The Great Confusion: Part 1

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Tower of Babel. Image courtesy http://www.biblestudytools.com/

It is not difficult to understand the societies we live in when we look at the actions of individuals as stemming from the human heart or soul. All our actions stem from the desires of the human heart, both good and evil. A group of individuals is what makes up our villages, our towns, our cities, our provinces or states, and our nations. It is the corporate thoughts and desires of a group of individuals that also determines whether something good or evil will come out in our actions.

Continue reading “The Great Confusion: Part 1”

The Human Soul: Back to the Basics

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The Eyes of Innocence. ©2017. All rights reserved.

As we age as human beings, life has a way of humbling us. We are invariably, and often painfully reminded that we just cannot do the things we used to do with the same passion and intensity that we did when we were younger.

Youthful exuberance is a good thing, it’s what drives us to take on new challenges, strive to learn new things, and enables us to accept a constantly changing world with grace. At the same time, with age comes wisdom, and the ability to carefully select which challenges we will endeavour to participate in and which battles we will walk away from.

Sometimes, we take on challenges that are beyond our natural capacity to maintain, let alone succeed at. The mind remembers, and the heart is willing, but the body just will not cooperate. We face the setbacks of an aging body that needs far more time to recover from ordinary living, let alone from illness and/or injury.

It is at precisely times like this that I am reminded to go back to the basics. A time to reflect on what is truly important to me and a time to set realistic goals of how I am going to get to the place that I desire. I think that this is precisely where many of us fail in life. We set unrealistically high goals based on desire alone without considering the cost and/or making an honest evaluation of our own time, energy, and motivation to get there. Time, energy, and motivation are moving targets that constantly change. We either adapt to this perpetual day-to-day change in a reasonably healthy and positive way or we begin that downward slide towards mediocrity and, perhaps, disappointment with ourselves and even those around us.

For me, going back to the basics includes taking a good hard look at my own spirituality and my relationship with God as I understand Him. Is my spirit healthy? Is my conscience clear? When others look into my eyes, the very window to my soul, what do they see? Do they see hardship, pain, sorrow? Do they see anger, arrogance and contempt? Or do they see peace, contentedness, and joy?

For those that would mock spirituality and the concept of God being present in our world, I would implore you to take a long look into your own reflection in the mirror and tell me what you see. Is there light in your eyes or a deep impenetrable darkness? Only you can answer that question with any degree of certainty.

But, please keep in mind that God loves you… right where you are at, and is willing to receive you as His own.

It is my understanding and experience that it is the indwelling and empowerment of the Holy Spirit that brings healing and wholeness to the human soul which in turn brings renewed strength and health to our mortal bodies and minds.

…from his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.” John 7:38b NASB

But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; Isaiah 40:31a KJV

These three aspects of our existence  –  body, mind, and soul represent our humanity, our very personhood, and are inseparable. It is what distinguishes us as unique amongst all creation. It is also true that these three aspects of our humanity work interdependently in order for us to achieve our goals and carefully laid plans in this life. But, what if we fail?

I do not believe there is blame in failing to achieve our heart’s desire to succeed and thrive in the good things that we take on in life. As a wise young woman once said to me:

Human beings are frail creatures…

In spite of our best intentions, life does not always go according to plan. But does that mean we should just give up and throw in the proverbial towel? May it never be!

For those that may be struggling, and feel that you have failed to achieve your dreams and goals in life, perhaps floundering in the very purpose you sense God has for your life – I want to encourage you to keep trying. It is not how you start the race but how you finish.

Never give up…it is ALWAYS TOO SOON to QUIT!

Go back to the basics and re-evaluate what is most important to you. Formulate a new plan, based not merely on human knowledge and intelligence, but based on a new-found or renewed relationship with God, as you understand Him at this particular point in your life. There is no shame in starting small – certainly God does not despise the person of small beginnings.

Do not despise these small beginnings, for the LORD rejoices to see the work begin… Zechariah 4:10a NLT

Besides, the human feelings and emotions of shame, disappointment, and disillusionment are a heavy burden to bear – something that we were never intended to carry alone. Jesus Christ took all that upon Himself on the cross in order that we would be set free.

The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life. John 10:10 NLT

So, does that mean we will no longer experience shame, disappointment, or even disillusionment in this life? Of course not! But it does mean that we are not alone in our human experience of suffering. Be greatly encouraged, compared to eternity, life on this great blue marble is only but a short while.

