Posts tagged ‘Bible’

Religion and Christianity

Jesus on the Cross

Image via Wikipedia

Religion and Christianity are neither synonymous nor mutually exclusive. If religion is the outward manifestation of a person’s belief system, then any number of behaviors – those both of morality and ritual – that are identified with the followers of Christ would be identified as part of the religion of Christianity. What one must question is whether such behaviors are in fact founded in the teachings of the early Church and It’s “founder” Jesus the Christ. We also must bear in mind that the Scripture of Christ’s day was in fact the Old Testament writings and that the collective wisdom of shared rituals across the communities of the Early Church point to the importance of honoring Tradition and the entire Bible. With proper respect for these factor, it becomes quite obvious that being a Christian requires that we rely exclusively neither upon just the New Testament nor a single pastor’s interpretation of Holy Scripture. Also, no Christian faith disputes that salvation is ours to accept through the mercy and grace of Jesus the Christ. What people get confused about is the concept of justification. Some think that having salvation, they are guaranteed to be united face-to-face with their Creator. This is not so and the Bible makes it quite clear. Accepting salvation brings us through a door into the Light, but we must still walk in The Way to reach communion with God. While it may make no sense that anyone who believes in the Passion would not walk that path, some do not or, rather, do not stay on the path because they are not diligent. Most often diligence is lacking first and foremost in a desire to keep learning. Growing spiritually requires it.

How to Love Stupid People

warning about stupidity

Image via Wikipedia

I first must make clear that ignorance is a lack of knowledge, skills, or understanding. While stupidity is often interchanged with the word ignorant, its theoretical meaning differs vastly. The outcome of both may produce the same actions, but stupidity is in fact a character defect rather than a condition. Both may prevail unceasingly until death, but the latter is far more difficult to eradicate. Stupidity in the sense that I mean it here is better equated with a lack of willingness, a mental attitude that dismisses evidence and experience and reason, the source or sister to insanity – that being the repetition of destructive or self-destructive acts with the expectation that the consequences of one’s actions will magically lose their destructive force and may in fact result in the opposite. Ignorance is relatively easy to remedy – feed the mind and the rest will follow. Stupidity however requires patience, fervent effort, and diligence. To step beyond stupidity requires a deep humility, so deep as to see ourselves exactly for who we are with no judgment at all – positive or negative. Many are not capable of such honesty. Second, before I continue, I want you the reader to know that neither ignorance nor stupidity can be generalized to every part of a person’s being. So, like my co-contributors (as you’ll see this theme elsewhere), I could never truthfully or with good conscience call a person stupid or ignorant, except rarely perhaps if I qualified in what manner or area. For we are all stupid and ignorant in some manner to some degree at different points in our life.
Now, why is such clarification necessary? It is needed because it is a groundwork upon which we may develop empathy, grow in our ability to forgive, find serenity and live with joy. Never have I come to a point of perfection in these goals, but also never have I gotten a start without first building on my understanding of my own and others’ ignorance and stupidity in any situation. Furthermore, failing to do so has sadly led me to act “unrighteously” with a self-righteous attitude more than once. Recently our prayer group discussed how to handle being accused of something unfairly by someone in fact guilt of what they accused you. Sometimes we hold certain persons to higher expectations because of their intelligence or their charisma. We think they ought to know better. We must remember that we’ve all been privy to experiences uniquely our own and each experience affects how we assimilate learning from the next. Therefore, even two children brought up in the same household with the same parents in what seems much the same way experience life differently and therefore do not share exactly the same knowledge, skills, and understanding. So back to the issue our group discussed, I do not wish to focus on the details but just to offer some general thoughts. Without a doubt, knowing little of most people’s lives, it behooves me for my own peace of mind to assume that a person acts unkindly out of ignorance rather than stupidity. Afterall, I have a much better chance of positively influencing them and less reason to take their actions personally.
So, it is important to bear in mind that the strength with which one conveys her/his convictions or the hurtful manner in which s/he delivers them does not negate the presence of ignorance. In fact, it proves it all the more. For a person who is not ignorant of how to be assertive has not reason to be anything but assertive, for in communication nothing is gained and more is lost by aggression, passive-aggression and passivity than by assertion. And since it by communication that we relate, a most necessary aspect of our humanity and our spiritual growth, a person not ignorant of assertion would choose to be assertive. Only someone with no interest in spiritual growth or righteousness AND yet with knowledge of how to be assertive who chooses to act in an unassertive manner could be found entirely at fault in choosing to thus communicate. Of course such a person would likely not care enough to consistently be assertive, for they would likely not care about the rights of others and neither would they likely care what anyone thought of their choices. In such a case though, does not Jesus advise us two things? One, we are told to set right in their pathway those of our OWN Christian community and then only according to the administration of justice upheld by our community. Two, where the gospel is rebuked, we are to shake even the dust of where we have tread from our feet. On a final note I must say, if I persist in choosing to feel slighted by others’ ignorance, I am stupid. Now, certainly, much more could be said on this subject, but I think we have found an adequately place to let the issue rest. God be with you.

