Change is good. Everyone has something about themselves that they dislike. I for one, have at least two...or more things I would like to alter or completely eliminate from my life. Change is painful. The problem of making those changes we think are necessary is that it takes effort, perserverance, and some dedication. Nothing in life that has value will come easily. The truth is, we make even the smallest of things difficult. Giving ourselves to 24 hours toward making the changes we want can actually be the step needed to remove the impossibilities that hamper our metamorphosis. Change is good, change is painful, change is possible.
Always remember that the future comes one day at a time. Dean Acheson
Change brings opportunity. Nido Qubein
What do you want to change? If you want to change anything about you, you must remember that it takes time.A person wanting to lose weight knows they will not lose the weight they desire to lose overnite. It took time to put weight on, it takes time to remove it. So how does 24 hrs sound. You can lose the weight you want, no matter how much, in 24 hrs...really, you can. Not through surgery, nothing like that. Maybe you want to change being a procrastinator, or be a better person, or help others more often, or spend more quality time with the kids...all you need is 24 hrs! Christians often say, I want to pray and read the Bible more, homeowners want to get household projects done, others desire to make calls and write letters to dear friends they haven't seen in years...in 24 hrs you can do it all!
Change before you have to. Jack Welch
Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing themselves. Leo Tolstoy
In recovery meetings, the hardest thing for an alcoholic or drug addict to grasp is the 24 hr, or "one day at a time" concept. The thing is, it isn't white-knuckling, trying to make it by willpower. Every individual has the same story, their life is unmanagable. Alcohol and drug addiction has complete control, not the person. People say to the addicted, Why don't you just quit? They cannot, they are under the influence. The person asking the question is also under the influence of ignorance, but don't know that. Here you have two people needing the same process to change. Both of these are in need of surrender. The addicted person must surrender their unmanagability, the question asker must surrender attempting to control with words...it does not work. By asking God's help, accepting your addictions, and making the decision that you want to change more than anything, 24 hrs is all you need.
If there is no struggle, there is no progress. Frederick Douglass
..Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will take care of itself.
Each day has enough trouble of its own. Jesus, Matt.6:34 (NIV)
I'm sure you get what I'm getting at. No matter what your addiction is, by focusing on the 24 hrs ahead, you can make the changes you need to make in your life. As I said above, if you procrastinate, make a list of what you have been putting off, then go for it. Like the alcoholic/addict, the first thing in the morning before your transformation, ask God to help you, and turn your will and life over to Him...today. Don't look at the mountain, look to the One who formed mountain ranges with a word from His mouth. You have surrendered the fact that you cannot do this without Him, you accept that you're life is unmanagable, and with list in hand, you will string together enough 24 hr periods to change. When you look back, you will wonder why you waited, and you can then move on to the next issue, one day at a time.
Thanks for reading, God bless and keep you a
Alexander Hamilton coined, if you do not stand for something, you'll fall for anything. In my lifetime, I have watched the waves of philosophies sweep through our nation as they're given attention by famous stars and news media. People like the all inclusive beliefs that have the the easiest rules to follow. The Barna Group recently stated that 3 of 5 youths abandon their Christian upbringing by the age of 15. By the time they arrive at college, or the work force, if they have their traditional beliefs in tact, one of the many non-theist college groups, or fellow employees, may very well throw enough doubts in their minds to close the door on faith completely. Though this isn't always the case, more often than not, if kids do not know how to defend their worldviews, both religious and non-religious, "higher education" will offer them secular worldviews that you do not want them to have.
I received an email from Chuck Colson this week. Chuck has his finger on the pulse of major issues that face our nation, and has a daily broadcast called "Breakpoint," among many other ministries. This email began with a question whether or not morality and the sagging economy were related. Chuck pointed out that divorce, incarceration, low or no education, and government spending are related. Think about this. A man with a family goes to jail for drug use. It cost the government thousands monthly to house and feed him. This man's family has to get government help to house and feed them. Since 1975, the prison population has grown ten fold! The government spends billions, that's correct, billions to keep prisoners and their families fed and housed annually.
The issue of abortion divides our nation, and today their are bills proposed to allow underaged girls to abort babies without their parents knowledge. The government also pays for the abortion, and 1 million babies are aborted each year. Another problem is that the working class in America, has little regard to higher education, while the upper class of America still regards the importance of extended education. Who gets the better paying jobs and doesn't consider government help to survive? The more highly educated, of course. The working class has developed an entitlement mentality that if I don't make a living for my family, I'll get government help. The results from this entitlement mentality is running government spending through the roof. Morality and the economy are related.
