Category Archives: Spiritual

Changing the Mind

When I was a young man living in New York City we never had of the amount of gun violence you see now.  You might say that’s because there were not that many guns around.  I would have to disagree with you.  During the late 1960’s and early to mid 1970’s the proliferation of weapons on the street was substantial.  Almost everyone I knew carried a knife, myself included.  And, I had a number of friends who carried handguns for protection.  Some of my High School classmates carried guns even at school.  I went to a private Catholic High School where a number of students came from the Lower Manhattan/Little Italy section of the city.  You can fill in the blanks for yourself as to what “family” affiliations they had.  I still remember the moment while getting ready for gym class that a .45 caliber 1911 handgun slid out of one of my classmate’s pants pockets.  He gave me a quick look to see what I would do.  A simple nod of the head as I turned away was my way to telling him that I wouldn’t say anything.  I knew who he was, what his father did for a living and that having that gun was a necessity for him.  In the four years we went to school together he never pulled the gun on anybody and nor did anyone else who we knew that carried.  Neither had anyone of us who carried knives, some as early as grade school, gone on stabbing sprees or used it in a crime.  It was simply a way of life.

Violence and even death was also a way of life.  One of my classmates was killed by a rival gang in Chinatown for being in the wrong place at the wrong time.  He was a slight, soft-spoken member of the group who didn’t carry a weapon.  He was protected by his cousins and friends.  On this particular afternoon he was by himself when he took a shortcut home through Chinatown.  The price of that mistake was a knife piercing his chest and bleeding out on a city street.  As we sat in a memorial service that week in the school gym most of us were stricken and distraught by the loss of one of our own.  Needless to say, his family dispensed justice on the gang of youths who murdered him.  In one event 5 teens were dead within a week – my friend and the gang members who killed him. 5 young lives snuffed out by bad choices and a hardened lifestyle.  But, that was the end of it.  No more retaliation and no further police involvement.  No copycat events or nonstop media coverage.  It barely garnered one paragraph in the newspaper and a brief report on the nightly TV news.  We never forgot about it but didn’t fixate on it either.  And, we knew it could happen again.  That was life in New York City during those days.

I don’t share that to justify it or condone it.  I share it to show that life was just as dangerous back then. What we didn’t have was a generation of youth with no sense of consequences for their actions.  We all knew that one action could, and would, create a ripple effect of subsequent actions that would not only destroy our lives but those of loved ones as well.  Television and films have indoctrinated our youth over the last 2 decades that the answer to everything is violence and that there are no consequences for their actions.  Violence now is stylized and those who can do it well are glorified.  Hollywood has also diminished the true nature of violence for ticket sales and television ratings. Video games have played their part as well into the desensitizing of our society.  First person shooting games as well as those filled with violent gore are best sellers.  Brains are being hardwired for violence and desensitized to it as well.

And, while I will agree with you that the majority of people know better than to act out what they see in real life there are a small percentage that don’t.  It’s that small percentage we see regularly in the news who have lost the reasoning ability needed to understand the consequences of their actions .  Instead of seeing honest and transparent discussions about the cause of such violence we see politically charged rhetoric about an inanimate object instead the hands that wield them.  The news headlines are filled with more calls for gun control but no calls for dealing with the people who use them in a constructive, proactive manner. Interestingly enough many of the voices crying out for change are the very ones who profit from promoting violence in their films, television shows or video games.  The do as I say don’t do as I do mindset of Hollywood is part of the problem in my opinion.

We need a long hard look at the cause of the violence we are seeing today. We need to examine the influence of media and the dysfunction of the home to find answers.  Monsters aren’t born they are formed.  Why is that happening so much these days?  As long as we fixate on the lifeless weapon of choice we will change nothing.  Evil will always find a way to manifest and anger will always find a way to fulfill its desires.  Will society stop the angry polarizing rhetoric to do that?  I do not think so.  That genie is out of the bottle.  Which is why many of us want the ability to protect ourselves and our families against such events.  We want more done by those who are qualified to protect us and our children.  We know that law enforcement is reactive to events after they happen.  We also know from the Parkland School Shooting in Florida that not all law enforcement can be trusted to protect our children.  Thankfully the majority of the first responders are trustworthy. However, all it takes is for a few to be derelict in their duties and we see the outcome of such blind dependency. From that same event we learned that laws and policies won’t protect our children and that gun free zones do more to endanger us than to protect us.  As long as our children and certain parts of our society are sitting ducks for violent, extremist behavior these events will continue.  And, I shudder to say, they will increase.

