Tag Archives: Military

Sifting Through Social Media Opinions

When I was a kid, I often watched my Mom bake bread. One part of the process I really thought was neat was when she dumped the clean pure bleached flour through a sifter.  I asked her, Mom, if the flour is already clean pure and bleached then why do you need to put it through the sifter? She said, “It makes the flour lighter and it blends better.  Plus, it removes any potential non-palatable hunks, chunks, or impurities.  When it comes to baking a “Great” loaf of bread, I never assume the machinery that spits out the finished product is flawless.”

Wow! What a lesson. Today, I think about social media and how it has the potential to produce non-palatable hunks, chunks, and impurities.  Now, I am not attacking it (Social Media); I use it.  At first, I despised social media, I somehow thought I was subject to every opinion I read. News Flash:  I am not and neither are you.

What is an opinion?

Opinion Definition: a view or judgment formed about something, not necessarily based on fact or knowledge.

How many opinions do you think you sift through on a daily basis?

How many of those opinions do you understand to be truthful?

Does the act of opinion sifting cause you unnecessary stress, depression, worry, anxiety, and/or fear?

I asked myself these questions as well. And, because I was truthful with myself I discovered just how much the opinions of others, if I let them, attempted to mar my identity.  I then thought about my Mother’s flour sifter. I wondered, how can I sift through the junk, hunks, chunks, and other impurities found in social media?  Then all of a sudden it hit me:

  1. I have the power to question any and all opinions before I accept them as truth.
  2. I have the ability to educate myself on the truth of the matter before I consider absorbing what I have just read or witnessed.
  3. I have the strength to bypass those opinions or comments that in no way uplifts me or any other human being.

Oh yeah! And because I am Christian I can recall the words of the Apostle Paul (Philippians 4:8-9):

“Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.”

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What is My Purpose?

How often do you contemplate your purpose in the life you have been given?  Do you know what your purpose is? Are your priorities positioned in a way that allow you to fulfill your purpose?  Often times I feel like a rudderless ship tossed about on a sea of choices.  It is the variety of these choices which cause my purpose to be swayed by my selfish pleasure seeking desires.  Do I condemn myself for focusing my purpose inward through fleeting accomplishments, accolades, and worldly goal attainment?  No.  I give myself permission to be human.  However, being human does not excuse me from reevaluating my purpose as life tosses me to and fro. But, how do I reevaluate my purpose?  As a Christian what measuring device do I use to find the purpose that truly fulfills my soul?  Many times in my life I made the mistake of thinking the “Free Will” I was given was so I could discover “MY” purpose, but it wasn’t.  The free will I was given was given for use in service; service to God and other mini-me’s who bear His Image.  Service to God and others is a rudder to my torrent soul; it leads me always back to my “Father.” On an Enlistment Poster Jesus said, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 7:21) It is God’s will that provides me with my purpose, and His will, will, be done on earth as it is in heaven!

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Can You Remember the Best Conversation You Ever Had?

 

I realize I do not do conversations well; but it doesn’t mean i can’t learn too. It was tough to hear Ms. Headlee talk about the things i often fail at, when it comes to meaingful conversation. Since my graduation from Seminary four years ago, I have been a student of communication. Why? To improve my marriage, be a better Dad to my Daughter, and to be an attentive minister to everyone I come into conversation with. Jesus was a master communicator, and one of the most beautiful, effective, and mutally satisfying conversations ever held was between Jesus and a Samaritan woman (John 4:7-26). Ms. Headlee’s wise counsel in the video closely resembles the prinicples she teaches.

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A Refugee is My Displaced Neighbour

How did Christ define the word “Neighbour (Plesion Grk.)? “According to Christ, any other human irrespective of nation or religion with whom we live or whom we chance to meet” is our neighbour. By the very nature of the word “Refugee” I would say we all, Christian or not, stand a chance to meet our displaced neighbour.  The meeting itself, where it is or when it is, is not the issue. How we act toward our neighbor when we meet, is.

When Christ implored me to “Love my neighbour as I loved myself” it caused me great pains. Why?  The biggest reason, I didn’t love myself, therefore loving my neighbor wasn’t possible.  The other reason, I had no idea who my neighbour was.  Oh! I knew the couple that lived next door to me and those living on my block.  But, does the “human neighbourhood” really stop there?  Sometimes I find myself thinking so small, like I am in my own little world.  For the longest time I defined my “Neighbor” as someone who liked me, thought like me, liked what I liked, someone that believed how I believed, and of course my neighbor had to make me feel safe. What a narrow and fearful mindset. In order to overcome my fearful mindset I heeded the words of the Apostle John. John said, “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear, because fear is by suspicion, but he who fears is not grown up in love.” (1 John 4:18 AB)

My relationship with Christ, and after having spent months imbedded with Muslims as a Military Advisor has helped changed the narrow and fearful paths my mind used to travel. Loving our neighbor, a human being made in God’s Image, may not be convenient and may not be easy.  However, I do not think Christ would have commanded us to do so if it wasn’t worth it.  Christ never hesitated to accept and love me.  When I came to know Him I was a refugee from a nation of unbelief. Now, as I glance over the media’s usage of the word “refugee” the love of Christ (Perfect Love) blocks out those letters and replaces them with “Neighbour.”

As a Christian the directive, right, and privilege to love perfectly is inherently ours. The decision to allow fear to overpower perfect love is generated by the opposite of Grace.  Yet both are still a decision.

