Friday, December 23, 2011

Good (God) versus Bad (Evil)

Wow! My apologies for the long absence.  It certainly has not been for the lack of material!

What about The nativity display in Athens, Texas? It hit the national news scene.

What of the earth quake seismographic technicians say caused by the dam built over a fault line in China?

Of course there is never a shortage of political  material, especially in the pre-election season! The primary elections are coming up in the spring, so mud slinging, name calling, black eyes and thrown punches are common place. I am not saying these common things are okay, just that we have been conditioned to it and does not seem to stir our hearts anymore, but we do let our emotions over power our rational, decency, friendliness and concern. I am devastated!

There are very good reasons and great wisdom in avoiding all of the things that distract us from the truth. For instance, would you want to be in the constant company of someone who was always saying you were wrong about a statement, misled about a concept and at fault for a poor decision? I tend to doubt it. Not even the Grinch in Dr. Susses' tale of "The Grinch Who Stole Christmas" wanted to be ridiculed, scorned or mocked.

We have no problem with being abrupt, curt or even slightly offensive to our family, co-workers and other drivers, but have you ever noticed how quickly our demeanor changes when a friend calls, or public figure walks up?

There is a great admonition in Philippians division 4. I want to focus on a part of the division and I will quote it here:
"Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things."
What a difference! To think on the things that are true (having a standard of right and not being based off of what is not wrong), honorable (respectable; to live by standards; to have conviction) , just (exempt from punishment by law), pure (never sullied with corruption), lovely (beautiful, gorgeous, inspiring to good), commendable, excellent and worthy of praise (valuable of compliment).

Yes, what a difference that would make it our world, if even just 1 in 30 people did this.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The basics of life... Part 2

Belief system > Essentials of life

Love seems a little advanced to start a topic such as "The basics of life", yet if love is not an object but a person, love is not advanced at all because life is claimed by love to be it's progeny. That being a claim which needs research is exactly the reason I chose this posts topic to be the second in this series of "The basics of life."

What do you believe? On what do your beliefs have affect?

You do not exist because of your beliefs, nor do you exist because of someone else's beliefs. A person's beliefs cannot create something or someone, but they can affect something or someone.

Okay, so I have made several statements with which some may not agree. This only illustrates the belief system. Note my statements and you will have some idea of what I believe and what I do not believe on the topic of these statements.

I urge you my reader, listen to the statements you make and from them begin to deduce what you believe. Does what you believe properly align with truth and love, or do they produce behavior in you of ill-repute and offense?

How then do you change beliefs? Well you can try electroshock therapy, though I would not suggest it! You could even try a bit of psychology, though again I would not suggest it. Would it not be logical to seek the assistance of the maker of such a marvelous system as the human body, intellect and gave him the breath of life for the answer?

Sure you must come to this belief yourself, and I will not force the belief on you. When you are ready for the answer, I do hope you will ask Him for it.

Please allow me to leave you with a few quotes regarding our Creator.
"If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.
And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.
If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant
or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;
it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.
Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away.
For we know in part and we prophesy in part,
but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away.
When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways.
For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.
So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love." 1Corinthians 13
"In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth." Genesis 1:1
"Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one." Deuteronomy 6:4
"Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.
By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God,
and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already.
Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.
They are from the world; therefore they speak from the world, and the world listens to them.
We are from God. Whoever knows God listens to us; whoever is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error.
Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.
Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.
In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him.
In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another." 1 John 4:1-11
Thank you for reading! I hope and pray it gives you something to think about. I know it points you toward the right place for right and proper changes. 

Friday, July 8, 2011

The basics of life... Part 1

"What is love?"

There are so many things that fill our eyes, ears, thoughts and lives that we often can not recall where they came from. If we do an action and later question our motives; or repeat a phrase before thinking about it then in our embarrassment asking ourselves where we heard it, it can really come solely from one place.
Our heart.
 Whether it be a family expression, societal refrain or time in history, it does not matter; we refer to our heart as the seat of our emotions. We say such things as "I love you with all my heart!" or "I'll always treasure it in my heart!" Somehow by bringing our heart into our description conveys a deeper feeling for the person or gift from the one whom we so treasure.

The communication we so desire our loved one to receive is that we appreciate them and their kind actions toward us. Yet all we communicate by word or action, only represent the truth. It is similar to describing something to a blind person.

Have you ever tried to explain a sunset to someone who only has a concept of light and dark. How about describing a flower to someone who is only familiar with the aroma of flowers in general? If you can do so, it is not easy and is not done in the way that you explain the same thing to a sighted person!

