Tuesday, June 23, 2015

My favorite Passage of Scripture

My favorite passage of Scripture is John 17:20-26 when Jesus prays for all believers before He is going to be arrested and eventually crucified:
"Neither for these alone do I pray [it is not for their sake only that I make this request], but also for all those who will ever come to believe in (trust in, cling to, rely on) Me through their word and teaching,
21 That they all may be one, [just] as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be one in Us, so that the world may believe and be convinced that You have sent Me.
22 I have given to them the glory and honor which You have given Me, that they may be one [even] as We are one:
23 I in them and You in Me, in order that they may become one and perfectly united, that the world may know and [definitely] recognize that You sent Me and that You have loved them [even] as You have loved Me.
24 Father, I desire that they also whom You have entrusted to Me [as Your gift to Me] may be with Me where I am, so that they may see My glory, which You have given Me [Your love gift to Me]; for You loved Me before the foundation of the world.
25 O just and righteous Father, although the world has not known You and has failed to recognize You and has never acknowledged You, I have known You [continually]; and these men understand and know that You have sent Me.
26 I have made Your Name known to them and revealed Your character and Your very [c]Self, and I will continue to make [You] known, that the love which You have bestowed upon Me may be in them [felt in their hearts] and that I [Myself] may be in them."
 [Amplified Version via biblegateway.com]


So let me give some prelude and then go verse by verse to communicate why this is my favorite passage of scripture.

So prelude:  this is the last recorded pray or saying of Jesus before He gets arrested to get crucified. He is having the last supper with his disciples and telling them all sorts of things, about leaving them with the Holy Spirit and giving them comforting words, "in this world you will have trouble, but take part I have overcome the world (John 16:33)."

But THIS passage - John 17:20-26 - is the most amazing thing to me.

1st, Jesus says "I pray not only for them (the apostles) but I pray for those who will believe in me through them,"  so basically Jesus is saying He's praying for us, all Christians from the apostles to now, until Jesus comes back again - so this is a prayer from Jesus, in the Bible, about us! (Let that sink in for a moment ... Selah)

2nd:  What does the Lord pray for: unity, "that they may be one even as we are one, perfectly united."  So we as believers need to be united ... we may not be colorblind, we may have prejudices, but God (i.e. Christ) IS colorblind, He DOESN'T have prejudices, He loves ALL infinitely and equally. We are to be one body under the Head who is Christ.

Now verse 23 is a sledgehammer, " I in them and You in Me, in order that they may become one and perfectly united, that the world may know and [definitely] recognize that You sent Me and that You have loved them [even] aYou have loved Me.

"Hey DJ, bring that back!" like Ludacris says .... SO .... if we confess that Jesus is Lord and that the Father sent Him, and raised Him from the dead (Romans 10:9) and believe that Christ lives in us because of our faith in Him, the hope of glory (Colossians 1:27) then the Father loves us EVEN as He loves the Son .... that's how the Father loves us? EVEN AS HIS SON JESUS??? (........bruh)

And then the last thing Jesus says is He has made the Father known to those who have trusted in Christ and Jesus asks that the love the Father has for the Son (namely the divine love of God) be placed in our hearts, and that Jesus HIMSELF may be in us!!!

So let's recap:  (1)  Jesus prays for unity in believers, the kingdom, the body, however you want to say it, He wants all believers of all nations, tribes and languages (Rev. 7:9) to be one in and under Himself and the Father.  (2) He says as believers and followers of Him, the Father loves us (all believers) even (to the same extent and with the same love) as the Son!!! [never stops blowing my mind] (3) And lastly, while most of us might pray for a new car, or a fine wife, or a good job for ourselves or our friends, what the Lord, Jesus, prays for us that, "God's divine love would be in us, and that Jesus Himself would be in us (v.26)".

The Lord - the one we pray too - prays ALLLLL that,  for us!!!!

Once you realize how much Christ loves you, how much God loves you  (even as much as the Son [v.23] ) How can you justify not forgiving, not loving, not doing what God has done so divinely for you, too others? Not perfectly - but the best you can - trusting that Christ will do it through you and help you do it better.

Ray Lewis has a quote that talent is God on you, God gives talent ... but effort and attitude those are choices, that's you on you!

So only God can be perfectly loving through you, but you can put the effort and attitude to try your best, even though you know God has to do the rest.

With Christ praying that not only this divine love be in us, but that He Himself - Christ - will be in us to do it for and with us, how can we make any excuse for not doing our best with the time and talent we've been given while we're here, however long or short that is?

