Have you ever been in a place that you wonder how you even got there at all? Have you ever looked around and everything seemed foreign and unfamiliar? Did you ever wonder how Alice got further and further down the rabbit hole before she realized that she could no longer find her way out?
James 1:23 “For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was.”
Over the last decade or more our society has experienced a breakdown in our humanity. Exposure to social media has revealed some great gains, but even greater losses. Communication, now in its peak since inception, is at best a misdirected attempt at coming together while forcibly, if not purposely, pushing each other away. We retreat into our “protected” technologically created shells to become an unrecognizable force fueled by media enhanced images of who we crave in the words of Shakespeare, “to be or not to be.” But, Shakespeare was correct, “that is the question.”
The recent school shooting in Florida has once again fueled the gun debate, creating yet another wedge between people of all race, class, age, region and religious or political agenda. People want to blame the POTUS, law enforcement, religion, races and AR-15’s. The real issues of desensitization, the demise of moral and ethical principles, lack of accountability and respect, and indoctrination through controlled media resources, agenda-themed music, and film still remain. Instead of coming together as a people in support of those grieving and mourning the loss of their loved ones, people choose to use the platform to ego-boost their opinionated ideas and agendas of how much things in this world would be different if we would do this, this way or not do that, that way. The reality is most of us are incapable of just doing the small things needed daily. The small niceties in a day that can cause a infinitesimal ripple in the present, later resulting in fantastic or all to often catastrophic outcomes in the future.
Today, while shopping in Walmart, I had the unfortunate opportunity of witnessing a ripple of irresponsible behavior. There was an older Caucasian, well-to-do woman, standing one person ahead of me in the “10 items or less” line. Directly in front of her was a father and son of Mexican descent, which was apparent by their facial characteristics, skin shading and traditional clothing. The woman was obviously annoyed by the fact that this father and son had more than “10 items or less”, and she had no intention of hiding her disdain or contempt. Firstly, she spoke brazenly with another woman standing behind her, making several remarks under her breath while noticeably glaring their direction. But then suddenly after a deep sigh and rolling her eyes back into her head, she stated aloud for all to hear, “I guess they can’t count!” The father and son looked her direction briefly, peered around, then hastily looked away. As I studied their faces I could see the sizzling sting of pain that comes with being ridiculed and singled out. Their body language displayed silent efforts to make themselves appear smaller so as not to draw any more unsolicited attention.
Now, the “ignorant” person will immediately make this whole observation about race or color or even counter-racism (if such a thing exists). But the truth is most of this dreadful display just solidified the already obvious direction our society has been headed in for a long time. I can not explain the barrage of emotion that washed over me in that moment. Sadness, disgust, and shock filled my body. What bothered me most was the impatient, vulgar reaction of this woman who was obviously part of the Baby Boomer generation. A generation known for their fortuitous tolerance mixed with the ability to express wisdom and knowledge that comes from a life of reflective existence. Instead, she displayed bitterness, hatred and inexplicable rage more than likely related to the over-exposure of mainstream media combined with a silver platter attitude in which she thought herself better than those around her. She even had the nerve to say something about “karma”, as if it had something to do with retribution undoubtedly she felt due to the man and his son. And all of this because of a possible 5 items over in the “10 items or less” line. (Some might say “well it is a ’10 Items or Less’ line for a reason”, however, is it possible that the man and his son did not even see the sign?) Maybe the man and his son were just trying to get a few things for their family from Walmart and in their haste were completely unaware of all the “turmoil” they had just “caused”.
In my astonishment I began to shake my head side to side unable to wipe the judgement from my face. The impertinence of this woman reconfirmed the reason so many outsiders look at America in disgust, scoffing at our elite self-assessment of who we think we are. Just then I heard a voice speak out, “wow, shameful behavior”. The resonating disappointment at the center of that voice momentarily stopped me from recognizing it was my own. I could not believe the audacity with which this woman conducted herself, because I knew she was capable of better. As much as I wanted to stand in the gap for the man and his son I could not lower my standards. Although it might have gratified my flesh, using some cleverly humiliating quip on the woman so she could feel the same sting the man and his son felt, I resisted. But the one thing I did do was pray.
I prayed for the woman to be released from the bondage of her pride. I prayed for the man and his son not to be bound by the embarrassing, dehumanizing example displayed by this woman at Walmart. I prayed for those around who may have witnessed the exchange and ignorantly sided with the injustice. But mostly I prayed for my loved ones and myself. I prayed we would not become so jaded in our experience with others that we would thoughtlessly discount who they are as fellow human beings. I prayed we’d remain humble remembering that not one of our lives are better or more important than anyone else’s. I prayed we would remember the example of unconditional love the Father left us through His son Jesus. Jesus epitomized this fact. And unlike Jesus we did not have to prove our unconditional love by sacrificing everything till the point of death. My final thought was a desire to at least try my best to emulate the gracious example left by Christ and to not jump so quick to judgement instead remembering the grace that had been extended over my once wretched life.
