Monday, February 8, 2016

Moral compass


Religion of Islam
      1.   Join not anything in worship with God (Shirk)
      2.   Be good and dutiful to parents
      3.   Kill not your children because of poverty
      4.   Come not near to "shameful" sins whether committed openly or secretly
      5.   Kill not anyone whom God has forbidden
      
6.   Come not near to the orphan’s property, except to improve it, until he (or she) attains the age of full strength.
7.   Give full measure and full weight with justice
8.   Whenever you speak, say the truth even if a near relative is concerned
9.   Fulfill the Covenant of God
10.  And, indeed, this is My Straight Path, so follow it, and do not follow other paths, for they will separate you away from His Path.  This He has ordained for you that you may become pious."

Buddhism has 5 precepts that speak about causing no harm to self, other humans and all living things.

I think the cause no harm precept summarizes all of the commandments listed above.

I can work on these commandments/precepts in my life and it can seem easy when I am comfortably at home writing a blog post. 

What happens when I read email or social media sites, go to work or the supermarket and what about interactions with my family? 

What attitude am I wearing? 

Is it one that will help me to continue to work on the commandments/precepts? Or do I fall into the "default mode" of doing what comes naturally, making sure I get what I want when I want it?

I operate in default mode more than I like to admit. It takes a great deal of self awareness to try to follow the commandments/precepts.

Here is a short example;
My husband received a gift of lottery tickets and some of them were winners. I went to the supermarket to cash them in and possibly buy more, greed always gets a hold of me when I have winning lottery tickets. 

I waited on line for my turn. I noticed another person approached the other side of the counter several minutes after I had arrived and was being helped by the same person I was waiting to help me. I wanted to say, "hey, wait a minute, I was here first!" I kept my mouth shut and repeated the word patience in my head with a bit of contempt for the person being helped. I totally blew the cause no harm precept in the short time this was taking place. I ended the "session" with a heartfelt thank you. I continued on my journey with hyper care. Basically avoiding any other encounters that may stir my dark side.

I did better in the next stop to the Italian restaurant because there was nothing to cause a conflict within me. I'll call this the grace and mercy of God.

Right now as I am sitting in the living room writing this blog while someone is in the kitchen is playing music. I had mentioned to this person yesterday that I like to start my morning with silence. This is where we differ. He likes noise at certain times and I prefer silence.

He put the music on very low. I thought, "ok he is being considerate and I can meet him there in the halfway point." I continued writing and he turned off the music to read the paper. Ah, silence again.

I was aware of what I was doing and how I was feeling. I made a conscious effort to just be comfortable with the music playing.

It is hard work to abide the commandments/precepts. It is work I am willing to take on because I see the benefits in my inner being and in my relationships. 

There are much larger issues that I want to be a part of the solution, like homelessness, human trafficking, the nutrition value of our food and how we, the human race/tribe can live side by side without causing harm, joining everyone's efforts to help on these an other issues so that we create solutions to end them.

These topics seem overwhelming and I freeze. I think it is just too big for one person. 

Yet if I know the overall moral compass of these commandment/precepts, become aware of when its application is needed and act with them in mind change occurs. And maybe the change that is occurring within me spreads to those I know, those within my circle of influence, and it builds from there.

I think of the old Faberge shampoo TV commercial where one person tells another and they tell two friends and so on and so on until the whole TV screen was full of people who knew of and was using this great shampoo.        

Do you think we can start that here? 

Will you share this blog post with two friends and so on and so on?

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Luke 9:28-43 Faithless


Jesus answered, "You faithless and perverse generation, how much longer must I be with you and bear with you? 

Generally, Jesus is thought of as a kind, gentle loving person.


Though, He sounds pretty tough in this passage and others.


Jesus mission is to encourage, empower, enlighten us toward faith in God, an intelligent being that created everything in peace and harmony.


Generally, as human beings, we are far off from the mark.


Jesus would be saying the same to us today, "You faithless and perverse generation, how much longer must I be with you and bear with you? 


I wonder if he would say even more to us because we are the generations after His crucifixion, death and resurrection. The generation after He showed the way to be, to live and to act.


Maybe he would say something like this, "I went through all that pain and suffering for you and you still don't get it!? YOU have to change YOUR ways of thought and action toward YOURSELVES and EACH OTHER! What will it take for you to get it? I gave you a new way to be, to live and to act. Take a step in this new way each moment of each day."


Jesus came to change us and we are here to change ourselves and help each other.


The scripture passage from Luke talks about a man who came to Jesus seeking healing for his son. Jesus responded as noted above because He knew that the man had the power within to heal his son through faith.


