The Pause

 

I want to apologize to my fellow bloggers about the pause taken in my blog site. I have been out of my ‘blog room’ for several months and I hope that you all have not given up on this important way for us to communicate with each other.

The reasons for this temporary break are many. They include having to go elsewhere for various meetings and appointments, a busy holiday season and family obligations. So it’s really not something out of the ordinary and I think that most readers will understand.

One thing that led to the pause was making a significant revision of the weblog site. The overhaul took the greater part of about three months. I anticipate that improved site will generate more people to actively engage in blogging. (In addition, the web site may help in the sales of my recent publications.)

So, please check in as often as you can in order to make comments about the posts, for when you do, expect a response from me. I welcome any and all comments, whether complimentary or not.

Thanks for your understanding the pause. I am looking forward to hear from previous and new blog participants.

God Bless,

 Clay

Our Hearts: Part Three

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Hardness of Heart

I don’t know if you are aware of it or not, Thursday, September 29th is World Heart Day.  The American Heart Association has featured an article to highlight this occasion, entitled Advance Heart Failure.  It states that “heart failure is considered advanced when conventional heart therapies and symptom management strategies no longer work.”

In an unprincipled secular culture, some rightly might say that hardness of the heart, in its extremeness, is a condition of insensitiveness, rigidness, coldness, callousness and unyieldingness of the mind.   Such a person has his ideas, outlooks and feelings firmly set and nothing and no one can change them.  This hardness may be directed toward other people, elements of society, a government and even religion.

From a biblical perspective, hardness of heart is an unhealthy condition characterized by the same traits of insensitiveness, etc. noted above in addition to one’s loss of spiritual perception.  A hardened heart dulls a person’s senses, not the physical senses of sight, hearing, touching, feeling and smelling but those inner senses having the same name as the five natural senses.

For example, Jesus once said to His disciples who did not understand the similes and metaphors of the physical and non-physical realms in His teaching, “Why do you discuss the fact that you have no bread?  Do you not yet see or understand?  Do you have a hardened heart?  Having eyes, do you not see?  And having ears, do you not hear? (Mark 8:17-18, also see Jeremiah 5:21)  Simply, the disciples were identified as hard-hearted because of deficient or deprived inner senses needed to comprehend Jesus’ instructions.

Like the blocking action of blood in the disease of atherosclerosis and advanced heart failure, a dysfunctional hard heart strangles the convictions of moral conscience―the faculty of our inner man by which we discern what is good and evil and make value judgments.  Acting against one’s conscience blunts the psychological and spiritual wisdom for which it was intended.  Repeated thwarting of one’s conscience might pave the way for making unwise choices and habitual wrong-doing with less guilt, which like advanced atherosclerosis and advanced heart failure, may be lethal to the mind, body and spirit.

 

 

Our Hearts: Part Two

Guard-your-Heart

Nonphysical or Spiritual Heart Disease

There is another more serious kind of heart disease that we should be concerned about.  It is much more common and deadly than coronary heart disease. Like the silent killer aspect of a heart organ, its early onset and hardening feature, it must be diagnosed and treated for if it is not prevented or treated it can dampen the individual’s hope of a calm and tranquil life of peace (shalom). The disease itself is referred to as “Hardness of Heart”.

When the Bible refers to the heart, it is not referring to the physical organ itself but a figure of speech to indicate the seat of emotion and intellect, the innermost nature of a mankind.

According to several Bible dictionaries, the heart is the center not only of spiritual activity, but of all the operations of human life. The heart is the "home of the personal life," and hence a man is designated, according to his heart, wise, pure, upright and righteous, pious and good.

The heart is also the seat of the conscience. (Incidentally, the Hebrew language has no word for conscience, so the word heart was often used to express this concept.)

This may shock some of our fellow bloggers, but the heart is also naturally wicked, and hence it contaminates the whole life and character. Hence the heart must be changed, regenerated before a man can willingly obey God.

