Wednesday, August 10, 2022
On August 12, 1962, I was Ordained to the Gospel Ministry. I was 20 years old. I had finished my sophomore year at Oklahoma Baptist University. I was Pastor of the Payne Baptist Church in Payne, Oklahoma, which was a Sunday only responsibility. My home church, First Baptist Church, Norman, Oklahoma, and the Payne Baptist Church had a joint ordination service. I hope I have lived up to the expectations of all those good friends and family. Thanks be to God.
Galileo taught us that we are not the center of the universe. Our tiny planet orbits around the sun. We are not the center of the universe as our egos want us to believe. We also share a heritage with all animals. We thank you Charles Darwin. We share our ancestry with the animals, and we do best when we care for all animals, plants, water, air, etc. We are not even in control of our thoughts and feelings as much as we think. We thank you Sigmond Freud and Carl Jung. There are those unconscious and archetypical energies in our subconscious and unconscious that are powerful influencers on our thoughts, feelings, beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors. We are also created in the image of GOD who not only knows but, also, loves us. We thank you Jesus. God loves us not because of what we have done or will do but because of who God is. We are an unusual mix of our common humanity.
Saturday, August 6, 2022
I have recently read two Interfaith books I recommend. The first is Brian McLaren’s book, WHY DID JESUS, MOSES, THE BUDDHA, AND MOHAMMED CROSS THE ROAD? McLaren is a former English Professor turned church planter. His book indicates that we can recognize God’s truth in other languages, times and cultures and still own our own heritage and unique faith. The second is Roger Walsh’s book, ESSENTIAL SPIRITUALITY. Walsh is an Australian Professor of Psychiatry Philosophy and Anthropology. Walsh’s book suggests seven principles of spiritual growth and describes how the major “religions” seem to be saying similar things. I believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the incarnated son of GOD and God’s greatest revelation. That is why I pray lectio divinia from the gospels every morning. Jesus prayed that “All would be one.” and “May they be brought to complete unity” John 17:21 & 23. Unity, not uniformity is God’s desire. We are all one in God more than we may realize. Thanks be to God
Tuesday, August 2, 2022
Our center’s name is Interfaith Counseling Center. I was not present when the former Board and whomever elsewhere decided upon that name. Nevertheless, I like the name and what it means. Sometime in the mid-1980’s I began to see a Spiritual Director; He was Father Hank Kenney, a Jesuit Priest. Early in our time together I recall saying that I was comfortable being a Baptist (that has changed but onto my Interfaith point) and I did not want to be a Roman Catholic. He laughed, as was his manner, and replied. “My purpose is to make you a better Jesus Follower and that may mean a better Baptist. I pray, he continued, that from our time together, the Holy Spirit will make me a better Jesus Follower and a better Catholic Priest.” His attitude was an interfaith gift.
Sunday, July 31, 2022
My imbedded theology (imbedded = what I learned as a child or what mama and them taught me) was that anyone who did not believe as I believed, a “Baptist” Christian, needed to be converted. My introduction to Interfaith dialogue came with an invitation from my friend, Dr. John Parks. He was gathering a group of folks from various faith groups so we could discuss our faiths with the goal of mutual understanding, not conversion. In the mid-1980’s I joined. We met in someone’s home without drinks, snacks, etc. We met each month for one and one-half hours. We arrived and left on time without a lot of private conversations. We would choose a topic for each month such as Holy Scriptures, sin, redemption, life after death, etc. We were Christian, (Roman Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant) as well as Muslim, Buddhist, Hindus, Bahai, Confucian, Jainism, etc. We met for several years. My world expanded from these Interfaith conversations. I learned to love and care about these persons. Several of them became dear friends. Hanging in the Counseling Center is a poster, “Signs of Inner Peace” that was gifted to me by Brother Don, a Buddhist monk, from our group. Most importantly I learned to love and respect them as well as their faith, religious beliefs, culture, language, Holy Books, etc. and they loved and respected me and my faith.
Thursday, July 28, 2022
Therapists have called our mind’s activity “The Monkey Mind.” The mind, like monkeys, jumps from one limb to another while chattering all the time. Freud wrote somewhere that we are not even master in our own house (mind), but that we must remain content with the scraps of information about what is going on unconsciously in our minds. How can I calm my mind, especially this monkey mind? Writers such as Roger Walsh in ESSENTIAL SPIRITUALITY recommends that we do one thing at a time. The self-discipline of concentration will help to calm one’s mind. I like that prescription of concentration and one thing at a time. I try not to be a multi-tasker because I know that I will eventually mess up whatever I am doing or trying to do. Multi-tasking usually has to do with being in a hurry. If I do not have the necessary time to do something correctly and with my full attention the first time, how will I find the necessary time to correct the mistakes I made or said? One thing at a time and with my full attention, is surprisingly good advice and a wonderful prescription for calming one’s mind.
Sunday, July 24, 2022
Faith is trusting God regardless of the outcome. When a person says, “I am trusting God for ___________.” That is not faith, that is bargaining. I do not see any justification in scriptures that we have Biblical permission to name this attitude, faith. Faith is when Jesus said “…yet not what I want but what you want.” (Matthew 26:39, NRSV). Paul’s message regarding his faith testimony is “I have learned to be content with whatever I have.” (Philippians 4:11, NRSV). I have heard many testimonies in which God has blessed a person’s faith with wonderful experiences or results. I do not doubt that is true. I wish, however, we also heard testimonies in which the person said they have faith in God and either not much happened or things in their life deteriorated, yet they still had faith in God. That is also true. It seems to me that the lesson from the Psalms is to trust God regardless of the circumstances. A person’s faith in God is not dependent upon specific results of faith. Genuine faith does not attach itself to any outcome. Faith just is. Faith is not bargaining.