Friday, August 30, 2013

Mathew 7

Mathew 7:1-6
Do Not Judge Others
1 "Do not judge others. and you will not be judged.
2 For you will be treated as you treat others. The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged.
3 "And why worry about a speech in your friend's eye when you have a log in your own?
4 How can you think of saying to your friend, 'Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,' when you can't see past the log in your own eye?
5 Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend's eye.
6 "Don't waste what is Holy on people who are unholy (don't give the scared to dogs). Don't throw your pearls to pigs! They will trample the pearls, then turn and attack you."

My Thoughts: There must be a difference between judging someone and being able to tell genuinely whether they are 'Holy" or not. Judgment implies a criticism or a stance with regard to a person whereas a accepting someone for who they are -even if it's evil- has no judgment and is also not blinded by opinion. Of course that still doesn't make it that easy to discern between the two...

Mathew 7:8-11
Effective Prayer
7 "Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you.
8 For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.
9 "Your parents -if your children ask for a loaf of bread, do you give them as stone instead?
10 Or f they as you for a fish, do you give them a snake? Of course not!
11 So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask Him."

My Thoughts: It's hard for me to think of asking God for anything. I could see praying for others, but specifically asking God for tangible things for yourself seems kind of like a crummy thing to do. It's an interesting notion that God would be pleased to bestow all kinds of earthly wonders on a person since He is the father and we are His children, but I am also reminded that He does not always grant people what they want and instead gives them what they NEED. Like a child wants always recess and no lesson, but the teacher sees to it that they receive the lesson anyway so they can have that knowledge to utilize later in life.

Mathew 7:12
The Golden Rule
12 "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. This is the essence of all that is taught in the law and the prophets."

My Thoughts: Again the number 12. The next section must go downhill again. It opens up nicely enough, God wants you to accept all people and God will provide for you when you ask Him. Then a singled-out, simple quote of the most significant importance -the peak of Wisdom.

Mathew 7:13-14
The Narrow Gate
13 "You can enter God's Kingdom only through the narrow gate. The highway to Hell (the road that leads to destruction) is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose that way.
14 But the gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it."

My Thoughts: Sure enough, the bad news. It's hard to find Heaven. You have to reach it like a salmon who fights against the current and slowly makes its way upstream to give life. I wonder if the original text used the term "highway" to Hell or if that's a modern updated translation. The narrowness of the road definitely becomes more and more apparent the further you wander down it. You come to realize that God isn't on "sides" like people are -polar left and polar right. He is the side. He sets the record and you follow along to the Truth, which can set you aside and apart from others who find themselves away from it. Sway like a stream to God's truth, not a waterfall that just falls off the edge.

Mathew 7:15-20
The Tree and Its Fruit
15 "Beware of false prophets who come disguised as harmless sheep but are really vicious wolves.
16 You can identify them by their fruit, that is, by the way they act. Can you pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?
17 A good tree produces good fruit, and a bad tree produces bad fruit.
18 A good tree can't produce bad fruit, and a bad tree can't produce good fruit.
19 So every tree that does not produce good fruit is chopped down and thrown into the fire.
20 Yes, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so can you identify people by their actions."

My Thoughts: Strange. One of the things I love about the Bible is it says it's not as much about your actions so much as your soul and your faith. Because often people will "act good" but in reality be "bad". Actions can be deceptive while intentions -easily discerned by God- can be seen clearly.

Mathew 7:21-23
True Disciples
21 "Not everyone who calls out to me, 'Lord, Lord!' will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in Heaven will enter.
22 On judgment day many will say to me, 'Lord, Lord! We prophesized in Your name and cast out demons in Your name and performed many miracles in Your name.'
23 But I will reply, 'I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God's laws.'"

My Thoughts: Children usually get these things right because their souls are far more sincere and less tainted. Children will reach out to God, and talk to Him, and treat Him like a living person because they don't necessarily need to SEE everything. They use their imaginations well enough. Adults usually don't because that part has died and been forgotten. Instead they treat God like a concept and means to an end.

Mathew 7:24-29
Building on a Solid Foundation
24 "Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock.
25 Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against the house, it won't collapse because it is built on bedrock.
26 But anyone who hears my teaching and doesn't obey it is foolish, like a person who builds a house on sand.
27 When the rains and floods come and the winds beat against the house, it will collapse with a mighty crash."
28 When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at His teaching,
29 for he taught with real authority -quite unlike their teachers of religious law."