In summary, the heart is the center of all the operations of human life. When understood in context of specific biblical passages, the heart stands for the person’s identity and for all the vital functions of one’s mental, emotional and spiritual nature. This identity and nature, as described above, can be viewed as ‘good’ or ‘not good’.

(More on the hardness of heart in upcoming posts.)

Our Hearts: Part One

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Physical Heart Disease

Based on statistics compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. Heart disease is a broad term used to describe a range of diseases that include infections and defects. Unfortunately, it’s also a silent killer and until physical signs and symptoms appear, most people are unaware of the developing pathology.

Ischaemic or ischemic heart disease (IHD) is a disease characterized by ischaemia, a reduced blood supply or privation (lack of blood) of the heart muscle, usually due to coronary artery disease (atherosclerosis of the coronary arteries). It is the most common cause of death in most Western countries, and a major cause of hospital admissions.

One of the forerunners of cardiovascular disease is atherosclerosis, a condition that begins at an early age, in which fatty material collects, solidifies and over time may eventually block the arteries. There is an increased emphasis on preventing this inflexible effect of atherosclerosis by modifying risk factors, such as eating healthy food, exercising frequently, and changing lifestyles. It is the most common cause of death in most Western countries, and a major cause of hospital admissions.

(Upcoming are parts two and three of the series concerning Heart Diseases)

Discovering the Supernatural Realm, a Review, Part One

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Before we get into the substance of future posts, let’s just take a deep breath and slowly exhale. Some of our blog readers may wonder if we are making any progress in our journey towards the supernatural realm.  I certainly hope that advances have been made.  What follows is a brief summary of what was covered so far about ‘Discovering the Supernatural Realm’.

A Platform for Our Blogosphere, I-V

We began this series of posts to find an appropriate platform title for our blogosphere.  A title was sought to establish a theme which would encourage thoughtful discussions among fellow bloggers and me.  The major perspective embedded in this theme is that a relatively unknown domain actually exists having its own set of identifiable landscapes.

While admitting a high degree of ignorance about features of this abstract domain, we are not totally uniformed about some of the principles and activities associated with this supernatural realm.  We can make this declaration since we are privy of the knowledge obtained through revelations recorded in the Holy Scriptures.

Having this unlimited resource at our disposal, we should be able to evaluate certain characteristics of the lessor known domain, (sometimes referred to as a heavenly realm or the Kingdom of Heaven) to comparable attributes in our own well known physical domain, (the earth).  It is when we evaluate these features in terms of similarities; we may be able to find parallels between the two domains that originally was thought to be dissimilar or worlds apart.

Although it may be obvious to many of our bloggers, we should readily point out this tremendous difference between the two spheres does not necessarily refer to physical distances. Figuratively, worlds apart can mean to be greatly separated by differing mind-sets, such as one’s attitudes, needs, opinions, or temperaments.

One way to overcome these differences is to identify a condition that is the polar opposite that sharply contrasts with apartness.  This approach of using opposites, such as day/night, life/death, good/bad or lost/found, has long proved to be a helpful in solving problems of this type.

Some of the words that are opposites of apartness are closeness, fellowship, camaraderie, intimacy, connection and togetherness.  When these terms are viewed collectively, they all imply something that is wanted, desirable and pleasant.

I chose the latter term, togetherness, as the best opposite of apartness.  When the condition of togetherness is achieved, even in part, the opposite state of worlds apart could be viewed as something unwanted, undesired or unpleasant.  It would seem logical that most people would favor togetherness over apartness.  If apartness could be minimized or reduced to the smallest possible degree, togetherness has a greater chance to become the dominate inner characteristic of mankind.

The Arrival of Blogosphere and Emergence of our Blogosphere

To better comprehend the differences of these two worlds or realms, which are based upon our physical sense of sight, we chose to relabel them as the Unseen World and the Seen World.

