Seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness
Soren Kierkegaard in Skrifter vol 11 (maybe the correct citation) meditates on the above paraphrased verse in his writings, discussing the deeper meaning of the words. In short, he discusses that one must first seek the Kingdom of God, and this is accomplish by silence. Silence, according to Kierkegaard, is the first and most important goal in seeking the Kingdom of God.
To Kieregaard dropping everything for God is not the first step to seek the Kingdom of God. The first step is to be silent. To be silent, and to make yourself nothing before God. In this silence we arrive at the beginning, and this beginning is where we seek God.
Yet, what is this silence? If Kierkegaard states that silence is being prepared for the opportunity when it arrives, then isn’t mindfulness the same thing? It’s just another word for the same thing, and we know that mindfulness by itself isn’t spiritual. Rather it is an inward observation. By knowing ourselves we can better seek the Kingdom of God.
In our mindful/silent lives we make ourselves ready to serve God when the time comes. In this meditation we ready our inward self to serve. How can we serve God if our own lives are not in control? First seek the Kingdom of God. By first seeking the Kingdom we learn to be silent/mindful, and we take control of our lives.
God calls everyone to different things. Silence and inward observation gives us clarity to what those things are. The first step toward God is to become mindful of your own life, understanding of your weakness, to become nothing, so that God may use you for his will. The freedom to follow God starts with getting control of ones life. To understand your part in the world, and to be accepting of it.
I can work for God, and do great things for him, but first I must seek the Kingdom of God.
Is there an objective evil in the world? Some sinister force that seeks to enforce its will on others? Could that force take on human form bringing together a group of friends for the sole reason of killing them off one by one? I mean villians in a movie always have a motivation, at least the good ones do. Darth Vader wanted a peaceful galaxy seeing the Republic paralyzed by its bureaucracy determined to make a change. Thanos wanted to balance the scales of the Universe bringing an end to over-population and suffering. This though, no amount of reasoning could justify what was done to Jennifer’s body.
Becky’s sobs continued to echo, more for show than anything, it was selfish weeping. Kelly was right about that at least. Kelly was trying to bring her downstairs, but even I knew that type of crying only compounded irrationality. As if on que Becky ripped out of Kelly’s grasp, running down the long hall. She was gone before Kelly or I could get to her.
Kelly looked at me with disdain as if I should have done something. “Did you want to go after her?” I asked.
“No, Fuck her.” Kelly replied, “She wants to die then so be it.”
Without another word we made our way down to the living room, where we had all been before. The large vaulted room offering no comfort from the cold sinking into the lodge. I was proud at how well the boys seemed to be holding themselves together through this, but it was obvious that even they couldn’t take much more. Michelle had tears down her face, but unlike Becky she seemed sincere.
“So, why was she in the bathroom alone?” I asked.
Everyone looked around the room as if someone else would be able to enlighten me on the reason. Michelle was the only one who did, cold faced she said, “Everyone assumed it was you, so we ditched the whole wait here in place. People wandered around alone, took showers, what have you. Jennifer…”
“Jennifer had been gone for a long time, we all went looking as a group. Fucking Becky found her.” Kelly said.
“Where is Becky now?” Blake asked.
“She ran off.” Kelly said,
“Shit Kelly, and you didn’t go after her? What if something gets her?” Blake asked.
Kelly was about to rip into Blake again. It was amazing how he could just jump right under her skin without any effort. It was always so awkward being around them because of it. I decided to jump in before it completely blew.
“The killer had a mask.” I said.
Everyone was looking at me now, well at least everyone that was left. “I was going to search my room for clues, or figure a way to get out. I ended up passing out though. The stress had got to me, but I couldn’t stop dreaming about it. Each time there was always something out of the corner of my eye. Something that I had been missing each time, but I focused on it. It was a glitter bunny mask, like those ones that freshmen in the sorority wear during pledge month.”
“You’re retarded.” Kelly said, “what are you even talking about? No one would just have one of those, it’s not like it’s the best of days when you have one.”
“I don’t do Greek, what is a glitter bunny mask?” Andrew asked.
