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Mother’s Day Message

4 “Rather, let your adornment be the inner self with the lasting beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in God’s sight.” ~ 1 Peter 3:4 (NRSVACE)

With Mother’s Day upon use let not the moment fade without there being the proper sentiment being spread throughout the world. For what do our mothers do for us on a yearly, monthly, weekly, and daily basis which gives our lives such meaning and which gives rise for such celebration? In that idea, the perfect way to celebrate this special day is to see our mothers through the prism of how Jesus see’s and celebrates His own mother, Mary.

Introduction of Mother Mary

26 “In the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, 27 to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary.” ~Luke 1:26-27 (NRSVACE)

Imagine if you will the town in Galilee called Nazareth. It would have been a small place complete with a small town environment where everyone would have known everyone else. “The people of Nazareth were essentially farmers, so they needed space between the houses for livestock and their enclosures, as well as land for plants and orchards. Nazareth would have had a population of around two to four hundred in antiquity, that is to say, several extended families or clans.” ~ Elizabeth Fletcher (2012) Basic Facts about Nazareth.

Now imagine a girl who was completely nieve to the world and yet was engaged to be married and according to scripture; Mary was pure in heart and mind. I think that in this moment Mary’s true attractiveness to God was her purity, her love, her faith in God.  Another consideration is that God fulfills his promises in the most unlikely of ways. But interestingly enough God fulfills His promise of a savior through scripture, marking the savior as being born from the house of David. Both Mary and Joseph was descendant from King David; Joseph from David’s son Nathan, and Mary from David’s son Solomon. In this way we see the perfect parents to God’s only son Jesus and for scripture to be fulfilled.

Look at your own parents, particularly your mother’s family tree.  How did God make it possible for your parents to meet? Remember that God fulfills scripture and He can make the impossible happen; so think big and outside of the box. God brought Mary and Joseph together in order that His son would be raised within the loving home as the descendant of King David.  God brought you into the world from a special family and for a special purpose. Look deep and see the connections that God has placed in your own families story.

26-28 “In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to the Galilean village of Nazareth to a virgin engaged to be married to a man descended from David. His name was Joseph, and the virgin’s name, Mary. Upon entering, Gabriel greeted her: ‘Good morning! You’re beautiful with God’s beauty, Beautiful inside and out! God be with you.'” ~ Luke 1:26-28 The Message (MSG).

The Archangel Gabriel came from heaven to deliver a message straight from God. His words within this message indicate a radical departure from the life Mary was leading to one that was completely blessed by and one with God.  In that moment Mary was elevated from a normal human being to a Holy Bride. Mary was chosen to give life to the savior in our mortal sinful world. But what Gabriel explained to her next would have scared anyone else away, but not Mary for again, she was pure inside and out!

33 “You will become pregnant and give birth to a son and call his name Jesus.  He will be great, be called ‘Son of the Highest.’ The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David; He will rule Jacob’s house forever— no end, ever, to his kingdom.” ~ Luke 1:26-33 The Message (MSG).

Because Mary had observed every Jewish custom she had never slept with nor had any sexual relations with any man. So naturally, her thoughts begged the question; “How could this be?” Gabriel went on to explained;

35 “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, the power of the Highest hover over you; Therefore, the child you bring to birth will be called Holy, Son of God.” ~ Luke 1:26-35 The Message (MSG). 

The purity of mary shined through when she finally understood because it led her to open her heart and answer God with love;

38 “Yes, I see it all now: I’m the Lord’s maid, ready to serve. Let it be with me just as you say.’ Then the angel left her.” ~ Luke 1:26-38 The Message (MSG). 