The importance of family can no longer be ignored. The importance of parents instructing children in life must be reinforced with regularity. It is vital, as individuals, that we really take a long hard look at our personal worldviews. Where we compromise a little here, a little there, in regard to immoral thought, allows the flood of inconsistency and objective truth, it may be true for you, but not for me. Truth is truth. If it is wrong to steal from others, it's wrong period. By looking at our beliefs individually, we know right and wrong, truth and lies, without government help. If we keep allowing the government to legislate laws to "help" by telling us everyone must pay their "fair share," the entitlement thinking will swell to bursting. Laws are dumbing us down, freedoms are vanished, national spending will continue to grow exponentially.
Teach your children. Turn off the TV, put a time limit on video games for the children. Eat dinner together when possible and talk about life and living. Look at your children, think about what troubles you have faced in life, and how you can help them avoid that same trap. Do you teach your young about money? Do you tell them how important it is to be committed to what they set out to accomplish? Do you laugh at their bad behavior? Do you tell them how their lives can be destroyed by drugs and alcohol? Or do you tell them it's not good to drink as you set in the lazy-boy guzzling a beer watching the game on TV? Moms, do you tell your little girl how to be wary of young men's complements, where their nice words are leading? Do you think it is important to take you children to church? Do you plan things and events together as a family, with everyone's imput being important?
We can ignore these questions, accept status quo, and continue to plummit as a people. Or we can turn the tide but turning our thoughts toward God and asking him to help us do the work of effective parenting. Kids will believe whatever, or whomever does the teaching. If we teach them well, to challenge the questionable, their lives will stand out. They need to know how important it is to marry the mother/father of their children, to take pride in their work, and take what work is available. They need to know the importance of integrity and honesty, attending church, and defend the reasons these things are important. It is a proven fact that the children who are fortunate enough to receive this instruction, escape poverty and lead happier lives. So when you look at your children, do you see a potentially great actor, athelete, or entertainer, or a person with a potential to achieve in every endeavor? Take the last statement. Don't allow your children to fall for anything.
Be very careful, then, how you live- not as unwise but wise, making the most of
every opportunity, because the days are evil. Eph.5:15-16 (NIV)
Thanks for reading, God bless and keep you all. Keith
The first few months attending recovery meetings, I would hear individuals say, I am grateful to be an alcoholic. I thought they were off their rocker. As I listened further, The person may say, I spend time in prison from the multiple DUI's and drug charges, my life was completely out of control. Some of my family members still won't even speak to me, I'm grateful to be where I am.... and I would think how stupid can these people be. They went through a ton of money in fines, lost good jobs, were regulars in the hopital's ER, and looked down on by everyone because they were "no-goods," and you're grateful for that? C'mon, what an dope!
I was good at passing judgment on statements I regarded as foolish. I was a foolish judge. In time, I began to understand their gratitude, and could echo their feelings in my experience. God had spared us. We didn't lose our life on the highway, or give up on living because of drinking or drugging. We were saved from ourselves. One man actually went to the police officer who gave him the gift of an OVI, and thanked him. You saved my life, man! What kind of an impression do think that made on the officer? He had a huge fine, had his Harley impounded, and received jail time yet, was grateful. It is that broken condition that draws a person to find help. In that state of existence, when we cry to God, He arrives that moment, and with healing for our broken lives.
Of course, my thinking is completely different for people in their trouble. I am grateful today that I do not see the person struggling with an addiction to gambling, or pornography, or being overweight, anyone with any addiction, the way I did before. The judge's robe I was wearing, I removed. I know we all fight addictions. If you read this, and have never known addiction to drugs, alcohol, or any of the above mentioned, thank God. Also, be wary. You may still be dressed in your judge's robe, and ready to comdemn others who have known, or are still fighting them. Look hard at yourself before you do. Gossip, lying, boasting, pride...all of these are addictions, or can be. Pointing fingers at others can bring self-invited troubles to yourself, and to your home. I have witnessed it first hand. Many have been judgmental toward others, and faced the same problems, and even worse, with their spouse or children.
"You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgement on someone else, for whatever
point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment
do the same things." Rom.2:1 (NIV)
Some body may say, I'm hooked on porn, that's on my mind 24/7. I could be grateful like you say if I were a drunk, or a doper. People care to help them...but not someone with this problem. I'm too embarrassed to tell anyone. I really feel for people who try to hide their addiction, porn is everywhere on the internet, and thousands, maybe tens of thousands are hooked. Yet the shame of any addiction keeps too many people buried in secrecy, they are too ashamed to even ask God to help them. A person who has a shopping addiction is just as ashamed as the person hooked on porn. The workaholic isn't fond of considering hard work an addiction, I'm just trying to make a buck! Being hooked on making money, is either based on greed, or on fear. What happens if I go broke? In any case, all addictions bring the "baggage" of shame along with them, and it's nearly impossible to get free from any addictions alone.
