Unchurch

I have a confession to make. I don’t like “church”. Not “church” in the way most of us think of “church” anyway. We’ve all been at onetime or another whether as a child or adult, a guest to someone who invited us to attend their church, or maybe as a “holiday” church goer attending the Christmas, Easter or Mother’s Day service, maybe even as a member of a church or churches.

We know the drill: met at the door by the greeter who smiles, shakes your hand and thanks you for showing up. The music, traditional or contemporary, the prayer, a couple more songs, the sermon, the plate is passed, another prayer or offer to come forward for prayer and a couple of closing songs then the walk toward the exit to nod and shake hands with a few of the regulars and finally, for the newcomer, the invite from the pastor to come back again.

Don’t get me wrong, I certainly don’t have anything against the way we in America have chosen to “church”…..I just don’t fit in. Ever had that experience? That’s really why I don’t like church, I just have always felt like an outsider. Like I’m on the outside looking in. Even when I have been a member, lead a class,  or sang in the music ministry.

For the longest time I just thought that it was my perception and that I just needed to learn to fit in, to be like everyone else and so I did. I spoke “Christianese”, changed the way I dressed so that I blended into whatever the culture of the church “brand” happened to be, carried my Bible, memorized scripture enough so that I could sprinkle conversation with my obvious close relationship with God, attended dozens of women’s Bible groups, and volunteered to do my part so that I could BE a part. The problem was I wasn’t being “me”, I was faking it, pretending to be someone I was not and I didn’t like that.

Fast forward. After a series of events which will be left for a later discussion, I was done with God and church. I had no need for Him or prayer, or the Bible, or the myriad promises the church said God would make a reality; I threw the baby out with the bathwater.

Again after a series of events I decided in my infinite wisdom and grace that I would give God another chance. How very generous of me, right? But in all seriousness I missed God, I missed the relationship. I did not miss all the trimmings, being focused on fitting in. So now what? How was I going to “be” a Christian without feeling like an imposter?

Well first I decided I didn’t have to “label” myself as a “Christian”. Now before anyone takes offense let me make my case, and let’s remember this is my story, not yours. If you identify yourself as a “Christian” I am completely cool with that, no judgment from me whatsoever, so no worries. But for me the word “Christian” had negative connotations because of my experiences in the church and because I had tried so hard to “be” a Christian.

Before abandoning ship I had done study in Messianic Judaism and I liked what I learned, so the “label” I gave myself was “Messianic Gentile”. That is just a fancy shmancy way of saying that I had adopted the mindset of those who were not Jews by birth, rather honored the “Jewishness” of Jesus and the scriptures. Again that’s a discussion for another day.

I started by talking to God, not praying in the traditional sense, but just talking. Mostly I just thanked Him. I thanked Him for my kids, my job, the “things” I had. In short I adopted “an attitude of gratitude”. It was the least I could do, I mean I was still here and kicking so I figured there was hope for me however sorry a human being I was!! In truth I wasn’t even sure God loved me or accepted me anymore because I had been down some not-so-pretty roads in my life since I had abandoned ship. I was dirty, bedraggled, foul mouthed, negative, had been suicidal, and participating in vices I had no intention of giving up and one I still don’t intend to give up, and really that is a relative statement depending upon how you define “vice”. If you find any of that shocking hang onto your hat, but I refuse to apologize for who I am. And that is really where I am going with all of this: none of us should apologize for who we are. God, I reasoned, was either going to love me and accept me for who I was, warts, wounds, scars and all or He wasn’t. It was as simple as that.

Oh yeah, I challenged Him, tested Him, said whatever I thought to Him daring Him to toss me out with the trash, but He didn’t. Imagine that. There were days I shook my fist heavenward, screamed, yelled and stomped my feet better than any 3 year old out there! And STILL He refused to go away!

You see, God is love. The Bible says that and so He can’t do anything else but love us. He loves me and He loves you! Maybe you don’t believe that but He does!

How do I know that? How do we know anything really?? I can’t explain it but I KNOW He didn’t move one step away from me at my worst, He just moved a little closer.

Well what I just said isn’t quite true. I do know because the Bible is our reference manual for God. Now wait before you click me off or flip me off, whichever, it’s all good, I don’t intend to go all “churchy” on you but we can’t talk about God without talking about the Bible. The Bible says that God is the same yesterday, today, and forever and if He is also love then He loves us as we were, as we are, and as we will be. We are at best a messy bunch of misfits on any given day and He knows that better than we do.

So, what has any of that got to do with an “unchurch”? It has everything to do with it. The “unchurch” is for all of us who don’t fit in, never did, never will. For all of us who are messy, bedraggled, insecure, fearful, struggling, rejected and stumbling through life but STILL want a relationship with God. And when I say God I also mean Jesus. The good news is there is a place for us. The “unchurch” is a gathering of people who want to know God, not to have all the do’s and don’ts dumped on us as we walk thru the door. The “unchurch” is anywhere 2 or more are gathered.

It’s time for “church” to be all inclusive. It’s time for us to make our relationship with Him our primary focus. It’s time.

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Healing: More Than A Pill…..

