Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity – STEP 2
Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood God. – STEP 3
This is the miracle of restoration. It is not dependent on anything you or I could do to alleviate the addictions which controlled our lives. Yes, we had to talk the walk and then walk the talk, but ultimately the grace of a power greater than us brought us back to sanity, restored us to meaningful lives within families and communities – sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly.
God as we understood God is, for many of us, the premise which carries us over the hurdles of previous negative god experiences. No longer do we feel obligated to profess this faith or that in our daily faith walk. Surely, each religious philosophy of the world whether it be Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, etc. has nuggets of truth and wisdom; however, life changes when the God we follow is personal, loving and compassionate not corralled by any particular philosophy. As is human nature, we attempt to describe and define, but usually discover that our minds cannot comprehend the greatness or fathom the depths of that which we call Higher Power.
Whether your God or mine is a who, a what, a where, a when, male, female, genderless, Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu or simply the fellowship which supports our sobriety, give this Higher Power a round of applause today for keeping us clean and serene.
The lying which our parents strongly admonished with a good spanking is now labeled as ‘alternative facts.’ Those of us who were urged by parents, teachers and clergy to always take the high road are miserably lost in today’s social and religious babble. But, thankfully, there are still a few unmovable parameters with consistent guidelines that lead us through troubling times. It doesn’t really matter if we call those parameters values, morals, standards, God, spirit, wholeness, righteousness or moral compass. When the world is mucking along on the low road, we can always be assured of safe passage on the high road if we follow the inner voice speaking our truth.
Not always convenient and often frightening, this road leads us through the darkness of worldly concerns such as poverty, injustice, racism, hatred, corruption and untruth. It inevitably shows us to the other side where joy, peace and contentment dwell. It is a place where we know without doubt that all which is within us is bigger than anything the world can throw at us. We are capable of winning those battles with the world when we simply find that quiet space within and follow the directive of ancient prophets who said, “Be still and know.”
Psalm 46, verse 10 tells us that God will be known in the stillness of our souls. Forgo the chatter and chaos of an insane world system. Trust an alternative world order which promotes love and peace. That is the truth which history’s prophets and wise men/women discovered within. Believe the ancient and contemporary mystics who knew God dwelled within them and in all of Creation. Be still and know.
Those who claim that the only God is the one whom they profess in their particular faith are missing the universality of an energy force which permeates every cell of every body regardless of theology. Muslim brothers and sisters know God, brown-skinned neighbors know God, neighborhood Hindu shop keepers know God, Buddhist monks living in the Himalayas know God. They name this energy according to their traditions, but God is God. Be still, learn, and know.
I once loved slinging the mud just as much as the next guy. Lord knows that today we have enough ammunition to be slinging 24/7. From religion to Hollywood to elections to politicians there is an endless supply of trash talk that can fill the airwaves with unworthy news, innuendo, gossip, and outright lies. Even the sailor in me who many years ago drank too much beer with the rowdies in the local Navy hangout blushes like an innocent schoolgirl at some of what these ears hear today.
But, know what? Sling mud and you’re going to get muddy. Or to put it in terms an old salt would appreciate, “Sling shit and you will get shitty.” Slinging becomes an acceptable way to communicate, a vocalization of the anger and disgust residing within the cranium and slinging is infectious. Have you ever noticed that when you share the first cuss word in a conversation, the other person also takes more freedom with cussing. When you talk trash about another person, those around you feel free to throw their trash into that conversation also. It’s a socially transmissible dis-order. I fear that our society has been infected with a terminal case of slinging.
This is on my mind because Trump will be in Orlando, one of my favorite cities. I know the trash talk, the bullshit, the lies will flow freely in that arena. Middle fingers will be pointed at journalists, insults will be leveled, lies will be told, and Trump will smile victoriously from the podium because he knows he has stirred up yet another crowd of supporters into hysteria. Lord knows he doesn’t know how to run a country or keep us safe or play with other children nicely, or speak truth. The only thing he can do effectively is stir the shit pot. Aw hell, here I go again slinging. I truly want to give it up. Help!
My grandpa always said, “If you can’t talk nicely, then just keep your damned mouth shut.” I sure wish he was still with us. We could go to Orlando and spread some nice conversation. Well, maybe not. Grandpa also said, “Don’t try to reason with holier-than-thou Christians, the IRS, and Republicans. They have hearing problems.”
Grandpa was a wise man.
A heckler yelling Sodom and Gomorrah at a Buttigieg rally in Des Moines, Iowa, was drowned out by supporters chanting, “Pete, Pete, Pete.” Then from the podium came a response from the candidate. Looking toward the heckler he said simply,
“The good news is the condition of my soul is in the hands of God, ”
and then back across the crowd to his supporters, “but the Iowa caucuses are up to you.”
The amazing rise of the latest of Democrats to declare his candidacy for President in 2020, Pete Buttigieg has stunned pollsters by coming in 4th behind Bernie, Biden, and Beto. Commentators have marveled that this scenario could never have happened just 10 years ago. An openly gay man in a committed marriage standing in front of millions of viewers nationwide with the audacity to believe he has a chance to win the Presidency. Unheard of! Oh, how the literalists, infallibles, and inerrants must be flapping jaws . Sodom and Gomorrah indeed.
“Did you see it, ” the thumpers must be muttering, “his husband had the nerve to give Pete a peck on the cheek in front of the cameras with the world watching? What will people think?”
Just my personal and biased opinion, but I think the world might exclaim in gasps of relief, “Thank God those folks across the water have finally come to their senses. The Yanks could possibly elect in 2019 an intelligent class act, a monogamous married man, a Rhodes scholar who served his country as a Naval officer in Afghanistan and then returned home to dedicate to public service.”
Yeah, I’m sure that’s what our European friends are saying because Pete Buttigieg, the gay mayor who publicly introduced his husband on national TV with a kiss does not rock their sensibilities nor ours nearly as much as the current political regime in the USA which protects a draft-dodger, a racist, a womanizer, and a liar.
The good news is that the condition of my soul (and yours) is in the hands Of God. No man, no religion, no theology, no President, no world leader, no spouse, no friend, no pastor has a claim on what we know to be our truth. Just let that resonate for a moment. Do you feel the freedom, the assurance, the joy? The chains are broken not because a priest or minister says so, but because the master of your life, and the God of my life have stepped into the picture and overruled all those who tell us that we are immoral, evil, misguided, unworthy and headed for hell’s fires. That human assessment simply is not true. If the book which you read for inspiration and instruction condemns you and if the people you choose as spiritual leaders condemn you, then you need to give up that funny book and its associated church, mosque or temple to find a fellowship that speaks love and compassion.
I use the multi-colored message shown above to convey the basic truth that none of us are excluded from the love of God, from the table which Jesus has set to feed the entirety of mankind with his bread and his wine, his body and blood. Do not allow anyone to tell you that your race, your creed, your sex, your orientation, or your past disqualifies you from sitting with Jesus. No earthly being has the authority to deny you a seat. Jesus’ invitation is eternal, unconditional, and it specifically has your name on it.
In the world of evangelists, Billy Graham’s legacy continues to command the respect and admiration of a great many people, believers and non-believers. He shared on his blog site in 2012 THE THREE INVITATIONS OF CHRIST
“Come to me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28
Jesus said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of men.” Mark 1:17
Jesus said, “Abide in me and I in you.” John 15:4
These invitations are an ongoing process. I have no qualms accepting that I don’t have all the pieces to the God puzzle. Sometimes I don’t even know what the questions should be. GOD IS A MYSTERY. And I believe that is a good thing for a doubter and skeptic like me. Keep me guessing so that I continue searching. Just when I believe I’ve reached that “Aha” moment or a fascinating revelation, another doubt and question arises.
But, the process doesn’t change, does it? Run to Him when life gets heavy and overwhelming, learn of his ways and take his yoke upon me. Determine what my ego wants versus what Jesus says in his words and teachings. It all comes down to surrender. Do I want to continue in my burdensome ways or will I turn it over to the Master, the problem-solver?
Learn and then share with others what has been discovered. Those of us in addiction recovery programs know the necessity of service to others. We share our war stories and then extend our experience, strength and hope. Alcoholics and addicts are invited just as they are to the tables of the meeting rooms. The beauty and success of AA, CR, and other recovery programs depends on the fellowship putting others before personal interests. Those questioning, new arrivals are invited to share our repurposed lives, to sit at the table of miracles. We become fishers of men.
Finally, Jesus invites us to abide with the God of our understanding in a peace that surpasses anything which the world has to offer. To me this means building and cherishing the most intimate relationship which I could ever know. When I am willing to surrender, when I am willing to pull my head out of self-serving ways, when I am willing to be still and know, then we can be as one walking this path through the joys and travails of an earthly life. God dwells in me and I in Him. That is the solidarity of “I am You, You are me, and we are One.”
Believe me, it is not always where my head and heart dwell. This challenge which is called the human condition tries to detour me, lie to me, and steal me away. But, running to my Lord is no longer the option of last resort. I have learned to go there as quickly as possible.
He said, “Come unto me and learn of me, my yoke is easy and I will give you rest.”
He has invited you, too. What’s holding you back?
“And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be anymore pain: for the former things are passed away.” Revelation 21:4
Can we imagine a world as described above? Probably not. And most likely we should not expect it anytime soon. Back in the 1960s, when life was young and irreverent, my contemporaries who had taken time to read the Revelation of the Bible would exclaim,
“Cool, far out, that dude John must have been on some kinda awesome drugs.”
Drugs indeed. In my generation drugs, alcohol and sex were the answer to all of life’s problems. We proclaimed it on the streets and in our music. That was the world in which we lived. Many stayed there, some died there, but God, for unknown reasons, brought a few into His world of forgiveness and grace – a place where all the sorrows and pain still existed, but we now had the tools to co-exist with death and heartache living life abundantly.
That is what the ‘greatest gift’ given to us in the teachings and words of Jesus, the Christ, is all about. The world is what it is, always has been a violent, miserable place and probably always will be. But, now we don’t have to wallow in it. We have a place to go deep within and commune with a God who wants peace and brotherhood for all mankind. That light we experience within can defeat the darkness surrounding us. Like Jesus, we were born to live it and share it. Black, brown, white, Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, Jew, male, female, gay, straight – all were invited to the table set by the birth of a baby in Bethlehem two millenia ago. I’ve been invited, you too. C’mon, let’s party hearty over the birth of the Good News! AMEN.
“If we are to have peace on earth, our loyalties must become ecumenical rather than sectional. Our loyalties must transcend our race, our tribe, our class, and our nation; and this means we must develop a world perspective.” —Martin Luther King, Jr
In my Lutheran worship service, after the prayers, “the peace of the Lord” is extended by the pastor. The congregants then take several minutes to greet each other with hugs, a hand clasp and a repetition of “God’s peace.” It symbolizes the attitude we are encouraged to assume in greeting the world with a universal message of love and compassion.
During the Christmas season the words “peace on earth, goodwill toward men” will take center stage in celebratory endeavors. It is a sentiment which our enlightenment envisions for all of humanity regardless of religious affiliation or lack thereof. It is a dream shared by John Lennon, IMAGINE, Martin Luther King, Jr., millions of pacifists worldwide, and me. Sadly, peace seems to be, in the Christmas season of 2017, the last item on the agenda of the world’s politicians, strident religious leaders, and governments. Just as a popular song by Lennon in the 1960s anti-war movement laments, “why can’t we give peace a chance” GIVE PEACE A CHANCE , we also wonder what is so tough about peace?
Indeed, why not give peace a chance? What is Larry doing today to give peace a chance? Hmmm, that’s where it starts, does it not? I can’t change the world, but I can surely, with divine help, change me; if each of the world’s 2 billion plus inhabitants could assume a commitment to peaceful co-existence, we might have a chance. Yes, I know, it’s a pipe dream, but, the process has to start somewhere with someone. Let it begin with me. As the Buddhist would ask, “How is your good heart today?” As Jesus would say, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” I have within my being the solution to the worldwide pandemic called heart dis-ease. Lord, bring it on, let the cure begin with me.
“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men” Luke 2:14 KJV
I’m a child of the 1960s. My formative years as a teenager were spent listening to the music of the Doors, the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, the Animals, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, and, of course Bob Dylan. We got high together, we got drunk together, and we had our first escapades into liberated sex listening to their lyrics. The times were a delirious mix of rebellious freedom and social ostracism. Preachers, teachers, and parents warned of the deleterious effects our behavior would have on the sanctity of American society. And we did not care! Those very same preachers, teachers, and
parents had lied to us about the black man’s plight, the Vietnam War, the murders of JFK, RFK, and MLK, Jr. and we were angry. Music was our voice and, dammit, America was going to listen!