James 1:25 “But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.”
Now more than ever in 2018, social media has become the main outlet for status expression of the Milleniel Mainstream Meltdown (3M) of non-stop wavering emotion that ebbs and flows at every change in the average person’s feelings. There is no longer a sincere search into one’s soul to find out what is behind the motivation for any given behavior or character-laden decision made while traveling life’s journies.
Despite it’s “title”, 3M, is not entirely exclusive to just Milleniels. It has leaked into other generations who should know that “feelings are fleeting”, just like the wind in which they rode in on. It is complete and utter foolishness to vent every single feeling had during every minute, of every day (Proverbs 29:11). That constant desire to be seen, heard and understood has become an overwhelming competition of a “look at me” attitude not only exhausting to its onlookers, but unbeknowest to the author, it exhausts their own spirit. And then they wonder why they have lost a sense of purpose, drive or meaning to life. Why, the zeal once associated with that small child captivated by sunshine, snails, blue skies and rain, no longer exists.
There is an undercurrent of sadness plaguing people. It’s rooted in the mindless mix of emotions misplaced on entertainment, self-indulgence and over-exposure to the poisons of this world system we have all grown so adept at embracing.
Deep down the hunger is real. Not for a super-sized meal, but for true consumption of the exponential quest for existence. Deep down we know our design, so intricate and intelligent, could only be explained by a Creator who is so much more intricate and intelligent than we could ever think or imagine.
The foolishness that comes with the negating of God’s existence is rooted in a primordial reasoning generated from the place of unhealthy, egocentric pride. Yes. It all just comes down to pride (Proverbs 16:18). Lucifer was anointed, the greatest, most beautifully embellished, priveleged angel in Heaven (Ezekiel 28:13-15), until he thought himself more important than the things of God. One glimpse into the mirror and (*finger snap) – he was no longer satisfied. That mirror will get you in trouble every time!
Status has to do with the condition of something. In order to find that something, oftentimes, we need to search deeper than superficial. Social media, both positively and negatively, has created an outlet to display your condition for others to see. Before posting that next status, maybe instead of looking into the mirror and admiring that physically allusive imagery that is ever changing, you might first examine the heart behind it and what motivation is currently fueling the desire to publicize it. And then maybe your true status could point you in the direction of the path leading to personal design, empiric essence and truth.
”For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.” 1 Corintians 13:12
Friendship, though sometimes overwhelming, can be a fulfilling experience. Overwhelming in that we can feel pressured to be something we are not, misguided in our understanding of what it truly represents.
Every youth at some point in their childhood has an epiphany-charged moment in which they realize the kind of friends that they want in their lives. As you examine each individual relationship you begin to lean towards some, more than others. You start to understand that being with certain individuals makes you feel either better or worse about who you are and who you want to be.
Friends are the people along the journey that force you to stop and examine the qualities inside you that make you, you. Those qualities that make you examine your likes and dislikes, motives, boundaries, passions, dreams, fears and future. They challenge you to test your limits. They help you decide how deep you choose to allow your parental roots to flourish while building your persona and establishing the reasons behind your “joie de vivre”.
But they are not just there to contribute to who you are, but also to receive. Because let’s face it, we all want to be accepted. We all want to be a part of something mutually satisfying. We want to know that being with someone or spending time on someone is going to be worth the effort that we put out. We want to feel that at any moment we can reach out and know that this person will have our back in no matter what situation we are facing and that they won’t ever let us down. But, the truth of the matter is that they will. No matter how close we think the friendship is.
Friendship is not about perfection. It is not about always telling someone exactly what they want to hear. It is not about pretending that everything they do is sufficient to sustain the relationship. It is not about becoming who they are, in order to feel connected. It is not about compromising who you are, in order to prove your worth. It is not about holding the friendship hostage using manipulative methods and deception. It is not about taking advantage of their positive qualities and exploiting them to boost your own ego. It is not about any of these things.
Friendship is a bond that is created through commonalities shared between people involving sacrifice, truth, respect and unconditional love. It must be unconditional in order to see past the imperfections that make us human. These types of relationships are what keep us connected. Sometimes, as individuals and as a society we become so disconnected that we begin to wonder who we are at all. It is through personal bonds that we become.
