Entering the PRESENCE of God

147

Have you ever “felt” the presence of God? If you haven’t, but you would like to, this article may help. Don’t worry. I am not recruiting religious converts. Even though I am a Christian, I believe anyone who sincerely desires to know God (beyond religion) can enter God’s Holy Presence and seek a relationship with God. The following words are not to claim you for a specific way of relating to God, but simply to share that it is possible to experience the presence of God while one still resides in the physical world and this life. If you’re dubious about such a statement, that’s okay, read on. I promise you that I have researched this issue for 40 years, and will not waste your time with shallow thinking or lack of informed experience.

If you’re totally and honestly not curious about experiencing the Presence of that single Being that most of humanity has sensed from the earliest humans who began adding flowers, gifts, and other personal items with the bodies of their loved ones when they buried them . . . well, don’t read the following. But I hope you will spend the next 5 minutes reading it. I promise it won’t be painful.

There is such a thing as “Holy Ground.” Examples exist in many religious traditions and faith groups, but the ones I am most familiar with are in the Bible. Moses stood on Holy Ground at the burning bush when God first personally touched him (Old Testament). Peter, James and John (the three most prominent followers of Jesus) stood on it at the Mount of Transfiguration when they heard God proclaim from Heaven that Jesus is God’s Son (New Testament). The beloved disciple and the Lord’s mother stood on it beneath the cross of Jesus on Mount Calvary (New Testament).

132
“Then Moses entered the cloud (where God was) … And Moses was on the mountain forty days and forty nights.” Genesis 24:18

We feel the powerful inclination to kneel when we realize we are standing on holy ground–standing in the Presence of God’s Power. At such times, we feel that we are in the presence of Power that we cannot even begin to grasp. It’s the only time when the adjective, “AWESOME!,” can be accurately used.

I think there are lesser examples of those types of feelings and responses of people, even when it is not anywhere near the power of the omnipotent God’s Presence. Those examples can give you an idea of how it feels to actually be in God’s Spiritual Presence. For instance, the people in the immediate proximity of the Twin Towers on September 11, 2001, felt a similar reorientation of reality, albeit in negative terms, when two giant planes, loaded with hundreds of people, crashed into the towers, which ultimately turned them into rubble and dust. Are you able to mentally see yourself in their place during those moments and imagine where their minds must have gone during that trauma? I’m sure they felt a similar inability to grasp the power expressed all around them. Such an experience can serve as a negative metaphor for the majestic awareness of standing on Holy Ground, and it may even propel a person into the spiritual or emotional condition of being able to receive the Presence of God. Still, in itself, it is only similar to this state of being of which I’m writing. Nothing else is exactly the same as being in the Presence of God!

This experience cannot be manufactured. It happens or it does not. It cannot be controlled, confined, contained, or scientifically explored. Those who think they can force it to happen by their great efforts, are wrong. You cannot force God to meet your demands. Those who say they told God, “If you do this, I’ll do that, and God did, so I did,” may not be lying, but I don’t believe them. It’s usually a good story, and it may lead people to make commitments to that person’s religion, but God cannot be cajoled, dealt with, pushed, pulled, or otherwise manipulated into doing anything. When it happens, that we are suddenly in the Presence of God, we are somehow opened up and filled with God’s Spirit, because God gave, and we received. It’s all God. We are incapable of intimidating God into yielding to our desires, needs, orders, or wishes. At such a time we are transformed into better selves and in the extreme, even to entirely new selves.

From my new camera on 11-11-13 351

There are many people who, after a few moments in the Presence of God’s Power, became so changed that their lives instantly traversed from mediocrity to brilliance. A famous example is the Apostle Paul (New Testament), and in fact, all of Jesus’ apostles are specific examples of spiritual metamorphoses. But there are also more humble, less famous converts whose names we may not know, but whose lives were, nevertheless, profoundly improved by having rested for a moment on holy ground. An example is the unnamed woman in Matthew, Mark and Luke (New Testament) who became instantaneously healed when she reached out and touched Jesus’ Cloak.

Jesus was being closely followed by a huge crowd of people who desperately wanted him to heal them. In another part of the Gospel at another time, Luke 6:19 says “the people all tried to touch him, because power was coming from him and healing them all.” But in the story that Mark tells of an unknown woman who is healed just by touching his garment, many people are touching him, and a great crowd of people is all around him, and all of them want a miracle, but only one person in that whole crowd has arrived on Holy Ground–only one person has made the dimensional jump from ordinary Earth into the Presence of the Lord’s Power. Only one of them is reported to be healed.