My Thoughts: It seems like what God wants to achieve more than anything with these lessons is preparing people to handle life's pains when they come. When people are on their own and don't have wisdom to draw on, they wind of being torn apart and only come back together if they find God and their Soul.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

American Culture

Some of the poets I've been watching on Button Poetry seem to mention issues with their native culture (Asian, European, African...) being drowned out or "white-washed" by American culture. They say their heritage has disappeared or become "Americanized".

I was thinking about this earlier. And as I looked around I observed: I was sitting in a L&L Hawaiian Barbeque Restaurant in Northern California. The food served was Asian-inspired and mixed with "Hawaiian food". In line was an overweight white woman in a blue sundress, her friend who was black woman in black slacks and a purple blouse, a white couple, an elderly Asian woman, two Hispanic women, and a bunch of Asian guys sitting at a table. 

As I observed all of this I thought: Who else is noticing the ethnic diversity this restaurant is currently holding? Oh yah, NO ONE because everyone's hungry and only focused on their food. Nobody cares what the race, creed, ethnicity, or nationality of the person standing next to them is. It's irrelevant. 

And what does it mean to be "American"? Would you say that any one of the people in that restaurant did not "qualify" as being an American because of their race or native background? NO. Can you say that anybody in that room doesn't have some cultural heritage from some foreign land they could trace their lineage to? Unless someone was secretly a Native American, NO. European decent, African decent, South or Central American decent, Asian decent... everyone had a country outside of the U.S. they could have traced their ancestors to.

So where does this stereotype of "white-washed American culture" come from? Classical music, art museums, Victorian architecture -that's all stuff that was inherited from the Europeans who came in. But what about (especially for countries near Mexico) the Hispanic art, architecture, music, food...? And Hip-hop that's become so popular these days -is that not also American? And rap? And what about the Asian cuisine, clothing, art...? And INDIAN presence. Thai food, Buddhist temples, yoga, whatever. 

Why does it matter for you to say that you're obligated to adhere to ONE culture -only ONE? Despite the billions that are out there like stars in the sky, you can only have ONE you claim and associate yourself with. And the way you speak, carry yourself, behave, dress, walk, and what you eat, where you go, everything you DO and ARE must be defined by that ONE culture. Aren't there as many people b*tching that they are smothered by their culture and can't break free of it and BE THEMSELVES as their are those who say their culture is being oppressed in some way? And in a country that allows anyone to be ANYTHING they want to be. 

Bottom line: Nobody cares. Embrace life in all its flavors and colors. Don't act like your culture is being oppressed or erased because there's an entire country out there (England,  Korea, El Salvador...) that is currently 90% that ONE culture. You can do everything you want to do to bring that ONE culture to your life, the lives of others, and America as a whole and the only thing that will end up happening is America will become that much richer ans varied and you will become that much less.

Button Poetry Collection

I recently discovered Button Poetry and the wonder of 3 minute videos they have of people speaking/living their poems in front of others. I've learned a lot in the past day while watching these. They're called "poetry slams" where they shed light on past negative experiences and argue points that are often passionately emotional if not controversial. 

From what I've seen, these break down into what I would call 6 basic categories: 

-Intense Truth (often about being raped, beaten, disowned...) 
-Diseases, Illnesses, Disorders, and Dying 
-Deeply Disturbing
-War/Society/God/Gay Rights 

The ones that seem to be the most popular on Youtube surround the topic of love, relationships, and overcoming a struggle. These poems are bold and honest with moments of humor and an ending of heart ache. 

Some words should never be read only spoken. Reading, looking over the page, will not carry the message out an do the poem justice. Some things need to be listened to, not glanced at. 

Personally my favorite stories have been the inspiring ones. The other ones leave you feeling broken at the end. Your heart is an anchor and your throat is weighted with the ocean. It's hard to swallow, hard to think of anything other than what you've just seen and heard. There's nowhere for your mind to rest. No shore. 

But with inspiring stories after the pain comes the lesson. The message, the point, the hope, the thing you're going to end up carrying within yourself that's going to allow you to float above the rising tide.

To help me stay more organized -or rather to answer my instinctual call to organize things that are hard to find and make sense of, I'm going to order the titles of the poems I liked most into these categories so anyone who wants to can enter the title of the poem and its writer and look up the video on Youtube.

I will continue to add to this list as time goes on... 