I have spent the better part of my adult life working as a nurse in one capacity or another. The accepted medical model of our country is to treat illness, not prevent it. Researchers spend their lives determining what causes illness; identifying microorganisms, viruses, and other body invaders and looking for changes in the body resulting in diseases. We have been taught about prevention of illness through exercise and healthy eating, avoiding stress, and simplifying our lives, yet people are getting sicker and dying younger than in previous generations.  Technology has exploded in the last several decades in ways that should lead to the opposite.

From a purely Reiki-based viewpoint, our Chakras, or energy centers have a great deal to do with how we interpret and approach life. Imbalances in our Chakras, as with imbalances in the body, mind, and spirit, in general, contribute to our thoughts, words, and actions that form our life patterns. In Reiki sessions when I find Chakra imbalances, aural interruptions, and the like, clients often open up and share their deepest thoughts and fears. Beginning the rebalancing process gives the client fresh insight and information to work toward breaking free of long held patterns that have not served well.

Each of the 7 major Chakras is largely responsible for our interpretations and responses toward life situations, the Divine, and our view of self.  Imbalances in our energy centers will eventually affect the body leading to physical and/or emotional illness. It is my firm belief all illness originates with stress, whether due to continual worry or anxiety, abuses of the body in terms of poor health habits, or neural interruptions and blood flow blockages due to subluxations requiring chiropractic intervention.

We are not meant to live anxiety-ridden lives, filled with overwhelming responsibilities and relationships built on drama and superficial involvement. We were designed to live in relationship with the Divine, while at the same time plant our roots deep within the earth to ground us in the here and now.

Our medical model has created tunnel vision; we get sick so we treat with medicines, surgeries, and chemicals. We want a quick fix, to feel better right away, and in many cases we are only putting a bandage on the root cause of the illness. The awakening process is beginning, however. People are beginning to see the need to establish a real and evidential relationship with the Divine. New-to-us healing modalities are explored and used by many to improve their lives and relationships, and by doing so, illness is addressed from the cause, not the result. Even the hospital system I work for recently sent some of their critical care nurses to learn energy healing methods to help with pain control; an otherwise traditional medical setting opening their minds to viable interventions to address the needs of body mind and spirit.

Daily stress and fears originating in the mind eventually manifest in the body as illness. We are bombarded by advertisements for the latest medications to treat the top ailments of humanity. The newest technologies and treatments meant to comfort us should we be one of the unfortunate ones to develop a dreaded disease, also instills fear of developing the diseases. We are told we have genetic connections to some diseases and illnesses, and often we psychologically embrace this information where it becomes part of the unconscious and soon it develops.  

Sound too simple? In my 50 plus years on the planet I have come to understand we are the ones who make life complex and challenging; God did not have complexity in mind when He created man. The Bible tells us Yeshua (Jesus) healed all manner of illness. The infirm were made well when He “laid hands” on them. I have come to believe one of the the methods of healing was through “energy healing” as we know it today. Yeshua was Divine incarnate, taking the form of humanity to walk among His creation and teach. When those of us in the energy healing arts work with our clients we are conduits, or channels, for Divine energy. Yeshua was and is the Source of all healing energy; His healing’s were often immediate.

God, in the form of Yeshua, came to live among His creation for a time to teach by example and method to those who would receive. The Bible, however many times it has been massaged and modified by man, still contains the teachings of Yeshua for spirits, living in bodies, having a human experience, in other words, humanity.  Some of the Biblical stories as we know them have been embellished, but I believe the core message remains in tact. In Mark 5:34 Jesus is walking through a crowd of people and notes someones has touched His robe. He finds out a woman, sick for many years and at the point of hopelessness, had touched Him believing if she could, she would be healed. The woman was instantly healed. When she admitted she had been the one who touched Jesus’ robe, He said, “Daughter, your trust has healed you. Go in peace, and be healed of your disease.”

Notice, Jesus did not take credit for the healing, nor did He heal the woman, as organized religion often teaches.  Healing is always a joint effort originating with us; intention to receive healing, positive thought and word to create the reality of healing, and walking forward in health.The woman believed, in other words, her intention was set on healing rather than infirmity. She had decided she would no longer be ill; her thoughts and words would mirror her intention for health. The remainder of the statement Jesus made was to “go in peace”. Peace is a by-product of relationship and connection with God, or the Divine Source of love. (I am by no means suggesting this is an easy-peasy task, it isn’t, but there are people alive today, including myself, who have experienced physical healing when the medical world had exhausted all their options)

Reiki, as well as other energy or complementary healing modalities, are often criticized by church-going, Bible-believing folks and said to be “from the devil”, a form of witchcraft, or any number of derogatory statements. I have never personally known, nor heard of an energy or complementary medicine healer who believed a healing was of their own doing. All intentions boil down to heart motivations, and the transference of Divine energy through the energy healing modalities is no different. We are taught to welcome the presence of the Divine, of God, as we open a session with a client, ever mindful the Divine energy is the healer. By the same token I have been to “Healing Explosions” and “healing services” conducted by fundamentalist Bible believers who credit God with healing anyone who receives. How is that different?

The opening of minds will continue as many more accept there is a reality outside the box of accepted theory and practice. Churches, experiencing fewer congregants, will adjust their myopic thinking or be forced to close their doors. The lines between religion and the spiritual will blur as each side realizes there is no need for opposition, all healing comes from God. The lines will blur within healthcare, as well, between accepted practice and complementary modalities. Healing is more than a pill…..

