The Biggest Story

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There are countless stories about different men and women all over the world. Hundreds, perhaps thousands of biographies and autobiographies were written about famous, not-so-famous, and infamous people – historical and legendary figures, and all.

There are stories about people who make headline news: politicians, movie stars, sports heroes, or criminals. There are also stories about successful people in business, technology, science, arts, and so forth. There are also lesser stories like of those who were injured or died in accidents, diseases, wars, or poverty. Little known or unknown stories about people abound too, in different parts of the world in different settings, some of them brought to the limelight by media through documentaries.

This world is full of stories of people and places. Some are factual and some are fiction. We read books or watch movies for the stories they can bring to us. We derive entertainment, lessons, and inspirations from them.

In today’s age of internet, blogging, and social media, everyone has his or her own little story to tell. Each personal profile more or less brings with it a story about something. Trending stories that go viral are watched daily by millions all over the world.

The world anticipates the next big story or stories on the news daily. Some are  preoccupied, if not obsessed with the stories of celebrities. Sensations and controversies draw the most attentions from all over.

The Earth, with over seven billion human population, has billions of stories to tell too. Each human carries his or her own story.

We are so concerned about our own and the rest of the world’s stories that we forgot, neglect, or are maybe ignorant of the one big story that made possible for all the succeeding myriads of stories in this planet Earth. Without this big story that I am referring to, there would be no other story to watch, read, or talk about.

Do you know what I am referring to? It is the Story of God! Our Creator is not even watched or anticipated. He has been generally forgotten together with His story of why this world was created in the first place. Do we know His story?

What is His story then? Well, once upon a time, there was an invisible God who had neither beginning nor end. He then created the universe and our world out of nothing. He formed everything, both living and non-living things. He made the human species and imparted life into his being. And the rest is history.

What is the meaning or purpose of life according to His perspective? Shouldn’t we be concerned all about it since He is our Creator? What is the story he meant for mankind? Moreover, where is this story heading? Is life a series of mindless events, incidents, and accidents?

He is the originator of a story out of nothing. Shouldn’t we keep track of His original script, and not just take life for granted as it is and make our own life as we wish?

He is the Biggest Story that encompasses all our little stories. It would be to our utmost advantage to somehow discover and “align” our stories to this biggest story, as you would align a wheel to its hub so that it would rotate straight, smooth, and not wiggle.

How? That would point us to the Bible and His Son, to fully comprehend this existence’ biggest story.

We can afford to miss out on many of our world’s little stories, but not on this one – for the consequences are horribly great. Yes, horrible beyond imagination. Let us not “miss the mark” on the essence of living.

Remember the ancient admonition of King David:

Except the LORD build the house, they labour in VAIN that build it:  except the LORD keep the city, the watchman walketh but in vain” (Ps. 127.1 KJV)

Missing the mark means falling into the category of vanity. Let us not be preoccupied with this world, but be occupied by the One who formed it.

The Freedom To Do Good

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There are only two kinds of freedom in this life: the freedom to do good and the freedom to do bad. In which freedom could you be in, the former or the latter? Could it be both? If both, which weighs more to you then, or gives more inclination for you to do?

It is such a predicament when you have the desire to do something good but you cannot, or seems hard to carry out. You probably want to help or make a difference to others but seems like you just cannot get to it. It is when you want to do good, but the opposite is what is happening. You are not exactly a criminal, but you are doing things that are not really good, and this appears to be your inclination. 

The issue here is freedom. Total freedom is missing. There is a kind of tendency in our minds and bodies to be led to activities that rob us of real freedom. The desire to do good is there, but the action to accomplish what is desired is very little or none.

I will cite some examples:

  • A husband and father having a extra-marital affair is now trying to avoid his lover but every time he does, he fails. He is sucked in to the sexual relationship, though deep inside he wish to make up for his mistake to his family.
  • A gambler is always promising his children that he will take them out to a beach for a swim or a theme park to have some fun, but never gets to it because he is pulled away again and again back to the card table which consumes most of his free time.  
  •  An alcoholic or drug addict may want to do something good to his/her family, but the actual opportunity to do it always escape because he/she is most of the time diverted to something else by alcohol or drugs. 
  • A rich man could not part with a portion of his money to donate to the poor because of his love for it, though he feels pity for them. 

