LIVE WITH VISION; DO NOT DIE WITHOUT HAVING LIVED

By Terry Carter, Editor

“Man. Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present. The result being that he does not live in the present or the future. He lives as if he is never going to die — and then dies having never really lived.” 

— James J. Lachard, on what is most surprising about humanity

The summary above describes the average day, year and life of the average person who is working hard and getting ahead in the 21th century. Some work to make money. Some to fill time. And others don’t work at all. They seem to play for 8-12 hours each day, enjoying each challenge, each event, each interaction they have while pursuing their life’s work.


That person, if you study the details carefully, is not unusual, nor a rebel. He is hard working, perhaps so busy he does not make time for family dinners, teaching his children to play ball or drive the car. He may have stayed at the office late to make financial ends meet, to afford a family vacation or to consider retiring late in life. It’s easy to justify the actions because nearly all of us have ignored what is actually more essential — in hindsight — to pay attention to the task at hand.

The fictional character described in the first paragraph dies having missed the reason and the joy of why he lived. He was so driven by societal means goals to “work hard to get ahead” and “promotions come to those with seniority” that he worked beyond the patience of his friends and family, who wanted him to have fun. At the end of his life, he will be well remembered for his work, but the end goals of joy, love, amazement and surprise were planned out of this type of life. 

Nearly everyone grew up pursuing means goals, including “get a college degree,” “work for one company during your career” and “marry once for life.” Of the 350 high school graduates from my high school, I suspect perhaps 30-40 percent did not receive a college degree, 95 percent did not work for just one company in the past 30 years, and perhaps 70 percent have exceeded the once social norm of one spouse per lifetime.

In the 1980s, no one mentioned end goals, such as climbing the tallest mountains on each continent or being surrounded by love daily, as they are primarily emotion-based that will make us happy or satisfied. End goals are about “following your heart,” Vishen Lakhiani writes in his book The Code of the Extraordinary Mind. 

Means goals typically take us another step toward a place that our elders or society suggests will make us happy, But there are stipulations and complications. See how this sounds:  You should get a college degree…so you can get a good career… so you can retire. Then you will be happy. As many of us know, the college degree put us in debt and 4-8 years older. The career allowed us to pay off the debt and afford a family and some lifestyle. The retirement, however, is not as likely as we imagined as teenagers.


Stop during your work week and look at your career as you walk or hurry through the day and the deadlines. Do you feel energized to go to work today? Did you spring out of bed this morning because of how great today will be? If not, why not? For each day is only as special as we make it.

We need to dig and change our software and hardware to bring computers to the market. And we need to do the same with ourselves. Ask yourself a few questions to see if your means goals are in line with your end goals. If they are, then your path may have been perfect for you. I have had to re-adjust my path several times due to changes in the economy (new hardware), new information I have uncovered (new software) and unpredictable events. These questions are taken from Lakhiani’s book, regarding all areas of our lives including relationships, spiritual, healthy and intellectual growth, careers, family and communities:

  1. What experiences do you want to have in this lifetime? The in-depth question is: If time and money were of no object and I did not have to seek anyone’s approval, what kinds of experiences would my soul crave?
  2. How do you want to grow? The in-depth question here is: In order o have the experiences above, how do I have to grow? What sort of person do I need to become?
  3. How do you want to contribute? The follow-up question is: If I have the experiences above and have grown in these remarkable ways, how can I give back to the world?


Answer me this, and your frustration with day-to-day work will vanish because we will begin to unlock your vision. A person who works to accomplish their vision never works as we know work. He or she enjoys every moment, brings light to dark rooms, shares and helps everyone who wishes to grow. 

Perhaps you are happy with your work and your life. But studies reveal that 80 percent of us are dissatisfied and just putting in time deposit the check. And the check simply vanishes to the bills that are due. 

This, my friends, is not why we are here on Earth. We are here to do so much more than pay bills, complain in the break room and break rules when no one is looking. 

Are you ready to grow, change and stretch those wings to fly? Be one with the wave and grow forever. Walk the narrow bridge on the highest mountain, and let us discover the thrill of victory at the summit.

