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A Picture is Worth…

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A Picture is Worth

A picture is worth a thousand words unless you are the kids who survived the Stoneman Douglas High School mass shooting in Florida, several weeks ago. This past weekend there were gatherings in cities around the world. It was called; “The March for Our Lives.” Since this protest event, David Hogg and Emma Gonzalez have become targets, again. There are news articles, memes, pictures and opinion pieces written that would make adults question their sanity, worth and the innate goodness of humanity.

My heart is broken and my spirit crushed as I listen, read and watch adults attack these children with vitriol. They are being bullied, lied about, crushed by those whose opinions differ from theirs. These young people have survived what will probably be the most traumatic event in their life. They are processing their grief, the loss of their friends and their innocence. They are trying to take a stand, find their footing after an event and in a debate bigger than them. They are exercising control by speaking out, marching, becoming an advocate against an act of violence that ripped their lives apart. Yet, while they attempt to put their lives back together, people online, on the radio, on television are tearing them down and apart, again.

Are these kids being used by persons and corporations with agendas? Maybe. Perhaps they are also smart and resilient enough to know what they want and believe. Have they said and done everything perfectly? Of course not. Who has? You don’t have to agree with them to see they are still in pain. You don’t have to march with them to stand by their side. You can disagree without abuse. We should be better than that. These kids deserve better.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Gathered Together

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Gathered Together

All over the world today youths and people of every color, creed, and nationality, clergy, organizational representatives, politicians, movie and music stars, are gathered together to protest gun violence and by their voices and presence hope to convince those who have the power to do something about people dying. You don’t have to agree with their position to respect their right and motivation to come together and show their solidarity and support. In this crazy, mixed up and messed up world at least they are doing something.

“Decisions are made by those who show up.” -Anonymous

It is amazing what a group of people, gathered together, with peace, justice, kindness, and determination can accomplish. Too often we sit on the sidelines and voice our opinions, make fun or mock those who think differently than us and are doing what their heart, emotions, and spirits, say is right and good. Perhaps we’ll make mistakes, maybe our ideas aren’t totally thought out and ordered. However, can you imagine an international movement where everyone decided to take action, do good, seek justice and change the world for the better? I can.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Intimacy

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Intimacy

This afternoon I stopped by a store to run in and grab a few items. When I parked there was a man sitting in his car and as I pulled into a spot he was staring at me. I gave him a head nod and didn’t think much of it As I gathered my things and exited the truck I looked again and he was no longer visible because his, I am assuming, girlfriend was bending sideways across the center console “appreciating him.” She was kissing him and whatever else because I averted my eyes not wanting to see anything that would burn an image in my brain! I went into the store came out a few minutes later and was hoping the car had gone but alas it was still there. Most of the windows were fogged up except the driver’s window and the driver was smoking a cigarette. I looked at my keys, hopped in the truck and drove away, quickly.

Intimacy is one of the greatest emotions and connections humans can share. Lust, on the other hand, is hormonal, selfish, addicting, and satisfied in ways which can hurt others. Our world is filled with lust. Lust for power, fame, money, reputation, knowledge can all be subjects of our lust if they are used only for our selfish purposes. True intimacy is also powerful but the opposite of lust. Lasting intimacy is giving ourselves to another. We have intimacy when we decide to put the other one first, serve the other. In a world where lust burns quickly, brightly, we need those who would rather do a slow burn which lasts a lifetime.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Invasion

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Invasion

The past few weeks there’s been an invasion of Middle Tennessee! The multi-legged, orange-colored, flying insects called Ladybugs. They’re everywhere and this morning they kept stealing my attention away from the pastor as he spoke from the Book of Saint John, chapter 12. They were collecting near every light fixture which was about 10 feet from the pews the people were sitting in. Every now and then one or ten would fly across the room landing on someone. One tried to use my neck as a resting place but he didn’t stay there long. I watched hundreds on one light fixture as they crawled around it seemingly looking for a way in. I am not sure if they were attracted to the heat or the light. Of course, once in it was nearly impossible for them to get out. They very thing they were after was actually a trap. They would die there getting what they wanted but not able to get out.

I reflected on the Ladybug’s fate and how it also mirrored our own fascination with those things in life which promise safety, warmth, and light. We become fixated on things which we believe will make life better, bring satisfaction and enlightenment only to find out once we’ve achieved or possessed them it was an illusion. Wisdom teaches that what is worth having comes to us. It is our humility, our acceptance that we are not able to control or manipulate love, peace, kindness and a grace-filled life that makes it possible for these to permeate our minds, emotions, and spirits and bring a unique warmth and light to our cold and dark world.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Scattered

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Scattered

Last night I stuck a bag of trash on the porch. Living in the country and not placing garbage in a receptacle is like playing Russian Roulette. Sometimes a varmint gets into it and other times they just pass it by. Unfortunately, last night something got into the trash and scattered it all over the driveway. It was the first thing I saw when letting the dog out this morning. I went inside, grabbed a new bag and began recollecting the trash. There’s nothing quite like picking up frost-covered garbage at dawn.

