Friday, November 27, 2009

Black Friday

Once a year, folks from all over North America descend upon the Malls. They come prepared to do battle; pumped up on caffeine, high on hope, they stand in line for hours.
The doors open; they charge to their pre-assigned stations. They grab, they push, and they make their way to another line for a couple more hours before they hurry home.

A month later, they receive an envelope in the mail that calls their attention to a minimum payment, for purchases they don’t really need, and for stuff they cannot afford.

Hence unfolds the circle of life that is called the American Dream.

Have we not learned anything from the recent recession? Have we so quickly forgotten the horrors of foreclosures and bankruptcies?
As they say; “History teaches us that man learns nothing from history!”

Thursday, November 26, 2009

What’s on His Mind?

I know what I think about when my mind is drawn toward God; often it’s about stuff I need.
What most people don’t often consider is; “what comes into God’s mind when he thinks about me?”
Two scriptures give us a clue as to the thought patterns of God.

“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11 (NKJV)

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways, my way.”
Isaiah 55:8 (NKJV)
I know that God’s thoughts about me are concerning my welfare, and for my good.
I know that many times I cannot understand his ways, but I can choose to trust Him.
If God thinks about me, He must really love me!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

A New Appreciation

When I was growing up, I always had a dream of one day moving to a different land. The books and magazines I read painted a beautiful picture of rolling hills covered with amazing wild flowers; the snow covered mountains and snow drops poking their heads out of the melting spring snow.
I dreaded the heat; complained about the boring one-season tropical summery weather.
That’s one of mankind’s malady; we take for granted what we are used to because the “grass seems greener on the other side.”
Don’t get me wrong; I’ve finally realized my dream, and I am enjoying the life I’ve imagined. But once in a while, there’s a deep-seated longing for the sunny weather; the tropical fauna and foliage; and the ‘boring’ old places.

There’s a fresh new appreciation for all those things I grew up with.

“God has made everything beautiful in its own time.” Ecclesiastes 3:11

Friday, November 20, 2009

Clone Wars

Well this has nothing to do with Star Wars, and it’s not another rant about the ethical issues surrounding cloning of human beings either. This is about another kind of ‘war.’
It’s a war fought on a different battlefield; it’s a battle for the minds and hearts of another generation of our young ones.
It’s been said more than once that “many are born originals, but die a copy!”

Many, in trying to become different from their forefathers, end up submitting to the pressure of their peers to fit in. In so doing, they give up their right to be unique; they forfeit their future potential for greatness for a place alongside mediocrity.
“Fit in or fall out,” their masters cry. “Join in or get beat up!”

Getting accepted to the “in-crowd,” you lose your identity.

Yet in the midst of this cacophony of competing cries, there is a voice in the wilderness that can set you free:
“For you are God’s masterpiece. He created you anew in Christ Jesus, so that you can do the good things he planned for you long ago.” (Ephesians 2:10)

Friday, November 13, 2009

Religious Icons

Most iconic cultures revolve around the spiritual significance of so-called holy objects such as statues of Jesus, Mary, the saints, crosses, or even bones and body parts.
The irony of icons is that much of Biblical teaching forbids the worship and even presence of such iconic images, yet they seem to abound in many places of worship around the world. There’s no doubt many of these mosaics and works of art are magnificent and beautiful – but they are just that; works of art! There’s this beautiful old church in the walled city of Dubrovnic, Croatia that I had the privilege of visiting a few years ago. Rich in heritage and culture, there were many precious historical treasures from of old preserved on site including the bones of some saint that was in an inner room. It’s ironic the value one places in these iconic objects, seeing that we have The One who lives amongst us who is alive and well.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Common Sense

I came across a bunch of people fishing off the pier and this man on the breakwaters; and at the same time, I noticed this sign that was no more than 100 feet from the beach.
The scary thought is that these fishermen were actually bringing their catch home for their family. Don't they realize that if the water was unsafe for swimming that these bottom-feeding fish would be just as dangerous for consumption?
Of late I’ve been intrigued by how people conduct their lives; why they do what they do; the foolhardiness of some people. When you interact with and observe people like I do, you discover a lot about human behaviour.

One of the questions I’ve asked myself is, “what has happened to common sense?” Why do smart people do dumb things?

I’ve discovered that common sense is really not that common these days and that you can score high on a standard intelligence test and yet make foolish decisions for simple tasks.

It seems that, from studies, there are three components to the cognitive system in our brain that controls our decisions and actions. Most people merely operate with the autonomous mind. This form of thinking is based on conditioning and association. Simply put; monkey see – monkey do! That’s why most people gas up at the same gas station; eat at the same places; purchase the same type of bread for breakfast.
The two other components of our cognitive system are the algorithmic and reflective minds.
When we train and engage all these elements; it enables us to make better decisions.
Can common sense be taught? I guess! If people made it a point to think more before they acted!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

A Walk on the Wildside

Recently I took a walk through the woods and thoroughly enjoyed every moment of it.
Unlike my past experiences in the tropical Rainforests of South East Asia during my stint in the military, this was quite different. For one, there were no leeches or too many mosquitoes waiting to take a blood donation from you.
I love the way the sunlight filters through the forest canopy; it gives a warm glow to everything it touches. Though the forest floor is full of decaying matter; there is a freshness in the air that only exists in such an environment.
Have you ever tried walking bare-footed through a cold stream on a hot summer's day? The effect on your body is like a sudden jolt to your central nervous system - it wakes you up!
Everywhere you look, you will find all forms of growth...from the moss in the trees to the ferns and fungi on fallen trees. All living things grow – one way or another! I wonder what form of positive growth is currently occurring in my life?
I love wooden bridges – often in life, bridges represent the crossing from one level to another. It reminds me of the times, when we used to run as a platoon in the Army; I loved it when we used to jog in time across wooden bridges. The rhythmic sound that is produced when boots meet wooden planks is empowering. It’s the sound of a force to be reckoned with!
Some of the forest trails were quite narrow and could get pretty slick when it rains. Keeping to the “straight and narrow” is a full-time job, if we are to complete the course that is life.
The forest walk was rewarded with a view point that overlooked a beautiful lake. Life should always be that way.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Growing Wild

Most of us want to live in a world that is ordered and structured…it gives us a sense of security and stability. We have by-laws that limit the height and built-in square footage of our homes. We have roadways, highways, towns and cities that are marked out clearly.
Yet, in this human construct, we yearn for those things that are wild…unfettered and free.
There’s a sense of freedom, a feeling of peace, a joyful celebration of life when one connects with this other aspect of life…
To see a world in a Grain of sand,
And a heaven in a Wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand,
And eternity in an hour.

William Blake