FROM RULES TO LIMITLESS

By Terry Carter, Editor

I once heard a story of a newly married couple, and the husband was helping his wife cook dinner in the kitchen of their new home. She had purchased a roast, seasoned it, cut off the ends and put it in a large pan. 

While the oven was preheating, the husband asked his new “Why do you cut off the ends of the roast? It seems like a waste of good meat.” She gave him a defensive look and explained, “My mother has always done it this way – and so did her mother.” Several months later, the newlyweds met the whole family for a big holiday meal. The husband promptly asked the bride’s mother why she cut off the ends of the roast before cooking it. She said her mom had always done it that way, and it was tradition.

After some family talk on the subject, the husband asked the grandmother why she had cooked roast that way. Being an honest woman, she went right to the point and revealed a revalation. “I cut off the ends of the roast because my oven at the time was too small to fit the whole roast.” 

She had sacrificed out of the necessity and passed on this cooking tradition to her daughter and granddaughter. And no one realized the reason or that ovens today are big enough for even the largest roast. It was simply a rule of the day because ovens in the 1940s were small.

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Much of our lives today is run by rules we learned young and still follow, even though those rules may have reached their expiration date or are simply not benefiting us. Look around analytically, and you will see that many rules we expect to be universal laws are not always accurate, such as we must have a college education to succeed. I know many men and women who have not college experience, yet they are successful, in my view.

I grew up absorbing the wisdom of my parents, and my father worked for large corporation, averaging 40-50 hours a week on a Monday-Friday schedule. I only recall him working for perhaps three companies in my life, so the mantra of the day seemed confirmed: Get a good education, work 40-50 years for 1-3 major companies and then you can retire early.

Upon earning my bachelor’s degree, I encountered a changing world that destroyed that ideal career scenario. I was laid off three times in five years in my chosen field. As a result of my desire to control my destiny, I have started or co-founded six companies so far while still staying in touch with the consulting or employee side of my life. 

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Most of us live a life of lies because we firmly grasp these rules growing up. Work hard, for example. Reality is: We all work hard, but only a small percentage work smart and employ the creative genius thereby leveraging their time, talents to get ahead. Fewer still actively create a framework that allows them to pocket millions of dollars while traveling the world in opulence.

I have means and end goals currently, but means goals are more common for nearly everyone because of the rules we heard when young. And you have means goals about career earnings, raising a family, retirement, purchasing a special home and working for a great company.

But end goals are probably where we as humans want to go because as we begin achieving the means goals set by society and our culture, many of us wind up NOT happy at all when we are in our 30s, 40s and 50s. We may have a high-paying career, but we are actually stuck in boring, stagnant positions running from home to work, home to work and home to work.

We have less time with our families than we truly want. And because of that, we often find our relationships at home suffering to the point our spouses ignore us, our children don’t want us around and our pet growls or hisses at us. For millions of Americans, it is the literal rat race, and we are the rat being chased, pressured and squeezed by deadlines, bills, work, home, retirement (if we can afford to consider it) and more.

This is a real-world case. Even with a Master’s Degree as a 1-percent earner and at the top of his or her field, the achievers today are not truly happy. Sure, they look good on camera. But many are struggling to get through each day, wondering why they are not happy with their vaults of money, garages of fine vehicles, multiple homes. And somehow, we sit in our 10-year-old Honda, driving to work from an apartment to a deadend job and believe we have all the answers about happiness. 

The truth is less than one percent of us would be content if our income fell 50-70 percent today because it is way beyond our comfort zone. But layoffs happen, and that is often a 100 percent pay cut. Retirement happens too, and many retirees settle for less than half of their full-time career income.

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So how do we get from “living within the cultural rules” to having limitless options for improvement?

We pay attention to movers like Elon Musk, founder of Tesla Motors and numerous other major companies. We learn from Richard Branson and Vishen Lakhiani and Michael Beckwith and Marisa Peer. These people are changing the potential for extraordinary achievement by ordinary folks like you and I. They are telling us how to do what millionaires Musk, Branson and Lakhiani have already done.