If terrorists, criminals and the criminally insane know that no one will stop their actions there is no deterrent against them from acting on them.  They know that they will receive be made famous by the media and politicians they will continue to make the choices for the twisted glory it gives them.    From the time that Cain killed Able with a rock nothing has changed.  Bad things happen to good people and evil acts out whenever it can sometimes for selfishly ridiculous reasons.  We need to change ourselves, our society and our focus on such matters.  We need to understand why these choices are being made with such frequency and do all that we can to be proactively prepared to stop them or respond to them.  Instead of soul-searching for legal or political answers we need the soul changing and a transformational mindset in our youth.  Stop the divisive rhetoric and start the real discussions for real emotional and spiritual change in our society.

Romans 12:2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

Eternal Reality Check

Yesterday, April 30,2018, it was announced that Dr. Chuck Missler passed away at the age of 83. And while I am saddened at his passing I realize that he lived a long life, is reunited with his wife and sons and more importantly is with his Lord and Savior in Paradise.

Dr. Missler was a unique man who I had the pleasure of speaking to on a podcast many years ago.  He helped fill in the blanks in areas of Biblical knowledge and never ceased in his search of the scriptures.  In his final years I was disappointed in his choice of speaking engagements and the people he shared those stages with.  Be that as it may, I realize those things no longer have meaning to him.  There is only one reality I believe that interests him and that is the reality of Heaven.

The Apostle Paul was a student of the great teacher Gamaliel, the Pharisee of all Pharisees, and a man knowledgable in the Word.  However, after many years of arguing and causing riots in synagogues and cities he came to the conclusion that he resolved to know nothing more than Yeshua as crucified Messiah and the only thing saving him from being the wretched man his flesh desired him to be was Messiah Yeshua as Lord.  He knew that knowledge puffs up and the only great thing we can offer is the Love of God in Yeshua His Son.

Nowadays, it seems that the Church is looking for the next rabbit hole to dive down for the latest and greatest exciting new teaching.  There is only one eternal reality worthy of such effort – the Blessed Hope and eternity with Him.  Eternity itself is the greatest reality check we could ever experience.  As knowledgeable and brilliant as Dr. Missler was I believe that standing in the presence of the Lord gave him all the answers he needed.

Knowledge and intellect is what people are seeking in these end times when in truth they should be seeking the One who has all the answers.  Everything else is worthless in my opinion.  And, as stated, is my opinion.  I have a “no rabbit hole” rule these days.  My mind, heart and spirit is fixated on eternity and the One I will spend it with.

Eternal Value

As I begin my withdrawal from social media I’ve discovered that many of the thoughts/topics that filled my mind no longer seem interesting to me.  Of course, much of the time was consumed with obtaining information for topics on a regular podcast I did for almost 8 years.  Now that I no longer do that particular podcast I’ve come to realize that the time consumed in research no longer appeals to me.  The revelation has been that although my efforts to inform and reveal insights to the listeners were sincere, the information itself had no eternal value.  It changed minds, gave knowledge, may have touched a heart but didn’t change, heal or repair a soul.  It had no eternal value.  My desire now is to focus on things that have eternal value.

Philippians 4:8  And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.

Colossians 3:2  Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.

Beautiful sunshine

RJ Grund

Anti-Social Media

SocialMedia

As we see the exposure of social media for the trojan horse it was always meant to be we have to decide what to do.  Do we sever all ties and shut down all of our accounts?  Do we ignore the information flooding out about the deceptive practices of the social media giants?  What do we do?

I don’t have an answer for you.  I can only answer for myself.  And, after prayerful consideration, I am moving away from the social media giants.  Is that too little too late?  It probably is.  What we are learning now about Facebook’s data collection practices of all Facebook members and even non-members, we have to realize that the horses are out of the barn.  Even so, we must close the barn door anyways so as not to keep the predators out.  To do nothing at all is as foolish as entering the quagmire to begin with.  Once you realize you’ve stepped into quicksand you don’t just sink to the bottom and die.  You fight with all your might to extricate yourself and get free.

