A New Year, A New Look

This will be the shortest post I’ve written by far…

I will redesign this website over the holidays so that it will be ready for launch first thing 2014.

This means that I will have to postpone any writing so that I can devote all my time to fixing up the website.

This is a good thing because:

1. I get to spend time over the holidays focused on being with friends and family.

2. It gives me a break to refresh and come up with new content.

3. The website will look better and will be easier to navigate. The new design will also have the ability to expand into E-commerce and other avenues for distributing future content (such as books, audio messages, video messages, etc.).

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Ryan

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And The Greatest Of These Is Charity

Giving-hearthDuring this time of year, we think about the last minute shopping we have to do in order to scratch off those last couple of people we were wanting to get gifts for. It is this time of year that the hustle and bustle makes our minds jaded on what’s most important. I have spoken on an off about the importance of the Christmas season being focused on the message of God becoming man and not on the rank commercialism of the holiday where retail sales soar and where excess becomes the primary virtue of children everywhere.

Yet, as reluctant as I am to admit this, giving is an important part of the message of Christmas. Bitter as I am that I feel children are increasingly missing out on the goodness of the message of Christmas, there is something to be said about giving gifts. Ok, sure you could make the juvenile connection that the Wise Men gave gifts to Mary and Joseph on behalf of celebrating the birth of a Savior. I would tell you to try harder in coming up with a legitimate example for the validity of gift giving during Christmas.

If we should come away from this topic relatively unscathed, it should be that the practice of gift-giving is a small demonstration of the greater virtue by which all Christians should possess: charity.

Charity is something that is not just an organization whose mission is to do good unto others, it is a spiritual discipline that all of us need to take up as part of “dying to self, taking up the cross, and following Christ.” The art of giving is something that has to be cultivated from a young age. I read about how one mother who was trying to teach her children the importance of giving told her kids that they could have only two toys, and that one would be donated to a child in need and they would keep the other. What the kids didn’t know is that whatever they wanted most would be the toy donated and what they wanted least is what they would keep.

What the mother was trying to teach the kids is that we give our best to others, not the left overs we don’t want. God gave the best for us by giving His son, which means he really gave us himself!

I can’t think of a better gift to give than the message of hope that God became like one of us, walked amongst us, and died and rose again for us. Also, learn to give more to those in need: whether it’s a monetary donation online, a donation of your time to help someone in need, or to organize a charitable event; know that the one who is truly blessed is the one who gives, not receives.

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Guns, Schools, and the Mental Health Crisis

AB17380Mark it down: another student dies by gunshot wound in school.

I would like to say that incidents like these, although immensely tragic, are isolated in nature. But I would be wrong to say that. According to Wikipedia, there have been over 20 reported cases of school shootings this year alone, and the list of school shootings in US history date back all the way to the 1700s!

What is even more shocking is that the deadliest decade of school shootings in the US is not now, but back in the 1900s.

This has been going on for a long time…

This post is not about the particular shooting that just occurred in Colorado, but it is about the epidemic of violent crime taking place in our schools in general. We can all remember the Sandy Hook shootings a year ago, and I know I remember the Columbine shootings back in 1999. These tragedies struck the nations’ heartstrings and sent everyone into an emotional spiral. I can’t imagine how anyone that loses a child in this fashion can function another day. It’s times like these that should make us think about how we handle discussing the topics of guns, public safety, and mental illness.

For far too long, mental illness has been stigmatized and has enabled those who have such afflictions the excuse to never seek help, for fear of being treated as second-class citizens. The increasing number of people with mental illness can be looked at in two ways: 1) More people are reporting (which is a good thing) and 2) More people are reporting (which is a bad thing).

What can we do to de-stigmatize mental illness and to provide help for those that are afflicted with such:

1. If we know someone in trouble, get them help.

2. If we know someone in trouble, love them with compassion.

3. If we know someone in trouble, don’t let them get away.

4. If we know someone in trouble, don’t hide their secret.

Now, when we think about guns, we think of the 2nd Amendment… that bearing arms is our constitutional right. It is so, but that doesn’t mean we can’t have a discussion on gun control. Gun control isn’t a dirty word. Granted, it can be taken too far and become too limited. But, unbridled use of guns is not the solution either. As a society, we must become more responsible and understand that violence isn’t the first option… it is the last resort. We must learn to live peaceably with one another… but an eroding morality in our country will not serve to see that peace becomes primary.

On the topic of school safety: Safety is a priority for our children. If schools cannot protect our children from violent crime, then why should we trust them? We must insist that there are uniformed officers at schools prone to violence, and even at schools that aren’t prone to violence… we must insist that there are plans in place to protect our students should a crisis arise.

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This post is just a means to start a discussion, not be an end-all. I am still trying to formulate my thoughts on this. If anything comes to fruition, i’ll make sure to post it.

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