On One Thief I Wait – poem

"Satan Sowing Seeds" by Felicien Rop...

Image via Wikipedia

The poem below reflects my thoughts on The Holy BiblePsalm 49: 4-9 and Matt 24: 37-44.

This poem was first published December 09, 2010 at and last updated there March 18, 2011. The version below reflects further revision. Please respect copyright.

On One Thief I Wait

Why should I tremble as darkness falls
when thieves of worldly riches strike?
That I should be unburdened would be a blessing
for they cannot take my Light.
But I dare not slumber as night draws near
for on One Thief I wait with hope
that I might be a treasure worth retrieving
before the rage of Satan‘s reign bursts forth.
Catch me not napping when He tiptoes in
to steal the ready and the waiting,
the righteous and sinners forgiven both.
Good Thief, do not steal Yourself from me.
Gripped by this fear of losing Your love
I will rage, rage against the dying of the light.*
As long as I’m awake, there is no night.
For on One Thief I wait and will not slumber.

*Dylan Thomas

Words on the Words: Way, Truth, Life

“I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to Creator God except through me.” -The Holy Bible

The Way is the means to succeed.
Without the means, nothing is completed, attained, achieved.
The means are method, materials, and motivation.
The Way is the path, the journey, the direction, and the how.

The Truth, unchanging yet shaped by perspective, shall set you free.
To be free is to be without constraint or limit or price.
Truth, never easily perceived, reveals itself through faith.
Truth, never easily believed, reveals its worth through fidelity.

The Life is the example of righteousness and It’s reward.
Life is color, vibration, purpose, meaning, energy, reality.
Life is the source and summation of sustenance.
Breath, water, light, nourishment, and love sustain.

Christ told us the greatest commandment is love. Love is The Way, The Truth, and The Life. What is without love is without God.

From Peak to Plains: Keeping a Spiritual High Alive

Stained glass at St John the Baptist's Anglica...

Image via Wikipedia

So, the retreat or conference is over.  Are you experiencing a let-down?  I know how you feel.  I’ve been there.  You feel reassured and renewed.  You are filled with new hope.  You are inspired.  You are enthusiastic.  You feel comforted and loved and warm and fuzzy.  You don’t feel so overwhelmed.  You feel more confident.  You trust.  You believe.  You are glowing just a bit, maybe even allot.  People notice – you seem different somehow.  Well, you did.  It’s fading.  That special time is over.  You’ve been plunked back down on the Time-Out Chair of your life.  You want to do the next right thing.  You want to make amends.  You want to make a difference.  You don’t want to forget.  You want live for God.  You feel pushed and pulled.  You feel…let down.  Yet, you don’t want to let God or yourself down.  You are crying out, “How, now?”  You are listening.  You are not so unique as you might think in how you are feeling right now.  I want to share with you how I’m taking it from the peak to the plains instead of the pits.  Please follow along and share your thoughts and questions.

