Careful what you wish for, or Doug looks at 50.

So I was told last Sunday 3-22-15, that my last 3 sermons were some of my best. So here is the first of those 3 sermon’s from 3-8-2015. I was glad to hear that they were well received. As the guy doing the talking, you always try to do your best, but I know that sometimes they are workman like at best. I did, in fact feel on my “A” game these last few weeks, maybe channeling the energy from the upcoming Easter Holiday.

In this one I get into the ideas of my new “man crush”, Richard Rohr and his idea that we have 2 distinct half’s of our lives. The first half, the less mature half, is necessary for growth and if we are lucky enough we can progress into the more “mature” second half of life. I love his thought that for most of us, this second half of life “maturity” comes to most of us at a cost. To most of us,while living through it, it seems to be a very high cost indeed. That cost is usually what we think of as pain, and our natural reaction is to distance ourselves from pain.

Pain, that with time, can become the growth we need, but in today’s world we don’t sit in the pain, we try to numb it in some way, move away from it. With addiction, attachments of all kinds, rampant consumerism, and the distancing of ourselves from those close to us. How about our total addiction to “gadgets”, or the need to fill every waking moment with “something”, like soccer or football or dance or texting or Facebook or the new TV show. The list goes on and on. Its not all bad but we need some perspective.

We don’t know how to “be” anymore. We need to learn to shut “it” off; the noise of the world.

Be careful what you let into you life! We don’t even think about that at all. You can control  to a large degree the ” noise” you allow into your world. Look around most of what we deal with on a daily bases is noise.

I read somewhere that God’s only language is silence.

See I think we have tried to fill every waking moment with something, so we don’t have to face ourselves, or answer the big questions. We hide from ourselves and God. We fill our lives with “stuff” because most of us have a hole in our heart’s where GOD use to be. We have lost something, our connection to God.

We all long for that connection with “source.” That longing comes from the way we are told that we are separate from God, and what we are told we need to do to get back in good graces with the “man.” What makes us think we could do anything to separate ourselves from God? We separate ourselves from him\her, never the other way around.

Most of us know a punitive God that’s out for punishment and pain. That’s first half of life thinking at it best. My God doesn’t demand blood, she just ask us to love her back. That’s second half thinking. That moves the story forward. 10 Commandants’ are first half of life stuff; the beatitudes are second half beauty.

Neither is wrong but they serve a different purpose in our lives. Rohr helps us to understand we need them both, but we need to work through first half issues to mature (hopefully) into the second half of our lives, with more “vision and grace.” You have to have a strong foundation in the basics especially early in life, so you can be comfortable to move beyond them, into second half thinking. The world needs more second half type thinkers. Jesus was a second half of life thinker!

As we get older absolutes should dissolve into, I can see your point! The problem is many of us don’t progress into second half of life thinking. I can see that as the major problem of our country and the world, including the church. We are ruled by first half of life thinkers that live their lives with absolutes, we have lost the middle ground- just take a look around. Rohr says something like “literalism isn’t wrong, it’s just the most basic form of understanding.”

I get into my thoughts about finding what you look for, I think we do get what we look for far more often than we believe. The problem is we tend to think in first half of life thinking. Know the commercial where the guy rubs the lamp and asks for a million bucks, and the yard is full of deer. Careful what you wish for, you might just get it. If you want to see a world filled with pain and misery, there is plenty to “see” out there. From Matthew 7:7 “Ask and it will be given to you; search and you will find.”

I also get into how nothing is wasted if you can learn to see it with new eyes, my biggest “problems” of the past are the only times I have really ever grown. It takes time and distance but I would not trade them, how about you?

Take a look at your life; can you see that many if not most times you got what you went looking for, good or bad? Or will it have to wait until your done watching “your favorite show.”

The Audio from 3-8-2015

How do you choose to see the world?


How do you choose to see things, through what kind of eyes?

From Matthew 6:22-23 MSG

“Your eyes are windows into your body. If you open your eyes wide in wonder and belief, your body fills up with light. If you live squinty-eyed in greed and distrust, your body is a dank cellar. If you pull the blinds on your windows, what a dark life you will have!”

