g.o.d.

orange treeThose of you in a recovery program will recognize this acronym and some of you who read me know that I have referenced it before in my writing.  It represents a concept which many of us newly sober men and women grasped gratefully because we refused to acknowledge an entity which had been so miserably projected unto us by religionists.  It stands for “good orderly direction”.

It kept me returning to the meeting rooms and undoubtedly led me to a serene sobriety.  Ultimately my Higher Power did soften my strident anti-God attitude and introduced me to the miracles found in all the scriptures and wisdom sayings of numerous religions.  For me to profess a God of any understanding is in itself one of the most profound miracles in my entire life.  To finally realize the love of a Higher Power and to name that power God was unimaginable even after several years of sobriety.

So, you can understand my aroused interest upon reading another man’s viewpoint that God is not truly a noun, an entity to be beheld, but a verb, a word of action.  Actually this is not merely a point of view, it is a legitimate interpretation by a recognized researcher and scholar of Jewish scriptures.

“COMMENTARY ON THE TORAH” by Richard Elliott Friedman discusses the passage in Exodus 3:14-15 in which Moses is speaking to God who has just informed him that he, Moses, would lead the Israelites out of Egyptian bondage.  Moses’ response was, “Well, who are you, what shall I call you?”

Thus we have the familiar words, “I am who I am”, YHWH, which is translated into Anglican texts as Yahweh.  Christian interpretation is, at best, confusing and unclear.  But in his commentary, the author explains to us that the imperfect verb used is not limited to present tense; it can also be future tense, thereby also rendering the words as “I shall be who I shall be.”  Furthermore, in this passage the name of God is now revealed for the first time to the Israelites.

“YHWH” is a verb, third person, singular, and masculine.  Its root meaning is “to be”.  It cannot be limited to past, present or future time.  It is timeless and its nearest translation would be, “He Causes To Be”.  Don’t get hung up on the masculinity attribute as that was the Jewish custom.  Biblical Israel conceived God as male.

Adding this insight to a compendium of prior revelations about the Higher Power whom I name God gives an added layer of meaning to the acronym, g.o.d., in the ongoing process of recovery.  It suggests motion, movement into a life of dedication and service which is essentially what Alcoholics Anonymous, Celebrate Recovery, and other recovery programs emphasize.  Good, orderly direction is more than a cute phrase hanging in a picture frame on our meeting-room wall.CANDLE

 

a new social order

“Jesus announced, lived, and inaugurated a new social order, an alternative to violence, exclusion, and separation. It is no fantastical utopia, but a very real and achievable peace—by the grace of God.” cac.org, Richard Rohr

Often I try to put myself back into the times of Jesus.  Sometimes I play the role of a man like Jesus in that chaotic era of history.  My imagination cannot possibly comprehend even the mundane challenges of everyday life trying to survive in a society which was tightly controlled not only by the Romans but also by the Jewish hierarchy.  Earning a living, providing food and shelter for a family, abiding by innumerable laws of government and religion must have driven many men to madness and desperation.

Remembering that Jesus was probably a typical, young man long before he became a local celebrity, I can picture his Jewish mother, Mary, lamenting, “All my other sons have jobs, earn a living, have a nice donkey to ride to work, go on vacation to Jerusalem every year and buy their wives new robes for their birthday.”

Young Jesus is just standing there before Mary with a sheepish grin, “But mother,  you just don’t understand, I have to be about my Father’s work.  I have a Kingdom to establish.”

“Kingdom, smingdom.  Why can’t you be more like your brother James?  He just built on a beautiful sewing room for his wife and rumor has it that they are sending little James to private tutoring next year with the Rabbi.”

“Aw, Mom, I am not like my brothers.  Hey, have you seen my sandals?  I’m leaving tomorrow to spend 40 days in the wilderness.”

Later in Jesus’ ministry to his countrymen, he remembered the days at home in Nazareth.  Then Jesus told them, “A prophet is honored everywhere except in his own hometown and among his relatives and his own family.”Mark 6:4

His hometown people undoubtedly thought Jesus was not only lazy but also crazy.  When he began teaching his outrageous idea that all people were equal in the eyes of God, that the Jewish temple leaders were hypocrites, that women had rights, that prostitutes, tax collectors, and Samaritans were loved by God, his mother Mary must have walked down to the well for water with eyes straight ahead, unable to bear the whispering and gossiping of her village friends along the path.

