Searching for answers is rarely easy and the most frequent mistake people make is looking outward and focusing on the external environment. To really get to the bottom of meaningful questions and problems, the Secret is to look within yourself, your core values and your relationships.
- Forget Webster’s, for words are but vehicles
- Forget Funk and Wagnalls, for it is but an interpretation
- Forget Google, Yahoo and Bing, for they exist only on a screen
Instead, step back and away from the world, eliminate all distractions, and examine your heart. Call it intent, purpose, commitment or conscience, the answer to every question we have in our life resides in our heart.
And the reason that is true is because there is no one else like you. You were created as a result of the sheer Will of God. Many people confuse biological birth with the true meaning of life. Indeed, we focus on the mechanics of things and largely ignore the why, the role, the significance, and the vision.
Christianity is very much the same. We are inundated with rules, protocol, history and obligation, yet the essence of Christianity is being aware of, and consciously deciding, what is in our heart. Christianity is a feeling.
Indeed, Religion vs Christianity is much like the difference between the Reference Manual for an airplane as opposed to actually flying it in the air! The Word of God is a Living, Breathing, Conscious Way of Life, not a book, a building or a regularly scheduled worship. And that’s How I’ll Always Be…
“Church is a moment and expression of reflection, prayer, repentance, forgiveness; a belief in and a feeling of love in your heart…. THAT; is Church. Just as God’s existence is not bounded by space, time or matter; our ability to communicate, worship and express our love for and with Him is likewise limitless and without confine.”
This video will be the BEST two minutes of your day!
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?
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
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.
Although each of us is born of DNA, snippets of our parent’s tendencies and that red liquid coursing through our veins, we also create our environment with our thoughts, ideas and reactions that collectively comprise our experiences, personality and the essence of our individuality and being. Hidden in the depths of our sub-conscious, lie our fears, joys, loves and regrets, along with the complete set of our core values and beliefs.
Many of these “tucked away” emotions and navigational guideposts steer us on a day to day basis, yet we remain somewhat unaware of their subconscious influence upon our lives. And so it is with food, dress, relationships; and faith. And although the strongest of these morally magnetic influences is faith, as humans, we overwhelmingly have the most difficult time expressing, even sharing our museum of faith that is ordered and stored in our minds much like books in a library.
Yes, the magic of life itself remains hidden within our minds, along with everything that defines who we are, what we believe and why we behave, think and make decisions the way we do. Many times it is safety and security that convinces us to refrain from sharing our selves with others, while at other times it can be ego, pride and self-expression that pushes us to let others know equally defining aspects of ourselves.
“As music is encrypted upon a CD or stored on the hard drive within our computer, it is conspicuously silent and unknown unless played and shared with others. In essence, it does not exist unless it is shared. And in a parallel fashion, our faith, beliefs and Christianity remain largely unknown and non-existent, unless we make a concerted and deliberate effort to communicate and share them with others; through our words, through our Actions, and as witnessed by our lives”.
It is human nature to judge others by their looks, words, body language and behaviors, along with how they interact and relate to others. This tendency to judge is a largely, mutually occurring phenomenon, i.e., it is happening all the time and all around, and to us. It is as breathing; an involuntary response to ensure our survival.
And so it seems, in this day and age of global strife, we are being coerced into “survival mode” by external forces. Accordingly, we are being awakened to a degree by that little voice inside us that is screaming to protect ourselves, to protect others and to raise the veil of our faith, exposing it for the world to see, by our actions.
And make no mistake, “In the middle of difficulty, lies opportunity” (Albert Einstein). Indeed, it is incumbent upon each of us to not only acknowledge our values, beliefs and faith, but moreover, to have the courage and character to defend them when under scrutiny or worse, attack. Take the risk, remain focused and Play the Tune, people, albeit at times a bittersweet symphony, lest we wither away into non-existence.
I’ve wondered many times when I was a child, what life would be like when I was an adult; a husband; a father. My imagination would conjure up visions of a burly man, physically fit, yet understanding, compassionate and loving. I would shudder at the thought of the tremendous responsibility of marriage, and even more, of fatherhood. The mere thought of this “serious” future that awaited me would quickly bring me back to reality; the reality of an eight-year-old boy at the precipice of manhood, or so I thought.
My journey was far from over, yet I have always been able to visualize it, almost touch it. Growing up in a small town afforded much of the quality of life that people today cherish and search for when raising a family. Surely, it lacked in cultural variety and experience, yet it grounded me in a forged way that would serve me well in my life ahead.