Lakhiani founded Mindvalley and transformed the company into a industry-leading personal development mastermind organization that is setting the world of achievers on fire currently. I am re-reading his book, The Code of the Extraordinary Mind, for the second time in seven days. The hardback version has been highlighted beyond belief because it reveals startling, new information. Since I read 40-60 books annually of business, personalities and improvement, I think I can safely say this book is probably the best book I have read in decades. 

Jack Canfield, co-author of the best-selling series Chicken Soup for the Soul, said it bluntly about Lakhiani’s book. And Canfield is an expert on this type of writing: “Vishen Lakhiana’s knowledge base and his ability to present it clearly and to actually put it into practice is above anyone I have ever seen in this field.”

Lakhiani has many unconventional suggestions. But when it comes to finding the end goals that lead you to your desired destination in life, he mentions these:

  1. What experiences do you want to have in this lifetime?
  2. How do you want to grow?
  3. How do you want to contribute?

(More on this topic soon)

ASK BIG, PRAY BIG, LIVE BIG  

  • EACH DAY YOU CHOOSE EITHER A SLAVE MENTALITY OR GOD’S ABUNDANT MENTALITY

By Terry Carter, Editor

When we hear of a friend or relative speak of a blessing, an opportunity or a miracle in their life, why do we doubt that a great gift could exist for them?

Is God unable to hear our prayers and bless us in special ways? No, God hears all of us, but some prayers – like the ones Pastor Joel Osteen spoke of recently – seem to remain unanswered. And like most of you, I feel frustrated without instant gratification of my prayers. What Paster Joel Osteen recently mentioned during a televised sermon is changing my mind regarding routine ideas, prayers in my life because they often orginate from a limited or “slave mentality.”

When we pray, do we ask God to keep us alive through a tough time or to keep our old car running? Those are weak prayers. By asking and praying big, I suggest you ask God not to become a better slave in your current life. Ask to become a better dreamer, a better achiever, a better go-getter, to set a new standard for this generation. 

How big are your dreams? Ask big today!


Our God is the God of abundance, and you cannot reach your fullness in life without asking for and pursuing your biggest dreams. In order to reach grand dreams, you must first begin to think great thoughts and envision greatness in your life.

 Now will God make you rich, famous and fabulous just so you can look good on the red carpet? It is unlikely you will be blessed greatly despite a strong prayer unless you also tell God that you will give back and help others.

The Book of James 4 describes praying a sick prayer, a weak prayer or a prayer for the wrong motives that seems to go unanswered. Joel suggests that asking God for big dreams and miracles is exactly what the Lord wants.

When we ask God, we acknowledge that He and Jesus can do the impossible. When the blind men called out to Jesus, Jesus asked them what they wanted

You are God’s prized creation, the apple of His eye. Joel suggested asking Him daily for your biggest dreams like it is your special birthday. It is the Father’s good pleasure to give you treasure. Be bold enough to ask. Ask big in child-like faith, and there will be times when God will show you miracles even though it looks impossible in your eyes.


God said you are to reign over your life – not hide in the shadows hoping the poverty, pain and desperation will subside one day.  What you do will prosper and grow abundantly, based on The Bible. The Lord will give you the desires of your heart if you “ask for explosive blessings.”

So why do so many of us back away from helping friends and chasing our dreams? I have seen good christian people turn their back on a friend who is offering needed help or an opportunity. Often their reasoning for rejecting the gift is unsupported by facts, but I suspect they lack an inspired dream – or they are too embarrassed or complacent to improve their situation.

Sitting on the sidelines and watching the world go by is not God’s plan for us. We are directed to seek out and pursue Godly, inspired dreams, missions, achievements. I believe we should look for inspiration each day in nature, in music, in art, in people, in love, in friends, in business and much more. 

Regardless of your sex, dimensions, skin color, education, you were created for greatness. Either you pursue that every day, or you avoid it by running away from inspiring moments, great people and life-altering events. Will you boldly ask for blessings and go where no man, woman or child has gone before?


