Building Community (Part Two) 10/08/11 through 10/11/11

I’m compiling the timeline of my tweets on the topic of building community, in order to capture the thread of my thoughts for you to read in this series of blog postings! ¬†ūüôā Cheers, Mark @livelovethinkex

10/08/11 – “community must dedicate…time…resources to..cause” Local program cuts youth drinking, violence: study – Yahoo! News http://yhoo.it/nVzwVP¬†

10/08/11 – ¬†Everyplace is special in its own right…people, language, culture, custom, tradition, geography and climate…all blend to create…beauty!

10/08/11 – ¬†We work to build a peaceful world…so the beauty of people and places can be seen and enjoyed by everyone…what could be more vital today?

10/09/11 –¬†Society has gone terribly wrong…when CEOs take away millions for doing a lousy job…and the masses…can’t even find minimum wage jobs…

10/09/11 –¬†Live your life with love and compassion for all hearts…no matter who they are, how they are or where they are…and know, you have lived.

10/09/11 –¬†To love everyone with compassion, empathy and understanding…as Jesus taught us to do…challenges everything I see, know and understand…

10/09/11 – If I do nothing but love in this life…with caring, kindness, gentleness and understanding…I will know I have done done my best, to live.¬†¬†

10/09/11 –¬†Life is too short not to try everything our hearts dream of doing…for to have tried is to live…and living is all we can ask for in life!

10/09/11 –¬†If your heart leads you to go beyond your imagination…to do the impossible, follow it anyway…it’s only impossible, until you’ve done it.

10/09/11 –¬†To love everyone is difficult…because while my heart understands…my mind doesn’t…all my mind sees…are the problems of the world…

10/09/11 –¬†My heart follows the passions of love…and overrules my mind…so perhaps by the end of my days…I will have taught my mind to truly love.

10/09/11 –¬†I don’t live in an Ivory Tower…or in La La Land…my life is not all Peaches and Cream…but I committed to loving you…and the world…

10/09/11 –¬†Despite my faults and failures, it’s Jesus’ saving grace…that allows me to love you all unconditionally, for He taught my heart to love…

10/10/11 –¬†Good morning all! Live with authenticity…reach out without a safety net…be the person you dream you can be…fully present, in today! ūüôā

10/10/11 –¬†@Tzadhiqua¬†If everyone comes together, to love and support one another…so everyone succeeds…we can solve all the problems of the world!

10/10/11 –¬†God has allowed thorns in my side…so I would go beyond hypocrisy and lip service…to know what it really means…to love everyone…

10/10/11 –¬†My earliest memory started me on a journey of discovery…of understanding, empathy, diversity and tolerance…a journey lasting a lifetime.

10/10/11 –¬†@Tzadhiqua¬†Thanks Tzadhiqua! All we need is love…to change the world…one heart at a time. Enjoy your beautiful Maui! ūüôā Cheers, Mark

10/10/11 –¬†@LindaBorgen¬†Thanks Sis! ūüôā Imagine how beautiful our world would be, if we walked in faith…and always reached out to one another in love!

10/10/11 –¬†@living4bliss¬†Saundra, I’ll always support diversity, tolerance and understanding, because there is no other way to live Truth and love! ūüôā

10/10/11 –¬†@Tzadhiqua¬†Thank you for your reply Tzadhiqua…if we all focus on love…the world can become the beautiful oasis…we know it can be! ūüôā

10/11/11 –¬†Good morning all! ūüôā Today’s word is diversity…we are all beautifully unique, individually and wonderfully made by God…celebrate You! ūüôā

10/11/11 –¬†@living4bliss¬†Society is experiencing a perfect storm of abundance, shortage, excess, waste, debt, privilege, want, need and incompetence…

10/11/11 –¬†@living4bliss¬†The center is losing ground and finally finding their voice, as they cling to middle class…threatened daily, with poverty…

10/11/11 – @living4bliss¬†The divide grows in society between the “haves” and the “have nots”…between luxury and poverty…and people are suffering…¬†

10/11/11 –¬†@living4bliss¬†In the midst of scarcity and suffering…we must remember our humanness…tolerance, understanding, caring and love…for all.

10/11/11 –¬†@living4bliss¬†We need to celebrate diversity, alleviate suffering, promote tolerance, encourage understanding…and truly love one another.

10/11/11 –¬†The very concept of building community requires a desire for everyone to win…it’s not what can I get…it’s how do we all gain together…

10/11/11 –¬†Building community requires that everyone have a voice…from the developer, city council member…to the homeless person on the streets…

10/11/11 –¬†Building community has to be organic and locally derived, within context, history, culture and geography…it can’t be imposed on anyone…

10/11/11 –¬†Building community is like writing music…using rhyme, verse, metre, improvvisato and harmony…to create a symphony out of people’s lives.

10/11/11 –¬†Community is a cultural and social essence, an atmosphere of sweetness, romance, excitement…of place, setting, mood, spirit and enjoyment.

10/11/11 –¬†It is the very essence and atmosphere of community…the romance of people, place and setting…that brings films and novels…to life…

10/11/11 –¬†Community weaves lives, stories, hopes, dreams, ambitions, failures and romance together…creating the texture and fabric…of our lives…

10/11/11 –¬†E pluribus unum “Out of many, one” defines community…a sum greater than its parts…of lives, infrastructure, inspiration and cooperation.

10/11/11 –¬†Celebrate people, not wealth…opportunity, not barriers…potential, not limitation…ideas, not ideology…understanding, not opposition.

10/11/11 –¬†Each and every person is valuable and precious…and should have every opportunity…to be themselves, excel in life and live their dreams.

10/11/11 –¬†Step out of your paradigm and look through the lens and perspective of love…without ideology or labels…to see everyone’s individuality.

10/11/11 –¬†To celebrate our humanity…without ideology…is the essence of what it means to fully live…as the unique, diverse family of mankind…

10/11/11 –¬†Strip away pretense and appearances…image and status…ease and comfort…to be just as we are…vulnerable, weak and precious…to God…

Building Community (Part One) 10/04/11 through 10/08/11

I’ve compiled the timeline so far of my tweets on the topic of building community, in order to capture the thread of my thoughts! ūüôā Cheers, Mark @livelovethinkex

10/04/11 – If we can build a community of loving hearts on twitter…why can’t we extend that to the entire world? The only thing lacking is effort…

10/05/11 – How can we create an ideal community where everyone belongs and no one is left behind…yet maintain all the social freedoms we enjoy today?

10/05/11 –¬†I like to ponder things and find solutions to problems…no one should have to draw the short stick in a free, open and democratic society.

10/05/11 –¬†So tonight, I begin to consider ways to build a better world…within the context of a free and democratic society…where everyone wins…

10/05/11 –¬†My technique is to throw ideas on the table…as I’m inspired to think of them over time…removing them only once they’ve been ruled out…

10/05/11 –¬†Tonight I only consider a few points…my sense of community relates to cities, large or small…and change must be generated from within.