 Mary’s Love For Jesus and God

21  “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. “Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you will be filled.
“Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh.” ~ Luke 6:21 (NRSVCE) 

Mary so loved Jesus that she protected Him from all harm, she loved Him with all her heart and soul, she cared for Him as only a mother could. She afforded Him an up bring and teachings every Jewish mother had. But, what Mary had done that was most outstanding was to give her family the gift of love.  She taught Jesus and all her children from Joseph the acts of mercy, love, forgiveness, and truth. In that, many of the words Jesus used on the topic of love are maternal in nature and therefore, coming from his mother. Think about your own words you use with others. How many of those words could be contributed to your mother or your father? Yes, Jesus’s overall message is a Godly message, but remember the spirit of God was also in Mary, the message she taught Jesus was one and the same. Mother’s generally reinforced behaviors throughout our entire life, so the behaviors passed onto Jesus from Mary were holy, pure, and Godly. Mary’s influence spans the individual moments that Jesus experienced as being poor living as all other poor Jews lived under the hardships of the Roman oppression. Mary’s influence overshadowed the moments when Jesus was physically hungry or when He was sad and cried, for her words to Him was uplifting, caring, considerate, and heartfelt.

Give yourself a minute and remember the funniest moment you experienced with your mother, remember the joy in your heart, the sense of security, love, and protection. Remember the sound of your mother as she laughed with you, the feel of her touch upon you, the smell of her clothes or perfume as she hugged you. I think this is as close to heaven as we can get here on earth; to experience the pure love of your mother. Jesus had this in abundance! It is my sincere hope all of you do as well!

Mother are also instrumental in teaching the hard lessons of life, most particularly the lessons which set children free of what makes use feel safe and secure.  The older we grow hopefully the wiser we become, and the troubles we experience are lessened by our mother’s advice. I remember calling my mother every day asking her deep questions when I faced my deepest hurts. It was the strength of my mother I drew upon when confronting the scary things in this life. In this way, Mary also excelled as she knew the faith of her son the redeemer of the world. Think about the fear which penetrated her heart every day from His birth to His death helpless to do anything about it. Mary was indeed a brave and strong woman. Reflect upon your own mother, how much of a help she was in your times of need, how brave she was when she gave advice, how courageous she was for seeing your hurts coming but could do nothing to stop them?

Reflect upon your own mother, how much of a help she was in your times of need, how brave she was when she gave advice, how courageous she was for seeing your hurts coming but could do nothing to stop them?

In reflection, I will say to you my brothers and sisters in Christ that our Mother Mary was strong, courageous, and true to Jesus until the very end, as she stood there on Golgotha (which means Place of a Skull), and watched grief stricken as Jesus drew his last breath. Mary remained by her son’s side until they brought Him down from the cross and had buried Him. She was among the woman at the tomb of Jesus, and she was instrumental to the spreading God’s message to the world. Mary was loyal to her husband, family, and to God all the days of her life. Her example is as a perfect for how to be a true servant of God as it is to being a beautiful human being and mother. In this way, because Jesus saved us from our sins, Mother Mary is the mother of the world; the world freed from the debt of sin. Her message of love, nurturing, and forgiveness is the very essence of God’s (Agape) love. Look deep inside your own hearts and you will find the same love from your own mothers here on this special day we celebrate called Mother’s Day.

Amen,

Ways to Communicate

As always, I humbly invite you to stay connected by sending me a message at listeningfaithfullyblog@gmail.com, or by visiting Listening Faithfully Facebook page.

Don’t forget to become part of this awesome community by signing up at Listening Faithfully Community Page. In addition, I have started a new page where you can also visit me at fb.me/listeninfaith and send me messages at m.me/listeninfaith.

Finally, another means of direct communication os by sending me a tweet on Twitter at Brian Keith@Listeninfaith, or become a part of our spiritual group: Friends who Like Listening Faithfully…. “Let’s grow together as children of God” 

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‘Oh, God… I am a Sinner!’ 

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  “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!

Amen,

Ways to Communicate

As always, I humbly invite you to stay connected by sending me a message at listeningfaithfullyblog@gmail.com, or by visiting Listening Faithfully Facebook page.