And since we are his children, we are his heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God’s glory. But if we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering. Romans 8:17 NLT

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Overcoming Fear…

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If there is one thing I understand unequivocally, it is fear. I am not talking about the boogie man hiding underneath our bed as children. I am referring to the fears that we all experience when we face the numerous challenges of life and living. It is so much easier to remain in our respective comfort zones than to tackle the challenges of personal change and adaptation to a rapidly changing society.

For some of us, our inward fears did indeed begin in childhood and became hardwired within us according to psychologists. Our childhood experiences of  hunger, pain, violence, neglect, abuse, belittlement, and ridicule set in motion mistrust and fears that can be enormous obstacles to overcome as adults.

Modern society offers all kinds of self-help books and tutorials, the services of counselling professionals, and a plethora of psychotropic drugs to either assist adults in facing and overcoming their fears or dulling our emotions and taking the edge off our experience of reality. These are all of some help and should not be dismissed haphazardly, but in my experience, human methodology and assistance alone can be likened to putting a bandaid on a deep and festering wound and hoping it will just heal itself. Unless we get to the root of our fears, and the wounds are cleaned out and truly healed, we tend to pass on those fears to our children and our children’s children.

It is almost incomprehensible to me now that we can continue to go through life thinking and acting like we are all alone in our fears and that it is safer to stay within the confines of our neatly created reality.

We were never created to be fearful, but the episode in the Garden of Eden, changed that for all of humankind. It is interesting that one of the first responses of the Biblical characters of Adam and Eve, after their disobedience, was an attempt to hide from God out of fear. A once perfect creation was now experiencing the most deadly of all human thought and emotion – FEAR.

As a new follower of Christ one of the first biblical verses I committed to memory was this:

For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. 1 Timothy 1:7 ESV

I had learned very quickly, on the basis of this verse, that God was very present in my life and heart via the Holy Spirit. But to experience the power of God, His unfathomable love, and enablement to live a life of self-control was a moment by moment, day by day,  and year by year walk with God, as I understood Him, each step along the way.

Slowly, over the span of some 37 years, I am still learning to trust God to help me to overcome my fears and to be healed of all of life’s harsh moments day in and day out. Addressing and overcoming our fears, both large and small, begins with our relationship with God as we understand Him. The scripture is there to lead us and guide us through the maze we call life, hopefully avoiding the traps and entanglements that tear us down and produce unreasonable fears in all of us.

To be healed inwardly of even the deepest fears is to experience the love of God in a way that is almost indescribable with mere words. I am so thankful for this journey of life and the many kind-hearted and like-minded people who have helped me along the way.

God with skin on…I like that!

Deep calls to deep…

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There is one thing that I have learned in life that applies to everything we do and say. That one thing is personal integrity. Integrity can be defined as follows:

  1. The quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness.
    “he is known to be a man of integrity”
    synonyms: honesty, probity, rectitude, honor, good character, principle(s), ethics, morals, righteousness, morality, virtue, decency, fairness, scrupulousness, sincerity, truthfulness, trustworthiness

    “I never doubted his integrity”

As the reader can see, personal integrity, by definition, is one tall order that few, if any of us can claim to possess with any degree of consistency. It goes without saying that the very basis of personal integrity is predicated upon ethics and morality and is demonstrated through our own willingness to be honest, sincere, and truthful, not only with others, but with the person we look at every morning in the mirror.

I do not think it is possible for any one individual to demonstrate true integrity apart from God in our lives. We may hold to some external form of religious piety or offer lip service to integrity based on secular humanistic principles, but inwardly we are a wayward people.

The words that we speak reveal what is in our heart, and ultimately reveal our character.

In a previous post, I presented numerous examples of how people use certain words, but often mean something completely different. To recognize deceit and a lack of integrity in another individual or group is not as difficult as it may seem. One needs to simply start listening, not just with the mind, and the various auditory and visual clues of understanding communication, but with our hearts. The scripture tells us that what comes out of a person’s mouth is that which fills his or her heart.

A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart. What you say flows from what is in your heart. Luke 6:45 NLT

As a child, I was a very trusting person. Somehow, I had a natural tendency to trust others and to give them the benefit of the doubt. By the time I was a young teenager, I had learned the hard way that what people say and what they mean, and do, are often very different things. At first, I was confused, and did not trust that “gut instinct” that the words of someone else, sometimes an authority figure in my life, were actually lies. That particular person(s) lacked personal integrity, and their hollow words were revealing what was really in their heart.