The same is true for each of us. We have the power within to heal ourselves, our family and friends through faith.  


The first step is faith. 

Believing that we can. 

Believing that we are from the intelligent being that created everything in peace and harmony. 

The next step is acting. 

Acting with the confidence that we can. 


Acting with the confidence that the creating power living within us will create the changes for our world to become the world God intended us to enjoy in peace and harmony.

It starts with one step….


Saturday, January 30, 2016

Do not be afraid

John 6:16-27
The sea became rough because a strong wind was blowing. When they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea and coming near the boat, and they were terrified. But he said to them, "It is I; do not be afraid."

+++++++

Fear is a powerful emotion because it can weaken the strong, turn the active into the inactive, cause harm and confusion, create a sense of helplessness and so much more. If we let it.

If we let it is the key to the handling of fear. I have read that fear is an acronym for false evidence appearing real. The disciples in that boat saw Jesus walking on water. The evidence was clear. Yet they were terrified.

Their thoughts about Jesus walking on water created their fear.
The false evidence is how we allow our mind to interpret what we are experiencing to the point that that becomes our reality.

I had an experience of debilitating fear when I was diagnosed with cancer. I was so consumed with fear it was hard to breath at times. And I knew I had to get my fear under control or it could lead to further illness or maybe, by making wrong choices within my fear, my death.

There was no false evidence about my cancer. It was very real. My doctors and I plotted a course for treatment and a positive outcome.

My fear came from the thoughts I had about the treatment if it didn’t work. And what if cancer came back or who will take care of and support my family?

My thoughts caused the false evidence. My thoughts are projections of what I think I know. Not of what will actually happen because there is no way I know that. Only Jesus does and if I trust Jesus then my fear is unwarranted.
Jesus works all things for the good of those who love him, Romans 8:29.


Changing my thoughts to trust in Jesus’s provision replace my fear with hope and mystery in the unfolding plan.

Next month I celebrate my 5 year cancer diagnosis anniversary. This is a great milestone in fighting cancer. I am grateful to remain in the mystery of the unfolding plan. Thank you Jesus for your love and mercy.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Reflection

John 5:30-47
“I have come in my Father's name, and you do not accept me; if another comes in his own name, you will accept him. How can you believe when you accept glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the one who alone is God? Do not think that I will accuse you before the Father; your accuser is Moses, on whom you have set your hope. If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me. But if you do not believe what he wrote, how will you believe what I say?"
+++++++
Jesus is speaking to the Jewish people of his day in this scripture passage.
Try to place yourself into that space and time with the knowledge of today.
This person proclaiming that he is the Son of God comes into my circle of influence. Maybe I’ve seen some of his healings and listened to what he has to say. Or maybe I have heard from you about this guy and I can see how excited or disinterested you are towards him.
Read the passage again with this view.

I get stuck on the line “if another comes in his own name, you will accept him.” How many times do I  accept a person for who they say they are? Being a trusting person I can say all the time!
Someone claiming they are the Son of God would have me be a bit cautious though. And I wonder why? Is it due to my preconceived notions of who the Son of God should be? And the way in which the Son of God would behave or what he would look like? How can the Son of God be a human being? Really? Come on, you have got to be kidding me!


To believe today that Jesus is the Son of God can be a very hard thing to do because I first have to believe what was written about him, scripture, is true and not some man made story. If I can be so trusting of a stranger to take them at their word of who they are. Why can’t I do the same for who Jesus says he is?

Thursday, December 10, 2015

A Christmas Parable


by Louis Cassels

"Once upon a time there was a man who looked upon Christmas as a lot of humbug. He wasn’t a Scrooge. He was a kind and decent person, generous to his family, upright in all his dealings with others. But he didn’t believe all that stuff about Incarnation which churches proclaim at Christmas. 

And he was too honest to pretend that he did. "I am truly sorry to distress you," he told his wife, who was a faithful churchgoer. "But I simply cannot understand this claim that God becomes man. It doesn’t make any sense to me."



On Christmas Eve his wife and children went to church for the midnight service. He declined to accompany them. "I’d feel like a hypocrite," he explained. "I’d rather stay at home. But I’ll wait up for you."

Shortly after his family drove away in the car, snow began to fall. He went to the window and watched the flurries getting heavier and heavier. "If we must have Christmas," he thought, "it’s nice to have a white one." 

He went back to his chair by the fireside and began to read his newspaper. A few minutes later he was startled by a thudding sound. It was quickly followed by another, then another.