Don’t forget to become part of this awesome community by signing up at Listening Faithfully Community Page. In addition, I have started a new page where you can also visit me at fb.me/listeninfaith and send me messages at m.me/listeninfaith.

Finally, another means of direct communication os by sending me a tweet on Twitter at Brian Keith@Listeninfaith, or become a part of our spiritual group: Friends who Like Listening Faithfully…. “Let’s grow together as children of God” 

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Peace Left by Jesus

27 “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” – John 14:27

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Have you ever wondered why some people just seem to never be able to find peace in their lives? Have you ever wondered why they are always sower towards others, nothing is ever fair or just in their eyes, and they seem to enjoy this self-inflicted agony? I’ve known people like this. I’ve seen how they imitate happiness but it never lasts for long. Things that have happened in their lives are never their fault because it’s easier to blame others. Responsibility for their own actions is a foreign idea and never seems to apply to them. So why the misery, why the drama, why do they run so far and fast from peace?

Self-Worth vs. God’s Peace

11 “For I know well the plans I have in mind for you—oracle of the Lord—plans for your welfare and not for woe, so as to give you a future of hope.” ~ Jeremiah 29:11

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To understand this behavior we first must understand why the human race ignores God’s ministry of Peace. At this point, it would be all too easy to say that we are all sinners. Yes, that is part of it, but not the whole picture. Rather we must dig deeper and look for that character flaw that some people exploit more so than others called self-worth. It works like this, many people have lived hard lives, as children they are subjected to crappie things that are at the first outside of their control. The craziness of their lives become addicting, much like a drug. The older they get the more they are told how worthless they are until they begin to believe it. At some point, they begin to expect the bad in life, and they chose to ignore the good. This becomes a routine of bad choices that cascade one after another. Now logically speaking they know they should strive for peace in their life, but they are their own worst enemy as the choices they make repeals peace. These broken people believe that they do not deserve to be happy as every attempt fails. So they ignore that singular voice within their hearts and run away not feeling good enough to receive God’s peace. They run and hide because the cannot believe that God has a plan for them that includes happiness and peace here on Earth. They cannot believe that God wants to take control!  But I say to you my brothers and sisters who are broken, God wants to instill his plan into your heart and take all the bad and turn it into good which glories His love for you!

Remember that Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you.”

Every time I read this I feel at peace. Why? Because I believe with all my heart and soul that God’s peace is everlasting. I believe blindly in the idea that Jesus really said that.  I believe that Jesus is real and loved us so much that he would die to give us a chance at receiving that everlasting peace.

So, why can people like me believe and other people just can’t quite make that leap of faith? Because they believe they do not deserve God’s love, because they expect nothing but the bad in life. The difference is I do not expect to be saved rather I hope to be saved according to God’s word. Whereas, the broken person dwells in the expectation that bad is all they can hope for, which leaves them without hope of salvation. Thus, if you give in to hopelessness then you in truth shackle your life to this world and to the expectations of a life mired in sin! You give up on the hope God has for you, the salvation he won for you, and the everlasting peace he left in your care.

Conversion

19 “Repent, therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be wiped away,” ~ Acts 3:19 (NABRE)

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Again, logically speaking the only way out of this hopelessness is to be converted! This means you must die to your sins and be reborn in the glory of the Lord, Jesus Christ! Scary sounding… right? Well to the nonbeliever it is the scariest thing they will ever do. Ok, so how do you convert someone who is broken?  Believe me, when I say it’s easier said than done, but it begins with being the example in every aspect of your life, teaching that God’s grace can be found in everything be it in the good or bad things of this world. Yes, being the example by living your faith, practicing what you preach, do what you say, believe with all your heart, mind, and soul in the words and promises of God. To be a witness to others who need help in believing, who need you to be their a road map to faith, and a guide to those broken down and beaten by this world who expect nothing but bad and show them kindness, love, and mercy. Conversion doesn’t happen overnight, rather it takes time for people to hear, then reacts to God’s call. But know God is calling and He is using you to make that connection!