Consider this, maybe finding one trusting person you can talk to, will help you open up, and get free. Start the hunt for this person by asking God to direct you to them. He wants you well, full of purpose, and living a fulfilled life. Acceptance of the problem, and acceptance that you can't get rid of the habit alone, are the beginning of a new understanding that will develop in your thinking, if you desire to be free. God has a plan for you. Addictions of any sort can nix your and my living that plan out, because of guilt, or fear that everyone will know. Ask God to put that trusting person you can share anything with in your life. Then get busy, times a wastin'.
Two things: be thankful for the trouble in your life that freed you from addictions. And do not stand in judgment towards others, and bring heartache and judgment on yourself. Pray for others caught in the mire of addictions, do not ignore their plight. If their problem is out in the open, or common knowledge, ask them if you can help in any way. Don't try to bale them out financially, or get hooked into fixing things for them, that is their consequences, not yours. But if they need prayer support, or friendship, be willing to help...you may be that trusting soul another needs to confide in. If you are recovering from any addictions, don't become bitter, and full of self-loathing. Be grateful, look at past troubles as stepping stones that led you God and freedom
Thanks for reading, God bless and keep you all. Keith
I was very frustrated, actually enraged by a recent event, where an Ohio law placed me in a very difficult place. I made a statement on Facebook, which I truly believe is factual, and I emailed the governor's website, looking for someone to hear my plea. And when I finished my rage...I remembered the Lord my God, and strengthened myself in Him. The advice I give to others, run to God when you get into trouble, don't run from Him, was the last place I visited. I took my own advice and looked to Him for help.
I will not give you the details of what happened just yet. I can tell you that ever since I finished my upcoming book, there has been such spiritual opposition,such heavy evil opposition, that I could not have continued if God had not given me the grace to do so. I thank Him for bringing me to this point, for all He has done, and for what I see Him doing now.
I haven't changed my thoughts regarding lost freedoms in this country. Nor do I feel that our voices should be silenced, and we become pacifists in relation to the evils of political actions that cause "we the people" to lose sight of what so many have given their lives for. No, we should, or I should, be more intent on seeing this country restored to our inherent belief, that in God we trust. I'm looking for restoration, not change. Those desiring change may not realize we are a divided people, they want all to change to their way of thinking, sorry, and please return to earth immediately, we need you here. I want to see us restored to having the ability to pursue life, liberty, and happiness...you know, like the Constitution says.
This recent event taught me that as a follower of Christ, I am to be in subjection to the law of the land. I am to be a man with integrity, loyalty, and honesty. I feel I hold to these doctrines of liberty, to a point. I do feel that laws that cause a believer to compromise truth, are to be questioned and challenged. In the book of Acts, the religious leaders had ordered the followers of Jesus, to stop preaching this gospel. Peter responded, We must obey God rather than men! Acts 5:29 (NIV) It is only of recent years that our government has stretched and twisted the law to where our tax dollars go to programs that are unjust, and unholy, and destructive to this nation. This was true in Peter's time as well and they could not adhere to them all, like worshipping Caesar. Paul wrote these words:
Remind the people to be subject to the leaders and authorities, to be obedient, to
be ready to do good, to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, an to
show true humility toward all men. Titus 3:1 (NIV)
This is how we are to present Chist to everybody, not shoot abortion drs, not to spew hatred at gays, not to condemn hookers, drug addicts/alcoholics, not to seek the demise of misled people-even politicians, but rather to give the grace shown to us through Christ, to them. God is the judge, He will reward us all by our works in this life. If you are a follower of Christ, take the time to read Paul, John, Peter, James, writings, on how we should conduct our lives. Then do it.
Getting results to bring real change for me is in my surrendering my will to God's will. If I am surrendered, I don't need to fight, God does that for me. I can re-focus, re-center, and re-fuel on what He has promised as I conform to His will. The results He gets for me are far greater that my results from anger, complaining, and trying to convince others of my correct line of thought. In this recent experience, when I surrendered, strengthened myself in what He is able to do, peace followed. I placed Him in charge. This morning, I surrendered again to Him, and went to face the giant. I went knowing He is Lord, He is with me, and I mentally blessed everyone I would meet before I met them. I have His favor. The results were completely wonderful, for everyone. I believe that their contact with me this morning changed their entire day for the good. Not because of who I am...because of whose I am.
I am not saying that the lesson will never be repeated and I will have no more problems. I did learn to get results to manifest in my life, I have to go through the proper channels. First to God in the spiritual realm, and present the situation to Him, then as I do what's necessary in the physical realm, He has prepared my way.