I dare say to that when you have succeeded you have not given the person the sunset or flower you described, but only the essence of it!

Up to this point I've only given you, my reader, a faint essence of the fragrance that I call romance. From this point on I will describe romance; in a visual manner; as a vapor, or by sense of smell as a tantalizing and winsome aroma. Something transient and intangible.

I have spent a good many years thinking and wondering about people. What is their passion for that one they adore? What is the origin of such emotion? Some people revolt to such an expression of regard for another because they say such a fascination as "romance" will never last. Others sit back and hope that from romance, or infatuation, will grow an enduring love; such hope is the stuff of romance novels.

I know that this post began with a question of Love's true definition. A good place to start in such a case is to examine our pre-conceived notions and consider the relevance of each notion to the topic. Thus romance and infatuation often being called "love" were two of my first notions to address and prove to be "not love."

In Love's expansive reach is yet another side which we have not yet explored.

What of provision and consideration? Is it not loving someone to provide them with all the things they want? Is it loving someone to constantly go out of our way to afford them every possible consideration?

For example: After reading each interaction chose one of the two answers at the end which you think shows true love.

Romance/Infatuation: A dating couple go out to a park to walk around and talk after having dinner with a healthy chat at the table. After some time they find a bench surrounded with flower and low shrubs for some privacy, illuminated by the silvery light of the moon. "What a romantic spot!" she thinks as he too notices and suggest they take a rest. He knows that he must be careful not to move too quickly with her, because she is a little timid and would rather wait until their wedding day to show him the affection she has for him through their first kiss. He's always respected that for her sake, but he feels a little unsure that their relationship will really work out if they do not truly love each other. The only certain way that he feels they can be sure of their mutual love for each other is if she will acquiesce to his desire for a trial run at love with a romantic moonlit kiss. "After all, isn't that what a girl dreams about? Her prince appears and lays a big romantic kiss on her lips clearing all her doubts as toward whom his intentions are focused? The added ambiance can only help her be relaxed about this, right?" he asked himself as they sit down.
What is love for boy-friend toward girl-friend?
  1. Attempt a romantic kiss even though he knows her desires and convictions?
  2. Continue respecting her request to save her gift to him through their first kiss?
Provision/Consideration: Grand-daughter stops by her aging, diabetic grandfather's house everyday on her way home from work to talk with him and get him anything he may need that he can not get himself. He says, "Thank you sweet heart, but I'm doing fine. I would appreciate it though if you could bring by a carton of Tin Roof Sundae ice cream for me when you stop by tomorrow!"

  1. She knows that he doesn't like the sugar free ice cream so should she buy the regular ice cream he is asking for?
  2. Should she not buy it for him and respectfully tell him that she can not; because of his diabetic condition?
What was your choice? If you chose answer 2. for either situation, you are right! Love does not force someone to go against their convictions, nor will it aid someone in abusing themselves.

My point in this is that love is something more than infatuation and romance or provision and consideration. Love is tangible, searchable

You can sense the signs of their love for you by sight and smell but to touch their love as anyone would hold a bouquet of freshly cut flowers is quite impossible. Even though the flowers will carry their tantalizing aroma with them after being cut, their winsome aroma will fade faster than if they had been left living in their native plant. So you see the flower is not love but it is the action from love which you can handle and the tantalizing aroma that you can enjoy.

The love in you is more tangible than that in another. For you see, love; as I said before; is tangible and personable, but not by you as it is in another. Love is a personal thing. Not that you love yourself, for that is the perversion of love. You must first receive love from the One who is love. Then as you receive love you are free to give it away by means of winsome aromas and refreshing mists. This is what I mean that love is not the flower, for if it was you would have always given refreshing mists and pleasing scents, but now we see that it is not me that is the source of the beauty merely the outlet. It is the love in me that equips and enables me to share this love in romance with my wife and a refreshing mist to my children and friends.

So if romance, infatuation, provision and consideration are only a part of love, what is love?

Love is a God who created a world and all of the matter in it, including humans to rule over and care for it. He loved it all so much that He was willing to let man choose the way he would travel (God's way, or the way which is "not God's"). Man chose "not God's" way causing a corruption in himself, his wife and all of the rest of universe because it is under his care.

Each of us were born into this corruption and guilty because we have each chosen to do things our own way rather than God's (God's way being the way of love).

Even still, love is offered as a free gift to any who will receive it. God who is love " loved the world, that he gave his only natural born Son, that whosoever believes in him should not die, but have life that has no end."

