19 “On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!”20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord. 21 Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.”22 And with that, he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.23 If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.” – John 20:19-23
Ant. 1: This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad. Alleluia.
Insight 1 – Part 1: Jesus appeared to many people after His resurrection but the first to whom He appeared was Mary Magdalene. (John 20:16-17) It is here we see the loving mercy of Christ as He tells her to go tell the others that He has risen. The suspense was now over, the truth now finally revealed. The guilt and confusion pushed to the side as Jesus announces that He is alive – concurring death forever! I often think about this moment when Jesus came to Mary alive, her only word, ‘Teacher!’ was said out of shock or perhaps more of a sigh of relief. How quickly did her sadness change to joy? That is what it will be like when we pass away and go to Heaven and see Christ for the first time… sadness turned to instant joy! What must have been racing in her mind as she ran to tell the others? How was she going to announce the good news? I wonder if she thought; would they believe? When she burst into the room the disciples were all hiding, how joyful her voice must have been yet they did not believe her. The visual clues must have been confusing for the disciples when they saw how excited she was. Now in John’s account, this joyful news was in the morning and that Jesus appeared to the disciples in the evening of the first day…
The Resurrection Narrative
According to Matthew, Mark, & Luke
In Matthew’s account, (Matthew 28:1-10) both Mary’s witnessed an angel from Heaven descending to earth and caused an earthquake. Then the angel rolled back the stone and invited Mary, mother of James, Salome, Joanna, and Mary Magdalene to come into the tomb to see that it was empty. It was the angel who told them to go tell the disciples and on their way Jesus appeared to them both. In Mark’s account, (Mark 16:1-8) which closely supports Matthew’s account in that it was an angel who told the two Mary’s to go tell the others. The main difference is that the two Mary’s did not see the angel roll back the stone as the angel had already done this and was inside the tomb when the two women came in. The longer ending of Mark, (Mark 16:9-10) supports the individual appearance by Jesus to Mary Magdalene alone. It also states that the disciples did not believe her. Mark also further mentions an appearance to two disciples on the road to the countryside. These two unnamed disciples came back and told the others and were also not believed. Finally, in Luke’s account, (Luke 24:1-12) Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and some other women who went with them which are unnamed coming to the tomb with spices to anoint the body of Jesus. Supporting Mark, the stone was already rolled away by the time they got there. When they went in they did not find Jesus’s body but were greeted by two angels who reminded them of what Jesus had told them in Galilee, that he would die and be raised on the third day. They then returned to the disciples who did not believe them. (Luke 24:12) Tells that Peter got up and ran to the tomb and was amazed! Luke also supports the appearance of Jesus by two disciples, Cleopas & and an unnamed disciple while walking into the countryside, but does not tell of where they were actually headed… but we later find out they were going to the town of Emmaus. This account goes into detail of the conversations they had with Jesus without knowing it was the risen Lord. It ends with the breaking of bread and their eyes being opened and once this had happened Jesus disappeared and the two men went back to tell the disciples of what had happened to them. In all during the first day, Jesus had appeared to;
On that first day, Jesus appeared to approximately 23 people in various places
Ant. 2: After eight days, although the doors were locked, the Lord came among them and said: ‘Peace be with you.’ Alleluia.
Insight 1 – Part 2: Peter got up and ran to the tomb! (Luke 24:34) then in the evening after all the witnesses came to tell the disciples of the risen Christ – Jesus finally appears to them. (John 20:19-23) At this point, Peter is the only male disciple who had seen the risen Christ, as opposed to all the major female characters who had all seen Him, talked to Him, and in which truly believed. It was the women disciples who proclaimed that Jesus has risen and to this point, none of them were believed by the male disciples. Why was it that they did not believe? The hint is within, (John 20:19), they were afraid, terrified, and in Peters case depressed because of his three denials of knowing Jesus. In such a state how could they go out and preach about Jesus, and I really think that Thomas gets the worse wrap of them all by being labeled, ‘Doubting Thomas’, for clearly at this point they all did not believe it possible for Jesus to be alive for their collective grief had taken them over.
Therefore, I tell you, my brothers and sisters, Jesus appeared to His disciples to lift their spirit, prove that He is the Son of Man, and to dispell this fear they had deep in their hearts. Mercy was extended to them all in different but similar ways as none could refute His divine powers. As for Thomas who had to wait eight days, and the second appearance to His disciples was invited by Jesus to stick his finger into Jesus’s side as proof of the resurrection. For truly I say to you that if Jesus’s body had been stolen from the tomb, thus not risen, then in the words of Saint Paul, ‘If Christ has not risen, then our proclamation has been in vain and your faith has been in vain.’ – Jesus’ Resurrection, (pg.118) The Catholic Faith Handbook for Youth, Saint Mary’s Press. Furthermore, the following three things we factually know because Christ did rise from the tomb;
1.) Jesus is confirmed as the Son of God
2.) All of Jesus’s teaching is in fact true
3.) The divine truth of the Paschal Mystery – That death is not the end.
Guiding Question: “Do you personally believe that Jesus Christ was raised from the dead?” “Why is this fundamental question so important?”
Answer Q2: This core belief; that Christ was raised from the dead on the third day is so important because how you answer this question determines how seriously you believe in Jesus, His teachings, the reason why He had to die, and His promises He has made to you and the rest of mankind. If your answer is, ‘Yes! I believe in His resurrection!’ Then how can you not make Jesus the center of your life?
For I tell you, my brothers and sisters, that this is why we celebrate His divine mercy. For through His suffering and death we; all of God’s children will have everlasting life with Him in heaven forever and ever. How much greater our reward in heaven to have not seen but yet believe? We celebrate because of Jesus Christ, His absolute truth within His words, His divine promises which he fulfilled on our behalf, and to which all our worries have now been made mute in His presences. For the Son of Man goes before us shining a light leading us to salvation which is God’s ultimate mercy upon all of His children.
In rising from the dead, Christ destroyed death and restored life. Let us cry to Him, saying:
Lord Jesus, you live forever; hear our prayer.
You are the stone rejected by the builders which became the cornerstone rejoiced by the builders which became the chief cornerstone.
– make us living stones in the temple of your Church.
You are the faithful and true witness, the firstborn from the dead,
– make your Church bear constant witness to yourself.
You alone are the Bridegroom of the Church, born from your wounded side,
– make us reveal to the world the love of the Bridegroom and Bride.
You are the first and last, you were dead and are alive,
– keep those who have been baptized faithful until death, that they may receive the crown of victory.
Light and lamp of God’s holy city,
– shine on our friend who have died, that they may reign forever.
Let Us Pray
God, come to my assistance.
– Lord, make haste to help me.
Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, as was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever.
Ant 3: The Lord is risen. Alleluia.
God of mercy, you wash away our sins in water, you give us new birth in the Spirit, and redeem us in the blood of Christ. As we celebrate Christ’s resurrection increase our awareness of these blessings, and renew your gift of life within us. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. – The Liturgy of the Hours, pg. 451-452.
May the Lord bless you, protect you from all evil and bring you to everlasting life.
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Saint Joseph, Pray for us. ~ Sancte Ioseph – ‘ora pro nobis,’
Now go spread the word!
Reaffirming Our Mission
To Always Image Christ in Mind, Heart, Body, and Soul.
11 “A shoot shall come out from the stock of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots.” ~ Isaiah 11:1(NRSVACE)
Jesse was the father of King David. The ornaments of the Jesse tree represent the prophecies, God’s people, and events that led up to the birth of Jesus.
When I was a child every December my dad would put up the Christmas Tree and we would decorate with very cute ornaments, I didn’t think much about the ornaments at the time. There were pretty little harps, an apple, ark, dove etc. As I grew older and attended bible class I made the connection that the ornaments we decorated our Christmas Tree with symbolized the stories and characters of the Old Testament. During the Advent season, we are called to wait and prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ. Like in everything in life we need to prepare. You might question yourself, ‘How can I prepare for this momentous event?’ or maybe, ‘What do I do first in order that I will be prepared adequately?’ As a child, my dad taught me our faith, what we needed to do to be prepared. In fact, from an early age, I remember thinking deeply about the events of the bible and how the Bible tells us the stories of preparation that the people of God underwent while waiting for His miracles to be fullfilled.