Dylan came out with “Everybody Must Get Stoned” around 1966. The ‘over 40’ crowds fumed over such an overt embrace of the drug culture where getting stoned was the hip talk for smoking marijuana. Had they taken time to listen to the lyrics they would have realized Bob Dylan was referring to the ancient punishment of stoning for a variety of sins committed against society and religion. Just as Dylan took substantial heat from the status quo of his era, we will always be stoned, perhaps not literally but certainly figuratively, for the stands we take against corrupt government and false religious doctrine.
Stephen, a Greek-speaking Hellenistic Jew and early follower of the teachings of Jesus, according to the Book of Acts became the 1st Christian martyr. Having been accused of blasphemy against God by the ruling Jewish hierarchy and refusing to recant his loyalty to the Way of Jesus, he was stoned to death by a group of men under the leadership of Saul, later known as Paul upon his conversion.
It doesn’t matter whether I accept this account of Stephen as historical fact or if I see it as a statement of moral compass, a spiritual lesson to be gleaned from the Christian scriptures. What matters is whether this story prompts me to ask of myself, “What is Larry going to do when he gets stoned? Will he cave to the pressure or will he stand tall?”
Lord, I’m just a weak traveler in this world trying to make a difference in somebody’s life. But, today I know from where my strength comes, I know who shepherds me through the valleys, I know who loves me as a Father. When the stones come hurling towards me because of my loyalty to you, help me remember that everybody must get stoned.
This will not go away anytime soon. Too many times we have been horrified by the war zone shootings at schools, movie theaters, stadiums, nightclubs and in the streets. Did you notice the key word in the previous sentence was “shootings”? These are acts of violence carried out with weapons; not just pistols, shotguns, and rifles but heavy-duty military style automatic and semi-automatic weapons which can kill scores of people in a few short minutes.
Already the NRA & WH have commented that now in the midst of this tragedy is not the time to open a dialog about gun control. My reply is “Why the hell not?” There is no better time than now to confront the 2nd amendment rights people who believe their right to accumulate an arsenal of guns within their homes supersedes the rights of fellow citizens who want to live in a peaceful and safe environment in their hometowns, where they work, where they go for recreation, and most of all where they send their children to learn.
The gun rights people supported by the powerful government lobby of the NRA try to convince us that it is the people, not the guns, who create havoc and grief in our neighborhoods, workplaces, and our schools. Guess what, gun advocates? I don’t care anymore who or what is responsible. I just want it to stop.
We have seen that gun shop owners and vendors at flea markets are not doing a competent job of regulating who buys their guns. We have seen that law enforcement is ineffective in regulating gun ownership, and we have seen that the federal government is unwilling to displease one of the most powerful lobbies in the country, the NRA.
People, whether they are deranged, drug driven, violent ideologues, or religious zealots, are indeed the propellant in this epidemic of violence, but their solution of choice in carrying out their diabolical schemes and madness is the unlimited array of easily available weapons. Your 2nd amendment right does not include the freedom to randomly kill one another in order to settle an issue which in civilized countries is resolved with dialog, mental health treatment, and gun ownership restrictions.
You and your doctrines of violence are the festering sore which won’t go away, you are the cancer which is destroying our country, you are the scourge of a society which needs to find more avenues of peaceful coexistence. Yes, you, those of you who proclaim, “only from my dead hands will they pry my gun.” You are directly the cause of America’s great pain today.
Along with millions of others world-wide, I am sad and grieving over the toll in Las Vegas of 59 dead and over 500 injured. But, I have grieved too often. The children at Columbine and Sandy Hook, the gays at Orlando, the prayer group at Charleston, the policemen in Dallas are speaking to us now pleading to stop the insanity of the proliferation of guns in America. The statistics of death by guns shame us, a society which claims the largest Christian population on earth. America, where are your values and the morals which define your faith?
No, now is the time to be angry and press the gun control dialog. If our representatives in government continue to sandbag us while pocketing NRA and munitions/arms manufacturers’ money, we must replace them with others who see the long-term necessity for a society free of weapons of mass destruction as used in Las Vegas. 2018 and 2020 elections are just around the corner. Get to know your candidates and their position on gun control and the 2nd amendment. Do not believe the cynics who say we don’t have the power to effect changes. As our illustrious President Obama said, “Yes, we can.”