As I was gathering it and stuffing it into the bag I began to recall a Jewish wisdom tale;

A woman repeated a story (gossip) about a neighbor. Within a few days, everyone in the community knew the story. The person she talked about heard what had been said about her and she was very sad. Later, the woman who had spread the story learned that it was not true. She was very sorry and went to a wise rabbi and asked what she could do to repair the damage. After giving this some thought, the rabbi said to her, “Go home, get one of your feather pillows, and bring it back to me.” Surprised by the rabbi’s response, the woman followed his advice and went home to get a feather pillow and brought it to the rabbi. “Now,” said the rabbi, “open the pillow and pull out all the feathers.” Confused, the woman did what she was told to do. After a few minutes, the rabbi said, “Now, I want you to find every one of the feathers and put them back into the pillow.” “That’s impossible,” said the woman, almost in tears. “The window is open and the wind has scattered them all over the room and blown many feathers outside. I can’t possibly find them all.” “Yes,” said the rabbi. “And that is what happens when you gossip or tell a story about someone else. Once you talk about someone, the words fly from one person’s mouth to another, just like these feathers flew in the wind. Once you say them, you can never take them back.”

It was a great reminder that not only every word but every action has consequences that we cannot foresee. Our lives should be lived mindfully aware that our scattered thoughts, words, and actions will impact the world for evil or for good.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Life Lost

Life Lost

Today, I stopped by Wal-Mart for a couple of items and headed to the checkout area. I had my choice of a person checking me out or self-checkout. The self-checkout had a couple of registers open so I chose one of them. I wasn’t in a hurry, didn’t have an appointment to go to or a schedule to stay on top of, it was simply faster and mindlessly I chose it. Instead of human interaction, an opportunity to say a kind word to a cashier, a chance to stand in line and share a smile, I went with the quickest and the most isolated.

These are the choices we face in our culture. We are able to order online, having most items shipped for free or close to it to our homes, open our doors and live without interaction, relating, or sharing our lives with one another.

At a time when communication is easier than it has ever been in the history of humankind, we are lonely. In a world full of hurting and wounded people we look in another direction to avoid seeing them. On a journey we should be making together we prefer to travel alone. Instead of caring for one another we see the other as a burden to carry.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Temporary

Temporary

The sun, which shone so brightly the last couple of days filling my spirit and mind with images of spring, is gone today, replaced by gray, gloomy clouds. My wife’s flu bug which bit her last week seems to have been squished and she’s on the mend. The weekend is winding down and soon a new week will start.

I commented to a friend today about a photograph taken about 4 years ago that; “sometimes it seems long ago and other times yesterday.” I think that’s life. When younger I was told; “time moves faster as you get older.” It didn’t make sense to me then but now, on the other side of the hill (midlife), it’s a boulder rolling faster and faster.

The present moment, where we long to continuously dwell, is the one place that brings thankfulness, humility, and acceptance. We are thankful because we are only “grass that whithers, blows away, and its place remembers it no more.” Every moment is precious, even the ones we’d rather not experience. We are humbled by the brevity of ourselves and the things around us. Nothing is permanent which we can touch, see, feel, hear, or taste. “All things are passing away.” By accepting this truth we can choose to consciously, deliberately, live leaving nothing unfinished, and embrace this flash of light we call being alive.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Wasted Minds

Wasted Minds

This has been a tumultuous week following the shooting at Parkland High School in Florida. People have chosen sides on the gun debate and have used this tragedy as an example as to why they are on the side of the angels. I’ve seen countless posts about gun rights and gun restrictions. I have posted my opinion on the gun debate on my blog in the last couple of weeks if you care to know where I stand on this cultural, moral and spiritual issue. Everyone has their argument at the ready. They grab screenshots, tweet, put a photo on Instagram, use memes, videos and Facebook are so full of posts on the issue it’s hard to find anything else.

I think it’s an issue which needs many conversations. There’s not an easy solution and anyone who thinks there is hasn’t thought about it enough. What doesn’t need to happen is more arguing over the subject. We are a divided people in our country and it seems every “Breaking News” headline on whatever channel we watch, or website we read, erodes our relationships with those with differing views more.

