Conquering fear with faith…

July 19, 2017

Fear of the unknown is at the root of most of the fears that seek to control us. We don’t do things that we may wish to do because we are fearful of some unknown (and unknowable) outcome. We don’t reach out to others because we fear an unknown outcome, perhaps rejection or worse. We don’t stretch ourselves and go for that new jobtimid or try that new sport because we don’t know enough about them and fear the consequences of those unknowns.

Perhaps no unknown is more feared than death. We think about it, but we can’t imagine what it will be like and what, if anything, comes after death. That is where faith comes in. Faith in God and His son Jesus is the only real option that you have when facing death. Jesus promised us life after death when he said “Where I go there you will be also” and many other comforting passages from the Bible. Having faith can help you conquer many fears while you are here on earth; however, the biggest fear that faith can help you conquer is the fear of death.

Our human imaginations help us find solutions to many of the problems that we VR2encounter in life; however, our imaginations at too often limited by our understanding of the physical world around us and the knowledge that we might have accumulated in life. We tend to frame things, including our ability to imagine life after death in very restrictive human terms. Some religions have very elaborate descriptions of life after death that imagine things almost completely in normal human terms. Other religions define the afterlife in terms that not even they understand. Even Christian religion uses descriptions of the afterlife in heaven that the common man might relate to – a “house with many rooms”; however, it is also alluded to a “peace that passes all understanding”.

As humans we tend to define what we hope heaven is like in terms that we can relate to. We hope to see loved ones there. We hope that our past pets might be there also. We depict people in white robes with wings and halos. We see it as a bright light at the endhelping hands of a tunnel. We do all that we can to imagine it as something warm and bright and comfortable, because we are trying to overcome our fear of the unknown. If any and all of that makes you feel better about it, imagine away; however, know that it is your faith that there is a life after death, that you will be with Jesus in His Father’s House and that your earthly fears and concerns and pains will all drop away.

What will it be like? No one can know until they get there, but we can be sure in our faith that it will be wonderful. Let your anticipation of what is to come next become stronger than your fear of the transition to that next life. That is called faith and faith conquers fear every time.


How many lives have you lived?

February 6, 2016

“We all have two lives.  The second one begins when we realize that we only have one.”  (Unknown) – as seen on the Jack’s Winning Words blog.

Of course Jack was referring to the life that we live, once we become cognizant of the inevitable and consider intelligently the alternatives.

I recall (and this goes back a long way, so don’t worry if you don’t remember this) a TV show called “I Led Three Lives”, which was on TV from October 1, 1953 to January 1, 1956. It was loosely based on the life of Herbert Philbrick, a Boston advertising executive who infiltrated the U.S. Communist Party on behalf of the FBI in the 1940s and wrote a bestselling book on the topic, I Led Three Lives: Citizen, ‘Communist’, Counterspy (1952). The part of Philbrick was played by Richard Carlson. The whole Communist and counterspy thing was a cold-war favorite back then.

I would submit that we all live multiple lives, which has not only to do with our spirituality, but also with the secrets that we chose to keep from the rest of the world. secrtetsThose secrets take on a life of their own. The life of Herbert Philbrick sometimes became very complicated as he worked to make sure that the secret life that he was leading for the FBI didn’t somehow spill over or disturb the other lives he led and a family man and a businessman. Our lives can get like that as we try to juggle the “facts” of the various lives that we might be leading. It is trying to keep track of the facts verse the lies that becomes complex when you lead multiple lives. It is an oft-used phrase that, “my life is an open book”; however, it is often a book with a few chapters that the speaker chooses to leave out.

If we get back to the original premise of the quote in Jack’s post; the quote seems to be saying that we begin living a different or second life once we begin to deal with our own mortality. It’s not like you wake up one morning and think, “Oh crap, I’m going to die someday.” When we are younger we certainly hear about the life expectancy of normal humans, but it seems more like and abstraction than a reality. As we age, there comes adeath point at which we start thinking about the “end game” in our own lives. For most people it is something that is there, in the back of your mind for years, which slowly works its way forward until it demands some thought time and attention.

So, now that it’s up at the front of the line; how do we deal with it? How does our second life differ from our first? For many this is the time when faith and religion also turn from an abstraction and a perfunctory duty into something that we take seriously. Some also begin to obsess about their legacy – how they will be remembered by those still here, once they are gone? For almost all there is a feeling of fear. Death is the greatest unknown of all. Is there something after death? Will I still be me? Will I see those who have gone before me again? Is there a Heaven and a Hell? Where can I turn to get answers?