“That son of hers, Jesus….did you hear what he did over at Galilee?  He said he could move mountains and people say that he walked on water.  Can you imagine?  Poor Mary, she’s such a good woman.”

“Yes, and did you know that he has gathered a group of other men to follow him around the countryside begging for food and teaching something they call the Way.  They say he’s the Messiah.”

“Jesus was a person radically centered in God, empowered by that relationship, and filled with God’s passion for the world—a passion that led to his execution and vindication.” “—Marcus Borg

2000 years later, Jesus of Nazareth creates just as much controversy as he did when he was a young man in Israel.  Some people think he was a radical and a zealot.  Some people say he was and is God’s Son.  Others say he was just another magician supporting his homeless ways as best as he could.

But, it doesn’t matter.  Jesus, by his lifestyle and his teaching, brought to humanity an awareness that mankind is a brotherhood/sisterhood of equally loved and loving children of God and that they all, every one of them, are worthy of a Father’s love and compassion.  Imagine that!  A carpenter’s lazy son from Nazareth turned the world upside down and inside out saying that all men and women are equal, all are loved by God, all are welcome to partake of Earth’s great feast, and all are designed by their Creator to live in peace.

One man – a homeless beggar, a social reject, a charlatan, a simple teacher of brotherly love – did that 2000 years ago.  The new social order he ordained lives vibrantly and grows within the hearts of men and women today.  He was crucified so that we could live abundantly.  Do I have what it takes to be a person radically centered on God?  How about you?

cac.orgCANDLE

Calling out racism

Washington Post

SPLC

The above two links were part of my morning read today.  Although I have made a commitment to disengage from the name-calling and the finger-pointing, my conscience will not allow me to disengage from the issues which are controlling America’s destiny.  It is too important for our children and grandchildren for us to dismiss these issues as a passing occurrence, a blip in history.

The Washington Post article addresses the inevitable conversation with one who is racist and initiates a racial rant or an inappropriate racial joke.  (Yes, I still believe in politically correct speech, it is not a sign of weakness).  It happens to all of us at some point in our interactions with the world and more often than not, unless we are prepared to speak out, we will defer any comment or correction.  Usually, afterwards, we feel extremely uncomfortable with our decision to remain quiet.

For me, the strategy is to tune in to key words in the conversation which will engage my offense strategy.  When slurs or demeaning comments are made, I find that simply and CALMLY offering an alternative opinion is usually enough to change the conversation to the weather or the price of beef anuses on the stock exchange.  If the offender becomes agitated or threatening, plan B, escape, becomes the action of choice.  Physical confrontation never resolves any issues.  Please refer to the POST article for further pointers.  We cannot remain silent when racism occurs.

The SPLC article entitled “AMERICA, THE TRUMPED” details how the current Administration has been whittling away at our civil rights.  People of color, LGBT, physically disabled, people of faiths other than Christianity are being threatened by the powers which control our government from the Executive Branch to the Legislature to the Supreme Court.  This dismantling of rights which have been gained by blood and tears throughout America’s history often occurs behind the smoke screen of bluster and bullying which have become hallmarks of Trump’s presidency.   We must remain informed and prepared to take action in the elections of 2018 and 2020.

As I have stated, it is not my desire to dip into the cesspool which we call contemporary politics, but every voice which speaks out for civility, tolerance, and equanimity will be heard by the most Sovereign of all powers.  May we find that voice and use it constructively.clapping

the Critic

I watched several messages on You Tube by a popular pastor, Marcus Mecum , at 7 Hills Church located in Florence, Kentucky.  The man delivers inspiring teaching to his non-orange treedenominational followers and his “church” is not adorned with all the usual accoutrement one expects in a Christian church.  The pulpit is more akin to a stage setting with a background of contemporary light displays.  There is a lot of shouting from the audience, I mean congregation, and lifting of arms and hands towards the heavens.  Although many verses from Old and New Testament scriptures are referenced, one has no doubt that Jesus Christ is the mainstay of this church.

“When you are a critic, you become a victim.”  Pastor Mecum struck a deep nerve with those words.  That describes me in many situations occurring in my life today.  It is especially apropos in the political climate of the past year.  Being a critic has become so easy when I am fed a steady diet of scandalous stories and personal slander on every news outlet and late night TV show.  My character defects thrive on the garbage which flows ceaselessly from the mouths of pundits and experts.  It all makes me feel so absolutely normal and well-adjusted.  I’m not like those imbiciles and morons who are being internationally scorned and ridiculed.  Yea for Larry !