The apostle Paul, a keen analyzer of human behavior,  was in such a predicament. He wrote:

For the good that I would, I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do“. (Ro. 7.19 KJV)

He was saying that he wanted to do good, but instead, the bad things that he was avoiding were the ones he was actually doing. Then, he discovered something:

“Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me” (Ro. 7.20)

He was saying that it was the sin in his being that compels him to do so. He then deduced:

“I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me”. (Ro. 7.21)

The sin that dwelt in his being, he called it a  law. The context of  law the good apostle was referring to here was not just about a rule of conduct or ordinances established by custom, but also of an operating law, similar to the laws of nature, or laws of established scientific or technological principles. He was referring to an established operating law. 

He finally called it the law of sin:

“But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members” (Ro. 7.23)

He used the word captivity. He was a captive – like one captured in war and held under control. This is the very same reason and situation why the people cited in aforementioned examples kept doing the bad things over and over again: captivity to the operating law of sin.

Now, did the apostle enjoyed what he was doing? The answer was no, he despised it! He knew that the wages of sin is death:

“O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from this body of death?” (Ro. 7.24)

Many of us, millions in this world, are or were in this very same situation in life. We are free to speak, move, go to work, play, etc., but are or were not free from the dominance of sin.

The issue I am tackling here is real freedom – the freedom to do good without hindrance and reservation because it is the only thing worthwhile to do, and to do it all the time. This is the only time when a man can really be considered free, when all his motivations and actions are all  for the good. God is the Supreme Good, and whatever you think He will approve of, is called good

Here is the exhortation from the apostle on what is good:

“Whatsover things are true, honest, just, pure, lovely, of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” (Ph. 4.8)

This is the real freedom, and freedom from the law of sin (and death).

Freedom this kind can only be achieved through penitence by us and forgiveness of the Most High, and embracing the way of His Son, who came for this very reason – that is, to free us. 

Wicked men freely doing evil deeds are not truly free, but enslaved by the law of sin. The freedom to do bad is not really a freedom, but a captivity to darkness 

Now, in which freedom do you want to be? If the answer is both, then you are not really free. 

TO BE GOOD IS TO BE FREE, and TO BE FREE IS TO BE GOOD.

 

 

 

Beating the Devil with These Three Objectives

devil

Who is  the Devil anyway, and what does he do?
Satan is the Devil, the chief of the fallen angels. Since they were thrown out from heaven for usurpation of power and rebellion, they are here on Earth (see Re. 12.9; 2 Th. 2.4). They are the original anti-God even before we were created. Their main goal is to dissuade as many as they can from coming to God, and eventually take with them to their final destination – which is hell. When our first ancestors, Adam and Eve were created, Satan (as the serpent) was already there.

We could ask ourselves, why did God throw them on Earth, and not directly to hell? My best answer to that is, the LORD meant this present world to be a testing phase of life, and whoever overcomes sin overcomes the devils, and will then be among those taken to the next phase – the eternal life. This is both a test of faith and volitional love for Him – that is, a filtering stage. 

Where is he and his cohorts?
They are everywhere in this world, invisible to the physical eyes of humankind. They are spirits, rulers of the darkness of this world (see Ep. 6.12). They cannot be seen, but their activities are manifested in the works of men and women all over the world. 

How then, can we detect them?
Hardly really, especially if one does not understand the set-up of this world, its story, and where it is heading. Knowledge of the Bible is a must in order to somehow get a grasp of everything, and consequently gain the sense to detect them and their works.

A person who is under sinful activities barely realize that he or she is under the yoke of the devils. Sin has blinding effect on our intellect, and it captures our will (see Ro. 7.23). 

First, let us realize the fact that these fallen angels, now called devils and/ or demons dwell in sin, or in darkness.They opposed the Almighty, the bastion of righteousness (or whatever things that are right), and so therefore they were thrown away on the other side – the side of unrighteousness or sin. They cannot go back anymore to their former state. The LORD has figured out they were incorrigible; otherwise, how could they be adjudged to be sent away to hell in the appointed time the LORD Himself has set?