I have been thinking about how we “choose” to see things a lot lately. I need you to know that it is a choice, you create your own reality to a large degree. We are taught from everybody; parents, teacher, friends, clergy, culture, everyone, to see things in a certain way the “right” way. But who’s right way; there’s, yours, the groups way? What group? We naturally break things into us and them, and that’s a problem, it keeps us in low level thinking, not wrong, but definitely not “enlightened.” That’s why we are still talking about the same things they struggled with in the Bible, insert the “Holy” book of your choice here.  Richard Rohr says  “literal thinking is not wrong, it’s just the lowest level of thinking, we need to change the way we view the world.”

As near as I can tell, Jesus made no distinctions of religion or race or class or gender! Actually he was radically inclusive. A lesson we still need to learn today.

If you still see a them , and we all do, then you still have work to do. Do you see “other” religions, other political parties, other groups of anything? Sure we all do, what are you doing about it, that’s the question. I know what most of us do, nothing. Blame someone else; blame a “them.”

Until we can see that the “them’s” of the world are the” us’s” of the world, things won’t change all that much. If we can’t learn to “see” with different eyes, we are doomed to repeat the past. You know that old saying, if you don’t remember the past you’re doomed to repeat it, that’s Bull . We remember it and  repeat it, over and over and over again, just look at the world. We are told to forgive but don’t forget, I call Bull on that one too, just forgive and forget period. Jesus calls us to forgive those who persecute you, somebody needs to start somewhere. We need to move the story forward. We need to see the world with “new eyes.”

Hilary Clinton is in the news this week for not using the ‘correct” email server? She says she followed protocol, did she? We are still here, they (who ever they are) didn’t bomb us, and the world kept spinning. What do you see, I am sure what you see is based on your prejudices; the Republicans are on a witch hunt! The Democrats are trying to cover something up, she is hiding something… Or is it all just noise?

Noise that divides us, keeps us from doing the real work that needs done.

Maybe we should be talking about things that matter, like our deficit, or poverty, or hunger, or peace.

I keep hearing that we are the “richest” nation that ever existed, and we have citizen’s that don’t have enough to eat, or are without health care, or a roof over their heads.

What would Jesus do indeed!

The only person you can change is you. You need to be the change you want to see in this world.

What you think about you become, be aware of what you let into your soul, you will become it. “If you live squinty-eyed in greed and distrust, your body is a dank cellar.” Are you a dank cellar?

What you seek you surely find!

My friends- part 2.

Another of my friends called me at the end of the day Friday while I was still thinking about my conversation earlier in the day. So we got talking about spiritual things and my friend proceeded to tell me more of his personal journey and how he goes to a Christian meditative prayer. Also, how his dad was spiritual but never went to church much. I brought up how most of my “un-churched” friends tend to have a cleaner relationship with God than most of us regular attendee’s, funny how that seems to work.

As the conversation continued we started talking about his sister, a born again Christian, and his recovering drug addict friend, and how they had much different ideas than he did about God. So I started telling him how I don’t see the God a lot of my “religious” brethren see either. I threw out the idea that, “the God you find says more about you than it does about God.” See Last Post.

I proceeded to share with him about a period of time where I hated myself for not being what I thought I was supposed to be, who I wanted to be, who God wanted me to be. I had lost my 27 year old family business, having worshiped at the altar of Capitalism, and lost everything.
I went to church most Sundays, but my heart was elsewhere. I knew a mean and nasty God then who punished me for not being “good enough” at anything, ever.
Guess what else I realized? My temperament matched the God I knew then – I was a nasty bastard and I found a God to match. I thought I was a failure in every sense of the word. I could not feed my family, I could not keep a roof over their heads, nothing, complete failure. I wanted to die, and for those of you who don’t know, that’s different than wanting to killing yourself, but still pretty low place to be.
My friend from earlier in the day was around of some of those years and he told me Friday that he was surprised I pulled out of it. He said something profound, he said I had jammed my life into one small “box of pain.” That’s all I could see and it was the place I started from every day. Days on end, when it hurt just to pull myself out of bed, or when I would cringe when the phone rang at work, I was afraid it was another lawyer or collection call. Day after day for years…

I knew a punishing, mean God that took everything ,or so I thought. I deserved it, just like the people of New Orleans did to deserve Katrina, right? I had a friend that was a nondenominational pastor that told me that one. God was punishing me, and I deserved it.