Most major religions of the world have some description of an afterlife within their beliefs. Not surprisingly, given man’s ego, most of those descriptions revolve around us somehow being the same, conscious being we are now but in some different form. Some religions have created elaborate descriptions of the afterlife, most of it revolving around the deceased getting or having everything that he/she ever wanted. Some have posited a state of everlasting peace and contentment. Some describe it as being like a waiting room until you return to earth as someone or something else.

If you embrace Christianity in any of its many forms, then you also embrace the concept of everlasting life and the belief that you will end up in a place called Heaven for eternity. There are only snippets of descriptions of Heaven in the Bible which allude to a house of many rooms and a place flowing with milk and honey. Even the writers of the Bible could not avoid using earthly references when trying to describe what is indescribable.

It really doesn’t matter how you describe the place that you think you will go after death; what matters is that you hold a belief that there is something for you after death. And if Jesusyou are a Christian, you understand that the only way to enter the place that is there for you is through your belief in Jesus Christ. For all who truly embrace Jesus there is a lifting of the fear of death, for it was His promise that, through his death on the cross, He had forever banished death from those who believed in Him.

The second life that you will live, once you have come to that belief will be much different than your life up to that point. For most there is a sense of calm and relief whenhelper they embrace the saving grace of Jesus. For some there is a new sense of purpose and a desire to share the good news. For a few there is a sense of mission that leads to a new way of life. For all of those people the starting point to that new life is the removal of the fear of death.

How many lives have you lived?


Time – Life’s one-way street…

June 12, 2015

Yesterday I got a “like” message from Chris Nicholas, an Australian author. I visited his blog as I do just with just about everybody who takes the time to comment on my blog or “like” it. While there I was introduced to a word that I had not heard or used before –  Thanatophobia. Chris has a nice post about that word and its meaning in his life, which you can read here. Basically Thanatophobia is an overwhelming anxiety about one’s own death. Perhaps it is brought about by the realization that time is a one-way street.

overwhelmedThe name Thanatophobia is made from the Greek figure of death known as Thanatos. Thanatophibia or death anxiety is the morbid, abnormal or persistent fear of one’s own mortality. One definition of death anxiety is a “feeling of dread, apprehension or solicitude (anxiety) when one thinks of the process of dying, or ceasing to ‘be’”. It is distinguished from necrophobia, which is a specific fear of dead or dying persons and/or things (i.e. others who are dead or dying, not one’s own death or dying).

I suspect that we all experience some form of Thanatophobia in our lives. Hopefully it is mild and fleeting for you and not debilitating. The thing that I think may often precede those thoughts about our own death is the point in time in our lives that we come to the realization that time is a one way street. There is no going back in time. One may try again, but that is not a do-over because time has passed and one cannot get back to a previous state in time. Once you wrap your head around that concept the next thing that pops to mind is that our time, the time we have here in this human state, is limited. There was a beginning (which few of us remember much about) and there will be an end (which none of us can predict). Time is life’s one-way street. No matter how many twists and turns your life may take, time marches on in a straight line and headed towards that inevitable end point.

I suspect that it was this realization that at some point in history caused man to invent modern religions. Before that what might have passed for religion in mankind was more a fear of and wonderment about Nature and the events going on around them. The initial “religions” of mankind didn’t seem to assign human characteristics to the great unknowns praying in different religionsthat they feared or worshiped. It didn’t take too long before man’s growing ego about his place in the world began to be reflected in his religions and he bagan assigning names and human faces and characteristics to the Gods that he imagined – Gods which by then had taken on human visages in many religions.

The next step was man’s need to believe in some role for himself (again an ego-driven thing) after death, which led to the creation of very complex scenarios for life after death. Most modern religions have those scenarios and many of them are very much driven by visions of the afterlife within the context of our current lives – only much better. Most of the afterlife explanations are also derived from male-dominated scenarios, i.e. I will have many wives and they will all be virgins. I can’t see how that would be considered to be heaven for the virgins involved. Perhaps having streets paved with gold and honey flowing like rivers would appeal to some, but may not be for everyone. Most religions, but not all, also settled on a single God, which allowed focus, as opposed to the multiple Gods religions which required worshiping all of them somehow.