He thought that someone must be throwing snowballs at his living room window. When he went to the front door to investigate, he found a flock of birds huddled miserably in the storm. 

They had been caught in the storm and in a desperate search for shelter had tried to fly through his window. "I can’t let these poor creatures lie there and freeze," he thought. "But how can I help them?" Then he remembered the barn where the children’s pony was stabled. It would provide a warm shelter.



He put on his coat and galoshes and tramped through the deepening snow to the barn. He opened the door wide and turned on a light. But the birds didn’t come in. "Food will lure them in," he thought. So he hurried back to the house for bread crumbs, which he sprinkled on the snow to make a trail into the barn. To his dismay, the birds ignored the bread crumbs and continued to flop around helplessly in the snow. 

He tried shooing them into the barn by walking around and waving his arms. They scattered in every direction - except into the warm lighted barn.

"They find me a strange and terrifying creature," he said to himself, "and I can’t seem to think of any way to let them know they can trust me. If only I could be a bird myself for a few minutes, perhaps I could lead them to safety ..."



Just at that moment the church bells began to ring. He stood silent for a while, listening to the bells pealing the glad tidings of Christmas. Then he sank to his knees in the snow. "Now I do understand," he whispered. “Now I see why You had to do it."

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Advent Calendar

Advent Calendar 2015

11/30   Read some verses from any book of the bible. What does the reading say to you?

12/1     Create a “God Account” – a “bank” where you will put any amount of $ each day. This money will be used for God’s service, as the Holy Spirit leads you to use it!

12/2     ENJOY your favorite food today – savor it!
1Tim 4:4 “For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving.”

12/3     Pray for the “Family Promise families being served by the members of Christ Church Ridgewood

12/4     Do something that you find difficult, whatever that may be.
            JN 16:33 “Behold, I have overcome the world.”

12/5     Pray the Prayer of St. Francis (attached)

12/6     Attend a service, or spend 30 minutes with God (pray, read, sing, play music, etc.)

12/7     Bring a gift, or some token of friendship, to your neighbor.
            “And they’ll know we are Christians by our love…”

12/8     Refrain from having something today (cup of coffee, snack, etc) and put the money you would have spent into your “God account.”

12/9     Go out of your way to smile today, especially if you come in contact with other people.
            Prov 15:30 “A cheerful look brings joy to the heart…”

12/10   Relax with your favorite beverage, hot or cold. Thank God for your blessings as you sit and sip.
            MT 11:28 “Come to me all you who labor or are heavy burdened, and I will give you rest.”

12/11   Pray Luke 1:37 “For nothing is impossible with God.”

12/12   Volunteer at a homeless shelter, or other service organization, or donate to them

12/13   Attend a service, or spend 30 minutes with God (pray, read, sing, play music, etc.)

12/14   Be intentionally kind to a service person, like a cashier, or anyone who works for the public. Ephesians 4:32 “Be kind toward one another, tenderhearted…” OR
            Attend bible study and bring in a donation of food for St. Paul’s pantry.

12/15   Send a Christmas card to someone with whom you have lost touch.


12/16   Listen to your favorite Christmas carol and SING ALONG!
            “He/she who sings prays twice.”

12/17   Pray Luke 2:10 “Fear not, for I bring you tidings of great joy…”

12/18   Let someone go in front of you, whether in line, in traffic, etc.
            Luke 6:31 “And as you wish that others would do for you, do so to them.”

12/19   Spend 10 minutes in total, unbridled gratitude…and smile about your blessings.
Psalm 107:1 “Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good. His steadfast love endures forever.”

12/20   Attend a service, or spend 30 minutes with God (pray, read, sing, play music, etc.)

12/21   Decorate your home with a very special, meaningful decoration, new or old. Thank God for its meaning, and the people/person/event that the decoration reminds you of.

12/22   Spend 30 minutes with God (pray, read, sing, play music, etc.)
            Or sit for a while facing the sun, or light a candle.
            JN 3:19 “The light has come into the world…”

12/23   Spend/donate your “God money” from your “God Account” in whatever way the Spirit leads you.
            MT 6:21 “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”

12/24   Light a candle. Listen to, sing, or pray the lyrics to “Silent Night.”
            “Silent night, holy night,
            All is calm, all is bright.
            Round yon virgin, mother and child,
            Holy Infant, so tender and mild,
            Sleep in heavenly peace, Sleep in heavenly peace.”

12/25   Joy to the World, the Lord has come! Merry Christmas! Share the joy!
            JN 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son.”

Prayer of St Francis

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace;
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved, as to love;
for it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.
Amen.