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Family Reconciliation At Last
Posted On 06/13/2008 16:23:05

Hello folks!


Its been a while since i've last blogged, but nothing interesting has been going on until now!


After about eight years of simmering problems and resentments, I actually reconciled issues with my own brother!  He lives in Detroit (and I live in Phoenix), and our differences started with, of all things, our spirituality - which is why I write this blog.


You see, we were raised Catholic - he became very very devout in his Catholic faith, and I converted to a Protestant denomination.  And, lo and behold, that is where our problems started.  For eight years we actually argued over the same differences between faiths that have often divided entire nations.


But this past week I learned an important lesson, and I want to share it with you:  Our personal connection with God is not to be used as an excuse to divide us and cause strife!  It amazes me that people, like myself and my brother, can take a beautiful thing like our Faith and turn it into a wedge between relationships.


Christians must unite!  We need to put aside minor differences in doctrine, or at least keep them in proper perspective, and understand that we are all brothers and sisters in Christ.  To act otherwise is to do disservice to each other and to God. 


If my brother and I can learn this, anyone can! 


Take care


Rick


My 30th Blog! A Book Recommendation
Posted On 04/29/2008 18:15:33

Good morning all!  I have yet another book recommendation for you.  I am reading "Pillars Of the Earth" by Ken Follett.


This is one AWESOME book.  It is a fictional story set in the Middle Ages (around 1130AD), and focuses on a mix of people living in the fictional town of Kingsbridge, England.


It is an extremely detailed, extremely well-researched novel that vividly portrays the lifestyle, politics, religion, and day-to-day life of a varety of characters: a Catholic Bishop, a Monk, rural peasantry, nobility, etc.


The Middle Ages being what it was, the book explores the corruptions of the Catholic institution, but it takes great care to also highlight the staunch and unswerving faith and dedication of others.


Herein lies my point today:  This book has reminded me that, even faced with extremely tough and daunting circumstances, there were those people of faith that continued to thank God and serve God with unswerving enthusiasm.


It has reminded me to take a moment each day, despite whatever circumstances I may face, to thank the Lord for all the good he brought about in my life!


With that said, I highly recommend reading this book, if your interested in great historical fiction!


Have a great week!


Rick


Approach Life With A Smile!
Posted On 04/11/2008 17:42:58

Good morning!


Those of you who have read my previous blogs know that I frequently talk about the importance of facing life, people, and situations with confidence, happiness and sincerity, and NOT to face life with anger, depression, cynicism or sarcasm!


Well I came across an article at a Catholic website, www.spiritdaily.com, that fully supports my approach to life!  I present the contents of their article here:


APPROACHING LIFE WITH NICENESS AND SMILE DISARMS EVEN THOSE WHO MAY BE HOSTILE


When compassion is around us and when it is projected to others, it disarms even those who are hostile. The key is to approach every person with a mouth that curves upward. Mother Teresa said that "holy living consists of doing God’s work with a smile."


She also said that the smile on a child was God’s love.


A smile points the mouth, eyes, and soul up to God.


A bit of advice here: imitate the angels, who are usually described with lips upturned and whose love radiates a sense of strength in all circumstances.


A smile is a powerful spiritual tool because it announces that we are of a benevolent disposition (when there is true emotion behind it), and allows us to stop focusing so much on ourselves. It’s only when we have pride that we become sullen and engulfed in depression, which comes from self-absorption. We are self-possessed before we are oppressed by the enemy. And it does nothing to help our eternity.


Self-absorption leads to purgatory because it carries over to the afterlife.


Being nice is important in spiritual development, glorifies the Lord, and unlocks the door to what God has in store for us.


It means to be considerate. It means to see through the eyes of those we encounter.


It means to place others ahead of ourselves.


And it means mundane things like being punctual. To be kind is to be considerate, helpful, and make every effort to lift another person’s day – to affect other lives for the better.


We could change the world if this happened with just a small percentage of us.


Such is announced with a smile, which says "I like you and wish you no harm."


In Scripture it tells us that a kind word turns away wrath. So does a smile.


If we have abandoned ourselves, and eliminated the "self" (with joy), we’re not concerned about being "insulted."


Nor are we overly concerned with our reputations. We're diligent, yes, and careful not to offend -- but as far as what others think, that has little bearing if we have done the best we can. The only One Whose view of us should be a preoccupation is the Lord's.


