Who are we?

Posted: September 16, 2011 in Thoughtful thinking.

God is SO good! He continues to blow my mind in the ways that He comforts and holds our hearts! There are no words that could appropriately describe the joy and peace which He washes over us with His perfect timing. I cannot imagine, cannot think about, and cannot fathom falling away from my Creator Whose love wraps me in its splendor. The beauty and majesty of His glory, the Truth, and the message that He has given to us and for us to share is incomprehensible. The promises that are given us are amazing. The hope that we have is unsurpassable. His mercy is mind-boggling. How could One so powerful, so holy, so just, love with a fervent, unconditional love something as flawed and as imperfect as us? It is inexplainable. It cannot be touched with our minds the vastness of God’s reasoning and timeless design. Who are we? Who are we? Who are we?

The right that we are given to praise, to worship, to fall before our Master is a right that should not be ours. In the chaos, God saw something in us that was worth loving. I want to know, I crave the answer to why He loves us the way He does. It should not be. And to think that He does all this not out of obligation, not out of holy duty, but because He simply loves. Not only that, but He cares as well. From every lost soul to every tear shed there is nothing that escapes the notice of God. Just as He molded the earth, He weaves the very fabric of existence into being and puts every perfect bit of care into every strand of fiber. Not a breath is taken without God’s touch.

God is big enough for us to rediscover every day. The endless facets of His character could each take a lifetime of devotion to appreciate. One day, we will be exposed to the raw glory of Himself. With every facet of God revealed, we will be overwhelmed. Speechless. Awestruck. Utterly lost in the beauty of Him. I cannot imagine.

Oh, if only we could comprehend. If only we knew what we had in store. If only we could see. Until then, we live, we watch, and we wait for the endless tranquility that will envelope our souls.

“I can see light that is coming for the heart that holds on.

I can see an end to these troubles, but until that day comes.

Still I will paraise You, still I will praise You.”

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Humility.

Posted: August 14, 2011 in Thoughtful thinking.

I was reading about humility today. I find myself needing lessons in this more than I should. Humility is not a great friends of mine, at least, not sincere humility. The humility that I can portray at times is less real, genuine humbleness and more reserve for fear of looking prideful. This causes an interesting phenomenon. In my efforts to appear humble and avoiding arrogance I succeed and therefore make myself more arrogant in my success. Building a reputations as a humble person is a dangerous line to walk. But even being recognized as humble almost defeats the purpose in the first place because should a really humble person be recognized at all? Hm?

For those of you who know me, humility might not be the first thing to come across one’s mind after meeting me. As I get older and (hopefully I’m getting wiser) I see that most of what I do is self-focused. Not always bad, only if always done. Even in treating other people, I found that some of my actions all had purposes that would, even if there was a chance, affect me positively in the end. There was and is an ulterior motive in most of what I do to benefit me. Now I wasn’t always consciously thinking about it, and there were many times of sincere charity in my actions. But looking back shocked me of how many times I did something to bring about my own success with the disguise of giving. You crafty boy, you.

Reading over humility in the Bible I discovered something. We can build ourselves up all we want, but it’s never very high. We can slave away and hold on to our pride keeping the status-quo of what our “social status” is. We can build our own castles of arrogance but they will only reach so high and their foundations are shaky. We can place our trust in our rickety fortress of false confidence and hide all of our security in that. It’s what we do. We trust the castle we build for ourselves. We know the face we’ve made, it’s familiar and safe. The cocky, arrogant Carl is much easier to maintain than the real one. It’s easy to be prideful, it takes courage to be humble. The lower we make ourselves, the higher God builds us. And God’s foundation is deep so He can build us as high as He wishes. (Not as high as we wish.) The goal is to humble ourselves so much that our foundation of false pride is removed to put our roots in God’s footing so that we are secure in Him. To be on the same page as God and take pride in the fact that we are His and we a part of His actions.