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Unwanted and Unsolicited

This is a friendly reminder of a law that was signed by President George W. Bush in 2003. This Law is called the CAN-SPAM act of 2003. This law was designed to stop the barrage of unsolicited marketing emails inundating our personal email accounts. These type of emails are called SPAM. This is a bit different from the “Spam” I grew up with. The Spam I grew up with was a wonderful concoction of delicious pork pieces. I became very fond of this product. The difference between the Spam I enjoy and the SPAM I don’t is a matter of choice. I consciously choose the tasty pork loaf, however, I did not choose to be slammed with a million emails. Emails, whose only purpose is to tempt me to purchase or subscribe to something which provides nothing fruitful or uplifting. Spamming is actually a subversive attempt at mind control. Did you know that Satan is a “Spammer?” He SPAMs by slamming our minds with unsolicited negative thoughts.

Friends, don’t lose hope, and don’t lose heart. When it comes to unwanted SPAM we do have a choice. Because of the CAN-SPAM Act, by-law an “Unsubscribe” or “Opt-Out” button must appear on any unsolicited email or electronic advertisement. Yes! Great freedom comes from clicking the unsubscribe button. It isn’t easy to find, it is usually at the bottom portion of the email and is often in very fine print. I do not covet power on a regular basis, but in this instance, it feels pretty good to shoot down menacing advertisements with one click of the mouse. Ok, sometimes it takes two clicks.

In the Bible, the Apostle Paul actually talks about “unsubscribing.” However, Paul hopes we would be strong enough to unsubscribe from unsolicited negative thoughts. In Philippians 4:8-9 Paul gives us a list of things to mediate on. Things like: Love, Truth, Holiness, Righteousness, Nobility, Purity, and Virtue.” When we mediate on these things we subconsciously unsubscribe from their polar opposites. Sure, it takes some effort on our part to meditate on these things, especially since we are bombarded everyday with their opposites. But, if we do as Paul asks great mental weights are lifted off of our minds. Remember, whether it is an unwanted email or unsolicited thought we always have the choice to “Unsubscribe.” Take charge of your thoughts, you are the only one that can.

 

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Unmet Expectations: Don’t Let Them Chase Hope Away.

My house used to have a closet with a locked door. I know this because I locked it. Prior to closing off this part of my house I used it for the storage of vibrant and wonderful things. The most radiant thing I used to hang in this closet was hope. When hope was in the closet of my house the door was never closed. Each day I welcomed hope with open arms and open mind. I felt such comfort and peace having hope in my house. Then one day hope packed its bags and left. Why did hope leave? Where did it go? Upon noticing hope was gone, I ran frantically through my house looking for hope. I burst through the front door and feverishly combed my property looking for hope, but hope wasn’t to be found. I sat for a moment to collect my thoughts, all the while wondering, where did hope go? Finally, I resigned myself to thinking hope may never return. I became angry and that is when I shut and locked the closet door. I, and no one else closed the door to hope.

Now, years later, I discovered what happened to hope. You see, hope got tired, tired of watching me in agony. “What agony,” you ask? Well it seems, year after year unmet expectations kept piling up in the living room of my house. Every day, when hope was in my house I insisted on taking it for a walk past the living room. Hope noticed the sadness in my eyes as I obsessed about the ever growing pile of my unmet expectations. Finally, hope could stand it no longer, it packed up its belongings and left.

After being without hope for a while, I began to think, maybe I should unlock the closet within my house just in case hope desires to return. I really wanted to make hope feel like it was welcomed to return. I unlocked the door and pushed it open. When the closed door was opened light cast itself across the floor, and in the light I noticed a handwritten note. Here is what the note said:

“I hated to leave but you left me no choice. I truly loved the days when you would greet me and embrace me each and every day. But, when you started obsessing about unmet expectations, and forgetting about me I had no choice. I’m hope, and I can’t stay where I am not the center of your attention. I promise, one day, I will return. When you want and desire me more than your unmet expectations, then, I will return. Sincerely Yours – HOPE!”

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Remembering the Benefits of God

I remember the multiple times in my life I sought employment. Each time the most important factor for accepting a job offer was the amount of quality benefits. Benefits like health insurance, sick leave, vacation time, education, promotion potential, and a good working environment. I was raised to focus more on benefits, than on the hourly wage. Why? Because the lack of substantial benefits consumes a large portion of the hourly wage. I truly appreciate the lesson my parents taught me concerning a need for quality benefits.

Until recently, I really never stopped to realize how the “benefits” lesson related to my spiritual life. Specifically, how it affected the efficacy of my prayers. I often prayed to my Father (God) without first considering the multitude of His quality benefits. Benefits like, to name a few, the sacrifice of His Son for my salvation, His Grace, His Mercy, The Gift of His Spirit, His Truth, His Word, His Forgiveness, His Redemption, and most important His Love. I used to always open my prayers with “God, I need this” and “God, I need that.” Or “Please, God change this” and “Change him or her.” It wasn’t until I walked with King David through his Psalms that I began to pray to God with first, his gracious benefits in mind. Now, I do my best to preface my prayers with; “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits.” (Psalm 103:2) Opening prayer with true praise and a thankful heart helps me focus fully on God’s gratuitous nature. From there He willingly fulfills my needs, as well as my heart’s desires.

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