Thanks for reading everyone,God bless and keep you all. Keith
Recent events has caused me to look at our leadership with disdain that I have never experienced. These thoughts are not filling my head from the events, they have been there for quite some time...a lifetime. When the power of the government directly affects my personal life, I'm ready to take the gloves off and duke it out. I really do not want any resentments in my life, grudges are destructive to spiritual growth, and overall demeanor. I also have a bit of personal remorse for seeing others in trouble, knowing of their innocence, and merely offering my sorrow for their problem, walking away and forgetting all about it. I didn't offer the smallest of prayer on their behalf. Very shallow Keith. As I write this, I'm asking God to remove bitterness, and anger from my heart.
If you own a car, each year you get the privilege of buying a new license plate sticker. Seldom do you get the advantage of walking in to the BMV, and being the only patron, your finished in minutes, gleefully on your way. Most of the time there's a wait. I like to attempt fun while waiting, talking to others in line and with the employees, so the experience is more tasteful. Occasionally, there is a very unhappy government worker, that snaps at everyone, or keeps that condescending attitude of superiority that those this person serves are all inferior beings. Keep in mind, maybe they have some marital problems, or the kids are acting up at home, etc, and we should not let their bad day become ours. Some are just mean and love the authority given to them, so they can lord over the people. They either do not know, if that's possible, or they do not care, that the people they serve are their employers. It gets worse...
The people we elect, on every level, can easily forget that they are servants of the people. They start with the good intention to make our lives better, some really try, they escape my memory. The press has much to do with my memory loss, giving the headlines to the screw-ups and the ego-centrics. In reality, you have to have somewhat of an inflated ego to be elected, reminding the people of your accomplishments, your happy well-adjusted families, kind of like, a how-great-I-art attitude. We are aware of the necessity to blow your horn to arrive in office. It seems that the good guys get into office and fall into the filth of compromise and table turning. Laws they pass continue to rob the people of freedoms, until freedom is no more. They write laws with themselves in mind, without seeing long term anything. They amend rights until everything is wrong. They remove privileges for our good because the people are too ignorant to govern themselves.
When did we the people get so unconcerned as our freedoms one by one were erased, and take the mental bargaining approach? That's okay if they pass that law, we lose some here, but gain some there. Wrong, the Constitution belongs to US. They have no right to regulate us into red tape slavery. When you, the taxpayer, their employer get into trouble, they must file a motion, check the judges vacation schedule, see if it's on a particular day that sort of issue can be heard, and weeks later, even months, you are in ruins, then we will hear your case. They however, go home have a nice meal, and sleep. Your innocence is of no importance, whatsoever. You can do nearly nothing without a lawyer, you the employer. The laws are so complicated, written in legal pig-latin, that you get to spend $1000 you don't have to retain legal services, or you are ignored.
I'm grieved in my spirit. I personally repent for my looking the other way as innocence has been attacked, persecuted in this nation of freedoms. I am sorry that I, seeing family inheritance, money already taxed by state, local, and federal gov'ts. taxed to where nothing remains. I'm mad at myself for not speaking out sooner, that when a individual wins a suit, the percentages taken by law firms are higher than the awardee receives, after they have waited for years to receive their award... again, red tape from laws written by our apathetic employees. That isn't a lawyer issue, representation is good and necessary, but should not be required in every situation before a employer (the people) is heard.
So what does it take for those we put our confidence in serve us and not themselves? I'm tired of hearing how Chinese merchant vessels five football fields long, come loaded with goods for American consumers, and leave empty. Trade imbalance- again our employees at work. I am sick of their ignoring the will of the people, the majority will, and their incessant insistance that they know what's best for us. Don't misread what I'm saying, laws that govern the people, for the most part, are given for the peoples protection, crimes against people get punished. When the majority of people will, that a law defies our moral code, or bends our the Constitution's Bill of Rights with amendments that rob our freedoms, then the envelope is pushed to the point of rebellion, and eventual revolution. It happened a few centuries ago in England.
All of this is sketchy and all over the table. My mind is going in circles as I think of all of the injustice, the unfairness of our system. We often hear, we have flaws in America, but we still have it better than any other nation. Who says? The guys tampering with our freedoms, that's who. By the time we let them finish with our healthcare, sell us to the foreign nations, and legislate us into a absolute monarchy or dictatorship, the freedoms guaranteed by our forefathers will be vanquished from our memories, a nation of pawns.
I posted this statement last night on Facebook, and I believe this should be required for anyone seeking re-election. All elected officials past and present, alive and able, should gather at Arlington Cemetery, and apologize for giving away the freedoms those brave souls gave their lives for. God bless America, God restore America, God grant us leaders that truly serve the people, and may the self-seekers be removed and forgotten. Read history, we're not unique. Fallen nations were where we were as our nation began, and where we are now before their fall.