Whatever side we’re on, opinion we possess, idea we espouse, we should also respect and love our neighbor.  If we can’t then our voice is wasted, nothing changes and the world continues to go to hell.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Single Moment

Single Moment

One of my favorite wisdom quotes is; “All we ever have is this present moment but if we do it right, it’s all we need.” Moments in time are what life is made up of. If we mindfully put enough of them together there’s a life worth living.

About an hour ago I needed to drive into town and pick up some medicine for my wife who has a nasty flu bug that’s been making the rounds. On the way home I was stopped at a traffic light where two lanes merge into one after the light turns green. There was an elderly woman behind me who must’ve just come from the beauty shop. She stopped before she needed to and was blocking traffic from both lanes. I looked in my mirror and watched her as she admired her hairdo. She played with it, flicked it with her fingertips. She was enjoying her hair and herself. Behind her was another driver who wasn’t enjoying the display. She wanted to get into the other lane but couldn’t because the beauty queen was lost in her own world.

Here’s my question; “Which one was living in the moment and which wasn’t?” Part of being mindful is the awareness of the creation around you but it’s also enjoying the little things which can make a big difference. Was I being mindful as I watched the two people in my mirror? Did I miss something because I was “rubbernecking?”

Each moment is special, unique, never to be repeated. Finding the center, the stillness, the focus of not focusing takes the journey of a lifetime. I’m still learning but aware enough to know there are things I need to know.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

What’s in a Day?

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What’s in a Day?

I was once asked by someone; “What do you want to do with your life? What are your plans for the future?” I was sitting outside, leaned back and thought for a moment and then surprising my interrogator and myself replied; “I’m doing it. I am content. I have no more plans.” My friend didn’t like my answer because everyone should have something they are striving for. How else can you measure life unless it’s by your accomplishments? As a contemplative wisdom teaches that days are measured by the moments when you are aware of your connectedness to all living things and that the universe is in every experience.

What would you do if today were your last? Martin Luther is reputed to have said, “If I knew the world would end tomorrow, I would plant a tree.” In other words, I would contribute to the beauty of the world and thus the universe. As Marcus Aurelius states in the quote, I would want to live my last day as I hope to live every day; “without frenzy, without apathy, without pretense.”

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

What’s on Your Plate?

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What’s on Your Plate? –

This afternoon, at a county health council meeting, a speaker from Vanderbilt Hospital gave us a lecture on the importance of heart health. February is Heart Health Month so it was certainly appropriate. He talked about healthy eating even stating; “If it tastes good it’s not good for you!” That certainly got everyone’s attention. He softened the blow a little by following up with limiting the amount of unhealthy, high fat, processed, high-calorie food and increasing healthy choices. The speaker had arrived late and lunch had been served before his lecture. The food wasn’t what he’d call the best in choices but not the worst either. After he sat down and the meeting dismissed someone mentioned to the attendees that there was plenty of food left over from the lunch and to please take some home. I can only imagine what the speaker was thinking as he watched people make “to go” plates. It certainly is a difficult job to get people to think differently, choose differently.

One of the disciplines of mindfulness is mindful eating. It is the recognition that everything we put in our mouths comes from the world around us. It’s not just consuming but being aware that each piece of meat, every spoonful of veggies, a bite of fruit, is a result of the creation we all apart of, participate in and exist in intimate connection. Too often, however, we just consume. Not only food but almost everything in our lives is used and abused, grabbed and possessed, with no thought of creation or consequence to our consumption.

What’s on our plate is, and is more than, the food we eat but also what we allow to fill up our lives.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Emptiness

Emptiness 

Most of us have plenty. In truth, most of us have more than we need. I was speaking with a co-worker this week and he was saying how amazed he was at how people in our organization and fellow organizations step up when there is a need in our community. I told him I agreed.

We work with a lot of folks who are having a rough time. In certain situations it’s their own poor decisions, in others, the community, the state, and the federal resources have failed them. They feel and at times are the forgotten ones. There are residences you go into and cannot believe what you see. The basics of food, clothes, electricity, heat, medicine do not seem accessible and many are at the end of their ropes.

It’s hard when you know the suffering of others to come home. There may be cracks in the walls, leaks in the ceiling, toilet paper runs out and food spoils, but your house is a palace in comparison to these you see and spend time helping. These are the ones who empty and need to be filled. Much of what you have becomes superfluous, extra, easily given away because you know you won’t miss it.