An insult can only take hold if there is pride. It's the fuel of discord. It's the foundation for self-possession. We have insecurities when we have pride, which causes us to "clamp up." We frown. We turn a smile upside-down. We withdraw. With humility comes a shield and outward joy -- which pushes away evil like a plow pushes away snow.


Those with ebullient, outgoing personalities break down the pretensions of those who otherwise would be insulting. It keeps away the enemy because joy springs from love, love is God, Who is also Light, and light dispels darkness.


See?  What did I tell ya?!


Take care,


Rick 


Changing Your Life
Posted On 04/03/2008 20:29:06
A man's heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps. —Proverbs 16:9

 

That's my Bible quote of the day.  I spotted it at the "Our Daily Bread" website in today's devotional, and it really spoke to my emotional state today.

 

As usual, I have numerous important decisions coming up in the next few months, which will have a big impact on my life and future:  My apartment lease is coming due, shall I move?  My job contract is coming due.  Shall I change jobs, or bargain to stay where I am at now?  My family in NY wants me to visit.  Shall I dedicate the money to fly out, or save up now and go next year?  etc, etc.

 

Having big decisions always coming my way used to really get me depressed.  I used to feel like I would make the wrong decision, no matter what I decided!

 

However, when I got saved, all of that changed!  I trained myself to trust in the Lord for all of my big decisions.  I pray and meditate on ALL of these things now.  I sleep on it, pray some more, and then, finally, I make the decision that is spoken to my heart.

 

By relying on the Lord to direct my steps, I am much happier, and feel much more secure - I know that, come what may, the decision I made is part of His plan!  No more stressing on "what if...", "if only..." and other stress-traps! 

 

Try it out!  I guarantee a happier life if you put it to practice!

 

Take care,

Rick

keeping your commitments
Posted On 03/07/2008 22:22:36

There's alot to be said about hangin' out with the right people.  Its amazing how much of an influence the behavior of your friends and acquaintances can be on your own behavior.  This is a lesson I learned the hard way over the years, where I developed a crippling drug habit, which was often helped aloong and nurtured by a gaggle of drug-using "friends".  I dont blame them for my habit, I'm just saying that I could have probably wrestled myself free of my downward spiral sooner if I hadn't surrounded myself with others that were just as badly deluded about drugs.


On the Christian Post website, I found a nice devotional about the influence of others, and how they can effect our committment to God.  It recalls the relationship between Abraham and Lot, and I reprint it here below:


" 'Look how far you have fallen from your first love! Turn back to me again and work as you did at first. . . .' " —Revelation 2:5


At first glance, you might think that Abraham and his nephew Lot were both spiritual men. But a closer examination reveals that this was not the case.


You see, Abraham lived for God. Lot, on the other hand, lived for himself. Abraham walked in the Spirit. Lot walked in the flesh. Abraham lived by faith. Lot lived by sight. And most significantly, Abraham walked with God, and Lot walked with Abraham.


Unfortunately, because of Lot's half-hearted commitment to the Lord, he was becoming a spiritual drain on Abraham. The relationship they had was pulling Abraham down. That is why, earlier in Genesis, God said to Abraham, "Leave your country, your relatives, and your father's house, and go to the land that I will show you" (Genesis 12:1).


But Abraham was reluctant to part ways with Lot. When a famine came, Abraham actually went down to Egypt. It was a definite step backward. But Abraham eventually came to his senses and realized he was in a backslidden state. He decided to return to God and to the place where He had called him.


Sadly for Abraham, he reaped in the years ahead the results of that wrong choice. It was in Egypt that a woman named Hagar became Sarah's servant. Abraham ended up having a child with Hagar. The child's name was Ishmael, and conflicts between his descendents and the descendents of Isaac continue to this very day.


Have ungodly influences been wearing you down lately? Has a certain relationship or pursuit become a spiritual drain in your life? Have you been compromising? Then make a change. It isn't too late.

Good stuff, no?  Take care,  Rick

 


 


Time, flowing like a river...
Posted On 03/05/2008 10:23:06

Greetings!  I have been duly chastised by a few friends for not blogging lately, but MAN I sometimes get sooo BUSY!  This has inspired me to write a quick blog about "time management".