“It’s basically what pledges wear when entering into the sorority. The’re servants. They clean their sisters room, cook their sisters food, you know stuff like that.” Jennifer replied.
“Get raped by the football team…” Blake said.
If looks could kill Kelly’s would have Blake. She huffed up her chest like she was about to say something, but Jennifer beat her to the punch.
“That was Tina Tanner. It wasn’t the team but one guy, and there was no proof that it even happened. He didn’t even go to trial.” Jennifer said.
“Oh…oh I remember that. I was a freshman, she was the one who wrote slut on her chest and took a dive off the economics building. Holy shit, no one ever talks about that.” Andrew said realizing that he said it a bit too enthusiastically quickly shrinking down into the couch.
“So, what do you think Steph? Tina Tanner’s back from the dead to get her revenge on us?” Kelly asked.
“No, not Tina, but maybe someone like her. You guys know how brutal those months are, maybe someone. Most of those deaths on campus are pretty Greek related.” I said.
Andrew and I were maybe the only ones who were not in Greek life, and for a good reason. Wind River University was a rough place for the Greek life. Wyoming was pretty well cut off from most of those centralized Greek charters, and the University’s Administration policy was more of no news is good news. That left a lot of hormone ridden teens with too much time on their hands.
A loud crash echoed from upstairs. No one really knew what to do, and looks were exchanged by everyone. The crash was followed by a scream, and I ran toward it. Blake, came up from behind me on the stairs passing by me quickly. He was down the hall before before I reached the halfway point.
I rounded the hall seeing the open door, and Blake cursing coming from it. Inside Blake held Becky’s arm that was bleeding. There were just tears coming down her face, no weeping. At least none yet. Becky was shaking like she was in shock. We heard footsteps coming down the hall from the others. Each one entering the room. Kelly had a towel in hand, prepared for the worst. They began attending to Becky’s wound her eyes on the window that was shattered. The glass laid about all over the carpet.
“What happened?” I asked.
Becky not taking her eyes off the window replied, “Tina…Tina Tanner.”
There is no proof of God.
Correction, there is no objective proof of God.
Correction, there is no objective proof of God that everyone can agree upon.
Correction, there is no objective proof of God that everyone can agree upon, and that is why we have faith.
Correction, there is no objective proof of God that everyone can agree upon, and that is the point of having faith.
If God came down every Sunday to all the churches of the world who could justify not being a Christian? If God performed miracles in front of live concerts played for the entire world, who would not believe? We would all try to be faithful, we would all follow the word of God, but what would be the motivation?
If we had objective proof of God then we would have objective proof of hell. We would have proof of an afterlife, and a reason to do good. When there is a reason that is objective to do good will we not do good, or least attempt good?
If you knew that you could steal a cookie from the cookie jar as a child wouldn’t you do it? Wouldn’t you at least be tempted by it? If your mother stood by the cookie jar, then that takes away the motivation to even begin with. You couldn’t dream of stealing the cookie as there is a capable person there to stop you.
God cannot objectively exist, and there can be no objective proof of God for if there there was then we would all act well. We would all act good, and follow commands to the best of ability. There wouldn’t be a questions of faith. How could anyone love by God by choice if we all knew he existed. We would all want heaven, not to be a better person, but to avoid suffering in hell.
Some say that they know God exists, I don’t. I try to have faith, but I am not convinced that there could be an afterlife. There certainly is a lot of evidence of one not existing. So, why am I a Christian verse a agnostic, or spiritualist?
The reason I am a Christian, even though there is no objective proof of God, is that I love God, real or not real. I choose to live by a moral standard, and attempt a good life. I do this not because it benefits me, but because I want to be a good person.
Now anyone can argue that “religion” has caused more suffering than good. That one doesn’t need a religion to be a good person, and that all of it is subjective to the situation. I would argue that if someone can find a more profound message than love your enemies, and provide for them, then I will follow that message.
