First, let me set one thing straight: In this book, I’ve spent a lot of time and energy in clarifying certain points. Namely, how important to us love is and why it is the only right way to experience life. I believe, if I may be so bold, that I have done a fine job of it. Having said that, there are a couple of things you need to be aware of: a) You will, no doubt, be challenged and, maybe, even encouraged in your efforts to be a better person.

b) The concepts you will find in these pages are nothing new. In fact, not only have many teachers, both religious and secular, written extensively about the law of love (many of them far more intelligent and eloquent than I), but the law of love is one that you’ve known your whole life.

c) You will find, as you try to implement said principles throughout your daily life, that you are and always have been a miserable failure at doing so (but don’t let this discourage you from reading further. It’s still a good book). d) You will also learn that there has been made a way for you to make it happen anyway. Also, what that way is and how it can be found. I want to make something else very clear: There does not go by a single day in which I have not, in some way, broken the law of love. However, I have found the way to not be enslaved to such a lifestyle, and not by any fancy footwork or brilliant thinking of my own, either. That being said, the goal of this book, ultimately, is to either show you that way (assuming you haven’t found it already) or remind you of it (assuming you have). I am confident that you will find its contents uplifting, either way. Enjoy.

Chapter Index
Chapter 1: An Experiment Chapter 2: The Human Condition Chapter 3: Forgiveness Chapter 4: Finding the Bottom Chapter 5: Who Are You? Chapter 6: We Are Not Alone. . . . Chapter 7: Adorning Truth Chapter 8: A New Beginning Chapter 9: It’s a Conspiracy Chapter 10: One Love Chapter 11: The Good News Chapter 12: A Prayer

Chapter 1 An Experiment

Imagine that you are a scientific genius that has discovered the secret of creating life from scratch. You can even decide how old, physiologically, that life will be. You decide to make him biologically advanced to the age of 30 years. This way, he’ll have a fully developed, adult brain. We’ll call him Adam. Being the quintessential scientific mind that you obviously are, you decide to take your experiment to a whole new level. To this end, you have constructed a chamber in which one can experience total sensory deprivation. Once in it, the subject will have no stimuli whatsoever; nothing to see, nor hear, nor smell, nor taste, nor feel. The only thing the subject will be able to experience is what his own mind can conjure. Now, your creation needs but one final ingredient; the spark of life. Finally, the moment of truth has arrived. You push the

magic life button and, POOF! Adam comes to life. What do you suppose our subject’s very first thought will be? It won’t be, “I’m hungry.” You’ve already seen to that and, besides, how could he possibly think of such words when he’s yet to hear them. Perhaps you’re thinking he might be feeling a bit lonely. How would he know the difference? Would he know hot from cold, black from white, or pain from pleasure? What could he think? He has nothing to inspire him. You have discovered that, by depriving Adam of needed stimulation, you have interrupted the very process of creating life. In order to be truly alive, an outside influence must be added to the ingredients. But, have no fear (you are the greatest scientist that ever graced the lab, after all) you’ve come up with the solution. You will place something new in his environment. Nothing much (you don’t want to over-stimulate), just a small, red dot just in his peripheral. BANG! The

consciousness comes alive, and his world is a small, red dot. The moment in which Adam’s world discovers color and form he becomes truly alive. Before, he was just potential bottled up in a vacuum. Now he has curiosity, meaning, longing and purpose. Does he try to understand it? How would he even begin? From what life experience could he extract a hypothesis? Would he bother to name it? He has no need for such labels. Labels are only useful for distinctions and for conversation. To what would he compare it when it is all he knows? To whom would he communicate it when there is no one else (as far as he’s concerned) “out there”? His world is a mind and a red dot. That red dot is everything. It is life to him and to take it away would be death to him. To him, it is consciousness itself. And, as you introduce more and more of what life has to offer, you will impart to him knowledge, wisdom, understanding and, most of all, a

passion for life and its endless potential for more “red dots”. For the first nine months of our lives the world was much like that of the subject of our experiment. We had the sound of our mother’s heart beat, the warmth of the womb and even the muffled sound of the world outside. However, in comparison to the world that greeted us on the day we were born, we lived in God’s own virtual deprivation chamber. Then the day came when we were pulled from the chamber and found that the temperature wasn’t as cozy. We found that there were others out there that made unfamiliar noises at one another. They had funny, toothed faces that stared down at us. Larger, harrier versions of ourselves held out their fingers for us to grab as they made cooing sounds at us. Our world suddenly got much bigger. And then, perhaps for the very first time in our lives, the hunger hits. The discomfort is so

foreign and intense that we immediately begin crying until we are finally given mother’s milk. We soon learn that this is an effective technique for getting what we want or need. So, if we are hungry, too cold, too hot, or just want to be held we cry. However, this too turns out to be insufficient. The people around us don’t seem to know the difference between the cries of hunger, general discomfort or loneliness. Yet they seem to understand each other without too much trouble at all. In fact, they are quite capable of taking care of such needs on their own. How? And so the learning process has begun. We learn to speak our native tongue, we learn to crawl, then walk and then run. We learn to read body language; when one is happy, sad, or angry based on facial expressions and mannerisms. We learn all the social do’s and don’ts. All of these skills would be impossible without direct interaction with the people and

world around us. With these things in mind, one would have to be blind not to see how much we depend on one another for our very survival. Imagine Adam has been given his freedom from our deprivation chamber and we find him sitting at home watching TV in his living room. The news comes on and the meteorologist warns of coming rain later that afternoon. This triggers the realization that his lawn needs mowing and that he’d better get it done before the storm hits. He gets his lawnmower out and attempts to get it started only to discover that he’s out of gas. Grabbing his gas can, he jumps in his car and heads off to the filling station. On his way he spots an old, worn out shoe in the road which reminds him that he could use a new pair of sneakers. Forgetting the mission at hand, he heads to the shoe store where he meets Eve, the shoe sales lady. He asks her out on a date. Soon after, they fall in love, get married, have children and one of

those children grows up to be the next President of the United States. All because of a worn out shoe in the road, the need for gasoline in his lawnmower, the rush to get the lawn mowed before it rained, the weather report, the meteorologist and so on. The corresponding events go on in many, many directions. They involve both his past and even as far reaching as the cause of the rain; the proverbial butterfly flapping its wings in a distant land. His life experiences, even his thoughts, are but the cosmic ripples of an ever changing, dynamic universe. The seasons of our planet change as it spins on its axis and revolves around our sun. Our sun is just one comparably small object spinning about in a galaxy billions of times larger than itself. In fact, our galaxy is but one of many of the inhabitants within our universe. All of which interact like great cosmic dominoes of immeasurable energy; all reaching out to one another. Each affects the other in a fantastic cosmic dance. Some even

combine forces to create even larger galaxies. So, the whole universe paints the pallet that is Adam’s life. The Bible says, “In Him we live, move and have our being.” (Acts 17:28) So, our journey, in other words, is in God. God has ordered the universe as such; to create an atmosphere in which my calling in Him can be realized. And so, I am part of you and you are part of me. He has created an environment in which our actions reach out and touch across the space between us (however vast that may seem). All this so we may connect, unite and become greater for it.

Chapter 2 The Human Condition

There is a television program I enjoy in which one can learn how to paint beautiful landscapes. Supposedly, one can learn how to paint mountain ranges, streams, cottages tucked away in remote wooded areas and the like. I must confess that, while viewing this show, I am not set up with an easel, paint, brushes and wearing a beret. In fact, I’ve found myself wondering how few watch such shows with the intent to learn at all. I’m sure there are many who do, but I doubt that this is the norm. So, if this is the case, why do most of us sit for the whole hour engrossed in the process? What is it that grabs our attention so? There’s something about watching the artist as his creation takes form. At first, we are seeing lines of color that seem elementary at best. The picture is not yet

clear. It looks nothing like a babbling brook with an old fashioned, covered bridge crossing it in the foreground. It looks more like a squiggly line of blue with what seems to be what the Chinese character of the word “house” must look like. So, the audience waits, eagerly, trusting in the master painters brush, anticipating a masterpiece. We watch as the stones of the brook are added and the contours of the rocky bank and plush evergreens take shape in the surrounding landscape. With each stroke of the brush we watch in wonder as the painter artfully works his colors upon the canvas and the reality of his vision is finally realized. It is a fine capsulated example of our lives, isn’t it? At first, we are like Adam, wondering what that odd figure in our peripheral is. Then, as more and more is added to our world, we gain understanding and wisdom. We realize beauty and meaning. Now, let’s take this to a more practical place, if you will: You get up in the morning to