A Tapestry of Divine Love…..

Lately, I have been interested in the study of angels, specifically  guardian Angels and Archangels. The accepted theory in spirituality circles is that we all have guardian angels, at least 2, and we have access to the Archangels of God. Certainly, organized religion recognizes the presence of angels, but not in the personal way seekers of spirituality do. The Bible says  “for he (God) will order his angels to care for you and guard you wherever you go.” (Psalm 91:11 The Complete Jewish Bible) Sounds like guardian Angels, to me. Churches I have attended taught angels and demons were part of the spiritual realm and continually at war over our souls. If we are to live by “the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world” (I John 4 The Complete Jewish Bible) would there be reason for continual battle? Would we even need angelic help?

In January of 2017, a well known New Age teacher of Angel Therapy, Angel Readings, and the like, experienced an encounter with Jesus while attending a church service. Consequently, she has done a complete 180 in terms of philosophy and denounced most of what she taught over the years. Typical of mankind’s knee jerk reaction to anything new, controversy ensued. The New Age world was shaken. Once over the initial shock, many were angered, felt betrayed, and accusations flew. Two sides to every story exist, so I read the New Age interpretations of the conversion and I listened to the video said Angel Teacher released.

The New Age world was right in that she did make a dramatic swing and landed knee-deep in the Bible and church life. By the same token, from her video explanation my takeaway had more to do with her overall acknowledgment of Jesus as the incarnate Divine, not as one among many of the “ascended masters”. She had read the Bible cover to cover several times since her chance meeting with Jesus, and set aside many of the teachings she had formerly believed however, she made the distinction between what she now believed to be acceptable to God versus unacceptable based on method and heart motivation. After listening to her explanation I don’t believe she “threw the baby out with the bath water” as many adherents to New Age have said, rather she has chosen to give Jesus His rightful place as fully human, fully Divine Lord. To clarify, she is very much like every newly “saved” Christian I have ever met, drinking in and absorbing every word of the Bible and pretty much unable to speak or write a complete sentence without including a “praise Jesus”, or a scripture reference. I cannot fault her for that, many of us were like that in the beginning of our “walk with the Lord”. One day while I was listening to her radio call-in program a caller described her as a “bridge” between New Age and religion. Her mission, as she sees it now, is to bridge the gap between New Age philosophy and Christianity.

I have never believed anything in our lives is accidental or coincidental. There is purpose to everything under the sun. Up until I heard the radio broadcast I spent a fair amount of time contemplating my purpose, for lack of a better word, to explain why I felt driven to be the voice for those of us who have done the organized religion gig, do not fit in, yet have a desire to seek higher spiritual truth, to know and journey with the Divine. In that moment as I listened to the caller, everything came into focus. The sum total of all I have shared through writings and speaking with others is to bridge the gap for those leaving organized religion or seeking spirituality apart from religious Christianity. I never believed the two were mutually exclusive, yet nothing I ever read or heard up to that point confirmed the belief.

The world is a school as we live out our lives on earth. Do we all learn the same way? What makes sense to me may not resonate with you, and vice versa, but neither is fully right or fully wrong. Each of us is given a thread of knowledge as we seek and journey within the Divine. Some threads are heavier, some delicate, others brightly colored, and still others, muted shades to complement the colorful. From the threads of various sizes and colors a beautiful tapestry is woven. The tapestry is the Divine in the fullness of love. The path we pursue is what makes sense to us; if the path doesn’t enlighten or fulfill, we may not be on the best path for us. The only caution is, make certain the path is bathed in love; there is nothing negative on a path to the Divine.

In my mind, the once New Age teacher of Angel Therapy added to her understanding of the Divine; she was given another thread for the tapestry. Today, her perspective is unique, a blend of both sides of the fence; neither side is fully right or fully wrong. It is from our human, or ego-self we demand others to choose sides. Psychologically speaking, humans tend to make huge pendulum swings in times of change, eventually making our way back toward center. I expect the Angel Therapy teacher will do much the same. A grounded, or centered spiritual-seeker will allow others to walk their path without judgment. We all need to be in that place of non-judgment; both Christian and New Ager, praying church-goer and meditative spiritual seeker…..

 

God Bless Us All…..

All around the world there will be families celebrating Christmas. A global celebration, of sorts. A time when families come together to eat, drink and be merry, children open gifts from Santa Claus, and peace on earth reigns. Well, not quite!  It’s a lovely thought, but life isn’t a Hallmark Christmas movie!

Recently I was listening to a spiritual radio call-in program and the host was talking with a caller who was trapped by memories of her past. The woman’s story wasn’t unlike many of ours in that she had been the product of a dysfunctional family, and then dragged the dysfunction into a marriage that ended poorly. Now she was lost in a vortex of misery and confusion trying to figure out who she was and her purpose in life. Clearly, she needed to move on, but couldn’t seem to see the patterns in her life generated by fears that continually led to negative outcomes.  The host listened, asked a couple of questions and then said, “We cannot walk into our future until we have left the past behind.” A profoundly simple statement and the reason many of us are “stuck” on the gerbil wheel of disappointment and failure.

