Opening the Gift of the Present

The GIft

Today as I ate my lunch, I decided to do a little research regarding, “How to increase focus and concentration” and I found some nuggets to add to my treasure chest. In my search, I found that what resonated with me more was actually some information on what to focus and concentrate on more so than how to increase focus and concentration.

These days I find it increasingly rare to have someone’s undivided attention. Once upon a time it was considered rude to engage someone without stopping what you were doing to make eye contact. When someone looks directly at you it is a sign that you have their attention. These days you are often forced to share someone’s attention with personal electronics like mobile phones, laptops, and other multimedia devices. There are times when multi-tasking is the best way to be productive and then there are times when giving less than your undivided attention results in time thwarted. Sometimes when you are not fully engaged in something that is occurring, you miss cues and subtleties that give important information causing that time to be less fruitful.

We have been given life by a GOD that is detailed to an infinitesimal degree. He packs so much into every moment we live. The secret to abundant life is learning to be fully aware in every moment we are blessed to live, in order to be mindful of the present goodness. Be sure the things you focus on are worthy of your time, and if anything is worthy of your time, you should make sure you get everything you can out of it. Prudence is one of the truest markers of maturity and enlightenment.

Enjoy these exerts from an article I read from a website called “The Art of Manliness” :

“Modernity has given us a lot of comforts and conveniences, but it has also unleashed a torrent of stimuli competing for our attention. To live a truly flourishing life amidst this cacophony of distractions, mastering your attention is key. At the end of your life, who you’ve become, what you’ve learned and accomplished, and who’s there at the end with you will be the sum total of what you chose to pay attention to each year, day, and hour of your life. Will a series of cat videos flash before your eyes? Or will you look back on the deep conversations you had with your family and friends, the books that changed your life, and the little details you discovered in all the places you visited?”

“Practice attentive listening. Focus isn’t just useful for intellectual endeavors. It’s also an essential interpersonal skill. The ability to be present with a loved one or friend builds your rapport, intimacy, and trust with them. At the same time, making an effort to focus all your energy on someone else strengthens your concentration muscles overall. It’s win-win. So next the time you’re talking with your main squeeze, put away your phone and listen as attentively as possible.”

Practice mindfulness:

“Mindfulness is simply focusing completely on what you’re doing, slowing down, and observing all of the physical and emotional sensations you are experiencing in that moment.”

All the life you have is happening right now, everything beyond this present moment is a matter of faith.

 

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A Glimpse Through A Hole

Sole Hole

I took a walk for a season in my neighbor’s shoes,

The holes in the bottom nearly gave me the blues,

My socks got wet whenever I walked in the rain,

The constant pebbles inside almost drove me insane,

I became more conscience of the things on the ground,

A necessity for new paths is also what I found,

In my own shoes I could travel with much more ease,

My soles were in great shape I could go where I please,

But now I know why my neighbor travels different ways,

And whenever he’s late I am more compassionate these days.

Holy Spirit Fire Works on Independence Day

Fireworks

GOD told His prophet Moses to tell the Israelites that “I AM” sent you. GOD is the self-existent one; unlike everyone else or everything else, which exist by Him. Mankind, the children of the great “I AM”, realize that they “are” too. Everyman reaches a point in his life when he becomes conscious of himself and professes inwardly that “I am”. However man’s profession that “I am” is incomplete because he is defined by the great “I AM”. GOD’s profession is “I AM that I AM”, because He is defined by Himself. He Himself is all that ever was and all that ever will be. We are only because He is. He defines us. Since He defines us, He completes our profession. In other words, we are who He says we are, not who we self-proclaim that we are. This is the humility that all men must learn before they can be fulfilled in Life. This is at the essence of what Holy Scripture calls the “Fear of the Lord”. Until we understand ourselves in the light of who the “I AM” says we are, we are lost. The prophet Isaiah says it this way, “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned everyone to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him (Yeshua) the iniquity of us all.”

When mankind chose independence from GOD and decided to self-govern, he went astray. GOD is the virtuous light of true vision, no one can guide virtuously without Him. Yeshua put it this way when He spoke a parable to the disciples, “Can the blind lead the blind? Shall they not both fall into the ditch? The disciple is not above his master: but every one that is perfect shall be as his master.” The way to being perfect, whole, mature, complete is by returning to the governance or obedience of GOD. Man must again allow GOD to define who he is. Man must allow GOD to guide him back to his true self.

Yeshua is the path to becoming our true selves again. As the prophet Isaiah says, the burden of our redemption has been laid on Yeshua. The book of 1st Peter says, “Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed. For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.”

When I obey the great “I AM” then “I AM His son”, “I AM holy”, “I AM righteous”, “I AM an heir to the Kingdom”, “I AM a royal priesthood”, “I AM a holy nation”, “I AM an expression of all that He is”, “I AM saved!” The book of John says, “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” Through faith in the gospel of Christ, don’t let anything or anyone define you other than the great “I AM”.

 

Revelations from the Eye of the Storm

The Exercise

I had a discussion recently with a white male friend of mine about the different perspectives people can have based on their life experiences. The conversation led to him sharing how he knew he was a beneficiary of white male privilege in America and how that privilege has led to a disconnect sometimes when it comes to him understanding the Black perspective. The next day he sent me a couple of different links to videos of Jane Elliot’s “Brown Eyed/ Blued Eyed” exercises. Some of you may be familiar with the work of Jane Elliot but in case you are not, she is an educator that has done some good work on exposing the racism innate in American culture. Her work began the day after Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated. She did an exercise with her primary school students, who were all white, to help them understand the struggle Dr. King was involved in, which ultimately cost him his life.

In her exercise, she poses two groups against the other; one group represents people of color (brown-eyed participants) and one group represents white people (blued-eyed participants). Jane Elliot then has the brown-eyed group partner with her as she subjects the blue-eyed group to the reality of American racism as experienced historically by America’s non-white citizens. It was very surprising to see the level of anger and frustration exhibited by the Blue eyed participants as Jane treated them with contempt and disrespect, even though they had been forewarned and knew it was a staged exercise. For me, it had the effect of validating my own experiences in a new way. The experiment showed me how mentally disruptive even small doses of racism could be on its victims in less than 30 minutes, not to mention its potential impact when endured for over 400 plus years. I always knew that Black people were strong, but it was illuminated in a whole new way as I watched people buckle under weights I carried as a child; weights that only got heavier with the increased gravity that comes with age and the responsibilities of life. It reinforced the belief I have that if all men are created equal, then there are external forces creating the large disparities seen throughout American society.

The impetus of racism is the need to justify a system of oppression. Ta-Nehisi Coates in an article from “The Atlantic” quotes David Blight, A Yale Professor, on the subject of The Civil War and Reconstruction. Blight says that at the maturation of Slavery in America it was the largest financial asset in the entire U.S. economy, worth upwards of $3.5 billion, exceeding the profits of all manufacturing and railroads combined. The bible says that the love of money is the root of all evil. This would explain America’s wicked obsession with oppression as a means to profit. See Ava Duvernay’s “13th” production for a well-documented illustration of this point. Racism is perpetuated in America because oppression is still government policy. How can the poor and oppressed gain equality in a society where law and law enforcement favors the rich? Bryan Stevenson is the founder of the Equal Justice Initiative. He is also an American lawyer and Social Justice Activist. Bryan states that in the USA you are treated better if you are wealthy and guilty, than if you are poor and innocent.

If equality in the pursuit of happiness is to become a realization, the epidemic heart disease of greed must be dealt with. Greed is incubated and hatched through selfishness and nourished by fear. Desire infected with greed distorts perception and perverts judgment. The only cure is Love. Love breaks the power of selfishness and eliminates fear. The kind of Love as taught through biblical principles. The love that gives at the expense of self for the benefit of all, contrary to selfishness which takes for the benefit of self without consideration for anyone else. The false dearth created through racism will continue to ravish society, until we all learn to love one another as ourselves. There is but one race, the human race.

[Image is from janeelliott.com]

 

Fire Insurance or Life Insurance

cross1

As we approach another religious observation of Easter, aka Resurrection Sunday, what is the take away from reflection on the Cross? I have spoken with many Christians on the topic; it seems the prevailing take-a-way is “Fire Insurance”. The carnal man, as we all are initially, is mostly concerned about avoiding hell fire. He wants that fire insurance. Knowing this, many churches have parked on the gospel of forgiveness to fill the pews. Most see the Cross of Christ as a means of avoiding damnation and relieving the burden of guilt. These are great blessings, but they are not the benefits most emphasized in scripture. A gospel centered primarily on the Cross as a means of forgiveness will always promote sin consciousness. This is so prevalent that most Christians see themselves as mere sinners. What is the result of this perspective? …more sin. Proverbs states, “As a man thinks in his heart, so is he.” If you see yourself as a sinner, then you expect that you will sin. This mindset binds you to the habits of death that the Savior came to free you from. This fire insurance is a carnal interpretation of salvation from those who have failed to understand the true virtue of the Cross.

As far as fire goes Christ doesn’t save us from fire, He assures us of fire. He tells us that our life’s work will be tested by fire, we will be purified by fire, and the Holy Spirit is the Baptism by fire. In fact, He desires that we would be ablaze for Him and His Kingdom. Fire is common for believers.

When I was a teenager, I had a discussion with a man on the bus who tried to persuade me that Christianity was a religion taught to me by my oppressor. He also told me that the cross symbolized death. He went onto to say that he couldn’t understand why people would wear a symbol that represented death. While the Cross does remind us of the death of Yeshua, it also reminds us more importantly of the power of His resurrection. Yes, Christ died for all, but He was also resurrected and obtained new life for all. The teaching of the Cross in Holy Scripture emphasizes this new Life. Yeshua said, “I come that you might have life, and that you might have it more abundantly.” The Cross of the Gospel of Christ is where the eternal life of Yeshua is made available to those willing to lay down their own interpretation of living. Existence outside of the life that Christ gives is filled with the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, the pride of life, and fear. The life given to us through the Cross of Christ is the life of an obedient son of GOD. The obedience in this new life is rooted in Love and is lived out in Spirit and Truth. It is a life that is pleasing to GOD; a life that is centered in GOD.

When the teaching of the Cross is limited only to forgiveness, it leaves men attached to their carnal lives. It offers them compassion without a cure for their suffering. So much more has been provisioned through the Cross. It was nearly impossible to know GOD before the Life of Christ was made available through the Cross. The only life obtainable was the life inherited through Adam, which rebels against GOD and questions His Love in unbelief. This carnal life from Adam is alienated from GOD in that it has made a god of its own carnal reasoning.

We have to leverage the love manifested to us in the Cross of Christ unto a new hope and belief, and to faith in the promises of GOD’s love, which goes beyond forgiveness but also brings the promise of a new and powerful Life.

The powers of darkness don’t want you to know the fullness of the Love manifested through the Cross. It is a divine Love that breaks the shackles of sin and enables you to manifest the Light of GOD. All sin is rooted in selfishness and fear. The scripture teaches us that GOD’s perfect Love cast out fear. Fear is diminished in us as we grow in our understanding of the Love of GOD. The secure embrace of GOD’s love frees us from self-concern and empowers us to love others with divine love. Divine love being that beautiful and sacrificial love, that gives at the cost of self to benefit others.

The true sign that we understand and appreciate the Cross of Christ is that we have also taken up our own cross, by daily sacrificing carnal living, that the spiritual Life of Yeshua might be manifest in us. Just as the Spirit raised Yeshua from the dead, the Holy Spirit is present in the earth to empower new life in us. The Holy Spirit opens the life-giving teachings of Yeshua to us, and affirms the love of the Father in our hearts. He who the Son makes free is free indeed. He frees us through the workings of the Cross.

Belief Is Very Simply Miraculous

toddler walking

Let’s not change the impossible gospel of Christ to make it more obtainable. The disciples asked Yeshua, “Who then can be saved?” The answer, “With men it is impossible, but with God all things are possible,” replied Yeshua. Most Christians I encounter are stuck at impossible. While it is impossible for a man to live the abundant life of Christ through his own effort but it is possible through GOD. Yeshua said, “Through God, ALL things are possible.”  Many people would agree to this but few people believe it. This is not the testimony of most believers. This is not what is taught in most churches. Most churches and Christians share a more practical gospel than that which Yeshua taught. This is also why Christianity is seen as just one religion, tossed to and fro in a sea of diverse beliefs.  The Gospel of Christ should be a light house for those seeking rest on solid ground.

Are you, as a Christian, tangibly demonstrating the superiority of your belief in Christ?  Does your salt have savor? Is your candle truly lit? This line of questioning can trigger a barrage of emotions but the number one question that comes to mind is “Are we doing enough?” This question speaks to the root of why most Christians do not standout. It takes us all the way back to the alienated mind of man, after the disobedience in the Garden of Eden. It’s not about our knowledge of “good” and what we should be doing as Christians. It’s about are we surrendering everything, including our ideas about what is good and what is impossible to the knowledge of GOD.