Humility makes serving God infinitely easier as well. It’s the flexibility which He is able to mold us. It’s the oil in the engine that makes things run smoothly and without friction. How could God use a prideful person to perform His will? They would bend and break due to the pressure that serving God can create. Humility is what God looks for because they are never too high to do God’s bidding. They are above nothing and will therefore serve God to the ends of the earth no matter where or what He has called them to do.

Something to think about. God also hears the humble’s cries. He would much rather help someone who is humble in their situation than someone who asks for help but then scoffs at how long it’s taking, the way He’s helping, or the effort He is asking to us give. I would too.

Some of the verses that I was reading which gave me these thoughts.

Psalm 10:17, 25:9, 147:6. Romans 12:16. James 4:10.

The Falling.

Posted: August 9, 2011 in Thoughtful thinking.

A query was sent to me by my cousin who think much like I do when it comes to this philosophical stuff. His question is posted below. And while I think he may have an answer for it already, I’m going to give it my best go!

*Query*

How can ignorance be so rampant when knowledge is available now more so than any other time in history? How has the spirit of apathy gained such a strangle hold on our culture? Why are crass and debased thoughts and actions exalted? Why do we settle for cheap banalities? What will it take for our people to be roused from their stupor?

Where are the true artists who inspire mankind to stretch, reach higher and be nobler in spirit and action? Must we always consume the mundane? Who are the great philosophers and warrior poets of our age? Have we become numb to reality? Has our lives of comfort and ease blinded us?

We have deluded ourselves with thoughts of security. The world has been perilous since the fall. Our ancestors knew that each moment of life was precious because they were so well acquainted with death, for disease, famine and war were common place.
Deep down we feel the wrongness of the world. We feel as though we should be more than we are. It’s as though we are pale reflections or a shadows of what we should be.

*Carlthefollower’s response*

Oh boy! What an awesome bunch of great questions! I’ve had these for a little while now but haven’t had the time to write about them due to the effort I have to devote thinking about them. Alright, I can already see an idea forming. So let’s try to put this down on paper. Here goes!

An object that has movement will be more likely to move. It’s called inertia! I believe that the same principle applies here. Ever since The Fall, people have been separated from God in a way that He did not originally intend. Due to this separation, we are vulnerable to sin. More than vulnerable, we are attacked by the Enemy who does his best to make us stumble every day. He has been given a playground on the Earth to bombard us with threats, lies, and death due to Man’s fall way back in the Garden of Eden. I think that when Adam ate the fruit and sealed the fate of the world, he not only fell, but started a domino effect that has gained momentum through time. Adam did not fall, he began the Falling.

It is our job to fight against the backwards inertia. It’s up to us to walk against the tide and push against the winds that are against us. It’s why it is so easy to sin, why it is so simple for some to blur the lines between good and evil if it suits their purposes. The whole of known time fights against our Truth to do what is right. As the world continues to age and “advance”, the epitome of reasoning and enlightenment becomes lower and lower on a moral standard. As the world gets worse, the fight becomes harder.

I like to think of it on a line scale. Imagine with me that God is on one end of the spectrum and whatever else is on the other end. Obviously, God in all His glory and power is unobtainable, but we must strive to be more and more like His example. Now look at the other end, whatever is further away from God is less like Him and therefore closer to His opposite. When people try to find their answer in places other than God, they are working towards the opposite end of the spectrum. Whether it is science, religion, enlightenment, atheism, or whatever, the epitome of human reasoning no matter what the type, is running away from God in the other direction.

It’s an outrageous tug-of-war battle we are having with the world in our lives. And with the slippery-slope falling faster and faster into oblivion, the majority mindset of the population becomes even more corrupted. The “leaders, poets, philosophers, and artists” of our age are on the front lines of the march downwards. They are the leading edge of the path against the Truth. Crass, debased thoughts and actions are praised because they are mimicking what the world believes to be the top of our philosophy. What they do not realize is that they could not be further from the Truth. Unless of course, they keep on falling and continue down the path that they think is leading towards the ultimate way of thinking and acting which is ironically leading to God’s polar opposite.