My next area of greatness will never be reached by me if I sit at home watching TV each night. Because big ideas come true for others, I know I can also strive for better results and perhaps great memories. Success will never be a destination. It is simply a journey I am taking up a tall, amazing mountain slope where the view improves with each step I take. 

Success is reached daily by moving – sometimes falling – forward. I am traveling on this global quest with many inspired friends, and the comradery makes the sore legs and stumbles all the more memorable. They are quality people with big dreams, big prayers and big needs – all of which Jesus can meet at the right time. And failure is a healthy part of success – don’t think you can reach the pinnacle of life without hard work and failure.

Perhaps our journey together would be even better if our prayers also became fearless as we pray for dynamic miracles to help millions of people insteadof hundreds of people. For we are all humans, and each of us is a miracle worthy of great prayers, great blessings, great healing, great recovery, great strides and great achievements that may shock our own families.

But for the one small child who today decides that she will be the first Master’s Degree in her family, I say, congratulations. See it today. Chase it each day, week and year – and your life’s successes will begin today and never stop. You can climb higher and higher on the journey to success. Their is not summit – just more joy and challenge ahead.

See the biggest dream, and go get it.

FITNESS OR FATNESS – THAT IS THE QUESTION

By Terry Carter, Editor

I have weighed more than 200 pounds for about 25 years now, topping out at a mountainous 262 pounds about 3 years ago. As a chronic, Type 1 diabetic with a recently disabled knee at the time, my recovery prognosis for the knee was debateable. 

After surgery and about six months of rehabilitation three days a week, the doctor said I was permanently disabled, would always walk with a limp and may never run again. At this weight and an average diabetic diet that included fast food, taking more insulin to compensate for my sugar cravings and sodas, I was nearing 50 years old and losing a life-long health battle that began when I was 11 years old.

Back then I played 5-6 sports – including baseball, golf, tennis, wrestling and football – and led most teams I played on due to good hand-eye coordination, strength, flexibility and some athletic ability. After a baseball all-star game in June 1976, my mom bought me four Cokes, and I guzzled each one while eating two hotdogs. Then I asked for a fifth Coke.

As a registered nurse, she recognized this much sugar was a bad sign for my health. Two days later, I suffered through a 5-hour, glucose tolerance test and was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. 

Thirty days in the hospital was the rule back then. So this hyper, athletic 11 year old bounced up and down the hospital halls in a wheelchair. It was the nurse’s way of preventing my blood sugar from falling due to extra exercise. Thus began the complicated daily adjustments in insulin, diet, exercise and even shoes that changed my life for the better.

Better, you say? How so? Well, the doctor was matter-of-fact and told me early on that if I listened and did everything he suggested, I may live to be 60 years old. We didn’t discuss the alternative.


So for more than 35 years, I had analyzed blood sugars, adjusted insulin doses, eaten OK and stayed semi-active as our three children grew up. But dietary knowledge and fitness gurus improved the system while I was preoccupied as many of us are today. Calories didn’t matter as much as Carbs. And cardio and cross-training became the fitness trends.

When I fell and hurt my knee, the Meniscus tore. And I was forced to walk like Festus in the old TV series Gunsmoke, kind of dragging my right knee behind me because the knee would no longer bend to lift it off the ground. Some of that was caused by the knee injury; some of the limp came from the hard scar tissue after the surgery.

So after the rehab doctor tells me I will likely never run again and am permanently disabled, my inner athlete chose to challenge those findings immediately. First I signed up for several seasons of slow-pitch softball. The first season, no one let me run. The second season, I ran the bases slow but steady after spending almost six months jogging sprints and trying not to fall on my face..

And the third season, I batted exclusively from the left side to get closer to first base, and I ran hard… for an old guy with one leg. On infield grounders, I forced myself all out to first base, and I beat a handful of throws. Playing infield was good training for the legs too because I simply didn’t give up.