So, we now have religions that are there to make us feel better about the end time – our own deaths – and to hold out the hope (a devout Christian would say the certainty) that there is something after death. Fortunately, the Gods that we’ve created look a lot like us so we don’t have to use much imagination to picture them or to depict them in paintings. They have also promised us some level of existence after death and once again made it more convenient for us by excluding those who, unlike us, don’t believe in them. After all, we wouldn’t want our heaven to get too crowded with all of those non-believers. To give the believers something to hold on to all of the modern religions have also created books which are believed to contain the words and wisdom of their Gods and religious leaders, although all of the books were written and edited by men. We have also created elaborate organizations called relions to promote and carry on our beliefs and built buildings in which to gather to worship our Gods. All of this made us feel better about ourselves; yet none of it changed the fact that time is a one-way street.

Is the anxiety about pour own deaths justified or have we created enough of a ruse for ourselves about life after death in our religions to bring us comfort? I suppose that is a question that each person must answer for themselves. My hand reaching for heavenpersonal philosophy is to try to focus more on living each day to its fullest and not to spend time or energy worrying about something that I can neither predict nor prevent. I choose to believe in life after death, but I temper that with a skeptical view that it will involve my physical body or that heaven will look just like earth only better. Making that choice to believe that some “essence” of me will live on after death is an ego thing, too, and I understand that. Still, it is more comforting to believe that than to spend what time I have worrying about death. Time is a one way street and I intend to travel it as far as I can and to spend my time enjoying the journey. At the end of the line, I hope that my faith is the transfer ticket that I believe it is for the next ride.

Have a great day today and don’t worry about tomorrow.


The great equalizer…

December 4, 2014

“No matter how big your house is, or your bank account is, our graves will always be the same size.”  (Quoted by Tara)  – as seen on the Jack’s Winning Words blog. Jack went on to write: With all the talk of the 99% and the 1%, the “haves” and the “have-nots,” death is the great equalizer.  Kenny Wayne sings, “I ain’t never seen no hearse pullin’ a U-Haul.”

I was going to use the little phrase, “you can’t take it with you”; but, then I remembered the guy who loved his Mercedes Benz so much that he was buried in it. I guess he did take it with him. I found another story of a man buried in his 1973 Pontiac Catalina. You can watch the video of that here. So, other than maybe your car, I suppose that you could take other things with you when you are buried. I guess the hearse would be the one pulling the U-Haul to the graveyard.

The ancient Pharaohs believed that they could take it with them “to the other side”; sopharoah they arranged to be buried with lots of stuff, including slaves and servants to assist then on the journey. I guess that would have been a great day to stay home from work with you were one of the Pharaoh’s servants.

Jack went on to write about some in the very wealthy class, such as Warren Buffet, coming to grips with the inevitability of death and what to do with their great wealth. Buffet and others, like Microsoft founder Bill Gates, seem to be trying to use their wealth for worthy causes while they are still here to help direct the benevolence. I think that is great. It gets them more involved in the causes that they are supporting than just handing the money over or waiting until they are gone.

While I don’t dwell upon it, I do find that as I get older the thought of death becomes more real. When I was younger, I was like most young people and saw death as something that was so far off in the future that I was unconcerned about it. It now looms close enough to get some thought time every now and then; but, I refuse to fixate upon it. I remember when my father returned from the funeral of his father, how he couldn’t let go of the image of his dad laying in the coffin, with his hands positioned to appear to be pulling up a small blanket. My dad would often sit in his chair with his hands mimicking that pose. I now realize how sad that was.

As for me, I prefer to focus upon living each day to the fullest and finding ways to be of service or to help others. I’m still a working Realtor; so, I don’t even have to say that I’m retired. I’ll likely never really retire. I enjoy taking the time to make posts here and to dogthe other 3-4 blog suites that I post to on a somewhat regular basis. I also maintain four web sites, so there is always something that needs updating to keep me busy. Add to all of that having the greatest wife/companion that one could ask for and two wonderful dogs and I am a rich man indeed.

 

I guess the positive message for this post is that spending much time worrying about what you don’t have is really a waste, since you can’t take it with you anyway. Rather, spend what time you have here enjoying what you do have with those you love. You and Warren Buffet will end up with the same thing on the other side. Have a great day!