Neil Hilborn - "OCD" (Rustbelt 2013)
Neil Hilborn - The Future
Catalina Ferro performs "Anxiety Group"
T Miller - "Halloween Suggestions for Your Ex-Lover"  
Bobby Crawford and Kieran Collier- "Legos (Unfinished Masterpieces)" (CUPSI 2013) 
University of Connecticut - "Captain Stress Reliever and Companion Calm" (CUPSI 2013)
Rachel Rostad - "To JK Rowling, from Cho Chang" (CUPSI 2013 Finals) 
Aaron Burstein - "Social Anxiety at 130 BPM" (CUPSI 2013) 
Danez Smith - "A Sermon" (Rustbelt 2013) 
Neil Hilborn - "Mating Habits of the North American Hipster" 
Renee Schminkey - "For Nikii" (Rustbelt 2013) 
Michael Mlekoday - "Prayer for the Destruction of Justin Bieber" 
Aaron Samuels - "Special Delivery" (Rustbelt 2013) 
Cristopher Gibson - "Jefferson" 
Kait Rokowski - "New Insults" (WoWPS 2013) 
Sam Cook - "Comic Books" 
Cam Awkward Rich - "Love Poem for an Airport Security Guard" 
Chace 'Mic Write' Morris - "F#%! John Mayer" 
Lauren Zuniga - "Small Enough to Fit" 
Button Poetry First Readings - Cris Gibson - Prince Charming 
Button Poetry First Readings - Matt Mason - "Line Up For Lightning" 
Button Poetry First Readings - Christopher Gibson - "Trailer Trash" 
Button Poetry First Readings - Neil Hilborn - "How to Get Beat by the Cops" 
Shane Hawley - "Atlantic City" (Cirque Du So'Drunk Slam) 
Megan Falley - "Fat Girl"

Subcategory of Humor for Taylor Mali (since he has so many): 
"I Could Be a Poet," by TAYLOR MALI 
Taylor Mali:"An Open Letter to the Staff Copywriter of the F.A.A." 
"The The Impotence of Proofreading," by TAYLOR MALI 
Taylor Mali "Totally like whatever, you know"
Taylor Mali -"I'll Fight You For The Library"
TAYLOR MALI - "On Girls Lending Pens"
"Defending American Interests," by TAYLOR MALI 

Diseases, Illnesses, Disorders, and Dying 
Benjamin Barker - "Rubik's Cube"
Renee Schminkey, Abbie Shain, and Anna Binkovitz - "Caretakers" (CUPSI 2013) 
Mega - "This Is How I Challenge Diabetes to a Fight" (CUPSI 2013) 
Natalie E. Illum - "Don't Look at Me" (WOWPS 2013) 
Eleanor Longden: The voices in my head 
Rachel McKibbens - "Portsmouth, Ohio: A Dirge in Four Parts"

Intense Truth
Aziza Barnes - "Hypnophobia" 
Natalie Illum - "Blueprint" 
Maddy Schafer - "Aquaman" (CUPSI 2013) 
Katherine George & Arielle John - "Prayers for the Daughter of an Ex-Rapist" (CUPSI 2013) 
Lauren Bullock - "Love Notes" (CUPSI 2013) 
Mega -"Mother" 
Briana Zora Libby - "Trigger Warning" (CUPSI 2013) 
Brandon Melendez - "Samson" (CUPSI 2013) 
"Unsolicited Advice to Adolescent Girls with Crooked Teeth and Pink Hair" (by Jeanann Verlee) 
Josh Smith - "Separation" (Rustbelt 2013) 
Rob Gibsun - "Heirlooms (After Safia Elhillo)" (CUPSI 2013) 
Carrie Rudzinski - "Delhi's Belly" (WoWPS 2013) 
T Miller - "No More Oil" (WoWps 2013) 
Denice Frohman - "Weapons" (WoWPS 2013) 
"Entire Act of Sorrow" by Taylor Mali 
"For The Life of Me" by TAYLOR MALI 
"Depression Too Is A Type Of Fire" by TAYLOR MALI 
Suzi Q. Smith - "Black Hole Mouth" (WoWPS 2013) 
Katelyn Lucas - "The Unraveling" 
Kait Rokowski and Khary (6is9) Jackson - "Bojangles" 
Button Poetry First Readings - Kait Rokowski - "Swelter" 
Lauren Zuniga - "World's Tallest Hill"
Kait Rokowski - "How To Cure a Feminist" 
Terisa Siagatonu - "Trigger" (NPS 2012) 
Neil Hilborn & Renee Schminkey - "One Color" (NPS 2013)