In light of this, they reside in the sphere where the state of consciousness is anything but godly. Anything in the opposite of God is where and what they are. Anything against, or sinful to the LORD is their territory and influence. Anything ugly and despicable is what they are concerned about. Anything dishonest and corrupting is their specialty. Let us remember that the Devil is the father of transgression. He is its originator and hence, has become the influence for all mankind. Who else is?

Now, how do they do operate?
Actually, it is not too difficult for them to influence and enslave mankind to their brand of life. Why? It is because this is a fallen world we live in. Mankind is under the dominant influence of sin. Sins abound everywhere – just look around and it is not hard to observe that. We all know that the wages of sin is death . . .(see Ro. 6.23). Death expressed here is not death of the body, but of the soul – as opposed to eternal life. This is the big, big trouble about sin.

Ignorance is really the main problem. I am not talking about just any kind of ignorance – but the ignorance of God.  A person ignorant of God and His ways is automatically an easy prey of the devils. Knowledge is power, and anybody without it is powerless; moreover, the person is not even aware that he is because of ignorance in the first place.

The Devil and company hit where we are weakest. And where is that? Our own carnality is the answer. It is our weakest link. What is carnality? It is the state of being carnal. The Latin root word is carn, meaning flesh. 

So the dictionary defines carnal as: 

  • of or relating to the body
  • relating to or given to selfish pleasures and appetites
  • of or relating to the world
  • earthly, rather than heavenly

The apostle Paul termed carnal activities as works of the flesh. He listed several of these activities as: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, . . . envy, murder, drunkenness, etc. (see Ga. 5.19-21) The commonly recognized seven deadly sins, namely: lust, gluttony, greed, sloth, wrath, envy and pride are all works of the flesh. 

If a Christian still commits sin from time to time, it is because carnality or dominance of the flesh, is still there. Christianity should not be about prohibitions and restrictions, or the thou shalls and thou shall nots (for we will still be under the law); rather, it should be about total liberation from carnal mindedness. Paul sternly warned, for to be carnally minded is death . . . because the carnal mind is enmity against God. (see Ro. 8.6-7

How to get rid of flesh enslavement?

  • It is by a total change of mindset. A transformation can begin by the renewing of your mind as taught by Paul who went through the process (see Ro. 12.2). He was fully aware that carnal mindedness is death, hence the mandatory shift to spiritual mindedness. A dire need to go higher in our state of consciousness is a must, since carnality is the lowest state of man’s intelligence. A decision to renew one’s life is the beginning.
  • Mortify the deeds of the flesh by not making provisions for it to fulfill its lust (see Ro. 13.14). Just imagine that our old body is crucified with Christ, as Paul teaches; in doing so, the body of sin is destroyed, hence we should not serve sin (see Ro. 6.6). This is  figuratively getting nailed on the cross and dying from the old man or self in order to live anew.
  • Here’s a tip: Differentiate need from wantAfterwards, retain your needs and get rid of the wants. Our flesh/body needs food, water, clothing, shelter, etc. Basic needs are necessary because they are required to sustain life, without which we could die. Without those needs just aforementioned, we could die. Wants are those things that we could go without and still live. Examples are: drunkenness, cigarette smoking, drugs, fashion fads, jewelry, feasting, wild parties, etc. If we stop smoking, we will not die; on the contrary, we could prolong our life. But if we stop eating or drinking water, we will surely die. This is just an example of the difference between need and want. 

There are also necessities that have become needs in today’s living like: personal transportation, computer, television, home appliances, etc. We should be contented if we have these. Do we want an expensive flashy car for a means of transportation? Or we just need a decent car? Choosing the former is a choice in excess and pride.

We cannot just want all the beautiful clothes that we see in the department store. We cannot just want to have every latest gadget that comes in the market. We cannot just want the properties of others. Want is the jumping board for covetousness, envy, greed, lust, etc., and it could go as far as murder. 

