To Be or Not to Be – Learn to Truly Live!

Corruption and Lies Education Health and Wholeness Liberty/Politics Personal Development Relationships Spirituality What Your Father Should Have Taught You

I want to address this because of the posts we have had in the past couple of weeks about death and euthanasia. Life is precious. It has meaning. A lot of people agonize about the “purpose of life.” The answer I have found is that LIFE IS FOR LIVING. You might say that goes without saying. Of course, we live every moment. But that’s not what I am talking about. We must live every moment, I mean truly live every moment. Jesus said, “I came that you might have life and have it more abundantly.” But too often I look around at the faces of those at restaurants, in checkouts, and just passing on the street, and sometimes they very much look like they are NOT living abundantly. My father encouraged me to take time to notice the things around me but when I was in my twenties I became so focused on objectives that I didn’t pay attention to life. I remember looking around and realizing that the leaves were all gone from the trees and we were at the beginning of winter. Likewise, we would go from winter to summer and I would miss the months when the blossoms were beginning to bloom. This was even more significant because now, and when I was growing up, Spring and Fall were my favorite seasons but I was so disconnected from the rhythms of life I hadn’t even noticed their passing. This happened for several years and it did not bring more joy into my life, it brought less. What Your Father Should Have Taught You About Life.

The art of living abundantly means noticing our connection with the rest of life. My Dad noticed everything. The wind whispering in the trees. The beauty of the light sparkling on the water. The sounds of birds or the playing of animals, just being with his wife, kids, or grandkids. Everytime my boys came over to his house I would find Nicholas sitting on my fathers lap as they watched Bambi for the 5 millionth time. But each time was special and fresh to both my son and my father. At the time, I kinda felt sorry for my Dad having to watch Bambi over and over and over again. But I had entirely missed the point. For my father it wasn’t so much what they did but that they did it together. They were living abundantly and enjoying every moment.

Likewise, I offered to watch my grandkids so my son and his wife could have dinner alone. After the usual warning that “They can be a handful.” I told them I had had sons before. When they came home I was laying on the floor playing with their little robots, toy soldiers, and superhero figures with them. I am not sure how the “rules” went. I guess I never quite figured it out because my guys always lost. Lol. To play, to eat, to do your work, to stand for what is right, and to enjoy your life; that is the purpose of our life – but too many seem to have lost that message today. Even though it is repeated several times in one of the oldest books humanity has access to. The Bible.

There is nothing better for mortals than to eat and drink, and find enjoyment in their toil. This also, I saw, is from the hand of God; – NRSV – Ecclesiastes 2:24

Rev. Tony Campolo said in his lectures that while we are taught to pray as a child “If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take.” Yet too many people never fully live life and go through life as they are half asleep. He said, more than once, that it would be more accurate if people prayed: “If I should wake before I die.”

Too many commentaries say that Ecclesiastes talks about the “futility of life.” That is what my father would have called a bunch of horse manure. Ecclesiastes does talk about everyone being born, living, and dying and that it is the same for all. Rich and poor, powerful and weak. The sun rises and sets, the seasons’ repeat, and life is predictable, sure, and repetitive in many ways. But it is also exciting, unique, and full of experiences that we too often take for granted. It says more about the futility of our society and modernity; how we are cut off from the rhythms of nature that scholars view this as a message of the “futility of life.” We all live, we all die. Nothing will change that. We have no choice in the matter. The true gift of life isn’t about the accumulation of money or power. The true gift of life is the opportunity to live. Life is short and beautiful, we may not be able to choose all our circumstances but what we can do is choose how we will live our lives and how we will die.

The Japanese have a beautiful symbol for our lives. You see it in Anime all the time, but Westerners who have not taken martial arts often miss it. They use the falling cherry blossoms. This is a symbol of life. Cherry blossoms are beautiful but they are brief and fall to the earth all too soon. This tells us that life is beautiful but short and we must make the most of our time here.

This is the gift of God; that we can choose how we face life and how we face death. Our life will be an example to our families. Will it be a life and death that will give hope and strength or will it be a negative example? It was Abraham Lincoln who said that “A man is about as happy as he wants to be.” This statement is even more significant in that some people have identified Abraham Lincoln as a manic depressive. Over and over, authors, counselors, and pastors have advocated using your diary or tablet to keep a blessings list. Every night or morning, when you rise or before you retire, write down all of the blessings that you have enjoyed that day. All the things in your life that are special that you have. This, perhaps more than anything else, changes the way you think about life and can help you through difficult times. Do you focus on the positive or the negative? [For how our choices can affect us see: ]

