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Monday, May 14, 2018

IT WORKS!

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Does God Love You?

        
I came across an article this week written by one of the mega-church pastors that said what people want to know is that “God loves them.  God forgives them.” … and in so many words, then they can go on with their lives.  My initial response was “forgives them” for what?  Are there that many people who think they need to be forgiven for something that they fill the pews of mega-churches across the country?  And to the question as to whether G-d loves them or not, it is simple enough to know; do you love yourself?  If you do, then G-d loves you too.  If people go around thinking that they are a bad person or a person who does bad things, then they need to clear up their consciousness by making amends to the people and things they can and change their ways and in this they will find forgiveness.  There is no god that can forgive us as only we can “give up” those things that create a negative idea about ourselves in our mind.

              I have often see the bumper-sticker “Christians aren't perfect, just forgiven” and it always makes me laugh but a little sad as well.  For people to think that it takes someone outside of their own consciousness; i.e. G-d or Jesus, or whomever, to forgive us is foolishness.  We are in the image of G-d.  G-d is not in the image of mankind.  We are Spirit, Life and Intelligence.  We have the intelligence to know when we need to “correct” something in our lives.  All that is necessary is the choice to do so and the conviction to see it through until old negative habits are displaced by a renewed enlightenment.

               The other thing I have noticed that has increased tremendously over the past few years are the number of Christians who state that they are being persecuted.  Not in Saudi Arabia or Iran or Muslim dominated countries, but here in the United States.  Few of these people take the time to stop and realize that the only religion that has National recognition of their holy days in America is Christianity.  Every non-Security government agency shuts down on Christmas no matter what day it falls on.  As do all businesses.  The Stock Exchanges are closed on Good Friday.  No other religion is given this same recognition in the U.S.  And this isn’t based on history as the first settlers in America did not celebrate Christmas.  It is through religious political power.  Christians should be glad that we have a Santa Claus and an Easter Bunny hiding Easter Eggs, because without these I am certain that Christmas and Easter would have faded tremendously in popularity decades ago.  And the political power of the religious organizations would have diminished tremendously along with it.

              But, for now, religion is still the main beat of the drum and so people who really fail to evolve in their spiritual awareness continue to attract massive numbers of followers … and wealth.  Joel Osteen is a very likeable guy and a sincere one and to most people he is a cut-above the typical Evangelical-type pastor.  But even his messages are filled with the “god out there somewhere” theology:  From Joel Osteen’s message “It’s All Good
”:  Are you going through a difficulty today and wondering if God is there? Life is full of things we don’t like or understand. But God won’t allow a difficulty unless He’s going to somehow use it for our good. In this encouraging message, Joel is going to show you how to trust God in all things! You see, God can see the big picture for our lives. He promises in Romans 8:28, “All things work together for good to those who love the Lord.” Not some things, but all things. That means the pain, the loss, when a dream doesn’t work out, when a loved one betrays us, even in in our darkest hour, God has a plan. You’ll learn how to pray bold prayers and stay focused. No man controls your destiny; God does!”

            
The Truth is, we control our own destiny and it would be a capricious god that would dominate us and take away our freedom of choice.  There is no such god.  Our difficulties are not of G-d’s making but our own momentary lapses of using our intelligence to not realize the consequences of what we say or do.  Osteen is correct that Life is full of things that we don’t like or understand but his mistake is in teaching that G-d allows or disallows something to happen in our experiences.  An illustration of this would be that G-d is a Puppet Master and we are mere puppets.  Everything that happens to us is based on our choosing; what we believe, what we think, what we say and what we do.  All of these involve personal choice.



            For many people, what they think goes not further than the imposed ideas and beliefs they appropriate from others.  And for many these imposed ideas and beliefs come from their friends and religious affiliations.  The New York Times has an article titled “Friendship’s Dark Side: ‘We Need A Common Enemy” written and researched by Natalie Angier.  Here is an excerpt from the article: “…. researchers who explore the deep nature of friendship admit the bond can have its thorns, bruise spots and pesticide traces.

        Take the new evidence that people choose friends who resemble themselves, right down to the moment-to-moment pattern of blood flow in the brain. The tendency toward homophily, toward flocking together with birds of your inner and outer feather, gives rise to a harmonious sense of belonging and shared purpose, to easy laughter and volumes of subtext mutually, wordlessly, joyfully understood.
          But homophily, researchers said, is also the basis of tribalism, xenophobia and racism, the urge to “otherize” those who differ from you and your beloved friends in one or more ways.”