find that you’ve forgotten to set your alarm clock and, as a result, you are late for work. Not having time for breakfast, you’re a bit grumpy. You get to work 30 minutes late and your boss yells at you and warns that, if it happens again, you’re fired. The added stress weighing on your mind, you find yourself making stupid mistakes while doing your daily duties. Lunch time finally arrives and, having still not eaten, your low blood sugar has made you yet more on edge. You get to the restaurant, order your food, the waiter is a little late getting your meal to you and, as a result, you yell at the waiter, telling him how “incompetent” he is. It doesn’t stop there. You see, the waiter is only human and, as such, get’s in a foul mood of his own. He, as a result, takes it out on his co-workers in the back and starts a fight with one of the cooks. The manager fires him. He goes home and his wife asks why he’s home so early. Still upset, he snaps at her. As they

argue, their children listen from the next room. You can see how it will potentially go from here. The process isn’t contingent on whether or not you believe in it. It isn’t simply that God has made rules, or that you have a choice as to whether or not you obey those rules. It is a process that God has placed in motion as an organic response to our behavior. All of these events are indicative of what caused them; an unwillingness to surrender to love. This is evident in that your response to difficulty, being frustration, was to sow the seed of anger, and not only into your own future, but to that of the people around you, as well. This is not to say that, so-called, “unlucky” events that we all face dictate the outcome of our lives. Rather, it is our response to those occurrences that often dictate outcome. We may not be able to control random occurrences, however, we can control the way we respond to them. So, we are responsible,

however distantly related the events may seem to us, for EVERYTHING that occurs as a result of our response. This is just one seemingly small example of how our actions affect the world around us on a daily bases. Can one be held accountable, based on such an effect, for all that may go wrong in the world? The point I am driving at here is that we not only should be, but, in fact, are held accountable. Every word and deed is a ripple in the pond of creation. Saying, therefore (such as many these days do), “As long as what I do doesn’t hurt anyone else. . .” is to ignore this really simple fact of life. The way I live my life does affect the world around me. Knowing this, how can I not assume responsibility for my action, however private I may think them to be? The process is thus: 1) I live, and, as a living being, I am faced with the challenge of continuing to live with

as little discomfort as possible. 2) I need. In order to accomplish the aforementioned goal of a continuing, peaceful existence, I will encounter needs. 3) I see. I see the object of my need; that which will, in my own summation, help me live on. 4) I desire. I desire to obtain it. 5) I move. I work toward obtaining it. I gather the pertinent information, I formulate a plan of action to get that which I desire and I begin carrying out that plan. And then comes the inevitable; 6) I interact. In order to obtain that which will fulfill my need, I must interact with my environment. This will ALWAYS causes a ripple on a cosmic level, returning to me according to my actions. In short, the way I live my life is vital as one that contributes to the universe at large. I cannot simply say, “C’est la vie.” My input determines my own outcome in the end. If

what I have to offer to the world is hatred, bitterness, depression, self-indulgence and an all around shallowness in my approach to life, what will be the return on my investment? However, if what I have to offer is love, peace, joy, altruism, and depth . . .? You and I have a responsibility to love. The question then is; how do I measure up to that responsibility? What’s the meaning of true love? In the light of what you’ve read up till now, I believe one could draw but one conclusion; you will never find it as long as you believe that the idea of independence is either attainable or real, for that matter. Rather, we are Interdependent. God has ordained it so in order to create for us an environment that only works in our favor as long as we obey the rule of love. In physics there is what’s called a conservation law. A conservation law is a law that governs the quantity of an element or occurrence allowed at any given time. One

example I’ve heard; let’s say there was a conservation law governing the amount of people that could be at a football game. If someone new showed up, therefore, someone would have to leave. If a group showed up, an equal amount of fans would have to go as well, keeping the amount constant. Nothing can occur that could change that number. Until Albert Einstein’s famous equation E=MC2 came along, it was widely viewed that there was a conservation law that governed the amount of energy that could exist in the universe at any time. Also, there was a conservation law that governed the amount of mass. However, this equation forced physicist to replace these two with a singular conservation law of mass-energy, because Einstein’s equation states that there is no qualitative difference between mass and energy. They are really the same thing. Energy can be converted into mass (or matter) and mass can be converted into energy.

Another way to put it; the universe and everything in it is made up of one “thing” called mass-energy. Furthermore, it is the “stuff” that was used by God in the creation of all things; the stars, planets, clouds, rain, trees, birds, bees and, yes, you and me. Even the air you and I are breathing right now. This even applies to the very space between us. This being the case, we and all that is around us are quite literally one. This goes beyond the eastern philosophy of “oneness”. It is more than a scientific fact. It is the message God has been trying to get through to us sense the beginning of our time: Love is the meaning of life. I was on my way home from work one evening when I witnessed a really bad car accident on the interstate. One of the vehicles was thrown onto the shoulder facing oncoming traffic and the driver was visibly bleeding due to a bad head injury. I stopped to see if I could help. While doing so, I noticed hundreds of people as they kept

driving on by. They just slowed down long enough to get a better view of the extent of the carnage. It was as if it were nothing more than a highway spectacle. I remember thinking, “How can so many simply drive on, gawking with nothing more than morbid curiosity, detached and indifferent?” If it had been someone they knew personally the reaction would have been quite different, wouldn’t it? They’d be pulled over, dialing 911, perhaps even holding the young ladies hand and comforting her. Was I any better? Sure, I was doing “the right thing”, but what if that was my wife in that car? I guarantee that my own level of concern would have been much higher. Once I’d declared that there was nothing more I could do, I was driving off in a hurry to get home. I justified that the police and ambulance were on their way and, “besides, it’s not like I have the training or tools to do them any good.” Had it been my wife, however, I would

have stayed with her, comforted her and tried to make her comfortable until emergency officials got there. Perhaps, I would have followed them to the hospital and stayed with her until the moment I knew all was well. I would have held her hand and prayed with her. Throughout our lives we’ve learned to draw imaginary circles around us. They are circles that tell us who is important, who isn’t and at what level of importance they are. We’ve invented phrases like, “Blood is thicker than water” in order to insulate our families from the possibility of choosing our friends over them. We create tribes, gangs, countries, and states and provinces within those countries; borders that serve as markers where the rules change. There is a connection we have with each other. It is because of this connection that every little thing we do affects the lives of every person on the planet. This knowledge magnifies the importance of an all inclusive

circle. Knowing this is to begin to understand the truest definition of love itself. More importantly, how utterly short we fall of it. These things in mind, we begin to find the acts of love perpetuated by Jesus Christ a little easier, perhaps, to understand. He didn’t live within small circles, including only friends and family, but within a circle that encompasses the entire globe. He had a genuine love for all. Jesus was once asked what the greatest commandment of God was. He said, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and strength, and the second is just like it; love your neighbor as yourself. There are no commandments greater than these.” (Mark 12:29-31). In other words; for one to love their neighbor is to, by extension, love God. In fact, the Law of Love is the greatest Law He has commanded us to observe. “I may be able to speak the languages of men and even of angels, but if I have no love, my speech is no more than a noisy gong or a

clanging bell. I may have the gift of inspired preaching; I may have all knowledge and understand all secrets; I may have all the faith needed to move mountains--but if I have no love, I am nothing. I may give away everything I have, and even give up my body to be burned--but if I have no love, this does me no good. “Love is patient and kind; it is not jealous or conceited or proud; love is not ill-mannered or selfish or irritable; love does not keep a record of wrongs; love is not happy with evil-but is happy with the truth. Love never gives up; and its faith, hope, and patience never fail. “Love is eternal. There are inspired messages, but they are temporary; there are gifts of speaking in strange tongues, but they will cease; there is knowledge, but it will pass. For our gifts of knowledge and of inspired messages are only partial; but when what is perfect (Love) comes, then what is partial will disappear.” (1st Corinthians, 13)

To sum it all up; we have fallen short of our calling, indeed, our reason for “being”. We have failed to love and, therefore, failed our Creator and His creation. When we are faced with the decision to do what is right for others, or what best suits our temporal wants and/or needs we’ve consistently chosen the later. By doing so, however, we’ve found ourselves asking, “Why am I here? Why do I feel disconnected? What is my purpose? Who am I?” We have lost our way and, therefore, we have lost ourselves. We are lost in a sea of meaningless worries in our desperate search for meaning. Meanwhile, the answer is as plain (plainer, in fact) than the nose on our faces; obedience to the Law of Love is to adhere to the whole will of our Creator, God, and this is why we are most miserable that try to attain to it by our own efforts. So, now what awaits us, assuming we get what we deserve? How can we “dodge the bullet”, as it were? As I promised in the introduction, we’ll get to