10/05/11 –¬†Government is the most inefficient and costly way to generate change…instead change must be cooperative and community based to be viable.

10/05/11 –¬†The entire community needs to buy into change and have skin in the game…rich and poor, young and old alike…to build a better community.

10/05/11 –¬†What does change look like? Change is defined by a community…by laying out a blueprint for everyone’s success within an ideal environment.

10/05/11 –¬†Imagine a city bidding for the Olympic Games…and instead turning the focus into building community…a framework for change, from within.

10/05/11 –¬†Next time I’ll consider the framework…a blueprint for making change happen…where everyone buys into a concept…so everyone is a winner.

10/07/11 –¬†To build community in an open and transparent process…everyone needs a seat at the table…to be represented and have their voice heard…

10/07/11 –¬†The process of building community…is by definition a validation of cooperation…of getting along with one another…so everyone wins…

10/07/11 –¬†Building community is actually creating an environment…like a marketplace…where everyone can go about the process of living together…

10/07/11 –¬†For community to work and gel…it has to be inclusive, organic, creative, beautiful, inspiring, uplifting, exhilarating, exciting and fun!

10/08/11 –¬†Building community is an investment in hearts, lives, hope, understanding, opportunity, potential, talent and love…for a better tomorrow!

10/08/11 –¬†A community is a bonding of hearts…through infrastructure, atmosphere, support, encouragement and opportunity…for everyone’s benefit…

10/08/11 –¬†I love the idea of community…because I’ve so rarely experienced it…only my Seattle years in ’77-79…gave me a feeling of belonging…

10/08/11 –¬†I’ve visited many of the world’s greatest cities…London, Paris, NYC…I’ve never been part of them, but felt a connection to all of them.

10/08/11 –¬†So in my ponderings…I hope to outline a concept of community…to help people feel they belong…wherever they find themselves in life…

10/08/11 – It’s been serendipity for me, to have found and enjoyed a sense of community through twitter and Klove.com, my thanks to all of you! ūüôā Mark

Following Your Heart’s Desires

(Updated on July 11, 2010)

Today I was distracted by my thoughts for awhile and took a trip to the world of my, “Heart’s Desires.”¬† This is a place¬†where I often dwell, sometimes for only a moment¬†and other times I linger¬†there for longer; never knowing when I‚Äôll have the opportunity to return – or to even someday move to the land of my heart’s desires.¬† For you see, this isn’t just some imaginary place that has no relation to reality – I have had a lot of experience in my life with dreams – and with making my dreams come true.¬† Perhaps it is my unique approach that has allowed many of my dreams to come true; but whatever it is that has helped me to accomplish my dreams –¬†I would like to say “thank you” to everyone that helped me along the way –¬†and to God¬†for allowing¬†my dreams¬†to come true.

So today I thought I’d share with you a little about my approach to dreams and to following your heart’s desires.¬† First of all, the dreams that I dreamed were my very¬†own dreams, that were part of¬†the very fabric of my being that I was very passionate about.¬† The first aspect of following your dreams is that¬†they have to be real and authentic – not borrowed from someone else or just tried on for size.¬† My success is primarily the result of not knowing any better, because I really believed that¬†if I decided that I wanted to accomplish something –¬†I could.¬† No questions asked.¬† I had no idea how I would accomplish my dreams, but I just set out to accomplish them anyway.¬† Anyone else would have said that I was foolish, that it couldn’t be done and I’d fall flat on my face – and plenty of people thought and said exactly that.¬† Remember, it’s your dream and your heart’s desire – and despite the odds and the naysayers, if you¬†really desire¬†to do something –¬†you can accomplish it.¬† I avoided failure for the most part because I didn’t know any better…I just figured it would work out somehow – and it did.

Perhaps a few examples will illustrate my own experience.¬† In Junior High School I decided that I wanted to be a Vet.¬† When I was rejected by the College of Veterinary Medicine at Michigan State University years later –¬†I thought that I had failed.¬† Yet close to 20 years after failing to get into Vet School, I suddenly realized that I had indeed become a Vet – a Veteran of the Persian Gulf War.¬† What I hadn’t done¬†during the course of my life¬†was to complete the picture of what success in this case – becoming a Vet – would actually look like.¬† My success in becoming a Vet in this manner was more rewarding for me than¬†getting into Vet School ever could have been.

Another example is that as a¬†teenager I wanted to live a life of adventure.¬† I didn’t know how, where or what…or how¬†I could possibly afford it; but it was my heart’s desire and looking back I’ve had all the adventure and more than I ever dreamed of.¬† Plenty of people thought my adventures were foolish and told me so – but they were my desires – so how could they know?¬† So I just did them.¬† I wanted to bicycle around the country and left with Bruce and¬†a little money and just headed out into the great unknown without a safety net.¬†¬†Almost a year¬†and 8,000 miles later, we had¬†accomplished our adventure¬†and done what we set out to do.¬† I flew to England on an “open return” ticket to bicycle around the U.K. and Europe and just did it – not having a clue how it would turn out.¬†¬†As¬†just a regular guy standing on the sidewalk¬†I wanted to fly the F-4 and threw caution to the wind and joined the Air Force.¬† Not only did I fly the F-4D/E/G but also the F-111E/G and the F-16D.¬† The patch I designed in Nav School said, “To Boldly Go Where No Nav Has Gone Before” – and that’s what I accomplished because I didn’t know that I couldn’t – I just did it bit-by-bit over 20 years.¬† Some dreams take a while to accomplish, and only after chipping away at the edges do you discover – years¬†later – that what you set out to do earlier you actually accomplished.¬† I had forgotten that patch I designed, and it was when I scanned it for the blog that it struck me…what I had designed into that patch – was what I had succeeded in accomplishing.

I wanted to be a songwriter and ended up writing over two hundred copyrighted songs.¬† I accomplished my goal and am very proud of them.¬† It was my goal and I did what I had set out to do – not knowing if I would write a few or many – I just started writing songs.¬† I¬†also wanted to write stories and ended up writing my autobiography.¬† People said, “You’re not famous – how can you have an autobiography at the age of 38?”¬† I wanted to write, and I had something to say – so I just¬†wrote my story.¬† It was my goal and my accomplishment…and I didn’t ask anyone’s permission to do it.¬† It¬†may not be published and for sale in a book store, but now it’s on the internet and anyone, anywhere in the world can read it – for free!¬† At least once I finish posting all of it.¬† I wanted to take photographs and now I’m posting¬†thousands of my own photos on the internet for free.¬† I¬†don’t look to make money off of anything, but¬†only to share my story for anyone that’s interested to read it.¬† The point is that if you have a goal or a desire of your heart – just follow it and enjoy the journey.¬† You don’t have to know or understand how you will¬†accomplish it; but after putting one foot in front of the other¬†for a while you will someday look¬†back over your shoulder and see that you’ve come a¬†long way toward accomplishing your dream.¬† My wife and I had to overcome some significant obstacles to get married, and despite those hurdles we’ve succeeded for the past 24 years…and our son is proof positive that it was the best decision we’ve ever made.¬† We just did it regardless of the problems that lay ahead ‚Äď for better…or for worse ‚Äď and succeeded.¬† It was our dream and our goal…and we have lived it and loved it.

