Friend to myself

From “Letters From A Stoic: Epistulae Morales AD Lucilium (Illustrated. Newly revised text. Includes Image Gallery + Audio): All Three Volumes” by Seneca –

“Meanwhile, I owe you my little daily contribution; you shall be told what pleased me to-day in the writings of Hecato; it is these words: “What progress, you ask, have I made? I have begun to be a friend to myself.” That was indeed a great benefit; such a person can never be alone. You may be sure that such a man is a friend to all mankind.”

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One step at a time

I may not be following the appropriate Christian line but as a follower of Christ my faith is in my every opinion, in every sector of life, including political discourse. 
Christ gave me all of my life and all of my freedom. I don’t get to exclude him from political or any other tense conversation. This doesn’t mean I spout bible verses, only that my choices are a reflection of my faith.
I happen to think that communication is healthy provided it’s not insulting. I would say though that some of the hostility comes from the truths and concerns behind the words spoken. 
Part of the church has become very decisive. Part very open and part very judgmental.  
What we see is shocking as people shift towards extremes around the globe. 
I don’t like what the church has become. But my savior is still my king. Praying for love and restoration in these hateful times.

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Loss

The personal relationships that affected upon death are one of the hardest things to deal with.  Someone you care about is there one minute and gone the next.  The mind struggles to deal with not seeing them again.  They made such an impact on your life and you are left without.

I think though that the beauty that someone brings to this world stays in the hearts and minds of those who remain.  We remain to spread on a little bit of them.  We give the hugs we were given.  We pass on the love they gave.  Sad really doesn’t cover it and I have not lost nearly as many loved ones as others.  People today are struggling with loss.  Some is loss from long ago and some is fresh and searing.

We can not take it back or prevent new loss from coming. We can not prevent even our own loss of life at some point.  We can only love and forgive and share what we have to give that is good.  I think all we can ever hope for is to be known as a kind person, a loving person or a fun person. Then maybe our kindness will be light for the next generations.

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Rethinking Omni

Believing God is a little less Omni felt to me like a betrayal at first. To explain what I mean I will let you know that I was raised believing that God is all-knowing “omniscience,” all-present “omnipresence,” and all-powerful “omnipotence.”

It is hard to imagine any limitations on God without contradicting the pre-formed definitions of what a God must be. But what happens when those interpretations of God’s Omni powers are seen in the context of today’s reality? What conclusions must we come to when we believe that God CAN fix your situation but chooses not to? How should we answer the WHY behind Gods assumed decisions not to act?

It doesn’t take long for excuses like “God wants to test your faith” or “God is making it happen for his good” to wear thin on our sense of right and wrong. Children are sold into slavery, hurricanes wreck neighborhoods and terrorism continues to rise across the globe.

How, in the light of these truths, do we see an Omni-powerful God as a truly good God? Many Christians over the years create complicated interwoven systems of theology to make a nearly mathematical explanation as to how both can be true, but at best it seems pretty far fetched.

While my understanding of God can not be one in which his is truly all good, I have let go of the idea that he must be all-powerful. While God is the most powerful entity that has lived or ever will live, there seems to be some restraint on his ability to just zap away the evil of this world. I could speculate that the restraint is of his own making, but I just don’t know.

To explain this concept I will turn a little to Jesus explaining the parable of the weeds:

The Parable of the Weeds

24 He put another parable before them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field, 25 but while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weed among the wheat and went away. 26 So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared also.27 And the servants of the master of the house came and said to him, ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have weeds?’ 28 He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’ So the servants said to him, ‘Then do you want us to go and gather them?’ 29 But he said, ‘No, lest in gathering the weeds you root up the wheat along with them. 30 Let both grow together until the harvest, and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, “Gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.”’”

I want to tell you how I view this parable, but before I do, I would like to talk about the beginning of the universe. It started out good. That’s part one of the story. In part one, the earth was beautiful, and everything just worked together. In part two, humans did something that opened a whole ton of evil into the world. It broke the world and the world became a place were super bad things like natural disasters and rapes and torture happen. It used not to be like this. In part three, a spiritual being came to earth with a great deal of re-guidance and instruction for the Jewish race that was to spread to all the world. This spiritual being started a revolution and has changed many peoples hearts and minds. He talked about a kingdom where the ultimate spiritual being would be truly in charge of a new and healthy world that didn’t have all this evil and death. He promised that there will be a fourth part to this story when things are made right again, “at the end of the age.”

Jesus, being the spiritual being in part three of the story, explains this kingdom in the parable of the weeds. He says that even though God created all this good, evil has slipped into the world, into the hearts of men and nature its self. When asked, does he want to destroy the weeds he chooses not to because he can not untwine the evil from the good. Destroying the evil would destroy the good. Why? I don’t know, but I may speculate. I know myself and see that I am both evil and good. I have done horrible things and really good things. If you zapped me dead in my horrible moments, there is a lot of good that I wouldn’t have been able to bring to people’s lives.