There is hope, there is love, there is mercy, and there is peace in this world. But the peace we all should strive for is the peace of salvation in the Lord, Jesus Christ!

Amen.

My brothers and sisters, if you enjoyed this message today then I invite you to contact me directly at listeningfaithfullyblog@gmail.com. Let’s open a dialog and share the good news with each other.

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Matthew 14:11-20

13 When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place. Hearing of this, the crowds followed him on foot from the towns.14 When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick. ~ Matthew 14:13-14.

THE CROWD

God see’s what we need. He see’s not just the physical but also the spiritual needs of every human being. In this God cares for use through grace, and it is this grace we call compassion do we the human race find true healing. The crowd followed Jesus not out of curiosity, but through the hunger they felt deep inside. The spirit within them needed to be feed. This crowd Jesus took compassion upon and healed the sick, but through their faith in him so too was their soul also mended. If you read the scripture just before Matthew 13 you will discover that Jesus had been told about His cousin John being beheaded. It was this which made Jesus seek seclusion. But even in this state of mind of grief Jesus was very much aware of the multitude and of their many needs. It was not His grief which took center stage but it was the needs of the living. Our God loves us so much He puts all other things aside and tends to us filling our heart, mind, and soul with the spiritual food we crave. For our God is truly a loving and compassionate God, one of grace and compassion.

15 “As evening approached, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late. Send the crowds away, so they can go to the villages and buy themselves some food.’” Matthew 14:15

MAN’S COMPASSION

In this we see the compassion of man for the disciples of Christ noticed only one need, that of the flesh. For the people had by this point been following Jesus for some time, they had not gone home to eat, to take a bath, to tend to their flocks nor had they brought provisions. For the disciples, food took center stage in their compassionate plea to Jesus. But again as mentioned before God see’s all of our needs. So Jesus argued against not sending the multitude home for food, but rather argued to keep them close to tend to all their needs personally.

16 Jesus replied, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.” ~ Matthew 14:16.

GOD’S COMPASSION

Let’s take a moment and break this statement down as the disciples must have. There were hundreds of people of all ages. They were all in the wilderness nowhere close to any immediate food source and night was upon them. So to the disciples the question of feeding the multitude became one of,  “how”, shifting from their first concern of, “where”. For in this one statement by Jesus the responsibility then shifted from allowing the people to feed themselves to the disciples feeding them just as God feeds us.  Their confusion and misgivings, or lack of faith in both Jesus and in themselves prevented them from seeing this miracle which was to unfold and replaced it with blindness making it impossible for them to comply and is seen most readily within the comments they make next to Jesus,

17 “We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish,” they answered.~Matthew 14:17

BEGINNING OF THE MIRACLE

Here we see two concerns happening, the first is the amount of food, which is to be the disciples dinner. Secondly, the amount of food was not enough so logically it made no sense to keep the multitude with them.  Therefore, what must have struck the disciples the hardest was if they give what they have away then how or what were they going to eat. This disbelief of the disciples is the failing of every human being as we all tend to see the facts and discount the possibility of things we do not or cannot see in those facts. This then leads to lack of faith in God and His ability to see past the facts and pull forth the impossible. This also leads us to forget the love God holds for us, his caring nature, and his want in taking caring of all our needs. These two things lead us to falter and stumble even when we have seen His love in action before as the disciples had. The power which gripped the disciples in this moment was rooted in their inaction to believe in what they could not see, it was their refusal to look beyond the physical or to admit that they could feed thousands with so little food and this instead lead them to question if it could work even with the Son of God present, for this is called the power of doubt.

18 “Bring them here to me,” he said. 19 And he directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people. ~ Matthew 14:18-19.