The knowledge that is so abundant is many times full of the very lies that we want to avoid. Why do we wonder why there is so much crime, death, and evil in the world when “free thinking” and no moral absolutes are being taught even in early child development in school and in the home? We are teaching our future leaders to destroy themselves.

There are so many ways from Christ and the right side of the spectrum. Unfortunately, when people don’t want to follow that one way, any other path they choose will destroy them and help bring the morality of the world down with it. Why do we feel like pale shadows of what we should be? Because it’s what we are. And the further that people search in vain for answers that are not there, the paler they become. Switchfoot put it great in one of my favorites: “We were meant to live for so much more, have we lost ourselves? Somewhere we live inside.” We ARE yearning for something more and being God’s creation. We know that far inside, no matter how deep, the way is not to be found in any of our own knowledge, wisdom, our findings. But in something more, that is God.

I thought I had it. I probably still think I have it. Faith is something that seems to have eluded my grasp for the majority of my life. I don’t think it’s possible to fully understand what it is until one is forced to practice it. Like being told how to ride a bike, one never can master it until they experience the feeling, know how to balance, and keep their alignment. I have, for the most part, been given everything that I could have ever needed during my existence. Exceeding that of need, I have more than I could ask for and more than I deserve. Faith has never had the chance to be put to the test in my life. I have read the definition, know what it means, know that I need to have at least a basic amount to accept the Truth. But the faith that hurts, the faith that takes courage, and the trust that overcomes our very real danger is something that I have begun to experience for the first time. I’m a newbie in the world of gritty, hard faith.

I believe my perception of faith was wrong. I used to think that people with an extraordinary amount of faith had it easy because of their trust. I thought that individuals who overcame great obstacles using trust did it with a smirky grin on their face because they knew how it was going to turn out in the end. Their faith obviously was so incredibly strong that it gave them an almost super-human like confidence as they walked through trials with their heads held high as the world crashed and burned around them. No matter what, everything would be peachy in the end, the good guys win and the bad guys lose. This was the victory promised those who were strong in the art of faith. Have faith and win.

Faith was always a non-issue for me because I never knew I never used it. If someone was to ask me if I had it, I would indignantly answer back, “Of course I do!” Of course I did! I’m a Christian aren’t I? Comes with the name doesn’t it? Standard issue Christian faith. Comes with the Redeemed Package. *Limited Edition only.* But when the rubber meets the road, when the going gets tough, what happens? You have to make a decision on where you’re going to put that next step of yours. And with no lead on where to go, what do you do?

Ever download something on your computer? You know how it has the little loading bar that tells you your progress? Well, one of the most frustrating things to me when it comes to this kind of stuff is the lack of that little loading bar! Why is it so important? Because it tells you how close you are to the finish! It’s cheating! I will stay and watch that loading bar for fifteen minutes at my computer if it is there but get up and walk away in frustration if something doesn’t have a loading bar and takes more than two! It’s the unknown! You don’t know how long it’s going to take, so instead of risking waiting for it, you give it up altogether! “Ah, it’s frozen!” I’ll say. “This is taking forever!” No, it’s not. It’s almost done, now if you’ll just wait a couple more sec-*click*

I can just see God telling us this same thing. “No! No! Wait! Wait! I’m almost finished with you!” But then we think about the time it could take and how long God will keep us waiting and how we don’t know when it will end. All this is going through our minds as we wait on Him to complete His work in us and unfortunately, we want to unplug ourselves from His download because we see other programs we desire to save instead and His work in us might overwrite our own data. Heh, this sounds like a scene from Tron. (That movie wasn’t that great by the way, at least, the new one wasn’t. Not sure about the old one. Never saw it.) What we don’t know is that God is almost done, He’s right there on the finishing touches when we walk away. He’s always working on us, but we can be a great hindrance to ourselves if we don’t stick it out. Wait for those specific lessons and promises from God.