Thanks for reading, God bless and keep you all. Keith
Our view of the Creator is limited by the knowledge we have about Him. In recovery meetings, I have heard, many times over, people say regarding God, I always felt God was an angry God, He was always waiting to pounce on me when I messed up. How far from the truth can we get? So you know, we can get much further, to the point of disbelief of God entirely. Our upbringing has much to do with the understanding we have, seeing bits and pieces of God's character, and in our youth, knowing He judges sin. Parents tend to remind us continually that we had better be good because He watches. Ministers do the same. This is their feeble attempt to keep us all in line, so we always do the right thing. It doesn't work...at all. This is a control issue, man trying to control man by fear.
It's shameful that America has removed the simple prayer, the Lord's prayer from schools, and have our rankings in education go from the top 5 to 27th. Think this: millions of children throughout the country, invoking God's goodness into our land daily, is suddenly removed, and the fallout has devastated the nation. With each victory the ACLU has in removing God from our society, the further we fall morally. History reveals this truth. The reason for such venomous hate for religion, stem from our view of God. This isn't just my opinion, I have, my generation has watched this story unfold. They have hatred of God, because we hate them, because they hate God, so it seems.
The more I give myself to studying the scriptures, I see God's mercy, grace, love, forgiveness, and goodness is repeatedly shown by Him toward humanity. He is a Judge, He hates sin. That is what has fueled the self-righteous, puritanism in the body of Christ. We hate sin too, and try to control its recompense instead of allowing the Righteous Judge to give rewards for good and evil. I also see in passages and stories, that the goodness of God leads to repentance. He gives grace to us while we are buried in the mire of disobedience and rebellion against Him.
O You who hear prayer, to You all men will come. When we were overwhelmed by
sins, You forgave our transgressions. Ps.65:2-3 (NIV)
Or do you show contempt for the riches of His kindness, tolerance and patience, not
realizing that God's kindness leads you toward repentance? Rom.2:4 (NIV)
And this one takes the cake:
But God demonstrates His own love in this: while we were yet sinners, Christ died
for us. Rom.5:8 (NIV)
Many of us grew up thinking every slang word would condemn us to the eternal flames. We thought if Christ came any moment, we would be left behind unless we were perfect little Christians. To our minds, anything of this world was sin, unholy, and would bring retribution resulting in damnation. So my, rather our thought was, it's no use, I can't live that life. I may as well live as I please while I live. The results: Addictions to every pleasure with no regard to God. Alcoholism, drug addiction, pornographic addictions, overindulgence with food, etc. rule us. Sin takes dominion over our life. People in secular society know only the Christian world as judgmental, uncaring, and ignorant. They fight the followers of Christ on every issue with the intent of wiping God out of our world.
Sin exists, judgment is real. Yet, unless the believers teach their children, the ministers get off of the anger of God in their sermons, and present God's true nature-God is love as well, the upcoming generations will regard God as an angry ogre, and only perfect people being welcomed in heaven. Exactly the opposite of truth. He never stops reaching out to man, for man to search Him out, and discover His many awesome wonders! Those alcoholics who came to AA meetings until they came to believe in God again, could teach the believing world about grace. Those free today from all of their chains of slavery to self-service, and all of its ugliness, can speak volumes of God's liberating mercy. Until the followers of Jesus, truly preach the Word presenting all of God's nature, then we can forget about stopping the angry onslaught of secularism. Check the scriptures out, ask God for insight to His character, He will show us so we can show Him.
Thanks for reading, God bless and keep you all. Keith
Thanks to social networking, I have been able to re-discover people I haven't seen or heard from in years. I wondered about them, if they were alive and well, if they were still in the area, how many children they had, etc. I am grateful to have social networking. If you're like me, there are people I have totally forgotten about, that I have become re-aquainted with. That's priceless! There are many benefits in having this technology, along with search engines that can put the sum of knowledge in front of you with a press of a button.
With this huge explosion of data, there are some downsides as well. Criminals are into technology too. They find new creative ways to ruin lives through identity theft, preying on people through emails, send this to 10 friends and back to the person who sent it. Many of these are religious in nature stating, if you are not ashamed of God, send this to everyone you know, or, send this out and wait 10 minutes, you'll receive a miracle, I did. I think the miracle is that these nuts can get into your personal info in 10 mins and miraculously wipe you out if they find ways in to your PC. May God reward them by their works.
For the ways of man are before the eyes of the Lord, He watches all his paths.
His own iniquities will capture the wicked, and he will be hels with the cords of sin.
For he will die for lack of instruction, and in the greatness of his folly will he go astray.
Hopefully, these devourers do not ruin lives before they are caught and jailed.