Chapter 3 Forgiveness

Several years ago, I had a friend (we’ll call him Mike). We got close and he often confided in me about his problems. One in particular had him so troubled that he just wouldn’t let it go. Mike had married his pastor’s youngest daughter and moved into a house his fathern-law had built for them. At first, all was well. However, about a year into the marriage, problems arose with her family. He found his in-laws to be intrusive and overbearing. Without going into too much detail, let it suffice us to say that the situation didn’t end well. As a result, after about 10 years of this, he moved his wife and now 3 children away from them. Mike became very bitter over the way he was treated and it didn’t take long before this became quite evident to me. No matter what the topic of conversation, he’d make every effort to steer it toward how he was wronged and how he was justified in being angry with

them. He felt that they had unjustly treated him and that, in the end, they’d defeated him in some way. What wounded him the deepest was the feeling that justice was not served. It was, in a way, like an experience my wife and I had with our plumbing. One day we noticed the annoying sound of water draining from our empty bathtub. However, when we went to check it, there was no water in it. Still, you could hear the distinct sound of a draining tub. It was as if the tub was ever emptying itself of invisible water. Needless to say, this left us quite perplexed. We asked a friend, a plumber by trade, and learned that the bathtub in our house was the lowest drain point. As such, all the water in the home would eventually drain to that point, being where the main drainage pipe would have been connected. So, we looked for possible leaks. Unfortunately, having thoroughly searched for signs of water leakage in the walls, yard, even the attic and everywhere else we could think of, we found nothing. For several days, we

suffered with that incessant draining sound with no clue as to its cause. Finally, we thought back to what occurred the day it all began. The only thing out of the norm that we could possibly think of was a problem with the water heater. The pilot had blown out and I had to relight it. But how could that possibly cause the problem? Nevertheless, having exhausted every other idea, we decided to give it a look. It was there, kneeling down before the water heater with flashlight in hand, that I discovered the problem. First, I noticed that when I’d turned the gas back up to heat the water I had turned it to its hottest level. Then I’d noticed that just at the bottom right of the tank there was a valve labeled “Caution: High Pressure Valve”. Below the tank, there was an overflow pan with a 1 inch drain pipe coming from it. The heat, being too high, caused the water to boil. This caused the pressure within the tank to rise. It did what pressure does; it sought out the path of least resistance. In this

case, it was the high pressure valve. Serving its purpose, the valve then opened, letting water drain into the pan below. The pan drain would then carry the water to the lowest drain point, our bathtub. Thus, we discovered the cause of the constant sound of water draining. The bitterness in Mike was much like the pressure being built up in our hot water tank. We are not designed to withstand long term bitterness. It must find a means, therefore, to vent itself. Mike vented through conversation in which he repeated, in an almost scripted fashion, the wrongs done to him. This was not a means to seek counseling (that would at least have been a step in the right direction). Rather, it was a means to seek affirmation and, therefore, justification for his hatred. It was so vexing to hear the constant recount of how he was offended that friends were no longer available to be his “highpressure vents”. Alternately, he found his path of least resistance to be his own wife and kids. So, when he could find no other means of relief, they suffered more than any. They were his ultimate drain point.

We’ve all had those times when we became so angry we could feel that overwhelming pressure. We clinched our teeth and fists and we could almost feel our blood boiling in our veins. We punch the pillow, kick the dog, yell at innocent bystanders, or simply vent our frustration to a sympathetic ear. In the mean time, the world around us is forced to put up with that incessant sound of draining. Jesus once told a story of a man that owed his master a great deal of money. So, in an attempt to raise enough money to repay his dept, he went to a fellow servant that owed him. The man told him, “I don’t have what I owe you right now. Please, give me some more time.” But the servant became angry and threw the other man into prison. Realizing he could not pay his master back, he went to him and threw himself at his feet saying, “Master, I do not have the money I owe you. Please, forgive me!” However, the master had heard what his servant had done. So, he replied, “How can you, after refusing to

forgive the much smaller dept owed you, come to me expecting forgiveness?! You are an evil and wicked man!” The master then had him thrown into the debtor’s prison. One cannot hate for hate’s sake. We need a reason to hate. In other words, we need to justify that hatred in order to cling to it. If my hatred for you is unfounded, how can I justify it? In order to justify that hatred I must first prove that I am an innocent victim. If I am innocent, this makes wishing you harm justified. But how can I then ask forgiveness from others? Does this system of justification and punishment not apply to me? We have this tendency to look past our own faults, don’t we? It’s not that we don’t see them; we know we are not perfect. After all, some shortcomings are to be expected. Why, then, can we not extend the same courtesy to others? What we often miss is that judgment is a two edged sword. “Judge not, that you be not judge. For with what judgment you judge, you shall be judged.” (Matthew 7:1&2)

Think of the adulterous woman that was brought before Jesus by the religious leadership of His time. In an attempt to expose Him as a heretic, they dragged her to Him, saying, “This woman was caught in the very act of adultery. The law says that she should be stoned. But what do you say?” Jesus knelt down, scribbled something in the dirt with his finger and then stood, saying, “You that are without sin, cast the first stone.” One by one her accusers left, starting from the eldest to the youngest among them. Jesus then looked at the woman and asked, “Where are your accusers?” She said, “They are all gone, my Lord.” He replied, “Then neither do I accuse you. Go about your business, but sin no more.” (John 8:3-11) It is in this that we see a glimpse of the very heart of God. It is a heart that passionately seeks to forgive us. But, as long as we continue to justify our hatred, how can we righteously receive that forgiveness? This is why the Lord’s Prayer says, “Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive they that trespass

against us.” A heart that is filled with hatred can no more give love than receive it. At some point, we must get past this hurtle of our self-worth to find it in us to accept others. If only we could see the heart of God toward us. We would see that He, knowing us in every way, still loves us and has made every effort to give us a new beginning. We would see that, by receiving His forgiveness, our old lives are no more. We can start with a clean slate with the help of a longsuffering God that is willing and able to sustain us. He longs to teach us to live in a spirit of true love and not some false version of it. “Watch what God does, and you do it, like children that learn proper behavior from their parents. Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with Him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn’t love in order to get something from us but to give everything of Himself to us. Love like that.” (Ephesians 5:1 and 2 The Message Bible)

The whole world suffers for nothing less than a lack of love. Children go hungry and lives are brutally taken as wars grip our nations in despair and destruction. Whole economies crash as a result of the selfishly greedy. All of these are symptomatic of a state of ignorance; ignorance of the call of God and even outright rebellion against it. The Kingdom of God is not of this world. However, it is also not some distant place where one (hopefully) will go when they die. It is a Kingdom that is here and now. Its subjects are those that embrace love, seek truth and, finding it, behave as though they’ve found immense treasure. It is, in fact, far more valuable. We live in a generation in which the things that are bad are called good, and the things that are good are called bad. If a man goes out and has sex with multiple partners, he’s considered cool. If a man lives to serve God, he is boring and treated as though he’s missing out on life.

However, the philanderer is defiling himself. He is giving himself away, as though his body was some cheep thing. He has no consideration for the pain he’s caused in the women he’s used. So, what’s the better way?

Chapter 4 Finding bottom
I remember when I was about nine years old. I was lying in bed one night when, out of curiosity, I decided to embark on a futile experiment. I wanted to understand, somehow, the process by which a thought became an action (I know, I was a weird kid). So, stretching out my hand, I willed my fingers to move. To my amazement, there seemed to be no time elapsed between the moment the thought occurred and that of the action. It was as if they were one and the same; inseparable. That’s when a question, one which was, perhaps, way too big for me, arose: Who had the thought? Who was it that willed the whole thing into existence? My hand responded to signals from my brain, sure, but where did my brain get its instructions? What am I? Where is Patrick in the process? The question seemed too big for anyone, much less, me. Was there someone in the

world that could see who I am when I couldn’t even see myself? The likelihood of that seemed, to me, impossible. After all, if I couldn’t find out who or what I was, how could someone on the outside looking in see me? No. I had to find the answers to these questions on my own, I decided. So, I spent the next nine years seeking those answers on my own. I sought them in books on mysticism, the occult, religions of all sorts and even mind-altering drugs (the later, being my favorite course of action). I went down what can only be described as an “introspective nightmare”, as the late Hunter S. Thomson once put it. All I found was a battered and bruised body and soul. As it turned out, I only thought I knew what confusion was like. Then, when I was still in my teens, my mom mentioned something about me going to see my sister, Lelah, and her family in Memphis for the summer. In a stoned haze at the time, I vaguely recall saying something to

the effect of “No way!” and that was the end of that. I’d heard stories from my brother, David, about them. They were “religious freaks”, as I understood them, and I was not going to be trapped for a whole summer with that “nonsense”. It was like a dream for me. You know, like the dreams in which you’re in one place one moment and then, BAM! you’re in another; not sure how you got there, but, in retrospect, the transition kind of makes since. One moment I was being led about by my brother through crowds of people and long lines, the next I’m on an airplane. I looked at him at this point and asked, “Where are we going?” Surprised and a bit concerned over my apparent lack of geographic coherency, he informed me that we were going to Tennessee. I was not happy. How did this happen? Didn’t I say that I was not going to Memphis?