So fast-forward to Friday afternoon…I told my friend we find the God we going looking for… his sister and friend were at a place where they didn’t like themselves for past “sins” they had committed against God.
The problem is, many of us never get past this stage on our walk with God. The thing is, now I see it so differently. Sin is against us, it’s when we move ourselves out of union with God. How could you hurt God with your sin? God calls us to completeness, to strive to find union with Her, to live in the Grace she so freely gave us, before we were born.

So you know what I learned the hard way? That you must forgive yourself first and foremost, it all starts there. Without self-forgiveness you are building your house on sand. See, without that part of the process, you continue to judge yourself by some standard that doesn’t exist.
So the next logical thing is to judge others in the same light, or actually judge them in the same shadow (lack of Light) you judge yourself from. That’s not God…that is an “idol” you made in your image from pain. From Matthew 7: “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” I guess the moral of the story is to find the correct door, so keep looking until you find the God that loves you, and learn to love yourself. You will find what you going looking for!

Something else I have learned the hard way is that all of the things in life that cause you “pain,” those experiences are “life’s class room.” That’s were all true growth comes from. I have read that some “lucky” people “get it” without pain, but for most of us, it comes through loss of some kind – death, divorce, bankruptcy, etc.
I have learned to see the “pain” as a process we need to go through on this adventure. I am grateful for my experiences; yes even the difficult ones, more so the difficult ones because that’s where all my growth comes from.
I don’t see things the way others do anymore and I don’t talk the way most of my friends do. I would not trade my “life experiences” for anything. Somehow they are part of a larger plan, my sister told me “we need to lean into the pain,” sit with it.
Instead most of us take “something” to deaden the pain, run from it. I don’t know whether it’s learned or in us, but most of us avoid pain. Maybe it’s a survival technique, but running from a guy with a spear is different than avoiding your mother-in-law. Is all this running from pain keeping us from true growth? Is that why the world is in such terrible shape, we are too stunted emotionally to deal with others on any meaningful level?

Oh and if it can be bought with money it can’t be all that important, fun yes, important no. My friend from my post the other day, he also paid me a huge compliment. In the same sentence that he told me of the small “box of pain” I had made for myself in the past, he said now- “you don’t see a box at all.”

To my friends, part 1.

So today a departure from the norm, I have been using my sermons for a base and writing essentially an “intro” for them. Today I am going to get into some of my recent thoughts. I get themes going in my head, and they tend to stay there for a while, I think it might be due to my horrible memory, I can only keep one thought in there at a time. It seems to work for me, or at least it’s all I have to work with. So I have had this Thomas Merton quote in my head recently, “the God you find say more about you than it does about God.” I have been thinking about that quote a lot lately. I had two very interesting conversations on Friday, though both very different. In the first I was speaking to a very close friend and we were discussing my recent “spiritual change.” By recent I mean over the last 5-6 years and very profoundly in the last 2 years or so. What that means to me, as it turns out, can be totally different than what other’s see. If you have read one of my earlier blogs about my “awakening” you will know I have moved through (and continue to work on) a lot of pain. I use to think I was cursed with this life, or more to the point, my inability to work myself to a point of continuing “happiness.” I was always wanting more, that’s what we are taught here in the US, bigger ,better, higher, faster. So if you read that earlier blog I was caught in the “mode” of being object referral, looking to things outside myself for my happiness. My dear friend pointed out to me how I have changed in the 5 years, some of it good, some, according to him, not so good, and that’s not exactly what he said, but it was what he meant. I can always rely on him to “straighten me out.” In my sermon a few weeks ago for the start of lent, I stated that God calls us to action, and we are to live life wastefully, with joy, to add things to our “beautiful existence”, maybe not to remove things as we typically do for lent. I still believe that, but when I was speaking to my buddy, I realized how much I have stripped away in the last few years, and I think that was the point he was trying to make to me. I think some of my friends think I have removed to much, I am not the life of the party all the time. I don’t party much at all, lots of things that use to interest me bore the crap out of me, a side note- I see God’s party in a lot of places now- in personal growth of others, sunrises, smiles, children. They(those old things) are “of this world”, some people seem to think now “he’s” to good for that, its has nothing to with that at all, and I don’t judge others for being where they are at on their path. Its weird , some seem to judge me, rather harshly at times. I was told by one of my best friends, that I am ‘TO HAPPY” most of the time. TO HAPPY? What I have come to realize is that when we judge others, it usually a mirror of what is lacking in our life’s. Judgment  of other’s, is a cause for us pause to look and see what we don’t like about ourselves, what we need to work on in our own lives.