The point of it all is that in order to accomplish your dreams and the desires of your heart, you have to have a “childlike heart” and simply not listen to anyone that says you can’t do something.¬† You don’t have to know when or how, but just make the decision and go forward with an innocence and belief that anything is possible; and live life without a safety net.¬†¬†Don’t accept no for an answer and simply attack the same issue from a different angle or a different perspective.¬† Trust in your beliefs and the desires of your heart, and one day you’ll find that your dreams have indeed come true.¬† It may have been through your own efforts, through someone else’s help and assistance – or through God’s¬†Will that it be done – or most likely all of the above.

Here is what God said to Solomon in 2 Chronicles 1 in the New International Version of the Bible (quote used by permission):

“7 That night God appeared to Solomon and said to him, “Ask for whatever you want me to give you.”

8 Solomon answered God, “You have shown great kindness to David my father and have made me king in his place. 9 Now, LORD God, let your promise to my father David be confirmed, for you have made me king over a people who are as numerous as the dust of the earth. 10 Give me wisdom and knowledge, that I may lead this people, for who is able to govern this great people of yours?”

11 God said to Solomon, “Since this is your heart’s desire and you have not asked for wealth, riches or honor, nor for the death of your enemies, and since you have not asked for a long life but for wisdom and knowledge to govern my people over whom I have made you king, 12 therefore wisdom and knowledge will be given you. And I will also give you wealth, riches and honor, such as no king who was before you ever had and none after you will have.””

God does know the desires of your heart and He wants to be able to give them to you; but you also have a role to play that is critical to the outcome.¬† You must search your heart¬†and know that your desires are for all the right reasons and all the right purposes.¬† Only then, after you ponder and pray that God would give you the desires of your heart; do you wait and listen for the answer to be given to you.¬† Since they are your heart’s desires – only you can recognize God’s response to your prayers.¬† Then you must act and follow through with faith that God will provide all that you need – and¬†He is the only safety net you require.

In Christ,

Mark

The Twelve Days of Christmas, Auld Lang Syne and New Year’s Resolutions

The early morning hours of New Year's Day 2008 in our home.

During Advent and the Christmas season, I love all of the traditional Christmas music that is played this time of year, both on the local “Christmas” radio station and from our own collection at home.¬† The Twelve Days of Christmas ends on January 6th, which is Epiphany or Three King’s¬†Day – the traditional day that marks the arrival of the three Wise Men, or Magi,¬†bringing gifts¬†from afar for the Christ Child – “revealing”¬†Jesus to the world as Lord and King.

The season of Christmas has dual meanings¬†for many, as traditional¬†secular holidays and religious days of observance overlap¬†during the same time frame.¬† Other faiths and traditions also observe this¬†time of the year¬†in special¬†ways as well.¬† While some celebrate in either a secular or religious way, many of us celebrate by respecting both the secular and the religious during the same season.¬† For me, Santa Claus is very real indeed, and I truly believe that anyone can be Santa Claus –¬†on any given day of the year;¬†by giving unexpected gifts¬†that meet someone’s very real need – at the time of that need.

This is a season of celebration, prayer, sentiment, memories and New Year’s¬†Resolutions.¬† Besides traditional religious Christmas songs, our favorite CD at home is Amy Grant’s “The Christmas Collection;” which has our favorite Christmas song, “Tennessee Christmas” – which is originally from her album, “A Christmas Album.”¬† “Tennessee Christmas” has been our favorite modern Christmas song ever since we first¬†listened to¬†it.¬† Other sentimental favorites of mine are: Amy Grant’s version of “Grown-Up Christmas List;” Dan Fogelberg’s “Same Old Lang Syne;” Kenny Logins’ “Celebrate Me Home;”¬†Emerson, Lake¬†& Palmer’s “I Believe in Father Christmas;” John Lennon’s “Happy Xmas (War Is Over);” Faith Hill’s “Where Are You Christmas;” Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas;” Josh Groban’s “I’ll Be Home For Christmas;” Mariah Cary’s “All I Want For Christmas Is You;” and Straight No Chaser’s¬† a cappella¬†“The¬†12 Days Of Christmas.”

In the middle of The¬†Twelve Days of Christmas, is the celebration of New Year’s Eve;¬†where we¬†reflect on¬†years past and the New Year now just beginning.¬† As we get older we pause to consider¬†on New Year’s Eve all that we’ve been through,¬†what could have been but never was…¬†and the future yet to be.¬† People sing “Auld Lang Syne”¬†– for old times sake – written by Robert Burns in 1788 (courtesy of Wikipedia):¬†“Should old acquaintance be forgot, and never brought to mind?¬† Should old¬†acquaintance be forgot, and old lang syne?¬† For auld lang syne, my dear, for auld lang syne, we’ll take a cup of kindness yet, for auld lang syne.”¬†¬†As¬†I ponder this past year, I reflect back to January 29, 2009; when I¬†started this blog with my first post, “Welcome To My World!”¬† Little did I know or guess how far I would have come by this time, or imagine how much joy¬†I could get from sharing the events of my life with all of you.¬† The internet is an amazing invention, and the ability to connect with people around¬†the planet simply defies logic – but it happens every day around the world.¬† If but one person decides to live the life of their dreams based on reading this account of mine –¬†then everything I’ve posted here will have been well worth the effort.

A few years ago by brother suggested to me that I should write a book based on¬†all that I’ve done.¬† My immediate response was that someone can do that posthumously when I’m gone.¬† As I pondered that thought over time, I realized that despite having started my autobiography, “In Search of the Meaning of Life”¬†back in 1994 – that even my immediate family¬†wouldn’t be able to piece together all of the events and interests of my life after I’m gone.¬† So when this opportunity to start a blog was suggested to me, it became the ideal conduit to organize my life for my family, as well as¬†for anyone else that is interested.¬† Now as I approach the New Year, I ponder what is in store for our family, this blog and the greater world around us in 2010; and think about how my upcoming New Year’s Resolution can integrate all three in a positive and unified way.¬† Because in the end, our lives aren’t about being rich, successful or famous according to the world’s standards; but it’s God’s standards that we should aspire to instead.¬† Here is a quote from St. Augustine¬†of Hippo,¬†courtesy of WorldofQuotes.com:

“Picture God as saying to you, ‘My son, why is it that day by day you rise, and pray, and genuflect, and even strike the ground with your forehead, nay sometimes even shed tears, while you say to Me: ‘My Father, give me wealth!’ If I were to give it to you, you would think yourself of some importance, you would fancy that you had gained something very great. Because you asked for it, you have it. But take care to make good use of it. Before you had it, you were humble; now that you have begun to be rich you despise the poor. What kind of a good is that which only makes you worse? For worse you are, since you were bad already. And that it would make you worse you knew not; hence you asked it of Me. I gave it to you, and I proved you; you have found — and you have found out! Ask of Me better things than these, greater things than these. Ask of Me spiritual things. Ask of Me Myself!'”

