As a Christian I hear people often make statements about how God feels about our personal finances. Words and phrases like “perfect will” and “permissive will” are often thrown around helter skelter, with much being left open to people’s interpretation given their personalities and life experiences.
There are those in the world who are bullish; brutes who will stop at nothing to achieve what they want. They are not necessarily opportunists, but simply dedicated to that which they have set out to do. The word no does not exist in their functional lexicon. Then there are those who rely heavily on what they experience. If they come across an obstacle that seems insurmountable, then all of the sudden its God telling them no. If they come across a door that is open its automatically a yes. Their interpretation of will is as malleable as matter itself.
I’m no bible scholar. However, the bible calls for people like me to become much more forceful in their approach to life. For centuries the Euro-Centric, feminine Christ that was depicted, have caused most people to have visions of meek and mild approaches. However, Hebrews 4:16 instructs us to “come boldly before the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” Notice the usage of boldly and with confidence, not meek and shy. When you think of taking something by force or with unshakable will, you can turn your spirit’s eye to a few individuals in the Bible. The Old Testament is rife with people that were seemingly unwavering in their quest to fulfill personal and spiritual goals.
The Book Of Joshua talks about the Children of Israel as they first began to conquer the promised land or Canaan. Their forefathers were the Jews that wandered the desert for 40 years due to their inability to get with Jehovah’s program. Joshua & Caleb were a part of the younger generation that were faithful and trusting of God in totality. Joshua was one of the 12 spies sent into Canaan and reported that there were in fact giants — Nephilim— for my learned readers existing within the lands. Now, let’s be real folks. You and your parents wandered in the desert (Sin Desert) for years, got to a land supposedly promised to your culture’s forefather, Abraham, and now there are giants, heroes, “men of renown”? You’d start concocting logic as well. Perhaps you’d “wait” until God told you another way in, because surely a benevolent deity wouldn’t submit you to such gruesome circumstances.
But Joshua & Caleb stayed firm in what they believed — no — what they knew was the destiny bestowed upon the chosen people. They did not see a closed door as a no from God, but instead as a temporary obstacle. While the other 10 spies were struck with a plague, Joshua and Caleb were able to enter the land as promised.
Once again though, let’s be quite frank. We’re reading a book thousands of years old about an obscure group of people, therefore the hindsight that we all tend to don is beyond 20/20. Stories like this in the bible are so easy to extrapolate and scour, because we weren’t there. We simply are taking what was recorded. If we were there, many of us would’ve been A) a part of the mumbling, grumbling Children wandering for 40 years B) one of the 10 spies saying f this, let’s bail, God isn’t here or C) confused as hell wondering why God was so damn cryptic and distant. The bible, just like most literature makes things so cut and dry, so black and white, that its easy to glean understanding. But this was real life for these people…
So what then? Faith.
What is faith…? Man, this is something that scholars, theologians, and other pompous and pedantic peons of piety have been going on about for millenia. Faith is courage. I don’t care which scripture you choose to define it further, but it all comes back to courage. Well okay… Courage in what?
THE THINGS GOD HAS PUT IN YOU.
My favorite scriptures to use in tandem are Proverbs 16:3 “Commit thy works unto the Lord and thy thoughts shall be established” and Matthew 7:7 “ask and it shall be given unto you, seek and ye shall find, knock and it shall be opened unto you”. If you are doing things for God (committing your works), then your thoughts will be established. If your thoughts are established, then you know what God has for you (Jeremiah 29:11). If you know what God has for you then what you ask for will be in direct alignment with His divine will for your life.
Another duo I love: Proverbs 16:9 “a man’s heart deviseth a way, but the LORD directeth his steps”. And my favorite scripture Phillipians 4:19 “And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in Christ Jesus”. Using tandem #1, I’ve established that I’m committing my thoughts unto Him, trusting in His promise, and knowing what to ask. With His thoughts now my thoughts, I devise a path for myself which He subsequently directs. While along this path I am praying that He meets my needs — and He will.
So what now Bryce? You’ve kicked out some scriptures, hit us with interpretation, why am I still struggling? Why have I been praying for 2 years for a breakthrough and received nothing? Why can’t I pay my rent? Why can’t I get that promotion? Its not God’s will? I’m not thinking the right thoughts?