As previously mentioned, the unseen world possesses things and beings that are intangible, less understood and worlds apart from the seen world.  This world is known as fully as it can be known consists of objects and beings that are perceptible and discernible.   While these differences are readily acknowledged, certain philosophers and theists from ancient history to present times suggest certain similarities do exist between the two realms!  They reasoned that these domains are really not worlds apart but are more in agreement than they originally were thought to be.

Discovering the Supernatural Realm, Part One –Part Two (a) (b)

In my latest publication, Your Health in a World of Conflict, I invited all readers to accompany me on a journey from a physical domain of the earth into an unseen realm.  To be sure this passage into the unknown is not a literal one.  However, it can be described as metaphorical or allegorical. Both of these terms will be examined and scrutinized much more fully in later posts.

I wondered how many readers of my book or of this blog have attempted to journey into the mysteries of the unseen world. Those who have navigated such an excursion from the natural to the supernatural realm may be sufficiently pleased to repeat it.  Then there are those who never even thought of such a journey, let alone taking one. Whatever the reader’s present thoughts are, it is highly important to recognize this route takes one from a well-known physical existence to a lesser known yet higher reality.

In order to gain access to anything within the boundaries of the supernatural, we needed to find out a means to journey from the natural to the supernatural realm.  We can visualize that the journey will be upward toward the heavens so let’s imagine it will be a vertical climb on horizontal crosspieces of a ladder.  It’s not a race where we are competing with others to reach the top first.  Instead, we will journey together and ponder on what we may not only learn about celestial things but on how these things will provide the means to meet our human body and spiritual needs.

Awareness

Even before placing one foot on the ladder, it essential for each of us to be somewhat aware of the reasons to make the upward climb toward the unknown.  One of the important explanations is based on our awareness of human needs.  Ever since the failings of Adam and Eve as told in the biblical creation story that all human beings, to some degree, are needy.

What are human needs?  In my book mentioned above, I presented a rather thorough listing of bodily and spiritual imperatives that are required to promote, sustain and improve the states of our health.  These imperatives include such items as food and shelter.  If one of the basic requirements is not met, it doesn’t mean we are less human, it simply means we are dysfunctional and will not possess optimum health and well-being as we should.

Scholars in the fields of philosophy and religion have suggested that one’s needs include certain intangibles, such as knowing the meaning of life—its significance, origin, and purpose, as well as conceptions of divinity and the question of what happens after we die.

All of this certainness leads to the fact we need to enlarge our awareness of the elusive unseen world, which may provide details of meeting many of physical and spiritual needs.  Together with assistance of God’s holy word, I am confident that our spiritual journey to the supernatural will indeed reveal heavenly solutions to the many problems facing you and me as well as all earthly inhabitants.

This concludes part one of the review. Part two will follow.

Discovering the Supernatural Realm, Part Three (b)

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A Continuation of our Discourse on Faith

Christian Faith is:

  • the opposite of doubt.
  • the principal component of dogma held as true by faithful believers of Christianity
  • the glue that maintains the connection of believers with God.
  • trusting in Jesus Christ who leads believers into a close proximity and relationship with God.
  • a firm belief and hope that salvation leads to eternal life. (John 3:16)
  • quantitative. “…if you have faith as a (tiny) mustard seed…” (Matthew: 17:20)
  • qualitative. “…churches were being strengthened in the faith.” (Acts 16:5)
  • not walking by physical vision “for we walk by faith, not by sight…” (2 Corinthians 5:7)
  • a confidence of reaping some degree of spiritual fruitfulness that is worthy of receiving rewards. (Matthew 13:23 and Hebrews 11:6)
  • one of the three greatest virtues of Christianity; faith, hope and love. (1 Corinthians 13:13)

A Brief Summary of Christian Faith

The Christian faith is the experience of living in a dynamic and new personal relationship with God through the transforming and indwelling power of Jesus and the Holy Spirit in us.  The key to this new experience of living is trusting God to transform us into new Christ like people by receiving the Triune God Head  (Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and God)  into our minds and bodies.

