Clothed in the Spirit

Clothed in the Spirit

Impossible? No, not if we open our hearts to what is truly real, not what is materially real. Isaiah remarks that we should try to revive the spirit of the humble. Humility is difficult in these times, when one is considered a failure if he is not a person of material wealth. I, personally, would be happier with spiritual wealth. We do not take our material wealth with us when we die. That is factual; what we don’t know is what happens to our spiritual life. This is what faith means in the end. Humility is not thinking that we are the center of life; we are only important when we join with others for the benefit of humanity.

Isaiah goes on to mention we should also revive the heart of the contrite. One definition of contrite is humble, another is repentant. Our prayers mention how repentant we are in Jesus’s name. Too many of us just recite these words from rote memory. I watch people in church recite these words while checking their cell phones. Contrition is not on view in these people’s faces or hearts. My other observation is that maybe it is not necessary to revive the heart of the contrite. By practicing contrition, we are, in fact, strengthening our hearts, our inner core. My heart never feels stronger that when I truly admit my repentance for self-exalted ego, or thinking I have done a great job, when all God wants is for me to love and be brotherly.  

In John’s gospel, the following is offered: “If I have told you about earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you about heavenly things?” We have to see thing to believe them. I say that maybe we do not. I have been in the delivery room when my children were born, but I have never seen a foal at birth, but I know it happens, because I can see the new colt. I have never seen the waters creating the beautiful landscapes in the river valleys, but I see the beauty, so I know it has occurred. I also see the beauty of God’s world, His creation, and have felt His grace. I do not need to see God to see these beautiful parts of my life; so, how can I deny the existence of God, of the heavenly things Jesus speaks of, even if I have never seen heaven. The other thought is heaven. Heaven is Eden. It is the perfect place.

I pray that we can all be more spiritual in this confusing world we have created. May our hearts be open and humble to God’s gracious care and comfort. May we understand that we are led by His glorious presence in our lives.

 

Enemy-Occupied Territory

My spirit lives with God

My trust is unwavering

He strengthens my resolve

Although my antagonists are great

and censure my faith

I walk in His light

not fearing the blindness of men.

I am blessed by His trust in me

The desolate valley of my dwelling

I fear not, for my enemies are powerless

in the abundance of God’s grace.

I pray for the steadfast trust of Joseph

recognizing God’s mandate

to live in safekeeping while dwelling

in enemy-occupied territory

Eternal Life

Whomever believes in Him has eternal life. What is this promise? Do we live forever? I look at it this way: we are two people wrapped in one. Our mortal body wears out and eventually dies, but our spiritual life, what we call the soul, is eternal. The sooner we realize this, the happier we will be. We are living in enemy-occupied territory; everything around us defies the wishes of God, the wishes of Jesus Christ.

The way we live our life, according to God’s will, determines our smooth journey to God’s loving arms when our mortal bodies expire. We are all God’s children and are accepted by God for whom we are, but our life in devotion to His will makes us a more complete person for ourselves and for others to emulate.

The author of Numbers reminds us that as humans, we are subject to impatience. I am experiencing this now; the recovery after surgery is slow and I despise this. But God has slowed me down to take the time to heal and to meditate on what the rest of my life will be like to serve God and to serve each other.

This author continues by telling us that the Israelites asked why they were taken from Egypt only to suffer and die in the wilderness. We are living in the wilderness, but God is with us to keep us safe and healthy in our  own wilderness, as He was with the Israelites. Let us sing our praises in thanks for God’s wonderful patience and steadfast love for us. Let us revel in this beautiful relationship.

 

 

 

Possessions

What do we truly own? No matter how wealthy we think we are, our possessions mean nothing to us after we leave our mortal bodies to return home to God. For this reason, I have adopted the concept that I can do nothing out of greed, conceit, or selfish ambition. What I have is a gift from God and cannot be garnished for my own use. There are many people in this world who need more than I need; there are many people in this world more worthy than myself. I have sworn to look to the interests of others, instead of thinking how my actions benefit me.