Even though I experienced some painful moments while attending the Women of Faith Imagine conference in November 2010 at the Sprint Center of Kansas City, Missouri, I experienced a fabulous high.  Strip away all of the inspiring music, drama and speakers and you still have an arena of women who love God surrounding you.  Strip them away and allow me to be an audience to just the speakers or performers and I’m still filled with chills.  Strip everything away and leave me in my hotel room on a comfy bed with my Bible and I’m still richly blessed by a vacation from responsibilities, relationship challenges, and the realities of daily existence.  Screech!  Reentry jolts you back, replacing clarity with confusion and meeting resolve with resistance.  Any change represents loss.  If you start by minimizing the trauma, you reduce the energy you’ll need for grieving.

You can best preserve what you’ve gained from your spiritual experience by reflecting on a few key points.  Nothing good or bad lasts forever in this temporal ,material world of ours.  Emotions, the fabric of our humanity, are fleeting.  Remember that in Mark 9, the disciples wanted to camp out in the light and warmth on the peak, but Jesus led them down right into a crowd of people in need.  If you have felt a spiritual high, had a spiritual experience, you are changed.  However, how and when that change becomes apparent is dependent on many variables including how easily we can unseat the unhealthy patterns of acting that need coaxing out of their comfort zone in our brains.  Rarely is a resolution miraculously achieved, so bear with yourself patiently as you progress, sometimes three steps forward and two steps back.  Realize that our culture in general does not regularly encourage us in the practice of Christian principles or traditions, so seek support from like-minded persons or at least one soul-supporter.  Setting time aside for a spiritual practice that draws us into communion with God and “checking in” with someone who will encourage us will prove immensely valuable as we try to transition from holy hoopla to anointed action.

Now, here’s a practical suggestion to take it from the peak to the plains – bring to mind an “a-ha” moment from your experience and sum it up in one sentence.  Write it on several index cards, cut to size, and post them in places you encounter frequently – inside the cupboard door where you keep your cups and glasses, above the toilet paper roll, in your desk drawer next to the pens, etc.  Whenever you encounter one of the cards, pause to say it out loud or at least to yourself.  Try to recall it at any quiet moment and speak it into existence.  Forgetfulness is a favorite friend of the Devil.  Your subconscious does not know the difference between true and false, so it will absorb and accept whatever you feed it.  Logically, I want my mind to accept the reality that I propose to create.  God gave me choice to be a co-creator.  My “a-ha” to focus for now is this – “I’m being called to perfect myself, not to be perfect before answering God’s call.”  How about you?

Scripture Search Challenge (immerse yourself in the power of the Word by looking up and reading these Biblical references):  1 Cor 1:8-9, Jer 29:11, Rom 8:39

Most Gracious and Wondrous Lord, we praise you still as we pad down this slippery slope, trusting that we shall find peace-everlasting on the plains of our lives renewed.  Spare us from the pits of pride and pessimism and revive in us a passion to do your will increasingly with every passing moment.  All this with pray in the name of Jesus the Christ, Son of God and Son of Man.  God Almighty, let it be.

Articles of Interest for Scriptural Study

The Bible

Image via Wikipedia

The meaning of what is written in The Holy Bible, and even what constitutes The Holy Bible, has long been a topic of considerable discussion and debate.  Below is an incomplete list of noteworthy online articles and blog posts regarding the interpretation and study of Holy Scripture.  I do not imply by the listing of each that I agree with or even have read every single word.  This list is provided as a resource, not an endorsement. At a later date, I may add other resources, as well.  I will update this post periodically and invite submissions, via “comment”, for consideration.  If you feel a resource should not be listed, please share your opinion and reasoning.

We Are Thieves

Illustration for Cheating

Image via Wikipedia

We are a web of existence.  Each act we choose eventually affects every other person.

For as long as we benefit from the righteous acts of others and fail to choose to act our most righteous,

we are taking more than giving,

receiving more than we deserve,

obtaining wealth dishonestly.

We may commit no blatant or obvious act of dishonesty or cheating,…

no crime for which we may be punished,

nothing for which we would be disgraced if found out…

but whenever we do not do our best, we’re cheating someone.

Whenever we make excuses for even our most minor faults, we’re being dishonest with others and ourselves.

Whenever we fail to put forth the effort to develop the gifts God’s given us, we are thieves!

And whenever in our pride we remain silent when we need help becoming the persons God wants us to be

or deny others the right to help us,

it is then we act most selfishly.