There are both wonderful things, and not-so-wonderful things about the social network. Something I have discovered about myself is, I can become so wrapped reading everyone elses comments and viewing their pics, that I lose sight of my obligations, or forget priorities. Early on, when I first joined Facebook, I became entranced by farmtown, and I must tell you, I became quite wealthy in cyberspace. I had a great spread, animals, an an obsession bigger than the farm. I couldn't wait to get home from work and play. Then, I started getting invitations to all kinds of games and adventures. I even may miss a recovery meeting from the obsession.
I know that had I not stopped that I would have had to find a 12 step program for that addiction as well. Anyhow, I am aware that I can become so entranced by the social networks many offers, until I am a "social nutcase," and spending all free time on me...just like the drinking days. I have discovered the name for this sin, greed. That is not greed as we define greed for more material things. It's greed for time to spend on self-indulging pleasures, not to use my free time to focus on God's plan for my life, serving others. So for me, my time on earth is passing by at light speed and I want to use it wisely, which means, less time "nutworking."
I am grateful for all of you who read these blogs regularly. I'm also grateful for all of you who have befriended me on FB. I regret to inform you that I cannot approve requests to join games, but I do appreciate the kind request. I really thank FB, (now I'm working on Twitter, and Christian like me) for helping me re-aquaint myself with so many lost-to-the-ages friends and loved ones, but in all of the joy of re-discovery, I must limit the time I spend in my elation. And...for my top 50 regular readers, I want to give $10,000. Of course, in Farmtown bucks.
Thanks for reading, God bless and keep you all. Keith.
Also, for those interested, my book has finally gotten through the editing, and conceptual editing, and now moving to layout and cover design. They have informed me that this process may take up to 3 months...Oh brother, I thought we would be in print before now. Anyhow, I covet your prayers. I'm praying God for favor to speed the process.
Just who is St. Valentine, and what is the purpose of this holiday? My inquisitive mind had to know the answer, so I wiki'd it. A man named Valentinus, was martyred by the Roman emperor in the third century AD, before his death healed his jailer's blind daughter, was dubbed a Saint by Pope Gelasius in 496AD, and Hallmark is eternally grateful. There are 190 million V-day cards sent annually, unknown amounts of candy and presents, and thousands of solidified relationships resulting from this holiday. Of course we men, while courting our girl, know the importance of gift and card giving, until we've been married. Then we ignore this "lovers" day when possible. Women tend to measure the depth of their man's love by his attention to this holiday. The more he spends, the greater the depth of his love.
When I was in grade school, we had the ritual of passing out V-day cards to our classmates. I paid special attention to the valentine I received from the girl I set my heart on. If that card didn't have a special message on it, I felt my love was in vain, I was devastated! There was always the girl I didn't like, who gave me the valentine with the special message. I would try to escape her for the rest of the school year. Puppy love is hard, actually the hardest. In our youth we develop our understanding about hate, love, good, bad, etc. When we are fully grown, those feelings remain a part of our psyche. The hurts are engrained deep in us.
Early in our lives, the importance of our parents influence, and how they think, their likes and dislikes, the foods they eat, they places they enjoy, actually everything about them, become a part of us. If they are attempting to communicate what their child needs regarding life and living, many of the petty predjudices and the feelings we grow in to, are hopefully forgotten, and not to be regarded with any significance as adults. This is mainly due to much of what we learn is based on traditional outdated knowledge, not virtues. Much is taught in innocent ignorance. Good values taught early in life, reflect in adulthood. Unfortunately, the parents must deliver their life-lessons continually, and few are willing to do so. It's tough.
Back to Valentine's day and love. We have, in this society, developed a strange view of love. We bunch up sex, affection, attraction, friendship, into the word "love." Our understanding of true love has been defined by Hollywood, through the ficticious lives of Scarlett and Rhett, Bogey and Bacall, Pitt/Annison/Jolie, etc. Lust, to the movie world, is love. If Hollywood says so, it's so. Today, we have an entire generation, as in my generation, made the choice of non-commital in relationships, choosing to live together, instead of uniting in "holy matrimony." We have decided that a "one night stand," another non-commitment, is the "no hurt," way of life. So, in relationships, if we remain a free agent, we gratify our sensual desires, without worry of tomorrow, kind of "cling-free." If it feels good, do it, with no regard to the others feelings.
I think I understand why I personally have had past struggle with "matrimony." To words come to mind. Fear and a two letter word spelled...M,E. I feared not being committed, so without thought, I made half-commitments. I'm in this for what I get out of it. Which led me to feel that I could mold my wife into my picture of what she should be. Control doesn't work. My emotions controlled my understanding that lust was love, and my values told me I must prove it at the altar. In the back of my head, I guess the notion of "if she doesn't conform, divorce is legal" loomed. Unbelievable. It was all about me.
