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The Emotion of Christmas

I know we are just getting the Halloween stuff put away but the end of the year is coming and Christmas has already been queued up!

Whether there is snow or not, department stores have already sounded the Christmas alarm. Some radio stations have already begun playing festive music and the children can feel the excitement coming.

I grew up celebrating this time of the year in a huge way. Not only was I born near Christmas but my parents made sure all of our holidays were joyful. I, in turn, did the same thing for my kids and so for 50 plus years, Christmas has been celebrated in my life.

This particular holiday carries a stigma like no other. Christmas is not just a day, it’s a feel of emotion that surrounds us. The surrounding is like a takeover and before you know it you are humming a tune or craving eggnog.

For some,  this time of the year is sad because we are remembering loved ones who have passed away. For others, it reminds them of tragedies that happened whether it was a loss of a job, an arrest, someone in prison or they’ve suffered some type of abuse.

It’s difficult in your happiness to remember someone else’s tragedy, but we should.

With the political climate the way it is and the promises of the Trump tax break not being the relief for the middle class as promised, this year we remember those who are having a hard time being festive at this time. I am reminded of the people living in Flint, MI and their water crisis which is still a long way from being corrected. Our brothers and sisters in Puerta Rico who could not afford to leave. Those around the globe fighting senseless wars. Those who are homeless, starving or in poverty. I’m thinking of those stuck in abusive situations and those who are innocent and are in prison and those 3200 others who are serving life sentences for nonviolent offenses.

I’m think of all the people in hospice and those who are anxious about pending test results. I’m thinking of all the people around the world who struggle with mental health issues and all the children who are in the government system because of trouble in their families.

I’m sure there are others but what I hope to accomplish with this blog is that you dear reader will not just think about people you know in these situations I have named, but that you will be moved with compassion to make a difference where you can.

There really is a reason for this season!

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Where did we get democracy and who said it was best for us?

Democracy means rule of the people and we got it from the place that helped to establish western civilization and that was Greece, particularly Athens.

The earliest existence of a democracy in the world began with the work of a man named Cleisthenes, in Athens in 510 BC. From it’s conception voter suppression has been a part of it. In Athens they had much debate over who should be allowed to vote. They settled on free men who owned land and homes (the rich). Women were not allowed a voice at all and the rich decided the laws because they were able to create and maintain laws that helped their cause.

The concept of a democracy sounds good on the outside, but when you zoom in for a closer examination you find that greed, power, riches and prestige overpower integrity, character, honesty and righteousness.

It takes a special group of people to negotiate a democracy that doesn’t become self serving or forgets about it’s poor and oppressed. So far in the history of democracy we have not seen a nation of people about to do this. Athens failed greatly with only a tenth of 140k being able to vote. Democracy for them created a permanent underclass and exalted the greedy.

Fast forward to today and you will find the exact same thing. The US has failed at creating a country based on democracy with the constitutional guidelines given. The forefathers knew the history of a democracy and created rules that were unfair from the beginning. All men created equal did not include all of mankind because women and slaves were not included. Liberty, freedom and the pursuit of happiness were equally exclusive.

What has happened over the last 50 years is a change in the American citizen. Change and evolution is happening and we keep thinking that we are changing into our concept of what a democracy should be. We are not. Our democracy is what it was supposed to be: A promise to the needy and a vehicle for the greedy. Not many are interested in creating a nation of equality, the people just want their turn on top.

What we are really searching for is not equality, but fairness. Individual achievement should not be hindered as long as the playing field is open for the advancement of every body.

In another blog I’ll talk about what that looks like but for now, think about and discuss with friends what you really want America to be. At the end, see if you and your crew came up with something that benefits everyone.

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Capitalism vs. Socialism — the real argument

Capitalism was a great idea born in the minds of ambitious individuals who knew if we were to become a great nation we would have to have a system that was sustainable for everyone and the value of stability, capitalism would bring, would allow all participants to stand on their own.