Friendship does not just happen. It must be on purpose. There must be a desire to want to have certain people in special moments of life, some good moments, some bad. There must be an effort to reach out, allowing yourself to become vulnerable and accountable to another. We must choose to celebrate these bonds and make it known to them that they are irreplaceable in our lives. We must assure them through words and actions that nothing they do will change our feelings. We must follow-up with them despite miles of separation and varying seasons in life. And we must reciprocate and allow understanding to grow when gaps of time would suggest loss of connectivity. When inspired and led by the Spirit of God we must not hesitate in using the instilled gifts and talents God placed in us to be a blessing to them.
When Jesus came to earth, he not only came for the purpose of salvation. He also came to be an example of loving others the way we want and desire to be loved. He came to show us that even our enemies deserve to have a hand extended to them in friendship. After all, one of his closest friends even betrayed him with a kiss, and yet he loved him. Although this extreme may be foreign and difficult to us as humans, we must still strive for it. It is in the striving that we stretch ourselves and allow God to continue to shape us for greatness, with God and man.
Friendship is the pathway that leads into the introduction for greatness. It allows us to be ever-evolving, sharpening others and allowing them to sharpen us through the privilege of a co-starring role in the story of their lives as well as in ours.
John 15:15 “Instead, I have called you friends…”.
Proverbs 27:17 ” Iron sharpens iron…”.
Matthew 6:22, 23 “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your vision is clear, your whole body will be full of light. 23 But if your vision is poor, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!”
It is said that the eyes are the windows to the soul. We all know this to be true if we have ever lovingly gazed into the eyes of another individual in close relationship or have dared to confront the eyes of those opposite us while in conflict. Even the act of looking directly into the eyes of others in conversation is a sign of respect or disrespect, depending on what side of the world you are from. In law enforcement officers are trained to watch body language when questioning suspects or witnesses, one of the focuses being the eyes, which have a hard time concealing their meaning. When we are stressed, over-stimulated or in a state of contemplation it is either natural or recommended for us to shut our eyes in order to bring a state of rest over our mental status and physical body. And the body, when exhausted, will naturally and almost immediately send direct messages to our brain which in turn tells our eyes to close themselves almost automatically. Ultimately, the eyes can be a direct gateway into our psyche, dreams and visions. So then why are we not more conscious of what we expose them to on a daily basis? I, myself am guilty of this very dangerous behavior.
Despite having a testimony, before Christ, of witchcraft, occultism and knowledge of the enemies methods of attack and bondage, when in sluggard-mode I can become complacent in the guarding of my eyes and the “things” that I allow into them. I fell victim to exactly this on a night after receiving some devastating news about the progressing illness of a close family member and allowing myself gratification while attending my own pity party. The attack manifested itself after this self-indulgence of the flesh, which in my case, heavily influenced by the eighties, resulted from a horror movie. Before salvation I purposefully exposed myself to many horror novels and books satiating my flesh to the sadistic sacrifices and blatant bashing of God and Christ that is oftentimes displayed in such films. (I am in no way judging or condemning anyone who watches horror films, but instead am exposing my weakness that led me to the choices that would eventually lead me into complete and utter darkness.)
As I skimmed through my cable channels looking for some sort of diversion from the overwhelming thoughts in my mind, I came across a movie that I had never seen nor had ever desired to see. The movie was the 2009 horror film Underworld: Rise of the Lycans, directed by Patrick Tatopoulos. Now some might say, why mention the name of the film, surely the experience is enough? And in some instances this may be true, but for this particular experience I believe that what happened to me was a direct result of my morbid curiosity combined with the desire to fulfill the need of my flesh to be served. I was angry and felt slighted by the circumstances of life that had overtaken someone I truly loved. And so I decided to indulge, open my eyes and watch.
In the movie it became quickly obvious to me that this was a dramatization about vampires vs. werewolves, aka Lycans. As the movie progressed it revealed that there was a war between the two “bloodlines” and that the vampires had enslaved the Lycans, hence the title of the film. During a particular scene there were some Lycans fully transformed into their horrific, monstrously wolf-like forms, chained up to the walls in some dark, gloomy dungeon awaiting their victims. Ironically, as I sat alone on my couch, pupils fixated, watching in my dismal, somber living room, besot by the image of the Lycans chained to the wall, I verbalized a spiritual prognostication,
“So that’s what they look like,” (referring to the demons that are chained away in Hell awaiting judgement, 2 Peter 2:4).
Shortly after the revelation, I could no longer watch the movie. I switched over to something less grisly, but then swiftly, suddenly and hypnotically fell into a deep sleep. I had not even realized that I was asleep when I started to dream. In the dream I saw my ill relative and my two grandchildren. My relative began to violently vomit on the floor. One of my grandchildren did not see it and stepped in it. When I grabbed them to rush to the bathtub to clean them off in water I was surprisingly transported back to the couch, only all the cushions had been removed and I was lying instead on the black material that laid at the bare bottom. Everyone kept walking by me as if I was not there. I was paralyzed and could not move or call out to them, even my vocal cords were in a state of suspension. No matter how hard I tried to move or speak nothing would happen, I was helpless. I had been here in this condition before but my numbness clouted my head. My body temperature rose and I began to panic as my senses recollected the familiar mode of fight or flight.