OUR GOD…

In all things our God is one of order, He is one who takes great care to account for each instant perfectly calling out each detail of our lives, deeds, misgivings, loves, worries, and triumphs. Our God is one of prayer, giving thanks for what you have for it was so delivered to us by God. Our God is one that provides everything that we need, in every instant that we live for all things belong to God. Our God is one that calls us forward to be His helper, teaching us what we need to know in every facet of our complicated lives. The lesson we see here is that God can do anything for His people, He can move mountains, build empires, create planets, and die a brutal death to cleanse us our sins, for there is nothing our God can not do. In giving the disciples the responsibility of feeding the multitude He teaches them how it is possible within the right frame of mind, heart, and soul to connect to our loving father in heaven who feeds us making the impossible possible.

20 They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketful of broken pieces that were left over.21 The number of those who ate was about five thousand men, besides women and children. ~ Matthew 14:20.

THE GOOD SHEPHERD

The miracle was in the belief that so many could be feed with so little food, with the prayer of thanksgiving, and with the compassion of God. For the Lord left no one out as everyone was feed and within this so too did the servants of Christ find that the love of God even extends to those who doubt such as they had. Our God leaves no one out from his gift giving as he keeps everyone in his sights like a good Shepard. Our God is fair and unchanging in his love that he gives to everyone of us. He calls each one of us to Him by name and within this He again knows what we individually need and so He cares for us the same. He leads us not astray but rather holds us close to Him and shelters us from evil and forgives us our sins in the same manner.

Amen

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 Special Note

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 As we head towards the season of Thanksgiving it is important to take note of all that we have to be thankful for. Like the disciples who learned all things are possible through the love and compassion of God so to can we the many sons and daughters of Christ make miracles happen for those who are in need and thus in our own way feed the multitude. I urge you to support inner city children through the gift of education by clicking the following link.

Support the Boy’s & Girl’s Tech Team

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“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.

 THAI BUDDA 1

Blessings

Not to associate with fools.

To associate with the wise.

To pay respects where they are due.

This is the highest blessing.

To reside in a suitable location.

To have previously done meritorious deeds.

To have set oneself on the right path (to emancipation).

This is the highest blessing.

To have much learning.

To be skilled and knowledgeable.

To be restrained by a moral code.

To have beautiful speech.

This is the highest blessing.

To support one’s parents.

To cherish wife and children.

To earn one’s livelihood without difficulty.

This is the highest blessing.

To be generous.

To live in accord with the Dhamma.

To assist one’s relatives.

To do blameless actions.

This is the highest blessing.

To cease and abstain from evil.

To refrain from intoxicants.

Not to be heedless of the Dhamma.

This is the highest blessing.

To be respectful. To be humble.

To be content. To have gratitude.

To hear the Dhamma at the right time.

This is the highest blessing.

To have patience.

To be easy to admonish.

Associating with monks.

To discuss the Dhamma at a suitable time.

This is the highest blessing.

To practice austerities.

To lead the Holy Life.

Seeing the Noble Truths.

The realization of Nibbanā.

This is the highest blessing.

A mind unshaken by contact with the world.

Sorrowlessness, stainlessness and secure.

This is the highest blessing.

Having accomplished this one is always unconquered,

one goes everywhere in peace.

These are the supreme blessings.

~Maṅgala Sutta, Sutta Nipāta 2.4

THAI DESIGN

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.

Amen

If you enjoyed “Trustworthiness – A CASE FOR GOD!”, I invite you to stay in contact with me through the following ways and please do not forget to rate this posting below.

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Closing Reminder to Pray

Scott Spinks

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.

  1. To visit the original Prayer Request Click Here
  2. To stay connected and updated with Scott’s Condition Click Here (My Personal Facebook Page)
  3. To send your prayers please Click Here (Listening Faithfully Community Facebook Page)
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THE PILGRIM SHEPARD

A very honored friend and Catholic Priest; Father Thomas Welbers is going on another Pilgrimage to the Holy Land. Below is the general announcement that he published on his blog; The Pilgrim Shepard.

To sign up for this journey with Fr. Welbers please click on the link: SIGN ME UP! 

Meet Fr. Tom!