IMG_1001

Again, you may be asking, how does one purposefully move into the Presence of God’s Spirit? Read a little further. There are many clues you will find here, as well as other places. This article may lead you to those other places as well.

We know something of this woman’s story, though we do not know her. We know that the previous 12 years were horrible for her. Not only had she been weak due to chronic loss of blood; overwhelmed by many painful medical treatments; brought literally to financial ruin by the expenses of her medical care; but she had also sunk to the depths of depression due to the fact that, in spite of all her efforts, she had not gotten better; rather, she got worse! And one other, pretty sad state of affairs: in her religious culture, because bleeding made her morally and physically unclean, and because her bleeding was constant, for the preceding 12 years she had been unable to hug her children, or be close to anyone. She had been and still was separated off from and shunned by everyone, because it would make them ceremonially unclean to touch her.

At the moment she heard that there was a way to get into the presence of the Spirit of God, she did not have to think about it, agonize over scheduling it, wonder if she could afford it, or any other sorts of boundaries people set up for themselves when they are deciding whether they really want to take a particular action to get what they need. Mark 5:27 (New Testament) says, “When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak.” There is no “maybe this,” or “maybe that” in it. There is no “wondering what may happen when I do this” in it. She thinks to herself, “When I touch his clothes, I WILL be healed.”

There’s a huge clue there about the truth of how we get into the Presence of God’s Power. Jesus speaks to that truth when he states exactly how she got healed. He says in Mark 5:34, “Daughter, YOUR FAITH has healed you.”

152

You may know from the Bible that faith comes from God. That’s right. The Apostle Paul says that nobody can boast about their faith, because if God doesn’t give it to you, there’s no other way to get it. So you may be asking, “Then what can I do? You said this article would tell me how I could get into God’s Presence–how I could be filled with God’s Spirit. Now you’re telling me that I can’t get there if God doesn’t give it to me.”

Here’s the thing you may be missing. This unknown nobody, this sick, worn out, bankrupt, alone, shunned, nothing to lose woman who had spent 12 years trying to solve her problems by her own actions and losing everything she had in the process, had nothing left with which to barter. She couldn’t even make any promises or deals with God. Her death was looming large. How did she manage to get into the Presence of God?

If we asked her how she did it, she would say this: “My plan was to touch the cloak of Jesus, because if I just touch his clothes, I will be healed.”

Let me break it down for you in clearer words: No matter what our personal journey entails, if we desire to experience the transcendence of which I’m speaking, we must do what we can do, to put ourselves in a position to touch God. We cannot bully God into answering our many “please prayers.” We cannot force God to give us what we want. God is in charge. All we can do, is what this “everywoman/everyman” did. We can consistently place ourselves in position to hear what God has to say, and respond in the ways God leads us to respond. We must accept the truth that when WE are ready, God will GIVE us what we need.

IMG_1691

How many success stories have you heard characterized in this one sentence: “I was in the right place at the right time?” We have the ability to position ourselves where we think God is at any moment of our lives. It may be in the middle of a sick, pathetic, stinky crowd of desperate people, on the mountain top, in the wilderness, in the middle of the ocean, or in the finest building of worship money can construct. If we are there to be in contact with God, we have done what we can do. The rest is up to God.

{If you are interested in reading more of my thoughts on reality, read my first novel, The Hiroshima Agenda. You can find it and sample the first few chapters at www.amazon.com/dp/B00XXCVODO. I also have about 80 articles posted on LinkedIn.com }

I am a searcher after understanding the nature of reality, an explorer of the fabric of the universe, and a student in that classroom (this life) of God. I would be so happy to share my searching journeys with you and to receive any feed back you have to offer.

IMG_1110

Advertisements

Who Told You that You Were Naked?

But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?” He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.” And he said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?” – Genesis 3:9-11

Have you ever had the unpleasant experience of someone bursting through a door to the room where you’re not fully dressed? Your hands aren’t big enough to cover everything you want to hide at that time are they?

Have you ever been in a social situation, just feeling so good and popular and the life of the party only to have someone whisper into your ear that your zipper has been unzipped for the last 30 minutes or the bottom of your skirt is tucked into the top of your underwear? At times like those we just feel so exposed. We feel invaded and humiliated, don’t we?

There’s a story about Adam and Eve in Genesis 3:8-13, that paints that feeling so well, of being caught with your pants down. It depicts the insecurity and fear that Adam and Eve began to experience for the first time, after they were caught ‘red-handed’ by God. They suddenly, and without any warning, became aware of the terrible insecurity of being exposed – of having their lives turned inside out and upside down by forces they did not begin to understand.