In each of us God has planted a dream which holds a purpose and significance because He has chosen it for us, knowing that it would both agree with our inner nature and also serve Him as part of¬†His greater plan.¬† So in the end it is up to us to understand this dream and passion that we all hold within our very souls…and follow it as far as it takes us – because in following it we are doing God’s greater purpose in the world.¬† We may not understand that purpose or see it revealed in our own lifetimes, but that is not ours to determine – only God’s.¬† So in this Christmas season as we¬†celebrate the revealing of Jesus as Lord and King…and Savior – let us all thank Him for all that He has done for us, and continue to search out His purpose for our lives in order to make the New Year a better one than the year before…for all our sakes.¬† Happy New Year and all¬†the best in 2010 – from our family to yours!¬† ūüôā

Cheers,

Mark

Perspectives On Behavior, Love and Forgiveness

While sitting at an outdoor cafe, a very interesting¬†pastime¬†is to “people watch” as¬†folks walk through the public square, wherever you find yourself to be –¬†in the mall, walking across campus, in an urban setting or¬†on a lunch break outside on a nice spring day.¬† This is perfectly normal behavior and can be very entertaining as well.¬† You learn a lot about people through observation, and this is¬†completely normal behavior that society approves of.¬† If that behavior crosses a line into¬†harassing people, stalking people and¬†spying on¬†people – society has every right and expectation to get involved through¬†mandating accepted codes of behavior, handing out restraining orders and enforcing existing or passing new¬†laws.

Behavior can generally be described from two¬†separate perspectives –¬†individual perspectives and societal perspectives – and involves everything we do in our daily lives while in public and at work.¬† As individuals, we are always observing other people’s behaviors, and through those observations we assess if that behavior is deemed acceptable and appropriate within the context the behavior occurs.¬† Society has a vested interest in¬†both public and private behavior when it comes to protecting individual rights and¬†maintaining and protecting the health and welfare of all its individuals.¬† The difference between individual and societal perspectives concerning¬†people’s behavior, is one of degree – the individual can observe and report behavior that is inappropriate, and society can judge, restrict and¬†stop behavior deemed to be against the public good.¬† The¬†dividing lines and¬†boundaries¬†between the rights and¬†responsibilities of individuals and society often are¬†matters of disagreement –¬†various shades of gray –¬†and disputes are often very difficult to settle.¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†

We consider ourselves to be a “free people” – but how free is free –¬†and¬†exactly where our¬†personal freedom becomes¬†an imposition on others is often in dispute.¬† From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, the text of the second section of the Declaration of Independence reads, “We hold these Truths to be self evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”¬† This is often informally translated into lay terms by average citizens¬†as, “I can do anything I want as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone else.”¬† But who is the interpreter of the behavior and its effects on others?¬† Is it the person who is committing the behavior at question, the person who considers themselves to be affected by it, or is it society as a whole that determines certain standards and sets the rules that we are to live by?

If a driver doesn’t wear a seat belt or a motorcycle helmet, does society have the right, or responsibility, to outlaw this behavior – especially if it is paying the medical expenses and salaries of rescue personnel who must respond after an accident occurs?

If the cigarette smoke from smoking in your apartment or condo is pulled through a common ventilation system in the building, can society ban that behavior from affecting other units within the same building?

Should society protect children and the elderly from potentially abusive situations?

Can or should society mandate immunizations, school curriculum and standards, emission standards, and gun laws?

Should society protect the lives of the most innocent among us, the unborn Рand provide them with the rights and life that everyone else deserves?

Where does our or someone else’s freedom end and the rights of society begin?¬† Is that line fixed and static, or is it movable and pliable from issue to issue and from region to region?

Is marriage a contract, a civil benefit, a religious expression, a historical carry-over from a different era?  Can the rights of marriage be transferred to anyone or are marriage rights a benefit that society gives to only certain members for the future benefit of children which need extra protection due to their fragile state in life?  If the definition of marriage is changeable or variable, will it morph into something completely unrecognizable over time into a caricature of what it once was?  How are we to determine, as a society what is acceptable and what is not acceptable behavior?

I believe that society needs to take individual issues and distill them into their fundamental basic elements and decide based on moral, ethical and legal aspects of the fundamental issues:

If society has a reasonable expectation of paying a cost resulting from a behavior (for medical expenses and rescue personnel) then society has the right to establish laws that mandate behavior to limit exposure to harmful outcomes based on that behavior.

Society has a right to expect an educated population and to provide schools and raise funding for them, but not the right to mandate how and what students are to learn or think.

The most helpless members of society, those who can’t¬†¬†help themselves, require extra protection from society because it is the right thing to do morally: the unborn, children, the sick and the elderly.¬† Life is always precious, in all of its forms and needs to be protected: the unborn, humans, animals, marine life¬†and in many respects¬†plants – in the form of nature preserves.¬† When an issue is brought up, the weight of the consideration always has to fall on protecting life.¬† Even livestock, raised for the sole purpose of consumption, need to be treated to humane living conditions.

The Constitution provides for the right for individuals to bear arms, so gun laws are not constitutional.  Laws concerning the actions of gun owners and the illegal use of guns can be enforced however, because individuals have the right to protect themselves just as society has the expectation and right to be protected from gun violence.

Marriage should be broken down into two fundamental rights – religious expression and the social benefits “contract” of marriage.¬† Any two people should be allowed to¬†join together¬†in a “civil union” in order to secure the rights and benefits that society decides are to be given to couples that are committed to each other.¬† Society¬†has the right to limit this to simply two individual adults, and to allow them certain social benefits that marriage brings.¬† To award social benefits to only certain individuals based on specific gender combinations and not to others is discriminatory and wrong.¬† Every¬†committed couple¬†should have a civil contract that bestows the rights and responsibilities that society extends to any committed couple – civil union or marriage.¬†¬†Religious expression is a separate matter, and anyone that wishes to include a religious expression into a marriage, as defined by their faith, ¬†can do so in a secondary forum of the¬†religion of their choosing.¬† Faith and belief in a religion is a personal choice and¬†an expression some couples choose to pursue.¬† The religious ceremony is secondary to¬†society’s proper jurisdiction over contracts and social benefits awarded to committed couples.¬†

There is an on-going conflict between Christians, other religious groups, and people without religious affiliation as to the direction society should take.¬† The Constitution forbids a “state religion” and provides for both the “freedom of religion” and “freedom from religion.”¬† Christians should take the view of being “in the world, but not being of the world.”¬† We can’t dictate values to other groups, just as we don’t want other groups or religions to dictate their beliefs or values on us.¬† Jesus said, “Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s.”¬† As individuals we participate in the electoral process and have the right and duty to promote causes and values that we believe in.¬† Christians as a whole do not have the right to impose our values on others – if we can’t get them passed in the voting booths across the country.