It’s hard to imagine but can you, for a moment, think of living in a world where it wasn’t; “This is mine and you can’t have any!” to a place of sharing and; “What’s mine is yours.” Only when we begin to give away what we possess do we discover we have everything we need.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Go Your Own Way

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Go Your Own Way

A friend of mine told me a story yesterday and I told her; “That would make a good blog post!” So, here goes…

My friend had a procedure done yesterday and needed someone to drive her home from the doctor’s office and to any other place she needed to go. However, on the way to her appointment, my friend’s friend was telling her to go and drive a certain way. On the way home, when my friend’s friend was driving she did the same thing. Because they are good friends and can tell each other almost anything they quickly made a deal. They agreed to allow the other person to drive the way they drive and to go the route they wanted to go. The one who was the passenger would only be a passenger, not a side seat driver. Problem solved. My friend made the comment; “She goes and does her way, I go and do mine. As long as we get where we need to go, the other stuff doesn’t matter.”

I’ve reflected on this story for the last two days. We live in a world divided. People argue and end friendships over big and small things. It makes me wonder why we can’t agree to disagree. We don’t have to be enemies with those who challenge our beliefs, think differently, walk another path, find peace and do kindness different from us. What matters is we all get where we need to go.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Often Wrong, Never in Doubt

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Often Wrong, Never in Doubt

This afternoon I watched an episode of a Netflix six-part series on greed called; “Dirty Money” (http://collider.com/dirty-money-trailer-netflix-alex-gibney-martin-shkreli/). The series exposes a few of the most corrupt people and companies in the world.

The episode I saw today was; “DRUG SHORT.” It’s an exposé on Wall Street short-sellers and how they exposed a scam that regulators often overlook, mainly how Big Pharma gouges patients in need of life-saving drugs. It was heartbreaking and infuriating as it made the case that when Wall Street and pharmaceutical companies partner together corruption is sure to result. Greed, profits are why drugs can jump up in price from $15.00 a pill to thousands of dollars. Bottom line it’s about how much money is made for the companies and investors.

During the documentary, someone described another person as; “often wrong but never in doubt.” I’d never heard that phrase before but it’s stuck with me. I’ve wondered how often it pertains to me and to others. In the documentary is referred to investors and the difficulty of playing hunches in the stock market. It also included the companies and their desire to grow bigger by taking risky partnerships with unscrupulous people.

I reflected on our world and how many of us are so sure of our opinions and we never consider another’s point of view. We provide litmus tests for others’ beliefs and if they fail we shake our heads and move on to someone else who’s more like us. I heard another phrase this week that I’d heard before but it was no less potent and true; “If you’re the smartest person in the room. If everyone in the room agrees with you, you’re in the wrong room.”

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Teaching Peace

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Teaching Peace

Earlier this week I was talking with a man who has a confessed anger problem. He’s also been hurt by some people he trusted. The pain and rage of this betrayal occupy his thoughts and revenge is his stated goal. As we spoke with each other I explained to him that violence is not going to fix things. It will only make it worse for the man and his family. “Good mental health, the ability to process our emotions in a healthy, positive way will have a lasting impact on your family. Not choosing wisely will hurt you and those you love. I know the feelings are there and they’re eating you up inside but taking a path which doesn’t lead to peace punishes everyone.

Peace is a hard concept and discipline to put into practice. We live in a world which claims the right to revenge and paying people back for the harm they’ve caused us. However, if we stubbornly stay on the path to; “right the wrongs” done to us we will not find contentment but an endless cycle of violence and retribution.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

How’s Your Aim?

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How’s Your Aim?

This past Sunday morning the Mrs. and I went to our neighborhood church. It’s a small country congregation who meet in a small white building complete with steeple. We arrived as the service was starting and were quickly noticed by one of our neighbors and invited to sit with them. As with most small churches guests are welcomed profusely and it seemed as if every person in the worship room wanted to shake our hands and to tell us how happy they are to see us. This is one of the reasons I love small churches.

Finally, we were able to sit down and the music minister asked everyone to stand. We sang a few hymns and then the pastor stepped up on the platform to preach. As he was walking up to the pulpit I noticed he was carrying a firearm in a holster on his hip. I began looking around and noticed the music minister, and two ushers also were packing heat! Four guns in a group of about 30 people in a room no bigger than 25 feet by 50 feet. Needless to say, I didn’t feel safer and whispered to my wife; “There are 4 people with guns in this room. If someone comes in and starts shooting there will be bullets coming from every direction. Get on the ground and stay as low as you can!” The pastor spoke on; “Guarding your thoughts” but I must admit my thoughts were on all the firepower in the room and what would happen if someone’s gun fell out their holster and start going off!

This isn’t an anti-gun post it is simply surreal that guns in church are now an acceptable casualty of our culture. It also begs the question; “What would Jesus say about guns in a place of peace?”