They were not only naked physically. For the first time in their lives they were naked emotionally – they were naked spiritually – they were naked intellectually – they were naked socially – and they felt naked before the whole creation. We still read of their embarrassed nakedness today. But this old story about these first, sentient human beings tells about a deeper nakedness than that.

  • Formerly, they had the security of innocence – but now they were sinners.
  • Before, they had the confidence of knowing that all their needs were met by Someone Else – but now they were on their own and homeless.
  • Previously, they had the assurance that their future was secure and set and protected by God – but now their future was dark and unpredictable.
  • In their earlier state, they felt complete inside and outwardly – but now they just felt naked.

When you think of it that way, it almost sounds like the story of every young person who grows up to that age where their parents feel they are ready to start supporting themselves. The parents let them know that it’s time to go.

Whether that idea is really relevant in this story or not, Adam and Eve’s experience can teach us about dealing with the real demons of insecurity and fearfulness in our own lives in this present world.

God asked Adam and Eve three questions. Have you ever felt that God was asking you the following three questions?

  1. First, God asked them, “Where Are You?”

It was for their benefit that God asked this question. God already knows the answer to every question. God knew where Adam and Eve were! God knows where we are. God knows where everybody is at every moment. God asked them where they were so that they would deal with it.

Isn’t it interesting that Adam answered this “where” question with a “state of mind” answer? “I was afraid, and so I hid.

“Where are you, man?” “I’m living in fear!

God’s question was designed to cause them to think about the results of their actions.

  • God gave them a home, but they were too scared to stay home.
  • God gave them a relationship with Him — the Creator of the Universe, but they were so ashamed and insecure they hid themselves from God.
  • God gave them the freedom to live a secure and fearless life, and they traded that gift for a life of insecurity and fear.

Where are you, son . . . daughter?” “We’re living in fear, because we’ve become aware of how vulnerable we are.” So, God asks them a second question:

  1. God asked them, “Who told you that you were naked?”

God understands that our sense of insecurity is more than physical exposure. God knew in this story that people no longer trusted God to meet their needs.

  • They no longer had faith that God would provide what they needed for survival.
  • They no longer felt comfortable in their relationship with God.

And so, God asks Adam who he’s listening to now, instead of God?” And this question also, applies to all of us, because of the following truths and related questions:

  • God gave us all we need to live the Eternal life – who are we allowing to steal that Life away from us, making us feel incomplete now?”
  • “Who are we allowing to ruin the freedom God provided us?”
  • “Who stole the security and strength of character that God gave us?”
  • God offers all of us full JOY. Who are we allowing to spoil that unique gift?
  • God offers us Spiritual Life. What con artists do we allow to talk us into trading that for something so much less? We seem as pathetic as Jack who traded the family cow for a bag of magic beans.

Then God really handed it to us with His third question. God proceeded to let His people know that there is no bush large enough to hide them from God’s All-seeing, All knowing, All-powerful, and Everywhere-present Spirit.

God knows us completely. Here’s God’s third question:

III. “Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?

  • What God is asking here is this: “Have you sought spiritual knowledge from some other source than Me?”
  • “Have you trusted some other advisor over Me?”
  • “Have you traded in your prayer life for something inferior?”
  • “Did you really receive more comfort or help from those things?”
  • “Haven’t you become more afraid of life by betraying our relationship?”
  • “Aren’t you weaker now that you’ve left fellowship with Me?”
  • “Don’t you feel less secure since you broke the law I so lovingly gave you?”

In the 6th chapter of the Gospel According to John, Jesus asked the disciples if they would leave him as others had done. Simon Peter gave the answer that we must always remember and affirm: “Lord, to whom shall we go? YOU have the words of eternal life.”

I don’t believe that Adam’s full loss was due to his disobeying God. I believe most of his suffering resulted from his response to God’s questions afterward. Instead of repenting and asking God’s forgiveness, and allowing God’s questions to lead him out of the evil influence of Satan, he followed the path of rebellion even harder.

In verse 12, the man said, “The woman YOU put here with meSHE gave me some fruit from the tree.” Of course, Adam was blaming God first and the woman second for his own sin. We still do that sort of thing don’t we? We get mad at God and other people for a lot of the problems we’ve caused ourselves.

It’s typical of most of us to look for someone else to blame for our problems. But that seldom leads to peace, love, harmony, and eternal life.

In verse 13, the woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” In other words, as Flip Wilson made so funny so long ago, “The devil made me do it.” But that defense doesn’t work with God either. Satan’s only power is to tempt us. He cannot force us to do anything. The Epistle of St. James says, “Resist the devil, and he will flee.”