War/Society/God/Gay Rights/Addictions
Rob Gibsun - "For All" (CUPSI 2013)
Dylan Garity -"Friend Zone" 
Sam Cook - "God in Code"
J.G. - "Guilty as Trained"
Mike Rosen "When God Happens" 
Javon Johnson - "cuz he's black"
Elliot Darrow - "God is Gay" (CUPSI 2013 Finals) 
Lily Myers -"Shrinking Women"   
Corey Ewing - "What I'll Say to Myself" (Rustbelt 2013) 
Falu - "Christ" (WoWPS 2013) 
Sierra DeMulder - "To Michelle Bachmann" (WoWPS 2013) 
Carrie Rudzinski - "The Prayer" (WOWPS 2013)
Ken Arkind - "Tom Sawyer Goes to College" 
Khary Jackson (6is9) - "Prop 8" 
Mike Rosen - "Repair Shop" 
Michael Lee - "The Addict, a Magician" (Rustbelt 2013)
Denice Frohman - "Dear Straight People" (WOWPS 2013)

Deeply Disturbing
Emi Mahmoud - "People Like Us" (CUPSI 2013) 
Paul Tran - "Ice Cream Man" (CUPSI 2013)

Katie Makkai - "Pretty"
Rachel Wiley - "10 Honest Thoughts on Being Loved by a Skinny Boy" 
Harlan Kelly - "Poem for Guys Who Spit After Smoking Cigarettes Between Slicing Pizzas" (CUPSI 2013) 
Anny Miner - "Isis" (CUPSI 2013) 
Zach Goldberg, Evan Okun and Lily Myers - "We Made It" (CUPSI 2013) 
Tonya Ingram - "Unsolicited Advice (after Jeanann Verlee)" (CUPSI 2013 Finals) 
Danez Smith - "Twerking as a Radical Form of Healing" 
Laura Lamb Brown-Lavoie - "Ars Poetica" (WOWPS 2013) 
Taylor Mali "Why Falling in Love is Like Owning a Dog" 
"Miracle Worker" by Taylor Mali 
Taylor Mali - "What Teachers Make"
Thuli Zuma - "One" (WOWPS 2013) 
Lisa Evans and Katelyn Lucas - "Duet" 
Button Poetry First Readings - Anna Binkovitz - "A Survivor's Guide to Saying Yes" 
Jared Singer - "A Letter to Sarah" (NPS 2012)

Saturday, August 24, 2013

NT Part 6: Mathew 6

Mathew 6:1-4
Teaching about Giving to the Needy
1 "Watch out! Don't do your good deeds publicly, to be admired by others, for you will lose the reward from your Father in heaven.
2 When you give to someone in need, don't do as the hypocrites do -blowing trumpets in the synagogues and streets to call attention to their acts of charity! I tell you the truth, they have received all the reward they will ever get.
3 But when you give to someone in need, don't left your left hand know what your right hand is doing.
4 Give your gifts in private, and your Father, who sees everything will reward you."

My Thoughts: In order to prevent hypocrisy and an obscuring the reality of attention someone gets, (like celebrities making face with hospital patients one time to attain more fame), it's easier if everyone just gives from their Being until it becomes something you don't even realize you're doing. To further this, He says that you shouldn't even build yourself up in your own mind for doing good. Self-hype is just as bad as others building you up for "good works". "Don't let your left hand know what your right hand is doing." Just let the act of giving become a part of your nature.

Mathew 6: 5-18
Teaching about Prayer and Fasting
5 "When you pray, don't be like the hypocrites who love to pray publicly on street corners and in the synagogues where everyone can see them. I tell you the truth, that is all the reward they will ever get.
6 But when you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father in private. Then your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.
7 "When you pray, don't babble on and on as people of other religions do. They think their prayers are answered merely by repeating their words again and again.
8 Don't be like them, for your Father knows exactly what you need even before you ask him!
9 Pray like this:

Our Father in Heaven,
may your name be kept holy.
10 May your Kingdom come soon.
May your will be done on earth,
as it is in Heaven.
11 Give us today the food we need,
12 and forgive us our sins,
as we have forgiven those who sin against us.
13 And don't let us yield to temptation,
but recue us from the evil one.

14 "If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you.
15 But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.
16 "And when you fast, don't make it obvious, as the hypocrites do, for they try to look miserable and disheveled so people will admire them for their fasting. I tell you the truth, that is the only reward they will ever get.
17 But when you fast, comb your hair and wash your face.
18 Then no one will notice that you're fasting, except your Father, who knows what you do in private. And your Father, who sees everything, will reward you."

My Thoughts: It seems like I've heard some of these verses before, but they've been rephrased for clarity. Verse 9 -Hallowed be Your name. Verse 11 -Give us this day our daily bread.
I would also like to note that verse 12 was about forgiveness and verse 13 was about temptation and evil. After the repetition, I realized something. If everyone goes around not telling anyone that their giving to the needy, praying, and fasting -you will never really know who is doing good. And therefore it is safer to treat every person you see as if they are secretly saints.

