November 20, 2018
I began learning that which David meant by “refuge” in Psalm 16, when I was probably eight years old. A refuge isn’t just a safe physical place, but a safe spiritual place in one’s head and heart. David described this head and heart safety as that which made his “heart glad, his soul rejoice, and his body rest secure.”
I convinced my parents one night that I would be okay if they left me home alone for a short time while they made a short run to the store. This was before TV and we didn’t have a dependable radio, so suddenly I felt more alone than I imagined. I locked myself in my bedroom, turned on all lights, got in bed covering up totally and evidently fell fast asleep. I wasn’t awake until both parents stood over shaking me in fear asking if I was okay. Evidently, I was in such fearful sleep that all their knocking and yelling outside the door, that even my father unhinging the door failed to arouse me. They were afraid, angry and finally relieved for what I had put them through. I had thought that grown-up meant being able to be alone. I then took refuge from fear of being alone in a locked room and sleep. But I began to learn that being alone isn’t to be grown up. Being grown up is to replace the refuge of loneliness with experiences of being with other persons who are thinking of us even if they are not present. (This may be a blessing of mobile phone instant connection!)
This lesson occurred to me again recently when a friend whose family is experiencing a life changing illness expressed the comforting refuge of prayer for the family. Prayer not to “awaken” God to their need, for God already is “awake” to their need. But just hearing others say they were praying for my friend “awakened” my friend to the vast communion of friends as God’s refuge, willing to “knock down” any door possible to be God’s need-meeting presence for my friend. Being able to be alone is often a want, but being aware that wanting to be alone is not the only refuge! That is what I later realized being grown up meant. God’s ultimate refuge is the confidence that we don’t have to exist alone to be grown up. Being grown up is to know that God is with us through people who are our refuge and tell us so! I continue to realize this, even though I also have to acknowledge that each person has a different level of need for God being a refuge through other persons. I also continue to realize that it is best for persons to tell us they are praying for us in order to be our refuge, than it is for them to be shy about telling us.
This reminds me of the typical Thanksgiving Meal. We usually over indulge. We say to express gratitude for God’s abundant provisions that we are tempted to over indulge. But maybe at this meal it is okay to provide more, rather than too little, evidence of gratitude for God being our refuge through humans. I’m just saying!
November 13, 2018
On Veterans Day combat and combat-prepared veterans take stage front and center for all world citizens. I think veterans know that if one can’t love others one can’t love God. (1 John 4) They know that loyalty to their buddies (male or female) turns out to be stronger than even loyalty to their external mission (war). This is reflected in a willingness to die to save buddies. If not saving, then to assure buddies are “brought home”.
Jesus’ remarks to people in Mark 12:38ff suggest this reality as Divine existence. He warned that the academic oriented scribes insisted that people love God as scribes defined God. Ironically, this is the same as many Christians think the reason God required Jesus’ death as the better-than-human sacrifice. But Jesus rejected this scribal thinking that persons could so serve God without treating humans as buddies. This is that which authentic military veterans often show as more loyalty to one another than even to their mission of war.
This is exactly the conclusion of members of the “X Company” series on Ovation television. The Company is a top secret British and American male and female intervention effort, prior to the USA entering World War II in Europe, to undermine Germany Nazi advance. The members mingle anonymously with the non-military “resistance” and Nazis using subterfuge and killing. In the third and final season, the Company members begin to think that there is little difference between their violence and that of the Nazis’. The real difference is the Company’s loyalty to one another while the Nazis were loyal to Hitler’s ideas over human loyalty. It was this loyalty to ideas that allowed Nazis to justify killing Jews and others whom they defined as not human. This same elevation of ideas over human compassion justified scribes killing Jesus for his unauthorized ideas. The ‘X’ Company struggled with their killing and loss of buddies as more important than their victory in war.
This loyalty to colleagues was Jesus’ loyalty to serve his twelve apostles (as well as all humanity) like he knew God to be, even though doing so would cause his death. Jesus’ loyalty was also Peter’s, when he arrived in Rome when the Caesars had reduced persons to objects. Thus Mark wrote his gospel about Jesus’ loyalty to persons over persons as objects. Indeed, without loving persons one cannot love God!
We mistakenly think God promised us endless Eden with ease and health. We forget God planted a Forbidden Tree! God really promised eternal quality existence when we agape-buddy one another, even under a crisis as soldiers face. Isn’t this the reason we honor them on Veteran’s Day. Why can’t we be buddies to satisfy us? With that we experience God! Well?
November 6, 2018
How would people be taught about God if the church institution didn’t exist? Just wondering!