You have to ask yourself the question – has social media helped you, hurt you or do nothing at all?  All the time spent on social media acting “social” really is deceptive.  All of the people you are connected to on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. aren’t really your friends.  Some may be but most are total strangers that you’ve now given access to your personal and family life.  In fact, you don’t really know if they are who they say they are.  Maybe, like me, you’ve reconnected with friends or family you lost touch with. That seems to make this all worthwhile but truthfully all it did was make it easier.  A little more effort expended in finding a home or email address, mutual friends/family or a simple Google search (which brings another set of questions too) may have done the same thing.

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As you see, there really is no simple answer to this quandary.  What is simple is the fact that all of the social media giants have sold our data to third parties.  It’s how they offer their sites for “free”.  Aldous Huxley and George Orwell had visions of this type of society.  They just didn’t think it would be this easy.  And, they most certainly didn’t think their fiction would become a blueprint for these events.

What do you think?

Share your thoughts and comments.  All comments will be monitored.  Any profanity, abuse or off-topic interaction will be deleted.

Richard

Lessons Learned from Irma

Hurricane Irma, which formed on August 30th and dissipated on September 13th, was the most powerful hurricane since Hurricane Dean in 2007. It was the most intense storm since Hurricane Katrina in 2005.  It had sustained 185 mph winds for 37 hours.  That makes it the strongest and the longest sustained intensity on record.  Hurricane Irma spent more time as a CAT 5 hurricane than any other storm in recorded history with as much cyclone energy as an entire Hurricane season.  It inflicted catastrophic damage in the Caribbean, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina.  The death toll has risen to 82 with an estimated 62 Billion Dollars in damages.  Millions are without electricity in Florida and the Caribbean.  I was without power for a sweltering 7 days and 8 nights. Some may be without power for weeks or even months.  And, in the midst of it all, there were lessons to be learned from Irma.

When you strip away the “toys” and wealth and the perks of society, we are all the same.  Whether you spent your time in a home, hotel, or shelter we were all people in need.  Some of the worst destruction was seen by those who supposedly live the “good life” with a home on the water.  Movie and music stars saw their Million Dollar vacation homes on Caribbean Islands treated just as disrespectfully by Hurricane Irma as every other home in its path.  Who you were or how much money you had meant nothing to those pounding winds and waves.

I was raised to believe that no one was better than anyone else.  We all put our shoes on one foot at a time and until I hear of someone being able to jump into their pants both legs at once, that goes for pants too.  What makes us different is the lies of this world and the manipulation of society.  Children don’t see skin color as a difference until someone tells them it is.  Societal status is inflicted up us to keep us “in our place”.  And, none of that comes from God.  if we measured ourselves by Him and His Word we would know that we are all fearfully and wonderfully made in His image.  We would also treat each other accordingly.

Not having the electricity to keep the TV on or my laptop charged forced me to limit time on my devices to listen to Him more.  Sometimes it takes being still to know that He is God and that we need Him.  I suspect some people prayed during Hurricane Irma that had not prayed in a while.  Events like Hurricane Irma force us to be plugged into Him and not into an outlet.  Was it uncomfortable?  My mind told me it was but in truth, it was no less uncomfortable than life before technological comforts.  We talk about the “end times” but do we consider that the fear, trials, and stress of Hurricane Irma (and those that come afterward) could just be a prelude and preview to the end of days.  I have considered all of the above and more.

What have you learned about yourself and this world during the last week?  Whatever it was, hold on to it and keep it close at hand.  The power is flowing once again to distract you away from the simplicity of a life whose heart, mind and soul are set on God.  He rewards those who diligently seek Him and want to be with Him.  And, all I truly want, is just to be in His presence.  That to me is my reward.  And, when I am doing that it causes me to appreciate the things of value in my life – family, friends, and pets.  Everything else is replaceable.

Thank you, Hurricane Irma, for reminding us of what really matters.