When I hold God as all good and all love, I don’t blame him or think he’s an egomaniac that is ok with people’s pain as long as it serves his purposes. I see the world that humans worked to destroy and God is working to restore. God is asking humans all over the world to partner with him in following the way of Jesus. If we did that, if we partnered with him to be the most loving, least offended, most giving and kindest people on the planet we can bring healing and restoration to people’s lives as we wait for the end of the age when all things are made new.

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Seeking First

Everyone around the globe worries about what they will eat and drink when they are unemployed. Everyone worries about what it will look like when they literally can’t afford to pay all of their bills as money gets tighter and tighter. Worry comes so naturally that it often doesn’t even feel like an active thing that we are doing. Perhaps that’s what’s so difficult about it. It’s hard to lay something down that comes as naturally to us as breathing.

But…there is Jesus to think about. He admonishes his followers to not spend their time worrying. He says, instead, that we ought to be seeking first Gods Kingdom. He asks us to trust him when he says all of our needs will be fulfilled in going after his kingdom instead of our needs. I can’t help but think off Aladdin holding out his hand to Jasmine and saying “Do you trust me?”. Much like Jasmine we may be thinking this is a little bit crazy. Which is easier, to climb on a magical rug that seems to be supporting someone’s weight or to trust that our needs will be met while not trying to meet them ourselves?

Trusting what is in front of us, even if it’s odd, is easier. Kind of like that old trust game that used to be so popular during camps and after-school activities. You were expected to stand and fall into someone’s arms that stood behind you. You couldn’t see them but could hear their promises to catch you when you fell. I don’t know about y’all but my mind began racing,…who is this person behind me? Do I know them? What are their credentials for catching tall and overweight girls? Do they secretly hate me and have been waiting for this opportunity to see me humiliated?

God’s like that. He doesn’t step out in front he stands behind with his arms open, whispering words of “you can trust me, I’ll take care of you”. It may not be righteous to say so but we all wonder a lot of the same things. Does God secretly hate me? What are his credentials for dealing with someone as uniquely messed up as I am? Do I really know him?

Many peoples lack of faith in God comes down to exactly this; he simply won’t step out in front of you, he stays behind and whispers that you can trust him and fall into his arms. It makes us want to shout, as I often felt like shouting in these trust exercises, “I don’t have a problem with trust, I’ll be happy to fall into your arms If I can see you in front of me”!

But…perhaps I do have a problem with trust. I wanted to see you, I wanted to have my eyes open so that I could catch myself when you fail me. It wasn’t easier to trust you if I fall frontward into your arms, it was easier to have faith in myself.

For this reason, people are easier to have trust in than God. They are out in front. If we have been hurt by them, we can keep our guard up. OUR hands are ready to catch us, and OUR feet are ready to run if we need to bolt.

God though, get’s right at the heart of our need to take care of ourselves, right to the heart of our darkest pain and says “trust me”. “I am telling you that I will catch you, I am telling you that I will provide for you” he whispers behind us, “trust me”. “I am not like them, I will never leave you or forsake you” he whispers. “I will always catch you” he says.

What are we even supposed to do with a God of Love? How do we imagine a deity that loves us as we are? Not the selfie us, but the really screwed up us. How do we accept someone who loves us as we are?

Maybe we would have to stop hating ourselves; maybe we would have to stop living in a state of constant tension and worry. Maybe we would have to trust what the says.

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Offense

The choice to be offended often doesn’t feel like a choice at all. Whatever word or tone spurs the offense creates a ball of rolling irritation that gains more and more energy as it goes.  Often have been offended for quite some time before recognizing that I am offended and have been trapped into behaving accordingly.

Freeing yourself of any trap necessitates being aware of its clutches.  Only when I get the to cusp of awareness of the offense trap can I begin to say that maybe I don’t need to be feeling these emotions at all.

I don’t think that one can get to such a state of self enlightenment that they are able to completely forestall the initial pull towards offense but perhaps that is because I am simply not that enlightened.

At any rate, I think it is important to gain awareness of this pesky habit that can so quickly overwhelm our senses and sensibilities.

If we are going to be adult free thinkers I believe we should  be on guard for this little pest.  We should be the author of our lives, not our emotions.

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Why kittens make awful assistants

First off, they have no idea what your doing but think it looks cool. Why in the world would anyone want an assistant that had no clue what your doing but stood around starring at you. 

Second, they have no consideration for personal space. Occasionally they will just grab what ever is in your hand and run off with it. That’s no way to get things done if you ask me.

And finally the manipulate you with there purrs and sweet wide eyes. I mean, who does that? 

Maybe some of you out there have a totally different experience but for me, I don’t think it’s working out.

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