I am grateful to have a bit more understanding today, by God's grace. God saw my confusion and led me into an understanding that my life is to be about everyone else, not about me. Thus, my definition of love had to agree with His. Check this out:
Love is patient, kind, not envious, boastful, or conceited. Love doesn't act improperly,
nor is selfish, and doesn't keep a record of wrongs, and doesn't like things that's not
right, but loves the truth. Love bears everything, believes everything, hopes for and
endures all, Love never fails. 1Cor.13:4-8 (my paraphrase)
Real love, according to the Word of Truth and Life, informed me that if I want to experience real love, I had to show real love...God's way. This is His way of loving, as He displayed by giving Christ, His son, to redeem man from his sin. I see today that love isn't based on what you do for me, but what He's done for me through Jesus. I am incapable of loving you or anyone, without His indwelling presence in my life. Love isn't a hit and run affair. Love isn't, "okay you're pregnant, sure I'll marry ya kid," attitude. Love is unconditional, and defined above.
I know we are easily led to believe that the way we were brought up is correct in defining everything in life. The truth is, everything we're taught should be challenged. Not rebelliously, not in disbelief. The reason for challenge is to know that through godly knowledge, life's problems can be defined through God's perspective, and save ourselves from much grief. Thanks for reading, God bless and keep you all. Keith...Happy birthday Aaron!
There is a common conception in secular society regarding God. That being, He is to be available when needed. If we get into a jam, He must spring into action, fix the problem according to our will. If God does not do as we ask, He doesn't exist, or we may become agnostic in belief. In the church world, there is a myriad of ideas of the ways and workings of the Almighty. Most of these thoughts are based on traditional knowledge, handed down from generation to generation based on the particular branch of Christianity, i.e. Roman Catholic, Babtist, etc. Each have a different view of God as to how He operates, what He can or will/willnot do based on the tenets of that sect. There are branches springing off of the branches, aka "cults," and then of course, the antigod faith, or atheists. All of these are very ardent in their thoughts of how God does things, and how He thinks.
Be assured of this...all are wrong. No one alive understands God. We may have an understanding of what He likes and hates according to scripture. But as the Buddah said, if you comprehend God, He ceases to be God. Well put. Most of us place God in this box of our understanding, and set the limits for Him to operate in. This is where we should think outside the box. This doesn't mean to deny His deity, or to say we're off of the mark regarding salvation, damnation, sin, atonement, etc. It is the workings of The Self-Existing Eternal Triune One, that we are incapable of comprehending. We are finite, fallible, and fallen. We have predictibility, He is unsearchable. We screw up, He is perfectly perfected in everything.
I don't think the way you think, the way you work isn't the way I work.-God's decree
For as the sky soars above the earth, so the way I work surpasses the way you work,
the way I think is beyond the way you think.
...the words that come out of My mouth not come back empty handed. They'll
complete the assignment I gave them. Is.55:8-9,11
Fully coming to the understanding that we don't understand brings understanding. A real paradox. It is in our state of humility, in complete weakness, acknowledging our dependence on God to grant understanding, is where He enters our circumstances, and meets the needs we have. We will never understand why someone dies in their youth, or why certain people are blind, lame, deaf, etc. But He fully knows. We may always struggle to realize the reason why some are rich, others are penniless. Why God lets the evil one continue reeking havoc on mankind may baffle us, why God, why? This question is asked by two types, one who wants to know why, and the other who wants to live outside of grace, praying to whatever, that God isn't real.
Knowing I don't know is liberating to me. When I ran my universe and had all of the answers to life's complexities, there was problems. Mainly, controlling people, and situations, both being impossible. Today, I have a peace that by turning the reins of my life over to God, surrendering to Christ's completed sacrifice as the way to fellowship with the Father, I no need that control. He's the Potter, I'm the clay. I don't want anyone to think that I comprehend Him, or have superior knowledge of how He works. I go by faith in what is written, the just shall live by faith. (Romans)
I do have a little understanding of how various religions believe. I also understand the uniqueness of Christianity. You can go to the gravesite of nearly every religion's leader and there, they lie. You can go to the supposed final resting place where they laid Jesus..He is not there, He is risen. Religions worldwide base their faith on works alone, good works save you, bad works damn you. Christianity claims you must only believe because you can do nothing to be good enough, grace alone will save you and produce good works. God also gave us free will to choose whom we serve. Who else would I think of serving? I know based on other belief's I may be the best person the rest of my days, but my poor acts out weigh the good I've done. So I either burn forever, or end up making a return trip as a grasshopper or a jackass.
Give this some thought. How do you think? Is this based on a personal search, or family tradition?