What did Christ say to Satan when he was tempted to turn stones into bread? “. . . Man shall not live by bread alone . . .”(see Mt. 4.4) This packs a wallop. This simply laid sentence was a gem of wisdom. This means mankind shall not live by food, or money, or material things alone. This was a slap on carnality and Satan’s face. Life is not just about living in the flesh and the material things we work and long for, but firstly, by the wisdom of God.

Contentment 
Contentment is a good defense against temptations of the flesh. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out, reasons Paul. And having food and raiment, let us be therewith content. Why so? Because . . . they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil . . .(see 1 Ti. 6.6-10). This what usually happens when we go beyond what is needed, when we want more, more, more . . .

Steadfast faith in God discourages the devils.
Fear and fear in them attracts them.; on the contrary, faith in God dismays them. The shield of faith blocks the tactics of the devil, explained Paul in Ep. 6.16. Job surpassed the calamities brought about by Satan in his life. He beat him by believing in the LORD all the way; moreover he thought the trial was going to turn his character into gold.

When unpleasant circumstances strike, the devil wants us to think that God does not care or has forsaken us, while in reality, all things work together for good to them that love God . . . (see Ro. 8.28)

In a nutshell:
Our direct adversary is not the devil; rather, it is our own carnality – for it is where they tease and can easily lure us. Our three objectives: first, we cut off our own carnality and worldliness, and we cut off the link for the devils; second, practice contentment in any given situation in life; third, top it off with steadfast faith in the LORD Almighty who booted them out of heaven, and they will flee. They will have no interest in us.  
  

  

             

 

 

Gluttony

 

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It is a lifestyle of “pigging out“, or eating like a pig. (This article is in no way denouncing or insulting any class of people who may fall under this subject; rather, it is a laying down a very important truth, and at the same time, an admonition). 

It came from the root word glut, which means to supply with more than what is needed or that can be handled. Latin source word is gluttire – to gulp down or swallow. Excess is the main thought here. It is no other than eating more than what is needed or required. Gorging is the much shorter, modern term.

What makes a person glut himself or herself with food? Food is certainly a necessity, a means of sustenance, but why do people overeat? How much is necessary for one to sustain his or her body and life?

Gluttony is the main cause of obesity (what else is?). Obesity is a condition of not just being overweight, but being grossly overweight and having excessive body fat. There are so many obese people on Earth. In the United States, 2016 statistics revealed 38 percent of total adult population is obese. How many is that? Total adult population, men and women combined, is 246 million. Thirty eight percent of that is 93.5 million. Additionally, seven million more teenagers are in the same situation. So altogether, there are over a hundred million obese people in a population of 324 million. It is roughly almost 1/3 of the population, that is, if the data statistics were accurate.  

In Europe, United Kingdom has the highest rate with 20 percent of the population categorized as obese. In China, a 2016 report speaks of an explosion of childhood obesity which is worst ever. Australia is one of the most obese nations on Earth, a recent report says, with 1 in every 4 children as obese; moreover, about half the adult population (more or less) is of the same condition. 

Obesity has already been considered a disease by medical associations in developed countries. It is labeled as epidemic in some rich countries. What causes overeating? Is it affluence? Is it the availability of so much food around and the accompanying financial ability to purchase them? Is it an emotional outlet for boredom, depression, anxiety, or whatever? Or is it just plain greed? It could be a combination of all.

Now, why did this writer tackle the subject gluttony here? Because it is a deadly sin. It is in fact one of the seven deadly sins, namely: pride, greed, lust, envy, wrath, sloth, and gluttony. In ancient writings and drawings of Christian monks, gluttony is depicted as or represented by the animal pig. So when we are about to stuff ourselves with food in a festive gathering, we often blurt, “let’s pig out”!

The book of wisdom, Proverbs has a number of passages concerning this. These were from King Solomon, who had long personal experiences and meditations regarding the nature of life:

“Be not among winebibbers; among riotous eaters of the flesh: For the drunkard and the glutton shall come to poverty: and drowsiness shall clothe a man with rags”. (Pr. 23. 20 -21 KJV)

Alcoholic drinks incites the passions of the flesh, specially the appetite for food. 