Didn’t Jesus’ God reveal God before the church existed by the fact that God lived in and between persons? Didn’t God, as Biblical agape-type need-meeting love, motivate people by the Holy Spirit (attitudes of self-controlled patience, kindness, generosity and gentleness between persons) then, as always, as the Bible teaches? Wasn’t God with and in each person then as we discern the experience of our own NEEDINESS being met as we try to meet the needs of others? Wasn’t God’s way of life indicated to them, as to us, if we are patient to listen to ourselves after serving (prayer as listening)? This gives us the guaranteed inner, positive, good feeling that Jesus called God’s “abiding” presence, when we either successfully (or try even if we are not successful) to meet the NEEDINESS that we detect in others. The reward, though, is always there, even if we are too distracted to pay attention to it. Perhaps it is smothered by feelings of frustration from not receiving a positive reaction (a negative may be preferred to none) from a NEEDY person we attempt to serve. The good feeling can also be camouflaged by our physical exhaustion, frustration from serving or from personal distractions.
Yes, I am convinced people have always possessed the desire to help others in order to feel fulfilled. People prior to the Hebrews surely detected the passion to serve was a gift from a god because it made them experience their highest existence! This gift was indestructible and therefore from a god. Wasn’t this Moses’ experience of our God at the “burning bush” whose existence was not destroyed? Moses was a murderer on-the-run and afraid of not existing if he returned to Egypt to free his people, to which God told him “I AM who I AM”; I exist to serve humans’ NEED to be fulfilled. So, do what I tell you and you will exist and be fulfilled, not fearful. I am Existence or Life, as intended! Certainly, this existence is the same, “yesterday, today and tomorrow,” just as the Christian Bible asserts that Jesus was, and is, true God in human flesh that behaved as intended existence.
Indeed, if God is this Existence, why would we imagine God would need an institutional temple of stone when Jesus said his body was the temple (John 2:22) as are all humans called elsewhere in the Christian Bible? Was this not that to which Jesus was trying to awaken all humans so we learn that we individually experience God through the personal fulfillment of working with one another to meet NEEDS? It’s like learning to experience God, as one testified Sunday, through the joy of taking a pie to comfort a family. That consciousness is amazingly divine to me, and I hope to you! So, let us wake up to it more often and be God’s temples! Well?
October 30, 2018
Before Jesus, what motivated persons to live, even occasionally or accidentally “on earth as it is in heaven?”(Jesus’ Prayer) Before reading, writing and publication how did humans learn Jesus’ compassionate living? Aren’t we forgetting we are made in God’s image and with God’s Holy Spirit motivation? People observed life being humane or less humane. Some concluded life as competition with others. Some thought of life as competition with self for fulfillment.
This makes me think about prayer. Consider prayer more about observing and listening than talking! Surely God hears our mental conversations! Maybe this is one reason God rested thought on creation’s 7th day. God had no ordained agenda as most worship times have. God observed and listened to the “very good” life’s order. Yet I and many, tend to be so dependent on activity agendas daily to click-off “done” to feel good at the end of the day, that we can’t stop, listen, observe and realize how some activities meet human NEEDS of others, and like God felt, make us feel “very good” as well. Surely persons before Jesus were like God and like us. Recently I was where a worship leader asked all to stop and “listen” to our inner conversations, before ending with a brief talking to God about being with us in those events in the inner conversations. And, I felt God’s presence!
Today I’m listening and thinking about Pittsburgh and Florida where chaos reigned because single persons’ God-given powers of observation and thinking did not motivate them to God’s compassion. Each observed life, but chose life as competition with others rather than as competition with self in order to be fulfilled. There were others (FBI, police, 1st responders, physicians, etc) who chose to compete with self to achieve inner fulfillment as they met NEEDS during the mayhem. These heard the same God that preceded Jesus’ God!
Jesus was like these who competed with self rather than with others in Pittsburgh and Florida. But did you notice the power for mayhem or order was in individuals? God’s power was in one person, Jesus, to get all folks to observe and listen to that which made them true. Just as did those folks who existed prior to Jesus. God has always been the same! If God were different and worked by dominating self-control, God surely would have sent millions of angels to overwhelm and guarantee we live God’s Kingdom way of existing. But one person’s ability to compete with self to be fulfilled prevails over many individuals competing with others. Lest we forget this power of one, let us be sure to compete with self and vote next Tuesday for persons who compete with self to be true, rather than vote for those who compete with others and are thus less than true. Remember, humans have always had the power of God! Observe it; use it!