What I have comes from God; I may think that I have worked hard to be where I am, but I am where I am for the grace of God. I have promised to treat others as family and turned my heart to the needs of those around me. I believe that this is God’s wish for me in my remaining years as a mortal man. When I rise, I thank the Lord for the blessing of the new day, knowing that His light shines upon me and all his children. Even though a darkness seems to be settling across the world with gloom and worry occupying minds, I know that the glory of God will prevail. Nations may be on the wrong path, with this path leading to violence, but the darkness will pass; it always does. When it does, a new world rises, closer to God’s wishes.

People laugh when I say this, but the alternative is too dark to believe in. the goodness that God offers will re-appear to humankind. Without it, we will perish. As the psalmist asks God, “Send out your light and your truth, that they may lead me, and bring me to your holy hill and to your welling” (Psalm 43:3). The spirit of God is with us; all we must do is recognize this as an unavoidable presence within us.

The knowledge I have is a gift; a gift that I cherish and share with those around me. Before my ministry really took hold, I thought I was a success as a teacher and then a college professor. The praise I received meant a lot to me. However, now I understand that what I offered as a teacher, came from God. He made me the teacher I was and still am, and even though I no longer tread the halls of higher education, He has taught me to share the wisdom I have with others through the words I write.

I trust what I have been given, and I trust that my sharing this will benefit many people. In my daily work as a teacher and now in the church I attend, I have not sought the leadership position; this always seemed to me to be more of a titular position. I have always been able to work to support what I think is important to my congregation. I learned this humility through discernment and studying how men and women greater than myself sought a better world for humanity. My prayer is that God will allow me to continue in my ministry, as I pray the same for others.

Voice

Listen for His Voice

His word enlightens my path

He guides my feet to goodness

He surrounds me

He is the focus of my existence

His voice is my strength and joy

I serve Him with gladness

I am victorious listening, for

His voice shortens the time

I am in darkness

When I falter,

I fall upwards

into His arms

His truth is my life

The Psalmist writes:

“For the Lord is Good,

His mercy is everlasting.”

God’s Love is for All

God’s Love is for All

The same message is in Luke and Deuteronomy for this Sunday’s readings; we must look deeper into the meaning to know God’s love. Jesus admonishes us “. . . none of you can become my disciple if you do not give up all your possessions. This is a stiff requirement to follow Jesus. Give up everything; Jesus mentions ties to family; wow! Most of us will not turn our backs on our families.  Our Christian upbringing teaches us that love and care of family is paramount in our pleasing God.

It does seem possible to do both; we cannot ignore our upbringing in the church and follow Jesus. In Deuteronomy, Moses presents the Israelites with the Ten Commandments, which require us to honor our father and mother. The commandments come from God; yet God is telling us to give up all to follow Him. It is no wonder that there are so many people confused by what God wants us to do.

I want to look at this philosophically. When I married, I left my parents to follow a different path. Yet, I still honored them. If I had been so inclined to enter the ministry, would have left my parents to follow God. In both instances, I gave up my ties to my birth family. But, by raising my children in the church, I was following the path that God set out for me. If I look at it this way, I am faithful to both the Ten Commandments and the call of Jesus for me to follow Him, God.

I sometimes think that our religious communities place stumbling blocks to faith before us. I believe that Jesus’s message is to remove these stumbling blocks and accept all people of faith who respond to the extraordinary love of God. It is God’s gratitude that calls us to faith; God opens the door for us to travel His lighted path, accepting all His children, enabling us to deepen our relationship with this Loving God and our relationships with each other.

We are here because of His Love and Mercy; His grace allows us to experience the eternal life that only He can give. I pray that this higher mercy than we can ever truly know will open our hearts to the people that do not look or pray as we do. We need to reach for the higher good that God invites us to share. This world does not belong to us; it belongs to God. I pray we can leave this world to allow our children a better, safer future, basking in the light and love of God.

 

The Word

In the beginning was the Word,

and the Word was with God,

and the Word was God

 

The Word provides

know Creation

which is mystery

almost imperceptible.

Abandon arrogance

stand in awe of the Word

recover meditation, prayer

relearn truth, love, and grace

ask and seek.

