Thursday, February 2, 2023

God is the Life-Force of Everyone and Everything

God is that life-force that has been, is and will be before, behind, above, and below as well as within everything that has ever been, is now or will ever be. Everything is God’s creation or God’s child. Every human individual that has ever lived, is now living or will ever live regardless of culture, language, skin color, religion, etc. is a child of God. Every plant that exists whether it is the rose bush in your yard or the giant sequoia trees are children of God. All animals are God’s creation. The air we breathe and the water we drink are children of God. The starry skies and the Sun as well as every creating galaxies are God’s creations. In the gospel of John, we are instructed that “God so love the world” which I take to mean that God loves everything that has ever been, is now or will be. If I am to honestly love God, I will demonstrate that love in the manner with which I love and, creatively care-for, what God loves, i.e., everyone and all of creation, no exceptions.

Saturday, January 28, 2023

Some Advice from Bildad, One of Job's Friends

I have been reading JOB. It is a fascinating book of the Bible which I recommend reading regularly. JOB challenges any idea that if we follow God then we will be blessed with good health, great wealth, and continuous happiness. That did not happen with Job and Job was a God-follower. Job’s friends tried to explain God’s actions. Such attempts at explaining God have never made sense and still does not work despite generations of thoughtful studies by theologians and proclamations by preachers. Nevertheless, those friends of Job did say some important things. In the 8th chapter and verse 4, Bildad says, “If your children sinned against him (God), he delivered them into the power of their transgression.” (NRSV) “Thank you, Bildad.” I think that is true. If we sin, our sin’s consequences bring their own trouble on us. It isn’t God who does the punishing; it is the results or consequences of our choices. If someone abuses alcohol, for example, alcohol will bring its own consequences to that individual as well as their family and friends. Gluttony, lust, greed, etc. bring their consequences and their consequences are usually not very good or healthy. My belief is that God is a loving God not a punishing God.

Monday, January 16, 2023

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Today our nation celebrates the prophet, Martin Luther King, Jr. In the early and mid- sixties, I was in college at a denominational school in Oklahoma. I watched the news and knew a little about Dr. King’s work. In my hometown, as well as in the community where the university was located, there were very few African Americans. In a sense I was isolated and shielded from what was happening. When I graduated the University and moved to Southern Seminary in Louisville, I was no longer shielded. Some students and faculty from the Seminary were much involved in the open-housing marches in Louisville. I became involved with an inner-city mission. I saw the conditions in which African American families lived. I heard their stories of discrimination. I knew them personally. I began to recognize my prejudices and ignorance. I joined the Louisville open-housing marches. I began to learn from Martin Luther King, Jr. and he introduced me to Gandhi. My spirituality was growing from just a personal and “folk-religion” (what my “folks” taught me) to becoming both socially active and interfaith. I try not to isolate and shield myself from what is happening in our city, nation, and world. I think to become prayerfully concerned and involved is a significant aspect of what Jesus meant when he said “Come, follow me.”

Sunday, January 8, 2023

God Is Mystery

Our concepts of God are our most significant impediments to knowing God. Jesus never invited others to know about Him. He invited them to follow him. God is the divine mystery. God is not defined by our concepts of God. Our concepts are merely poor fingers pointing to God. Our concepts are not God. We are tempted to substitute the signs of God for the reality of God. The signs are only signposts pointing us in the direction of the reality of God. Jesus, the incarnation of God, invited us to follow Him. Our concepts of God can be the “boxes’ into which we think we have placed God, after which we do not need to follow because we think that we have God figured out. Moses asked to see the face of God and God refused. Instead, God told Moses to hide in the rock’s cleft and God would pass by. Our concepts may only be the shadow portions of our experiences of the backside of God’s activities. I think the lesson is to be cautious around anyone who says they have God all figured out. The reality is the invitation to follow Jesus into a relationship with God which is more about mystery than completely understanding.