I was convinced that, once in the ultrareligious clutches of my sister and her husband, Greg, I was to be preached at every waking hour among them. With this in mind, I was prepared to resist them the whole way. I prepared what I thought to be my best atheistic arguments to the existence of God. I rehearsed them and even thought of a few wild ideas of my own to throw at them. I was ready for battle. When I arrived, however, the battle simply didn’t happen. They didn’t try to convert me, at all. They just simply welcomed me with love and showed me where I would be sleeping. Now I was really worried. I waited all the first week for the shoe to drop. All I saw were the daily lives of a family as they loved one another and shared a deep and abiding faith and love for God. What’s more, they acted as though God was right there with them, as if He were real. Still, there was no preaching. I thought I was going to lose my anxious mind. I just knew that they

were merely waiting for me to drop my guard and, WHAM!, “You’re going to hell if you don’t repent, sinner!” Well, I wasn’t going to let that happen, so I started the conversation on my own. I cannot tell you exactly how that went except to say that I was not any way near prepared for it. I discovered that God was real, not by anything said in particular, but by feeling His very presence all around me. It wasn’t judgmental or damning. In fact, I got the very real since that He was drawing me to Him, like a loving father calling to his son to sit on His lap and rest. Of course, I refused. Then the presence was gone. The overwhelming feeling that I’d “missed the boat” consumed me. I found myself, over the next several days, trying desperately to find it again. I wanted another chance. This time, I was not going to refuse. I wanted to be free. I wanted the confusion to stop, the fear that stalked me day and night. I wanted to know what it was like to have Him with me all

the time. One day, I was informed by Lelah that they were going to a church camp meeting for a week and that she wanted me to go. A week at a camp for Christians seemed to be a logical place to find the presence of God again. I couldn’t wait to get there. At first, there was nothing. Then it happened. During chapel one evening I watched as a man, overcome with grief, knelt down at the altar and wept before God for help. But this was not what did it for me. What I saw next revealed to me what was truly lacking in my life. It seemed as though the whole congregation felt his pain. They began to join him at the altar, some wrapping their arms around him, weeping and praying with him. The presence of God was palpable. It was then I knew what it was I was missing; a heart that could love. Still sitting in the pew, I simply prayed,

“God somewhere down the line I’ve lost my heart. Can you give me my heart back?” Immediately, all my pain came flooding to the surface. I sobbed uncontrollably as God washed it all away and filled me with His presence, once and for all. I wanted everyone to know Him. I wanted as many as I could possibly reach to experience the freedom He’d given to me. I wanted all to know that He held in His hand the ticket to the Kingdom of Heaven. All they had to do was believe. To that end, one winter day, I set out in the snow, Bible in hand, and went knocking on doors. One by one, doors were slammed in my face. Some even cursed me. One man even went as far as to threaten bodily harm. The day was a bust. I started my journey back home, head sagging and confused. I asked God, “Where were You? I thought if I did this for You you’d be there, empowering my words with Your presence and changing lives.” I wondered if I

had done something wrong. Perhaps I didn’t pray long enough, hard enough, or loud enough before I left. Quite discourage, I was heading home when I noticed a man getting out of his car. As I watched him open the back door of his small house and disappear within, I felt urged to go and tell him about Jesus. However, with the day I’d just had, being cussed at again was the furthest thing from my mind. I kept walking and, with each step away from that small house, the feeling became stronger. My feet seemed heavier, as if there were one pound weights being added with each step I took. 20 or 30 pounds later, I turned around. It took a few moments for the man to answer the door. As I waited, all I could think about were all of those unfruitful encounters. In a way, I hoped that no one would answer. The man answered and, by the look of him, he appeared to have been crying. I introduced myself and explained that God

had put upon my heart the desire to stop and ask if he knew Jesus. As he stood in the doorway, he began to weep. He invited me in and I soon found out that he wasn’t the man I saw earlier, but his twin brother whom he lived with. While his brother was out, he had been alone, sitting in the dark and depressed. Apparently, he was a Christian. However, for a couple of years he’d turned away from God. Aside from a deep sense of guilt, he still struggled with bitterness. Some people from his former church had, apparently, mistreated him. He’d gone back to drugs and alcohol and it was destroying him. He was under the impression that his sins were too great and God simply didn’t care. He began to believe that God had given up on him and had decided to end his own life. Before doing so, he prayed one last time. He told the Lord, “If you still love me, you’ll stop me.” That’s when he heard someone at

the door. It was a cold, tired and frustrated kid who, moments ago, was heading home in defeat. And so here I was, wondering why God hadn’t answered my prayer. Looking back, I see how I was God’s answer to someone else’s. So, what was the difference? When I knocked on all those other doors I was doing something “for” God. In this case, I was doing something “of” God. After all, if anyone knows who is ready for their lives to be changed, God knows. So, why do we insist on banging on doors before hearing from the one that sees on the other side of them and opens them, as well? In our zeal, having been rescued and our lives being changed, we often take matters in our own hands. However, consider what Jesus said; “No one comes to the Son unless the Father draws them.” We cannot possibly know when a heart is ready for truth and change. It takes God. Still we wonder why so many see Christians as pushy and judgmental. Could it be that, in the absence of waiting on God to use us, we have become just that?

Alcoholics Anonymous says that the first road to recovery is to realize that you have a problem. Often, this requires us to first become destitute and broken. We have to become so sick that we no longer can ignore the symptoms of our sickness. Only the sick seek a physician. This is why Jesus said, “I did not come for the well, but for the sick.” It wasn’t that the well weren’t sick, but because they saw themselves as healthy; all the while, suffering. You cannot hope to help someone find the answers they seek as long as they insist that they already have them. When you consider your life in the light of the Law of Love, you must also face up to the fact that you are a failure in the keeping of it. Being mindful of your knowledge of what that failure causes, ask yourself this: How much damage have I already done? I used to fancy myself to be a descent guitarist. After all, people had told me that I

was pretty good at it. My mom said I was the greatest (surely she wouldn’t lie to me). That all changed, of course, when I met a real musician. Suddenly, in the light of that real talent and experience, my flawed guitar abilities were revealed. It was then that I realized that I was not quite ready to call myself a “guitarist”. The “real thing” has a way of exposing the imposters. “I would never have known that lust was evil until the law said not to covet. When the law came, sin was revealed and I died.” (Romans 7:7 paraphrased). Any act apart from a motivation of love is counterintuitive to the purpose of God for our lives. Continuing in a selfish lifestyle, therefore, requires we do so with the knowledge that we are wrong. It’s like a patient continuing to drink alcohol after his doctor told him it was causing his liver to fail. Doing so requires willfully self-destructive behavior. I am then faced with a choice; continue in

sin, or seek help. Either way, I will be changed for good or for worse. There will come a day that we shall stand before God and when we are judged it will not be by words of rebuke, but by our own conscience. We shall be standing in the presence of pure love. It is that love, compared to the lack thereof in our own lives, which will judge us.

Chapter 5 Who Are You?
Adam, since we last saw him, has done quite well for himself. He has a job as an architect for a major firm, a nice home, and a new car. He even has a big screen television. On which, he enjoys watching football with his buddies on the weekends. However, let us not lose sight of the experiment. After all, he’s been created for the expressed purpose of understanding consciousness from a purely scientific, impartial and objective point of view. We’ve taught him how to speak and given him all the advantages of a “normal” life. Having done so, we have discovered how one experiences life as new and broader information is given to him. Now, let us embark on a new experiment. We will see what happens when we take all he possesses away from him. Now we learn something about Adam that we had not expected. He became so passionate about the things life had to offer that he had become driven to discover more.