It would create whole families who could grow and enjoy a life of opportunity. It would create industry, careers, advancement and opportunity. We could see free enterprise and create competition and transfer power back and forth from the seller to the buyer.

Those who are up-to-date on their history will recall the agricultural age and how we graduated to the industrial age.

We saw new industries created and skill trades paid great money. You did not have to go to college to earn a good living or to take care of a family. All you had to be able to do was work hard and earn your living. What’s not to like?

Well, capitalism’s ideas did not include everyone. Much like our Constitution, it was written with the idea that “we” only included white men. “Everybody” did not include everybody. Even now, we know this but we have never attempted to change or amend this in our Constitution or in the mindset of America.

We have been negligent with our administration of Capitalism and for those crimes, those who benefited should pay.

How would it feel to prosper at someone else’s expense? How would you like it if great benefits were only extended to a select group that you were not in? And how would you feel watching others benefit greatly from your hard work?

This is the disposition of most Americans and it will only lead to revolution. That’s history saying that, not me. Stay tuned.

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Why God took vengeance from us

In the midst of the apostle Paul’s writing on the maturation of Christians he points out that vengeance belongs to God. The creator of the universe claimed this prize for himself.

Vengeance is something that has to be done in love and given our very nature in the flesh it is something we would always struggle with. We have a difficult time seeing the “big picture” when someone has harmed us.

One of the wonderful things about our God is that he can be consistent in the most difficult of times. God, who knows all, is never caught off guard with our actions. His goal is to always teach us through our living and always give us outcomes to make us stronger and not destroy us.

David understood this about God. In one story, David had sinned and God gave him a choice for his kingdom to suffer a famine, for David to be turned over to his enemies or for God himself to punish David. The king of Israel’s response was interesting. He said that he would prefer God punish him because he did not want his fate to be left in the hands of man.

Our flesh burns with our anger. We were told in scripture to be angry but without sin — meaning anger and evil are among the deadliest of combos. In America alone we have an obsession with sentencing people. Knowing the mortality rate of an American, our courts won’t hesitate to give someone 100 years. Why? Because were are outraged and we need that feeling to be satisfied.

Someone murders our son, he must die too. Someone rapes our daughter he needs to be placed in the deepest part of the prison and then raped.

Crimes are already bad and it seems that many of us believe that the only thing worse than a crime is a crime done to me. Where does this selfish entitlement come from? Well, the answer to that question is the reason God spared us of vengeance and why it can’t be ours.

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My mind is against me

If you constantly heard voices you would be labeled schizophrenic. If there were never any voices then you would be labeled normal, but what is normal? In between these two extremes is a person whose mind is against him.

This mind is filled with negativity and it will never look at a scenario positively — this is actually the voice of your subconscious.

In your subconscious is where you have stored your pain, from that place, negativity rises to the top. There you can’t do anything right. Nothing ever works in your favor and your subconscious mind enjoys predicting outcomes for you.

“You can’t do that!”

“This won’t work!”

“That will never work in your favor!”

Sound familiar?

It’s as if your mind was jealous of you. One part of the mind supportive and the other part becoming the biggest player-hater on the planet.

To silence these voices you need to settle your past. There are things you need to forgive and forgiveness you need to seek. There are negative situations that hurt you and because you have not forgiven yourself or someone else or you have been wounded and instead of healing you have been reopening the wound.

Your mind needs peace. You must allow it to rest. If you can’t do it alone, reach out and let Clydestyle Services Group help.

Posted in Accepted, Change, Confidence, Determination, Discipleship, Faith, Fear, Forgiveness, freedom, God, God's Promises, Happiness, Jesus Christ, Life, Light, Love, Prayer, Progress, Relationships, Uncategorized, Worship

Too much wind for ya??

It has been a while since I expounded on God’s word so I would like to share Matt. 14:23-33.

In this passage of scripture, Jesus was with a multitude and once he sent them away he went up on the mountain to pray alone. By the time he had finished it was getting late and the ship where his disciples were was in the midst of the sea being tossed around about by the waves and the wind.