A Christian has the greatest impact in this world through demonstrating God’s love by our actions, rather than through a loud protesting voice.¬† By living our values in love, the secular world will see our values through the way we live – and from a changed heart accept them for their own.¬† Love will always do more to change hearts – and it is from changed hearts that people will choose life and choose to adopt God’s values as their own – as they see it demonstrated through us.¬† The greatest problem for the Christian community is that the secular world doesn’t see the way we live as any different than theirs – except perhaps for driving to church once a week.¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†

As individuals, we observe other people and their behaviors, and it is often very difficult not to critique their actions as we observe them in action.¬† It is interesting to note that our health “vision” is 20/20 when observing other people – their lifestyle, their healthy choices, their unhealthy¬†choices, and their addictions¬†– but we are often “blind” to our own.¬† It’s all a matter of perspective – health perspective that is.¬† It is always harder to critique ourselves objectively.¬† More often than not we are either too hard on ourselves or we live in a state of denial and rationalizations that just don’t stand up to reason.

Unhealthy lifestyles and unhealthy life choices are easy to spot in others – too easy in fact.¬† What we don’t see are the underlying issues that provide a foundation and support for the unhealthy behavior or addiction:

People who smoke often cough, hack and wheeze their way through the day, and it’s obvious that they have pulmonary issues.¬† When they go outside on a smoke break we can only shake our heads and ask ourselves why – it’s obvious to anyone that they are slowly killing themselves through their smoking.¬† What we don’t see is the physical addictive biology¬†of the nicotine, and how hard it is for them to overcome it.

Alcoholics clearly rationalize their drinking while manipulating the people in their lives in an attempt to¬†portray their drinking as a normal social behavior, and deny that they have a problem.¬† We know that they are destroying their own life as well as the lives that are close to them.¬† What we don’t see is the psychological and biological need for alcohol that fuels the addiction, and how hard it is for them to walk away from it.

In the grocery store we may see someone who is obese and whose cart is full of poor food choices – laden with sugar, calories and high cholesterol food.¬† We know that diabetes and a potential heart attack is only waiting to happen.¬† What we don’t see is the psychological loneliness that feeds this addiction to calories – and how hard it must be to feel good about yourself.

A glance at¬†the extremely thin figure of a woman tells us instinctively that she isn’t eating enough, and could very possibly be anorexic.¬† We resist the urge to tell her to eat something, anything – because her health is threatened and she is wasting away.¬† What we don’t see is the psychological burden of poor self image and low esteem, and the inner turmoil of attempting to live up to artificial appearance standards seemingly imposed on her by a cruel and callus society.

We see a drug addict, strung out and needing their next fix, and we say to ourselves that they better get their act together or they won’t live much longer.¬† What isn’t visible is their past history and the possible abuse, mistreatment, poor decisions or bad luck¬†they endured in their lives –¬†succumbing to peer pressure, cast out by family or left vulnerable in an impartial society without anyone to guide them back to safety.

The list of addictions and unhealthy lifestyle choices continues almost without end: psychotic behavior, sexual addiction, prescription medicine addiction, gambling addiction – to name only a few.¬† Name a human behavior and there is probably someone, that for some reason, can’t manage to keep it in check and in balance in their lives.¬† They don’t understand the saying, “everything in moderation” and can’t¬†handle certain behaviors without these behaviors overwhelming their lives negatively – and the lives of those they love around them.¬† What we can’t see is their¬†inability to¬†participate in life without becoming overwhelmed and thrown out of balance by an overwhelming desire to feed the¬†addiction.¬†

There are many other¬†lifestyle choices¬†that negatively affect behavior: immoral behavior, unethical behavior, manipulators, con artists, liars, cheaters, thieves, murderers, gang members, human traffickers, drug runners, etc.¬† What we don’t see and can’t know is why they feel that this lifestyle choice is an option for them.¬† What makes them feel that they can undermine society and wipe out people’s hopes, dreams and lives?

It’s easy to observe others – when we’re blind to our own lives and conditions.¬† How easy it is to analyze and critique the speck in someone else’s eye when we don’t see the log in our own.¬† It’s hard not to judge others – but we’re warned not to – because we can’t see their hearts or walk a mile in their shoes.¬† We can’t understand their perspective or feel their pain.¬† We can’t know their biology or understand their mental states.¬† Even when the action and the behavior are crystal clear and undeniable, we are never in a position to judge – because there is a storyline, a past, a history, a biological process, an addiction or a psychological issue that defies observation and analysis.

When we see someone making unhealthy lifestyle or health choices for themselves, we can discuss the issue with them and hope that they can understand how their behavior is self destructive or harmful towards others.  Often they are living in denial and rationalizing the choices they make.  Even if they know and understand the issues, they may not be able to overcome their own biology and psychology to cope and resist them.  We may conveniently overlook our own shortcomings and failures Рalways looking outside ourselves and rarely looking inside of us Рand when we do see our faults and failures we often turn a blind eye to them. 

Society can condemn the behavior through laws and values.  Society can judge and impose justice.  Society can put people away to protect society or to protect them from themselves.  Society can condemn behavior and insist on penalties and retribution for actions that undermine values, laws and civil society.  But what does the individual do?  What must we do?  How should be behave towards people and their behavior that is wrong, self-destructive, harmful, hurtful, immoral, unlawful, unethical and unconscionable?

We can never condone¬†anti-social, amoral, unethical and unlawful behavior that undermines society’s laws and rights of peaceful co-existence in freedom and¬†individual dignity.¬† We can support society’s rights to protect it’s¬†citizens from harmful behaviors that¬†other people may impose on them – willingly or unwillingly.¬† We can insist that society protect the most innocent of its members: the unborn, the young, the sick, the feeble and¬†the elderly.

And we can love.¬† We can love the unlovable.¬† We can love them despite their actions – even as we disagree with or condemn their actions¬†– because we can’t know what the root cause¬†is behind their issues.¬†¬†We don’t know their past and we don’t know their experience.¬† We don’t know their hurt or their mental capacity.¬† What we do know¬†is that they¬†need our love despite their actions – because every life is precious.¬† It is not ours as individuals to judge or condemn – that is the rightful role of society.¬† Individuals¬†can morn whatever harm or hurtful behavior¬†has been¬†committed.¬† Individuals can¬†support society’s traditional¬†role of judging and condemning hurtful or immoral behavior.¬† It is the individual’s right to choose¬†not to associate with people that act in inappropriate ways and commit acts that are against their values and or the values of society.