As sentient spirit beings having a human experience we needn’t stay bound to our pasts. When we continually look backward it is impossible to be in the now and visualize a future. Why do we put ourselves through the misery? It’s almost a form of self-punishment. The past has passed, nothing can be done to change one second of our past, so why dwell on it, and I don’t say that lightly. So what if the past wasn’t something you did, rather was done to you? Same difference. It is unfortunate, unequivocally wrong, for anyone to willfully inflict emotional or physical pain on others, and yet the outcome is the same; nothing can be done to change the the outcome or the pain. Our efforts need to be concentrated on things we can change. We can change the reality we currently live in, and in turn,  change our future. To live bound to the past means we willingly give control of our lives, in other words our power, to the people and situations we were living with or in at the time. Changing current reality involves carefully listening to our thoughts and words; these thoughts and words are the chains holding us captive.

Every person, event and situation in our lives is a learning experience; nothing more, nothing less. Journey with the Divine to higher spiritual awareness involves growing, and sometimes the growing process is painful. We are challenged to learn from the people, events, situations and, yes, even the pain, but we are not compelled to drag them behind us like balls and chains. The knowledge and wisdom gained is meant to provide the foundation for our present, and tools to manifest a more positive future. It’s not easy, nothing worthwhile is.

One of my favorite Christmas movies is Charles Dickens’, A Christmas Carol, particularly the 1951 black and white version starring Alistair Sims. Scrooge is a miserly, miserable old man who despises Christmas until he is visited by the spirit of his deceased business partner destined to roam the earth forever for his wicked ways. Ghost Marley warns Scrooge of his fate should he continue to be miserly, consumed with money, and detached from others. Three spirits would visit that very night, Marley warned, affording Scrooge one final chance at redemption; the ghosts of Christmas past, present and future.

The Ghost of Christmas Past reminds Scrooge of his young years. As a child, Scrooge was sent to boarding school, abandoned by his family, and spent his childhood Christmases alone. Grown-up Scrooge chanced love with Belle who, seeing his obsession for money taking first place in his heart, ended their engagement on Christmas Eve. Apparently, Belle was the straw that broke his back. From then on he despised Christmas, the celebrations, the merriment, and the money spent on what he considered frivolous. He was mean-spirited to everyone, not caring a wit for his employee, Bob Cratchit, Bob’s sickly son “Tiny Tim”, nor his nephew Fred, the only child of Scrooge’s one sibling who is now deceased. Enter the three spirits.

The Ghost of Christmas Past takes Scrooge back to his childhood to witness the loneliness experienced at the boarding school during the holidays, and to revisit the scene when his beloved sister Fran comes to get Scrooge and bring him home because their father has had a change of heart and wants to reunite with his son. Finally, he will  witness Belle, his once-betrothed, breaking off their engagement on Christmas Eve, followed by an older Belle with her husband concerned for Scrooge’s consuming hatred for all things except money. Each stop along his past begins to soften his hardened heart. Safely back in bed Scrooge awaits the next ghost.

The Ghost of Christmas Present shows Scrooge that money isn’t everything. People are blessed to have family, a meager feast and warmth. Even the Cratchit’s are thankful for the little they have and their time together. Tiny Tim, despite his infirmity, unselfishly asks God’s blessings on others, “A Merry Christmas to us all; God bless us every one.” The ice thaws a bit more in Scrooge’s heart. In its own way, the second Ghost teaches Scrooge the lesson The Grinch Who Stole Christmas learned when he attempted to stop Christmas from coming to Whoville by stealing all of the trappings of the holiday, not realizing the meaning of Christmas has little to do with the material world.

The third and final ghost, the Ghost of Christmas Yet-to-Come remains silent, yet the message comes through loud and clear. The future for all of us is dependent upon choices we make in the present. Each of us has the opportunity to change the course of our future, or remain trapped in misery. The Ghost appears as a Grim Reaper-like character. The first scene is that of a funeral where some local businessmen are making light of the deceased and crude comments about the unlikelihood of anyone giving a care. Scrooge feels some degree of empathy for the dead and asks the Ghost to show someone who is grieved because of the passing of another human life. He is shown the Cratchit family mourning the loss of the beloved Tiny Tim. The final scene is a lonely, overgrown graveyard where Scrooge learns the identity of the dead; to his horror it is Scrooge himself. Overwhelmed by the revelations of the Ghost of Christmas-Yet-to-Come, Scrooge begs the Ghost for another chance to change the course of his life away from the path he has trod so many years. Kind of makes one feel sorry for him. The story ends with Scrooge having  made a complete 180 in attitude, grateful for the redemptive opportunity.

It isn’t likely ghosts will visit any of us, but the point is Scrooge learned only he could change his future. Dickens’ was telling a story, yet we have the very same opportunity in our lives. Change is often difficult and painful. Most of us would rather stay trapped in a familiar cycle of misery than chance the possibility our lives could change course. Why? One word: fear. We fear the unknown. Change involves twists and turns in the path and the twists and turns can frighten us.

Scrooge recognized his love of money and hatred of Christmas and ultimately people, all resulting in a cold heart. There was a definite pattern in his life of getting knocked down, and in response, hardening his heart a bit more. His core issue was fear of rejection and his response to rejection was to reject others first. Realizing it was his last chance Scrooge opted to look past the fear, put people above money, and reach out in love. There was no guarantee any would accept his offer given his past, only possibility existed. He didn’t stop to analyze, “what if they reject me again, then what?”, he just forged ahead.