As we deal with the stresses of modern life, and we face the ravages of spiritual warfare, maybe we need to see the wisdom of responding to these questions in a different way than Adam and Eve did.

Aren’t these questions in this original story are for us? We would do well to regularly ask ourselves:

  • First, “Where am I right now in relation to God?”
  • Second, “Am I full of insecurity, and if, so WHEN did I first start feeling this way?”
  • Third, “Am I searching for a meaningful life apart from God?”

If we see that any of our answers to these questions are

  • to hide the truth from God,
  • to turn the blame on others,
  • and even to blame God,
  • we need to remind ourselves that God’s very purpose in asking them is to bring us back to our full, secure, relationship with Him.

If you’re a Christian, try to find your security in what God freely provides you. If you’re a member of another religion or no religion at all, my guess is that these three questions would give you the same help. The truth is, this story in Genesis is from a time when the word “religion” had absolutely no meaning. It was just people and the God who made them. There was no Bible, no dogma, no clergy, no temples, churches or mosques, not even any superstition. And there was only one rule—the one Adam and Eve broke.

Ask yourself these three questions. I believe this simple process will help you to find renewed meaning, security, and identity:

  1. Where am I right now in relation to God?
  2. Am I full of insecurity, and if so, when did I first start feeling this way?
  3. Am I searching for a meaningful life apart from God?

Is the Future Set in Concrete, or Can We Change It? However You Answer This, You’re Wrong!

Aristotle argued that when you take someone’s life, you are not only killing a being, but also a becoming. He made that argument for animals as well as humans. If you kill a man’s cow, you are also killing all the calves she will ever bear, and all the milk and meat she and her progeny will ever produce. According to Aristotle, the owner of the original cow should be able to sue you for all that the animal would eventually have brought him. From that point of view, if I kill another human being, I am not only killing him. I am potentially destroying a huge number of people. People have the potential to ‘become’ more than they are at any given moment of their lives. If I were to kill someone, I am preventing those potential beings from ever becoming. Doesn’t that sound sensible and logical?

One could say that it is a God-like power to erase a whole future civilization of people by one simple act. God told Abraham to look up into the sky and count the stars if he could, and God promised him that he and Sarah would become the parents of more descendants than all of those stars. Abraham and Sarah only went on to produce one son, Isaac, but from that one son, all the Jews who were ever born are descended. All of those people, including Moses, born around 700 years later, and Jesus of Nazareth, born around 1,300 years after Moses, would have been eliminated in advance, had someone killed Abraham or Sarah before Isaac was born, or killed Isaac before he produced a child. How can a single human being have the power to eliminate one of the most famous families in human history, stretching clearly to this very present day? But all it would have taken is one murder: the murder of Abraham or Sarah or Isaac (before he produced his twin boys, Esau and, most importantly, Jacob, who went on to become Israel, the most direct forefather of the Jews).

The same logic applies to Abraham and Hagar’s (Sarah’s maid) son Ishmael, who fathered the entire Arab people, including Mohammed. Think of the incredible affect the murder of Abraham would have had on the human race. We would live in a different world than we do now, if someone had committed that single murder. Among a multitude of other profound changes, unless God produced substitute Founders, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam would not exist. On a side note, how many trillions of potential people were ultimately eliminated by the Nazi’s murder of six million Jewish individuals? How many were eliminated by all the wars human beings have waged?

The same can be said under the circumstance of someone saving another human being’s life. All the children they go on to produce and all the generations of humans coming from that person’s progeny is potentially without limit.  He who saves one life is not merely saving one person’s life, but all the people who will come from that person’s blood line.

Multiply the above by the unimaginable number of factors all of those people will add to the world through their every day activities. Just think, without Abraham there would have been no Einstein, not to mention all the other geniuses in Abraham and Sarah’s extended family. All of the people descended form the one you save will affect other individuals and groups in incalculable ways. Each one will accomplish, say, think, provide, build, stop, start—the list of verbs is very long for each person’s life—in ways that affect all the other people around them and many who will never know of them, but will be influenced by their lives.

One obvious example is that you and I, and everyone on planet Earth in varying degrees, is affected by the small number of leaders who led the American colonies during the War for Independence that culminated in the birth of the nation that became America. All that America has done and does that affects the rest of the world, in a sense, can be attributed to those geniuses that led a land of relatively uneducated, common, ordinary people to become what is now the most powerful country on Earth. Add to that, without America’s involvement, it is very likely that the Axis Powers would have triumphed in World War II, and this would be a very different world of 2016, only 71 years later.