But it is also the individual’s greater responsible to love – unconditionally – regardless of the action or harm that was committed, no matter how terrible or unconscionable.¬† To love is always right, is always correct and is always moral.¬† To forgive is the single most merciful and powerful action that we¬†are capable of¬†as human beings –¬†as¬†it is the most moral, the most loving and the most personal of all human actions.¬† To judge is left for society to do.¬† To love is our own personal responsibility – unconditionally – despite our own¬†perspectives concerning¬†anyone’s behavior.¬† To love and to forgive bring us closer to God than we otherwise can be.¬† We¬†love and forgive¬†with the faith and hope that God will also do this for us –¬†knowing that we don’t deserve God’s loving or forgiving – because the price of our sin was already paid for, over 2000 years ago – by Jesus.

Changing Hearts

The other day, after having a conversation at work with one of my teammates, I made the comment in passing to my boss that we had, “just solved all the problems of the world” – referring to the recently concluded discussion.¬† Often times we have little phrases that are convenient when an appropriate opportunity presents itself – like passing through someone’s office – and the phrase seemed to fit the needs of the moment.¬† My conversation that took place just moments before hadn’t actually been about solving “all the world’s problems” as my little phrase had suggested, but the conversation was about life in general and how we all deal with it as individuals.¬† I really do appreciate folks that are willing to discuss issues on a deeper level than, “How’s the weather?”¬† Not that the weather isn’t important too.¬† At first glance it would have been a stretch to think that the world needn”t worry anymore about the ills that plague it, as my remark had implied.

So my boss said in return, “How about Darfur – got that one solved?”¬†¬†For a moment I was at a loss for words, and in the pause I scratched my brain a bit inside of my cranium and then said, “Of course – that’s any easy one.”¬† My boss looked back at me somewhat quizzically, awaiting some kind of explanation for my reply.¬† I said, “All you have to do is change everyone’s heart in a moment – and the problem is solved.¬† We know that people can have a change of heart, turn over a new leaf and become a new person overnight.¬† It happens every day.¬† So it’s possible that in the course of a day that everyone in the whole world could change their hearts in a moment¬†– and all of the troubles of the world could fade away overnight.¬† Essentially, it would be like Heaven on earth at that point.”

My boss just smiled, and looked at me like I wasn’t all there.¬† I told him that this topic would become a future blog article called “Changing Hearts.”¬† I’ve had a week or two to think about the topic now, and so here I am – picking up where I left off that conversation.¬† When I have a topic to write about, it is merely an idea that I have in mind.¬† I don’t outline these discussions in advance or anything – I just start writing and what I end up with –¬†is it.¬† So I haven’t explored this topic in detail – just pondered it over from time to time since then.¬†

This is an interesting topic from many different aspects.¬† We know that arrogant people consider only themselves (there are other words that we could use to describe them as well, but I’ll keep it simple and keep the focus on the topic at hand)¬†– as if there are no other priorities in the greater world around them other than their own.¬† In today’s¬†Sunday paper (I love to read newspapers), one of the insert magazines¬†had an article about the world’s¬†10 worst dictators.¬† A dictator merely takes the concept of arrogance to unimaginable levels.¬† The issue at the core of all of these arrogant people, dictators or otherwise, is the fact that they have no empathy for other people –¬†their needs, concerns, issues or place in society.¬† The arrogant person sees only themselves as the center of their universe that everything else revolves around – in a word – selfish.¬† We also call these people “hard hearted.”

So the fix for anyone that is “hard hearted” is simply a “change of heart.”¬† This is essentially the entire tenant of Christianity – to change people’s hearts and focus their attention¬†from themselves, to God the Father through His Son Jesus Christ.¬† The greatest, and most challenging, aspect of Christianity in practice is to actually “love your neighbor as yourself.”¬† We do know that it is¬†physically possible to do, and there have been real live people throughout the ages that have demonstrated that this is possible, such as Mother Theresa in India working among the poorest of the poor and those that required comforting in their final moments of life.

So I went back into my bosses’ office a few minutes after¬†my “changing hearts” comment and said, “You know, once I write this blog article about “changing hearts” it is very possible that in a matter of days everyone in the entire world could have either read it online, heard a report about it, or got the idea passed along to them from person to person to¬†person.¬† If that was the case, then everyone in the entire world could decide for themselves individually to change their hearts, and the world – in only a few days time – could live in real peace and prosperity and¬†all the problems of the world would just go away.”¬† He looked again at me with that quizzical look, and I said, “It really is possible.¬† It may just be that as we stand before God when our life is over, He may only ask us only one question:¬† What did we do in¬†our lifetime to help usher in His Kingdom on earth?¬† That would be a tough question to answer.”¬† Then I just smiled and went back to my desk.

With God, everything¬†IS possible –¬†and I think the only thing that keeps us from actually believing¬†it to be true – is our belief or lack thereof, that¬†all things¬†really¬†ARE possible through Jesus.¬† Really!

How Does Love Work?

Love is our willing and voluntary cooperation with God to allow His Unconditional gift of Love to flow into¬†our Hearts and then through us and on to other “receptive” Hearts –¬†in a never ending¬†stream that always begins with God and¬†returns once again to God.¬† How then does Love actually work?¬† To answer that question we must first define what Love is not – sex.¬† Human sexuality is¬†a complementary gift from God, but subordinate in nature to the gift of Love itself.¬† Love¬†is¬†always Unconditional,¬†never requiring any action in return except for our willingness to cooperate with Love by having an open Heart for it to work through.¬† Neither does Love put any demands on us to willingly accept God’s free gift of Love.¬†¬†Love is a free and¬†never ending¬†Unconditional gift from God that requires no sexual response from anyone for anything.¬† We Love people¬†and¬†God’s created universe through our open Hearts, independent of¬†someone’s specific situation, condition or response back to us in return: the elderly, a child, a spouse, the sick, the dying, the prisoner, the sinner and even ourselves.

Human sexuality will be discussed at another time, but in short it will suffice to say that¬†sexuality remains subordinate to the gift of Love – when used properly as a human “response to Love.”¬†¬†However, this “response to¬†Love”¬†also includes any number¬†of thousands of possible “responses to Love” – for example: exchanging kind words; showing concern and commitment for another; giving someone gifts or flowers; listening with an open mind and proper attention; sharing a meal with them;¬†withholding judgment against them; and by providing¬†them with food, clothing, shelter or financial resources for their support.¬† Many of these actions can be tied to human sexuality under the category of Romance, but¬†many of these and thousands of¬†other possible¬†“responses to Love” have no connection to either¬†Romance or sexuality.