“Love thy neighbor as thyself.”  Oh, well that doesn’t apply in this scenario, does it?  Those fools deserve what is being unleashed on them.  They are idiots.  Their mouths are forever talking trash about the other guy and just look how they conduct themselves.  The carousing, the immoral behavior, the greed, the obscenity, the lasciviousness and crassness which I see paraded in front of me as newsworthy information.  Thank God I am not like them !

“Really?  You have no sin?  You are not just as broken as they are?  You got all your ducks in a row, right?”

“Well, not exactly, Lord.  I’ve got some minor problems, too.  Well, actually, my defects are pretty glaring.  You know all of them.”

“Yes, I do.”

Victimized.  I have been victimized by my own ego; my pride is telling me that I am a notch above all the shenanigans happening on the national scene. My sins are not as egregious as their sins.  My behavior is more civil, more godly.  I have the authority to be a critic because I am better.

And it’s not OK to spend so many hours of my day judging the actions of others rather than celebrating in meditation and prayer the  freedom bestowed on me by a gracious Savior who loved me enough to pull me out of those same slime pits.  I still belong there, I am still more comfortable there, and I shall return there if I continue to be a victim of my own judgmental nature.

Jesus told the men of the village when an adulteress had been apprehended,  “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.” John 8:7

We know the rest of the story.  Not s single man had the moral authority to cast the first stone.  10When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee? 11She said, No man, LORD. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.” John 8:10-11

Overlooking an opportunity to castigate and berate national figures, “neighbors”, is sometimes difficult, many times impossible.  For me, it takes a lot of prayer and practice.  It does not come naturally because in my natural state I am not a nice man.  But, Jesus has called me to be better than that.  He has called me to “go, and sin no more.”

I cannot be a winner when I am a victim of myself, my sinful nature and character defects.  For me, Jesus is the only “Way” to victory over myself.smiley 3

 

 

…been to the mountain

In the small world between my ears I can think of nothing as frustrating or disgusting as politics.  The limited federal government envisioned by the men of wisdom who forged cropped-patriots1.pngour experiment which was never before undertaken by like-minded citizens has ballooned into an unwieldy and corrupt behemoth which favors wealth and power at the expense of commoners who keep the country’s machinery running.  We are the simple, unassuming folks who pay bills on time, raise families, volunteer in our communities, and trust in the power of love and compassion.  We support our local charities, tithe in church, and buy those outrageously-priced Girl Scout cookies every spring.  We don’t ask for much in return other than a chance to run our lives without interference from legislators and politicians who see us as a ticket to power and riches.  We are the backbone of a great country composed of every creed, every race, and every lifestyle imaginable.  We are America and this America which we embrace will not disappear nor hide behind closed doors in the face of governmental tyranny and oppression supported by imbecilic minds and moronic behavior.  They may have the money to build palaces unto themselves, eat filet mignon (or cheeseburgers) every night and adorn themselves in designer clothes.  They may travel in jets to vacation spots worldwide at our expense and they may spend weekends knocking a little white ball around manicured, artificially beautified acres of greenery, but, when the final tally is made, when life for them is over, they will be as naked as jaybirds, poor as church mice, and answerable to a Supreme Power saying, “I knew you not.”

OK, that’s my political rant for the day.  Now, on to the  important things fluttering within my brain waves.

The eternity I seek is not some faraway place in the distant future.  It is happening right now, right here in the world of LarryPaulBrown.  Every breath I take and every thought I have is a moment of eternal commitment.  Whom or what I choose as the focus of my commitment determines what my present moment will provide to me.  It can be spent within the peace of a loving, compassionate God or it can be a endured in the chaos of a world gone mad.  It truly is up to me where I go with my mind and my life.  By no means have I attained a sustained state of bliss, but I have seen moments of what is  available and I want more.

Martin Luther King, Jr., in his last speech the night before his assassination in Memphis gave one of his most powerful insights into that which is available:

“Well, I don’t know what will happen now. We’ve got some difficult days ahead. But it doesn’t matter with me now. Because I’ve been to the mountaintop. And I don’t mind. Like any man, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the promised land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people will get to the promised land. And I’m happy, tonight. I’m not worried about anything. I’m not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.” Martin Luther King, Jr. (April 3, 1968)

We all need to go to the mountaintop and look it over.  From that lofty state of mind the things of this earth are irrelevant.  Our eyes will see the glory.  The coming of the Lord has happened.  It is right here, right now.  Just open your eyes, spread you arms and receive Him.brilliance