We like stories to end on a positive note and Scrooge’s story did. He overcame fear of rejection and found acceptance and love on the other side.

Christmas, for many, is a time of renewal as we anticipate the upcoming new year that follows. Are fears in your life hindering growth, keeping you trapped, and robbing you of a full life? Set the intention in your heart to overcome a fear, and journey into the new year with thoughts and words to change the fear to possibility. Merry Christmas, and in the words of Tiny Tim, “God bless us all…..”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I Am God…..Not Quite

A few years back a famous actress had an awakening, wrote a book, and starred in her own movie about the experience. The last scene of the movie she twirled on a beach, hands and face raised heavenward and shouted, “I am God!” over and over. As one can imagine, the book and movie raised and eyebrow or two. She dropped out of sight for a while after that. Apparently, the world wasn’t ready for her revelation.

I’m not going to lie, I was put off by the scene as well. At the time I was a churchgoing, inerrant Word of God gal, and I thought it blasphemous, as did much of fundamental Christendom. These days I have set my offense aside; I understand where she was coming from, which is not to say that I entirely agree with her.

We are a part of God, we are not God. Whatever name one chooses for the Divine, the Eternal Source, or Wisdom, humanity is part of the whole. John 15:5 says, “I am the vine, you are the branches.” (The Complete Jewish Bible) Here again in the subsequent verses there is evidence of man’s meddling; the remainder of the chapter is centered around obedience and if/then. In other words, if one obeys, then he/she gets, and if one remains close one will be loved. The Bible states God is love. Love is pure, eternal, never changing, and the Divine Source is Love. Within love there is no judgment, there are no demands, no if/then; there is only love. The purity of Source Love transcends the need for discipline, punishment and judgment. When we unite with Source Love, with God, we choose to live within love as well. We are still human and won’t always get it right, but we have a much higher probability of success than having judgment and discipline hanging over our heads driving our choice to love and, like errant children, behave!

Connecting with God, living, breathing, and moving from our spirit-self instead of our ego-self, we see others as spirit beings, living in a body, and having a human experience. The need to compare ourselves to others, compete as if life were a race and the first one to cross the finish line with the most toys wins, or believing ourselves more important than another, fades away. Life isn’t a race, it isn’t about who has what or is better than another. Life is a journey with God, an opportunity to learn, to experience, and to continually deepen our understanding of self to improve relationship with others.

The other day I was listening to a radio seminar on spirituality and the speaker made a statement I have tumbled around in my head several times. She said, “the one is part of the whole”. The subject matter was much more complex, but I centered in on that statement because it made so much sense. A few simple words strung together to describe the relationship between man and the Divine, and for me, the impact of those few words was profound. Not only are we connected to the Divine, but we are connected to everything in the universe, no matter how seemingly insignificant, or powerfully life-changing it may be. Spiritually, most of us can agree, we are connected, but think about the detail of our daily lives. We do not wake each morning and go about our day as an individual entity, an island, as it were, having no impact on or relationship with the world as a whole. We sit down to watch the local and world news while we drink our first cup of coffee, drive to work along with hundreds of others, board an elevator, or take the stairs nodding to others as we walk to our offices, attend meetings, chat with coworkers around the water cooler, send emails, return telephone calls, check our Facebook accounts, update our LinkedIn profile, and Tweet our feelings and thoughts to our followers. Even the bodies we live in function as a whole. Do your lungs take in oxygen and release carbon dioxide apart from the whole of the respiratory and circulatory systems? How about each brain synapse carrying and transmitting billions of bits of information through the nervous system every second, of every minute, of every hour, of every day to form our thoughts, store our memories, to signal our glands and organs to function at just the right time, and our muscular and skeletal systems to produce movement? There is relationship within and between everything in the universe. We are never disconnected, and yet many in our world feel isolated, alone, and unheard. How is that possible?

For many their focus is predominantly from the ego-self. It’s all about me; how I will get ahead, what I have, how to get more, how I will get recognized, or appear to work harder than another.  The ego-self isn’t all negative, however. It serves as a warning system that danger is close at hand. We need the ego-self in small doses, but ego needs to take a backseat to the spirit-self, not the other way around.

Organized religion dictates believers are to gather together in a place of worship. Once inside the doors the idea is to join with others who are like-minded, edify one another, receive yet another message on the wages of sin, and be told what the next rung of the ladder will be to attain heavenly status. We are encouraged to draw inward and search our hearts for roots of bitterness that need pruning, but as long as our heads are bowed and eyes closed how many actually take part? A cynical look at church life, I know, but it isn’t unrealistic. Much of church life is centered around the appearance of piety, fluency in Christian-ese, and “doing” to receive reward and recognition from God. Is that so very different from how many “in the world” act? Appearance takes precedence over heart motivation; ego clamors to be noticed.

Spiritual maturity, recognizing our oneness with God, the practice of gratitude, is heart work requiring us to take a hard look at attitudes and patterns of behavior, the words we use to describe self and others, and the thoughts that consume our daily lives. For the most part this work is solitary. We can reach out to others for guidance and help, and we should at times, but the bulk of the heart work is between the individual and God. Does the butterfly attend transformation gatherings as it is shaped and formed within the cocoon? The universe is our textbook, our professor is Divine wisdom, but it is our job to tune in. How we tune in is individual, as well. Some meditate, which is just a form of prayer, some read, attend classes, pull inward to search the soul, there is no right or wrong way.

