What Do You Find?

It seems that the whole world in incensed and offended these days. We see all that is insulting and rude, all that is vile and insensitive, and everywhere you turn you hear about how this thing or that is wrong. But the truth is this: It’s not what others say or do that really sets us off, but how we perceive what they say and do, what we think about it.
One thing I know about humans is that we are seekers. We are continually searching, for a good deal, a new idea, a better way, or for something more. We can’t help it, it’s in our nature, it’s how God created us. And something else I know, whether we realize it or not, we ALWAYS find what we looking for. So my question is this: What do you seek, and more importantly, what do you find?
We are told in Matthew 7:7 to “seek and you will find,” but I don’t think we really take the time to understand what is meant by this. We think it means that if we seek God, we will find Him, and this is certainly true, but it’s more complex than this, more intricate. When we are told to “seek and you will find,” we are being tutored in a school of thought, which encompasses an entire universe of possibilities and what we make of them. It is both an instruction and an admonition, and the surest way to know just what it is we are seeking is to examine what we find. It’s an instruction, because it tells us that to be happy, we must seek, and it’s a warning, because it tells us that we must be mindful of what we look for in others and the world around us, how we perceive the events of our life. You see, what we seek is evidenced by what we find, and what we tell others we have found, also tells them what we have sought. If we find discord and strife, hatred and racism, disrespect and inconsideration, we have been seeking it, and likewise, if we find joy and delight, honor and integrity, love and compassion, these are the things we have also sought.

~SLM

Our Way

Sometimes everything in life seems to be such a fight, a struggle, when nothing seems to go the way you’ve planned it, and obstacles start flying toward you faster than you can duck. When the shit hits the fan, it’s so easy to get off course, get depressed, and wonder just what the hell God is trying to say. It’s funny how we automatically assume that God wants to thwart our plans, to knock us down and show us His displeasure, but is this really God’s way, or is it our way of looking at it?

In Mark 8:34-36, Christ tells us, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 35 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it. 36 What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?”  And, it occurs to me (in the midst of my own struggles) that maybe the obstacles, the road blocks, are really God’s way of checking our faith, of testing our resolve to play it out in God’s time and in God’s way, giving us the chance to lay down our selfish desires and follow.

~SLM

What Now We Harvest

Sometimes it’s the most difficult thing in the world, focusing on the harvest. It’s so easy to get mired down in the drama of everyday life, to get our feelings hurt, if things don’t go exactly as we want them to, and that’s when the temptation to scatter just any old seeds is the strongest.  It’s so much easier to put others down, to puff up our chests with self-righteous indignation for an imagined slight or insult. Matthew 7:8 tells us that whatever we seek we will find, so if we are looking for indignation, we’ll find it, if we’re looking for hate, we’ll find that, too, but, by the same token, of we seek love and compassion, that’s what we find.

It’s so easy to criticize others, to hold them accountable to a standard that we ourselves haven’t the discipline or courage to live by. We are told, “Do not judge, or you, too, will be judged in the same manner that you have judged, and with the same measure that you have used,”(Matthew 7:1-2.) Yet, that doesn’t stop us from looking down on them, from judging them for not leading the exemplary lives that we ourselves are unable to lead. We are, indeed, all hypocrites, aren’t we? We feign outrage when someone else acts in precisely the manner we do. We wail and lament that we find no respect, no honor, no happiness or love, all the while forgetting those seeds we scattered so carelessly, so imprudently – what now we harvest.

~SLM

Bigger Than The Box

Sometimes, because of human nature, and how we assimilate external stimuli, we tend to categorize things, sort them out and stack them up in nice, neat little piles, containing them within a certain space. We even do this with God. We box Him up in a proper little package and define Him in our terms, how we think He ought to be, but we cannot limit God in such a way. Mark tells us that Christ said to his disciples as they questioned him about salvation, “With people it is impossible, but not with God; for all things are possible with God” (Mark 10:27). God is bigger than the box we make for him. He is more than our rudimentary grasp of Him; He is everything and nothing at all, He is every possibility, and He cannot be neatly filed away into our definition of whom and what He is. Sometimes, God’s message for us is not what we want to hear, or how we want to hear it, and we simply cannot afford to close our minds, because we don’t like the message or the messenger.
In the search for truth, we must be ever-vigilant in our quest to recognize the voice of Wisdom. We cannot pick and choose how and when God will give us guidance. He speaks to us in many voices, and not just the voices we know and love, agree with and respect. He uses every means at His disposal to share His truths with us, and it is up to us to have eyes to see and ears to hear.
~SLM

The Whole Truth

Any quest for wisdom, sooner or later, has to address truth, a concept which seems rather elusive in our modern society. It seems funny to me how we think about truth in the “information” age.  Our pop culture sends us many mixed messages, messages that mutate with every new “cool” thing or errant thought, giving us the impression that truth is mutable, a relative notion, an ever changing moving target, evolving over time into what we want it to be.

What is truth and how do we come to it? The Merriam-Webster’s defines truth as: the real facts about something: the things that are true. The noun form of the word true, it means agreeing with the facts, not false, real or genuine. In actuality, truth is the real facts, and as such, the whole truth is all the facts, while half-truths are just certain facts.