While we have to accept, that all people may not be saved because of free choice (a loving God would never make people love Him, if you made someone love you, it by definition is not love, because love has to require the choice  to love or not love) ... we have to acknowledge that - God - is too loving, to force anyone to love Him, and therefore some people may choose to be separated from Him (think of the younger brother who took his inheritance and ditched his pop in the Prodigal Son story [...he did come back later though]) ... we have to acknowledge that truth that there is separation from God if one chooses to be separated from Him.... even though we have to acknowledge ALL OF THAT .... we also have to acknowledge that it is God's desire, He wants, "all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth."

"I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior,who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth." (1 Timothy 2:4)

He desires it, does that mean it will happen? Not necessarily, God is the Father of all, but we have to choose if we will be His children and reconciled to Him. It's God's desire for all of mankind to be reconciled to Him, but He will not force anyone to love and reconcile who does not want to .... but I say all this to say that: if it's GOD'S desire for all men to be saved, then shouldn't it be our desire too?

While we must acknowledge that some people will choose not to love God "with all their heart and all their soul and all their mind" (Matt 22:37-40), and some will choose to be separated for God because they don't love Him, it is still unchristian for us to not want ANY-B-O-D-Y (even if you really don't like somebody ... even if you don't like somebody ... do you really not like someone so much that you wish for them to have ETERNAL separation from God ... forever and ever and ever ... that's harsh yo, to put it lightly) to get to heaven. 

So we have to preach, love and forgive, just like we've been preached to, loved and forgiven, and let Christ do it THROUGH  us, in His strength through our weakness.

God be with and bless,
Kozy


Sunday, May 31, 2015

Chris Hedges excerpts

A few excerpts from a Chris Hedges book I wanted to save and share if anyone wanted to read, I found them worth pondering at least -- God be with and bless as always:


“We know, it is true, something more of our life than of a novel we have formally read – yet very little indeed.  The principle events, the interesting scenes, have been impressed on us.  For the rest, a thousand events are forgotten for one that has been retained.  The older we become, the more does everything pass us by without a trace.  It is true that - in consequence of our relation to the external world - we are accustom to regard the subject of knowing – the knowing ‘I’ – as our real self.  This however, is the mere function of the brain, it is not our real self.  Our true self, the colonel of our inner nature, is that which is to be found behind this, and which really knows nothing but willing and non-willing.” -ARTHUR SCHOPENHAUER


“God answered Moses’ request for revelation with the words ‘I am who I am’.  This phrase is probably more accurately translated, ‘I will be what I will be’.  God was an experience.  God came in the profound flashes of insight that cut through the darkness; in the hope that permitted human beings to cope with inevitable despair and suffering. God came in the healing solidarity of love and self-sacrifice.”  -CHRIS HEDGES


“The danger we face is  not an Orwellian 1984 style dictatorship, but Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World. Where we waste our lives in the vain and impossible pursuit of a self-centered universal happiness.  What Orwell feared were those who would ban books, Postman wrote [CHRIS HEDGES]:

"What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one.  Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information.  Huxley feared those who would give us so much, that we would be reduced to passivity and egoism.  Orwell feared that the truth would be concealed from us.   Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance.  Orwell feared we would become a captive culture, Huxley feared we would become a trivial culture, pre-occupied with some equivalent of the feelies, the orgy porgy, and the centrifugal bumblepuppy.  As Huxley remarked in Brave New World Revisited, the civil libertarians and rationalists who are ever on the alert to oppose tyranny 'failed to take into account man's almost infinite appetite for distractions.'  In 1984, Huxley added, people are controlled by inflicting pain.  In Brave New World, they are controlled by inflicting pleasure.  In short, Orwell feared that what we hate will ruin us.  Huxley feared that what we love will ruin us.”  - NEIL POSTMAN

Monday, January 12, 2015

Article I really like ...

http://www.keepbelieving.com/sermon/why-god-prefers-losers/

God be with and bless,
Love,
Kozy

Friday, November 28, 2014

Heart Cutters

An homage to a few special girls I met this semester ... thank you.



I almost made it out this place, 26 years with some near misses, but mostly unscathed – I almost made it out of this place – until I saw your face.

That smile, those eyes got me from the start, but what is sweeter still, are the treasures hidden in your tender heart.

Understanding, compassion, and a smile that starts from within and works its way out … a smile that will one day save the world … about that there is no doubt.

“If your eyes are full of light your whole body will be full of light” … Well if that’s the case, my light is brighter than the Sun whenever you’re in sight.

This poem may be cheesy, and you know well by now that so am I, but I have a most serious question of which I expect a rhetorical reply.

Who doesn't like cheese? I am inclined to ask - and since the answer is no one - continuing with “my cheese” will continue to be my task :)

But in honesty and from everything I hold true … you’re the greatest of blessings that could ever happen to a dude.