Faith is living without the loading bar. Faith is the gritty, tiring walk of everyday life. Faith is the act of I-have-no-idea-what-I’m-doing-but-I’m-doing-it-anyways-because-I-trust-You. At least, it’s a facet of faith. I’m sure- no, I know that there is SO much more for me to learn. And I would be lying if I said that I’m looking forward to all my future faith building. I’m not. Heh, but learn I shall!

Until next time!

This is my first review/impression summary. I have had the desire to put reviews on here of the things that I love because I enjoy talking about them and as I gain more knowledge, have a better ability to judge their qualities. What better place to start than a restaurant that I have never been to before? Understandably, it was my first time at this place and will therefore be less of a review and more of summary of what I observed.

The Flying Dog Cafe was discovered by me at school when I was searching for places of interest around my hometown (Bradenton, FL). I’m not one to impulsively go somewhere simply because I have not been there before and it would have probably slipped my mind and the thought fallen into oblivion had all the reviews (Google reviews) not been so outrageously positive. In fact, the only negative review was commented upon by the owner himself disclaiming it as a falsehood and personally guaranteeing one’s satisfaction during their stay. This was enough to warrant a visit over to the Flying Dog after I escaped my last class for the semester (yes!).

The cafe is located in a very subtle spot that one would not tend to look for a restaurant. I have been living here all my life and have driven past this building many times in the six years that it has been in operation and not one time did I ever discover this place. I missed the first entrance even when I was looking for it. Located about a mile east of 41 on Televast road in a warehouse-type building is the Flying Dog.

Upon approach, it didn’t look like much, but entering in one would find the decor very tastefully done with the exception of a few home-crafted children’s drawings tacked on varied walls. It had a mixture of a beach-aviation theme in a modern, coffee shop type atmosphere. It was clean, welcoming and casual. I was told to sit where I may and that someone would be with me shortly.

It did not take long to receive service although it was not very busy when I walked in, and it was cheerfully given. Not obligatory or rushed even though the server that was waiting upon me seemed to have plenty to do. I was the priority at the moment, which was nice. The sandwiches and salads were not cheap, but they weren’t expensive either. About the same that one would expect to pay at Panera, Crispers, Atlantic, and the like. The menu was full, but not extensive. Salads and sandwiches were the majority of items upon the ordering list. I believe they also had a limited selection of soup. Soft drinks and alcoholic beverages were available. I ordered a “Dog Pound”, a cold sandwich with one’s choice of three meats and two cheeses for $8 that came with one side and a water.

About ten minutes later I received my food. The portions were surprisingly large. Working at a sandwich restaurant myself, I was impressed with the volume of food on my plate. It was good and filling. The side potato salad was small but I don’t know if I would have desired much more than they gave me anyways. As far as I know, the meat was Boar’s Head as portrayed by the restaurant’s flaunting of their signs every few square feet of wall. It was a large sandwich, I could just barely finish it. For me, the amount of food per dollar is extremely important. This place gives the best of both worlds. Not only did it taste good, but there was a whole bunch of it. I walked out full.

The entire meal plus service cost me just north of ten bucks. Not horrible, not amazingly economical either. If one is looking for an outstanding bargain then McDonald’s dollar menu might be your best bet. But if one wants a chillax place to well… chill, while munching on a great sandwich then this is the place to go. I’m going to put this on my list of possible future visits.

Also, there were a few things that I was not able to participate in. I don’t know the exact times but there is live music playing at certain periods of the week and a nice-sized stage for the players. This might interest those of you who enjoy such. And watch out for the hours of operation. Come around lunch and you’ll be fine but the later hours are a little wacky during certain days and you want to make sure you come when it’s open. Huzzah.

Did I do that?!

Posted: April 11, 2011 in Thoughtful thinking.

As I observe the world more and more in the relatively short time I’ve been in existence I’ve already found one thing that irks me beyond almost anything else. That is people’s ignorance of their own stupidity. It isn’t harsh, really it isn’t! Think, if you can, with me for a second. Everyone is dumb at one time or another. Sorry folks, nobody, with the exception of One, has lived their whole life without fouling it up in one way or another. I’ve done many things in my life (more than I care to mention) worthy of the title as well! So I admit it. I can be an idiot. I’m sorry, and I’ll do my best to make amends. I also have plenty of lenience for people who manage to dig themselves into a hole as well just because I know that I’ll probably end up doing it sooner or later and it’s nice to have some friends topside when you’re trying to get out. There is, however, a catch to my patience with your mess-up that is affecting me. One has to recognize it.