His whole existence had become the accumulation of things. He began to strive for such things as financial success and freedom. So much so that he began to define himself as “an architect”, “a home owner” and “an avid football fan”. Now he hasn’t a job, a home, or a way to watch the game, having lost his television. He doesn’t even have his recliner in which he often sat to see his favorite team play. One day Adam was able to clearly define himself. His life had meaning. He had an identity. The next day he has nothing and, therefore, if only in his own summation, is nothing. To him, his life has ended. Now, don’t worry, I know we’ve become quite attached to our little creation. We’ll restore him to his former state on time to see the next game. But, in the mean time, what have we learned from Adam? Like most, he had built his whole life on things that are temporal. After all, a job, a new car, a beautiful home and a big screen TV are nice. However, in the end, they all go

away. Have we really taken from him anything that won’t inevitably disappear on its own? And, when he does get it all back, will he appreciate this fact and become less attached, or will he live in fear of losing it all? Will he lock it up so no one can get to it? Will he make us sign a carefully drawn up contract, excluding us of the right to pluck it away at a scientific whim? What have you built your life upon? If you lost all you think you possess, would you then no longer be who you are? Are you a guitarist or a painter? What if you were in an accident that took your hands or eyes? What if you had some other disfigurement that rendered you unable to play or paint? What would be your identity then? I ask again, what have you built your life upon? Can it be taken from you? Who are you, really? If I were to ask you what it is you want right now you might say something like, “I want a better job.” Why? You might answer, “Because I need to make more money.” Why?

“I want to be able to get out of dept, get a bigger home, pay for my kids’ college, etc.” Why? “So I won’t have to worry about money anymore. My family will be provided for.” Why? Worry is the reason you are unhappy. It’s ironic how the very process of doing away with worry in our lives is the very thing that causes it. Instead of finding freedom and happiness via the accumulation of money and things, we find yet more misery. We worry about thieves, the stock market, termites, car trouble, debt, or losing our jobs. So, we buy safes, get better insurance, make more money and start our own business. However, with all our getting, our upgraded lifestyle has only brought upgraded worry. We are building our lives on the assumption that these temporal, fragile things will make us happy. But they cannot as long as they can die and be taken away from us. In

fact, they aren’t really ours anyway, as long as the inevitability of their loss is present. They are ours as long as we or they are. I remember reading once of Christians that were caught up in the Hitler holocaust and thrown into a concentration camp. They were forbidden to read or possess a Bible. Nor were they allowed to congregate. If they were caught praying they were severely beaten, so they had to pray in secret, in their heads. One of the prisoners was later asked how they survived it. To which she responded, “No matter what they did to my body, no matter what things or freedoms they forbad me, they were powerless to take the one thing that was far more precious to me than anything in the world; my faith in God and my love for my fellow man. I’d learned to love even the guards that abused me.” Nothing of this world has the power to destroy you as long as the definition of your existence is not derived from what the world has to offer. The world, along with all of its riches, are as the sparks that go up from a

fire; they dazzle but for a moment and then vanish into the darkness, hardly remembered. This is why the saddest state of man is to believe that there is no God. The Atheist faith is one that, in the end, says that there is no afterlife and, therefore, there is nothing eternal. It is sad because to believe such a thing is to believe that this life we live has nothing of true, lasting value. We are, as the song says, “Dust in the Wind” and all we have to look forward to is to fear the inevitable. However, this is precisely why I believe that the single most crucial and vital message that has ever come from God to man is this; LOVE! No matter what happens in this life, it is love that will sustain us. It is also love that will free us, show us our eternal purpose and, in the end, judge us.

Chapter 6 We Are Not Alone

My sister, Lelah, was diagnosed with cervical cancer. After a brief remission we received news that it had hit her again. Over the next two years we watched as her condition deteriorated. She was finally bed ridden. Due to the tumor’s applying pressure on her femoral artery in her inner thigh, she was experiencing levels of pain and discomfort that I cannot even begin to imagine, much less explain. They had her on morphine to deal with the pain, but, inevitably, she needed heavier doses until it was just too dangerous to give her more. Her body had become immune to the drug, leaving her to suffer the pain. Toward the end, she was moved to a

hospice where they were just trying to keep her as comfortable as possible as they waited for her to die. My wife and I, along with my mother, my sister’s husband, Greg, her three children, and many others spent what were to be her last days on this earth at her side. We just loved her, cared for her, prayed for her and did our best to keep from crying while in her presence (often failing on the later). Most of us believed that God was going to do a miracle on her behalf. That He was going to answer our prayers and she was going to regain her ability to eat, drink, and speak and then get up on her own accord, completely healed. Friends and family were coming from all over the world to be at her side to pray towards that end. Still, she laid there in that hospital bed. The only sign of life, other than her labored breathing and an occasional squeeze of the hand, was when she cried out as her body was wracked with spasmodic pain. We were desperate for answers. I watched as our mother hovered over her

baby girl and washed her pale face. She used a wet sponge to keep Lelah’s parched mouth from getting too dry and softly stroked her arm, face and hands saying things like, “Mommy’s here, baby. It’s okay.” As I witnessed this tender and affectionate display of my mother’s love, hoping beyond hope that her daughter was going to live, a question entered my heart. At first it served as an affirmation of my faith and then as a question smothered in anger and doubt. I prayed, “God, supposedly, you love her. I know we all love her and, if it was in our power, we’d make her well. We’d take away this cancer, the pain, the loss of weight and strength. We’d have our sweet, lovable and beautiful Lelah back and she would live. You do have that power. Yet, you do nothing. Do we love her more than you do?” Then I remembered the last conversation I had with her. While praying for her, these words from the Bible invaded my thoughts. They were so intense that I couldn’t

concentrate. Persistently, they said, “In all things, give thanks.” I won’t even attempt to describe how I knew (if there are words suitable for such a feat I haven’t found them, yet.), I just knew that this was a message God wanted me to deliver to Lelah. And, it was urgent enough that we had to leave our home in Mississippi as soon as possible and go to Atlanta to see her. My wife, Tina, insisted that we do just that and, before I knew it, I was sitting at my sister’s bedside. Leaning in close, I said, “Lelah, I have received a message from God for you. I hope you don’t mind hearing it from a jack-ass.” I was referring to a story in the Bible I knew she’d be familiar with (Numbers 22:22-35). She looked at me and, with a chuckle, said, “You’re not a jackass, Patrick.” “Well,” I said, “I’m just telling you this first because I want you to look past the messenger and know that this is a message from God. I’m just doing what I’m told.” (I was

nervous, knowing what pain she’d been enduring. Having not experienced her particular suffering first hand, I didn’t want to presume upon her circumstances.) I then told her that the Lord wanted her to be thankful in ALL things, including times like these. To my surprise, she began to sob. She told me that the Lord had been speaking the same thing to her own heart, but she wasn’t able to accept it. It was hard for her to see past her suffering and see the good in her life. And who could blame her. One night I became somewhat overwhelmed by grief. It was one of those moments when I failed to keep my tears to myself while in her presence. As I sat there holding her hand, head down and pathetically sobbing, I heard her say, “Trust the Lord, Patrick.” She had lost so much weight that she was a mere shadow of her former self. These words were spoken in the midst of unimaginable pain. Yet, they were words that

seemed to clarify the message that, apparently, she’d comprehended, though the “jackass” had no clue; “Be thankful in ALL things.” Still, as I write these words, I find myself fighting back the tears. I miss “my sissy” very much. However, I know that God, through her, has once again confirmed something eternal and far reaching; the knowledge that he does love us. He loves us ALL. He loves us so much, in fact, that He wants us each, more than anything else, to know what true love really is. At times, this requires that we make sacrifices we won’t necessarily understand. After all, we work in concert with The All Knowing, and do so from our finite view. When Jesus was about to go to the cross, seeing the path of suffering for the sake of us all, He knelt and prayed. The Bible says that He was so distraught that He told His disciples, “The sorrow in my heart is so great that it crushes me.” Then, after instructing them to stay and pray, he went a little ways

from them, “and threw himself upon the ground and prayed . . . Father, My Father! All things are possible for you. Take this cup of suffering from me. Yet not what I want, but what you want.” His time had come and, faced with the inevitability of his suffering and death, he turned to His Father in Heaven and accepted God’s will. I see now that He had some insider information. He knew that, although it may have not been the only way to save us from a life without knowing Him, it was the best way. He, through this ultimate sacrifice, is our ultimate example of true love. He is a savior who is truly “touched with the feelings of our infirmities.” It is no more possible for us to answer why God doesn’t always heal those we love than it is to know why He sometimes does. However, one thing that we can be sure of is this; at the core of His will, no matter what we may or may not see or understand, is an all encompassing, far reaching, long-suffering