This is why I choose Christ: love your enemies, feed the poor, be humble, and know that no matter what you are loved. I don’t have to do any of those things. In fact it’s rather detrimental to my own life if I do follow them. My enemies want to hurt me, why should I love them? Because you love all people, and understand that everyone has a perspective. That they are human to, that they suffer, and matter just as much as I do.
With objective proof of God you could easily be a Christian because you know your life was justified.
Without objective proof of God it becomes harder to be a Christian because you don’t know if it is justified, and you choose to limit yourself. I’m ok with that. I’m ok with that because I want to make a leap of faith, to stare down the absurd universe.
I am a Christian not because I want heaven, but because I love God.
When I was young I had a perspective. I thought that everyone knew my perspective. If they had two eyes, and a brain then of course they would see things my way, the right way. Why if you have any trouble understanding anything come talk to me I see how the world is. Red is the best color, Scooby-Doo is the best show, and recess is a subject in school because it is in school.
Now that I am older I have a perspective, but I submit that others have theirs. I cannot say that I entirely understand the perspective of my wife, or my family. I cannot entirely, or fully understand the life of any person from the world. I cannot agree with my wife on if her birthday was at one place when she said it was another. We had both been there, both eaten food, and travel together. Surely one of us is correct? If in her eyes it was at one place and in my eyes it was at another aren’t we both correct?
If I look at something and say that this is what is right, and then one looks at the same something and says that it is wrong aren’t we both right? If opposing views give way to human suffering, can the only remedy be to submit to others views, to accept that they have theirs, and I have mine…?
…And am I not entitled to my perspective, can I not say that this is right, and that is wrong. After all, I have earned what my eyes and brain saw. I earned the experiences, and lived through it all. To say to me that what I believe is wrong is to say that I have not lived, when I know that I have. I did not come to conclusions of my life by not living.
…But is there not objectivity to the world? Didn’t the birthday have to happen at one place rather than another? Credit card receipts, photographs, witness statements. Can we not prove that one of us is right, and the other is wrong? Yes, and no. Yes if the objectivity could prove that one of us is right, and the other is wrong. No if the objectivity could prove that both of us are right, or that the objectivity is subjective in nature. A photo could prove that we were at one place, but it just as well could prove that we were at another. If it was true we were here, and the photo makes it so that we were there then the objective photo becomes subjective to perspective. If there is no “true” objectivity then we must submit that we are both correct, or at the very least both true to our perspective. Isn’t that the best that any of us can truly hope for in this world?
…Yet humans will suffer. There can be two answers to who committed the crime, and if the “objectivity” fails to be objective then the wrong person can be punished. While the suffering occurs can the jury be blamed for their perspective? Did they not take the evidence and act accordingly? Certainly there are some problems that go beyond submitting to someone’s perspective, and inevitably these issues create conflict that in turns creates human suffering. However, if we act truthfully to ourselves, and at the very least attempt to understand the perspective of others then human suffering could be mitigated.
…Or is this a way to skate around morality issues justifying deviance by saying my perspective says otherwise? We hope that the other person in front of us is acting in good faith with their perspective. It is wrong to steal, but if I steal to feed my family because I have no other way, my perspective is real even though it does create suffering. What I do is wrong, but for the right reason, at the very least for me. If I steal because I cannot help myself due to a clinically diagnosis issue, then my perspective includes that diagnosis. My perspective is real even though it does create suffering. If I steal because I find it enjoyable, or because I feel that it is owed to me then I am being real in my perspective by justifying my action as enjoyable, or owed to me. However, this justification intentionally ignores the human suffering of another. Doing the wrong thing for the wrong reason. Even if this perceived object that I covet is owed to me, to steal it is to ignore the perspective of the other person who sells it. Is the seller not owed something as well?
For the problems of my everyday life I can say that I submit that everyone is correct. I don’t have to create conflict when my wife says we ate there, instead of here. I don’t have to create conflict when I am told this is good, and that is bad. I submit that people will do as people see fit according to their perspective as I will do. I submit that people are justified in their minds their actions as I am of mine.
For the issues that inevitable must have an “objective” answer I submit that the person in front of me is correct in their mind and justified in their actions, as I am in mine. I hope that they are acting in good faith. If we can both agree that we are both at least knowing of the other person as having a perspective then maybe a compromise rather than domination can be achieved.
People instinctively pass judgement on each other it’s a natural process. We make judgement’s on the way people look, act, and behave. We will take those judgement’s, and often pass them around to others. We will label those judgments on people, and they become fact without ever speaking to the person we judged.
I believe that I am more than guilty of this. I would say that it is my biggest weakness, and as a Christian who is trying to follow Jesus’s teaching it’s an issue that I cannot overlook.
As Jesus states in Matthew 7:1-5: “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brothers eye.
While Jesus was using rather funny hyperbolic imagery the lesson is the same. To place judgement on someone is to ignore your own issues.
I like to think about the times when I am shopping or in a waiting room, and there is a tantruming child there making a scene for everyone to witness. An even better example is to be on the light rail, or in the street and a couple is having a loud fight. In the past with these situations I have put judgement on the participants.
Look at that child why can the mother not take care of it, look at that couple they have some obvious issues.
I put judgement on people, but rarely do I try to understand what it must be like to be in that situation, and ignoring the times that I have been in that situation. I have never had a child, and can only imagine the pressure that new parents must feel when their child is acting out in public. Every child acts out, and for us to say that it is the parents fault for the behavior of the kid is to ignore issues that may exist under the skin. When seeing these occurrences I didn’t have the experience of working with mental health that I do now. I have seen how a mentally handicap child can add immense amounts of stress on a new family, it is emotional for everyone. Who is to say that I would fair any better?
Everyone is different, with a different worldview, and different ideals of right verses wrong. It would be wrong of me to judge a person based on the few moments of meeting them, or watching them.
I know the intentions of my wife, my parents, and those who are close to me. Yet with strangers I have not met I should reserve judgement. How can I cast judgement when there is a plank in my eye, how can I cast judgement when I haven’t walked in their shoes? I can’t, and I shouldn’t.
So everyday from today on I will strive to reserve judgement for myself, and only to help myself be a better person. If I ever get to a point that there is no longer a plank in my eye then I may help my neighbor with the speck in theirs.
Fasting is an important process for almost all religions. It’s about denying ones self to focus on God. The hunger inside will grow, gnawing at your insides, being an ever present reminder of your choice to deny the body the pleasure of food, but by having that emotional control to deny yourself food (or whatever you fast from) you satisfy your spiritual hunger seeking God. Learning that emotional control teaches discipline to follow the teachings of your choice of faith. It’s a great time of reflection and offers clarity to what is important in ones life.
I had the privilege to participate in a fast recently with my wife. The whole opportunity came about when we were discussing fasting with our Bible study group. There was discussion about the multiple ways we could fast, and that the whole point of the fast was to deny the body its pleasures. My wife and I decided to try fasting from food, and cell phones.
We started off with the cell phone fast. We agreed to stay off our phones unless we had a message or call. What I noticed immediately was how much I am on my phone. It’s become a sort of comfort entertainment that I use to pass the day. When things are slow at work I browse Facebook or Twitter. I look up funny pictures or videos to stimulate me even when there are other options to satisfy the craving.
I found after that the first day I had all of this free time. The phone was such a time killer. I believe I was on it four hours a day. Which may not seem like much, but when you consider the breakdown of my day it is a a lot. Instead of being on my phone I used that time to read additional verses, or attempt to challenge what I had learned. I took the focus off something important to my flesh and instead turned that focus to God.
After about a week of doing this the results were pretty much what we expected, by taking this bad habit out, and replacing it with a good one we were able to look at our lives a bit more critically. It allowed us to actually see how much we came to depend on our phone, and how much that pushed us away from each other. By removing the phone our relationship became focused on each other, and God.
I will discuss how our food fast was in a later post, but I would really like to reiterate that fasting is denying the flesh what it craves. If you examine your life what it is that your body craves that holds you from God?
I recently had the opportunity to attend a men’s retreat with my brother. This was something new for me to do in a Church as I have never really saw myself as one of the men. As the youngest of three, and all of my siblings much older than me I never believed that I would reach the point of being a “man”, but there I was with all the other men at this retreat. I had mixed feelings about it from the get go. I thought I was walking into this assembly where we would eat streak from a freshly killed deer carcass while discussing the finer points of how to spit a long distance. It was, however, much to my surprise a good lesson for me to learn from. It’s good lesson for anyone to learn from.
We started off in Genius 2:15 where God commanded Adam to not eat from the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Adam received this knowledge before Eve came into existence. Eve was then later temped by the serpent, and ate from the tree then gave some to Adam. Adam who stood there, and said nothing to Eve. Adam who did not attempt to stop Eve. Adam who was silent as Eve sinned, even though he knew that if they ate from the tree they would surely die.
The silence of man in this story is deafening. At the men’s retreat the speaker encouraged us to open up about what we were struggling with as men. To discuss with each other the problems in our lives. In my group of eight we had three people open up. My brother and I being two.
It was discouraging to open up about the hardest part of my life currently to these men who continued to stay silent rather than opening up about their lives. Men will die of silence. The second I told my story I regretted it. It felt like I made a fool of myself, and the only thing I could hear in the back of my head was, “Should have just shut up.”
It’s like that being a man. I watch my father do it, killing himself with silence. Ever so often I get these glimpses into his life. Brief ten second window’s into what he really feels, and what he went through. These ten second images have become engraved in my mind because the pain that he feels. These ten second windows are hell. He keeps them bottled up inside, and drinks them down. Every so often he recounts one, and it turns my stomach knowing that my father has gone through so much. I only want to reach out and hug him. Tell him I love him, that its ok, that its all behind him now, that I can be strong for him. Instead, I tell myself it’s not my place, that if it gets really bad I’ll tell him to stop. I’m just silent.
What can I do? What could I say? I’m struggling and need help! Help me please!
Its been hard absorbing all this information, and trying to implement it in my life. I bottle things up, and I stay silent.
So, I want to make a change. I will start small with my wife. I will tell her things, and be open. Then work outwards. I’ll let you know how it goes.
“It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” Mark 3:17
It’s sometimes hard to get a break. To sit down, study, or write. Most of us are on the move constantly, and for me that constant moving makes it hard to really get into writing, and to create quality work (not that it’s quality anyways). I also needed a break due to many life issues that have come up, but at this point I am re-making my dedication to writing.
Before this post most of what I have written about was life advice through my eyes as a case manager. I have always had this no proselytizing in the workplace stance when it came to helping people. However, my new self help will sometimes take on a more religious standpoint. Mostly due to my wife, Pandora, inspiring me by being baptized followed by my niece. This opened me up to talk more about my relationship with God.
So with all interesting updates that mostly is just me making an excuse for not taking time out to write lets get on with the subject: THOSE PEOPLE
I had the great privilege of being able to connect with others while doing laundry yesterday. It’s always nice to pass the time hearing what other people have to say, and what they go through day to day.
They wanted to know about the place that we worshiped, which is pretty new too since we are also fairly new to the area. We discussed for a time different places where we worshiped and they were both pretty upset with their experiences around town, and after listening to their story I would say they did have a lot to be upset about.
Their biggest issue was THOSE PEOPLE. The Church people. The man stated that he hated going because of the Hypocrites.
It’s a very good reason because there are a lot of hypocrites in the church, and liars, adulterers, alcoholics, murderers, and just about every other terrible person. In fact you could say that the whole point of the Church was for the terrible people looking for another chance. It was made for those of us who are in need of help, and whose lives are full of sin, not the righteous.
It always hurts me to hear that people don’t like the idea of church because of those who judge them for not being perfect, looking dirty, or any other excuse. It really isn’t fair because no one has any idea what someone else goes through on a day to day basis. We are all there for God, and to become our best selves.
No one should feel unwelcome in the house of God, and that should be a concern with those in the Church. It’s a concern for me because I am a liar, hypocrite, and many other things but everyday trying to be a better person. I don’t want other liars, hypocrites, and others to avoid the church because they think I am perfect.
The best that we can do is encourage others in the church to ignore the judgement of others. That’s between them and God. For us we will do our best not to judge, but be welcoming to anyone who comes.
“So, how did you die?” I asked the very real ghost in front of me. Following the really fresh blood trail of whatever the hell was dragging Sydney around the house.
“You know how you eat something, and it makes you sick?”
“Yeah?” I answered
“Well I was shot in the face for making something that got people sick.”
“What were you making?”
“Human flesh for a bunch of cannibals.”
“Is that real or….”
“We’re here!” She flew her arms up in the air.
A rising panic built up inside of me as I just realized we weren’t following the blood away from this thing, but toward it. Before us was a torn up door complete with scratches, dents, and blood of the obvious victims unlucky enough to be found by this creepy bastered. The trail of blood continued under the door.
I felt the hair on my back rise as I became very aware of my mortality for the third time today, “I thought you were getting me out of here?”
“Yeah, but I need to figure out what’s going on here. Then we will get you out of here.”
“How do you not know what’s going on? Didn’t you like die here?”
A loud distinctive thud came from the other side of the door followed by a loud scream. We both turned our attention to what is on the other side.
“Wait here.” Temperance said handing me a remote, “If I am not back in 10 hit this button, and run as far away as you can.”
An order I was more than happy to comply with. Temperance walked through the door as I waited on the other side ready to hit the button.
I dozed off, not sure for how long. There was barely light in the sky when I fell asleep, but not completely black outside like it was now. It was restless sleep as I kept watching Angel again and again. Every time I would reach out to do something, anything to help her, but each time never being able to stop it. She just kept staring back at me blood running down her throat her eyes in horror. There was always something there just out of the corner of my eye watching me each time. I couldn’t completely focus in on it, I didn’t want to. As the events reshaped in my head again I forced myself to look. A vivid scream filled the air. I jumped out of bed, but wasn’t sure if it was real or not. I was paralyzed by the fear again, that mask what was that?
Footsteps came toward my door, as well as hushed argument just outside. It was almost comical how they thought they were being quiet enough that I couldn’t hear them. Kelly was a thick as they come. They continued to struggle with the lock as I took time to wake up feeling disoriented. The mask staring back at me, watching me now.
The door flew open Kelly quickly filling the gap coming right toward me, “You!”
“Me.” I replied.
Her boyfriend was trying to stop her advance, but a slap across the face quickly reminded him of his place to her. Kelly stopped at the foot of the bed. I made it a point not to get up or look intimidated. I wanted her to know that I didn’t care who she thought she was. It just made her angrier.
“How did you get out?”
“I obviously didn’t”
Kelly’s face turned a bright red glowing with anger and fury. It was the face I had gotten used to with her. We may have similar friends, but we never really got along. She had this constant air about her that she was the most important person the room, and I made sure she know how little I cared. Its almost came to blows before, but most of the time her boyfriend keeps her calm, maybe today was finally it. Maybe we would finally see who would shut up forever.
She pointed at me and was about to say something, but instead chose to walk off. Her lackey following closely behind like the whipped pup he was.
She left the door open, perhaps as a way of saying I was no longer a suspect. Even she couldn’t deny I was right here the whole time, she just couldn’t say it to my face. I walked out shortly after timing myself ensuring she knows it was my choice, not hers, to leave.
The hall seemed colder, but I was just under a large lump of wonderful blankets and pillows. I could hear Becky sobbing and I remembered How did you get out. Something happened, again. I followed the sobs to one of the bathrooms.
I grew up on a ranch. One particular night we went into town for a movie, a family outing. When we came back the entire heard of cows were together in one area, and the smell of blood filled the air. That sticky iron smell. My father took me out into the field. It didn’t take long to find the source. Wolves had come in tearing apart several of our stock. They didn’t even eat them they just tortured them until they had run out of fun. I would rather see that sight everyday for the rest of my life then what was before me in that bathroom. The blood pooled, the walls red, skin flayed, the suffering unimaginable.
That night when the cows died we made sure there was never another attack again. I could smell the smoke now. Wyoming girls don’t cry.