Not just the holiday, which is this Thursday, but the idea of it. Thanksgiving is not just the one day each year, but should be the natural state of every person each day. While we destroy the planet we still have air to breathe and water to drink, though both are becoming rarer every day. We can grow what we need for food, but we do not feed each other. Nor do we take proper care of the soil in which we grow things. Sometimes I am sure that mankind is forgetting the Creator and disregarding the consequences.
I remember days and nights of being well fed, cared for and cleaned up. Yet in my youth it was what I expected and I didn't truly appreciate my circumstances. People all over the world live in conditions beyond my experience and imagination. Growing up reading Edgar Rice Burroughs and imagining living in a jungle is nothing like reality. The jungles of Africa, Asia, South and Central America present so many obstacles to life that I have nothing which compares to it in my limited world experience. I have felt the hunger of missing a couple of meals and to a person used to three meals and innumerable snacks every day my understanding of going a couple of days with nothing to eat is unfathomable. I see now how "spoiled" I was and it now gives me thanksgiving for all of the blessings and grace I have received over my lifetime. Even fasting for a day presents such an obstacle that I fear I would fail miserably. Maybe not, with God's help, but certainly not on my own.
I have difficulty understanding how the world can continue to exist with all the evils going on throughout the lands. Toleration of evil is at a height undreamed of by many God fearing people and we choose to endure instead of protest. Praying for the evil people of the world is not an easy task and many who claim to follow Christ fail to present their prayers with a pure heart, seeking what is best for the evil doers, not understand that we should pray that those same evildoers would come to an understanding of God and His judgement and the possibility of His mercy. Everyone has failed to live up to the full and complete standard of The Lord, except for His Son. So in truth we are all evildoers and we all deserve His judgement and the only way we escape condemnation is though His Son. Yet we are instructed to pray for our enemies even though they are the enemies of God. We do not pray for their success. Keep that thought in mind. Their success in the here and now means their destruction in the time of judgement. This is a guarantee from the Lord, so we pray that they understand the path they are on and the other path, which, though harder, leads to a better place than the lake of fire.
Now about politics, this is how I feel, our "government" is no longer following the constitution, the guidelines of which are based on God's laws. Fascist and socialist cry foul when capitalist win and the reverse happens also. No one is asking "What is right?" but only "What serves my interest?" No one is pointing out the injustices put on the world by religions of false prophets, and even though Christianity has often failed to adhere to the peace teaching of the Christ, those are the only teachings that give everyone the chance to actually live in real peace. The call of Jesus was to turn to God and seek His forgiveness, prepare for His kingdom, not of earthly design but of spiritual. In that call it is taught to love each other in the truest sense of the word, as God loves. Any religion that uses that teaching improperly in God's view, is teaching against God and is looking at receiving condemnation God.
Yet it seems that no one is crying out against the abuses, injustices and murders in the name of islam. Who is voicing concern for the persecutions of Christian by the followers of that false prophet, nor even the actions of the communist nations against Christians seeking only to worship God. No one is crying out about the persecution of the unborn who cannot cry out for themselves. Yet the abuse and murder of moslems in dictatorships or in communist countries is readily covered by a biased media and is very vocal about the atrocities.
There seems to be plenty of worry over baby seals and there are laws concerning them but laws regarding defenseless human babies are disregarded for convenience sake. Don't misunderstand, I am against the killing of baby seals for their fur, or any other reason except for basic survival and they are the only food source. I do believe in the right of pre-existent life, a pregnant woman, to defend her right to life. If a baby's continued existence in the womb threatens the mother's life then she may chose defend her life or accept the risk. The choice should be hers and not the doctor nor the genetic donor, but not if it threatens "lifestyle" or situation in the family or really any other excuse. It really saddens me when a child's life is taken, period, and as a measure of convenience is really depressing. Life is much to precious a gift to be regarded as a choice. Yes I know some who have chosen that path and I do still love them, even though my heart-pains are deep. And I do pray for them. I believe adoption is the better choice, especially if there is no family support.
Pure religion according to the Creator is that we look after the needs of widows and orphans. It isn't about the show that is put on at each mass or tent meeting. It is not observance of rituals or the commands of men, prophet or no. Pure religion should come from the heart and be based in love, for Christ, for God, and for each other.
I've been in many places that were dedicated to worship. Some were huge stone buildings with much art in the design and on the wall, but no real presence of the Spirit. Just a place, really. I've been in a cinder-block building that would seat maybe twenty people and felt the presence of God in the hearts of those attending. People will say they can worship God wherever they are and I know this is true, but when you use it as an excuse to not gather with the church, I am convinced that you do wrong. Yes, I have read the scriptures over and over again and I am still convinced of this. The church body meets to edify and lift each other up, to correct where teaching is going astray, to ensure that the whole body is joined in heart and mind with Christ. To help when times are hard and to ask when there is a time of need. These blessings aren't available if you aren't.
One thing I have noticed over the years is that the church can be found anywhere. The most awesome place outside of a few churches that I have attended was a steel walled room with seating for about ten or so people. Not a prison, by the way. (After hearing the door shut in the brig at Rota where I was escorting a guy in the squadron that was being detained, I have not wanted to ever feel that way or hear that sound ever again. Just the memory gives me the willies. Bob, I am so sorry you had to go through that but you did put yourself in that situation. I sincerely hope and pray you are doing much better now.) But back to the steel room: The fellowship we felt on the carrier was indeed a revelation to us. I was meeting with a few guy who attended the Church of Christ when in our respective home-ports and although none of us were very gifted musically, we worshiped together in song, in message and in communion like the brothers we are.