"...let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loves is born of God, and knows God. He that does not love does not know God; for God is love." (1John 4:7, 8 emphasis added)
 This is just the beginning, the refreshing mist I used as an illustration for romance. I hope this will wet your appetite so that you will search out the truth about love. Because life without love is a living death.

Monday, July 4, 2011

What was the point?

When the united States of America declared "That these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown..." it was not a declaration of rebellion, because any study through the biographies of the men that signed the document we call "The Declaration of Independence" would reveal a surprising amount of petitioning and appeals much before any act of defensive war.

This is another point I do not wish to belabor but to remind us that rebellion is not the word for the war that won our independence from Great Britain; the British had already made acts of war on the citizens of the thirteen British colonies in the Americas. Our actions were those of self-defense not initiative warfare throwing insult and offense into the face of our political authority.

I often wonder how our friends in Great Britain feel about our celebrating over here and vilifying them as  a people. Remember this is the day we remember the signing of the Declaration of Independence! There was much work and danger after this day, 235 years ago! We are not celebrating the demise of British friends! It was painful to take-up arms against our fellow countrymen! Our document which declares us free and independent of the crown of Great Britain is clear, we relate to them as we do any other nation, "We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends."

Our desire for freedom was not simply to live free from an oppressive government under King George, III. The colonists sought to be loyal to the British crown asking for the freedom to worship as directed by the written word of God and not the dictates of a state run church.

Many people today think that the only or primary reason for our independence was because we were being taxed and not represented. The grievance of taxation was seventeenth in a list of twenty-seven! Taxation ranked in the LAST half of the grievances, not first or even primary! 

What then would be the first freedoms which they would wish to protect?

Reading the Bill of Rights, we learn that their desire was to protect the free exercise of seeking God. No interference or opposition from government!

Let us remember these thing on this day: 

  1. In this time of peace, we praise God for our friends the British (largely from whom we descend)! 
  2. In this time of history we have the peace to seek the meaning of truth without pressure of conforming to one thing or another, but making our beliefs and faith our own!
  3. We still have the freedom "to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

Monday, June 27, 2011

Are fathers really the providers?

The answer to my post about fathers and what is expected of them really is simple. The explanation of that simple answer though is the difficult part of this post.

It sounds rather irresponsible to say that father's are not supposed to be the providers; though if you think about this situation from an abstract perspective, it can make a lot of sense.

We think ourselves to be autonomous and separate from almost every possible supplier of things that we need. We honestly think that we; as working adults; provide food, money and shelter for ourselves and our family. Is that the case?

From the practical aspect, yes the father should work to earn money which then can be used to care for the needs of the family.

To look at it from the abstract as stated in the beginning of this post, provision is truly much more than money.

Money cannot provide love.
Money cannot provide friends.
Money cannot provide a spouse.
Money cannot provide family.
Money cannot provide a home.
Money cannot provide children.

Money is in a sense powerless. It is the value placed in a currency that is exchanged for services rendered by a worker for the employer.

In past centuries, exchanging currency for labor was something that the wealthy were able to participate in with the upper class citizens. On the other side of the society a system called "bartering" was used to repay services. Most of the time the objects used in bartering were foods or clothing. In some cases a tenant would work for the land-lord to pay for that months rent of property and house.

Even still it is not the work which provides these needs. The father did the work, as also the mother may have engaged in some craft to barter for food items in the market.

The past centuries I mentioned where bartering was more practiced, could be the 1st through the 6th centuries and even as late as the 19th century. If in the 1st century someone were to suggest that God was not supplying their needs, they would receive a strong reaction from anyone who heard such an accusation, because atheism was unheard of and Gnosticism was largely unthinkable although growing.

Why such a strong reaction? Perhaps the better question is "Why such a weak response today?"

The answer is this; by our pushing further away from God there is less cause to draw distinctions between good and bad, right or wrong. In fact not only is there less cause to draw such distinctions but it has become offense to do so!

If atheism is true, because God does not exist then right or wrong is subjective and what is right to one person could be wrong for another, but in the end is not truly wrong because there is no standard to measure either right or wrong. So that distinction between right and wrong really becomes "I can do whatever I want." It sounds good; until you begin to see that you really are not able to care for your needs much less the needs of anyone else because it is just as right to do what you want as to do what someone else wants!

If Gnosticism is true, because God is aloof (meaning that He is not personally involved in our lives), then right and wrong is only as objective as I need it to be to preserve my wealth, health, family and pride. This also sounds good until you realize that everyone else lives the same way that you are and you really come back to the same problems with which the atheistic society is dealing.