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15  “”Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.” ~ Colossians 3:15

Scripture reads with one single solitary goal that is expressed using words like “LET”, the peace of Christ rule your hearts ~Colossians 3:15…. “LET” the message of Christ dwell among you richly, ~Colossians 3:16…. “LET” go of your concerns! Psalms 46:10…. In these three examples the word “LET” is a plea to your heart, mind, and soul. The word “LET” is the giving of free will and is the evidence we crave that God truly loves us for in this He is allowing you to choose to either believe He can help you, solve your problems, hold your hand, and to lift you up or not. It is one word that rings clear and dispels the devils lies about God in that He is giving you His chosen people the right to make up your own minds rather than to control us like robots. God wants all His children to be whole, to love wholly, to be free, to be with Him because they want to be. Some think they can manipulate their way into Heaven by controlling everyone around them. They create chaos in the world, in others they claim to love. Some say one thing and do another and thus are hypocrites. Still more people walk away from God because of guilt that has been burned deep into their hearts by so-called loved ones. Even more people walk away from God in disbelief as they no longer feel God working in their life. In every one of these examples the key element is found within the false idea that we need to be in control all the time. Many times people do this or think this because they are trying not be hurt because they were hurt badly by someone they trusted in their life. To most the very fact that God loves them with perfect, forgiving, merciful love is so scary and so out of this world because of their sins they can’t bring themselves to let go and to let God in! We humans play the blame game with each other. This is evident in the amount of hate there is in the world. This is evident with how we treat our fellow-man. This then causes unrest and war, and on a micro level it destroys families and separates life long friends. So what does it mean to “LET” God in, “LET” the message of God in, “LET” the peace of Christ in? Because we are His children, His chosen people, and because we are granted free will, we are given His body and we become one in Christ. God thus lives within each one of us, and as Jesus instructed our body is His temple.

16 “Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? 17 If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.” ~ 1 Corinthians 3:16-17

In many ways the human soul is sanctified and is washed clean by the merciful hand of God. We can experience the entirety of God’s love by doing the simplest thing which is in our reality one of the hardest things we could ever do; that being let God in and let God love us, let God control our heart, mind, and soul, and let Him set us free of the earthly burdens we are weighed down with. It comes down to a shift in thinking, a shift in our core belief and perception of who we are and who God wants us to be. In that pursuit we are prohibited from sinning in such ways as passing judgement on others, acting outside of our moral teachings, and thinking negative or manipulating the situations we find ourselves in for our own personal gain. If held as a sacred oath between the believer and God love will flow freely, love will transform our actions, love will fill up our hearts and our life will become enriched beyond our wildest imaginations. This perfect love will burn deep into our heart and let the hidden world be seen as if reborn into a new one. What was holding you back will be leveled, what was giving you grief will be removed, and what was troubling your mind will be taken away within your growing transformation from a carnal sinful person to a true child of God.

6 “That the communication of your faith may become effectual by the acknowledging of every good thing which is in you in Christ Jesus.” ~ Philemon 1:6

So it is to you my brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus, let it be your words more so than anything else which gives testimony to your core belief in God, let it be your mouth which is the horn that brings people to God, let His words fill your heart, mind, and soul always and spread His message. LET GO AND LET GOD LIVE IN YOUR LIFE, IN YOUR HEART, FOR YOU ARE HIS DIVINE TEMPLE!

 Amen

If you enjoyed “Letting Go and Letting God Happen!”, I invite you to stay in contact with me through the following ways and please do not forget to rate this posting below.

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Email: listeningfaithfullyblog@gmail.com

Facebook: CLICK HERE

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THE PILGRIM SHEPARD

A very honored friend and Catholic Priest; Father Thomas Welbers is going on another Pilgrimage to the Holy Land. Below is the general announcement that he published on his blog; The Pilgrim Shepard. To sign up for this journey with Fr. Welbers please click on the link: SIGN ME UP! 

Meet Fr. Tom!

