A Clear Conscience

But this I admit to you, that according to the Way [Christianity] which they call a sect I do serve the God of our fathers, believing everything that is in accordance with the Law and that is written in the Prophets; having a hope in God, which these men cherish themselves, that there shall certainly be a resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked. In view of this, I also do my best to maintain always a blameless conscience both before God and before men (Acts 24:14-16, NASB).

No Regrets.

This has always been a personal goal: to live my life without regrets. There are definitely decisions that I’ve made during my life that weren’t the best in hindsight. And I’d call “bollocks (i.e. nonsense)” on anyone who suggests that they’ve never made a poor decision during theirs. Yet, I’ve been fortunate. I carry few regrets—at least, based on how I define regret. Continue reading

Feeling Pressure: Fear Versus Faith

The only pressure I’m under is the pressure I’ve put on myself.
~Mark Messier, NHL Hall-of-Fame player (Oilers/Rangers)

Pressure is something you feel when you don’t know what you’re doing
~Chuck Noll, NFL Hall-of-Fame Coach (Steelers)

‘Pressure’ is a word that is misused in our vocabulary. When you start thinking of pressure, it’s because you’ve started to think of failure.
~Tommy Lasorda, MLB Hall-of-Fame Manager (Dodgers)

Courage is grace under pressure
~Ernest Hemingway, Author

Whatever you see—any good results—are all from the pressure
~Ziyi Zhang, Author

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AUTHOR’S NOTE: The following post intentionally applies a secular position through its majority, eventually applying a Christian perspective near its conclusion. The rationale for this decision is that it will help non-Christians see the general relevance of the topic, while also highlighting my view that a Christian perspective for addressing moments when feeling pressure (or confronting those poorly dealing with pressure) is best. This post focuses on issues that I believe are both prevalent and pervasive within the culture in which I find myself. I attempt to be as thorough as possible in my logic and as reasonable as possible with my justifications. What I do not claim is omniscience or perfect clarity on this issue—or any issue. Therefore, I welcome thoughtful dialogue with anyone who may disagree with any or all of my positioning | Any bold, magenta words within this post are hyperlinks that provide useful, supplemental information. If the magenta hyperlink is followed by (a), for example(a), then there is an available blog or appendix page that allows for a deeper look into the topic hyperlinked.

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INTRODUCTION
Feeling pressure. Who doesn’t feel pressure at one time or another? But for as frequently as we feel pressure, do we even understand why we feel it? And, what is “pressure”—really? Continue reading

Sentimental

“The difference between sentiment and being sentimental is the following: Sentiment is when a driver swerves out of the way to avoid hitting a rabbit on the road. Being sentimental is when the same driver, when swerving away from the rabbit, hits a pedestrian.”                                           ~ Frank Herbert, science-fiction writer

 “I am not a sentimental person.” ~ Jack Kevorkian, “Dr. Death”

 “High culture is paranoid about sentiment. But human beings are intensely sentimental.               ~ Thomas Kinkade, artist
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INTRODUCTION
Humans are sentimental. However, I believe that how one defines being sentimental—and exhibits sentimentality in deed—determines whether one views being sentimental as a destructive or constructive emotional response. My intentions within this writing are to:

  • Examine how being sentimental is capable of being both destructive and constructive
  • Elaborate on how I view and apply sentimentality in my life (focusing on the constructive)
  • Consider how aspects of sentimentality may function in the process of Christian sanctification

Continue reading

the lie of being unloved

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Being unwanted, unloved, uncared for, forgotten by everybody, I think that is a much greater hunger, a much greater poverty than the person who has nothing to eat. ~ Mother Teresa

Our world is utterly saturated with fear. We fear being attacked by religious extremists, both foreign and domestic. We fear the loss of political rights, a loss of privacy, or a loss of freedom. We fear being injured, robbed or attacked, being judged by others, or neglected, or left unloved. ~ Brendan Myers
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The depths of despair when you’re feeling unloved,
When extending for hugs but instead you’re shoved,
A dagger embedded deep into your side,
Fearful to be vulnerable, so now you hide, Continue reading

FROZEN in Fear and its Relationship to Love

 “Love will thaw. Of course!” ~Queen Elsa

“Wanna build a snowman?” ~Princess Anna

INTRODUCTION

Frozen is a wonderfully constructed animated movie that I believe speaks at surprisingly great depth about the relationship between fear and love. As is true in real life, all of the characters in Frozen—except for, maybe, Olaf the snowman—have unique challenges in dealing with fear and loving others in a healthy manner. After having watched the movie a few times, I believe that the movie’s screenwriters developed the characters to possess personalities that would accurately reflect their behaviors in the story–grounding this fantasy tale with a realistic human element. Within this writing, I share my thoughts about how fear affects the ability and manner in which the movie’s major characters exhibit love towards one another—as well as its likely effects on their self-perceptions. With each character’s fears being different in scope and focus, these fears influence their ability and manner in which they love others to varying degrees. Character examinations will begin with Hans of the Southern Isles–who very well may not be capable of anything other than self-love. Concluding these examinations shall be Queen Elsa of Arendelle, who in my opinion is the most complex–and in many respects, the most realistic–character within Frozen. If you are curious as to how I can justify a woman whose magical powers can control winter’s elements as the most realistic character in the movie…you will just need to read onward. Continue reading