Back to today: I walk about 30 miles a week and go running 3-4 times weekly. With my injury, I am forced to consciously take every step carefully and precisely to prevent stumbling on hilly terrain and stairs. I still fall, but I get back up and move on. As part of this rehab mission, I have always become a 3-day-a-week regular at my gym. It’s like CHEERS: They wave to me when I enter.

I have made good progress on the weights, treadmill and swimming once a week. I am not concerned about sweating hard and growling during my last 2-3 repetitions on a challenging weight. And I am now leg pressing as much as the machine can handle, and that leg press is the best rehab exercise for my knees, bar none.


As I mentioned earlier, I weighted 262 about 2.5-3 years ago after the surgery. Now I am 224 pounds, a 38-pound drop based on taking known weaknesses and focusing on them – intently! I never ran cross country or sprints. So my 5K runs for practice and in competition are new stimulus to my body. Your body and mine alike dislike the same excercises over and over. I mix long walks with pure sprints with quarter-mile jogs, but the running itself is my body’s best cardio workout.

It may be different for you. And 224 pounds is the lightest I have weighed in more than 20 years. I could not have imagined that after I reached 35 or 40 years old. It’s incredible to be moving down in weight while eating well and taking all-natural supplements from Plexus. The combination of eating healthier, exercising consistently and taking vitamins and the right supplements is a rare combination that gave me more energy, endurance, focus and better results.

I cannot tell you how happy I am with the strength, quickness, flexibility and overall health I am feeling right now. Also I take less than 50 percent of the insulin I injected three years ago. To all of you real runners out there, I’m not Clydesdale size yet, but my goal of 205-210 is within sight. Then I will bust that 35-minute barrier in a 5K race.

And if a 51-year-old man with a chronic disease and one knee can do that, I’m sure you can at least walk 15-30 minutes after you get home from work. How about it? Are you willing to join me?

THE SAMUELS NAME LIVES STRONG

By Terry Carter, Editor

My mother was a superb mom, grandmother, friend, mentor. She was a member of the Samuels family, a group of go-getters and achievers who have left a permanent mark in our family history.

Her two older brothers survived her and attended her funeral a few years ago. Both are amazing men, who exemplified the Samuels men with high intelligence, ethics, style and class. Both should have written books about their upbringing and achievements in life. It must be said they are the sons of a great father, my grandfather.

And grandpa Samuels was the most talented people I have ever met. He could play probably 12 musical instruments, had professional baseball skills and opened one of the best welding shops in the Midwest. Grandpa apparently worked miracles in welding and blending metals together. Yet he could smack a baseball over everyone’s head at family picnics as easily as he could lay down a soft bump in front of his 5-year-old grandson standing near third base. 


As great as my grandfather Oren D. Samuels  was, it appears he conceded the top billing to his wife and my grandmother, Lucille Samuels. Because of her strong will and effervescent personality, Lucille led the way for 20th century women, setting standards reserved previously for g0-getter males in society. She had an opinion on every subject and led by example. 

During my childhood, I heard rumors that my grandmother was a leader among leaders and perhaps had the governor of Indiana and Mayor of Richmond over to her memorable home on Southwest First Street. True or false, I cannot say. But everyone respected and obeyed Lucy. In retrospect, she was treated like a former mayor in that town of some 50,000 residents. 

She inspired each of her children and each generation thereafter. We still tell stories about her achievements. Two of my cousins, Susie and Vickie, lived closest to Grandma Samuels. They inherited her inner strength, integrity and her will. Growing up in Michigan, my family seemed to spend 2+ weeks each summer near the Indiana-Ohio state line to get a healthy dose of home cooking, baseball with grandpa/cousins/uncles/aunts, play Euchre all night and soak in the words of wisdom from grandma.

I recall once that my sweet Aunt Mert had called on the phone several days after we arrived to see if the Carter kids wanted to join her family for some shopping. I may have been just old enough to think I was smart. So I checked with my brothers and told Mert that may not be too interesting with the pool and golf course calling my name. She politely said OK and goodbye.