I need everyone to get out of that mode of thinking, because it is that very same discourse that lead me away from the church in my teenage years. Defeated Christians at the alter every damn Sunday, wailing over the same old problems. God is not a genie. He is not a jinn. He is not a magic 8 ball. If He put something on your heart you MUST go after it with reckless abandon. Yes, there are times when you are in trouble and you need to adhere to Psalm 46:10 “be still and know I am God”. HOWEVER, life is war. Success is war. Progress is war. You must be willing to fight and TAKE what you KNOW God has put on your heart for you to have. Going back to Jeremiah 29:11 “for I know the thoughts I thinketh towards you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end”.
Poverty and lack are not in there. You will suffer, you will fight, you will cry. Why? Because life can be a bitch. But if you want something as bad as you want to breathe air, that’s what has been put on your heart by God. You must go out and create opportunities for yourself under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. You must go out and conquer your Canaan, regardless of the circumstances that seem much bigger than you. Why? Because that’s God’s perfect will.
I have some other alternative views on Jehovah’s “will” for our life that I may enumerate another day, but I am one that subscribes to a theory that God doesn’t care whether you become the president of the US or the principal at your local school, as long as you accept his Son. Therefore, to get so caught up in the weakling’s discourse of “is this God’s will?” during a job hunt becomes murky ground for me. Jesus said that God can make a pearl appear in a fish’s mouth if you have the faith. He controls nature for crying out loud, act as someone who is His child and take a bold stance with life.
It is his will that you “may have life and have it more abundantly” (John 10:10), whether that is financially, spiritually, emotionally, or romantically is between you and God. It is a dual relationship. Stop living defeated and talk to Him about what you want. Align your thoughts and heart with His (“draw nigh unto God and He will draw nigh unto you” James 4:8). & you will KNOW His will for your life.
It will then be up to you to choose whether or not you believe it.
Are you a Joshua? Will you bullishly believe what God puts in your spirit? Or are you like the other 10? Afraid of conflict because its not the easiest thing God couldve done?
When you answer that you’ll know why you haven’t paid rent or gotten the promotion.
Be courageous. Be crazy. Be confident. God loves it. Its the craziest of the bunch he exalts to places of esteem.
Everyday we are faced with a question: am I going to be the change I so desperately yearn for? We each have complaints, something that we hold against this earth that we find unjustifiable, but I see that most people lack the gusto to actually hold themselves to be a champion for that change.
Do you know what you are willing to live for? Do you know what you're willing to die for? How well do you even know yourself? With the answers to each of these questions, your weary eyes meeting blazing sun moments will become more poignant. Every morning won't be a "God, another day at the office…", but instead daily campaigns fighting for the better.
The battle is not physical, the battle is mental & spiritual. The turf is not the earth, but instead exists within our minds, souls, and spirits. The change that we seek as humans exists within the very purlieus of our heart. You want love, but the type of pure love you seek has been denigrated by years of cyclic heartbreaks. You want peace, but peace has been continually thwarted by greed and ignoble superiority complexes. You want success, but the industries you wish to thrive in have been seized by hands of men who wish to consolidate power and verify status quo's.
The wars are waged within us but their toxic byproducts are seen as outward violence, prejudice, and greed. Unfortunately its easy to get caught up in all of that, easy for us to envision ourselves as mere granules in a large silo, unable to exercise any real effect on the pile. So we go with the inhuman zeitgeist, we drink our coffees, go to jobs we hate, fall further into debt, get fat, get mad, and grow old & broke, simply pissing our lives away.
All because we ignored the real battle. The one inside of us.
Tomorrow I challenge you to be the person you set out to be when you were 18. I challenge you to wake up and choose the kind of life God wants for you. It will never be perfect, but it will be fulfilling. It will take sacrifice, but it will be redeeming. It will take some working, but it will be purposeful. Open your eyes and greet with world with a mindset that promises to be the absolute change its needed. Instead of belittling your significant other, hug them. Instead of being pissed at your job, set a date by which you will have found another opportunity. Sit next to someone of a different race on the bus and engage them.
Do something, anything out of the ordinary to make your life powerful.
See the world through Heaven's eyes. That's the only world worth living or dying for.
Quite frankly, I am one of the most complicated people I know. I don’t mean complicated in the ubiquitous, nauseatingly over-abused sense of “omg nobody understands me in my young adult angst”. I mean this in the sincerest of ways. If I could paint, I would undoubtedly sketch a world made of the entire spectral palette, because at any given time I see white and black, gray, and whatever else.