“Like most other boys growing up in the 60’s, there was beer, a bit of cursing, plenty of outdoor sports, bikes to ride, movies to see and girls to gawk. And these things were indeed memorable, yet in my family, one thing trumped them all and that was Church on Sunday.”
At the time, even being an altar boy, I missed much of the essence of what having faith is all about. Perhaps it was mired in the overtures of the Catholic Church financial bulletins, where your family name was used as a club by disclosing your contributions. Perhaps it was overshadowed by the procedure, rigidity and absence of emotion by the clergy. Perhaps it was a victim of an emphasis on Catholicism and not of Jesus Christ and the Bible. But it was there to be discovered, experienced and revered, nonetheless.
I’ve always been one to pray, heavily in times of “need”, but also in times of blessing, bounty and benefit. And even though every child, adult and Catholic saw the same crucifix and Jesus, my Jesus was special because He spoke and listened to me.
In all my years, I’ve yet to be disappointed, angered or spiteful by my Jesus Christ. For even though my prayers weren’t always answered in MY timeframe, I accepted whatever response I received from my Jesus Christ, because I knew he was Almighty, Omnipotent and Kind. That faith, attitude or core value system has saved my life many times; from preventing me from making mistakes, to my physical safety to being the recipient of good things happening to me as a result of my “choices”.
You see, each of us must find our own path, one bridled in our own sense of morality, and bounded by God’s grace. A path only limited by our imagination. I simply can’t imagine living a worthwhile life without the guidance, feedback and love of God. I know not everyone shares that same belief, and that is ok, for the essence of our being is that of choice. To a degree, we create our own future by the choices we make. And for me, what better resource could one have, than Jesus Christ as your mentor, friend, Master and Creator?
As it was for me and as it will continue, when in doubt, I’ll follow the Son. It’s a highly personal matter and it will remain that way. Be well and choose wisely. God Bless you.
Over the past several years, there has been an increasingly vocal “voice” across the web and in the media regarding the importance of the United States Constitution, specifically, the Second Amendment. For those unfamiliar with the Constitution, the Second Amendment represents the Right of American citizens to “Keep and Bear Arms” and likewise, protect your physical body from injury and/or violence.
“In much the same fashion, and in light of similar attacks upon Christianity, I offer that there is also a Second Amendment of the Soul, which acknowledges that every human being has the Right to ‘Keep and Bear Faith’ in an unencumbered fashion, and to protect their Spiritual Body against a Tyrannical Government, Society and Evil forces.”
Throughout time, Christianity has been persecuted by others, out of hate, jealousy, contempt or fear. People are largely uncomfortable addressing subjects and issues they can not touch, directly see or explain. Faith is a very personal subject and indeed, many do not even possess a complete awareness of their own beliefs about it.
Yet, as difficult as it is to contemplate faith, eternal life, and an omnipotent God, it is likewise critically important for all of us to come to grips with it at a personal level. Self-awareness refines and strengthens our core values and beliefs and subsequently, reflects in our thoughts, actions and behaviors with and toward others.
Some of us prefer to deal with faith in a “concealed carry” fashion, holding it ever so closely within our hearts and resisting, even avoiding discussion or dialogue about it with others. And for many others, we willfully choose to “open carry” our faith for all to see.
Regardless, however, of the method we manage our faith, one thing is certain; each of us has the God-given right to believe and practice whatever faith we choose/commit our lives to witness, so long as doing that does not harm others or adversely impact the world around us.
Protection of our faith, at all costs, is an unalienable right, and must be treated as such. Faith defines much more than the book we read, the worship location we attend and the behaviors we choose to exhibit. Faith encompasses our very reason for existence, our foundational values as human beings and our being into the future; as in eternal life.
Personally, both the (physical) constitutional Second Amendment and the (spiritual) Second Amendment of the Soul represent my most empirical philosophy of life and accordingly, receive my utmost attention regarding my life and how I choose to live it in this world.
As Alexander Hamilton so succinctly stated, “If you don’t stand for something, you will fall for anything”. I prefer to stand and determine my own future in this world, guided by God, while preparing for the next life, following my faith as a Christian.
Bottom line, Government and Faith are Inextricably Intertwined… And logic dictates that the basis of Law must be Morality… and the basis of Morality is Faith in God’s Law.