God had to break down a lot of idealized idols in my strife, before He was ready to bring one of His true angels into my life.

Like a beautiful flower that sprouts from burnt ashes, something that quite simply never should happen, the only thing I’ve never had clear, is why God would let you, His greatest creation, out of heaven at all my dear.

"The eyes are the light of the body", "The window to the soul" ... your eyes are green daggers that have pierced my heart and left a gaping hole.

I'll do the only thing I can, and give my wounded heart to Him to heal again ...

 My heart is His anyways and so is yours ... so is the whole world's.

 But I'll carry you in mine sweet angel ... until and upon and after ... His return.

Love always,
Kozy









Thursday, November 27, 2014

Another Way to Look at the Equality of People

Acknowledging that we have biological differences does not mean that people are better or worse, but just that we're different ... we're different in traits, but not different in value ... you can't have a stew with just potatoes -- you have to have meat and other vegetables and even noodles are good to make the stew whole, same with people -- we are different, but it's the differences that give the stew flavor and wholesomeness ... we're different as people, but equal as human beings.

God be with and bless,
Kozy

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

God is like the Ocean

I know this is not original, but here is my spin on the "God is like the Ocean" simile:





God is like the Ocean, and life for each of us is jumping in and trying to swim to shore.
We get to pick what shore we try to swim to (again money, power, etc.), but the shore of loving God and loving others is the most fulfilling shore to go for.
Life is hard, swimming in the Ocean is hard – there are rough waters, we get battered and bruised, and sometimes we even sink – but there are also calmer waters, there’s driftwood, and lighthouses and sandbars, where we can find refuge along the way, depending on where the Ocean (God) carries us.
It’s a partnership of us swimming, and God carrying us … that is one reason I like the Ocean analogy.
Another reason I like the analogy of an Ocean, is because there are highs and lows, low tide and high tide, but all that matters is getting to shore when it's all said and done.
But even if we never swim all the way to shore on our own, we get too tired or sink along the way, God promises to “carry us to shore” if we will trust God no matter what … and trust me, as you probably know yourself … it is not always easy to trust God, but the hope is that it will be worth it.

God be with and bless,
Kozy

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Cosmic War: Reza Aslan Book Review

*This is a book review I did for Reza Aslan's How to Win a Cosmic War? All rights and only reference in this paper was that book. I just wanted to have a copy of that paper, because I think Aslan's assignment is hauntingly accurate of the ISIS situation, and it was just a good educational book for me on my own journey, and gave me a little better understanding of some complicated issues in our world -- God be with and bless -- Kozy*

As usual, the formatting got thrown off SEVERELY -- and I don't have the energy or the time to re-format it, but I feel like the content is still worth posting -- so bear with it if you can, and I apologize for the messed formatting (...I don't know why that happens), but like my buddy says this is the "blog that nobody reads", so it'll probably just be for my personal reference and access anyway (...but hopefully someone else reads it too!)

Matthew Kozak
04/28/2014
Professor Sharp
ISLAM 317

Book Review for Beyond Fundamentalism (originally published How to Win a Cosmic War) by Reza Aslan
This book is filled with historical narratives, socio-cultural and political (as well as religious obviously) insights, weaving an intricate web at the heart of which is “Global Jihadism” – what is it? How did it arise? What are the implications? And how should we respond?

    Beyond Fundamentalism is a book that comes at us with so much

content, it can seem daunting to unpack. The book starts by defining

terms and the “landscape” and implications as well as realities of 

the entrenched mindset of “us vs. them” and “cosmic war” in the

introduction, to unpacking the consequences of modernity and nation-

states (Wahhabism, Salafism), on the Arab world specifically, and 

all the world more broadly.

    After Aslan sets the table with this “nation-state”/”us vs. 

them” mindset he has explained to us historically and 

fundamentally, he then illustrates how this has played out in 

Israel, and what fuels both sides in that piece of the “cosmic war” 

pie.

   Aslan then broadens out the religious fundamentalist menagerie to

include radical Zionism and radical evangelical Zionism.

Then, we are swept into the history and rise of what would

be considered by most to be modern “Islamic fundamentalist 

terrorism” of the Osama binLaden and Ayman Zawahiri brand.

   The later part of the book highlights the infrastructural and

social reasons and obstacles in the “clash of civilizations” between

the East and West by describing challenges London has faced with

discrimination and integration of their Muslim population, and how

that has bred forms of the Islamic extremism.