One must be able to demonstrate the realization of one’s mistake in a way that portrays true remorse and attempts to relieve the consequences especially if they affect other people. Basically, one has to accept it, suck it up, and deal with it. Such is life. I am sick of people who want the responsibilities of their actions placed on other’s shoulders and expect to get away scott-free. If one messes it up then clean it up! Nobody else has the time or energy to make-up for somebody else’s slack. I can tolerate someone who makes mistakes but takes the responsibility. I cannot however, tolerate an ignorant person who ignores their wrongdoings and shrugs when confronted with them.

This is not to say that I don’t have mercy for people and give them the benefit of the doubt. I do! But I believe that is part of the problem and it is to my own discredit. I have grown too correct in my corrections and would rather take the brunt of someone’s foul instead of dealing with the resulting confrontation. This is a playground for the ignorant irresponsible. They breed on this enabling and it seems to me that more and more are spawning from this terrible plague. It shows in our schools, government, and workplace. An increasing amount of people want to be able to do more and get away with it and the only people who are paying for it are the responsible ones who quietly take the punishment of the former. The injustice disgusts me, but for some reason, we just keep on accepting it.

I once heard a quote from a teacher a while back that has stuck with me and I’ve found it true. He said, “If your going to be dumb, then you’ve got to be tough.” I’m sure he’s not the first person to say and that probably got it from someone else but he is who I first heard it from. Seriously though. This could not fit what I’m trying to say more perfectly. Nobody else should take the blame for your mistake but you, intentional or unintentional, it is your bad. This is not to say that I discourage the helping of someone who fell, in fact I greatly encourage it! But I can tell you this, I am much more likely to help someone in their folly who is humble and respectful about their mistake than someone who I’ve had to clean up after time and time again.

In correcting someone of their foul, one brings to light something that they might have not seen. It is possible to hurt someone or screw something up that was unknown to one’s self. In this case, it’s the responsibility of those around to make known the fault so that the ball is now in the court of the faulter to decide what he/she wants to do with it. Ignore it, or realize their mistake and correct it the best they can. There is nothing more embarrassing or humbling than chewing someone out for something that they were not even aware of. Kinda turns the tables around.

I can just see the comments now explaining how God forgives all of us despite our weaknesses and that we should too. I would never disagree. It IS our job to love and forgive one another as He would forgive us. This isn’t here to argue that. What this is here to say is this, do not make others have to forgive and clean up after one’s mess. Forgive. Do not enable. In fact, enabling is almost as bad as doing the act itself. For when one “lets something go”, the faulter does not learn from the consequences that should have rightfully been his/her’s and repeats his/her’s actions.

This isn’t a personality study or aimed at a specific group of people. It’s simply a pet peeve of mine that has been sent to test my patience of late. I’m sure I have been the victim of my own writing here many times and apologize in advance for any offenses that may go unseen or unrecognized in the future as I’m sure anyone who reads this will be watching me most intently. 😛

 

The power went out the other day when we driving back from church for absolutely no reason at all. Well, I’m sure there was, but that is irrelevant. The fact was that the power was out for at least a few blocks radius around our newly darkened house and that when we got home there was going to be absolutely nothing to do. Seriously. Nothing.

The excitement of a large-scale power outage lasts only as long until one realizes they can’t “tweet/status update” about it. Nor can they call anybody to ask what is going on, watch TV to get the latest scoop, or google their area to find an answer for the madness. My brain kept trying to process how to get some sort of information on the current situation but every time I thought of something it involved electricity and technology, the two things that seemed to be out of operation.