“And put a knife to thy throat, if thou be a man given to appetite”. (Pr. 23.2)

The apostle Paul was much harsher in denouncing this:

“Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things”. (Ph. 3.19)

Are you an obese Christian? By God, you should quit being one – not as being Christian, but as being obese. Overeating is carnality at its best. It is an enslavement to the flesh and its inordinate craving. A person who overeats has no control of his or her self; rather it is the other way around – the flesh controls the person. The belly becomes the master (or god), for that person will do anything to obey it. 

Christians do not live in the flesh; rather we live in the Spirit who just happen to be in this bodily flesh. Paul spoke so much of the triumph of the spirit, not its defeat. If a Christian over indulges in food or drink, then his being Christian is just a label. 

Food is a first basic necessity but is also the first test of self-control. A person who fails in this first test of self-control will likely fail in other aspects of life.

Besides, don’t we want to be healthy? Let us hear what Alphonsus Liguori (1696-1787), an Italian bishop and writer had to say:

It is almost certain that excess in eating is the cause of almost all the diseases of the body, but its effects on the soul are even more disastrous”.

To eat is to get sustained and be maintained of well-being, but to overeat is to get sick. Just look at the diseases you will acquire if you are very much overweight: diabetes, hypertension, coronary artery diseases, liver failure, cancer, etc. 

Christian or no Christian, gluttony is a major problem for anyone afflicted by it.  An American novelist, Peter De Vries (1910-1993) wrote:

Gluttony is an emotional escape, a sign something is eating us

It is something deeper. I just want to add something to that: Gluttony is a psychological and spiritual problem of a void that can’t be filled up by food. That void can best be filled up by the knowledge of the teachings of God and His Son. 

Being grossly overweight and fat has dire consequences, both physical and spiritual. I was once overweight to a certain degree and I hated it. The sluggishness and irritability caused by it was disgusting. I felt the control of the flesh over me.

Sin begets another sin; they can be interconnected. A glutton is endanger of committing another one or two, or all of the other six deadly sins. Beware. 

How to cure gluttony? Well, I am no expert on anyone’s case, but nothing is really impossible if one wants to cure him or her self. All I can say is you must first have an irrevocable decision, then close the door behind; from thereon, you can figure out bit by bit what to do. Prayers only work if accompanied by actions.   

Lastly, an ultimatum from apostle Paul:

For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the flesh, ye shall live”. (Ro. 8.13

  

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

RHYMER OF GOD SERIES: food for the soul repackaged (#10)

The Rock Fortress

stormThe Secret Behind Nature

Thunderbolt and lightning, where have you been?
Who sent you forth from heavens, where you have been hiding?

Blurting out in the sky, terrifying!
Thunderous, loud, and screaming noise, it’s deafening!

Coming out among the dark clouds looming,
Giving a flash cue, before heavy rains start falling.

Oh rain, oh rain, where have you been hiding?
Where you up with the white clouds just before they darkened?

Who commands you to descend: “It’s time to pour!”?
Drenching the lands which were long parched before.

Oh gale, you strong wind, where have you been resting?
Did you come by yourself, and start blowing and howling?

Did you just shake the trees, their leaves falling?
You are strong and powerful, though you cannot be seen.

Who says these things are of no consequence?
I say, I say, it is the Almighty God, it’s Him!

ref: jb. 37.2-6

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Why Must There Be Death?

dead trees

Do you fear death? Well, almost everyone does. But why must there be death?

There must be death because our bodies are not eternal. Death is necessary for us to be able to leave these bodies and go over to the eternal sphere. Our bodies cannot cross over because of their “alien nature” to the eternal sphere, hence the necessity to leave them behind. So when the LORD takes someone from our midst, he takes the spirit (which is eternal in nature), and all we see left is a lifeless body, or a cadaver. We became living souls only because of God’s breath of life in us (see Gen. 2.7 KJV). Death is the taking back of that life. 

But again, the question persists, why must there be death? Why can’t we live on and on forever here? We live on the average of 70 to 80 years, then death come; that is, if we don’t die earlier because of sicknesses or fatal accidents or incidents.

There is death on this planet because this is not yet the final one. This is just a test. The first man (Adam) was created from around six to whatever thousand years ago (a calculated guess by some) on this planet, and is still an ongoing test for mankind. A person’s whole lifetime is his or her opportunity to pass the test.

