Sunday, September 23, 2012

Eunuch or Unique

 Years ago some early Christian men would actually have themselves castrated to dedicate their lives to God. They were called eunuchs , it seemed quite extreme and not a thing that is practiced today but who knows a few may be around. I do not believe that sexuality is an offense to God. In the Song of Solomon there is a lot of passion and there is a reason it was placed in the bible. It is God's will that we reproduce if possible and become a father or mother, to have a family. One of the first directive from God to humans was be fruitful and multiply.
 We see some of the religions of our time were abstention is practiced and it is commendable but not practical. The early Shakers disappeared from existence but for their fine furniture. In the roman catholic tradition a priest takes a vow of chastity. Personally , I always was against taking oaths or vows as they are not applicable because we do not need to bargain with God. If the priests were given the option of marriage , we would have a lineage of dedicated families not just individuals and it would strengthen the church. We do have traditional marriage vows and they are the building block of forming a relationship to begin a family or show loyalty. Even the most reverent and sincere christian may break these vows , though unfortunate it is reality. I am married myself to my wife of over 30 years but do not condemn anyone for a relationship that did not work out. I was fortunate that we did get along over the years mostly because we had a love and a sense of humor about the little things in life.
  So - is there a template that each of us must follow are we all the same? God said my thoughts are not your thoughts. We are each unique in faith and character like the stones in the creek as the water flows over through the years they are all stones but shaped differently. We do share the basic elements of Grace and Love but develop wonderfully unique. We are expected to follow paths of morality and responsibility to each other as human social order requires it. We live by Grace as we are not perfect in thought , God's thoughts are much higher than our own. Though we are in Grace that is not an excuse to not live moral lives. As the water flows over our mortal souls to cleanse us , goodness and mercy follow us.

 Unique in faith and character , I believe that if we accept this it will make us lest likely to pass judgement. Jesus said he did not come to judge but to teach us Grace and Truth, and the apostles always taught not to judge one another. Yet - the early church became a judging one - puritan clans often put those to death those who could not follow their codes and we see it in other religions were people are stoned to death. Yet - Jesus was in opposition to this as in the case of Mary Magdalene. Jesus said, those among you without sin  , let them cast the first stone. So, we must accept the differences and competencies are not the same for each person. My pastor always taught that when we point a finger there are four pointing back at us.
 How is our uniqueness important? In a cult there is a tendency to do away with this uniqueness it is of man. Usually a person will appoint themselves alpha  making all the rules and judgements , sometimes distorting the truth to get what they want. We have seen this throughout history and it goes against God. God is the Alpha and Omega not man. Perhaps- we would hold on to our uniqueness if we knew  that we are all stones. We would have less tendency to pass judgement on another persons character.



Saturday, September 22, 2012

Beggars and Thieves

 Seems like an unlikely composition for a writer of a spiritual blog but it came to mind. I was once a beggar when praying would ask continually for the same thing. It seemed like it was necessary to convince myself if I was persistent enough God would hear me. It took many years to realize this sort of prayer was simply not effective. It was something that was probably picked up in a prayer meeting in my youth. How many times do you have to knock for the door to be opened, how many times do you have to ask? How hard do you have to seek to find an answer? The answer to all these questions is simply once. One time in truth - for if you are trying to convince God it is irrational.
 First be truthful with yourself if you are holding back it seems all that begging is just trying to fool yourself because you know we cannot fool God. Before you even start asking make an honest appointment with your own mind find out why you are asking , is this really the desire of your heart. Are you just praying out loud to impress others in the room or are you sincere. I was recently at a bedside when a priest was looking for a prayer for the sick in his little black book, like it was some sort of incantation that needed to be recited. It actually took a few minutes for the priest to find it and it seemed like some in the room already had it memorized. Was that a moment of truth or speaking of the desires from the heart. God bless the priest for taking on the task and reading the book. Another priest came a few days later , he brought no book was actually in his casual wear just coming from the beach. He prayed from his heart for everyone in the room and we were in union with the spirit of God.
 Prayer must be consistent with our true desires and our desires will be aligned with God's answer when they are sincere. We only need ask once , we are not beggars but God's vessel or instrument of love and compassion. How can one be sure their prayer will be answered unless we ourselves are convinced? That is just the point we do not need to convince ourselves the request is valid, that being the desires of a truthful heart will be heard. Imagine your own children coming to you and saying they need something when in fact you know they are just asking out of want because someone else wanted it. You must speak from your own heart not copy someone else- perhaps two hearts can conjoin in prayer but even then it must be sincere.
 Repetitive prayer is equivalent to begging and is not scriptural. The first things I asked for when becoming a christian were to be free of personal habits of smoking and drinking. It seemed like a noble request but was not easy these desires had to be replaced with others. My heart had to change and my desires followed. Eventually a long time habit of smoking , since childhood was kicked. Not only did I benefit financially but physically and spiritually. That was a win situation were my desires were actually removed , the same eventually happened with other things in my personal life which to all of us may be different. All of these were controlling desires but we also need at times to put a desire there. Some say it is a burden they receive for others , it is not really a burden but a desire or compassion out of love to act on. As you receive freely, also give freely.