Unfortunately, time management is NOT my strong suit - I would probably be 5 minutes late to my own funeral!  And spiritually, I am hard-pressed to think of any nice Bible quote to inspire me on a better path to budgeting my time!   Perhaps one of y'all can point me to a nice scriptural passage on this topic?


Here's the best I could do:


Therefore be very careful how you live – not as unwise but as wise, taking advantage of every opportunity, because the days are evil. For this reason do not be foolish, but be wise by understanding what the Lord’s will is. And do not get drunk with wine, which is debauchery, but be filled by the Spirit....


 I dunno.  I get caught in the same time-trap everytime - on the one hand: "stop and smell the roses".  On the other hand: "spend wisely both time and money" (that's not a famous quote, i just made that one up ).  I prayed on this last night, and the clearest answer I could get was to "measure my day's priorities with a Christian yardstick, and apportion my time accordingly".  So that's pretty much the answer I expected I guess. 


I am confident I will gain maturity in my time-management approach - all it takes, of course, is time .


Well gotta wrap it up here..  Be sure to take some time today to say hello to a neighbor, to hug your children, to admire a funny formation in the clouds, and to wave to a passing total stranger! Priorities, right?


Take care!


Rick 


Christian Sci-Fi Book
Posted On 02/14/2008 23:19:22

ok, one more book recommendation....


Title: Canticle for Leibowitz
Author: Walter M Miller


Winner of the 1961 Hugo Award for Best Novel and widely considered one of the most accomplished, powerful, and enduring clapplesics of modern speculative fiction, Walter M. Miller, Jr.'s A Canticle for Leibowitz is a true landmark of twentieth-century literature -- a chilling and still-provocative look at a post-apocalyptic future. In a nightmarish ruined world slowly awakening to the light after sleeping in darkness, the infant rediscoveries of science are secretly nourished by cloistered monks dedicated to the study and preservation of the relics and writings of the blessed Saint Isaac Leibowitz. From here the story spans centuries of ignorance, violence, and barbarism, viewing through a sharp, satirical eye the relentless progression of a human race dagnabited by its inherent humanness to recelebrate its grand foibles and repeat its grievous mistakes.


I borrowed the description from amazon.  I read this book a few years ago and LOVED it.  Very very unique tale of a post-nuclear-war world where Catholic monks replay their once-medieval roles as the preservers of lost civilization thru a dark age.  Awesome stuff!!


Enjoy!  Rick 


 


 


 


Another great book!!
Posted On 02/14/2008 15:11:58

Good morning all, and happy Valentine's Day!


Those of you who read my blogs know that I like to read, and recommend, all kinds of Christian literature - everything from Christian Sci-Fi to Apologetics.  Here is another one - from the "Christian Sci-Fi" genre, along with a little summary about it that I copied off of Amazon:


Title: Father Elijah
Author: Michael D O'Brien


Summary: Written in the mid-90s, and set at the end of the 20th century, Father Elijah is an apocalyptic novel exploring the state of the modern world and religious scene by following the experiences of Fr. Elijah Schafer, a Carmelite priest on a secret mission for the Vatican which embroils him in a series of crises and subterfuges affecting the ultimate destiny of the Church.


This is a GREAT book.  The main character, Father Elijah, is tasked by the Pope himself to confront the most popular and vastly popular world leader in history (yes, the antichrist), in order to offer him forgiveness and re-entry into the Christian fold. WOW, whatta read it was!! I HIGHLY recommend this book


I have one more recommendation today that I will place in another blog..


Take care,


Rick


can't sleep!
Posted On 02/09/2008 11:25:19

OK, I can't sleep.  It is 4:00 in the morning here, so I decided to blog instead!


My church group is having a big "yard sale" that is actually a HUGE sale of donated stuff.  It starts tomorrow morning and I am on the staff that runs the show!


All of the money from the sale goes to the Arizona Reservation Ministries here in Phoenix, which helps out the local Native Americans on the reservation here.  They desperately need road repair and school/church supplies, so we're trying to help 'em out.


It is lotsa fun, I love doing it!  But, I need to be there at 6:30am, so here I sit, ready to go at 4:00!  YIkes!


Well anyway, have a great day everyone!  God bless you all this fine weekend!


RIck




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