Faith as found in the Bible

In the book of Hebrews found in the New Testament we read,    “Now faith is assurance of things hoped for, a conviction of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1)   The phrase, ‘things not seen’, as distinguished from the things hoped for, can mean a conviction that all of the recorded events of the Bible are true, starting with Genesis 1:1 and ending in Revelation 22:27.   Alternatively, the phrase ‘things not seen’ can refer to a conviction and truthfulness of the things― the supernatural things we are seeking during our ladder climb―namely, the unseen realm.

If we examine the entire chapter 11 of Hebrews, we should come away with even better understanding of what faith is.  The writer of Hebrews not only defined faith in verse one, as noted above, but identifies many biblical characters as faithful based on how they acted out their faith in a variety of circumstances.

In verse 27 of Hebrews, the writer states that Moses, the great patriarch, did not fear the king of Egypt.  By faith he “…endured, as seeing Him (God) who is unseen.”  This statement distinguishes God from the god's of Egypt, who were visible, gross, and worthless.  More importantly, it tells us Moses chose to place his faith in an invisible immortal deity, (God) than in the visible and mortal enraged Egyptian King.  My fellow bloggers do you and I understand the enormity of this kind of faith?   Biblically, this is the kind of faith that all of today’s Christian believers should aspire for.

When reading verses of this chapter, another amazing bit of truth is found in chapter eleven of Hebrews.  In verse 13, the writer of this New Testament book says that all these Old Testament patriarchs and heroes died in faith, without receiving the promises (of God), but having seen them, as did Moses, welcomed the promises from a distance.

In essence, the writer is telling his readers, including those of us who are true believers that we too will physically die without obtaining these assurances of faith!  But present followers of Christ also can use their spiritual vision to perceive the promises they will finally receive ahead in the heavenly kingdom of God.

Based on our faith and conviction of the reality of a heavenly domain, can we, as committed believers, truly say we are strangers and exiles in the earthly domain? We all recognize that our spiritual vision is sometimes lacking yet have the ‘assurance of things hoped for and the conviction of things not seen’ that God will fulfill His promises.

The Bible says that believers ‘…look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.”  (2 Corinthians 4:18)   Isn’t looking at the invisible and the unseen things what we really seeking as we journey towards the supernatural realm?

On the other hand, some nominal believers may have strong faith-like desires in the seen world. Such cravings can be expressed in an intentional, careful, deliberate manner or unwittingly in a state of ignorance or innocence.  These intense yearnings may be directed toward fabricated false gods, or toward material objects, such as automobiles, clothing’s, sports, etc.  Both God and most faithful Christians view these passionate wishes as a worship of idols, a highly undesirable and detrimental situation for anyone to be in.

Why is it so objectionable and damaging? Regarding token believers, their faithful worship of idols and the like can result in conditions where they are in jeopardy of losing out on of having a genuine meaningful relationship with God. This split-up between God and a person may end up being worlds apart from the God of the Bible. Any degree of separation from togetherness to apartness can be correctly viewed as gaps.

Future posts will concentrate on the subject of gaps.

Discovering the Supernatural Realm, Part Three (a)

In the interest of continuity, I have a suggestion for those who may be first-time visitors to our blogging site.  I recommend that they ‘come up to speed’ by reading the last 7 posts, starting with the post entitled ‘A Platform for Our Blogosphere II’, dated February 29, 2016.

 

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Taking the first steps on our celestial latter climb, visualized in the post ‘Discovering the Supernatural Realm, Part One’, reminds us that we are making this expedition as a passage from a known physical  existence to a lesser known yet higher reality. What is absolutely needed to initiate and sustain us in this spiritual journey is a rock-solid and reliable basis. That foundational basis is called faith.  This establishment of faith may have been in the mind of Martin Luther King, Jr. who is quoted as saying, “Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.