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The Differences between Love and Hate

In this first installment we will explore man’s definition of love, and in that the two all-consuming passions that utterly take us over and blind our reason forcing us to do both heroic and barbaric things to others depending on whether we feel love or hate for them.  In reality there is a very fine line between love and hate and in our brain there is virtually no difference between them.  That I know is a shocking statement in and of itself, but never the less this strange and scary construct has been scientifically proven to be true.  But before we go there let’s begin with scripture and then apply man’s definitions we have created for these two all-consuming emotions.  Let’s examine them biblically first then move into science.

1 peter

8 “Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous; 9 not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing.” ~ 1 Peter 3:8-9

The Perfect Example of Love

The simple message carried throughout the Middle East and into Europe in the decades after the death of Christ by His disciples was a very basic one, “Love one another.” The absolute “Love” of God or “Agape Love” was the example and is today the hardest to achieve. I have to think that God would not have shown us such a perfect love if we as mortals could not attain it and in that we look to Jesus who throughout all the hateful things others did to him and others he loved never once acted out with anything in his heart other than this agape love of Gods.  So with that said we can extrapolate this purest of all love is attainable and should be our starting point in our search for the true definition of what Jesus really meant by;

John 13

34 “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.” ~ John 13:34

Love Defined

It has been long debated what love is, how we should love, what love looks like, how to handle heartbreak, and the strong emotion love overwhelms us with. We have undoubtedly struggled with this concept we call love and in our rational mind love makes us do things which makes no sense to our personal well-being but rather fulfills a basic need all people are born with from the start.  This struggle all people contend with in both their personal and professional lives is further complicated with our struggle to understand an equally overwhelming emotion known as hate.  Hate presents the same questions as does love and it appears as strongly in our hearts as does love. One could even argue that hate is loves evil twin who twists loves goodness into a pool of unrecognizable film of darkness.  Therefore, love is an emotion which is equal to hate, and the line which divides them is much thinner than we could have ever imagined.  It boggles the mind how love could be at the root of a hateful act, and vice-versa, how hate could ever be linked to love.  In an attempt to explore this paradox we must first start with the modern definition of love;

Love is defined as –

  1. A profoundly tender, passionate affection for another person.
  2. A feeling of warm personal attachment or deep affection, as for a parent, child, or friend.
  3. Sexual passion or desire.
  4. A person toward whom love is felt; beloved person; sweetheart.
  5. (Used in direct address as a term of endearment, affection, or the like): Would you like to see a movie, love?
  6. love affair; an intensely amorous incident; amour.
  7. Sexual intercourse; copulation.  ~ Found online at http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/love

First Form of Love

Each of the seven definitions covers a huge realm of emotions, feelings, and actions that are linked to other emotions that help to build this intense feeling of love.  An example of this is found in the first definition: a profoundly “tender”(the word “tender” is different than the word love and is uniquely described as being: weak, immature, easily moved, soft, young, delicate, not strong or hardy, and or gentle. ~ http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/tender ).  This word “tender” must then be viewed as nothing more than a supporting feeling of love linked in our actions for or against others while always playing a minor role in the background.

Example: I can argue in a “tender” way and thus be perceived as not being strong or weak on the argument. I can console another person “tenderly”, and thus be perceived as being soft and delicate. I can have a crush on another person and thus be perceived as being young or immature in my actions towards them, even biased when compared to others. None of which equals the emotion of love, but are qualities found in love. I could easily argue with my girlfriend or wife in a tender way so as not to hurt their feelings, I could console them softly, and act childish in my actions in private and when defending them become very bias because of my love for her. This extends to our children and other family members. We say this is love but in reality it is the expression of love in its weakest or mildest form.