One major problem in human society is the basic¬†truth that deception exists in our world,¬†causing many of God’s gifts to His creation to be manipulated and used for purposes other than what God intended them to be for us.¬† God’s response to us is always through Love, so nothing that¬†God provides or desires for us could ever be used in a negative way against us by Him – it is not¬†God’s nature and not even possible for¬†God to act towards us in such a manner.¬†¬†The topic of deception will be covered in detail on another day.¬†¬†However, for now, one of the most difficult things for¬†us to¬†know¬†in our daily everyday¬†lives is to be able to understand just what God’s intentions, or His Will, is for us¬†at any given¬†time.¬† Nothing ever happens by chance, and in every situation and circumstance God desires for us to grow more aware of Him and to be drawn closer to Him.¬† The nature of God will also be discussed at another time.

So how does Love work then?¬† Leaving aside what Love isn’t, now we¬†begin to examine what Love is.¬† We know that Love works in us through our Hearts because we can actually “feel”¬†Love¬†in our Heart¬†as a real, physical response to Love.¬† Love¬†can also “break” our Hearts if it is denied to us¬†or not returned.¬†¬†Someone that is without Love can be described as “hard hearted.”¬† Love is also connected very closely to our intellect, our emotions, our thoughts, our dreams and to our very Soul.¬† In fact, pure Love that is not affected by our human nature at all, actually flows through our Soul.¬† The Soul is not an actual “physical” location in our anatomy, so it is difficult to understand in concept, but suffice to say the Soul is “of God” and may return “to God” after our earthly existence is over.¬† That is why God’s Love is able to connect so deeply¬†with us, and that we are able to respond so deeply through Love back to God in return.¬† We are His creation –¬†He knows us, He recognizes us and He Loves us unconditionally;¬†and He desires for us to return to Him again one day.

We do know, from both experience and through observation, that Love flowing through Hearts or Souls united to each other actually “binds” them together in harmony and unison.¬† The two “open, available and willing” Hearts, both¬†in response to God’s Love working between them,¬†“resonate” or beat together at the same frequency¬†with each other.¬† In doing so, they recognize this intuitively and without precondition – it is an Unconditional and freely given response to each other through Love.¬† This¬†“bonding” or “binding together” process is our own unique response to God’s Love – freely given and freely returned.¬† If all of God’s¬†children could be considered¬†as if each one were a unique strand of yarn, with every person¬†assigned¬†their own¬†unique and original color all to themselves,¬†then this “binding” action between willing Hearts would actually¬†“weave” the two colored strands together to¬†create a¬†“Love fabric” of yet a third color.¬† This “fabric of a third color”¬†becomes a visual representation of Love shared and returned between two willing and cooperative Hearts.

When people Love each other,¬†for example¬†a family of three – each individual is represented by¬†their own unique color.¬†¬†A Mother, Father and a child would represent three individual and unique¬†colors – just like their own unique fingerprints.¬† Each individual, bound together with one another in the family through Love, would share a unique color with each other as well; say the child to her Mother and the child to her Father.¬† The child has¬†her own¬†color, and shares¬†a unique “fabric color” with each of her parents as well,¬†creating¬†three distinct “colors” of Love¬†in her world.¬† The same holds true for her parents.¬† In all, a¬†Loving family of three would have three unique¬†individual colors and three unique and shared “fabric colors” between them – a total of six colors in total.¬† When this family is viewed at a distance by yet another person, this person sees the “sum total” of their six colors in harmony with each other in what becomes another unique and blended “family” color.¬† If this person then shares their Love with¬†each of the three family members, then three new “shared colors” and one unique color belonging to the individual enters the palette in a response to all of the new bonds that are made between them through Love.¬† This concept of “fabrics of color” between people who allow Love to work though their Hearts¬†is how I perceive God views His created world –¬†an infinite¬†totality of colors, between Himself and all of His creation that He Loves, through connections¬†between people who allow themselves to be conduits¬†of His Love, and additionally through all who Love Him in return.¬† It has been said that God sees the “light” of His Love that¬†exists in all of us, which is in reality only a reflection back to Him of His Love that is first unconditionally given to¬†us.¬† I offer that¬†this¬†“light” of God’s Love shines in every¬†possible color¬†of the rainbow.¬† Just as God sees our individual¬†“light” shining through, we can see each other’s “light” shining through as well if we try.¬† It is God’s Love¬†for us that allows this to be so.

How do we recognize this “light” that shines in each other through the unconditional Love that flows from God?¬† We see the “light” of God’s¬†Love through¬†someone’s eyes -the windows to their very Soul.¬† Someone who loses their eyes¬†or eyesight, for whatever reason,¬†doesn’t lose their “light” of course; it only transitions to shine through their entire body instead.¬† For our discussion here, we¬†will focus on the eyes as the source of God’s Love shining through them.¬†¬†A person’s eyes are the windows to their Soul, and all manifestations of their Soul are then made visible to us through them: Love, honesty, emotion, joy, excitement, sadness, concern, anger, and every other aspect¬†of our very nature is on display through our eyes.¬† We can also see in someone else’s¬†eyes how cooperative their Heart and Soul¬†are to God’s Love and whether their Heart¬†is “open” to Love from us.¬† Our eyes reflect our “response” to Love directly from¬†the depths of our Soul, and over time we can learn to recognize that reality in other people as well.

How then do you actually see the Love or openness to Love in someone’s eyes?¬† The first “response” to Love is¬†for¬†someone to look back into your own eyes.¬† People are aware that looking into someone else’s eyes makes them vulnerable to examination, so they may look away in embarrassment, but over time¬†when they return your direct gaze they are acknowledging that they are allowing themselves to be vulnerable to your gaze in return.¬† People are emotional beings and¬†the more aware they are of their emotions the clearer the lense¬†of their eye becomes, allowing us to look¬†deeply into their Soul.¬† The further removed they are from their emotions; the harder it is to see their Soul clearly.¬† Women as a general category are much more aware of their emotions and feelings than men are, and therefore¬†women are¬†more of¬†an “open book” than men.¬† We can also¬†describe people who “wear their emotions on their sleeve” as someone who allows their emotions to “rise to the surface” in clear view for everyone to see.