This is not yet the perfect existence. This is the fallen or corrupted one. Death is its distinct feature that defines what kind of world it is – that everyone has an end, regardless of who you are. Life can stop for anyone anytime.
Generations come and generations go, and those that went away, we do not know where they went. All we know is that they are in the great unknown with the Creator of humankind.

The whole Earth is temporal, a 100% fact (mostly to God-believing and Bible –believing people).One day it will end and be replaced by a much, much better one (see Re. 21.1). Death is a big sign and reminder of the temporariness of everything. Every living thing on this planet has death on its end: animal, fish, insect, etc.

Grieve not so much if a loved one dies. Sadness will naturally come because we will miss that person, but it is not necessary to grieve forever, for we will die next too. It should be a happy transition for we will all leave this present unsatisfactory existence one by one.

If the LORD decides to end this world right now, so be it; I am all for it even if it be done this very minute. I have no hold on this world; I have seen enough of its terribleness.

If you ask a rich man, “Sir, are you ready to leave this world right now”? He will say, “No, no, no. I can’t – my treasure is here”! Of course he can’t leave, for everything he has is here: fat bank accounts, mansions, properties, luxury cars, yachts, expensive toys, etc. This is the edge of the poor against the rich. They have nothing and should be more able to let go (this is not to say that all the poor will be willing to go or are ready for eternity).

The Bible tells so much of “holding on loosely” to this world since it is temporal (limited by time):

Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of Father is not in him”. (1 Jn. 2.15)

“and the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth forever”. (1 Jn. 2.17)

If your “treasure” is here on Earth, your heart will be here also:

“For where your treasure is there will your heart be also”. (Mt. 6.21)

Since death is an inevitable event and a necessity, shouldn’t we be death-ready? Shouldn’t we be concerned what comes after it? We fear it because we do not know what happens after it.

Death is not the end of anyone, but a transition to eternity. The common belief or what everyone wants to believe is that those departed ascend to heaven. That is partially true of course, in the sense that those who died go back to God:

Then the dust return to the earth as it was, and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it”. (Ec. 12.7).

But that is not the end of it. Death brings everyone to the door of eternity alright, but the catch is – there are two kinds of eternities: the eternal life and the eternal damnation. (see Ro. 6.23)

Being death-ready is being ready for eternal life. It means you understand where you are going and are ready for it. If you are not ready, it means you are afraid, and the risk of not going to eternal life is there. It is our duties while here on Earth to ensure where we are going after death of our earthly bodies.

Being death-ready is simply being on the side of the One who will give you eternal life. This means transforming to the teachings of Christ, His Son. Now is the time while Earth still revolves. There is no more chance after death. There is no more chance when Christ returns if you happen to be still alive. Judgment Time comes and everyone is adjudged to go either eternal life or eternal damnation (see Mt. 25. 31-33). That will be the time of “harvest” and no longer the time for our decision. Now is the chance and time.

There must be death in order to escape to the more abundant life. There must be death to forever leave it behind. This present world is the transit point and testing ground for that.

What is death anyway? It is just a leaving of our bodies, which is not going to hurt. What hurts is if you get run over by a car, survives, and gets crippled for the rest of your life; or you get a debilitating disease like cancer and gets bed ridden for months or years.

Finally, don’t die just to go over to the second death, which is a hundred more times to be feared than the first one. Good luck.

 

 

 

To Lose Patience is To Lose the Battle

The Rock Fortress

duel

To lose patience is to lose the battle“, thus said Mahatma Gandhi, the chief leader of the Indian independence movement during the time of British-ruled India.

Well, you may not be battling any empire or anyone, but you may be battling your own impatience and growing restlessness inside. Impatience can make you irritable and your blood pressure surge, defeating your composure. Impatience can even make you lose your temper and go wild. It can also make you sulk in a corner and throw in the towel.  

Have you failed in your endeavors before and are now losing it – I mean, your patience? Or are you just starting out fresh and want fast results? Or are you in the middle of some difficult work and feel like it is not going anywhere?  Relax, my friend, for that is not the way it works in this existence of…

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