Love Me Tender

So being “tender” is the first act of showing a growing emotion for another person and consequently the step to becoming vulnerable and complete exposed. It is proceeded by the second definition of love: a feeling of warm personal attachment – (here again we now are part of something bigger than ourselves and this most basic of emotions fulfills a primal need programmed into every person on earth by our creator – the need to belong. ~  https://listeningfaithfullyblog.com/2009/04/18/reflections-1-a-real-relationship-with-god-relationships-series/ )

In this first ever blog posting of Listening Faithfully I try to point out how we are hot-wired from the start by God in order that these emotions should guide us to serve our Lord emphatically.  However, the love that manipulates our choices and decisions are profoundly linked to first becoming willingly subdued to the strong over powering emotion of love. Therefore, the first sign of this would be to do something for someone else that in reality you would not have otherwise done and in this your actions are “tender”, others may perceive you as being silly or weak and even soft.  This perception can be both good and bad and carry with it a diverse volume of consequences, both unintended and intended.

Example: The irrational act of giving flowers or presents to a person you’re infatuated with without knowing their true feelings for you first – spending money you probably should have kept – defending a person even if it puts you in a weaker position with others – and my personal favorite, the games we play with ourselves when trying to justify these actions either to ourselves or others who have called us out on it.  However intense the act of being “tender” is in our own mind we are in reality sending signals out to the world like a probe in search of love – to test if this new connection will fulfill our most basic needs of belonging.

The Evolution of Love

Again, in all of this love is becoming stronger, our actions more manipulated, our ability to reason is more compromised, and this wonderful all-consuming emotion drives further into our heart and mind as it progresses into the next more powerful definition of love – that being: sexual passion or desire.  In this stage of love we as human-beings are able to express the deepest of emotions – the power to share without fear of being compromised – the need of confession is realized as is the bond between two people is thus born into it’s infancy not unlike an impenetrable bridge made of iron and concrete.  Sadly many people confuse the pleasures of this stage of love with the act of having sex which is a primal effort to pass ones genes on so as to insure the survival of one’s own lineage. In this confusion of feelings love becomes the act of having sex rather than the tenderness of giving flowers, or the soft manner we hold each other’s hand, or even the ability to argue softly with love in our voices. These pleasures are then lost as our bodies begin to crave carnal pleasure and our mind and emotions become detached from the true purposes of love. Therefore, what some would call love is in reality a sin and an abomination in the eyes of God. For no other reason is there so many divorces and children born out of wedlock.  For no other reason is there the crimes of passion we see played out nightly in the news, and the broken hearts of children who are left wondering why their parents are absent in their lives. ~ For a deeper explanation Click Here

FAMILY

On the other hand when these emotions are handled in a mature responsible way with dignity and respect do we see the miracle of God in the faces of our children, is there the foundations drilled deep that support a whole productive and balanced family unit, and in this do we see couples love and honor each other until death do they part.  But even this outcome is dependent fully on the trick of our minds and emotions that love weaves that allows us to do things we would not otherwise do with not clear benefits to ourselves but yet greatly benefits others around us. In this more complete definition offered by the bible do we find the root of love and also it evil twin – that of hate.

With that firmly rooted in your mind, I am always called back to the biblical definition of love – a definition where love is defined in a broader and more diverse way; one that goes far beyond the online dictionaries we have at our fingertips today and which I have quoted from in this posting.

1Corinthians_spread1.0

“4 Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; 5 does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; 6 does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 8 Love never fails.” ~ 1 Corinthians 13:4-8

With this universal standard we can begin to understand what love really is and how powerful it can be.  We begin to fully view the greatest gift of all and how it manipulates our thinking, alters our actions, and provokes both heroic and barbaric deeds. We literally scratch the surface of this gift given to us by God and yet just start to uncover the deepest consequences it holds for all man-kind.

Amen

If you liked this Reflection – The All-Consuming Passions of Mankind pt.1… then please leave a comment.  Also please “LIKE” and “SHARE” this post with others.

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SPECIAL NOTE:

Dr. Kallay was my boss and God Mother at Ascension Catholic School and she has recently retired due to health issues.  I am sharing the video I made on behalf of the Ascension Community to Honor her 11 years of service. CLICK HERE

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