Ok, plan B. This is getting dangerous. One can only stay un-entertained for so long before one goes into something called American Boredom Stress Shock where not having enough or anything to do actually stresses one out more so than having too much to do and will melt the outer layers of the brain. Realizing our immediate need for immersion into something of our liking, me and my brother reveled in the fact that while we needed electricity to play guitar, our new drum set didn’t share such a disadvantage. Our hopes were immediately dashed as we entered the garage and instinctively flicked the light switch expecting the magical luminescence to light the way to our drum set tucked in the corner of the garage. Well, it didn’t. And playing drums with one’s garage door open in a suburban neighborhood is equal to smashing gold-leaf mailboxes. You just don’t do it. It was funny how we expected the light to be there even without the power. Like it doesn’t come from earth but from a fairy-land unbeknown to us that we have somehow managed to tap into. Regardless, the drum set would not see any playing that night.

Plan C! Quick! I can feel it coming!! Out the door we went again. Only this time to the sanctuary of our car where we were going to travel to the nearest Starbucks to grab a cup of their celestial-priced, heavenly goodness to wait out the EMP strike over our dwelling. If there world were ever to suddenly end, Starbucks would have the best business on the planet. With android tablet in hand, the promise of wi-fi, fluorescent lighting, and a decent cup of coffee the horrible disease could be fended off for at least a couple of hours before we would have to do something else different and exciting. But when we walked out our door, we saw something that we haven’t seen in a while. There were people outside. Walking, sitting, talking, and conversing. The power outage had brought people out of their homes to a beautiful Monday evening and some of them were looking as if they’d seen daylight for the very first time.

It was like the aftermath of a nuclear holocaust. Pale, skinny people living underground for years to escape the nuclear winters, radiation poisoning and afflicted mutated monsters emerged from the thick, steel, vault door for the first time in ages and stretch their hands over their head in the warmth of the last few rays of sunlight and the cool of an evening breeze. Finally seeing what they’ve been missing this whole time, they swear never to go back and close their eyes as the air brushes past their faces. At least, this is what I saw as I walked to my car and hopped in along with my brother who was feeling the same way and we joked about it as we pulled out.

But just as we were about to leave our neighborhood we observed that the lights had come back on. Whoever was in charge of whatever went out had brought the electricity back much quicker than we expected! Huzzah! I was a little disappointed though. I REALLY like Starbucks but HATE paying for it, however, this gave me (in my mind) a legitimate excuse to splurge. But back home we went and simply took the long way around for about a mile before the road winds back to our house. This is where it gets good.

In that one mile of road everyone disappeared. Like rats from sunlight, the instant the electricity was back in operation people crawled into their reclusive holes. Me and my brother looked at each other with amazement. Unbelievable. A moment before they were awing about how wonderful of a day it was outside but the next they abandon it back to their flickering screens in their caves. We did the same thing. What a shame. The lure of the familiar is too much to resist and we throw away the simple, pure beauty of God’s creation for the drama of our favorite TV show, or the latest news on facebook.

We have locked ourselves away in our homes behind our safe walls and instead of meeting with people face to face, we broadcast “ourselves” from afar. Being able to pick and choose to an extent what people know about us is our biggest problem. Nothing is real anymore. People have to assume more about you. The less you know about someone, the more you have to fill in to connect the dots between their behavior even if it is only your false assumptions. We call these rumors. Honesty cannot be seen over a social network. Because I believe that honesty is not seen, it’s felt. The shallow, rose-colored post we read on our favorite networking site is not a relationship. It’s a compromise. Not always bad, only if always done.

Technology is great! I love it! But I believe that it has ironically made a full circle in the way we communicate and act with one another. It’s not technology we have to blame for our impersonality either, it’s us. Perhaps this is just a phase as we try to adjust to the rapid technology changes and eventually we’ll catch up with ourselves and start doing things in moderation. But I’m not holding my breath. Love one another with all you have and hold on to the relationships that you know are rooted in real character and not your facebook/twitter/youtube/myspace/whatever profile. Those are the ones that will last you a lifetime and not fail when the power goes out.