Not 30 seconds after I hung up did I learn from Grandma Samuels that Aunt Mert had spent weeks researching and devising a list of things she and girls thought we would enjoy doing. Then Lucy looked at me with her no-nonsense stare and said these fateful words, which I will always remember: “Your Aunt Mert does a lot for you. Don’t forget that when she calls back– and she will call back. When when does, you better jump at whatever she offers next because it’s the right thing to do. Do you understand me?”

Big gulp from the 9-year-old boy. Then a “Yes, ma’am.” Sure enough, Aunt Mert called back five minutes later – after talking over options with her brilliant daughters – and offered a chance for us to go pick our own strawberries in Ohio. Without even asking my brothers, I volunteered all three of us for about four hours of picking fruit and taking home enough for our family after delivering 10 times that amount to the farm we visited. Lesson learned from the  wisest grandma I’ve ever met. 

Lucy and Oren passed on some amazing intelligence and strong personalities to their two handsome sons and one outstanding daughter. My mom was the youngest of the three Samuels children, and June was also about as peaceful a soul as you could find – nearly the opposite of her strong-willed mother in the 1930s-1940s…

More on this later…

THE TAO OF STRUGGLE

A friend recently asked the rhetorical question we all must answer: Why is everything I NEED to do always so difficult?

After taking the same test administered by the hand of God and failing it repeatedly myself over the years, I choked back a giggle. Then I reminded my friend that life was never designed to be simple or convenient. Everyone has their own perspective on the why. However nearly everyone agrees we are tested daily with seemingly unpleasant challenges.

For myself I always viewed the hard work in life as a character-building exercise developed just for me by God. As a young student, I did well in all subjects and every sport I attempted in elementary school. I made excellent grades, led my age group in T-ball/baseball, golf and more. I even wound up on the front page of the local newspaper at about age nine because I was simply in the right place at the right time. Those were great years, followed by character-building events.

At age 11, I won 4-of-5 golf tournaments and completed a strong baseball season with an appearance in the county all-star game in early June. After that game, my mother observed that I drank about five Cokes to quench my thirst. With one son already living with Type I Diabetes, she was quick to have me tested for the chronic disease. I tested positive and spent nearly 30 days in the local hospital while adjusting to taking insulin injections and testing sugars consistently. 

Just as I was checking out of the hospital from that long visit — my friends called it imprisonment — the doctor checked my throat and found a lump that brought me back to the hospital days later. It was removed, found to be benign and left behind a long scar on my neck — pretty exciting for all of the wrong reasons. These are some of the struggles I deal with even today. We all have ongoing issues we adjust to keeping thriving, or they can conquer us.

In my case, I developed new-found abilities to make detailed charts of insulin doses, blood sugars, meals and exercise to make better daily adjustments to my blood sugars. I became proud of my scars, wounds. While I was quiet at times, I focused on growing into a responsible leader. I found recently after a personality evaluation that my personality is very strong in 3-of-4 basic personality types, which is a scarce quality. They give me a good chance to recognize and solve the battles that arrive daily in my life.

Consider the battle of opposing forces you observe regularly in every city. It is the Yin and Yang of your life: The wind and rain batter the Earth daily; the hustle of life versus the caution required to cross a busy street; debates that start among family or close friends; and much more.

Martin arts legend Bruce Lee used the analogy of water to explain life and our role in it: Water can flow. It can be poured into a cup, and it becomes the cup… this analogy reveals how we humans can adapt and change to fit our responsibilities and environment. Bruce also said: “Water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend.” This suggests we humans can break down barriers, break out of bad relationships and overcome what holds us down in life. It also subtly suggests that without crashing out of the cup, we can become imprisoned inside the cup forever, while thinking that is all there is.

But how do we break barriers and overcome challenges? With faith, hope and prayers involving God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit.

To me, Bruce was telling me to be water. And as water, I could conform to the shape I was poured into, or I could crash and wear down the cup, the rock or the room that tried to contain me. It is my choice to flow or crash, and it is your choice also.