It seems to be an obvious point, that each of us is constantly changing the present as well, but are we? We seem to consistently change the present with our actions, and that is easy to prove on the basis of common observations. For example, I’m changing the present right now, at four o’clock in the morning, by writing these words instead of by sleeping. I’ve changed the world in a minor way by adding these thoughts. In a bit, I am going to make a pot of coffee that will not become real until I actually make it. Right now, it is only in my mind. I will change the present by adding a new pot of coffee to it; that is, unless I don’t. Something may happen to prevent my vision of that pot of coffee from becoming actual reality. After completing the previous sentence, I made the coffee, and the world is now slightly different, because of my most recent action. While we may think it didn’t make much difference that I changed the world by adding one new pot of coffee, Chaos Theory implies that even that minor action may produced profound changes

So, to circle back around to my primary point/question, each one of us seems to change the future with every action we take or fail to take. We also seem to change the present second by second. But is there any way that we can change the past? Is there any action we can take that affects the past? Some people suggest that we can. One well-known, perhaps the best known, modern scientist wrote in one of his best selling books, in which he interprets modern physics to interested people who are not trained scientists, that we can and do change the past on a constant basis. Stephen Hawking wrote, “We will see that, like a particle, the universe doesn’t have just a single history, but every possible history, each with its own probability; and our observations of its current state affect its past and determine the different histories of the universe, just as the observations of the particles in the double-slit experiment affect the particles’ past.” (Stephen Hawking, The Grand Design, p. 83,Bantam Books, 2010)

Hawking expresses very clearly what modern physics states about whether or not we actually change the past from our positions in the present. Match his thoughts with one from Einstein, himself, who wrote to a friend, “People like us who believe in physics know that the distinction between past, present, and future is only a stubborn persistent illusion.”

So, here we are, pondering and comparing the possibilities of affecting or changing the past, present and future. And perhaps we are all asking ourselves, which is easier to do, or which appears more obviously true (to common sense) that we already do, or how can we know that we are actually changing anything of any temporal tense? Let’s consider the three time frames again, and think a little deeper about what it means to change any one of them.

I said that we change the future with each action we take in the present, but is that actually true? Isn’t our future actually our past from the perspective of our future selves? If that future already exists, as Einstein intimated, how is it that we can change it from our present? Yet, if it is fixed and we cannot change it, how is it not clearly predestination for all of us? The present we are now living is set up based on the actions we (and others) took in our past. How can we change our present from the foundation it is built on (somewhat like a jigsaw puzzle) from our past? We are always living in the future from the perspective of our past selves and in the past from the perspective of our future selves.

Focus on yourself right now, in the present as you conclude reading this sentence. Now think back a moment ago when you read the sentence or two above the words you’re reading right now. That is the past you are thinking about, and your actions in that past. What if you had done something more radical a moment ago, such as totally destroying the book or electronic reader or computer on which you’re reading these words? Wouldn’t that set up this present moment in a very fixed manner in terms, at least, of what you cannot be doing right now. In that present you have prepared, you cannot be reading from that same instrument. If, instead of destroying your computer, you set fire to the house in which you are reading, you would even more clearly have prepared a different future to that past action. Whichever actions, mild or revolutionary, you chose to do a moment ago, or a week ago, or a year ago, have set the present moment up as it is. You clearly changed your future moments, days, and years when you took that specific action.

But how could you change the future in that way? The future you believe you have changed is someone else’s present. How can your decisions in your present change their present in any way other than how they already experience it? This year is next year’s past, but next year is this year’s future, and last year is this year’s past. Are past, present and future dependent upon each other? Is our reality like a movie reel, where each event is set in stone and preordained by the filmmaker? Either it is, or we live in a multiverse composed of an infinite variety of parallel universes, where every possibility of difference is represented.

Let’s say that Bob and Tim are together on Tuesday, January 26th, and they make the following plan:

  1. On Tuesday, January 26th, Bob is going to take his time machine to Friday, January 29.
  2. On Wednesday, January 27, Tim is going to flip a coin to determine whether he will leave his porch grey, or paint it bright red. If the coin comes up heads, he will paint the porch that same day. If it’s tails, he will leave it grey.
  3. When Bob gets to Friday, just moments after he leaves Tuesday, he sees that the porch has been painted red, and he knows that means it was painted that color on Wednesday, the day after he left. He interviews the neighbors, who all agree that Tim painted his porch red on Wednesday, and because he did, several of them decided to paint their porches as well.
  4. Even though Bob was only in his time machine for moments, the porch has already been painted for two full days, and Tim did not decide to paint it until a day after Bob left. Bob got from Tuesday to Friday in a few minutes, as they both existed ‘at the same time’ from Bob’s perspective. He went from here(Tuesday) to there (Friday), because there was a ‘there’ to go to from ‘here.’
  5. The question is, if the porch had a two-day old coat of red paint on Friday that had actually influenced the neighbors to decide to paint their porches as well, how did Tim ever have a real choice about whether to paint or not. It seems clear to Bob, from his unique perspective, the porch could have remained grey, or could have been painted red. From his time traveler’s perspective, it was still Tuesday (his wrist watch still said Tuesday/26) , only a few minutes later, even though he was also aware he had traveled to Friday the 29th. From his body and mind’s time perspective, Tim would not even flip the coin till some 24 hours later, and then the decision would be made to paint it red or leave it grey.
  6. Was the decision to paint the porch red a deterministic thing over which neither the coin toss nor the two brothers had any control? Or, was the future changed based on their actions in the past? Or were there two completely different universes based on that coin toss; one where the coin landed heads and one where it landed tails?

We are living in yesterday’s future and tomorrow’s past. Since we are not aware of things changing from second to second, as the people in our past make decisions about things, it may be safe to assume that the people in our future are not aware of constant changes out of their control either. So that leaves us with two disturbing choices. Either everything is set, and there is no such thing as free will, or every possible choice in life is reflected in a parallel universe based on that one difference. Either the movie of us dictates what second you will start brushing your teeth next, or we are free at every second to forge a brand new path for ourselves and the potential for change is profound. Which do you prefer?

Now go ahead, and make one decision or the other, and take the action you decided, or don’t? In your mind, have you proved in that way that you control the world ten minutes into your own future? Really?

Click: www.amazon.com/dp/B00XXCVODO

The Never Ending Journey

There is never a point in life when we can truthfully say, “Now I have arrived.” Sooner or later each of us realizes that regardless of our successes, achievements or honors, and no matter how small or large our kingdom grows to be, there are no permanent destinations in our earthly pilgrimage . . . only cross-roads. There are temporary destinations we reach. But upon arrival at each one, we find it’s not the end at all. It’s simply the doorway that opens to a new journey.

Take our first journey on earth as an example: Every human being has taken this journey I’m about to describe. It’s the journey from conception to birth. The little baby forms inside its mother’s womb. He or she lives there for about nine months – – nine months that must seem like a lifetime.

From the first day of conception the little aspiring human being eats and grows – – and exists in its own little world.  As the weeks of its life change to months the baby grows accustomed to its little universe. He or she has all the oxygen that’s required, never knows the feeling of hunger, is accustomed to a consistently perfect temperature. The single citizen of this small world stretches when it feels cramped and sleeps at will to the beautiful rythm of its mother’s heartbeat.IMG_1110

But one day the baby notices a frightening change. It realizes that a crucial point in its life has arrived. It becomes full of fear and anxiety as it realizes that the only life it has ever known is being threatened. The awareness sinks in that it is leaving its world and this causes great despair. It doesn’t know what the end result of this will be. Does life go on somewhere else? The birth process has begun, but all the little human being knows is that the only life it has ever known is ending. The process continues for what must seem like infinity, but gradually the baby is delivered from the old life into a new one.

Once here, he or she gradually realizes that in this world there is the beauty of vision, the wonder of smell, the ecstasy of certain tastes, and the enjoyment of many other sensations. In this new world, there’s the ability to move about and the independence to experiment. In fact it’s an incredibly better world in every way, than that world left behind. If this new born child were able to express what he or she felt in the way that adults can, the words would go something like this: How could I have been so silly as to believe that anything so precious as life and consciousness would come to a meaningless end?

"God is light and in him is no darkness at all." I John 1:5
“God is light and in him is no darkness at all.” I John 1:5

But what about that thing we call earthly death? Is that the final end? Faithful believers know that death is just another beginning, reaching deeper into God’s Eternity of Love and Life. From earthly death we journey to a new horizon, there to be equipped with a new, infinitely better body, that God provides.  After we truly accept the fact that our destinations are temporary and our victories fleeting; that we cannot possibly remain where we are, we’re in the correct frame of mind to accept the fact that to settle down or to be self-satisfied with any relationship or achievement is the essence of sin or defeat.

Change is always an opportunity to learn and progress along the path that God has marked for us. We can learn to embrace change rather than to cringe in the face of it and fight it. God’s natural world constantly reminds us of this through the continuous process of new beginnings. How many summers have you seen stroll calmly into the death of fall only to slumber a short winter and revive again in spring? This is but one of God’s enduring messages of rebirth.