 When are we a thief ? When we are stealing from God. Did I ever steal from God, of course we all did without realizing it at one time or another. We steal time by not honoring God during our day , we still glory by not giving God the praise for things provided. We steal not materially but spiritually when we ask in vain. Remember a quote from John F. Kennedy - ask not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country. It sounded pretty patriotic , that we would serve our country even more so serving God is important. This may seem awkward for some but as time goes on you will be guided by the Holy Spirit and your prayer life will align with God and not act out of vanity.
 So why align ourselves with God to only do what God wants. What about my needs or desires? God promises to fill the desires of our hearts. What does God need? Is there a payback system, not really. We cannot bargain with God , there is nothing you can promise - actually you will discover that God makes all the promises. You are better off not making promises because eventually they will be broken or forgotten- just do the best you can. God only wants to fill the desires of a truthful heart. We need again to do that heart check thing and be truthful.
 Matthew 6:5  "When you pray, you are not to be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners so that they may be seen by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full.
 John 4:23-24 "But the hour comes, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seek  such to worship him. God is a spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth."
 I often will recite the Lord prayer and it is probably the only prayer that verbatim fits most situations but otherwise will pray from the heart and often in silence. But that is up to you , it is the desires of your heart, that which is between you and God that are important. One last thing we live by grace and do not deserve it , it is a gift. The bible does say the prayers of the righteous availeth much but none are truly righteous in Corinthians the apostle admits he is a sinner asks for forgiveness first, then after aligning his heart makes a request.

 -peace and love.


Thursday, September 20, 2012

What is a relic?

 I was recently in a hospice facility visiting a close friend an elderly woman that had been near death but her tenacity and will kept her alive. She was my adopted mother-in-law, my wife was raised by her and an uncle since she was three. I felt the need to spend the week with her in the hospice facility in prayer and company.
 As it was at least six catholic priests came to pray and visit , since she was once the cook and housekeeper at a local rectory. It was interesting how each had a different approach all were of various orders of priesthood. One asked me which parish I had belonged to and it was kind of an awkward moment. I am not a catholic by the catholic standard of catechisms and other upbringing but feel united in faith at a time when a loved one is in need. Joined them in prayer but when it was mentioned about bringing a relic it made me think about why some put their faith in such things.
 A relic often is a part of the body of a saint or an object that belonged to a saint. Since God is Spirit it did not seem scriptural to dabble in such things. Now it would seem more important to bring Love , Hope and Forgiveness than a relic. The priest I think was trying to bring something more tangible but really he already brought what was needed his presence and prayer. We are instruments of God's love and that is more powerful than any object. I cannot put my faith in relics and it is enough for me to trust in the power within. However I see relics exist in many religions and they seem to be also in the christian faiths. I also see some Christians that wear a cross or an image of a fish in jewelry. Some wear a collar or use a sash to show they are a clergy.
 Jesus never wore a collar while preaching and it seems that that tradition was man made some time later. Also I do not believe he ever said, wait here till I get a relic to heal you. Jesus only said by your faith you are healed or used a mere touch of human and divine kindness. Faith healing is not magical, it simply takes the will to be healthier. The body , mind and the spirit of the individual must be strengthened. Sometimes it takes nutrition or physical therapy, and a word of prayer to strengthen the spirit. We can sometimes over emphasis a mystical power but it is just a simple love bond between us that heals.
 Also wanted to add by the end of the week she was up and walking with the aide of a walker and celebrated her birthday today. God is good!
 The relic is not an instrument of God's love , we are.


Sunday, September 2, 2012

Things that boggle my mind

 We are engulfed in technology the Wii , the self parking cars running on batteries , the amazing i-phone and apps. We think of all the new gadgets that are invented by mans innovation, yet as an engineer these things do not boggle my mind. If we take the time to pick through our brain like we do to get the little bits of meat out of a Maryland crab, we would find our own innovations.
 What are the things that boggle my mind?
That little caterpillar that crawls into a cocoon and morphs into butterfly emerging with the skill and  power of flight. It would take me perhaps months to learn to fly an airplane but yet the butterfly has the skill instinctively. The way ants communicate as a colony to survive knowing which is going to be the scout or the guard , or which are to do the building almost inherently. The way many in the insect world perform amazing feats of strength lifting many time their weight greater than any machine we could ever create.
 I am also amazed at the cures for disease that are discovered by scientist , yet - they were always there. We are constantly uncovering myths about dietary , yet one with a phd will constantly disagree with another. Who do we believe then about our bodies ? I recently went to a specialist about an issue which caused pain and embarrassment, the answer was to let it go - time would heal. In most situations time will heal , doctors may just provides a pain medication but not an actual cure.
 What boggles my mind is the vastness of knowledge in God's wisdom - where does it come from? Is it instinctive like the butterfly, are we born with a sixth sense for protection? In scripture we are told by Jesus , the Spirit would teach and comfort us. How do we get in touch with the Spirit within or outside. My experience is both , that God is in us and around us and we just need to become sensitive to learning. In nature , in science and in our own minds. We morph or transform into new creature - similar to the butterfly not in appearance of course but in transformation.
 Do all believers transform , to be honest -no. Some will never leave the comfort of the cocoon, they will accept the Grace so freely given , but not seek the Truth. I am not sure what holds them back , perhaps fear or doubt. Maybe they need to see a butterfly to have something to reach for. For now I am still learning and doing as time and occasion permits God's will. The things that boggle my mind - keep me going all sorts of new learning in the Spirit.