“All this I have spoken while still with you. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives.
Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”
Jesus, The Master; The Gospel according to Saint John, Chapter 14

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

I Insist

I Insist

A few days ago I posted a political article on my Facebook page. It was a snarky article but I thought it spoke beyond the snark and pointed to a larger and important point. It didn’t take long for people on both sides of the political landscape to begin voicing their opinions. By the time I woke up the next morning my Facebook feed was littered with exuberant cheers and bellicose jeers. After reading a few comments on the article I deleted it. I don’t have any desire to be one more voice in the cacophony of political arguments that dominate our national disagreements.

It was a stark reminder that we live in perilous times where debate and discussion have disappeared and have been replaced by something else that’s a mean, vicious, attack and take no prisoners approach to others who have a different opinion, view on politics, world affairs, life in general and specific.

I don’t want to be in this place personally or culturally. Somehow we must find our way back from allowing our identities to be attached to fleeting things; people, regions, political parties, church affiliation, and cultural icons. We need to discover who we are by journeying inward not abdicating ourselves to what’s outside of us. It’s our only hope for survival and peace.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Non-Action

Non-Action

Today was busy! I know for some it was a holiday but my schedule was stuffed! The day started early and it felt like a sprint to the end of it. I don’t mind busy days most of the time because it keeps the time moving and there’s no boredom to fight off.

On the other hand, my wife had a holiday. Today is Martin Luther King day and she was able to sleep in, keep her PJs on and enjoy a wonderful day of doing nothing, purposefully. She’s been incredibly busy since November of last year and a day home, without me!, and zilch on her schedule was what she needed.

There is a thin line between balancing a healthy life or action and inaction. Our chaotic world and its need for non-stop entertainment, to-do lists, places to go, things to experience, can set a pace where eventually we burn out, fall apart, or both. We need to know when to stop, take our foot off the gas and be still; not just emotionally and mentally but physically.

Knowing, sensing, its time for a break, a rest, a lazy day is an important sense to develop and put into practice.

blessings,
BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

The River

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The River

“Imagine yourself sitting on the bank of a river. The river is your stream of consciousness. Observe each of your thoughts coming along as if they’re saying, “Think me, think me.” Watch your feelings come by saying, “Feel me, feel me.” Acknowledge that you’re having the feeling or thought. Don’t hate it, judge it, critique it, or move against it. Simply name it: “resentment toward so and so,” “a thought about such and such.” Then place it on a boat and let it go down the river. When another thought arises—as no doubt it will—welcome it and let it go, returning to your inner watch place on the bank of the river.”
#ThomasKeating, “Open Mind, Open Heart: The Contemplative Dimension of the Gospel”

One of the greatest and most difficult realizations is the truth that we are not our thoughts. We are not our actions. We are not our egos. True, each of these can reveal things about us and to the world but we are not these things.

The problem is we’ve been taught the opposite most of our lives. The famous quote; “Reap a thought, a word, an action, then a destiny,” seems right but our thoughts do not have to lead us to who we ultimately become. We can choose to go deeper, change paths, refuse to be captive to our thoughts by breaking free of them.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Might Be

Might Be

One of the greatest senses we can develop is that of self-awareness. It’s the discipline of being able to look into an existential mirror and see who we really are, no delusion or illusion. We can see ourselves, the good and the not so good, discover what we do well and what needs to be improved.

Most live in a constant state of denial of who they are and/or who they should be. They allow others, culture, reputation, ego, the false self to define them. If we are not self-aware the world has a limitless number of fake identities to slap on us. If we aren’t careful we can settle for these alter-egos and never take off the masks too many wear for a lifetime.

Letting go of who we’ve always thought we should be isn’t easy. There is pain involved on the journey of self-discovery. However, if we dare, the challenges and difficulties can be overcome, the illusions and delusions shattered, and we become what most dare not hope for; at peace.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Idols and Illusions

Idols and Illusions –

I would add to the quote attached to this post anything that’s fleeting, temporal, transitory, this that tell us lies about ourselves or others. Things like politics, money, jobs, reputations. Idols are all of these and more which fix our focus on the illusion that we are in control, we are powerful and by our wills, the world can be recreated in our image. It is this illusion that destroys our world and ourselves.

This morning part of my contemplation and meditation time included a portion of the Second Book of Kings, chapter seventeen, verse 15; “They worshipped false idols and became false.” I have read that several times today, talked about it with a friend and wrote it down in a journal. It says we become what we worship. Where our heart is, our mind, emotions, spirits, where our energies are applied is what we are and what we become.

Idols and illusions are hard to see sometimes. Breaking free from them isn’t easy. #AlbertEinstien said; “All of reality is an illusion, a persistent one, but still an illusion.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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