and pure love. What He asks of us is that we strive to know Him on a personal level and, as we experience Him, both as witnesses of his love toward us and toward others, we will learn to love as we are loved. God is not a response to faith. Faith is a response to God. Where does one begin to understand love? I mean really understand. Our heads can be so full of knowledge, but understanding is what makes us real. At times I find myself faced with personal dilemmas and wonder what happened to all of my great, helpful knowledge. Why can I not seem to apply it to my own circumstances? It’s as though all that knowledge seems hollow when I need it most. It’s just knowledge. Sure it’s great for giving advice and impressing your friends, but where is it in your daily life? Why is that? Because knowledge is information comprehended. Understanding is knowledge imbedded upon the heart and soul through experience and practice. I remember the first time I got a good look

at a car engine after having learned some useful things about them. Before, it seemed almost like I was looking at something out of some sci-fi movie. It had all those hoses, wires, steal and grease. It intimidated me. So much so that I resigned myself to ignorance, “Don’t worry about how it works. Just hope that when you turn that key, put it in gear and push on the gas it does what you want it to do; take you from point A to point B.” However, out of knowledge grew boldness. This is no strange concept to us. Something as simple as sitting in a chair is evidence of this fact. If I KNOW that it will hold me, I am BOLD enough to sit in it without worry. Out of that boldness grew curiosity. When I was no longer intimidated by it, I went past the threshold of fear and looked closer. I went on to learn more. I pulled the carburetor, broke it down and saw, first hand, what I had, heretofore, only seen in books. Then experience. As I experienced the process of dissecting and reassembling motor

parts, I began to see its fundamental simplicity. I remember something my brother, Sam, told me once. He said that, as long as you are afraid of getting your hands greasy, you’ll never learn that there is nothing to be afraid of. It’s just a machine. With experience came familiarity and, from that, understanding. Understanding makes all the difference in the world between knowing something and BEING something. There are mechanics, and there are people that know a little about cars. But let’s be honest; love is far more complex to BE than a mechanic. We need a teacher. And not just any teacher, but one that we know is a true master at the art of love. We need someone that has been tried in the furnace of life and came out the other side pure. We need Jesus, the Son of God and the ultimate example of true love, to show us. I am reminded often of a friend that used to be a counselor at a Bible-based rehabilitation center in Missouri. His name

was Ron. He was raised by his mother and sisters with very little, if any, male influence. As a result, perhaps, this made him seem a bit effeminate. He spoke with a lisp, he was neat and his clothes and shoes were always color coordinated. As one can imagine, this made life very hard for him at times. People were often quick to assume that he was a homosexual (for what it’s worth; he was not). While at the center working one day, he learned that one of the male students in the program thought that Ron had made advances at him and had issued a complaint to the director. Having no other choice but to investigate it further, they arranged a meeting at the director’s office between Ron and the Administrative Board. Knowing that there were those on the board that questioned his sexual orientation already (for reasons I’ve already described), this made him a little nervous, to say the least. More than that, he was saddened by the whole mess. He saw a need to convey to

them the hurtful nature of the accusation. However, he also felt that he needed to do so without being disrespectful. The problem was that he didn’t know how? Having lived with this sort of misconception for most of his life, as one can imagine, he was still struggling with some bitterness. What if he lost his cool? Wanting to do the right thing, he prayed for guidance. The night before his meeting he had a dream. He was just standing before his accusers, his fist held out to them as if he were offering them something. Then he opened his hand to reveal a stone. One of them snatched the stone from his hand and violently threw it to the ground. Then he held out his other hand and produced a small, delicate butterfly. With this, they were more careful. So, the following day he walked into the office with the answer to his dilemma. As he feared, he was faced with indignant accusers. It was as if they’d already decided that he

was guilty. They were just going through the unpleasant formality of investigating the matter. When they asked him, in so many words, “What do you have to say for yourself?” he quietly, humbly and openly began to tell them. He told them about the hurt he’d suffered for so long over this obtuse assumption that he was gay. He didn’t rail at them with “How dare you . . .” or “One would think you would at least give me the benefit of the doubt!” He simply showed them the frailty of the man that stood before them and, ashamed, they listened to his defense with an open heart. They realized that they weren’t handling a stone that cannot be harmed, but a fragile creature of God. Obviously, this isn’t a solution for every situation in which one is being falsely accused. Every situation is unique to its circumstances. In Ron’s case, it was the perfect solution. He wasn’t going on his own ability and wisdom. He’d exhausted himself

trying to figure out the right way to handle it. He knew that his bitterness and his own sense of indignation over the affair clouded his vision. He needed God to show him how to speak in the spirit of love, and it was love that exonerated him. Jesus once said “I tell you the truth; the Son can do nothing on His own; He does only what He sees His Father doing. What the father does, the Son also does. For the Father loves the Son and shows Him all that He Himself is doing.” (The Gospel of John 5:1920). Consider what Jesus did for His disciples: He stripped down to His undergarments and did something that was reserved as a duty of slaves; He filled a basin with water and began washing their feet. When He got to Peter, Peter said, “Never at any time will you wash my feet!” Jesus responded, “If you do not let me wash your feet you will no longer be my disciple.”

Peter quickly changed his mind, saying “Lord, do not only wash my feet then! Wash my hands and head, too!” Jesus then told them that just as He washed their feet, they should do the same for one another. He taught them to mimic His actions of love and service to their fellow man. His message was for us to do nothing of ourselves, but to see what He does and, by it, learn how to live. As God loves, Jesus loves and as He loves, we love. And, perhaps, the greatest news for us is that, as we do so, we show the world how it’s done. Remember the guitar example; I thought I was a guitarist, that is, until I saw what a real musician looks like. And so, it begins with the knowledge of love. As we walk with God, we grow in its practice. It is through that relationship, in which we trust Him and desire to be more like Him, that we gain the understanding of what true love is. The hope that we have in Christ is that we no longer have to consciously decide

to love others, but do it naturally.

Chapter 7 Adorning Truth

Dr. Wayne Dyer coined a now famous phrase in self-help circles; “When you change the way you look at things the things you look at change.” To explain in more detail, let’s imagine that you and I are sales-persons going door to door. You knock on the door and a man answers. Upon seeing us dressed in our suits, his eyes grow wild with apparent fear and he bolts back through the house and out the back door. In fact, he keeps running. He jumps over neighborhood fences, into a drainage ditch and only stops to hide in a large drain pipe. To you and me, this is very strange behavior. To him, it makes complete since. You see, we’ve happened upon the home of a man that had recently robbed a bank and thought we were FBI agents. Regardless of our true intent, the man’s prospective changed his circumstances. He was operating

from fear and it was fear that ruled his experience. Jesus said, “It is not what goes into a man that defiles him, but what comes out of him.” In other words, the condition of the heart is what determines what the condition of our external experience will be. If I have turned my experiences into bitterness, my life will bear the fruit of that bitterness. It will eat at me like a cancer until it destroys me. It may even cause physical problems like high blood pressure, heart disease and ulcers, just to name a few. Not to mention the hardships it causes in my relationships with others. But it’s not enough to simply say “Bitterness is bad for you.” We must know why such things are damaging. If I were to tell you that it was good for your car to add sugar to your gasoline, and you believed this to be true, you’d soon find that your car doesn’t run so well. If you had a great amount of confidence in my knowledge about cars you will likely never consider the sugar as having

been the problem. In fact, you may even come to me for further advice on how to fix it, making the problem even worse. You, having subscribed to a lie, have resigned to car failure. Obviously, the cure is to find the truth. Once adorned with it, it acts like a shield against lies and subsequent damaging behavior. For instance; our bitterness is much like the sugar in our gas. It is a result of operating on the assumption that a lie is actually the truth. The lie is that we have the right to hate others out of a sense of duty to protect ourselves. Also, that the way this is done is by punishing those that offend us. So, if I am hit, I hit back, if I am insulted, I insult and so on. We take on the “An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth” mentality. All of this is just as damaging to us as sugar in our gasoline is damaging to our cars. The truth is that God has designed the universe to operate best on the principles of

love and not hate. Jesus often used the example of a seed being planted. If I sow the seeds of apples I get apple trees. If I sow the seeds of oranges I get oranges. What we sow into life will also bear fruit. Our homeowner, thinking we were the FBI, ran because he had sown the seeds of fear. Having broken the law, he knew he would bring upon himself officers of law enforcement. Psalms 119:9-12 (The Message Bible) reads, “How can a young man live a clean life? By carefully reading the map of Your Word. I am single minded in my pursuit of You, don’t let me miss the road signs You’ve posted. I have banked Your promises in the vault of my heart, so I will not sin myself bankrupt.” If you want to know what the truth is, concerning the proper things to add to your gas tank, I’d advise you not to go to a dentist. If you wish to know the truth about your life

