rely on technology or something made by humans to provide information; and answers.  The fact is, that we (humans) create or fabricate literally everything in our world that we consider ‘real’.

Using our core senses (see, hear, smell, touch and taste), we fabricate the experience of the world and environment around us.  Our mind interprets and transforms the information from our physical senses into meaningful and understandable thoughts we then use to generate behavior and reaction to stimuli.

How do we truly ‘know’, however, whether the information we have come to be very, very dependent upon, is in reality, accurate?  The truth of the matter is that we do not know, yet we accept the information as being correct.  And herein, lies the foundation of the ‘blurring’ down of our society.

Every aspect of our lives is impacted, whether it be our jobs, our family, our relationships and profoundly… our future.

When you go to the theater today or play a movie from a DVD, you witness modern technology in all its grandeur, from Avalon, Inception and the Avengers, to E.T., Star Wars and Independence Day.  Contemporary advancements in 3D technology make each experience all the more ‘real’.

And it doesn’t end there; programs like Photoshop and Magix provide the capability to warp or bend reality into something out of the depths of our imagination and make it appear ‘real’.   Teen Vogue and Seventeen Magazines were recently in the news addressing accusations from models to stop ‘photo-shopping’ images of subjects in their magazine to make them slimmer, visually more appealing and well, near flawless.  Is this reality?

Click Me!

Another example of the blurring of America is the current political climate amidst the competition for the next President of the United States that will be elected in less than four months.  Not only is reality being challenged by adverse television advertising by the candidates, but also by the recent hoopla over the digital ‘Birth Certificate’ of our current president.

And  if that isn’t enough to cause you to bang your head repeatedly against the wall, then the major television networks (ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN) have provided blurring nirvana as a result of the spin they place on political stories of the candidates as well as what stories (they call it News) they decide to cover and what they choose to avoid or overlook in support of their desired political preference.

Artificial Intelligence has become the most blatant and best example of an oxymoron since Jumbo Shrimp.  Today’s world is fast becoming an alternate reality via video games, android robots, animated movies, diet food and artificial leather.  Our lives now better resemble a fiction novel than true living.

You might ask, what is the purpose of life, then?  More importantly, what is the value of life?   ‘We’ can now create new realities via cloning sheep and dogs, growing artificial human organs, generating or reproducing bacteria for study and producing entertainment that can effectively replace what used to be called ‘reality’.

Click Me!

There is one surefire approach to truth and reality in its empirical form and it exists inside each of us.  Call it your spirit, soul or conscience; it remains the one and only thing in this world that cannot be fabricated or artificially reproduced.   Accordingly, it is the one thing that each of us must cherish more than our physical life as it transcends us into eternity.

Following, the most visible and meaningful manifestation of our spirit or soul, certainly the one way we can best relate to eternity is Love.  Expressing it, experiencing it, sharing it, teaching it, living it, losing it and accepting it are the keys to maintaining a focus on what is real and what is not, along with what is important and what is not.

Rest assured, what is real is what is in your heart and your soul.  Technology is a cheap, insincere and temporary illusion.

Live well, Love well, Think well, Be well.

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