Mathew 6: 19-34
Teaching about Money and Possessions
19 Don't store up your treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal.
20 Store your treasures in Heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal.
21 Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.
22 "Your eye is a lamp that provides light for your body. When your eye is good, your whole body is filled with light.
23 But when your eye is bad, your whole body is filled with darkness. And if the light you think you have is actually darkness, how deep that darkness is!"
24 "No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.
25 "That is why I tell you not to worry bout everyday life -whether you have enough food or drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn't life more than food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn't life more than food, and your body more than clothing?
26 Look at the birds. They don't plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren't you far more valuable to Him than they are?
27 Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?
28 And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don't work or make their clothing,
29 yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are.
30 And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, He will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?
31 "So don't worry about these things, saying, 'What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?'
32 These things dominate the thoughts of the unbelievers, but your heavenly Father knows all your needs.
33 Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and He will give you everything you need.
34 "So don't worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today's trouble is enough for today."

My Thoughts:
Verse 19 -Reminds me of Hoarders. Whenever I watch that show I am reminded why I need to clean my apartment and get rid of everything.
Verse 22 -"Your eye is a lamp that provides light for your body. When your eye is good, your whole body is filled with light." This is my new favorite quote. If you only see the bad in life, your soul will be darkened. If you only look at yourself, you will never see beyond your own reflection.
Verse 26 "Look at the birds. They don't plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them." God tends to nature. I never thought of it like that. God tends to nature like a garden. Maybe people shouldn't worry about nature as much either, since God looks after it and has put things in place to keep it in balance. Have faith.

Friday, August 23, 2013

My Virtues

So I have a "Virtue Exercise". 3 times a day I'm supposed to check in and see how well I'm fulfilling a specific virtue I would like to better instill within myself. 

So here are all of my Virtues and Ideal Qualities I champion:

Personal (For Self):


*Certainty –Clarity-Be Right-Truth-Assurance


*Creativity-Imagination-Design-Aesthetics-Refinement- Beauty-Appreciation-Excellence-Harmony



Spiritual (Soul):




Relating to Others (Relationships):





Well there's the list. 

The Personal/Self Virtues are just qualities that don't necessarily impact anyone else, they're just things I carry within me. 

Spiritual Virtues have to do with the "bigger picture" and directly with the soul. 

Relating Virtues have to do with my interactions with other people.

Reaction to Mathew 5

Unlike the previous chapters, Mathew 5 hit me hard last night. I guess it's a good thing when different parts of the Bible effect you in different ways because it means you're really taking it in.

I don't like Mathew much. I prefer John. John lists things in a more spiritual way that flows in a more conceptual way. Mathew just lists things, and when things like that are listed they seem more like check lists. 

You are always going to see how you measure up in that kind of list. It's like God is saying:
"The following people are blessed and will make it to Heaven..." 

"The following people are damned to Hell for all eternity and will not be making it to Heaven..."

And what ends up happening is you see yourself in BOTH lists. Like your soul is going to be split in 2 when you die and one half will go to Hell and the other will go to Heaven. For me it was pretty depressing. You do feel imperfect and unworthy and flawed and broken and damned. 

Mathew 5: 1-12 was fine with me. I'm humble and merciful and work for peace and hunger for justice. Why is it in the Bible that all good things end at "12" and all bad things/things start going downhill beginning at "13"? 

Mathew 5:13-48 my brain exploded with all the ways people can be screwed and can wind up going to Hell. Who hasn't gotten angry at someone? Who hasn't hated an enemy who brought harm upon another? Dang it! 

The only way I could find peace within the text was in knowing God has a fail-safe.
-For the One Who Causes Harm to Another: You should give more in repentance than is asked. 
-For the One Wanting Revenge: Love your enemies.
-Forgive your enemies and make peace with them or you will not make it to Heaven.

Under these ordinances both the "evil doer" and the one evil is done unto are equally in the same boat. Both have to give. The "evil doer" has to give to his greatest capacity a sincere apology from his whole being and the "one who has been pained" has to give forgiveness. 

But what's amazing for me to see is how quickly Mathew 5:1-16 flew from my mind and was almost forgotten. How quickly the knowing of blessing and being a light went out the window. Salvation and things to rejoice in were left behind and my mind chose to focus only on the negative and the fear that comes with doubting yourself. 

I finally found rest in the notion that we all veer from the road to God. We all take missteps in the wrong direction and sway from the path in front of us. Our goal is to recognize when we veer and to swerve back onto the road. We should also help to guide others as well to help them stay the course as well.