When frightening changes suddenly interrupt our lives, we’ll prosper most by accepting them as new beginnings rather than as endings. The endings don’t really matter so much when we accept the truth that after every termination there is regeneration. And with each beginning, we have the opportunity from God to advance to better things. That’s why Jesus said, “Let not your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.” John 14:1-3

Thoughts from My Journey along the Path

2015-09-09 10.53.37 HDR

Be Thankful

When we conscientiously employ an attitude of thankfulness in all circumstances, we’re transformed into people who are full of joy. This “attitude of gratitude” changes our disposition, our outlook, our health, and our personalities. Following this one, simple suggestion consistently will change your life. It will, almost magically, open doors for you that had always been closed.

"God is light and in him is no darkness at all." I John 1:5
“God is light and in him is no darkness at all.” I John 1:5

Be Hopeful

When we feel truly hopeful, there’s nothing that can defeat us. Hope is not about what we do have. Hope is for something we believe we can have. As long as we don’t give up hope, we’re not beaten, no matter how powerful the tide is against us. Hope gives birth and sustenance to our vision of what can be, and no one survives the challenges of life without a vision.

IMG_1697

Have Faith

Anyone who thinks that we can see and understand everything that affects us simply hasn’t been paying attention. Science is now affirming many of the teachings that spiritual people of all ages said they heard from God. One of those mysterious things is the power of faith or believing. For reasons beyond the current knowledge of our physical sciences, truly and deeply believing or having faith in some desired outcome increases the likelihood of such an outcome. The power of faith is not a fairy tale. It works. Believe in yourself, believe in your mission, believe in your friends, and above all, believe in the Good Power that has given you the opportunity to believe at all.

11021434_1458491094392329_5093452904180287508_o

Understand that Love Is the Greatest Force in the Universe

We would die for the people we truly love. We would continue living in a painful condition for the sake of the people we truly love. Patriots have given their lives for the country they love. The New Testament defines God as Love. There are countless stories of former enemies who were won over by love, but not a single story of an enemy converted to friend by hatred. Begin exercising your power of love with the most obvious candidates, your family and friends. Then learn to apply it to everyone, even your enemies, and you will become more powerful as you become more filled with love.

IMG_1766

Form A Vision for Your Life

People without a vision never accomplish anything that truly benefits themselves or others. When we form a vision of what can be, not only do we become blessed, but we bless everything and everyone in the world. A vision is a picture of what you intend to become. Until you create that mental picture with vivid detail, you’re just aimlessly floating down the river of life or blowing in the wind. But once you have the vision for your life, the means and plans for attaining that vision will begin assembling themselves almost without your assistance.

Misc 026

Be Generous

A truly generous person is emulating the Creator of the universe. And generosity, according to the teachings of the finest human beings who have graced our race, results in riches of every kind. It really makes sense when you think about it. We cut down trees that don’t produce (give). We scrap machines that don’t produce (give). We have very little respect or feeling for people who never give of themselves for others. Jesus said, “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” Generosity does not reduce what we have. It mysteriously increases our assets.

IMG_0168

Forgive Others

This may be the most difficult action to take or philosophy to live by, but it may be the most important. To understand why, think about its opposite and the damage it does to people. All of us have been hurt by others and by life in general. If every time we’re wounded by words, actions, incidents, and accidents, we add another enemy to our list and more hatred in our hearts and more bitterness in our minds, what will that do to us as persons? When we hold on tightly to our hurt feelings, anger, vengeance, madness, and so on, according to modern medicine, we’re reducing the health of our hearts and other vital organs and shortening the length of our lives. People who consistently forgive the ones who hurt them live longer, more positive and more fulfilling lives than most of the rest. Paradoxically, letting go of that debt of damage we feel they owe us actually enriches us more than demanding the debt be paid.

Boxes of Life Saved Long Ago

From my new camera on 11-11-13 246I’ve been going through boxes of life saved long ago;

boxes of letters, and pictures, and pieces of the puzzle of life.

Pieces of my life as a soldier in a war nobody understood;

a war that stole the lives of thousands whom their country seemed to hate for good; calling them hoods.

My boxes of stored life contain the symbols of love from those who cared and hoped I’d be one of the lucky ones;

those who cried with me when I left;

all those who felt bereft by the theft

of their husbands and brothers and friends and sons.

My boxes don’t store any of the spit and profanity spewed upon us by a thankless, clueless public who believed we were there to enjoy the killing;

who imagined we must find it  thrilling to spend a year of abandon spilling our blood and guts and youth and life on a land that Hanoi Jane told them we raped.