When we say things like “that might be true for you, but it’s not true for me,” we are really saying that the facts aren’t realities for us. The facts are the facts, and if we say they aren’t valid for us, we are simply saying that we cannot accept the truth, we are deceiving ourselves. Likewise when someone says, “the truth lies somewhere in the middle, ” it presupposes that neither party is in possession of all the facts, therefore all parties are lying, and it occurs to me that only a liar would presume  everyone is lying as a way to muddy the waters, to deflect guilt, to convince others to share in their lie. And, when we say “there are many paths up the mountain” in an effort to accept all ideologies as equal, we delude ourselves with a half-truth. For while it is, indeed, true that there are many paths which can taken, not all paths lead in the same direction, nor do they all lead to the summit, and most are frankly dead-ends.

The X-Files had it right – the truth is out there, and it is our job to seek it out diligently, consciously, setting our delusional and corrupt egos aside so that we may hear the voice of Truth, recognize it, and as difficult as it may be, accept it, willingly, fully and without adulteration. The whole truth is easy to find, but hard to come by. It’s not relative or variable, it isn’t good for some, but not for others, it doesn’t lead down wayward paths, and it does not change – it is what it is. We are what changes, not the truth; we change in regards to how we see it, how we react to it, how we understand and accept it.

“Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”    John 8:32

~SLM

Proverbs 12: The 3 P’s of Discipline

Proverbs 12 starts with this simple thought:  “Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but whoever hates correction is stupid.” Wow, if ever there was a mantra for the pursuit of Wisdom this would be it; the idea that accepting and even loving discipline produces knowledge, and those who cannot, or will exercise it are fools. It is knowledge and understanding that lead us to Wisdom, and it’s through discipline that we gain knowledge. Discipline is the key, and it occurs to me that discipline should be spelled with 3 P’s.

The first P is pretense, the act of deception. Fools pretend to know, they make up answers to sound more important, more impressive; they are sanctimonious in their opinions, clinging to them stubbornly. But, when we pretend, we lie, we give false testimony, we give bad advice and eventually we become trapped by our tongues. Luke 6:45 tells us, “a good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.” Discipline has no use for deception. Not knowing the truth of a situation doesn’t make us less, it doesn’t mean that we are not smart or that we are worthless. It simply means that we do not know, and all the nonsense in the world will not change the truth.

The second P is prudence, the act of discretion. Fools rush to judgment, and that rarely turns out well. When we are not judicious with a situation, our reckless words and deeds inflict pain and suffering that we cannot take back – once the thoughts are verbalized and the deeds are done, the words and actions are out there forever, and no amount of back-peddling, no amount of contrition can change it. Matthew 7:2 tells us, “in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” Discipline demands discretion, and if we approach life with humility, deliberation, and wisdom, when situations do arise, we can persevere, using the “measure” we would have given unto us.

P number 3 is patience, the act of imperturbability. Fools are easily annoyed – they over react and fly off the handle, act rashly and make snap judgments. In essence, they lack patience. Discipline requires patience, lots of patience, patience to wait for the right timing, to dig a little deeper, to contemplate our next move, to listen to the voice of God. We are wise when we look past the apparent, practicing forbearance and tolerance, looking behind the curtain with consideration and understanding, and acting judiciously.

Correction is a gift from God.  When we are so mired in our own self-righteousness, we are operating from a place of arrogance, a place where we are so filled with ourselves and our own opinions that there is literally no room for a divergent thought.  When we’re in that place we can’t even hear the wind blowing let alone the promptings of Spirit. Verse 14 says, “From the fruit of their lips people are filled with good things, and the work of their hands brings them reward,” and if our goal is to live life in His Wisdom, then we should welcome discipline, be thankful for it, realizing that sometimes fine-tuning is just what is needed for our growth and happiness.

~SLM

Deuteronomy #2: Love is the Answer

If we could summarize God’s law in just a few words, those words would be this: Love is the answer. In Deuteronomy 6:5 we are told, “and you shall love the lord your God with all our heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength,” and this is the heart of the law, the foundation, the fulcrum upon which all else balances.  1 John 4:16, states, “And so we know and rely on the love that God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him,” and Christ tells us this in Matthew 5:17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.”

It’s by following God’s laws, we show our love, we tether ourselves to Him, giving over our hearts, trusting with total abandon, and in return we experience His faithful and steadfast devotion. Romans 13:8 states this; “let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellow man has fulfilled the law.”

The song “Love is the Answer” is stuck in my head, and like a broken record that keeps skipping and repeating these words keep playing in my head:

Light of the world, shine on me

Love is the answer

Shine on us all, set us free

Love is the answer…

And when you feel afraid…Love one another
When you’ve lost your way…Love one another

When you’re all alone …Love one another
When you’re far from home…Love one another

When you’re down and out…Love one another
All your hope’s run out…Love one another

When you need a friend…Love one another
When you’re near the end, love
We got to love, we got to love one another

Funny how god uses whomever he wishes to bring his Word to us, and I wonder how quickly Todd Rundgren wrote this song, and if he felt the power of the Spirit upon him when he did.

~SLM

And in case you’ve never heard, or don’t remember it…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_QZjJU-mtFU