I live in a world of paradoxes and oxymorons. I live in a world of absolute uncertainties. Due to my hardwiring, I have a very, very hard time believing anything, because everything communicated in this world is the eventuality of someone’s beliefs. No matter what you’re talking about, all information pandered in a given situation has been communicated through the lens of someone’s interpretation. & the interpretations of the world are as endless as the concepts themselves, none of which are truly concrete.
I struggle when it comes to a structured belief in God because my interactions with him have been marred by the experiences I’ve seen and heard from defeated Christians for decades. All the contradictions, renegotiations, interpretations, revisions, amendments, and change ups took a toll on my impressionable mind growing up. When I finally became of the age and conviction to choose faith for myself, I found my inquisitive mind to be quite unsatisfied with any interpretation of God, even those outside of the Christian faith. I found no consolation in the philosophical cop out of agnosticism and I certainly was no atheist. As usual, I was trapped in the interstitial space of conceptual thought: absolutely certain there was a God, unhappy with the world He had created, and unswayed by any formal opinion of who He or his emanations were.
This is merely an explanation for my struggles with God, a tip of the iceberg when it comes to my mental ramblings. Furthermore, I can’t begin to capture in words how I feel about most things. I believe and disbelieve all at once. Actually the perfect way to capture 90% of my thoughts is this: I believe in the possibility of most things, however I find that them actually happening is unlikely.
These frustrations have propelled me in my meditations for years. I’ve had young women tell me, “Bryce you’re the best guy I’ve ever known”, but these have been the same young women who have broken my heart. Therefore I believe in the possibility of true love, however, I struggle in the seeing the likelihood of a person doing what is necessary to cultivate that love.
And don’t get me started on the religious interpretations of God and success. Some people posited the “believe and receive”, then it was “God may not want that for you”, then it was “God isn’t concerned with the minute details, just with the overall” etc etc. It seems that the world continuously changes its discussions about God given an individual’s experiences.
On nights like tonight I really sit back and think about what I actually believe in. The list is so thin because for me its not as easy as saying: “hey I believe in this”. For instance, I believe in the human capacity to love unconditionally in a moment of catharsis. However, I place more “faith” in people’s tendencies to act in self interest, not in unconditional love. Another example, I have faith in the human potential to evolve socially and abandon ignorance like racism or bigotry. However, I place more faith in knowing that people will find something to hate.
No matter how optimistic I try to be about accepting a belief in something, my tendency to aggregate all information on a subject creates a tendency to aggravate the process of accepting it. Everything in this world is just too damn flawed for me to not find significant criticism. That which I criticize is that which I cannot accept.
I criticize 99.9% of the world. Including the vast majority of my own tendencies.
I think I’m going to explore this over the next few posts because this isn’t even beginning to explain how I feel.
A man without purpose is a man with no home,
He is a stranger in all lands,
Devoid of destination of origin,
Meandering across fields in search of that which he may devour,
A man without purpose is a cancer,
Both to himself and to his environment,
He seeks to destroy that which fundamentally binds the successor,
That which he is empty of,
He is a carnivorous creature,
Voracious in his appetite,
Sniffing out the rosy flesh of he who lives,
And slowly usurping his mantle,
Or perhaps he is a scavenger,
Scouring the lands for the carrion of the desolate thinker,
A man without purpose is a tumor,
A disease which turns the vibrant to anemic,
His antipathy for that which has direction knows no bounds,
And his repugnance averts even the most true arrow from its mark,
If the mischievous is capricious in his temperament,
The man without purpose is stolid in his pursuits,
Stoic and resolute,
His appetite for destruction masked by his outward appearance,
He is something like radio interference,
Or a severance from the traditional ideas of preference,
He is a parasitic agent,
With motives conflagrant,
Prepared to set fire to all matters of achievement,
He is Satan’s son.
The Jackal’s pet.
His hands are the Enemy’s workshop,
His mind is the Anarchist’s bet,
And that gamble is that he can tumble
As many righteous towers as possible.
A man with out purpose is hell’s Apostle.
As I’ve said many times in the past, we are all after the same things. Happiness, fulfillment, love, external relationships, an understanding of the world etc. Unfortunately, however, it doesn’t seem that the world supports these goals. The earth is more than just two faced, its an infinitely shapeshifting being because those who sculpt it, humans, are virtually limitless in potential. Everyday I get on social networks and I see at least one post like this:
“Every girl deserves to have a man that treats her like a princess. Catches her tears as they fall. Kisses her like he means it. Doesn’t cheat or do anything which would hurt her. Every girl deserves her Prince Charming”
Now granted I don’t disagree with this in the least. What I’m more focused on are the implications in society. The ultimate question of why statements like this are still being made in the first place.