 

Exposure

 Ephesians 5:11-14 11  Take no part in the worthless deeds of evil and darkness; instead, expose them. 12  It is shameful even to talk about the things that ungodly people do in secret. 13  But their evil intentions will be exposed when the light shines on them, 14  for the light makes everything visible. This is why it is said, “Awake, O sleeper, rise up from the dead, and Messiah will give you light.”

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The Apostle Paul was referring to the depraved practices going on in the Ephesus caves.  Bacchanalian orgies and rituals were being done in secret and some in the church either knew about it or were still participating in them.  The new Believers in Ephesus had come out of that darkness (Ephesians 5:8)

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Notice that he doesn’t say anything about the workers of darkness but instead focuses on the darkness itself.  Darkness is the absence of Light and is exposed when the Light of Truth is shined on them.  

Expose (Greek: elengcho) means to reprove, rebuke and testify against.  It’s a verb and therefore indicates action.  And the Light in question is the fiery Light of the Holy Spirit:  John 16:8 (NKJV) 8  And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:

The Spirit of Truth is one of the greatest weapons against the powers of darkness.  And, again, that means we must act to do so.  Do not be fooled though and think there will be no reaction from the enemy.  No, the enemy will be fierce in its reaction and we should be ready for it.  It HATES being exposed.

John 3:20-21 (NKJV) 20  For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. 21  But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.”

We are seeing this now in the world as the battle between Light and darkness rages on every level from politics, media, religion and societal values.  And, as verse 14 of Ephesians 5 mandate WE MUST WAKE UP!

triumph-of-evilSilence and inaction is implied consent. And, that cannot continue.  As those who live in the Light we must shine that Light into the darkness and expose it.  Confront it.  Rebuke it.  Or, allow it to triumph and become defeated by it.

So, my closing thought here is this, Ephesians 6:13 (NKJV) 13  Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

Stand firmly in place.

Dig those heels in and SHINE!

Richard J Grund

Baby Girl

Baby Girl
by
Richard J Grund
 
For a few years now there has been a feral cat that comes to our home to be fed. She was led here by our next-door neighbor’s cat who showed her his feeding dish outside our door. Yes, he’s our next-door neighbor’s cat but she’s not home much so he comes here to be fed. We got him an outdoor dish and one day there she was with him. They must have had a bad break up because he hisses when he sees her now but still lets her use the dish. He doesn’t drive her off or attack her as he does any other cat that thinks they’ve struck cat gold.
 
She’s a very petite little lady. And, very skittish. She would eat the food but if you were anywhere in the vicinity she would take off running. Not too far mind you but far enough to be out of reach. It appeared that she did not trust people. One of her ears had been tipped so it appears someone had her fixed and turned her loose. We would speak to her in soothing, loving tones every time we saw her and never chased her. Over time she would move away from the dish but not as far as before. Her sweet, small feminine face would look at you from a distance. There was no way to know how old she was. So, we started calling her Baby Girl because she was so small and very much a girl.
 
Over time she would wait to be fed and when we went back inside she would venture near the dish. Always looking and watching for another cat or for someone coming by. If either of those happened she’d run underneath our fence and off into the yard. Just one sound from our door and she’d be off and running. We had no idea where she went or where she stayed at night. Sometimes during the day she’d lie in the sun off the side of our driveway and when it got too hot would slide under the shade of a tree or my SUV. We never gave up trying to win her trust. Eventually, that effort would pay off.
 
One day I opened the door to see her sitting at the end of the walk near our front door. She was waiting to be fed. I spoke to her, saying “Hello Baby Girl”. She watched me carefully to make sure I didn’t move toward her. And, I never did. I would place the food in the dish and change the water. Before going back inside I’d invite her over and tell her to come eat. Once the door was closed she would come over to the dish. This went on for weeks until one morning she was just a few feet away from the door. She was now showing up last thing at night as well. She knew she had a good thing going. I greeted her as I always did and set down her food. She had come realize I would not hurt her nor try to grab her. This was our new routine until one day the ice was broken.
 