Men, as a category, are completely different from women as to the clarity of their eyes, the clarity of their emotions and the clarity of their very¬†intentions – which often puts¬†anyone, men or women,¬†at an extreme disadvantage when trying to assess their response to God’s Love.¬† Men are fully capable of responding to God’s Love with an open Heart in just the same manner as women are, but¬†men do this far¬†less frequently than women do on the whole.¬† Men are “conflicted” in Western society, based on the norms expected of them in general by society, and are taught from an early age (mostly by other men) not to display their emotions; as it isn’t something that men are supposed to do.¬† The further they¬†distance themselves from their emotions, the “light” of their eyes becomes less visible to us when looking in.¬† An extreme example of this¬†are the eyes of criminals¬†and emotionally disturbed people – their eyes can actually become dark, without light.¬† The nature of God and His Love is that He continues to Love¬†someone despite their darkness, because¬†God’s¬†Love is Unconditional, regardless of our own individual failures or¬†circumstances.¬† Another problem with men as a¬†whole is that they¬†usually don’t understand the difference between Love and human sexuality. ¬†To¬†regard them as the same thing, and not recognize them as¬†the gifts from God that they actually are, is to misuse¬†both of these gifts.

Are there barriers to Love besides a¬†completely closed Heart?¬† Yes, of course.¬† The Heart automatically reacts to anything that it perceives as a “threat” to it because of our very own human nature.¬† People who would choose to hurt us, either physically or emotionally; people who are aggressive, rude, disrespectful, abusive, untruthful, deceitful or manipulative towards us; and for many, many other reasons, cause our Hearts to “pull away” from them because their actions “repulse” our basic¬†human nature.¬† It is very difficult for our human nature to remain open to others in Love, that “injure” us either physically or emotionally – because of the impurities we carry with us in our own Hearts.¬† God’s Love allows us to grow and change; removing many of the impurities that we carry with us, and create within us the¬†capability for Love to still respond to others –¬†regardless of the hurt we have incurred.¬† This is truly Love on a level that most of us are¬†never able to attain – because¬†we are unwilling to try.¬† If we are willing, God is able to do all things through us, to right every wrong, and¬†even to allow the “Lion to lie down with the Lamb.”

Are there any limits to Love?¬† No.¬† Is there really such a thing as Love “at first sight”?¬† Certainly.¬† Is “young Love” between teenagers and children possible and real?¬† Of course.¬† The difficulty in their unique situation is that they require time and maturity to follow through and support that Love, but it¬†is easily possible.¬† Can one¬†person Love more than one person at a time?¬† Without a doubt.¬† A person can Love their spouse or parents and¬†many other people as well, of both sexes, all at the same time – because the nature of God’s Love isn’t sexual –¬†it’s Unconditional.¬† In fact, taking as an example someone with a perfectly pure Soul, untainted by human nature, one person can Love¬†everyone in the entire world – all at the same time, just as God does.¬† This should be our ultimate goal and¬†desire in the end – to Love God and¬†each other¬†as a pure and Loving response to¬†His Unconditional Love that was first given freely to us by God.

What Is Love?

Love is sometimes an elusive and fleeting notion for people, and more often than not it is also easily misunderstood and often mistaken for what it is not – something that originates in us.

What objective truths do we really know about the concept of Love?¬† Without delving into a deeper theological discussion today, Love is simply known to be a gift that the Creator, God,¬†has freely given to His creation –¬†to both mankind and to the entire created world all around us.¬† We don’t really know if the animal¬†and plant world understand the¬†concept of Love as we do, but¬†“Love” is easily evident¬†and on display throughout the animal kingdom in the bond between animals of both sexes and to their offspring.¬† An Emperor¬†penguin protecting a single egg, and¬†later¬†on the chick itself,¬†throughout the cold, dark,¬†Antarctic¬†winter while waiting for their¬†mate to return with food for the offspring, is such an example of the dedication and “Love” animals display to each other all around us every day.

We also know, since¬†God “so Loved the world,” He didn’t place any limits on the extent and duration of His gift to us – it is Unconditional.¬† From this understanding we can deduce with confidence and through observation, that Love is a never ending supply that is always available to us – without exception.¬† What we don’t know, but can only imagine from our perspective in the created world, is to what extent is Love a “sustaining force” that binds the entire universe together?¬† It is in¬†my opinion, that Love is as important to the functioning¬†of the universe as is gravity, magnetism, light,¬†charged atomic particles and energy are.¬† In fact, it may just be that Love is the universal binding ingredient that holds¬†all of creation¬†together.¬† Without¬†Love, life¬†as we know it creases to exist.¬†

Considering that Love is a gift from¬†God in¬†both an unending supply and immeasurable intensity, then we know for a fact that we can never run out of Love.¬† There is no “spigot” that restricts the flow and¬†output of Love, except for the desires of our Hearts.¬† If we restrict access to our Heart, the¬†flow of Love that passes through it is also restricted,¬†causing Love to “dam up” behind us as it continues to flow in an¬†unending supply from God, willing but unable to flow through us.¬† Imagine the change we would see in the created world around us if there was an unlimited access and output of Love flowing¬†through billions of Hearts continuously¬†throughout the world in unison?¬† We could in our own¬†way define that as “Heaven on Earth.”

If our Hearts are “open” and the supply of Love is unending and immeasurable, what else do we need to do to welcome¬†Love into¬†the created¬†world all around us?¬† Since¬†Love is unconditionally given to us by God, and sustained by God as well; Love¬†requires no action on our part but to¬†provide an¬†open Heart through which it can pass.¬† That is our single and only “requirement” concerning Love – to be a willing conduit through which it can pass.¬† Where does it pass to, one might ask?¬† To other Hearts and throughout the entire world in a never ending and continuous flowing stream through which it connects, sustains and nurtures all of God’s creation.

If Love is unconditional, unending, and without limits in any measurable way, shape¬†or form, is there anything else we need to do besides¬†providing access to¬†an “open” Heart for it to pass through?¬† No.¬† By providing an “open” Heart for Love, you essentially “believe” in Love, agree to be available to Love, and¬†agree to pass Love along to others¬†and to all of creation.¬† Your Heart¬†becomes a conduit in the never ending flow of Love¬†throughout the world.¬† To restrict access of Love to your Heart, is to reduce the flow and intensity of Love not only through you but in fact all around you¬†as well.¬† We all need to both receive Love and to allow Love to pass along through us.¬† Love can’t be stored up or held in reserve, it only functions properly when it is continuously on the move between Hearts, sustaining and nurturing all of creation in the process.

Love is both unconditionally¬†received and given in this world.¬† It requires nothing but an “open” Heart for both access and output.¬† It depends on nothing else on our part.¬† We give it without conditions, we receive it without conditions,¬†and it¬†flows through us without making any demands on us and nurtures and sustains us without¬†conditions.¬† It is¬†essential to our very core being and existence, to our Soul¬†– just as we need water,¬†sustenance and shelter for the body.¬† It requires nothing in return¬†and makes no demands.¬† Just as it is given to us by God, it returns through all of us back to God, its source.¬† Love is a never ending¬†flow from God through us and returning again to God from which Love originates.¬† Love is of God, from God and unconditionally given to us by God.¬† To Love is to know God; to receive Love is to¬†feel God; and to pass Love along is to participate with God in sustaining and nurturing all of His creation.