When we dissect, so to speak, this insightful quote of faith, we may identify several aspects of faith that he had in mind. For instance, who is the ‘you’ that King is speaking of? It might those of a certain age. Well, one’s age does not matter, whether a child, teen ager, adult or a senior citizen, faith is needed at the start of one’s journey toward a relatively unknown domain. The journey of faith begins on physical footings which are followed by mystical steps that are just as shaky as is that of knowledge of an unseen spiritual realm.

King’s admission of not being able to see the stair case suggests he does not know the means by which he will ascend. In addition, there is an implication of what lies ahead is sometimes elusiveness and vague.

Lastly, the question must be asked, why can’t everyone clearly see where future steps will lead?  The obvious answer to this question is that we do not possess the kind of sight needed to begin and end the expedition with our physical eyes.

I trust that our fellow bloggers will remain with me in our journey.  We can be fully assured that during the upward trek, each step will provide an enhanced perspective of the unseen domain and a unique type of knowledge that is now applicable and prevalent for the rest of our everyday lives on earth.

Who has Faith?

Do our fellow bloggers realize that everybody has faith?  The question arises: does theistic faiths also belong to other contexts not usually thought of as religious at all?   First, in these instances, it may be appropriate to speak of the faith of a humanist, or even an atheist, using the same general sense of ‘faith’ as applies to the theist case.

Secondly, others may view faith as merely an outcome of the inborn propensity to self-conservation and self-betterment which is a part of human nature.

Thirdly, most non-believers and some nominal believers may have a strong faith-like craving desire, whether advertently or inadvertently, to literally love and/or manifest a profound adoration of material objects.

From this brief examination of who has faith, we can conclude that perspectives of faith vary widely and largely depend on a person’s attitude toward trusting in another person, thing, and deity or in doctrines and teachings of a religion.

Faith is not:

  • tangible, material or physical
  • a figment of one’s imagination.
  • intuitive; meaning to have the natural or inborn ability to understand something without any direct evidence.
  • instinctive, which describes something you do without thinking about it.
  • based on what one feels to be true even without conscious reasoning.
  • a proposition that does not seem likely to be true when assessed by using common sense or gut feelings.

Lists about, who has faith and what faith is not, are somewhat helpful for those who seek truths about an unseen realm. In the next post we will continue by mentioning what faith means for Christian believers. Also, we will go directly to the Holy Scriptures in order to grasp some of things said about faith.

Discovering the Supernatural Realm, Part Two

 Awareness

One of the greatest tragedies of mankind occurs in some "blind" people who don’t even know that they are blind!  As mysterious as this may seem, how can this be?   Maybe it is because they are unfamiliar or uninformed and have erroneous perceptions about the reality of an unseen world. More likely, these individuals who do not recognize their blindness includes a profound abhorrence of any belief system that indorses the spiritual nature of humanity and the existence of a monotheistic God.  Unless there is a willingness on their part to change their minds and reverse their distaste of spiritual matters, it is likely that they will remain in a state of spiritual blindness. However, there may be a cure for this type of blindness, but only when the prerequisite of awareness precedes the remedy.

Generally speaking, the human trait of awareness is truthful knowledge or perception of a situation or fact.  Awareness can be further described as a realization, insight, or merely a familiarity with certain life matters.  One of the things we are concerned with in this post is self-awareness, which means having the capacity for introspection and the ability to recognize the true state of spiritual healthiness that a person is in.  Regarding concerns of health, many people only  understand that  humans’ over all well-being consists of physical, mental emotional health.  Sometimes spiritual health is not included as part of well-being, which then becomes problematic.

Self-awareness is particularly important for those individuals who perceive they are less than  healthy.  Therein lies a problem.  These people are those who sense a lack well-being, acceptance and approval.  Moreover, it is not hard to understand that such deficiencies may indicate that certain human needs are not being met in their lives.  Could it be they are unaware that a significant a part of of their well-being is missing?