Now anyone that knows me knows that I have no use for a Polly-anna type of optimism that simply ignores reality and “hopes for the best.” There was a “running gag” in the Seven Voyages of Sinbad that said, “Trust in Allah!” to which the other would always reply “Yes, but tie your camel.” (All of my kids grew up watching these movies and I had them on VCR and later DVD – I speak of the series produced in the 50s – in fact, it was “Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger” With Patrick Wayne as Captain Sinbad that caused my son to say “I see what you mean about movies being better back then they are today. Even with the old stop-action animation, I enjoyed that.”) To find an image of what it means to be a real man or woman you need to watch the old movies – before “heroes” became self-doubting whiners who bumble from event to event with no agency of their own and constantly wondering why someone doesn’t help them. In modernity, you are too often taught that all is hopeless and your actions don’t matter. No wonder suicide has become an epidemic and MAID accounts for 3% of the deaths in Canada. I believe in realistically assessing your obstacles and planning to overcome or bypass them rather than blindly hoping someone saves you. Blindly hoping for someone to come along and save you is a good way to lose everything important to you. This is a disease of the soul that is spread by cities (blue areas of our country,) as a kind of moral infection that spreads through many of those who dwell there. Is it because they are completely cut off from the natural cycles of life? Whatever the reason, in emergencies they report that they tend to sit in their apartment and wait for someone (usually the government,) to save them. Self-reliance is not their strong point. Obedience is. These are profoundly un-American ideas and, indeed, over 30% of the Blues have reported that “if invaded” they will run rather than fight for their beliefs, their family, and their way of life. Perhaps that is because their way of life isn’t worth saving. Mine is. [See how things have changed with what we are told in: ]

Jost Fritz wrote an article about this ethic of hopelessness almost a hundred years ago when he said that we need a cultural change that eliminate[s] urban ethics. “This does not mean becoming peasants again, but resisting the urbanization of feeling, which tends to stray from the natural laws…the migration from the countryside to the cities has become the convoy of death” for our nation. To connect with the natural world connects us with the source of life and of hope. Surrounding our selves with concrete and steel does not.

When I was 21 I had a near-death experience. I describe it in detail on so I won’t do it all again here. I was in Ireland Army Hospital in the Emergency Room and looking down upon my wife crying at my bedside, a tunnel with a light at the end extended behind me and that light felt like…coming home. An angel was there, male or female I couldn’t tell, the voice was beautiful, musical, and full of love. The voice told me that, “You have not accomplished what God sent you to Earth to do. But although it is not your appointed time, God is giving you a choice. You can come home or you can return and live out the rest of your life and mission.” I looked at my wife crying and felt that I couldn’t leave her like that. But the light felt so welcoming and wonderful I wasn’t sure how to explain that I wanted to return to this life. The being smiled and I realized I didn’t need to say anything. I then had a sensation like being sucked down through the hose of a vacuum and slammed down onto the table. It didn’t hurt it was just abrupt and inexorable. A second later all of the pain from my reality came rushing back in upon me. I am afraid that my first thought when that pain returned was that “I made the wrong decision.”

But I didn’t make the wrong decision. The motto I chose for my family in High School was Dum Spiro Spero: Where there is life there is hope. And my choice was for life.

I have read about a lot of near-death experiences since then. Some I have read and thought, yeah, that seems right. Others I have read and thought that is a pile of horse manure. Did I mention that among my Spiritual Gifts are the gifts of Discernment and gifts of Knowledge? One thing that I have noticed about genuine Near Death Experiences is the effect that it has on the people who live through them. Nearly everyone that I have read about results in the person no longer fearing death, yet they also know how precious life is. This is what disgusts me about Canada’s MAID program is that it is an insult to this gift of life. Where there is life, there is hope but modernity and city life breeds despair, futility, and pervasive materialism and not hope. Truly, if you put all your trust in the temporary things of this world (and as Ecclesiastes points out everything humans build is temporary,) then there are no bases for hope and you are doomed to see life as futile. [ For more on the MAID program and Euthanasia see: ]

I do understand temporary trials. After Covid my liver completely collapsed on me – There was a time I weighed 350 pounds. I lost 125 pounds but the damage to my liver was done and Covid seemed to push it over. In the 12 months following my diagnosis of Covid, I was admitted to the hospital anywhere from one night to 9 days on 25 separate occasions – at one point I was rushed in an ambulance from Lincoln NE to Kansas City, Missouri. A doctor came in when it was obvious that I would die if I didn’t get a new liver. He asked me if I really wanted to go through all of the pain and tribulation of a liver transplant. It is extremely painful and, for some, their heart and body give out just from the shock of surgery. Others die before they can get a suitable match and still others because the body rejects the new liver. “You have lived almost 60 years. That’s a pretty good run. Are you sure you want to go through all this?”

Really? Was he asking if I wanted to live? I looked at him. “I am not leaving this life willingly. They’re going to have to drag me out of this life kicking and screaming with me resisting all the way. My family has one thing to say to death: Not today!” (I did steal that last line from a movie but it fits and my sons and I use it often.) [For more on this see: ]

When I was in High School I took 3 years of Latin and I used that knowledge to pick a family motto to live my life by. I chose Dum Spiro, Spero – Where there’s life, there’s hope. As we pointed out in the article on MAID; as long as you are still breathing things can get better and you can claim your life and live each moment.