The big difference in the Gospel of Christ is resurrection life. GOD can only resurrect that which is dead. GOD will not build on any foundation other than a foundation He has laid. Our task is to tear down and empty ourselves of all that conflicts with the knowledge GOD. The Christian journey begins with belief, not understanding. This is why faith is so crucial to following GOD. When you look at those in scripture who benefitted from the miraculous power of Christ, you see it was their belief in Him that enabled them to receive, not their understanding of how He would do it.  Don’t let your limited understanding of reality limit you from benefitting from all that truly is. A little belief beyond your understanding goes a long way in the eternal realm. Babies see their parents and siblings walking and start moving around and pulling up on stuff, standing, balancing , and finally walking, without considering how much they weigh, if they have enough muscle, if their bones are strong enough or any of that. On a very basic level, they identify that they are the same so they can do it too. Yahweh calls us His sons and daughters, however most Christians I encounter consider sharing His attributes unobtainable.

When Christians become born again, isn’t the new life in them the life of Christ? We are often stuck in who we use to be instead of expecting the life of Christ in belief. We should be expecting His holiness, His peace, His faithfulness, His love, and His life. The funny thing is that the person we believe our selves to be is much less real, than the person we dare to become, in the likeness of Christ. The person that GOD is calling us to be is based on reality He has created. The person we hold ourselves to is based primarily on the acceptance of lies and ignorance. Imagine what would happen if a baby saw his parents regularly walking on water, the same as on land. Your understanding says the baby would probably end up drowning but Peter the Apostles that walked on water with Christ would most likely have a different perspective. I am learning by the power of the Holy Spirit to get out of my own way, through simple belief in GOD.

 

Panning The River Of Life For Knowledge

Finding gold. gold panning or digging. Gold on wash pan.

I thank my GOD for His compassion, in giving us His mercy and truth. Through the sacrifice of the Holy Lamb of GOD, we are being granted the knowledge of Truth unto new life. The process of seeing Truth is like looking through a glass. In order to see through to the other side, the glass has to be clear on both sides. GOD has cleaned the outside of the glass with the blood of the Lamb. It is only through the divine orchestration of life experiences that the inside becomes clear. Only GOD can prepare the soil of the heart for the seed of Truth. Sometimes this is through inspiration, but more often it is through humbling experiences that reveal our character defects and weaknesses. Scripture teaches that there is humiliation before exaltation.

Ignorance and deception are key weapons used by the powers of darkness to destroy us and keep us oppressed. When we understand this, along with how privileged we are to have access to Truth, we should be vigilant in seeking enlightenment. The book of wisdom teaches in Proverbs 16:6, “By mercy and truth iniquity is purged: and by the fear of the Lord men depart from evil.”

Also in Ecclesiastes 7:12, “For wisdom is a defense, and money is a defense: but the excellency of knowledge is, that wisdom giveth life to them that have it.”

What I am getting to is this; the knowledge of Truth can be a liberating and transformative force, if we seek it and handle it with care. Holy Scripture teaches us the proper process for handling Truth. Follow this process to gain freedom, to be transformed, to find new life.

Study: Reward your curiosity with research. Seek to understand why. Take counsel with the mature. Read the bible and attend bible studies where there is a dialogue more so than a monologue. Don’t clutter your life to the degree that your mind can’t focus. Pray. Meditate. Listen.

Acknowledge / Confess: When you study, you will find that you are doing some things incorrect and some things that can be done better. Acknowledge the need to change. Share what you learned with someone who can encourage you and hold you accountable to making a change and pray for you.

Repent / Turn: If you find a better path or that you are on the wrong path, stop and prepare to change. Even if you aren’t sure which direction to go in next, don’t continue in the wrong direction. It is better to be still and wait on GOD than to continue in error. If you know the right direction, make the correction immediately.

Plan / Strategize: The bible teaches us to plan out our salvation in fear and trembling. A mature person lives their knowledge. No man lives unto himself and we will all give account to the Creator for what we did with the gift of Life. Proverbs 24:6 says, “For by wise counsel thou shalt make thy war: and in multitude of counsellors there is safety.” There is no happenstance in our life; everything we experience is the result of some action. Our circumstance is either the result of our own decision or the decision of someone else. When we, with intentionality, base our decisions and actions virtuously on the knowledge of Truth, we maximize the potential for life in us and others as well.

The bible teaches us that GOD is in us both to will and to do His good pleasure. When we seek, embrace, and cherish Truth, the means to live a good and virtuous life avails itself. This is the hope of everyman that has answered the call of reconciliation to GOD.

Matthew 7:7-8, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.”

James 1:5, “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.”

1 Peter 1:2-8, “Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord, according as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; and to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; and to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”