Now I’m using the word miracle loosely, but I don’t want to detract from the gravitas it carries. But such love as described by these ubiquitous quotes is nothing short of miraculous in this day and age. For a young man to sweep his woman off her feet, supply all her needs, pray to God on her behalf, rub her feet, listen to her problems, and maintain a pleasurable sexual relationship with her is statistically unlikely. Given that our current society is propelled by extroversion, ego, and the seeking of self interest, the idea that someone will give themselves over to the process of love is virtually absurd.
Yet we all want it.
These posts get the most likes, from men and women alike… We allknow that this is good, but we don’t expect people to act like that. We don’t expect miracles because — well fuck we’ve all been screwed.
I’m using love merely as a microcosm. You can look at miracles in the traditional sense and really get a feel for where I’m going. The Bible and other global Sacred Texts describe a world chock full of miraculous occurrences and preternaturnal happenings in antiquity. Except we no longer live in these arcane, superstitious societies… We live in the modern, tech laden world of advancement.
My point is the same point I’ve been making for months now. This world is immeasurably confused. The change that we all want? The love we all want? The peace we all want? The hope we all want? It begins with us. I may have an incredibly complicated definition of free choice, one that is devoid of conventional understandings, however we have been granted the ability to choose by God. Therefore we can choose to live harmoniously, by choosing to ignore the ignoble and distasteful characteristics of selfish man. We can choose to love a woman the way she is supposed to or we can choose to be the person who cheats. But everything begins with a choice, whether you perceive that choice to be illusory or real.
Go out and listen to your friends, teachers, and family. You can hear the world crying out for something. That something is the quintessential miracle. We can’t do supernatural things like grow a new kidney for a dialysis patient since we aren’t God, however, we can sow seeds of life into a dying world. YOU ARE THE MIRACLE. Be the change that you are so quick to agree with on social sites. Don’t fall prey to selfishness and become a hypocrite to your own convictions.
Don’t say every woman deserves a Prince Charming, then be the girl who cheats. That is exactly what’s wrong with the world now. Minor inconsistencies whose initially small ripples become enormous, destructive waves in society.
You have the potential to be the miracle, the blessing from God Himself, to someone else, if you just pay attention.
I have been digging for something for months now; what it is is still a mystery to me. Lately I’ve found myself nodding my head in apparent affirmation to articles and treatises about determinism vs indeterminism and the implications that quantum mechanics has on them. I’m no physicist, nor do I purport to be an authority on the matter, but some of these topics resonate so absolutely within me.
When I think about life, I am confounded for multiple reasons. The idea that there is a God who is omniscient and has directly interacted with us is baffling in its own right. Then I found myself asking the question that philosophers & theologians alike have pondered for thousands of years: if God is omniscient, then does free will truly exist? Calvinist Christian doctrines believe that God already knows and has chosen who is going to heaven or hell, this belief is known as predestination. This of course opens the door to inquiries about the legitimacy of free choice, the implications on morality, and other fundamental human questions.
Last night I watched the first half of the 2nd Matrix installment, Matrix: Reloaded. However, this time I paused it frequently to discover the meaning of each character and the underlying commentary on the human condition. There is a dialogue between the protagonist, Neo, and the primary antagonist, Smith. Smith says to Neo, “I’m going to take away from you that which you have taken away from us, PURPOSE”. This line followed his explanation of what purpose was of course. But this dialogue got me thinking about so much in this world. Being raised in a moderate Christian family, I had to make several decisions as to whether I believed my life’s purpose to revolve around God or not.
I’ve often sat alone in my room pondering such phenomena as light travel, success, the aggregation of wealth, self esteem, and pride. I’ve often closed my eyes and wondered why the world is so diverse, how 10 people can describe 1 thing 10 different ways. I’ve pondered perception and perspective, the legitimacy of human recollection and human description and I fight against my natural inclination towards futility.
The idea that all lives on this earth have a purpose is valid to me because the definition of purpose in this context can be refined and altered. Moreover, purpose can be zoomed in or zoomed out depending on the person, effectively capturing the magnitude of that individuals contribution to the world. Therefore whether you were a homemaker from Iowa or the president of the United States, the idea that your life had a purpose would still remain valid.
I warned you that I haven’t been able to pinpoint what exactly I’m looking for.