            Interesting article.  It reminds me of another article I read several weeks ago regarding a poll of people who attend church and the number one reason they said they attended church was to “socialize with like-minded people.”  It wasn’t for the love of G-d or to worship G-d, although that was the second most popular response, but to be around people like them.  It reminded me of when I visited my family in Missouri and my mother and I went to a Christian Church, fairly large for small town Mexico, Missouri and there were no people of color in the church audience.  The next Sunday I went to a Baptist Church with a Black congregation and was asked to speak at the podium as at the time I was in ministerial training with Dr. O. C. Smith in Los Angeles and the Pastor of the church was so impressed by this that he wanted me to speak.  It took only a minute or two for the audience to respond to my words and it was one of the best times of my life.  I was so impressed that the Pastor was willing to let someone who he knew was “different” speak to his congregation.  This is not the norm in most churches.


           This wanting to be around people who look like us and think like us has been true throughout history.  In primitive times this created tribal patterns.  Artists realized this when they began to create paintings of religious figures like Jesus, Moses and other biblical persons.  The same is true of those who created paintings of Buddha, Krishna and others.  This attracted those who maintained this “tribal” consciousness.  Mega churches are a reflection of this “tribal” consciousness and have been very successful in attracting those who desire being surrounding by others like them.  This has caused some Western Christians to see Jesus with blonde hair and blue eyes.  At some level they know this is not true but perception is not always based on reality. 

           A friend of mine sent me a video that provides a humorous,
but truthful, illustration of this:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=APMu32sC2nM
           Finally, does G-d love you?  Yes, just as much as you do!

And so it is!
AMEN.      

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Jesus, not forgotten

            It is wonderful timing that Good Friday, Passover and Easter coincide this year.  This is not always the case and in some years they are several days apart.  The reason I feel it is wonderful is that we can celebrate the courage, conviction and faith of the Master Mind Jesus and all those who gifted us, along with Moses, with a reason to celebrate Passover throughout all of these holidays.  Jesus was Jewish and lived his entire life as a Jew and so he observed Passover and that is a given. As someone who has read Hugh Schonfield’s “The Passover Plot”, Bart Ehrman’s “Misquoting Jesus” and Reza Aslan’s “Zealot:  The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth”, I am still in awe of the consciousness of the Master Mind Jesus that he is still commanding attention, controversy and worship.  I am not religious and so I have no imposition upon me as to what or what not to believe about his life.  In fact, I recently reiterated to a long-time friend that I respect the “positive elements” of all religions.
           The Resurrection celebrated on Easter Sunday gives rise to that within each of us who desire to resurrect some aspect of our life to that which brings us peace; our health, our relationships, our finances, success, and so forth.  It is not necessary that we follow a religion in order to benefit from the time spent in sacred silence supporting our inner desire for resurrection of our happiness and peace.

              The amazingly wonderful Dr. Domenic Polifrone gifted us with this spiritual affirmation for Easter and Passover:
I AM the Resurrection and the Life. Halleluiah!
Resurrection to me is enjoying richness and abundance of a new life. As I open my life to the continual flow of Divine ideas they spring forth from within. These ideas come from God, and God is Good all the time. Knowing this to be the truth, I am strong and resilient. Right now I open my spiritual vision to see Divine order. I give thanks for the opportunities available to me.
I AM the Resurrection and the Life. Halleluiah!
In the book of Exodus 3:14 God said “I am that I am” and this infallible truth has sustained millions through the ages.  With patience and confidence, I commit to feeling grounded and secure in Him and in every decision that I make. Now, I have time to fully align with Spirit's guidance and direction. Gratitude fills me as my blessings come to mind. I am like a seed, ready to yield more love, health and prosperity. “In the glorious splendor of your majesty and on your wondrous works, I will meditate.”  Psalm 145:5
I AM the Resurrection and the Life. Halleluiah!I share my joy by expressing it in all that I do or say. Divine ideas and solutions now come forth with ease. Each one of us is the victorious expression of God as we march forward in this triumphant resurrection. I give thanks for this rich demonstration that is taking place in my life right now. Matt 6:17 “Let your light shine before men that they might see your good works and give thanks to your Father that is in Heaven.”
I AM the Resurrection and the Life. Halleluiah!
and so it is.