In the second paragraph, I mentioned my repeated test failings. It didn’t happen in the classroom. Yet it seemed my Father often created a specific test for me to pass or fail each week. And if I did not pass God’s test, the same assignment was waiting on my desk again Monday morning. God’s tests – in retrospect – closely resemble the math tests we all took in school as we learned simple mathematics.

Have you ever felt like you could not move forward in life until you solved this one puzzle – something like a Rubik’s Cube? Logic works sometimes. But here it did not. Random chance, guts and wild guesses did not help either. Following my heart solved little. After repeated failures, I studied my defeats — typically caused by my own selfish strategies — and resigned to God’s will. 

In reality, this is perhaps the second most certain path to wisdom in life. The best method I’ve discovered is learning from others by personal observation, interviewing people and reading books for knowledge.

Why is life so challenging? Because it should be for all the right reasons. Humans must learn, live and grow. If we all had a smooth, even walk to the summit in life, boredom would dominate the day. The potholes, curves, deadends, tangents, S-curves and roadblocks give us a challenge, a chance to overcome the obstacles.

Take on the challenges in your life. Drama or no drama, tests are for acing. Failure is there for the wisdom to be gained. Death happens to teach the living that today is vital. And setbacks pose only temporary walls in our path if we solve the correct riddle at hand. If not, we seem to take the same test again next week.

Perhaps I need to be more talkative and polite. Perhaps you need to be more resilient. We all have room to improve, except for The One – and I do not mean Neo. 

A STORY OF BLESSED LIFE

By Scott Thornton, Guest Editor

I have read The Bible approximately 15 times now, and I am consistently amazed at the detailed stories of miracles, faith and history that fill the pages.

But lately I am called to read and re-read the Book of Luke, which begins with the story of John the Baptist’s birth and the connection between John’s mother, Elizabeth, and her relative Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ. If you have not read this story recently, open your Bible to Luke and study it carefully. It will bring you to tears if you understand the blessing and joy Elizabeth received  after decades of being unable to deliver a child for her husband.

Six months after Elizabeth was told by the Angel Gabriel that she would have a son who would be great and filled with the Holy Spirit, Mary received a similar conversation with the Angel Gariel. Elizabeth was told to name this son John, which was not a family name. That created some conflict as her husband Zechariah had been silenced during the pregnancy for not believing Gabriel when he delivered this good news to the priest Zechariah some nine months earlier. Fortunately both parents had been told by Gabriel to name the baby boy John.

When Zechariah was asked about this at the circumcision, he wrote that the boy should be called John, and then he was able to speak again. 

After Mary had been blessed with the life of Jesus, she traveled to be with her relative Elizabeth during the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy. When Mary entered Zechariah and Elizabeth’s home and greeted the expectant mother, the Book of Luke states that the baby “leaped in her womb and Elizabether was filled with the Holy Spirit.”

The two mothers-to-be spoke like each knew the other’s holy secret already. It must have been an amazing time in their family as they exchanged stories that no one else has ever experienced. Both women were blessed with remarkable fortune and children who are famous across the world. It was a great day in their village.

According to Luke, John the Baptist was born approximately six months before Jesus was born to Mary. And John the Baptist and Jesus Christ were related through their mothers! Never heard that announcement before in church, and I have been oblivious to the holy connection until now. For decades I always remembered the story of John the Baptist started halfway through his life as he was preaching of repentance. I initially believed his was a loner, ranting in the wildness who eventually became more persuasive as leaders have done before.

Somehow  I overlooked one of the most blessed events – and the miraculous nature of the birth and upbringing of John. 

With that knowledge, John’s passion, his works and his meeting with Jesus carry amplified significance. That was truly a troubled time to believe in Christ.

But simultaneously, it was the best of times to see the Miracles of God, the life of the Holy Son and a significant bit player who warned the world to clean up its act quickly. Clearly there were differences between them, but both were filled with the Holy Spirit and guided by the Father. And both died horribly to fulfill a sacred mission for us.

And we – either has historians or Godly people – will recall their stories for all time.