Allow our hearts to grow

Receive the Word as a newborn

believe in the one

large than self

learn holistic truth.

Seek eternal Love in the Word

renounce popular theories

unworthy of attention.

Seek the mighty something

within the Word

our gifts are of the Word

longing to be shared.

Consider your own call

to truth, to life.

Be vulnerable

expose our weaknesses

to fruitful truth

achieve liberation

from the night sky

filled with the Word’s truth.

Become a prophet

speak Truth

speak the Word

share our natural gift

using the Word.

Look to the Word

when confronted

by fear, disappointment.

The Word unburdens

lights our path

expands our hearts

become inseparable

the quantum knowledge

universal Word

which forgives our debts

and other’s debts to us.

Shake off illusion

step from the shadows

into the light

accept the sacrament of forgiveness

spread the sacrament of forgiveness.

Be in the Word

the Word is in you

from the Giver of the Word

 

 

 

 

 

 

Messenger

Be a Messenger of Truth

all truth-loving faith traditions engage

fruitful dialogue enriches

both sides open to peace

like a flower blooming in morning sun

spread the good news

join the faithful community

ignore those who denounce

reject mis-interpretive factions

awaken to truth

align life with goodness, mercy

respect all who follow God’s words

His truth is universal, knowing not one religion

seek justice, peace

testify to God’s love

be a messenger of Truth, Love, Grace

walk the lighted path

replace chaos with charity, order, unity

do not follow jealousy, prejudice

allow others to inherit truth

awaken from sleep,

look honestly at self,

await His signs.

Atonement

Atonement

We dismiss those less fortunate as ourselves to be the other. Fear the other. They are different from us; avoid them, lest they get their affliction on us. Both the Old Testament and the New Testament tell us not to be this way; both sections of our Bible tell us that God’s will is for us to welcome the stranger, the poor, the naked, the homeless, into our home as a long-lost relative, a member of the household.

The prophets write in Deuteronomy, “If there be among you a poor man of one of thy brethren within any of thy gates in thy land which the LORD thy God giveth thee, thou shalt not harden thine heart, nor shut thine hand from thy poor brother.” (15:7) Note the word brother; this connotes a close relationship; one we cannot avoid if we are to live in the Grace of God. We are not prone to allowing our biological brother or sister suffer. We would be abhorred by our neighbors and friends if we did so.

This poor, naked, hungry, homeless person is our biological relative. We share ninety-eight percent of our DNA with all humankind. Unfortunately, we can only see how different we are. My philosophy is that we are only different on the outside, so we can recognize each other by name. Imagine what life were to be like if we were stripped of our skin, and all we can see is the naked muscle and bone that keeps us erect. Then, how would we treat the other. There would be no other.

My favorite Old Testament prophet, Isaiah, writes this, “Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh?” (58:7) – “Thine own flesh” – think about what this means. We share our God-given flesh with all humankind. As Jesus teaches us: what we do to others, we do to ourselves. We feel the pain. Some of us spend a lifetime trying to hide from it. But we all feel the pain of the poor family sitting on the roadside, begging for a few coins to feed themselves.

When I can, I share a few dollars with them; I feel guilty that I am unwilling to welcome them into my home. I also feel guilty when I am not close enough to give them a few dollars. This is my feeling their pain. This is me, feeling the disgust that we, the richest society history has ever seen, allows part of our own flesh suffer, being naked, homeless, hungry.

Isaiah’s words are an admonition to us. I imagine what a religion would look like that accepts and feeds all of the people we share our flesh with. There are those in our world who try their best to give a helping hand to these poor relatives. Unfortunately, there are more who shunt them. I would love all religions to accept that we are all one body; we suffer when one suffers; we hunger when one hungers. My religion is no better or worse than your religion; both try to live by the word of God, regardless of what name we call Him. If we truly joined to treat all humanity, and all living things, while we are at it, with the love and caring that God wishes, maybe, just maybe, we could be that society stripped of its outer layer of skin, showing that we are all the same.

That’s my sermon of the morning! Share Love, it comes from God.