Spirituality teaches we are all at different places in our journey, and why wouldn’t we be? Each has a thread from the overall tapestry. We needn’t all be at the same place, or tuned into the same frequency. There is room for all to grow, to improve, to experience, and we all will learn from one another. When I am reading, listening or researching, I don’t agree with everything, and we aren’t expected to. Some things I tuck away in my mind for later, others I accept, or only partially accept. Kind of like the “I am God” statement: safely tucked away for now…..

The Point of the Message…..

Far too much evidence exists of the life of Yeshua there is no valid reason to dispute it. Whether or not the rest of the Bible is literal or allegorical is left for us to decide. Do I really believe Jonah sat in the belly of a whale for three (3) days, or Daniel and his friends walked out of a fiery furnace unharmed? Does it even matter? Should any time or energy be spent arguing the finer points of literal versus allegorical? Not as far as I’m concerned. When we do, we miss the truth, the teachings, and the universal wisdom within the stories.

Consider the story of Job. Was there a Job who sat on an ash heap scraping boils while God and Satan argued over ownership of him? Most of us schooled in organized religion have been taught that Job was faithful to the end and had all that was lost restored to him because Job believed God trustworthy despite enduring agonizing hardships. A very encouraging message for all who face trials and tribulations in life. A lesson on the power of thought and word is also found within Job’s story.

In Chapter 3 of Job we find Job depressed and questioning why he was ever born. Ever felt that way? I have, and likely most of us have been there at one time or another. We don’t like to be uncomfortable or suffer hardship.  Job’s feelings are not out of line for the situation; he had just lost everything near and dear to him. Toward the end of Job’s soliloquy on the nightmare his life had become he says, “for the thing I feared has overwhelmed me, what I dreaded has happened to me.” (Job 3:25 The Complete Jewish Bible) Job gave voice to fears hidden within his thoughts.

Throughout the Bible there are elaborate explanations for stories so familiar to us we just accept them without question. But do they make sense? Are they supposed to? Maybe I am the aberration, the rebel who just can’t leave the accepted alone? I cannot swallow that God and Satan are playing games with Job’s life, or that God and Satan are even having the conversation. Whether an explanation to man’s suffering or a literal event, the exchange leaves me cold. If God is love, regardless of the eventual outcome, the journey to the outcome is cruel.

Job had fears in his heart, we all do. Do I blame him for giving voice to his fears in the midst of his suffering? No, I don’t, but it gives us insight into Job’s thought life. Job feared loss of family, health, and wealth. The theory that thought creates matter says that whatever we give the most energy to is what the universe gives back to us. Certainly not the occasional thought, but ever present thought; that which consumes our conscious and subconscious mind. His fears were at work long before he sat on his ash heap. I’m sure Job was grateful for all that he had, but I wonder if his fear of losing everything overshadowed his gratitude? The niggling fear crept into his thoughts and grew until the thoughts became his reality.

Our thoughts don’t have magical powers by any means, but everything  is energy and energy has power. It is the foundation of any work; it lights our world, runs our cars and appliances, and gives life to our bodies made up of cells, organs and systems. What we think about matters. Philippians 4:8 says “…brothers, focus your thoughts on what is true, noble, righteous, pure, lovable or admirable, on some virtue or on something praiseworthy.” Focusing on the positive brings the positive back to us.

Fast forward to the New Testament. Yeshua was a rebel and challenged the accepted religious mindset of the day. He called out those whose hidden thoughts were to control while their words spoke otherwise. The proverbial wolf in sheep’s clothing religion has interpreted to mean those who don’t accept the tenets of a fear based religious system. Yeshua’s entire ministry was a lesson in focusing positive thoughts to bring about a positive outcome. Healing, bringing the dead to life, even His resurrection. Yeshua told His disciples He would suffer and rise again on the third day; both of which are recorded events. None of it requiring one man or group of men to be in charge of others, all of humanity capable of his/her own journey. The reason for Yeshua’s death revolved around the religious leaders’ fear of loss of control. The rest of the story involving Pontius Pilate is surrounded by controversy.

I no longer accept that salvation was the point. The whole of the salvation message is an unhealthy dependence on man and God. The salvation message fosters fear; fear of not making it to heaven without uttering the “magic words”, fear of screwing up, and a dependence on God requiring unquestioning belief in His ultimate control and judgment of our lives, and acceptance of contradictory messages throughout scripture and within doctrinal teachings. What if the sole purpose of Yeshua’s life on earth, the reason Divine took on the flesh of humanity, was to personally teach and demonstrate the creative energy the Divine imparted to man? Fundamental religion teaches that we can have what we say, faith the size of a mustard seed moves mountains, and those who believe can heal and raise the dead as Jesus did; creative energy in action, plain and simple.

The new “church” as it went forward after Yeshua’s transition from earthly life to the spirit realm was a continuation of the teaching Yeshua brought to humanity. A lesson far more empowering and useful than a system full of confusing and conflicting messages and fostering dependence on mortal man…..

Seeking the Divine…..

Most of my adult life I have studied scripture, attended Bible studies, listened, pondered, asked questions, taught, and spent a lot of time in prayer. All worthy endeavors, but in the past year I made a major shift in philosophy and belief. None of it has been easy. I have struggled to sort through the mire of religious orthodoxy, opened my mind to new ways of thinking, studied some more, and I found ‘me’ in the process.