and how best to live--- I’d advise you to look to the One that knows all and sees all. So how does one “live a clean life”? First, look at it from the perspective of truth. What does God say? If you do not believe the Bible, look around. Your own life and that of others are living examples of it. Do the evil have peace? Do they enjoy the fruits of being one that has a good report among his/her peers? Do they even have the joy of true friendship, the love of others, the respect of others, or the inner peace of knowing that they are a force of good in the world? Or do they live in fear of retribution from those they have wronged, or of losing all they have gained to thieves, having built their whole existence on temporal possessions and pleasures? What will happen to them on the day when all of that is taken from them, either in this life or in the transition to the next? If all I have are things that can be taken from me then, when they are, my life becomes worthless to me. All meaning in my

life, being the accumulation of things, will cease to be; leaving me destitute and destroyed. Seek God for truth and, having done so, view your life in comparison to it. I can tell you from personal experience that, as the Bible says, “He is a rewarder of those that diligently seek Him.” The truth is like armor designed to protect you from the lies; “If I had more money, I’d be happy.” and “I can hold a grudge against those that have offended me and still expect forgiveness when I’ve wronged others.” It is there to thwart thoughts like, “If I looked like that super model, that body builder, or that hunk actor or beautiful actress I’d find peace, love and happiness.” The armor of truth is the attitude that says “Give bread to the hungry. Bring the poor to your house.” It says “Forgive those that sin against you. Bless those that curse you. If someone strikes you in the face, turn to them your other cheek as well. By doing so, you will

cause them to see their wrong.” The truth is that we are not defined by external measurements, but on that which is internal. Whatever is not born from a motive of love is sin.

Chapter 8 A New Beginning

There is a popular teaching among main stream rehabilitation circles. It says that an alcoholic, drug or sex addict, or even an overeater has an incurable disease. Those of us that have succumbed to such addictions, therefore, will forever be “in recovery”. If I was to go to an AA meeting and profess that I am an “ex-alcoholic”, for instance, I might expect a quick correction to come my way. “You are not an ex-alcoholic” they’d say “you are a ‘recovering’ alcoholic. You will never be totally free of your addiction.” This teaching is widely accepted and taught all over the world as essential to recovery from any vice. However, it is this very teaching that is largely responsible for dismal results in the long term sobriety of their patients. It’s like a man that complains that his house stinks. Someone tells him, “Your house, I’m afraid, will always smell bad. It is just the

nature of your home. You’ll have to spend the rest of your life fumigating, therefore. If you ever forget the stench that lies beneath the deodorant, the smell will return.” All the while, all you really need to do is take the trash out. Through a desire to cure human frailties, through the development of pharmaceuticals and expensive psycho-therapies, we have created a culture in which we actually define ourselves as “alcoholics”, “drug addicts”, “bipolar”, “ADHD”, and many other so-called “chemical imbalances”. It’s as if, by defining myself by these labels, I am freed from the responsibility for the actions they give rise to. “It’s not something I can control. I was born with a disorder.” What we are really doing is dooming ourselves to mediocrity by a self-fulfilling prophesy. I have defined myself as “a forgetful person”, so I forget. I have defined myself as “an addict”. So doing, I live my life in fear of my addiction and, therefore, am on

the verge of failure until the day I die. As long as you let that old man or old woman live, don’t be surprised when they fight to regain control of your life. In my own struggle against unhealthy addiction, I have experienced no small amount of frustration at times. One particular such time, I turned to God and said “Lord, how can I change my desire? If I want it more than I want to live without it, how is it possible to change?” Someone said to me once, “You have to change your ‘want-to’.” I remember thinking, “What? How is that possible?” I found it hard to grasp the idea that one could change the way they see the world and just BE different than what was in their heart. The reason being; one cannot. As long as the heart is filled with one thing it cannot contain another. A glass, filled to the rim with mud, cannot contain one drop of pure water. An apple tree cannot bring forth oranges. If you want oranges, first the apple tree must die, be removed and then replaced

with seed that produces an orange tree. What’s key here is that the old has to die and the vision for the new must be attended to. We create for ourselves the world in which we exist. First, our hearts are prepared by our experience. As all those “red dots” come into our lives we begin to develop future responses to life’s challenges. We even develop our goals based on them. Momentous occasions, be they painful or joyful, have a way of tilling the heart. It’s not unlike a farmer who tills a field to make it prime for planting new seeds. The seeds one plants in the heart are that of perception. For instance; an individual that we love and trust betrays us. Our heart is broken. We feel vulnerable and wounded. What lessons do we take from such experiences? One might see it as a lesson that no one can be trusted or that love is too risky a proposition. However, what kind of behavior grows from such a seed? While the soil that is

my heart is ripest for planting (when life brings me adversity and pain), I decided to plant the notion that “no one” can be trusted. I shouldn’t be surprised when the tree that is my life sprouts bitterness, distrust in others and an inability to be trustworthy, as well. Notwithstanding, one that plants such a seed will certainly not grow close, meaningful and open relationships. Instead, our lives will bear the fruits of loneliness. “Whatsoever a man sows that shall he also reap.” (Galatians 6:7). I am reminded of a friend that spent most of her adult life bouncing from one one-nightstand to another. Later in life, when she began to reach out for a more meaningful, long term relationship, she found that she was incapable of connecting with men. (It is an affliction that I am not entirely unfamiliar with, myself. It took several years, in fact, before I was able to even imagine the relationship I now have with my wife.) Upon further investigation into her past, it was discovered that, at a very young age, she

was raped by an older man. The experience, of course, was devastating. She searched for a way to cope with the pain. The seed she decided to plant; “It’s just sex. It’s not that big of a deal. It was just physical contact between two people and nothing more.” From this grew a disconnection between sex and emotion. From that disconnection sprouts a justification for giving her body away to strangers for the purpose of physical gratification. She developed a deep sense of low self worth and, therefore, self-destructive behavior. In the end, she found the concept of genuine love and respect to be foreign and even unattainable. That is why Jesus said, “It is not what goes into a man that defiles him, but what comes out of him.” The meaningful experiences that occur throughout our lives serve to break up the soil of our hearts. They tenderize our souls, exposing our soft underbelly with pain or even joy. It is at these precise moments that an innate desire arises to categorize and

classify our experiences. This allows us to recognize them in the future and come up with a plan of action for when we do. We, by this process, program our responses for daily life. If my only experience with fire was when I got burned, and I surmised that fire is bad, I know to fear it in the future. However, if I had also experienced its warmth on a cold night, I know that it is a blessing that requires respectful care and caution when handling.

Chapter 9 It’s a Conspiracy

“I pray that they may all be one, Father! May they be in us, just as You are in Me, and I am in You. May they be one, so that the world will believe that you sent Me. I gave them the same glory you gave Me, so that they may be one just as You and I are one. I in them and You in Me, so that they may be completely one, so that the world will know that You sent Me and that you love them as You love Me.” (The Gospel According to John, 17:20-23, Jesus’ prayer for his disciples).

Let’s return to our subject from chapter 1, Adam, for a moment. It’s back before he had a house, yard, car, wife, kids and a new pair of cosmic shoes. He is still the Adam that lives in a deprivation chamber with only a red dot to keep him company. However, we’ve decided to add our voice to his experience. So, we say, “Hello, Adam.” The sound, at first, is frightening. He suddenly discovers that he has ears and what

their purpose is. We continue to speak to him for many hours a day over the next week. Our voice is fast becoming just as much of a facet of his world as the Red Dot. In fact, he begins to believe, perhaps, that it is the Red Dot that is making the noise. He attempts to mimic the sounds. Soon, we find Adam repeating our words back to us. He cannot understand their meaning, though. This requires a point of reference. What if I were to give you a novel and say that this novel was written in the 16th century? However, upon reading it, you came across the following sentence; “I grabbed my cell phone and lap top, hopped into the car and quickly drove to the airport.” By this, you would instantly know that I was either being deceitful, or seriously mistaken concerning the time in which it was written. There were no cell phones, lap tops, cars, or airplanes during that time period. Therefore, it was impossible to have thoughts about them, much less to write about them in a novel.