On this morning when she was at the door and I set the food down she was suddenly right next to my feet. I dared to risk petting her that day by lowering my hand so that she could see it and put it near her head. She didn’t move so I gently touched her head. I gave it a gentle pat and soft scratch behind the ear. She leaned into it and the rest they say is history. Every morning and night she’d be out there to be fed. Waiting to have her head rubbed, ears scratched and to rub against my legs. Baby Girl and I were friends. She was always looking at the door to open or the window for me to look out. When I opened the door, she would meow away her story for the day and we’d go through our routine. I would take the dogs out early in the morning usually, around 6 am and she’d be waiting. If she wasn’t there I’d worry about her and when she showed up that night, I’d lovingly scold her for frightening me. I’d get a few meows; a leg rub and we were good.
 
About a month ago both she and my neighbor’s cat went missing at the same time. I suspected someone had taken them. They’re both black and there are people that use black cats for ritualistic purposes. It upset me because I feared for her safety and wellbeing. I’d come to care for her and would want to know if anything ever happened to her. Outdoor cats don’t have long life expectancies and I had come to realize that Baby Girl wasn’t as young as she appeared. One day she looked up at me in the bright sunshine and I could see her eyes were clouded with cataracts. She was obviously older than we knew. No matter. However long it was that she had we wanted to be safe and pleasant. Not seeing her waiting for me that week hurt our heart. My wife too had fallen in love with her and even though she didn’t let Deb pet her she did wait for the food from a nearby, safe distance.
 
Then, one morning after about a week as I glanced outside there she was. Thinner but seemingly unharmed. I grabbed some food, dumped the entire can with kibble in a paper plate and ran outside. I told her how much we missed her and worried we were about her. She meowed the whole story as she snaked in between my legs rubbing them furiously. And, the neighbor’s cat was found the same day. I believe they got away together from whoever took them. She would have made someone a great lap cat if not for how feral she was. If we did not have two big dogs that we knew would not accept her, we would have tried and brought her inside. But that was not an option.
 
Next to the food dish is an old cat carrier we had. I set it up with a soft rug on top and a bathroom rug inside. She would sometimes lay on top when it was warm and even took to sleeping there at night. A few weeks ago, we got hit with a cold spell and I worked on showing her the inside of the box where she could stay dry and warm. Once she discovered it we found her sleeping there regularly. We would look out the window after she finished eating and she’d be inside the box asleep. Sometimes she’d look up with those felines eyes, give that blink and contentedly go back to sleep.
 
By this time, she was not coming by alone. Another feral cat with a crooked paw was coming by too. Now I was setting down food for two. He was much more feral than she and didn’t seem to like people. But, I eventually won him over too. Just yesterday morning he was at my feet watching her get petted and touched. Although he didn’t lean in for it, he didn’t run either. He even let his tail touch my leg but moved when I lowered my hand toward him. It would only be a matter of time before he would be getting petted too. It was great to see her have a friend and when the food arrived it was a head-butting, purring love fest between the two. So much so I’d have to step carefully because they’d stay right in front of the door.
 
This morning I was up early. I looked outside expecting to see her and her friend as I had for months now. Neither one of them was there. This happened periodically that they would sleep in somewhere. They had full bellies from the night before. So, I thought they were sleeping it off. But, I kept going to the window to check on her arrival. She was never there. About 10:30 am our neighbor’s cat, whose name is Baby but we call Moochie for obvious reasons, was at the window demanding to be fed. When I say demanding I mean it. So, I got his food and headed back to the dish. That was when I saw her. One of her sleeping spots at night was near our car where she could dart underneath if in danger. There she was. She had been there all along. My heart jumped to see her. It appeared she was sleeping. I called out her name. She didn’t move. She wasn’t sleeping.
 
Sometime during the night, she must have passed. From the open eyes and tongue hanging out, it appeared to be a stroke. We have had cats and I’ve seen this look twice before. I simply muttered, “Oh, Baby Girl…” and shed a tear for a feral cat that had won my heart. She had been gone for a while as her body was already stiff. She probably died not long after I fed her last night giving her one last scratch of the head and getting one last rub of my leg. I buried her in her favorite spot next to the driveway. This had become her home and we her family. I figured she deserved at least to have that. Maybe it was more for us than for her but it felt right. I would never have to wonder now where she was or if she was safe. She’s home.
 
Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains,
your justice like the ocean depths.
You care for people and animals alike, O Lord.
Psalm 36:6 (NLT)
 
Richard J Grund