Thanks for reading, God bless and keep you all. Keith
There is lots of attention being given to individuals who have had a "near death" experience. Each person had an experience nearly identical to the other, hovering over their lifeless body, moving slowly into a tunnel that has a bright light at the end, and when they reach the end of that tunnel, they felt warmth and love like they had never known. Some heard an entity say, "you have to go back, it's not your time." Most of these people say it was God or Jesus speaking, others heard nothing, just returned. There have been others who said they descended into darkness, and felt hands pulling and tugging at them, or heard warnings to go back, leave this terrible place. In both cases, the experience was real to the individuals, and their lives changed dramatically when they were revived.
These events can become a best selling book, or even a movie, because of the curiosity people have about life after death. I don't doubt the experience. Many do. Some skeptics have said the event is a memory of the person's birth. Others say it is the religious upbringing they have had, and they are merely dreaming. You can't tell the individual it didn't happen, it is reality to them. They have passed over the line of doubt and belief and know life doesn't end when we depart this life for good.
I knew a man some years ago that had the experience. He said he was at the very gates of heaven and heard sounds of singing like he had never heard, so beautiful that he was drawn to enter, but told to return because his work wasn't done. He said he felt tears burning his cheeks, as he asked to be able to stay, but was told not now. Another lady said she was actually there, saw the beauty, and somehow knew everyone's name around her in heaven. Her life wasn't the same. Two of my uncles were at my grandmother's deathbed. In her final hours, she was in a coma, but they heard her talking to my brother who had passed two years earlier saying, "O Steve, isn't that beautiful!" That is priceless! These are people I knew in life, and their words and experience. I know of another man who's experience was the descent into the darkness, it was horrifying!
Hearing the words and experience, really believing these people who had no reason to lie, doesn't cause me to believe or disbelieve that when this life is over, I will merely decompose in the ground. Nothing, no light, no darkness, just nothing. This is the hope of the unbeliever, literally, their hope. You see, they have to hope, or actually have faith, that nothing happens when they die. They live and die without any acknowledgement of God's reality. They must have a fervent religious belief in nothingness.The alternative is unthinkable. I believe that what is written in scripture regarding death, is reality. If I believe the Bible for my way of living, I believe it for my way of dying too.
"Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall be changed- in a
moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet shall sound
and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed." 1Cor. 15:51-52 (NKJV)
"We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be
present with the Lord." 2Cor.5:8 (NKJV)
We have all lost people we have known it this life. The sorrow is measured upon our closeness to the deceased, and the grief can be unbearable. We must deal with this grief, or the possibility of never recovering looms. The possibility of using drugs or alcohol are imminent, and a great excuse to ignore helping others who are going through the same sorrow. I took me 16 years to deal with my brother's death. that only happened by God leading me out of alcoholism. I loved the self-pity, and self-loathing of grief while drinking, I was full of self. Had my brother lived, I wouldn't have been a better brother even if I knew the event would happen...but I digress. Now back on topic. Be assured, if you are a believer, when you pass, you will be with Christ...forever! This is the "blessed hope" we have in Him. The moment you trust in Jesus as your Savior and Lord, you pass from death unto life. Death no longer has power over you. Do it right now, ask Him to come into your heart.
These people who had the near-death experience, I believe, that not all of them actually had a visit into heaven. The light, the warmth, the voice they heard, all of these seem to be in between the realm of physical and spiritual. And this is merely my opinion. I have heard that some have actually walked with Jesus, or a loved one, or even a character in the Bible, and I do not doubt them. I personally feel that if a person has been in that place of eternal bliss, they would be nearly useless here on Earth. They would want to go back, this world would be trash to them. Or, their experience would have to be really obscure. If not, how could you think of anything else?
Paul the apostle had the experience and in his words he "heard things that were unlawful to utter." He had a mission to accomplish, and was driven to stay here on Earth and complete that work. Jesus told of the rich man and Lazarus the beggar. In hell, the rich man saw into paradise and saw Abraham and Lazarus whose sufferings he had ignored in his life. He asked Abraham to have someone to go from the dead and warn his brothers about hell, so they wouldn't go there. Abraham told him that if they don't believe in the law and prophets, the wouldn't believe a dead person. (Paul read 2Cor.12, Jesus' lesson read Luke 16) This is a true statement. People have this experience, people still don't believe. Faith is what it takes to believe. the more your faith grows in the knowledge of God, the more you believe in your eternal home.
I have no doubt. I have my bags packed. Christ purchased my ticket. I prefer to be as Paul and tenacious in convincing those who don't have plans yet for their forever, to come along and join me. I'm not Paul, but I want to ask you to join us. I don't have the vision he had, but 2000 years later, I believe in the same way, and the same home. Join us, come along. Thanks for reading, God bless and keep you all. Keith (RIP Jason)