For a while I tried to stay within the boundaries of organized religion from outside the walls of church however, the questions and contradictions persisted, everything still sounded rote, and I tried, in vain, to quell thoughts that I was still separated from a true relationship with God. I didn’t have issue with others who found fulfillment in  organized religion, and I still don’t. There is a path for everyone, in my mind, but organized religion with all the trimmings wasn’t my path, and never would be. A journey of self-discovery and relationship with the Divine was born.

Our understanding of God and the journey we walk are individual; there is no “one size fits all”. And why wouldn’t it be? We are not all alike. Yet, those who find themselves outside the accepted mindset of organized religion are subject to the unspoken truth of many in the church today; any who don’t conform to the doctrinal beliefs are wolves in sheep’s clothing, suspect of blasphemy, are woefully misguided, or declared “anti-Christ”. What if we are none of the above? What if we are just sojourners on a path to relationship with the Divine and a journey of self-discovery? Is there a place for us? I believe there is, and at this point I don’t find the study of awakened spirituality and the teachings of Jesus in opposition. Much of what Jesus said and did as recorded in scripture, and found within texts not included in the Bible, lend credence to beliefs and teachings widely accepted in the study and practice of awakened spirituality. Organized religion and awakened spirituality however, needn’t be at odds with one another. There is room for all who seek to know God.

Many are realizing organized religion doesn’t always make sense. The fire and brimstone of yesteryear repackaged in the more acceptable contemporary church service is no longer enough. It has become painfully obvious in the past few years that church leaders and congregants are subject to the same flaws as the rest of humanity and many either deny allegations, offer flimsy excuses, or just plain ignore the misstep completely as if it never happened. Too many within the walls have set themselves above those of us outside the walls. If we have wronged others it just makes good sense to admit fault, ask forgiveness of those we hurt, and move on That’s not so easy for anyone who believes themselves above the imperfections of man.

A trend within the past several years has not gone unnoticed. People are leaving organized religion.  One of our local stations had a special piece on the ten o’clock news one night about this very subject. I tuned in out of curiosity. None of the information was new to me, I have seen and felt the shift coming for a few years now. Empty pews are plentiful in every congregation across the nation.  Few new families are joining or attending churches like in past years when people wanted to give their children a “foundation”.  There are staunch adherents on both sides of the fence. Many new parents say they want their children to decide for themselves, not force them to join in on church-life alongside their parents. Some people state outright the  unruliness of children in this age is a direct result of not attending church, not receiving the “foundation” they did as youngsters. My children were “raised in the church”, immersed in church-life, and all 3 have chosen journeys outside of organized religion as young adults. Sorting through organized religious indoctrination, an unhealthy dose of spiritual abuse compliments of their father, and life in general, has taught them traditional church attendance is not fulfilling, doesn’t answer the tough questions, and exposes them to more hypocrisy than most find in the world outside the church walls. And I can’t say I disagree.

There is spiritual hunger out there in the world. In the course of everyday life people at work, or in my private life, are asking questions, and often the conversations take on a serious tone. Many have been to churches trying to find where they fit in, some have been burned by churches they had joined, and some were raised in the church, but the story is always similar. People want a relationship with God, but they don’t want the hypocrisy of organized religion. At the risk of sounding like an evangelist, we have a God-sized space in us that will only be filled with relationship. We came from Spirit, we will return to Spirit, and our spirits are searching for meaning, for direction, for acceptance and for love. Maybe we cannot accept the whole heaven concept; do good on earth and the pearly gates will open wide. Yet, innate knowledge tells us that life on earth is not all there is. We succeed, we suffer, we get sick, we get better, we work every day to pay our bills and provide for our families, and then we die. Is that it? I believe it is not, but I don’t believe the answers lie within the church.

Science and religion have not been the best of friends, probably since the beginning of time, but within the past several years a meeting of minds has taken shape. Quantum physics has stepped in to say that the concept of “God” may not be so far off; a concept the spiritually aware have known for eons. I believe Jesus taught the basic principles of quantum physics by demonstrating thought becoming matter, and what it means to live from the Divine spirit. The very last thing I would ever attempt is to explain quantum physics to anyone! Math and I are not from the same neighborhood, and likely exist on different planets altogether, but the most basic foundational truth is that all things are energy and consist of wavelengths, frequencies, atoms, particles, and so on. I will gladly leave that entire discussion to Stephen Hawking!

The belief is that the formation of matter is the result of brainwaves; thoughts equal energy; energy equals matter; thoughts equal matter. Communication with the Universal Source, God, to many of us, is done through thought; specifically the frequency of thoughts. Does religion not teach us to pray and “meditate upon the Word”? Prayer and meditation are often done through thought – communication with the Universal Source, or God. We project our thoughts through brainwaves, and these brainwaves represent our consciousness. Brainwaves can be measured, and as a nurse this makes total sense. medical science declares patients brain dead when there is an absence of brainwave activity.

Our consciousness in communication with God tells God what we need, what we want, which in turn creates our reality. Our words and thoughts are often in opposition to one another. Which does God listen and respond to? The thoughts, the language of the universe. God answers our thoughts, our brainwaves, by sending back exactly what we ask for. There is no judgment involved, simply an answer to a need or desire. A gap between science and spirituality still exists, but the chasm is narrowing. At least for many in the scientific field there is now an explanation for what many of us have believed by faith; there is a God in whatever way best fits your definition.