I’ve been going through forty-five years of boxes of stored life,

wondering at the mystery of it all.

Camera Pictures 2013 109The mystery of the Call from out of the Holy into my very heart; a place I find it difficult to believe He really enjoys.

A Call He began when I was a child playing with toys by laying His Hand upon me and saying without words: “You’re mine, boy.”

And I recall that in so many ways I retorted with insolence, “I’ll be Yours, but don’t waste me.”

How stupid are the words of youth; how uncouth; how foolish!

As I keep searching through the boxes that store my life I’m filled  with tears at the losses, thanksgiving at the opportunities, and self-derision  for the ways I let Him (and me) down.

The boxes from the other war are more pleasant; the war where swamps and monsoons are replaced by dry, endless desert and dust but then welcome home presents; a war where letters from strangers back home lauded us for being us.

From my new camera on 11-11-13 367It was a war with so much less sacrifice than the other; less pain and loss for more money and praise; where we were called  heroes and marched in parades for days.

How were they different, Vietnam and the Desert? Why was one cursed and the other treated like a Bible verse? 

I can’t understand a universe where wars go on from beginning to end when Christ made it clear we’re supposed to be friends. 

I’ve been going through boxes of life saved long ago; boxes of letters, and pictures, and pieces of the puzzle of being in the world; trying to comprehend what it was all about;

attempting to understand the meaning of the strife and the swirl

of thoughts and questions and wonderings that make me shout,

30187b9c3d22c3774a537c8d81f6f961“I don’t get it,” but on further reflections have to add,

“nevertheless, thank You for the ones You sent to love me all the way through it and stored them safely in my boxes of life.”

Two Hates Don’t Make A Love

“And one of (the Pharisees), a lawyer, asked (Jesus) a question, to test him. ‘Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?’ And he said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the law and the prophets.” Matthew 22:35-40 
“But he (the Pharisee), desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, ‘And who is my neighbor?'”

160And Jesus replied with a story about how several people responded to a nameless stranger who had troubles not of his own making that had left him naked, nearly dead, and completely helpless. Jesus told how 3 people responded to him: A clergyman, when he saw him, crossed the road and passed him by, doing nothing for him. A person of great distinction and privilege in the religion saw the man, and did the same as the clergyman. But a man from a country and a religion that both the clergyman and the distinguished layman considered sinful and heretical, saw the man, saved him, spent his own money and time and energy making sure the man was okay. Jesus asked the lawyer which one of these 3 people was a neighbor to the man.

113The answer was obvious, and Jesus told the Pharisee to be like that man. It seems to me that most of us consistently fail that neighbor test. If you don’t believe me, just look at what many Christians are constantly posting on FaceBook about how to respond to strangers who need help.

Here’s the actual story Jesus told out of Luke 10: 30-37. “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him, and departed, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest (clergy) was going down that road; and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite (descended from Levi, one of the sons of Jacob {who became Israel, the namesake of the country}, and a special religious caste who were given special privileges and even supported by the tithes to the Temple), when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side.

IMG_1111But a Samaritan (particularly hated by the Jews because they considered them tainted due to intermarriage between their Hebrew forefathers and colonists from other countries and differences in their religion with heretical beliefs such as that the Temple was not in Jerusalem; see story of the Samaritan woman, ‘the woman at the well’ and Jesus), as he journeyed, came to where he was; and when he saw him, he had compassion, and went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; then he set him on his own beast and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’ Which of these three, do you think, proved neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?’ He said, ‘The one who showed mercy on him.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘Go and do likewise.'” 

IMG_1001Update the details some by changing Samaritan to a person from whatever group you fuss about on FB; change oil and wine to modern medicine (and you know how much that costs); change beast to a nice car upholstered in nice fabric and think of how that would look with a naked, bleeding, dirty stranger laying on the back seat as you take him to the Emergency Room that charges thousands of dollars per hour; and consider how much it will cost to house him in the “skilled nursing unit” until you come back to pay the bill. That gives us a better idea of the hyperbole Jesus was using to get the point across of how serious his idea was of “loving your neighbor as yourself” and who qualified as neighbor. His example was a naked, dying, stranger who was lying on the side of the road after being mugged. When we compare how much we follow the two most important commandments, according to Jesus, the two commandments he has said several times in the Gospels sum up the Laws of God and the Prophets, it makes our arguments about our fellow sinners who break laws we’re not even tempted to break a little ridiculous.

%d bloggers like this: