Thursday, November 10, 2011

Sinners in the Hand of an Angry God?

I began this blog by saying that going to a football game has become more exciting than going to church, and wondering how that could be. In so doing I came to the conclusion that we Christians don’t fully experience the reality of God’s presence in our lives. There are several reasons for this and I’ve discussed three of them. 1. Early church fathers didn’t allow the belief that we could have such an experience and succeeded in eliminating all the evidence that said otherwise. 2. The church, from its position as go-between, teaches a separation theology which infers that God exists in a heavenly realm set apart from man. 3. We don’t have a full understanding of the Holy Spirit and what it means that he is alive in us.
There is another reason which is just as debilitating. We’ve been taught to believe that we’re sinners in the eyes of a God who demands justice before reconciliation can be made. It’s very difficult to draw near and feel close to someone you think holds a grievance against you. Many Christians who’ve repented and claim to be forgiven don't seem to be sure they’ve done enough. There is historical tradition that fuels this uncertainty.

Fearing that his congregation was falling away from the faith, renowned 18th century theologian Jonathan Edwards began a revival in Northampton, Massachusetts that became known as the Great Awakening. In 1741 he set the stage for future fire and brimstone preachers by “awakening” the church to these fearful thoughts: 

O sinner! Consider the fearful danger you are in! You hang by a slender thread over a great furnace of fire held up by the hand of one whose wrath is provoked against you. It would be dreadful to suffer the fierce wrath of Almighty God for one moment; but you will suffer it for all eternity. There will be no end to this horrible misery. When you look to the future you will see a boundless duration lying before you. It will swallow up your thoughts, and amaze your soul. And you will absolutely despair of ever having any deliverance, any end, any rest at all. You will know with certainty that you must suffer for millions and millions of ages in accordance with God’s merciless vengeance. And then, when so many ages have been spent by you in this manner, you will know that it has only been a moment compared to what remains. The horror of your punishment will indeed last forever.

Authorized as church doctrine and offered for scholastic study in religious Colleges and Universities, this frightening message may sound overly dramatic today, but it hasn’t been easily dismissed from our culture. We still sing these words in my church every Sunday as we continue to speak the reality of our unworthiness into existence, thinking it will somehow excuse us and maybe soften the heart of God.

Lord of our shame. Lord of our sinful hearts.
I know I’m undeserving, so I get down on my face and call out to you.
Help me know you are near.
Here I am, knowing I’m a sinful man.
Naked and poor, wretched and blind I come
Break these chains. Wash these filthy stains.
Clothe me in white so I won’t be ashamed.

Is it any wonder we feel separate from a Holy God? Is it any wonder we go to church and pray to him, and sing to him, and listen to stories about him, and then leave without any feeling that we’ve been in his presence?  

In order to overcome the idea that we’re separate from God we’ve got to come to an understanding of two things. 1. We have created that idea ourselves, and 2. We can un-create it anytime we want to. We are separate from God only as a cup of water drawn from the ocean. As the water retains the true nature of what it was in the ocean, so we, drawn from God in the beginning, have retained the true nature of what we are in him. 

Imbued with the gift of creativity by God, we have created the separation we’re experiencing. Imbued with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, we’re beginning to see what we’ve done.  

Monday, October 31, 2011

The Times, They Are a'- Changin'

Come gather 'round people wherever you roam
Admit that the waters around you have grown
Accept it that soon you'll be drenched to the bone.
If your time to you is worth savin'
Then you better start swimmin' or you'll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changin'.

Come mothers and fathers throughout the land
and don’t criticize what you can’t understand
Your sons and daughters are beyond your command
Your old road is rapidly aging
Get out of the new one if you can’t lend a hand
For the times they are a-changin'.

Come senators, congressmen please heed the call
Don't stand in the doorway, don't block up the hall
For he who gets hurt will be he who has stalled
The battle outside is ragin'.
It'll shake down your windows and rattle your walls
For the times they are a-changin'.

I thought it might be appropriate to read these words again today. Bob Dylan wrote them in 1963 and boy was he right! The ‘60s were a time of change for many issues that defined our cultural identity. It may not have happened as quickly or as completely as we expected but fundamental systems were being exposed that needed attention - so many that it was sometimes hard to define it as a unified movement. As a result we discarded much of what we had inherited and wound up leaving a lot of things undone. Being a peace-love hippie myself I’ve often felt guilty about that. I feel a Iot better today seeing it all in hindsight. What we thought was the beginning was only the beginning of the beginning. Now we're seeing the real Beginning. The Sit-ins of the ‘60s have become the Occupy movements of today. Local Civil rights, Women’s Lib, Gay rights and anti-war protests were only the predecessors of a global awakening which now involves everything from government, political and financial institutions to environmental issues, energy development and health care. Nutrition is the latest thing to come under scrutiny. On top of everything else we’re realizing we’ve been poisoning ourselves with the things we eat. It seems as if every aspect of life is being readied for correction.

No one intentionally engineered the systemic collapses we’re facing today. We've created them ourselves little by little while watching Monday Night Football and Dancing With The Stars. The good news is if we created them we can also create something new. There weren’t as many of us in 1963. Today we are a global community connected by electronic media and social networking devices. Now the whole world is watching.

Unfortunately the Occupy Movements seem to have the same problem that we did in the ‘60s. There are so many things in our culture that need attention no one is able to voice a unified vision for the future. The reason for this is because there’s one other thing that needs to be corrected - the correction of which will solve everything. Our religious systems and the beliefs that support them must be reinvented. It’s been 2,500 years since the world’s great religions first started separating us. As Dr. Phil likes to say, “How’s that been working for you?”

A major shift is underway right now. The changes that are made in the years ahead may bring us to a new and wonderful place on this planet. In order for that to happen we need to accept the truth about our oneness with each other. For that to happen it is critical that we have a new understanding of our oneness with God. Once we find that, the other changes we want will happen by themselves. To put it another way, if we seek Him first everything else will be added.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

One With God

Jesus said many things in the Gnostic Gospels which show he had an understanding of the universe that only recently is being proven by Quantum Physics. Yet as we have seen, those sayings were discredited and systematically removed from the public record. Gnosis, based on our innate ability to access the spirit of God was strictly forbidden by early church fathers. The church didn’t get to be the oldest and most successful institution in the world by encouraging man to find God inside himself. I grew up believing that unless I confessed my sins to a priest God wouldn’t know about it. Yet in the gospel of Thomas, Jesus said, "If your leaders say to you, 'Look, the Father's kingdom is in the sky,' then the birds of the sky will precede you. If they say to you, 'It is in the sea,' then the fish will precede you. Rather, the kingdom is within you.” If the kingdom of God is within me that would explain my “innate ability” to connect with him. In light of what we’re learning about the interconnectedness of the universe we can begin to see why we have this ability, and why the bible says God created man in his own image. 

First Einstein discovered that everything was energy. As scientists move further and further down into the sub atomic levels they find a force which appears to be present even when energy vanishes. This force is best described as a field of information. It seems the ocean out of which energy arises is a sea of pure consciousness. Noted British astronomer and physicist Sir James Jeans said, "The universe begins to look more like a great thought than a great machine." This thought is the essence of all things - the one universal consciousness that created the universe. It is omniscient and omnipresent, and my consciousness is part of that consciousness. As was said in the Upanishads 8,000 years ago, “You are that”. When we begin to understand the truth of this we will be able to drop any idea of our separation from God - and any thoughts of unworthiness that accompany it.

Those who must reject these things because they are non-biblical will continue to have a difficult time experiencing oneness with God. If the evidence contradicts the written Word it is the evidence that must be thrown out. Thus the church is full of sincere people beseeching God and praying for him to “come”. Last Sunday our pastor told us we are strangers in this world and quoted 1 Peter which says, “Live out your time as foreigners here in reverent fear. Set your hope on the grace which will be brought to you when Jesus comes again.” Foreigners? Fear? Future hope? There is something very debilitating about this kind of thinking and I can no longer accept it. We don’t need to cast our hope on some future time in some better place. This world is our home. It is part of us. We didn’t come into it. We came out of it. It’s time for a new understanding about who we are and what we're here for. Thankfully the spirit seems to be awakening us to it. From the fundamentalist Muslim to the fundamentalist Christian - we're all the same in our oneness with God. Think for a minute what a belief like that could do if the human race could ever accept it.

I started this blog with the intention of examining our church experience in the hope of finding what was missing. What I have found is that, even though many Christians want a deeper, more intimate relationship with God, they don't find such an experience because the church doesn't model it. No matter what it teaches about the holy spirit, our felt experience is still that God is "up there"  and we're "down here". It is separation theology and it's not true. I don't say it is willful or malicious. I don't say that church founders weren't hearing from God nor that our pastors are intentionally keeping us in the dark. I only say we haven't learned the whole truth about God and shouldn't insist that we have. We must be open to continuing revelation, no matter how different it may be from what we are familiar with. If allowed to, spirituality will evolve like everything else. It may take some time for this understanding of oneness, but it will happen - even if Max Planck (founding father of quantum physics) is correct. He once observed that, “A new idea doesn't always triumph by making its opponents see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is more familiar with it”. One way or another, in this generation or the next - or the next, it will happen. Man has been lost long enough in the illusion of his separation from God and the world has begun to suffer serious consequences. The good news is, like the pigs' food did for the Prodigal Son, it's bringing us to our senses. Life is correcting itself. Something better is coming.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Meet Irenaeus and Athanasius

Irenaeus (130 A.D. – 202 A.D.)

Bishop of Lyons, France and early church father during the persecutions of Marcus Aurelius in the second century, Irenaeus became the principle architect of the four gospel canon of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Just as the prophet Ezekiel had envisioned God’s throne borne up by four living creatures, he boldly declared, “It is not possible that there can be either more or fewer than four”. What made the four gospels trustworthy, he claimed, is that their authors actually witnessed the events they related. Few New Testament scholars would agree with that claim, but Irenaeus compelled his followers to accept it.

The problem was, there were other sects of Christianity all over the Middle East and into Africa in those days, many who had different beliefs. Even members of his own flock were splintered into various groups, often quarreling, all of them claiming to be inspired by the Holy Spirit. How could he sort out all the conflicting claims and impose some kind of order? He began by ridiculing those who claimed to be investigating “the deeper things of God” and seeking revelation on their own. He undertook his massive, five-volume On the Detection and Overthrow of the So-Called Gnosis, vowing to track down all illegitimate writings which “have no truth, but are full of blasphemy” 

Yet Irenaeus recognized that even banishing heretical writings could not safeguard the Christian movement. What if someone read the right gospels the wrong way? What if well-meaning Christians could “cast truth aside” by spawning new heresies? This was happening even in his own congregation. So Irenaeus set out to construct even stricter guidelines for believers. It became heresy for anyone to assume they could discover truth about God by exploring their own experience. Christians had to accept his interpretation of the gospels as the only correct interpretation. Any who did would be called an “Orthodox” Christian – that is, one who thinks straight. He encountered resistance from those who said they had confessed the correct faith when they were baptized, but were following Jesus’ injunction to seek and find truth by which they could attain spiritual maturity. Irenaeus was appalled at such practice. Truth could only be attained by invoking the authority of the apostles from whom it was directly handed down. It therefore became a necessary requirement to obey the priests who followed in that line of succession. Irenaeus's instructions about which revelations to destroy and which ones to keep - and how to interpret them - became the basis for the formation of the New Testament. 

Athanasius (293 A.D. – 373 A.D.)

By the beginning of the 4th century Christianity had been declared a lawful religion and was tolerated throughout the Roman Empire. But within the Church, doctrine continued to be so unsettled, with bishop fighting against bishop, and believer fighting against believer, that the death toll actually exceeded that suffered during the persecutions. Word of the continuing dispute made its way to the newly converted Emperor Constantine the Great. "Division in the church," he told the bishops, "is worse than war." To settle the matter he convened The First Council of Nicaea in 325 A.D. Bishops and church leaders were invited to fix an official party line, and to declare an edict that all "Christians" must believe. They argued, fought, and eventually fleshed out a document of “correct belief” known as the Nicene Creed. Henceforth it became "unlawful for any man to bring forward, or to compose a different faith as a rival to that established by the Holy Fathers of the Church who assembled with the Holy Ghost in Nicæa." 

Among those assembled Holy Fathers was a short, dark-skinned Egyptian named Athanasius. Bishop of Alexandria for 46 years, he was a devout believer in a unified Christian orthodoxy, and a Church appointed “canonical” bible.The Church, by this time, had reached an informal consensus about which books would be included in the New Testament, but he was the first to officially declare them. That declaration appeared in his 39th Festal Letter written in the year 367 AD. “Since, however, we have spoken of the heretics as dead, but of ourselves as possessors of the divine writings unto salvation, I hearby set forth those writings that have been put in the canon and confirmed as divine, in order that everyone who has been led astray may condemn his seducers, and that everyone who has remained stainless may rejoice. In these 27 writings alone is the doctrine of piety proclaimed. Let no man add anything to them or take anything away from them”.
A champion of orthodoxy, Athanasius had helped lay the foundation of Church doctrine for millenniums to come. John Henry Newman described him as a "principal instrument, after the Apostles, by which the sacred truths of Christianity have been conveyed and secured to the world." Although he had many theological enemies, Athanasius had spent his life defending the Church against the onslaught of heretical teaching. In the end his enemies’ works were removed, condemned as heretical, and excluded from any ecclesiastical use.

In 381 Christianity was made the official state religion of the Roman Empire which insured its protection from further apostasy. 

Thursday, September 8, 2011

I Wonder Who Wrote The Word Of God?

I’ve been doing a lot of studying about early church history lately, trying to find out who decided what books would be in the Bible - a worthy undertaking I thought - after all, it is the Word of God. It has the final answer to questions about life, death, salvation, heaven, and hell. But who knew? All my life I’ve been told it was the Holy Spirit working through men. That always seemed a little too simplistic for me - and a little too convenient for the Church. Not only did it confer unquestioning authorship on God it also helped shroud the identity of the men who interpreted him for us. I wouldn’t mind, I have nothing against the Bible except the Church's tendency to take it literally, but the Holy Spirit apparently told them what things shouldn’t be in the Bible too - and that included the Gnostic Gospels. As a result a lot of insightful books about Jesus were forbidden, burned and successfully kept from public knowledge until the 20th century! Until 1946 in fact! A mere 65 years ago! Why? What was so threatening that they had to keep it from us? But that’s another question. A very important one, but right now I want to talk about who “they” were. Led by the Holy Spirit or not, it was men like you and me who made those decisions. It seems reasonable to want to know - who were these men who wrote the Word of God?

Before I start I need to clear something up. I’m a man who came to Jesus with a truly repentant heart and a desire to know God. I know without a doubt that he called me and that his Holy Spirit is in me - the Spirit that Jesus said would guide me into all truth. Lately I’ve been guided to a new understanding of scripture which the church says is not the right understanding. I’m supposed to believe someone else's understanding - someone who was guided by the Holy Spirit. Is the reason for my question becoming clear? I don't intend to blame anyone or find fault with what they believe - just to remind us that they were simply men doing what we can all do - listen to, and hear from God.  What they heard was what God needed them to know. What he revealed about himself was what they could understand. I have no doubt they were hearing from God. What isn’t clear is why they insist it was something for all people, for all time. If the Holy Spirit was sent to lead us, then he must still be leading us, and God must be revealing himself in ways we never could have known before. Maybe that’s why the Gospel of Thomas was hidden for so long. It's only now that science is able to show us what it means. There is great wisdom and truth in that Gospel for anyone who cares to look - things that align perfectly with what we’re learning about the reality of life and the nature of the universe we live in. The more I learn the more I realize I really am being "guided". And I believe it is toward the truth. The church may say the devil is doing it but that's impossible. The devil can't be where the spirit of God is. If the spirit of God is everywhere.......? But that too is a topic for another discussion.

What I'm going to do next time is name some names - not to discredit them - just to put faces on them so we recognize them as flawed men like all the rest of us trying to hear from God. It's time we knew these people from the early church who decided what The Word was - and what it wasn’t.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

“There’s Only One Of Us.”

Neale Donald Walsch said that and he’s right. Science is showing us that what we think of as “you” and “me” are really just parts of a whole - momentary flashes in a unified energy field blinking in and out like fireflies on a summer evening. This newly discovered oneness with the universe may seem somewhat impersonal and not all that comforting for someone who is fully vested in the illusion of their personality, but our personalities are not reality. In fact they separate us from reality. Thankfully we can (and do) discard them whenever we’re ready. But how did we get so caught up in the illusion of separation in the first place?

Long ago in the history of life on earth there was no awareness of “I am”. The first kinds of life were not able to distinguish in a clear way the “out there” experience from the “in here” experience. Somewhere on some dim, distant morning in time the first creature looked up at the sky and it occurred to him that he wasn’t that. He looked at the ground and the grass and he wasn’t that either. He was the thing that was looking at those things. He was different from them. He was different from everything he could see. He was himself. This was a momentous occasion in the evolution of life on our planet. Freud called it the development of the Ego. The bible calls it the Fall of Man. Both are right about one thing. It is a false reality. It hides our true nature and separates us from one another - and from God. 

As a young boy I wondered what would happen if somehow the cells in my arm decided they wanted to be independent and do their own thing. I figured my body wouldn’t function properly and my arm would turn blue. I would probably get sick. I figured that’s what happens when cancer cells develop - when the body no longer operates the way it was intended to. Thankfully, although we can get sick, the cells of our bodies usually don’t develop a consciousness that aspires to individuality. And so our bodies function according to their intended purpose. But it’s easy to look around and see what our belief in separation has done to the world. It has inspired and encouraged deceitful competition in all walks of life that no longer knows any moral restraint. It has bred division along racial, religious, and geopolitical lines which has caused jealousy, hatred, and war, and brought us to the edge of extinction. Jesus knew it was in the heart of man. But he also knew the oneness of our true nature - like him, part of that which created us. That’s why he told us to love our brother as ourselves. But it's up to us as a people to come to that awareness. No one is going to come down from heaven and rescue us. Our desire to maintain and defend our separateness from each other must be understood for what it is and what it has done to us.

We may have distanced ourselves from reality and gone astray as in a far country, but I see signs everywhere of people coming to their senses. Just like the prodigal son we are becoming dissatisfied with what the world offers and are looking for the way home. The good news is the father is waiting. He doesn’t care how long it’s been, where we were, why we left or what we’ve done. Because no matter who we think we are, the real reality is we’ve never been apart from him. We can’t be. There is only one of us.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The Cart Before The Horse

I’ve always taken a lot of heat for having questions about church doctrine that other people find easy to believe. I tried to explain why in an earlier blog. Now I’m hearing it for suggesting, although I’ve seen it for more than thirty years, that healing by the laying on of hands doesn’t occur often enough in the church. I guess I need to look at this a little more carefully. I really do believe what Jesus said about us being able to do what he did, and I look forward to the day when it becomes normal practice in the life of all Christians. Healing the sick is what we should be doing and I respect anyone who is seeking the gift. But for some reason the gift isn’t coming to us easily. I’m willing to admit that fact in hopes that we may find out what’s wrong and fix it.

Anyone who has attended a mega-healing-conference (I’ve been to several) knows what a small percentage of people - compared to the number in attendance - get healed of anything. Those who do are talked about and written about as proof of success as if it happens all the time. We want so much to feel the touch of God. We think if we heal the sick and raise the dead we’ll become more like Jesus, but in fact it’s the other way around. When we become more like Jesus we'll be able to heal the sick and raise the dead. It’s a classic case of the cart before the horse. Healing is not a gift - no matter what the church says - that you develop by trying it on people over and over until it works. There’s no evidence in the bible that Jesus had to practice, nor was he was ever unsuccessful when he prayed for someone. (Well maybe one time he had to pray twice). But praying in Jesus’ name just doesn’t seem to get the same results for us as it did for him. Something is missing. Let's see if we can find out what it is.

Hmmm. Jesus of Nazareth was a man just like us. The church says he was the only begotten Son of God. Is that why he was able to do miracles? I don’t think so. He knew who we were yet he still said we would do greater things. So that’s not it. Was he just wrong about that? I don’t think so. How could Jesus be wrong about something? Did he spend all those missing years studying before he prayed for the first leper? Maybe. I really do think (and there’s a lot of evidence to support it) that he spent some time in the East learning about things the Church doesn't tell us. But it’s not just that. Did he know something we don’t know? YES. There’s the elusive answer. He knew something we don’t know. He knew the truth about the relationship between God and man. There it is. That’s it. Jesus understood who he was in God - and we don’t. 

And so we need the Church to intercede for us. We have to ask for help from above and pray in Jesus' name because we don’t realize the authority we have in our own. Why? Because we’ve been told we’re sinners, separate and apart from a God who has the power and who may or may not give us some depending on how good we are. We have this relationship with God thing all wrong. He lives in us - and through us - just like he did with Jesus. He loves us the same way he loved Jesus. His power is available for us the same way it was for Jesus. The reason we can be like Jesus is simply because we are like Jesus. That’s the real good news. Jesus knew the way the universe worked and tried to tell us about it in the Gnostic gospels. We're just now starting to learn about the one-ness of life and how matter responds to consciousness. When these kinds of things becomes real to us we'll be able to change the course of disease and illness the same way he did. We have access to the same power. We're part of the same "one-ness".

Fortunately, as if by divine coincidence, just as the spirit of truth is beginning to awaken these things in us, science is beginning to prove them. We really are all one with the source. We are not separate from God. He doesn't exist in a heavenly realm somewhere apart from us. He is in us. He is in us because he is us. That’s the real untold truth of the Holy Spirit. And that's why Jesus said it would be better for us if he left. He knew as long as we depended on him we would never learn the amazing truth about ourselves. When that truth becomes our reality we will have a new understanding of everything. What the bible says about a God of love will make perfect sense in a whole new way. In fact everything we’ve been taught will make sense in a new way - even healing. Someday we’ll see it happening for us the same way it did for Jesus. He said it would. That’s all I want to see.

Then I promise not to question it anymore.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Can We Talk?

That’s what Joan Rivers says when she wants someone to get serious and be honest with her. I heard some things in church this morning that I need to get off my chest. Sorry if it departs from the intended continuity of this blog.

I got “saved” in June of 1982, so next year will be my 30th anniversary in the church. Add to that 12 years of Catholic school and it means I’ve been hearing about the Good News for two thirds of my life. I say this like Paul in order to qualify what I’m about to say. I’m a water-baptized, spirit-filled, bible-reading, tithing, homegroup-hosting, worship-leading, mission field-experienced Christian looking for evidence that we’re becoming like Jesus. In 42 years there should be some sign of that, shouldn’t there? It's true I don’t lose my peace as quickly when someone cuts me off on the parkway, but is that the best I can say? What I'm looking for is some victorious living in the body of Christ - people operating in the power and authority that Jesus promised and not just talking about it. Are we doing what it takes to see that happen? I have friends who struggle with chronic depression, debilitating physical conditions, and lifelong addictions. They've been in church all their lives and nothing they do seems to help them. People keep praying for them because a famous church leader once told us, "If healing doesn't come in 99 tries, try 100". I’m happy to hear about successes in Africa and Bolivia, but if healings are proof that we're moving into Christ-likeness then I'd like to see it happen for someone I know - at least someone who knows someone I know. Even if I don't see any healing miracles it would be nice to see a church full of genuinely joyful people - not acting like it while inside they're just trying to get by.

Today in my church our pastor told us not to lose our faith if we're struggling. He said we need to keep obeying God's word and circumstances will change because this world isn’t our home. Is that really what the Good News has come to? The moral structure of our society has collapsed along with the economy and there’s little hope for a recovery of either. We have enemies all over the world at a time when turning the other cheek is nothing more than an ideology that Christians don't even believe. The world is going to hell in a hand basket while we wait for Jesus to come and do something. Can we talk about all this without someone denying it and telling me if I exercise my faith I’ll see all the good things that are happening in peoples’ lives?   

Dr. Charles Stanley (whom I like very much) says the purpose of life is to come to the fullness of Christ-likeness - not signs of Christ-likeness - FULL Christ-likeness. Paul told us that we are NEW CREATIONS who have the MIND of CHRIST. These are lofty things that I’ve heard all my life. But what do they mean? And does it really happen to anyone? Just this morning in church we declared the following things in our “worship” songs. “I’m so unworthy”, “Lord you’re all I need”, and “I will wait for you to come and rescue me”. Is that the mind of Christ talking? God himself is alive in us yet we continue to speak separation into existence and wonder why we have no joy and no power. When are we going to come to our senses?

The good news is science is beginning to show us there is no separation between us and the source of the joy and power we seek - only a one-ness that Jesus talked about in the Gnostic Gospels. The bad news is we aren’t allowed to believe what Jesus said in the Gnostic Gospels because they weren’t inspired by God. How and why this awesomely narrow-minded position has been supported without question throughout church history is beyond me. The recognition of our identity in God is the key to our transformation and the answer to all our questions. Thankfully there will come a time when it becomes an accepted truth. Until then, no matter what lip service the church gives to the Holy Spirit, the present truth is this: We can’t move in power because we think it comes from somewhere outside of us. We pray for things in Jesus’ name because we don’t understand the authority of our own. I’m so thankful for his amazing, God-realized life, but Jesus didn’t intend to be idolized to the extent that we are helpless without him.  

There’s a Zen parable that illustrates what I mean.

The teacher’s dog loved his evening romps with his master. The dog would bound ahead, fetch a stick, then run back to wait for the next throw. One evening the teacher invited his brightest student to join them, a boy troubled by the seeming contradictions of Buddhist doctrine.

“You must understand”, said the teacher, “that words are only guideposts. Never let words or symbols keep you from experiencing the truth. Here, I’ll show you”.

With that the teacher called his happy dog. “Fetch me the moon”, the teacher said to the dog and pointed to the full moon. 

“Where is my dog looking”? asked the teacher of the bright pupil.  

“He’s looking at your finger”, the boy said.

“Exactly. Don’t be like my dog. Don’t confuse the pointer with the thing being pointed to.”

I’m not sure about this but as a child of God, and under the trusted guidance of the Holy Spirit for 30 years, I can’t help thinking that we’ve missed the point of Jesus’ life. In adoring him as the only begotten Son who atoned for man’s sin to appease a wrathful God, we’ve completely missed the fact that he beckons us and empowers us to be more than human life has yet been. He is calling us back to a place of unity and wholeness that existed in the beginning when there was nothing separate from God - back to an awareness of our true identity. It is in this place that we fully experience God. It is only from this place that we will realize our fullness in Christ and begin to see evidence of the joyful and victorious lives we seek.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

What The Gnostics Believed

Gnosis is a Greek word that means “know” or “knowing,” but it’s not knowledge that comes from believing doctrine, having faith, or practicing a certain religious discipline. It means understanding received from God through a direct, personal experience of him. Let’s be really clear about this. Knowing God this way means knowing he is part of us, seeing ourselves in him, and merging into that kind of experience as our felt reality. The Gnostics believed Jesus not only modeled this kind of relationship with God but taught that we have exactly the same. We say we want a more experiential kind of relationship with God. If so, it will require letting go of some very deeply preconceived beliefs which may be difficult for us because we've learned to call them "the truth".

These are some of those traditional beliefs with Gnostic understanding by comparison.

Traditional: God exists in a heavenly realm apart from his creation. (Although the church teaches that he is omnipresent and that his spirit lives in us, it doesn't examine the fullness of that position. Instead, our prayers, songs, and day-to-day dialogue speak a separation into existence that creates our true experience).                                                                     
Gnostic: Rather than see God as an entity that exists outside the universe, Gnostic writers believed in a oneness of everything in existence. Not only is God the creator, he is the stuff out of which all things are created. His kingdom is not a distant place or future thing, but “an immediate and continuing spiritual reality” that we can experience at any time.

Traditional: Jesus was the only child of God.                                                            Gnostic: We are all children of God, created from his own spirit (in his image and likeness). Rather than claim any special position, the Gospel of Thomas quotes Jesus as saying, “I am not your master. He who will drink from my mouth will become as I am; I myself will become he. When you come to know yourselves you will realize that it is you who are the sons of the living Father.” In the Gospel of John Jesus says, “I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one - as you are in me, father, and I am in you. May they know you love them as much as you love me.” These statements not only recognize oneness, they clearly demonstrate that each of us has the ability to wake up from the illusion that we are separate from God.

Traditional: Man is born in original sin.                                                                            Gnostic: Man is born in goodness that can never been lost. His sin” was the result of the development of the ego which seduced him into believing he was independent and separate from God. 

Traditional: God demands retribution for man’s sin.                                                  Gnostic: If there is no sin there is no need for retribution. Man does not and cannot exist outside of God. Waking from the ignorance of his false identity (separate) is all that’s necessary for man to restore oneness with him. 

Traditional: Jesus died to pay for man’s sin.                                                             Gnostic: Jesus allowed himself to be crucified to demonstrate that we are not the body and that our real life is eternal. He proved it by appearing several times in different ways after his resurrection. 

Traditional: We only have one life. When our bodies die our souls go to an everlasting reward in heaven or an everlasting punishment in hell.                                              Gnostic: We are eternal spiritual beings having a momentary physical experience, very likely one of many - perhaps countless. This particular experience will end, but our real life in God never does. As such there is no need nor possibility of reward or punishment. 

Traditional: Jesus will come again, descending from heaven on a cloud the same way he left.                                                                                                                             Gnostic: The “second coming” of Christ will be a spiritual manifestation - a critical mass of believers finally seeing the illusion and coming to their senses, and to true Christ-likeness.   

It's important to remember that our brains filter information like this through beliefs we already hold. Because the Gnostic understanding of God is so different from what the church has taught us it's no surprise that we could have some difficulty with it. But we must always remain open to what the spirit would show us. God's revelation did not end with, and is not limited to, the four books of the canonized bible. In the Gospel of Thomas Jesus said, "Those who seek should not stop seeking until they find. When they find, they will be disturbed. When they are disturbed, they will marvel, and will reign over all. And after they have reigned they will rest."

What excites me personally is how science is beginning to prove what many of Jesus’ early followers believed. When examined from the standpoint of Quantum Physics, many of the Gnostic Gospels reflect the intimacy with God that we’re looking for. 

Friday, June 17, 2011

Introducing Gnosticism

The way I see it there are two kinds of Christians. Both of them fall well short of the Christ-likeness we're told is our goal. One doesn't get there because it's content without it. The other doesn't get there because it doesn't know how. 

The first group believes what the church teaches and doesn’t care that it never changes. People in this group avoid anything in conflict with their beliefs and will never consider anything new, since nothing new is needed. God said it. They believe it. That settles it.  Asking them to consider something different is like suggesting that 2 plus 2 might not be 4 after all. The bible serves to further assure them that they’re right and that new ideas are from the enemy. But the real enemy lies behind this false appearance of assuredness. Its name is Fear. Not a fear of what will happen if they disobey God, but a more hidden and subversive kind – a fear of an emptiness in their lives without their familiar belief system. Many in this group carry heavy burdens though life waiting for Jesus to miraculously set them free - even though Jesus himself said the truth would do that for them. But they already have the truth. What they're asking for is deliverance. Wait a minute. If they have the truth why would they still need deliverance? And if they don’t have the truth why then don’t they admit it to themselves? This frustrates me until I remember that God brings all of us to the truth in different times and in different ways. It is, in fact, the very purpose of our existence. 

The other kind of Christian isn’t content with mere church attendance and knows there's something more. This is the group I've always been in. In fact my wife and I now host a home group for this type of believer. But why are there so many of us? A few months ago I started this blog with that very question. We go from one church to another without finding what we want, only to give up and settle for something close to home. So what is it that we want? More love? More power? More of the mind of Christ? We talk about these things in church all the time but rarely see them materialize in our lives. Finally we come to the realization that what is needed is a more experiential relationship with the source of all these things – the same kind of relationship with God that Jesus had. C.S. Lewis said we wouldn’t have such a need if it couldn't be filled. Singing worship songs and hearing stories about God are nice, but they don’t really bring us the intimacy we want. It’s time to take a look at a different kind of Christianity – one that does.

Most of us picture the early church as a small, tightly knit group banded together against a hostile world, but it was not nearly as single-minded as we think. A Catholic ('universal') Church had been created which offered a system of beliefs and rituals for those who conformed to its tenets. But there were other groups which held very different beliefs about Jesus and his teachings. Unfortunately their writings were not allowed. In the 4th century, in an attempt to unify Christianity and keep it under the control of his growing empire, Constantine I issued the Edict of Milan which officially aligned the Catholic Church with Rome. This had the effect of ending any further diversity found among Jesus' followers. Four gospels were canonized and all others (there were many) lost or destroyed. Among those lost were the writings of a group of Christians known as the 'Gnostics' (from the Greek gnosis which means knowing). Fortunately for believers many of these writings were found in a cave on the northwest shore of the Dead Sea in 1947. But by then the canonical Bible had achieved the high standing of “Word of God”, inerrant and infallible. It’s no wonder the church quietly ignored the discovery. I always wondered why, with so little information available about the life of the most important person in the history of the world (almost nothing outside of the bible) anything would be suppressed because the Church decided it wasn’t “inspired by God.” Then I read some of the lost gospels and found out why. It's too bad too. The Gnostics had exactly the kind of relationship to God that we're looking for.

Next: What they believed.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Sister St. Lawrence

I’ve been told, and I’m willing to consider the truth of it, that I hold a grudge against the Church because of things I was taught to believe when I was young. If so, this incident played a big part.

One day in the fourth grade I was eating lunch on the playground with my friend Larry. I had just taken a bite out of my sandwich when I looked up and saw the dark figure of Sister St. Lawrence standing over me. In a harsh voice that everyone could hear she shouted at me, “What is that you’re eating?” I told her it was a ham and cheese sandwich that my mom had made. She was appalled. I can still see the way her mouth fell open. “Don’t you know this is Friday?” she said. “And you’re eating meat? Haven’t you been taught that that’s a Mortal Sin?” Her voice got even louder. “Don’t you know what an offense that is to your Heavenly Father“? I was mortified. I did know what an offense it was. I told her I was sorry. I forgot it was Friday and so did my mom. I immediately crushed the rest of the sandwich and stuffed it back into my lunch box. But Sister St. Lawrence wasn’t done. Back in class she spoke to me again, this time quietly, and very seriously. “I hope you didn’t forget the penalty for committing a mortal sin. If you die in your sleep tonight you will go straight to hell and be there for all of eternity.” I couldn’t have been more terrified. I knew Father O’Connor would be saying Confession in the morning. That night I had the worst sleep of my life - waking every few minutes to check the clock and thank God I was still alive.

I was first in line at the confessional to tell Father O’Connor about my sin. He prescribed five Our Fathers and five Hail Marys for my penance. I hurried through them and immediately felt better - like the weight of the world had been lifted off of me. I thanked God again and prayed with great sincerity that He would never again let me make that kind of mistake. He never did. But some years later I read that the Pope had changed the law. It was no longer a mortal sin to eat meat on Friday. It occurred to me that anyone who had done so - and then died while it was still a sin - hadn’t been as lucky as me. Or maybe they somehow got pardoned. The point is, I never saw Sister St. Lawrence again after the fourth grade and she never apologized for making me go through that. I’ve never spoken to the Pope either, so no one has ever admitted to me that the church had been wrong in its understanding of God and his requirements. I’m sure this has caused some anger and frustration that I’ve had to internalize all these years. If nothing else this blog may bring some kind of closure for me.

But there is a deeper issue. If the church could have been wrong about something it was so sure of then, isn’t it possible it could happen again? It did. In January of 2008, after being part of the teaching of the church for more than 700 years, Pope Benedict XVI declared that Limbo, the afterlife state reserved for the un-baptized innocent, did not exist. It’s important to note that it didn’t “no longer” exist. It never did exist. Apparently the Pope had finally come to that awareness. He is to be commended for receiving a new revelation and for accepting the fact that our understanding of God can change, but Sister St. Lawrence wasn’t around to explain it to me. 

I remember what the church taught about Martin Luther too. He was the worst heretic the world had ever known because he said it was impossible to pay for someone to get out of Purgatory. But I did that all the time as a child. The church taught that we could buy Plenary Indulgences for people who had died in their sin, and so enable them to go on to heaven. How we ever believed that is a mystery now. Fear of what might happen if we didn’t do it, probably. Anyway it turns out Luther wasn’t a heretic after all. He simply had a new revelation from the Spirit of God that went against the established tradition of the Church. (Jesus had one several years earlier). As such, Protestantism was a big part of the awakening of our planet. We still aren’t free from the fear-based religious beliefs that separate us, but it was a step in the right direction. The long process continues today with discoveries in Quantum Physics that show us our relationship to the “One-ness” of all life.   
I’m optimistic about the future, but I’ve been suspicious about Church ever since grammar school. What else does it teach that it could be wrong about? 

And I’d still like someone to apologize, maybe even get a refund for all those Indulgences I paid for.

Thursday, May 26, 2011


I said I would explain why I think the church doesn’t pursue advancement the way Education, Psychology, Astronomy and other scientific endeavors do. Because the traditional church believes we already have all we need to know. It has given us the Bible, which is the inerrant, infallible and never-changing Word of God. The odd thing is, in order to prove it we quote passages from it (Mark 13:31 and 2 Tim 3:16). I always thought that was like my mom saying, “It’s true because I say so.” The Bible also says that God is the same yesterday, today and forever. If that's true why would there be a need for any new revelation? The last book of the Bible even warns us if we add anything that “God will add us to the plagues written in the book.” Ouch! Is it any wonder why the church doesn't participate in any attempt to advance its understanding of God? 

But why can’t our understanding of scripture change? Why for instance, must a person in the 21st Century still believe in a literal description of the creation story the way Moses taught it? Why? Because we're afraid of what will happen to our faith if we examine it in a new light. Thus we can’t accept the scientific claim for an old earth because it presupposes evolution which raises questions about a “fall” of man. A fall can't be true if life is evolving. But the fall is taught in the Word of God so evolution can't be possible. And if Adam and Eve didn’t sin what was the meaning of Christ’s redemptive death on the cross? And if Christ’s death meant something other than a sacrifice for man's sin then the church must be wrong. But that can’t happen either. And so we remain stuck in our circular reasoning and church becomes less and less meaningful. The tragedy is, if we allowed it, our understanding of the universe and the amazing discoveries of Quantum Science could show us a God who would awaken us from our lethargy, excite us with its potential, and enable us with the power that Jesus had. We say we want that. What is it that holds us back?

The first thing we need is a desire for the truth that is greater than our need to prove our beliefs. As long as we insist that belief in the Bible will change the world we are not really looking for the truth. The most frustrating part is, even if the church admits the world isn't experiencing the abundant life that Jesus promised, it still doesn’t have to examine it's beliefs. Instead it reminds us that this world isn’t our home anyway. The Bible says we have mansions waiting for us on the other side. We seem content to hold onto a mythology that is long past its usefulness while we wait for Jesus to come back and make things right. But there were books known as the Gnostic Gospels that told a very different story about Jesus and a very different kind of Christianity, which books were systematically destroyed by the early church and never included in the canon. So no one knows that in the Gospel of Thomas Jesus said, “I am not your master. . . He who will drink from my mouth will become as I am, and I myself will become he. When you come to know yourselves you will realize that it is you who are the sons of the living Father.” As the Father was in Jesus, so is He in us. The exciting thing about Quantum Science is that it's proving that to us. It is the great truth a literal interpretation of the Bible prevents us from seeing. Too bad. That truth really would set us free. 

In John 8:12 Jesus said, “I am the light of the world".
In Matthew 5:14 he tells us, “You are the light of the world”.

Believe which ever one you want. Just remember you create what you believe.

Friday, May 20, 2011

We Are All One

It is no longer simply a cliché from the rebellious ‘60s. Science is beginning to prove that, at the deepest level of existence, we are all part of the same thing. Everything that exists is created in the image and likeness of a Creator who does not exist apart from his creation. We are not APART from God. We are A PART of God. Nothing can be created that is not part of  the Creator. If this is true then the idea that God is "up there" in heaven is part of an outdated Separation Theology that serves no purpose other than to disable us. It's only an illusion that we have created by the belief systems we've adopted. Further, if everything is part of God the idea of an Enemy of God is also no more than a creation of our limited understanding - a necessary (for its time) but mythological explanation of the evil we perceive in the world.

These were the things I believed 28 years ago before I got “saved” and began trying to have faith like a Christian. It seems like the church teaches a much smaller God than I was used to then. But in order to fit in with other believers (I assumed they knew something that I didn't) I have tried to put God in a box that he is now beginning to break out of. Traditional church doctrine contradicts something too deep in my soul for me to ignore any longer.

And so I have begun the process of “outing” myself to those who are least likely to condemn me. Because of the spiritual apathy that I observe in the church I don’t  expect much feedback, but family and close friends are quick to suggest that I read the wrong kinds of books and need instead, to look to the Word of God for the truth. But I read the bible. It's a wonderful source of wisdom and guidance, and when read with the proper understanding could even be called  inerrant. The problem is we don't read it with the proper understanding. We refuse to interpret it in light of what we're learning about the nature of reality in the 21st century. God continues to reveal himself today to those who have ears to hear. And the same spirit speaks to me who spoke to the men who wrote the Word of God.  Doesn't it? And who’s Word of God are we talking about anyway? Despite what they claim, none of the world’s religions could possibly have a full and complete understanding of the nature of God, and it is becoming very dangerous for us to quarrel over the fine print of our scriptures and accuse each other of going to hell. An understanding of our one-ness in God is the only thing that will ever bring peace to the human race. I need to repeat that.

An understanding of our one-ness in God is the only thing that will ever bring peace to the human race.

If our present theologies worked, if they were functional and were producing peace on earth and goodwill to human beings, there would be no need to question them. But we live in a world of deep anger, brutal violence, terrible poverty, and unrelenting terror. If we admit that our faith in the God we believe in has not saved humanity from the brink of self-annihilation, then we may wish to entertain the possibility that we don't have a complete understanding of God after all. Further, if I truly believe that man is in need of a spiritual awakening then I have a responsibility to share what I’ve been given in order to help facilitate it. Someday soon the human race will willingly and eagerly embrace an expanded concept of God (hopefully not because of some world-wide catastrophe) and will understand that he does not care whether we are Catholic or Protestant, Jewish or Muslim, Hindu or Mormon, or have no religion at all. In fact he will not even care if we "worship" him. Why would he if there is only one of us? Unless of course we continue to believe that he is separate, living somewhere up in heaven, and needing something from us.

Religion's biggest fallacies about God:
1. God needs something from us
2. We have failed to give God what he needs
3. God has separated us from himself because we failed to give him what he needs
4. God still requires us, now from our separated position, to give him what he needs
5. God will destroy us if we do not

The world is eager to explore the latest developments in science and technology, education and medicine, psychology and cosmology. Why is it that we refuse to do the same with our spirituality?* Can there be any wonder why the church is losing it's appeal?

* I know the answer the church gives and I'll address that next time.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

What Part Of God?

A friend of mine recently sent me an article that said, "When we become a defender of a particular belief about God it is no longer believing God — it is only believing our belief about Him." Is that what's happening in the church?
It has been my position that we have become so uninspired and disillusioned with our understanding of God, and our difficulty in feeling his Real presence that Church has ceased to be a power-full experience. So many go through the motions each Sunday without any evidence of the joyful, abundant life, or the power they claim to have. I'm convinced that what's needed now is a careful and thorough re-examination of the doctrine of the Holy Spirit. The question I’m asking people these days is, What does it really mean that the spirit of God is in you? What is the fullness of the statement that we are made in his image and likeness? And, most interestingly, what is science telling us lately about this belief? If God is spirit and that spirit is in man, then what part of God is not? What part of him is it that we look up to heaven and pray to? The answer is, No Part. There is no part of God that is separate from man. God doesn't exist somewhere outside of his creation. The universe is a manifestation of him. The things we hear and say and sing in church today clearly show a separation theology which we have spoken into existence, but which no longer resonates with thinking people, certainly not the youth, and for good reason. It’s not true. 

I'm coming to the conclusion that was more clear to me before I became a Christian. Like a drop of water is to the ocean we are all part of God. We manifest in many different ways but there is nothing which he is that we are not. Nothing that he possesses that we do not. No where he is that we are not. The idea that God is living in heaven, watching down on us and waiting for us to approach him has to be seen as part of a mythology that was necessary for early believers. It no longer serves a purpose for the spirituality of the human race and we do a dis-service to ourselves by continuing to allow it. Again I refer to our "worship" songs. Thankfully the Spirit in us is beginning to awaken us.  We are all one with God the same way Jesus was. 

When we finally come to that amazing awareness we will suddenly find the joy that's been missing. We will have a new understanding of the power and authority Jesus told us we had. Church will be a celebration more exciting than the Super Bowl. Most importantly for the future of our planet we will also see our relationship to each other in the proper way. Like Neale Donald Walsch says, "There's only one of us". That's why Jesus told us to “love your neighbor as yourself”. When we're able to do that religions will be as unnecessary as the wars we fight to prove them.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Is It True?

California Institute of Technology physicist John Preskill said that developing quantum mechanics was “the crowning intellectual achievement of the 20th century.” It is the most battle-tested theory in all of science, having been subjected to rigorous testing for eight decades without ever being shown wrong. Einstein may have been troubled by its philosophical implications but his attempts to disprove it were themselves disproven after his death. The facts, as strange as they are, remain undisputed. The universe is a complex web of energy in a continuous exchange and redistribution which appears to us as material. The human mind and body are "local" expressions of this exchange and are constantly interacting with everything else in the energy field. Even the space between atomic particles is bursting with activity. It has been estimated that the energy in a single cubic meter of space is enough to boil all the oceans of the world. Tiny packets of this energy “collapse” into visible matter and then disappear back into the underlying field. Finally, and most surprisingly (the part Einstein called spooky) this collapse of energy into visible matter depends upon the consciousness of an observer! Clearly the sub-atomic world is nothing like the world we live in. And yet it is the world we live in. What we think of as real, permanent and unchanging is only an illusion that we create with our awareness. It’s time we begin to look at everything in light of that reality.

It is my belief that, just as our understanding of nature has evolved, so too should our understanding of God. I believe that within the realm of quantum physics we will find out why Jesus told us not to put our hope in the things of this world but instead to seek the kingdom of God within. We might discover the truth about us being in him and the father being in us. When we learn how consciousness affects matter we'll be on the road to doing the "miracles" he said we would do. In fact I wouldn't be surprised if all this begins to create an excitement about God that has been missing in church.

Recommended Reading:

The Beginning Of Fearlessness - Quantum Prodigal Son
Lee and Steven Hager

The Field
Lynn McTaggart

The Purpose-Guided Universe
Bernard Haisch

Quantum Enigma
Bruce Rosenblum and Fred Kuttner

The Biology of Belief
Bruce Lipton

Monday, February 21, 2011

Quantum Physics

Those are big words about the study of very small parcels of energy which Einstein named “quanta”. Research and discovery began as recently as 100 years ago so it really is a new science. It’s a fascinating subject because it provides new understanding of the reality of the universe we live in and has great meaning for anyone seeking truth about man’s existence. I'm not a scientist but I am learning about what’s being discovered and somehow I feel a need to share it. It concerns me that the human race is undergoing a paradigm shift comparable to the discovery of a round earth while most of us are busy watching American Idol.

There are two problems I will have. I don't know enough about physics to explain it sufficiently (I will refer often to experts), and the study of the very small is wildly unpredictable. Einstein himself called it "spooky". Niels Bohr, the imminent Danish physicist said, "If quantum mechanics hasn't profoundly shocked you, you haven't understood it yet." Yet it continues to be thoroughly researched and tested - and is proven to be true 100% of the time.

The other problem could be even more difficult. New light is being shed on the nature of the universe and of God and man's relationship to both. Some of it may necessitate a rethinking of long-held religious beliefs. It is not my wish to force this change – just to present the facts as I'm learning them and help others see beyond what they believe is the only reality. The universe, including God, is much more amazing and wonderful than any of us have ever been told, or have ever imagined. Hopefully this dialogue will spur readers on to their own inquiry and they will be free to draw their own conclusions. Christians with more fundamental beliefs need not fear. Jesus told us the truth would set us free and there is no reason to doubt that. In fact I haven’t found anything that contradicts anything Jesus ever said. I myself am a born again, spirit-filled Christian who is excited about the new convergence of science and spirituality. I always thought it should be possible. We like to tell God we want more. Are we ready for what he would show us? If so maybe we'll see why our church experience has become so wanting.

Here are a couple things to think about before I start. 1. The material world is an illusion. There is no such thing as physical matter. Everything is part of an energy field which vibrates at different intervals. 2. Everything that exists, or has ever existed, is part of what created it. We've heard it so often that it has become a cliche, but now it's beginning to be proven. We're all one.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

A Possible Answer

A football game has the power to excite us because, among other things, we know its a real experience.  The presence of God in church doesn't appear as real to us and therefore doesn't cause us to react with the same kind of emotional exuberance. Church is also a time of quiet prayer and meditation, but shouldn't it sometimes cause us to erupt in spontaneous excitement to realize that we are in the presence of the living God? (I don't mean polite applause at the end of a worship song). The question is Why doesn't it? And why do I know so many people who claim to be dissatisfied with their church experience? It's no wonder Church is losing its appeal for so much of the younger generation. I think I may have part of an answer.

We've been taught since we were children that God is somewhere "up" in heaven. Our being "down here" necessitates a belief that we are apart from him - a belief more powerful than our belief that his spirit lives in us. How else do you explain why we look up to the sky and lift our hands to worship him? Think about it. If we really believed he lives in us why would we sing "Come holy spirit" and "Lord I will wait for you"? And think about this too. If God is spirit and that spirit lives in us, then what part of him is elsewhere? Jesus said the kingdom of God is in us. God is manifesting himself through us. We can't possibly be separate from him. The reality of that hasn't really dawned on us and it certainly isn't expressed sufficiently in church. If it was it might even be as exciting as the Super Bowl.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

What... are we nuts?

Quick. Who won the Super Bowl last year?

Was it New England? New Orleans? Indianapolis? I really can't remember who the World Champion is. So how is it that so many people are willing to travel great distances and spend enormous sums of money just to see the next one crowned? Thousands of hours of manpower and millions of dollars are spent on the broadcast and events leading up to and following... a football game? Millions more will be wagered and hundreds of millions will watch it on television as the world stops to accommodate a day now immortalized as Super Bowl Sunday. My question is, How long do we remember the winner? Til training camp next summer? Are we nuts or something? I say we because I will have buffalo wings and chili dogs laid out for my own guests when they arrive for the 6:30 pm eastern kickoff. I'm not proud of that but everything else in my neighborhood will be closed. What else can I do? Some of my guests will have painted faces. Some will yell at my television. Some will be hysterical with joy as their favorite quarterback holds up a trophy that commemorates the winner. The outpouring of emotional energy over this fleeting thing called the world championship never ceases to amaze me.

Meanwhile at my church we sit in self-conscious silence in the presence of the undefeated, undefeatable, everlasting, eternal Champion of the Universe! Occasionally someone might have the courage to lift their hand in a private expression of joy... maybe.

What... are we nuts?

Monday, January 31, 2011

A car with the Fish Sign

The other day I stopped at a traffic light and noticed the fish sign symbolizing Christian faith on the bumper of the car in front of me. On the other side of the bumper was a sign that read, "Getting by is as good as it gets." I haven't been able to forget that because the two messages seem so diametrically opposed. Does anyone else feel the same way?

One of the things I'm going to be exploring in this blog is the question of why the joy, contentment, and peace that passes all understanding which Jesus promised us (not to mention the power and authority) does not appear to be realized among many Christians today. Am I wrong about this? Do people really feel like the driver of that car and don't want to admit it? Isn't there something very wrong about this?

"Let us not talk falsely now. The hour is getting late."          Bob Dylan

Thursday, January 27, 2011

A Blog Maybe?

Many times in my life I've been told I should write a book, but who has time to undertake such a thing in this day and age? I've also been told I should join the Facebook generation so I can communicate with family and friends, but I don't know how to get around in it. And I can get by without updates on the strawberry patch my third grade teacher just planted in Farmville. On the other hand I don't want to let the world just pass me by either. Maybe I'll do a blog and see if anybody reads it.