REALITY

scan0034Many years ago I found myself at a crossroads in my spiritual life. Having been sober for several years I began searching for an extension of the entity I called HP. Believing that sobriety had cleared my mind sufficiently to venture into the world of theology, I found what I believed to be a true path to a better understanding of God. Sincerity and fervor was not an issue; I wanted to be one of those ‘normal’ people who worshipped in churches.

A local community church promised to be the answer to my searching; it offered to me the ‘black and white’ of every issue which life raised; there were no gray areas. Promoting itself as inerrant, literal and true to the Word of God, this fellowship of Godly believers covered me with their version of righteousness.

Unfortunately, it did not accept the recovery program of AA as Biblical and I was encouraged to abandon the AA fellowship. They told me the AA program was an unacceptable theology for a true believer. In retrospect I know today that it was only by the grace of God that I continued to stay sober while worshipping in their version of godliness.

The dilemma of breaking away from AA and then leaving the church was not part of the sobriety script. It left me with a foot in both doors; neither fellowship fulfilled my need to fellowship or worship. I learned from this experience that theology, religion, and spirituality are not interchangeable words.

Theology is knowing about God or a God-belief system; religion is a personal walk with God; spirituality is the inner change as a result of that walk. Thirty years after that near fatal encounter with the inerrant literalists I joyously practice religion, graciously accept spiritual blessings, and warily keep an eye on theologians.

This evolution leads to the gist of my post: gaining knowledge about varying theologies is important to discernment, practicing religion is soul food, cherishing spiritual gifts from differing sources honors God’s inherent intelligence.

My self-identity as a Jesus follower does not ascribe me to any particular faith or theology. This journey I am undertaking has led me to revere and trust the historical Jesus as presented by numerous non-religious sources as well as the writings of early Jesus followers. It is my personal belief that when Rome established Christianity as its state religion, theology overshadowed religion and spirituality; thus resulting in the loss of the true message of Jesus Christ and the 1st century disciples.

My quest for spiritual sanity demands that I learn about other faiths and their messengers who have presented the truth of God to an unbelieving world; the God of my understanding, my HP, is universal and omnipotent using differing avenues to approach the unbelieving world.

“In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.”
John 14:2 kjv

The author is not speaking in terms of the physical world, rather in the spiritual realm which in essence is what all scriptures are about. It is the spiritual manifestation of our desire for God. This verse speaks to me very clearly that my HP has room for differing religious persuasions, that there are many differing relationships with the Supreme Being.

WHOSE TRUTH?

cropped-grand-canyon-1.jpg

“He marches to the beat of a different drummer.”

“Different strokes for different folks.”

We are a world of variety in life styles, persuasions and philosophies. What works for you may be anathema for me and your choice of music could drive me whacko. I love John Philip Sousa, Bach, and John Lennon and I have no idea what hip-hop is.

How often have you heard the above quotes used to describe someone who is not like we are? How do you react? Do you avoid, sneer, snicker, taunt, bully? Or do you love and embrace the differences? If we follow the entity which is the Higher Power in our lives, the path is clear to us. Bill W. exhorts tolerance in our AA literature. It is clearly stated in the sacred writings of all major religions and specifically cited as the greatest of commandments, after loving your God, repeatedly in New Testament writings of the Bible.

Matthew 5:43
Matthew 19:19
Matthew 22:39
Mark 12:31
Luke 10:27
Romans 13:9
Galatians 5:14
James 2:8

We have the instructions, the commandments, and the strength of Godly fellowships to guide us in our relationships with the rest of humanity which will lead to civility, tolerance, peace, and shalom (wholeness & completeness).

So, where have we gone wrong? Why are war, brutality, murders, suicide bombings, and genocide filling the screens we view every day? What we have is a far cry from what our world should be.

“The sky is blue.”

“No, stupid, the sky is green.”

Therein lies the problem. My truth may not be the same as your truth. I have been raised to equate the sky as blue. But, you may have been told that the color I see as blue is green to you. Or you could be color blind. Or one of us may have a need to be contrary.

Whatever the reason for disagreeing, it is evident that our truths are not the same even though we both call it truth. When we apply this to our religious philosophies, each of us certain that our truth is absolute and every other conviction is in error, we have created a breeding ground for hatred and discontent.

Jesus said, “I am the Way: the truth and the life.”

Obviously, a great number of his contemporaries disagreed.  It got him crucified.  Maybe he was the truth, maybe he and his followers of the Way had the answers.  But others, Jews and Romans, held to a differing truth and had no qualms about pressing their version.

So, how can I honor my truth and yet respect and uphold the faiths of Jews, Muslims, Hindus, and Buddhists who sincerely believe they have the way?  Answers were much easier and forthright in a previous church affiliation I experienced many years ago.  Everything was in black or white, all answers were concrete, and everyone outside our church was damned…..or at least unblessed.

And there is my answer.  I know from that church affiliation what the truth is not.  It is not narrow.  It is not exclusive.  It is not bitter.  It is not vindictive. It is not vengeful.  It is not proud.  It is not arrogant.

Truth is love.  Love is truth.  Jesus is both.  And that, short and simple, is the entirety of my religion.

1 Corinthians 13:4-8 tells me everything I need to know about religion, about faith, about conviction, and yes, about truth.

4″ Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails……”

 

HALLELUJAH

cropped-my-rock.jpg

larrypaulbrown
Krishna was there,
Yahweh and Buddha watched from above.
They saw and wept;
the Way, the great ‘I AM’, a Savior
nailed to a tree.

A man of peace,
a messenger of love,
hope for the hopeless,
life for the dead in spirit
nailed to a tree.

The heavens roared in pain,
the angels ceased singing,
the holy ones prostrated in grief,
skies thundered,
the moon and stars hid in horror.

Their Son, their beloved,
shamed and ravaged,
naked and dying,
nailed to a tree
mocked and reviled.

“No,” they bellowed,
“this shall not be the end.
Our Prince of Peace will prevail.
He will be Lord of lords
and King of kings. Forever.”

The Way – the truth and life continued,
peace, love, tolerance, justice
revealed through other lives.
Mohammed, Francis of Assisi,
Gandhi, Martin Luther King.

……….you and I.
All of God’s children united
with the spirit of the Way
living in truth and peace,
eternally joined in Spirit.

The Way will not be crushed,
the truth will not be crushed,
the life will not be crushed.
Forever and ever.
Amen

“He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.” [Isaiah 53:3]

WERE YOU THERE?

BEACH

larrypaulbrown
Were you there,
did you see it,
the cross, the nails, the soldiers?
Were you there?
He called himself the Way:
the truth, the life.
They mocked him,
tortured him,
nailed him to a cross.

Sign said ‘King of the Jews’,
they did not believe then,
why should we believe now?
Were you there to see it?
Did you talk to Mary…..
or John or Peter,
see Jesus on the road to Emmaus,
witness his ascension?
How do you know?

Were you there?
Did you see what I saw?
In spirit we witnessed,
in spirit we collaborated
to murder God’s messenger.
We did not defend or shield
as the soldiers raised him.
Did you weep,
did your turn your head away?

Jesus – my conscience, my spirit, my soul.
The world did not know him,
does not believe him,
mocks and ridicules him,
says he doesn’t exist,
wants to crucify him.
Where will I be?
At the foot of his cross watching
or nailed with him to the crossbar?

O, Supreme God, save us from ourselves.
Give us faith,
fill us with trust,
let us revere the unseen,
show us the Way.
Nail our doubts
to the cross,
crucify our unbelief.
Let us be redeemed.

“……I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” [Matthew 17:20]