Sunday, January 1, 2023

What Is Silence?

Beatrice Bruteau in her book, Radical Optimism, gives an expanded description of silence. (“Yes,” I recommend her book if you want to do deep and serious theological thinking). Silence is more than just ‘not talking.’ Silence is letting go of or relaxing the need or obsession and compulsion to talk. Silence asks myself “Is what I want to say necessary? Silence lets go of the ego’s need to talk about myself. Silence is relaxing the desire or need for approval and/or admiration. Silence is also letting go of the ego’s desire to demonstrate my success, power, wealth, and control of others. Silence is letting go of needing things to go my way. Silence is letting go of desiring not to be inconvenienced or humiliated. Silence gives up the need to have the last word. Silence is a self-discipline which relaxes the ego’s demands or expectations of ourselves and others.

Friday, December 23, 2022

The Beatitudes

Shalom (God’s gift of peace and contentment) is God’s gift for those who are poor is spirit or not so full of themselves and their egos. These folks will inherit, not earn, or even deserve, God’s Kingdom. Shalom is God’s gift for those who mourn their regrets--those things they have done and/or said as well as those things they have left undone or unsaid. God says they shall me comforted. Shalom is a gift from God for those who are meek and thereby controlled by God’s guidance and desires rather than their own ego’s, plans, and ideas. God says these people will inherit the earth. Shalom is a gift from God for those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, which is right relations with God, the earth with its land, water, air, trees, flowers, etc., as well as right relationships with others, as well as their own self. God has promised that these folks will be filled or satisfied. Shalom is a gift from being merciful. Stop the judging and complaining and learn to become full of mercy for everyone, including yourself. God says that you will receive mercy for your merciful attitude and behaviors. The pure in heart shall have Shalom. Pure in heart surely means being of a single mind, purpose of following Jesus. It is not a wandering mind and/or behavior. God says that these folks will get the opportunity to see God. Shalom belongs to the peacemakers; note it is the peacemakers not the peacekeepers. Peacemakers trust themselves, with their attitudes and behaviors, not to make situations worse as they are involved. Peacekeepers look for opportunities to avoid any conflict. Peacemakers are those who are following the above beatitudes. Peacemakers are the less anxious among us who are attentive to their emotions, attitudes, thoughts, and behaviors. These beatitude folks will have difficulties because they are different from most of us. Nevertheless, God says that Shalom will be theirs for they belong to the Kingdom of Heaven

Sunday, December 11, 2022

Stop Kicking Against the Goads

Much too frequently we fuss and complain about our present situation. We struggle with how things really are, as we recall how things used to be and how we wish all these changes were not happening. With this struggle, we become infected with anxiety, depression, grief, anger, etc. We seem unable to accept and adapt. Acceptance means that we recognize the way things are. It is as it is. That is a healthy outlook. Things are not as they used to be, and they will never again be that way. Our world has, is, and continues to change. Acceptance means recognition of changes. Acceptance, however, also needs adaption. Adaption means that I change or alter my attitudes, thoughts, and behaviors to give evidence of my acceptance of reality. Adaption means that I will need to learn some new ways of doing things. It is one thing to say that I have accepted but if there is not adaption, then there is no genuine acceptance. The Bible says to “quit kicking against the goads” (Acts 26:14). This was God speaking to Saul as he was being confronted on the read to Damascus. It was such a significant experience that his name was changed from Saul to Paul. There are folks who continue kicking against the “goads” of present reality of health, family (or lack of family), work, politics, church, ways of doing things, etc. They are still kicking against the “goads” and wondering why nothing changes as they want things to change and why they are so frustrated and angry. Acceptance and adaption are two sides of the same coin, and they go together. Stop kicking against the “goads” and work toward accepting and adapting. When you do this, you may discover a significant change in how you are feeling about reality. Frustration and anger may begin to diminish as peace and contentment start to increase. Such change in myself is healing or redemption.