Exploring the Dark Knight as a Type of Christ

“He’s the hero Gotham deserves, but not the one it needs right now. So we’ll hunt him. Because he can take it. Because he’s not our hero. He’s a silent guardian, a watchful protector. A dark knight.” ~Jim Gordon in The Dark Knight

The Batman from the Dark Knight Trilogy 

Over the past week, I watched the Dark Knight Trilogy—just one of numerous times I have done so. I find it an exceptionally well done movie trilogy. And if I was to select a favorite comic book super hero, it would most likely be the “Dark Knight,” Batman. Those who follow the comic book universe are aware that many comic book series periodically “reboot,” as the ever-growing stories become convoluted, eventually losing plot continuity. Characters’ stories will often be revised to more reflect the times; though, the core elements of comic book characters are often treated sacred–unchangeable. However, these slight changes in a character’s development allow for story reinventions—introducing new themes within the stories. In such a way, Christopher Nolan’s presentation of Batman—and the story told within the trilogy—leaves his version as my favorite incarnation of the Dark Knight.

(Please note: if you have not watched the trilogy, you will encounter spoilers by proceeding) Continue reading

Making Decisions

“Whenever you see a successful business, someone once made a courageous decision.” ~Peter F. Drucker                                                             

What is right is often forgotten by what is convenient.” ~Bodie Thoene

“You can’t make decisions based on fear and the possibility of what might happen.” ~Michelle Obama

“My son, when you come to serve the LORD, prepare yourself for trials. Be sincere of heart and steadfast, Cling to Him, forsake Him not; thus will your future be great. Accept whatever befalls you, in crushing misfortune be patient; For in fire gold is tested, and worthy men in the crucible of humiliation. Trust God and He will help you; make straight your ways and hope in Him.” ~Sirach 2:1-6

Originally posted on Facebook–March, 2011

Making decisions is hard. Decisions require action and possess consequence. Continue reading

Communicating Wisdom

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline. ~Proverbs 1:7

“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” ~ Albert Einstein

Originally posted on Facebook–November, 2013

It is my personal belief that most of us are well-intentioned. That is, at the time we engage in an activity, we have—whether consciously or subconsciously—determined it appropriate. Dare I say that many of us would go as far as to say that our actions are not just appropriate, but good? Though, that begs the question, what is “good?” While nearly everyone who speaks English uses the word, “good,” I would argue that, semantically, the word differs in significant ways among various groups of people. Continue reading

Hope Beyond Hope

“Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness.” ~Desmond Tutu

This writing was originally posted on Facebook in October, 2009

A few years ago, I had a meaningful discussion with someone who has been a major figure throughout my life–we’ll call him “Adam” (not his real name). During our conversation, I asked him a question that I had considered asking him for some time. Adam has always been someone with a superseding sense of responsibility and obligation, but I cannot remember an instance where he used the word ‘love’ in appropriate context towards another person. While we were traveling and he was a captive audience, I took the opportunity to ask Adam why he never used the word “love,” instead, making any good and right action of his a matter of responsibility–of obligation. Continue reading

Unpacking Faith

The more I walk down the road of life, the more I become aware of how little I know. It is the unexpected elements that are assuredly present in every person’s life that guarantees such a realization for all but the totally ignorant or the innocently naïve. Socrates, a Greek philosopher who lived nearly five-hundred years before the birth of Christ, said it well when he said, “The only true wisdom is in knowing that you know nothing.” Socrates did not know Christ; therefore, he was correct in what he said. He never knew the “Truth.” Continue reading

Being a Loser

Originally posted on Facebook–December, 2012

Monty: Why did you say that I was a loser?

Simon Wilder: Winners forget they’re in a race, they just love to run. You try too hard.

~From With Honors (1994)

This evening, I took a break from studying and watched what is one of my favorite—if not my favorite—movie, With Honors, starring Joe Pesci (Simon Wilder) and Brendan Fraser (Monty Kessler).  The character of Monty Kessler is a driven, highly motivated Harvard student, whole-heartedly focused on graduating “with honors” (Summa Cum Laude) from the renowned institution. The last hurdle for Monty in achieving his goal is to complete his senior thesis.  Without getting too inundated with details, Simon Wilder, a bum who lives on the campus, comes upon the only rough draft of Monty’s not-yet-completed —only 88 pages…well, now 82 page—senior thesis.  Intent on reacquiring his senior thesis, Monty—who wants to get into government to help people—treats Simon as “less than human,” having him evicted from the boiler room of the Harvard library…during the cold of Winter. Simon ultimately leverages the thesis draft to survive the winter with Monty’s help. Continue reading