But I think the premise of my cogitation pivots on this fulcrum: since I was a kid I’ve been told that the world is this concrete static place, when in fact very little is concrete or certain. That uncertainty is what ultimately reflects back on human flaw or fallibility, exacerbating our already potent inadequacies. There is no time, no true value to money, no unified theories, no race, no culture, or no rules. There is nothing truly real except that which cannot be seen. I’m starting to sound like an Idealist, which I’m not classically, but I do agree with certain precepts. The only things that are real in life are the metaphysical blessings. God, love, inspiration, happiness etc. The world is simply the medium by which the universe attempts to communicate this with our lesser intelligence.
We place so much value on jobs, corporate culture, internships, formal education, and politics when in reality NONE of that shit matters. Life is not static. Its invariably plastic, constantly shifting and being remolded as we experience it. This is why science, religion, and everything in between are changed every 10 years. Because we are trying to make concrete that which is unreal.
So what is the purpose of life? To understand that which is real.
I’m getting closer.
For thousands of years philosophers, scientists, and theologians alike have been trying to make sense of mind-body problems. Questions like “where exactly is the mind if it isn’t a physical entity” & “what is the soul” have plagued the inquisitive minds of virtually every famous thinker ever studied. I have for years adopted various Christian interpretations, sticking primarily with the 4 part “soul, spirit, body” model, however, lately I have been using a 6 part theory.
Soul. Spirit. Body. Mind. Now I have often used various components interchangeably… For instance when talking about the emotional center or heart, one could theoretically add it as a standalone 5th part, however, I tend to lump it in with either the body or spirit, depending on the person’s proclivity.
However, the purpose of today’s post isn’t to discuss the metaphysical models themselves, but to instead focus on one component, the mind, and draw some conclusions that are imperative to human progression.
For many thousands of years philosophers, theologians, and scientists alike have been asking the question of where the mind exists. As the incorporeal component of human cognition, many have been vexed by the issue of whether it exists within the body, outside the body, or in some other dimension. Dualists and monists have attempted to explain this phenomena, but I’ll let you guys research that on your own. What I want to focus on is just how powerful the mind is.
They say perception is reality and there is nothing more true on this earth. Due to powerful yet completely ignorant perceptions, humans have been drawing erroneous conclusions for millennia. For instance, the concept of race. Race is an Anglo construct. It does not exist. When you discuss variations in species, you are contending that that species is primed to split into a subspecies. Human beings do not exhibit those variations. We as a species share statistically significant amounts of genetic information. We as a species are the same.
What explains our variation then? Couple things.
1) Environments. If you started at the Equator and moved north, you would witness a graded change in skin tone. Obviously due to the exposure to sunlight. Also, certain evolutionary changes are apparent. In colder climates populations tend to be more short and stout for heat retention, while hotter climate populations tend to be long and lean for heat moderation. These do not signify differences in races, because they span across races. The equatorial band which encircles the world may contain 350 “races” all of which are “long and lean”.
2) *Culture* and culture is driven by ONE thing: the mind. Perception. This is truly the culprit for the lion’s share of our intra-species variation. With our evolved neocortex, our cognition is highly advanced. Therefore we have more social choices beyond “flight or flight” and “mate or abate”. We have the power to sculpt our world per our penchants. This in tandem with thousands of years of cultural isolation has lead to the fragmentation of humanity. Although empires did interact, the vast majority of humans did not see a great variation in cultures. For the most part, until the racist Imperial system began, cultures remained insulated. Due to this insulation, we identified with our immediate people. If you were Igbo, then you adhered to Igbo tradition. If you were Tahitian, you followed Tahitian traditions etc.
However, the world is not comprised of independent gene pools. We all share ~90% of genetic information. Therefore the idea that one race is supreme or that one race is more beautiful, more talented, or genetically predisposed for success is simply farcical. Hell, the discussion of race to me is a moot point. Any and every racist moment I have experienced was due to an ignorance on the behalf of an observer. That ignorance was propagated by their cultural practices.
As someone who feels them self evolved beyond the parameters of race and ethnicity, I don’t look at the globe in these terms. I see the world as ripe for an awakening. A realization that it isn’t some inherent physiological phenomenon that’s responsible for our differences, but YOUR MIND which is. If you see me as your brother, whether German, Chinese, Peruvian, Azerbaijani, or Tanzanian, then you are right and we are brothers.
Don’t let ignorance stop you from embracing humanity. There is NO difference, beyond what humans do to each other, than separates us. YOU have the control to step out from the Draconian ideals of race, eugenics, and prejudice. Educate yourself about who WE are, what WE can be, and how WE can progress.