In my early adulthood, when I became a committed follower of Christ, I finally came to recognize that the ability to discern what was in the heart of another was much more than just differentiating between words and visual clues. By the Spirit of God, I was “looking” into the heart of another human being, created in the moral image of God. What I saw there sometimes was deeply disturbing, and yet, at the same time, caused me to feel compassion for that particular individual(s). Perhaps, the compassion I felt was the result of recognizing my own fallenness and tendency to wander from the very God I love. Perhaps it was a gift or a tool that God intended me to use to discern between good and evil, to truly understand the struggles of the human soul in that ongoing war between darkness and light.

So, why am I telling you all this? After all, for some, this seems just too incredible to believe or even understand. I would like to suggest that the ability to discern in the spiritual realm is a lot more common amongst followers of Christ than the world could possibly understand. Yet, even for those who profess to be Christians, I often come across individuals who still depend on their natural mind to understand or grasp something that can only be comprehended spiritually. I have even witnessed that in the prayer lineups of Charismatic and Pentecostal churches. People praying for others with lofty prayers using majestic words, but completely missing the point, and not rightly discerning what is happening in that particular person’s life who has come for prayer. Often, the person in need walks away with an even greater burden upon their shoulders, their spirit broken and slowly drying up. The sick remain sick, the downhearted remain hopeless, the disappointed become disillusioned…

I was troubled to learn that people are being taught in the Church to pray for others with their eyes open looking for visual clues to assist them to know how to pray. So much for discernment, even the proponents of modern psychology know how to use auditory and visual clues to guide them in counselling others. That is not spiritual discernment, that is observation based on the principles of basic science utilizing two of our five senses to understand and verify our environment.

Have we forgotten that the Spirit of God dwells within each and every follower of Christ? Do we understand that only spirit can understand spirit? Deep understands deep?

Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls; all your waves and breakers have swept over me. Psalm 42:7 NIV

For those who have understood and comprehended all of the aforementioned, I want to encourage you to pursue the Giver and not just the gifts. At the same time, allow the Spirit of God to work in and through you for the benefit of others. He will indeed lead you and guide you through this life. Deep calls out to deep.

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The War of Loves – From Gay Rights Activism to Knowing Jesus Christ

An interesting story of a young man’s struggle with his own sexuality, discovering the Love of Jesus Christ, and his willingness to share the good news of God’s agape love for humankind.

Daily Roll - Reflections

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“Aim at Heaven and you get Earth thrown in. Aim at Earth and you get neither.” — C.S. Lewis

The sound of the band next door filled the room. The small bar served cocktails named after different literary figures and the usual party drinks. All of Sydney’s literati, fine arts students, and writers were there. I remembered some of the faces from political meetings on campus. One of them was an artist I had dated who obligingly avoided eye contact. Everyone’s eccentric outfits blended with the music and people started dancing. This was Oxford Street, the central strip of the Sydney gay scene and I was at one of the alternative clubs. I used to carry a small journal with me for occasions like these. I would write a philosophical question in the journal and then pass it around to everyone to collect answers. I had my Charlie Chaplin pen…

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Loneliness is not a disease…

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Courtesy Mario Zucca for the Boston Globe.

Loneliness is not something most of us want to talk about. After all, there is often social stigma attached to a lonely person with few or any friends for that matter. In a world of social media, where one is often measured by the number of friends they have on Facebook or the number of kudos and/or comments they receive on WordPress, to be lonely is the equivalent to being a loser, a social outcast or leper.

Continue reading “Loneliness is not a disease…”

Two Evangelists Charged. Tried. Convicted.

Free Speech treaded upon in the UK? Is there any sanity left in this world? Fundamental freedoms hindered and obliterated by the courts?

Islamists may complain. Infidels may criticize. And courts may convict evangelists for preaching Christ. But the Bible is still true. Jesus is The Way. The Truth. The Life.

Ken Weliever, The Preacherman

ThePreachersWord

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Yesterday a Bristol Magistrates’ Court in Great Britain convicted two men, Michael Overd and Michael Stockwell on “public order offences.”

What did they do that resulted in their arrest and conviction?

Was it public indecency? Disturbing the peace? Inciting a riot? Sexual harassment? Discharging a firearm? Disorderly conduct?

No. It was none of the above. I had to fact check this story, because it almost sounded like something from Babylon Bee.

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