If the need for well-being, acceptance and healthiness remain unmet, these people may feel deep sorrow or contrition for past wrongdoings.  Because this last perceived mind set is bothering to their consciences, individually, each may willingly declare, “I really have a need to make some changes in my life”.  It turns out that this admission of transgressions (repentance) is a necessary perquisite to what Christianity calls 'salvation'.  Here is the solution to their problem.

The topic of human needs was discussed in my book 'Your Health in World of Conflict' and was presented as basic imperatives that required promoting, sustaining and improving states of healthiness.  Some in the fields of philosophy and religion have suggested that one’s needs include certain intangibles, such as the meaning of life—its significance, origin, and purpose, as well as one's conceptions of divinity and the question of what happens after we die.  We have to comprehend that these types of desires are subjective in nature and sometimes controversial.  This view is especially validated by researchers in the arenas of social sciences and belief systems.

Then, along these same lines of thought, there is spiritual and godly awareness. In Christianity, this is the God given ability or power to see, perceive, and/ or understand spiritual things of God.  Isn’t this insight the very thing we are attempting to discover as we journey from the seen realm to the unseen domain of God? Of course it is!

(We will deal more with spiritual awareness in upcoming posts.)

Next is Step One, Faith.

Discovering the Supernatural Realm, Part One

In my latest book, Your Health in a World of Conflict, I invited all readers of this publication to accompany me on a journey from a physical domain of the earth into an unseen realm. To be sure this passage is not a literal one. However,as will be shown later, it can be accurately described as as metaphorical or allegorical. 

Those who have successfully navigated such an adventure one or more times in the past from the natural to the supernatural realm should be exceedingly pleased to repeat it.  Those who never wandered outside the physical realm may be hesitant to even take the first step.  Whatever the reader’s present thoughts are, he/she may want to think of this expedition as a passage from known physical existence to a lesser known yet higher reality.

Before we proceed, let’s take a break in this post because a word of caution is needed. If fellow bloggers are reading this post without the beneficial understanding gained by reading the five preceding posts, much continuity will be lost. Therefore, in the interest of completeness, I earnestly suggest doing so now begining with 'A Platform for Our Blogosphere II, dated Feb. 20. 


Ascending-the-Stairs-of-Faith-Part-11-300x300

Normally we think of metaphorically journeying via pathways through valleys and hills to reach our destination. For the moment, instead of walking up and down hills, let’s imagine we first progress vertically by climbing on horizontal crosspieces of a ladder; stepping on each rung and momentarily deliberating on what we may learn about heavenly things as we ascend upward.

We also ponder about what we may encounter, it is necessary that each of us pause long enough on each step before taking succeeding steps. Why?  Because the matter of obtaining a spiritual understanding of an intangible, lesser known unseen world is progressive, similar to orderly advancements made within most educational institutions in our physical, well known and seen world.

Toward the goal of attaining knowledge of an abstract world from a Christian perspective, we will next consider the subject of awareness.

 

 

 

Emergence of our Blogosphere

I am of the opinion that once the conditions of apartness and of togetherness, as presented in the last few posts, are associated next to one another in time or in space, the major topic of the blogosphere will emerge and become more to our understanding.

With this caveat in place, please allow me to present two separate conditions, A and B, for our fellow bloggers to consider.

Condition A encompasses things that are intangible, less understood and worlds apart from Condition B, which consists of things that are perceptible, discernable and well known. While these differences between the two are readily apparent, there is evidence derived from interested investigators that suggest certain similarities exist between the A. and B!

Furthermore, if indeed, similarities of conditions A and B are shown to be factual, it first suggests that conditions of A and B are really not worlds apart but are more in agreement (together) than they originally were thought to be.

I know that some of these things stated above are somewhat foreign to many readers and will require further clarification. And that is exactly what I will attempt to do in succeeding posts.