If God is true, because God created the world and all the matter/substance in it; then He provides our food, clothes, spouse, family and shelter. He demonstrates true love to us because He created us and has been taking care of our needs ever since! We enter the picture and exchange our sweat for money and in turn exchange it for the things we forget He is providing.

It is our self-centered ideology which turns our reasoning into self-reliance or self-sufficiency when we could do nothing if He had not created us first; kept us maintained second; and third loved us so much as to let us go off in our selfishness so that we might learn He is really our provider!

This brings me to this simple answer I mentioned at the start of this post. "No, fathers are not the providers. Father are simply the person who is supposed to be in the presence of God (by prayer)  listening to Him as He asks the father of his family's needs and answering in humility with respect."

Can it get any more simple than that?

Friday, June 17, 2011

Fathers Day

Fathers day is coming quickly. What bit of character would you say best defines a father (dad, or daddy)? Listed below are a few things I find frequently expected of fathers in our society that I cannot expect any man to actually fulfill.

1. Protection from evil, hate, lust, greed, crime and bodily injury.
2. Provision of home, food (balanced in medical suggestion and dietary calibration), weekly stipend, college tuition, transportation and clothing (just to get started in the provision category).
3. To raise or have raised children capable of benefiting society without having received a proper raising themselves.

What is fatherhood then?

Come back to find out what Contrasted Light does with the subject.

So much noise...yet one voice can speak above them all.

Have you ever noticed that all over the world there are a few choice spots where people go to "get away"? "Get away from what?" you ask? There are some people in the world that are more sensitive to noise than others; most of the time it is a sensitivity to the lack of noise.

What does this blog have to do with noise being titled "Contrasting Light"? I'm going to be up front with you reader by telling you that I will make statements and ask questions that should cause you to think and reflect on societal ideals, religious teachings, social morality, political viability and your personal beliefs. Nothing I write in any post on this blog is or will be aimed toward any one individual, but may arise from interaction with a person(s).

Back to the question "What does a blog named 'Contrasting Light' have to do with noise? Noise has a way of changing from a threat to warm greeting depending on the illumination of the person or object making the noise. Light is a basic and vital element to our existence.

What makes noise around you? What makes noise in you? I am referring to your thoughts and 'mindless' activity. Can you sit in a quiet room in peace, or must you occupy yourself with movement, noise or futile thoughts?

In the middle east lived a teacher who took authoritative command over the elements of weather and sea during a violent storm. Speaking to the stormy winds and turbulent sea said, "Peace, be still." Centered in the most unnerving circumstance, surrounded by noise he said, "Peace, be still."

Do you wish at times that you could tell the noise in your life to be at peace and be still? Is this the stuff of vacations; changing one noise for another, or more noise for less?

I write this not to make a case for a silent world, but to ask how comfortable are you with silence? If you had no music albums from your favorite singer, radio to listen to your favorite station or internet tools to search for noise on the world wide web, would you go crazy?

Jesus, the teacher in the middle east I mentioned earlier, accepted silence, as well as knowing the proper time to speak out above the noise to restore the peace and stillness. I have a desire to see more people working in wisdom knowing when to speak out above the noise, restoring peace and stillness to a mad, noisy and violent world. Many people are talking and pushing for "peace", "safety" and condemning violence, which only produces more violence, unrest and danger.

The only way I see peace and stillness will be restored is to swallow my pride, say to the person I am speaking to "I apologize. You are right and I was wrong in doing... Will you please forgive me?" That will stop the stormy winds, but still leaves us to deal with the turbulent sea and torrential rain.

I made the winds allegorical to relations man to man, but the turbulent sea and torrential rains are the results of my choices which I made,  choosing to ignore the results knowing all too well that I alone was to blame. When you fear the capsizing of the ship you are in and drowning by unforgiving waves towering over you, that is when everyone I know calls on God to save them. Why do they call on God? Why should He save them? He told them what would come because of their choices. He didn't do this to them. He didn't tell them to make a bad decision.

Why do people blame God if He does not save them from their rain and waves? If God is good, why does He allow bad things to happen to good people? After all isn't this the whole situation of noise in our lives...noise "Management", "Damage control", "Sanity salvaging"?

No, noise is a reminder to me that unless, I get my pride out of the way (humility) and depend on Jesus for all of my needs (redemption) while still surrounded by noise and confusion, I will drown in the sea of my own folly.

Until next time; I leave you with your noise (thoughts).