Jesus comes toward them walking on the sea (yes, he was actually walking on the sea as if there was a makeshift walkway) and his disciples saw him and were afraid as they thought he was a ghost. The savior calls out to them to let them know it was him.

Astonished, Peter was the brave soul to take it a step forward when he asked for proof that it was in fact Jesus. His proof was that Jesus would allow for him to walk on water and meet him. The creator granted Peter’s request and here is where we get the meat for this story.

Verse 30 says that the wind was boisterous. That means it was loud and forceful, but this is something the text says Peter saw, not heard. Peter first saw Jesus walking on water and he was afraid. He also “saw” the wind boisterous and was afraid.

Which do you think scared him the most?

The assumption here is that when he saw Jesus and realized that it truly was him, he wanted to do what Jesus was doing. And he actually did walk on water.

But the wind’s actions were accompanied by force and it stood in opposition of what Peter wanted to do, Peter backed down because he felt he was no match for the wind. He knew that the force of the wind was far greater than he was. When he began to sink he cried for Jesus to save him and immediately the text says He did but asked Peter why did he doubt.

The lesson: The wind represents everything that is against us here from trials and tribulations to sin. Jesus is still Jesus in this lesson and Peter represents us. Jesus did not save Peter because they were good friends. In fact, any of the disciples could have done what Peter did. Peter just happened to be the one bold enough to ask. The assumption is that if you asked the question, the answer should have produced faith. In other words, Peter said Lord if it is you, then let me come to you. By the fact that Peter was able to come meant that it was in fact Jesus and now your faith will be made perfect in your work (walking on water).

Am I going too fast?

Faith without works is dead. Peter’s question was answered and he began through the work to demonstrate his faith, but the wind (trial) was too much. And even though Peter did nothing to earn his salvation, Jesus saved him anyhow. Why? Because he is God and that’s the business he is in.

Dear reader, do you believe that God will save you? Have you come to him in obedience to his will and allowed your faith to grow through your works?

Or is there just too much wind???

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We have an obsession with Black and White

When we began as a country it was on the premise of one side being right and the other side being wrong. The Civil War was about one side being right and the other side being wrong. In fact all of our wars played out that way.

Business decisions are made with both sides believing they are correct and no one believing they are incorrect. Arguments with family and loved ones are the same and so are our political views: We have an obsession with Black and White.

So you see it’s easier if things are just Black and White because then there are not a lot of choices to be made and far less arguing with just two choices.

So to see any other color is absurd. To think that a choice other than Black or White could exist is crazy. Or is it?

Gray decisions throw us for a loop. It’s like being in a fight for a specific reason and then a third wheel joins the fight for a completely different reason. And by the time each original side figures out which side they are on, the third wheel proves they are the enemy.

So now in the 21 Century we have gone far beyond gray. We now have the whole spectrum of colors — we are even beyond the rainbow! Black and White can’t even argue with each other, in fact they can’t get close enough to each other because of all the new colors.

So how does the color scheme play out?

Well, so far, Black and White colors are sneaking around mixing with the various colors. The saying is true that the enemy of my enemy is my friend.

You have White colors saying they are half blue and Black colors claiming to be yellow this week and red the next. Some are even considered orange. New colors are being formed every day and some are so shocking that we just didn’t know what color to call it!

The solution to this problem is simple. And maybe it’s so simple that we’ve overlooked it.

While I’m busy hating your color, we cannot work together … in fact we can’t accomplish anything — but we need to. I can’t stop hating your color probably because I have a jealousy towards it.

What would happen if the focus of our involvement was centered around our success and not our differences? Well then, we would be free to help each other and embrace our diversity instead of wasting time hating what we don’t understand or won’t accept.

We need to stop all the talk about color and work together and create a functioning, vibrantly diverse culture of inclusion, acceptance and advancement.

I am more than my color!