People are searching, and for many the answers organized religion has offered no longer resonate with us. Didn’t Jesus say, “Keep asking, and it will be given to you; keep seeking, and you will find; keep knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who keeps asking receives; he who keeps seeking finds; and to him who keeps knocking, the door will be opened.” (Matthew 7:7 The Complete Jewish Bible) The Universal Source, God, answers our thoughts…..

Jesus – Perfected Spirit Man (Part 2)

Seeing Yeshua (Jesus) from a spiritual versus religious standpoint gives us a very different picture than the one organized religion paints. He embodied all of the Divine; Yeshua lived and breathed and moved within the Divine. Throughout the Bible we see the evidence of those who had met the Creator, the Divine, the Source, God, and moved within that knowledge. Yeshua and the stories of the New Testament are the culmination of the knowledge individuals had tapped into at various points in Biblical history.

I find it much more plausible and encouraging to see Yeshua as fully human, living out the human experience, while at the same time living from the fullness of the Divine. It was always difficult for me to understand how we were to be “like Jesus”, since by all accounts He was perfected man. How can any of us live as a perfected human subject to the imperfections of human life? We cannot, and so we wake up everyday knowing no matter how hard we try we will never measure up; the stick and the carrot become the promise of perfection in heaven. In the meantime, we live within the endless cycle of sin and forgiveness.

Living from the Divine spirit however, is possible, and Yeshua’s life as a human living the human experience demonstrated the possibilities. To view Jesus and the Bible from this perspective allows us the opportunity to learn and grow every day of our human lives, not having to wait until we are welcomed through the pearly gates. Instead of an endless cycle of sin and forgiveness, we are able to move forward in the process of learning to live from the spirit man. And isn’t that what life should be about? We are here to learn about ourselves, about others, and how we can live together within the Divine spirit of love.

For those who understood Yeshua, lives were transformed. The “prostitute” was able to forgive herself and leave the shackles of living out others opinions of her; the “woman with the issue of blood” understood that her belief, a shift in her concept of reality, brought healing to her infirm body, not Jesus; He had only shown her how when He said “daughter your faith has made you well. Go in peace.” (Luke 8:48 Good News Translation) Story after story is told within the pages of scripture of the human Jesus demonstrating living from the reality He created. There is nothing magical or mystical about it. Thoughts and words are powerful. Later in the book of James 3:5, it is said life and death are in the power of the tongue.

What we say matters, what we think about matters. All spoken words begin with thoughts. In modern day life we hear, “I can never get ahead”, “I am always broke”, “I’m just waiting for the other shoe to drop”, “My family has a history of cancer, so I will probably end up with cancer too”, or “My kids are always brats”. Those words come back to us and bring us exactly what we say. This is the Law of Attraction, and Yeshua’s life and death demonstrated this very concept. Later in Luke 8:52 Jairus’s daughter had died. When Yeshua walked into Jairus’s home Yeshua answered the comments regarding her death with “Don’t cry; the child is not dead—she is only sleeping!” (Good News Translation) Yeshua was laughed at, and that too, is an important point. Living from the spirit self puts us at odds with the world mindset. Those of us who choose a different path are like salmon swimming upstream in a downstream world; conformity is the name of the game, and conformity flies in the face of living from the spirit self.

Following the death of Yeshua, the disciples, men and women, went to the tomb site to prepare the body. Those of us with any church background are well versed in the story of the tomb found empty; only the burial cloths remained. Today, we have the Shroud of Turin with what many believe to be evidence of Yeshua’s resurrection; an image of a man with wounds like those Yeshua was said to have suffered, burned into the cloth. The Shroud is a hotly debated subject from time to time, staunch believers or unbelievers on either side. Whatever individual belief may be, it appears the image was created by a radiation blast of some kind. I find that to be perfectly plausible; we are energy wrapped in human flesh. Yeshua had said He would rise from the dead. If that is true and He did rise from the dead, an image would be left on the cloths. No absolute conclusive evidence exists to my knowledge; it is for each of us to decide. Spoken words with the stated outcome is all we have.

I have come to believe that elaborate stories sprang up around the life of Yeshua to explain the events of His life. Stories that made Yeshua deity, and advocated worship and total dependence upon a God who sat in judgment of His creation, and set impossible standards of behavior, thought and word; a well conceived effort for the few to control the many. Yeshua was and is the ultimate example of living from the spirit self, living within the Divine spirit. Was He the Divine manifest in the flesh of humanity? I believe He was, and yet He lived as we live, subject to the imperfections of this human world. Therein is the challenge; to live from the Divine spirit, from the spirit of ultimate love in a world where few know Divine love. Yeshua showed us the way to live our lives within the Divine, not to devote our lives to religious doctrine and helplessness waiting for our home on the other side. Luke 1:37 says, “For with God nothing is impossible” (The Complete Jewish Bible) Said another way: To live from the spirit of the Divine, nothing will be impossible. We create our own reality with our thoughts and words. Living within the Divine we will always create a reality of love and peace that will ultimately bring peace in this world. We need not wait until the sweet by and by…..