Other memories I have during Advent was going to church every Sunday and listening to the priest remind the whole community to pray, repent, forgive so we can receive Jesus Christ; receive His precious gifts of hope, peace, joy, and of love. As practicing Catholics and followers of Christ we are called to share those gifts with the rest of the world, so that way our world of jealousy and gossip can come to an end. God made a promise to Abraham’s family that He would bless his family and would always protect them. We follow God because He is the only one that will give us what we need when we feel alone, sad, depressed, hurt, or upset. God comforts us and He protects us just as He did Abraham’s many descendants. Advent is a time to really think about these things; to take the lessons of the Old Testament and apply them to our lives today. Each time I do this I can see how much in common we are with the characters found in the bible.
As a teacher myself I am always humbled and reminded how much my kids at school are like I was when I was their age, they ask the same questions such as, “but it is hard to follow Jesus’s steps” I always remind them that, “Yes, no one said it was easy and for Jesus himself it was not easy. But what we need to do is to be in constant prayer so we can always choose God.” After saying this another student said, “Advent is about change.” Smiling I encouraged that thought with, “Yes, during Advent we are called to change and renew our hearts just like God’s people from the Old Testament.”
When we decide to choose God we receive many blessings from Him. That is why the Jesse Tree is another important symbol for the Advent Season; so the kids can understand that each ornament is much more than just decoration, instead, it is the family tree of Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour.
Powerful Teaching Tool: You might want to go over your own chronological family tree with your kids at home. Using this model they will begin to relate it to the family of Jesus.
Jesse Tree symbols and passages in the Old Testament were designed to show how the coming of Jesus had been predicted hundreds of years before his birth fulfilling them within the New Testament. When decorating your tree beginning on the first day of Advent place the first ornament. Each day after that in order until Christmas Eve until each ornament is on the tree. Below are the symbols traditionally used to put on the Jesse Tree;
3 “A voice cries out: ‘In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God.'” ~ Isaiah 40:3(NRSVACE)
In this season of preparation, self-reflection, and in accord with the theme of Advent we have now reached an important milestone of how we receive our savior. In that this preparation for a savior, the son of man, is an idea that spans time. It is an idea which was deeply ingrained in our human ‘higher cognitive process’ or in our way of thinking about God Himself. Prophet Isaiah taught that God is compassionate, loving, forgiving, and in those writings can be found the promise of salvation. This intangible, unattainable, most elusive promise of God called ‘salvation’ was also rooted deep within the people of Judah, for it was as much on their minds in the 8th century before Christ as it is ours today. Simply put my brothers and sisters, salvation takes center stage in the need for a savior, it demands there to be great preparations so that this singular event could come to fruition. In the first post of this Advent Season, “Adventus – Time of Preparation“, we can see God’s plan for a savior. In the second posting of this Advent Season, “The Christmas Angel – Gabriel“, we see and celebrate God’s plan now put into action. In this, the third posting of this Advent Season we focus on yet another player sent by God which helps us navigate His complex roadmap that is designed to produce a savior – enter Isaiah the Greatest of all the Prophets. For the preparation that he delivers to us is one of ‘hope’; the spreading of this central idea that our savior comes and that he fulfills the prophecies told to countless millions throughout the ages. This same ‘hope’ remains as meaningful for those who had first experienced it as it still has for us today. For the plan was to spread the word first, then act upon it, and now to receive all the blessings that come with this new covenant with God. This season of preparing for Christ makes us ready to renew our love, faith, understanding, grace, and humility that Jesus himself bestowed all of which was rooted within the fulfillment of the prophecies of Isaiah. For God granted Isaiah a special relevance within history; one that rings the bells and foretells the blessings that God pours out from Heaven; the first draft of what was to come.
1 “The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. 2 As it is written in the prophet Isaiah,‘See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way; 3 the voice of one crying out in the wilderness: “Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight”’ ~ Mark 1:1-3(NRSVACE)
Isaiah foretell’s a forerunner to Christ, a person who would set the stage for salvation through repentance – enter John the Baptist. John serves as a messenger, as a baptiser filled with the holy spirit. He was first mentioned by the Angel Gabriel to our Mother Mary at her conception, then later Mary visits Elizabeth her cousin, the mother of John and he leaps in her womb. Nothing more is recorded until we get to the story of Jesus who stands before John in the river Jordan. John was a giant in his day, teaching about the coming of the Messiah, the savior and of the kingdom to come. The way to make your own personal path straight was through the act of baptizing, or submersion into water. Water universally had been the symbol of cleansing and was deeply rooted in the Jewish world with having to bathe before entering the temple. Jesus uses water to wash the feet of his disciples at the end of his ministry. But John takes this idea of salvation even higher through the process of baptizing as he states clearly;
“7 ‘The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals. 8 I have baptized you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.’” ~ Mark 1:7-8(NRSVACE)
Again, the hope for a far greater more powerful authority, one to which the heavens and earth belong, the promise of salvation within the coming savior, son of God; all of which is still within the realm of preparation. John was tellings us to get right with God! He was bringing people closer to our creator through the only method available at the time; baptize. But more to the point John was also not neglecting to support the mainstream school of thought established by the writings and teaching of Isaiah. In many ways, these two men help us to receive our Lord and Savior in the right way, in the most meaningful of ways. The very message of salvation starts with getting your life in line with God’s plan for you, getting ready for the conversion of mind, heart, body, and soul. To be prepared for the coming of Christ Jesus so that your heart is renewed and your faith restored. To receive Jesus as our savior in the hope of his triumphant return.
Primary Goal: To Always Image Christ in Mind, Heart, Body, and Soul.
14 “You will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth.” ~ Luke 1:14(NRSVACE)
The coming of Christ is indeed a joyous event. ‘Proclaim the good news among the nations: Our God will come to save us.’ ~ The Liturgy of the Hours, Advent – Proper of Seasons, pg.41. Here we have the seeds of our happiness, great joy, and a reason to rejoice not to mention the first season of the Catholic Liturgical Year. Here we see the event before it took place and the anticipation of this happening before it happened. There was no stopping the word of the impending savior, nothing would get in the way of worldwide redemption. This is the story of what would happen after Advent, let’s instead focus on what it took for the savior to come, which is the story of preparation and the true meaning of ‘Adventus’ Latin for ‘Advent’.
Preparation Equals A Mind Wide Open
Before our savior could come there had to be someone willing to give birth to him. This person would have to be female and married because an unmarried woman would most likely be stoned to death for having sex before marriage. This married women would have to be a virgin and for that to happen she would need to just be engaged and not yet married. This also causes a big problem because what would the soon to be husband think? Would he tolerate his soon to be wife having conceived by another man? Most men would not, and in this case, this goes against every Jewish law on the record books. How could he marry an unfaithful woman who was now no longer a virgin? In my mind, I often question what the Jews were really thinking: I mean how did they think all this was going to come about? See my brothers and sisters here we have a conundrum of the largest order! But God is all knowing and all powerful, He already had this part of the plan worked out because He had this planned since before the foundations of the world! That being said, God knew and was waiting for Mary and Joseph. God hand-picked both of them to be the earthly parents to His only son, our savior Jesus Christ. But this still did not by any means make everything ok by the larger population. Rather God needed Mary and Joseph to work with Him on this plan, they had to be willing participants or else this plan of a savior would not happen as we now know it. Both Mary and Joseph had to think outside of the box, they both had to let their love for each other rule the day, and they both had to prepare for Gods miracle together. In many ways, faith became their new reality. Preparation is just as important to those who lived two thousand years ago as it is for us today. It’s not enough to live day by day allowing each day to bring its fruits and or ills with little participation by the people who are living it. To just slide by and not be ready is really not living at all. I say this to you, my brothers and sister because to live means you prepare every day for the fruits of God no matter what they are. If Mary and Joseph had just simply been living in the haze of unpreparedness then Jesus could not have come through them. How might the world be different? No! I am glad they prepared for Jesus, and in the Season of Adventus that is what we do, prepare our hearts, minds, souls, and life for the coming goodness of the Lord.