But, no matter what happens or how bad you feel life is precious. And I am not just saying that, like all my posts, I speak from experience. In the recovery room in ICU, I was in more pain than I had ever endured but I was alive! I tend to accept physical pain as a matter of course I have had chronic back pain since I was 24 years old and injured my back in the military. But, after surgery, I was unable to move on my own and when 4 nurses grabbed the sheet I was on to slide me back up in my bed I screamed and they only moved me about six inches. They asked me if I was ready and I said yes. But I wasn’t. I have never screamed like that in my life. It caught me completely off guard. But, as someone once said, if you are in pain that just means you’re still alive. I looked at my wife and wanted to dance in joy because I had survived but I couldn’t even sit up on my own. “Tanz fur mich,” I said. I tried to sing. That was a no-go – even breathing hurt. So I asked her to play it on Youtube and she played Tanz Mit Mir by Faun and she danced for me because I couldn’t. I was alive and I plan to stay that way as long as I was able.

One of my heroes is Theoden King of Rohan, like him I felt that I had been once more been recalled from death’s door and was ready for battle – OK, I needed to heal a bit first. I like Theoden because he was not surrounded by prophecy, raised by elves, or descended from the “elder race” like Aragorn. He was just a man. A man facing a world and events that threatened to overwhelm him and his country. Yet at the end, he said, “I go to rest with my forefathers; in whose company I will no longer be ashamed.” That is because he lived and died for his principles, sacrificing his life for his country and his people, refusing to compromise or abandon what was right, he stayed the course to the end…a true hero. [See how things have changed with what we are told in: ]

Everyone has a calling in life. A reason they are here. For me my purpose is to fight for what is right. Whether I win or not, my life rises and falls with the fortunes of the Divinely inspired principles of the Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution that I have given my life in service to.

John Wesley said that too many Christians live on the threshold of the Kingdom of God but never fully enter into its promise. Jesus said that “the Kingdom of God is here now. Let those who have ears to hear, let them hear.” The kingdom of God, the abundant life that Jesus promised, is available to us each day, no matter what we face or endure. The purpose of life is to live it but in doing so we have a mission to stand for what is true and just. Too many Christians today seem to opt out of the struggle and challenges God has for them today; wistfully thinking that God will deliver them and they will miss the trials to come. They didn’t read their Bible very well. God does his best work through the example of his Children DURING the trials. We are not excused from this life. We are not excused from standing against the corruption that seems to be everywhere today. I want to slap someone every time they say: “All we can do is pray!” You have literally tried EVERYTHING else and that is the only course left to you? We are called to live with purpose and to stand ready to attest to the hope that is in us. We are called to live the gospel and not just sit back and wait for God to help us. I am not the only one who has a mission from God. So do you. [For more on your call see: ]

As a friend’s father once said to me, “Success is finding the will of God in your life and doing it.” You were born to be a success. You just need to find the will of God in your life and do it. We don’t find that sitting around and hoping it will land in our lap but we find it by living each day and paying attention. One uncompromising step at a time and paying attention to what comes next. John Wesley reviewed each day and asked God in prayer to help him see where he missed or fulfilled, the opportunities that God had given him each day to serve. But too many today don’t follow God or Christ’s example. They just sit back and wait to be rescued. I think they actually follow some Polly-anna, make-believe, purple dinosaur-type, iconic god of silly niceness that they keep in a fictitious “god-box” rejecting anything that they don’t understand or seems different. As if they understand God! It was Saint Paul who said, “God will do what God will do.” He doesn’t need our approval or our understanding. Christ was not nice, despite what some clueless pastor preached to me once! This pastor followed the purple dinosaur god. Jesus was not a silly dinosaur. Faced with the corruption he made a whip of cords and drove the corruption from the temple because he lived for truth and justice, defying the corruption and lies that were around him. We are not called to niceness but to speak the truth in love, live justly, and walk WITH our God. [See: ]

We need to recognize that our life has a purpose and we are each called to something special. No matter what we face it is not an interruption in our life it IS our life. We are not observers in this life but principal actors and servants of the Living God called to live abundantly and to “let justice roll down like waters and righteousness as an ever-flowing stream.” To live for truth and justice and live each moment with a purpose knowing that we will never get that moment back. In a world where evil thrives on the lasses faire attitudes of the weak, we are called to draw on the strength of Divine Providence, live each moment with purpose, and remember who we are. We are children of the Living God born to do great things and to stand for truth and justice against the forces of this present darkness. Through faith and action, God has changed the world over and over again and he can do it today IF we accept the call to abundant life and enter into the fray that God put us here to fight. We are not to stand back and wait for “someone else’ to do it. We are called to stand firm, to put on the full armor of God, and to act.

In truth, living today will prove to be more exciting than any video game you could imagine because the fight that we must face is real. The important battle is NOT a battle between Red and Blue but a battle between Good and Evil and we must not confuse those sides as matching whatever color we prefer. We need to pray for discernment and, like John Wesley, ask God to show us what we need to do each day of our lives to stand true and be the person that we were created to be. [The the depth of this battle see: ]

Like a phoenix rising from the ashes, we will run and not be faint. The time has come for taking chances. We are the masters of our fate. We keep our faith when there’s no way out. When there is no hope we show no doubt. We go the distance, no matter how far. Remember who we are. Never give up. Never surrender. Living truly is our purpose. Dum Spiro, Spero.

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