              I am going to share with you, with commentary, “The Sermon on the Mount: The Beatitudes” which is the heart and soul of the Master Mind Jesus’ teachings:
Matthew Chapter 5 King James Version Bible (KJV) And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him: And he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying, Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted. [they shall be comforted as they accept the Truth that we are of G-d and in G-d and our Spirit is eternal; death is a transition to New Life] Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth. [the meek are teachable and shall gain the enlightenment; something that those who are arrogant or with their minds closed shall never experience] Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled. Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God. 10 Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11 Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. 12 Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you. [it never matters what others say about us; right thinking or righteous maintained in our mind shall provide us with the consciousness that knows that the only thing that is important is what we think of ourselves] 13 Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men. 14 Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. 15 Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. 16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. 17 Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. [He is referring to the Ten Commandments which are spiritual laws that keep mankind civilized and in tune with "do unto others as you would have others do unto you''; He is not referring to the cultural laws that were created by mankind] 18 For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. 19 Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven. 21 Ye have heard that it was said of them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: 22 But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire. [in other words, our mind will be filled with such misery and injustice that we will feel like we are in hell] 23 Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; 24 Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift. 25 Agree with thine adversary quickly, whiles thou art in the way with him; lest at any time the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison. [don't argue or get into confrontations with people; be willing to hold your tongue and walk away when necessary; remember all that matters is what you believe within your mind; there are people who will use us unmercifully if we let ourselves get into their drama] 26 Verily I say unto thee, Thou shalt by no means come out thence, till thou hast paid the uttermost farthing. 27 Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: 28 But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart. [our mind rules our life so what we think and feel is an actual experience for us] 29 And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell. [He is telling us to cast out of our mind anything that holds our attention to that which is negative or hateful and begin to see the good in life and in the world in which we live] 30 And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell. [don't hold onto things that cause you to feel guilt or shame; forgive your self and loose the hell caused by anxiety and depression that can lead to drug addiction or alcohol addiction or worse] 31 It hath been said, Whosoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorcement: 32 But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery. [in the era that He gave this teaching men could just throw their wives out of the house without any means of support or housing or ability to fend for themselves; and He is speaking also about those who would take advantage of these desperate women; this has nothing to do with modern day divorce with Community Property laws, palimony and alimony for both men and women] 33 Again, ye have heard that it hath been said by them of old time, Thou shalt not forswear thyself, but shalt perform unto the Lord thine oaths: 34 But I say unto you, Swear not at all; neither by heaven; for it is God's throne: 35 Nor by the earth; for it is his footstool: neither by Jerusalem; for it is the city of the great King. 36 Neither shalt thou swear by thy head, because thou canst not make one hair white or black. 37 But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil. [I was on a jury review once and a man told the judge that he couldn't swear on the Bible and he couldn't judge because he was a Christian; this is not true according to the teachings of Jesus where we "judge with righteous judgment" based on facts and we say yea or nay without offering our "opinions" and judge the facts alone] 38 Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: 39 But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. [this is not a passive teaching but a commonsense one; revenge in our mind poisons our body and mind; we should look at each situation in a different way and try to come to a solution for all involved] 40 And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also. 41 And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain. 42 Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away. [this is a hard teaching for many people but He is telling us that if we keep faith with G-d we can give without fear of loss] 43 Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. 44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; 45 That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? 47 And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so? [this teaching is just as relevant today; we may not have enemies but far too many of us have people that we don't love because religion and politics have made us very tribal; we love those who look like us, believe like us, etc. but there is nothing spiritual about this state of mind] 48 Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” [know that we are all a work in progress and don't sweat the small stuff]
            I am sure most of you have determined that not all that is included in this Sermon is positive and lovely.  Let us not forget the era in which it was written (AD 80-AD 90).  This was almost 100 years after the physical death of the Master Mind Jesus.  Do we know if these words were the actual words used by the Master Mind Jesus?  No.  But, we do know that these words are consistent with the teachings of both the Jewish and Christian faiths during that period of time.  If we allow ourselves to focus on those words which speak to the eternal and changeless Truth that G-d Is Love then we shall be more the better for them.

Keep the faith!
Henry Lee Bates
(Reverend Dr.)