Christianity is not nor should ever be considered a religion, but a way of life dedicated to fulfilling the calling of the Word. The Word was there in the beginning of things and will still be after the end of things. Christianity is the full and complete understanding of love as expressed by God and is the very core of existence. The doors of Christianity are opened wide till the Word shuts them. Acceptance of God and subsequent obedience of His command is to demonstrate your acceptance of His presence and authority and is what we should desire to do as Christians. We can do this by emulating His Son, which should be the ultimate goal of any follower of Christ. God should always come first in our life, and with Him is the Holy Spirit, and the Son.
The word of YWH since the beginning of time and especially since the time of His Son is that we should love one another as He loves each one of us. Yes, this is a near impossible task given the nature of man and mankind's tendency toward self-destruction. We must consider this as we make our laws and call for ALL (this is aimed at our current and future "leaders") to obey them. No other law is higher than God's love and no law of man can equal God's law of love.
I have never met another carbon based intelligent (to a degree) bipedal life form that has kept all the laws of their unit/country/"religion". Many of my learning experiences call to question my total and complete obedience to the laws of the land, where ever I was located. And many more of my experiences convinced me that many of those "units" really had no understanding of what the Creator wants in how we should live our short time on this rock. I have browsed the teachings of many of the so-called "great" minds, past to present. Some of them simply rehash and water down what is already in the Bible, most of them spout things of philosophy that tries to remove God from the equation and to my somewhat limited ability to understand, self elevating and meaningless platitudes. Many of the allegedly great thinkers are simply stating the obvious in larger words than most people know and many of them are mostly concerned with self over others. What do I know? I'm just a white boy from the edge of the swamps.
When someone says all you need is love, that person doesn't understand that true love requires that we do, not feel. True love demands that we work for what is best for us and them, regardless of how we feel, bestly with the guidance of the Creator's Spirit. Some call it agape' love but it is the highest level of love known to man. It is the love the Creator has for His creation and especially for those created in His image. We are that creation and within us is the possibility to approach that level of love, but it does require us to understand and continuing to learn about love and how far we are expected to go.
I love my wife. Simply stated, but the meaning to me goes far beyond my pitiful ability to express. I feel the same kind of love for my children and their families. Whether I feel pride or shame my love remains. I love my brothers, though two are gone, and their families as well. And both my sisters in law and their families. Nieces, nephews, cousins, aunts, uncles, grands and all are loved by me, even if we disagree. One of the few things I understand about God that has become a part of me and is constantly teaching me is His love. I have friends inside the church and out, all that I love, some that I am truly feeling the "family vibe" that is supposed to be the hallmark of God's children.
I have many layers of love in me, some that go well beyond my depths of perception. Do I love life? Sometimes. Other times I'll be glad when it is over. Not that I am in a hurry for it to be over, just that I don't understand what I'm supposed to do next. I conclude from many of the people I know, this may be a natural and common trait of mankind. I love studying the Word of God to expand my understanding of life. I love when I can help someone who is in a bad, or even a good situation. I know I wind up missing many opportunities to express God's love and mine, mostly due to me forgetting things.
There are times that I will directly ask God: "What am I supposed to do with my life?" As yet He has not answered directly, but often immediately afterward I find myself in a situation where my presence has a significant and positive meaning for someone. It is my guess that God may be using others to provide my answer and I am simply too thick to comprehend. Sometimes I am the one who answers my prayer as the Spirit moves me to accomplish God's design. You never really know at the time but when you look back on it, you see how obvious the signs were. Sometimes I realize that I can be oblivious to things around me.
I don't grasp the thinking that leads someone to apply a permanent solution to a temporary situation. Well, maybe a little, but that is something that I see as having no real benefit for anyone, and I know some people will not comprehend this train of thought. Suicide is never a comfortable thought to me and it will call up examples of people who have chosen to die. The soldier that throws his body on a grenade has chosen to give his life so others may live is one. But that soldier gave his life for others. I see benefit for others over self as the motive. Same thing for those who shield others with their body during a tornado or a bank robbery and die for them. Again, others over self. Especially Jesus comes to mind as the danger He gave His life saving us from is indescribably horrible.
But to take your life to relieve your emotional pain, or to take it because you bullied or your relationship ended? This gives me trouble. This is self over others. While your body feels no more pain, those who love you feel a tortuous pain that cannot be relived by the philosophies of man, but only by the Creator. Even then it is more a lessening of the hurt than releasing from pain. I've known a couple of people who have died by their own hand and though the loss I feel is lessened by the emotional distance (weren't family) between us, there is still sadness and loss. I have trouble understanding the feeling of loss to those closest to them. I do have friends that have gone through this situation and really all I can offer them is my shoulder, if needed, and my prayers, which I give even if not requested. And also I give them my love. I do not see this as a duty, as some call it, but as a privilege given to me by the Lord. So if you know someone who feels this lost or abandoned do not be afraid to tell them that they are loved and there is a solution even though we may not see it yet.
But enough for now. You may notice some fragmentation in my writing, don't be shocked, my thoughts are often fragmented. Love you all, but that doesn't mean I'll support your evil intentions. Cast them away and live better each day.