Armed with this understanding, we can safely assume that Adam, though he seems to show some potential as an impressionist, will not be able to understand the meaning of our words within his current, limited environment. We may be able to teach him the word “car”, but, as to what a car is requires a point of reference when he hears the word. This in mind, we create the image of a car for him, but only when we say the word “car”. Almost immediately, Adam has learned his first word along with its meaning. Now, all we have to do is show the image and Adam says, “Car!” When we speak to him in the future we say “Adam, have you seen my ‘car’?” he instantly recalls the image. More than that, Adam has discovered that the sounds he’s been hearing have meaning. They are more than mere sounds, but something powerful! They are an end to his loneliness and a beginning of knowledge and companionship. Armed with this understanding, he can learn what the Red Dot

is and, as we add more images to go with our words, how to understand and even speak our language. If you wish to be a great guitarist, therefore, get familiar with the people that play guitar, go to places where the guitar is being played, surround yourself with guitar paraphernalia and play the guitar. What if you want to be a force of love in the world? What if what you aspire to is to work in concert with the highest functioning purpose of the universe, Love? At the beginning of this chapter you read a quote taken from the last prayer Jesus prayed for His disciples before being taken to be crucified. Throughout His life on this earth He was recorded as saying that He and God were “One”. He said things like, “I do nothing of Myself, but first I hear the Father. I do what He does. I say what He says.” He taught His disciples, as in the example of washing their feet at the Passover supper, to immolate Him. He taught them to love one another as He had

loved them. At the core of Jesus’ prayer He is saying this; by living according to His example of love, His disciples are one with Him as well as God. The lines that separated them as pieces to a multifaceted universe, in other words, would be blurred until those lines no longer exist. The works of His followers were His works and, by extension, the works of God. If I am part of a baseball team my win is their win and my loss is theirs, as well. So, you won’t hear the pitcher say to the catcher, “You won the game!”, or vice versa. He may say something like, “You won the game for us!”, but that isn’t entirely accurate, is it? It took the whole team to come up with the victory. They ceased to be individuals, they are a team. They are “One”. The Apostle John wrote, “He that says He loves God and hates his brother is a liar and the truth is not in Him.” (1st John 4: 20). If you and I wish to be “One” with God we must live a life that is led by His example of love. By

seeing the work of God in the universe we discover the face of pure love. Our seeing it gives us a reference point by which to compare our hearts and lives to it. It is no different than when we introduced the image and title of a car to Adam’s world. It created for him a means by which to know the difference between one object (the car) and another (the red dot). Having seen it, our old way dies and gives space for a new beginning. This is all God really wants from us. He wants us to know first what love is and, equipped with that knowledge, to live in accordance to it. In this we are doing always the will of the Father, God. In this, therefore, we are one with Him. “Beloved, let us love one another. For love is of God, and everyone that loves is born of God, and knows God. He that loves not— knows not God, for God IS love.” (1st John 4: 7&8).

Chapter 10 One Truth

It’s so easy to subscribe to any number of formulae regarding things like right living and success. If you’re looking for some teaching that gives you steps or religious practices to follow, you will discover that there are many such voices in the world. However, any teaching worth finding will have at its core one basic principle; if love is your motive, focus and end result you are doing something right. I often stumble across a televangelist while channel surfing that teaches that what God wants for us is to be wealthy. He teaches a principle of giving to get. He says that the reason we give, for instance, is so God will bless us with great worldly wealth and prosperity. It’s so sad to think how much this man has missed the true blessings of giving. But faith is a response to God and not the

other way around. I have some bad news for those of you that think God wants you rich; it is very likely that He doesn’t (at least not in the monetary and temporal since of the word.) In fact, He is quite clear on the matter, saying “How hard is it for a rich man to get into heaven? I say unto you, it is easier for a camel to get through the eye of a needle.” (Luke 18:24&25). If what you want is born of selfish desire and envy, you are not living as a child of God any more than a duck is the child of a cat. A child of God first desires what their Father desires, asks and then receives. These “wealth and health” preachers teach a false gospel. Paul wrote that such should be cursed, because, by their false teachings, they lead the unwary astray from the truth. The Christian life is one of unity and agreement with God. It is one of waiting for His direction, observing His example and living out His desire for our lives and not that of our own. If you want to live under the

delusion of independence (because that’s what it really is, a delusion) you don’t want to be a child of God. Jesus made this quite clear to those that sought Him out for the miracles He performed. He said once, for example, “You come to me for bread. But if you knew who I was you would come to me for spiritual bread, the manna of truth, and you would never hunger again.” (John 6:26-40). Whatever you may think or others may teach, Jesus never came with the intention of making His followers wealthy, well dressed and without pain or sorrow. If you doubt this, look to His teachings. The message of Christ was and always will be one thing, “Love.” There is no greater “red dot”. Love is that great connection to our potential, our hope for greater understanding, the step in the direction of the greatest of adventures and, most importantly, our connection with God.

The Bible teaches us to let love rule. Let it master you and it will never fail to lead you on the path to a new beginning. It is a path that begins when you let go of all the lies that have served as sugar in the gas in our already sputtering lives. Die and be born again. In other words, surrendering to the rule of love means to abandon the rule of selfish ambition and pride. When faced with a decision to forgive or pass judgment, submit to love. When faced with the decision to steal or give, submit to love. When faced with clinging to addictions that both harm you and others, submit to love. In all that life throws at you, let love rule. “He that loves not, knows not God. For God is Love.”

Chapter 11 The Good News

There is, it seems, an ever present danger to succumb to a point of view prevalent in society. It is a view that teaches a moralistic, theological self-deism. It is moralistic in that we are told that if we are “basically” good people that’s enough. It is theological in that

it gives lip service to God (albeit, as a big, fuzzy hearted sugar daddy that just wants us all to get along). And it is self-deism as it teaches that all things exist for our enjoyment. It’s the belief that redemption is not a matter of being bought back from sin, but, rather, we have taken the necessary steps to atone for our sins by forgiving ourselves and making a commitment to change. However, when you consider the damage that is caused by disobeying the law of love, you must also consider the absolute futility in ever doing enough good to make up for it. It is done and there is no taking it back. If I were to stop there, there can be only one conclusion; we deserve all that God’s judgment has in store for us, both in this life and in the final, eternal judgment that awaits us. In this temporal life, therefore, God has ordered the universe to return to us our evil through things like famine, pestilence, poverty, abuse and war. On our day of

judgment we will pay with the loss of our soul to the fire of God’s wrath. The Good News is Jesus. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, so that anyone that believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16) So, Jesus, having kept the law of love, has accepted all that God had in store for us as His own to bear. Instead of being the judge of us, He has become the judged. As such, He has become our defense against all judgment. God says to those that believe that it is enough that Jesus was crucified and, so, we are forgiven. What’s more, through the faith of and in Christ, who we were while we lived in disobedience to the law of love died with Him. And, as He was raised from the dead, we too are raised in newness of life. We are given God’s grace while He fashions us to be like Him; love. What is grace? Grace is the patient, longsuffering of God while He teaches us to

walk through life in obedience to the His Law of Love. “If we confess our sins (our failing to obey the law of love) He is faithful and just to forgive us of our sins, and to cleanse us of all unrighteousness.” The last thing I want to happen as a result of this book is to merely leave you with a desire to be a better person. If that is all you have now, it is not enough. You will only find that, in the end, you are a still a miserable failure. What you need to know is that sin is much more than breaking some arbitrary rule passed down by men that have been dead and buried for centuries. Also, righteousness is much, much more than abstaining from some food, drink or manner of dress. It is much more than the practicing of rituals like going to church regularly or any other such outward appearance of holiness. It is, in fact, much harder than that. It is not true obedience unless it is who you really are in the heart, because that is the “you” that God

sees. Therefore, He is the only righteous judge. What we need is more than a “change of heart”, but a heart transplant. We need to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. The only way this can take place is by the grace of God through His Son, Jesus Christ. If I have failed to reason with you on this point, I have truly and utterly fail to accomplish the purpose of this book. I claim to know nothing at all if not the Gospel of the Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. My desire is that you will believe. And, having done so, that you taste and see that the Lord is Good. This desire is born from a heart that He has changed and is changing into the image of His own; a heart of Love.

Chapter 12 A Prayer

Lord, you said that no one comes to you unless they are drawn by you. My prayer, therefore, is that you will use the words of this book to draw your children to you. I pray that you will reveal yourself as you truly are; love. I pray that the readers of this book will grow in their hunger for you and that, through that hunger, they will discover your infinite mercy and that you are a rewarder of those that diligently seek you. Open our hearts and minds to the potential within us that is as vast and everlasting as the universe we are part of. Show us that all that we do or say affects all that you have created, just as it affects us in our daily lives. Show us that the love we get out of life is measured by the love we’ve put into it and, most of all, by the sacrifice of your Son, Jesus, you have put all of your love in it for our sakes that believe. Thank you, Lord, for your infinite patience, kindness, mercy, longsuffering and for the truth that you have so freely given to all that seek it. I

pray that your name be glorified in the earth as it is in Heaven. Amen!

Edited by Cecil E. Hogan Cover Illustration by Pauline Jones To see more of Pauline Jones’ work, visit

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