So it can be a struggle, it difficult to find your bearings at times, what’s important now? I want to be clear, God doesn’t care if I drink or swear(or still do) or saw a girl in a bikini, but he want’s to know ,where is your heart, your soul that belongs to him. God wants us to have fun, live full of Joy, but it changes you- this experience. My friend was questioning me when I said I am happy, and I am probably for the first (extended period) time of my adult life. I am not always on my “A” game, but I continue working on it. I have learned that true happiness is a feeling of Joy that comes from inside of each one of us, if you look for it somewhere else you will lose it, it has to be from God inside of you. I have realized that most things are just background noise, the only true path leads to God…. all paths lead to God. But guess what he wants us to do,  not judge, or hate, or put others down, but Love wastefully and forgive others, try to bring ourselves into completeness with him.

Move the story forward, we don’t have it right yet, not by a long shot. If you still see a them(and I still do) then there is work to be done on you. That’s where it all starts, with you, not them, not ISIS, not the Jew’s or Catholics, or the Muslims or any other “them” you still see. To try to effect real lasting change, we need to break through our old thought process’s. We are not all that much different than when we started this experiment thousands of years ago. We need to be bigger than that, we can do it, we are part of God, he is just waiting for us to gain momentum. We can and have to start meaningful change, or we will need a ride to another planet. Looking back , from the outside , from someone close to me, it must look and seem like I am crazy.  I heard something about people in India being “God drunk”, being so lost in God they seem out of it, in the western world they would be committed. So I don’t think I am near that “bad”, but I have changed, for the better, I hope. I am far from perfect, but I am learning that’s ok too, it too is part of the plan. But this new awareness can cause “problems” of its own, or a better phrase than “problems” might be “we get a chance for new learning experience”. That’s why we are here, to grow and live and love, and to lose yourself in helping others. It can certainly cause you issues with the people you come into contact with, but it’s all part of the process. You can’t change other people, and you realize some of those close to you might never “get it.” Some people think you’re crazy, usually happy, but crazy. It can seem lonely, like your all by yourself, but it’s not a choice, not once you start down the “path”. The only thing you can do is have the power of your conviction, and that’s not the right word either, it not a conviction, it’s a knowing on some level, a feeling, something you can’t describe to anyone that hasn’t tasted “it”, “the way”, awareness, enlightenment, it can be scary and beautiful all at the same time. My friend said he understood my need to have others see my blog, he gets that I want friends to validate my writing and sermons.So that got me thinking, that’s he is partly right. It was more “right” earlier on, I wanted people to agree with me, identify with me, validate me. Now, a big part of it is to try to help people I know are struggling with this world, as I still do,  and help them try to get a”cleaner understanding of this life”. I am sure some of it EGO and Pride, but I guess that comes with it, if not, no one would hear anything I have to say- good or bad. I do understand that many of my friends don’t care at all about this path, or they don’t believe what I believe, but I feel called to try to help those struggling- show them a different way. I know it doesn’t make me wrong if we don’t agree, we are just on a different part of the journey. I won’t judge you for your beliefs, give me the same respect.

Jesus excels at helping us to transcend this world … “be of this world not in it”, be like little children, or from Matthew 7:14 “For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.” So how do you read a scripture like that? I have learned enough about the way the Jewish people thought, and they had no thought process of life after death, ideas were about here and now, for this world today. Jesus , a Jew, was telling us most of us get it wrong, here in this life now, today. Or are you still judging yourself and others? “The God you find say more about you than it does about God.” What God do you see, maybe more importantly what “you” do you see, that will probably determine what “God” you find and what “world” you see.