Advent Family Activity
36 “Be alert at all times, praying that you may have the strength to escape all these things that will take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.” ~Luke 21:36(NRSVACE)
Because I am a teacher who maintains an active network made up of other teachers I wanted to give everyone an activity that can help teach children the Advent Season and in many ways help us grown-ups and parents learn a thing or two. I also want to thank the teacher who suggested this calendar so that I can share it with all my followers.
On this Advent Calendar, each day is a new way to prepare for Jesus while keeping you on track, which as I have stated above both Mary and Joseph also had to undergo preparations for the coming of the Lord. Because today is the First Sunday of Advent we read the scripture and reflect. Jesus tell’s us to be on guard and to watch, why would he say that? Perhaps, Jesus is telling us to look for the signs of the next coming so we are not fooled by those clever fakes who would try and trick us by mimicking some of the signs Jesus spoke about. Know the difference between what is fake and what is real is very much a part of being active in life as I had written above. It’s also linked to being prepared for Jesus when He comes on Christmas Day. I like to think how prepared were the three wise men who watched the stars and the movements of the heavenly bodies, keeping track of all the great signs in the night sky while using a specialized calendar to help them navigate to find Jesus on the very night he was born. This is being aware, being prepared, being active in life, and verifying their faith making it an undeniable fact! See, my brothers and sisters, hope is very much a part of this day as well for we wait in the hope of the return of Christ, we watch for the very signs he told us about while we prepare our hearts, minds, body, and soul for His triumphant return. Each day on the calendar is important to reflect upon and to research as well teach to our children so they may have the same hope as we who understand the task given us until the time of Christ.
Primary Goal: To Alway Image Christ in Mind, Heart, Body, and Soul.
5 “All day long they twist my words; all their schemes are for my ruin.” ~ Psalm 56:5 (NIV)
I begin today with a confession… one that every person is obligated to make, “I am a sinner.” Have you ever felt bound, held down, kept quiet, ignored, made inconsequential, pushed away, rejected, and even made fun of behind your back because you are a sinner? King David did, all the apostles did, every great leader has. I imagine King David must have said something that he didn’t write down, something like this. ‘Oh, God I am a sinner… Is my sin so great that my every word is twisted and used against me? How many more times will those with power come calling my name wanting me to give up and quit through their relentless targeting and hateful sneers? For the words they say harm me and my reputation, will my community be able to tell the difference and know I have been lied against?’
King David felt hounded for sure! His Kingship outright challenged! Not by strangers did these things come, rather it was through his own family. Jealousy is the devil’s weapon blinding a person and keeping them from doing good while bending their very nature into a twisted mess that does nothing but evil. King David knew this and was armed with the sprite of God.
Guiding Question: How many times in your life have you felt that way… felt lied against, felt your words twisted because you are a sinner?
In reflection, I can honestly say these feeling as a teacher has come to me more than once from different sources and its root was mainly from other people feeling jealous or because of a perception of me having more power than they or the perception of my earning more money than they, and maybe because they saw my good works. In any case, it never had to do with me being a sinner… because that my brothers and sisters is between God and I! For it is to these whom I speak could see how much effort I put into building relationships with people and see the response from that effort. Sadly, those people were very good at small talk but lacked the social skills to really build community and so they felt threatened. Many people in my life have twist my words in conversations and yes they did what no Christian should ever do… bear falsely against me. Why do I share this? Because many ordinary people feel like the world has closed in on them and that they are being hounded and their words twisted which deeply impacts their lives in a negative way. Regardless of whether you personally like someone or not does not give you the right to work such malice against them! I say to you who feel this way, never give up and keep your head held high, let them be evil while you continue to do God’s work! To that theme, I wanted to point out that King David wrote about his experiences in such detail that it is inspiring to read about, but he was not the only one in the Bible to have felt this way. In fact, there are many people who have felt hounded! To have felt their words twisted and evil being done against them. In each case, we draw inspiration from their experiences and know God was always with them by how the story developed and eventually ended. So again my brothers and sisters, turn away from the world’s sinful hate and gain God’s never ending inspiration through His message found within the Holy Bible and allow yourself to truly be inspired!
Gaining Inspiration through Comparing Scriptural Translations
5 5 “All day long they seek to injure my cause; all their thoughts are against me for evil.” Psalm 56:5 (NRSVACE)
The message in this translation is more modern, a little more impactful. The hurt King David felt becomes more understandable to our advanced sensibilities. Instead of the word “twist”, it is replaced with, “seek to injure my cause”. The charge in these words are more server and cuts deeper and becomes more personal. In comparing them we can see how words have meaning, words are powerful, words, if used wrongly, can do real damage. They impacted King David as they do use all today. It is easy to drum up chaos from nothing, but it is much harder to develop and create real lasting true friendships and relationships. With that said, my community has always known the difference between the truth and the lie being told. For God walks with my community, my friends, and throughout all my relationships. Like King David, I have faith in the one true God, and money has never been my motivator nor has power. God has been my motivator throughout my teaching career and in all aspects of my life. I write this to give inspiration to those who are feeling hounded… I can relate. But you have one powerful relationship with God I wanted to remind you about. Having a real relationship/communion with God will get you through the toughest of times!
Guiding Question: Can you see God’s power working in the background of this scripture: Psalm 56:5?
5-6 “They don’t let up— they smear my reputation and huddle to plot my collapse. They gang up, sneak together through the alleys to take me by surprise, waiting for their chance to get me.” Psalms 56:5-6 (The Message Bible – MSG)
This translation is very clear… King David’s voice is really heard! “They don’t let up!” Now we can see the effect of harassment and bullying as it is seen by those who are receiving this treatment. “They just won’t stop!” These words imply a timeless – never ending cycle of hurt through the spoken and written word. I find this interesting because now we have completely moved into the modern era with this language. Now we have our enemies huddling up, plotting and active in gossip! Broken down to its finest parts King David was being harassed and gossip was being spread against him. Wow… people have not changed in over two thousand years! With this added information it is easy to see how hopeless King David must have felt. Again, this reflection is written for those who are feeling this way today… right now in 2017! Remember, God has never changed in how much he loves us, how much He will protect us, and what He will do to ease our pain. Again, despite his feelings, David’s love for God was greater and his comfort from God given in abundance. So I tell you, my brothers and sisters, we all have been plotted against, harassed, marginalized, made fun of, been the object of gossip, and even ridiculed for something, by someone. I say draw inspiration from these Bible stories, be inspired by others you know – be it me – or someone else who has told these kinds of stories. But most of all stay inspired by how God is working in the background to comfort you and lessen your pain. Remember, we are all confessed sinners… but we are also saved by the blood of Christ!
2 “The Lord is my strength and my defense; he has become my salvation. He is my God, and I will praise him, my father’s God, and I will exalt him.” ~ Exodus 15:2, NIV Bible
Trustworthiness – The Want
The word ‘trustworthiness’ is first a want; everyone wants their name to be associated with it. People want others to view them as being ‘trustworthy’ and in that if this word does not appear on the personal description of friends and family then people genuinely get their feelings hurt. Mostly it is indirect comments through general conversation that this word is implied in the good or negative and because of its meaning that we associate with it the word, ‘trustworthiness’ it has the power to build a person up in the eyes of others or assign them to a lowly level on mankind’s social latter. Here is a question I want one needs to think very carefully about; “How many times have you heard your teacher in primary school talk about the importance of being trustworthy?” If you are anything like me you will have heard comments made about this word at least a million times by numerous teachers throughout grade, middle, and upper level school. “Why… I ask?” Because as kids we do not see this word in all it’s glory, but when becoming an adult it becomes everything. It is how we are judged as caring human beings whether anyone wants to say it or not. So here is another question we need to ponder, “From where did we get this idea about trustworthiness? How did it ever become so important?”
Trustworthiness – The Bible
16 “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.” ~ 2 Timothy 3:16 NIV Bible
When researching the word, ‘trustworthiness’ I found roughly 40 different bible verses which are talking about the meaning of the word whether the word itself was mentioned or not including those used in this post. Trustworthiness first and for most is a descriptor word; meaning that we as people unknowingly through the basic function of the need to survive place people we meet into two different categories. Therefore, because we see others as being trustworthy, (which equates to becoming an ally) or not being trustworthy, (which equates to being a foe), we first search for certain qualities in strangers we meet and or continue to probe for the same qualities in our family members and friends. In the days before religion man needed to know who to trust and who not to trust for the simple sake of survival; pick the wrong person and it could lead to disastrous consequences. In that trustworthiness is the first human assessment ever devised. Likewise, these characteristics bleeds into our numerous religious beliefs as time went on because again the more complex man becomes the more complex this word also becomes and the more descriptions of what it means grows as does it’s importance in our daily lives.
Quick Self Assessment Question:“How many times have you felt someone let you down?”
If you are human then you will have felt others may have let you down almost ever single day you live. Before the bible this led people to disown family members that had made a single mistake in judgment and did something that was considered a taboo, to groups of people being outcast from society because they had a disease, to and including people being murdered for the act of cheating on a spouse. This led man to create societal rules that could be easily followed and maintained. The Bible when first being developed was in fact not a singular book of wisdom, but rather a host of singular writings from a plethora of different authors who wrote about trustworthiness and in most instances of the Bible you will find it is either a command from God to trust Him and His divine judgement or a tool to judge others by. From this humanity also found a way to test everything in nature including God Himself. Therefore, the teaching of the Bible follows the theme of the root word of trustworthiness which is trust, (which equates to trust in God.) It was easier to trust in something that was more powerful, something that could be viewed as responsible for the unexplainable which scared the hell out us. With each new description mankind either adopted the teachings or rejected them always keeping in mind; can one trust what is being taught and be viewed as being accurate? This fight still rages on today in our modern society. We need to trust in something that cannot be proven right or wrong because that is the very foundation of faith, and faith allows man to jump past the fear of the unknown element we face in nature and in ourselves. Thus the Holy Bible and other religious texts from the many different faiths around the world serve this most basic of human needs, the need to trust others, the need to believe in something more powerful, and the need to examine both our relationships and ourselves within those relationships.
Quick Self Assessment Question:“How many times have you felt that you let someone down?”
Again, if your human then you will feel this way almost ever single day of your life. In some way we let others we care about down, we make decisions that let events happen that affect negatively someone we care about, and in this process we generally put ourselves first which again satisfies the need to be either trustworthy to a group or to ourselves. In this way also does the Holy Bible help us feel better about our actions through the process of justifying our actions to both the larger group we associate with and in the singular – to ourselves. Our moral conscience or compass in the end only needs to be justified in our own mind before we can be satisfied with any outcomes of those action we took. The link to religion in this way is best illustrated when we pray for forgiveness because this act helps us to make the jump past our guilt of letting others down. Because God is primarily responsible for forgiving our sins and because we never see Him in the physical it is easier to say that we are forgiven because we felt God say so. But for the hardened sceptic religion also has the work around for the absence of God by endowing a person namely a Priest or Pastor that can also forgive our sins which reinforces the presence of God and in other religions idols sever as this reinforcement. How many times have you heard someone else say this? “I prayed so therefore I am forgiven.”
At this point I want to put in this disclaimer: In no way shape or form and I saying or advocating that God is not real or does not exist, rather I am saying we as human beings us the very idea of God as a tool within our own minds to push down negative emotions we are faced with. In this post the topic is ‘Trustworthiness’, but this same line of logic can be applied to almost ever other human emotion.
God is… in every single way necessary and important to human survival. We need to believe in something greater than ourselves because mankind is flawed. We are not in any way perfect, but in every single way in the eyes of God we can find hope, mercy, love, and forgiveness; all the things we need to be healthy and whole. God fills our spirit with the strength to deal with life and all its happenings. Though we no longer need to prove trustworthiness as our ancestors had too, being trustworthy is no less important. God is the connector and we need His grace and wisdom to help navigate our complicated and complex world. God is the justification when we cannot explain events or cannot see the full plan, especially when we fall from the path we set ourselves on. Because we are taught that we first can trust in God, we can view the world with wonder and excitement because even though bad things will happen we have the confidence that we are not alone and more importantly when others let us down we have a place to run too and be consoled. When we let others down god is ready to take us in and forgive us our sins against our brothers as well because God is love.
Trustworthiness – The Moral Guide
5 “This is what the Lord says: ‘Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who draws strength from mere flesh and whose heart turns away from the Lord.'” ~ Jeremiah 17:5 NIV Bible
To have your name associated with this word, ‘Trustworthy’ doesn’t mean that you have to be perfect in all things. Because that is completely missing the point of life in general. We are not perfect because we have free will, we make our own choices and suffer the consequences of those choices we have made. So therefore my brothers and sisters I say to you; “Be true to your heart, listen to God who lives in your heart, and know your not perfect but that is also no excuse for seeking to be better, to be worthy, to be trusted by others namely your family and friends, and most importantly to be trusted by God.” I have found in this life the best way to become trustworthy is by saying what you mean – then doing what you say. There is no stronger example than by standing for your own beliefs and openly practicing those beliefs. But this takes character and a strong understanding of your inner person. So it would not be far for me to tell you to do something without giving you the tools to do it. So beyond simply having faith in God, which many people struggle daily with, I am going to give you a blessing I found while visiting a special friend in Thailand.
Having accomplished this one is always unconquered,
one goes everywhere in peace.
These are the supreme blessings.
~Maṅgala Sutta, Sutta Nipāta 2.4
Though these blessings are Theravāda Buddhism published in a book called Without and Within and can be downloaded @ www.bia.or.th ; which explains the basics of the faith, all of the ideas have something in common to the basic Christian tradition. Both are teachings of moral qualities a person should desire to have. I believe these teachings are a contributor to how soft-spoken and welcoming the Thai people are in general. These specific blessings will help build ‘trustworthiness’ and personal character and if you seek to make all these things come to fruition that are found within these blessings then in your life I will guarantee that people will see you as a trustworthy person. Side note to following moral code is that people will begin to notice your faith and practice of your faith grow and this will also exude trust naturally, people will want to follow you and learn from you, and if you take on that responsiblity and treat it with the respect it deserves then the true benefits are unspeakable and indescribable for in this you will have attained the blessings above.
I could have easily stated that trustworthiness is simply being trusted by others, but in doing that it would not have expressed the importance of being a person who is worthy of another person’s trust. In this it is hard for me to simply place my trust in a person without first seeing some evidence, but in God I need no explanation nor evidence. I trust in God above all others in my life because simply put people have let me down. How I deal with it and how you my brothers and sisters should deal with it is by first praying to God, asking Him for guidance, understanding, and grace. Then fall back onto your moral teachings as described above in the first set of blessings which are also found in the Holy Bible, “Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm.” ~ Proverbs 13:20, “Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.”Proverbs 13:7, all of which is a shared belief by most people world-wide. I tell you the truth practice grace and understanding and seek commonalities then there will be peace given to you in all aspects of your life, for that my brothers and sisters is the true goal, peace and harmony in your daily life.
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Closing Reminder to Pray
Please do not stop praying for our brother Scott Spinks who is recovering from a stroke that paralyzed the left side of his body while he was visiting his step-daughter who lives in Bangkok, Thailand. He is feeling much better and is now awaiting to be discharged from the hospital. This is the first time I have been able to meet a person whose relative have asked me to publish a Prayer Request on Listening Faithfully Blog. To Art I just wanted to say it was and is my great pleasure to post on your step-fathers behalf. It is my sincere privilege to have been able to visit you and your family as well this opening week of April 2015 – till we meet again. I urge everyone to remember the power of collective prayer and to remember to pray for our brother in Christ – Scott Spinks. May the Lord be with him and his family throughout his recovery.
14 “Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” ~ Isaiah 7:14(KJV)
The traditional view of our modern – Western Christmas – is one that devolved over time from a pagan tradition to a more religious Christian tradition then finally into the economically driven holiday we have now. In others words, what we celebrate is less about Jesus and the anticipation of the coming of Christ from Godhood to man, less about that singular miracle, to something that is at a lesser state of being than what previously came before it! We have softened the message of this miracle of Christ’s birth over time, we have sidelined God’s wanting to become flesh and blood as well as His love for humanity which is partly His motivation in becoming flesh and blood. We have changed the very definition of God’s purpose to fit our own less intensive version that is more politically correct and less threatening and less controversial. We have changed the paradigm of God and turned Him into a jolly old man that gives tangible gifts instead of the intangible gift of salvation! Our modern Christmas for the majority of westerners leaves out this moment where we reflect and make ready our hearts in anticipation of Jesus the Son of Man in His return so that we will finally and forever be with Him in Heaven. To me, this is the ultimate gift. It is a gift which cannot be bought, it never rusts or fades, it will be ours for all time and will never be taken away. It is the ultimate promise, one that is bigger, better, and more fulfilling than anything in Saint Nick’s green and red bag of toys. Because when we celebrate Christmas in it’s entirety we do not need toys to excite us or keep us from boredom because salvation is not boring!
So I say to you my brethren, the Lord Himself foresaw and provided for this time for the world to wait, hope, and pray for His triumphed return. The signs were all around the people of Judea, they are all around us today recognizable only if you believe and allow ourselves to see the true message of this remarkable holiday. For I tell you now that when a person understands the full meaning, knows the path yet to come, and fully comprehends what each word God spoke really meant, then the totality of that one miracle of Christ suddenly opens our eyes, hearts, minds, and His love becomes more accessible to us as we grow in the confidence that God is working towards our ultimate salvation through Jesus Christ. It is this miracle message we need to be celebrating and not the gifts that cost hundreds of dollars, the bling bling of modern day living, or even the decorations we allow to influence our motivations for celebrating Christmas in the first place. Our excitement of this season should be that which makes us ready to receive our savior.
6 “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called, Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” ~ Isaiah 9:6 (KJV)
Christian tradition as observed for most Catholics and some of the other religious denominations of Christianity in general believe in the coming of Christ in two parts. The First coming is typically called Christmas or the Nativity. However, a more appropriate term is “Advent”, which in its more basic meaning is, “Coming”. Breaking advent down more completely you have “Ad” = “To” and “Vent”=”Come”, leaving us with “TO COME”. Before the birth of Christ it was prophesied that the word would become flesh and dwell among us in scriptures from Isaiah to Zechariah. Thus, within the Jewish teachings just before the birth of Christ the hearts and minds of the people where in this hopeful anticipation of the Savior or Messiah. For those who understood prophecy also understood the signs to look for and in this case it was the Star of Bethlehem. Christian tradition and the telling and retelling of the Nativity story has become the basis for the modern reason why we celebrate Christmas as a holiday. At first the meaning of Christmas was all about the miracle of the virgin birth of Christ. The celebration centered on the miracle of Jesus being sent by God, the act of the miracle of God made flesh. There was great excitement because to the Jewish people this would mean the end of Roman oppression! Oddly, it would be the Jewish leaders who would advocate Jesus’s death and the Roman Empire that would later embrace His divinity, thus combining two different holidays into one and called it Christmas complete with our modern Christmas Tree. But even then gifts where never at the center of the season, it was all about the hope and anticipation of Christ’s return or the Second Advent! So I say to you my brethren take time to prepare your hearts for God and reflect and be filled with the hope, love, joy, and anticipation of Christ’s return!
5 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.” ~ Jeremiah 1:5
The Divine Spark
God declares through Jeremiah how He knew him, and in turn how God knows all of us before we are born. God consecrates everyone of us, from Adam and Eve to you and me; he kisses us on the forehead and whispers the words that bind us with our everlasting souls, for it is God who ultimately gives life and blesses you. If you look hard enough you will begin to see in the eyes of your children; especially when they are little, that blessing of Gods. You can see the spark of life which God gave and which makes our children so happy, always putting a smile on their faces and a laughter to their voice, that my friends comes directly from God. As a parent I witnessed this miracle, and I fought so hard to preserve these wonderful laughs, smiles, and kisses my daughter would shower my face with daily; always knowing that someday they would end as life caught up to her. I tried to keep her innocent because as her father I was sworn by God to protect her, that and admittedly I hate change, and there was always this threat of change on the horizon. As a parent we watch our children grow and become smarter and then they become independent. As painful as this process is this too comes from God. It happened to your parents and their parents before them and so on from the first to the last parent this is the natural order of things. We are bystanders to the growth and development of our children because let’s face it, there will be things your children will learn that you did not teach nor agree with but they learned it anyway. As a teacher I see those unwanted teachings that our children glen from other children and or from the violent video games they play, the songs they listen too, to the very movies and T.V. shows they watch every single night. I see some parents who become lax in their responsibilities and stop teaching God in their house and or stop attending Church, and this accumulates into some parents who actually stop teaching the Bible as their own personal faith wains. In those cases if as parents we stop teaching God then we inadvertently stop teaching such things as respect, honesty, and morality that is at this moment so absent in all the other modern media and thus if we don’t teach these things to our children then how can we say before God we lived up to our responsibilities in raising them? How can we possibly expect our children to be respectful to us and others, to be honest, to be and lead a moral life? Thus, if we cannot expect these things from our children then why would we expect others to treat us with dignity, honor, and show compassion and love? Thus, when God Himself asks each one of us on judgement day to explain how we did or did not protect our children, I pray you can give awesome examples of how you personally protected his divine spark within your offspring.
Modern Day Examples
The perfect example of how godless our society has become can be found in the United States Congress who for the past two – three years has gone after our democratically elected President, tried to end his signature law that has and will prove over time to benefit millions of Americans by trying at all costs to eliminate the Affordable Care Act. Some even tried to “Shut Down” the Federal Government costing Americans $14861.0 billion and are prepared to try this radical tactic again! What about those States who refuse to expand Medicaid? Do they have the best interest of all Americans at heart? What about those who have passes laws to suppress the African American Vote, the Female Vote? Who’s best interest are they truly serving? These same lawmakers claim a 20 year war on poverty but fail to count all the years from President Johnson to this day all the Republican Presidents and Representatives who tried to end those policies which hurt millions of Americans through such reckless and thoughtless actions as President Ronald Wilson Reagan’s fabled and failed, “Trickle Down Economics”, policy. Indeed it did trickle down; for the wealthiest of Americans grew richer and the poorest of Americans grew poorer, and the fabled Middle Class disappeared! In fact according to Zach Anderson who wrote, “Clearly we do not live in a representative democracy if the majority of people wants something and yet congressional votes portray the opposite of those desires.”, (August 8, 2012, Policy Mic), and I agree completely! I think the one comment that was made in public by North Dakota, Republican Congressman, Kevin Cramer who voted; ” to deny food to 1.8 million low-income seniors and people in low-income working families, 170,000 veterans, 210,000 children would lose school breakfasts and lunches in 2014″, (Jason Easley, Saturday, September, 21st, 2013, 7:05 pm, Politicus USA), which sums up this humanities issue, or crises which is caused when the Bible and it’s teachings is not taught properly in the home, instead we manufacture idle representatives who misquote the Bible by saying what Mr. Cramer had the never to say in defense of his reprehensible vote, “’If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat.” This is the very passage in the Bible he is attempting to quoted,
Here is the full passage: 10 “For even when we were with you, we gave you this command: Anyone unwilling to work should not eat.”
2 Thessalonians 3: 10 if read in it’s full context is talking about idleness which is a sin. As I have always taught on this blog to read the full passage and to also read the two passages before and after so that the passage one wants to quote is understood in it’s full context. Thus, here is the full reading as I teach it;
7 “For you yourselves know how you ought to imitate us; we were not idle when we were with you, 8 and we did not eat anyone’s bread without paying for it; but with toil and labor we worked night and day, so that we might not burden any of you. 9 This was not because we do not have that right, but in order to give you an example to imitate. 10 For even when we were with you, we gave you this command: Anyone unwilling to work should not eat. 11 For we hear that some of you are living in idleness, mere busybodies, not doing any work. 12 Now such persons we command and exhort in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and to earn their own living.” ~ 2 Thessalonians 3:7-12
Thus, as an example we need to do our best and not be idle, not take for granted, not deny anyone the right to live comfortably when they are unable to provide for themselves as Jesus states very clearly as he wanted us to imitate him to the letter!
36 “I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.” ~ Matthew 25:36
So I here command the Congress to heed the following:
11 “For we hear that some of you are living in idleness, mere busybodies, not doing any work. 12 Now such persons we command and exhort in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and to earn their own living.” ~ 2 Thessalonians 3:11
Because if they don’t this is what will happen:
40 “And the king will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.’41 Then he will say to those at his left hand, ‘You that are accursed, depart from me into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; 42 for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not give me clothing, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.'” ~ Matthew 25:40-43
~ The Truth Shall Set You Free ~
It makes me angry that our Representatives would misquote the Holy Book to justify their idleness, (sin), in not doing their jobs! It makes me angry when they deny God’s children food, deny the elderly who worked all their lives and then call them lazy, it makes me angry when veterans who answered our nations call, sacrificed their life and limb and who deserve to be feed, clothed, and taken care of mental as well as physically and then have our Government call them lazy! It makes me angry when our Representatives who are not doing the work they where elected to do in representing our best interest and then misquote the Bible taking out of context God’s message to mankind, thus sending lower-income working families further into poverty! Where is it that these people can be found to be undeserving or lazy? I say to you these people are on the right hand of God and shall be saved and those who vote in congress to dismantle this great country, misquote God’s very message, and deny the needy then you shall suffer long with Satan as you have already hardened your hearts and sold your soul!
The same can be said for those parents who do not protect your children and who do not preach or teach the values which this country was founded upon, and the rights God gave all men to know Him! For you have deprived your children of the promise and fruits of Heaven and of God’s undeniable singular truth!
22 “Professing to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures. 24 Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them. 25 For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen” ~ Romans 21: 22-25
By allowing our children to see perversions on T.V. or music award shows where Miley Ray Cyrus, (and she’s not the only one), is exhibiting immoral behaviors, or movies where men sleep with men, and women sleep with women, to actually condone such behavior then as a parent you have stopping protecting your child or children, stopping protecting your family as well as yourself and have sold them a lie.
26 “For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, 27 and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error. 28 And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper, 29 being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful; 32 and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them.” ~ Romans 21: 26-32
Defiling the Divine Spark
It makes me angry that some of us would vote to change our moral teaching to suit those who work such evil! For they twist and misrepresent the very words which would give them salvation, and instead exchange these blessings to make our children thing evil thoughts, and to practice evil deeds as they, our children, are impressionable, who need our protection and love; but whom also are looking to their parents to imitate; looking to their parents to learn how to act, how to live, how to love, how treat others, how to believe, and even how to function as a moral person. If you do not believe that the teachings of God in under attack then you are sadly mistaken! You only need to look at America’s divorce rate as reported by Enrichment Journal on the divorce rate in America:
The divorce rate in America for first marriage is 41%
The divorce rate in America for second marriage is 60%
The divorce rate in America for third marriage is 73%
If you do not believe that this spark of life that God gave freely is being defiled then you are sadly mistaken! You only have to look at all the fatherless homes in America ,
43% of US children live without their father [US Department of Census]
90% of homeless and runaway children are from fatherless homes. [US D.H.H.S., Bureau of the Census]
80% of rapists motivated with displaced anger come from fatherless homes. [Criminal Justice & Behaviour, Vol 14, pp. 403-26, 1978]
71% of pregnant teenagers lack a father. [U.S. Department of Health and Human Services press release, Friday, March 26, 1999]
63% of youth suicides are from fatherless homes. [US D.H.H.S., Bureau of the Census]
85% of children who exhibit behavioral disorders come from fatherless homes. [Center for Disease Control]
If you do not believe our very freedoms are being stripped from us then you are sadly mistaken! You only have to look at how our officials punish others for not supporting their views; you only have to look at the lies our Representatives are spewing, our Governors are vomiting, our Governments are try it’s best to sell to the masses by allowing laws to take affect that are morally wicked, and attempting to destroy those laws which give aid to the needy!
Traffic trouble has NJ governor Chris Christie in a jam of his own – Read more!
I say to you my friends then you are sadly mistaken! The very words of God are under attack, just as our values, morality, beliefs, and that precious spark that God gave to all of us is also under attack! If you don’t believe me then look at the 2013 chart of Americans abortions;
5 “And Jesus began to say unto them, Take heed that no man lead you astray. 6 Many shall come in my name, saying, I am he; and shall lead many astray. 7 And when ye shall hear of wars and rumors of wars, be not troubled: these things must needs come to pass; but the end is not yet. 8 For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there shall be earthquakes in divers places; there shall be famines: these things are the beginning of travail. 9 But take ye heed to yourselves: for they shall deliver you up to councils; and in synagogues shall ye be beaten; and before governors and kings shall ye stand for my sake, for a testimony unto them. 10 And the gospel must first be preached unto all the nations. 11 And when they lead you to judgment, and deliver you up, be not anxious beforehand what ye shall speak: but whatsoever shall be given you in that hour, that speak ye; for it is not ye that speak, but the Holy Spirit. 12 And brother shall deliver up brother to death, and the father his child; and children shall rise up against parents, and cause them to be put to death. 13 And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that endureth to the end, the same shall be saved. 14 But when ye see the abomination of desolation standing where he ought not (let him that readeth understand), then let them that are in Judaea flee unto the mountains: 15 and let him that is on the housetop not go down, nor enter in, to take anything out his house: 16 and let him that is in the field not return back to take his cloak. 17 But woe unto them that are with child and to them that give suck in those days! 18 And pray ye that it be not in the winter. 19 For those days shall be tribulation, such as there hath not been the like from the beginning of the creation which God created until now, and never shall be. 20 And except the Lord had shortened the days, no flesh would have been saved; but for the elect’s sake, whom he chose, he shortened the days. 21 And then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is the Christ; or, Lo, there; believe it not: 22 for there shall arise false Christs and false prophets, and shall show signs and wonders, that they may lead astray, if possible, the elect. 23 But take ye heed: behold, I have told you all things beforehand. 24 But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, 25 and the stars shall be falling from heaven, and the powers that are in the heavens shall be shaken. 26 And then shall they see the Son of man coming in clouds with great power and glory. 27 And then shall he send forth the angels, and shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from the uttermost part of the earth to the uttermost part of heaven. 28 Now from the fig tree learn this parable: when her branch is now become tender, and putteth forth its leaves, ye know that the summer is nigh; 29 even so ye also, when ye see these things coming to pass, know ye that he is nigh, even at the doors. 30 Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass away, until all these things be accomplished. 31 Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away.” ~ Mark 13:5-31
Therefore, I say to you I wish no ill on anyone, but rather wish to show the truth as the truth and the light as the light so as no one shall be confused, so that everyone who wanted to be among the elect can be saved.
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In this life we experience so much, and so I thought it appropriate to start the new year with a new series of blogs dealing with each of life’s experiences. This posting will explore anger in the context of its usage and its qualities for both good and bad. The focus will center around the effect upon others in each category as it relates to how our God has used anger in the past. We will delve into the model left by Christ on this topic and how it applies to every single human-being today, and how Satan does his best to thwart our efforts and then to pull us down through anger.
Therefore, in our life when we feel angry it is neither good or bad. It is simply a reaction to something that has happened to us. It is logical to then state that one does not willfully make ones-self angry, but rather an external force is at work that which we are reacting too that makes us feel this natural and neutral emotion. In my life I have seen things which I have taken a strong disliking too, however by nature I am very slow to anger, but once there I am angry for a long time. In my youth as all kids do, I misused anger and in doing so said a lot of things I would later regret having ever said. In this manner anger can be used for evil deeds, but most of our children simply misuse anger for lack of training and experience. In the context of angry emotions being used for good is found simply in the recognition of the fact that you are angry, this is of course rudimentary logic. Interestingly, in our society feeling angry is often looked upon as being a bad emotion and is shunned. Ironically, the shunning of this emotion leeds to burying it deep inside and if left to fester will cause great damage to the person and all those around them as they erupt like a volcano uncontrollably. In that sense we create the evil in what was otherwise a neutral emotion. The simple act of recognizing that you are angry is a pure, honest, and healthy way to handle this feeling. In most cases it is not enough to simply recognize your angry, but rather develop the ability to know why your angry, what was the trigger, what external force brought you to this emotion. In understanding anger in this manner you bring control and wisdom to the next step of the process, which of course is the actions you commit while being angry.
In this perspective anger is the act of being provoked into action. Thus, if full control is not first asserted those who have provoked have a distinct advantage over the one who is being provoked. Think back if you will to when as a child your sibling called you a name that you disliked, or kept you from doing something you wanted to do. Most of us fired back without thinking, not to simply keep your sibling from making you angrier, but as an act of revenge. This in turn proved yourself, (not evil), but immature, lacking the ability to control your anger, and thus at a distinct disadvantage to your sibling or aggressor. In large part this lack of control is due to the rush to action while ignoring the honest recognition of being angry. Had we stopped, taken a breath, then thought it through most of us would have brushed the insult off. But by nature children do not do this because their brain is not yet developed enough to process the “why” aspect of this honest emotion. Most of us where spanked into submission and took this punishment for being angry or becoming angry, rather as it should have been explained that the punishment was not for becoming angry, but what we did with it. Therefore, the evil in the emotion is found within the action taken while experiencing this honest, natural, neutral feeling of being angry.
I have often times told my own daughter that, “it’s ok if your angry at me or your mother. But instead of acting out on your anger stop and remember that you love both of us equally. It is ok to tell me that your angry, as long as you do it in a respectful manner.” I remember having many conversations with her about angry emotions, about acting out in anger or rage. I always made her the promise that I would listen to her. In more recent times our relationship has become rocky at best, partly because of needless events that were outside both our control. There have been many things said to me, about me, in front of me, and be-hide my back which my daughter should have never been apart of or in its hearing. To some degree our hearts have been hardened, and angry emotions have been left to run rampant in our conversations. In this aspect anger is not yet evil, but is hurtful, destructive, malicious, disrespectful, and the actions taken are not pure, and thus are not controllable. Subtle changes have occurred in her language over time such as the absence of words like, “I miss you”, or “I love you”, or “I am sorry”, have all but disappeared, which reveals her anger is due in large part to the secrets she has been forced to kept from me. But never-the-less the disparity between us if left unchecked will grow more divisive and become spiteful at which point it will be pure evil. I bring this up not to disparage my daughter, who is about to be seventeen, but to point out the difficulties within interpersonal relationships built into high conflict marriages, and the pure immaturity to which anger leads to the mutual destruction of the family unit, and in this manner anger is evil.
On the other hand God has never used anger for evil means, though He is blamed for it all the time. Rather that deed belongs solely to Satan. Evidence of this in the Bible is found in how Jesus handled anger and thus left us a perfect model to follow, though admittedly it is in part shrouded in mystery.
“23 But he turned, and said unto Peter, ‘Get you behind me, Satan: you are an offense unto me: for you consider not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.'” ~ Matthew 16:23
In reading this specific scripture the love Jesus held for His disciple Peter is hard to find. One’s mind instantly snaps to Peters defense as the justification was not apparent that supported Jesus’s reaction to Peter’s words to him. So it is tradition in reading the Bible one must dig further and read what Peter had said that angered Jesus so;
“20 Then He commanded His disciples that they should tell no one that He was Jesus the Christ. 21 From that time Jesus began to show to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day. 22 Then Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, ‘Far be it from You, Lord; this shall not happen to You!” ~ Matthew 16:20-22
If we take away the word “rebuke” and simply put, “Peter took Him aside and said to Him,” this passage would have an entirely different meaning. In fact Peter was acting with good intentions, (far be it from Jesus, that He must be made to suffer so.) To anyone else this would have been seen as a act of compassion. But because Jesus was the Christ, Peter inadvertently rebuked Him. For Jesus to not complete His mission that He had just revealed to His disciples would have been tantamount to failing God and in that Satan’s reign would be assured. In no other manner of Heavenly thinking could this be allowed, and thus in the mind of Christ, Peter proposed an abomination in the face of the living God, Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. This abomination rightfully angered Jesus, though this was a mystery to Peter. Waisting no time, Jesus did the following within a split second; He first recognized He was angry at Peter for having voiced this abomination; for had he not His actions might have been to smite Peter where he stood. But Christ did not smite Peter rather He answered the devilish notion Peter proposed calling it what it was; and idea placed into Peter by Satan. Therefore, Christ’s action was mature in nature and swift in scorn out of both love for Peter, and out of a mature, controlled, resounding anger that was aimed at Satan;
“23 Get you behind me, Satan: you are an offense unto me: for you consider not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.” ~ Matthew 16:23
To apply this new found knowledge to life as we know it in the modern era of the twenty first century, then we must first delve into anger from the perspective of how it progresses through each stage as stated above in the example of how children perceive hostel external forces and then apply scripture to it. So as a child being picked on by a sibling or other children at school the external force is in the buttons pushed by the name calling or other aggressive action which the target child internalizes and thus begins to show a resounding disliking too.
(Note the usage of “child examples” are also relevant to how grown-ups react and thus are also very much acting out as a child would. In addition, when children are punished their is a layer of mystery to the “why” aspect of the punishment much like the “why” element Peter experienced with Christ as described in Matthew 16:23. These moments are not unique to just Parent child relationships, but extend out to envelop all relationships at all levels of life.)
When children or adults willfully pick on each other the buttons being pushed which trigger the anger is done in a willful manner. These proverbial buttons are pushed deliberately, in this example as much fun as it may be, the evil is still found in the action of the aggressors, but this evil can be transferred to the one being being picked on as these repeated actions cause real, physical, pain, and suffering. Anger swells up, emotions take over, and negative actions are bound to take place. However, in the spirit the aggressors themselves are also being prodded to commit these acts of teasing. In this example of children evidence of Satans involvement is found in the uncontrollable action to continue the undesirable behavior. Think back to how many times you teased someone, or did so without ever thinking about it. Allow yourself to remember how effortless it was and in many ways fun to keep doing it. That behavior is not intrinsic of humanity, but rather was introduced by Satan to humanity. How easily was Peter taken that he did not even realize it, and if this was easy for Satan to take one of Christ’s disciples then how much more simply will our children be influenced to commit evil deeds.Thus, applying this logic the reaction the victim will have from being teased is also uncontrollable as it can also be attributed to Satans influence. This is exemplified in how the Sanhedrin seemingly revolted at the idea of Jesus being the Christ. They, (supposed spiritual leaders), actively sought Him out to kill Him.
Now in the example of my daughter, the notion of having to rebuild a relationship, her anger with the events of her life dealing with our interpersonal relationship that has taken a beating from external forces that we both could not control, that progressively led to both of us becoming frustrated and angry at each other for allowing these external forces to have such a devastating effect in the first place, has led her to misplace her anger. Like Peter she has proposed disastrous ideas, which in large part where placed there not by me but by many other people; so called professionals in the Family Court Industry. Thus, some of what she has been indoctrinated with could have never possibly worked because like Peter those notions where of Satan, they were derived or conjured up in the spirit of division, separation, and thus destroying our relationship. But to her, like Peter everyone else wants to come to her defense when I try to correct her. (Note: I am not rebuking my daughter, rather the ideas that which she has proposed, much like Jesus did to Peter. i.e. these ideas given to her by other people who’s spirit have been influence by Satan that which she has acted out on.) Because these ideas did not originate within her, her anger is caused by the ill effects of the actions taken which did not work, thus misplacing her anger at what she thinks is the cause rather at the true source. Therefore, she becomes frustrated and angry at me when in fact she needs to direct her anger at those whom gave her those disastrous ideas in the first place. Because she is still in large part a child her brain has not developed enough to be able to decipher the complete realities and in truth she has only been told what was required to prod her into doing the things she has done that did not work, and which has forced her to simply ignore not just me, my entire family, which is indicative to an unhealthily (all or nothing) mentality. In that context abuse has taken place as she is completely left defenseless, this abuse is from all the other adults whom willfully destroyed our relationship. My justification in punishing her actions, like Jesus, is hard to see but nevertheless justified because I bared witness to all the events from their creation, (like Jesus to Peter), and in my struggle to prevent them from happening, and in the fight to protect my daughter whom I love just as Jesus loved Peter, there has been conflict that was completely unnecessary.
(Note: Jesus was not about to take this abomination from Peter, and thus no parent should ever have to suffer such evil as what has transpired through the Family Court System of our day an age.)
From a parent perspective much sacrifice is required, so it is that in the spirit of Christ who sacrificed His life to save humanity, we in modern times sacrifice ourselves, our time, and in some instance we are called to do the unthinkable no matter how unfair it seems at the moment, no matter how upset our children get at us, they are still children, (liken to Peter), and we are adults, (liken to Christ).
“And Jesus answering said unto him, ‘It is said, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.'” ~ Luke 4:12
The usage of anger for good is best exemplified in the the term; “Righteous Indignation.” Jesus placed himself in a position to be tested, to prove His divinity, and His rightful place next to God. Satan played the role of tempter, as he had prior to being thrown from Heaven by God. In all these temptations we can extrapolate the role of Christ as being the role of parent, and the role of Satan as the spoiled child who is trying his best to get his way. Rules have been laid down for both to follow, and when this line has been crossed by Satan, i.e. your children, then you, as Jesus the parent turn with righteous indignation to punish or present to alternative which keeps the rule intact and this both prevents the child from harm, but also teaches the lesson that all rules must be followed. Admittedly, Satan has no intention on following any rules, and thus the lesson is wasted upon. But the point of the lesson Jesus was exemplifying even Satan could not ignore. In this role play, Jesus as parent retained the right to use His anger in a justifiable manner.
Again taking from the example of my daughter, in this struggle she, like all those who have lined up to test me, to test my resolve, to test my role and right at being a parent to her, all of whom continually finds new and very interesting ways in which to dethrone my rules, (and the courts rules), my thoughts, my opinions, my wants, my desires, and to manipulate all my time for the sole purpose of wearing me out so that I will quiet trying be her father.
(Note: This drama is very much an earthly drama and open rebellion against authority and against the very laws of nature itself. Much like the drama found in the Bible as we, men, women, and children, rebel against our father in heaven.)
Admittedly this goal is not apparent to many who have been involved nor has it been apparent to my daughter who as a child naturally rebells, which is liken to Satan who disguises his attacks and methods so as to make it look like someone else or something else entirely, thus throwing everyone off track continually without end. So my reaction like that of our Lord, using His example, in my anger my response has always been to confront the problem, to address the rules, and to attempt to enforce the stated rule. Unfortunately, I am not Christ, and the courts have no backbone and refuse in enforce their own rules as it relates to my ability and right to parent, and their judgments do not follow State Statute. Thus, the frustrating no-win scenario falls to an unhealthy imbalance that swings the pendulum permanently to one side and thus no lesson of any value is taught to my daughter and there is a false sense of security built up into a false teaching that dictates there is no repercussions from your ill actions against others and you can do whatever you want to whom ever you want as no one will stop you. This is the underlying philosophy of Satan himself. This is what Satan tried against God in heaven, this is what he again is trying against Jesus found int he temptation scripture of Luke 4:12. This is at the core of all interpersonal relationship we experience when open rebellion occurs. No matter how righteous we are, we are taken Satan, as we are all sinners and thus susceptible to his influence.
Therefore, I say to all those people whom have cost me so much, “Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.” for the Lord our God protects his children whether it is apparent to you or not. For the fact I am still here should be proof enough, thus I say these things to you with righteous indignation.
“And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come.” ~ Matthew 12:32
Anger can lead us all to do the most stupid of things. It can confuse us, disorientate us, and force us to commit the most grievous of sin. I teach all my children and thus I teach to all of you through my writings here on this blog, that there is one sin which God chooses not to forgive. This if you will is the surest way to anger God, to call upon yourself His most devastating of punishments and that punishment no one can erase, argue for you in your defense, ease your pain, or take it away, for this curse is so resoundingly devastating there is no coming back, there is no second chance, there is nothing you can do to make amends to God. That act is the act of blaspheming the Holy Spirit of God, to utterly reject God. Coupled with this grievous of sins which has two stages, Jesus Christ gave us a warning prior to this one about His reaction to all those people whom reject Him in public;
“33 But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.” ~ Matthew 10:33
Therefore, to reject Jesus Christ in your life, to ignore His commandments, to place man’s law above His, to think you are better than, to spite in His face, Jesus will rebuke you to His father, to our father in Heaven. Most of the time this action is done out anger, and it at this point can be forgiven, but to continue in your anger, in your rage, in your sinful act of rebellious revenge than and curse God Himself, the Holy Spirit, to reject God completely as Satan has tried to make us do, that he himself has done, which forces God hand, then there is no salvation.
In putting this into our modern day examples the simple truth is this, children need both parents, they need our love, our guidance our understanding, our commitment to their mutual success in life. When outside forces willfully disturbs this balance built into nature then anger in both parent and child naturally occurs. It always dumbfounds me when courts ignore this and take form child a parent whom loved them. The courts mandate is to always do what is in the best interest of the child, but there actions are of the exact opposite Train professionals seem to have a an axe to grind when told something negative that which is given to them by the child, in some instances taken out context, warped twisted, and misunderstood by the child. In my personal experience the therapists social workers, lawyers, and the judges themselves have a deceived the masses into a false sense of security, and thus get away with the destruction of our families. Jesus stated he was not here to create peace, but to bring the sword. In His perfect example in dealing with ideas of Satan, or evil intonations we must reject those ideas, we must shut the door to the sin they bring with them. And when people, be them your family or friend denies you, rebukes you, spits in your face, lies about you, then they have done so out of anger, and if your a true believer in God then they have sinned against you, but also against God. Your testimony must then reflect this sin, it then must be atoned for in order for that person to be truly forgiven, the compassionate words of a sorrowful heart is the only path to redemption. It is this drama that anger brings to bear, as most of us are still very immature in handling it in comparison to Jesus. I am always open to a sorrowful person, I am always available to a person whom has sinned against me and wishes to make amends, but I am not as Jesus was not available to those who wish to keep on hurting me, for I am about our fathers business. In fact Jesus instructed us, His disciples to do the following;
“And whosoever will not receive you, when you go out of that city, shake off the very dust from your feet for a testimony against them.” ~ Luke 9:5
Therefore, be slow to anger, be forgiving to one another, use compassionate words always, be ready to apologize and ask for sincere forgiveness, be tolerant of others, be mature in your actions, always investigate fully before assigning blame, always ask what your actions have done to others that which would have cause strife, and above all use the examples of Jesus when angry.
In Jesus’s name I say these things to you as a witness to His Devine mercy. May God Bless in all that you do, in all your endeavors for the rest of your life. I ask that you never stop learning, growing, walking, and listening to our Saviour Jesus Christ.
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3 So watch yourselves. “If your brother or sistersins against you, rebuke them; and if they repent, forgive them. 4 Even if they sin against you seven times in a day and seven times come back to you saying ‘I repent,’ you must forgive them.” ~ Luke 17:3-4, NIV
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