Without warning the fold where the backside of the couch meets the bottom opened up and I could feel my body tilt as if on a slant. The smell of ash filled my nostrils and I heard unsettling sounds of fires burning and crackling. Intently listening, the sound of disturbed, guttural snarling opened a hollow in the pit of my stomach. I felt a large, heavily clawed grip holding tightly to the back of my shirt, ripping the material on the couch as it began to drag me down into the bowels of a place I knew I did not want to go. Terrified, I remembered my paralytic state, and knew I would be swallowed into a realm that nightmares could not conjure. My blood ran cold and my heart quickened and the gust of heat that arose abruptly dried the saliva from my lips. Until. I remembered. The name. The name that is above every name. The name every knee shall bow to…those in heaven…those on the earth… and mostly, those under the earth. The name that every tongue shall confess is Lord. My mind screamed out as I barely uttered the name of Jesus.
Instantly, the demon released his hold and sunk back into the unknown depths from where he originally emerged. As my eyes illuminated I could make out my surroundings and feel movement, fueled by the rush of warm blood, returning to my stiffened muscles. I must admit I was shocked to find myself still lying on the couch heavily breathing; the still lingering sensation of the fiendish grip on the back of my shirt beginning to fade along with the dreadful sounds of the underworld.
My pupils adjusted to the light of the television screen as did the understanding of my transgression. I confessed the open gateway of my pride to the Lord, asking for forgiveness and a hedge of protection for myself, those in the house with me, my family and our home. I thanked Him for His mercy and undeserved grace. I knew that once again my Savior had delivered me from my own stubbornness and vice. He did not forsake me. Never would. Then, came the revelation of what the Father had just realigned and restored. My vision. It had been shrouded by my three-dimensional sin, manifesting my fear, unlocking a doorway that God had purposefully shut, for the enemy of my soul to reenter through. Only by faith in the blood of Jesus and the power of His Spirit was I able to counteract the opening, closing it by way of the unveiling of the Father’s eternal, supernatural, multi-dimensional glory.
Psalm 139:8 “If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.”
“The American Dream… you would have to be asleep to believe it.” George Carlin
There are so many distractions in this world disguised as dreams. While we aspire to get the “dollar, dollar bills ya’ll” the world around us continues to crumble and fall. People excessively labor at their workplace metropolis dedicating exorbitant amounts of time, away from their families and loved ones, only to be paid a net amount in order to pad the pockets of politicians that could care less about “we the people” retirement funds when theirs are garunteed for life with an added health care bonus of 100%. Entertainment continues to further push unhealthy levels of shock, awe and agenda stimulating the public’s senses to extremes of obsession, lust, greed, hatred, rage, rape and murder through a local provider at a conveniently manageable rate… “and the emmy goes to…”. Young girls have no qualms about discounting their value or showing their “goodies” to get a super-sized happy meal, and young boys describe their mothers, sisters and women in their life as dirty disgusting filth to get 5 minutes of fame on a superimposed social media outlet that really only cares about the bottom line of selfish personal gain at any cost. Pedifiles and deviants are allowed freedom to express themselves in vomitous repetition while our next generations continue to mentally strain and struggle with exploitative messages and lack of parental guidance due in part to the guise of freedom through overdosing self-worshiping, medicated behavior upon the predication that “its my time”, “its my life”. Social media is abused and formatted into some type of personal diary of everyday whining, complaining, murmuring and all out inappropriateness about the injustices recieved at the very hands that chose it. Political slander and accusations run rampid as those that were once close begin to turn on one another like rabid dogs when the outcome has already been set by those that sit back and set the tone for all the perpetuated, impending chaos while laughing at the sheer ignorance of the masses. Veterans, seniors, widows and orphans are constantly looked at as throwaways, dregs or burdens on society while untalented, vain, abusive, robots are idolized and glorified as mentors and leaders. Pretentious, snobby, self-righteous wanna-be freedom fighters consistently lash out at anyone who does not go along with exactly what they “stand for” while constantly professing and shoving down the throats of others the need, desire and lack of the very freedoms they want to take away from everyone else. The distractions are endless, careless and lifeless. The real dreams are either dead or dying.
When we realize that the American Dream has turned to no more than a facade of winning at the expense of others and the cost of our souls creating a living hell that can not even begin to compare to the real one… maybe then we will wake up.
“For what shall it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses his own soul?” Mark 8:36