    The last chapter is about the importance of true democracy

throughout the Arab world, and how the fight for democracy in these

war torn, deeply diverse, deeply entrenched ideologue battlefields

must be fought; “not with bullets and bombs, but with words and 

ideas”(p.125).
I want to focus on specifically, this idea of “Global Jihaddism” (p.24) presented by Aslan, because I think it is the heart and most important part of the book from an educational standpoint.
The theme I found most compelling, integrated, and encompassing by Aslan was the more fundamental psychological root of his exhortations on identity and social integration. Aslan talks about how the rhetoric from both the “East” and “West” in its most EXTREME version pits the friction between the two in “cosmic” terms; Aslan writes:

“A cosmic war partitions the world into black and white,
good and evil, us and them. In such a war, there is no
middle ground; everyone must choose a side. Soldier and
civilian, aggressor and bystander – all the traditional
divisions that serve as markers in a real war break down
in cosmic wars. It is a simple equation: if you are not
us, you must be them. If you are them, you are the enemy and must be destroyed.” [p. 5, Aslan, Beyond Fundamentalism]


Some skillful parallelism is used to further illustrate this

point of this “us vs. them” mentality that has been heightened in

human society with the rise of nation states (p. 19-24) and

globalization (p. 18-19) when Aslan tells the story of Alfred 

Dreyfus.

According to Aslan, Dreyfus was “blackballed” in an espionage

conspiracy by French authorities because he was Jewish (p. 40-

42). At the end of the Dreyfus narrative Aslan drives his point home

by explaining: “What did it mean to be French or Dutch at a time 

when those identities were only just beginning to 

be nationalistically defined? It meant not being a Jew” (p.42). 

     This story is paralleled later to make the point that with the 

creation of the state of Israel and Zionist movement, this “nation-

state”/”globalization” mentality carried over from being against 

Jews(Dreyfus) to the Jews perpetrating it on others (the injustices 

to Palestinian people by creation of state of Israel) where Aslan 

states: “What did it mean to be a Palestinian? It meant not being a 

Jew” (p.49).

     This theme of “us vs. them”, and the effects of “national

identity”, “globalization”, and “integration” are examined and 

probed by the author throughout, and I believe culminates with 

Aslan’s story of Hasib Hussain, one of the 7/7 bombers (for more 

information about the 7/7 bombings in London I am providing this 

link:http://www.911memorial.org/77-london-bombings) in London.

Hussan’s story as a “normal”/”unassuming” terrorist is not only

the “template” (p. 136) of the recruiting targets of Global 

Jihadism,(Defined by Aslan as: “A militant Sunni Muslim social 

movement with its roots in the Arab reform movements [Salafism] of 

the 20th century”) but also is an example by which we can 

extrapolate that the form of radicalism we see (especially in 

European countries) by young-middle class other-wise non-violent 

citizens becoming radicalized into terrorist action is more a 

result of “institutional discrimination” and “Islamaphobia” (p.151) 

by Eurupe, than anything with in the tenetsof Islam. 

      Indeed, it is not as much their Islamic identity that

leads to this “terrorism”, (in fact if they were more Islamic they

wouldn’t lend themselves to terrorism is the implication by Aslan

throughout as only “13% of Jihadists worldwide have had any kind of

religious education [p.147])but it is the fact that they are NOT 

well integrated Europeans (p.150)! I personally found this point 

quitefascinating.

    Reza Aslan closes out this woven historical, political, cultural

and religious narrative into a single thread in the final chapters 

of his book. That thread being that democracy must be imbued into 

the Middle East, and the push for true democracy must continue to be

fought for – that the United States role in promoting TRUE 

democracy, not lip-service democracy and back-handedly stunting 

democratic growth by military and social support of dictatorships 

to stabilize U.S.interests, is an INTEGRAL piece in battling 

Jihadism. 

     Aslan explains that Jihadism is a social movement, and to 

stabilize it, it must be absorbed into politics and culture by 

being given a voice and self-destruct by being reamed out by other 

more sound realistic, and Islamic options OR transforming into a 

more moderate, Islamic, and practical ideologue itself (Aslan gives 

the example of the success of the Muslim Brotherhood in the 

political sphere in Egypt).

    I found Aslan’s book informative, educational, and important. I

would recommend it to anyone who wanted to learn just basic “nation-

state” globalization” history, or who more specifically wanted a

thorough understanding of what Global Jihaddism is, what religious

fundamentalism is, how is it different from real Islam, how did it

come about, who are all the “players” (U.S., Israel,

Europe, Middle East at large, etc. etc.) and what is the best way to

deal with Jihadism going forward.
     
    In my opinion, this coming from Aslan with a Ph.D in religious

studies and himself being a devout and very intelligent Muslim 

scholar I think gives this book all the credibility it needs to 

spread its important message, it’s not about “us or them” –

it’s about “all of us” learning to live together, while 

understanding all the factors and obstacles and history involved, 

and how to achieve that goal.